Is jhana possible?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby Kenshou » Sun May 23, 2010 9:33 pm

Cessation of perception & feeling is described somewhat similarly


It is. I believe that difference between themeless concentration and cessation is the same distinction between the condition of the living arahant and the dead arahant, to use conventional terms. In the former, nibbana is attained but the aggregates persist. In the latter, everything has stopped, though temporarily in the case of nirodha samapatti.

So animitta may come AFTER (or as a result of) Cessation of Perception & Feeling.


As a result of, I can agree with. I would only add that it's not the only way to get there. The fact that after emerging from cessation that the mind tends to incline towards emptiness/signlessness/nibbana (which I believe, in the case of the living arahant, are different words for the same thing) is what makes it a potentially powerful tool for awakening.

EDIT: To make that more clear, I think that "inclining the mind towards the property of the deathlessness/entering emptiness/dwelling in the themeless concentration" are talking about the very same thing, just from slightly different slants. That thing being, the mind's reaching/remaining in nibbana.

In Moggallana samyutta it lists attainment going from 1st Jhana to 8th and then to Animitta (sutta #9). Sounds like it is also meant to follow the order.


I think it's simply something in a different category than rupa or arupa jhana, but it is something that jhana can be used to reach, which is why they're often mentioned in close proximity.
Kenshou
 
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby nathan » Mon May 24, 2010 2:24 am

Here is my reflection on dwelling in emptiness and what it is like, in keeping with MN 121 &122.

Concentration is always, to one extent or another, a simplification of conscious attention that is developed and perfected by cultivating a conscious abandoning of attention to the complexity and diversity of perception in favor of simple and steady, singular and unified kinds of conscious attention. In the form Jhanas as typically described in the Sutta discourses the body as a whole is taken as the object of conscious perception. When the diversity of the thoughts and feelings ordinarily composed by reflexive combination of diverse forms of conscious attention and diverse sensations settles down to one form of simple consciousness that pervades the whole body then the diversity of sensations also settles down to a simple form of perception of the presence of consciousness throughout the whole body.

As the simple and steady concentrated attention to a body filled with consciousness is further developed it becomes easier to maintain this simple kind of attention without effort. When it is effortless to maintain the simple awareness that there is a body and that it is filled with consciousness then conscious attention has become well concentrated in and on the form of the whole body. Concentrated well, consciousness will then easily note that there is no diversity of sensations or of the diverse feelings and thoughts that changing forms of attention and the resulting diverse sensations produce.

When consciousness is noting the simple pleasant sensation that consciousness fills the body then it can further note that there is a corresponding simple pleasantness that fills consciousness. When this simple pleasantness that fills consciousness is noted to be more subtle and pleasant than the pleasant perception of the body as simply a body filled with consciousness then concentration will shift predominantly to the simple pleasure that consciousness has achieved by freeing itself from attending to the diversity of conscious perceptions. Consciousness can then note how very peaceful this simplicity of attention is.

This process of simplification of attention is how concentration in it's purest forms always proceeds. If attention to the body as a single form that is present and sensed by being filled with consciousness is intruded upon by various other changing forms of attention and diverse sensations, concentration can then again be interrupted by various feelings and thoughts as well. The concentration that develops by practicing consciousness of the whole body in one simple way begins by progressively steadying and simplifying the untrained or unskilled habits of a consciousness that moves attention from place to place in the body and from one quality to another of sensation or from one kind to another of compounded thoughts and feelings.

When concentrated conscious attention is cultivated by attention to the whole body filled simply with a conscious presence this will progressively tone down the diversity of perceptions. By practicing the sense of a the whole body as a form pervaded by conscious awareness, consciousness develops an appreciation for the relative pleasantness of simplicity and the degrees of concentration that results from developing this simple kind of attention.

