Did anyone here attain jhana?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:03 am

Sanghamitta wrote:
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 think a small group of people however mistake unusual mind states for Jnana.


Yes, entirely possible. But what you said above was "I have never yet been convinced of anyone's online claims to Jnana states" which seems to me an incredibly sweeping statement.

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:05 am

I have never been convinced of a single persons online claims to any Jnanic states. Ever.

Interestingly I have never encountered such claims offline.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Ytrog » Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:43 am

Ben wrote:
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.


Ok, maybe I'm wrong about this. What is the "mission" of this forum exactly? I thought it would be mainly to provide an online place for people to exchange experiences, help each other out with their practice and provide a platform for discussion of the Dhamma.

Especially the "helping each other out with their practice" part would mean that some here would teach others and guide them. :anjali:
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Ben » Mon Jul 11, 2011 12:37 pm

Greetings Ytrog,
Ytrog wrote:
Ben wrote:
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.


Ok, maybe I'm wrong about this. What is the "mission" of this forum exactly? I thought it would be mainly to provide an online place for people to exchange experiences, help each other out with their practice and provide a platform for discussion of the Dhamma.

Especially the "helping each other out with their practice" part would mean that some here would teach others and guide them. :anjali:

I don't think we've formally provided a mission statement for Dhamma Wheel. The intent was to provide an online environment for the discussion of the Dhamma and for those seeking companionship on the path with like-minded people. Membership of Dhamma Wheel is open for all those who have a genuine interest in the Theravada. Implicit within that is mutual support. Dhamma Wheel was not set up to give a platform for those who are eager to wear the mantle of teacher, ariya or a latter-day buddha. Dhamma Wheel was never intended to bring together people who are interested in the Dhamma so that others can take advantage of them emotionally or financially.

We have been eager to advise members who are seeking the advice of a teacher to do so outside of the cyber-environment. In the absence of a teacher then the counsel of long-standing practitioners within a particular teacher's "lineage" or teaching method, or to attend retreats within a particular respected tradition or to access printed material available from respected authors. If you are wishing to discuss your meditative experience and if it is in the absence of a student-teacher relationship, then I suggest you do so with someone that is much more experienced than you within the particular tradition or methodology you are practicing in whom you have a great deal of confidence.

The great benefit of the Internet is that it has increased access to the Dhamma to everyone that was unimaginable twenty-five years ago. You are also able to contact respected teachers via email, monasteries, meditation and retreat centres and places like Dhamma Wheel, co-habit the virtual space with people from all around the world from every spectrum of Theravada practice who have different levels of practice and understanding.
The problem with the online environment is that it is very easy for charletains and the deluded to fraudulently misrepresent themselves and convince others of their status as monastics, as someone having this or that "attainment" and/or their role as teachers. Claims of attainment are something that is impossible to verify or completely discount and becomes an appeal to authority that can be almost irresistible among those who may be a little naive, or beginners or those are also desperately seeking similar attainments or meditative experiences. And there are forums for those, that I mentioned earlier, are full of people who are fooling themselves by self-referentially claiming and acknowledging each other's bogus claim.

Just this weekend we had one person join this site who claimed himself to be a "buddha". When I investgated the individual I noted his website where he was promoting himself as a self-help guru, having two awakenings and was selling copies of his self-help manual. On another Buddhist discussion board I noted that he joined so that he could help others and teach them. For most practitioners the person in question would be an amusing curiosity but for others who maybe less experienced, he has the potential to take them down a wrong path.

My apologies for the long-winded reply.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:37 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:I have never been convinced of a single persons online claims to any Jnanic states. Ever.

Interestingly I have never encountered such claims offline.


I don't think people are making "claims", they're just trying to describe their experience. Offline I've met a number of people who've talked about experiencing jhanic states and I have/had no reason to disbelieve them - it wasn't like they were boasting or anything.

Anyway, perhaps we should leave it there.

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Ytrog » Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:38 pm

Dhamma Wheel was not set up to give a platform for those who are eager to wear the mantle of teacher, ariya or a latter-day buddha. Dhamma Wheel was never intended to bring together people who are interested in the Dhamma so that others can take advantage of them emotionally or financially.

Never meant it in such a heavy way. Just that there are more and less experienced people and we can learn from each other. :anjali:

As for the one that claimed to be a Buddha: I think I saw that post. It made me frown.

