Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Matt Jon Rousseau 7/24/22 4:46 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them David Matte 7/24/22 5:31 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Matt Jon Rousseau 7/24/22 5:30 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/24/22 6:09 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Matt Jon Rousseau 7/24/22 6:15 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/24/22 6:24 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Matt Jon Rousseau 7/24/22 6:59 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/24/22 7:13 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Monsoon Frog 7/24/22 7:59 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Matt Jon Rousseau 7/24/22 8:09 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Jim Smith 7/24/22 9:45 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Matt Jon Rousseau 7/24/22 11:56 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Jim Smith 7/25/22 1:11 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Monsoon Frog 7/25/22 1:03 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/25/22 4:04 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Jim Smith 7/26/22 3:29 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Monsoon Frog 7/27/22 5:39 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/27/22 11:03 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them T DC 7/24/22 8:52 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Matt Jon Rousseau 7/24/22 11:55 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/25/22 1:55 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them T DC 7/25/22 7:32 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Chris M 7/26/22 8:36 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/26/22 11:47 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them T DC 7/27/22 12:42 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/27/22 3:15 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/1/22 6:54 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them T DC 8/2/22 11:16 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/2/22 11:21 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/4/22 8:03 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Chris M 8/4/22 8:42 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/4/22 10:46 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Adi Vader 7/24/22 9:00 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Matt Jon Rousseau 7/25/22 12:04 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/25/22 2:07 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Ben Sulsky 7/25/22 10:07 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Chris M 7/25/22 10:35 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Ben Sulsky 7/26/22 11:07 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/26/22 11:47 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Chris M 7/26/22 2:28 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them shargrol 7/26/22 5:50 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Chris M 7/26/22 6:05 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them John H 7/26/22 11:57 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/27/22 5:34 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Pepe · 7/26/22 9:11 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/27/22 5:40 AM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Matt Jon Rousseau 8/1/22 12:10 PM
RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them Bud E 8/2/22 10:54 PM
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 4:46 PM
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Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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My first taste of jhana was Leigh  braisington. It's very relaxing  but nothing feels transpersonal  about it.    Then I read Shillough Catherine's  book  and ajan brahms book.    Both Catherine  and  brahms book describe. The prosses and outcome of jhana identically.  Seems similar to the  VSM.   Has anybody accomplished this?   Does it take  hours a day? Week after week.It sounds like a good starting point. 
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David Matte, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 5:31 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Hey! I would say they're pretty hard to attain relative to the lighter/sutta jhanas. However I've heard some teachers who teach these type of jhana say that some of their students can attain these jhanas in daily life. They make it sound like it's something not that difficult and is attainable on a retreat of normal length.


But this claim doesn't match up with Brasington's attempt at these jhanas. ​​By his report, it took him 2.5 months just to get the preliminary nimitta on a retreat he did with Pa auk:  http://www.leighb.com/jhana_fr2.htm
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 5:30 PM
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Ajan brahm talks about  it casually. As does Catherine.  It makes it sound like a regular occurrence 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 6:09 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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It seems like people have different criteria for what they classify as hard jhanas. If it requires a very distinct and stable visual nimitta already in the first jhana, I haven't had them. If hard jhana simply refers to getting so absorbed that senses fall away apart from the mind sense, and that there are no form qualities at all in the formless realms, then I have had them (or rather, they had me).

I used the nada sound as my nimitta, which was a hypothesis testing. I wanted to see of it was possible to use it to get into fourth jhana, and it was (and to get into the formless realms as well). 
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 6:15 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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I am interested  in the first 4 jhanas . I would rather deepen the first four than stay  moderate and go formless.  This  might take an Intense retreat . But I think it could be possible.  I never  got a Namita . It seems pretty universal  in the VSGMA ,Ajahn  brahm tradition.   They consider it a hard  jhana when all senses are  suspended Including mind.  One should be able to stay in it for several  hours.    Actually  ajan Brahm and Shaila Catherine  consider  anything less (not jhana).   But we all know ow how that debate goes.  I would just love to hear somebody on here claim to have mastery of this. I could use some pointers
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 6:24 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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I wonder what they mean when they say that the mind is suspended as well. If they refer to thoughts, then sure. But everything is mind. 

