I personally know the pain on not having a clear way to practice in mind, it is part of the hindrace of doubt.
There are more than many hints to that, but the best place to see how to enter and develop jhanas are the agama suttas MA101 and MA102 (that have more details and better ordering than the counterparts MN19 and MN20) in which you have the practice spelled out from the Buddha himself. And that is more of a practice and it is linked to comprehension and uses the strategy of taking something and reflect on it in dhammic terms (Vitakka&vicara) as a tool to strenghten/interiorize the renunciation to the point that you enter first jhana and then you can abandon thought altogether in second jhana. But don't look at second jhana, aim at the first where the first big revolution lies!DeadBuddha wrote: ↑Mon Jan 23, 2023 9:38 am For example, some say that vitakka and vicārā mean "applied attention" and "sustained attention", respectively, when in truth it seems that vitakka and vicara mean, respectively, simply, "knowingly willed and time-limited verbal discursive thought". and "automatic verbal discursive thought having continuity over time". This interpretation seems proven in SN 21.1, where the Noble Silence allows entry into the second jhana.
But afaik teaches something like "Light Jhanas" that are very far from what you find in MA101/MA102 and, in general, the suttas. See for example Brasington:Then there are people who have a correct understanding of vitakka and vicārā. Leigh Brasington is one of them. However, Leigh Brasington himself admitted that the jhanas he teaches are less intense than the Buddha's jhanas (he showed great and useful honesty - credit to him). So there is surely something imprecise somewhere in his interpretation of jhanas.
You ask:If the breath gets very, very subtle, instead of taking a deep breath, shift your attention away from the breath to a pleasant sensation. This is key. You notice the breath until you arrive at and sustain access concentration, then you let go of the breath and shift your attention to a pleasant sensation, preferably a physical one. There is not much point in trying to notice the breath that has gotten extremely subtle or has disappeared completely—there’s nothing left to notice.
The first question that may arise when I say, “Shift your attention to a pleasant sensation” may be “What pleasant sensation?” Well, it turns out that when you get to access concentration, the odds are quite strong that, someplace in your physical being, there will be a pleasant sensation. Look at most any statue of the Buddha—he has a faint smile on his face. That is not just for artistic purposes; it is there for teaching purposes. Smile when you meditate, because once you reach access concentration, you only have to shift your attention one inch to find a pleasant sensation.
Take a look at MA102 and try that method too, it will open up a new way of practice with verbal thinking in first jhana so to develop renunciation in wisdom there. You will also understand that a lot of work and reflection is needed to get there. If you look at MA102 you cannot possibly imagine to link the word "light" to the word "jhana" since it is a change of perspective, an u-turn, a revolution that takes your world and put it upside-down. If you feel that it is too hard to guide yourself though the suttas, stick to the tradition seems the better option, but please never forget to develop wisdom and that the Buddha actually got full enlightenment reflection on the allure, the drawback and the escape so why we should not?But both of these methods have difficulties: that of Pa Auk leads to a first jhana without verbal discursive thoughts (whereas according to the sutta there are verbal discursive thoughts in the first jhana), and that of Leigh Brasington leads to less intense jhanas than those of the Buddha. Is there a middle way between the two? Can you detail its steps?
With Metta (and sorry If I will probably not have the time to respond further)