Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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Daniel M Ingram, modified 7 Years ago at 9/11/14 11:47 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/11/14 11:47 PM

Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Dear Dharma Geeks,

I have used various shorthand notations to delineate things like jhanas and subjhanas and the systems vary somewhat depending on my mood and the year and things like that. I thought it would be good to put out a question in case anyone was interested in giving feedback on this and before MCTB comes out.

Various systems I use look something like:

4.6.2, which would be the flowering phase of the boundless consciousness aspect of the 4th jhana, except that you could tell that necessarily from just that notation

and you might think it was the Cause and Effect part of the Fear phase of the A&P

so sometimes I write things like j4.j6.j2 or ñ4.ñ6.ñ2 for those respectively

and then sometimes I use c for jhana and i for insight stage, 

so we would have c4.c6.c2 or i4.i6.i2

or, if we were talking about something using a mix of terms, we might have c4.c6.i2 or whatever

but, I was thinking about this tonight and thinking that really there are ways to have it be less ambiguous and easier for people to sort out if we used the following

mb=mind and body
ce=cause and effect
3c=three characteristics
ap=a&P
di=dissolution
fr=fear
mi=misery
dg=disgust
dd=desire for deliverance
ro=reobservation
eq=equanimity

and the jhanas would just go by their respective numbers

and nirodha samapatti could just be called ns.

so, we might have eq.6.2, meaning the blooming subsubjhana of the boundless consciousness aspect of high equanimity, or di.3.1, meaning the beginning of the 3rd subjhana phase of dissolution.

I thought I would put this out there to try to formalize something and have that just be the thing, as I keep flipping back and forth in my own writing without stabilizing on one system.

This also got me thinking about the fact that this sort of technical practice and phase relineation is really quite unusual, and I was wondering why it was so rarely found, even in a community like this.

Thoughts?

Daniel
Adam , modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 12:11 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 12:11 AM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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This also got me thinking about the fact that this sort of technical practice and phase relineation is really quite unusual, and I was wondering why it was so rarely found, even in a community like this.

Well, to me it just doesn't seem to matter all that much whether i am in "mi" or "dd" or "ro" I just want out. And even to distinguish between ro and eq seems possibly unskillful as what I really want is access to something that doesn't really distinguish between anything and anything else... i.e. unconditional peace/happiness. That's why insight nanas and even paths have never really gotten my attention.
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 1:27 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 1:27 AM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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Alright, I get that, except sometimes distinguising really helps with that unconditioned part, as, if you are missing stuff or not good at recognizing subtle mind states and aspects, it is easy for things to keep you stuck, whereas if you can tell what they are and what is going on, this is the mindfulness that leads to the possibility of investigation that leads to the possibility of wisdom. While it is true that some do just fine keeping it as simple as just looking for peace now, there is something to be said for the insights that come from more techinical and precise practice.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 4:32 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 4:32 AM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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This naturally begs the question-- how many sub-jhanas are there, really? It would seem that the fractal nature of things makes for a very large number of them, so we would have to decide at which point it becomes tedious or ridiculous to map them. For example... 4.6.2.3 would be the dissolution phase of the flowering phase of the of the boundless consciousness aspect of 4th jhana. 

Another thing-- I'd like to see English names for these states, although that may just make things more confusing, since folks who are interested in meditation shorthand probably know what a jhana or a nana is already. "Absorption" is sometimes used for jhana but it sounds clunky, "7th Absorption: Nothingness." Maybe something like "concentrative state?" although that's clunky too.

I like working with vipassana jhanas, which we could shorten as "VJ", which would be fine if it didn't sound like some sort of sexually transmitted disease.
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 4:40 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 4:40 AM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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I have rarely sliced it much more than 3 deep, as that suits my general needs. I suspect it can be sliced about as fine as you want to. Three is pretty easy once you know what to look for.
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 5:41 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 5:35 AM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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so, we might have eq.6.2, meaning the blooming subsubjhana of the boundless consciousness aspect of high equanimity, or di.3.1, meaning the beginning of the 3rd subjhana phase of dissolution.


There are advantages to this method because it could be confusing whether a number is referring to a nana or a vipassana jhana. There are 11 numbers for nanas, but only 4 for vipassana jhanas.  It will also eliminate new readers of the book having to memorize the numbers for all the nanas so as to immediately know, say, that the 6th nana is "Fear."  

Also, what determines whether a state is a concentration state or an insight state?  Is it as simple as: if you're paying attention to the 3Cs then it's insight and if you're blissing out that's concentration?  What about percentages like 80% concentration 20% vipassana?
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 2:36 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 2:36 PM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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Daniel M. Ingram:
I have rarely sliced it much more than 3 deep, as that suits my general needs. I suspect it can be sliced about as fine as you want to.


Are we talking exponents here? My math is rusty.
11 x 11 x 11 = 1331
11 x 11 x 11 x 11 = 14641
either way that is a lot of slicing

hmm wait
11 nanas times 8 jhanas times 8 jhanas = 704 combos... is this right?
then there are an additional 8 jhanas times 8 jhanas times 8 jhanas = 512 jhana combos....right?
1216 total discrete states?

