Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Anu De Abrew, modified 8 Years ago.

Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Post: 1 Join Date: 7/26/13 Recent Posts
Hello my fellow dharma brothers and sisters,

This is my first post on DHO. I am happy to be a part of such a great community that help each other for a greater good.

Before my question let me explain my scenario. I am a 28 year old male, Theravada Buddhist who has only gotten into samatha meditation very recently. I want to master samatha for a while and then begin Vipassana. My meditative experience span from the past 3 - 4 months. Initially I meditated for 15 mins every night and found it hard to concentrate and fell asleep most of the time. Then I increased the time to 1 hour and meditated during the day over the weekend. This helped immensely and I soon mastered samatha to a degree that I experienced the 1st Jhana and maybe the 2nd. The reason why I'm so sure about the achievement is that I experienced Piti, Sukka & Ekaaggata, but I didn't experience much of Vitakka or Vicara.

So approaching the question, as of recently in the past two weeks my achievements were not up to my expectations, which is to sustain a jhanic experience. I felt like my mind was running all over the place, almost as if I had started from the beginning. This was frustrating since my expectations were too high. Then I got weary from trying to control my wondering mind and kept falling asleep each time. What am I doing wrong here ? Am I clinging to Jhanas ? Is it time to move on from samatha ?

Thank you for taking time to read my scenario, and I appreciate any attempt to help me overcome this situation.


May triple gem bless you all
Rist Ei, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
hello,

Imho jhana is resting place for a yogi. Vipassana is method for holding you awake/aware longer times. Surrendering, is letting the prana flow freely and when the cup is full you get stream entry.

i think you don't do nothing wrong.
I did not mastered any jhanas, i practiced mainly how to surrender and keep the mind still..and when i didn't practice i tried to be awake, at first like once a day was able to remember to be awake.

my advice: follow your heart. find what works best for you.
B B, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 69 Join Date: 9/14/12 Recent Posts
Hi Anu,

I was in your situation about a year ago - I was having trouble with expectations and also set myself the goal of getting reliable access to jhana before moving on to vipassana.

What am I doing wrong here?

As you say in your post, your expectations are too high. You just need to find ways of thinking yourself out of this problem. Try to come to terms with the possibility that it might take you years to attain jhana reliably (though if you've reached the first jhana after only 3-4 months with that kind of regimen, I'd be highly confident this isn't going to happen), while also retaining your drive to practice daily (very important). Try not to 'make things happen'. Also, check out a previous post of mine for other advice, if you'd like.
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Dream Walker, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 1356 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Anu De Abrew:
Hello my fellow dharma brothers and sisters,

This is my first post on DHO. I am happy to be a part of such a great community that help each other for a greater good.

Before my question let me explain my scenario. I am a 28 year old male, Theravada Buddhist who has only gotten into samatha meditation very recently. I want to master samatha for a while and then begin Vipassana. My meditative experience span from the past 3 - 4 months. Initially I meditated for 15 mins every night and found it hard to concentrate and fell asleep most of the time. Then I increased the time to 1 hour and meditated during the day over the weekend. This helped immensely and I soon mastered samatha to a degree that I experienced the 1st Jhana and maybe the 2nd. The reason why I'm so sure about the achievement is that I experienced Piti, Sukka & Ekaaggata, but I didn't experience much of Vitakka or Vicara.

So approaching the question, as of recently in the past two weeks my achievements were not up to my expectations, which is to sustain a jhanic experience. I felt like my mind was running all over the place, almost as if I had started from the beginning. This was frustrating since my expectations were too high. Then I got weary from trying to control my wondering mind and kept falling asleep each time. What am I doing wrong here ? Am I clinging to Jhanas ? Is it time to move on from samatha ?

Thank you for taking time to read my scenario, and I appreciate any attempt to help me overcome this situation.


May triple gem bless you all

Try meditating at different times of the day to find when you're awake but not too awake (monkey mind).
Check your coffee intake, I had to drink only a half cup of half decaff to get the right awake state without overstimulation.
I like to start with concentration then move to insite each meditation...try 15 min concentration then move to 45 insite, or whatever balance you like.
Try going on a retreat...Goenka has free retreats almost everywhere and it will really get you going....
Remember practice keeps changing and you will go thru times of no forward movement then progress..do not get frustrated as this only hinders the process.
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katy steger, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Anu,

I felt like my mind was running all over the place, almost as if I had started from the beginning. This was frustrating since my expectations were too high. Then I got weary from trying to control my wondering mind and kept falling asleep each time. What am I doing wrong here ? Am I clinging to Jhanas ? Is it time to move on from samatha ?
So in addition to the coffee comments from D.W. and others, this restlessness and inability to drop distractions in favor of the object of concentration is very normal. Even after great concentration experiences, this can take a long practice history/life to work out.