I'd ask Adi Vader.
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 6:59 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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In the eastern psychology,they often refer to 6 senses  as apposed to 5 in the west. They  consider the mind made senses ,daydreaming ,discursive  thought  etc.  
Monsoon Frog, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 7:59 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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I did a longish (2.5 month) retreat at IMS' Forest Refuge. During one of the interviews with one of my teachers while discussing concentration she told me that as a teacher she had attended a several months long jhana retreat that Pa-Auk led at IMS. She said IIRC out of all the attendees at that retreat she was the only one (or possibly one other?) that actually managed to attain jhana in accordance with Pa-Auk's criterion.

I've often wondered what role natural ability plays in this particular endeavor.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 7:13 PM
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Daydreaming, discursive thoughts and the like was definitely not present for me.

I certainly did not reach Pa Auk level, that's for sure. And I haven't been able to stay for a predetermined time or that sort of things. Just dabbling.  But senses were off. 
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 8:09 PM
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IMS  is in Barre Massachusetts.  I am right on the mass border. I was thinking of checking it out.  It's quite famous.  Must be $$$$
T DC, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 8:52 PM
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I am happy to claim hard jhana achievement.  The biggest factor for me was getting some attainment / insight.  Following the instructions in MCTB, I had no success before or after stream entry.  But after 2nd path I suddenly had access to jhanas 1-4 without a huge amount of effort, and after 3rd path I could reliably access jhanas 5-8.  I'm sure not it's exactly as clear cut as 2nd / 3rd path dividing lines for most people, but I think the mental boost and clarity provided by insight really is a significant factor for hard jhanas.

As far as nimitas, my experience was that the visual sense becomes a kind of static screen.  Your eyes lock onto a certain mode of visual perception; different parts of visual field become more or less dominant, i.e. the center or the exterior.  This screen / visual dominance variation shifts between jhanas 1 - 4, and then jhanas 5 - 8 become much more visually obvious - looking into infinity, infinity filled with consciousness, etc. 

There are definitely so many different definitions and explanations of jhana and nimita it can be confusing, but the locked-on visual-screen-nimita mode along with significant suppression of background thought / neurosis is hard enough for me, regardless of whether it's sustained for 5 minutes or an hour, or if you appear so dead to the world your sanga mistakenly buries you alive.  ;)
Adi Vader, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 9:00 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Hello Matt

Some people have minds that are inclined towards concentration, others have minds that are inclined towards insight. In the first case insight arises after some degree of concentration has been established. In the second case some progress in insight has to be made before deep concentration is possible.

For me I just started dropping into the 'soft' first jhana. Then I learnt the other soft jhanas, then the nimitta started to arise and I intuitively learnt how to do the nimitta jhanas. I was meditating an hour to two hours every day in that period of time, very consistently. On weekends I would do 3 hours, on one weekend every month I would do 4-6 hours. I always meditated with a clear goal and a plan of action to achieve it. So it was all very very deliberate practice. This tends to become fatiguing, so I would take my foot off the pedal once in a while for a couple of days.

I had shared a series of talks that I did with some friends from discord. They cover prerequisite practices/skills, deepening of concentration - what to expect, formed jhanas, formless jhanas. You can check them out, the link is in one of my previous posts.

If you have any pointed questions regarding deepening your practice - you can write here and I wiill try to answer. It would help to know the instruction set you are using, the amount of time you have spent and will spend, progress so far and the specific hurdles/problems you are facing.
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 9:45 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Monsoon Frog
...

I've often wondered what role natural ability plays in this particular endeavor.



I suspect that natural ability has a role in all types of meditation practices.

That's why I am reluctant to make my main practice something that requires an attainment in meditation.

Any person just starting out risks spending their life trying to achieve something that they might not have the physiology to achieve and they may never really know if just a little more effort will or will not get them the result they want. I don't want to gamble that way.

(I also question whether attainments in meditation really work because there are so many examples of people saying they feel free from identity view but who don't actually act like they are free from identity view. I think you need a practice that directly focuses on letting go of dukkha rather than working on dukkha indirectly by some kind of "magic" that happens in a deep state of meditation. Also I find that intense meditation causes suppression of thoughts and emotions which is the opposite of what one wants to accomplish:  developing the ability to let go of thoughts and emotions etc.)

