How to get into jhanas

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

How to get into jhanas

Postby Guy » Thu May 28, 2009 10:20 am

In my short time (a few months, almost every day, sometimes a few times per day) practing meditation I have had some interesting experiences so far. Some of these experiences include parts of the body "disappearing" (usually hands first), feeling like the body is being stretched, (as if it were magnetic...sounds weird but I don't know how to describe this one), twisted, enlarged, very solid and disconnected. Also experiences ranging from deep calm and tranquility to panic attacks (though I figured out the source of these and so are not a problem anymore). I have also experienced what Ajahn Brahm calls the "Beautiful Breath" and seen a nimitta occassionally but I'm yet to enter a jhana.

Usually I only sit for 30-45 minutes with an alarm set or listening to a guided meditation and I have heard that to enter a jhana it takes longer than this, is this true or have I got my facts wrong? If it is true then would it be impossible for me to enter a jhana given that I never sit longer than 45 minutes? Also I think that I might be desiring to enter jhanas too much rather than just being content which is probably preventing the possibility of entering a jhana. I have read "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" by Ajahn Brahm once through, which I found helpful, and will read it again soon. Also I will read "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Ven Henepola Gunaratana soon.

I try to keep the five precepts.

Given all the above information, what would some of you more experienced meditators suggest to help reach jhanas? Do I just need to be more patient and content or is there more to it than that?

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: How to get into jhanas

Postby rowyourboat » Thu May 28, 2009 11:44 am

Hello Guy

You seem to be developing some good samadhi from what you have mentioned. 45mins- 1hr is usually enough if you are doing 2-3 hrs a day overall. However you might need a few more months. Just relax and stay with the focus- it will happen when it happens! That letting go paves the way for deeper states of samadhi. Ajhan Chah once said that to see strange and beautiful creatures by a forest pool you must stay very very still, otherwise they dont come!

Another approximation is that if you are only experiencing 4-5 thought distractions per hour your samadhi might be good enough to give rise to jhana. In my tradition we try to get what is called mastery over jhana- hence when we reach the abovementioned level of samadhi the yogi is asked to make a determination 'may my mind go into the first jhana' and let go of all awarness completly and let the mind do what it likes for a few seconds -it is a bit like tipping a boulder over a cliff now that you have rolled it all the way to the top of a mountain. There are two possible outcomes- nothing will happen or something might happen. If nothing happens- just keep meditating! If something does happen- some sort of a sudden change, let me know!

with metta

:anjali:
With Metta

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Re: How to get into jhanas

Postby Jechbi » Thu May 28, 2009 3:59 pm

Howdy Guy,

Why do you want to reach jhanas? What's your underlying motivation?
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: How to get into jhanas

Postby Jechbi » Fri May 29, 2009 5:37 am

Any way, here's an article that might be of interest to you:
The Jhanas In Theravada Buddhist Meditation by Henepola Gunaratana
:smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: How to get into jhanas

Postby kc2dpt » Fri May 29, 2009 2:17 pm

Every night before bed I climb into my pajhanas.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: How to get into jhanas

Postby Guy » Sun May 31, 2009 2:22 am

rowyourboat wrote:Hello Guy

You seem to be developing some good samadhi from what you have mentioned. 45mins- 1hr is usually enough if you are doing 2-3 hrs a day overall. However you might need a few more months. Just relax and stay with the focus- it will happen when it happens! That letting go paves the way for deeper states of samadhi. Ajhan Chah once said that to see strange and beautiful creatures by a forest pool you must stay very very still, otherwise they dont come!

Another approximation is that if you are only experiencing 4-5 thought distractions per hour your samadhi might be good enough to give rise to jhana. In my tradition we try to get what is called mastery over jhana- hence when we reach the abovementioned level of samadhi the yogi is asked to make a determination 'may my mind go into the first jhana' and let go of all awarness completly and let the mind do what it likes for a few seconds -it is a bit like tipping a boulder over a cliff now that you have rolled it all the way to the top of a mountain. There are two possible outcomes- nothing will happen or something might happen. If nothing happens- just keep meditating! If something does happen- some sort of a sudden change, let me know!

with metta

:anjali:


Thanks for the advice, I will definitely give it a try and let you know how I'm going.

Jechbi wrote:Howdy Guy,

Why do you want to reach jhanas? What's your underlying motivation?


Good question, I guess the short answer would be that they are part of the path to liberation.

Jechbi wrote:Any way, here's an article that might be of interest to you:
The Jhanas In Theravada Buddhist Meditation by Henepola Gunaratana
:smile:


Thanks, I will check it out now.

Peter wrote:Every night before bed I climb into my pajhanas.


:rofl:
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: How to get into jhanas

Postby Ben » Sun May 31, 2009 4:45 am

Hi Guy

Depending on who you talk to, you may get some conflicting advice with regards to the jhanas. For example, my own teacher says that it is impossible to attain the jhanas without maintaining perfect sila. And that the jhanas are not a pre-requisite to develop insight to sotapanna. And so getting advice from a number of different sources may make some people confused.
What I recommend that you do is to rely on a reputable teacher or source. As you have already mentioned Ajahn Brahm, and given your geographic proximity to BSWA, I recommend that you seek instruction and advice from Ajahn himself or one of his assistant teachers or senior students.
Metta

Ben
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

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sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: How to get into jhanas

Postby Nibbida » Sat Aug 01, 2009 5:24 am

Richard Shankman addresses this in his book The Experience of Samadhi. In the end of the book he interviews several Dharma teachers. Some insist that attaining jhana first is essential to do vipassana because the concentration is so necessary. Others assert that it is not necessary and recommend developing concentration and insight in tandem, warning that people can sometimes get distracted by the pleasant or absorbed states of jhana. There's such a wide variation in opinions.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: How to get into jhanas

Postby Pannapetar » Sat Aug 01, 2009 6:44 am

I think it is a good idea to discuss this face-to-face with an experienced master. It is very difficult to do this on a discussion board. At the beginning of my meditation practice, I experienced a number of strange phenomena and I thought, wow this is great, I am making progress. But then it plateaued afterwards. I have compared this to the effect of accelerated hypertrophy within the first months of beginning weight-training. So, in my case progress was non-linear in the beginning and then fairly steady with occasional highs and lows afterwards. But everybody is different.

Cheers, Thomas
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