Jhana Question

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Jhana Question

Postby Micheal Kush » Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:52 pm

To give a little background, I am doing breathing meditation or mindfulness of breathing and currently am trying to reach the jhanas and have been going at it for quite a while(6 months). After reading much about how to enter it, i was hindered by much confusion as regards to method.

My method of doing breathing meditation of consists of focusing on the felt breath at the tip of the nose while being aware of other sensations. And i was told that one should keep attention on the breath till the factors of jhana appears.

Yet i was also told, that to achieve jhana one must follow the tetrads. However i thought it was uneccessary to keep attention on whether the breath is short or long and other stuff like that.

Are both methods acceptable? Or is only one right? And is the tetrads supposed to be a faster way from transitioning from jhana to insight?

With metta, mike
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby Ben » Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:07 pm

Greetings Mike,
Just maintain awareness of the touch of the breath for as long as possible. If the breath becomes so subtle that the touch sensation of breath is not discernable, maintain continuous awareness of point where the touch sensation is perceived and avert your awareness to any sensation that arises on that spot until the breath sensation is perceived again.
I recommend that you read the section on anapana-sati in the visuddhimagga.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... on2011.pdf
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby Micheal Kush » Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:45 pm

Thanks for the clarification. But what do you do when a jhana factor arises(bliss), should one maintain focused on the breath with the bliss in the background?

With metta,mike
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:12 am

Micheal Kush wrote:Thanks for the clarification. But what do you do when a jhana factor arises(bliss), should one maintain focused on the breath with the bliss in the background?

With metta,mike

Yes, this is an important question. Too often meditators (me included!) feel bliss arising and immediately focus on it, but that will just end up with the bliss retreating. The Jhana factors are like animals emerging from a forest; if you aren't completely still, they won't come out at all, and once they do peek their heads out, jumping up to grab them will only scare them away. Just stay focused on the breath until bliss stabilizes over the whole body. Only when the animal is in arm's reach, so to speak, should you try and grab it.

I know how incredibly difficult that is, but just keep trying to remain balanced as bliss develops. You're on the right track!
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: Jhana Question

Postby Micheal Kush » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:46 am

Thanks for the beneficial advice. As a matter of fact, i believe i corrected that mistake during my last session. In my last session, i felt a deep aura of relaxation and noticed that my breath became quite subtle but not subtle enough that it felt like i wasnt breath, i was aware that i was breathing. So far, my thoughts have slowly evaporated and i feel with continued persistence, i may access concentration but i feel unsure on how the nimitta would arise. When i fel that deep relaxation, i questioned whether it was the bliss factor building up or just a product of the meditation so i just continued on with the breath.

I just find it hard to believe that i am close to attaining jhana because for one thing, my duration is what you would* call professional(20 minutes is sort of newbish) . But thanks a million for the info, it is truly indespensable!

With Metta, mike

P.S i always try hard to brush away the concept of attaining jhana and just remain absorped in the breathing hope that helps

Edit: Wouldnt is the right word srry
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby Ben » Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:09 am

Hi Mike

There is a tendency for a lot of people to think about and anticipate experiences and events while they'r ein meditation.
Best to keep your attention firmly fixed on the breath and be relaxed about whatever else arises.
If you just pay attention to the breath, jhana will look after itself.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby reflection » Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:57 am

Take it easy. Don't search for the fastest way or the 'correct way'. Don't think ' if I do this and this and this, I will attain something'. Don't even think you are close. Obsession on gaining jhana is a surefire way to not experience it.

That's because jhana's are relinquishments, not something to do or gain. In fact, in absorption you can not do or will anything at all. It takes care of itself, totally out of your control.

So let go.

Metta,
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby Micheal Kush » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:21 pm

reflection wrote:Take it easy. Don't search for the fastest way or the 'correct way'. Don't think ' if I do this and this and this, I will attain something'. Don't even think you are close. Obsession on gaining jhana is a surefire way to not experience it.

That's because jhana's are relinquishments, not something to do or gain. In fact, in absorption you can not do or will anything at all. It takes care of itself, totally out of your control.

So let go.

Metta,
Reflection
:anjali:



Definetely agree with the above statement. I have a tendency to anticipate expierence.
Have to practice letting go.

With metta, mikr
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby Aloka » Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:11 pm

Hi Mike,

I'm not sure if the mind will reach jhana if one is intentionally watching breathing.

