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The Vipassana Jhanas

The Vipassana Jhanas are a broader way of looking at the stages of insight that also draws from some of the information and helpful advice related to the samatha jhanas. While there is some controversy about exactly what insight stage falls into which vipassana jhana, generally the following correlations are implied here.

The First Vipassana Jhana is known for having narrow attention, requiring sustained effort to stay in it, having more stable concentration than access concentration and encompassing the following insight stages:

  1. 1) Mind and Body
  2. 2) Cause and Effect
  3. 3) The Three Characteristics

The Second Vipassana Jhana is known for having somewhat wider concentration than the previous one, more bliss and rapture, a more natural attention in which things show themselves with less effort and more spontaneous presence, and a greater appreciation of movement. It incorporates just one insight stage: 4)) The Arising and Passing Away

The Third Vipassana Jhana is known for having a very wide focus but a less clear center of attention than the second vipassana jhana, and is in some ways its opposite. Whereas the second vipassana jhana is generally pleasant and gives the meditator a real sense of meditative power, the third vipassana jhana tends to be unpleasant (unlike its samatha corollary) and is generally very frustrating. Where as in the second vipassana jhana the meditator generally feels they clearly perceive and comprehend anything they turn their attention to, in the third vipassana jhana there tends to be the exact opposite impression, that whatever attention is turned to is poorly perceived, falling away, and yet the periphery around the center of attention may seem clear yet irritating, complex, buzzy, unpleasant.

The Third Vipassana Jhana covers the following insight stages, which are collectively called a number of names, such as the Dukkha Ñanas, The Dark Night of the Soul, and The Knowledges of Suffering:

  1. 5) Dissolution
  2. 6) Fear
  3. 7) Misery
  4. 8) Disgust
  5. 9) Desire for Deliverance
  6. 10) Re-observation

The Fourth Vipassana Jhana is known for being more panoramic, three-dimensional, inclusive, integrated, and peaceful than any of the previous jhanas. It includes one insight stage: 11) Equanimity

The next insight stages,12) Conformity, 13) Change of Lineage and 14) Path might be considered to be the culmination of the Fourth Vipassana Jhana, though they tend to stand out as having their aspects and may be considered 3 pristine moments of flawless clarity.

Insight stage 15, that of Fruition, is a complete discontinuity of one's perception of reality, in which there is no time, space, experience, or reference point, and thus is not included in the vipassana jhanas.

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