Formless jhanas

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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

Formless jhanas

Posts: 767 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
There seems to be formless jhanas described as having infinite space in them. It is even in their names, at least 5th jhana and 6th jhana. Yet, what I experience as formless jhanas has no space in them whatsoever. Not that they are small or normal in space, just no space quality at all.

I am however able to have infinite space if I take formed jhana and eg. start spinning 5th formless jhana quality. The normal mind perspective just expands and expands and becomes seemingly infinitely spacious. This exactly matches my experiences of formless jhanas I had many years ago and gives me confidence I got the jhanas numbers right.

By spinning I mean the fastest method I know with which I can do jhanas. And more precisely it is about concentrating on jhanic quality every second moment and having cessation every second moment, jhana -> cessation -> jhana -> cessation -> etc. Having jhana just by thinking about it doesn't really work without instantly shutting down the mind and having it arise moment later with said jhana quality and repeating it bazillion more times. It is kinda like spinning a carousel where you push it and remove hands and then push more and more until the speed at which carousel is spinning is the same as speed with which you move hands thus the name. The speed of the moments doesn't increase here but force felt back by mind does decrease and eventually once the mind state is reached force comes down to almost zero.

Now the formless jhanas by their name and by descriptions from people, including myself in the past, were these infinite versions, not pure formless jhanas that do not have any spaciousness. What is the name for both these versions? There should be some distinction in terminology used do distinguish them but the distinction is lost on me. Source text concentrate on natural progression with practices aimed at novices so concentration on object and naturally shifting through jhanas which are then described in a way that is rather pointing to these formed versions and not so much on how they look later when they are without any form qualities and which seem to be actual jhanas. For the sake of brevity I just mention about spaciousness even though qualities of 7th and 8th jhanas are distinctively different.

Opinions?
 
Hector, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

Posts: 96 Join Date: 5/9/20 Recent Posts
Maybe formless is like lack of homomorphism, the map that transports you from one mind state to the formless state is
not homomorphic so it looks formless, but isn't necessariy infinite. The formed one still has 'location' in the sense
that small spatial contiguity is still preserved under the mapping. But both have no apparent boundary.
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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 This broke my mind but after a while I am starting to read it without my mind itself becoming formless ;)

First formless jhana added to different formed jhanas seemingly stretches space that these formed jhanas naturally present and so the expansion looks different in different formed jhanas but seems to be the same basic change in perception of space and it revolves around spheres of sorts. I would have to study them more to know for sure.

Without formed jhanas I normally (since 8th bhumi in 2015 it is the second most obvious quality except indescribable stillness) do not experience any space in my mind or anywhere so there is no change in spaciousness. There is however change in quality of space of sorts and that even allows me to use it as a tool to change things in my mind in the persistent way by using visualization and these changes seem to have absolutely ridiculous effect on how my mind normally operates without much effort put in to having these changes which also proved to stay for many months without changing in any way. It is more like just doing it and of course since like most people I lost my human nervous system instruction manual so I have no idea what to do and so I am from time to time just trying different things and trying to reverse engineer this thing.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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How do you determine bhumis?
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Bhumi means foundation or ground.
If you look at your mind, especially if you had some more fundamental changes then you will see that there is a kind of foundation/ground to mind and it has its own state. I noticed this when it changed to what felt like 2nd jhana but I didn't think too much about that at that time. By 4th or 5th I was calling it 'ground jhana state'. Eventually I got 8th which didn't took less than two years and at that time I realized a lot of things. One of them was that this is Bhumi and I just attained 8th and since then, which was six years ago, I operate under this assumption. It also felt I removed all ten fetters and got one particular experience which immediately felt like most pleasant and satisfying experience possible and one which was not relief thus it was obvious this insight in to what Bhumis are must be true.

The interesting thing about bhumi is that at N-th bhumi this is your default mind state. So for me it is 8th jhana most of the time during last six years. Going to 8th if the mind is not in it doesn't take much time though usually it is. Same was with other Bhumis. 8th is however somewhat special because it is neither formed jhana nor even formless. It is nervous system jhana and only from this perspective makes any sense and there it makes perfect sense. To really have it like how Leigh describes it I need some formed jhana qualities. It is easy have any formed/formless jhana qualities from nervous system perspective and I would even go as far as to say this is the natural state. Mind undergoes something I always called 'consciousness collapse' when we are very young, might even be before birth and then we go to formless realms and then further collapse to formed realms. Enlightenment is just undoing this collapse. Doing it is not very hard, underdeveloped children were able to do it ;)

Hope this explains my point of view emoticon
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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That's very interesting thanks. I'm curious because I haven't heard bhumi used that way before.
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Actually I am more Zen than Mahayana despite using Mahayana term.
Both tradition seems to be connected and at some point other than Buddha himself but forgot what they were about and reinvented itself with different focuses. Of course Zen is Zen and while I totally dig it I am not the biggest fan of its vibe. Let's say that mind is fast but in order to see all the juicy stuff you need something much faster than even mind, faster even than normal senses. Otherwise some mind states might be too fast for you to compherened them.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Ni Nurta
Let's say that mind is fast but in order to see all the juicy stuff you need something much faster than even mind, faster even than normal senses.

