A New beginning

Chuan Truong, modified 10 Years ago.

A New beginning

Posts: 5 Join Date: 5/16/11 Recent Posts
Dear Daniel and all,
I am extremely elated and really gratefull when finding this forum! I have some questions and also need some guidances. Being my first post, I am going to be lenghty, with the intention to help others who are in the same situation like mine. I am organizing into subheadings, so you can just skip right to the questions part to help me.

Background
I learned and have absolute faith in Buddhism profoundly since a little child. I went overseas for college in Engineering and later in IT field. Since I was in the late 20's , I started to read, recite and memorize the sutta & sutras and absorbed in to the texts and did not think anything else is worth reading! However It was only In theory, I had no personal guidance for practices. Reading the sacred sriptures with a sense of reverence and worship, but never thought that even the Samatha Jhana can happen to me in this world, this life time. All I can do now is to accummulate good deeds/paramis for the next lives. I practice on my own, it took me 5 years to be able to sit straight for one hour. Still nothing happen to reinforce my faith. I learned Mahasi Sayadaw's Insight practice method but did not practice well. I did walking vipassana for the last 4 years. Again nothing happen to mark my progress! I am now in the late 50's, semi retired, in relatively good health, married, have kids, now living in the US. I sit twice a day, 50 mins at night and 30 mins early morning.

Progress
About four years ago I came upon some books written by Ayya Khema. I was thrilled and read/listen to all her books again and again ... Before this, I did not think it is possible in this lifetime, in this world to find anyone achieving sotapana or above.
In February 2011, I stumbled upon Leigh Brasington's method for samatha jhana on the internet. Encouraged by the possibility, I put more efforts and in a week, I got in the first Jhanas in this strange way: I sat for about 45 mins. Focused on the breath sensation at the nostril (per L. Brasington method), nothing happened, got tired, went to bed in mindfullness. Lay down and still watching my breath for about 3 mins, suddenly felt my hands floating with tingling sensations, and there was an abrupt and clear "switch" into first Jhanas with full bliss and sensations wave by wave, all over my body, lasted for about an hour( Sometimes I wonder this is first or second Jhanas? because at that time I did nothing, not trying to sustain the focus on the breath or anything else, but the bliss continued on). This is how I got into first Jhanas. I continue this practice everyday, in this manner, but only get in once in a while (5 to 10 days).
This encouraged me to read and practice more. I found this forum and start reading MCTB. Now, I see the possibility and KNOW that it can be done in this very life.

My Goal:
Goal s may be changed, however at this time, my wish is to perfect the first and second samatha Jhanas, then start the insight meditation, Go through all stages to achieve at least stream entry in this very life time.


Questions:
Recently, while reading MCTB, I could not get back to the first Jhanas anymore. I was panic, worried and scared. But read on, and continued to sit morning and nightly. The more I read, the more I realized that I must have a clear plan. I am overwhelm with the info, I frantically downloaded, and afraid if I don’t plan well, it can cost me lots of my precious time, which I feel running short. Sorry for asking too many questions here. (Pardon my excitement for finding you guys!)

1. I am doing Samatha Jhana using my breath as the concentration object. For the last 4 months, sitting everyday, I can only get in 1 st Jhanas about 5 times. How do I perfect the first Jhanas, so that I can get in everytime? Need to improve concentration?, using different objects (instead of breathing?), increase sitting time, need to switch focus correctly, etc.?

2. Can I start practicing insight while still working on the first samatha jhanas. Or should I wait until at least after attaining the second Samatha jhanas as many recommended. Or can I just start Insight Practice without going through formal Samatha Jhanas practice?

3. Many time , while sitting, I can feel nearing the threshhold, but cannot get over to the first Jhanas. Perhaps because I was trying to force myself into Jhanas. Now sometimes the tingling sensations (on my right ear, my forehead, left hand thumb etc.) just came up all by themselve while I was reading, eating or watching TV etc. Is there something wrong?