I must say that my recent stay at a monastery clarified a lot and I do have plenty of books from that tradition (the one founded by Ven. Ajahn Chah).
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:29 pm

Ytrog wrote:
Dhamma Wheel was not set up to give a platform for those who are eager to wear the mantle of teacher, ariya or a latter-day buddha. Dhamma Wheel was never intended to bring together people who are interested in the Dhamma so that others can take advantage of them emotionally or financially.

Never meant it in such a heavy way. Just that there are more and less experienced people and we can learn from each other.
And that is a legitimate question, which raises the question of how to talk about one's experiences in such a way that promotes a balanced exchange. All to often the discussion one's experience of jhana and such gets presented in an overly authoritarian manner that does not lend it self to an easy exchange of ideas and differences. It is a problem and I am not sure what the solution is, and it is a problem for a lot of the reasons spelled out above.

Acknowledging the problem can certainly help defuse it.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Aloka » Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:02 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:I have never been convinced of a single persons online claims to any Jnanic states. Ever.

Interestingly I have never encountered such claims offline.



These are my own feelings about online claims and also my offline experience too.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:17 am

Greetings,

I find anyone's "claims" of samma samadhi, as no more thrilling than proficiency in any of the other seven aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path.

If you've got it, good for you... but claim alone makes no difference in how I perceive people and what they say. If anything, it causes me to lose respect for them if their speech and deeds are not commensurate with what attainment they're claiming... so they're really just setting higher expectations for themselves to achieve (which is risky business if the claim is false or deluded).

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:56 pm

Aloka wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:I have never been convinced of a single persons online claims to any Jnanic states. Ever.

Interestingly I have never encountered such claims offline.



These are my own feelings about online claims and also my offline experience too.


Actually I think these are learned attitudes reflecting the ambivalence of the Forest tradition towards jhana, which is regarded as a distraction.

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:03 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I find anyone's "claims" of samma samadhi, as no more thrilling than proficiency in any of the other seven aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path.



I agree, it's no big deal actually. It seems strange to me that we have people making out that jhana is an impossibility for the average practictioner, and implying that people are making "claims" as some sort of ego trip.

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:54 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I find anyone's "claims" of samma samadhi, as no more thrilling than proficiency in any of the other seven aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path.



I agree, it's no big deal actually. It seems strange to me that we have people making out that jhana is an impossibility for the average practictioner, and implying that people are making "claims" as some sort of ego trip.

Spiny
Like anything, it depends. For the average practitioner, lay or monastic, jhana takes some work (as the suttas themselves indicate), and depending upon which style of jhana one is striving for, it may take a fair amount of work over time. If one is following the Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw style, it likely will take a lot of work and will likely require retreat setting to help.

http://www.leighb.com/jhanantp.htm the descriptions for each linked eassay neatly outlines the various approaches, giving some idea of how much work might be required for the average practitioner following a chosen approach. If I can attain jhana, it certainly is not impossible, but then for me it was in the context of a three month vipassana retreat and working with a highly experienced Indian teacher trained by Mahasi Sayadaw.

Oh, gawd, an ego trip: I just laid claim to having attained jhana, which I have actually said that before, but I have also said that I have, as a sustained practice, given it up. The issue is not so much talking about having attained jhana, but it is in how it is talked about. For me the touchstone in this issue is this story:

    After only a year and a half of practice at Wat Ba Pong, one American [Jack Kornfield] asked and received permission to travel and study with other Thai and Burmese teachers. A year or two later, he returned full of tales of his travels, of many months of extraordinary and intensive practice and of a number of remarkable experiences. . . . Then the Western monk went to the cottage of Achaan Sumedho, the senior Western disciple of Achaan Chah, and told all his stories and adventures, his new understandings and great insights into practice. Sumedho listened in silence and prepared afternoon tea from the roots of certain forest plants. When the stories were completed and the insights recounted, Sumedho smiled and said, "Ah, how wonderful. Something else to let go of."

Jhana and other attainments (real or imagined) all too easily become credentials.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Nyana » Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:00 pm

:goodpost:

tiltbillings wrote:Jhana and other attainments (real or imagined) all too easily become credentials.

Indeed. It can't be emphasized enough that the path is about relinquishing acquisitions, not about compiling a resume to try to impress others.

