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Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question to the community)

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Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question to the community)
awakening anxiety bliss adhd bipolar disorder depression eckhart tolle ecstasy ecstatic bliss lsd mdma mind reading the power of now
Answer
2/24/13 5:57 PM
Hola Dharma Overground,

Firstly, thanks to Dharma Dan and his outstanding book. I just finished it, and I've also looked over this site for the answers I'm looking for. After gaining some confidence in this community, and being unable to confidently diagnose these experiences for myself, I offer them to you. I've written the experiences in bold in case you want to skip straight to them. However, I think it might be useful to gain a small bit of background on my past.

At the age of 7 I was diagnosed with ADHD and forced to take Ritalin and other stimulants. Trauma followed me closely from that age, with abuse and violence from parent figures and community, through the death of an intimate partner during my teens, and severe depression up until 23 years old. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, and slews of anxiety and depression disorders during that time. Desperation of exhausting all conventional approaches is what lead me to the teachings of the Buddha at 23 years of age. Let me be clear that I was absolutely fucking miserable, intensely frustrated with humanity and suicidal for 90% of the first 23 years of my life. It seems this might not be all that uncommon an occurrence for those who come to practices for enlightenment. Now that you have the bare minimum gist, let's move onto what happened.

Eventually, after being unable to fully understand the Buddha's teachings, experiencing persistent suffering, and being unable to kick an addiction to opiates; I experimented with hallucinogens after reading that it helped many people with depression, anxiety, and addiction issues. My marijuana supplier (bless his fucking heart) gifted me some hallucinogens when I mentioned I was having problems kicking opiates.

So, here are the experiences that happened. I am going to omit all possibly drug-induced states except the first one. Tell me, what were these? Can we relate them to the states and stages identified in MCTB?

1) At 23, when I read the Buddha's teachings, I began experimenting with meditation, even though I had no idea what I was doing, or what the teachings actually meant. I barely even had a hint of what they meant, yet I just KNEW they were truth. I could feel it. So meditations stuck to about once a month or less, until the hallucinogenic experience at 26 that I am about to explain. Then it quickly became daily meditation. Using a hallucinogenic substance (only my 3rd or 4th time using one), I entered a state that shines in my memory to this day. I only mention it so that I may follow this with what I experienced the following months without the use of hallucinogenic substances.

I was just sitting Native American style on the ground after the peak of the substance was long gone, yet still an afterglow remained. I wasn't experiencing visuals or anything, as it was 6 hours past initial dosing, and it wasn't a really long-acting compound like LSD.

I was focused at the center of my visual field, and "feeling" around in my mind. Suddenly I happened upon intense pleasure that I felt I had full control over. I had never, ever felt this good in my entire life. I didn't even know it was possible to feel this good, and it completely destroyed my previous 25 years understanding of "pleasure". The concept that I communicated to my buddy while it happened was of taking a mental shovel and scooping out massive amounts of pleasure, as much and as strong as I wanted.


My jaw dropped, my eyes gushed tears, blasts of blissful energy boomed through my skull down my spine, all my hairs stood on end, and it felt like a prolonged orgasm of every part of my being that I could indulge in as much as I wanted. It was like being wrapped in the most longed for loving and healing hug. However, I began to feel bad that my friend couldn't replicate what I was doing, and eventually let the state go. Fortunately, this one experience lead to many, many, many similar experiences in daily life. Following this are some very interesting and enthralling experiences. I will skip the smaller ones, but suffice it to say, to this day I enjoy blissful blasts of energy down my skull through to the bottom of my spine that radiate throughout my body, turning all my hairs on end. This happens during many moments in daily life, and it is what I live for at this point. I feel so alive and life is so beautiful during these moments. It happens during obviously important moments, usually moments of intense aliveness, beauty and purpose (LIKE RIGHT NOW.)

I was able to kick opiates, and simply switched over to marijuana with the assistance of a medical prescription for it. Eventually I switched from that to a mild herbal pain reliever called Kratom. It has many desirable benefits and doesn't get in the way of my daily life, while being legal, mild in effect, easy to procure, affordable and useful. I'm working on kicking this as well, but for now it is my last vice that I use about twice a day. Think of it as coffee's mildly opiatesque cousin, and you have a good idea of what it's like. I went from over 8 pharmaceutical medications at once when I was in my teens and early 20's, to one simple and mild herb that blows all them out of the water, and yet is barely noticeable in daily life.