(...) but I didn't experience much of Vitakka or Vicara.
When I/you/one is experiencing this mind "running all over the place" this is the perfect terrain for training in vitakka and viccara, first jhana: The mind is repeatedly brought back to the object, even if that's the entirety of the 60 minutes.

This teaches the mind that there are no rewards for chasing distractions. (Now if I did that like I know to do it, my practice would be obvious...)

One scholar monk keeps a notebook by his cushion and he permits himself to write down a note or two for the first 5-10 minutes of a sit, then that's it. It keeps his academic mind able to access some novel ideas but also puts limits on the wandering mind. This monk also exercises a bit and a lot of us find that this reduces some restlessness/agitation. Our meditative forbearers probably walked a lot at the very least...
Anu De Abrew, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/30/13 Recent Posts
This is Anu De Abrew. I changed my password and from then I couldn't log in to my account, I tried the forgot password option a few times and I didn't get a notification from dharmaoverground.com. So I had to create a new account.

Anyway thank you all for the supportive words. I think even discussing this issue out in the open changed my mind set and few days after I was able to gain a jhanic experience, one of the powerful ones Ive experienced.

If I was to extract the advice that worked for me. I think the right time of the day is very important. Its true that even if you have experienced greater concentrations it is natural to wander, this is why we practice samatha in the first place.

I strongly believe there is attachment to jhana from my experience, because it is a state of mind, so if we contemplate such a state through meditation it is because we crave it. I think jhana should be practiced with a self less attitude to minimize clinging to it.

Would love to hear what people think of whether its possible to cling on to jhanic states.
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katy steger, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
I strongly believe there is attachment to jhana from my experience, because it is a state of mind, so if we contemplate such a state through meditation it is because we crave it. I think jhana should be practiced with a self less attitude to minimize clinging to it.

Would love to hear what people think of whether its possible to cling on to jhanic states.
Yes, indeed, very possible. I did this despite my best efforts for several months. Fourth jhana was extraordinary to me and it is a gateway to the arupa jhanas. I mean it is very natural to get attached to this mind-state.

But while it strongly informs the mind (insight), this concentrated state also passes away. And if one loads jhana with clinging (which is possible when one exits concentration or clinging/attraction will get one booted from the concentration or prevent one from entering concentration), then stress is created. So after a while, even I learned to just sit and mind the breath --- then fourth jhana can arise and there is no longer any clinging when it passes. I also found that daily, regular life is superbly worth listening closely to and offers unique challenges (e.g. work) to concentration; when I valued the immensity of practice in daily life more, listening, making more effort here, then jhana took on a more level place in the practice, not so promoted nor overly special : )

Anyway, now I commonly note or recognize an intention before sitting and then let go and just sit, just bind the mind to the breath. Over the next days/weeks/even months that intention tends to bear out some understanding during samatha meditation (just sitting, just breath). I think this may be similar to the effect you noticed here:
I think even discussing this issue out in the open changed my mind set and few days after I was able to gain a jhanic experience, one of the powerful ones Ive experienced.
Using our directing, more conscious mind, we can create directed thoughts, like recognizing our intention before sitting. Using open, let-go, put-mind-on-the-object samatha mind, the mind can receive insight --- something that can't be anticipated or even imagined ahead of time, let alone consciously directed--- or, 'at least', there will be a useful rest that comes from meditative stabilization on a single point (e.g. the breath at the lip-nose area).
Anu De Abrew, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/30/13 Recent Posts
Hi Katy,

Thank you so much for your valuable advise.

A bit off the main question, how do you progress from one Jhana to the next one, does it all happen in one sitting, is it more like shifting gears ? which is progressive, or do you attain one Jhana and then next time you attain a higher one ? How exactly do you know when you get to a higher Jhana ?

Sorry to bombard with questions, but this is an area of vichikichcha for me.

Thank you
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Dream Walker, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 1356 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Anu De Abrew:
Hi Katy,

Thank you so much for your valuable advise.

A bit off the main question, how do you progress from one Jhana to the next one, does it all happen in one sitting, is it more like shifting gears ? which is progressive, or do you attain one Jhana and then next time you attain a higher one ? How exactly do you know when you get to a higher Jhana ?

Sorry to bombard with questions, but this is an area of vichikichcha for me.