That's why I think the best practice (at least for me) is one that does not require any attainment in meditation. My view is that meditation is best used to relax the mind and body and calm the activity mind so that you can have the presence of mind to be mindful in meditation and daily life, to watch the activity of the mind and let go (relax) when you notice dukkha arising, or attachments, or aversions. Over time you gradually increase your ability to let go of thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations, and ideas of self.
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 11:55 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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How long did it take you to reach stream entry from the start.  Just curious.  MCTB was your guide for insights.? That's pretty much noting correct?
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 4 Months ago at 7/24/22 11:56 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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How do you free yourself from dukka without meditation 
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/22 12:04 AM
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I started using Leigh Braisington  technique  about a year ago. Maybe 3 to 6 hours a week a few months ago. I always do 1 hour sittings. I also read shaila Catherine's book and ajahn brahms book.  The technique  is similar.     Concentrate  on the breath coming out of the nostrils.  If you get a pleasant feeling,make that feeling the object of meditation  . That's it. I sometimes  get a feeling . Sometimes  I don't.  It's great for unwinding but I don't know if I am making any progress of anykind
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/22 1:11 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Matt Jon Rousseau
How do you free yourself from dukka without meditation 


I wrote:
That's why I think the best practice (at least for me) is one that does not require any attainment in meditation. My view is that meditation is best used to relax the mind and body and calm the activity mind so that you can have the presence of mind to be mindful in meditation and daily life, to watch the activity of the mind and let go (relax) when you notice dukkha arising, or attachments, or aversions. Over time you gradually increase your ability to let go of thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations, and ideas of self.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/22 1:55 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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I have had that static screen too. Can you still access that? Or is that some temporary milestone that changes into something else later on the path?

I miss that screen! It's what used to develop further into beautiful sacred geometry.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/22 2:07 AM
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Nimittas are mindmade. That's what I meant with the mind still being there. That and being conscious and aware. 
Monsoon Frog, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/22 1:03 PM
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Jim Smith wrote:
"That's why I think the best practice (at least for me) is one that does not require any attainment in meditation. My view is that meditation is best used to relax the mind and body and calm the activity mind so that you can have the presence of mind to be mindful in meditation and daily life, to watch the activity of the mind and let go (relax) when you notice dukkha arising, or attachments, or aversions. Over time you gradually increase your ability to let go of thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations, and ideas of self."

Reading this for some reason makes me think of Sayadaw U Tejania, although I confess ignorance about his manner of practice (and rarely see his name mentioned).

Back on the hard stuff I watched this interview by Guru Viking a few months ago:
Ep138: Trained as a Nun - Beth Upton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNI35TBibko

She spent many years as a nun studying with Pa-Auk including mastering the training in hard jhana. She eventually disrobed and now lives and teaches as a layperson. She's does not consider 'soft jhana' to be jhana. In the interview she expands on her description of jhana, specifics of her own training, as well as how she teaches lay people.

Unless one is a total outlier in concentration the impression I get is that one needs to make a serious commitment to organize their lives in a manner that supports the requirements of hard jhana practice as well as putting in sufficient retreat time to grow their skillset. My two cents.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/22 4:04 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Thanks for sharing! This moves that interview up on my priority list. 

I'm starting to suspect that my criteria for what I consider jhanas are pretty strict in comparison to the majority of pragmatic practicioners, but still not in the Pa Auk class as that requires mastering lots of skills such as duration precision and staying in one stable jhana for hours and being able to do all the mastering with regard to all the different kasinas. 
Ben Sulsky, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/22 10:07 AM
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It does seem like concentration mastery is a function of talent, great technique, and being in tip top concentration shape (i.e., month+ long retreats in good conditions).  

I agree with T DC that gaining insight and cleaning up your shit tends to unlock more concentration than simply grinding more repetitions of concentration.  Is this counterintuitive?  

Also maybe once you're actually great at insight you can just pop off master level concentration in daily life, or on the cushion interspersed with lots of daily life?
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/22 10:35 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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My personal practice experience has been that easy access to jhanic states comes with specific levels of insight. In my case, easy access happened after my transition to second path. Access to jhana states was so easy at that point it would require no real effort at all and could also occur involuntarily (light jhanas, of course). Developing a specific, dedicated jhana practice brought several additional things; the ability to access much deeper jhana states (hardened jhanas) and further jhana states up to 8th jhana during second path and then past 8th jhana into the Pure Land jhanas after third path. I find the Pure Land jhanas to be far, far easier to turn into hard states than any others. I don't know why this is - could be an individual trait or it could be endemic to everyone. Maybe someone else can weigh in and let me know.