How do you develop this?
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Any practice will do as long as you actually look how doing it works and optimize it. I myself worked with eyesight because it always seemed like the best target for optimization and the most useful sense given how much time during the day I spend using it emoticon

tl;dr it would be that if I improve senses beyond what they are then this is it.
Though more specifically I was thinking about very specific way improvement is achieved and it has to do with something which looks like this:
When perception arise you do not make it pass away but hold it, neither as perception nor as non-perception or in other words in 8th jhana. What that does is that part of the brain which processed something just hangs in there blocking itself from being activated again or going to sleep so the next perception will have arise elsewhere but unlike changing where perception arise (switching parts of nervous system in use is another useful skill) doing it with 8th jhana allows both these perceptions to be used to perceive whatever object you are trying to perceive. And it is here where the fun starts. For one you are actually able to "complete processing" of perceptions. This is what gives this ridiculous stability of perceptions that I experience since 4th path (note: typically arhats are confused about this "done" feeling but knowing how things work isn't perquisite for "liberation", only for full enlightenment ;) )

BTW. I said it as "faster" but I actually meant whole battery of skillful qualities so more like doing things optimally. If you do mind optimally then it will use much less power (cells use ATP, oxygen, glucose, etc. and also generate heat - all this means that otherwise sensible strategies will simply fail and lead to issues and when continued will lead to... typical normal human being with the so called "human condition"? I guess that sums it up emoticon) but at the same time get better details and/or response times and/or time resolution and/or stability(memory) and certainty (about senses - this is something I will probably spin topic about as it is super important) and if practicing for the sake of 'this is fun! emoticon' all these things can be achieved at the same time. Can also probably be achieved when practicing for some stupid liberation but it would not be then any fun as such hindrances would take any fun out of it and make everything harder where this increased difficulty would just lessen knowledge and not make it more noble.

Though another thing to note: you can practice something and get effects of trained mind but there is great value in getting to know it and learning how to do it everywhere. This is what I always imagined 4th path to be. I had my eyes developed to the point I considered them enlightened whereas I as a whole was not so I just always assumed that if I figure this stuff out and be able to do what I can do in eyes but in the whole body/mind then I will be satisfied. And it worked just fine emoticon

When it comes to something like sitting meditation I am not the guy with the most experience so I am not too sure how it actually develops mind internally when taken to when the "done" sensation is felt by doing it solely by meditation but if you have some part of yourself that feels like it, not matter what it is then take it and make it your Buddha. Study it, improve it and learn from it. If not quite not really etc etc then take what you get. You said it if I remember correctly that you experience Nibbana, then this excellently good and noble stuff and you should use it as your Buddha. Not books, not teachers, just take what is good in you make it even better and make it whole. That is the 8-fold path in a nutshell and how you develop this.
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Ni Nurta
There seems to be formless jhanas described as having infinite space in them. It is even in their names, at least 5th jhana and 6th jhana. Yet, what I experience as formless jhanas has no space in them whatsoever. Not that they are small or normal in space, just no space quality at all.

Sounds like #6 boundless consciousness. 

I like Leigh Brasington's short descriptions: http://www.leighb.com/jhana2do.htm 

"6. Realizing that it takes a boundless consciousness to be aware of a boundless space, switch your attention to to your consciousness of the boundless space.

7. Switch your attention from the boundless consciousness to the content of that consciousness - it will be a sense of no thing - no-thing at all anywhere.

8. Let go of all the previous outward sensing and come to rest in a small spot more or less between the eyes and a few inches from your face. Focus on being in a state that has no characteristics."
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Steph, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Agreed with shargrol and those are good descriptions from Leigh. Unfortunately alot of the translations from Pali to English aren't a 1:1. Some people say infinite, some say boundless because there likely isn't an exact translation of the Pali concept. In my experience it doesn't feel like infinite space either. Back in the day in my practice when I used to try to think of it as infinite, it'd be like I was trying stretch my perception out infinitely and make it feel wider, and wider, and wider. However, doing that kept making it seem like there was a center point from which I was trying to expand attention outward. 

Really though, the boundless aspect is more like a lack of a boundary or point of demarcation. You can use it cut away at the misperceived boundary between what you currently think of as self and everything else. Use it to see how you can integrate the whole field. For boundless space, you can, like Leigh points out for boundless consciousness, also use it to see that space has no definable characteristics either. You can't pinpoint space or say where it is located at all. If you currently perceive that you have an inside, and there's an external world out there that you're perceiving... ask yourself, does space all of a sudden change between what I'm perceiving outside and inside? What are the charactersitics of space for the things you perceive as located "out there" and does space have different characterstics for what you perceive to be located "internally"? How is that possible? If space has no definable characteristics how would it change from outside to inside? And that being the case, how is there an inside and an outside?
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Steph
Agreed with shargrol and those are good descriptions from Leigh. Unfortunately alot of the translations from Pali to English aren't a 1:1. Some people say infinite, some say boundless because there likely isn't an exact translation of the Pali concept. In my experience it doesn't feel like infinite space either.

