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The Buddha's teaching on the Jhanas AN 39

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I've been listening, since this morning after meditation, to a talk by Soeur Khema Katy proposed on the 3-6th jhanas . I'm up to Infinite Consciousness and for now I'm going on rewind emoticon. I'm returning to 3-4 specifically because they obviously are more applicable for where I'm sitting, pun intended, somewhere between 2 and 3. Even though 1 is on-going.

I like reading the Buddha's words, MN 39 15, when describing where the recluse

"Having abandoned these five hindrances, imperfections of the mind that weaken wisdom, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, he enters upon and abides in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. He makes the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion drench, steep, fill, and pervade this body, so that there is no part of his whole body unpervaded by the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion."

This drenching, steeping, filling and pervading of the body occurs also when entering and abiding in the 2nd jhana (16), the 3rd jhana (17) and the 4th jhana (18) as well although w some nuances.

1st, is rapture and pleasure born of seclusion
2nd, is rapture and pleasure born of concentration
3rd, the pleasure divested of rapture
4th, he sits pervading this body with a pure bright mind

Nuances aside, I'm beginning to better understand what the Buddha and Soeur Khema call a pleasant abiding. From where I sit, if it isn't attachment wanting to drench, steep, fill and pervade the body w this "pleasant abiding", I see no reason not to remain if that is what is being experienced or requested --- a little longer, so that the absorption can, on the one hand, be maintained more frequently, with one-pointedness and, on the other hand, "naturally" take one fully into the next, either 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 and maybe, having got there just a glimpse, 3 to 4.

Soeur Khema talks of taking the time in the jhanas and that the time taken isn't measurable in our normal terms. this is why the suffusing of the whole body, at least in my extended experience, is becoming my choice now. So instead of getting frustrated as to why I'm not already in the 3rd for example, I believe patience, our samsara, and as Sister Khema says our perseverance, our effort and belief in the Dhamma's teachings suffices to carry me onward.

Also, it is becoming so much more important to me in my practice the practicing and attainment of the four immeasurable, the Brhamaviharas. We all have heard of loving kindness, compassion, joy w others and equanimity but to a degree, for me at least they were words in a dictionary w a certain meaning my DNA inheritance provided me.

RE: The Buddha's teaching on the Jhanas AN 39
Answer
10/21/13 5:19 PM as a reply to Georges Drouin.
in case you didn't catch it earlier, I posted this comment on our Jhana Rupa Hangout discussion on 10/17/13 6:28 PM and failed to see its pertinence (until a moment ago) with regard to Ajaan Lee's understanding of the breathing in numerous aspects and its rapport w the Jhanas. Sorry for the delay. I hope you will provide your comments so we all can better work w the breath. Txs :-) g

Here's what Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo says on the breath in Skill for Release (pp 33-37) here at Skill of ReleaseSkill of Release. To reference the pages here is the url to download a epub-pdf-mobiepub, pdf or mobi. I dl the pdf and the pages reference should correspond epub-pdf-mobi:

"§ The breath in the body isn’t limited just to the breath that flows in and out the nose. The breath in the body spreads out to every pore, like the vapor that gets exhaled from an ice cube. It’s much more refined than the air outside. When the internal breath goes out the pores, it gets reflected back into the body. This breath is called the supporting breath. It helps keep the body and mind cool and still. So when you breathe in, let the breath fill the inside of your body; when you breathe out, let it spread in all directions.

§ When you breathe in, you have to feel the effects of the inner breath in three parts of the body: (1) the lungs & heart; (2) the liver, stomach, & intestines; and (3) the rib cage & spine. If the breath doesn’t have an effect all over the body, you’re not getting the full results of concentration.

§ When we meditate it’s as if we were milling the rice grains in our granary so that they’ll be ready to cook. The mind is like grains of rice. The Hindrances are like the husks. We have to crack the husks and then polish away the dirty red skin underneath. That’s when we’ll end up with good, white rice. The way to polish is to use directed thought and evaluation. Directed thought is when we focus the mind on being aware of the in-and-out breath, which is like taking a handful of rice and putting it in the teeth of our mill. We have to make sure that the teeth of the mill are in good shape. If we’re aware of just the in-breath and then get distracted with the out-breath, it’s as if the teeth of our mill were broken. When this happens, we have to fix them immediately. In other words, we reestablish mindfulness on the breath and brush away all other perceptions.

Evaluation is being observant, taking careful note of the breath as we breathe in, to see what it’s like, to see whether it’s comfortable, easy, and free-flowing. We then let the good breaths spread throughout the body to chase out the bad breath sensations. All the properties of the body will become pure; the mind will become bright. The body will feel cool and at ease. We have to look after the breath in this way, in the same way that we catch baby chicks to put in the coop. If we hold them too tight, they die. If we hold them too loosely, they run away. We have to gather them in our hands in a way that’s just right. That way they’ll all end up safely in the coop.

§ The factors of jh›na—directed thought, evaluation, rapture, and pleasure— all have to be gathered at the breath if you want to reach singleness of preoccupation. Directed thought is like laying claim to a piece of land. Evaluation is like planting it with seed. When the seed bears fruit, that’s rapture and pleasure.

