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What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?

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RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
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11/4/13 3:02 AM as a reply to Arid D.
Perhaps it is not that jhana gives you extreme cognitive abilities, but instead just leads you to believe that you have extreme cognitive abilities?

Here is a suggestion: why don't you try some of these online tests of cognitive abilities and record your scores as a baseline, then try them again under the influence of jhana, and see if it is really the case that your cognition is vastly improved:

http://cognitivefun.net/

If you do this then it would be great to come back and tell us how you got on.

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
11/4/13 5:06 AM as a reply to Arid D.
Dear Siro,

As to cognitive increase after jhana, I think that for me it varies and depends on other factors. It is not often that my cognitive abilities are really tested heavily after jhana these days, but I do remember an example from 7 years ago.

I was studying for my Emergency Medicine board exam, which involved long hours of pouring through tons of obscure facts for a test that, at the high end, is much more about whether or not you can remember facts about things you might never see in a whole career, of which there are many, or memorize facts that have nearly nothing to do with clinical practice (such as some obscure epidemiological fact about some cancer), or figure out how to take the sorts of odd test questions they will throw at you, such as, "Which ONE of these [5 next tests or steps all of which you would always do basically simultaneously] is the best one to do now?", really annoying stuff like that.

Anyway, about 5 hours into one day of this sort of thing after about a week of it, I found my mind getting fatigued, but I didn't have many study-days left, and I really needed to keep going to finish all my study materials, so finally I closed my eyes, rose up from 1st-8th jhana, came out to that Post-8th Junction Point that has so many options to it, and my standard one would have been a Fruition, but the thought occurred to me, "I wonder if Nirodha Samapatti would help?"

The question was an honest one, as the thing about the massive afterglow of that state is that it is at once really clear and also really chill, and I wasn't sure if the really chill part would be good for intensive cramming for another 5 hours or so. The first time I attained it was right before a shift at the CDC's National AIDS Hotline, and it was really not conducive to talking to people on the phone for hour after hour.

Anyway, I decided to go for it, so I inclined that way, and, surprisingly, it happened, despite my setup not being that good and the last time I attained it probably a year before if not longer (hare to remember exactly at this point). When I came out, the afterglow was as it always was, really, really heavy, really really chill, like the best part of slow motion.

I opened my eyes and turned them to the textbook. It was like magic: steady, heavy duty, rock-solid, undistracted concentration on the material that lasted for hours. It was some of the best studying I had ever done, and I really think it helped on the exam. So, that is one more data point for you.

As to the question of one-pointed concentration, I think it is much more a question of the depth and continuity of recent concentration than the object. That said, some objects really do lend themselves much more to powers, particularly mantras and visualization practices, or, even better, the two combined, which can really get things going fast, but if you get your concentration strong enough and do enough of it in a short period of time, then even vipassana on the whole field of fluxing experience, which is obviously as many-object-ish and as wide as you can get, done really well, can make powers really accessible anyway.

Past a certain point, I do think that the question of one-pointed gets sort of strange. I personally find that really concentrated 4th jhana just doesn't do narrow well at all, preferring naturally to be much wider. Visualized images get volumetric, living, and detailed beyond what one would ordinarily think of as one-pointed. The whole visual field can become the visualization. Mantras become luminous and so wide as to seem almost silent, which is an odd thing, but still true, at least for me. I haven't had that lack of one-pointedness detract from powers experiences at all, and I think that complete and all-encompassing aspect of the higher jhanas it what makes the best powers experiences happen.

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
11/4/13 6:47 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, I can really relate to what you're saying about concentration not really "narrowing" past a certain point. When I meditate and go 'deeper' into my object, I wouldn't really say that my object is narrowing, but it would seem as if my mind starts to process more and more information about the object. I begin to notice more details about it, and become able to consider multiple aspects of something complicated at once. It is as if the fluid capacity of the level of information that my mind can hold is increasing.

It would make sense to me that all of these cognitive skills are closely tied to how much the mind can absorb into an object, or subject rather, and how much information it can process and retain. These deep states of absorption seem to be closely tied to how well the mind can hold onto an object, with at very high states it being effortless. This would almost automatically imply that memory recall in terms of recalling some object from the memory to be very high.

One thing I have always noticed about my practice is that when I actually manage to hit Jhana as I would like to call it, there is not just bliss. There is always a strong absorption into the object, but as well as a very rich and full amount of detail processing about the object(the breath usually, or whatever I focus on immediately after exiting). It is not uncommon for me to have very vivid visuals and other sorts of visions when I hit that Jhana initially. My mind comes to life. Any memory or image I think of immediately pops in my mind like a movie, and this can include past memories even things such as like pages from books if my concentration is clear enough.

Is this just exclusive to me? I don't want to think that I have a naturally high level of attainment or incarnation or whatever, but I don't see many people talking about experiences like I have when I first hit Jhana. From the sounds of it, to me, it almost sounds like I am going right into the fourth Jhana, or part of it... but is this even possible? I certainly haven't mastered any one particular Jhana yet, but even after deep/brief Jhana sessions my cognitive processes are really high and there are intermittent psychic type experiences related to other people even after 5-10 minutes in Jhana, and I thought these things, as well as the visions, aren't supposed to come until the fourth Jhana?


