Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.
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waterchan
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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby waterchan » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:38 pm

Zom wrote:In the 1st jhana there is no painful bodily feeling (SN 48.40). So if someone thinks he attains 1st jhana, he should check if this is the case. While in jhana it is impossible for him to experience even slight bodily discomfort, not talking about gross one, like aching knee, itch, etc.. :reading:


It seems that this resistance to bodily affliction is greatly amplified in higher jhanas. In one of the suttas, a monk in jhana was taken to be dead and carried away to be cremated. But the fire just wouldn't burn him or even his robes.

I wonder what would happen if he came out of jhana while being cremated!
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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby santa100 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:58 pm

That was Ven. Sanjiva in MN 50, who entered the Cessation of perception and feeling meditation. More info. from another thread here

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby waterchan » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:30 pm

Thanks for the sutta references, santa100. :smile:

On jhana, as David said, obviously some kind of indication is necessary to get the practice around and motivate people to meditate. And I sincerely wish from the bottom of my heart that more and more people can experience the blissful serenity of jhana which in my opinion is an extremely important step on the path. And if you have experienced jhana, fantastic, more power to you!

But the Internet is the wrong place for jhana claims. And the main reason is there are already more than enough self-proclaimed http jhana attainers, http stream winners, and http arahants, the vast majority of which we cannot verify due to the anonymity provided by the internet. A claim that cannot be verified adds little to the discussion.

By the way, I can enter the fourth jhana at will and I am also a millionaire.

Attainments are best divulged to a trustworthy monastic or lay teacher who is in a suitable position to assess your claims.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:13 pm

waterchan wrote:
Attainments are best divulged to a trustworthy monastic or lay teacher who is in a suitable position to assess your claims.
Absolutely.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby fivebells » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:06 am

waterchan wrote:I sincerely wish from the bottom of my heart that more and more people can experience the blissful serenity of jhana which in my opinion is an extremely important step on the path. And if you have experienced jhana, fantastic, more power to you!

But the Internet is the wrong place for jhana claims. And the main reason is there are already more than enough self-proclaimed http jhana attainers, http stream winners, and http arahants, the vast majority of which we cannot verify due to the anonymity provided by the internet. A claim that cannot be verified adds little to the discussion.

By the way, I can enter the fourth jhana at will and I am also a millionaire.


When someone is asking, as J0rrit did, how many people experience jhana and who in his audience has developed jhana, the optimistic assumption is that they're assessing whether it's a sensible goal for themselves, in which case it may be useful for them to hear from people who think they've done so. How does the impossibility of verifying such claims over the internet (or otherwise, for that matter) enter into it?

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby waterchan » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:08 am

fivebells wrote:When someone is asking, as J0rrit did, how many people experience jhana and who in his audience has developed jhana, the optimistic assumption is that they're assessing whether it's a sensible goal for themselves, in which case it may be useful for them to hear from people who think they've done so. How does the impossibility of verifying such claims over the internet (or otherwise, for that matter) enter into it?


My response to J0rrit would be the same — that jhana attainment, or any kind of spiritual attainment, is not a very useful thing to survey on an Internet forum. It is pretty much like asking "Who here is a millionaire, and how did you become one?"

As James The Giant has alluded to, such claims coming from real-life acquaintances can be dubious enough.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby fivebells » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:57 am

And that's fine, but that's not what I was responding to.

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby Sylvester » Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:59 am

daverupa wrote:
Zom wrote:
Actually in first jhana it is impossible to experience any bodily feeling.


According to SN 48.40 only painful bodily. And pleasant bodily feeling ends only in 3rd jhana.


This really depends on how we render 'kaya', and whether or not we're overlooking a Pali idiom.

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... =60#p74489



Gasp! Do I detect a heretical flirting with the Middle-Indo Aryan conception of kāya?

Personally, I feel that Dmytro and I covered more ground in this thread -

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=13998

See also the discussion on MN 36, where the non-development of the "body" is taken up; sounds suspiciously like the Indic vernacular/idiom for "himself". I wonder why it is so easy to miss that elephant in the room that is MN 148's allowance for mind-contact to give rise to kāyika feelings, without being necessarily pierced by the anusayas that generate the cetasika responses.

Perhaps I should first convert to Upanisadic Hinduism. There are just too many linguistic echoes from the BAU and CU in the suttas, that it might be easier for me to make the breakthrough to the Dhamma if I clung to MN 1's dhammas like an Upanisadic sage. :stirthepot:

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby SarathW » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:16 am

Please consider the following as well:

"When a monk is attaining the cessation of perception and feeling, friend Visakha, verbal fabrications cease first, then bodily fabrications, then mental fabrications."

http://buddhasutra.com/files/cula_vedalla_sutta.htm
====================
As SN 36:11 points out,
verbal fabrication is present in the first jh›na; bodily fabrication, in the first three
jh›nas; and mental fabrication, in all four jh›nas and the first four formless
dimensions based on the fourth jh›na.