2) About 8 months later, while reading Eckhart Tolle's book (and on NO drugs) "The Power of Now"; the most beautiful and treasured experience of my life happened. He was describing how to feel the "inner body" (which I equate to "subtle body"), and I was discovering that I was slightly familiar with this. I could feel this tingling in my legs for many years before I read this, and was feeling them while I read the book, and so I began to expand my awareness of this "tingling" to the rest of my "inner body". He gives a brief introduction, and then explains how it works and what it means. Then he instructs the reader, while reading and simultaneously feeling for this inner body, to feel the entire inner body as "one complete unified field." Before explaining further, I should mention that I interpret ecstasy as pleasurable "bodily" vibrations/tingles, and bliss as a slightly different, more "divine" feeling of vibration/tingle/electricity that enters from the head and booms down the spine. I can only tell you how this felt and how I interpreted this experience to the best of my ability. Here goes...

What happened at the very moment I read "one complete unified field", is the reason why I will never, ever give up my spiritual evolution. My entire "inner body" began tingling and vibrating at an exponentially increasing rate of ecstasy. To my surprise, the depth of pleasure exceeded what I thought possible, and I fell deeper and deeper into the most beautiful ecstasy I have ever felt in all my life. It exceeded every drug (including MDMA and LSD together), every high, every ANYTHING I had ever experienced by many fold. But this was only the beginning.

Then my crown opened up, and blasts of energy boomed down my crown and spine, where it radiated out to my "body" and "merged" with the ecstasy vibrations/energy. They began feeding each other, and grew and grew in intensity, into something I simply cannot describe in words. Tears streamed down my face (as they are as I write this and remember how it felt) as this "ecstatic bliss" grew and grew. Then, it was as if my awareness somehow also "opened", and these knowings, some kind of beautiful epiphanies that transcended words began flowering. First there was one, and then, SOMEHOW, that one broke into two epihpanies, then four, then eight, and they came faster and faster. I couldn't understand how I was able to be aware of so many knowings at once. The knowings/epiphanies then began to feed the ecstatic bliss, and they merged as well. The only thing that came into my awareness other than what I have just described is this thought:

"I'm sorry. I didn't know."

Which of course caused more tears to stream down my face. It grew and grew AND GREW. Shortly after, it ended. When I got up, I had the most amazing and beautiful afterglow. I could read the thoughts of others, I healed a friends severe backache with a simple touch of my right hand, I felt super light and strong, and I "just knew" so much about daily life and others. It was like someone temporarily removed all the obstructions of reality. It eventually faded by the next day, I so badly wanted that feeling to come back, and I tried to reproduce it many times, to no avail. However, I continued to be able to read people like a book. To my surprise, I seemed to know more about the current mood and thoughts of others than they were aware of themselves. I usually had to use an immense load of logic and observation to show them that why were indeed thinking and feeling what I was perceiving. Because of the fact that it was more detrimental than useful to share this with others, I stopped sharing these observations.

I've had many otherworldly experiences since then, but this is the seemingly most important.

The only thing I'm certain of, is that that experience was very important. Tell me, what was this?


I really have had no one to talk to about these things. I am on my own with this journey. I've never had a teacher or peer about these things, so please be gentle if I appear to have any misunderstandings.

Thank you so much for this site, for Dan, for all of you, and for reading.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/24/13 6:03 PM as a reply to Jason R.
After reading "The Idiot's Guide to Dharma Diagnosis" I believe I am in Equanimity, as I feel very balanced and at peace with everything. My awareness is very clear and I have very few unnecessary or harmful thoughts. Of course, I went through some terrible states to get here--hahahaha. I'm so glad to know this is part of the process!!!

Now, how many times do I have to go through the Dark Night!?

Thanks for reading, guys. I guess I just wanted to share my experience and hear thoughts. Sorry if it wasn't enjoyable or even annoying...

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/24/13 6:14 PM as a reply to Jason R.
So, your energetic, blissful, ecstatic events are almost certainly occurrences of the A&P, using the model of the stages of insight. Read up on it and get really familiar with all the stages of insight.

Diagnosing the Arising and Passing Away

Check that out.

