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Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions

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Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Pål 1/11/15 6:56 AM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Not Tao 1/11/15 10:38 PM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Pål 1/11/15 11:46 PM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Not Tao 1/11/15 11:57 PM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Pål 1/12/15 9:29 AM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Pål 1/12/15 10:34 AM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Not Tao 1/12/15 12:19 PM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Pål 1/12/15 12:32 PM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Not Tao 1/12/15 3:08 PM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Pål 1/13/15 6:56 AM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Not Tao 1/13/15 10:04 AM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Pål 1/13/15 11:16 AM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Not Tao 1/13/15 1:22 PM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Nikolai . 1/13/15 2:09 PM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Daniel - san 1/13/15 2:48 PM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Pål 1/14/15 2:17 AM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Not Tao 1/14/15 9:56 AM
RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions Pål 1/14/15 12:26 PM



The way Arittha practiced before the Buddha gave him the complete four tetrads of anapana, do you think he could have reached or did reach Jhanas that way? If he did, why would Gotama give him further instructions?

I think it's interesting that the way Arittha says he's practicing resembles the standard anapana instructions in the visudhimagga and the samatha instructions given in modern meditation methods, which are far less complicated than the four tetrads of the canon. If they do help in getting jhanas, then what's the point of the complete anapana teachings? 

Edit:here is the link:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn54/sn54.006.than.html

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/11/15 10:38 PM as a reply to Pål.
The buddha doesn't say that what he's doing is incorrect, he is saying there is more to bring it to its culmination - that's my reading of it. 

The buddha's instructions are actually kind of interesting when I compare to my own experiences.  He says to become sensitive to the body, then calm bodily fabrications.  That word "fabrications" is kind of tricky and seems like a bad translation to me.  Fabrication, in Buddhist philosophy, is intention.  It's applying willpower.  When the buddha lays out dependant origination he starts with ignorance as the beginning of stress, and the next step is fabrication.  So what the buddha seems to be saying is that we are confused about our need to control things.  When we are ignorant of the craving that is attached to a sensation, the mind generates fabrications - or intentions/willpower/desires - to change that thing.  If we, instead, decline to fabricate, or release our intentions related to the sensation, stress will break right there in the beginning.

So the Buddha seems to be saying to breathe in and out while keeping the awareness on the body and abandoning any intentions or desires we might have in relation to the body.  This matches pretty well with the natural widening of awareness that happens after that "tuning in" effect I mentioned on another thread. The Buddha doesn't give any indication when to proceed from one step to the next, so it's hard to say if this lines up exactly or not.  To me, it seems like a step two that happens naturally once awareness is established and steady.

EDIT: I'm not sure if this would be of any interest to you, but jhana isn't exclusively Buddhist - it shows up in Jainism and Hinduism and is generally a part of yoga as a whole.  Comparing and contasting the different instructions might be worthwhile.  They're all pretty similar to tell the truth though.

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/11/15 11:46 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
According to the translator himself, bodily fabrication in this context is synonymous to the breath it self. I find this kind of weird though. But it says so in tye Culavedalla sutta that the breath is bodily fabrication. And if the breaths are not the only bodily fabrications, which seems likely, then your reading of the instructions really makes sense.

Please notice that in some translations it's not "the entire body" but "all bodies" which makes more sense in one way to me since in the anapanasati sutta the breath is said to be a body among the bodies. But it doesn't seem very clear what the other bodies would be.

where can I find the Jain instructions? In Hinduism/Yoga I think they use the terms in a different way. I think, w/o knowing much about it, that their dhyana is the 1-4 jhanas and Samadhis is arupa "jhanas". In buddhism Jhanas 1-4 = Samma Samadhi.  

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/11/15 11:57 PM as a reply to Pål.
http://www.jainworld.com/jainbooks/arhat/dhyana.htm

Also the first answer to this question (where I got the link) is very interesting:

http://buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/12/what-exactly-is-jhana

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/12/15 9:29 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Interesting links, thanks! Do you think the holy texts of the jains differ much from that? Because I think that in buddhism there is obviously a gap between the traditional jhana instructions (those based on the visuddhimagga) and those in the suttas.

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/12/15 10:34 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
The descriptions in the first link sound a lot like the way the Dalai Lama talk about meditation. Like if you meditate on a unskillfull state of mind the meditation will be harmfull and therefore meditation is not necessarily something good.

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/12/15 12:19 PM as a reply to Pål.
Yeah, I think concentration can go either way.  Another word for "jhana" is absorption, so if you're absorbed in anger or anxiety it's like a kind of negative jhana.  I actually didn't know the jains thought about it this way, but it makes a lot of sense.

