Hello everyone, i have a couple questions about my own practice. I'll get right to it.
1. Having practiced concentration for about 1.5 years with decent dedication, I believe I have attained some degree of mastery (being able to easily abide in) of 4th jhana, it seems to match the suttic descriptions though not all of the post-suttic stuff. I'll briefly describe what i think are the first 4 jhanas in my experience, the way of practice on and off the cushion for me was always noticing the breath (throughout the whole body) and relaxing as much as possible.
1st: onset of pleasure, starting often in the heart area - thoughts are still occurring, a feeling as if the pleasure is connected to the breath and is localized around the feeling of breath
2nd: after continuing to release what seem to be blockages of breath the pleasure spreads itself throughout the entire body except for the head, which i can't seem to unblock
3rd: the pleasure loses some 'coarse' aspect, which happens through further relaxation, sort of lessening the 'excitement' response in regard to the pure pleasure which underlies it
4th: after continuing to go further and further into relinquishing this excitement the pleasure seems to dissipate, becoming all the more pure, eventually it's purity becomes complete and it is simply awareness, the awareness is spread basically everywhere, 360 degrees.
does this sound right? how do i progress into formless realms?
2. after having got stuck, unable to move into formless jhana, i started simply getting into (what seems to be) 4th jhana and then exploring the causes of stress as i understood them in that state.
i saw these three causes:
a. tension, simply the bodily+mental tightness which occurs mostly with emotions and in areas of physical pain - the solution here is simply letting go
b. 'fuzziness' of attention, in which some part experience is obscured. this comes with 'focusing' on some part of experience, which seems to be the same thing as obscuring all of experience which isn't being focused on. as attention jumps around this fuzziness moves to wherever the 'attention' isn't. i have taken this to be something alot of the thai forest ajans are pointing to when they say to notice the difference between the object and the awareness of the object - the solution here seems to also be letting go =], when i no longer desire to change the object of focus, there is no need to obscure the rest of experience and everything comes into a sort of clear 'all-around' view.
c. narratives and 'stories' and perceptions this bit seems simple enough, and the answer is again letting go =]=]
firstly, do people recognize what i am talking about with each of these? they all seem to be defilements which make up unskillful states and so i attempt to abandon them. secondly, do these three things correlate to specific parts of the 12 links in dependent co-arising(i speculate clinging, craving, becoming)? thirdly, which should i focus on ending? the intuitive answer for me currently is the b. which brings me to my next question...
3. having explained basically all of my understanding of the phenomenological aspects of suffering and the way to their end - i will explain to you my current practice, which i don't see described in the suttas except (perhaps) as 'themeless concentration'. what i am now doing (after giving up with progressing past 4th jhana) is this: I simply work with letting go on that second aspect of suffering mentioned above, I attempt to focus on nothing and allow all 6 sense doors experience to come through unhampered, seen with equal (and maximal) clarity (that is the ideal of practice, it only occasionally actually happens). doing this practice has brought me to a temporary peek at what i hypothesize the end of suffering would be like in which all three of the mentioned aspects above were totally and completely absent gone without a trace. does anyone recognize this, and now that you have seen a good deal about my practice and understanding what would you recommend?
4. are emotions (which seem to be made up of those three parts of suffering) part of what is experienced after the end of suffering? given my experience i would definitely say no, but most 'enlightened' teachers seem to say that this isn't the case, however those who do say this seem to teach something which is more focused on realizing the 3 characteristics, rather than moving towards wholesome states, their practice seems to be focused on dissociating from unskillful states(rather than ending unskillful states)... mostly they come from zen backgrounds, though a few come from theravada. again the only people i have seen who seem to really focus on actually ending unskillful states seem to be thai forest teachers... however this view is likely caused by the fact that I know practically nothing of most other traditions. i would prefer to leave out any sectarian conflict here (as i am sure everyone from every sect would
), but i couldn't figure out how to phrase my confusion about this issue without raising at least some of that conflict.
i apologize for putting so much into one thread, each of those 4 could probably be its own thread, but now you know basically everything i know about the practical aspects of meditation practice, and hopefully you can guide me =]