piti-sukkha for jhana

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby shazan » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:10 am

Hi,

I have been meditating for 6-8 months now for 45-60 minutes twice a day with good mindfullness. I can stay without any hindering thought for around 10 minutes, and when thoughts come I am usually able to suppress them pretty easily by "looking at them". My teachings come from Attention revolution by Alan wallace (Dzogchen influence) and Mindfulness, bliss and beyond by Ajhan Brahm (Theravada influence).

The problem is that I am not able to go deeper and my mindspace isnt perfectly still. ONly once in my practice did a bilssful feeling arouse that was strong enough to focus upon, and then as the texts say, it expanded and drenched me with bliss, and as a result my mind went completely standstill (standard first jhana I guess). But apart from that one instance, I am unable to get any strong pleasant feeling that I would be able to hook on too. And without that I am unable to get any deeper.

So any guidelines for inducing piti-sukkha, or making it strong enough to focus upon? I am doing mindfulness of breathing right now.

Thanks
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby daverupa » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:24 pm

shazan wrote:I am unable to get any strong pleasant feeling that I would be able to hook on too.


I'm curious about the context for this particular effort. Can you expand on where this instruction comes from?

I mean, things can be present without being focused on, and anapanasati isn't really designed for hooking onto things anyway...

At a guess, I'd say your ideation about the past event is getting in your way, framing up expectations for you and coloring experiences with assessments, judgments, and so on. Anapanasati is a relaxed observation ahead of throwing all those fish back in the water, as it were.

The piti-sukha is born of seclusion...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby fivebells » Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:19 pm

daverupa wrote:I'm curious about the context for this particular effort. Can you expand on where this instruction comes from?


I have a similar understanding, based on the teachings of Leigh Brasington, Thanissaro and Brahm. Of the three Brasington is the most explicit about the idea is that the pleasure is important because it creates a positive feedback loop entraining the mind to the concentration practice, but I got the same idea from Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond, and from Thanissaro's discussion in Right Mindfulness of the anapanasati instructions in the second stanza, "I will breathe sensitive to pleasure/rapture." I might well have the wrong impression of all three, though.
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby culaavuso » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:15 pm

shazan wrote:I am unable to get any strong pleasant feeling that I would be able to hook on too.


Why hook on?

Ven. Ajahn Chah wrote:Do everything with a mind that lets go. Don't accept praise or gain or anything else. If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.


shazan wrote:So any guidelines for inducing piti-sukkha, or making it strong enough to focus upon? I am doing mindfulness of breathing right now.


When focusing on causes, results take care of themselves.

Keeping the Breath in Mind by Ven. Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo wrote:The first jhana has five factors. (a) Directed thought (vitakka): Think of the breath until you can keep it in mind without getting distracted. (b) Singleness of preoccupation (ekaggatarammana): Keep the mind with the breath. Don't let it stray after other concepts or preoccupations. Watch over your thoughts so that they deal only with the breath to the point where the breath becomes comfortable. (The mind becomes one, at rest with the breath.) (c) Evaluation (vicara): Gain a sense of how to let this comfortable breath sensation spread and connect with the other breath sensations in the body. Let these breath sensations spread until they're interconnected all over the body. Once the body has been soothed by the breath, feelings of pain will grow calm. The body will be filled with good breath energy. (The mind is focused exclusively on issues connected with the breath.)

These three qualities must be brought together to bear on the same stream of breathing for the first jhana to arise. This stream of breathing can then take you all the way to the fourth jhana.

Directed thought, singleness of preoccupation, and evaluation act as the causes. When the causes are fully ripe, results will appear — (d) rapture (piti), a compelling sense of fullness and refreshment for body and mind, going straight to the heart, independent of all else; (e) pleasure (sukha), physical ease arising from the body's being still and unperturbed (kaya-passaddhi); mental contentment arising from the mind's being at ease on its own, undistracted, unperturbed, serene, and exultant (citta-passaddhi).

Rapture and pleasure are the results. The factors of the first jhana thus come down simply to two sorts: causes and results.
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby SarathW » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:17 pm

Great teaching by Joseph Goldstein.
He speaks from his experience.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=20255#p283899
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby K.Dhamma » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:47 pm

It's always been my experience that the moment you can let go of trying to get to it, and truly letting go of it, is the moment it comes. :)
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby Sati1 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:07 pm

I find that the nimita approach of Ajahn Brahm doesn't work for everyone and that aiming to "see the light" can actually be a distraction to some (myself included). For me, the greatest hindrance to attaining bliss is desiring it, and that it's more effective to simply try to establish concentration (sustained attention) and then just wait and see what happens. Concentration alone without bliss is already very enjoyable, after all. I have gone for months without any bliss and then for unkown reasons it comes back for some time. Not sure really what the variations in conditions are...
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----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby James the Giant » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:12 am

Sati1 wrote: and that aiming to "see the light" can actually be a distraction

You don't AIM to see the light. It just happens, or not.
Aiming is completely missing the point.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby Sati1 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:29 am

James the Giant wrote:You don't AIM to see the light. It just happens, or not.
Aiming is completely missing the point.


