Message Boards Message Boards

Claims to Attainments

8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)

Toggle
By popular demand (ok, one person's request), I am posting my "description of the 8th jhana as I experienced it, in my own words." (Although some might say that what I really need to do is sit with my need to post this.)

After getting to what I believe was the 7th jhana (not going to bother making a thread with my explanation of that), I decided to move to the 8th jhana using the technique described here, which is, as I understand it, effectively withdrawing from perception:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/gunaratana/wheel351.html#ch4

I suddenly felt that my body was extremely far away, or as if it were completely numb. I could hear things and had thoughts, but my consciousness they, too, felt really far away. I was a bit frightened by it because it was such a disconcerting experience, but mostly I felt nothing--not like a vast nothingness of the 7th jhana, but just as if my perception had withdrawn into a shell and there was nothing (or not much at least) to perceive.

If this isn't the 8th jhana, please suggest what it could be instead, if anything.

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/28/11 5:57 PM as a reply to Morgan Taylor.
these things are hard to diagnose without context. it would actually be helpful to describe how you got to the 8th jhana in one of the sits where you got to it, from moment of sitting to the 8th. if that involves description of 7th (or other states) along the way, then you should include that, too.

no need to make a new thread about it though, but it would be helpful for diagnostic purposes. try using phenomenological descriptions, e.g. don't say 'i got to 1st jhana, then 2nd, then 3rd,' etc, but describe the qualities that led you to think you were in each jhana.

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/28/11 5:57 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Oy, ok. On that particular sit, I probably started with the third (it was a while ago, so I don't remember exactly), which to me feels like a sense of total, full body pleasure and peace. (I also do these in the context of God, so to me it feels like I'm immersed or cradled in God's love.)

At that time, I had been working pretty continuously on the samatha jhanas, so I felt pretty comfortable going up rather perfunctorily through the 4th through 7th; I only spent as long as I needed to solidify my concentration in each before going up to the next one.

To me, the 4th is the same sort of heightened awareness like the 3rd (I mean geez, just like all the descriptions say; I could be just cribbing from them for all you know), but without the full-body pleasure; just a full-body calm and a more subdued, relaxed pleasure.

The 5th is, to me, moving one's awareness to the entire universe, a contemplation of infinite space that feels a bit like a vast chasm has opened up beneath me. It's a bit awe-inspiring and overwhelming.

The 5th is hard to hold on for me; for some reason my mind likes to slip from it right into the 6th--infinite consciousness, which feels to me like being one with God. It's as if my entire body has dissolved into molecules indistinguishable from the rest of the universe. There is nothing different from me, or I am not different from anything, whatever.

I used to hate the 7th because it was so terrifying compared to the grandeur of the 6th--as if suddenly all the lights went out--but recently I've come to enjoy it more within the interpretation that it's the silence and stillness of God. Most thoughts seem to disappear, or I at least don't register them. It's a profound, quiet peace.

And I guess I just increased that feeling of nothingness and peace to get to the 8th. (Or so I think....)

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/28/11 6:38 PM as a reply to Morgan Taylor.
Morgan Taylor:
Oy, ok. On that particular sit, I probably started with the third (it was a while ago, so I don't remember exactly), which to me feels like a sense of total, full body pleasure and peace. (I also do these in the context of God, so to me it feels like I'm immersed or cradled in God's love.)

can you describe what happened from the moment you sat down to when you got to the 3rd? or were you just in the 3rd all day up to the point when you sat?

Morgan Taylor:
To me, the 4th is the same sort of heightened awareness like the 3rd (I mean geez, just like all the descriptions say; I could be just cribbing from them for all you know), but without the full-body pleasure; just a full-body calm and a more subdued, relaxed pleasure.

could you describe the relaxed pleasure more? how do you distinguish this pleasure from the types of pleasure found in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd jhana?

