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Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?

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Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/17/19 6:31 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/18/19 4:54 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Smiling Stone 8/18/19 7:00 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/18/19 7:31 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/18/19 11:08 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Travis McKinstry 8/19/19 9:31 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/19/19 10:27 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/22/19 1:46 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Dustin 8/22/19 1:47 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/22/19 2:23 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Dustin 8/22/19 5:23 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/22/19 6:50 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/23/19 12:03 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Dustin 8/23/19 12:59 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/24/19 5:30 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Dustin 8/24/19 6:06 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/24/19 6:14 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Anicca Dukkha Anatta 8/26/19 2:07 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/26/19 4:10 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? TJ 9/11/19 2:32 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/11/19 3:17 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? TJ 9/12/19 8:27 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/12/19 8:58 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? TJ 9/12/19 12:49 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/12/19 1:34 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? TJ 9/12/19 2:40 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/12/19 5:54 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? TJ 9/13/19 10:58 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/13/19 11:57 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/26/19 9:53 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/8/19 10:57 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/8/19 1:29 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/26/19 5:22 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/21/19 1:24 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/21/19 2:04 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? agnostic 9/26/19 12:49 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/26/19 3:20 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? agnostic 9/26/19 8:08 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/27/19 12:05 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? agnostic 9/27/19 9:17 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Siavash Mahmoudpour 9/27/19 6:50 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? agnostic 9/29/19 10:29 PM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/30/19 12:08 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Siavash Mahmoudpour 9/30/19 6:56 AM
RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 10/20/19 10:40 AM
Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/17/19 6:31 AM
I think I may have cycled the eight jhanas, but I would appreciate input from somebody more experienced in shamatha as to whether this was the real thing or if some of it was just sub-aspects of one jhana. The following is from my practice log:


I did shamatha, don’t know for how long, maybe an hour or so. I was cycling the jhanas. I don’t know for sure if I was really cycling all the eight jhanas or if it was for instance the first three and then a number of different subjhanas, but I think they may have been the real thing. The shifts felt so fast and seamless that I didn’t realize that I was cycling (there was no thinking) until I came back to access concentration from what I cannot explain any differently than neither perception nor non-perception and knew that I had still been fully conscious and yet could not recall anything, and then found myself entering second jhana again before I even had time to return to the breath. Next time around the farthest I came was to when the notion of having a body started to fade away and I couldn’t tell where the limits of my body was. This time there was too much of an observer to keep going. I could return to the lower jhanas but not continue the cycling. The notion of wanting to remember the details was too strong, so I found that the session was over. I’ll makes notes of the different states that I can recollect:

The breath was so delightful that I let it fully embrace me. There was breath from every pore, and it was as if I was breathing a silky flourescent smoothly dancing mist. So beautiful, so blissful.

I forgot about the breath. The bliss was gently showering through my whole body on its own. I didn’t have to do anything. There was a total surrender. It felt very healing.

The gentle showerings came to a halt and there was stillness and peace, with remaining happiness.

I forgot about happiness as the stillness and peace deepened.

I forgot about my body. The first time around I didn’t even notice the shift because there was no notion of having had a body in the first place. The second time of cycling I was aware of the process and could feel that the boundaries were gradually dissolving until I didn’t know where they were, and then I came back to access concentration before I had completely let go of the idea of a body.

There was sharp clarity everywhere and nothing but that. The clarity had sort of a brightness and pureness to it.

There was nothing there, really. I forgot about the clarity.

Then I forgot about the nothingness.

Then I sort of came to it, had senses again and wondered how the heck I could know that I had been conscious when there was no recollection of observing anything. On the way out of it, before the senses came back, there was bright clear pureness everywhere again for a very short moment. I don’t know whether or not it was nothingness before that. I think it might have been. I think perception of nothingness was what came back first. Then the vaste clarity. Then access concentration with thoughts about what the heck that was.

...

In the morning I did 75 minutes of vinyasa yoga and listened to dharma talks by Ayya Khema and Thanissaro Bhikku. They both made shamatha feel so easy, so I let go of all my doubts. I didn’t plan on cycling through all the jhanas, though. I was only determined about really enjoying that breath, because I felt inspired to do so.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/18/19 4:54 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Was the phenomenology too poor for anyone to say anything?

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/18/19 7:00 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hey Linda,
No, you are quite clear about your progression. Maybe people are on holidays or not that much in jhana practice today.
Chris posted this (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=kenethh+folk+jhanas&atb=v154-1&ia=videos&iai=WQmhF0p3wXQ&pn=1&iax=videos) on Spatial's practice log. Have you seen it? Your report reminded me of it...
Your experience looked quite deep from here !

with metta
smiling stone

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/18/19 7:31 AM as a reply to Smiling Stone.
Oh, do you think so? Thanks! I’ll try to explore it more as soon as the nana cycles allow me. I seem to have gotten into dissolution now. That has always been the most sticky dukkha nana for me. Also, the thought of having cycled through the eight jhanas brought out the ego and its greed. I haven’t quite learned how to go from there to sincerely just enjoying the breath again.

Yes, I have watched those. Since I haven’t had Kenneth Folk as a teacher, I don’t find the descriptions quite as clear. When I watched them for the first time (in early review), I recognized all of them, but I’m sceptical about that. I probably haven’t really accessed the pure land jhanas. That must have been some weird quirks that happened to fit the vague descriptions. Since the early review phase (almost five months ago) I haven’t had much concentration until now.

Many thanks for your kindness! Metta!

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/18/19 11:08 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Uhm, forget about ”as soon as the nana cycles allow me”. The cycling is too fast for that to be relevant. I need to get used to that again, I guess. It’s more about making room for shamatha in my daily life and working with the hindrances.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/19/19 9:31 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’ll admit before I start that my comments here probably won’t be of much help.

But damn that’s cool! I thought your descriptions of each stage were quite clear, so I’m not sure why you’re not getting much feedback from other folks. I love reading your meditation experiences

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/19/19 10:27 AM as a reply to Travis McKinstry.
Thanks! That’s kind.