I don't think deeper states of jhana (harder) and the ability to access "higher" jhanic states occurs without at least some minimal level of dedicated jhana practice. I also firmly believe that some meditators are naturally more attuned to the jhanas and thus find them easier to practice than others  - but I don't have any idea what the reason for that might be.
T DC, modified 4 Months ago at 7/25/22 7:32 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Matt Jon Rousseau
How long did it take you to reach stream entry from the start.  Just curious.  MCTB was your guide for insights.? That's pretty much noting correct?

I meditated for about two years doing general shamatha-vipassana and feeling pretty lost, and then found MCTB, switched to vipassana, and got stream entry in a couple months.  MCTB provided a good template for how progress occurs on the path, i.e the POI stages and the paths, which really resonated for me.  Practice wise it was pretty much 24/7 vipassana on and off cushion, less noting and more rapidly noticing sensations.
​​​​​​​

Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
I have had that static screen too. Can you still access that? Or is that some temporary milestone that changes into something else later on the path?

I miss that screen! It's what used to develop further into beautiful sacred geometry.

Ya, if we're talking about the same thing I think it's a pretty characteristic jhanic visual element (i.e. nimita).

As far as access, the jhanas really have a sweet spot between 1st and 4th path IMO.  If you go significantly beyond 4th path, it's not so much that you lose access as the relative strength of the experience fades.  The jhanas are attractive because they stabilize the mind, but once your mind is more naturally (permanently) clear and stabilized via attainment, the jhanas kind of lose their appeal and utility. 
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 3:29 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Monsoon Frog
Jim Smith wrote:
"That's why I think the best practice (at least for me) is one that does not require any attainment in meditation. My view is that meditation is best used to relax the mind and body and calm the activity mind so that you can have the presence of mind to be mindful in meditation and daily life, to watch the activity of the mind and let go (relax) when you notice dukkha arising, or attachments, or aversions. Over time you gradually increase your ability to let go of thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensations, and ideas of self."

Reading this for some reason makes me think of Sayadaw U Tejania, although I confess ignorance about his manner of practice (and rarely see his name mentioned).


I haven't read this yet but it looks interesting...

https://ashintejaniya.org/teachings
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bMVtHlEQ0sj4OobCG7eP7FfsmrjJm6N9/view
COLLECTING GOLD DUST
Nurturing the Dhamma in Daily Living

Sayadaw U Tejaniya
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 8:36 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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TDC --

​​​​​​​
... once your mind is more naturally (permanently) clear and stabilized via attainment, the jhanas kind of lose their appeal and utility. 

This depends on what you define as "utility." I still practice the jhanas and they provide a nice way of re-engaging with specific states of mind, bliss when I desire it, and a general calming effect on the mind. They're not a "must have" but a "nice to have" nowadays. This may not be the case for everyone but then every practice is different as is everyone's personality, capabilities, habits and proclivities.
Ben Sulsky, modified 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 11:07 AM
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Hey Chris,

If you feel like giving pure land practice instructions I'm all ears.  Or point to a good resource.

Ben
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 11:47 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Can I ask you, T DC, what is your method for getting into the jhanas when that screen appears? Or how did it first come about? Did you find that specific pathway while practicing lots of vipassana? I'm asking because I have only had that specific screen stand out like that in periods where I have done lots of vipassana. I didn't even try to do shamatha, but was drawn into jhanas. I would vary between active investigation on the one hand and just surrendering to what the process seemed to want on the other hand. The screen came together with a clear sense of being in a more focused and much clearer altered state.

