Did anyone here attain jhana?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Reductor » Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:21 am

Hey all.

I agree that every practitoner should seek reputable instruction, and discuss their experiences with a teacher wherever possible.

However, I do not think the theravada community is best served by staying silent on issues of attainment. This long standing silence makes errant claims more frequent, and the consequences further reaching, than they would be otherwise (or so I suspect).

On the net there are forums set up where they proclaim attainment and enlightenment regularly, appropriating buddhist terms and concepts while removing the context in which they were orignally placed. There is emotional satisfaction and conceit satisfaction, and just enough wisdom to make it all very alluring. It is delivered directly to a person's computer, where they lap it up with relish.

Yet there is little coming from the online theravada community which might counter act this. There is a reluctance to discuss the fruits of traditonal practice and views in a way which would connect with a seeker of a certain sort. Claims are mostly met with suspicion, and the better responses are text based. Little is said by anyone that might betray the actual depth of experience among the theravada practitoners. And to me this lack seems to be a loss.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby daverupa » Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:21 am

It shouldn't be a matter of "having the experience", it should be a matter of becoming enthused by seeing the truth of the Dhamma. Perhaps if more stress was placed on the unwholesome consequences of deluding oneself, it would serve to motivate the sincere.
    "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: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 09, 2011 6:59 am

Greetings thereductor,

thereductor wrote:Hey all.

I agree that every practitoner should seek reputable instruction, and discuss their experiences with a teacher wherever possible.

However, I do not think the theravada community is best served by staying silent on issues of attainment. This long standing silence makes errant claims more frequent, and the consequences further reaching, than they would be otherwise (or so I suspect).

On the net there are forums set up where they proclaim attainment and enlightenment regularly, appropriating buddhist terms and concepts while removing the context in which they were orignally placed. There is emotional satisfaction and conceit satisfaction, and just enough wisdom to make it all very alluring. It is delivered directly to a person's computer, where they lap it up with relish.

Yet there is little coming from the online theravada community which might counter act this. There is a reluctance to discuss the fruits of traditonal practice and views in a way which would connect with a seeker of a certain sort. Claims are mostly met with suspicion, and the better responses are text based. Little is said by anyone that might betray the actual depth of experience among the theravada practitoners. And to me this lack seems to be a loss.

Some thoughts...

I think what is going on is that generally there is a focus on the Dhamma and the means of getting oneself on the path to liberation rather than a focus on disclosing attainments. Meditative experiences should, in my opinion, only be discussed with one's teacher or guide and one's closest kalayanamittas. We know from the Brahmajala Sutta that a primary source of wrong view is one's meditative experiences. Furthermore, Vism also ennumerates ten imperfections of insight that occur on the path. And those imperfections actually only occur for those who are making progress.
Being convinced of a meditative episode as the experience of ariya phala & magga or one of the jhanas and then discussing that experience with others on the Internet having convinced oneself that it is an attainment is a recipe for delusion and conceitedness. And you alude to that by mentioning the website where there is a community of people who self-referentially claim and recognize each other's "attainments'.
I have also seen some people use their claim of attainment, some purposefully and others unwittingly, as a badge of authority. Not only are they deluding themselves but put themselves in a position to have a deliterious influence on others.

One thing that Valerie touched on earlier which was incredibly insightful is that its through one's behaviour that one's progress on the path is most accurately reflected. The other thing I want to say is that with progress comes humilty. The greater the progress, the greater the humility. I am reminded of something my teacher often says:
"A branch of a tree that bears fruit comes down because of the weight of the fruit. Similarly a person who develops paññā (wisdom) becomes more humble".

I think any discussion of personal attainment on a forum such as this one comes at the cost of discussion that which leads one to liberation. The focus becomes the attainment experience rather than the truely transformative process that is actually walking on the path.

kind regards

Ben
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Vepacitta » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:34 pm

Nana, Tilt and Ben all have good thoughts here.

Sometimes it is difficult when one doesn't have a meditation teacher. When Nana first started giving information on the Jhanas it was incredibly helpful to me - it gave me some sort of benchmark - which I hadn't before. Perhaps, instead of speaking in terms of attainments - if these things are discussed - they should only be in terms of what the experience was like and what that may or may not signify.

I for one, certainly wouldn't claim attainments for myself or proclaim for another - but discussions about the meditative process that I've had here (or read in other threads) were most helpful.

It all has to be given and taken in the right spirit.

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby BuddhaKurt » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:27 pm

Call me an odd ball, but I have nothing to hide. I hope I don't offend anyone. I have attained the various levels of jhana and there is no better way to understand the Buddha's teachings. Put your blind faith in it at first which will lead to the truth.

Have a happy day!
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby daverupa » Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:06 am

BuddhaKurt wrote:Put your blind faith in it at first


Thoroughly adhamma.
    "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: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:11 am

daverupa wrote:
BuddhaKurt wrote:Put your blind faith in it at first


Thoroughly adhamma.


Well put, Dave.
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby 2600htz » Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:54 am

whynotme wrote:Hi everyone,

Did anyone here attain first, second, third or fourth jhana? If yes, I am more than eager for learning from real experiences.