Buddha said : "There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to let go, attains concentration, attains singleness of mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn48/sn48.010.than.html

I highly recommend that you read Ajahn Brahm's book "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond " for some preliminary instructions.

with kind wishes

Aloka
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby Nyana » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:33 pm

Aloka wrote:Buddha said : "There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to let go, attains concentration, attains singleness of mind."

This statement refers to the faculty of meditative composure (samādhindriya) of a noble disciple (ariyasāvaka). That is, a person who has already attained the noble paths. As such, this statement most likely refers to supramundane jhāna.

But at any rate, ānāpānassatisamādhi does begin with the breath as object-support (ārammaṇa).
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby suttametta » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:54 pm

My practice is a little different than the touch awareness method. I am simply being mindful of the state of my breathing as the sutta says, "I am aware my breath is short," or "I am aware my breath is long." I breathe in, calming the body. I breathe out sensitive to pleasure, etc. By being aware of the breath this way it slows and stops, whereupon I reflect on the nature of senses and the four noble truths. Finally, I perceive the nature of consciousness that is "without surface or feature..." I see this as mindfulness all the way through where the brightness and luminous quality becomes ever purer.
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby manas » Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:55 pm

Hi reflection,

reflection wrote:Take it easy. Don't search for the fastest way or the 'correct way'. Don't think ' if I do this and this and this, I will attain something'. Don't even think you are close. Obsession on gaining jhana is a surefire way to not experience it.


Yes, I agree that if one is still asking the question, "is this jhana?" then the answer is, "no", because asking such a question is itself indicative of a mind not as yet stilled. And so I too am cultivating letting go of such questions, and just striving to cleanse the hindrances from the mind, with the breath in this body as primary object.

reflection wrote:That's because jhana's are relinquishments, not something to do or gain. In fact, in absorption you can not do or will anything at all. It takes care of itself, totally out of your control.


That they are states of relinquishment and of letting go, is backed up by the suttas afaics. But if you could kindly tell me, from where did you get the idea that in jhana we 'can not do or will anything at all. It takes care of itself, totally out of our control'? Because I thought I had read most of the sutta descriptions of jhana, and that idea isn't stated there afaics. I did read once the opinion of a particular practitioner, that in jhana the will is 'frozen' but I have never read such a description in the suttas. Personally, I am interested in an inwardly stilled mind, but not one that is incapable of being directed should the need arise (for example, to direct it towards investigation of phenomena).

with metta :anjali:
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:13 pm

manas wrote:That they are states of relinquishment and of letting go, is backed up by the suttas afaics. But if you could kindly tell me, from where did you get the idea that in jhana we 'can not do or will anything at all. It takes care of itself, totally out of our control'? Because I thought I had read most of the sutta descriptions of jhana, and that idea isn't stated there afaics. I did read once the opinion of a particular practitioner, that in jhana the will is 'frozen' but I have never read such a description in the suttas. Personally, I am interested in an inwardly stilled mind, but not one that is incapable of being directed should the need arise (for example, to direct it towards investigation of phenomena).

with metta :anjali:

One is incapable of speaking or hearing in the first Jhana, according to several different discourses. Applied attention still occurs but it is definitely not conscious thought.
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: Jhana Question

Postby reflection » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:22 pm

manas wrote:Hi reflection,

reflection wrote:Take it easy. Don't search for the fastest way or the 'correct way'. Don't think ' if I do this and this and this, I will attain something'. Don't even think you are close. Obsession on gaining jhana is a surefire way to not experience it.


Yes, I agree that if one is still asking the question, "is this jhana?" then the answer is, "no", because asking such a question is itself indicative of a mind not as yet stilled. And so I too am cultivating letting go of such questions, and just striving to cleanse the hindrances from the mind, with the breath in this body as primary object.

reflection wrote:That's because jhana's are relinquishments, not something to do or gain. In fact, in absorption you can not do or will anything at all. It takes care of itself, totally out of your control.


That they are states of relinquishment and of letting go, is backed up by the suttas afaics. But if you could kindly tell me, from where did you get the idea that in jhana we 'can not do or will anything at all. It takes care of itself, totally out of our control'? Because I thought I had read most of the sutta descriptions of jhana, and that idea isn't stated there afaics. I did read once the opinion of a particular practitioner, that in jhana the will is 'frozen' but I have never read such a description in the suttas.

I agree the suttas aren't very clear on what jhana is exactly. There is a lot of debate about what jhana is for this reason. So if you want the answers, you have to find them inside. If you want to learn more on this, I would also refer to the manual by Ajahn Brahmavamso, which was posted before.