Page 37
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... 120810.pdf

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:26 am

fivebells wrote:
waterchan wrote:I sincerely wish from the bottom of my heart that more and more people can experience the blissful serenity of jhana which in my opinion is an extremely important step on the path. And if you have experienced jhana, fantastic, more power to you!

But the Internet is the wrong place for jhana claims. And the main reason is there are already more than enough self-proclaimed http jhana attainers, http stream winners, and http arahants, the vast majority of which we cannot verify due to the anonymity provided by the internet. A claim that cannot be verified adds little to the discussion.

By the way, I can enter the fourth jhana at will and I am also a millionaire.


When someone is asking, as J0rrit did, how many people experience jhana and who in his audience has developed jhana, the optimistic assumption is that they're assessing whether it's a sensible goal for themselves, in which case it may be useful for them to hear from people who think they've done so. How does the impossibility of verifying such claims over the internet (or otherwise, for that matter) enter into it?


:goodpost:

We are adults here. It is reasonably assumed that, if someone says that he attained jhana, the rest of the people don't believe it like it's the bible.

I don't see the reason for such a strong taboo among buddhists. Especially when the topic is asking precisely about that.
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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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:34 am

SarathW wrote:Please consider the following as well:

"When a monk is attaining the cessation of perception and feeling, friend Visakha, verbal fabrications cease first, then bodily fabrications, then mental fabrications."

http://buddhasutra.com/files/cula_vedalla_sutta.htm
====================
As SN 36:11 points out,
verbal fabrication is present in the first jh›na; bodily fabrication, in the first three
jh›nas; and mental fabrication, in all four jh›nas and the first four formless
dimensions based on the fourth jh›na.

Page 37
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... 120810.pdf


Hello

Even though that is at plain sight, there are people _ such as Sylvester, but not just him _ who just refuse to see the obvious. This subject has been covered at least 2 times in great depth and the arguments for hard jhana end up being so convoluted that it is just one more confirmation that it makes no sense.

:shrug:
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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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:16 am

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:31 am

Sylvester wrote: There are just too many linguistic echoes from the BAU and CU in the suttas, that it might be easier for me to make the breakthrough to the Dhamma if I clung to MN 1's dhammas like an Upanisadic sage. :stirthepot:
Study of the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad and the Chandogya Upanishad should be mandatory.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby fraaJad » Mon May 12, 2014 10:20 pm

J0rrit wrote:Hello there,

I was asking myself yesterday how many laypeople actually experience Jhana? So my question would be who of you did experience Jhana or does experience Jhana on a regular basis? And what kind of practice are you doing? After what time and how much meditating did you experience it?


hello jorrit,
I experience jhana on a regular basis, and I'm a layperson. I'm a husband and a father. I've never been on a retreat.

I'm doing samatha-vipassana as taught by Bhante Vimalaramsi. So I'm talking about "sutta" jhanas, not visuddhimagga jhanas.

I started experiencing the 1st jhana after maybe a year of sitting 30 minutes a day, often only on the bus. After another year or so, (and making time to sit for real at home), I began experiencing the arupa jhanas. Now I've been doing this practice for 7years off and on, and I'm currently working with the 8th jhana. Some days, it takes me an hour to get that deep. Some days I don't get there at all. I'm also working on mastering the jhanas in daily life.. For example, if I had a good long sit in the morning, I can pop into the 4th jhana while sitting in a meeting at work. Then I can direct myself to the 5th, or 6th. If I'm in the right mindset, the 7th. I can still listen to what people are saying, and if I start talking I drop back down, usually. It's often very blissful..

I created this account with a pseudonym, specifically so I could talk about what's possible, without any worry about "bragging" or whatever. I have seen many posts on this site like this, and my hope is to help out, give hope, show that it's possible. Maybe that's impossible. :-)
please feel free to PM me, or ask questions right here.

metta,
jad

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby James the Giant » Mon May 12, 2014 11:22 pm

fraaJad wrote: ...I can pop into the 4th jhana while sitting in a meeting at work. Then I can direct myself to the 5th, or 6th. If I'm in the right mindset, the 7th. I can still listen to what people are saying, and if I start talking I drop back down, usually.