Thank you


There are lots of books on it
Read Ians thread - Jhanas
Then read some old school vimuttimagga starting on pages 142 (at the top of the page or page number 79 in the book itself) If you're into old time descriptions.
Vimuttimagga
To answer your questions - keep concentrating, yes, yes, sometimes, hindsight matches descriptions.
Good luck,
~D
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Ian And, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Anu De Abrew:
A bit off the main question, how do you progress from one Jhana to the next one, does it all happen in one sitting, is it more like shifting gears?

Depending upon the instruction one is following, it could happen in a number of ways. Unless you have been able to increase your mindfulness to the point that you are able to become aware of subtle changes in consciousness without becoming distracted, then you may be able to follow the progression one dhyana at a time. Unfortunately, for most people such mental control doesn't start to develop until much later in their practice. And in this case the transitions are, in general, experienced as seemless. In other words, you're not able to observe or distinguish them as they happen. Don't be alarmed by this, it is par for the course, and quite common among meditators who are just gaining experience in meditation.

My suggestion, depending upon the instruction you are following, would be to just go for paying attention to how the mental activity of the dhyana factors (vitakka, vicara, piti, and sukha) gradually lose their hold on the mind and fall away such that as the mind become quieter and quieter, it slips into the fourth dhyana simply because you were focused on quieting the mind from all agitation (piti and sukha being the main determinators of agitation on the way to the fourth dhyana) until you reached a state of sublime tranquility, quietude, and calmness. When you reach that stage, you know that you are in samadhi, which is the destination you need to reach in order to be able to begin effective insight meditation.

The way to accomplish this is to just focus on letting go of all agitating mental/emotional phenomena (elation and joy, in particular, after you observe that they have arisen) such that your focus is on achieving a deeply tranquil state, which in the beginning you may experience as surpassing any state that you have previously acquired. Once you experience this state, you will know what it "feels like" to be in a rock solid concentrated state. You need this kind of rock solid concentration in order to be successful in your insight work.

Using this instruction pattern, then, dhyana is only a tool for reaching samadhi, from which you can begin to examine phenomena (using vipassana or insight meditation) in order to "see things as they actually are."

Anu De Abrew:

or do you attain one Jhana and then next time you attain a higher one?

Sometimes it can go like this, especially if you are preoccupied with being able to discern the transitions as they are happening. I spent some time experiencing this outcome. But I would recommend that you not be concerned about discerning the transitions when you are first learning about dhyana practice and simply focus on calming (samatha) the mind as you endeavor to reach the fourth dhyana. The discernment can come (be developed) later. It is calming the mind that is more often than not the tricky part. Once you've been able to master that (calming the mind), then everything else seems to naturally and effortlessly fall into place.

Anu De Abrew:

How exactly do you know when you get to a higher Jhana?

Through an increase in your ability to discern subtle mental phenomena. When you finally understand how vitakka and vicara are used to induce the dhyanic state, then you will begin to notice more clearly the arising of piti and sukha. Once you are able to clearly discern each of the mental factors necessary in the traditional formulaic expression of dhyana, then you will be able to discern when each progressively higher dhyana state arises, and when, as piti is let go of, and sukha is let go of, how the mind then naturally settles into the fourth dhyana, where there is an absence of agitation.

Notice that I used the word "induce." Yes, you read that correctly. The way the instructions are described in the discourses what you are doing is inducing a very relaxing mental state, then gradually, letting go of each of the mental factors that were instrumental in achieving that state until all that is left is mindfulness, clear awareness, and equanimity. (Note: You are the one who must bring the equanimity; the other two qualities arise naturally as a result of the calmness. Equanimity just means having an unbiased mental outlook upon the phenomena that arise; not reading anything that isn't there into it, in other words.)
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Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 1640 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Similar to what Katy is saying, just keep bringing your mind back to the object. I remember the Dalai Lama giving this advice on the best students. The best students no matter what was mentally happening would come back to the breath with no analysis of progress or self-analysis of any kind.

There's nothing wrong with sleep. If I needed sleep I would prefer to get it than meditate more. Sometimes you just need to sleep. When you get better at this practice you may need a little less sleep but only a little bit. The practice in some ways may keep you awake early in the morning. What happens is that if you condition the mind to concentration it starts doing that on it's own out of habit.

The typical advice is to switch to insight practice when you attain jhanas and especially with the 4th jhana. The insight practice will ween you off the jhanas (literally), because there's always a sense of a doer meditating and this doer has craving and aversion to the practice. The mistake that many make (including me) is to drop concentration practice all together. When you've developed that momentum you need the concentration to help with insight. Instead of locking into a jhana you can see the 3 characteristics instead of absorbing only with the breath. Jhanas are fun places to be just for their own sake and if you become really good at them you can go into them at will.
Anu De Abrew, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/30/13 Recent Posts
Dear all,

I apologize for the delayed reply and a thank you to all is well over due. But better late than never.

