Did I reach access concentration or what?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 23, 2010 2:45 am

smokey wrote:Thank you all. I think I can reach this state again if it is access concentration that I reached, I am just not putting enough effort. I forgot to mention that during that state I also experienced unconditional love for all beings.
Which is a good thing; however, trying to get back what you had can be just another form of grasping. Simply do the practice and what happens happens - and what does not happen does not happen..

but I meant that Jhana in a sense of heightened mental state or altered state of consciousness is not practised in Mahayana Buddhism.
Not quite true.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby PeterB » Sun May 23, 2010 7:52 am

tiltbillings wrote:
smokey wrote:Thank you all. I think I can reach this state again if it is access concentration that I reached, I am just not putting enough effort. I forgot to mention that during that state I also experienced unconditional love for all beings.
Which is a good thing; however, trying to get back what you had can be just another form of grasping. Simply do the practice and what happens happens - and what does not happen does not happen..

but I meant that Jhana in a sense of heightened mental state or altered state of consciousness is not practised in Mahayana Buddhism.
Not quite true.


No not true. Those states are found in Mahayana Buddhism. From a Theravadin perspective they are found layered in extraneous material, but that is not the topic of this thread.
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby Shonin » Sun May 23, 2010 8:52 am

tiltbillings wrote:trying to get back what you had can be just another form of grasping. Simply do the practice and what happens happens - and what does not happen does not happen..


This is a very common problem with meditation. We have a meditation experience (which is possible because we're not grasping), we enjoy it, we want to have it again, so we try to reproduce it, getting frustrated that the experience we are having isn't the same as the experience we had that other time.

Rather than trying to replicate those feelings Smokey, simply open up to your actual experience, see your experience clearly, this experience right now. And now.
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby pilgrim » Sun May 23, 2010 11:10 am

The paradox of meditation is that the desire for certain mental states often acts as a hindrance preventing that state from arising. To get that experience again , you need to drop that desire.

I remember reading an a book long ago that a Chinese chan master who lived in the previous century, put some potatoes into a pot to prepare them for boiling. Then he went to meditate for what he thought was a short period. When he came out of meditation, and checked the pot, he found that it was dry and the potatoes had sprouted. :anjali:
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby Freawaru » Mon May 24, 2010 7:53 am

Hi smokey,

smokey wrote:When I first became interested in Buddhism four years ago, I downloaded a free e-book about ch'an meditation. I have done everything according to book while meditating(e.g. the posture, breathing etc.). I had no expectations. And in about five to ten minutes of meditation I started to feel bliss and joy in area of my heart and head accompanied with equanimity and tranquility . I barely put any effort in meditation. Since then I never experienced anything alike. I do not remember what my concentration was alike during that state of mind, I just remembered what I felt. Did I experience access concentration or what was that?


Were you aware that this state was there while it was there or did you realise this was not your usual experience afterwards?

As to the experienced state itself sounds like an absorption into the fire kasina to me. They can happen spontaneously when the conditions are right.

As to trying to get back to an experience I disagree with what was said. This is not grasping. On the contrary, the Visuddhimagga teaches to become a master one has to practice exactly that: to become able to enter any absorption one wants at any time.
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 24, 2010 8:07 am

Freawaru wrote:
As to trying to get back to an experience I disagree with what was said. This is not grasping.
Of course it is. He has no idea how it happened. If he was deliberately doing a particular practice, then it might make some sense, but what he described was one of those spontaneous things that can happen , and even if it was the result a very particular practice, one can way too easily get lost in trying to get the experience back rather than doing the practice, being open to what happens. "I want that experience again" is - no matter how you cut it - grasping.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby PeterB » Mon May 24, 2010 8:31 am

pilgrim wrote:The paradox of meditation is that the desire for certain mental states often acts as a hindrance preventing that state from arising. To get that experience again , you need to drop that desire.

I remember reading an a book long ago that a Chinese chan master who lived in the previous century, put some potatoes into a pot to prepare them for boiling. Then he went to meditate for what he thought was a short period. When he came out of meditation, and checked the pot, he found that it was dry and the potatoes had sprouted. :anjali:


That is not necessarily a sign of anything desirable
We are not Yogis.
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby Freawaru » Mon May 24, 2010 8:54 am

Hi tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:
Freawaru wrote:
As to trying to get back to an experience I disagree with what was said. This is not grasping.
Of course it is. He has no idea how it happened. If he was deliberately doing a particular practice, then it might make some sense, but what he described was one of those spontaneous things that can happen , and even if it was the result a very particular practice, one can way too easily get lost in trying to get the experience back rather than doing the practice, being open to what happens. "I want that experience again" is - no matter how you cut it - grasping.