When concentration of the simple presence of consciousness in the whole body has become entirely peaceful and it gives up the attention to the resulting pleasantness in the body and in consciousness then this is what fourth Jhana is like. It is a very simple and steady state of consciousness with a very simple awareness of it's presence in a body.

When the concentrated awareness of the presence of a body slips away and consciousness has attention to only the simple awareness that consciousness is present then consciousness is giving its full concentrated attention to the formless Jhanas or to only the qualities of concentrated consciousness apart from all attention to form.

The four formless jhanas are increasingly subtle concentrations of consciousness wherein concentration has reduced the diverse qualities typical of the varieties of ordinarily changing conscious attention to forms and sensations to only the four, three, two, or one simple qualities of the condition of consciousness.

Diverse thoughts, sensations, feelings, and the sense of changing forms that are typical of consciousness that is not concentrated are abandoned in the course of developing form based concentration. When concentration is developed enough to let go of it's simple and singular concentrated attention to form only concentrated consciousness remains. A concentrated consciousness no longer attending to form can examine its inherent qualities and as it lets go of each of these it becomes a still more concentrated and subtle consciousness condition.

If every quality of consciousness is entirely let go of consciousness will stop arising and there will be a complete cessation of consciousness.

After consciousness has observed the four formless jhana qualities and/or cessation it can then continue applying attention to maintaining the purity of the simplified qualities of concentrated consciousness as attention proceeds back towards complexity from the most refined types of formless concentration of conscious attention to simple concentrated conscious awareness of the body form to the diversity of conscious awareness of the body and sensations.

When consciousness is formlessly concentrated it is has a sense of the boundless infinitude of space, of the boundless infinitude of consciousness, of the no thing-ness of consciousness and of the nature of consciousness to be inclined to be present and thereby to have the volition to know.

When the pure and simple qualities characteristic of formless concentrated consciousness are present and steady together with the ordinary diversity of perceptions of forms and sensations then this kind of mindfulness is called dwelling in emptiness by the Buddha and Ananda in the Cula-suññata Sutta. One can develop the four qualities of concentrated consciousness either in the presence of form and formless concentration or not.

However, to discern the qualities of concentrated consciousness specifically for what each is like, in isolation from other kinds of attention, the most direct way is to do so by means of cultivating and experiencing the formless concentrations of consciousness the and/or the cessation of consciousness.

When the qualities of consciousness in the formless concentrations and the absence of all conditions and qualities thereof in cessation have been developed, known and understood, it is then much easier to give conscious attention to maintaining and or discerning the presence of these concentrated qualities of consciousness even together with the perception of diverse and changing forms and sensations.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby Anicca » Mon May 24, 2010 3:49 am

Alex123 wrote:Anicca, Buddha HAS NOT SAID THAT.


Howdy Alex!

Thanks for the correction.

:anjali:

Metta
Anicca
 
Posts: 393
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:11 am
Location: Edmond, Oklahoma

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby Kenshou » Mon May 24, 2010 4:16 am

Hey Nathan, thanks for taking the time to write all that. Think I understand what you're saying, up until the end bit.

After consciousness has observed the four formless jhana qualities and/or cessation it can then continue applying attention to maintaining the purity of the simplified qualities of concentrated consciousness as attention proceeds back towards complexity from the most refined types of formless concentration of conscious attention to simple concentrated conscious awareness of the body form to the diversity of conscious awareness of the body and sensations.

When the pure and simple qualities characteristic of formless concentrated consciousness are present and steady together with the ordinary diversity of perceptions of forms and sensations then this kind of mindfulness is called dwelling in emptiness by the Buddha and Ananda in the Cula-suññata Sutta. One can develop the four qualities of concentrated consciousness either in the presence of form and formless concentration or not.


I'm afraid that I might not be digesting this well enough, but it seems to me that what you're essentially saying is that it's possible, once one is familiar with them, to turn attention to the qualities of the formless jhanas, though without going so far as to abandon perceptions of form as usual. Is that really all there is to it? Though I have no experience with formless jhanas I think I can understand how this is theoretically possible. Am I missing anything?
Kenshou
 
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 24, 2010 5:30 am

Greetings Nathan,

Thank you very much for your lucid explanation.