§ Keeping awareness with the breath is directed thought. Knowing the characteristics of the breath is evaluation. Spreading the breath so that it permeates and fills the entire body is rapture. The sense of serenity and well- being in body and mind is pleasure. When the mind is freed from the Hindrances so that it’s one with the breath, that’s singleness of preoccupation. All of these factors of jh›na turn mindfulness into a factor for Awakening.

RE: The Buddha's teaching on the Jhanas AN 39
Answer
10/29/13 6:26 AM as a reply to Georges Drouin.
From where I sit, if it isn't attachment wanting to drench, steep, fill and pervade the body w this "pleasant abiding", I see no reason not to remain if that is what is being experienced or requested --- a little longer, so that the absorption can, on the one hand, be maintained more frequently, with one-pointedness and, on the other hand, "naturally" take one fully into the next, either 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 and maybe, having got there just a glimpse, 3 to 4.

Soeur Khema talks of taking the time in the jhanas and that the time taken isn't measurable in our normal terms. this is why the suffusing of the whole body, at least in my extended experience, is becoming my choice now. So instead of getting frustrated as to why I'm not already in the 3rd for example, I believe patience, our samsara, and as Sister Khema says our perseverance, our effort and belief in the Dhamma's teachings suffices to carry me onward.

Also, it is becoming so much more important to me in my practice the practicing and attainment of the four immeasurable, the Brhamaviharas.


Agree: these practices in "saturation" (I think I like to move away from the word "attainment" and like the Heart Sutra on this word in general English and French translations, "il n'y a ni sagesse transcendante, ni obtention, ni non-obtention."/nothing to obtain...)

I live a pretty simple life these days and I'm impressed with how little I saturate.. and saturation is basically steady focus. So I see that I am still distracted, mind doing many things versus what's at hand...

RE: The Buddha's teaching on the Jhanas AN 39
Answer
10/29/13 9:05 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Steady focus is a clear way of expressing the method of advancing progressively within the absorptions, the attainments, or whatever words suffice to describe the experience. As one sits and maintains this steady focus, this one-pointedness, and lets go without any, absolutely any, expectations, with patience and perseverance over time - immeasurable time - the mind begins to relinquish its hold on what one is distracted by; these distractions fall into the background, become muted like sounds without any receiver - like one hand clapping :=)

RE: The Buddha's teaching on the Jhanas AN 39
Answer
10/29/13 1:53 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
I've noticed certain occurrences recently when I began to apply Ajaan Lee's breathing approach, where he says:

"§ When you breathe in, you have to feel the effects of the inner breath in three parts of the body: (1) the lungs & heart; (2) the liver, stomach, & intestines; and (3) the rib cage & spine. If the breath doesn’t have an effect all over the body, you’re not getting the full results of concentration."

To practice this in-breath took me time, probably 5 or 6 sits. I found it helped release numerous tensions in my upper rib cage, shoulders and upper to mid back. By remaining "focussed" I began to understand the importance of strengthening the breathing in this manner, not pushing myself but, all the while, maintaining the strength and the strengthening of this in-breath. I began to feel muted pain in the above-mentioned areas of my torso, back and shoulders. The pain began to lessen but, at the same time, triggered (as my wonderful teacher Soeur Ayya Khema would say :=)) the release of long-accumulated and forgotten tensions. I began to necessarily explore these happenings and realized I needed to be the "silent witness" of their disappearing existence.

The out-breath part was where I could send, direct, allow, prepare, permit the conscious bodily sensations to spread progressively from my head to the neck area and slowly to my heart/chest area. This out-breath exercise took time and I had to allow it to find its own way, so to speak. This allowing was not an easy step because in and out breathing, rather the whole "breath body" had become over the years 'congested' with tensions, hidden and deeply burried tensions that had found a home across my shoulders, my upper arms and especially above my sternum in my throat area where I had become disabled, unable to find 'confidence' (as Soeur Khema says when she speaks of the 2nd Jhana). Over the past 10 + years I have been trying to deal w this stress in my throat area specifically and only recently (2 weeks ago) did release finally occur. There was an opening up, a letting go, and the pathway to my breathing began to function more efficiently. One cannot imagine the impact this has had on my being, deeply so. I am grateful to be able to continue onwards in my sadhana.

I discovered one important realization: i.e. if I paused after the out-breath the absorption would take place almost automatically. It was simply a question of letting it do its thing, of letting go ----- repeatedly. Until the absorption, bathing, or whatever term to describe the suffusing of the whole body. I don't want to say my whole body gets suffused now. But I know it will when the moment is right.

Merci Kate, de tout mon coeur, emoticon g

What are Jhanas? ~ Leigh Brasington with Stephanie Nash
Answer
11/4/13 4:55 PM as a reply to Georges Drouin.
I thought this would be pertinent.

Here is the link to a four part interview LB did in 2011: What are Jhanas? ~ Leigh Brasington with Stephanie Nash.