Anyways, it should be known that after hitting A&P territory, you might feel massively fine, enlightened, at perfect peace with the world. A lot of the descriptions of the A&P can line up with things that sound like equanimity, but it's more than likely that you're still at the level of the A&P. Equanimity is actually fairly void of joy, ecstasy, excitement, elatedness, spiritual feelings, and from your descriptions, you have some of that stuff going on. An equanimious mind is profoundly quiet and motionless. The nana of equanimity is fairly still, quiet, dark, mundane, normal, open-ended, vague, and panoramic. Whereas at the A&P, focus is still very tight, centered, and contracted. Play around with your attention and see if you can determine the quality.

How many times do you go through dark night? Over and over again, until you can reach equanimity very quickly and the dark night is minimized, and then until you achieve fruition of the first path, at which point you still do cycle, but the DN stuff is basically "mastered", and minimal in impact. Then, the next path starts up and you work up to the A&P again, and when you cross it, you progress through the DN of 2nd path, until you can reach equanimity quickly. Anyways, that's a basic understanding of it.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/24/13 6:21 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Another thing to try: try to focus on the emotion of joy. See if you can rest your focus on the idea of joy, letting it expand through you. Don't focus so much on the tingling, the intensity of the physical energy. Instead, just sit calmly, and maybe smile or just conjure up a happy feeling. Then, if you keep watching this, it might blossom a ridiculous amount, to the point where you're completely immersed in the emotion of joy.

I recommend this since if you're in the 4th nana of the Arising and Passing, some nanas correspond to jhanas. The A&P corresponds to the 2nd jhana, and in the 2nd jhana, joy is cultivated, possibly to the extreme. If you're in the 4th nana, you should be able to get your mind to easily explode with joy. It's a great thing to do, and will also help you understand where you're at. If you can get your mind to peak with joy, ride it for as long as you can, and then deliberately release the joy. Hold on to just a sliver of happiness. Hold on to the sense of well-being, and ride it down, as your mind calms down from the explosion of joy and becomes still. If you ride the joy all the way down to the most subtle sense of happiness and contentment, that marks the transition from 2nd to 3rd jhana. If any of that is unfamiliar to you, read up on it in MCTB, which it seems you've been reading.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/24/13 6:51 PM as a reply to Jason R.
Your experience means a lot to you, and this is natural at this stage. However to progress beyond the corruptions of insight you must penetrate your object. Read up on vipassana practice and try to figure it out, or maybe find a teacher.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/24/13 6:57 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Mind over easy:
Another thing to try: try to focus on the emotion of joy.


Personally I would not recommend this. The a&p is already giving a lot of joy and looking at it, it is near impossible to not be intoxicated by it further and become stagnant in progression. I would suggest dry vipassana, the furthest thing away from jhanic joy, until the a&p is crossed, where the object us seen halfway through.

Jason R:
Now, how many times do I have to go through the Dark Night!?


You haven't been through the dukkha nanas yet, and don't take offense at this, it's just a matter of fact with the stage you are at. This is why I think the Dark Night is a misleading name, it implies one has not seen darkness in their life up to this point. Basically it means some uncomfortable nanas which occur in the furture...

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/24/13 7:01 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Thank you so much. That event I described happened about 9 months ago, and then I went through a really, really dark moment for about 3 months. I was disgusted with humanity, and felt hopeless. I even became suicidal for a bit, but I knew that something was "off", so I just kept meditating and reading. I slept alot during this time--up to 12 hours a day. There was nothing wrong with life, and only in the last month have I come to the most pronounced clear mind I've ever experienced. I mean, it was good after that ecstatic bliss event, but after that 3 month depression, my mind was much calmer and clearer, and blissful moments are few and far between--if any. I kind of miss them in the amount I experienced after that ecstatic bliss experience, but the pronounced feeling of calm and stability I have now is very welcome. It seems like nothing can challenge it, and all of my life is progressing very smoothly. I have to say that after much contemplation and reading the guide, I feel that I am in Equanimity. Maybe I'm wrong, but it really feels accurate based on what has happened in the last year, and how I experience reality now.