Morgan Taylor:
The 5th is, to me, moving one's awareness to the entire universe, a contemplation of infinite space that feels a bit like a vast chasm has opened up beneath me. It's a bit awe-inspiring and overwhelming.

The 5th is hard to hold on for me; for some reason my mind likes to slip from it right into the 6th--infinite consciousness, which feels to me like being one with God. It's as if my entire body has dissolved into molecules indistinguishable from the rest of the universe. There is nothing different from me, or I am not different from anything, whatever.

do you get any sense of pleasure or rapture in the 5th and 6th?

Morgan Taylor:
I used to hate the 7th because it was so terrifying compared to the grandeur of the 6th--as if suddenly all the lights went out--but recently I've come to enjoy it more within the interpretation that it's the silence and stillness of God. Most thoughts seem to disappear, or I at least don't register them. It's a profound, quiet peace.

what's the sense of the body like here? any pleasure/rapture?

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/28/11 7:06 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
can you describe what happened from the moment you sat down to when you got to the 3rd? or were you just in the 3rd all day up to the point when you sat?


I can jump into the 3rd almost at any time. I can basically breath it in and suddenly my head and then my body are filled with that pleasure. If this isn't the 3rd jhana, then whatever it is, I highly recommend it.

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
could you describe the relaxed pleasure more? how do you distinguish this pleasure from the types of pleasure found in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd jhana?


It's sort of tingly. It's also whole-body, but focused in the forehead. More like relaxation than pleasure. The 3rd is much more pleasurable, like, with little influxes of pleasure on the in-breath, and the rapture of the 1st and 2nd is much more intense; so much so that it can be almost painful sometimes.

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
do you get any sense of pleasure or rapture in the 5th and 6th?


Not rapture or pleasure, per se, but it's definitely a pleasant sensation. Like I said--awe-inspiring. I guess compared to ordinary consciousness it's pleasurable, but it's not distincively or powerfully so as with the first three jhanas.

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Morgan Taylor:
I used to hate the 7th because it was so terrifying compared to the grandeur of the 6th--as if suddenly all the lights went out--but recently I've come to enjoy it more within the interpretation that it's the silence and stillness of God. Most thoughts seem to disappear, or I at least don't register them. It's a profound, quiet peace.

what's the sense of the body like here? any pleasure/rapture?


When I did the 7th the first time, it definitely was not pleasurable; just either terrifying or just completely empty. Now, however, I find that peace pleasurable, but it's a wholly different sort of pleasure from the one I mentioned in regards to the 4th. (No idea which experience is more "correct".) It's more subtle, yet deeper. Definitely not rapturous. It's not a full-body pleasantness either--perhaps some concentration in the heart area, but primarily mental/spiritual.

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/28/11 7:24 PM as a reply to Morgan Taylor.
Morgan Taylor:
I can jump into the 3rd almost at any time. I can basically breath it in and suddenly my head and then my body are filled with that pleasure. If this isn't the 3rd jhana, then whatever it is, I highly recommend it.
...
The 3rd is much more pleasurable, like, with little influxes of pleasure on the in-breath, and the rapture of the 1st and 2nd is much more intense; so much so that it can be almost painful sometimes.

ah so the pleasure of your 3rd is in phase with the breath - increases with in-breaths, anyway? is it focused more on the inside of the body, or on the periphery, or no distinction?

Morgan Taylor:
It's sort of tingly. It's also whole-body, but focused in the forehead. More like relaxation than pleasure.

is this one (the 4th jhana one) focused more on the inside of the body, or on the periphery, or no distinction? is it in or out of phase with the breath?

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/28/11 8:13 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
ah so the pleasure of your 3rd is in phase with the breath - increases with in-breaths, anyway? is it focused more on the inside of the body, or on the periphery, or no distinction?


Yes, in-phase with the breath, increasing (if I so choose) with the in-breath. Mostly focused at the forehead and face, then glowing at the shoulders and heart, shooting down the arms and a bit in the legs.