All the best,

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Sanghamitta » Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:06 pm

Quite so Tilt. The point is less about whether it is possible to attain them ( and I have my doubts for most people in most non retreat situations ) as about the inadvisability of claiming some kind of permanent status.
( And yes some people do. On this very forum. )

Just a year or so back there was a flurry of posts from a member claiming to access Jnana states with ease.
As I recall the same member then fell out with just about everybody and the forum cat before disappearing.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:51 pm

After considering this issue again and reflecting on the good points from all above, I think there may a "middle way" point on this issue.

The one extreme of not discussing jhana at all, not discussing any experiences, encounters with teachers, etc. can be unproductive because it can give it more of a mystique than is necessary and make it seem more an impossibility.

The other extreme of boasting about attainments for the purpose of credentials, such as mentioning how "easy" it is to get into any of the jhanas or talking about one's noble status, etc., only invites ridicule and scorn.

A "middle way" could be to discuss different aspects of the jhanas from the Suttas and with only brief mentions of some experiences (if one really has any) which should only be for the purpose of encouraging others to practice, not for any self-aggrandizement.

An example, can be the brief mention by Tilt above or other similar experiences during retreats, under the guidance of a respected teacher, etc. for the purpose of encouraging others on the Path and so that they may practice more diligently or embark on retreats.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Reductor » Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:15 pm

Hi Ben, all.

Good post David.

I do not think it is the discussion that causes trouble, but the manner that discussion takes. It is this manner that steals the focus from how to practice and places it on what to 'attain'.

This difference does seems esepcially evident in discussion of jhana versus discussion of ariyaphala. Jhana is an element of practice, ariyaphala is the result of practice.

However, jhana is regarded very much as maggaphala today, similar to ariyaphala, i.e., as supramumdane and therefore beyond the keen of ordinary minds and circumstance. Thus this makes it a desirable thing for some to 'attain' and then to 'claim'. This is how they wish to focus on it.

This treatment of jhana is not present in the suttas, however. There jhana is a means to an end and is taken for granted as both a practice and a tool. It wasn't rarified, and we should avoid rarifying it even today.

So what the rest of us should do is focus on jhana as an element of the path that can and should be cultivated. Stop taking such a reactionary approach to claimers, which only jusifies their assertion of special status while obscuring the issue for the rest of us.

Edit: added odds and ends. Fixed some grammer also.
Michael

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

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To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:11 pm

Hi All,

Reason for disclosing attainments (assuming that they are not impossible, then some on this very forum- heaven forbid- can be assumed to have attained them through correct practice):
1) To help another with their practice
2) to help+ out of conceit
3) merely out of conceit
4) to help+ material reward
5) purely material reward
6) plain untruths -for whatever reason

Reasons for disbelieving statements of attainments
1) wrong view that attainments are not possible (see mundane right view -mahacattasarika sutta/MN)
2) wrong view that we are qualified to judge their veracity on line, only with little aquaintance
3) Because we feel defensive about our own practice
4) because we genuinely care about people being mislead
5) it doesn't fall in line with the dhamma

Would it be wrong to say 'it can be done- just don't expect proof'?

Would it be wrong to expect no reward or praise or acceptance for such statements- perhaps only a 'it maybe so'... and verify them in line with the dhamma, and through your own practice ultimately?

with metta

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Sanghamitta » Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:37 pm

Wouldnt it be a lot simpler to keep such things between ourselves and our teacher/s as has already been suggested ?

This is not like sharing tips and hints for practice, as in the Vipassana or Metta Bhavana ...this is about mind states that are not accessible to or verifiable by a written description anyway.
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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Nyana » Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:37 am

Sanghamitta wrote:This is not like sharing tips and hints for practice, as in the Vipassana or Metta Bhavana ...this is about mind states that are not accessible to or verifiable by a written description anyway.

Discussing samathabhāvanā is no different from discussing vipassanābhāvanā or mettābhāvanā.

All the best,

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Re: Did anyone here attain jhana?

Postby Nyana » Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:40 am

David N. Snyder wrote:A "middle way" could be to discuss different aspects of the jhanas from the Suttas and with only brief mentions of some experiences (if one really has any) which should only be for the purpose of encouraging others to practice, not for any self-aggrandizement.

Indeed. Preferably with the focus on the texts and not personal experiences. This is standard Buddhist etiquette.

All the best,

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