First Jhana...a description

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.
chownah
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Re: First Jhana...a description

Postby chownah » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:46 pm

I was surprised when reading in another thread (about internal/external emptiness and unperurbedness) to read that in MN 122 ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html)
it says the following:
"...............
"If, while the monk is dwelling by means of this dwelling, his mind inclines to walking back & forth, he walks back & forth [thinking,] 'While I am walking thus, no covetousness or sadness, no evil, unskillful qualities will take possession of me.' In this way he is alert there.
.............."
In this excerpt the "dwelling by means of this dwelling" refers to fourth jhana....or at least the monk being described goes to fourth jhana before starting a rather long series of contemplations which culminate in this and similar statements about talking etc.

I guess this is saying that it is possible to walk while in fourth jhana. I still am not certain whether in the many suttas where concentration is first established (jhanas) and then contemplations occur whether after the jhana is established it continues throughout the contemplations...seems like it does as there is nothing to indicate that it dissipates.....but I don't know for sure.

Anyway...so far there seems to be some evidence suggesting that walking may be possible in first jhana and now this seems to indicate that there can be walking in fourth jhana....makes me think that it might be possible in the second and third also...don't know.
chownah

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Son
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Re: First Jhana...a description

Postby Son » Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:40 am

DOES ANYONE HERE HAVE EXPERIENCE OF THE FIRST JHANA?

If so, could you please be so graceful as to share it with us? I've been attempting to attain it and have only reached the approximate-jhana.
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manas
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Re: First Jhana...a description

Postby manas » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:09 am

Son wrote:DOES ANYONE HERE HAVE EXPERIENCE OF THE FIRST JHANA?

If so, could you please be so graceful as to share it with us? I've been attempting to attain it and have only reached the approximate-jhana.


Regarding your frustration, I can relate! People say so many varying things about jhana. But as for having actually been there,..hardly anyone will admit to it!!

Like yourself, I reckon I've come close, in the sense of being 'at the door' so to speak, and even that was not what I thought it would be. Bear in mind, however, that if the five hindrances are abandoned and there is sustained piti-sukha, it could be argued that one is already there, and that it just needs more and more refining...?, Like learning to bake a cake. You try over and over, and keep getting close, but it doesn't rise. Then one day it rises, and you have a cake - great! - but the quality is not so good. But it's still a cake. So you keep on practicing until you become really skilled at making the cake. I reckon it's more like that. More of us have had jhana than we might believe, imho. But we get too mental about it, due to so many expectations.

As I understand it, vitakka did originally mean actual thinking, nothing fancier than that. Over time it came to mean something else (as in the commentaries...):

Vitakka [vi+takka] reflection, thought, thinking; "initial application"...
... Note. Looking at the combn vitakka+vicāra in earlier and later works one comes to the conclusion that they were once used to denote one & the same thing: just thought, thinking, only in an emphatic way (as they are also semantically synonymous), and that one has to take them as one expression, like jānāti passati, without being able to state their difference. With the advance in the Sangha of intensive study of terminology they became distinguished mutually. Vitakka became the inception of mind, or attending, and was no longer applied, as in the Suttas, to thinking in general. The explns of Commentators are mostly of an edifying nature and based more on popular etymology than on natural psychological grounds.



It makes sense to me that we should first be able to make use of the occasional mental prompt or reminder so long as the thinking is under full control, intentional, and directly related to the meditation in this present moment. What is supposed to have been abandoned is the incessant chattering and bubbling up of one thought after another (papanca) - yes, that surely must be absent, as it is implied here:

Abandoning restlessness and anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness and anxiety. (Uddhaccakukkuccaṃ pahāya anuddhato viharati ajjhattaṃ vūpasantacitto, uddhaccakukkuccaṃ cittaṃ parisodheti.)

Vūpasama [fr. vi+upa+śam; cp. BSk. vyupaśama Divy 578] 1. allaying, relief, suppression, mastery, cessation, calmness S iii.32; iv.217; v.65 (cetaso); D ii.157 (sankhārā); A i.4 (id.); ii.162 (papañca˚); v.72; Pug 69; J i.392; DhsA 403. -- 2. quenching (of thirst) PvA 104.