I did find relief in this discussion, but new struggles arise as I advance.

Anyhow thank you Rist Ei, BB, Katy, Richard and Dream Walker for your valuable input that helped me immensely.

P.S - Dream Walker, your avatar looks very "jhanic" emoticon
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katy steger, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Dear Anu,

I'm sorry I missed your post and these questions:
A bit off the main question, how do you progress from one Jhana to the next one, does it all happen in one sitting, is it more like shifting gears ? which is progressive, or do you attain one Jhana and then next time you attain a higher one ? How exactly do you know when you get to a higher Jhana ?

In addition to what Ian and Dream Walker provided, I'll add my experience:
1-- just like Ian mentioned: vitakka and vicāra cause/induce the other jhanas.
[indent]a) when I'm just trying to get vitakka --- initial application --- my effort to place attention on the breath reminds me of a kindergarten teacher just continually, gently asking all the kids (many wandering thoughts) to come to their seats (and in exactly the same way as kindergarten kids, it helps me to have some cardiovascular or weight-bearing exercise before meditation; I find this burns off jumpy energy and removes sluggishness;

b) when my mind is settling into first jhana (when sustaining application occurs, vicāra), the simile came to me today that it is like my mind is the rolling pin rolling out the dough of the breath. Like a rolling pin, the mind now is applying some slight weight as it sinks into the in/out rolling motion of the breath at the lip/nostril area, like the mind actually rolls on the breath like the moderate weight of a wooden rolling pin on bread dough; this feeling becomes suffusive. I don't want to give simile's for the feeling of suffusion because it can feel differently and I don't want you to try for a feeling. I will say it can, to me, sometimes feel like bodily sensation is collecting into that rolling pin-rolling out the breath or it can feel like that rolling-pin-rolling out the breath is moving into the entirety of the body. Regardless, when you get to the point where your mind is getting settled on the breath, then it will show you moments of suffusion and like a Wii game, you can learn to encourage suffusion. [/indent]

2-- Once this rolling pin effect starts I will notice that there is occasionally an energetic electricity sort of popping up body-wide; I compare the body feeling as being like the head of a dandelion flower gone to seed--- that seed head with its funny little antennae seeds everywhere getting some zesty electricity: there arises a kind of athletic energy all over the body and this allows me to move mental focus to this sensation and naturally let go of vitakka and vicāra. I recently learned that "Zest" is a translation of second jhana (as well as "joy" and "rapture"). I like zest, because the 2nd concentrated state to me does feel very energized, zesty!

Between all of our replies that's probably more than enough to work with.

How's it going?
Anu De Abrew, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/30/13 Recent Posts
Hi Ian and Katy,

Thanks for the elaborated guide.

First of all, I have not taken any instructions from any school or monastery. Neither have I been to any external retreats. Mostly I affirm my achievements through the knowledge gained from reading and through intuition I gain through meditation and sati.

Right now, as I have mentioned in my first question, I have gained the 2nd jhana, but I have not been able to maintain the absorption for any longer than 30 mins. The first few times I experienced jhana was through effort without any expectation and it happened spontaneously. Then when I knew I could gain it pretty much every time I sat down, I had this background notion that gaining a jhana each time is a must and if I couldn't, its a let down which ultimately leads to frustration and disappointment. Lately with the help of you all, I have been able to handle the ego's need to gain a jhana to a certain extent.

The 2nd challenge is when I get to the first jhana now, it immediately trigger to release a set of thoughts like "oh its happening" and then it sets in a sort of an agitation which then delays the jhana from happening.

The quality of the daily practice varies. On the week days after I come back from work and sit down for a meditation, I find that the mind is a storm and its literally a monkey mind, after the mind has its tantrum then the body gets tired and tends to fall asleep. But on the weekends Jhana is guaranteed if I sit down for 30mins to 1 hour. This is also a disappointment because I cant seem to find consistency in my achievements.

My ultimate goal is not reaching jhana, but I seem to be very captivated by it. My ultimate goal is the same as some one who wants to end suffering in this life it self. Without a proper teacher its difficult for me to start insight on my own, so until I find one I thought I would stick to samadhi.