In my practices I have never really conceptualized things in terms of Jhana. I have always tended to lean more towards the frame work of the Yoga Sutras and other related texts. In my practice it has always been about focusing on the object and absorbing into it as much as possible. The way I understood it was cultivating this will result in increasingly deep penetrating ability of consciousness, and overall the ability to process more and more information about the object in any given moment. I had always rationalized that the various Siddhis come from being able to focus strongly and manipulate very subtle aspects of reality. Daniel, would you say this sort of conceptualization be equivalent to aiming directly for the fourth Jhana? Is that possible? I just focus on my object and as my practice goes on, I try to bypass everything that isn't my object(bliss, joy, etc), because those quickly grow so strong that they kick me out of meditation if I don't bypass them.

Do the different aims, and the way people conceptualize their meditations influence the factors that they most readily cultivate? Logically it would seem so, but I am still seeking some sort of outside opinion.

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
11/4/13 11:12 AM as a reply to Arid D.
Jhana is always concentrated to your mind. And its onepointed with object or not. First four is with object, objectless is concentrating on "space" what is also mind.(i think)

There is physical body, There is spiritual body. There is channels. There is consciousnesses.
Fruition is when you get to know your true self, purifying the middle channel. There is psychic channels what i believe are the connections or mediators between spiritual body and physical body. For example eye consciousness, you will purify the eye channel same way as you do self(middle) channel. It happens gradually lifetime after lifetime, it explains why some people see auras and others not, or some see through walls etc or sense radiation and negative energies.

I believe that jhanas(concentration) could purify the channel temporarily,
as people also can get glimpses of self time to time, if one has purified the middle channel enough. Concentration means temporary purifying i think, stilling the mind.

edit: i don't have no idea what fruition really is meaning, i only guess that it is fruition. And what the shyt i can't write..

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
11/4/13 11:04 AM as a reply to Arid D.
Hello Siro,
Siro Samadhi:

In my practices I have never really conceptualized things in terms of Jhana. I have always tended to lean more towards the frame work of the Yoga Sutras and other related texts. In my practice it has always been about focusing on the object and absorbing into it as much as possible. The way I understood it was cultivating this will result in increasingly deep penetrating ability of consciousness, and overall the ability to process more and more information about the object in any given moment. I had always rationalized that the various Siddhis come from being able to focus strongly and manipulate very subtle aspects of reality.

Yes, you are correct in your assumption that once you have a framework in mind ("I have always tended to lean more towards the frame work of the Yoga Sutras..."), that the mind will naturally gravitate toward that framework and this is how you will experience the outcome of such intention. Whatever you hold in the mind to accomplish can be accomplished. This sort of puts the phrase "self fulfilling prophesy" in perspective in terms of its application to meditation. Whatever you perceive or expect to happen, can and will happen.

Siro Samadhi:

Daniel, would you say this sort of conceptualization be equivalent to aiming directly for the fourth Jhana? Is that possible? I just focus on my object and as my practice goes on, I try to bypass everything that isn't my object (bliss, joy, etc), because those quickly grow so strong that they kick me out of meditation if I don't bypass them.

Of course it is possible. I do it all the time. And so, apparently, do you. As was mentioned above, whatever you set your mind on course to accomplish, can be accomplished.

When I was gathering my footing in the practice of dhyana several years ago, it occurred to me that it would be more efficient if I could go from the first dhyana directly to the fourth dhyana and thus by-pass the second and third, since the fourth level was where I found the most satisfaction and ground for gaining insight about any object I took to observe.

It took me a few years of this experience (being able to by-pass the two inner stages of dhyana – what I had at first learned to do according to the instructions I was following) before I was able to realize that this actually was possible. It seemed strange to think of not having to go through the second and third dhyanas and yet still arrive at the fourth. I spent a few years wondering whether or not I was deluding myself about what I was doing and whether I was experiencing dhyana at all during these sits, until I finally realized that this actually was possible.

Yet, there is a difference between what could be termed as being vipassana dhyana and samatha dhyana. It all really depends upon how you set up the mind and incline it to view and achieve these two states. I have come to describe the kind of vipassana dhyana that I achieve as being samadhi (or appana samadhi) when I write about it. That is because it is the perfect state for observing an object (or contemplating a subject) and gaining insight about it. It is a state of pure concentration; or at least that is how I experience it. Samatha dhyana requires me to change intention and go deeper into the calm and tranquility. This is the perfect state for achieving the fifth through the ninth dhyanas, because (at least to my way of thinking about it) the mind needs to be still and focused on tranquility for these states to arise appropriately.

Siro Samadhi:

Do the different aims, and the way people conceptualize their meditations influence the factors that they most readily cultivate? Logically it would seem so, but I am still seeking some sort of outside opinion.

