Second Jhana

Ian Edwards, modified 10 Years ago.

Second Jhana

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
I've been meditating in the first jhana for a while now, my question is, how do I get into the second jhana? and how do I know when I'm in it? Thanks.

Edit: after re-reading the descriptions of the jhanas in Daniels book, the question comes to mind, could I be progressing farther into the jhanas while still thinking I'm in the first jhana?
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Ian And, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Ian Edwards:
I've been meditating in the first jhana for a while now, my question is, how do I get into the second jhana? and how do I know when I'm in it? Thanks.

You enter the second jhana by letting go. Letting go of what, you ask. Letting go of the first two factors that induce the jhana state in the first place, those being vitakka and vicara. (Read Part 5 and Part 6 of A Practical Look at Jhana Practice in the following thread A General, All Purpose Jhana Thread.)

You will know when this occurs as the state itself will seem to take over its own production (or inducement). Vitakka and vicara should quite naturally drop away once the mind becomes established in absorption. It should feel as though the state is carrying on effortlessly without your having to concentrate upon bringing it about.

Ian Edwards:

Edit: after re-reading the descriptions of the jhanas in Daniels book, the question comes to mind, could I be progressing farther into the jhanas while still thinking I'm in the first jhana?

It is quite possible. Especially during the learning stage in which the practitioner is still somewhat unfamiliar with the territory being explored (meaning the first four levels of the rupa or material jhanas). As you gain more experience and awareness for the process of entering jhana, this lagging unfamiliarity should abate quite on its own.
Ian Edwards, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
Thank you, I believe that I was just not looking for the changes and observing the states enough. I could be wrong, but I believe that I have gotten to the forth jhana, maybe I can explain what I have been experiencing having now been actually looking for the changes.

In the first jhana I get a physically pleasant feeling around my brow area, it takes only a minute or so before it starts to sustain without effort, at that point I begin to notice it's unstableness, which brings me into what I believe to be the second jhana.

In the second jhana I don't feel much change from the first other than that I don't have to try and sustain the pleasantness, only observe it as it rises and passes with the breath.

As I observe this I start to notice an over-all tranquil feeling (but not the same kind of feeling as before) in my whole body and the original feeling in my brow area fades, I believe this to be the third jhana. Eventually, this feeling also fades and leaves a feeling of disconnectedness or separateness from my body (the first time I felt this so strongly that it felt as if my head had split and my face was a mask, hard to explain).

I then try to sustain this feeling of separateness, which either leads to strange disinformation in the sense I have for my body which is different each time (some times it feels like a very explicit shift of my view (even though my eyes are closed) to either the center of my body or to a point above my head, some times my body seems to become bigger or smaller, and other times parts of my body seem to disappear) which I believe is the fourth jhana, or sometimes I try too hard to sustain the separateness and loose it, moving back to what feels like the third jhana.

Does this sound about right?
If so I would conclude that there are not very clear lines between the jhanas and they kind of meld into each other.
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Ian And, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Ian Edwards:

Does this sound about right?

There's really no corroborating different people's impressions or descriptions of the changes that occur going from one jhana to the next as sometimes it happens so quickly that the details become muddled in the process. What matters most is that you yourself have determined that each shift has occurred and have been able to discern something that informs you of such.

In other words, I wouldn't describe my experience in quite the words you have outlined here. Quite frankly, I'm not sure how some of the descriptions you've used relate to the cessation of jhana factors which informs the standard description of moving between the first, second, third, and fourth levels of the rupa jhanas. Nowhere in the standard descriptions (coming from the discourses themselves) are there any descriptions that bring out "a feeling of disconnectedness or separateness from [the] body," as a factor in the transition between jhanas. This may be a distinctive way that you yourself perceive this process, attributable only to your own unique perception. Or, maybe with additional detail you might add something that I could relate to in some way that would give me the impression of something that, upon further reflection, I could relate to.

At any rate, don't discount any impression you have, as with time it may change and become modified. In time, one's discernment sharpens and one sees things later that one didn't (or wasn't able to) discern earlier for one reason or the other.

Ian Edwards:

If so I would conclude that there are not very clear lines between the jhanas and they kind of meld into each other.

