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Using metta to enter jhana
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9/4/09 4:20 AM
Forum: Practical Dharma

Does anyone have any suggestions for/against using metta as a way to enter jhana? I don't think I've hit the first jhana yet. I do like doing metta alot, so it's feasible, I'm considering using that as my object. I don't have the Visuddhimagga yet, so I can't consult that. (I do have a copy of the Vimuttimagga.)

I basically do it the way Sharon Salzberg describes it in Lovingkindness (e.g. wishing it towards oneself, a benefactor, etc.) I focus on the words, mental images of the person's face, and bodily feeling of warmth in the middle of the chest, which can get intense at times (i.e. feel-image-talk in Shinzen Young's system).

But this doesn't seem like a very stable object to use, compared to breath, a kasina etc. Would I need to do a simplified version (and how)?

What is the counterpart sign (nimitta) and access sign for metta?

Many thanks!

Marcello

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
9/4/09 4:39 AM as a reply to Marcello Spinella.
when your concentration is stable enough (it could be from the very get-go, it could take some minutes, dunno how you are), focus one-pointedly on the feeling of metta itself. thats it. just stay there. unwavering, unblinking, just stay like that. helps to keep your eyes closed.

hope thats helpful

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
9/4/09 5:34 AM as a reply to Marcello Spinella.
So if I understand correctly, I would focus on the emotion-related warmth feeling in the body, which tends to be most intense in the center of the chest.

If the feeling fades over time, I guess I would have to go back to the feel-image-talk to rev it up again, and then re-focus on the feel?

I've been doing vipassana on a dedicated basis for 4 years, but not much exclusive concentration practice. I now see the advantages of jhana and want to develop that.

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
9/4/09 12:22 PM as a reply to Marcello Spinella.
'So if I understand correctly, I would focus on the emotion-related warmth feeling in the body, which tends to be most intense in the center of the chest.'

yup, thats metta practice.

'If the feeling fades over time, I guess I would have to go back to the feel-image-talk to rev it up again, and then re-focus on the feel?'

pay attention to what it fades into! try staying with that then.. unwavering, relaxed yet clear.

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
10/15/09 4:29 PM as a reply to Marcello Spinella.
Open buddhism!:

Visuddhimagga, mp3 lectures and pdf of english translation.
http://thepathofpurification.blogspot.com/
http://www.sirimangalo.org/uploads/purification.pdf

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
10/18/09 1:43 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Tarin is right, start with the phrases, and as quickly as possible transition to the feeling behind them as object. When it fades, stay with that.

It is harder for most to get really "hard" jhana on the quality of metta, but it can be done. Far easier to do it with something like a kasina disk of candle flame, but these don't have the same beneficial qualities that metta does, though they are likely to develop stronger concentration, which has its own good qualities.

Do whichever you feel drawn to, but remember, those with stream entry in general have access to natural concentration abilities way beyond those without stream entry who have done the same amount of practice, so consider stream entry first if you don't have it and then work on concentration. Metta also takes on a whole new level of direct meaning when you have stream entry.

Helpful?

Daniel

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
7/30/13 5:51 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Also try when the feeling fades you make another wish - just enough thought to bring it up again. Then relax and back on the feeling as object. This way the mind will become better trained at even fabricating the feeling to begin with - after a while even the smallest wish for lovingkindness or happyness as a feeling will make it appear. If you have crossed A&P this gets a bit more complex as you have opened up the pathways into your head already - so doing lots of metta from the heart center can leave you with unfinished energy up in the head which needs to be worked with in a different way.. I would recommend getting a hold of the Dhammasukha folks if you seriously want to learn to enter the Jhanas with metta as that is right now what they are primarily teaching.

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
jhana chi metta christianity
Answer
8/12/13 7:47 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
Hey Guys,

I'm new here, thank you so much for the incredible discussions! I wanted to ask if you had any insight as to what is happening when the feeling of metta that begins in the heart drops from that location and then reappears in the 3rd eye area? When I first did this practice the feeling of metta (for me it was a very cold feeling, like peppermint or menthol) would always start in the heart. When I begin now it immediately shows up either in the third eye or crown chakra area.

Also, at the beginning (first few days) of the metta practice the 'feeling', or energy/chi/menthol sensation, originated in the heart, then passed to the throat, down to the solar plexus, then to the head. This seems to match what the first phase of the Six Yogas of Naropa describe, so I found that interesting. But what I'm confused about is where these feelings of energy in various chakra centers overlay with the maps used to describe the progress of insight - is there a discussion somewhere that hits this?

I'm just trying to get a handle on where I might be in my practice. We've got the chakra, core channel energy flow model, which I can somewhat relate to in my experience, but I'm not sure where this intersects the vipassana jhanas and nanas, if at all. I think I've had at least 2 A&P experiences - the first, which happened December 1 of 1993, absolutely obliterated my then-current personality and made me a complete space cadet for pretty much the next . . . well it's probably still going on. : ) This happened in the context of a VERY radical Pentecostal, green beret style Church and so of course I interpreted this event as being "filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues," which I did, and they weren't the coached kind. At any rate my life has been, I dunno, altered in the extreme since then. I've basically spent the last couple of decades trying to understand what the hell happened to me, why can't I get back to that place, and why, despite having a great, blessed life in so many ways, I'm fundamentally miserable. (I've read enough here to suspect Dark Night symptoms, yes.)

