Arupa jhanas

Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 1 Month ago at 8/8/22 12:37 PM
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Arupa jhanas

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Are the formless jhanas actually sub jhanas of the 4th jhana?
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/8/22 1:02 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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No, they're individual jhanic states in their own right. They each (J5-J8) have a distinctly different focus.
Adi Vader, modified 1 Month ago at 8/8/22 1:17 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Think of rupa jhanas as absorbtions into heart related objects 1. Glee 2. Happiness 3. Satisfaction 4. Equanimity (absence of affective objects) With equanimity firmly established the formless realms are absorbtions in mind related objects. Strictly in this sense ... yes the arupas are variants of the 4 th jhana. alternativrly you might say that the rupa jhanas are a step wise simplification of the heart and then we move on to simplifying the mind
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/8/22 2:01 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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The arupa jhanas, as generally described by my own practice many other practitioners I know personally:

5 - infinite space
6 - infinite consciousness
7 - infinite nothingness
8 - neither perception nor non-perception

They are also called "formless" because their focus is on non-material objects, as you can no doubt glean from the names above. Classifications and schemas are tricky things, of course. I prefer to distinguish the rupa and arupa jhanas because in my experience they are, as I mentioned, distinct mind states each with a different object/non-object focus. As I typically experience these states, assuming I'm not actively trying to enter any one in particular, they will appear in order from J1 through J8. The mind seems to be attracted to them, like a pinball rolling toward the flippers.

Adi Vader is giving you a somewhat different schema, but it points to the same mind states, IMHO.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 8/8/22 2:25 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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You have already received great answers. I agree with both.

I'd like to add the nuance that people vary their standards a lot for what would count as arupa jhanas. I personally find it easier for navigational purposes to only count those states as arupa jhanas that have no form aspects whatsoever (not everyone is so strict). No visual input, no sense of touch, no sound. No body sensations at all. With that distinction, for me personally it feels like a different kind of state than fourth jhana, because that distinction stands out. However, that shift has already been going on gradually anyway, so one could easily argue for both answers. The equanimity aspect stands out very distinctly too, which separates jhanas 4-8 from jhanas 1-3 very clearly. I find 4th jhana fascinating because it has that liminal aspect to it, sharing the form trait with the lower jhanas and the equanimity trait with the arupa jhanas. The combination of those traits come together in something uniquely crisp and chrystal clear and yet spacious. 
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Bud E, modified 1 Month ago at 8/8/22 4:05 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/8/22 4:05 PM

RE: Arupa jhanas

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Part of the confusion on the subject seems to come from not making a distinction between samatha jhanas and vipassana jhanas. The "hard" versions are generally samatha, and the versions that are more investigative and still have some awareness of the body and sounds etc would be vipassana versions (though they can get to the harder states as well with enough concentration and equanimity). Saying "I got into a 4th vipassana jhana with boundlessness as its object" might be more accurate than just saying "I got into 5th" depending on the situation.
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/9/22 7:45 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Yes, that's a very good point. From MTCB2 (bolded text by me):
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The vipassana jhanas are a way of describing the stages of insight that is a bit broader than the map that breaks the stages down into sixteen ñanas. They are two descriptions of the same territory, and both have their uses. The vipassana jhanas differ from the shamatha jhanas in that they include the perception of the three characteristics, rather than the “pure” shamatha jhanas, which require ignoring the three characteristics to get the meditation object to appear stably and vividly. However, the two may share many qualities, including very similar breadths of attention and other aspects.

There are seven vipassana jhanas, the first four that are formed, and the last three that are formless. The reason there are not eight is that the eighth vipassana jhana (neither perception nor non-perception) cannot be easily investigated, as it is generally too subtle to clearly reveal the three characteristics. Thus, calling it a vipassana jhana is a bit problematic. However, it is part of the standard pattern of progress, so is worth remembering, and helps explain some of the material found in the old texts. Further, we can rapidly oscillate between the seventh and eighth jhanas in a way that is oddly vipassana-esque, and this is common enough in strong practitioners, though, being a very subtle business, many may not notice they are doing this unless directed to really look for it or unless they have exceptional analytical skills. Concentration skills and analytical skills, while sometimes related, are not the same thing.