Daniel M. Ingram:
Three is pretty easy once you know what to look for.

Would you mind pointing at what to look for? I was gonna do a 2 day retreat starting tomorrow and I'd like to "look".
Thanks
~D
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 2:44 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 2:44 PM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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Daniel M. Ingram:
This also got me thinking about the fact that this sort of technical practice and phase relineation is really quite unusual, and I was wondering why it was so rarely found, even in a community like this.
Daniel


Because you are a micro-phenomenologicist. Is there any training that allowed you to get to this detail level? Are there practices you did to get there? Can you add this training to MCTB 2? Knowing something is possible is the first step in getting there.
Thanks,
~D
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 6:15 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 5:49 PM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:

Are we talking exponents here? My math is rusty.
11 x 11 x 11 = 1331
11 x 11 x 11 x 11 = 14641
either way that is a lot of slicing

hmm wait
11 nanas times 8 jhanas times 8 jhanas = 704 combos... is this right?
then there are an additional 8 jhanas times 8 jhanas times 8 jhanas = 512 jhana combos....right?
1216 total discrete states?

First of all we have to assume that all combinations are possible.  


For example, I'm not sure if something like eq.c8.c5 is possible (the boundless space aspect of neither perception nor yet non-perception??).  

Also, all of the formless concentration jhanas occur out of the 4th jhana so would it make sense to say something like ce.c6.c7 where the formless realms arise out of the cause and effect stage?  

Also, there are at least four pure land stages beyond the 8th jhana and how are they counted? Would we call them c9, c10, c11, c12?   The difference between samatha and vipassana tends to diminish as we go up the jhanic arc, though this does not mean that it's not impossible to be heavily concentrated in formless realms, but what about pure lands?  This also means that vipassanized formless realms are not being counted in the total since they are not expressible outside the 11 insight stages if the insight naming notation is used.  For example, i6 would need to be counted.  (Where insight is being done on the jhana of boundless consciousness).  Assuming no distinction between samatha and vipassana for a pure land or the 8th jhana (though I'm not sure if this is entirely true), then we would have.

(So assuming that all combinations are possible, going three levels in, and including pure lands we would have):

(11 nanas + 12 jhanas + 3 insight formless realms )^3 = 17,576

This includes weird stuff like j12.ce.mb  (The subsubstage of mind and body of the substage of cause and effect of the 4th pure land jhana).
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 7:03 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 6:24 PM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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Another issue is concerning the 1-11 stages.  Why are we so willing ot subdivide the dark night into 6 discrete stages, but only one discrete stage for the A&P and equanimity?  

Should we refer to Low Equanimity, Early Mastery, High Mastery and High Equanimity as 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4 (or eq.1, eq.2, etc) or should we assign them all new numbers like is done with the stages of the dark night?  In this case low equanimity would be 11, Early Mastery would be 12, etc.  Are these substages of Equanimity simply expressible by including the other stages/nanas as substages of equanimity or are they their own unique stages/nanas, such as those in the dark night (fear, misery, disgust, etc)?

The same could be said for splitting up the A&P.
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Eric M W, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 6:42 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 6:42 PM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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Tom Tom:
Another issue is concerning the 1-11 stages.  Why are we so willing ot subdivide the dark night into 6 discrete stages, but only one discrete stage for the A&P and equanimity?  

Should we refer to Low Equanimity, Early Mastery, High Mastery and High Equanimity as 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4 (or eq.1, eq.2, etc) or should we assign them all new numbers like is done with the stages of the dark night?  In this case low equanimity would be 11, Early Mastery would be 12, etc.  Are these substages of Equanimity simply expressible by including the other stages/nanas as substages of equanimity or are they there own unique stages/nanas, such as those in the dark night (fear, misery, disgust, etc)?

The same could be said for splitting up the A&P.

U Pandita does split up the A&P. His second viapassana jhana is the immature phase, where the meditator is all caught up in the light and bliss, and his 3rd VJ is the mature phase, where things are still arising and vanishing very quickly but tranquility has become predominant. His 4th VJ is the Dark Night all the way up to fruition/stream entry.

It is odd that the Dark Night has six levels and the others seem to be much simpler. That said, I can remember each distinct moment in the DN when the next nana would arise (Disgust, Desire for Deliverance, etc...), but I only remember the A&P as one continuous experience. Hmm.
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 8:17 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 7:23 PM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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U Pandita does split up the A&P. His second viapassana jhana is the immature phase, where the meditator is all caught up in the light and bliss, and his 3rd VJ is the mature phase, where things are still arising and vanishing very quickly but tranquility has become predominant.


I think it is arguable whether these are unique stages or not   For example, the substages of the A&P could just be expressed as ap.mb.x to ap.ro.x into ap.eq.x (where x means any possibility).

