Message Boards Message Boards

Concentration

Brahma Vihara Jhanas

Toggle
Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
2/3/15 12:03 AM
Hello,

      If anyone has any resources for using Brahma Viharas as a means for entering jhanas, please link them or point me towards them. If you have any personal experience with using any of the brahma viharas to enter jhana please include that as well. I have Shaila Catherine's instructions for entring jhana through each of the Brahma Viharas but I think it might be copyrighted. Below is one link:

Lloyd Burton: Jhanas and Brahma Viharas   JhanasBV

Bill

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
2/3/15 9:45 AM as a reply to Bill F..
Bill,

Here is a post I made a while back about my phrase-less BV practice, in case you didn't catch it:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5633415

Best of luck,
Kyle

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
2/3/15 12:50 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
Kyle,

      Thank you. If you had to break it down into methodology, i.e a series of steps, how would you describe it? 

Bill

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
2/3/15 6:03 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Bill F.:
Hello,

      If anyone has any resources for using Brahma Viharas as a means for entering jhanas, please link them or point me towards them. If you have any personal experience with using any of the brahma viharas to enter jhana please include that as well. I have Shaila Catherine's instructions for entring jhana through each of the Brahma Viharas but I think it might be copyrighted. Below is one link:

Lloyd Burton: Jhanas and Brahma Viharas   JhanasBV

Bill
Hey Bill,

You might want to read through this, I have read it a few times and listened to the Dhamma Talk a few times over the years, it is pretty good, very relevant to your search for using Brahma Viharas as a means for entering jhanas.

As for personal instructions, they do have online retreats that will guide you through Brahma Viharas and Jhanas, the guidance they provide will lead one through whatever level is possible for the practioner at the time of practice, I know this due to direct correspondence.  But, I do not want to pass along information as such, as I may dilute any teachings due to my current lack of skills.

Talk and Transcript:  It is worth reading,  unless you have mastered all jhanas, and are Anagami or Arahant under ten fetter model...  i.e. greed and hate will not arise anymore, etc, ...

http://talks.dhammasukha.org/sn46-54-a07-070825.html

Online Retreat Information, there are Metta instruction links embedded here as well, and yes, it is specifically geared towards Jhana, Metta as the object, instead of breath

http://www.dhammasukha.org/online-retreat-details-sk.html

Sister Khema is in Sri Lanka right now, so....  maybe a month or two??

Anyway, this is all FYI, not proselytizing or anything.

Psi

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
2/3/15 7:39 PM as a reply to Psi.
Thank you, Psi. I am familiar with the organization, but I do not know if I have checked out those resources. I will do so more thoroughly. Thank you for your kindess. I will put it to use.

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
2/3/15 8:41 PM as a reply to Bill F..
1) Establish an anchor like mindfulness of breathing. This isn't absolutely necessary but it's nice to have a place to "rest" in case the influx of pleasure gets to be too much. Give yourself permission to return to mindfulness of breathing at any point in the meditation when you feel unsure of yourself or that your mind might be getting carried away.

2) Picture the face of one who's near and dear to you. Now picture them in a moment of happiness. This might involve seeing a kind of "movement" in their being, a kind of sighing almost. The image is what's key here, that's where the change will take place. Start with seeing a more subtle change, just a small ember of brightness entering their being. You'll notice that happiness is an undeniable force, in that anyone who has it for sure is glad it's there. This will give you confidence. Now you can move on to seeing them more fully infused with happiness and joy. Once you feel satisfied that whatever you've given, you've really meant, move on to the next person, as with the phrasing practice, from people who are closest to you, to people who are neutral, then lastly to "enemies" (you don't have to go that far, it's just a general guideline of progression). Remember, come back to the breath if you feel like you're losing your footing, then resume gradually with the imaging. Do 10 people, or any number that you're comfortable with, and then proceed to 3).

