Stumbled into ... Jhana?

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Eric D Gatley, modified 11 Years ago.

Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 132 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Had done some meditation, but frankly did not have a great base of experience. Was practicing mindfulness of breath several years ago, at that time with a very exaggerated breath based on Desimaru's description of the outbreath "massaging the intestines." Not sure that was necessary, but at any rate, I became aware of some joy, and it quickly grew to a level that frankly I would have never believed possible.

This was joy-bliss-happiness-rapture in huge quantities which held rock steady, along with love-compassion-connectedness-etc. Many tears of joy.

Once in this state, the long, slow breathing I had been doing consciously became automatic, and even slower. It felt almost as if I didn't need to breathe. I was aware of my surroundings, was not cut off from the senses.

Mind was lucid, crystal clear, felt scrubbed clean, all the crap gone, brand new. Don't recall discursive thought, although what little if anything was there, not sure I would exactly call it thought, was very visual and direct, simple. Knowingness. Absolute knowledge that suffering is made up, that there never was any suffering nor could there ever be.

Came out of this experience and returned, unfortunately, to normal. Spent some time depressed, in the sense that I was very aware that I was living far below that unprecedented level. Spent some time meditating like crazy, trying to get back to that state. Has taken a while to let go of striving for that, realizing that it was an experience that came and went. Gave up meditating for a while, it just seemed hopeless, now getting back. Not sure if it was the experience, or probably just a lot of meditation, but I am much more relaxed these days, mind seems a bit more muted.

Went to the local Zen master, he was of no help whatsoever. Might as well have told him I had just had a cup of coffee.

Glad to have found this place, at any rate. From what I've been reading it sounds like second Jhana kind of stuff, but would like to hear what someone else thinks. Where am I?
Trent H., modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi there and welcome,

Based on what you wrote, it is quite possible that you stumbled into an "A&P event" (A&P stands for "arising and passing away"). I think if you read the 'MCTB' chapter on this, and the stages of insight preceding and especially immediately following it (the dark night), you may find yourself equipped with knowledge so as to form new questions or make decisions about your approach to meditation and life.

I also recommend reading all of MCTB if you have not already.

MCTB 4: The Arising and Passing Away

MCTB 5. Dissolution, Entrance to the Dark Night

Enjoy,
Trent

PS. can anyone else see the phantom-bracket (doesn't show up in the message as it's being written/edited) beside the A&P chapter link? Just curious...
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Eric Bause, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 187 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Trent H.:

MCTB 4: The Arising and Passing Away


Enjoy,
Trent

PS. can anyone else see the phantom-bracket (doesn't show up in the message as it's being written/edited) beside the A&P chapter link? Just curious...


Yes, I see the phantom bracket.
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Eric G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 132 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
I've been reading MCTB, I'm not sure that the A&P thing completely resonates. I get how that would come from the insight practices, and seeing the illusory nature of objects, but I have only just begun to learn about that practice (right now noting seems very unnatural). Objects all seemed about the same, i.e. a table was a table, but the mind was pristine, in a profoundly altered way that felt very familiar, and obvious - like how did I ever forget this?

The "insight" in the experience was chiefly the very clear seeing that there is no suffering, but it didn't seem to come from a nondual perspective as for so many. Somehow that was just known in a way that was more real than everyday reality, but I can't say anything about why, and I didn't feel like my ego went away or anything. Maybe I missed that emoticon

It would seem I somehow miraculously (i.e. with very little practice) got a peek at second jhana (this seems increasingly clear the more descriptions I read), then went straight back to my normal self and stayed there. I do have the faraway knowledge that suffering is an illusion, but it's just a memory.

I do think my Zen teacher is in the ranks of the "mushroom" culture, although keeping quiet may be somewhat wise, in the sense that there really seems to be nothing to do but continue to practice. I will press on with noting at least part of the time and see if it gets natural.
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triple think, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Your OP sounds a lot like first or second jhana. As you didn't describe any insight into the momentary arising and passing of consciousness it doesn't sound like an insight into the A&P. The description matches many similar accounts of how people get into the jhana concentrations. When you gave your attention to the one sensation in your body it steadied your consciousness in that way and it's this steadiness of conscious attention that typically serves as the condition for the arising of both a sensation of joy and the corresponding conscious attention to joy. Those are the characteristics right up to fourth jhana and many people have an experience of this and then try to re-create it by trying to find the joy directly but they can't. The reason for this is that the extremely pleasant sensation is a result of the steady attention to one sensation of one kind, usually in the body but any form of sensation or simple form will suffice. When conscious attention gets steady enough the pleasure starts to build up and this leads to the rest. So to replicate this you only need to go back to square one and find a sensation that is steady and subtle enough to hold your attention.

