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Hollow Body Formless Jhana

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Hollow Body Formless Jhana
Answer
5/9/19 9:14 PM
Hello all. I am trying to make progress on the formless Jhanas. These never came naturally to me, but they have very occasionally poppped up briefly. 

My question is about disappearance of the body.  As the primary sensations disappear in some parts of the body (e.g. the legs), I am left with a widespread subcutaneous awareness. The result is that the limb feels hollow. The hollowness is 'hard' rather than 'lite' (in the sense of 'hard' and 'lite' jhana).  I am aware that the advice for Tummo is to visualise a hollow body, so I guess this may be a Tummo factor.  Also, this sub-cutaneous awareness is present even when my legs go dead, during a sit.

Does anyone know whether this hollow body sensation is sufficient for formless jhana?  That is, is it skilful to cultivate it? Or should I seek to relinquish it?  Or should I be using the hollow body sensation for something else?

Cheers

Malcolm

RE: Hollow Body Formless Jhana
Answer
5/10/19 4:46 AM as a reply to curious.
Welcome to the world of terminology and various criteria for various jhanas and attainments.

Various people have various criteria for what they would call the "formless realms".

Regardless of what people call them, it is not uncommon when meditation starts to get deeper for the body image to change, sometimes a lot, sometimes to get very vague and spacious, sometimes to disappear entirely.

I personally like to distinguish between what I think of as "true formless realms", where one really has the specific quality very strongly and stably present (such as boundless consciousness, for example) and the body and forms are truly gone. It is helpful to know that such a thing can be attained if one likes higher standards.

However, it is also common for lower jhanas to have some degree of formlessness to them. Even the first jhana, if tuned strongly enough towards some object that doesn't involve the body being present in some normal way, can get very formless, such as if the shape of attention or a mantra or some other similar object is taken, and the body may entirely disappear.

That said, I personally would resist the trend, so common at this time, to water down terms so far that they become meaningless, such as having one's skin still be felt and to call that formless, but you will have to make your own choices.

Cultivating various attentional shapes and qualities as well as the ability to tune attention to more vs less body (and many other axes of development) are useful and intersting skills to develop. However, you don't list your specific meditative goals, so it is hard to give further advice regarding cultivation vs relinquishment.

RE: Hollow Body Formless Jhana
Answer
5/10/19 5:02 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
It’s good to have these descriptions. I haven’t experienced that true boundless consciousness. I think I may have experienced boundless space for maybe a second or so, and I guess that doesn't really count because it definitely wasn’t stable. The other formless realms are more accessible to me, but sometimes I sort of get spitten out from them very abruptly. Suddenly having a dense body after having none can be harsh for a moment.

How do you do to cultivate those strong and stable qualities?

RE: Hollow Body Formless Jhana
Answer
5/10/19 3:01 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Welcome to the world of terminology and various criteria for various jhanas and attainments.

Various people have various criteria for what they would call the "formless realms".

Regardless of what people call them, it is not uncommon when meditation starts to get deeper for the body image to change, sometimes a lot, sometimes to get very vague and spacious, sometimes to disappear entirely.

I personally like to distinguish between what I think of as "true formless realms", where one really has the specific quality very strongly and stably present (such as boundless consciousness, for example) and the body and forms are truly gone. It is helpful to know that such a thing can be attained if one likes higher standards.

However, it is also common for lower jhanas to have some degree of formlessness to them. Even the first jhana, if tuned strongly enough towards some object that doesn't involve the body being present in some normal way, can get very formless, such as if the shape of attention or a mantra or some other similar object is taken, and the body may entirely disappear.

That said, I personally would resist the trend, so common at this time, to water down terms so far that they become meaningless, such as having one's skin still be felt and to call that formless, but you will have to make your own choices.

Cultivating various attentional shapes and qualities as well as the ability to tune attention to more vs less body (and many other axes of development) are useful and intersting skills to develop. However, you don't list your specific meditative goals, so it is hard to give further advice regarding cultivation vs relinquishment.

Very helpful thank you.

I have good access to various rupa jhana factors and jhana flavours at a moderate strength, and this has been enough for many purposes. However, my goals are to now raise standards. So I would like to be able to:

- Reliably access a true formless realm after a several long sits
- Reliably produce a diffuse white nimitta, or an nimitta object in central vision on a long sit.

So I think I get the message - go for it hard and no compromise or excuses or 'innovations'!

Thanks.  :-)