Also I have been reading Ian and's posts which helped me but there seem to be a lot that I need to discover on my own to relate to his content. I admire you all reaching out to help a total stranger like me.
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katy steger, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
My ultimate goal is not reaching jhana, but I seem to be very captivated by it. My ultimate goal is the same as some one who wants to end suffering in this life it self. Without a proper teacher its difficult for me to start insight on my own, so until I find one I thought I would stick to samadhi.
Excellent, excellent.

I do not actually separate out insight and samadhi except here (on the DhO, where people do discuss vipassana and samadhi jhana). What I've found is that when the mind enters the equanimous concentration, insights come up there (in samadhi) in addition to just samadhi itself and the mind naturally turns to look at some of these phenomena (and can get too uplifted and cause one to jump out, so to speak. It's okay, totally fine). These are the insights or cessations that have caused me to start enjoying life, the people around me, the brevity of this life, the decline of cravings, the savoring and fun of what's actually here, the steadying of mind to take things in with focus. It's still slow going as my day-to-day employment shows =]

I admire you all reaching out to help a total stranger like me.
I'm glad you're taking this up.

Right now, as I have mentioned in my first question, I have gained the 2nd jhana, but I have not been able to maintain the absorption for any longer than 30 mins.
Very good. It's just a practice. Perhaps you can start helping people here with what you know and it will help you dig in in other ways?

But on the weekends Jhana is guaranteed if I sit down for 30mins to 1 hour. This is also a disappointment because I cant seem to find consistency in my achievements.
It's okay. Some of this tension building up is really good, because at some point a person's brain gets a little exasperated, give up some, and then a person can sit with a little less expectation and anticipation. Interestingly to me, when I anticipate in meditation, body pains arise!

Anyway, 20 minutes of sincere, mind-in-the-breath sitting is valuable. Long sits are also valuable, but not inherently so.

Also I have been reading Ian and's posts which helped me but there seem to be a lot that I need to discover on my own to relate to his content.
Very true. We could all describe the road's stop signs to a person, but until they see for themselves, it's just not the same. So happy driving. It's truly a personal investigation, a personal lab.

Best wishes.
Anu De Abrew, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/30/13 Recent Posts
Thank you Katy, every word that you contribute helps me the next time I sit down to meditate. Much much appreciated. May you gain all the strength to reach your goals emoticon
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Ian And, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Anu De Abrew:

First of all, I have not taken any instructions from any school or monastery. Neither have I been to any external retreats. Mostly I affirm my achievements through the knowledge gained from reading and through intuition I gain through meditation and sati.

What have you been reading, if I might ask? That can be crucial to a person's development, depending upon the instruction they've been exposed to.

The fact that you are in contact with your intuition is a point in your favor! And will serve you well if you are able to listen to it and discern when it's telling you the truth. When something doesn't feel right, you can bet that your intuition will be there to tell you first.

Anu De Abrew:

Right now, as I have mentioned in my first question, I have gained the 2nd jhana, but I have not been able to maintain the absorption for any longer than 30 mins. The first few times I experienced jhana was through effort without any expectation and it happened spontaneously. Then when I knew I could gain it pretty much every time I sat down, I had this background notion that gaining a jhana each time is a must and if I couldn't, its a let down which ultimately leads to frustration and disappointment. Lately with the help of you all, I have been able to handle the ego's need to gain a jhana to a certain extent.

If you look upon dhyana as a tool to be used to help recondition the mind to become more mindful as well as to develop concentration and don't become overly fascinated by it, then you will be on safe ground. The fact that you now know what it feels like to enter absorption – and are able to achieve it when you're able to remain focused on achieving it – so soon in your practice is a plus. With the proper focus on practice, it can speed up your progress on the eightfold path.

The point about using dhyana as a tool to help recondition the mind cannot be emphasized to strongly. As soon as I realize that, it became the main impetus behind why I looked forward to meditation each day. In the morning, it is a way to set the mind in the correct stance (mindfulness) for taking on the day, and in the evening it helps one to unwind (using insight) from the stresses of the day. The whole of the teaching comes down to being able to "see things as they are" in relation to how they stack up against anicca, dukkha, and anatta, and how well one is able to translate that into a useful mindful response to the events happening in their life. That, and being able to watch how the mind processes (psychologically and emotionally) events that occur in life, are both instrumental in being able to let go of dukkha in one's life.

Anu De Abrew:

The 2nd challenge is when I get to the first jhana now, it immediately trigger to release a set of thoughts like "oh its happening" and then it sets in a sort of an agitation which then delays the jhana from happening.