I don’t think they are clear enough. This version of potential fourth jhana did not feel as chrystal clear as before. The contrast to the previous jhana was not as obvious either. I’m still not as sure about the differences between the jhanas as I would like to be. When I’m confident enough I will probably no longer feel the need to ask. I’ll keep practising.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/22/19 1:46 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m working on this, with a long-term aim to enable precision. I’m focusing on the rupa jhanas, to cultivate a solid foundation for the rest. I have come to realize that dry vipassana is not really my thing. The last few months with poor concentration and little access to jhanas have been an almost brutal contrast to that time when practice was doing itself. I didn’t intentionally do shamatha at that time, but it blended in with my practice on its own volition and enabled the insights that came out of it. Then, as I started working on a new layer, that didn’t happen, and I didn’t know how to enable it. Now that the current situation allows me to cultivate jhanas, I’m not going to miss out on the opportunity to learn.

Yesterday and during the night there was access to fourth jhana, more distinct than in the post starting this thread. It involves not only a profound peace, but an agencylessness (a relief rather than a loss) that stands out, and a sharpness in clarity. It also allows me access to some degree of visualization despite being very nonvisual (maybe because there is no longer a sense of me anyway). How I have missed this! It’s the kind of feeling that makes me totally understand why people are willing to give up sex for a monastic life.

Previously when I accessed jhanas like this, I never really took the time to explore each jhana and what lead to them and how they eventually dissipated. Most of the time, I didn’t notice the cycling and exactly how the qualities changed. I didn’t learn the craft. I probably didn’t realize how much the sentence ”easy come, easy go” would apply to jhanas. Well, lesson learned.

Yesterday and during the night the jhanic factors were strong enough to generate that strong pull that draws one into the next jhana. I remember reading in MCTB2 that mastering the jhanas starts with resisting that pull and resolving to stay in each jhana for five minutes or something like that. I can see why that would be an accomplishment. Honestly, I’m not sure that I can form that attention strong enough just yet, because the longing for fourth jhana is like a force of nature. I’ll reread those sections to see exactly what they say.

At least I wasn’t violently spitted out.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/22/19 1:47 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.


The breath was so delightful that I let it fully embrace me. There was breath from every pore, and it was as if I was breathing a silky flourescent smoothly dancing mist. So beautiful, so blissful.

Wow! Sounds like a wonderful experience. I really like your attention to detail.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/22/19 2:23 PM as a reply to Dustin.
Aw, thankyou! This made me happy.

I used to think that the breath was a really boring meditative object, to be honest, so I’m grateful that I can finally appreciate it. But that is a vulgar experience compared to fourth jhana. It is much more difficult to describe fourth jhana in a way that makes it sound wonderful, I find. I mean, most people don’t think of a neutral feeling and a lack of agency as something wonderful. Yet it is. It is so much better than the greatest sensory pleasures I have ever had (and I have had a LOT of fantastic sensory pleasures). It is way better than amazing sex with people one is madly in love with, at sunset while eating luxorious high quality icecream. Words just don’t do it justice. After all, language has been developed mainly by people with all their fetters intact. The cravings are built into our language.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/22/19 5:23 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Nice! I remember when I first got access concentration and and was right on the money following the breath and had an experience that I for sure thought wasjhana or path or something really good. I called my friend up and he explained to me what rapture was. Hahahahahaha

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/22/19 6:50 PM as a reply to Dustin.
Haha! That’s pretty cool when one thinks about it - one gets to be amazed many many times.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/23/19 12:03 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Correction: I don’t think that I really forget about the breath in the rupa jhanas. It’s more like it is replaced with a subtler and subtler abstraction, sort of a taken for granted conceptualized breath energy or symbol of such a concept. That concept or symbol is infused with the jhanic factors. Sometimes it is also represented visually as a flourescent sphere. It may be bright flourescent whitish purple. Occasionally it shines brighter. It may be like a cluster of smaller bright white shining spheres that form a larger sphere together. It isn’t located by the tip of the nose for me, but in the center of the murk. Maybe that’s because I don’t visually focus on the tip of the nose or anywhere, I don’t know. I just let the nose feel the nose, the belly feel the belly, the hands feel the hands, and so forth. I let the eyes relax in their sockets, and I don’t conceptualize that the eyes are looking for something. When I drop back to access concentration, the visual sign is commonly a faint red dot. It doesn’t at all look like the one that appears in fire kasina.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/23/19 12:59 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
What practice are you doing?

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/24/19 5:30 AM as a reply to Dustin.
Breath practice with an emphasis on shamatha. That’s not what I always do, but it’s what I’m doing right now in order to learn the technicalities of jhanas.

I’m not following a specific trademarked method for doing this. I’m taking input from different teachers and experimenting to learn what works for me. I think one for all packeges are bullshit, if you excuse the vocabulary.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/24/19 6:06 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Ok. I notice you said something about “murk” so I thought it might be kasina.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/24/19 6:14 PM as a reply to Dustin.
Ah. Very reasonable. No, I just find it a very useful concept.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/26/19 2:07 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Not qualified enough to make any technical comments but you practice sounds beautiful.
Reading about it made me very happy.

Metta.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/26/19 4:10 AM as a reply to Anicca Dukkha Anatta.
This warms my heart. Thankyou! I’m not technically skilled either, but I’m taking the opportunity to cultivate such skills to the best of my ability. This is a very explorative endeavor. I feel that I need to find out for myself what my triggers and landmarks are, and so I have a very eclectic approach. I’m learning from MCTB2, Bhante Gunaratana, Ayya Khema, Shaila Catherine, Thanissaro Bhikku, Michael Taft, Culadasa, Leigh Brasington, Kenneth Folk, Shinzen Young, Ajahn Brahm and probably somebody else that I have forgotten to mention.

Metta right back at ya!

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
8/26/19 9:53 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Are there more steps between the classical eight jhanas for shamatha newbies, or are there sideway steps or possible additional variants of jhanas that may be available betwen first and second path? Dirty/mixed versions, perhaps, with traits from something other than jhanas? Or entirely different states that can be mistaken for jhanas?