Sorry to say, you aren't in any kind of jhana if you are still listening to what people are saying, let along talking. Unless you have thrown everything the Buddha said out the window, and have invented your own definition of jhana.
There is debate whether sounds can be heard during 1st jhana, but actual processing of the meaning of those sounds, understanding a conversation, etc, means you are not one pointed, and thus not even in 1st jhana.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Mon May 12, 2014 11:50 pm

James the Giant wrote:
fraaJad wrote: ...I can pop into the 4th jhana while sitting in a meeting at work. Then I can direct myself to the 5th, or 6th. If I'm in the right mindset, the 7th. I can still listen to what people are saying, and if I start talking I drop back down, usually.

Sorry to say, you aren't in any kind of jhana if you are still listening to what people are saying, let along talking. Unless you have thrown everything the Buddha said out the window, and have invented your own definition of jhana.
There is debate whether sounds can be heard during 1st jhana, but actual processing of the meaning of those sounds, understanding a conversation, etc, means you are not one pointed, and thus not even in 1st jhana.


Hello, James.

When the Buddha described 1st jhana, he mentioned its 4 (sometimes 5) factors. Then consider this situation where the jhana factors are present: if there is rapture in the torso, but not on the limbs and head, is that jhana? If there is rapture on the whole body, except the left hand, is it jhana? And what type of rapture is ellegible to be considered jhana? Just the 5 types mentioned in the Vissudhimagga? More than these? Just one of them? If there is the first type of rapture in the torso and the 3rd type in the rest of the body, is that jhana? Would you say that there can be simultaneously two of these 5 types of rapture in the state of jhana? Which is superior: the jhana that has the 1st kind of rapture or the 4th?

The same line of questioning goes for all of the jhana factors. Did the Buddha specify a particular, fixed, immutable and correct jhana? Did he exclude all other states as not jhana?

I think the most reasonable way to look at this is as Leigh Brasington says: each jhana is like a pool. Each jhana can go deeper and deeper. Or, another way to put it, each jhana is an umbrella term for similar states of mind. States of mind that have something in common.

Now what is jhana for? For tranquility, happiness and concentration. These are to be used for seeing through reality. Don't you think that the most useful "kind of jhana" to apply would be one where you are very, very focused, yet able to use that same focus to penetrate through delusion effectively?

Seems logical to me to be pragmatic instead of idealist. I still think that when the Buddha thaught about jhana he was thinking of the kind of jhanas that you can directly use for insight _ not an a posteriori useful jhana. But even keeping that belief aside, logic leads me to believe that even if the states that fraa.Jad mentions are not the only absolutely-correct jhana, they are both wholesome and very, very useful.
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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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby fraaJad » Tue May 13, 2014 12:04 am

Hi James,

I understand that there is more than one definition of jhana out there. I am no expert on the different types, as this is the first style of meditation I've ever tried. But yes, I agree, this is not a "one-pointed" meditation that I'm doing, and the absorption is less than that taught in the VSM and (seemingly) by most teachers these days. The point being, when you're in this kind of jhana, you are still aware enough to gain insight by watching how things (thoughts, sounds, whatever) arise (i.e. dependent origination).

I can say that my experiences align to how I understand MN 111 and other suttas. Of course we all have our own interpretations. I'm not here to argue about my own experiences, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

peace,
Jad

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby 2pennyworth » Tue May 13, 2014 12:25 am

Voice of much needed pragmatic reason from Modus.ponens once again. :twothumbsup:
“We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.” ~ Chuang Tzu

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby SDC » Tue May 13, 2014 1:27 am

There's nothing like a quintessential jhana thread. :smile:

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Re: Who experienced Jhana, and how?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 13, 2014 1:40 am

This thread is worth a read: viewtopic.php?f=43&t=9016#p140097


Richard Shankman: You seem to teach a form of jhana that is much more
readily accessed than that taught by many other teachers.

Leigh Brasington: We don't really know for certain what the Buddha was teaching as jhanas, although I strongly suspect that the Buddha was teaching deeper concentration than I do. Over time I have learned that there are a number of different methods. The methods generally have two things you can optimize -- but only one at a time. The first is the ease of accessibility and the other is the depth of concentration. So if the question is, why am I teaching what 1 am teaching as the jhanas, I would say that the level at which I teach them seems to be the level at which laypeople can 'learn them and use them effectively. In other words, I'm giving up some of the depth of concentration for case of learning. Given that lay people are going on ten-day, two-week, maybe month-long retreats, what
can be taught in that period of time that can enhance students' practice
by enhancing their concentration?

RS: It sounds as though you are saying that there can be a range of depth
of samadhi associated with any given jhana state. That what constitutes
jhana is only partially the strength of concentration, but more the other
associated factors.

LB: That's right. Although it would be good If' students were learning the jhanas at a deeper level, I'm not going to say, "Well, since you can’t do it at value 100, we’re going to dismiss anything you do at value 50 or 25.”

