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my goals and ways of practice - Dhamma Wheel

my goals and ways of practice

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
ohnofabrications
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my goals and ways of practice

Postby ohnofabrications » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:50 pm

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 :o), 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 =]

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reflection
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby reflection » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:27 pm

Hi ohnofabrications,

First of all welcome to the board!

Personally I don't agree with your notion of the jhanas, I could argue why, however, there is already a debate about this on this board, so you can look it up. ;) It would be sad if you're ideas are incorrect and you're developing the wrong thing - so see this just as a consideration, not as me trying to prove you (or anybody else) wrong or something. :)

But more important, leaving aside any specific ideas about the jhanas, I'd like to say that such a goal-focussed approach may not be the most skillful or fastest way. At least, I know for me it isn't. Having goals in mind is a form of craving. Whether they are nirvana, jhanas or even just to be without thoughts, they all obstruct the peace which you are actually looking for. So you just have to arrive here, not going towards a goal. Otherwise, it'll be like the donkey and the carrot.

With metta,
Reflection

Cafael Dust
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Cafael Dust » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:15 pm

Not twice, not three times, not once,
the wheel is turning.

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Goofaholix
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:38 pm

I think you need to be in contact with a teacher skilled in navigating the jhanas, though your written description is quite thorough it will be difficult to get accurate feedback on a public forum like this, especially as most people probably do vipassana type practices.

I think it's pretty foolhardy to try and progress beyond first jhana without guidance from a teacher as it's easy to decceive oneself.

ohnofabrications
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ohnofabrications » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:45 pm


ohnofabrications
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Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:11 pm

Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ohnofabrications » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:49 pm


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Ben
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:06 pm

I second what Goof said.
You need to be practicing under the guidance of a teacher.
From your description it appears you are confusing mundane experiences as jhanas.
And goof is right with regards to receiving accurate feedback with regards to meditation and meditative experience on this, or any other forum. The reason being that very many are at different points along the path and interpret your experiences through the prism of their, perhaps, limited experience and knowledge. Its better you seek feedback and instruction from someone qualified to teach.
All the best,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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retrofuturist
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:15 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

Cafael Dust
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Cafael Dust » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:39 pm

Not twice, not three times, not once,
the wheel is turning.

ohnofabrications
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:11 pm

Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ohnofabrications » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:02 am


Cafael Dust
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Cafael Dust » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:11 am

Anger with a forum poster is such a pale thing when considered in the vast light of what you have trained to do.
Not twice, not three times, not once,
the wheel is turning.

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Goofaholix
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:16 am


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bodom
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby bodom » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:17 am

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

ohnofabrications
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:11 pm

Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ohnofabrications » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:27 am


ohnofabrications
Posts: 60
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby ohnofabrications » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:35 am


Cafael Dust
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Cafael Dust » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:55 am

I think people are trying to help, and none of us are perfect. So it's good practice to try, little by little, to react to less of the negativity one feels coming one's way, to say, ok, maybe I can let that go. It's really easy to interpret the way other peoples' priorities and understandings express themselves as negativity directed at ourselves. Especially when we're goal oriented, as Buddhism shouldn't but often does seem to make us, and we just want to progress quickly, on our own terms. And how we cope with this is as much a part of the path as meditation, and will feed back into one's meditation.

Not being didactic, more organising thoughts about how it is for me.

I really hope your practice is fruitful, and I don't see why it won't be if you continue, and yes, if possible, seek advice from someone realised. I'm off to bed now, good luck. :namaste:
Not twice, not three times, not once,
the wheel is turning.

santa100
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby santa100 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:03 am

I'm certainly no jhana expert. But regarding your question on how to move on to the formless meditations, the wiki page below might be useful, particularly the Mastering Jhana section, which states:

"A meditator should first master the lower jhānas, before they can go into the higher jhānas. There are five aspects of jhāna mastery:

1. Mastery in adverting: the ability to advert[clarification needed] to the jhāna factors one by one after emerging from the jhāna, wherever he wants, whenever he wants, and for as long as he wants.
2. Mastery in attaining: the ability to enter upon jhāna quickly.
3. Mastery in resolving: the ability to remain in the jhāna for exactly the pre-determined length of time.
4. Mastery in emerging: the ability to emerge from jhāna quickly without difficulty.
5. Mastery in reviewing: the ability to review the jhāna and its factors with retrospective knowledge immediately after adverting to them.

The early suttas state that "the most exquisite of recluses" is able to attain any of the jhānas and abide in them without difficulty. This particular arahant is "liberated in both ways:" he is fluent in attaining the jhānas and is also aware of their ultimate unsatisfactoriness. If he were not, he would fall into the same problem as the teachers from whom the Buddha learned the spheres of nothingness and neither perception nor non-perception, in seeing these meditative attainments as something final. Their problem lay in seeing permanence where there is impermanence"

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jhana )

Hope it helps..

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Cittasanto
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:56 am

Hi And welcome Aboard!
I will also sujest you find a teacher skilled in this area you can meet face to face, or other form of one on one contact.
it is the best way as a personal relationship encourages trust, and an ability to understand what you are meaning in a fuller way than forums such are this allow, remember we all use words in a similar way but not entirely the same, and this is why misunderstandings can arise.

from what I read of your experience they seam to agree with what I see in the suttas to an extent, but it is difficult to say if they are in agreement 100% and represent the four Jhanas or not all of them.

good luck, and I would be interested in seeing your progress.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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reflection
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby reflection » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:13 am


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reflection
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Postby reflection » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:29 am



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