Yesterday I did one of Michael Taft’s guided meditations, ”The Fox Wedding”. It wasn’t supposed to induce jhanas, but it felt pretty much like I was arching some version of jhanas. The material jhanas, at least, were very recognizable. In addition to the usual development from piti to equanimity and agencylessness, it felt like a lot was going on with the eyes. A stepwise widening to panoramic vision and then a feeling of having the eyes dropped back into their sockets, deeper inside the head. After the fourth jhana, it felt as if the eyes were focusing on the third eye and awareness was squeezed out through it into space. It wasn’t completely formless, though, but very subtly vibrational. Then there was sort of an oumph to it, with brightness, and instantly awareness was everywhere. There were still very subtle vibrations. Then an unknown state arose: there were sort of cool, crispy, subtle vibrations at the top of my head (thus definitely not formless), on the scalp, like static electricity. Everything was so light and free, like I had been compressed by strong gravitational forces before that. Then the gentle electrical sparfs/tingles moved to the back of my head, where it probably touched the mattress (as I was lying down) and further in inside the head, like in the brain stem. That’s what I can remember right now. There were some fuzzy moments somewhere down the line.

I am thinking that I failed to get the formless realms formless, since I could feel very subtle vibrations. Should they be entirely vibrationsless? Does this mean that it was less skillful versions of them, or does it mean that it wasn’t them at all?

Also, I’m wondering about the two states that do not seem to fit the map at all. They felt jhanic, but hey, what do I know? They felt sort of like new parts of the brain were activated. I had similar experiences several months ago but this was the first time since then.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/8/19 10:57 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Jhanas that seem to be outside the eight jhana arch happened again. Crossposting from my practice log:

I had an hour of interesting meditative experiences, despite being interrupted by restless cats a couple of times.

I was in jhanas that cannot be placed in the eight jhana arch as far as I understand. Maybe they were custom made jhanas, I don’t know. When entering jhana there was a gentle whoosh experience and then gentle tingles. There were joy and happiness. After a while I realized that those sensations were not in my body, though, but in a layer outside of it. It was my body and yet it wasn’t. Maybe it was the energy body, I don’t know. It was sort of a layer of static electricity in an aura outside the physical body. It started in (outside) the crown of the head, and as it did, there were lightness and spaciousness. There was a high pitched sound vibrating. The static electricity tingles gradually moved towards the top of my head. There was also a feeling of something melting and seeping out through my left ear.

Somewhere here I think equanimity started to dominate. Maybe that’s also when density increased again, or maybe that was at another point in time. I’m not sure. When dencity increased, the high pitched sound lowered somewhat in frequency. There was some phase that was more fuzzy than the others which were very crisp and clear. At some point it almost felt like roots were growing out from below the back of my head, grounding me.

Then the electric tingles moved from all parts of the hed to the forehead and joined together at the third eye. It felt like large bubbles of air or a very tempered foam of water were gently seeping out through the third eye.

I’m not sure about the chronology here, especially since I was interrupted and needed to go back in, but it was something like this.

I recognize this from before. Something very similar happened right before stream entry and then again in the review.* Maybe this is past the post eighth junction point or whatever Daniel calls it? But I don’t know... There are still so many dips and such a rollercoaster ride. Oh well, whatever it is, it is temporary and not self, and craving it or clinging to it leads to suffering.


*) and obviously very recently too, in the post above this one.

Okay, can somebody help me shed some light on this? Are these custom made jhanas? Pure land jhanas? Something entirely different?

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/8/19 1:29 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Crossposting from my practice log again:

I went back in after having had something to eat. I resolved to have the kind of meditative experiences that would allow insight to mature. Then I just breathed and put my trust into the process. ”The process knows the way”, I thought.

I either skipped or rushed through first and second jhana. Came into third. Felt how heavy it was in comparison. Then came to the threshold of fourth jhana. I could see impermanence vividly as I peaked into fourth jhana. It was as if the whole reality was flickering. So fast! I took like a tentative step inside. It was even heavier than in the third jhana. I stayed on the threshold. ”Dense”, I thought. From there I could peak into different jhanas, as if there were multiple doors open. I peaked into the first of those other jhanas outside the arch. There were occasional zaps of static electricity. It was much less dense. I peaked into third jhana too. On the threshold it wasn’t as still as it is in full absorption. It had more of a vipassanaesque touch to it. I recognized my old landmark, ”backward hands”, that is touch feeling itself. As i investigated it further, I could feel that there were layers to it. I could feel the attention moving back and forth between hands and the thighs that they were touching, and moving alongside the whole area of touch. I could feel it as a wave motion or as binary arisings and passings depending on how I used attention/awareness. I could also feel the field of touch as an uninterrupted stream of energy with no boundary between the hands and the thighs, and that enegy stream was what felt itself.

Then I tried to peak into fifth jhana. That was harder. I could feel my eyes sort of squinting, but I still felt my body. It was spacey, allright, but I wouldn’t call it formless. Maybe it isn’t possible to balance on the threshold to formless realms without being formed. Maybe really entering the formless realms requires a leap over a wide moat. I didn’t take the leap. I was standing on the threshold trying to focus on unbounded space, but it’s hard to imagine that quality while standing firmly on a threshold.

Instead I found myself feeling that static electricity around my head and then a heavy pressure on the third eye. Heavy and dense. I imagined there being no boundary, to let the energy flow through. So it did. Then it trickled down as if on a shield around me. Then there was lightness and vaste spaciousness, but not formless. I felt as if I was floating upwards, hovering over where I had been before. There was less gravity, sort of. I stayed there for a while, enjoying the lightness. Then I sank down again. There was pressure against the third eye. The pressure sank down and filled up the head, made it heavy against my pillow. I was rooted again, through the back of my head. Then I wasn’t. It was lighter again and then heavy and very non-energetic and calm and peaceful (fourth jhana). Then I found myself gradually rising against the surface (third jhana). It was still non-energetic. Sounds were loud again. One of my cats was scratching on the patio door wanting to come in. I thought I would be able to get up and let him in but thought I would allow myself to rise up to the surface gently and gradually. I felt more and more happiness coming back. In second jhana I tried to move my body to get ready to get up from bed (the noice was really loud now as my cat was desperate). It’s like I didn’t know how to. The body wouldn’t move. There wasn’t enough of an intention. Piti came into awareness again and increased. I was in first jhana. After a while I managed to move my toes and then the spell was broken.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/11/19 2:32 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hi there, Linda  :-)


I really enjoyed reading about your experiences; you've got it goin' ON!! I've been stuck at Stage 6 of TMI practice for the past six months, so it's inspirational to read about other peoples' jhanic fun. I'm planning a week-long retreat later this year, so I'll get to crank up the fire and maybe that's what it'll take for jhana. Hahaha, it's tough to not want it, you know what I mean? 


