Looking for diagnosis/Jhana help

dharma throwaway, modified 8 Months ago.

Looking for diagnosis/Jhana help

Post: 1 Join Date: 6/30/20 Recent Posts
Hi All,

Long time listener, first time caller... I'm hoping someone could shed more accurate light on where I'm at, and what would be best to focus on at this stage.

I did a lot of serious qigong type practices for around 10 years then shifted from movement energy stuff to sitting. I did a couple of Goenka retreats (10 day and 3 day). With the last retreat being a few years ago. I've read MCTB 1 and parts of 2. I feel I'm currently in Jhana territory due to the repeatable cycles territory I outline below. But I'm hoping for clarity about the exact nature of how I'm experiencing this.


Ok, so if do purely insight practice and sit and focus on the Three Characteristics of a given object I click into level 1(see below) and possibly as high as level 4. But in general I sit around level 1. So the levels below are usually only traversed if i’m doing concentration practices. (I'm calling them levels as I couldn't work out how to exactly map them to the Jhanas)

I can transition between these levels at will - much easier to click up a level than down - Sometimes like skipping a stone along a lake and can get up to 9 within 10mins or so (so obviously I don't get deep into each - but even in this superficial shallow case, the particular levels qualities are still present nevertheless). Each transition is induced by seeing myself as just another object in my experience, holding that new 'total' object (now including me as the experiencer) - this then seems to set off a cascade that inevitably leads to the next level transition: I get an eyes rolling back feeling... a rumbling in my ears, slight migraine pressure and then a breath out release/rush/stabilising/settling into new level. I can also transition through these while awake/walking but it’s harder to get to levels 5+ without really focusing.

My issue/question is:

It's hard for me to just chill at a given level without an automatic transition to the next level starting... and if I don't follow/assist these 'transition prompts'( e.g. becoming aware/seeing myself as just another object) then I seem to fall back to levels 2 and 3 very quickly. Should I continue cycling and skipping the stone along the levels, or should I be going really deep into each? And if so, what can help me stay at a given stage without constantly becoming aware of myself the experiencer as just another object, which starts the whole transition ramp up. (should/can I stop that ramp up when it occurs?)

Levels as I experience them (with each having the transition described above between them):

Entry to level 1 by focusing on an object.

1. Feels like I've stepped outside 'normal mind activity' now focus single pointed in front of me.
2. Blissful body feelings
3. Same as previous but now with awareness space awareness like in a cacoon
4. Weird magic/concentrated-distilled-mind/different personality feeling
5. Steady mind (sometimes I find it hard to differentiate between this and 6)
6. Steady space (sometimes I find it hard to differentiate between this and 5)
7. Deep blissful, whole body comfortable 
8. 'Mind like dead ashes'... no emotion, still, 'black and white' feeling if that makes sense
9. Bliss & transcendental feeling,
10 + feels like 9 but getting more ethereal and hard to focus/track

So to recap. I can traverse these fine and the qualities as described above is repeatable to the point that if I zone out and then transition I often know what stage I was at by the now present quality of the stage I've just entered.. but the depth is really superficial. If I try to stay in one for too long I slip back to lower stages or - more likely the case - an automatic transition to the next occurs. I've tried forgetting it all and just focusing on improving concentration, but the inevitable transitions start to occur on their own.

Any help would be highly appreciated as my practice has stalled as I'm unsure about what is best to do here!



Pepe, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Looking for diagnosis/Jhana help

Posts: 281 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hi GL,

I cannot give you an answer on the subject, but noticed your particular enumeration of jhanas/concentration states, probably because of your Qigong background. Owen Becker (an old student of Kenneth Folk, it seems) learned also from a student of Ayya Khema a different progression of 1-8 Jhanas and Pure Land Jhanas (check MCTB1 pages 390-391 or Antero's Practice Journal), that may be of interest to you:

J1: dig into the piti or bliss
J2: relax into the joy that comes from the bliss
J3: ease into the contentment that underlies the joy
J4: ride the joy into the bottom of the "well" until there is almost no observer
PL3: notice the subtle body and 3rd eye chakra and get absorbed into it
PL2: move up from the 3rd eye to the crown
PL4: crown opens into a "bowl" at the top of the head. feeling a slight upward pull
PL5: moving up into a vortex of pure knowing awareness. 
PL1: connect again with the crown in a full circuit
J5: transition from the crown into infinite space 
J6: from infinite space into infinite consciousness
J7: from infinite consciousness into nothingness
J8: (is just) J8 (Neither Perception nor Non-Perception)

The Yogi Toolbox: Fashioning Jhana 
dharma . .throwaway, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Looking for diagnosis/Jhana help

Posts: 2 Join Date: 7/1/20 Recent Posts
OP here with a new account. I had issues with my login and got locked out so registered a new one. I couldn't find where to contact administrators to get it unlocked (Sorry I'm new to being an active user on the forum). Anyone have any idea?

Thanks Pepe, 

I was wondering if it could have been my previous energy work stuff that was making it difficult for me to map my experiences. I'll check out the references you provided.

Thanks again for the help, very much appreciated emoticon

Still wondering about the transitions though, if anyone else can chime in!

dharma . .throwaway, modified 8 Months ago.

RE: Looking for diagnosis/Jhana help

Posts: 2 Join Date: 7/1/20 Recent Posts
"7th jhana, nothingness, is a little different. To hit nothingness, you take anything so far (easiest by focusing on boundless consciousness though, which has already united things quite nicely), and ... simply ignore it. That's right, just totally tune out of it. Bam. You're in nothingness. You're out of phase, but extremely attentive to what it's like to be out of phase, and attentive to what Daniel calls in his book '[the sensations] that seem to imply nothingness'. It's blank. It's quiet. Its really nothing. Your whole mind in a soundproof room. Open to it, be surrounded by it, suffused by it, be it. There's nada. Attend to that nada. You'll be surprised how thick and existent nada can be."

Thanks for the Yogi Toolbox link, Pepe. That description of the 7th is word perfect for what I was calling the 8th in my list (even the black and white image used emoticon )... reading through the descriptions there, It seems that I am inserting a stage between the 6th and 7th.. if I remove that then all seem to match up really well. Perhaps this could be that I've just conditioned myself to explore a particular 'bliss' ("...luminous, glowing, gently yet profoundly...") aspect of the 6th and that falling deeper into it therefore feels like an additional stage. 

I definitely am experiencing aspects outlined in "Ron and Owen's Instructions"... with crown of the head phenomena, but on the whole I feel that I fit pretty well into the Jhanas as outlined, that is if I remove the 7th of my list.

Again, this has been really helpful direction. Thanks!