4 vipassana jhanas question

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Ben V, modified 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 7:16 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 7:16 AM

4 vipassana jhanas question

Posts: 394 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
I'm trying to figure out in my own words, and referring to some of my own experiences, what the 4 vipassana jhanas may be (or not) in my practice. Any comments highly appreciated:

1st Vip. jhana:

Relating to mind and body as objects to be observed. Seeing that a thought is one thing, a physical sensation is another, occasionally seeing how they causally relate in real time (e.g. this sensation triggers such emotion or thought, etc). Also beginning to relate to experience as something that comes and goes, on a very rudimentary and coarse level. The mind at this stage is still dominated by a conceptual overlay to experience. In other words, one is not yet fully capable to see experience directly, rather, it's a mixture of direct seeing and conceptual overlays, with the latter dominating.

2nd vip. Jhana

Objects of meditation begin to vibrate or pulse quickly in a way that feels very interesting or intriguing, and it feels like mindfulness is going pretty well. Like wow, this is going somewhere! 

3rd vip jhana

Mind is more quiet than 2nd vip jhana, but it feels like I'm losing the objects of meditation. The objects of meditation seem diffuse, like hard to catch. Quick moments of fear may come sometimes. If vibrations come, they feel harsh and somewhat "threatening" (although in my case it no longer really feels threatening, but I could imagine these vibrations feeling threatening to anyone experiencing them for the first time).

Also, more personal stuff comes up. Difficult emotions. For me it's always hard to decide whether this is just my regular stuff or related to dukkha nanas, or a mix of both.

4th vip. jhana

Sense of calm spaciousness. This may be the only stage where spaciousness is felt. Like the mind expands around the head and chest and all experiences can be accomodated, and seen as all more or less the same stuff (all just movements of nature), moving through space. Also, the sense of "doer" is seen through. It doesn't arise a lot and if it does, it is immediately seen as just a mind movement and released on the spot. Same with the sense of effort, or the sense of "having to do something" like adjusting the meditation. The doer and the effort are not bought into (identified with) anymore.

Everything is just movements of nature passing through an empty space, an empty space previously occupied by a solid sense of "me". 

If vibrations come, they seem to be coming from deep inside, or from the "background", and feel somewhat "transcendent", for lack of better word. They are rather, two or three quick pulses. 

I've also had experiences where the upper torso, upper arms and head vibrate constantly, but very smoothly, with very calm mind, but I'm not sure if this is a 2nd vip. jhana territory or still equanimity.

Makes sense?
shargrol, modified 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 8:53 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 8:53 AM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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I'd say your 1VJ is moving into access concentration, and your 2VJ is a mix of 1VJ and 2VJ...

1VJ is more like feeling "nose to the grindstone" and working "in the groove". It has the subject-object sense of "I am _doing_ something productively".

2VJ is more like the effort is gone and you are clearly on a ride. "It's doing itself."

3VJ is like "something is happening by it self, but I don't understand what is going on"

4VJ is a sense of "all of this is constantly the dharma, the truth" the constancy is the big thing.  it can be calm and spacious, but it can also be dreamy and cozy (not spacious, more like snuggled in close). But it has the sense that there never is conflict or contradiction.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 9:54 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 9:54 AM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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Would the experience that the senses one by one seem to be turning themselves inside out in a rather violent but not painful way on their own fall into the category of third vipassana jhana? Like having one’s self sucked out of one’s body through hearing or feeling or touching and then kind of perceiving one self from ”the other side”?

Occasionally I have very briefly experienced something that felt like being surrounded by a vast space that was breathing. Could that have been short glimpses of fourth vipassana jhana?

When the visual flickerings suddenly form themselves into a perfect intricate pattern and everything is chrystal clear, what is that?

I hope it’s okay to add my questions. If not, please say so. Great thread! Thanks for bringing this up!
shargrol, modified 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 4:40 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 4:40 PM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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" turning themselves inside out in a rather violent but not painful way on their own fall into the category of third vipassana jhana?"

Yes, I would guess 3VJ


"surrounded by a vast space that was breathing. Could that have been short glimpses of fourth vipassana jhana? "

Yes, likely a fairly concentrated 4VJ or even aspects of 5th jhana (boundless space). 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 4:55 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 4:55 PM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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Cool. Thanks!