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14622
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby nathan » Mon May 24, 2010 5:39 am

Kenshou wrote:I'm afraid that I might not be digesting this well enough, but it seems to me that what you're essentially saying is that it's possible, once one is familiar with them, to turn attention to the qualities of the formless jhanas, though without going so far as to abandon perceptions of form as usual. Is that really all there is to it? Though I have no experience with formless jhanas I think I can understand how this is theoretically possible. Am I missing anything?


It's a difficult subject to write about because people who understand the doctrine well and/or who have developed right understanding will be looking for precision in how the writer describes things and in general most of us would like to see simple and easily understood explanations. I find it hard to meet all those kinds of objectives at the same time.

You are right however, yes, it is this simple. If you can enter the formless jhana concentrations and/or cessation of consciousness you will be able to bring that insight back to ordinary perception as it occurs when you are not concentrated. I think this is often why there is so much confusion about what liberated awareness is like. In fact it is quite simple. A concentrated consciousness that knows the nature of it's own condition apart from consciousness of form and sensation clearly knows what consciousness is like. When it is concentrated and alone, apart from other objective conditions, consciousness is spacious and infinite and empty and pure. This is just as many meditators of many traditions variously describe a consciousness that is awake, a consciousness that is hip to it's what consciousness is.

This is why the Buddha dismisses all of the various kinds of thinking on these pure kinds of consciousness and the thoughts that one might fabricate from awareness of these qualities of consciousness. The Buddha points out that the cessation of consciousness demonstrates that despite these profound and pure experiences that consciousness has in knowing itself, it is still a condition that is arising from and passing into cessation like all other conditions. This is why the Buddha stresses that it is vital for real liberation that even clinging to these conditions must be abandoned in order to be free of ongoing being and becoming.

With his or her own insight into cessation a meditator can then practice to abandon not only the volitional attachment, aversion and clinging to conceptual thoughts, feelings, sense perceptions and forms, but also the condition of consciousness that provides the access to all of these objective experience of existence.

One can see how insight alone, apart from this kind of concentrated insight into consciousness can accomplish the same task of understanding the conditional nature of all consciousness qualities as well. Insight will still require the direct experience of cessation for the consciousness of the meditator to know and understand the nature of willfully letting go of the ongoing presence of consciousness and the absolute peace of the arising of no conditons whatsoever.

This is why those who have experienced cessation can not conceive of a self in any condition, compound of conditions, qualities of conditions or any of the complexity of compounded conditions and qualities. A meditator's consciousness has then 'entered the stream' and because it has known the true path to cessation and the supreme desirability of cessation it will eventually and inevitably arrive at absolute freedom in the permanent non-arising of conditions.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby Kenshou » Mon May 24, 2010 7:52 am

I think I get you, though on another topic:

Insight will still require the direct experience of cessation for the consciousness of the meditator to know and understand the nature of willfully letting go of the ongoing presence of consciousness and the absolute peace of the arising of no conditons whatsoever.


This is an issue that I've wondered about, cessation and fruition and whatnot. Practically speaking it seems to me that "fruition" and and nirodha samapatti are the same thing, the only difference being in how they are apprehended.

Though first of all, I can absolutely see the value of such experiences (or non-experiences, whatever), in reading the canon (speaking in terms of suttas), at this point in my understanding, I don't really get the general impression that such cessation experiences are necessary for uprooting all clinging. I think that there's enough inconstancy of consciousness under normal circumstances for us to observe. If one is able to clearly know the unsatisfactoriness of phenomena, end clinging and craving, and through that end dukkha, is that not enough? I think at that point, the fact that the final breakup of remaining fabrications would be preferable would be a given, without having necessarily had a taste of it.