Hi  Steph, is this a discussion on using the word boundless vs, infinite? In this post, I describe a session with Abre, where she guided me into "6th forrmless realm." She used the words "we moved deeply into infinate space where everything was boundless. From there it kept circling on itself into finally infinate conciousness. I had reached the 6th formless realm. "

Am I using the right terminology? I've been using MTCB with Daniel's descriptions of the formless jhaanas. Is Leigh's bettter? Where's the best place to learn on formless jhanas?

Thanks,
​​​​​​​Sam
Stickman3, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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I have indeed asked some people those questions about what exactly distinguishes inner space from outer, expecting them to say 'nothing' and have a big aha moment, but they haven't and instead insist that inner and outer space are different. But it's a great question.
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Dream Walker, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta
There seems to be formless jhanas described as having infinite space in them. It is even in their names, at least 5th jhana and 6th jhana. Yet, what I experience as formless jhanas has no space in them whatsoever. Not that they are small or normal in space, just no space quality at all.

I am however able to have infinite space if I take formed jhana and eg. start spinning 5th formless jhana quality. The normal mind perspective just expands and expands and becomes seemingly infinitely spacious. This exactly matches my experiences of formless jhanas I had many years ago and gives me confidence I got the jhanas numbers right.


Now the formless jhanas by their name and by descriptions from people, including myself in the past, were these infinite versions, not pure formless jhanas that do not have any spaciousness. What is the name for both these versions? There should be some distinction in terminology used do distinguish them but the distinction is lost on me. Source text concentrate on natural progression with practices aimed at novices so concentration on object and naturally shifting through jhanas which are then described in a way that is rather pointing to these formed versions and not so much on how they look later when they are without any form qualities and which seem to be actual jhanas. For the sake of brevity I just mention about spaciousness even though qualities of 7th and 8th jhanas are distinctively different.

Opinions?
 
I lke the term expansivness for 5th jhana because there is still a point from which you expand, work upon the expansion behind you to get the 360 degree feeling.
for 6th jhana i like the term expansive presense, cause it feels that way to me
7th jhana of nothingness has so much subconsciousness processes going on if you focus upon that....
8th jhana? well there is nothing to realy say.
Good luck,
~D
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Good to "see" you posting DreamWalker! Your posts are always great pointers. Hope everything is as good as possible for you and yours.
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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It kinda makes perfect sense that jhanas will present itself in "form" version otherwise they wouldn't be describable and especially when first doing formed jhanas - as it happens when you cycle through jhanas on the cushion - and then moving to formless jhanas the mind will most likely still operate on forms which is what causing all the spaciousness, consciousness, nothingness and apparent lack of characteristics (of what? there needs to be something to refer to to even have concept of characteristics in mind and to see them lacking...)

Without form in the so called "formless realms" there is already nothing which could possibly be described. If I was to describe difference between 5th and say 7th jhana I would not be able to do it. And yet there is a difference and it is exactly the same difference as between these jhanas when they are still in "formed realms" minus all the things which actually allows these jhanas to be described. Simply it is form that is describable and thus it is formed versions of jhanas that are described in books.

Since my jhanas evolved to formless versions my understanding was that it is somehow implied that sooner or later this will happen and those are the real formless jhanas... without any form or shape, just pure qualities in what mostly already is mind in cessation.

I do remember someone mentioning two versions of formless jhanas one being mostly 4th path based and I hoped if that was on DhO that person will come out from formless reamls or whatever else incoceivable perception spheres they inhabit and share their thoughts about this topic emoticon
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Ben V., modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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I am venturing a bit too far ahead of my own experience here so I may be off, or this may not relate to what you say here. But here's some thought anyway: It seems that the term 'formless' to describe jhanas 5 to 8 may be misleading, as these jhanas definitely seem to have 'form' to them, although purely mental forms, and that the term 'formless' may really only apply to Nibbana.

In Pali these jhanas are called 'arupa' jhanas, which means 'immaterial' jhanas in that all sense of material form is gone. Nibbana is sometimes called 'asankhata' in the suttas which can be translated as 'formless' or 'unformed': 'a'=negation like ''non''.  sankhata= form or formation. Nibbana would then be the only true formess as both the perception of physical and mental forms/formations are abscent.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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For me nothing is absent from nibbana except the desire for experience to be different from whatever it happens to be (whether formed or formless or any other mode of perception).
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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It's like when making BBQ. Someone say BBQ is red meat, others say BBQ is vegetables and tofu. 

There was this saying about views ... apparently everyone has one ... hm ... what was it ? ... 

emoticon 
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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It's not a view, it's just my best attempt to describe the experience of nibbana emoticon​​​​​​​
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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You mean "your version" of the BBQ emoticon 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Btw, what you are talking about is Acceptance. Not Nibbana which means "out like a light". 

However it's a good thing to have going as without Acceptance there will be Resistance which creates all sorts of nasties. 