None of that kind of concentration will lead to development of deeper insight unless you give attention to developing the insight skill as well, be it in the context of steady concentration or concentrating on the changing flow of sensations in your body. When the insight skill is well developed you can observe the A&P and all the other phenomena typical of the insight knowledges during either steady or changing conditions. The reason that those who have developed the insight knowledges all stress the importance of fully developed insight knowledge is because of the typical natural responses to this kind of experience that you also noted in your OP. Without insight into the nature of consciousness one may easily assume all sorts of things on the basis of a deep experience of steady and full concentration. One may assume that this is some kind of lasting reality underlying their ordinary experience or any number of other things and even become depressed as you describe because they can't recreate the same conditions again. Insight knowledge penetrates the illusion that consciousness has any permanent arrangement of conditions and the assumption that any kind of experience is indicative of anything permanent or essential about the condition of consciousness. With that knowledge one can concentrate steadily and observe that even these deeply pleasant and stable conditions are fabricated in the same ways that our day to day experiences are.
Dan K, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 33 Join Date: 5/15/10 Recent Posts
There's a possibility that you fluked what people around here call a "pureland jhana". Entrance into these states can be quite explosive if not done from the formless jhanas, and I imagine the contrast would be huge if you are not used to deep meditation. Whether it was this, second jhana, an A&P, or something else, there were probably peculiar circumstances surrounding that event which make it unlikely to happen again spontaneously. You probably will not be able to get that experience back without a lot of work. In the meantime, remember that reality is just screaming to tell you its secrets. You just have to stop clinging to specific events of the past, and try to open yourself to the infinite number of profound experiences which you don't even yet know are possible.
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Let's remember that the A&P is the second jhana, when accessed by means of insight practice. When accessed by means of concentration practice, you reach the second shamatha jhana, which has much of the same character as the second vipassana jhana.
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Eric G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 132 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
Thanks, all.

The Pure Land Jhana sounds a bit rarefied for little old me, but who knows. The predominate aspect was joy, but there was also tons of compassion and gratitude as I noticed Ken Folk mentioned about PL, and I did become focused on the third eye area (only because that was where the joy initially appeared, and my attention just naturally shifted).

One thing I have noticed is that some people seem to wonder whether or not they got into jhana or whatever, like maybe they did, maybe they didn't, like it's kind of vague. For me there was no question - this was metaphorically like getting hit in the head with a brick. Although completely clear and lucid, it was a profoundly different state from ordinary reality, and it was extremely stable while it lasted.

For me, if the samatha jhana = the vipassana jhana, then the map has a bit of a flaw unless people like me can be considered exceptions, which might be pretty logical. Maybe you could say that you always have to start at the bottom and work up. Get caught "cutting in line" and the dharma police take you back to the beginning emoticon
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Heh, well presumably people who reach 2nd jhana material (whether A&P or shamatha jhana stuff) have to progress through the first jhana stuff as well, but they may not notice it.

In the reports of people hitting A&P with psychedelics, for example, rarely do we read about first having thoughts as objects, then noticing phenomena interfering with their presentation, then solid physical pain and odd postures before the A&P stuff happens. (That would be one way the first 3 insight nanas could present themselves.) Yet there are all kinds of trip reports that clearly detail A&P phenomena. In fact, looking around places such as the DMT Nexus Forum, dark night yogis are all around, with thread titles like "Bright lights waking me from sleep," "Yogasm," and "Sudden meditation during trip." Nonetheless, it is commonly presumed that the first jhana territory was somehow manifested before the second jhana territory.

My understanding of pure land stuff is that it generally happens to people in third or fourth path territory.

It's quite possible for gratitude to be a heavy element of a regular old first, second, or third jhana. In fact, it's possible to do concentration practices on gratitude and get to the first jhana just like with lovingkindness, compassion, or sympathetic joy. There are probably other feelings that could also be used as bases for the first jhana too.
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Eric G, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 132 Join Date: 5/6/10 Recent Posts
J Adam G:
Yet there are all kinds of trip reports that clearly detail A&P phenomena. In fact, looking around places such as the DMT Nexus Forum, dark night yogis are all around, with thread titles like "Bright lights waking me from sleep," "Yogasm," and "Sudden meditation during trip."


Had not read this thread in a while. A couple of weeks ago I had a few nights where as I was going to sleep I would see a bright flash of light off to one side that was seriously startling. My first instinct, before I caught myself, would have been to look to see who turned on a light or something. But it was just me. Interesting. I don't recall that ever happening before.

I happened to trip a couple of days ago (first time in 10 years maybe, it was incredible) and ever since then my forehead has felt as tight as a drum. Serious pressure/tension, something.

@Jorge, thanks.
Jorge Freddy Martinez, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 5 Join Date: 10/13/10 Recent Posts
My pleasure, Eric. I used to have a huge fascination with samatha jhanas during the beginning of my practice. I feel all jhanas are quite stable once you've learnt how to "tune in" to it (the mind naturally wants to stay there, although it may not be used to staying calm yet).

Are you practicing Insight as well? usually flashing lights and feelings of rapture and bliss are very common when experiencing the 4th nana (A&P) state, which interestingly enough, it tends to correspond to 2nd jhana as well.