All I know is that about every 1.5 to 2 years I have a total overhaul of whatever belief system I then hold. I get major shifts in awareness and convictions, I always lose all of my friends because I take up the mantle of the heretic at that point and move on, etc. - ya'll know how it goes. I've cycled through almost all possible Christianities until reaching Eastern Orthodoxy and then, right on schedule, leaving it as well.

At any rate I suppose that's a subject for another thread, but as of the last 3 months I've been using metta practice to try and enter jhana. So I was very curious when this thread mentioned that when the energies reach the head they have to be worked with in different ways. Also again, I wonder if there is a thread that might help me map where my metta energy sensations might fall on the insight maps.

I apologize in advance if this has been covered elsewhere as I'm not familiar with all of the content yet. But thanks for taking the time to read this and for the fantastic board!

much respect,

Geoffrey Garland
Athens, Ga

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
8/13/13 1:06 PM as a reply to Geoffrey Garland.
yes - I believe there is some sort of correlation between 4th jhana and the energy going out of the head, and when it goes up and out the top the correlate is 5th jhana. The feeling will change to compassion when it goes out the top. I dont know how else it changes location-wise but later it can change to sympathetic joy (6th J correlate i think) and then equanimity (7th j).

I have found that while in compassion mode out the top (2nd brahmavihara) there is often a sense of space extending outwards so I assume that would be a handle one could use to switch to a plain 5th J. SO it looks to me like the brahmaviharas are a ladder running parallel to the jhanas - similar but not quite the same.

I do know that if it wants to come out the head, or heart, or wherever that you just let it do what it wants and watch. It changes on its own.

Quite interesting stuff, really.

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
8/13/13 3:06 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
Hi Bill thanks for this. Do you use the Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center practice recommendations as one of your primary practices? It has been one of mine, and I actually just did a week retreat with them in early July. It's Theravada as well of course, but you know Bhante V. is decidedly not teaching Mahasi style approaches, so I'm interested to find someone on Overground who is familiar with Dhamma Sukha. As you know, they place a strong emphasis on the necessity of directly perceiving the links of dependent origination before any of the stages of awakening can be reached. Do you think this is so? Maybe I should ask this in a different thread.

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
8/14/13 6:12 PM as a reply to Geoffrey Garland.
I have used their practice as a main practice from time to time. I honestly don't know if there is a different result of path from seeing D-O versus MCTB style path. Someone else may be able to chime in here since I am pre-path anyway (post A&P). I have had a few instances of seeing the last few pieces of the chain of D-O from craving onwards and it can produce a period of time where I just don't care about thoughts and many of them simply don't arise, like the craving comes up and doesn't get a foothold and just fades. It takes me all day of doing the 6R's to see that though. I enjoy the metta greatly and it is obviously a 'power' from what I have seen but I have some difficulties getting stable with any form of concentration yet and now I am doing something a bit simpler to make it easier to sort through and relax/drop the distractions that seem to come up when I stay on an object.

edit - I suspect although I don't really know that there may indeed be a different path of development that can occur going in the D-O direction. I guess we have enough homework for this lifetime eh?

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
8/14/13 6:31 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
Thanks bill,
Fantastic info...I am new to the metta practice and was just wondering about the jhanas and metta...gonna check it out and see how it lines up. I just had the energy move from heart to forehead then crown.
thanks,
~D

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
8/15/13 1:12 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Hey yes thanks to you both as well as to the others who have commented on this. I'd really like to stay in touch with those who are working with metta practice and learn where it is taking them.

I'm currently using the 'Radiating in the 6 Directions' form of metta a la the Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center instructions. Dream Walker I'd be interested to learn what you find, because we may be in similar territory. When I started the metta practice the feeling would arise strongly in the heart center and I would then take that sensation as the object. It then dropped out of the heart and reappeared in the third eye region. Occasionally the energy would also start to move during a sitting to the crown. But now when I sit, the feeling doesn't seem to arise at all around the third eye but just at the crown. And again, it's a much more subtle sensation than what is felt at either the heart or forehead.

Just to reiterate about the DSMC approach, Bhante Vimalaramsi teaches breath but prefers to start folks with metta as the primary means for entering jhana. He says he's found it to be one of the quickest ways to get folks there. I also think it's interesting to go back to Leigh Brasington's article on different approaches to Jhana: http://www.leighb.com/jhanantp.htm.

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
8/15/13 1:17 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
Bill that's really interesting to hear that you are seeing the links. Do you know which of the nanas that perceptual ability might line up with?

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
8/15/13 4:17 PM as a reply to Geoffrey Garland.
I dont know that they line up at all - nanas I see the three C's and/or have sensory speed effects, energetic effects, etc. Seeing the links is more like noticing a chain of things causing each other that usually you see spread out in awareness...you see the mind jump from one thing to the next and the reactions that cause this and its a totally different form of insight. Im not even sure how to tie the two together, if at all. Its funny how perception influences what insghts you have, and how which practice you choose determines your perception. Nanas I see that thoughts are not me, come and go, and are not worth hanging on to - whereas if I see D-O I see how the thought actually came about, the process by which it arose and it also makes me dispassionate towards them (for a short while anyway - I assume that seeing it much more clearly after exiting a jhana or something could have much longer effects, but I'm nowhere near that right now)

Seems to me the similarity is in the dispassion created by the insights, which allows for letting-go. At least thats the way I think about it.

RE: Using metta to enter jhana
Answer
8/17/13 9:41 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
Bill this is great, once again thanks.