Oh shit emoticon here I go with my version of what is a BBQ emoticon 
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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I'm talking about the walking around "post 4th" experience of nibbana as opposed to the "lights out" of a cessation/fruition. "Radical acceptance" could be another way to describe it, except it's more than just a view or attitude. There was some kind of dramatic event in my brain when it first hit, which you could describe as the "collapse of craving" (wanting to be in a different state). It was like seeing reality in a completely new light and realizing that everything is just fine exactly as it is (and always was and always will be). That seems to tie in with with the definition from the noble truths - "cessation" of craving for becoming ('I want that state') and not becoming ('I don't want this state').

Obviously that’s just my version of the BBQ :-P I find it interesting how different people describe it in different ways, although reading between the lines you can see parallels. A common theme seems to be something like ‘OMG this is it, it was right in front of me all the time!’ So maybe it’s not that surprising really - if nibbana is seeing things as they already are then everyone’s experience/description of it will be colored by their particular conditioning.  
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Wow emoticon post 4th ay?! I guess "congratulations Mr Arahat" is in order emoticon I guess the drinks are on you (maybe even a joke or two) emoticon 
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Definitely not! Sotapanna maybe emoticon Cheers!
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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You said elsewhere that you're post-4th path, George. What's up?
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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I don't find the "technical" 4 path model lines up with the fetter model, that's all.
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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So, under which of the two regimes are you now 4th path? You did assert that you were, right? I'm pushing back on this because at one point a few months ago you asked some of us to.

TIA!
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Yes, I believe I've been through the technical 4 paths and have the baseline experience of nibbana. I don't think that's anything more than sotapanna in the fetter model though.
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Pepe, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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I have a question for you guys. Are Pure Land Jhanas:

(1)  just some synthetic combo of rupa and arupa jhanas?
(2) some sort of watered down version of NS?
(3) a special kind of state (like a fully developed I AM or higher non-dual state/stage or high Taoist energy state/stage)?

Thanks in advance! 
Hector, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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I asked Jeyan about this elsewhere and like in this log it seems to be some kind of pleasure jhana according to his log time stamped 2021-02-17 07:37 - 07:47
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/17111224#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_22604397

Comparing notes with others I would think some view it as a flavor of pleasure, which I call in my own words exaltation,
based on the name invocations and the sensations that arise after the invocation.
(I use familiar hymns to do what I think is the same thing as them based on their description)
But I have a theory it's more like a shared lucid dream / shamanic journeying realm than a sensory jhana because of other descriptions.

​​​​​​​IDK and curious to know as well.
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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I believe I've been through the technical 4 paths and have the baseline experience of nibbana. 

Woiuld you please describe your baseline experience of nibbana? It's always helpful to get grounded in how this works for everyone.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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It’s the experience of knowing with absolute certainty that THIS IS IT - the present moment - it never was and never will be anything more than this. It doesn’t need to be anything more than this. It’s a big relief to be free of the constant craving for a different or better experience. It’s a very “cool” feeling to be satisfied with my current experience, whatever it happens to be.

When I read that kind of thing pre-4th I would think something like ‘oh ok, so I just have to stay in the present moment then’. But it wasn’t the same thing at all because I was still craving for something to happen, expecting nibbana to be some kind of special new experience in the future, subtly dissatisfied with the present moment. The 4th path fruition was when it finally hit me - ‘oh shit, this really is already it, how could I have been so stupid to expect it to be anything else!’ It was like the moment you become lucid in a dream and realize you’ve been dreaming all along. Everything suddenly appeared in a different light, fresher and more immediate, as if I was seeing it for the first time.

It was similar to the third path fruition except that was a momentary flash whereas this one persisted. At 3rd I was like ‘WTF was that? I have to make it happen again!’ At 4th I realized that it’s always there, it’s not going anywhere. That’s not to say I’m aware of it all the time. I still get caught up in stories or emotions sometimes, but it only takes a moment to bring myself back to awareness of nibbana and see that everything is basically ok just as it is. So the old stories and patterns are nothing like the problem they used to be, because they can always be “nibbana’ed”. It’s like a clear sky which gets obscured by clouds from time to time, but I know how to make the clouds evaporate.

That’s why I think of it as sotapanna in the fetter model. I have no doubt that this is the experience of nibbana (and the same experience that is pointed to by many others in different traditions). The personal storyline has been exploded. I can still pick up fragments of it, but I can’t put it all back together again. The things which still obscure the experience of nibbana from time to time look very much like the remaining fetters - desire and ill will (way down but still arising), craving for meditation states (less but still happens), conceit (less narcissistic but still), restlessness (not always completely satisfied with the present moment) and ignorance (blind spots and shadows). I doubt whether these fetters can ever be completely eliminated, but it doesn’t really matter because the direction is clear and my dissatisfaction with life is minimal compared with what it was before.
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Is "cool feeling" description of Nibbana?
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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I find that specific descriptions of nibbana fall short because they make it sound like some kind of specific state, whereas really it encompasses all states. I've heard "cool bliss of nirvana" before which is not bad, but then that might make you think that nirvana is being blissed out all the time, whereas it has a lot more lucidity to it and doesn't suffer from the impermanence of piti-sukha. I actually find it harder to maintain awareness of nibbana when piti-sukha is running high because it's so intoxicating/sticky. Equanimity is probably the least bad descriptor (being ok with whatever is arising), except one tends to think of that as a specific 4th jhana state which you have to get into and then have the unsatisfactoriness of knowing that it will come to an end, whereas nibbana is more satisfying because I know it's always there whatever I'm doing and it doesn't require special conditions to maintain.