I think "grasping" in the sense of Dhamma refers to what leads to clinging. Clinging refers to the loss of sampajanna. Neither has to do with wanting to enter a specific state of experience.

On the other hand you are of course right that too much "wanting" is not helpful in reaching any state or developing sampajanna in the first place. A certain relaxation and "letting go" and "opening up" is required. I just disagree that the terms "grasping" and "clinging" have anything to do with this kind of "wanting".
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 24, 2010 2:53 pm

Freawaru wrote:
I think "grasping" in the sense of Dhamma refers to what leads to clinging. Clinging refers to the loss of sampajanna. Neither has to do with wanting to enter a specific state of experience.
Huh? It depends. Having a nifty, spontaneous experience and wanting to have repeat it again is not something any teacher I have worked with, Zen, Tibetan or Theravadin would recommend.

A certain relaxation and "letting go" and "opening up" is required. I just disagree that the terms "grasping" and "clinging" have anything to do with this kind of "wanting".
That is fine, but you have not shown it to be otherwise.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby Shonin » Mon May 24, 2010 4:13 pm

PeterB wrote:
pilgrim wrote:The paradox of meditation is that the desire for certain mental states often acts as a hindrance preventing that state from arising. To get that experience again , you need to drop that desire.

I remember reading an a book long ago that a Chinese chan master who lived in the previous century, put some potatoes into a pot to prepare them for boiling. Then he went to meditate for what he thought was a short period. When he came out of meditation, and checked the pot, he found that it was dry and the potatoes had sprouted. :anjali:


That is not necessarily a sign of anything desirable
We are not Yogis.


Yeah, maybe he's just a heavy sleeper.
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby PeterB » Mon May 24, 2010 4:45 pm

Or maybe he was accessing yogic states that may be interesting and all that but do not equate to the outcomes decribed in the Suttas.
Samadhi states as described in yogic literature involving prolonged periods of being insensate are not the common parlance of the Theravada. And this is the Theravadin meditation forum.
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby Shonin » Mon May 24, 2010 5:34 pm

True, although 'prolonged periods of being insensate' don't have much to do with Zen either. The story is a red herring.
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby PeterB » Mon May 24, 2010 6:02 pm

Perhaps someone had better tell Pinocchios brother..Red Pine the red herring.
Last edited by PeterB on Mon May 24, 2010 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby Freawaru » Mon May 24, 2010 6:49 pm

Hi tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:
Freawaru wrote:I think "grasping" in the sense of Dhamma refers to what leads to clinging. Clinging refers to the loss of sampajanna. Neither has to do with wanting to enter a specific state of experience.
Huh? It depends. Having a nifty, spontaneous experience and wanting to have repeat it again is not something any teacher I have worked with, Zen, Tibetan or Theravadin would recommend.


Really? How can one practice the four foundations of mindfulness when one is not able to do it during any state? As long as there is an experience one had and cannot reach it again to practice I don't see how Liberation can be attained.

I guess the question is WHY does one want to repeat it.

A certain relaxation and "letting go" and "opening up" is required. I just disagree that the terms "grasping" and "clinging" have anything to do with this kind of "wanting".
That is fine, but you have not shown it to be otherwise.


I think there are states and one can either cling to them or be aware (sampajanna) during them. Two different things. One can have the experience of jhana and cling to it, one can even have an experience of nibbana and cling to it as described here http://www.dhammavinaya.com/sutta/mn/1.html . One can walk and cling to it or walk and be aware (sampajanna) of walking, two different things. One can think and cling to thinking or think and be aware of thinking. One can even want and cling to wanting or want and be aware of wanting. Clinging and sampajanna are the opposites instead of clinging and not-wanting (at least not the kind of wanting we talk about here).
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 24, 2010 7:44 pm

Freawaru wrote:Hi tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:
Freawaru wrote:I think "grasping" in the sense of Dhamma refers to what leads to clinging. Clinging refers to the loss of sampajanna. Neither has to do with wanting to enter a specific state of experience.
Huh? It depends. Having a nifty, spontaneous experience and wanting to have repeat it again is not something any teacher I have worked with, Zen, Tibetan or Theravadin would recommend.


Really?
Yes. Really.

How can one practice the four foundations of mindfulness when one is not able to do it during any state? As long as there is an experience one had and cannot reach it again to practice I don't see how Liberation can be attained.
As usual, I have not a clue as to what you are talking about. Totally, absolutely and completely clueless.

Despite all your complicating things, it is very simple: You do the practice: what happens happens and what does not happen does not happen. There is not a thing that needs to hung on to in that.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby Freawaru » Tue May 25, 2010 7:44 am

H tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:
Freawaru wrote:Hi tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:Huh? It depends. Having a nifty, spontaneous experience and wanting to have repeat it again is not something any teacher I have worked with, Zen, Tibetan or Theravadin would recommend.


Really?
Yes. Really.


I do not doubt your word on your experience with teachers. What I meant was that I do not see how this statement can agree with the Visuddhimagga. According to VsM 4 it is possible to experience a spontaneous absorption due to previous practice (even those in previous lives) as in the given example of Ven. Mallaka. Now, if a person has such an experience and goes to a teacher and tells him about it, wanting to learn how to repeat it, do you really think that that teacher would tell him this wanting, this intention, is wrong? It would disagree with everything written in the VsM.

I think the teacher would start by identifying the experience and tell the person how to enter it intentionally. When this has been achieved he could go on according to the practice described in Visuddhimagga. At least that is what I would expect of a good teacher.

How can one practice the four foundations of mindfulness when one is not able to do it during any state? As long as there is an experience one had and cannot reach it again to practice I don't see how Liberation can be attained.
As usual, I have not a clue as to what you are talking about. Totally, absolutely and completely clueless.


Thank you for your honesty. I am willing to try to explain it to you in different ways but I would need to know what to base my explanation on. If you are interested in it we could go on via pm.
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 25, 2010 8:02 am

Freawaru wrote:
I do not doubt your word on your experience with teachers. What I meant was that I do not see how this statement can agree with the Visuddhimagga. According to VsM 4 it is possible to experience a spontaneous absorption due to previous practice (even those in previous lives) as in the given example of Ven. Mallaka. Now, if a person has such an experience and goes to a teacher and tells him about it, wanting to learn how to repeat it, do you really think that that teacher would tell him this wanting, this intention, is wrong? It would disagree with everything written in the VsM.
Not that you have shown.

I think the teacher would start by identifying the experience and tell the person how to enter it intentionally.
That is assuming that the experience is worth "repeating."

When this has been achieved he could go on according to the practice described in Visuddhimagga. At least that is what I would expect of a good teacher.
What I would expect from a good teacher seems to be a bit different, and I have been lucky enough to have had excellent teachers in the Soto Zen, Vajrayana, and Theravadin traditions. They have all said one way or another: do the practice - what happens happens, what does not happen does not happen.

If you are interested in it we could go on via pm.
I think we can let this one go.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue May 25, 2010 8:14 am

hmmmm i've had teachers i've gone to after an experience and they just say "oh dont pay any attention to that" or "it's not important" but i think it's because (honestly) they arent experienced enough in meditation to help and i've also gone to other teachers with the same experiences and they'll be like "oh thats piti' or whatever tell me a nifty little story then recommend i just keep practicing see what else happens which gave me confidence in them as meditators who knew what they were talking about since they just knew right off the bat what i was trying to describe and confidence as teachers since they just used that to spring board me back into sitting without letting me get some big head about an experience.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 25, 2010 8:58 am

jcsuperstar wrote:hmmmm i've had teachers i've gone to after an experience and they just say "oh dont pay any attention to that" or "it's not important" but i think it's because (honestly) they arent experienced enough in meditation to help and i've also gone to other teachers with the same experiences and they'll be like "oh thats piti' or whatever tell me a nifty little story then recommend i just keep practicing see what else happens which gave me confidence in them as meditators who knew what they were talking about since they just knew right off the bat what i was trying to describe and confidence as teachers since they just used that to spring board me back into sitting without letting me get some big head about an experience.
The interesting thing is that in my experience a teacher may use an aspect of some experience or other to make a point, to direct one's practice, but never did I have a teacher state that I should try to get it back again, even with something such as jhana practice. You just do the practice and what happens. . . .
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Did I reach access concentration or what?

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue May 25, 2010 9:08 am

tiltbillings wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:hmmmm i've had teachers i've gone to after an experience and they just say "oh dont pay any attention to that" or "it's not important" but i think it's because (honestly) they arent experienced enough in meditation to help and i've also gone to other teachers with the same experiences and they'll be like "oh thats piti' or whatever tell me a nifty little story then recommend i just keep practicing see what else happens which gave me confidence in them as meditators who knew what they were talking about since they just knew right off the bat what i was trying to describe and confidence as teachers since they just used that to spring board me back into sitting without letting me get some big head about an experience.
The interesting thing is that in my experience a teacher may use an aspect of some experience or other to make a point, to direct one's practice, but never did I have a teacher state that I should try to get it back again, even with something such as jhana practice. You just do the practice and what happens. . . .

yeah i think we're saying the same thing
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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