I sent some questions about this to Chris here the other day, and his experience didn't match that static screen at all with regard to jhanas. It might be because of some of my wordings and context, though; maybe he would recognize it from your description (Chris, you are welcome to chime in here). He said that it sounded like it was more related to vipassana. And I had been suspecting that myself (for instance impermanence focus), so it makes sense. At the same time, I also know that it was jhana-related. I have been thinking of that as the vipassana jhanas. Michael Taft said that it spunded like vipassana jhanas or "dirty" jhanas (this was early in my practice, when I had one-on-one lessons sith him). When I have done shamatha on the breath, the experience has been different. I got harder into the jhanas that way when I tested the hypothesis that the nimitta can be in audio, using the nada sound (which eventually transformed into light anyway). But I really liked the feel of that static screen and the way it would occasionally chrystallize into sacred geometry. I'm starting to suspect that the sacred geometry thing only happens for me in conformity knowledge, or perhaps the door moments (I have had the dat-dat-dat thing with them). 

I would like to revisit the territory for several purposes. One reason is that its version of 4th jhana was so exquisite (so pure and chrystal clear and completely effortless and totally free from both affect and any sense of being a doer) while at the same time very useful for investigation (if that intention had been primed beforehand, it would happen automatically on its own). Another reason is that I'm so darn curious about all the different axes that make a difference to our experience, and how they relate to different practice approaches and subtle inclinations and so forth. 

It sounds to me like we are talking about the same thing, but you tell me. It really stands out as a static screen, totally different from the usual murk (even though that murk seems to have the embryos to it). It's pretty much exactly like the statics on TV screens when I was a kid, although there's a whole mindstate that comes with it. You get sucked into it, not hypnotically like can happen with hypnagogia when being tired, but in a super-alert and super-clear way. For me it's synesthetic. It seems to happen in all sense gates, at least to begin with. It becomes incredibly obvious that it has nothing to with the eyes. There were very clear visuals but I could also both hear and feel it, at least to start out with. It may have been the case that the sense of feeling and hearing it fell away gradually*, but I'm not sure. It kind of felt that the distinction was irrelevant, as I remember it in retrospect (not sure how much that is scripted from something I may have heard). But it was such a long time ago. What I do know is that 4th jhana stood out exceptionally from everything else I had ever experienced, and the static screen seemed to be a step to getting there. The hindrances were gone. The absorption was strong. The first time I heard anyone refer to jhanas as absorption, I immediately knew that it had been jhanas. No question about it. 

*) I know that later on when I took up the jhanas again in intentional shamatha practice, starting with the breath, the kinesthetic aspect would be most prominent in the very beginning and then it would fall away while the nada sound increased, and then the nada sound fell away and became light. I suspect that there may have been a similar development for those early vipassana jhanas as well, but I'm not sure. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 11:47 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Me too! Would be awesome!
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 2:28 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Ben & Linda --


​​​​​​​If you feel like giving pure land practice instructions I'm all ears.  Or point to a good resource.

Well, for good or for ill, I am my only source. Sorry, I don't have others but here's how I "found" and now access Pure Land jhanas - I used the jhanic arc literally every time. When I gained access to them they came via normal jhana practice, which I was doing at the behest of my teacher, Kenneth Folk. I was instructed to let the jhanas appear naturally and allow them to morph up and then down again (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 then 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1). Periodically as I did this (after third path) a new jhana would emerge on its own as long as I didn't mess with the process. I wasn't initiating them, asking for them, or establishing any intent for them to appear. They just did. What I found immediately on getting access to J9 was that the PL jhanas are extraordinarily blissful, like being smothered in warm honey. So much so that it's very easy for me to get into harder jhana states within them. The bliss is that strong. I was eventually able to access up through J13.

I wish there was something I could tell you to actively "do" beyond this, Ben, but there isn't, and since the PL jhanas came to me on their terms I've never explored alternatives. I would say the secret to any jhana practice is to establish the right conditions and then get the hell out of the way of the mind seeking its own process to follow. Jhanas are what I've called "strange attractors for the mind," borrowing terminology from chaos theory.

Hope this helps, though I'm afraid it'll be inadequate for your purposes.
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 5:50 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Just in case someone would be interested...

​​​​​​​Guided Tour to 13 Jhanas (Part 1) - YouTube
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 6:05 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 6:04 PM

RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Ha! To this day, many years later, watching those videos of Kenneth and Nick causes my jhana inclinations to reappear. Maybe the jhanas are communicable. emoticon
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Pepe ·, modified 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 9:11 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Also, Nikolai Halay compiled Tarin's and Triplethink's instructions for the Jhanas 1-8 plus Ron's and Owen's unusual instructions for Pure Land Jhanas 1-5 (unusual because they are placed between J4 and J5, not above J8 as most reported in DhO and KFD). 

