retrofuturist wrote:I think it's just a basis for jhana, presumably one that existed prior to the Buddha's dispensation. I don't know if there's any great significance or reasoning behind any of it.
So, does this mean that just about any object, if intently focused upon, can be an object for jhana? What exactly is meant by jhana?
As a specific example: I don't like studying for biology because it's boring, there are many more entertaining things I could be doing, and I usually put off studying to the very end, to the point that I have to cram large amounts of information into my mind in a relatively short period of time. Obviously, there are limits -- you can't memorize a biology text in five minutes. But during a cram session, I will spend several hours straight of studying.
Tomorrow is such an example, where I intend to spend nearly the entire day -- from the time I wake up until I go to sleep -- learning all of the material for my biology final exam.
Anyway, back to the point: In case it isn't already clear, this is an activity I am averse to. I would say in fact that I "hate" it, although in a casual sense, not the same sense that I "hate" thieves, suffering, etc.. But I really strongly dislike it.
Well, when I study like this for several hours, when I am finished, I feel strange. I feel impersonal, de-individualized, powerful, in control of my life, free, a sense of clarity and rationality, unemotional, detached (from my problems, my suffering, my self and the world), like a robot but not in the sense that a person might feel anxious about or fantasize about. So, seeing the various phenomenon around me as merely floating around without personal relevance, I have a clearer, better perspective on the way things actually are and a stronger focus on the present experiences without regard to fantasies about the past or future. It is a feeling which is as if it were the polar opposite of the animalistic irrationality that comes from relishing in pleasure. The tension in my chest and my head is gone, replaced with a feeling of light-weightedness and lifelessness, as if these eyes are the eyes of a porcelain doll, seeing nothing at all because they are made of glass and there is nothing behind them, or rather what's behind them goes much further than this mind and body alone.
It is this occasional feeling from time to time that supports my faith in the total elimination of suffering (for example, how Thich Quang Duc showed no sign of suffering -- much more than overcoming the suffering of immolation, but the mental suffering that's even more difficult to overcome).
Tomorrow, because I am going to study for the entire day (and I certainly will study for the entire day, because today I had a biology exam I didn't prepare for, and regretting that mistake, I feel compelled to not repeat that mistake again), I am certain I will feel this way again.
Is this intense studying a means of jhana?
Of course, during these studying sessions, I also consume large amounts of caffeine, so perhaps I'm merely intoxicated by that.