Regardless of all this, and whether I am in Equanimity or still A&P, I must thank you for responding, and especially with the encouragement to cultivate joy in the way you described. I really have suffered deeply most of my life, and I have a deep yearning for more experiences of intense joy, ecstasy and bliss. I'm running to my cushion now emoticon But, I should probably be practicing insight, because it is what has caused the most profound yet brief experiences lately,

Thank you, thank you.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/24/13 7:09 PM as a reply to Jason R.
Jason R:
Thank you so much. That event I described happened about 9 months ago, and then I went through a really, really dark moment for about 3 months. I was disgusted with humanity, and felt hopeless. I even became suicidal for a bit, but I knew that something was "off", so I just kept meditating and reading. I slept alot during this time--up to 12 hours a day. There was nothing wrong with life, and only in the last month have I come to the most pronounced clear mind I've ever experienced. I mean, it was good after that ecstatic bliss event, but after that 3 month depression, my mind was much calmer and clearer, and blissful moments are few and far between--if any. I kind of miss them in the amount I experienced after that ecstatic bliss experience, but the pronounced feeling of calm and stability I have now is very welcome. It seems like nothing can challenge it, and all of my life is progressing very smoothly. I have to say that after much contemplation and reading the guide, I feel that I am in Equanimity. Maybe I'm wrong, but it really feels accurate based on what has happened in the last year, and how I experience reality now.

Regardless of all this, and whether I am in Equanimity or still A&P, I must thank you for responding, and especially with the encouragement to cultivate joy in the way you described. I really have suffered deeply most of my life, and I have a deep yearning for more experiences of intense joy, ecstasy and bliss. I'm running to my cushion now emoticon But, I should probably be practicing insight, because it is what has caused the most profound yet brief experiences lately,

Thank you, thank you.


I enjoyed reading your story and am very happy at your perceived breakthrough. ;) I hope you continue enjoying your practice and wish you the very best

Welcome to the Dho.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/24/13 8:23 PM as a reply to Joshua, the solitary.
Joshua ..:
Mind over easy:
Another thing to try: try to focus on the emotion of joy.


Personally I would not recommend this. The a&p is already giving a lot of joy and looking at it, it is near impossible to not be intoxicated by it further and become stagnant in progression. I would suggest dry vipassana, the furthest thing away from jhanic joy, until the a&p is crossed, where the object us seen halfway through.


Can you explain further why you're recommending against this? Addiction to jhanic factors honestly doesn't hold up as a reason to not proceed with jhana. The Buddha's instructions were to cultivate the jhanic factors, such as joy, to the max, and then to let go of them, moving on to cultivate the next factor, and then release it. Not only do we get the extremely soothing, calming, and concentrative advantages of jhana, but we also learn how to fabricate, and how to let go of the fabrication. Hence, fabricating the way to the unfabricated.

Basically, you're making the classic mistake of deeming the corruptions of insight as things to be avoid completely. This can't be right, since joy is one of the seven factors for enlightenment. Hell, even equanimity is a corruption of insight, but you need equanimity right up until the end.

He obviously has crossed the A&P, there is hardly a question. He had a full blown A&P, he has "penetrated the object". You suggest dry insight, but highly advanced and respected teachers such as Kenneth Folk explain that once the A&P is crossed, the meditator needs to focus on/master concentration. I speak from experience as well. I crossed the A&P and spent around a year without getting path, even when I meditated consistently for long periods of time. I got path almost immediately after incorporating jhanic practice. It's obvious that the jhanic practice was the reason.


Anyways, to the OP-

The thing about nanas is that since vipassana's nature is to deconstruct the experience, they are unstable. Hence, one cannot rely on the A&P for positive feelings, since they are volatile and fleeting. However, it is completely okay, and largely beneficial to one's well being to rely on jhana for positive feeling. Joshua was saying you should avoid cultivating joy since you could become attached to it and not want to progress further. I say, what the hell, you were sustaining yourself on opium, and if pure joy from concentration is accessible to you, it is completely advantageous to be able to tap into that joy at any time you feel you could use it. This is done through jhana. Jhana first develops bodily pleasure, then the emotion of joy, then general happiness and well-being, then profound panoramic stillness. Jhana develops concentration, and concentration makes the mind even stronger for insight.

As far as being attached to joy, he's getting at the fact that for 1st path (1st stage of enlightenment) to happen, the mind has to drop attachment to everything for a moment. However, you can't simply start at the end. The point is to blast your mind so hard with joy that once it's had enough, it becomes quiet because it is satisfied. It got what it wanted. Then, there is a happiness that exists solely due to the fact that the mind isn't seeking that fix anymore.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/24/13 9:44 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Mind over easy:
Joshua ..:
Mind over easy:
Another thing to try: try to focus on the emotion of joy.


