Access concentration / 1st Jhana / 2nd Jhana - Where am I?

Mat Schencks, modified 11 Years ago.

Access concentration / 1st Jhana / 2nd Jhana - Where am I?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 10/8/09 Recent Posts
Hi Everyone,

I've been meditating in a committed way for about 6+ years now and in the past couple of years have been concentrating on Jhana practice.
I've been watching my breath with a wide focus (as opposed to focusing more narrowly at the nostrils) but using the noting technique. I'm very comfortable to sit for up to 3 hrs (sometimes needing to continue meditation in standing posture to alleviate knee pain).

It would be great if anyone would be happy to comment on my experiences so far.

[indent]Scenario 1 - Access concentration or 1st Jhana?
I guess what I'm not clear about are the tingling sensations which build into fairly intense waves of happiness (is this rapture/piti?). When this is happening I can get a big smile on my face. There is lots of joy and pleasure in these feelings. I'm wondering whether this is 1st Jhana or access concentration? I feel I'm able to stay with this for a sitting but some thoughts do arise still but aren't usually disturbing.

Scenario 2 - 2nd Jhana?
On one occasion on a 2 week retreat I seemed to reach another level where everything was very quiet and still and deep, the intense waves of happiness were gone but a very deep feeling of contentment and fullness was present. I stayed in this for about an hour I would guess. I'm wondering if this was 2nd Jhana? I was able to clearly perceive this changed state and there was definitely some consideration of what this might be - but if those were thoughts they were very ephemeral and weren't able to intrude.[/indent]

After a while I spontaneously came out of this and started insight practice and was really blown away how sharp and clear my mind was. Unfortunately this didn't continue for too long but I really saw the benefits of concentration for insight.

Any feedback on what my two experiences were?

My guess is Scenario 1 - 1st Jhana, and Scenario 2 - 2nd Jhana once (having read this thread: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/101430).

Feel very free to honestly say what you think.

Best wishes,

Mat
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Ian And, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Access concentration / 1st Jhana / 2nd Jhana - Where am I? (Answer)

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Mat Schencks:


It would be great if anyone would be happy to comment on my experiences so far.

[indent]Scenario 1 - Access concentration or 1st Jhana?
I guess what I'm not clear about are the tingling sensations which build into fairly intense waves of happiness (is this rapture/piti?) [Very likely, yes.] . When this is happening I can get a big smile on my face. There is lots of joy and pleasure in these feelings. I'm wondering whether this is 1st Jhana or access concentration? I feel I'm able to stay with this for a sitting but some thoughts do arise still but aren't usually disturbing.

Scenario 2 - 2nd Jhana?
On one occasion on a 2 week retreat I seemed to reach another level where everything was very quiet and still and deep, the intense waves of happiness were gone but a very deep feeling of contentment and fullness was present. I stayed in this for about an hour I would guess. I'm wondering if this was 2nd Jhana? I was able to clearly perceive this changed state and there was definitely some consideration of what this might be - but if those were thoughts they were very ephemeral and weren't able to intrude.[/indent]

After a while I spontaneously came out of this and started insight practice and was really blown away how sharp and clear my mind was. Unfortunately this didn't continue for too long but I really saw the benefits of concentration for insight.

Any feedback on what my two experiences were?


Hi Mat,

I'm sorry to say... but from your descriptions of these two scenarios, it sound like you have been in full blown jhana from the beginning. Scenario one: either first or second jhana (it is difficult to determine from an Internet description rather than a face to face meeting where more detail can be obtained). And the second scenario, third or fourth jhana (once again, it is difficult to determine from the description given without face to face verification).

Your observation, after starting insight practice, regarding the sharpness and clarity of mind and the fact that this didn't last very long afterwards is typical in the beginning stages of this practice. As you are able to gain more experience in accessing and maintaining absorption and carrying that calm and tranquility forward into your waking conscious moments, you will notice a decided increase in your ability to maintain concentration for longer and longer periods both during and after meditation/contemplation. It just takes time and diligent practice to develop (has been my experience of this phenomenon).

Keep up the good work, Mat. Congratulations!

In peace,
Ian
Adam West, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Access concentration / 1st Jhana / 2nd Jhana - Where am I? (Answer)

Posts: 24 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Hey Matt!

Congrats!! You have described first and second Jhana very nicely in a classic way, directly out of the Suttas - well-done!

Third is a real slap in the face and fourth will blow your mind, but not in the way you would think - it's very pure and clean! Profound bliss, one-pointedness, tranquility and equanimity. Your on your way now my friend.

In kind regards,

Adam.
Mat Schencks, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Access concentration / 1st Jhana / 2nd Jhana - Where am I?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 10/8/09 Recent Posts
Thanks to both Ian and Adam for taking time to reply.

I guess reading descriptions of the jhanas and relating the words to my actual experience is what I find a bit tricky. Perhaps with greater familiarity I will know them more clearly. It feels like i'm still lacking some discernment so at the moment i'm happy to get a bit clearer in recognising the jhanic factors and becoming more skillful in developing them in my meditation.

Best wishes,

Mat
Adam West, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Access concentration / 1st Jhana / 2nd Jhana - Where am I?

Posts: 24 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Good luck buddy!

Practice is all that is needed - nothing more. More, it seems to me, can be a distraction if it interferes or confuses our practice. In this context then, there need be no anxiety about it, or difficulty. These things are something we add to the process. So practice seems to be where our emphasis should be, and all else is something different again; we build upon a foundation of effective practice. That is the standard. Does it enhance our practice, or detract or detract from it? By 'it' I mean philosophizing, or debating, or comparing models or defending models and so on.

To practice, is to initiate causes, or to discover them. Or to live authentically as we are; rather than be lost in distraction from that 'living simplicity' that we are, or to promote and ruminate in fantasy. We want to cut through all that via practice. emoticon

In kind regards,

Adam.

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