Son wrote:DOES ANYONE HERE HAVE EXPERIENCE OF THE FIRST JHANA?
If so, could you please be so graceful as to share it with us? I've been attempting to attain it and have only reached the approximate-jhana.
Regarding your frustration, I can relate! People say so many varying things about
jhana. But as for having actually been there
,..hardly anyone will admit to it!!
Like yourself, I reckon I've come close,
in the sense of being 'at the door' so to speak, and even that was not
what I thought it would be. Bear in mind, however, that if the five hindrances are abandoned and
there is sustained piti-sukha, it could be argued that one is already there, and that it just needs more and more refining
...?, Like learning to bake a cake. You try over and over, and keep getting close, but it doesn't rise. Then one day it rises, and you have a cake - great!
- but the quality is not so good. But it's still a cake.
So you keep on practicing until you become really skilled at making the cake. I reckon it's more like that. More of us have had jhana than we might believe, imho. But we get too mental
about it, due to so many expectations.
As I understand it, vitakka did originally mean actual thinking,
nothing fancier than that. Over time it came to mean something else (as in the commentaries...):
Vitakka [vi+takka] reflection, thought, thinking; "initial application"...
... Note. Looking at the combn vitakka+vicāra in earlier and later works one comes to the conclusion that they were once used to denote one & the same thing: just thought, thinking, only in an emphatic way (as they are also semantically synonymous), and that one has to take them as one expression, like jānāti passati, without being able to state their difference. With the advance in the Sangha of intensive study of terminology they became distinguished mutually. Vitakka became the inception of mind, or attending, and was no longer applied, as in the Suttas, to thinking in general. The explns of Commentators are mostly of an edifying nature and based more on popular etymology than on natural psychological grounds.
It makes sense to me that we should first be able to make use of the occasional mental prompt or reminder so long as the thinking is under full control, intentional, and directly related to the meditation in this present moment.
supposed to have been abandoned is the incessant chattering and bubbling up of one thought after another (papanca) - yes, that
surely must be absent, as it is implied here:
Abandoning restlessness and anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness and anxiety. (Uddhaccakukkuccaṃ pahāya anuddhato viharati ajjhattaṃ vūpasantacitto, uddhaccakukkuccaṃ cittaṃ parisodheti.)
Vūpasama [fr. vi+upa+śam; cp. BSk. vyupaśama Divy 578] 1. allaying, relief, suppression, mastery, cessation, calmness S iii.32; iv.217; v.65 (cetaso); D ii.157 (sankhārā); A i.4 (id.); ii.162 (papañca˚); v.72; Pug 69; J i.392; DhsA 403. -- 2. quenching (of thirst) PvA 104.
But where does it say that in first jhana the mind is totally and absolutely still? It doesn't - because that comes in the second jhana,
where vitakka-vicara is let go of. My interpretation of the sources above is that some thinking is ok in first jhana, but it would be totally on one's own terms, under control, used for the purposes of the meditation, very calm, and nothing to do with the usual near-constant background chatter that many of us have to endure in ordinary consciousness.