Did you see that Thanissaro added a bunch of new Youtube talks over the past couple days? I have probably listened to 500 of his talks and just love the guy. His buttery voice is often the last thing I hear at night and the first thing I hear when I wake up.  :-) 

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/11/19 3:17 PM as a reply to TJ.
Hi TJ, and thanks!

I felt stuck too. I don’t even know what helped. It doesn’t seem to be thanks to anything I did. It’s like the universe got tired of waiting for me to develop and decided to take over. And I let it. I have a hunch that timing is essential. When the universe thinks it’s time, one has to let go of the steering wheel and just follow.

Yeah, I know the frustration of wanting it too much very well. It’s a curious thing that one somehow manages to forget about it when one least expects it. That doesn’t even seem possible, but it is.

Yes, I saw that. I haven’t felt like listening to them yet for some strange reason. Hm, it’s probably because right now I need to listen in instead and trust the process to lead the way. The timing thing. But I will listen.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/12/19 8:27 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thank you for the encouraging words! I think you're right about timing being the main factor, and I'm okay with it being up to a larger force than the small me who wants, prefers, judges, doubts and pouts. I thought about your posts as i was falling asleep last night....do you always meditate in bed? I imagine I'd get used to it if I had a physical impediment to sitting on a zafu, but I think it'd take me awhile to teach my brain to not sleep when meditation is wanted. How long have you been doing that?

I hope you're having a happy day!    :-)

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/12/19 8:58 AM as a reply to TJ.
I prefer meditating in bed but I also do it sitting in my office, walking, standing on the platform waiting for a train, or whatever. Whether or not I get sleepy depends on where I am on the path. When the cycling is higher up on the map, I can usually meditate for hours lying down. Around stream entry meditation happened even when I was trying to sleep. When I started my daily practice I tried to get into a habit of sitting, and I did that quite a lot, but I seem to have some problem with blood circulation or something, or maybe I’m just not stoic enough. So when the problems with dullness diminished, I didn’t see much point in forcing my body. I still do longer sittings periodically, depending on my current needs.

Best wishes for your wellbeing and practice!

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/12/19 12:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Wow, sounds like you've been at it for a while. I'm glad it's gone well for you, and thanks for chatting with me, Linda!  

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/12/19 1:34 PM as a reply to TJ.
Celebrating one year of daily practice on September 20th. Time flies. emoticon

You are very welcome. I enjoyed our talk.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/12/19 2:40 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Breezin' through all the jhanas and Stream Entry in well under a year of practice. LOL, I'll have what she's having!   :-D

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/12/19 5:54 PM as a reply to TJ.
Be careful of what you wish for... There have been elements in my life that I wouldn’t wish for anyone, and I don’t think that my practice can be isolated from them.

I once said out loud that I had given up on happiness and would settle for an interesting life. That was the beginning of several years of chaos. Wishes can be powerful.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/13/19 10:58 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.

(I was trying to message this to you privately, but couldn't figure out how)

Thank you for your candor, and while I'm sorry that life was bumpy for you, I'm truly happy that you've found yourself in an interesting life....and one step closer to a true happiness. A deathless happiness, as TB says. I think that's wonderful!

I spent many, many years in negative self-talk, convincing myself that I wasn't as good as other people. I let that fear and insecurity run my life for decades, dictating what I did and didn't do. In the past 18 months, since finding meditation and realizing that I'm actually getting pretty good at it, I've started shedding those old iterations of who I thought I was, and I've become noticeably more compassionate and open with myself, and by direct extention, others. 

I've often wondered if jhana is waiting for more of those old "committee members" to quiet down and retire before allowing me in. I can quite often reach a solid access concentration, with beautiful moving blobs of colored lights, and (once) a very stable and bright nimitta, and even this state is wonderful by itself. I do, though, tend to strive when I know there's much more to potentially experience, so I think my hitherto lack of jhana has less to do with my technique or concentration, and more to do with underlying internal noise, probably left over from those darker years.

To be truthful, when I got home last night after kind of a rough day, and sat to meditate, I had to say no to unskillful whispery thoughts of not being able to ever reach jhana or stream entry, and also envious thoughts of you. It's funny, the stories the mind creates about ourselves and about other people. My mind had cooked up an image of you as having had a perfect life; laughter all day and jhana all night, that sort of thing. No troubles, an idyllic childhood, and a mind and life naturally inclined toward bliss and rapture. And imagining my mind as forever unable to measure up. Even without you telling me differently, I logically knew that none of us lives that sort of life, but you know how our mind stitches these things together and tucks them in a quiet corner.

All this jabbering; I apologize for it!  :-)  Thank you for your last post in that thread. It snapped me out of my imagination, and back to knowing more than ever that, despite appearances and wild assumptions, we all really share the same human heart. There's suffering in it, but also beauty, joy and hope. I can't think of a more appropriate time than now to say this: Namaste, Linda.   :-)


RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/13/19 11:57 AM as a reply to TJ.
Namaste to you!

Yeah, that’s definitely not my life. It has had many dysfunctional elements and still has, and there have been quite a few severe traumas earlier in life, but I’m thankful for the things (and people!) that make it worthwhile and for the balance and purpose that meditation brings. I do consider myself lucky nowadays. Thankyou so much for your kind words! 

I’m so glad that you have found a way to be compassionate towards yourself! I have hated myself. It’s horrible. I eventually went to therapy to work through that. Learning to feel compassion for oneself is way more important than the jhanas. Also, it may hold the key to the jhanas. Sounds like you are on the right track. 

As for envy and other draining feelings and thoughts, I have thoughts like that to say no to as well (I made a very similar confession recently). Strange how they keep lurking and popping up on bad days even though I know that they only make things worse. I think it’s good to be honest about having them and seeing them as part of being human and being compassionate towards them. If they come out in the open they can be dealt with. If they hide too effectively they might affect our behavior without us realizing it. 

I haven’t got access to higher jhanas (if that’s what they are) all the time, by the way. The reports in this thread are just peak experiences, nothing reliable.