How would you describe it?
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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How would you describe it?

Nothing. Nada. Zero. The absence of any consciousness whatsoever. No objects, no subject. Just... nothing.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Not even knowing that there is "nothing". As good as "dead nothing". If we assume that once dead there is no consciousness. 

I remember asking you last year or so, about do you still experience all the stuff humans do experience and you said something like "nothing changes as how we as humans experience life. It's all still the same". 

So we can assume that you are still very much conscious while experiencing lifeing unfolding. Hence you are not in the non-state of Nirvana as I that non-state there simply ain't no Consciousness. 

It seems Nirvana has nothing to do with lack of Clinging to experiences. 

Clinging happens during conscious states of mind. There is knowing of it (awareness of thisness changing shape and form). 

If not-clinging is possible during Conscious experiencing (hence not possible to be "in" Nirvana) then what is it that is not-clinging? 

Wisdom maybe? 

Can wisdom still exists in Nirvana if Nirvana is the opposite of Consciousness? 
Can there be Wisdom outside of Consciousness? 

If not then all we can ever talk about is the light side of the mind called consciousness and not at all about the dark side of mind we call Nirvana. 

Oh shit, look what I just did emoticon so much mind stuff spilled into the world of web emoticon 

Please do excuse my big mouth emoticon 

I will let it slide anyway ... 
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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So we can assume that you are still very much conscious while experiencing lifeing unfolding. Hence you are not in the non-state of Nirvana as I that non-state there simply ain't no Consciousness.

Yes - that is correct.

Of course I'm conscious. Of course I have experiences. We're all human beings and we share the same apparatus of sense organs, mind, and so on. We can only access nirvana when we are in a cessation, or we are dead (or maybe in a deep anesthesia-induced state).
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Chris Marti
How would you describe it?

Nothing. Nada. Zero. The absence of any consciousness whatsoever. No objects, no subject. Just... nothing.

Isn't that the non-experience/discontinuity of a cessation/fruition? How about what Daniel calls "the waking, walking-around, day-to-day experience of fourth path"?
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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What Daniel describes that way is not nirvana/nibbana. It is an experience or set of experiences ("the waking, walking-around, day-to-day experience of fourth path"). Those two things (nibbana vs post-fourth path ongoing experiences) are not the same thing, so let's be careful about how we use these terms and what they really mean. Otherwise, we might confuse others. I'd say it's got you confused, George.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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In the revised four-path model, stream enterers have discovered the complete discontinuity that is called Fruition and sometimes called nirvana (Sanskrit) or nibbana (Pali), as in texts such as the Abhidhamma. This is the first of two meanings of nirvana (with the other being the waking, walking-around, day-to-day experience of fourth path). 
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Isn't that the non-experience/discontinuity of a cessation/fruition? How about what Daniel calls "the waking, walking-around, day-to-day experience of fourth path"?
Technically without going in to juicy details of what Nibbana and other such experiences are (cause this is pragmatic dharma forum, not speculative spiritual dharma forum ;) ) all that needs to be achieved to to feel good is correct scheduling and routing in nervous system. From what I understood of what you are saying when you start experiencing seeds of dukkha you just do something which is more like it was happening by itself as an reaction than you doing it, have some kind of experience you could not actually think of as normal experience (eg. remembering it would be impossible while what happens after seems more or less normal experience and what was before doesn't even come up like it stopped existing) and suddenly you feel everything is ok.

What makes all ok is parts of nervous system switching off and other parts taking their place. This can happen in bigger blips (usually with blip-blip-blip-bleeep presentation) or in such a way that this switch itself is almost imperceptible. It can also be had momentarily and done as much almost every moment. It is what I meant by doing cessation in description of spinning jhanas method in the OP.

I always assumed 4th path is seeing and understanding all things in excruciating details so not that something happened and something is different but knowing how these things work and what actions are needed and what factors affect success in actualizing given changes. Technical 4th path if anything would be the same change in mind configuration as is described in MCTB but just getting for having it always seemed like wrong attitude to me. It is worth pursuing only to to analyze the hell out it and best to do it as consciously as possible in the first place. There are different signaling modes between nodes (more like groups of neurons in mind but also special larger neurons with lots of connections) which use different firing patterns and different firing patterns cause usage of different neurotransmitters. Some tinkering in these firing patterns is needed until you get the experience that resonates with how you perceive Arhat (once you experience it on yourself you will know what quality is that, it will start to be 'visible') and then using it more globally for things like sense self and such and you have technical 4th path (or better yet, get what is the best there is out of this approach). Might have to experience it for some time until mind switches itself to use this configuration if you do not know how to change it to be persistent consciously. The only issue of this method is that playing with nervous system up close in this way might lead to dukkha but you already know how to switch groups of used neurons so you are fine. This is exactly the skill I was missing when I first started playing with frequencies and connections in my nervous system which led to various issues but after I learned how to switch stuff it was no longer an issue because after making any wrong move I can just shut it down and use different part of mind or even better, prepare parts of nervous system before I use them (which is comparably very little effort than changing anything working) and have any effect I know how to do virtually instantly, not unlike certain famous teacher could do ;)