It took me a couple of years to really get a clear handle on the transitions involved, so don't be discouraged if you are similarly having difficulty discerning these changes, too. I think it happens to all of us who attempt to practice this very subtle meditative practice.

What I would say about this impression that you have brought up is that after a certain point, when your practice in jhana has matured and you find entering jhanic meditation as easy as breathing, that you may find it difficult to discern the transition from first to fourth jhana. In my own practice, I have found this to be true, leading me to the impression that one can go from first to fourth in the blink of an eye. Fourth is where all the "magic" happens in terms of insight recognition. And by "magic" I don't mean to imply anything metaphysical. The magic I'm speaking about is the increased level of concentration that occurs in the fourth jhana. That increased concentration accompanied by the overall impression of relative mental ease allows the mind to view "things (dhammas) as they are," which in turn provides the impetus for the change in one's mental outlook about reality.

So with the above comment in mind, yes, I can agree with the statement you've made here that each jhana "kind of meld(s) into the next." That impression is not foreign to me.
Ian Edwards, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
Ian And:
Nowhere in the standard descriptions (coming from the discourses themselves) are there any descriptions that bring out "a feeling of disconnectedness or separateness from [the] body," as a factor in the transition between jhanas.


Maybe what I was feeling has nothing to do with the jhanas? but it's more like a state rather than a feeling, it's like there is a very distinct separation of my mental self and my physical self. It's hard to explain.

Ian And:
one can go from first to fourth in the blink of an eye.


I'm glad that you mentioned this, I have a fear that I am somehow fooling myself, and one of the main points of this fear is that I have gone to the fourth jhana in only 10 minutes of sitting before, this may be typical, I don't know, but on average it takes me about 20 minutes.
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Ian And, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

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Ian Edwards:
Ian And:
Nowhere in the standard descriptions (coming from the discourses themselves) are there any descriptions that bring out "a feeling of disconnectedness or separateness from [the] body," as a factor in the transition between jhanas.


Maybe what I was feeling has nothing to do with the jhanas? but it's more like a state rather than a feeling, it's like there is a very distinct separation of my mental self and my physical self. It's hard to explain.

What have you read about the process of transitioning between the jhanas? One of the best descriptions I found when I was first beginning my practice was Leigh Brasington's. But one needs to be careful with parts of that description as he hasn't updated it since it was first published to the Internet. That's part of the reason why I decided to write about this process in The General, All Purpose Jhana Thread linked to above.

It's likely that you actually were in jhana territory. But this territory manifests in two different manners. One having to do with samatha (calm) practice and the other having to do with vipassana (insight) practice. You may have been in what some of us have described as being a "vipassana jhana." All kinds of phenomena can be experienced while in this jhana state. But once you become familiar with what is true and what is illusion in this mental atmosphere, you can stop (or recognize and thereby diminish the effect of) much of the "weird" phenomena that occurs.

Most people use the following transition description from first to fourth jhana. These correspond with how the suttas describe this process:

First jhana factors: vitakka, vicara, piti, and sukha.

Second jhana factors: vitakka and vicara subside, while piti and sukha still persist along with inner tranquility and unification of mind.

Third jhana factors: piti subsides, and sukha remains along with clear awareness, equanimity, and mindfulness (sati)

Fourth jhana factors: sukha subsides, with mindfulness and equanimity remaining.

Ian Edwards:
Ian And:
one can go from first to fourth in the blink of an eye.


I'm glad that you mentioned this, I have a fear that I am somehow fooling myself, and one of the main points of this fear is that I have gone to the fourth jhana in only 10 minutes of sitting before, this may be typical, I don't know, but on average it takes me about 20 minutes.

As you become more experienced with attaining jhana and the differences between the kinds of jhana that can manifest, such occurrences will become more clear to you. The mind is an amazing instrument and is in general not limited by people's beliefs about what it can and cannot do. If you keep an open mind, you will progress more naturally, hopefully uncomplicated by pre-conceived ideas about what the mind can and cannot accomplish.

