Is withdrawing from the senses entirely healthy?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Is withdrawing from the senses entirely healthy?

Postby Beautiful Breath » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:17 am

Hi all,

At times in my practice Anapanasati feels too much like a distraction from a calm that I experience by just having a bare awareness, Shikantaza(esque).

Then at others the calmness described feels a little too comfortable and I will then shift awareness to the breath.

Seems to work for me, I'd beingterested to hear others thoughts on this.

However, my main question is around Jhana bringing about a state of being oblivious to your surroundings. Is this a good thing? I am tempted to think that anything that takes us away from experiencing 'reality' is a numbing of sorts. After all, good acid could bring about similar experiences no?

Metta

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Re: Is withdrawing from the senses entirely healthy?

Postby daverupa » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:08 am

Beautiful Breath wrote:However, my main question is around Jhana bringing about a state of being oblivious to your surroundings.


If jhana is described with such a quality, there seems to be a problem in terms of how jhana is supposed to be efficacious. Usually it's understood that upon leaving jhana, a mind is pliable in a particular way due to what jhana is and its requisite conditions. Acid wouldn't produce the suitable equipoise.

If jhana is described as seclusion in ways that still conduce to satipatthana (whether of the six senses or of only the mind sense) there is still that practice which is ekayana.

So it's a question of refining what you mean by "oblivious", I think.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Is withdrawing from the senses entirely healthy?

Postby reflection » Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:15 pm

Actually I think it is the 5 senses which are numbing in a way. If you are in contact with all senses, it is like "touch, sound, smell, sound, thought, touch, sound, etc.". There is so much going on the mind can't get single pointed and calm. It's all this activity that is taking energy and numbing the mind, so that's why we can't see very clearly usually. But when the mind turns away from the 5 senses, it has a single place to stay. There is nothing numbing or unhealthy about it. In my experience it is quite the opposite of both. I've seen similar sentiments to yours on this forum, but you have to experience being without the 5 senses to know that it is very fruitful (and in my eyes this happens before jhana already). Then you'll also know this won't possibly be drug induced. Perhaps there are drugs that take you away from the 5 senses, but not in a similar way, not by weakening the 5 hindrances.

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Re: Is withdrawing from the senses entirely healthy?

Postby arijitmitter » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:14 pm

Beautiful Breath wrote:However, my main question is around Jhana bringing about a state of being oblivious to your surroundings. Is this a good thing? I am tempted to think that anything that takes us away from experiencing 'reality' is a numbing of sorts. After all, good acid could bring about similar experiences no?


When your mind is calm due to meditation you will find you become truly aware. Your senses actually report to your brain what needs to be reported and shields out the other useless junk. And you will really do better - better employee, better parent, better person. I have done it and I need no proof. You will be lot more sagacious at solving problems that come your way.

BTW - I was a heavy drinker at one time. So I can tell the difference between numbing of reality through alcohol ( never done drugs ) and filtering out excess sensory input via meditation. They are about as alike as the moon and a baseball. They are both round but the comparison ends there,

:namaste: Arijit
Last edited by arijitmitter on Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Is withdrawing from the senses entirely healthy?

Postby Zenainder » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:55 pm

Beautiful Breath,

Is not meditation being "present" within the mind? It is the conscious decision to withdraw temporarily from wordly workings, doings, goings, etc. and stilling the body in preparing for training the mind in an appropriate setting. If, for example in jhanic meditation, the senses withdraw how is that different than if they are noticed otherwise? The practice would continue. I cannot lay claim to a jhanic state, but the 5 senses aren't necessarily constantly grasping for experience while I meditate. It's quite comforting when they are stilled for sati to increase for either insight or tranquility.

My 2 cents, maybe 1 cent, but in the end I do not view it as "unhealthy". If it happens, it happens, just like every other experience.

Metta,

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Re: Is withdrawing from the senses entirely healthy?

Postby lojong1 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:10 pm

"oblivious to surroundings"

exactly, surrounding what?
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Re: Is withdrawing from the senses entirely healthy?

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:50 pm

While withdrawing from or eliminating the senses could be a useful meditation tool, it doesn't make a lot of sense for everyday living, because it means no seeing, hearing or feeling etc. Rather (for everyday life, not meditation) experiencing the senses as an illusion or deceptive in nature is I think what the Buddha was getting at, enlightened monks can still see, hear, and feel, but they are not caught up in the illusion that these deceptive senses represent any ultimate reality, at least that's what it means to me......
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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