That's a normal mental response to your reaction of recognizing that it is happening. You have to remain equanimous about its occurrence when it is happening in order to avoid that delaying action. The equanimity towards its occurrence will usually develop as you lose your fascination with being able to enter dhyana at will. When it becomes "old hat," in other words. In the beginning, though, it can be quite a novelty and fascinating. But to overcome the reaction pattern you describe, you must lose the fascination with it, as you realize that it is just like breathing. Nothing special.

Anu De Abrew:

The quality of the daily practice varies. On the week days after I come back from work and sit down for a meditation, I find that the mind is a storm and its literally a monkey mind, after the mind has its tantrum then the body gets tired and tends to fall asleep. But on the weekends Jhana is guaranteed if I sit down for 30mins to 1 hour. This is also a disappointment because I cant seem to find consistency in my achievements.

Until you are able to strengthen mindfulness (sati), the inconsistencies in practice will prevail. Be patient. And keep practicing meditation, regularly. Generally, at least twice a day for an hour each time if you are able to arrange it (once in the morning and evening are ideal). If you aren't able to get in an hour, do at least half an hour and work up to one hour if need be. The more you practice, the better you become, eventually.

Anu De Abrew:

My ultimate goal is not reaching jhana, but I seem to be very captivated by it. My ultimate goal is the same as some one who wants to end suffering in this life it self.

If that is your goal, then I would advise that you not become too enamored with what anyone else besides Gotama has to say about the teaching and practice. At least in the beginning. It is his original method and training that you should be seeking and not someone else's idea of what that might be. It is all too easy to become enamored by writers who profess to teach what "the Buddha" taught, but who leave out important details. Once you become familiar with the basic teachings, you should be less vulnerable to reading material that does not emphasize those points.

In this vein, it is best to find and read the translated discourses to find out first hand what it was he taught and how he taught it. If you need some reading material suggestions, you can find some at this thread: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources.

Anu De Abrew:
Without a proper teacher its difficult for me to start insight on my own, so until I find one I thought I would stick to samadhi.

While it is advisable to have someone with whom you are able to converse face to face, as it were, in order to sort through misunderstandings in a more efficient way, there are now some very helpful books (like Analayo's Satipattana, The Direct Path to Realization) that can help with the process of insight meditation. So, keep an open mind about that.

The most important thing is not so much having a teacher (Gotama is the teacher) or someone to help interpret and break down what it was he taught, but rather in having and following correct instruction. By correct, I mean, instruction that you actually need to focus upon in order to achieve liberation. Had I been given correct instruction in the beginning of my journey, it wouldn't have taken nearly thirty years to achieve the goal. As it was, once I began to focus like a laser on reading and dissecting the suttas, it only took seven years to achieve the goal from that point.

People think that they can reduce the practice to a few simple practice approaches in order to realize what Gotama realized. Perhaps for some, the very intelligent, this might be possible. Yet, for the vast majority, if they leave out a lot of what was originally taught, it has a real effect on what they eventually accomplish or don't accomplish with the practice.

Anu De Abrew:

Also I have been reading Ian and's posts which helped me but there seem to be a lot that I need to discover on my own to relate to his content.

Yes, there is a lot there in that Jhana thread that one needs to experience for themselves so that they can see what is being referred to from first hand experience. There is also a lot there that will answer questions that arise during this process, hopefully to save the reader time in overcoming these practice questions.
Anu De Abrew, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/30/13 Recent Posts
What have you been reading, if I might ask? That can be crucial to a person's development, depending upon the instruction they've been exposed to


As I introduced my self, I am born and raised in Sri Lanka as a theravada buddhist (which does not mean I have inherent knowledge), theravada buddhism was taught to us in school in each grade. So the basic structure and the principals of buddha's teachings are some what embedded in me. However most of our buddhist practice is limited to "amisha" surface rituals and chants. As I became a young adult I forgot my religion and got stuck in worldly pleasures. When pain struck I started looking for answers in self help books, which sort of helped but then didn't have what I was looking for. I found teachers like Eckhart Tolle who teaches to be in the "Now", and I was able to have a taste of what mindfulness is about. Somehow I returned to my original faith and realized it is the only way out of suffering, things that were once just chanting of sutra's started to make sense as I began practicing. I guess you have to loose your self to find your self. Sorry about the rant on my history

The books I read now are mostly from Theravada linage, Pali translations to my language Sinhala. I am currently reading books by Hon. Henpola Gunarathana

If you look upon dhyana as a tool to be used to help recondition the mind to become more mindful as well as to develop concentration and don't become overly fascinated by it, then you will be on safe ground. The fact that you now know what it feels like to enter absorption – and are able to achieve it when you're able to remain focused on achieving it – so soon in your practice is a plus. With the proper focus on practice, it can speed up your progress on the eightfold path. [

The point about using dhyana as a tool to help recondition the mind cannot be emphasized to strongly. As soon as I realize that, it became the main impetus behind why I looked forward to meditation each day.


