duration of jhana

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

duration of jhana

Postby dreamov » Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:20 pm

if left undisturbed for days, how long a person may remain in jhana considering he wouldn't have to attend nature's call for at least a day?
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby Moth » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:54 am

To my knowledge, the highest jhana, described as "neither feeling nor perception,
" can be maintained for at most 7 days.
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby Pondera » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:34 pm

Any person, given suitable conditions, has 2.5 hours with which to cultivate a state of jhana. After 2.5 hours the requisite causes for jhana have, accordingly, "passed by" and if such causes for the production of a jhanic state are not taken advantage of during those times, to the best interests of the person involved, then his opportunity to support such said jhana will also have been lost.

The reason is that the body is divided between various "functions" throughout the day. For example if a man was to wake up at six in the morning we might expect that his first actions, once getting out of bed, would be to -more than likely, empty his bladder. Following the call of nature a man will find himself, at around 8:30 in need of a movement ala las bowels. By the time the intestines have sufficiently done their work, it will probably be near 11:00 in the day.

At around 11:00 the a man will probably want to eat, and so his stomach is of divested interest to him. For the remaining two hours the stomach will busily invest itself in the digestive process (assuming he eats something).

Around the time that 1:30 comes around, the food eaten earlier in the day is by this time fully digested, more or less. The body then turns its attention to the heart, which at this time finds itself direly hungry for a quickening of sustenance. So it becomes the body's focus for the next two and a half hours. And, obviously, during this time the blood carries the nutrients absorbed through the stomach to whatever parts of the body happen to be in need.

This is where the logic of my understanding begins to waver on account of deficiencies in my knowledge of bio-chemistry. As such, I cannot strictly account for why, at around 4:00, the body focuses its attention on the thyroid gland, but a quick glance at a Wikipedia entry for "thyroid" explains as much as I need to keep going along this vein.

Following the dispersal of nutrient rich blood from the heart, which has been the main focus of the body for about 2.5 hours now -from about 4 to 6:30, the enzymatic activity controlled by the thyroid gland becomes the focus of the body. The gland appropriately releases its contents which regulate and control how the body will continue to process the nutrients (now fully exchanged throughout the body by the heart), following the complete digestion of food by the body (which occurred naturally after the expulsion of bodily waste; specifically in the order of stomach waste following urination).

As you might expect around this time (6:30 to 9:00) the body turns its focus upwards once again towards the next relevant structure of the body in this climb towards the top. The pituitary gland is responsible for bodily homeostasis, and as such -with the nutrients of the body having been regulated by the thyroid in the previous 2.5 hours, hormones from the pituitary set into motion a dance of biological reactions which further (de facto) set the appropriate needs of the body to a level which is neither too high, nor too low.

Finally, having accomplished nothing more than all one might expect the body to do towards the goal of living another day, it's 9:00, and the body will initiate all forms of repairs in so much as it is capable of doing this. When 11:30 rolls by most working people are ready to fall asleep and they do, or already have.

So obviously I am referring to functions of the body in a way that befits the theory of chakras, without any need to actually bring this controversial topic into discussion. Why did I waste my time writing out all of these things? Well, to prove a point. I want to say something about jhana.

There's little to be known about jhana from buddhist texts. Here's an example which practically encompasses all that is mentioned regarding such states. From

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... jhana.html

[First jhana]

"There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.

"Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal..."

Notice in the simile that the first jhana is compared to a brass basin fully saturated with moisture laden powder. Notice that the skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice pours the bath powder into the basin and kneads it, sprinkling it from time to time until the whole of the water is saturated into one fine soap ball throughout the entire basin.

Now, what exactly are these terms supposed to relate back to? Well the bathman is, as I understand it, the conscious will of the being. The basin is the body of the conscious being. The fully saturated soapy water is the full entrance into jhana. The only question is; what should we compare the bath powder and the kneading of it to?

Well, as I mentioned, the body is busy keeping itself alive throughout the day in periods consisting of 2.5 hours. The start of the day involves getting rid of the previous days waste. The middle involves consuming and digesting sustenance. The latter half involves the biochemical transmutation, deliverance, regulation, and optimization of afore mentioned sustenance. Hence, if we are to really attempt an answer to the question of jhana that satisfies the elements of the simile above we must account for the question of the bath powder, and the answer comes in the form of what you might call "hormones" or "enzymes" of a physio-psycho-teleological nature.

Obviously a skilled bath man does not dump all of his bath powder into a basin at one time. He fills the basin with a generous amount, kneads it together and sprinkles in more, so as to fully emerge the basin with soapy bubbles. Analogously, if for example the bath powder mentioned here was, say, a sort of "substance" that eluded all forms of description apart from one might only recognized in terms like metta, mudita, karuna, or upekkha then we can at least account for how, in meditation, one slowly but surely arrives in a state of fully pervasive jhanic rapture.

