Another "was that Jhana"?

ManZ A, modified 11 Years ago.

Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 105 Join Date: 1/12/10 Recent Posts
Hello all,

It's been a while since I've posted here, but I've still been lurking around haha.

Anyway, I've been doing samatha practice for about a month now and I think that I'm kinda...stuck.
I'm doing something wrong in getting jhana? I mean when you're in it, is your mind focused on one object for a certain period of time and can't move anywhere else? Can you be aware of anything besides the meditation object in jhana? (e.g. thoughts). I can really focus on the breath for a while (maybe close to 30 minutes or so), but it still doesn't feel like jhana in that most of the time there's not a bunch of piti or sukha going on.

There was this one time when I went hiking and I saw a stream where I got off the trail and decided to sit down for samatha. At that time I focused on how quiet and secluded the place was (my usual practice place is not too quiet but it's kind of secluded plus its all I have to work with), and after just a few minutes I got waves of rapture that were just well, nothing like I had ever experienced before (the best way I can put it). But during this experience I wasn't focusing on anything other than just the pleasure or rapture and there were still thoughts I was still aware of such as "wow". Was this Jhana or something else? I've never gotten anything like that since then. I'll continue practicing, but surely I'm mistaken somewhere. Maybe a simple "do this and this will happen" would be great.

Some clarification and recommendations would be appreciated.
I'll provide more info if needed.

Thanks emoticon
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Sudden waves of rapture that are unusually impressive, fades, want it back, now feel stuck, poking around forums like this one looking for answers, all classic A&P to Dark Night. Read about the Dark Night and the third vipassana jhana and how to deal with it, then read about Equanimity and try to see how to get there, or be there.

Helpful?

Daniel
ManZ A, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 105 Join Date: 1/12/10 Recent Posts
I was afraid you were gonna say that since I started to suspect it myself after re-reading that chapter, but at the same time there's also a bit of doubt. So there's another question that comes to mind. I mean how does one spontaneously cross the A&P especially since I wasn't even trying to do Vipassana? Is it just a certain inclination of an individual or something else? I thought one would have to pay particular attention to the Three Characteristics at a certain depth for that to happen. But thanks I suppose I might as well switch over to Vipassana then.
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Far too many people cross the A&P without doing any vipassana practice and have no earthly idea what happened to them, what's about to happen, and what to do about it. Daniel crossed the A&P in his mid-teenage years trying to develop the ability to have lucid dreams. Having an A&P experience is part of the process of directly comprehending the Three Characteristics, but the A&P itself often comes from observing some sensory experience closely enough to realize that it's made of bits. This can occur whether or not you're looking for the bits.

If I had to guess, I'd say the reason you had A&P was that you were "feeding" your mind with attention to the nature of your experience instead of with pure concentration, especially as it started to become more wavelike. You would have needed to stay away from anything wavelike or any pleasurable sensations that seem to present themselves automatically, and maintained a sense of effortful applied and sustained attention to a smooth, solid, unitary experience which is pleasurable and exciting. (Since you said that you were attending to the jhana factors, instead of to something like a kasina or what the breath was doing.) In other words, Mind and Body.

Time to go ahead and switch to vipassana until stream entry. Then it will be a lot easier to learn shamatha because you can call up any of the vipassana jhanas at will and turn them into the equivalent shamatha jhanas.
Spencer Jackson Still, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 6/3/10 Recent Posts
I've had a few identical experiences in the past. I've had a few meditations that really stick out in my memory because they were the most filled with pleasure, happiness, and rapture. They were also outside when I was on a camping trip. They happened before I knew much about the three characteristics. At that point I was just concentrating on the breath, not noting. I meditate now for 20-30 minutes regularly, with concentration on the breath, but it is rare to get extreme pleasure or rapture. After my mind settles down and concentration sets in, I can reach a state of stillness or peace, which is pleasurable, but lacking excessive pleasure or rapture like the experiences mentioned above. I also wish to reach that state again, and feel a little stuck. I've been focusing on concentration instead of insight because I've read that when in the early jhanas, there is a lot of happiness and rapture. I felt like I reached jhana previously, but now can't to the same degree.