Very best wishes!

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/26/19 5:22 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I have had another trip outside the 8 jhana arch. I would appreciate some feedback as to what this is. Are these pure land jhanas? Or some kind of rewiring to prepare for them? Or what? Are the pure land jhanas somehow connected to the energy body or something like that?

I lay back on my bed. I almost instantly was drawn into fourth jhana where I saw geometric patterns and had a chrystal clear agencyless focus that felt deep and dense. The geometric patterns were not flat, but curved in 3D space. They seemed to be made up by stars in dark space, but very symmetrically. Then the density diminished and there was light spaciousness but not formless (I could feel my body). Then there was an electric activity in the crown of my head, then the back of my head where a cord connected me to the earth and sort of pressed me down. There was an electric connection between back of head, earth and hands. It was a movement inbetween these states and a state with activity in the third eye and a state with activity at the top of my head. There was also something going on with my eyes (vibrations + a feeling of the eye balls being pushed back in the head) and electric nodes in my arms. Movement back and forth between these states, over and over again. Then something new happened. All these areas connected together and with additional areas around my body. My whole aura was buzzing, from above my head to below my toes and out on the sides. It felt balanced and tensionless but also freezingly cold. Then I really had to go to the bathroom so I gradually emerged from this state. I was so cold! It seemed like my body temperature had dropped during these 2-3 hours.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/26/19 12:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks Linda, I really enjoyed reading your description of jhana and also reflections on life experiences. I wanted to post here a hands on description of jhana from another practioner (Akashad on Dhamma Wheel). It's pretty hardcore but very simple and direct. It sort of inspired me and repelled me at the same time, because it sounds amazing but the level of commitment required would be selfish given my current responsiblities. I'm kind of hoping that if I execute those responsiblities well then that will translate into less time required on the cushion due to counterbalancing negative karma. Still pretty selfish but possibly a better kind of selfish.

My definition of jhana is immersion with a visual nimitta. Absorption. Visudhimagga jhana.It's the only jhana i know so i can't help you if your defintion is different.

Jhana practice the way i see it,is something one undertakes at a silent retreat at the monastery and under the guidance of a teacher,not something i would actively pursue at home but sometimes meditators accidentally have jhana form which is fine but i don't see it as something sustainable at home.Just the consistency you'd have to keep to stay with the meditation object will cost you in everyday life.

Jhana has a LOT to do with supportive conditions.

External conditions:

1.Don't talk.Don't talk to anybody.Don't engage.Silent retreats.If it's not silent don't engage.stay in your room or somewhere you won't be disturbed.

2.Don't engage in dhamma discussion,dhamma talks,sutta readings,chanting,don't contemplate anything,don't change mix and match meditation objects.Don't engage in dhamma teaching or building monasteries etc.The reason is the mind must be brought to a stand still.

Even wholesome things will move the mind.

You need to let it settle like sand settles at the bottom of a glass of water.

The only thing you should concern yourself with is the meditation object,keep attention on the breath 24/7 while standing,sitting,eating,bathing continuously tether the mind to the breath even if it's just 1% of your attention don't completely let go of the breath.

Don't avert elsewhere no matter how wholesome it takes away the momentum of concentration.You are immersing yourself with the breath not immersing yourself with good deed A,B or C.These things are great but not going to cause jhana to form. Jhana only forms when you stay with your meditation object.


3.Keep your gaze lowered to avoid sensory stimulation.When you walk with you gaze upward or straight you immediately take in the scenery,the environment,admire nature,colours,people,again it doesn't matter if it's wholesome or unwholesome sights.The key is not to excite the mind.

When your gaze is low it closes in on one object and you can stick close to the breath.

4.Keep your room neat,tidy and clean.Have your affairs in order so you don't have to make phone calls or sort things out mid retreat.Make sure you are also physically clean as this will help cleanse the mind.

5.Only talk with your teacher and keep it short.As you can't leave the breath and if you get into discussions about jhana and anapanasati..guess what,you Have LEFT the Breath.

You must guard the object or the nimitta like it's a precious jewel.

Internal Conditions:

1.Meditate 8 hours a day.It needs to be continuous like 20 days in a row something like that.I'm sorry i don't mean to sound severe or like holier than thou meditator i'm basically saying you need TIME + CONSISTENCY to build MOMENTUM. Jhanas not some magical wish.. you need to construct the conditions that support it.through RIGHT EFFORT.Just like you have to water a plant and allow sunlight in.And not just let everything be and the plant will grow on its own.

Because it takes a lot of time to build momentum its probably not suitable to do at home.But people have different paramis. You could easily do this i don't know your parami. when you finish your 8 hours on the mat don't leave the breath.

Attention always on the breath.

while brushing,your teeth,getting ready for bed.

Not on sutta discussion, not on jhana discussion.

Don't open a book and start reading.

Stay with The breath.The only time you can lose it is in sleep.

Don't stop the attention on the breath to contemplate the benefits of jhana,don't contemplate sila,don't Leave the breath for Anything or Anybody.

This is your child. You stay with it.24/7 period.

2.Technique: Some meditators practice anapanasati but don't have jhana form because of one error i have picked up.

They are not looking at the breath in the right way for this purpose.

The breath is one of the objects that you can practice both vippasanna and anapanasati on.

I'm not sure people think of this but It depends on HOW YOU LOOK AT IT.HOW YOU LOOK AT THE BREATH.

For example,meditators who practice fire kasina don't absorb themselves into a moving flame they absorb into a Snapshot or Still Image of the flame.

And yet many meditators are trying to absorb into the moving breath.

That's Never going to happen.

Often when you hear anapanasati you hear "the touch sensation","the flowing",I feel the smoothness" I feel the warmth or coldness of the breath".Don't practice this way.This is not the way to jhana.

Samatha practice needs a STABLE OBJECT.

We all need to sense all of this "Touching Sensations" at FIRST to anchor the breath and get a sense of it.But after that there should arise a KNOWING of the breath and THIS is where you fix your attention on.

Its very stable.Very simple.VEry very simple.If nobody taught you anything about meditation and you were relaxing on a beach somewhere you would Naturally want to go there but because it's feels so "RIGHT" ,So fulfilling,so ON POINT most people think it can't be.And then revert back to feeling the physical moving breath sensations touching the skin part.And sure they will build "some" concentration but that's not the way to jhana.