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iv-insight/34-the-vipassana-jhanas/
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Month ago at 8/11/22 5:55 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Chris M
They are also called "formless" because their focus is on non-material objects, as you can no doubt glean from the names above.
Interesting...I always thought that they were called formless because all the body sensations go away leaving only the non material objects. If I'm aware of any of the 6 senses I label that j4.j5... but if I'm absorbed such that my body is gone then I was "formless" and the realm was just what it was..
Hahaha....funny how things get sorted out thru different experiences and such.
Thanks Chris.
~D

ps. Hmmm...how is bliss and joy and EQ "material"?
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Month ago at 8/11/22 6:16 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/11/22 6:16 PM

RE: Arupa jhanas

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I took the jhanic material to sew a suit, in sowing the suit I found it suited me well as it fit my form but less then fine, for I found the emperor had no clothes but closing my eyes it was infinately better than nothingness.
(wink)
​​​​​​​~D
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Ian Pitchford, modified 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 11:27 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Matt Jon Rousseau
Are the formless jhanas actually sub jhanas of the 4th jhana?

Yes, that's right. They're aspects of the fourth jhāna as implied in DN 9 (https://suttacentral.net/dn9 - It really doesn't matter how they are classified though. 
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 1:37 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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I didn't invent the classification system that's typically used to describe the samatha jhanas but my guess, based on my personal experiences, is that the bliss, etc. is felt in the body for the most part, thus the "material" name.
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Siavash ', modified 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 2:11 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 1:42 PM

RE: Arupa jhanas

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Chris M
I didn't invent the classification system that's typically used to describe the samatha jhanas but my guess, based on my personal experiences, is that the bliss, etc. is felt in the body for the most part, thus the "material" name.


But, how about the equanimity and stillness or quiet stillness of the 4th jhana? Is it experienced in the body as well? Or is it in the whole space as a unified field of stillness? 
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 2:15 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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So you wanna shoot the messenger?

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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 2:16 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Seriously, these classification schemes are concepts that suit convention.  All should feel free to use whatever schema suits their own convention.

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Siavash ', modified 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 2:23 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 2:17 PM

RE: Arupa jhanas

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So you wanna shoot the messenger?

emoticon


I typically don't get the meaning of these short sentences emoticon)
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 2:29 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Siavash, what I meant is that I'm relaying conventional Theravada wisdom (and personal experience) but that I'm not THE expert or ultimate source for how the samatha jhanas are described in certain groups. Your question was posted in a way that suggested  to me a light hearted reply about "shoot (blame) the messenger (me)."

Helpful?
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Siavash ', modified 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 2:45 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 2:45 PM

RE: Arupa jhanas

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 Thanks Chris.
Yes, it's helpful.

No, I didn't have anything about blame or anything like that in mind. It was just curiosity. I have read many people's descriptions about jhanas and how they debate. I see the standard descriptions as just examples of how the experience can present itself. So I was curious how you see 4th jhana, and what's the assumption about the body there.
​​​​​​​Sorry if it sounded negative emoticon .
 
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 7:25 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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It's all fine, Siavash! 
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Ian Pitchford, modified 1 Month ago at 8/19/22 6:30 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Matt Jon Rousseau
Are the formless jhanas actually sub jhanas of the 4th jhana?
As far as I know the suttas only ever count four jhāna and then refer to "dimensions" or "directions" when discussing the "infinite" or "boundless" states. I would guess the logic is that these all have the same qualities as fourth jhāna, viz. samādhi and upekkhā, and are thus aspects of it. I don't have any use for the concept of vipassanā jhāna, but again these counting and classification schemes are more about making things memorable than they are about "carving nature at the joints". The fact that there's any consensus at all about these esoteric aspects of phenomenology is pretty remarkable.
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Ian Pitchford, modified 1 Month ago at 8/23/22 11:41 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Incidentally, the Saḷāyatanavibhaṅgasutta (MN 137) says that "equanimity based on diversity" or "equanimity towards sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches" should be given up through "equanimity based on unity" or "equanimity based on the dimensions of infinite space, infinite consciousness, nothingness, and neither perception nor non-perception" which in turn should be given up by relying on "non-identification" or atammayatā, a point further emphasised in the Sappurisasutta (MN 113). This is why atammayatā became pivotal in the work of Buddhadāsa as the last of the "nine Dhamma eyes".