But where does it say that in first jhana the mind is totally and absolutely still? It doesn't - because that comes in the second jhana, where vitakka-vicara is let go of. My interpretation of the sources above is that some thinking is ok in first jhana, but it would be totally on one's own terms, under control, used for the purposes of the meditation, very calm, and nothing to do with the usual near-constant background chatter that many of us have to endure in ordinary consciousness.

metta. :anjali:
Last edited by manas on Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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manas
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Re: First Jhana...a description

Postby manas » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:38 am

Son wrote:DOES ANYONE HERE HAVE EXPERIENCE OF THE FIRST JHANA?

If so, could you please be so graceful as to share it with us? I've been attempting to attain it and have only reached the approximate-jhana.


And how did you reach the 'approximate jhana'? By abandoning the hindrances. So rather than worrying about not having 'attained' jhana yet, just keep patiently putting forth the causes that will eventually issue it forth. In other words, the positive qualities of mind that specifically overcome and subdue the hindrances. I see it as a game of cause-and-effect. You keep putting forth the causes, and when the time is right, there arises the effect. It can actually be fun (so long as you take it seriously and with the proper respect it is due). Mindfulness searches out the mind for any one of the hindrances. You see which one is most prominent, and apply the specific remedy, wiping it out. I won't say it's easy, rather it's the most challenging thing I've ever attempted!...but it's still fun, (well, sometimes) just as I imagine mountain climbing is also fun, despite requiring immense effort and the tolerance of a measure of pain, initially. (I don't know if any of that made much sense to anyone, but I hope it did).

As I said, I think quite a few of us have tasted the first jhana and don't recognize it, due to expecting bright light or god knows what. Let's forget all those presuppositions, and rather ask: Were the hindrances totally absent? Was the mind under control, calm, clear? Was there piti-sukha spreading through you / your body / whatever-you want-to-call-kaya? Was it a pleasure superior to sexual pleasure? If so, how do you know that wasn't actually jhana, but only dipped in to, but not as yet remained in? :thinking: Maybe it just 'needs a bit of work',..

Just keep working on abandoning the hindrances, then, at the right time, one thing leads to another...imhe...

:anjali:

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Re: First Jhana...a description

Postby Son » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:55 am

manas wrote:
But where does it say that in first jhana the mind is totally and absolutely still? It doesn't - because that comes in the second jhana, where vitakka-vicara is let go of. My interpretation of the sources above is that some thinking is ok in first jhana, but it would be totally on one's own terms, under control, used for the purposes of the meditation, very calm, and nothing to do with the usual near-constant background chatter that many of us have to endure in ordinary consciousness.

Ok I hope I don't get pilloried too much for that! :P

metta. :anjali:


I think this is where "one-pointedness" comes in. How is there background chatter when you have one-pointedness of concentration? There isn't. The difference between near-jhana and jhana is that even though this chatter has faded, one-pointedness is absent. More focus is required to reach it, of which I haven't achieved. That's why people refer to "being afraid" of the jhana and going back to distraction. I think it requires much more effort, and that's what I've been working on. You have to abandon all those unpleasant things that distract your mind. That's why instructors say you should shift your focus to something pleasant, like your smile. It takes a very clear and focused mind to prepare for one-pointedness.
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Re: First Jhana...a description

Postby Son » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:58 am

manas wrote:
Son wrote:DOES ANYONE HERE HAVE EXPERIENCE OF THE FIRST JHANA?

If so, could you please be so graceful as to share it with us? I've been attempting to attain it and have only reached the approximate-jhana.