Or is this based upon the supposition that clinging and craving for a phenomena cannot be truly broken until the peace of that phenomena's absence is known? Certainly valuable, but, obligatory? At this point, I don't believe so.
Kenshou
 
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby nathan » Mon May 24, 2010 9:06 am

Kenshou wrote:Though first of all, I can absolutely see the value of such experiences (or non-experiences, whatever), in reading the canon (speaking in terms of suttas), at this point in my understanding, I don't really get the general impression that such cessation experiences are necessary for uprooting all clinging. I think that there's enough inconstancy of consciousness under normal circumstances for us to observe. If one is able to clearly know the unsatisfactoriness of phenomena, end clinging and craving, and through that end dukkha, is that not enough? I think at that point, the fact that the final breakup of remaining fabrications would be preferable would be a given, without having necessarily had a taste of it.

Or is this based upon the supposition that clinging and craving for a phenomena cannot be truly broken until the peace of that phenomena's absence is known? Certainly valuable, but, obligatory? At this point, I don't believe so.
It is simply a question of the difference between relying upon inferences, deductions, faith, etc. as opposed to knowing more directly how you still incline to relate passionately to the conditional phenomena of being or not. On one end of the spectrum there are those who are inclined to relying on what they know and understand entirely in terms of relationships within conditions and on the other end there are those who are inclined simply to the cessation of all the conditions, know it and understand why.

Enough concentration for the full maturity of insight is necessary but fluency with all of the jhana concentrations is not. Insight that is fully developed can discern cessation and conditions for what these are with or without extensive jhana development but insight into the jhanas is very supportive of insight into conditions, cessation of conditions and the path to the cessation of conditions.

I think the 4NT underscores the importance of knowing not only suffering and desire but also cessation and the path to cessation with complete certainty and so knowing cessation and the path to cessation is of central importance to realizing certainty about liberation.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby PeterB » Mon May 24, 2010 9:35 am

While not disagreeing..in fact agreeing with all of that Nathan, I think personally it is wise to always hedge any statements vis a vis the Jhanas with caveats..experience in several Buddhist Forums has convinced me that without such caveats a proportion of readers may tend to identify any number of mundane and subjective states with the Jhanas.
In my view this to do with democratising and depersonalising affects of the internet.
A curious kind of depersonalisation that carries some of the characterisitics of non cyber interaction, but misses most of the most vital of those characteristics.
Be that as it may I always feel impelled to put the Jhanas into a context of their being for most, hard won and difficult to sustain.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby nathan » Mon May 24, 2010 9:53 am

PeterB wrote:While not disagreeing..in fact agreeing with all of that Nathan, I think personally it is wise to always hedge any statements vis a vis the Jhanas with caveats..experience in several Buddhist Forums has convinced me that without such caveats a proportion of readers may tend to identify any number of mundane and subjective states with the Jhanas.
In my view this to do with democratising and depersonalising affects of the internet.
A curious kind of depersonalisation that carries some of the characterisitics of non cyber interaction, but misses most of the most vital of those characteristics.
Be that as it may I always feel impelled to put the Jhanas into a context of their being for most, hard won and difficult to sustain.
Sure, the distinctions I am stressing are that insight into cessation is vital for the path to liberation and concentration is supportive of insight. The jhanas are deep concentrations supportive of developing and perfecting insight and increasingly proximate to cessation and so they should not be devalued or unduly dismissed. I agree entirely that both insight and concentration training require a lot of practice for many people and that the goal is liberation regardless of where emphasis is placed in day to day meditation practice. The benefit of familiarity or proficiency with the jhanas is that the difference between subjective and mundane states and the jhana concentrations is known and understood. Similarly and more importantly, realization of, insight into and understanding of cessation makes clear the difference between subjective and mundane conceptions of liberation and actual liberation.