Forgot to add Antero's description and tips for Pure Land jhanas 1-5.
John H, modified 4 Months ago at 7/26/22 11:57 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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That video is totally how I got started with the Jhanas. My path up to that point was mostly Zen and Vajrayana. I just applied my background in concentration and NLP rapport skills to follow along. From there I read Leigh Brasington's book. On one of the older websites I believe it was, Kenneth Folk said that he'd first gotten to the 1st pure land jhana by invoking or reciting "namo Amitabha" or perhaps it was "Namu Amida Butsu." I find that mantra takes me straight to the 1st pure land jhana after 1 recitation without having to traverse the arc although I have to concentrate and it takes a while for it to develop fully. That likely would not have been the case when I first got started with jhana as opposed to samatha, but I don't know since I didn't try it before I was able to develop jhana properly.

I see now after following the link above that it was Antero that reported that Kenneth Folk said 1st pure land jhana was connected to  the mantra and that would be where I got that.

There is something magical about Amitabha, at least for me. The etymological fact that that Amitabah means "boundless light" is interesting. It makes me think of nimitta, but there's also a sort of light of enlightenment that isn't exactly seen. Perhaps that is the boundless light of that buddha. I'm guessing that's probably more devotional and magical thinking than is common here but it's the way it comes to me. When I was younger I dismissed Pure Land Buddhism out of hand and now I guess that's what I follow as much as anything.
T DC, modified 4 Months ago at 7/27/22 12:42 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Linda - basically the kind of visual perception screen has always been inseparable from an experience of the first 4 jhanas for me.  So much so that I really consider the defining nimita feature.  It's interesting to hear how other people's experiences vary though. 

As far as getting into it, I believe initially I just followed the jhana instructions in MCTB 1.  And then after I got into it with some help a couple times, I knew what to look for and could go into more naturally just by inclining the mind in that direction. 

Personally it really wasn't altered by other practices I was doing, and really remained the same throughout the my practice of the jhanas, which is why I lumped it an a defining feature.  The formless jhanas were very naturally visual for me as well, going beyond the screen variation of jhana 4 to look into infinite space in jhana 5, and conciousness filling that space in jhana 6.  Jhanas 7 and 8 also had certain distinct visual effects, but as the names suggest, basically impossible to describe satisfactorily. 

The unique feature about the "screen" was the combo visual / mental lock on the state, so while visual aspect was locked in mentally, the greater mental perceptual sphere was also effortless locked on and stabilized via this object, and stabilized to the degree that some relaxation and enjoyment of the state can take place, a subtle bliss can arise, etc.  When we start to come out of some of the bliss and notice defects of the state, more subtle mental neuroses that are not suppressed, then we consider shifting to the next jhana state, it naturally arises, and with that our of the visual mental field / objext also shifts.

Hope that helps maybe! 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/27/22 3:15 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/27/22 3:15 AM

RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Thankyou! It does help, because it sounds like I can let go of my worries about missing out on it due to changes in practice focus. 

Interesting that you get specific visual effects in the formless realms. For me all form aspects have been gone there. No body, no visuals, no sound. And yet the distinct aspects of the different realms were there in experience, very tangibly. It sounds like such a paradox. It would be interesting to play with letting some form remain there, to see what that would be like. That's an unexplored territory for me. The mind is so fascinating. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/27/22 5:40 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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I remember having experiences that seemed to fit those descriptions of the PL jhanas surprisingly well around the time of my stream entry, down to the details. It was after my first dat-dat-dat experience of sacred geometry but before I actually noticed the gap of a cessation, if I remember it correctly. In retrospect I think I may already have been in review. I would get drawn into meditation for hours during that period. I saw this video for the first time after having had the experiences that fit with it. It happened a few times, only lightly but yet tangibly, and since then I have never been able to reproduce it again. I still believe that it was a taste of this, even though it sounds too good to be true, but I have no way of being sure. Maybe some day I'll be able to revisit whatever it was. 