Personally I would not recommend this. The a&p is already giving a lot of joy and looking at it, it is near impossible to not be intoxicated by it further and become stagnant in progression. I would suggest dry vipassana, the furthest thing away from jhanic joy, until the a&p is crossed, where the object us seen halfway through.


Can you explain further why you're recommending against this? Addiction to jhanic factors honestly doesn't hold up as a reason to not proceed with jhana. The Buddha's instructions were to cultivate the jhanic factors, such as joy, to the max, and then to let go of them, moving on to cultivate the next factor, and then release it. Not only do we get the extremely soothing, calming, and concentrative advantages of jhana, but we also learn how to fabricate, and how to let go of the fabrication. Hence, fabricating the way to the unfabricated.

Basically, you're making the classic mistake of deeming the corruptions of insight as things to be avoid completely. This can't be right, since joy is one of the seven factors for enlightenment. Hell, even equanimity is a corruption of insight, but you need equanimity right up until the end.

He obviously has crossed the A&P, there is hardly a question. He had a full blown A&P, he has "penetrated the object". You suggest dry insight, but highly advanced and respected teachers such as Kenneth Folk explain that once the A&P is crossed, the meditator needs to focus on/master concentration. I speak from experience as well. I crossed the A&P and spent around a year without getting path, even when I meditated consistently for long periods of time. I got path almost immediately after incorporating jhanic practice. It's obvious that the jhanic practice was the reason.


Anyways, to the OP-

The thing about nanas is that since vipassana's nature is to deconstruct the experience, they are unstable. Hence, one cannot rely on the A&P for positive feelings, since they are volatile and fleeting. However, it is completely okay, and largely beneficial to one's well being to rely on jhana for positive feeling. Joshua was saying you should avoid cultivating joy since you could become attached to it and not want to progress further. I say, what the hell, you were sustaining yourself on opium, and if pure joy from concentration is accessible to you, it is completely advantageous to be able to tap into that joy at any time you feel you could use it. This is done through jhana. Jhana first develops bodily pleasure, then the emotion of joy, then general happiness and well-being, then profound panoramic stillness. Jhana develops concentration, and concentration makes the mind even stronger for insight.

As far as being attached to joy, he's getting at the fact that for 1st path (1st stage of enlightenment) to happen, the mind has to drop attachment to everything for a moment. However, you can't simply start at the end. The point is to blast your mind so hard with joy that once it's had enough, it becomes quiet because it is satisfied. It got what it wanted. Then, there is a happiness that exists solely due to the fact that the mind isn't seeking that fix anymore.


I believe we have a misunderstanding regarding 'getting to the a&p' and 'crossing the a&p'. By 'in the a&p' I mean one can have dozens of mad kundalini experiences and the like, and feel really nice much of the time. By crossing, I mean the last 1% of the nana where there is a massive event, at least in terms of vipassana, where you are then officially on the second part of the path and heading for dukkha nanas.

If he had crossed the a&p, then the OP is headed for bland and dark territory and his post hasn't suggested he is there yet after his great experiences. Also the final description far better fits an event inside the a&p rather than its crossing. Only so much you can get from text though.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/24/13 10:16 PM as a reply to Joshua, the solitary.
I've never noticed that thing about the massive event at the very end of the A&P, but it's possible I'm missing it. That sounds interesting. I think I crossed the A&P before I started meditating. When I started doing vipassana, I definitely crossed over it the first time the spinal energetic stuff started happening. Does it only happen previous to having fully crossed it ever, or every time, even after multiple A&P's of the same path? I'll look for it if I'm in a position to do so.

That event I described happened about 9 months ago, and then I went through a really, really dark moment for about 3 months. I was disgusted with humanity, and felt hopeless. I even became suicidal for a bit, but I knew that something was "off", so I just kept meditating and reading. I slept alot during this time--up to 12 hours a day. There was nothing wrong with life, and only in the last month have I come to the most pronounced clear mind I've ever experienced. I mean, it was good after that ecstatic bliss event, but after that 3 month depression, my mind was much calmer and clearer, and blissful moments are few and far between--if any. I kind of miss them in the amount I experienced after that ecstatic bliss experience, but the pronounced feeling of calm and stability I have now is very welcome. It seems like nothing can challenge it, and all of my life is progressing very smoothly. I have to say that after much contemplation and reading the guide, I feel that I am in Equanimity. Maybe I'm wrong, but it really feels accurate based on what has happened in the last year, and how I experience reality now.