What I am saying here is that what you describe is an important skill, maybe even have some/most/all changes expected of 4th path or at least on a way there. You however obviously lack knowledge about mind suggesting you did not penetrate it enough hence use of words like "this". When you know mind it sound as silly as 'in seeing only seen', nonsense. Either you see mind and know how it works or not and not use signaling suggesting knowledge or you will spend years believing some 'this' is a final realization just because it is making you experience stuff never knowing what 'this' is and missing all the other things this 'this' can do. There is no goal here other than knowledge, always one step backward two steps forward. I am just trying to motivate you to do more right kind of vipassana, hope no hard feelings will arise emoticon
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Ni Nurta
It can also be had momentarily and done as much almost every moment. It is what I meant by doing cessation in description of spinning jhanas method in the OP.

Ah ok, I do something which is similar ... maybe. When I focus on the arising and passing of craving really closely on a momentary basis then I see a fast alternating pattern which I recognize as samsara -> nibbana -> samasara -> nibbana ...

My theory is that if nibbana is defined as cessation of craving (which is implicit in 4 noble truths, the "reality of non-grasping" as Ajahn Chah put it), then 4th happens when the main source of craving which drove a person to seek liberation is exhausted. Different people have different focus of dukkha depending on their temperament/conditioning. One person might experience main source of dukkha as tension associated with being the assumed centerpoint of sensory experience. Another might be consumed with existential angst, or search for meaning of life, or craving for bigger and better experiences. Whatever is the main source of dukkha/craving, then 4th will be characterized as liberation from those conditions. This also explains how different axes of development are still possible post-4th, depending on the individual’s underdeveloped areas (and consequent discussion that someone didn't attain 4th because of x, y, z developmental conditions). But development won’t have the same sense of urgency and dukkha it did before (‘I have to complete this before I can experience liberation/awakening/nibbana/whatever’).

No hard feelings. I find your approach pretty unique and interesting, and always learn something from you. emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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George, I think you might benefit from discussing your claim of technical fourth path with Daniel. It seems to me like you have a simplified view of what it is.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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It is actually very simple and direct! I recognize the feeling that someone else might have something that you don’t have, but it’s really not like that at all. It’s more like seeing that it’s none of the things you thought it would be. (I recall shargrol saying it’s a feeling of losing something rather than gaining something.)

There can be a tendency to look at someone else’s practice and conclude that there is some specific collection of techniques or perceptual shifts which will tip you over the edge, so to speak. I certainly went through a period of studying other people’s practices really closely and trying to figure out what it was that I was missing, what were they seeing that I couldn’t see?

I think there probably is a set of specific shifts that each person has to go through, but it’s unique to each practitioner depending on their conditioning. It comes back to the idea of exhausting all other possibilities of what you think it could be.

Obviously two different people can share a certain subset of similar conditioning, meaning that their practices will resonate with each other at certain times. But ultimately it comes to the point where you realize ‘ok, enough is enough, I’ve looked everywhere that I reasonably can, I’ve checked out enough of other people’s practices, I’ve worked so hard for all those experiences which I hoped would satisfy and didn’t … what else could it possibly be?’ At that moment the mind just kind of gives up, collapses in on itself and goes something like ‘oh shit, this is already it, always was and always will be, just this, everything right here as it already is.’

Another interesting thing I notice is that as time goes on and people are pressured to defend or explain their insight, or start to disseminate or teach, then their specific set of techniques and shifts tends to get solidified into something like ‘this is what you need to do to get the same result’ (even although the “result” is not something outside your own experience). I don’t think it’s necessarily intentional, it’s just a natural outcome of a situation where you have a lot of people running around looking for answers to questions that don’t have satisfactory answers! 

Of course you have to make a judgement call when you hear someone saying ‘this is already it’, because anyone can say that. Is this person a scammer? Are they selling something? What is their motivation? But it’s also worth considering one’s own resistance to the suggestion that it is nothing more than this. What’s that about? Why am I drawn to one person’s version of what this is and repelled by another’s, when all that really matters is what my version of this is? Acceptance is another word that gets thrown around a lot, but it’s just the opposite of resistance.

I’m not saying ‘nothing to do, you are already there’, because it is like climbing a mountain … except you also realize that the mountain is purely a creation of your own mind, exactly as tall as it needs to be to exhaust the need to climb …

I hope this is helpful for you in some way. If not, please feel free to ignore.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Helpful? I wasn't asking for help. I'm happy to know that I still have things to learn. Our standards differ. I believe that the time to stop the search comes much later, just as the time to tell others the last steps of how to get there. I see a lot of lingo from you but not that much convincing phenomenology when it comes to details. It looks a lot like an ego trip to me, to be honest (and, admittedly, blunt). I could be wrong, of course, and your own warnings about the risk that you as a narcissist will inevitably turn the spiritual search (which I figure is equally applicable to the non-search) into just that might make me overly sceptical. If so, I hope you'll find it in you to forgive me. But if that's the case, and if you really want to be helpful, then I suggest that you provide that phenomenology rather than the lofty lingo over and over again. The lingo is something I can find in more precise versions practically in any dharma text, many of which also actually do provide some more substantial phenomenology as well. 