4. Recently, I keep hearing the ringing sound ...ooooooo… in my head all day long. A couple of times in the dream, I went down a roller coaster through a scary dark tunnel with this ringing sound. I don’t know if it is related to my practice at all (from the frustration of not getting into Samatha Jhanas), or just because of lack of sleep and physical fatigue. All suggestions on my progress, planning and scheduling even my goal etc. are welcome and deeply appreciated, as this will be a turning point in my life.
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A New beginning

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
1. I am doing Samatha Jhana using my breath as the concentration object. For the last 4 months, sitting everyday, I can only get in 1 st Jhanas about 5 times. How do I perfect the first Jhanas, so that I can get in everytime? Need to improve concentration?, using different objects (instead of breathing?), increase sitting time, need to switch focus correctly, etc.?

The breath is fine to use as an object if you're comfortable with it, but you could always try moving to following the abdomen or try something like a candle, an empty bowl or one of the various kasina objects and see what gives you the best results. If it works for you, do it.

For 1st jhana, pay attention to those tingling sensations and stay with the breath, maybe even try counting it in cycles of ten or something like that, whatever allows you to focus your attention on that one object.

2. Can I start practicing insight while still working on the first samatha jhanas. Or should I wait until at least after attaining the second Samatha jhanas as many recommended. Or can I just start Insight Practice without going through formal Samatha Jhanas practice?

You can start insight practice whenever you like, but having jhana first is beneficial although not absolutely necessary. Having jhana skills makes the momentary concentration required during vipassana much stronger and more accurate in my experience.

3. Many time , while sitting, I can feel nearing the threshhold, but cannot get over to the first Jhanas. Perhaps because I was trying to force myself into Jhanas. Now sometimes the tingling sensations (on my right ear, my forehead, left hand thumb etc.) just came up all by themselve while I was reading, eating or watching TV etc. Is there something wrong?

Relax and let the experience happen. The tingling sensations automatically make me think you're getting access concentration and into the beginnings of 1st jhana, if you can maintain that focus of attention on your object then you'll naturally move into the state.

4. Recently, I keep hearing the ringing sound ...ooooooo… in my head all day long. A couple of times in the dream, I went down a roller coaster through a scary dark tunnel with this ringing sound. I don’t know if it is related to my practice at all (from the frustration of not getting into Samatha Jhanas), or just because of lack of sleep and physical fatigue. All suggestions on my progress, planning and scheduling even my goal etc. are welcome and deeply appreciated, as this will be a turning point in my life.

This sounds like you've crossed the Arising & Passing Away to me so it's most certainly a turning point as you've crossed the threshold now! How does your daily life feel at present? What sort of stuff is happening in your practice?

Going by what you've said, you've got some serious commitment to this thing and I'm really interested in seeing how you progress. Keep reading MCTB, ask questions on here and maintain a good meditation schedule, you'll make progress and there are plenty of people on here who can help at all stages of the Path.

Metta & Mudita,
- Tommy
thumbnail
Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A New beginning

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Congratulations Dharma Dude! You've gotten over a big hurdle now in that you've actually experienced something rather than just having an intellectual understanding. Now that you know that you can do this try not to force/desire the jhanas (easier said than done, I know!). Just concentrate on the breath on the nostrils and resist any excitement when you feel the jhanas approaching. As Tommy said, just concentrate on the pleasant sensations in your hands (or wherever it feels pleasing) and before long.. wham!
Mike
thumbnail
Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A New beginning

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Also might be worth mentioning that the ability to enter jhana is not a pre-requisite for stream-entry. When meditating 14 hours a day for five-ten days with the right technique (i.e. on a retreat), it is possible for the mind to become powerful enough to just do it. I had very poor concentration when I attained stream entry in such a retreat, and still do despite having had several path moments since (without any further retreats so far).

Stream entry is not as hard, and certainly not as time-taking as many people believe. "In this lifetime" is a tremendous over-estimation: why not go on retreat and do it this year?
Dharma Dude, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A New beginning

Posts: 5 Join Date: 5/16/11 Recent Posts
Tommy: Thank you so much for your answers and encouraging words! Il need them.
Since I am completely on my own in this practice, it feels very lonely. Not many people, I can openly discuss or exchange views and experiences.
I dreamed that some day I can introduce the MCTB to my sons and imagine they would look at it as a full package of an ultimate virtual game with hacked roadmap and cheat codes! And jump right in to play! emoticon
I cannot remember when it started, but it seems, I always feel like to dedicate my life to the Path. And this desire grow stronger and stronger. I will post to share my progess and ask for helps, often.

