Jhana? and how further to insight meditation?

John Power, modified 7 Years ago.

Jhana? and how further to insight meditation?

Posts: 95 Join Date: 3/16/14 Recent Posts
Lately I experienced the following. When I begin to sit in meditation my mind is totally free of thoughts and I focus on nothing. I can follow my breath easily. But my breath immediately begins to shorten to a point where I can barely sense it and then it becomes tight. Then I focus on my body and feel the sensations but my mind is not so interested, then I focus on the silence and again my mind is not interested. My mind is calm but is searching for something interesting and once in a while vage 'dreams' appear which I can't recall and remember but when noticed my mind directly is back to my body and breath. These vage 'dreams' only last for an few moments. So during meditation I questioned at what should I focus? I want to continue to practice Insight meditation but I don't now how when this happens.

Background
During my first 10 day retreat I experienced a lot of pain during the first 3 days because I didn't had a proper meditation cushion and my legs didn't had support. So I suffered great pain, but suddenly in the evening of day 3 a shift had taken place during meditation. Almost all the pain was gone in just a second and the pain that didn't go away was reduced by at least 50%. I was calm and felt great. I quesss this was the 3th nana. Am I right?
During my second retreat I was meditating and suddenly I had a black out. When I came back I was overwhelmed with enthousiasme, rapture and bliss. Maybe 4th nana, A&P?

Can somebody clearify these things for me? I would really appreciate it! Thanks in advance!
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Avi Craimer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Jhana? and how further to insight meditation?

Posts: 114 Join Date: 10/29/13 Recent Posts
John Power:

During my second retreat I was meditating and suddenly I had a black out. When I came back I was overwhelmed with enthousiasme, rapture and bliss. Maybe 4th nana, A&P?
Can somebody clearify these things for me? I would really appreciate it! Thanks in advance!


The black out followed by rapture could be either A&P or stream entry. If you felt permanently altered afterwards like the whole mindfulness thing just started happening on its own even when you aren't trying to meditate then it was probably stream entry.

As for your experiences. When you are stuck in "nothingness" you need to investigate the sensory qualities of that nothingness. There are (at least) four flavours of nothingness called the formless realms (jhana's 5-8). Sometimes after big insight events like A&P or fruition, the mind is sort of kicked straight into one of these formless realms even if you haven't been doing a lot of jhana practice. You can get stuck in them because they feel so nice, but they can also make it hard to focus on daily life.

Start carefully investigating any subtle sense of fluctuation, expansion/contraction, folding, or strobing of the "nothingness" space itself. Notice the observer that is watching this space and see that this observer can be observed and that it is therefore not the subject. Notice the seductive quality of the space and the craving for the space to be permanent and unchanging. You can also investigate for the factors of equanimity and single-pointedness which could be present somewhere.

My mind is calm but is searching for something interesting


Inquire into the "self" that is searching for something. See that that "self" is not the subject and that it is impermanent and unsatisfying. Inquire into the restless feeling of craving for novelty and see their 3 characteristics.

Avi Craimer
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Jhana? and how further to insight meditation?

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Welcome to the DhO, John.

So during meditation I questioned at what should I focus? I want to continue to practice Insight meditation but I don't now how when this happens.
Thank god. To me, this is like "fretless" guitar territory. Just jam on your own. You'll find your own bandmates.

Almost all the pain was gone in just a second and the pain that didn't go away was reduced by at least 50%. I was calm and felt great.
It does not matter what this is called.

Can somebody clearify these things for me? I would really appreciate it! Thanks in advance!
One can spoil and derail this terrain of practice by trying to contain it. These experiences happened without your direction, occurred by just applying yourself, perhaps even simply. So I'd keep that up. Maybe you've heard a painting teacher say, "Don't overwork it." true here too. Doesn't sound like to me you need any advice at all. Just try to understand your own intentions going into each sit. That's important, because intentions are seeds and bear like-fruit.

Best wishes =]
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Jhana? and how further to insight meditation?

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Have you read MCTB yet? Most of your questions might be answered within...most people here have read it and use the vocabulary. Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, an Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book, by Daniel Ingram

Also more information about your practice could be useful. Read soe of the other threads in this category and see what you think.
Good luck,
~D
C C C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Jhana? and how further to insight meditation?

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
from: http://realitysandwich.com/27172/jhanas_meditative_absorptions/

First Jhana

The first jhana is like the "big wow," an awesome peak experience that arises after the mind has finally settled on the object of concentration with focused, sustained, one-pointed attention. Bodily or emotional rapture called piti may arise, suffusing the body with bliss or filling the mind with awe --sometimes the feeling is more "gross" and embodied, other times more subtle and purely mental. In my experience, the nimitta would become radiant, awesome, and beautiful, and grow to fill my entire field of vision, and surround my body; the experience was like a glowing, energetic light surrounding and cocooning my whole being. It's quite captivating. There is also a sense of seclusion -- of finally being safe from the chattering mind. From my Jewish spiritual perspective, this was like holiness as the big amazing awesomeness, full of mysterium tremendum and radical amazement. It's Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon. Like many mystics, I'll use erotic analogies as well; the first jhana is like having sex, before orgasm: panting, arousing, ah--ahh---ahh--- that sort of thing.