I do believe that you believe it yourself and that you have a genuine wish to be helpful. The latter is awesome. But sometimes well-intended help can be misleading, perhaps especially if one gets very enthusiastic about it. Checking in with the person who has written the manual according to which you claim your attainments could be one way of checking if your well-intended efforts are indeed pointing the way you are intending. What have you got to lose? It could be a lovely chat. 
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

Posts: 767 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
@George
Imho the way to do it is that when someone puts 4 path model in which you want to succeed and you think you already did 4th level judging by their own criteria then claim 3rd with attitude "yeah, I already am more enlightened than they were at 3rd but I probably need to work out some irrelevant details they know and I do not know to claim 4th" and put very little effort to it mostly playing with how to do it without any effort - you do not 'need' to do it, it's just a gig. Then when you get 4th you will be already past most people working within such model  because what you will realize 'working out details while playing' is worth much more than what whoever did when they worked toward 4th path when they thought they need to do them in order to get liberated.

If you want to find a key mull it in your neurons for a while before you make them give the answers. You get actually clarity by growing trees.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Hehe, if one believes that one is done while engaging in such thoughts, I'd say that one has mistaken the whole gig for a prestigeful contest and may need to go through the basics again. Just sayin'. I'm all for the playing, though, and planting a question and letting it sink in and grow on its own is good advice. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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George, aren't you maybe experiencing the Cosmic Joke rather than Nirvana? You know "This is just what it is". 

It will never be anything other than what it is. Thisness changing shape and form. I'm not in control of it. I'm nowhere to be found anyway. Just This. No matter how much I practice, or how many Jhanas develop or how many paths attain or win golden medals of insight, THIS will only ever be just what it is.

Cosmic Joke emoticon 

Give it some time and I'm sure Anicca and Dukkha will rip into it a huge hole emoticon emoticon When that happens back to the gym emoticon 
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Papa Che Dusko

It will never be anything other than what it is. Thisness changing shape and form. I'm not in control of it. I'm nowhere to be found anyway. Just This. No matter how much I practice, or how many Jhanas develop or how many paths attain or win golden medals of insight, THIS will only ever be just what it is.

All I can say is that there is a difference between saying the words and accepting in your heart of hearts that they really are true. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Yes, indeed, there is a difference between just saying the words and actually seeing/feeling it as This just flicker away-away-away-ay-ay-ay-ay emoticon No matter what I do its always already be there (gone) before I knew it! Its a realisation George, nothing more and nothing less. It ain't permanent! You can try and make it a big deal but that usually ends in "tears" emoticon 

Im assuming here and can only talk about my own experience regarding this Joke realisation. 

What counts is; Am I awakened enough to my own satisfaction? If yes, well thats what it is then emoticon Im ok with the heart of hearts acceptance of This. There is nothing more to be done except to find a cow thats protecting her calf emoticon emoticon 

In any way best wishes to you and may we all be free from confusion.
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Papa Che Dusko

It will never be anything other than what it is. Thisness changing shape and form. I'm not in control of it. I'm nowhere to be found anyway. Just This. No matter how much I practice, or how many Jhanas develop or how many paths attain or win golden medals of insight, THIS will only ever be just what it is.

Also THIS will never be talked as anything other than THIS because of... reasons.

Those reasons are obvious both to someone who saw through this delusion and to all those who didn't. Some might not even have the delusion at all and just think it is just feeling of sorts, all sorts of feelings and experiences, more or less fancy. And all these cases might be true for one person and actually they ususally are ;) Hence nothing meaningful is ever expected to be told about THIS except formulation of sentences in such a way that anyone can match them to their own version.

In any case, anyone who uses the word THIS, and especially in conjunction with the word "awakening" in single sentence, will be thrown through the airlock to cool off. You have been warned ;) 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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There is a good reason behind Noble Silence. Saves on toilet paper ;)
(talking about myself here)

​​​​​​​ 
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Not two, not one, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

Posts: 939 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
 Of course, reappearance from cessation doesn't apply to an Arhat/Arahant/Arhant.  That is extremely clear.  Entry into cessation doesn't apply.  Being in cessation doesn't apply.  All are dualities.  You can engage in them if you like, but it is not much different from eating a tasy stew or going for a good exercise session, or being a hungry ghost for a while as you engage with some of the residue remaining, or dwelling in some azuric or god realm for a bit of fun.  All are not self. All are impermanent. All are a source of suffering if clung to.

Instead, having fuly seen through ingnorance about the self and 'reality', then the nidanas of becoming, rebirth of self, and suffering all fade away. That is what the Buddha taught. Suffering, and the end of suffering.  (And of course he sent most of his life not in cessation.)

