Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

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Dixon Hill, modified 1 Year ago.

Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

Posts: 6 Join Date: 10/24/19 Recent Posts
Hi,

First of all, thanks for the great wealth of information and experience you shared in this forum.

I'm starting a serious meditation regimen on my own and I feel inclined to practice the "Awareness watching Awareness" meditation (https://albigen.com/uarelove/awa_instructions.htm) or - as Alan Wallace calls it - "Shamatha without a sign", as it feels more natural to me than mindfulness of breathing (though I practiced it in the past).

As you're supposed to exclude extraneuos thoughts, it seems it has a strong concentration component.
In your experience, can you develop Jhana states with this meditation as well, with a similar progression to the "traditional" ones?
Are they different than Jhanas developed with Anapanasati or Kasinas in terms of characteristics and effects? How so?

Thanks!
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

Posts: 5461 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I have been wondering the same thing and from time to time been very confused about distinctions, perhaps especially with regard to the formless realms vs awareness of awareness. I’m not familiar with Allan Wallace, but there are other people who use the same terminology, such as Michael Taft. I have come to the preliminary conclusion that progression through the jhanas is not likely to happen this way, as the absorption is not there. However, it seems quite possible to accidently slip into some of the jhanas. I don’t know if that means that one is doing it the wrong way or if it is considered a valid outcome. I have come to realize that some ways of perceiving stuff that I originally believed meant that one was in a state of jhana, are really perceptions that are more close to the raw sensory input. The jhanas, being highly concentrated and equanimous (to a varying degree) states, allow for some perceptions that aren’t normally accessible, but they are still lenses that color our perception. I’m guessing that the awareness of awareness practice, at least the way Michael Taft frames it, aims at learning how to access such perceptions without depending on the use of jhanas, by tapping into an awareness that is already there independently from our directed attention. Still not sure that I’m understanding this correctly, though.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

Posts: 5461 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
 However, it seems quite possible to accidently slip into some of the jhanas. I don’t know if that means that one is doing it the wrong way or if it is considered a valid outcome. 

I got a reply from Michael Taft when I asked if the outcome of getting into neither perception nor yet non-perception from one of his guided meditations meant that I was doing it wrong. He said that it was very slightly wrong but still good. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

Posts: 5461 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
By doing Michael Taft’s guided meditations on this theme, I have gotten into states that differ from the default mindstate, but Michael talks about them as something different from jhanas. He says that they are ”natural”, in contrast to jhanas, which feels very abstract to me. He also talks about them as being nondual (although some duality obviously still remains, since there is consciousness). For me it makes more sense to think of them as more on the deconstruction side whereas shamatha jhanas are more on the construction side. Is that helpful?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

Posts: 5461 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Sorry for spamming this thread, but... I forgot to mention that I find that these different practices can support each other as long as one knows what one is currently doing and for what purpose. Letting go of stuff that occupies the mind is common to both of them, and I find that a variety of practices with that specific purpose can have a synergy effect when it comes to learning how to let go. Being able to let go is a requirement for entering jhanas. However, merely letting go doesn’t lead to jhanas, as it doesn’t cover the absorption part. The absorption means that there is something that one does not let go of, but rather stays with obsessively.
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

Posts: 698 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts
Dixon Hill:
Hi,

First of all, thanks for the great wealth of information and experience you shared in this forum.

I'm starting a serious meditation regimen on my own and I feel inclined to practice the "Awareness watching Awareness" meditation (https://albigen.com/uarelove/awa_instructions.htm) or - as Alan Wallace calls it - "Shamatha without a sign", as it feels more natural to me than mindfulness of breathing (though I practiced it in the past).

As you're supposed to exclude extraneuos thoughts, it seems it has a strong concentration component.
In your experience, can you develop Jhana states with this meditation as well, with a similar progression to the "traditional" ones?
Are they different than Jhanas developed with Anapanasati or Kasinas in terms of characteristics and effects? How so?

Thanks!
Hello Dixon,

If there are meditation groups at your area, go practice with them. You can end up wasting a lot of time doing it on your own. You can also end up wasting a lot of time in groups but if you keep studying on your own while being supported by a teacher/s and a group/s, then you keep learning.

I took a quick look on that page. Not sure if instructions like that are very useful because they didn't seem precise. With unclear instructions you end up having to guess a lot and that's not good.

If you wish to do shamatha without a sign aka shamatha without support, I think, Wallace teaches that well. As does Culadasa in his book. Words such as attention and awareness gets tossed a lot on buddhist practice and often this term can have very different meanings. Culadasa teaches being mindful of objects while having panoramic attention at the same time.

This video on the three modes: Intention, Attention and Awareness might help. I use intention for one-pointed focus (3D), attention for 360 degree focus (3D) and awareness for no focus and no distraction (0D).

Jhanas are absorption states that one can develop from mahayana- or vajrayana-style shamatha-practices but I think there are better ways of doing jhanas which is the traditional hinayana-style which is where they come from.
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

Posts: 1333 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
One of the things you might wonder is what to do after you start watching your awareness. There is nothing else to be done. You just continue with awareness watching awareness. There are no objects to see. Awareness is empty, so there is no thing to observe there.

Wow, nice stuff on that sight if it makes sense to you. I've had a lot of problems following these directions, still do. If you can find this empty thing and focus upon it as an object, like any object, jhana will happen. It seems easier to start with something findable first, but please tell us how it goes. 
Good luck,
~D
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

Posts: 5461 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I don’t know about other teachers, but I know that at least Michael Taft has the idea that it will lead to a fruition. After stripping away layers and layers of constructions, even consciousness will be stripped away.
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Dixon Hill, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

Posts: 6 Join Date: 10/24/19 Recent Posts
Thanks for the thought-provoking replies.
Could the state of aborption created by this meditation be related to the 6th jhana (the base of infinite awareness)?
I recall Bhante Gunaratana referring to it as "awareness of awareness" or "boundless consciousness"...
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Awareness of Awareness - Shamatha jhanas?

Posts: 5461 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Yes, I think that’s one of the jhanas that one might slip into, at least if it is already accessable.

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