"That’s how it is given up.
Therein, relying on this, give up that.
That’s what I said, and this is why I said it."

Sources

https://suttacentral.net/mn137
https://suttacentral.net/mn113
https://www.suanmokkh.org/articles/4
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/23/22 11:50 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Ian, what does your personal experience of these states say to you?
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 1 Month ago at 8/23/22 4:45 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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D Ingram  states that the arupa jhanas are mutations of the 4th. In mctb. I have read other Theravada based commentaries saying the same thing.  These where  practitioners of the hard type jhanas .  At least it was there prospective
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/24/22 9:59 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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In MCTB2 Daniel Ingram describes the arupa jhanas (aka the formless realms) in the following passage, and explicitly names them jhanas 5 thru 8, which fits with my personal experience of them:

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iii-the-samatha-jhanas/28-the-formless-realms/

Here's the thing - we can all quote other people, just like I did, and end up in box canyons because other people, including dharma teachers, ajahns, masters, gurus, and even suttas, often disagree with each other. It's better, IMHO, to practice these things so that we can speak from experience. Our personal experience matters.
Adi Vader, modified 1 Month ago at 8/24/22 10:48 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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This is fantastic advice.

Practitioners who disagree usually try to find commonalities and end up discovering that any differences are usually semantics.
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 1 Month ago at 8/24/22 11:25 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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He didn't use the word mutation but he said something  of the sort . Will look it up later.  I still have nt got first jhana. I do t think  I am wired for it. Not in this lifetime.  It's all I want before I die
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/24/22 11:30 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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T DC, modified 1 Month ago at 8/26/22 12:36 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Matt Jon Rousseau
... I still have nt got first jhana. I do t think  I am wired for it. Not in this lifetime.  It's all I want before I die

Hey you know, aim high - the jhanas are interesting, but insight is truly much more impactful.  And as well, getting some insight under your belt boosts mental clarity and concentration, and makes it vastly easier to get into the jhanas.  Sometimes if you're struggling to achieve your goals on the path (jhana), it can be helpful to switch it up and try a different approach (such as focusing on insight), etc.
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 8/27/22 8:58 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Susan B, modified 1 Month ago at 8/28/22 7:58 AM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Ajahn Sona has an entire playlist devoted to Jhanas and how to get there, this is the first:

Jhāna (1): The Treasure Within - YouTube
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Month ago at 8/28/22 3:18 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Came across one of Daniel's posts-

https://www.integrateddaniel.info/a-z-blog/2020/4/12/formless-realms-thinking-dimensionally-and-categorically

