Tips on entering fourth jhana?

Rob Francisco, modified 9 Years ago at 9/27/12 3:58 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/27/12 3:58 PM

Tips on entering fourth jhana?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 9/27/12 Recent Posts
Hi Everyone,

I just discovered this great site, and have a question about something that's been bugging me for a good while. I combed through the threads to find info on this, but only found one brief discussion about it.

I feel that I have a firm grasp of the first three material jhanas, but I'm feeling a bit stuck with respect to accessing the fourth. So far my experience has been that I gradually let go of the sukha from the third jhana, mindfully watching as it slowly simmers down and eventually disintegrates. While the resulting state is peaceful, it doesn't necessarily feel like an altered state of consciousness as compared to the first three jhanas. Should it feel like an altered state? My counterpart sign manifests as a tactile, ecstatic, and vibratory sensation from the base of the spine to the top of the head. It is present in the first three jhanas, but this is what I let go of when I attempt to access the fourth jhana. I believe that the letting go of this sensation is what is causing me to interpret the resulting state as not being an "altered state." Am I doing something wrong?

Any tips or suggestions with respect to accessing the fourth jhana would be greatly appreciated!

Peace,
Rob
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Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago at 9/27/12 5:52 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/27/12 5:52 PM

RE: Tips on entering fourth jhana?

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Hiya Rob, welcome to the DhO.

Nice descriptions of what's going on in your practice, good detail and clear explanations.

4th jhana does seem very 'normal' but you'd probably notice the shift into it given the level of detail you're able to describe. Try looking at the spaciousness of the sense-field and how the wideness of 3rd seems to expand out, but the sense of an 'edge' spreads out and dissolves. It's quite three-dimensional, if that makes sense, it feels very clear, still and restful, still with a sense of the body in it's less stable form but it can be felt as more like proprioceptive sensation rather than having any solidity.

Check out this chapter of MCTB too, hopefully some more people will be able to offer other suggestions.
Rob Francisco, modified 9 Years ago at 9/27/12 8:40 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/27/12 8:40 PM

RE: Tips on entering fourth jhana?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 9/27/12 Recent Posts
Awesome! Thanks so much, Tommy!

Yes, MCTB is by far the best dharma book I've read hands down in terms of a straight up manual for practice. I can't believe I just just now discovered it after 5 years of practice!

Thanks again,
Rob
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/27/12 9:06 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/27/12 9:05 PM

RE: Tips on entering fourth jhana?

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Letting go of likes and dislikes so that you have no real object in front of you would help. The more you let go technically the more deep the equanimity. Being really accepting of your own death and just accepting what is will point in that direction.
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago at 9/29/12 12:49 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/29/12 12:35 AM

RE: Tips on entering fourth jhana?

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Rob Francisco:

While the resulting state is peaceful, it doesn't necessarily feel like an altered state of consciousness as compared to the first three jhanas. Should it feel like an altered state?

No, it shouldn't feel like an altered state. Why, you ask? Because an altered state is not geared toward "seeing things as they are" but rather toward "seeing things as one imagines them to be" which could be anything! You don't want that experience because imagination is the booby prize! What you want is a clear recognition of any phenomenon that arises without adding anything or taking anything away from it. You want to be able to see it as it is in this moment without any bias or prejudicial view. Think (focus on) equanimity! And insight!

Rob Francisco:

My counterpart sign manifests as a tactile, ecstatic, and vibratory sensation from the base of the spine to the top of the head. It is present in the first three jhanas, but this is what I let go of when I attempt to access the fourth jhana. I believe that the letting go of this sensation is what is causing me to interpret the resulting state as not being an "altered state." Am I doing something wrong?

Any tips or suggestions with respect to accessing the fourth jhana would be greatly appreciated!

No, you aren't doing anything wrong. That's exactly what you should be doing. If you experience the 4th jhana as an "altered state" then you are manifesting (fabricating) that sensation by paying attention to it. The fourth jhana occurs because the activity in the mind is gradually winding down to a basic stillness resulting in clarity, which is the fourth jhana.

In the first jhana there are vitakka, vicara, piti and sukkha. These are all movements (activities) of mind. In the second jhana there is the release of vitakka and vicara leaving inner tranquillity and a unification of mind along with piti and sukkha. In the third jhana, there is (when pursued correctly) clear awareness, the beginnings of equanimity and mindfulness as piti subsides leaving only sukkha. Are you beginning to see the pattern here? All movement of mind is heading toward stillness, the subsiding of the elements that helped bring on the jhanic experience in the first place, making it a pleasant sensation. But now, in the fourth jhana, you have to get down to business. In the fourth jhana all that is left is equanimity (if you're practicing for it) and mindfulness. The movement of sukkha has completely disappeared, leaving the mind as described in the quotation below.

The fourth jhana should be a very restful, peaceful yet highly alert state wherein the mind is "concentrated, purified and cleansed, unblemished, free from impurities, malleable, workable, established, and having gained imperturbability, he directs and inclines his mind toward knowing and seeing." (DN 2.83) It is from this point on that insight is able to arise.

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