To me, this sounds like A&P territory -> cycling up through DN territory -> either resting at dissolution and/or 2nd jhana territory or resting at equanimity and/or 4th jhana territory. That is why I thought he had fully crossed the A&P. In any case, I still think doing concentration is a reliable way to progress through higher nanas and establish anchors (jhanic points) along the way, not to mention the soothing and stabilizing effect.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/25/13 1:02 AM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Firstly, thank you again, Mind over Easy. You saw through to what I was really saying, and that is a first for me on all the forums Ive used.

I began this journey to end suffering (enlightenment). Along the way, I would very much like to be able to stop using all substances and dose myself with that beautiful feeling I described above, when I need it. It felt like i was finally "home" during that experience.

I want my practice to pay off in a way that enables me access to something I've longed for--to feel really good without drugs and substances. Right now, I have substances under control, and only use the one I mentioned, but I want them gone entirely.

Since learning of jhana concentration states a couple days ago, I've been able to finally cultivate at least 1st jhana quickly every time I meditate. But, all I get is a bodily vibration that feels pleasurable, but pales in comparison to the experience I described, even when cultivated for an hour. And of course my mind becomes very concentrated and still as well. I see that based on your description of jhana, I am close to feeling joy as well during that state?

Is it possible to cultivate ecstatic bliss through jhana when I need it?? Or will nothing ever measure up to that beautiful experience I detailed? I've gone a long time studying, practicing and searching for the answer. At this point I just wanna know it is possible.

Again. Thank you, Mind over Easy and Joshua.

Thank you for taking the time to offer guidance.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/25/13 12:52 AM as a reply to Sleeping Buddha Syndrome.
A D R:
Jason R:
Thank you so much. That event I described happened about 9 months ago, and then I went through a really, really dark moment for about 3 months. I was disgusted with humanity, and felt hopeless. I even became suicidal for a bit, but I knew that something was "off", so I just kept meditating and reading. I slept alot during this time--up to 12 hours a day. There was nothing wrong with life, and only in the last month have I come to the most pronounced clear mind I've ever experienced. I mean, it was good after that ecstatic bliss event, but after that 3 month depression, my mind was much calmer and clearer, and blissful moments are few and far between--if any. I kind of miss them in the amount I experienced after that ecstatic bliss experience, but the pronounced feeling of calm and stability I have now is very welcome. It seems like nothing can challenge it, and all of my life is progressing very smoothly. I have to say that after much contemplation and reading the guide, I feel that I am in Equanimity. Maybe I'm wrong, but it really feels accurate based on what has happened in the last year, and how I experience reality now.

Regardless of all this, and whether I am in Equanimity or still A&P, I must thank you for responding, and especially with the encouragement to cultivate joy in the way you described. I really have suffered deeply most of my life, and I have a deep yearning for more experiences of intense joy, ecstasy and bliss. I'm running to my cushion now emoticon But, I should probably be practicing insight, because it is what has caused the most profound yet brief experiences lately,

Thank you, thank you.


I enjoyed reading your story and am very happy at your perceived breakthrough. ;) I hope you continue enjoying your practice and wish you the very best

Welcome to the Dho.


Thank you, ADR. I rushed the story to try and keep it short, so I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope I can contribute to DhO in a big way

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/25/13 3:05 PM as a reply to Jason R.
Since learning of jhana concentration states a couple days ago, I've been able to finally cultivate at least 1st jhana quickly every time I meditate. But, all I get is a bodily vibration that feels pleasurable, but pales in comparison to the experience I described, even when cultivated for an hour. And of course my mind becomes very concentrated and still as well. I see that based on your description of jhana, I am close to feeling joy as well during that state?


Nice, you can get into 1st jhana quickly. Anyways, for me, the 1st jhana is the most unstable. I have a lot of trouble really getting locked into it. However, if I can keep expanding my awareness of the pleasure in the body, eventually, a happy feeling will arise. Then, to get to 2nd jhana, I focus on that happy, joyous feeling, and "let go". It's like allowing the joy to take on a life of it's own. The joy tends to take hold and expand, often feeling like it's going on between my eyebrows. The energy of this jhana is high, and you can see how it corresponds to the nana of the A&P. But in the jhanic setting, you are basically trying to rest, work from quiet, calm, and gentle confidence, arousing the particular factors for the jhana. You get from one jhana to the next by letting the main factor of the jhana blossom fully, then by letting it die away. Each time you go up higher in jhana, factors drop away.