Before someone else takes issue, I should add that the jhana concentrations are also mundane conditional states, however the conditions are specific. Whether or not they should be considered subjective is another matter but I took you to be making a distinction between actual jhana concentrations as opposed to non-concentrated states. Realization of cessation and the resulting knowledge of and insight into cessation, whether it is equated to transcendental concentration or not, removes the problem of self perception and therefore of subjectivity more or less entirely.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby PeterB » Mon May 24, 2010 10:35 am

Which is one reason why easy claims to familiarity with Jhanic states should always imo be treated with some caution.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby Zom » Mon May 24, 2010 11:34 am

Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro told me that in Thailand, even among practising monks, there are very few, who can reach jhana.

Also, as he noticed, those teachers who say that jhana is not 'so far' - they generally want to give an encouragement for practice.
Those who say that it is very hard to achive, generally want to stop extreme efforts in meditation of those who ask.

Ven. Ajahn Chah said that it doesn't really matter, since practice is like a tree - you can't force it to grow fast or slow.
(nice sutta on this account - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html)
User avatar
Zom
 
Posts: 790
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby PeterB » Mon May 24, 2010 12:15 pm

Zom wrote:Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro told me that in Thailand, even among practising monks, there are very few, who can reach jhana.

Also, as he noticed, those teachers who say that jhana is not 'so far' - they generally want to give an encouragement for practice.
Those who say that it is very hard to achive, generally want to stop extreme efforts in meditation of those who ask.

Ven. Ajahn Chah said that it doesn't really matter, since practice is like a tree - you can't force it to grow fast or slow.
(nice sutta on this account - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html)

I think that is accurate..noone wants to discourage anyone, but..

Hence the easily observed phenomenon of questioners who ask about Jhanas being gently edged towards Vipassana..
PeterB
 
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby christopher::: » Tue May 25, 2010 1:58 am

Excellent observations and explanations being shared here. Thanks all..! This, from nathan, was especially lucid and clear...

nathan wrote:Here is my reflection on dwelling in emptiness and what it is like, in keeping with MN 121 &122.

Concentration is always, to one extent or another, a simplification of conscious attention that is developed and perfected by cultivating a conscious abandoning of attention to the complexity and diversity of perception in favor of simple and steady, singular and unified kinds of conscious attention. In the form Jhanas as typically described in the Sutta discourses the body as a whole is taken as the object of conscious perception. When the diversity of the thoughts and feelings ordinarily composed by reflexive combination of diverse forms of conscious attention and diverse sensations settles down to one form of simple consciousness that pervades the whole body then the diversity of sensations also settles down to a simple form of perception of the presence of consciousness throughout the whole body.

As the simple and steady concentrated attention to a body filled with consciousness is further developed it becomes easier to maintain this simple kind of attention without effort. When it is effortless to maintain the simple awareness that there is a body and that it is filled with consciousness then conscious attention has become well concentrated in and on the form of the whole body. Concentrated well, consciousness will then easily note that there is no diversity of sensations or of the diverse feelings and thoughts that changing forms of attention and the resulting diverse sensations produce.

When consciousness is noting the simple pleasant sensation that consciousness fills the body then it can further note that there is a corresponding simple pleasantness that fills consciousness. When this simple pleasantness that fills consciousness is noted to be more subtle and pleasant than the pleasant perception of the body as simply a body filled with consciousness then concentration will shift predominantly to the simple pleasure that consciousness has achieved by freeing itself from attending to the diversity of conscious perceptions. Consciousness can then note how very peaceful this simplicity of attention is.

This process of simplification of attention is how concentration in it's purest forms always proceeds. If attention to the body as a single form that is present and sensed by being filled with consciousness is intruded upon by various other changing forms of attention and diverse sensations, concentration can then again be interrupted by various feelings and thoughts as well. The concentration that develops by practicing consciousness of the whole body in one simple way begins by progressively steadying and simplifying the untrained or unskilled habits of a consciousness that moves attention from place to place in the body and from one quality to another of sensation or from one kind to another of compounded thoughts and feelings.