3) Now we'll shift gears to Karuna. Start back at the beginning, with the first person you gave Metta to, the difference being now that instead of picturing them happy, just picture them "as they are", or even a little distressed. The aim here is not to flinch at what you see, but to open up and accept it as a reality of life: there is suffering, and it is okay. Whenever you feel satisifed you've meant what you've given, proceed on to new targets in the order you established while giving Metta. Remember, stick with the image; it is for our purposes the best evidence of a truth we're trying to unearth. If you need, you can throw in a verbal reminder every now and then like "compassion". If ever you feel like you need to focus just on the feeling itself, extending it to all beings, then let go of any individual image for a time, then return to the ordering of people. Continue with this until you've gone through all the people you gave Metta to, then go to 4).

4) Now start back with your first target, or any one of your targets, really; here it's not as important that you go in order through all the different people so much as being with the feeling of sympathetic joy, and you can let the target choose itself, so to speak -- maybe you felt particularly strong about someone while practicing Metta and Karuna, and you might want to place a litte more focus on them. So start with them. Here again, get a distinct picture of whomever comes to mind, and now imagine that person being "relieved" of their suffering, or their obstacles. This might involve a lightening of their bearing, a gladdening. Remember, just allow your mind to become totally infused in the imaging process. Allow your current self, wherever you're sitting and meditating, to be part of the picture; it's not really yourself, of course, it's just a flow and process of images and feelings. Be happy for this process. Be with the feeling. Move through the people you've given Metta and Karuna to, or don't, howsoever your mind decides to orient itself, allow that. Once you feel satisfied, proceed to 5).

5) Now, drop the ordering altogether. If an image presents itself, be with that (however it presents itself), if not, then that's okay. Just focus on the sense of peace you've developed by having sent out love, compassion, and appreciation. You might find there to a kind of streamline of images -- just let them come and go, nothing more to do. Continue on with this for a while, again, until you're satisfied, then once more internally announce your intention of love, compassion, sympathy, and equanimity. Thus ends the session.

If you have any questions, let me know. Remember, this practice takes place almost entirely in the imagination, and so one of its strengths lies in its silence.

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
2/3/15 11:23 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
Kyle: I read that over a couple of times and experimented. Sounds good. Thank you for typing all that up, and helping out.-Bill

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
2/4/15 10:46 PM as a reply to Bill F..
I found the following from Bikhu Analayo, renowned author of "Satipatthanna: 14 Days to a new YOU!":


"Then, thanks to Bhikkhu Bodhi, I was introduced to the suttas. I suddenly saw, 'Hey! They nowhere talk about this "Myself... neutral... friend... enemy. It's not there at all!' So how do they do it?You just develop metta in the heart and spread it in all directions. And from the moment I started to practice like this, it suddenly worked. And now, loving-kindness is my main meditation object of my samatha practice.Please: do not think, 'Now I'm saying this commentarial is wrong.' Please. I'm not saying that.It's a wonderful method. Many people use it very well. But I'm one of those for whom it did not work...At first, I thought, 'It's my fault. Somehow, I'm just not a person for metta. So forget about it.'But that's actually not the case. There's several doors, like we have several doors to this room. There are several doors. Sometimes, in the sutta we can find that door. In fact, I'm planning to write a book on metta as a companion to the Satipatthana...Loving-kindness is such a wonderful practice. It's so powerful. It gives so much, is so simple: just opening the heart and radiating out. You can do it in everyday life, you can go into the jhanas if you wish...wonderful practice."

I'm interested in this, but I don't know anyone who teaches this way, or has instructed in this way, so if anyone is aware, again, just reaching out for resources. Thanks._Bill

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
2/5/15 1:38 AM as a reply to Bill F..
http://www.holybooks.com/brahmavihara-dhamma/

http://www.bluedolphinpublishing.com/BuddhasMap.html

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
2/5/15 1:09 PM as a reply to Gunnar Johansson.
Much obliged, Gunmar. Thank you.

