Attainment of Jhana?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Attainment of Jhana?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:13 pm

I recently posted a thread about how my concentration was beginning to fail me but now I realize that it was simply an adverse reaction to what seems to be an approaching Jhana state. I'm not big on Jhana as an intergral part of practice, but as it is definitely approaching, so to speak, so I feel like I shouldn't ignore it. I begin to feel an intense tingling, pleasant sensation in my arms, hands, and chest as I sink into a deeper state of concentration. However, when this happens, I have been told/have read that the best idea is to switch to observing the sensation mindfully instead of the breath in an attempt to almost "coax" it over you. I'm having trouble with this. It seems that when I am not breathing, I can do this easily; however, when I do take a breath, I have a lot of trouble focusing on the feeling. It's almost like my mind is still tethered to the breath and can't help but notice it.

Is this a sign that I should continue watching the breath, and that I'm switching to observing the phenomenon of access concentration too early, or am I doing it "right" so to speak and that I'm just not giving it enough time? I'm a little lost on this whole thing as my tradition is fairly ambivalent towards Jhana. It's scary, really. I'm equal parts afraid of spending too much time following the Jhana and afraid of losing my progress if I don't follow through. Any advice from those who have a little more experience would be wonderful. Thanks!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby reflection » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:53 pm

The mind will notice the breath because it is moving. So it's no problem, focus on the breath, breath can take you to jhana. People have used different objects to get into jhana, breath being one of them.

Anyway, don't get overly focussed on jhana as a target, a goal-focussed approach may not be the fastest approach. Right now you are probably overthinking things.
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:00 pm

Greetings LY,
I urge you to re-examine the instructions from within the tradition you are practicing as your first port of call. Having said that, in your situation I would continue to remain focused on the primary meditation object. If you are practicing the samatha variant of anapana, then try to maintain unbroken awareness of the breath for as long as possible. Whatever artifacts of concentration arise, do not become distracted by them.
Wishing you all the best,

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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby marc108 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 5:47 am

i had a similar problem, and was told to allow the sensations to combine... rather than choose one, allow the piti and the breath sensations to merge and go with that. for fear, you could read all the good the Sutta's have to say. i would also suggest finding a teacher familiar with Jhana at this point if you haven't already.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
The Blessed One said: "Now what, monks, is five-factored noble right concentration? 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. This is the first development of the five-factored noble right concentration.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Apr 14, 2012 6:43 am

Greetings,

If in doubt, let go of fabrications.

:meditate:

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Apr 14, 2012 6:49 am

If you were approaching jhana you wouldn't be having all this turmoil over it. Just relax notice the breath, notice thoughts and feelings, notice sensations and watch them all arise and pass away, when you can do this consistently without reactivity over years or months then start thinking about jhana.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby reflection » Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:33 am

Goofaholix wrote:If you were approaching jhana you wouldn't be having all this turmoil over it.


I think so too. An adverse reaction to jhana seems unlikely.
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:46 pm

Goofaholix wrote:If you were approaching jhana you wouldn't be having all this turmoil over it. Just relax notice the breath, notice thoughts and feelings, notice sensations and watch them all arise and pass away, when you can do this consistently without reactivity over years or months then start thinking about jhana.

It's not really aversion, that was the wrong word. Mostly it's more a hesitation or fear to really get "into it" because I come from a tradition that is somewhat negative in its perception of Jhana. The actual experience of what I guess you would call access concentration is not turmoil at all.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby reflection » Sat Apr 14, 2012 5:46 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:If you were approaching jhana you wouldn't be having all this turmoil over it. Just relax notice the breath, notice thoughts and feelings, notice sensations and watch them all arise and pass away, when you can do this consistently without reactivity over years or months then start thinking about jhana.

It's not really aversion, that was the wrong word. Mostly it's more a hesitation or fear to really get "into it" because I come from a tradition that is somewhat negative in its perception of Jhana. The actual experience of what I guess you would call access concentration is not turmoil at all.

Just keep open the possibility that you may be wrong in your analysis, this is always a wise thing to do.
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:28 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:It's not really aversion, that was the wrong word. Mostly it's more a hesitation or fear to really get "into it" because I come from a tradition that is somewhat negative in its perception of Jhana. The actual experience of what I guess you would call access concentration is not turmoil at all.


I was referring to your previous post where you thought your meditation was falling apart and now you feel this is a sign of jhana, this makes no sense to me.

I would have thought jhana was characterised by a stable calm confidence, and a letting go. Intense tingling is a good experience to have as it shows the mind is more sensitive to the subtle sensations in the body, as long as you don't cling to it, but I wouldn't have thought it was necessarily a sign of impending jhana.

Somebody who is more experienced in this area may be able to correct me if I'm wrong.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:24 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote: I'm equal parts afraid of spending too much time following the Jhana and afraid of losing my progress if I don't follow through. Any advice from those who have a little more experience would be wonderful. Thanks!


My understanding is that you watch the experience and don't try to change anything. The idea is to learn what these various temporary mind-states look like.

Recently I had to abandon vipissana-samatha practice for a focused meditation upon emptiness using the following sutta as a guide:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby manas » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:28 pm

Hi LY,

if you have a particular tradition you are working in, and a particular instructor, and if you have conviction in those, then as Ben pointed out earlier, the best option might be consulting them first. But I will offer some modest insights from a fellow traveller, for what it's worth.