When concentrated conscious attention is cultivated by attention to the whole body filled simply with a conscious presence this will progressively tone down the diversity of perceptions. By practicing the sense of a the whole body as a form pervaded by conscious awareness, consciousness develops an appreciation for the relative pleasantness of simplicity and the degrees of concentration that results from developing this simple kind of attention.

When concentration of the simple presence of consciousness in the whole body has become entirely peaceful and it gives up the attention to the resulting pleasantness in the body and in consciousness then this is what fourth Jhana is like. It is a very simple and steady state of consciousness with a very simple awareness of it's presence in a body.

When the concentrated awareness of the presence of a body slips away and consciousness has attention to only the simple awareness that consciousness is present then consciousness is giving its full concentrated attention to the formless Jhanas or to only the qualities of concentrated consciousness apart from all attention to form.

The four formless jhanas are increasingly subtle concentrations of consciousness wherein concentration has reduced the diverse qualities typical of the varieties of ordinarily changing conscious attention to forms and sensations to only the four, three, two, or one simple qualities of the condition of consciousness.

Diverse thoughts, sensations, feelings, and the sense of changing forms that are typical of consciousness that is not concentrated are abandoned in the course of developing form based concentration. When concentration is developed enough to let go of it's simple and singular concentrated attention to form only concentrated consciousness remains. A concentrated consciousness no longer attending to form can examine its inherent qualities and as it lets go of each of these it becomes a still more concentrated and subtle consciousness condition.

If every quality of consciousness is entirely let go of consciousness will stop arising and there will be a complete cessation of consciousness.

After consciousness has observed the four formless jhana qualities and/or cessation it can then continue applying attention to maintaining the purity of the simplified qualities of concentrated consciousness as attention proceeds back towards complexity from the most refined types of formless concentration of conscious attention to simple concentrated conscious awareness of the body form to the diversity of conscious awareness of the body and sensations.

When consciousness is formlessly concentrated it is has a sense of the boundless infinitude of space, of the boundless infinitude of consciousness, of the no thing-ness of consciousness and of the nature of consciousness to be inclined to be present and thereby to have the volition to know.

When the pure and simple qualities characteristic of formless concentrated consciousness are present and steady together with the ordinary diversity of perceptions of forms and sensations then this kind of mindfulness is called dwelling in emptiness by the Buddha and Ananda in the Cula-suññata Sutta. One can develop the four qualities of concentrated consciousness either in the presence of form and formless concentration or not.

However, to discern the qualities of concentrated consciousness specifically for what each is like, in isolation from other kinds of attention, the most direct way is to do so by means of cultivating and experiencing the formless concentrations of consciousness the and/or the cessation of consciousness.

When the qualities of consciousness in the formless concentrations and the absence of all conditions and qualities thereof in cessation have been developed, known and understood, it is then much easier to give conscious attention to maintaining and or discerning the presence of these concentrated qualities of consciousness even together with the perception of diverse and changing forms and sensations.


Like Kenshou, i can "understand" the above up until the last parts. What's encouraging, is that one can take this a step at a time, understanding deepening as our practice and experiences deepen. Without that corresponding experience, it may be impossible to hold to an accurate conceptual understanding.

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1319
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby Kenshou » Tue May 25, 2010 2:10 am

I think I understand it, but I certainly can't do it. :tongue:

Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro told me that in Thailand, even among practising monks, there are very few, who can reach jhana.


Maybe so, though (and I realize that there may be some bias in this, but) in Dhammika's Broken Buddha he gives some statistics on meditation among monks in Theravada countries, which are fairly dismal, in the low teens and tens. I haven't got the means to confirm that, however if those statistics are realistic, combined with the general attitude towards jhana practice, I wouldn't be surprised if very few bother at all. And those who did bother and had some success would still be a measly percentage comparatively. However this is not quite the same as if low numbers of jhana-ers were due to the sheer difficulty of it.

