Question about staying in 8th Jhana

T Dan S-, modified 11 Years ago at 12/14/11 9:42 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 12/14/11 9:42 PM

Question about staying in 8th Jhana

Posts: 69 Join Date: 5/3/11 Recent Posts
How do you stay longer in 8th?

8th is unlike the other jhanas in that the qualities are really hard to describe with words and peg/map, especially mid-sit.
In the act of taking a mental moment to think the thought "Oh, I am in 8th jhana, this is nice." snaps you out of it. There is no hard/soft version.

I ask because I've been working on holding my attention at certain points in the arc lately, and it's been interesting to observe and get progressively more bored of each jhana with the time I spend in it. 8th is not like this. After 5-10minutes I find the eventual downshift to 7th is pretty strong and I have little control of it. Those 5-10 minutes are also broken up into little 5-45 second stretches because when I'm in the state I get the "simultaneously having a wide and extremely narrow" focus described in MCTB, but periodically have this tendency to shift to one or the other (probably a habit from doing a lot of insight practice with the same object).

Any tips?
Thank you.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 11 Years ago at 12/14/11 10:20 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 12/14/11 10:20 PM

RE: Question about staying in 8th Jhana

Posts: 2227 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Daniel T:
Any tips?

Try thinking of it this way. Please let me know if this helps or works... I don't have such facility with the jhanas as you seem to have so I haven't yet played around with it as much as I would have liked.

Think of it in terms of remembering. To stay in the 8th jhana, all you have to do is remember the 8th jhana. Not a thought/concept-based or emotionally-based memory, though, but rather, mindfulness - just that bare awareness of the mind. So another way to say it would be that you have to remain mindful of the 8th jhana - but keep in mind the connection with remembering. (A way I found to activate that quality of mind is to ask myself, "Will I remember this moment later?")

You noticed that 8th jhana tends to flux in and out in 5-45 second stretches. Think of this as remembering the jhana (when you're in it), and then forgetting it (taking you out of it), then remembering it again (back in it), etc... until you forget it more grossly (downshift to 7th after 10 minutes or so).

As you noticed, thoughts take you out of 8th jhana... I think that is cause self-reflective thoughts of that nature are precisely what the 8th jhana transcends (aka formations). Formations re-arising take you out of it ("oo look I'm in the 8th jhana" - by then you're already out), formations stopping take you back in. Because of the unreleased mind's penchant for craving and clinging in general, and to formations in particular, mindfulness in this spot can feel like forgetting. You are basically forgetting the 'self' (forgetting formations), in that you allow them to cease for a period... until they re-arise 5-45 seconds later. Then you have to re-muster up the intent and remember the 8th-jhana-inclination again and off 'you' go... for another 5-45 seconds.

To get down to the practice advice: simply try to go for longer and longer 'gaps', aka periods where you are mindful of the jhana and have (mostly) forgotten the self. It's kind of like allowing yourself to phase out. You just have to let yourself do it. Let go completely, to the point where you don't even care whether you come back anymore. Dare yourself to let go for even longer than you did last time.

This is a great exercise cause it points out that mindfulness is not based on thoughts/formations - it precedes even those. Learn how to access that quality of mindfulness even when walking around and not anywhere near the 8th jhana, and that should prove fruitful.
Daniel M Ingram, modified 11 Years ago at 12/15/11 4:25 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 12/15/11 4:25 AM

RE: Question about staying in 8th Jhana

Posts: 3257 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I might think very differently about that post-8th phase, and rather than see it as merely a downshift, in fact, having been to 8th opens doors that having not been there doesn't, and in its afterglow all sorts of interesting things are possible.

Thus, that post-8th territory is not quite like just dropping back to 7th, but actually is like suddenly finding yourself in a foyer with a lot of doors to all sorts of interesting places, such as, and depending on your other abilities, attainments, and inclinations:

Nirodha Samapatti,
Multiple Fruitions,
Pure Land Jhanas
Many other interesting experiences depending on your level of creativity

Thus, think if it as like a nexus point for multiple flights to cool stuff.

T Dan S-, modified 11 Years ago at 12/16/11 8:12 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 12/16/11 8:12 PM

RE: Question about staying in 8th Jhana

Posts: 69 Join Date: 5/3/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the advice, Beoman and Daniel.


Took a minute out to jump into 8th and try applying more mindfulness.

Already seems easier. I'll report back when I've played with it a bit more.

Daniel's comment about post-8th being a nexus I think would be a good way for me to think about it from now on.

Doing a bit of insight just now in 7th I immediately got some intense eye flicker. My mind seemed to focus all of its attention on this (no observeable sense of body or...anything really that I can remember, except for really strong sensations behind the eyelids). Flicker would start, ramp up over 3-4 seconds, get to a point of "too much" (after I had the thought that my brain couldn't send the contraction impulses to the eyelids fast enough and just shut it down). Then repeat for 3-4 times. With another 2-3 repeats of lower intensity before I opened my eyes and I really strong wave of visual clarity (equanimity-esque) took over for a good 5 minutes while I typed this reply.

Any idea what this was? I'm going to write off a fruition because I sort of had an idea of time passing during the ramp-ups.