You're right, I was fascinated by the effects of jhana and now its starting to wear off. As you describe I am starting to realize it is just a tool and being stuck on it is like spending all my time and energy boasting and glorifying the tool and not using it to carve my way to find the path.

In the morning, it is a way to set the mind in the correct stance (mindfulness) for taking on the day, and in the evening it helps one to unwind (using insight) from the stresses of the day.


You read my mind. Since I don't do vipassana I thought of starting it once I come back from work, then to practice samatha in the morning.

The whole of the teaching comes down to being able to "see things as they are" in relation to how they stack up against anicca, dukkha, and anatta, and how well one is able to translate that into a useful mindful response to the events happening in their life. That, and being able to watch how the mind processes (psychologically and emotionally) events that occur in life, are both instrumental in being able to let go of dukkha in one's life



Until you are able to strengthen mindfulness (sati), the inconsistencies in practice will prevail. Be patient. And keep practicing meditation, regularly. Generally, at least twice a day for an hour each time if you are able to arrange it (once in the morning and evening are ideal). If you aren't able to get in an hour, do at least half an hour and work up to one hour if need be. The more you practice, the better you become, eventually.


Understood, I am trying as much as I can to be mindful throughout the day. But some events just drag my attention away for a good while.

In this vein, it is best to find and read the translated discourses to find out first hand what it was he taught and how he taught it. If you need some reading material suggestions, you can find some at this thread: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources.

While it is advisable to have someone with whom you are able to converse face to face, as it were, in order to sort through misunderstandings in a more efficient way, there are now some very helpful books (like Analayo's Satipattana, The Direct Path to Realization) that can help with the process of insight meditation. So, keep an open mind about that.

The most important thing is not so much having a teacher (Gotama is the teacher) or someone to help interpret and break down what it was he taught, but rather in having and following correct instruction. By correct, I mean, instruction that you actually need to focus upon in order to achieve liberation. Had I been given correct instruction in the beginning of my journey, it wouldn't have taken nearly thirty years to achieve the goal. As it was, once I began to focus like a laser on reading and dissecting the suttas, it only took seven years to achieve the goal from that point.

People think that they can reduce the practice to a few simple practice approaches in order to realize what Gotama realized. Perhaps for some, the very intelligent, this might be possible. Yet, for the vast majority, if they leave out a lot of what was originally taught, it has a real effect on what they eventually accomplish or don't accomplish with the practice


I agree. I tend not to read into interpretations as much as I used to. But do you suggest that I try to read as much as suttas to aid my journey ? I find that some suttas have a specific audience and it delivers to those who had a specific problem. Wouldn't Sila, Samadhi, Panna serve the purpose of 8 fold path leading to freedom ?

Ian, thank you a million times. I really appreciate you taking time and breaking down my post into bits and addressing them in a such a personalized way that every bit reaches my heart. I nearly cried reading the post because what you said is exactly delivers to some of my issues. emoticon
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Ian And, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
First, a little lesson on how to keep the quotations in a box in your posts:

When you want to keep a quotation in a box, you need to put the "quote command" and "equal sign" then "name" in brackets in front of the passage quoted, with a "closing quote" brackets at the end. Example (using squiggly brackets rather than straight brackets so it will show up correctly here in the post):

{quote=Anu De Abrew}I found teachers like Eckhart Tolle who...{/quote}

Or without a name:

{quote}I found teachers like Eckhart Tolle who...{/quote}

The slash before the word "quote" signals to close the quoted material. But use brackets [ ] rather than squiggly brackets { } when you are quoting material.

Anu De Abrew:
I found teachers like Eckhart Tolle who teaches to be in the "Now", and I was able to have a taste of what mindfulness is about. Somehow I returned to my original faith and realized it is the only way out of suffering, things that were once just chanting of sutra's started to make sense as I began practicing..

Teachers like Eckhart Tolle are an example of people who do indeed have a clue, but who leave out so much of the teaching that they are not worth using your time on. Take whatever is positive about that experience (a taste of mindfulness) and move on to seek out what the original teachings were all about. There is so much there (in the original teaching) that is not explained by people like Tolle. Gotama explains it all in the discourses. There really is no comparison, once you've read and understood the discourses. There is no short cut to understanding everything that he had to teach.

Your intuition is leading you correctly when it influenced you to "return to [your] original faith."