When the time is right the physio-psycho-teleological bodily elements naturally come into their own right and will appropriately do so for the next 2 and a half hours. But, if a person wisely accounts for these "substances" and (like the bathman) pours a generous amount of them into his body, wisely opening his up "channels" for the acceptance and activity of the substance; without making the mistake of divesting all the quantity of the elemental substance in one full go, -but rather approaches a heightened state of mind through a gradual and intentional, mindful "letting go" and "churning" of these substances, he will, according to the nature of the physio-psycho-teleological substance, enter into each respective state. Because he has two hours to patiently do this, he may, if he is skilled in jhana, find himself immersed in the same state for a long time before, so to speak, the bubbles gradually pop and the jhanic state comes to an end. 2 and half hours regulate the time one has to invoke the jhana, but it does not necessarily limit how long one may remain in such said state.

So, who can say how long each state lasts for? If you have at the most 2.5 hours to cultivate the state, and perhaps if your ability to cultivate the state depends also on the amount of the emotive substance within you, the state could last for quite along time when you consider that some people are simply endowed with greater amounts of empathy, compassion, equanimity and so on and so forth. It all depends on how you sprinkle the substance and how you patiently wait for the object to come about -with the proper channeling/kneading that is required for the element to pervasively fill your body. It also depends on whether or not you know where these substances lie inside the body.

Immaterial jhanas are no different.
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:59 pm

I think you're over-analyzing the bath-ball simile. The Buddha seems always to have carefully explicated extended metaphor when it was intended, and here this did not happen, so doing it yourself is a misstep, imo of course. Also,

"So obviously I am referring to functions of the body in a way that befits the theory of chakras, without any need to actually bring this controversial topic into discussion."

This is trying to have your cake and eat it, too. Furthermore, none of it differentiates a 2.5-hour window as against, say, 1.5 or 3; your sole support is to say "The reason is that the body is divided between various 'functions' throughout the day," but this is simply another claim, not evidence per se.

I do not see that your claim has been supported.
    "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: duration of jhana

Postby Pondera » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:25 am

daverupa wrote:I think you're over-analyzing the bath-ball simile. The Buddha seems always to have carefully explicated extended metaphor when it was intended, and here this did not happen, so doing it yourself is a misstep, imo of course. Also,

"So obviously I am referring to functions of the body in a way that befits the theory of chakras, without any need to actually bring this controversial topic into discussion."

This is trying to have your cake and eat it, too. Furthermore, none of it differentiates a 2.5-hour window as against, say, 1.5 or 3; your sole support is to say "The reason is that the body is divided between various 'functions' throughout the day," but this is simply another claim, not evidence per se.

I do not see that your claim has been supported.


Please, show me a less analytical explication of the bath-ball simile. Yes, here it was not explicated, though I think it's fair to say that these metaphors are far from "extended". The "Bait" sutta (MN-25) used extended metaphor, with an explication. But these are simply short metaphors meant to indicate simple concepts. Also, since they are what very little one has concerning the nature of the material jhanas they hold gems of knowledge that only become unhidden with a proper interpretation.

With my description of what, I personally believe, is the natural rhythm and cycle of the body I am just having my cake. I did not try to eat it. Had I tried to eat it, I might have gone into depths about this or that chakra, but I left it to the reader to decide about the role of hormones, endocrine glands and human organs in what is, I assume, just an ordinary day out of a person's life.

You're mistaken in asserting that anything other than a 2.5 hour time frame would allow the body to function as it does. And of course you do not have to agree with me that a person's day starts with an unconscious focus on the lower region of the body, towards a progressively higher climb upwards (though it seemingly appears to be this way if you consider how the body operates)

A 1.5 hour time frame admits that should I start to feel hungry around 10:00, and accordingly feel the need to fall asleep by around 6:00, which doesn't coincide with what, on average, people feel. People, on average, feel the need to eat at around 12:00 or slightly earlier, and have a tendency to turn in at around ten and no later than 11:30 -unless they feel like having a really tired day the next morning. In just the same way a 3 hour time frame would suggest that when I wake up at 6, I would want to eat around 3:00 p.m. -which I can grant you is at least believable, but if I had not eaten anything prior to this meal and this was the way my body was naturally accustomed to eating, I would be extremely hungry come three o-clock. Furthermore if my body operated within the confines of an ascending order (and no one's saying it really does; except, perhaps, for me) - on a 3 hour time frame I would decidedly want to fall asleep at midnight, which would of course make it very hard for me to return to my schedule of waking up at 6 again, not to mention make it through the day until 3 when I decidedly have the urge to eat.

So, I'll admit that people with various occupations sleep and eat, urinate, digest and expel their waste at different times. So too do they metabolize their foods according to all those other various no-need to mention, too bio-chemical for me, reasons. But on average, IF the body does indeed operate according to such a schedule of urinating, having a poop, eating a meal, digesting a meal, extending the nutrition through the blood stream, modifying the rate of metabolism at the thyroid gland, assuming homeostasis with the putiritary, and then falling a sleep, 2.5 hours simply accounts for all of these things on an ascending scale at a constant velocity -for each of the seven chakra centres (now, I have my cake and I'm eating it too).