Jhanas 1-4 are just 'limb number eight' of the N8FP. It's good to remember that we need all eight 'limbs' to be developed in tandem. I used to focus too much on my daily sitting meditation in a way that was out of balance with the other path factors. That's one thing to remember.

As for jhana, I'm getting the idea lately that there needs to be a gradual but real 'whole lifestyle shift' for it to become part of our lives. Take a look at the 'Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life'. Now I cannot pretend to be following everything in this sutta in all it's details, or else i would be a forest monk with few possessions, and not a householder with two kids to look after! But there is this well-known sequence / order to things. First the Buddha describes the perfecting of Virtue, then sense restraint, then Mindfulness and Alertness, then Contentedness, then Abandoning the Hindrances, and then the Four Jhanas! I notice this kind of order elsewhere in the suttas, also (eg, Virtue -> Jhana -> Insight). I don't know if the Buddha is saying we have to perfect each one before moving on to the next, but possibly that we need to give importance to all of these things if we really want to practice jhana / Insight, and that the previously elucidated things (virtue, contentedness etc) are supports for jhana practice.

So I respectfully ask, how's your virtue? How's your mindfulness in all activities, throughout the entire day? How content are you? I'm not saying type an answer to this here hehe, just that this is how I am looking at things myself now. I'm asking myself those questions through the day, trying to develop all eight limbs of the Noble Path as best as I can (and it's a pretty humble level but better than nothing at all), and not letting the morning meditation sit be this huge thing that I get too obsessed with. Will it be blissful? Will it be frustrating, or boring? Will it be painful? It's been all of these things, and will be again, ime! But I believe that more balance in the whole of our life, would also very positively affect that time we do spend on the meditation cushion. As for the tingling, I say just enjoy it. But remain mindful and alert through it. If your mindfulness gets lost, then you need to work on that.

Hope something here was of assistance

:namaste:
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:20 am

Goofaholix wrote:I was referring to your previous post where you thought your meditation was falling apart and now you feel this is a sign of jhana, this makes no sense to me.

I would have thought jhana was characterised by a stable calm confidence, and a letting go. Intense tingling is a good experience to have as it shows the mind is more sensitive to the subtle sensations in the body, as long as you don't cling to it, but I wouldn't have thought it was necessarily a sign of impending jhana.

The more and more I really look at it, I think I'm hitting access concentration and then just "panicking" so to speak, which is pretty far from Jhana itself. I'm talking with someone right now who's a little more focused on that side of things and he's definitely made it clear that the actual state of Jhana is a little more than I originally thought; A lot of the literature I've read has a kinda "psh, whatever" view of anything but Vipassana. As a result I think i haven't gotten a good grasp on what it even really is yet! But hey, we all get ahead of ourselves sometimes =]

reflection wrote:]Just keep open the possibility that you may be wrong in your analysis, this is always a wise thing to do.

Oh for sure, that response came out as a little more self-assured than I meant it =] It's always good to be kept in check!
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:38 pm

Hi Ly

I agree with your analysis. As our samadhi develops we experience all kinda of strange new phenomena which we can mistake for jhana. Equally I suggest you stay with the breath as with developing samadhi the mind turns inwards towards deeper states of mind and to turn it outwards towards the body to feel sensations is counter productive if your aim is 'samatha' jhana. there is nothing to fear in jhana as long as you don't suffer from psychotic mental illness :) (it can adversely impact on it). At worst you will get a headache (impermanent). At best you will have jhana which is like rocket fuel for the Path. Good luck!

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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby icyteru » Tue May 08, 2012 11:41 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:If you were approaching jhana you wouldn't be having all this turmoil over it. Just relax notice the breath, notice thoughts and feelings, notice sensations and watch them all arise and pass away, when you can do this consistently without reactivity over years or months then start thinking about jhana.

It's not really aversion, that was the wrong word. Mostly it's more a hesitation or fear to really get "into it" because I come from a tradition that is somewhat negative in its perception of Jhana. The actual experience of what I guess you would call access concentration is not turmoil at all.


what is the negative of jhana?
Buddha said: "Practice jhana, Ananda.
Don't be heedless. Don't later fall into regret. This is our message to you
all."
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby bodom » Tue May 08, 2012 11:46 pm

icyteru wrote:what is the negative of jhana?
Buddha said: "Practice jhana, Ananda.
Don't be heedless. Don't later fall into regret. This is our message to you all."


A group of laypeople who had studied the Abhidhamma together came to Ajaan Fuang to try out his version of mental training, but when he told them to sit, close their eyes, and focus on the breath, they immediately backed off, saying that they didn't want to practice concentration, for fear that they'd get stuck on jhana and end up being reborn in the Brahma worlds. He responded, "What's there to be afraid of? Even non-returners are reborn in the Brahma worlds. At any rate, being reborn in the Brahma worlds is better than being reborn as a dog."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... tself.html

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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Attainment of Jhana?

Postby manas » Wed May 09, 2012 2:18 am

A group of laypeople who had studied the Abhidhamma together came to Ajaan Fuang to try out his version of mental training, but when he told them to sit, close their eyes, and focus on the breath, they immediately backed off, saying that they didn't want to practice concentration, for fear that they'd get stuck on jhana and end up being reborn in the Brahma worlds. He responded, "What's there to be afraid of? Even non-returners are reborn in the Brahma worlds. At any rate, being reborn in the Brahma worlds is better than being reborn as a dog."


:rofl:
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