Mike: Thanks for the key words /secret ingredient: " resist any excitement when you feel the jhanas approaching". That's it! I read so many stories that at the right time, a few key words can push a person over the threshhold.

Bruno: !Wow! I never dreamed of hearing these incredible, powerful statement. I am moved from one pleasant surprise to the next. My family and personal situations give me very little chance to to go on a long retreat now. But I pray that it will happen. (One of my sincere pray for other beings is to have opportunities to learn, have faith and practice the Bhudda's Path). When the time comes, I will ask you for referrences and guidances. Thanks.

I am adjusting my schedule as follow:
60 mins sitting at night until perfecting 2nd samtha jhanas
30 mins sitting in the morning for insight based on Mahasi Sayadaw "Practical Insight Meditation Basic Practice" this will also serve as the momentum for mindfullness during the day. All, please comment.
thumbnail
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A New beginning

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Dharma Dude:
Lay down and still watching my breath for about 3 mins, suddenly felt my hands floating with tingling sensations, and there was an abrupt and clear "switch" into first Jhanas with full bliss and sensations wave by wave, all over my body, lasted for about an hour( Sometimes I wonder this is first or second Jhanas? because at that time I did nothing, not trying to sustain the focus on the breath or anything else, but the bliss continued on). This is how I got into first Jhanas. I continue this practice everyday, in this manner, but only get in once in a while (5 to 10 days).

effortless meditation is definitely 2nd jhana.

i encourage you to (re-)read the chapters in MCTB on the progress of insight as it sounds like that experience might be an insight one (Arising & Passing away as Tommy suggested) vs. a concentration one (2nd samatha jhana). only a suggestion - i can't be sure.

also ditto bruno on stream entry being very attainable.. i managed to do it just meditating in daily life without retreats so that is possible too! that is to say, don't think you can't do it just because you can't go on a retreat. tho if you can it might be helpful to supplement your practice with day-long retreats if you can take a weekend day off to do so, or to try noting during your daily life (while on walks or waiting for people, etc)
Dharma Dude, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: A New beginning

Posts: 5 Join Date: 5/16/11 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
effortless meditation is definitely 2nd jhana.

i encourage you to (re-)read the chapters in MCTB on the progress of insight as it sounds like that experience might be an insight one (Arising & Passing away as Tommy suggested) vs. a concentration one (2nd samatha jhana). only a suggestion - i can't be sure.

also ditto bruno on stream entry being very attainable.. i managed to do it just meditating in daily life without retreats so that is possible too! that is to say, don't think you can't do it just because you can't go on a retreat. tho if you can it might be helpful to supplement your practice with day-long retreats if you can take a weekend day off to do so, or to try noting during your daily life (while on walks or waiting for people, etc)

Beoman, Thank you for your diagnosing. I somehow tumbled into the 2nd samatha jhanas. So it gave me a little set back, I read this from The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation by Henepola Gunaratana:
"After attaining the first jhana a few times the meditator is not advised to set out immediately striving for the second jhana. This would be a foolish and profitless spiritual ambition. Before he is prepared to make the second jhana the goal of his endeavor he must first bring the first jhana to perfection. If he is too eager to reach the second jhana before he has perfected the first, he is likely to fail to gain the second and find himself unable to regain the first. The Buddha compares such a meditator to a foolish cow who, while still unfamiliar with her own pasture, sets out for new pastures and gets lost in the mountains: she fails to find food or drink and is unable to find her way home (A.iv, 418-19). "
I have so much enthusiasm now, but still have a lot to learn and practice. Yes, I intend to re-read MCTB and lots of other material I downloaded.
It must be the excitement, that interfered with my1 st samatha jhanas. I still can't get in for the last 3 weeks. I have to cool down and continue my sitting schedule as stated in my last post: samatha at night using breath as focusing object. Insight in the morning focusing on abdomen and noting. Mindfullness during the day.

Thank you all for for this wonderfull encounter with the DhO Community!!!

Breadcrumb