...don't know what you mean by "tripping" (or perhaps I do, but I'm playing dumb ;-) but part of the insght process is to be able allow insight to work automatically (ie, riding the jhanic arc), so it's a good idea to learn how to condition one's mind to allow this natural process to happen rather than forcing it by using external elements :-)

You should start a thread for your practice notes! where you can document your daily progess and can freely and openly discuss your experiences with other yogis. Kenneth Folk (my teacher and one of Daniel's teachers and friends) has another great resource available: http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/

With that said, go ahead and go for the ride of your life! Only you can make it happen though. Just remember that Full Enlightenment IS quite possible in this lifetime!

With metta,

Jorge Freddy
Dan K, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 33 Join Date: 5/15/10 Recent Posts
The maps are particularly relevant for people who do insight noting practice with an emphasis on the three characteristics, as that is the context out of which the maps came. I found vague correlations with my path and the maps, but there is also stuff that doesn't fit. For example, I completed my first insight cycle before I ever meditated, and this is something that I have not seen accounted for in Theravada theory.

It's not clear what the deal is with the pure land jhanas. I don't agree that only certain people can experience them, and I see no reason why any old person couldn't fluke it under special circumstances.

Your description of it as extremely stable is interesting. 2nd jhana is not very stable. It's easy to maintain if one is so inclined, but it's not like rock steady or anything. 2nd jhana is a pretty ordinary state, like being drawn to something beautiful in everyday life. It's not so profound.

I'm not sure what you experienced. Your description of "absolute knowledge that suffering is made up" is unfamiliar to me in this context. That's something which I only associate with a particularly rare, extremely profound state which I have not been able to categorize yet. Whatever the case, it was obviously a big insight.
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tarin greco, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Eric G:

It would seem I somehow miraculously (i.e. with very little practice) got a peek at second jhana


well, if i remember correctly, dan ingram got his peek by merely dreaming about trying to not bump into planets (that is, with no formal practice).

Eric G:

(this seems increasingly clear the more descriptions I read), then went straight back to my normal self and stayed there. I do have the faraway knowledge that suffering is an illusion, but it's just a memory.


which is why crossing the a&p isn't sufficient for making permanent progress, and the knowledge, though there, remains 'faraway'.

--

triplethink:

As you didn't describe any insight into the momentary arising and passing of consciousness it doesn't sound like an insight into the A&P.


this sounds like a typical insight which might arise in a&p territory:

Eric G:

Absolute knowledge that suffering is made up, that there never was any suffering nor could there ever be.


and this sounds like a typical after-effect of having been in a&p territory:

Eric G:

Came out of this experience and returned, unfortunately, to normal. Spent some time depressed, in the sense that I was very aware that I was living far below that unprecedented level. Spent some time meditating like crazy, trying to get back to that state. Has taken a while to let go of striving for that, realizing that it was an experience that came and went.


not everyone hits the a&p with insight into the minutae of momentary arising and passing consciousness like i am guessing you are thinking of, nor is it a necessary condition of crossing the a&p (if they did, or if it was, there would be a lot more stream-enterers around and significantly fewer dark night yogis).

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Dan K:

It's not clear what the deal is with the pure land jhanas. I don't agree that only certain people can experience them, and I see no reason why any old person couldn't fluke it under special circumstances.


i, more or less, agree - and yet eric's description does not sound like any of the pure land jhanas i have known (though i am far from an expert on them).

Dan K:

Your description of it as extremely stable is interesting. 2nd jhana is not very stable. It's easy to maintain if one is so inclined, but it's not like rock steady or anything. 2nd jhana is a pretty ordinary state, like being drawn to something beautiful in everyday life. It's not so profound.


for people with significant concentration abilities, or anyone who finds themselves in a strong concentration zone, 2nd jhana can be very stable - rock steady, if cultivated with that intent in mind.

tarin
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Jorge Freddy Martinez, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Stumbled into ... Jhana?

Posts: 17 Join Date: 6/25/10 Recent Posts
Hi Eric!

Congratulations! you have entered 1st jhana, and quite possibly spent some time on the 2nd jhana. Accessing rupa jhanas is not as difficult as you think, you are however blocking yourself in an unimaginable way by trying too hard to access them again. Think of the jhanas not as an attainment but as "arising" states of consciousness. A tricky thing about the 1st jhana is that you need to have directed thought, i.e., there is a sort of "effort" that needs to be done in order to enter absorption. Once you have entered the 1st jhana, you will need to let go of that "effort" and simply observe this state. Slowly a sense of profound joy and bliss will start flowing and as you continue to "let go" you will eventually find yourself adsorbed on the newly arisen jhana. Remember you don’t really attain a jhana, you simply allow for the right condition to arise and observe how it seem to engulf your existence. In my practice, I find easier to enter a "soft" 1st jhana as I start my concentration meditations (to be honest, I have noted the 3 characteristics of the first jhana so much it does not present any type of excitement, but it certainly gets me to the level of concentration necessary to allow for the higher jhanas to arise. I find the 1st jhana to be harder to be fully absorbed in it than for example the 4th jhana.

So surrender to the practice, maintain directed thought, DO NOT TRY TO ATTAIN ANYTHING! simply let it bloom and enjoy! Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions regarding the jhanas and how to gain full absorption on them.
(you can contact me directly should you need any help of have any further questions!)

Best of luck,

Jorge F.