Regards.


Thats a hard topic, mainly because the definition of jhana, "correct jhana", and "correct method" changes a lot, even inside close circles..and of course, the human factor...
I think the correct order to look for guide is suttas>teacher testimonies>students testimonies>general discussion forum testimonies.

With Metta.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Goedert » Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:02 am

When I was born I couldn't walk. Now I can, I learned it by observing other people doing it and strengthening my body members step by step.

Mundane jhanas can be cultivated and mastered. Supramundane jhanas can't be cultivated and mastered, you just abide in them.

Just some reflections.

You can only attain what is unattainable, in this case the supramundane. Rest of the things are impermanent phenomena, but still one can gain mastery over them.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby alan » Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:38 am

Hi Ben. Agree with most of what you say, but I don't get the fruit simile. It doesn't seem to follow that people of high attainment will always be humble. And should we take humbleness as a sign of high awareness? That seems to create its own problems.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:52 am

Hi alan,

alan wrote:Hi Ben. Agree with most of what you say, but I don't get the fruit simile. It doesn't seem to follow that people of high attainment will always be humble. And should we take humbleness as a sign of high awareness? That seems to create its own problems.


My observation has been that the more one develops in panna the more humility one also develops. And to a certain extent, it has also been my experience as well. And let me make it quite clear that I claim no attainments. Its my contention that humility and gratitude are artefacts of real progress.
kind regrds

Ben
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby alan » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:17 am

Agreed. But "humbleness" in and of itself is often confused with progress. I've met more than a few "humble" people who put on that facade. Not you of course!
I like the fact that you changed the words to humility and gratitude. There is a real difference.
I believe that words matter. Proper words influence perceptions for the better. Improper words create all kinds of problems.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:26 am

I understand exactly where you are coming from Alan.
Yes, conceit is such an insidious problem.
And I'm happy that greater clarification on my part you can understand my position as well!
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Freawaru » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:29 pm

Ben wrote:
One thing that Valerie touched on earlier which was incredibly insightful is that its through one's behaviour that one's progress on the path is most accurately reflected. The other thing I want to say is that with progress comes humilty. The greater the progress, the greater the humility.


Which definition do you use?

Humility (adjectival form: humble) is the quality of being modest, and respectful. Humility, in various interpretations, is widely seen as a virtue in many religious and philosophical traditions, being connected with notions of transcendent unity with the universe or the divine, and of egolessness.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humility


It is my experience and observation that many people (though probably not all) actually become uncertain and doubtful after strong meditative experiences. Because they don't know what they mean. Most of us don't grow up in a religious culture and meditation is generally considered as something only freaks do (except if done against stress at work). I still don't like to mention that I meditate because people usually look so strange at me. Not knowing what an experience was or is just increases this conditioning. And the question and worries stay. But when one provides people with a name and a theory of their experience, a label, something to understand rationally, and tells them what it means and how to go on from this, they are usually reassured. They don't linger on the past experience once they know what it was. But as long as one has no idea what it (or they) were one still keeps this question in the back of one's mind and worries what it was.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:30 am

daverupa wrote:It shouldn't be a matter of "having the experience", it should be a matter of becoming enthused by seeing the truth of the Dhamma.


I agree, but for me pitta and sukha are very nourishing to my overall practice, so they're helpful.

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:32 am

Sanghamitta wrote:Reading around the posts of others and cross referring one can often get a feel for the overall tenor of an individuals mindset, and I have never yet been convinced of anyone's online claims to Jnana states.


Why so suspicious?

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:33 am

alan wrote: And should we take humbleness as a sign of high awareness? That seems to create its own problems.


I agree. It could just be lack of confidence.

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:52 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:Reading around the posts of others and cross referring one can often get a feel for the overall tenor of an individuals mindset, and I have never yet been convinced of anyone's online claims to Jnana states.


Why so suspicious?

Spiny



I dont think Jnana states are available to lay people in normal circumstances.
Not because they are lay per se. But because the lifestyle and commitments of a lay person mitigate the attainments of such states in our cultures.

I think a small group of people however mistake unusual mind states for Jnana. When they are in fact mundane , but unusual. And those that make those claims are frequently characterised by defensive and argumentative behaviour. This is firmly my view. I know for a fact that it is widely shared by a number of teachers.
Last edited by Sanghamitta on Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Ytrog » Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:56 am

I agree that it is dangerous to talk about one's own attainments. Bhikkus are forbidden to discuss that towards lay people even and for good reasons.

What I don't agree with, however is the argument that it should only be discussed privately with one's teacher and not online. Many people here come to a forum like this for the very reason they don't have acces to a teacher (in person) and for discussing one's personal experiences we even have a special sub-forum.

I think it is ok for people who don't have acces to teachers to describe their personal experiences, so they can get feedback and find out what happened. Just don't claim anything, just describe.

IMHO this forum was founded to be the teacher for those who don't have acces to one in any other way. We are lucky to have many experienced meditators here, some even bhikkus, who can help all the others (like me ;)) here.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Ben » Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:02 am

Ytrog wrote:IMHO this forum was founded to be the teacher for those who don't have acces to one in any other way.

No it wasn't.
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