I thought I was at a lower level of insight than Arising and Passing Away. I have direct insight of the three characteristics, and can relate that knowledge in an abstract way to many aspects life and existence in general. But I haven't practiced noting extensively, so i can only be aware of the characteristics at a much slower rate when meditating. I can't directly perceive the characteristics at the rate I thought I needed to in order to be at a higher stage of insight, nothing like the rapid fire noting I have read about. So is it still possible that I have already crossed the A and P regardless? I think I'm having a very similar experience to the original post... If so, I have a few questions.

If I have crossed the A and P, does that mean I can't return to a lower stage of insight and must progress all the way to stream entry before starting over again? Or, does one shuffle around the stages, moving both forward and backward, before they reach stream entry. So if you experience an A and P, do you not experience it again until after stream entry? If anyone can discuss this a little further it would be great. For now I better switch to insight meditation regardless. Thanks for the original post
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Clayton James Lightfoot, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 1/21/10 Recent Posts
I had an experience very similar to yours. I crossed the A&P for the second time when I was 18 playing around with concentration meditation. After that I had no idea why my practice had hit a wall. I lost interest (or rather interest got real sporadic) finally I found Ingram's book at the beginning of this year 3 years later and a lot of stuff clicked. Keep the faith... consistent practice is *I believe* the only real way out of the Dark Night.... It is possible...
Spencer Jackson Still, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 6/3/10 Recent Posts
So you feel you were in the Dark Night for those 3 years then? Did that have an impact on your life over all? If my experiences were A and P, I crossed that point over a year ago. I'm wondering what kind of emotional effect that might have had on me. I've read about the Dark Night from Daniel's book also, but If I feel "off", or "down", I don't know if that's just because of me or a result of the Dark Night. Did you switch from concentration to insight practice then? How long did it take you to overcome this stage and reach equanimity? Thanks for the reply, Spence
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Clayton James Lightfoot, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 1/21/10 Recent Posts
Was I in the Dark Night for 3 years--Yes I was haha... No I didn't really know about insight practices so I would keep doing some concentration here and there. But it was so challenging I didn't do it for more than a few days at a time. It had a MASSIVE impact on my life. But it is hard to sort out exactly what was the dark night and what was something else. After my first A&P I began the process of going from a heavy teen drinker to a full blown alcoholic. The addictions and the Dark Night were feeding off each other so it is hard to say where one began and the other ended. I would have moments of equanimity. Only to fall back into the Dark Night. I continued to have mind blowing A&Ps throughout this time (both on and off psychedelic drugs)... It was a freaking dark time in my life. When did I get out of it? I mean really get out of it. Probably when I got path (had been clean for 9 months at that point)... there is a reason Daniel recommends getting path so much... because although it isn't a cure all and its not in many ways as dramatic as we make it out to be in our minds it does get you out of that first DN. Which (for me) completely derailed my life for several years...

Of course everyone is different. I was unfortunate enough not to have ANY maps or clue as to what was going on with me. I couldn't figure out why I kept hiding away in my universities library reading books about religion... the truth is I was looking for the stages of insight. Once I saw them for the first time in Daniels book I felt like someone had been following me around and chronicling my mind states. I realized there was a way out and I never looked back...
Spencer Jackson Still, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 6/3/10 Recent Posts
So one can slip up and down the stages of insight? One can be in equanimity and then fall back into the Dark Night?
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Clayton James Lightfoot, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 1/21/10 Recent Posts
Defiantly... Daniel talks about it in his seminal chapter on the progress of insight...
Spencer Jackson Still, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 6/3/10 Recent Posts
Cool, thanks. After analyzing my meditations for the past week I feel that I am somewhere within mind and body and the three characteristics. I think A&P is on the way. Which leads me to my next question. Is A&P always a single event during one sit? Is there always one moment where the characteristics of the event really stand out? Or does this stage last for multiple sits/days? Because I hear people talking about an immature stage of A&P vs. a mature stage?
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Clayton James Lightfoot, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Another "was that Jhana"?

Posts: 41 Join Date: 1/21/10 Recent Posts
Hey Spencer,

I am going to let someone else answer that definitively. My belief is that during a legit A&P there will be a BIG moment. My two very clear A&Ps on retreat had acute effects somewhere around 30 minutes long. Although the spiritual mania lasted for days... Um... I do get A&P effects during review although the effect is much milder than your path's *primary* A&P... after getting Path I would be walking down the street listening to my Ipod and feel and A&P coming on without any intention to cultivate it. Cool stuff... haha Just keep practicing and you will inevitably go through this stuff...

Clayton

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