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Morgan Taylor:
It's sort of tingly. It's also whole-body, but focused in the forehead. More like relaxation than pleasure.

is this one (the 4th jhana one) focused more on the inside of the body, or on the periphery, or no distinction? is it in or out of phase with the breath?


The tingliness is localized around the face and forehead; I guess on the periphery--as if there's a glowing, electrified ball in front of my face--but the insides of my body are nice and relaxed. The sensation strengthens a bit with each in-breath, but not as dramatically as with the 3rd.


If whatever this is turns out to actually be a brain aneurysm, I'm going to be very upset. ;-)

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/29/11 7:51 AM as a reply to Morgan Taylor.
hmm alright. my take on your 3rd-4th jhanas are that they're really 2nd-3rd jhana, and what you thought was 1st-2nd might just be 1st. that's because pleasure in-phase with the breath and over the body and the inside is pleasure of 2nd jhana. the inner-calm but exterior-pleasure that isn't in phase with the breath is pleasure of 3rd jhana.

not sure about the rest, yet, will have to think about it more.

Morgan Taylor:
If whatever this is turns out to actually be a brain aneurysm, I'm going to be very upset. ;-)

=P. i once thought all i had accomplished by meditating was giving myself bi-polar disorder..

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/29/11 11:23 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
hmm alright. my take on your 3rd-4th jhanas are that they're really 2nd-3rd jhana, and what you thought was 1st-2nd might just be 1st. that's because pleasure in-phase with the breath and over the body and the inside is pleasure of 2nd jhana. the inner-calm but exterior-pleasure that isn't in phase with the breath is pleasure of 3rd jhana.


I thought the 2nd jhana was basically like the 1st, but had "taken on a life of its own" or whatever, aka there's still rapture involved. The pleasure of what I'm calling the 3rd is, to me, of a lower order from rapture.... But I'm not too concerned about it, unless that understanding has some sort of effect on the rest of them.


Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
=P. i once thought all i had accomplished by meditating was giving myself bi-polar disorder..


hehe. emoticon

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/29/11 11:32 AM as a reply to Morgan Taylor.
Morgan Taylor:
I suddenly felt that my body was extremely far away, or as if it were completely numb. I could hear things and had thoughts, but my consciousness they, too, felt really far away. I was a bit frightened by it because it was such a disconcerting experience, but mostly I felt nothing--not like a vast nothingness of the 7th jhana, but just as if my perception had withdrawn into a shell and there was nothing (or not much at least) to perceive.

hmm can you distinguish how you experience the 5th and the 7th jhanas? what's the difference between 'a vast chasm' and 'a vast nothingness'?

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/29/11 11:53 AM as a reply to Morgan Taylor.
my take on 8th

in nothingness, that the mind is turned from 6th to lights out is clear: the lights are out, as it were, and whatever sensations make up the lights out of nothingness are attended to

in 8th, attention turns away even from that and dwells not particularly tuned to anything, though also not definitely tuned to nothing either

for me, it as if attention is at once narrow in that it has turned inward and away from diversity, and yet, at the same time, has turned really outward from that but yet not to anything else

so, nothingness is like one's phase is tuned to nothingness

8th is to be out of phase with everything, including nothingness, which is actually something from a refined point of view

thus, when this is done well, one could actually vipassanize nothingness, perceive it well enough to get a Fruition off it, whereas 8th is too detuned to do that

it is like the beeping sounds where I work: things beep all the time, many of them, monitors, iv pumps, etc., but when I am talking with someone, I really don't notice that I hear them at all, as they do not register in any meaningful way

8th is like that, just taken to the point that everything becomes like those beeping things, including space, consciousness and the clear perception of nothingness

helpful?

daniel

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/29/11 4:56 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Morgan Taylor:
I suddenly felt that my body was extremely far away, or as if it were completely numb. I could hear things and had thoughts, but my consciousness they, too, felt really far away. I was a bit frightened by it because it was such a disconcerting experience, but mostly I felt nothing--not like a vast nothingness of the 7th jhana, but just as if my perception had withdrawn into a shell and there was nothing (or not much at least) to perceive.

hmm can you distinguish how you experience the 5th and the 7th jhanas? what's the difference between 'a vast chasm' and 'a vast nothingness'?