Edit: Well oof, I failed to process that he said practicing monks, but I maintain what I said in the second half of that paragraph.
Last edited by Kenshou on Tue May 25, 2010 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
Kenshou
 
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby christopher::: » Tue May 25, 2010 2:13 am

Kenshou wrote:I think I understand it, but I certainly can't do it. :tongue:


:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1319
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby nathan » Tue May 25, 2010 3:06 am

christopher::: wrote:Like Kenshou, i can "understand" the above up until the last parts. What's encouraging, is that one can take this a step at a time, understanding deepening as our practice and experiences deepen. Without that corresponding experience, it may be impossible to hold to an accurate conceptual understanding.

:anjali:
Discovering calm and concentration a step at a time is what I think the Buddha encouraged and all wise teachers have continued to do. When we approach calm as something to be discovered and investigated we can observe the causes for how conscious attention grows calmer and calmer and for how conscious attention becomes more restless and agitated. Approaching meditation as a process of exploration and discovery is the best way to nurture calm and concentration along with developing insights into what causes consciousness to become more or less concentrated. By developing the corresponding insights through simple accumulative observations one discovers that an increasingly calm attention eventually becomes full concentration and this is far more practically useful for proceeding to experience the degrees of strong concentrations than any amount of conceptualizing about what highly developed kinds of concentration may be like.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby PeterB » Tue May 25, 2010 11:46 am

We may half convince ourseves that because we have developed an interest in things Buddhist that means we have left behind all our driven ,goal orientated behaviour, for many of us moderns however that can simply be displaced into other channels...like seeking to affirm our identity through Jhana states for example.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby Kenshou » Tue May 25, 2010 6:58 pm

PeterB wrote:...like seeking to affirm our identity through Jhana states for example.


I think that's a valid point, actually. However that doesn't necessarily nullify it's usefulness, everybody is going to be seeking things to identify with until they've taken a good chunk out of sakkaya-ditthi, jhana-wallas and vipassaners alike. We've got to work with what we have before we're going to progress...

As long as one tries to stay grounded in the eightfold path and doesn't ride a jhana-fetish off to somewhere bizarre like this fellow who I'm sure a few of you are familiar with, there are probably much less wholesome things a person could be getting attached to.
Kenshou
 
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Is jhana possible?

Postby christopher::: » Wed May 26, 2010 12:18 am

PeterB wrote:We may half convince ourseves that because we have developed an interest in things Buddhist that means we have left behind all our driven ,goal orientated behaviour, for many of us moderns however that can simply be displaced into other channels... like seeking to affirm our identity through Jhana states for example.


We might try to affirm our identity with dharma names, jhana states, famous teachers, etc, etc... At the end of the day liberation and realization are an organic process, no? We are moving in the right direction, cultivating helpful skills and mindstates, or not.

Like a farmer standing over his fields, the seeds he's planted grow and blossom into fruits and flowers or they don't... His talking to them or bragging about them is meaningless.

All that matters is whether or not he is carefully tending his fields...

nathan wrote:Discovering calm and concentration a step at a time is what I think the Buddha encouraged and all wise teachers have continued to do. When we approach calm as something to be discovered and investigated we can observe the causes for how conscious attention grows calmer and calmer and for how conscious attention becomes more restless and agitated. Approaching meditation as a process of exploration and discovery is the best way to nurture calm and concentration along with developing insights into what causes consciousness to become more or less concentrated. By developing the corresponding insights through simple accumulative observations one discovers that an increasingly calm attention eventually becomes full concentration and this is far more practically useful for proceeding to experience the degrees of strong concentrations than any amount of conceptualizing about what highly developed kinds of concentration may be like.


:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1319
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

PreviousNext

Return to Samatha Meditation and Jhana

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest