Questions about the first jhana

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Questions about the first jhana

Postby Individual » Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:12 pm

What do they say about cultivating and maintaining the first jhana, in Vipassana and Suttanta?

I am not confused about the entry into the first jhana, only about how it can re-arise and be maintained once it has arisen.

Would you agree:
  • A relaxed, undisturbed mind and environment is a prerequisite to entry.
  • If one desires for it to arise or is averse to its arising, it will not arise. (So, allow it to arise.)
  • Once it has arisen, if you desire for it to stay or are averse to its leaving, it will leave. (So, when it has arisen, allow it to stay or leave.)
  • If you engage in conceptual proliferation, it will not arise. If it has already arisen, conceptual proliferation will cause it to leave. (So, pay attention to it and do not allow the mind to wander aimlessly, not even on thoughts of "Buddhism" and "helping other people".)
  • Once having entered the first jhana, contrary to the prerequisite for entry, one's environment should be irrelevant to its maintenance. The factors of the first jhana should be independent of the surrounding environment. So, it is an inner sense of happiness and intelligence born of concentration, independent of circumstances. Otherwise, it is not jhana at all.
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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby Sobeh » Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:02 am

Sound is a thorn for the first jhana, and I recall a Sutta in the Majjhima about a monk who told Ananda to keep the monks quiet because that monk was unable to enter jhana, on account of the sound.

As for afterward, there's a Sutta about the Buddha being able to sit alongside a parade procession and not notice it, but I always assumed that apart from the sammasamadhi formula, jhana-range was an imponderable.
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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:36 am

Sobeh wrote:Sound is a thorn for the first jhana, and I recall a Sutta in the Majjhima about a monk who told Ananda to keep the monks quiet because that monk was unable to enter jhana, on account of the sound.

As for afterward, there's a Sutta about the Buddha being able to sit alongside a parade procession and not notice it, but I always assumed that apart from the sammasamadhi formula, jhana-range was an imponderable.

This is helpful. Thank you. :)

Pondering jhana seems vital to its understanding.

I think what's meant by jhana-range as an imponderable is something like, "How much samadhi can I have?" or "How much samadhi do Arahants have?" or "What's it like to have really good samadhi?" or "What's the greatest amount of jhana one can have, and why can't there be anymore?"

It is aimless speculation and fantasizing about the depth of jhana, rather than the practice and its benefit.
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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby Ytrog » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:14 am

If you have thoughts, then it isn't jhana.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby cooran » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:54 am

Hello Individual, all,

Perhaps chapter 3 may be of assistance? -
The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation - by Henepola Gunaratana
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el351.html

with metta
Chris
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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:13 am

Individual wrote:What do they say about cultivating and maintaining the first jhana, in Vipassana and Suttanta?

I am not confused about the entry into the first jhana, only about how it can re-arise and be maintained once it has arisen.

Would you agree:
  • A relaxed, undisturbed mind and environment is a prerequisite to entry.
  • If one desires for it to arise or is averse to its arising, it will not arise. (So, allow it to arise.)
  • Once it has arisen, if you desire for it to stay or are averse to its leaving, it will leave. (So, when it has arisen, allow it to stay or leave.)
  • If you engage in conceptual proliferation, it will not arise. If it has already arisen, conceptual proliferation will cause it to leave. (So, pay attention to it and do not allow the mind to wander aimlessly, not even on thoughts of "Buddhism" and "helping other people".)
  • Once having entered the first jhana, contrary to the prerequisite for entry, one's environment should be irrelevant to its maintenance. The factors of the first jhana should be independent of the surrounding environment. So, it is an inner sense of happiness and intelligence born of concentration, independent of circumstances. Otherwise, it is not jhana at all.


1. Of course, the mind needs to be calm, and an undisturbed environment is conducive. For those proficient, the environment will be less important.
2. Depends exactly what one means by desire or aversion. One needs to be rid of sensual level desire and aversion, but higher forms of wanting to reach it may not be that restricting.
3. Again, depends on what one means by desire or aversion. One can desire for it to stay, and it won't necessarily cause it to be lost. That is form level desire, not sensual level desire.
4. If you mean "prapanca", then it depends on the level of depth of that. There is very subtle prapanca which won't be much of a problem. However, a lot of discursive thinking will be a disruption.
5. Changes in environment will influence it, eg. sharp sudden loud noise. The factors are depend on a number of things. As one goes deeper, though, and is more proficient, these become less of a problem, and it will be more voluntary. Not sure what you mean by "intelligence" at the end.

The question of whether or not "jhana" is a "thing" is an interesting matter. Is it a case of generating various conditions such that jhana actually "arises", ie. jhana itself is something other than the jhana factors; or is the term "jhana" just a name for the presence of all those factors together. Personally, I go for the latter, but many would disagree.
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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:14 am

Ytrog wrote:If you have thoughts, then it isn't jhana.


Depends on what one means by "thoughts", exactly.
Vitakka and vicAra are both factors in the first jhAna, for instance.
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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:20 am

Greetings,

Sound is a thorn indeed... I was just trying to meditate earlier, but the dogs kept on sniffling, scratching, yelping, shaking themselves, eating etc.

Normally, such things would barely register.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:32 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Sound is a thorn indeed... I was just trying to meditate earlier, but the dogs kept on sniffling, scratching, yelping, shaking themselves, eating etc.

Normally, such things would barely register.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Ah, just sounds, arising and falling...oh, wait, never mind; that is vipassana practice.
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: Questions about the first jhana

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:17 am

cooran wrote:Hello Individual, all,

Perhaps chapter 3 may be of assistance? -
The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation - by Henepola Gunaratana
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el351.html

with metta
Chris

Thank you. :)
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby Nyana » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:07 pm

Hi Individual & all,

These teachings by Ven. Gunaratana may also be helpful.

What is samatha-vipassanā? (Pt 1):



What is samatha-vipassanā? (Pt 2):



Why do some teachers warn against practicing jhāna-s?



What are the benefits of practicing jhāna-s? (Pt 1):



What are the benefits of practicing jhāna-s? (Pt 2):



All the best,

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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby Ytrog » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:07 pm

Ajahn Brahm dedicated an entire book to the achieving and developing of jhana. You might want to check it out.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby Individual » Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:49 am

I watched the videos. They were nice. I think I will visit the Bhavana Society in West Virginia soon.
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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Oct 17, 2010 4:27 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Sound is a thorn indeed... I was just trying to meditate earlier, but the dogs kept on sniffling, scratching, yelping, shaking themselves, eating etc.
Ah, just sounds, arising and falling...oh, wait, never mind; that is vipassana practice.

Indeed... with a stronger platform of calm, they could have been an effective object for reviewing the three characteristics of sense-objects... much like the neighbour's hedge-trimmer was this morning.

The difference was that this morning I had already obtained a degree of calm first, whereas the other day I had not.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby IanAnd » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:11 am

Individual wrote:I watched the videos. They were nice. I think I will visit the Bhavana Society in West Virginia soon.

Bhante G is the real deal. An excellent resource. Sadly, too many of these "resources" are near to dying off. (Ven. K. Nanananda, I hear, is not in too good of health.) All the more incentive for the rest of us to get busy and not misuse our time in practice.

One can tell, even from these few videos, that the Bhante knows what he's talking about. He speaks openly and unashamedly from his experience. Anyone who has "been there" knows that the following is an accurate description of absorption. His description here makes clear that jhana is not some kind of "altered state of consciousness" such as a trance or some such, but rather a clear, bright, calm, concentrated, and focused state of mind once discursive (and wandering) thought is stilled.
Henepola Gunaratana wrote:Biggest advantage of jhana is getting your mind clear and focused. Focused on the deepest, the most subtle, finest states of mind and the mental content. . . . Concentrated mind, with mindfulness, can experience them in such a deep level. That is the advantage for having jhanic attainment.

When you attain jhana you don't simply become like a vegetable. Mind is still very, very powerfully dynamic. Mind is dynamic. It never stops its dynamic nature. In this dynamic state of mind, there are many mental factors. Attention is there. Mindfulness is there. Equanimity is there. Lovingfriendliness is there. Compassion is there. Determination is there. Effort is there. All these are mental factors. They don't die. And they rather become strong, very powerful, and clear. That is what happens when you are in jhana.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:50 am

IanAnd wrote:
Henepola Gunaratana wrote:Biggest advantage of jhana is getting your mind clear and focused. Focused on the deepest, the most subtle, finest states of mind and the mental content. . . . Concentrated mind, with mindfulness, can experience them in such a deep level. That is the advantage for having jhanic attainment.

When you attain jhana you don't simply become like a vegetable. Mind is still very, very powerfully dynamic. Mind is dynamic. It never stops its dynamic nature. In this dynamic state of mind, there are many mental factors. Attention is there. Mindfulness is there. Equanimity is there. Lovingfriendliness is there. Compassion is there. Determination is there. Effort is there. All these are mental factors. They don't die. And they rather become strong, very powerful, and clear. That is what happens when you are in jhana.
Usually it is considered good form to cite the source of a quotation. These two paragraphs, as they stands, are confused, if not confusing. Do we characterize jhana by all these "is there" things at once? As it stands, it reads that way. What does "They don't die" mean? Does it mean they don't change?

At best I suspect, both from an experiential basis and a textual basis, that these two paragraphs need to be placed in a broader context.
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: Questions about the first jhana

Postby Nyana » Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:25 pm

tiltbillings wrote:These two paragraphs, as they stands, are confused, if not confusing.

Hi Tilt & all,

MN 111 informs us that all the mental factors of the first jhāna (the dhamma-s of vitakka, vicāra, pīti, sukha, cittekaggatā, phassa, vedanā, saññā, cetanā, vīriya, sati, manasikāra, etc.) are working together in complete harmony. Moreover each can be individuated and clearly seen via vipassanā as it persists. The same is true when correctly engaging in the remaining three jhāna-s and first three formless attainments. The two exceptions to this are the meditative attainment of the sphere of neither-apperception-nor-nonapperception and the attainment of the cessation of apperception and feeling. In both of these cases one must emerge from that attainment before applying insight to the past mental factors which were present therein. This is because apperception (saññā) isn't sufficiently functional while abiding in either of these two attainments for vipassanā to occur.

tiltbillings wrote:Do we characterize jhana by all these "is there" things at once? As it stands, it reads that way. What does "They don't die" mean? Does it mean they don't change?

All of the mental factors of any jhāna occur concurrently (i.e. sahajāta). These mental factors don't pass away as long as one remains in that particular jhāna. This doesn't mean that these mental factors are not subject to alteration while persisting (ṭhitassa aññathatta). Alteration while persisting is common to all fabrications (saṅkhāra-s).

All the best,

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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby IanAnd » Sun Oct 17, 2010 4:32 pm

Usually it is considered good form to cite the source of a quotation.

Sorry, I assumed that anyone reading the quotes would have recognized that they came from the videos. Please accept my apology to those who were confused and who did not take the opportunity to view the videos.

It seemed obvious to me where the quotes were taken from: the videos themselves. Specifically, in this instance, the fourth video. After all, I prefaced the paragraph leading into them with: "One can tell, even from these few videos, that the Bhante knows what he's talking about." What else but the videos could possibly have been implied?
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby bodom » Sun Oct 17, 2010 5:04 pm

What else but the videos could possibly have been implied?


The source of the confusion here Ian is that in your original post quoting Bhante G you worded it as...

Henepola Gunaratana wrote:
Biggest advantage of jhana is getting your mind clear and focused. Focused on the deepest, the most subtle, finest states of mind and the mental content. . .


:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Questions about the first jhana

Postby IanAnd » Sun Oct 17, 2010 5:19 pm

bodom wrote:
What else but the videos could possibly have been implied?

The source of the confusion here Ian is that in your original post quoting Bhante G you worded it as...
Henepola Gunaratana wrote:
Biggest advantage of jhana is getting your mind clear and focused. Focused on the deepest, the most subtle, finest states of mind and the mental content. . .


Hi Bodom,

I would assume that people here understand how the forum software works. I have no control over the way the "quote" mechanism in the forum software works. It is programmed to say "wrote".

The problem, which I've already apologized for, is in assuming that people know what is being referred to. Obviously, some people do not (for whatever the reason).

All the best,
Ian
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