Well, a chasm has something at the bottom, you know? It's like the entire universe is in my head (or my head has expanded to the universe--even feels like my body has expanded a bit), and although the universe does contain a lot of nothing, it also contains a lot of stuff. So the 5th is "everythingness" and the 7th is "nothingness"--they're opposites. The 5th makes me feel like I'm expanding; the 7th makes me feel just a stillness.

Daniel: your description sounds to me like what I experienced. Others can feel free to disagree. :-)

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/29/11 5:31 PM as a reply to Morgan Taylor.
Morgan Taylor:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Morgan Taylor:
I suddenly felt that my body was extremely far away, or as if it were completely numb. I could hear things and had thoughts, but my consciousness they, too, felt really far away. I was a bit frightened by it because it was such a disconcerting experience, but mostly I felt nothing--not like a vast nothingness of the 7th jhana, but just as if my perception had withdrawn into a shell and there was nothing (or not much at least) to perceive.

hmm can you distinguish how you experience the 5th and the 7th jhanas? what's the difference between 'a vast chasm' and 'a vast nothingness'?


Well, a chasm has something at the bottom, you know? It's like the entire universe is in my head (or my head has expanded to the universe--even feels like my body has expanded a bit), and although the universe does contain a lot of nothing, it also contains a lot of stuff. So the 5th is "everythingness" and the 7th is "nothingness"--they're opposites. The 5th makes me feel like I'm expanding; the 7th makes me feel just a stillness.

Daniel: your description sounds to me like what I experienced. Others can feel free to disagree. :-)


So, now you have some descriptions you say match yours. What are you going to do with the access to jhana you say you have? What are your goals/objectives/desired outcomes?

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/29/11 6:09 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Nikolai .:
So, now you have some descriptions you say match yours. What are you going to do with the access to jhana you say you have? What are your goals/objectives/desired outcomes?


Recently I've been hanging out primarily in whatever it is I call the 7th because it's so peaceful. All the jhanas tend to elevate my general mood (minus the 8th, because I haven't been in it often enough to really know).

As I mentioned in another thread, I'm getting interested in Christian mysticism, which doesn't distinguish between the jhanas and the progress of insight--they seem to sort of mash the two together; I'm still trying to sort out how--so at the moment I'm using the jhanas within that capacity (aka maintaining a connection with God, or being in the stillness of God, etc.), with the larger goal of eventually attaining stream-entry.

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/29/11 6:26 PM as a reply to Morgan Taylor.
I think that the most interesting thing about the 8th jhana is not the 8th jhana, which could hardly be called anything including interesting, really, but the space that happens after it, the post-8th junction point, here P8JP for short.

The P8JP is one that is not talked about enough. There is all sorts of stuff that opens up once one comes out of 8th that you either can't or can't as easily access if you haven't just been there.

The P8JP option list includes:

Nirodha Samapatti
Pure Land Jhanas
Fruition (easier if one has just been in 8th, and, in fact, I would like to argue that everyone goes through at least a lite version of 8th on their way to Fruition, but that is another topic for another time)
Powers: much easier if one just got out of 8th
Paths: just like the old texts say, one comes out of 8th and inclines to the destruction of the taints...
Other unusual states you can tune to that are simply individually created and not on the standard maps...

Thus, the primary benefit of 8th is that the space after it presents you with more and easier to open doors.

Daniel

RE: 8th Samatha jhana (aka 4th formless jhana)
Answer
6/29/11 8:19 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Fruition (easier if one has just been in 8th


Interesting. That should be useful, as I'm currently gunning for stream-entry....