Eventually, though, the first jhana begins to feel like too much effort. You have to work to keep it up. This is its advantage -- if you didn't work, you wouldn't get in -- but eventually, after anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour or more (my longest was one hour), the mind gets tired of ecstasy, excitement, and bliss and moves naturally onto the second jhana.

The transition between jhanas is always from gross to subtle: the more gross factors drop off, revealing the more subtle ones underneath. In the case of first-to-second, the factors of applied and sustained thought drop, and the other factors --rapture, joy, and one-pointedness of mind -- reveal themselves more. Usually this "drop" is conscious; after a few weeks of practice, I would feel a kind of mental itchiness when it was time to move on, and would consciously resolve to let the factors drop and the others predominate. A few times, though, the drop happened automatically; the mind would just bail out. Eventually, the four jhanas are kind of like four rooms in a house that you've come to know; you don't even have to make the resolve clearly, because you know the territory, and can recognize it and adjust quite naturally.

Second Jhana

In the second jhana, the feeling tone shifts to joy -- "drenched in delight" in Shaila Catherine's words. Effort drops away, and the mind rests one-pointed on its focus. I experienced the second jhana as being like swimming in a mikva of light -- in my journal one time, I wrote that when the nimitta expands, it is a "waterfall of shimmering light that fills your body with joy." Again, sometimes this was a semi-bodily sensation, other times purely mental. There was often a bright light in my eyes as well--more on that below -- and sometimes a deep sense of healing. This is it, you're here, you can trust and let go. The sexual analogy here is to the time of orgasm itself -- not the first moment, but the longer period of time if, like me, you like really long and drawn-out orgasmic states. It's like that gorgeous sexual feeling of letting go: not ah-ah-ah, but ahhhhhh. Sometimes it really felt as if the light were kissing me, penetrating me, filling me. This is God as lover; the fascinans, the erotic partner envisioned and embodied by mystics. It's really something.

Believe it or not, the mind eventually finds all this ecstasy, even without effort, a little gross. Piti becomes too showy; it's almost exhausting. Now, when I was first learning the jhanas, I would spend several days with each one before moving on. Part of this was to really nail down the jhana; the Buddha said that someone who moves on too fast is like a foolish cow wandering from pasture to pasture. But another part was that it took me a while to get disenchanted with these states. For several days, I couldn't imagine anything more wonderful than the second jhana. But eventually, disenchantment sets in -- once again, an insight that is, itself, worth the price of admission. Eventually, the mind gets disenchanted with anything. So the grosser factor of rapture drops away, leaving behind only joy and one-pointedness.

Third Jhana

If the second jhana is like an orgasm with God, the third jhana is like resting comfortably on the breast of the Goddess; its dominant sensation is contentment. Here, the love is less erotic and more familial; it's like being cradled by your mother -- that kind of "ahh." The light I experienced was golden, radiant, and warm. Many times, I cried and felt healed. Other times, I was still and concentrated. And sometimes, I felt like a little boy sitting by the window, with sunshine streaming in. In the third jhana, piti is relinquished, and sukha, joy, becomes predominant. Sukha is quieter and more subtle than piti, it's less embodied, and more like an emotional, intellectual joy with a honey-like embodied component. Meditators know sukha from whenever the mind in concentrated and everything just feels lovely. The mind is content. What could ever be wrong with the world? Of course, sukha is so lovely that we naturally cling to it, which means we suffer when it's gone -- that's what's wrong. But for me, I spent about three years cultivating sukha, thinking it was enlightenment, and being devastated when, a few days after retreat, it seemed to disappear.

Fourth Jhana

Finally, there is the fourth jhana--the real point of it all, it sometimes seems. In the fourth jhana, even joy passes away. The experience is totally neutral: just "Ah," as in "Ah, I see." And yet, it somehow -- just is. I can't quite describe it; there's a powerful sense of equanimity, a closeness to the object, and not much else. Somehow, this state is the most beautiful at all, even though it is totally colorless, bliss-less. The erotic flavor is not even post-orgasmic; it's post-post. The mind is clear, the restlessness is gone. It doesn't feel good anymore, but in some deep profound way, it feels extremely good and peaceful that it's not even necessary to feel good. This is not awe, not love; it's just What Is. It's a love beyond love; satisfaction without joy or even contentment.
John Power, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Jhana? and how further to insight meditation?

Posts: 95 Join Date: 3/16/14 Recent Posts
Thank you all for giving the answers!

Edit: I removed the rest of this post, because it had no value.

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