When it comes to the constant vibrations, Ben, I’m wondering if you would say that they remind you of carbon dioxide being released from a soda can. Are they the arising and passing away of many sensations very rapidly and broadly? I have that phenomenon sometimes and it intensifies when clarity and concentration and equanimity are high enough, I think. I’m hoping that it is about sensing reality closer to what it really is, as something that is in flux, always becoming something, always dissolving. But maybe I’m just high as a kite on my body’s own substances, I don’t know.
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Ben V, modified 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 9:23 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 9:23 PM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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Thanks Shargrol,

Linda, I have different types of vibrations. The ones I mention in the 4VJ section (whether it is really 4VJ or not) are indeed broad and rapid, but also quite smooth. They tend to happen on days I have done lots of practice, or after a retreat, but, interestingly, off cushion when I spontaneously turn attention inward (I guess we could say in informal practices following intensive formal ones). 

This being said, in the "4VJ" I described, vibrations are not the main thing. It's more of a sense of spaciousness and droping of intentions.

About vibrations being an indicator we are seeing reality closer to what it is, I've come to somewhat distance myself from this notion. Not not because it's false per say, but that reality can be experienced at many levels, without there being one level that is the "true" level". Feeling the vibratory quality of reality shows we are concentrated and seeing more subtlety, but we have to be careful, I think, to turn this into " I'm seeing the ultimate reality". It is seeing reality from a certain angle. We can become attached to experiencing the subtlety of reality at a vibratory level, but ultimately our work is more about  how we relate to experience than "seeing the true nature of reality." Some schools of vipassana want one to experience subtle vibrations on every square inch of the body, but this doesn't seem to be necessary. I find some streams of practitionners are overly attached to experiencing vibrations. 

My two cents emoticon Maybe I'm also high as a kyte on this last paragraph rant.
shargrol, modified 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 9:57 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/2/19 9:56 PM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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Well said! (not well said about the last paragraph, but the second to last paragraph emoticon )
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 3/3/19 1:47 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/3/19 1:47 AM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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Sounds like a wise approach.

Maybe that’s where I get stuck. I probably cling to the vibrations, becuase they make me feel like I know what I’m doing. But there is no I, no doer, and I should probably head for what I don’t know.
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Ben V, modified 3 Years ago at 3/3/19 8:23 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/3/19 8:23 AM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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Ya I think this is pretty common. Vibrations making us feel like it's the highest stage to get at. Been there, done that. 

I think Daniel said that high equanimity may feel like no big deal to some. And I think it's even possible for people who have experienced the first 11 nanas to think that A&P is the highest point of their practice, when in fact equanimity is what's really more significant in their practice, because boredom can kick in in equanimity. A&P vibes makes us feel this is the big deal in meditation. 

I remember an interview with Joseph Goldstein in which he said sometimes he would think he got some highly significant event in his meditation, but his teachers would not think so. And other times he would report what he thought was small, not highly significant events in meditation, but his teachers would consider these highly significant...
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 3/3/19 8:56 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/3/19 8:54 AM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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It’s not necessarily so much that I think of it as a high stage. I think the main thing is that it’s so tangible. I have these different landmarks that I have gotten used to. They come in a certain order. The vibrations I’m talking about now is not the same ones as those I experience in A&P. These are more spacious, and they appear in all senses. I think tiny tiny unstable bubbles are a more accurate description. When they have all been released, there is stillness and chrystal clear images.

I think my hang-up is the need to map out the terrain.
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Ben V, modified 3 Years ago at 3/3/19 10:26 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/3/19 10:26 AM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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Nice!

Sounds like some of the classic descriptions of equanimity nana.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 3/4/19 4:56 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/4/19 4:56 AM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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Yeah well that’s as far as I can navigate using my land marks. From here on it’s unknown territory.
shen k s, modified 3 Years ago at 3/5/19 1:32 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/5/19 1:32 AM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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Can someone clarify, is one in the Vipassanna jhanas during a sit and once they get up it gradually goes away (similar to concentration jhanas) or is it a pervading experience for your on and off cushion life? 

From these reports it sounds like it goes away but other times I read ppl are stuck in the dark knight for years and it sounds like it’s something off cushion as well
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 3/5/19 2:29 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 3/5/19 2:28 AM

RE: 4 vipassana jhanas question

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The dark night bleed through is not what I would call Jhanic. It’s more like a change in circumstances that may affect daily life, especially if one doesn’t know what it is. I spent years in it before even starting to do formal practice, so there was only off-cushion life. Now that I can navigate in it, it affects me much less. Still, the fatigue and lack of clarity in dissolution puts limits to my working life as a researcher.

I would say that one is in the nanas off-cushion too, but not in the Jhanas.