And how did you reach the 'approximate jhana'? By abandoning the hindrances. So rather than worrying about not having 'attained' jhana yet, just keep patiently putting forth the causes that will eventually issue it forth. In other words, the positive qualities of mind that specifically overcome and subdue the hindrances. I see it as a game of cause-and-effect. You keep putting forth the causes, and when the time is right, there arises the effect. It can actually be fun (so long as you take it seriously and with the proper respect it is due). Mindfulness searches out the mind for any one of the hindrances. You see which one is most prominent, and apply the specific remedy, wiping it out. I won't say it's easy, rather it's the most challenging thing I've ever attempted!...but it's still fun, (well, sometimes) just as I imagine mountain climbing is also fun, despite requiring immense effort and the tolerance of a measure of pain, initially. (I don't know if any of that made much sense to anyone, but I hope it did).

As I said, I think quite a few of us have tasted the first jhana and don't recognize it, due to expecting bright light or god knows what. Let's forget all those presuppositions, and rather ask: Were the hindrances totally absent? Was the mind under control, calm, clear? Was there piti-sukha spreading through you / your body / whatever-you want-to-call-kaya? Was it a pleasure superior to sexual pleasure? If so, how do you know that wasn't actually jhana, but only dipped in to, but not as yet remained in? :thinking: Maybe it just 'needs a bit of work',..

Just keep working on abandoning the hindrances, then, at the right time, one thing leads to another...imhe...

:anjali:



I haven't ever expected any such things. Yet I'm sure I have not attained jhana.
What I was asking for is for anyone who has to share the experience. Not to correct my own fantasy of it. It simply takes time and effort to reach that point. Hopefully, no one here is searching for a fantasy of jhana to try to "reach," like a mystic seeking union with a deity.

It's a simple request.
A seed sleeps in soil.
It's cold and alone, hopeless.
Until it blooms above.

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Re: First Jhana...a description

Postby manas » Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:13 am

A clarification that some might find useful (or not).

I had heard some persons say that jhanic (or near-jhanic) piti-sukha is 'better than sex pleasure' and I kind of wish I hadn't heard them say that, because it set up a misconception in me, that persisted for years and hindered my development.

Because orgasm is the topmost physical pleasure most people have experienced, when someone is told there might be something better than that, their mind will construct something quite inaccurate, imagining that 'ok, so if orgasm is this much, then piti-sukha must be that much!'. But in my experience, piti-sukha isn't the same type of pleasure. It's said to be 'vivekajam' - 'born of seclusion'. Not like 1,000 volts blasting through your loins as in orgasm, but rather, a gentle, sweet, spreading sense of ease and happiness (through your entire body) that although not as 'strong' as sex, you would never trade for it. Like the difference between a great meal (sex), and a warm, kind embrace that makes you feel truly loved (piti-sukha). Yeah piti-sukha is superior, but ime, not in the way we might have been led to believe...

metta.
Last edited by manas on Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First Jhana...a description

Postby Son » Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:24 am

manas wrote:A clarification that some might find useful (or not).

I had heard some persons say that jhanic (or near-jhanic) piti-sukha is 'better than sex pleasure' and I kind of wish I hadn't heard them say that, because it set up a misconception in me, that persisted for years and hindered my development.

Because orgasm is the topmost physical pleasure most people have experienced, when someone is told there might be something better than that, their mind will construct something quite inaccurate, imagining that 'ok, so if orgasm is this much, then piti-sukha must be that much!'. But in my experience, piti-sukha isn't the same type of pleasure. It's said to be 'vivekajam' - 'born of seclusion'. Not like 1,000 volts blasting through your loins as in orgasm, but rather, a gentle, sweet, spreading sense of ease and happiness that although not as intense as sex, you would never trade for it. Like the difference between a great meal (sex), and a warm, kind embrace that makes you feel truly loved (piti-sukha). Yeah piti-sukha is superior, but ime, not in the way we might have been led to believe...

metta.


In the near-jhana, you can easily understand what they mean. It's false to say that it is "better" than sexual pleasure. It is just that the pleasure experienced is not at all limited like sexual pleasure is, and so you are able to enjoy it so much more. So I expect, that once you exceed from near-jhana and actually attain the one-pointedness of jhana, it is likened to sexual peak, in the orgasmic sense.
A seed sleeps in soil.
It's cold and alone, hopeless.
Until it blooms above.


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