Just my 2c worth.  :-)  The line for disagreement forms on the right!  

Malcolm




 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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I see the jhanas as gradually reducing qualities. In 5th jhana, all qualities pertaining to ordinary senses are gone, and focus is directed towards that potential in which they arise, which can be thought of as space. Of course, when space isn't filled up with stuff, it's pretty meaningless. There are no perspectives, no distances, no boundaries. It's an artificial abstraction. Which is why it falls away too, and then in sixth jhana, focus is on awareness. That too is an abstraction, though, not to confuse with the ground of being. The jhanas are neat constructs that the mind goes through in order to make sense of itself. This construct of awareness collapses because it has no qualities to be aware of (whereas the ground of being never collapses because the liveliness is as inherent in it as the emptiness is; the Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya aspects cannot be separated). That's when the lack of qualities in itself is stylized into an abstraction of nothingness in 7th jhana. It's not real nothingness, merely an absorption into the construct of it. I'd say that when we notice the stuff that's indeed still going on, the absorption has loosened. With remaning absorption, when that abstraction falls away, it leads to the absurd sense of even nothingness falling away, which is rather confusing and yet somehow very distinct in its stylization. It illustrates very clearly that the nothingness wasn't really nothingness and that we still have work to do. 

I also gave a short reply to George S in a subthread. 
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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I replied to you upthread.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Likewise.
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Pepe ·, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Adding to what Linda says above, below some words of Rob Burbea on 'understanding the jhanas as stages of progressively less fabrication' and 'insights from the formless realms'.

"... It is sometimes claimed that the jhānas in themselves bring no insight. However, a range of observations can render them immensely helpful for deepening understanding ... The spectrum of the eight jhānas itself offers profound insight into the fabricated nature of the perception of things. And with this understanding, there will be less likelihood of reifying any of the stages of jhana, or any similar openings of perception, as something ultimate".

"... Emerging from the sphere of infinite space ... the perception of substantiality is usually much reduced ... because this perception of substantiality, of solidity or 'obstruction', was not being fabricated and its fabrication has not yet recovered to more habitual levels.  There may be a mystical appreciation ...  in which things are seen in some way to have the nature, or substance, of space. One may vividly sense that despite the re-forming perception of solidity, the essence of things is ‘more truly’ space. Things can now be seen both ways, though – as solid, and as space – at once".

"Often, as a result of (this) ... a strong, deeply moving sense of the oneness of all things can open up afterwards. Although arising primarily through seeing that all phenomena share this ‘essence’ of space, this sense of oneness can sometimes be flavoured slightly differently as well. For the sphere of infinite space may also make available and impress upon us, as an after-effect, a parallel and complementary insight: that cosmically ‘all is one’ in some material sense".

"... Whether through the perception that all things share an ‘essence’ of insubstantial space, or through this perceived oneness at the level of materiality, the sense of the separateness, too, of material forms is not being
fabricated then as much as it normally is. Thus in moving in and out of the jhana or its aftereffects we realize that perceptions of solidity and of separateness, as well as of non-solidity and of oneness, are fabricated".

"Similarly, coming out of an experience of the sphere of infinite consciousness, all things can appear to have the nature of consciousness. And here, through and after this jhana, the sense of oneness that so touches the heart
and informs the seeing is no longer a oneness of materiality but rather a oneness of consciousness, sometimes a kind of cosmic consciousness."

"Emerging from the sphere of nothingness the view of things can be that while they are clearly ‘things’, they are also ‘nothing’, they somehow lack the reality we have typically ascribed to them. Here the sense of oneness present in the after-effect comes from seeing that all things share this essence of ‘being no thing, really’, an ‘essence’ of nothingness, of emptiness".

"If one has entered the jhana without an understanding of emptiness, one might feel this insight – that things lack inherent existence – intuitively, but it might be difficult to articulate. Although one has not understood yet quite why and how things are empty, there is insight there nevertheless, and it will bring, along with a sense of awe and beauty, a profound and even exciting sense of freedom".

"This applies also to the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception. Accessing the state without previous insight, on emerging to the perception of differentiated things, one might somehow comprehend that these things are ‘all just perception’. No longer unquestionably ‘the real world’, this world might appear as merely one of the ‘realms of perception’, in contrast to the realm of neither perception nor non-perception".

"Thus the states themselves can in fact bring insight and open up insight ways of looking, if one knows how to capitalize on the perceptual transformations. Rather than concluding that any state itself is ultimate or ultimately true, with repeated practice one may come to understand that the conventional and normal perception of things, though shared by most, is actually fabricated, and is just one way of fabricating perception".
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Formless jhanas

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Yes, I find the jhanas to be very educational constructs indeed. Besides, I can't help but enjoying oddities like clearly having the perception of nothingness falling away. I also appreciate the complexities of the mind - so full of bubbling coming into being, at the same time coming out of being, and yet it can rearrange itself to look like a number of extremely pure and clearcut monocultures of quality/non-quality - neat and clean, like some minimalistic avantgarde performance art - and catch our interest so fully.