It may very well be the case that you are now able to achieve fourth jhana in 10 minutes rather than 20 as you're concentration may have improved. Increased concentration is usually the cause for the quicker speed.
Ian Edwards, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
This is very helpful, thank you. I have read most of your "The General, All Purpose Jhana Thread" a while back, but I think I will reread it as you did such a nice job filling it with information and explanation that I wasn't able to retain the majority of it, I will make sure to go through it more deliberately. I haven't read much into the vipassana jhanas, I believe your thread mentions them but I can't recall, either way I will read up on them. Also I will try to abate my low expectations and adopt more of a "progress is progress" attitude, as it does seem daft to think that I'm progressing too fast. Again, thanks a lot.
Ian Edwards, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
Okay, I have read up a little more on vipassana, which has stirred up a few more questions. I have read about using noting to practice insight, which I already had previously read some about in Mahasi's Practical Insight Meditation book, but in Daniel's book he says:

From this state the student has quite a number of options. They can get stuck, they can move on to the formless realms, they can cultivate what are described as “psychic powers,” or they can investigate this state and begin the progress of insight.


Can someone help me understand how exactly to do this? I assume he means to investigate the three characteristics, he kind of explains it in the following paragraph:

When investigating this state, special attention must absolutely be given to the fact that the myriad sensations that make up equanimity and spaciousness come and go moment to moment, do not satisfy or provide a permanent resting place, and are not self. Again, it is easy to get attached to the sensations that make up these high states, and so great precision and attention (as well as honesty) must be given to this if the student chooses this option. Another alternative is to leave this state and then begin insight practice, as the qualities that this state writes on the mind linger for a short time, and this can be helpful if the student does not cling to these benefits.


But if someone could further explain it I would be very grateful. Also, do the vipassana jhanas (1-4) correlate at all with the samatha jhanas (1-4)? And my last question, as far as the stages of insight, to what extent are they analytical and to what extent are they physically perceived?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, I realize that I have a lot, I just have a strong need to completely (or as much as possible) understand these things so I know I'm on the right track.
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Ian And, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Ian Edwards:

Also, do the vipassana jhanas (1-4) correlate at all with the samatha jhanas (1-4)?

The way I use these terms it's only a matter of which way one inclines the mind during contemplation. Others may view this differently, but this is how I view it. Quite straightforward when you think of it.

The mind switches back and forth between calm and insight all the time in the process of learning the jhanas in the first place. If you can think of it this way rather than putting each of these into a dry unimaginative box that can't be violated, you'll do much better. I wouldn't worry too much about the concept of correlating back and forth between the first four levels of jhana. The first, the second and the fourth will usually be the most recognizable. Once you get to the fourth, you can incline the mind toward an insight object, or you can pursue the immaterial jhanas (the sense sphere of infinite space, the sense sphere of infinite consciousness, the sense sphere of no-thingness, and the sense sphere of neither perception nor non-perception) which seem to be more closely related to calming or samatha but which could also be viewed as being insight states in the sense that once attained they provide the observer with some insight into the mind's ability to be able to reach these subtle states based on simply inclining the mind toward them.

A samatha jhana, to me, just means that one's main focus is on calming the mind and the breath. The term jhana just refers to what Ajahn Chah once described as being appana samadhi or "fixed concentration." In other words, once the mind enters a state of "fixed concentration" upon an object of contemplation, one is in jhana. It is actually as simple as that.

The most fruitful space to be in when attempting to arrive at awakening is the fourth jhana as it is applied to an insight object (what in my view would be described as a vipassana jhana). I use the fourth jhana all the time when evaluating an object for insight.

In other words, you could also pursue a samatha object in fourth jhana, just resting in the calmness and peace of that state and observing how the breath becomes finer and finer (less visible) without inclining the mind toward anything else, and I would call that a samatha jhana. Make sense?
Ian Edwards, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
Ya, that does actually make a lot of sense, thanks.
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Eric Bause, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

Posts: 187 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
In going from the first to the second jhana, my impression is a shift from piti being felt as a more external in the limbs sensation maintaing vichara, to a more internal within the body sensation that is more contained, but with me not having to do the containing.

Eric
Ian Edwards, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Second Jhana

Posts: 31 Join Date: 11/19/10 Recent Posts
Interesting, that's exactly opposite from what I experience, I didn't think about how drastically these things can change from person to person.

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