It's a bit frustrating that I have this tendency to stumble over things early on and then not know how I got there, and that I forget how to incline myself there. I guess that's something that happens to practicioners that are much more intuitive than systematic. 

Chris, I believe that the bubbles sensations that the student in this video refers to as typical for his first jhana corresponds with the champagne bubbles I mentioned as accompanying the static screen and then falling away. I don't know if that clarifies anything. Oh, and in the later formed jhanas Kenneth describes sensations just floating around without any distinct boundary between body and not body. My bubbles do that. 

Is Kenneth's eyes always like this when he teaches? They remind me of the special effects in fantasy TV series when someone uses magic and their eyes turn all black. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/27/22 5:34 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Chris M
Ha! To this day, many years later, watching those videos of Kenneth and Nick causes my jhana inclinations to reappear. Maybe the jhanas are communicable. emoticon


I always suspected that’s what ”transmission” refers to.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/27/22 11:03 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/27/22 11:03 AM

RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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I listened to that interview and loved it. She sounds like a very decent person who isn't in it for the ego boosts. Thankyou for the reminder to check it out! 
Monsoon Frog, modified 4 Months ago at 7/27/22 5:39 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/27/22 5:37 PM

RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Jim Smith
I haven't read this yet but it looks interesting...

https://ashintejaniya.org/teachings
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bMVtHlEQ0sj4OobCG7eP7FfsmrjJm6N9/view
COLLECTING GOLD DUST
Nurturing the Dhamma in Daily Living



Jim,
Thanks for the link ... I've read a couple of his books (not that one) a few years ago suggested to me by a teacher during retreat - the same teacher I referenced upthread who did a jhana retreat under Pa-Auk.
It seems that his approach to the endeavor takes a different trajectory from much of the Burmese Theravadan vipassana ecosystem even though he's still very much part of the orthodoxy. However, after reading  some of his stuff I'm not clear about what practicing under his guidance actually entails in the day-to-day.  I don't think there's any sort of 'Tejaniya franchise' so one would have to hook up directly with him at his center in Burma or catch him at a host center where he's leading a retreat as a visiting teacher, apparantly he devotes a portion of his schedule to the latter. (I was in Burma a few years back and tried to make contact but had no luck due to his travel schedule).
IIRC one demographic of his student base are refugees from Mahasi and other single minded hard core vipassana traditions looking for a different way to skin the cat.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 8/1/22 6:54 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Hi again, T DC! I have done some asking around, as I prefer to triangulate the advice and pointers I get. This may be unwanted advice, and if so, feel free to ignore it. I'm definitely not done yet, so I'm not saying this from any expert position. Anyway, here goes: based on advice from other advanced practicioners and teachers together with my own limited experience (not entirely backing it up, just making it a reasonable hypothesis), I believe that the statics is a stage that we can get past and need to get past in order to have the jhanas mature fully, as they are a symptom of too much emphasis on a small bandwidth, so to speak. Too much of a laserbeam focus, which gets uncomfortable and dense. So if you find that you don't appreciate the jhanas nowadays, that could perhaps be the reason. I really appreciate your posts and your presence here and our exchanges, so I hope my autistic straightforwardness isn't too rude or something. I just find that coming to this tentative conclusion is helpful for me, and for what it's worth I wanted to share it, even though you are probably further down the path than I am. 
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 4 Months ago at 8/1/22 12:10 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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I am just starting to learn about pureland Buddhism
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T DC, modified 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 11:16 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 10:57 AM

RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Hey Linda, no problem and thanks for being blunt. ;)  I think it may be more of a case of describing two different meditation experiences similarly.  In my own travels I have encountered perceptual "screen" experiences in several different contexts, jhana and not jhana - so it's not necessarily a defining feature.  What I am describing as a screen re: jhana is, put another way, a variably solidified visual aspect. 

Variably solidified because certain areas of the visual field are emphasized, i.e. the center, or the periphery, or both the small center and wide periphery, or medium periphery, depending on the specific state (1 - 4).  Daniel and Tarin had some great posts on this back in the day describing the perceptual "doughnut" visual jhana aspect.  Given how central the appearance of the nimita is held to be for jhana, I see it as a clear matchup / hallmark.  Honestly it also makes me question other descriptions of jhana that have an indeterminate visual aspect.  ;)

And it's not just the visuals I'm going off.  With the locked on visual aspect of the experience also comes a locked on mental aspect, leading to rapture, bliss, and strong suppression of thought  - all obvious jhana characteristics.  Combine that with a neat progression through 8 stages that well fit their names (particularly the immaterial jhanas), using these states to get to NS, etc - basically at a certain point if it quacks, it's a duck.