I'm not sure how standard their insructions are, TBH.  Jainism is just as old as Buddhism, so I'd assume there is a lot of difference of opinion, haha.

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/12/15 12:32 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I think it's funny how there are lots if suttas where the Buddha is arguing against Jain masters. He always wins ofc. 

But back to Arittha emoticon So you interpret it as the Buddha telling Arittha that he's doing it right but to go all the way he must do more (the 16 steps). Following only Aritthas method of anapana, which step do you think one would end up on? Would one get jhanas? Why wouldn't it lead to nibbana? Or if it would, why is the Buddha giving further instructions?

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/12/15 3:08 PM as a reply to Pål.
I think I said this in another thread, so sorry if I'm repeating, but Jhana is more about hitting a kind of middle restful state - not too drowsy, not too alert, no mind movement, just a still and restful awakeness.  The Buddha's instructions mention the progression of the jhanic factors and then how to attain equanimity by releasing the mind.  So, that monk said he was practicing mindfulness of breath but then he only mentioned the fact that he was paying attention to the breath, so the various results didn't seem to be happening for him.  Perhaps the Buddha didn't consider this proper practice.

It could also be the case that the Buddha wanted his students to rememebr the whole progression as "mindfulness of breath brought to its culmination" - so when the monk didn't repeat the whole litanny he responded with all the rest to make sure he remembered it correctly.

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/13/15 6:56 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
So your saying that the 16-step progress the Buddha describes is results from just staying with the choosen breath sensations? There is nothing more we have to actively do? if so, why do you think the sutta says "he trains himself..."?

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/13/15 10:04 AM as a reply to Pål.
I'm not sure how you got that from what I wrote...

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/13/15 11:16 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Well I might have misunderstood something.

but basicly, what I wonder is what I wonder what is the point with the 16 step instructions if it's all about concentration on a breath sensation? And what does that damn third step, sabba kaya patisamvedi, really mean? That's my biggest issue right now and what disturbs me the most, sometimes even during meditation I find myself wondering what the heck does this simple breath concentration have to do with the step by step progression? Sure I inow the length, the breath feels nice and relaxed (I am calming kaya sankhara) but experiencing the whole body seems impossible, the whole length of the breath (breath body interpretation), yes sure but what would be the point of such an instruction, there's already two about length. All bodies? This seems like a likely interpretation since the Buddha says that the breath "is a body among bodies", but what bodies? It isn't said nowhere. On the other hand the "entire physical body" interpretation seems likely since the same instructiom is in the kayagatasati sutta along with lots of other methods that obviously are about contemplating the physical body. I'm confused. Logically it seems like just concentrating on the breath should be enough, no other instructions needed to get into jhana. But the 16 steps are still there and the confusing first tetrad....

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/13/15 1:22 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pal, all of these thoughts are distractions.  When you have them, just stop and go back to the breath.  It's really very simple.  You don't even need that much concentration if you can abandon the hinderances.  Seriously, just set down your uncertanty and meditate.  That's the whole point of the thing after all.  Life will never be without something to doubt, something to regret, something to want, something to fear, something to be angry about.  All of these distractions are created equal, you just drop them and go back to the breath.  They will always seem legitimate, but you drop them and go back to the breath.  They will always be urgent, but you just drop them and go back to the breath.

Jhana is the relief that comes from dropping everything.  This does require dropping everything, though, which will be scary.  Remember, you can pick them back up again after meditation if you want to - but during meditation you drop everything no matter what it is, no exceptions.  Your mind will go, "But!  But!  What about-!" and you just say no, and go back to the breath.  Even if your thought is, "Now which part of the breath do I go back to?" or, "Is it the duration of the breath, or the quality of the breath, or the sensation of breathing?"  Just drop that too.  It's the dropping that matters, not what you go back to.

When you drop everything, you can just be still, and that is jhana.

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/13/15 2:09 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Ditto to what Not Tao just said. You are distracting yourself so much. I understand the need to 'do the correct practice according to the perceived dogma'. But my goodness you keep reinforcing all that doubt. 

Just experiment withbwhat Not Tao said. See what happens. 

Nick

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/13/15 2:48 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
It's the dropping that matters, not what you go back to.