This physical sensation will slowly merge with this Knowing.Which is kind of in that physical area but not quite physical because its very subtle,people call it all sorts of things ajahn brahms calls it the Subtle Breath i call it the Not so Physical or Semi Physical breath,once you HIT this point the nimitta will appear.

This is stage 1 Breath into nimitta.

Stage 2 is stabilising nimitta.This can take awhile also.But atleast you have turned a raw material into something very subtle.You just doing the same thing keep attention on the breath don't follow the nimitta it sometimes can be distracting because it can sometimes seem like staring at a mini sun or mini star,you feel like the light should burn your eyes but your eyes are closed so it can't do that. sometimes less intensity like a dull light bulb it shines and dims shines and dims sometimes like a blue pearl or blue orb then turns bright white but don't follow it.ajahn brahm talks a lot about nimittas i honest to god don't see the appeal,but you can learn more about them in his books.I don't get excited in general it translates on the mat as well.

Stage 3.The nimitta merges with the breath.

So at this point you not going to care about anything including the nimitta even if it's doing all sorts of crazy like changing colour to golden,maybe some black if your silas not that great,crackling with electricity,seemingly energised,floating to where ever you were watching the breath.You don't care.You have crossed that bridge and you don't care about anything other than the breath.Its is ALL You Know.You don't know your name.You don't know your body.You don't care if a train hits you.So i'm not so sure it's a letting go moment you know how monastics talk about jhana as let go let go let go it could just as easily be a simple don't care moment.You know like your letting go cause there is just this peace of rest.Similar tot he death process of release and relief and rest.

But it truly is like launching into space.I'ms orry im going to give an analogy.You know all those alien movies where when the space ship hovers just on top of the ground and all the little rocks and stones start floating and gravitating up.That's how your going to feel this buzzing of energy gathering itself then out of the blue this tsunami of whiteness like bright whiteness will completely fill your visual field and engulf you or pull you in and not gently it will put you in and knock your senses out.Literally.Knock your senses out.You can actually sense a meditators vibration when their approaching jhana or in jhana or just emerge from jhana, its really powerful you can't miss it its like an invisible force field of deep deep emptiness holding everything together.Your spine straightens up like a steel rod supporting itself in perfect balance with the universe.

It feels like you just implode.Like a silent calm explosion of whiteness.Like when you watch a movie about a planet exploding in space but instead of cathastrophic music in the background it's a calming ambient sound. There's no actual sound in that process it's just an analogy of how calming the process is ..when somewhere at the back of your mind you really should be frightened.At that moment this vibration that we have,i'm not sure if it's the earths vibration or our own vibration i don't know what it is but it gets cut off.Everything gets cut off.

Something else emerges and you can't really say i was in jhana,

"something"

..was in jhana but the whole thing is really quite bizzare i find it hard to explain. Its bizzare in a sense that its a strange way of looking at things as you can't differentiate.

You have like no centre of gravity.

Your like ONE.Just think of ONE.Singular.Think of ONE.

Think of One angle.

or maybe..

Imagine you were an Ocean within an ocean.Like its really bizzare.Its like being chained under an ocean and suddenly being released and you want to swim up with the stream but realise you have no arms no legs..no body...it dawns on you nobody is swimming..and alas..you ARE the ENTIRE OCEAN.Ocean within ocean.Mind within mind.

Also Often people ask why you can't hear sounds in jhana and it's not cause you can't hear sounds in jhana it's more like there's nobody to hear sounds for you in jhana.

There like is No Body you can attach an ear to,to hear sounds for you.this is some serious level of seclusion.

You can't get out of jhana for the same reason.there's no body with hands that can open the exit door for you.

Or more specifically there's no self to Will you out of jhana. Its all been disabled or frozen or suppressed and its very real supression there is no way on earth you can just open your eyes and sense your environment or get up from the mat.Your like gone.Like i know there is a body somewhere on earth sitting on a mat but please take this literally when i say your gone.This is not one of those dreams you can wake up from.Jhana will stop when it stops not when you want it to.

If it happened to you and you were not a buddhist it feels rather frightening as you don't know what happened which is why practicing with a teacher is important.But Jhanas are protective states which mean no one can harm you in jhana,Mara can't find you.

You can't find You!

Its funny how we try to escape samsara but can't take ourselves with us. Jhana is that first taste of not taking yourself with you.Sometimes when i read that Mara can't find you in jhana i'm not sure if it also means We can't find ourselves in jhana because maybe we are Mara.The wolf hiding between the sheep.

The ultimate hiding place.Nobody can reach you.Not even you.And maybe that's the point.To split layers of ourselves into our primordial state of being where things are just ONE.

This is only first jhana. after this you'll notice things like memory improving or you can't break precepts till it wears off in a few hours or days.Can get concentrated with other meditation objects.But it's not something you can keep with you it comes and goes with conditions.It really isn't something you can carry around with you in your pocket.Don't equate jhana with stream entry its not definite.If you don't make an effort to stay with the breath it's not going to magically land on your lap either.This is why when jhana forms think of it as a magical bridge that you have to cross immediately.which means use it to either develop all the other jhanas or practice vippasanna don't think oh its happened before it will happen again.

Please don't give up on jhana practice or developing samadhi.Even if one doesn't reach jhana its so valuable for the next life you'll have an easier time practicing jhana. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.dude don't doubt it.jhanas not going to land on your lap you need to build the structure to support it just like a house doesn't build itself.Remember the story of the boddhisatva when he swam for seven days.Dude that's effort.Don't forget it' Part of the Eight Noble Path.Just sign up for a silent retreat.Increase your regular meditation time.Time is of the essence.when you've experienced it for yourself you know without a doubt man like you know.that it exists.and if the Buddha was right about such states then he could be right about Nibbanna.That is what is so valuable i think more than anything,that sense of doubt forever gone.

everybody has the capacity for samatha practice.You don't have to be a sotappana or a wise hermit.In the buddhas time merchants could enter absorption and they only doing it to REST for god sakes it's not extremely rare but it Does need Time+ Consistency and RIGHT CONDITIONS which YOU have to Create.yes YOU the FIVE AGGREGATES.THE SELF.