The fade of the jhanas perhaps looks weird, but keep in mind this was also well post 4th path.  And progression through attainment stages post 4th is just as dramatic as progression through paths 1 - 4; experience deepens and progresses in ways that truly do begin to make the jhana states look like a relatively weak and pale brew.  Tarin had a good quote on this as well where he described attaining the jhanas becoming an exercise in the "characteristic eye focusing patterns with minimal mental effects".

So basically I'm sticking to my story - experienced profound and textbook jhana but watched their power and allure fade with higher level progression in attainment.  ;) Not to get defensive, just trying to give a better description / more context. 

- Tim
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 11:21 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Thanks! It still sounds exactly like the phenomenon I'm referring to. I can't know whether the other ones are talking about the same thing, though. I remember reading about those screens and mapping the development in accordance with that terminology. It fitted perfectly. I guess I'll have to check it empirically myself. That's something to be curious about, which is a great motivator. I'll keep all possibilities open. In any case, according to your advice, it doesn't sound like I need to worry about losing the ability due to developing a broader awareness. I have gotten some other advice that suggests that I will but that it will then mature to something deeper. So regardless, it seems like deepening a broader awareness is not something to worry about in this context, so I'll go with that. When deep concentration becomes available again, I can see for myself what the nimitta will be like. I look forward to it. 

Thanks for engaging in an honest and straightforward manner about the details! I appreciate that. It's very motivating. 
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Bud E, modified 4 Months ago at 8/2/22 10:54 PM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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In addition to the factors mentioned above, I found that using the corpse pose or reclining on your side allows deeper relaxing and letting go than sitting. During sits in a chair etc, I often experienced some subtle worry that if there was any variation of loss of body awareness, that I would fall over and injure myself (and of course this never actually happened). When lying on your back or reclining on your side, this doesn't seem to occur. Even the most subtle worry can block the deepening of jhana. Of course if you're prone to falling asleep during meditation this may not be beneficial.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 8/4/22 8:03 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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I got the chance to ask Michael Taft about this. He asked me some questions to make sure that we were talking about the same thing, and our communication is usually good, as he knows my practice. He said that the static is one of infinite pathways into jhana and that it is associated with very strong attention rather than a broader awareness, and typical for practicioners of intense fast vipassana. Focusing more on awareness is not going to block that specific pathway, but it won't cultivate it either. I will need to develop the awareness part regardless, and that will open up for other pathways into jhana, but if I like the static pathway, I can do that too. 
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 8/4/22 8:42 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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That makes sense! I always enter the jhanas using a broad focus.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 8/4/22 10:46 AM
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RE: Hard jhanas. Who has achieved them

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Thanks! Yeah, it's making sense to me too now. And it explains why I haven't had access to the jhanas as I know them lately, because I have been doing much more awareness-geared practice. I have had this suspicion for quite some time. It used to be so easy to get into the jhanas, but they could also be very dense. I'm not quite sure what to do with this. Chris, you often say that it's difficult to get into jhanas with a laser beam focus. I think it might be the other way around for me, perhaps due to my wiring. I'd like to maintain that ability without being restricted to it as my only pathway. I think I need to let go of the sense that the road to jhana "should" feel like that, but I think I'd rather not swap it into a "shouldn't". Ideally I would want to be able to acces the entire rainbow of mind states. It's probably easiest and sanest to cultivate one aspect at a time. The problem is, I don't want to. I'm much more motivated to go all in in both directions at the same time and triangulate them to understand the complexity of the mind better from that axis. Something in the direction of Daniel's slam-shifting, which is probably nuts as I'm not Daniel. But as long as it motivates me, it will at least keep me practicing. So how the hell do I set up that kind of practice? I probably need to increase the flexibility of my brain, so at least I'm pretty sure I won't go wrong with the practices I'm struggling with right now, as they adress both attention and awareness and the cooperation between them. That seems like a must. 

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