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The Fourth Turning/Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks)

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Hello again,

I came across the following website the other day and wondered what people here thought of it/ knew of the guy and where he's coming from?

http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/

In Dharma,

Matthew

RE: The Fourth Turning/Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks)
Answer
12/10/09 11:36 AM as a reply to Matthew Letten.
Hi Matt,

I know him personally and have met with him on three or four occasions as well as exchanged emails with him. He's a likeable sort personally, but his understanding of the Dhamma is tinged with something he calls "ecstatic Buddhism." In other words, he hasn't (to my current knowledge) understood the value or use of the Path system of training and has gone off totally on his own tangent based on a wrong view of the Dhamma. He does not represent nor does he come from any recognized source (sangha) within the Dhamma of Buddhist tradition. He is a self-proclaimed "whatever" it is he's claiming to be these days. Last I heard it was sotapanna or dhammacharia.

He does know something about absorption and how to get there. But he has yet to figure out (again, based on my last contact with him about three years ago) what it is used for and how it can assist you in getting to the destination of awakening. He's too caught up in the metaphysics (what he calls "ecstatic Buddhism") of meditation to be of much value to the kind of folks who come here for some actual fact based guidance and instruction.

On the whole, I wouldn't recommend that people become overly interested in his writings or musings. If you want to study some of the things he says on "jhana" then, if you have enough experience to understand what is being talked about, you may gain some insight into your own experience. But other than that, I would recommend staying away from him.

I don't have time here to go into any great detail, but if you do some searching on Google you may be able to fill in some of the blank areas.

In peace,
Ian

P.S. There used to be quite a lot about him available on E-sangha doing a search over there. But since that website was attacked in October and is down, you may need to research in other venues.

RE: The Fourth Turning/Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks)
Answer
3/3/10 11:13 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Thank you for your thoughts Ian!

Regards,

Matthew

RE: The Fourth Turning/Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks)
jhanananda nirodha jhana ajahn brahm tina stephen snyder pa auk sayadaw
Answer
3/13/10 2:26 PM as a reply to Matthew Letten.
Matthew Letten:
Hello again,

I came across the following website the other day and wondered what people here thought of it/ knew of the guy and where he's coming from?

http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/

In Dharma,

Matthew


Hi Matthew, I have had my own dealings with Mr. Brooks. I was once part of his yahoo group(s). It was during the time I was learning about the jhanas. It wasn't long before I realized I was learning from an egotistic self-deluded man who is trying to re-invent buddhism according to his own ideas. I soon walked away. Having read his "critiques" of other teacher's jhanas, I'd soon realized Jeff Brooks has no real idea of what a "True One-pointed" Absorption is. You can read them yourself. He discredits EVERY OTHER jhana teacher in the world. His only reasoning is always, "they seemed to talk about aborption in the depth that the visuddhimaga talked about, hence, they don't know what jhana is. Since "we" have 30 years of meditation and contemplation experience. And we believe the visuddhimaga is only a commentary, not part of the sutta." You will notice that's his defense against every argument. That if he has not experienced it, it is not real jhana. Then he'll post links to his many self-written essays to back up his argument. I have been practicising the jhanas for about 3 to 4 years now since that time. And I get the idea that Jeff Brooks (who also ordained himself to be a bhikku and calls himself a sotappana) is trying to lower the standards of the jhana absorptions so he can get more people to join him. If you've read many of his postings all over the internet, Him and his partner "Nirodha" are always arguing and bad-mouthing all the other meditation teachers around the world, citing that theirs is not the real jhana, only his is.

As a serious meditator, I read books and listen to audio from all sorts of teachers from Ajahn Brahm to Leigh Brasington. Ajahn Brahm is a real monk and a real jhana teacher, who has passed down the teachings from his master, Ajahn Chah, who is a highly regarded arahant in the community. Their standards of absorption is very deep. More than most people can follow. Many people have to go on retreats for months before they can experience the first jhana. Jeff Brooks thinks if you experience just a little sensation of piti and sukha (tingling or vibration) you are already in the first or second jhana. This of course was the reason I followed him for a bit. He had told me I had attained the jhanas in such a short time. I was lead in the dark by a blind man.