If your not an arahant your STUCK with the five aggregates and they gonna have to walk the whole eight noble path for you.

You don't have the option to not attach to anything because only parinibbanna can give you that option.Beings in the process of samasara can't just will themselves to let go they always attached to something.Thats why samsara is occuring in the first place.cause we think we are actual being living the story of our lives.

Nibbanna is not something you do.like let go.because in order for it to be.

a You Can't Exist to Let Go in the first place.

You always going to attach to something till enlightenment occurs and even then you stuck with the body.So Jhana is valuable man ,you going to need it to rest in when you get tired of things arising and passing away.Even as an arahant it will be useful.And remember what did the Buddha do on his death bed.We always do the most important thing on our death bed.we always save the most important words or do the most meaningful actions.
What did the Buddha do before parinibbanna?
He entered the Jhanas.

He ended not only his one life but his whole entire long and endless wanderings,countless lives,countless stories in samsara,he ended them in one final act of entering the Jhanas.

So good luck with your practice.Remember to Stay with the breath.Good luck!

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/26/19 3:20 PM as a reply to agnostic.
Thankyou!

Yeah, that’s pretty hardcore. I haven’t had the opportunity to practice like that. It is tempting, but it would be selfish in my case as well right now. Maybe some day.

I did see a very tiny but concentrated and bright nimitta yesterday, but I did exactly what I shouldn’t do. I followed it and it disappeared. Classical rookie mistake, I guess.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/26/19 8:08 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I only ever glimpsed what I think was a full nimitta once when I was falling asleep. I was meditating and feeling sleepy so I decided to let go and drift off. Suddenly there was the brightest flash of light I had ever seen in my life. Actually to call it a flash of light is wrong because that makes it sound like it was a localized point in space surrounded by darkness, whereas really it was a total whitening of the mental (not even visual) field. It wasn't a harsh white which would hurt the eyes, it was just the most perfect pure whiteness all over that I could not even imagine such a thing could be "seen". It reminded me of people's descriptions of near death experiences where they float up to the light and see themselves in heaven or something. What happened next is I felt myself falling into the white void and started to panic thinking I was about to be annihilated (which in a sense I was) and the panic pulled me out of it with a big thumping heartbeat. It probably lasted less than a second, but there was no doubting what I had "seen" and it's good to know it's there. I recognized that I had been lucky but my insight wasn't well developed enough to support it because I hadn't really grokked non-self. Of course I wanted to repeat it (counterproductive desire) so I could never get more than a weak whitening of the mind or flashes of light. So it was back to work on the hindrances, especially off the mat. But my practice has gotten quite sloppy and your post inspired me to tighten it up again. The main hindrance now is strong energetic sensations in the body (kundalini process), blissful in places but alarming in others and it's become a bit of an object of meditation in itself. I think I've developed the assumption that kundalini needs to be watched to speed up the process, but maybe it will happen of its own accord and I should just go back to focussing on the breath and see if that can carry me through the storm.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/27/19 12:05 AM as a reply to agnostic.
If you have partly alarmingly strong energetic sensations, it is probably a good idea to pay less attention to your kundalini. Also, I think clinging to those sensations can hold one back. I find myself doing the same thing now and then, and that’s where I get stuck.

Best wishes for your practice and wellbeing!

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/27/19 9:17 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks Linda, I feel that is good advice and I plan to follow it. FWIW I renewed my meditation vows this morning.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
9/27/19 6:50 PM as a reply to agnostic.
agnostic:
I only ever glimpsed what I think was a full nimitta once when I was falling asleep. I was meditating and feeling sleepy so I decided to let go and drift off. Suddenly there was the brightest flash of light I had ever seen in my life. Actually to call it a flash of light is wrong because that makes it sound like it was a localized point in space surrounded by darkness, whereas really it was a total whitening of the mental (not even visual) field. It wasn't a harsh white which would hurt the eyes, it was just the most perfect pure whiteness all over that I could not even imagine such a thing could be "seen". It reminded me of people's descriptions of near death experiences where they float up to the light and see themselves in heaven or something. What happened next is I felt myself falling into the white void and started to panic thinking I was about to be annihilated (which in a sense I was) and the panic pulled me out of it with a big thumping heartbeat. It probably lasted less than a second, but there was no doubting what I had "seen" and it's good to know it's there. I recognized that I had been lucky but my insight wasn't well developed enough to support it because I hadn't really grokked non-self. Of course I wanted to repeat it (counterproductive desire) so I could never get more than a weak whitening of the mind or flashes of light. So it was back to work on the hindrances, especially off the mat. But my practice has gotten quite sloppy and your post inspired me to tighten it up again. The main hindrance now is strong energetic sensations in the body (kundalini process), blissful in places but alarming in others and it's become a bit of an object of meditation in itself. I think I've developed the assumption that kundalini needs to be watched to speed up the process, but maybe it will happen of its own accord and I should just go back to focussing on the breath and see if that can carry me through the storm.



This is not what all teachers would call nimita. This is a description close to what Leigh Brasington says of his 4th Jhana in the retreat he had with Pa Auk Sayadaw. Bhante Gunaratana says that the nimita would be small and sparkly, if it occupies a large space, it's not nimita.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
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9/29/19 10:29 PM as a reply to Siavash Mahmoudpour.
Hi Siavash, thanks for the feedback. Apologies Linda for using your thread for further discussion. I read the reference to LB. I knew that the suttas don't explicitly talk about nimittas but had forgotten how much all pervasive whiteness there was in the description of the fourth jhana:  

Just as if a man were sitting wrapped from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the monk sits, permeating his body with a pure, bright awareness. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness.

You also prompted me to reread Ajahn Brahm on nimittas (Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond). He says they all originate from the same source (reflection of the pure mind) but they can take lots of different shapes and colors (and even feelings) depending on the individual's perception. One kind of nimitta he describes is "pure white light". He also mentions the "shy nimitta" which flashes up quickly as a "single pure light" and then disappears. He talks a lot about "shining up" the nimitta, or the nimitta "growing" or "exploding" until it overwhelms you and carries you into jhana. He also says it's common to become afraid of being overwhelmed by a very strong nimitta. It seems my experience could have been a brief glimpse of such phenomena. He recommends "trusting" or "falling into" the nimitta and letting it carry you into jhana.