Yes this is right.
Goenka teaches to be aware at the mustache area, just under the nose and above the lips, about the size of your fingerprint. I know he's not the Buddha, but it's a classic instruction
When you have found that the mind wanders gently bring it back to the subject - let anything arise in that area and include anything you feel there as a sensation. Keep bringing awareness back. Eventually it will stay put
As you become stabilized in that location, relax - notice if you are clenching a little bit between the eyes and relax some more
This is what Buddha meant about the strings of the instrument being the correct tightness, not too tight, not too loose
If you're too loose you will become distracted or sleepy. If you're too tight you are applying too much effort and clinging too much
Continue to relax into the object as long as your awareness stays there and you aren't drousy. Then relax more.
Eventually (as Not Tao has said very well before) you will experience awareness of your entire body, but if that is not the case in the present moment then do not be concerned with it. It may only happen to you on retreat after days of meditation - everyone is different. The point is to abide in the bare sensate present moment. Don't worry about other bodies, nobody is aware of other bodies in meditation, and if you are then you're probably levitating in a cave right now and not reading the DhO

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/14/15 2:17 AM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Thanks guys, but let me be curious haha, about these things when not meditating and about the breath when I am emoticon

"Eventually (as Not Tao has said very well before) you will experience awareness of your entire body, but if that is not the case in the present moment then do not be concerned with it. It may only happen to you on retreat after days of meditation - everyone is different."

Are you sure about this? Because I've read about thai forest people who say they focus on a tiny spot and their body awareness disappears completely before entering jhana. So with the same method (just breath concentration at a spot) they get the oppsite results from what you describe. Or maybe there is full body awareness that they don't mention that occurs before body awareness disappears. Is that your experience? And does piti come before or after the body awareness is widened? In the sutta it seems, if the steps are meant to be in chronological order, full body awareness, if that is what step 3 means, comes before piti.

I'll guess I'll try and see what happens with body awareness if I continue concentrating on breath sensations at one spot (right now an area behind the "moustache", inside the face). It seems like at this point it's shrinking and focusing more around this area. 

About other bodies. I don't think that would not mean other people's physical bodies, since the Buddha says the breath is "a body among the bodies". Buddhadasa interprets "all bodies" as the physical body+the mental body+the breath body (the sutta obviously mentions a breath body whether or not that is what we're meant to concentrate on).

By the way, about just going back to the breath when distracted. You don't think that the instructions in the Vitakkasanthana sutta are meant to be applied during Anapanasati practice? Is it another meditation technique in itself. 
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.020.than.html

That seems to be the only sutta bout what to do when distracted if I get it right. And everybody seems to ignores it :/ 


RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/14/15 9:56 AM as a reply to Pål.
The very first suggestion from the buddha is to, "attend to another theme."  This is what ging back to the breath means.  If the thought sticks around after a bit of effort, it means you're holding onto it for support, so the buddha recommends working through it with some logical analysis.

For example, as you are meditating, the thought might come up, "am I paying attention to the right thing?"  This is an unskillful thought - doubt.  So first you attempt to let go of it by putting your attention back on the breath.  After a few minutes of trying, you decide it's impossible, you can't let go of this doubt!  So you stop for a moment and think about how this doubt is preventing you from being calm, it's preventing you from attaining jhana.  Then you start meditating again.  I've never had much need for anything besides this, but you can go down the list if there are still problems for you.  TBH, I'm not quite sure exactly what the other steps mean.  They all seem to be saying similar things.

In terms of spot vs. breath or whatever.  If I say to you (and don't think about it, just try it), "Put attention on your breath."  Where does your attention go?  It's kind of like a set of sensations that make a concept of "breath" for me.  That's mostly what I use.  If I'm feeling dull, though, honing in on a specific sensation is like mental weight lifting.  It's very difficult, but then when I go back to holding the concept of breath more loosely, there's a big difference.

But here's the thing, the only way I discovered these things is because I wasn't trying to follow instructions exactly and simply practiced.  It seems like it will be impossible for you to get anywhere because you're trying so hard to be perfect.  Every time you adjust your stratedgy you're going to want to fight yoursef.  100 thoughts will come up saying, "This isn't what the Buddha said exactly!  It isn't jhana unless I get there exactly how the Buddha's instructions go, and if it isn't the exactly right jhana I'm going to go to hell!"

Have you ever spent a lot of time learning a foreign language?  The common mistake a beginner makes is to try to learn grammar perfectly and get the accent perfect and self-critique every wrong conjugation.  But, end of the day, the best way to learn a foreign language is just to talk to people in a broken and garbled way until it works itself out.  Later on you can learn the grammar to clean things up.  I mean, think of how little kids do it.  They walk around making silly noises all day.

So it's better just to fail a lot and have a good spirit of exploration than hope to achieve things exactly the way you expect right away.  I'm sure you know all this, and we keep repeating it at you, but it's really up to you in the end, haha.

Think of it like this - if you learn the "wrong" jhana, it isn't going to corrupt you.  Why not decide what's correct after seeing a few things rather than before?

RE: Did Arittha reach Jhana? About simple meditation instructions
Answer
1/14/15 12:26 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Thanks, I'll fake it til I make it emoticon