So, 1st jhana, you use steady, held-in-place concentration to get the bodily pleasure going, and try to stabilize the jhana. There should be held-in-place concentration, bodily pleasure, joy, happiness, and one-pointedness. The bodily pleasure and sense of held concentration should predominate as they are the most coarse. The other factors are there, but they are more subtle so they don't stand out. Then, to get to 2nd jhana, you let the bodily pleasure and sense of firmly held concentration die away, naturally, on their own. Turn your focus to the sensation of joy, the intense emotional pleasure. Not like you were holding concentration in the 1st jhana though, more loose, like joy is the sun slowly rising above the horizon. Even if your eyes are closed, the sunlight is visibly tangible. It's like that with the joy. You just have to find even the slightest amount of joy and let it expand. After awhile, it will peak. You're left with joy as the predominate factor, and with happiness and one-pointedness as the other factors. In the same way you let the bodily pleasure and strongly held concentration drop away in the 1st jhana, you let the intense joy drop away, like the sun setting. Drop that factor, and focus on the factor of simple happiness to move on to the 3rd jhana. Think along these lines... "I'm simply happy to be alive.". It's very much an afterglow from the intense joy felt in the previous jhana. It's a very satisfying, subtle happiness. Notice how it's much quieter than the last jhana. There's also often a subtle, pleasurable feeling in the body during 3rd jhana, although it isn't like the coarse vibration in the 1st jhana. It's more of a fine, consistent, and low-key pleasure. The 3rd is a really peaceful and happy jhana to rest at. In order to get to 4th, you let go of the subtle happiness that is left. This is often hard to do, since the emotions are already very quiet by this point, and it seems so subtle and perfect in comparison to previous jhanas. But just as leaving 2nd jhana to go to 3rd jhana left you with a more subtle, profound, and stable sense of peace and concentration, going from 3rd to 4th is like going from gentle wake on the lake to absolute stillness. Once the happiness drops away, you're left with only one-pointedness, and equanimity. Once you can let go of the happiness, you find that there is actually incredible peace and clarity when the emotions and thoughts go quite silent. 4th jhana is very wide, panoramic, and silent.

That's my instructions for jhana, but you can find all sorts of instructions out there. If this works for you, great, but if not, you could look for Tarin's instructions for jhana, read the instructions in MCTB, check out Leigh Brasington's instructions, etc...

Happy trails!

Oh, and one more thing. Enlightenment isn't about establishing a consistent base of joy or happiness. Although these things are indeed wonderful and can be cultivated through jhana, enlightenment is about realizing the true nature of reality, what it consists of, and how you relate to it. Every sensation is impermanent, lacking any identity or ownership, and unable to permanently satisfy. This includes the sensations that you consider to be you, your thoughts, your mind, your feelings, your actions, etc... The point of enlightenment is to see those three characteristics I just mentioned in every sensation, real time. Doing so while building concentration is how you proceed through the nanas. Once you get to the nana of equanimity, you note even the most subtle sensations as conforming to the 3 characteristics, and once you've seen the three characteristics fully for a short moment, the mind goes to nirvana, and when it comes back, there are permanent changes, and a profound sense of relief. This relief is arguably better than joy or happiness, as it comes from permanently correcting a kind of misinterpretation of reality, which tends to increase concentration, and generally chill a person out a lot.

RE: Ecstatic Blissful Multi-Epiphany (A self-intro/question
Answer
2/25/13 3:11 PM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Is it possible to cultivate ecstatic bliss through jhana when I need it?? Or will nothing ever measure up to that beautiful experience I detailed? I've gone a long time studying, practicing and searching for the answer. At this point I just wanna know it is possible.


Just to reiterate... Yes! emoticon

And, I'm saying, ecstatic bliss is only level 2. You can cultivate a great, contended happiness as well. But that's only level 3. You can cultivate a very profound, still peace, more peaceful than the last levels. But that's only 4. There are 4 more, even! But, the benefits of getting enlightened are different from the effects of jhana, and arguably, much better yet. Welcome to the dharma world, land of all sorts of interesting jhanas, paths of enlightenment, modes of perception, world of vibrations and such. Welcome to the jungle! Hah.