Personally, I am interested in an inwardly stilled mind, but not one that is incapable of being directed should the need arise (for example, to direct it towards investigation of phenomena).

with metta :anjali:

That's because you are attached to having it 'under control'. But if you look at non-self, who's in control anyway? There never was anyone. So try to let go.

Which is also a reminder to myself. Don't want to sound like I am the know-it-all meditation master, because I'm not.

For your contemplation.

Metta back!
:anjali:
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby reflection » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:31 pm

Micheal Kush wrote:
reflection wrote:Take it easy. Don't search for the fastest way or the 'correct way'. Don't think ' if I do this and this and this, I will attain something'. Don't even think you are close. Obsession on gaining jhana is a surefire way to not experience it.

That's because jhana's are relinquishments, not something to do or gain. In fact, in absorption you can not do or will anything at all. It takes care of itself, totally out of your control.

So let go.

Metta,
Reflection
:anjali:



Definetely agree with the above statement. I have a tendency to anticipate expierence.
Have to practice letting go.

With metta, mikr

Good luck!
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby Micheal Kush » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:38 pm

suttametta wrote:My practice is a little different than the touch awareness method. I am simply being mindful of the state of my breathing as the sutta says, "I am aware my breath is short," or "I am aware my breath is long." I breathe in, calming the body. I breathe out sensitive to pleasure, etc. By being aware of the breath this way it slows and stops, whereupon I reflect on the nature of senses and the four noble truths. Finally, I perceive the nature of consciousness that is "without surface or feature..." I see this as mindfulness all the way through where the brightness and luminous quality becomes ever purer.


Thanks for the advice and comments everybody. Greatly appreciate it.

However regarding your quote above, this is why i asked whether which method is more correct but now i have verified that each method is safely applicable to accomplished these refined states. I just wanted to make sure, i had the fear that if the tetrads are the only way of achieving jhana then i would have to switch up practice which is a enormous pain.

Are the tetrads a basic instruction of using vipassana and samatha simulatanously?
With metta, mike
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby Nyana » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:44 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:One is incapable of speaking or hearing in the first Jhana, according to several different discourses.

Stopping speaking doesn't entail being incapable of speaking. As for hearing, this is only mentioned as such in the Kathāvatthu, and pertains to the placement of attention, not the non-fucntioning of the ear faculty. There are suttas and commentaries which suggest limiting the latter to the formless attainments.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Applied attention still occurs but it is definitely not conscious thought.

This interpretation isn't supported by the suttas, the Abhidhammapiṭaka, nor by the Peṭakopadesa:

    Directed thought is like a text-reciter who does his recitation silently. Evaluation is like him simply contemplating it.
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby Nyana » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:46 pm

Micheal Kush wrote:Are the tetrads a basic instruction of using vipassana and samatha simulatanously?

As always, it depends upon whom you ask or where you look for clarification. According to the Paṭisambhidāmagga Ānāpānassatikathā, yes. According to the Visuddhimagga, no.
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby Micheal Kush » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:48 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Micheal Kush wrote:Are the tetrads a basic instruction of using vipassana and samatha simulatanously?

As always, it depends upon whom you ask or where you look for clarification. According to the Paṭisambhidāmagga Ānāpānassatikathā, yes. According to the Visuddhimagga, no.



Ahhh yes, got it!

Thanks for the clairification

With metta, mike
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Re: Jhana Question

Postby manas » Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:14 am

reflection wrote:
manas wrote:
Personally, I am interested in an inwardly stilled mind, but not one that is incapable of being directed should the need arise (for example, to direct it towards investigation of phenomena).

with metta :anjali:

That's because you are attached to having it 'under control'. But if you look at non-self, who's in control anyway? There never was anyone. So try to let go.



Hi reflection,

have you considered the following passage from the 'jhana sutta'?

"'I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana.' Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said? There is the case where a monk, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'


Regarding the part I bolded - this doesn't sound like a mind incapable of being directed purposefully. Inwardly stilled? yes. Helplessly *just* watching the show? no.

However I am averse to arguments over jhana, because arguing over jhana increases mental agitation, which is a hindrance to jhana! - and although in this case there won't be any ill-will from either of us, :smile: , if we are not going to be able to agree, we should just 'agree to disagree' and simply wish each other well with our respective practices - with a mind of goodwill :anjali:

metta.
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