It turns out that any amount of concentration as a warm-up to insight is helpful. And given that students are stumbling into states that have the jhana factors and that they are generally stumbling in at approximately the level of concentration at which I'm teaching, it seems like it's a natural level to teach to laypeople. If someone wants to learn the jhanas at a deeper level, then they are going to need to dedicate more time to working with the jhanas, such as finding a long-term intensive retreat environment.

My hunch is that the level of concentration that the Buddha was teaching cannot be achieved on a retreat of less than a month and, furthermore, cannot be achieved in forty-five-minute sitting periods: My own experience has shown me depths of concentration that do more closely match the experiences described in the suttas, but these can only be attained with long sitting periods of three or four hours, and on a long retreat of a month or more.

RS: Why do you think there's so much disagreement about what the jhanas are and how they are taught?

LB: Partially, it's because there are three major sources of jhana material, all of which are incomplete. There are the suttas in which the descriptions of the jhanas are very simple. There is no-how-to in the suttas, thus leaving them open for quite a broad range of interpretation. Since Pali is not even a currently spoken language, many questions cannot be definitively answered. For example, what does "vitakka" really mean in the context of the jhanas? This leads to people interpreting this sparse material in different, yet internally consistent ways.

A second source is the Abhidhamma, which interprets the jhanas differently from what you find in the suttas. There you find a scheme of five Jhanas covering the same territory as covered by four jhanas in the suttas. Finally, you have the Visuddhimagga, which gives quite a different interpretation from what you find in the suttas; a much deeper level of concentration is being taught.

So we have different schemes in the literature, and it depends to some extent on where someone is learning the jhanas, whom they're learning them from, and what literature is being used in that tradition. This material has been preserved for up to 2,500 years, with people making little tweaks along the way and not necessarily communicating with one another, and that has also led to different interpretations.

RS: Could you outline basically how you understand what those differences are?

LB: In the suttas, the jhanas are described most of the time using a standard formula. The standard formula for the first jhana has four factors one-pointedness is not mentioned. There are just the four factors of vitakka, vicara, piti, and sukha.

The formula for the second jhana indicates that the vitakka and vicara fall away, and they're replaced with inner tranquility and oneness of mind; so now the concentration comes in and the piti and sukha continue. Thus the suttas describe four factors for the second jhana as well.

The third jhana says one remains imperturbable, mindful, and clearly aware. Imperturbability, mindfulness, and clear awareness have come into play, although what is not specifically mentioned is when they arrived. They're just there. The formula indicates that the piti goes away and the sukha remains; there is no specific mention of the tranquility or the oneness of mind, so since they aren't said to go away, one assumes that they remain, So you actually have many mare factors for the third jhana.

The shift to the fourth jhana is to a place beyond pleasure and pain, beyond gladness and sadness; so one arrives at a neutral mind-state. The sukha is obviously gone, since the pleasure has gone away.

When you look at this description, it's not really a factor-based description. The whole idea of a factor-based description probably comes from the Abhidhamma, where they started breaking things into pieces and analyzing them in a great deal of detail.

Now, there are a few suttas, perhaps three, where you can find five factors for the first jhana, where one-pointedness is introduced as a fifth factor, But these are in the minority, for sure, and tend to be what is referred to as "later suttas." On the whole, the jhanas are described quite differently in the suttas than in the later literature.

The word jhana means "to meditate," so when the Buddha tells his monks, "There are empty huts, roots of trees, go meditate," he's saying "go jhana.” Everybody was doing jhana. If you look at the Visuddhimagga, the description of the states has reached a point of extreme concentration. In fact, it gives the odds that only one in one hundred million, at best, can reach absorption. But in the suttas, you find large numbers of people becoming absorbed.

What's being talked about in the Visuddhimagga are very deep states of concentration. The definition of what constitutes a jhana has, in a thousand year period, progressed to a much deeper state.

We might ask how this happened. Think about who was preserving the Buddha's teaching during these thousand years. It's a bunch of guys hanging out in the woods -- no TV, no women. They've got just their minds to work with. And so they start working on the jhanas, And if somebody can take it a little bit deeper, obviously he's doing it "better." The natural human tendency is, "Well, if! can do it better than you are doing it, I'm doing it the right way, and I'll teach you to do it my way."

So I would guess that over time jhana evolved from pretty serious states of concentration to the extreme states that we find preserved in the Visuddhimagga. The Abhidhamma seems to be somewhere in between, but obviously getting very, very deep during that period, since people were able to see their mind-moments and so forth.
THE EXPERIENCE OF SAMADHI by Richard Shankman, 2008, pgs 156-9.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson


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