Similarly,

Low Equanimity: eq.mb.x -> eq.ap.x
Early Mastery: eq.dissolution.x -> eq.ro.x
High Mastery: eq.eq.mb -> eq.eq.ro
High Equanimity -> eq.eq.eq

On the other hand, there are some unique features of the sub-stages of equanimity like the degree of understanding and presence of formations and panoramic "attention."
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 8:01 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 7:56 PM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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To be really technically precise the path number would also need to be included since each path has each jhana as its base.   For example, someone who has obtained 4 paths or close to that is continuously existing as the embodiment of the 4th jhana.  A more accurate statement would be something like 4p.eq.eq.ro where 4 represents 4 paths or the embodiment of the 4th jhana.  This gets tricky for 3rd-4th path where you can have innumerable insight cycles past the 3rd one and still not have 4th path, though continuous experience does seem to get closer and closer to 4th jhana territory with successive cycles.
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 11:02 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 11:02 PM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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Eric, I too experienced the DN as very distinct stages of Fear, Misery, Disgust, and Desire for Deliverance. Reobservation and Low EQ were rather murky and indistinguishable, strangely enough. A&P was one long pleasure of several months' duration that culminated in a peak Event and the usual aftermath.
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 11:15 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/12/14 11:14 PM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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I agree with Eric that English names or clear abreviations are preferable to numerals. Maybe it is because I'm an English major, but my brain has to focus extra hard to even register numbers at all. Every time someone says third nana, I have to go look up  for the gazillionth time which one that is--seriously. 

Really all this is over the poor editor's head. I'm happy just to be able to tell third from fourth jhana! 

What is the practical use or necessity of this fine a grain of detail on mediative states/stages? I realize that some people find it interesting, but is it important as content for the book and for most people's practice? Is this "shorthand" for the purpose of communicating?

To me going two deep would be plenty complex.

Jenny
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 3:35 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 3:35 AM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
This also got me thinking about the fact that this sort of technical practice and phase relineation is really quite unusual, and I was wondering why it was so rarely found, even in a community like this.


It is quite rare for a couple reasons:  First of all it takes someone of a fairly high degree of insight to do this.  People who are pre-stream-entry have not necessarily even experienced all of the nanas and many are spending their time trying to distinguish grosser features such as the difference between the A&P and Equanimity or the Dark Night from the Three Characteristics.   They're also learning to identify and understand the difference between vipassana and samatha as well as learning to distinguish and access the early samatha jhanas.

Another reason is that it's not strictly necessary for attaining paths.  Some people are only interested in attaining paths and then being done or teaching from some other angle.  Not everyone will be interested in such nuances.  Also not everyone has mastery or even access of the formless realms, the pure land jhanas, or NS.  Strictly speaking, accessing formless realms, not to mention mastering them, is not necessary for reaching arahatship.  The same could be said for all of the samatha jhanas.




Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 4:01 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 3:57 AM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
What is the practical use or necessity of this fine a grain of detail on mediative states/stages? I realize that some people find it interesting, but is it important as content for the book and for most people's practice? Is this "shorthand" for the purpose of communicating?


I think it's important, not simply because it's interesting or due to a need for comprehensiveness/completeness.  Sure, it's not necessary, but I think it's relevant for people who have completed several cycles.  I could see it being confusing for people pre-path or maybe even up to first or second path.   However, the territory between 3rd and 4th path is vast and fine tuning "awareness" to this level of nuance is quite helpful at that point.
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 10:29 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 10:29 AM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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Thanks, Tom. In my practice I'm just now finally getting hard jhana states that I can clearly identify as 3rd, 4th, and 5th. I find it hard to imagine that I would ever use such a complicated "three-deep" system, but I guess that is just me, and I could be wrong even about my own later needs. I imagine that this would be better as a technical appendix--but maybe that is where Daniel has it, come to think of it. I know it is at the very end.

Daniel, also consider whether some appendices might just go on the site and have a hyperlink/URL in the book. We do that at work a lot, although that is mainly to save on production/printing costs. MCTB2 is more than 500 pages in its current form, which is almost 3 times the size of most books these days. Although, it is going to be truly epic, so maybe that is okay. . . . 
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Jenny, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 10:45 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 10:45 AM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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Daniel,

I want to add that this is a perfect example, considering what Tom says just above, of when in MCTB we need an explicit mention high up in the chapter of who the ideal audience is for this content, when, and why. This kind of signaling will alleviate the problem in MCTB that the implied audience keeps shifting without explanation and sometimes without even a signpost. 

Jenny
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Simon T, modified 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 1:51 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 9/13/14 1:51 PM

RE: Meditation Shorthand: thoughts?

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Jen Pearly:
Eric, I too experienced the DN as very distinct stages of Fear, Misery, Disgust, and Desire for Deliverance. Reobservation and Low EQ were rather murky and indistinguishable, strangely enough. A&P was one long pleasure of several months' duration that culminated in a peak Event and the usual aftermath.
I second that. Depending on if where I start my day (with a bunch of other factors), desire for delivrance, reobservation or equanimity, my experiences can have somewhat different flavors, my mind can be inclined toward different aspects and got confused there countless of times. 

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