Formless Realms: Thinking Dimensionally and Categorically
April 12, 2020
by Daniel Ingram
There are formed jhanas that have form: edges, colors, shapes, experiences that are distinct, well-differentiated, and rich in their features.Formed jhanas can get progressively more refined, subtle, abstract, trending towards formlessness.Various aspects of experience may disappear, body, sights, sounds, images, etc., and this may happen progressively, non-linearly, often fading, reappearing, fading, though, if we are inclined to formlessness, hopefully following a general, if meandering trend in that direction. So, in these experiences, we have a spectrum of formlessness, a formless that exists in shades of grey, a moving progression in the general direction of an ideal.However, there are also formless realm experiences that arise that are much more dramatically clean in both the way that they arise and the way they present after arising that seem to be starkly delineated from the progressively more formless versions. They arise rapidly, sharply demarcated from what came before, and they present very much as advertised in the descriptions of the formless realms.While one could think of even these two variants, that of shades of formlessness and stark formlessness in shades of grey, in that a formless experience can present more and more starkly, sharply, cleanly that some others.Equally, one who has had the stark, sharp, clean, highly-formless, versions that fully meet the advertised ideal arise rapidly may think: no, there are two distinct modes, the softer progressive mode that is relatively formless but not truly formless, and the stark arising mode, and they seem very, very different. I have at points held each of these views, typically arising depending on how recently I had the much cleaner version rapidly and sharply arise. My linguistic preference, however, is to be clear about which view you are holding at the very least. However, in my heart of hearts, I do feel that only the stark, categorically different presentation, that in which very refined versions of the formless realms arise in a strong shift, are the “true formless realms”, and everything else is something formed, however refined.So, when describing experience and using the word “formless”, I advocate for adding additional words, qualifiers, and details such that people know what is actually being described rather than having to assume.I use terms such as j3.j7, for example, to describe some third jhanic experience that really had very little form, space, or even consciousness in it but was still clearly third jhanic and not the extremely clean “true j7, Nothingness” that can also arise.I might use the term j4.j6 to describe an experience that was much more fourth jhanic in its character but still had a significant aspect of vast, open presence, luminosity, and sense of all-pervading consciousness yet still had some form arising, however abstract, and so differentiate it from “true j6, Boundless Consciousness” in which form was utterly gone and it was like being in another realm of pure consciousness utterly removed in all obvious ways from the experiences of the space in which my body was sitting.This is what is meant by “realm”, as in “The Six Realms”, as in somewhere and something else entirely, removed from the space in which we are practicing in the way that dreams and out of body experiences are.Experiences at the level of a total shift in which realm we are experiencing represent strong meditative attainments. Often, we might get extremely short glimpses of such possibilities that last a mere fraction of a second. At other times, experiences of other realms can last many seconds, minutes, or even occasionally in very rare cases hours.Most experiences of other realms are still formed and present with a diversity of features. However, a small proportion are truly formless and perform exactly as one would expect from the high descriptions of the formless realms, basically at the level of a Platonic Ideal but actually experienced.Regarding the formless realms proper, those of the categorical variety, they very much tend to arise in strict sequence, shifting from j4 (the fourth jhana), to j5 (Boundless Space), j6 (Boundless Consciousness), j7 (Nothingness), to j8 (Neither Perception Nor Yet Non-Perception) and then out to the Post-8th Junction Point as I term it. Knowing this, if you have entered a state that has a lot of formless to it but doesn’t have that striking sense of utter detachment from your body and the space you are practicing in and didn’t arise in sequence, it is very likely of the dimensional version, some jX.jF (with X representing some jhana from 1-4 and F representing one of the Formless Realms from 5-8) variant, and not what I would term a true jF experience.I don’t mean to disparage or downplay the value of formed jhanic experiences that have significant formless aspects, as such experiences can be powerful, profound, and even sometimes transformative, but I do wish to delineate that there are these seemingly categorically different experiences that truly do perform as “realms” and truly are “formless”, as well as experiences that clearly have some degree of formlessness and some degree of removal from ordinary consciousness and the space we are in.By being able to think both dimensionally, that is, in terms of degrees and shades of grey, as well as categorically, that of a binary “true formless” or “some form remaining”, and by being very deliberate in how we express these modes of thought, we can be much better communicators as well as hopefully better practitioners.Language that appreciates both the dimensional and categorical mode can help us to realize what might be possible and also how what we are experiencing might actually relate to those possibilities. It also helps avoid confusion when we speak and write about our experiences.I hope this is helpful for your practice and for communicating about it with others.
Best wishes!
Daniel

Good Luck,
~D
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/28/22 3:23 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Classic Daniel Ingram - clear and muddy, both at the same time!

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Dream Walker, modified 1 Month ago at 8/28/22 3:34 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Chris M Classic Daniel Ingram - clear and muddy, both at the same time! emoticon
Which therein grows the lotus flower.
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Pepe ·, modified 1 Month ago at 8/28/22 4:26 PM
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RE: Arupa jhanas

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Here you have Daniel's 30 best posts around Concentration (the one DreamWalker posted above is included, BTW). Also check post # 152 on formless jhanas in that compilation.

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