Yes, they do. And you have the experience to back up that assessment.

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
11/4/13 12:33 PM as a reply to Arid D.
These are all really great replies, I really appreciate them guys! It's nice knowing there are other people here who have formed a similar sort of understanding that I have with regards to the cultivation of these various states.

I am also curious as well to what each of you aims to cultivate in your practice. I typically think of just "cultivating X Jhana" as being somewhat vague, or general rather. I'm sure each person here has some sort of goal, or some set of qualities that they wish to cultivate in their practice, rather than just becoming a general master of the Jhanas?

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
11/27/13 2:22 PM as a reply to Arid D.
I appreciate a recent translation of Gil Fronsdal's for concentration as "composure". My experience of concentration is of one-pointedness, bliss, peace, hyperfocus, and malleability of mind. This was the "home" for me on the path to letting go, and to set the stage for liberating insights.

This might sound like something special, but it's really just composure. Just seeing things as they really are-- just this. Concentration seems like something special if you're used to living far off from what's true, with a heart filled with fear, clinging and craving.

So use concentration to look at the mind, to look at experience, to concentrate your actions on walking the 8-fold path. Then, whatever your particular unique skills or manifestations of a composed mind will express themselves for the benefit of yourself and others.

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
11/27/13 11:14 PM as a reply to Arid D.
For a long while concentration practice would leave me feeling sort of dazed, stiff, and hyper-focused for a few hours after. This caused some problems with doing work or even household tasks. Needless to say this also kept me from practising jhana as often as I would have liked.

Recently, I started doing some kasina practice and I found a solution to this problem. Basically, I was noticing that the moment I started visualizing the disk it was immediately sucked in toward my face involuntarily. It was as if a my mental camera lens was automatically set to maximum zoom on any object that I attended to. This was likely happening in my other concentration practice as well, but visualizations always make it more clear to me what's going on. Since noticing this I've been able to practice zooming the kasina in and out, like changing the focal point of my attention. I've found that this also allows me to do way better stuff post-jhana. After absorption now, I make sure to move my attention through the whole range from maximally zoomed out to maximally zoomed in several times like I'm warming up a stiff muscle. Then I release all control of the zoom and watch it fluctuate randomly until it re-integrates and feels normal again.

Since this development, I've experienced a fantastic cognitive boost post-Jhana. It's like having rock solid focus that is still supple enough to deal well with complex content. It also lets me use my post-Jhana state to do vipassana much more easily.

Avi

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
11/28/13 9:35 AM as a reply to Arid D.
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RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
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11/28/13 7:16 AM as a reply to triple think.
Hello triple think

EDIT: Sorry, I should have read the emails, instead of replying imediatly. I received the content of the replies. _/|\_

I received a bunch of emails because of this topic, but only see one new message. Did you remove your posts? I would be interested in reading what you have to say.

Metta.

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
11/28/13 11:14 PM as a reply to Modus Ponens.
Modus Ponens:
Hello triple think

EDIT: Sorry, I should have read the emails, instead of replying imediatly. I received the content of the replies. _/|\_

I received a bunch of emails because of this topic, but only see one new message. Did you remove your posts? I would be interested in reading what you have to say.

Metta.
hi Modus Ponens
Not following what this is about, I probably overlooked something. If so my apologies. If it is important you could PM me. I think that is working (haven't seen any messages yet so not sure) or the chat-box if I am online and not away from the terminal here for some reason.

I don't know what to advise you about amending posts. I would say make whatever amendments you like if you can maintain the context of the discussions. I try to keep any linked content so that it won't become nonsensical. Other than that you can always add or remove or edit which is very cool as I see it. Should save a lot of space and tend towards an organic order based more on attention and direction of interest. It would be a major upgrade from long narrative discussion and debate. Even discourse is better. Whatever. If any inclination to more structured activity becomes a trend, we could end up with some amazing documentation, if this turns into any serious team efforts to focus. We have the individuated focus collectively to attempt this. Could be awesome.

If you're in no hurry, I would just reflect on it all. Maybe post a more refined query and continue on with your surveys and so on.

I intend to continue to put in about a day here on Saturdays. If I have more slack weekdays, such as this one, I will be working on more content type stuff and may or may not be around but I am attempting to make up a practice with a day when I am more generally available and then the rest will not be routine at all.

all the best
upekkha
triplethink/nathan

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
12/17/15 4:19 PM as a reply to Arid D.
hey i like your outlook on these things and by your experience of what you said it sounds most similar to mine.
Im actually more curious about it and have my own personal experiences i would like to share, Iv had some odd experiences that most people
haven't really had or talked about, Also there are a few things i have in mind to cultivate rather than just "Being advanced with jhana". Is there a way i could contact you in more private and talk more about it??

RE: What effect does Jhana have on *your* cognition?
Answer
12/21/15 4:05 AM as a reply to vic.
Consider the messages tab: just give it lots of time if it appears to not be doing anything: patience is good. Somehow it runs extremely slowly sometimes, not sure why.

Best, 
Daniel