Anu De Abrew:
The books I read now are mostly from Theravada linage, Pali translations to my language Sinhala. I am currently reading books by Hon. Henpola Gunarathana

This is good. When I would read things other than the discourses, it was always from treatises written by other monastics like myself. Bhante Gunarathana is an excellent source for reliable information, and is one of the monastics that I read during my studies. Narada Thera is also very good, along with Nyanaponika Thera (the German monk). In contemporary times, Thanissaro Bhikku (along with Ven. Analayo) is very good at helping Westerners understand the original context of the discourses. These people know what they are talking about when they break down the suttas for a modern audience and comment on them.

Anu De Abrew:
Ian And:
In the morning, it is a way to set the mind in the correct stance (mindfulness) for taking on the day, and in the evening it helps one to unwind (using insight) from the stresses of the day. . . . Until you are able to strengthen mindfulness (sati), the inconsistencies in practice will prevail. Be patient. And keep practicing meditation, regularly.

You read my mind. Since I don't do vipassana I thought of starting it once I come back from work, then to practice samatha in the morning. . . . Understood, I am trying as much as I can to be mindful throughout the day. But some events just drag my attention away for a good while.

Here is a hint. When something happens during the day that it dominates your mind when you come home after work and it won't go away, use it as the object of your evening meditation. Get it figured out, thought out, examine it so that you can put that issue to rest in order that it no longer distracts you from what you want to do during meditation.

Now, many teachers will speak against this advice, telling you that you should put these things out of your mind and focus only on understanding the Dhamma. While that may be all well and good, it doesn't address the problem that whatever the issue is, it is affecting your ability to concentrate NOW. I say, examine the issue, get it sorted out in your mind so that you are then able to move on to focus on understanding the Dhamma. And take whatever time it takes to sort things out. If it takes the whole hour, then so be it. At least it gets the issue settled so that you are then able to concentrate the mind on Dhamma study next time.

THIS IS what insight meditation is all about! Using your calmed and rational mind to sort out issues that concern you. Or to look into issues in order to gain more insight about them. It is all about being able to calmly, rationally, and without bias or prejudice look at an issue and figure it out, to see into it with more wisdom than before.

Anu De Abrew:
I tend not to read into interpretations as much as I used to. But do you suggest that I try to read as much as suttas to aid my journey ? I find that some suttas have a specific audience and it delivers to those who had a specific problem. Wouldn't Sila, Samadhi, Panna serve the purpose of 8 fold path leading to freedom?

How much of the suttas that you intend to read is purely a personal decision. Personally, once I delved into them, I couldn't get enough of them. There was always something I was coming across that surprised me or helped me to understand an issue in a deeper way.

From my perspective, people would be greatly assisted if they took the time to study the five aggregates in depth and how they work, what triggers them. And then mindfully watched those triggering mechanisms within their own mind and mental processes. They would learn much more about how they contribute to their own experience of dukkha if they did that than if they just focused on what things they needed to accomplish to attain to stream entry or anagami. The focus on the stages of insight is oversold sometimes. What one really needs to be able to do is to pay attention to the little things that occur within the mind in order to sort the disorder out. The stages of insight will take care of themselves and come naturally if you are paying attention to the little things first. It's the little things (and not being aware of them) that often shut people down from being able to see with insight into their own mental processes.

The Dhamma is all about watching those mental process (dependent co-arising) and being able to see them for what they are in terms of how they affect the attitude a person has about what is happening to them. When you can see these processes clearly, dukkha doesn't arise, and you can deal with whatever situation faces you with rational intelligence and wisdom.
Anu De Abrew, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Success to failiure, clinging on Jhana ?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/30/13 Recent Posts
I am ashamed about the quotation error, I fixed it, shows how mindful I am emoticon

I was able to source the Buddhist Publications who prints most of those books you suggested so I am able to get them at a very low price. If you ever need any books sent over I'd be happy to do so.

As I said I don't know the beginning or the end of Vipassana, I just know how to keep my Sati during the meditation. I practiced insight as you suggested in the evening after work but fell asleep after 15 - 20 mins, I guess I have to work on that. But I tried samatha right before bed which worked fine.

As I find it difficult to grasp direct translations what would you say the utter most important sections I need to read on (to aid SE) apart from Abhidharma ?

Also one last humble request, you are more than welcome to reject this. Will you be my insight teacher ? will you be able to help me on skype or any medium of that sort. I know this might be inappropriate and may be crossing boundaries, if so I'm sorry. But if you can I can post my skype address here.

Thank you so much for all your effort put in to help me understand dharma

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