Thanks for the clarification, James. I agree with you and should have been more clear with my wording. I personally used to expect to see the light but never did, and still managed to subsequently experience the strong bliss. I had previously been under the impression that one must see the light to experience bliss (I got that impression from one of Ajahn Brahm's talks). On the other hand, I don't think I am yet experiencing the first jhana (no ekagatta and still diffuse focus), and so perhaps the light is necessary to get into the jhanas (although I seem to recall I think Ajahn Lee writing that not everyone sees light to get into the jhanas).
Sati1
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----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby shazan » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:24 pm

Thankyou guys for your replies. Well my anapanasati practice is going quiet good even without piti, but it takes moderate effort to sustain it. With piti, as Brasington says it creates a positive feedback loop that makes sustaining onepointedness almost effortless. One can even experience this in everyday life. Pleasure suppresses analytical thinking and makes concentration on pleasure inducing activity effortless. It destroys any hinderence automatically.

Ajhan Brahm if I remember correctly says that if there is no bliss then it should be worked upon. But he doesnt give any instruction regarding how.

So my "particular effort" is basically to have "stable effortless 1st jhana". I am having a good shamata even before it, but its neither stable nor effortless. With piti, its just sit, surrender, experience the awesomeness
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby shazan » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:29 pm

Sati1 wrote:
James the Giant wrote:You don't AIM to see the light. It just happens, or not.
Aiming is completely missing the point.


Thanks for the clarification, James. I agree with you and should have been more clear with my wording. I personally used to expect to see the light but never did, and still managed to subsequently experience the strong bliss. I had previously been under the impression that one must see the light to experience bliss (I got that impression from one of Ajahn Brahm's talks). On the other hand, I don't think I am yet experiencing the first jhana (no ekagatta and still diffuse focus), and so perhaps the light is necessary to get into the jhanas (although I seem to recall I think Ajahn Lee writing that not everyone sees light to get into the jhanas).


Well as far as I have experienced (and everybody's mind works a bit differently), with practice on can experience the whole body of breath, inhale, stop, exhale, stop. I t later on becomes very visible kind of a thing that you can focus upon, rather than focusing upon the sensation of nostrils or upper lip.

How did the bliss thing happens to you?I feel it sometime in my forearms and calf, but thats it. Maybe I am focusing too much on it which makes it go away
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby Zom » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:58 pm

To experience jhanic piti and sukha you need to drop completely both gross and subtle defilements like sensuality, ill-will and so on. Suttas directly tell what is the cause for piti and sukha:... "secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhana, which consists of rapture and pleasure born of (this) seclusion... In MN 125 Buddha tells that it is impossible for a layman, who enjoys sensuality, to experience this jhanic bliss. So, you need a long way of preliminary practices (undertaken, presumably, for many many years) to remove such hindrances before you can reach jhanic piti and sukha. Jhana is not a spiritual fast-food. This is a fruit of a recluse life (DN 2), a super-human state (MN 31). 8-)
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:22 pm

shazan wrote:I am unable to get any strong pleasant feeling that I would be able to hook on too.


Hi Shazan,

The desire for there to be a "strong" pleasant feeling seems like it could be an attachment to sensual pleasure, to me. (With the word "sensual" meaning something that can be perceived by the senses... rather than "sexual," as it is commonly meant outside of the practice.)

I think during the practice, you want to fine-tune your attention so that you could notice a subtle pleasant feeling arising, which is peaceful, calm and non-disruptive, (which I think could be easily missed by most people), rather than having this attention being overwashed by "bliss."

:anjali:
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Re: piti-sukkha for jhana

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:43 pm

I has always been difficult to me to buy into the "you have to let go to get it" instruction. Because you'll always have the desire for jhana.
The way I solved this (personal ?) paradox was that instead of being enthusiastic that I will be blissful, I am now enthusiastic that I'm going to let go more than I am leting go now. I'm not sure if this works, though. But it seems like a step in the right direction. Any feedback?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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