I hadn't read Bhante Gunaratana before but I scanned what he had to say about nimittas in A Critical Analysis of the Jhanas: 

The perfecting of the first jhāna involves two steps of procedure: the extension of the sign and the achievement of the five masteries. The ‘extension of the sign’ (nimittavahana) means extending the size of the object of jhāna, that is, the size of the counterpart sign (pa(ibhāganimitta). The meditator, before entering jhāna, should mentally determine the boundaries to which he wishes to extend the sign; then he should enter the jhāna and try to bring the sign to reach those boundaries. Beginning with a small area, the size of one or two fingers, he gradually learns to broaden the sign until the mental image can be made to cover the world-sphere or even beyond.

Looks like he's talking about  quite a big nimitta as well! It reminded me how hardcore the whole Visuddhimagga approach to jhana is - you are still in access concentration until you see the counterpart sign/nimitta and only then do you enter jhana. I understand how that can make jhana seem inaccessible to beginners and I think that Leigh Brasington does a valuable service in encouraging people to try. It was his book (Right Concentration) which got me trying and figuring out how to stimulate piti (which then turned into a fullblown kundalini process, but that's another story). 

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
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9/30/19 12:08 AM as a reply to agnostic.
No worries, you are welcome to discuss here.

As I understand it, there have been rather infected disagreements about what nimittas are. I guess one needs to learn for oneself the quirks of one’s own mind.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
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9/30/19 6:56 AM as a reply to agnostic.
Thanks for clarifications Agnostic.
I was referring to Bhante G's instruction in his Jhana retreats, I had not read his book (Still in reading list!).

Yes, each of these teachers have their own system, and define these terms to match their system.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
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10/20/19 10:40 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I have been wondering for a while why people talking about or teaching the jhanas often do not seem to find it relevant to even talk about the nanas. Not without frustration, I was asking myself if shamatha practitioners do not at all struggle with insight progression getting in the way of their jhanic access. For me the nanas seemed to make a huge difference. Then it suddenly dawned on me: this is of course why both Ayya Khema and Thanissaro Bhikku say that sometimes one needs a wider focus in order to get into jhana, and why Daniel talks about knowing when to widen one's focus in fire kasina. In some nanas the narrow focus doesn't work (which is very clear in MCTB2). That isn't pertinent only to vipassana, but to shamatha as well. Of course. So in dukkha nanas, one gets into jhana by way of widening one's focus. For instance, instead of focusing on breath sensations between nose and lips, one focuses on breath sensations in the entire body, even outside it if possible. Thereby one can make use of the peripheral clarity and be busy enough with the breath to prevent other ideas from sneaking up on the mind and occupy its free capacity. In the lower nanas, on the other hand, one needs to make the focus really sharp, because that's where the capacity is.  

I tested it empirically and found that it actually works, even in dissolution. The widening cannot rely on touch sensations, though, because those need to be let go of as one climbs the jhanic arch (or sinks into the jhanic abyss). In the first jhana, I focused on pleasant sensations from the breath in the entire body. (How could I forget that? I have done so intuitively from the beginning of my practice, but now that I try to maintain a systematic shamatha practice, I somehow became to rigid). That was so much easier, and it allowed both piti and sukha to build up. Then there was a shift. Those electric crackles came back, and it felt like my aura was loaded with mana. That feeling was more self-sustaining. Second jhana. After a while the energy gradually came to stillness, with remaning clarity. I allowed the widening to use the visual and auditory fields as the piti subsided. The nada sound can fill up a larger space pretty well. Third jhana. When everything was suddenly chrystal clear and bright white (approaching fourth jhana), the surprise and excitement took me out of jhana. I had to build it up anew. Next time instead a clear tone arose (whereas the hearing out was gradually more cut off), with the same result. So now I know how to do. I just need to cultivate equanimity to a greater degree so that inner light and sound do not tilt the balance. 

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
10/21/19 1:24 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Jhanas that seem to be outside the eight jhana arch happened again. Crossposting from my practice log:

I had an hour of interesting meditative experiences, despite being interrupted by restless cats a couple of times.

I was in jhanas that cannot be placed in the eight jhana arch as far as I understand. Maybe they were custom made jhanas, I don’t know. When entering jhana there was a gentle whoosh experience and then gentle tingles. There were joy and happiness. After a while I realized that those sensations were not in my body, though, but in a layer outside of it. It was my body and yet it wasn’t. Maybe it was the energy body, I don’t know. It was sort of a layer of static electricity in an aura outside the physical body. It started in (outside) the crown of the head, and as it did, there were lightness and spaciousness. There was a high pitched sound vibrating. The static electricity tingles gradually moved towards the top of my head. There was also a feeling of something melting and seeping out through my left ear.

Somewhere here I think equanimity started to dominate. Maybe that’s also when density increased again, or maybe that was at another point in time. I’m not sure. When dencity increased, the high pitched sound lowered somewhat in frequency. There was some phase that was more fuzzy than the others which were very crisp and clear. At some point it almost felt like roots were growing out from below the back of my head, grounding me.

Then the electric tingles moved from all parts of the hed to the forehead and joined together at the third eye. It felt like large bubbles of air or a very tempered foam of water were gently seeping out through the third eye.

I’m not sure about the chronology here, especially since I was interrupted and needed to go back in, but it was something like this.

I recognize this from before. Something very similar happened right before stream entry and then again in the review.* Maybe this is past the post eighth junction point or whatever Daniel calls it? But I don’t know... There are still so many dips and such a rollercoaster ride. Oh well, whatever it is, it is temporary and not self, and craving it or clinging to it leads to suffering.


*) and obviously very recently too, in the post above this one.

Okay, can somebody help me shed some light on this? Are these custom made jhanas? Pure land jhanas? Something entirely different?


Reading old threads of the forum led me to this link which made me think that maybe these experiences were versions of arupa jhanas after all, just tuning in to grosser aspects of them: http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2011/07/yogi-toolbox-actualizing-jhanas.html Does that make sense? Feedback from experienced practicioners would be most welcome.

RE: Cycling 8 jhanas - the real thing?
Answer
10/21/19 2:04 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
One the other hand, this also seems relevant: http://kennethfolkdharma.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=75