In a nut-shell, Jeff Brooks(Jhanananda) and his partner Nirodha are active on the internet in their efforts to convert as many people to their "Great Western Vehicle" as they can. I have never seen such aggressive attempt other than the Christian Evangelicist or the Jehova's witness. If you read their comments online, you can tell from their tone of voice, a desperate need for power and self-righteousness. Ajahn Brahm always talked about buddhist respecting one another. Clearly these two do no follow that precept, or any for that matter. All that is important to Jhanananda is absorption. Insight means nothing to him. He believes he has already attained nibbana, having reached the 8th or 9th jhana that he claims. So why does he feel the need to recruit people? He always claims as a defense to his authority that he leads the "Largest jhana yahoo group" on the internet. And he always goes back to the "we have 30 years of contemplative experience." That itself tells me he does not understand the dharma. He thinks having authority and credentials on the internet helps prove his jhana experiences? The man is clearly deluded. He thinks he is ahead of the curve on buddhism and the jhanas, and all the past teachers (except the buddha) are wrong. I have never seen anyone, other than hitler, who's more deluded.

Case in point, stay away from Jhanananda and Nirodha. Concentrate on your practice with real teachers. Do not follow the easy path. If you want some material, Tina and Stephen Snyder are good sources on the jhanas. They have been offically authorized to teach the jhanas by Pa Auk Sayadaw, a real jhana teacher/monk living in Burma. Ajahn Brahm is another good source. Leigh Brasington, who is not a monk, but authorized to teach by the late bhikkuni Aya Khema is also another good start.

Good luck to you, and us all.

RE: The Fourth Turning/Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks)
Answer
3/15/10 12:11 AM as a reply to Mason Goliver.
I know nothing of the person or group you speak of, and he very well may be the nutter you make him out to be, so thanks for the heads up and warnings.

I am merely adding a very small terminological point related to how some people use the term jhana:

There are vipassana jhanas, (techinically any time one is in the ñanas), which can involve tingling, vibrations, and all sorts or other things.

There are samatha jhanas, the concentration states: these can have vast differences in depth, width, longevity, stability, purity, etc. depending on how hardcore one is.

There are things in between those.

I just wanted to add that, as per this little article on the subject: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/Jhana%20Development%20Axes?p_r_p_185834411_title=Jhana%20Development%20Axes

It is worth knowing the context the word is used in to sort out what someone means by jhana, as some have very high criteria and some not, and so long as everyone knows how the word is being used in whatever context, no problem.

It is, however, semantics to say that one thing that one person calls jhana is absolutely not jhana: it is just they are not using the word the same way.

RE: The Fourth Turning/Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks)
Answer
3/17/10 2:27 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
I know nothing of the person or group you speak of, and he very well may be the nutter you make him out to be, so thanks for the heads up and warnings.

I am merely adding a very small terminological point related to how some people use the term jhana:

There are vipassana jhanas, (techinically any time one is in the ñanas), which can involve tingling, vibrations, and all sorts or other things.

There are samatha jhanas, the concentration states: these can have vast differences in depth, width, longevity, stability, purity, etc. depending on how hardcore one is.

There are things in between those.

I just wanted to add that, as per this little article on the subject: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/Jhana%20Development%20Axes?p_r_p_185834411_title=Jhana%20Development%20Axes

It is worth knowing the context the word is used in to sort out what someone means by jhana, as some have very high criteria and some not, and so long as everyone knows how the word is being used in whatever context, no problem.

It is, however, semantics to say that one thing that one person calls jhana is absolutely not jhana: it is just they are not using the word the same way.


Thanks for the link. The last time I checked, Jhanananda does not refer to his methods as vipassana jhana or samatha jhana like actual buddhist do. He doesn't seem to be concerned with any form of insight development once concentration has been achieved. If anything, he believes in samatha jhana as his methods only involves that, inviting rapture and staying with it. Go on his website, you'll see what I mean. Whereas the Buddha reached the fourth jhana and used it as a bases for his insights into reality and attaining awakening through the insights into dependent origination, Mr. Brooks believes in reaching the highest jhana and that is enlightenment itself. Most common sense buddhist stay away from his rhethoric, but as once one myself, most newcomers will blindly follow him and donate money to him thinking that's the real method for meditation. At the same time, Jeff tells his followers to not listen to any other teacher as they do no have the "real understanding" like him. That's what makes him so dangerous.

RE: The Fourth Turning/Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks)
Answer
12/27/16 7:49 PM as a reply to Mason Goliver.
I'm very keen on reading about those who critique accepted experts, so long as the criticism is coming from the right place.  I think it's usually a good sign in the sense that they are saying "I've been where you are now".  A wider/deeper perspective and a desire to help people not get confused and lost.