I still can't understand BTW, how that expression works, for indeed once I have my cake I usually tend to eat it as well. I don't do anything other than eat it. I would assume that most people also enjoy eating their cake once they have appropriated it from wherever it is that it was, perhaps, cooked or baked, or otherwise constructed in some various fashion.

Anyhow, your conflict with my story doesn't seem to be about the 2.5 hours. It seems to be about the assertion that 2.5 hours is all one has to work a jhana. That is the case because, according to me, I assert that within the higher functions of the body, certain "substances" are responsible for the actualization of each jhana -which is the simple solution to what the bath soap could possibly be in the simile.)

The only convincing evidence for that assertion would be experiential-personal. Since I have that experience, my liberties are free to squander such knowledge as I must feel the need to do so from time to time. BUT. If you are sincerely interested in proving me wrong, you could go so far as to admit the possibility of the existence of such substances by learning how to release them. And if you find that you are unable to release them, then we'll have another debate. However if you are simply putting a burden of proof upon me, there is nothing I can do; apart from a request for a better interpretation of the simile.

Cheers,

-Pondera
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:33 am

Greetings Pondera,

I can't help feeling you've spent a bit too much time pondering.

Do you happen to know any Theravada teachers whose teachings are aligned with your syncretic argument?... or is this just jhana according to Pondera?

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


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Re: duration of jhana

Postby Pondera » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:08 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Pondera,

I can't help feeling you've spent a bit too much time pondering.

Do you happen to know any Theravada teachers whose teachings are aligned with your syncretic argument?... or is this just jhana according to Pondera?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Yes. I am a Ponderer. However the translation of "Pondera" is more in line with a phrase like "Ponder Me", as if the lengths to which I write were of some interest to others; so much so that I myself might be pondered. Along those same lines you would either laugh or cringe if I divulged the name of my Theravada teacher. And as he is no longer with me you are perhaps correct in assuming that I expound the wisdom of Ponderavada, and only that. I cannot tell you if my former instructor's teachings align with my argument syncretically because I do not know the meaning of this word. However, as I expressed in my introduction I am just a guy with not very much to say. And in fact, despite the lengthiness of my posts, I have exhausted all of my words. Thus, I will (hopefully) sink into the shadows owing to the utter futility I feel in all (of my own) attempts to oppose or rectify the views of others; wherein my own experiences are singular in nature and I have decidedly become altogether Utilitarian in my approach to life. Thus all of my understanding will go with me to the grave despite anything I try to do in regards to passing them on to others. So, without any further ado, I have already said to much, and will attempt to utter little else. Unless you like Ponderavada. Then I will talk to no end, with a Rational so sharp that the threads of all misguided assumption will split asunder like a bolt of lightning to the top of one's head. Ahem.

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Re: duration of jhana

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:18 am

Greetings,

Pondera wrote:Unless you like Ponderavada.

I have nothing for or against Ponderavada... I just wanted to remind you that you're in a Theravada section of a Theravada forum, and ask that you try to frame your comments accordingly.

:rules:

:focus:

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)
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby dreamov » Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:21 am

Moth wrote:To my knowledge, the highest jhana, described as "neither feeling nor perception,
" can be maintained for at most 7 days.


Let me rephrase my question: Is it possible to maintain any jhana during eating, peeing or pooping?..... because if it is not, then no jhana can last longer than the time earned between two successive bodily acts.
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby reflection » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:33 pm

Different people have different opinions on what jhana is, so might answer that question differently. I'd say no, because in jhana you have no awareness of the body. They are states practically without any movement of the mind also. The duration can be varying.
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby Pondera » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:55 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Pondera wrote:Unless you like Ponderavada.

I have nothing for or against Ponderavada... I just wanted to remind you that you're in a Theravada section of a Theravada forum, and ask that you try to frame your comments accordingly.

:rules:

:focus:

Metta,
Retro. :)


Understood. Thank you.

Metta,
-Pondera
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby Pondera » Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:56 pm

dreamov wrote:if left undisturbed for days, how long a person may remain in jhana considering he wouldn't have to attend nature's call for at least a day?


Half a month.
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby Kenshou » Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:16 pm

More likely it's that Sariputta practiced jhana and observed it's qualities habitually for half a month.
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby bypasser » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:37 pm

:alien:
Last edited by bypasser on Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: duration of jhana

Postby dreamov » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:42 am

reflection wrote:Different people have different opinions on what jhana is, so might answer that question differently. I'd say no, because in jhana you have no awareness of the body. They are states practically without any movement of the mind also. The duration can be varying.


i agree.

Pondera wrote:
dreamov wrote:if left undisturbed for days, how long a person may remain in jhana considering he wouldn't have to attend nature's call for at least a day?


Half a month.
Anupada Sutta


agree with Kenshou, that's most likely the case.
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