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/4/15 7:07 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Bill,

I just completed the online Dhammasukha retreat linked above.  As was mentioned, Sister Khema is travelling now, so the course is currently being taught by a teacher at the center named David Johnson.  He's a really kind and good humored guy.  It's not technically taught by Bhante V, who is the abott there, but you watch one of his video talks every day of the retreat (9 days).  He goes very deep into discussion of the Brahma Viharas, jhanas, including the formless realms, and discusses things like path attainments.  Note also that the basis of his discussions are Theravadan suttas.  He does get critical of other methods at times, but if you can deal with that, the instructions and most of what he teaches is awesome.  There is a very strong focus on understanding Dependent Origination as a framework for realizing Nibbana... essentially using metta (and the other brahma viharas as your practice advances) as your object to rise up the jhanas into the formless realms, and gaining insight into the very detailed workings of Dependent Origination, and attaining Nibbana (I gather this is stream-entry from what he says).  Every day you submit an online practice report form to David and he will reply either that day, or the next day, responding with comments and practice advice.  If you have already gotten stream-entry, I would still say this course is incredibly helpful due to the intense focus on the brahma viharas, which is seriously lacking in many Westerners' practice. Highly recommend it.

Steph

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/5/15 1:06 AM as a reply to Steph S.
This book has a good and systematic aproach: http://www.buddhanet.net/metta_b.htm

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/5/15 1:58 AM as a reply to Bill F..
Hi Bill,

I sometimes follow a practice similar to incandescent flower: visualizing the peope that you wish to send metta to, picture them happy, and then just let it flow. Picturing the other person happy, smiling, picturing your self with them basking in their happiness, basking in each others happiness...

Also, in line with Bhante V I usually practice by first putting a smile on my lips, eyes and in my heart, and this then usually turns into a huge grin soon enough as waves of piti come crashing over you. And then when that piti gets too much, the sukkha may get more predominant, and when that settles down, you're left with equanimity.

For me brahma vihara practice is the easiest way to reach jhana as it is so connected to the piti and sukkha factors, so they arise almost automatically. 

Cheers

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/5/15 9:14 AM as a reply to Bill F..
Hi Bill,

Lots of great reference materialbrought up here, which I haven't yet had time to go through, but a couple of hints that I've gathered, not mentioned here yet, but which may be redundant to what's in those sources:

Apropos Analayo's quotation ""Then, thanks to Bhikkhu Bodhi, I was introduced to the suttas. I suddenly saw, 'Hey! They nowhere talk about this "Myself... neutral... friend... enemy. It's not there at all!'"
In one of several metta-threads that have gone by here ("Mapping Metta practice, first try"), I brought up some research, documenting an over-view of what's in the suttas, and finding that the protocol of going through the series of individuals -- self, benefactor, friends, nutruals, enemies -- goes back, thru the Visudhimagga (5th century), at least to the Vimuttimagga (1st century). In fact, the Visudhimagga attempts to explain the rationale for the persons-protocol relative to the sutta descriptions. So, while it's not in the suttas, it was developed relatively early, in the commentarial tradition – people trying to figure-out, in the pragmatic terms of their times, more details of how to carry-out G. Buddha's instructions and meaning – just as we do today.

From studying the perhaps earliest and most 'original' metta-sutta* and hints from a couple of teachers, a basic point not often brought out, at least in the popular introductory practices, is that jhanic absorption (if you're interested in the 'hard' sort of jhana) occurs with a state of mind (as nimitta) where the 'feeling' (good will, compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity) has gone beyond the personal level, where there is no longer bound to a sense one self as person directing those feelings, or finding them in relation to other persons. The exercises with the person-based experiences are used to build up the state of mind, but it has to become 'immeasurable' (as the suttas clearly and repeatedly emphasize), 'unbounded', not bounded by the particular personal orientations, and that unlimited awareness lends itself to absorption.

U Jagara (one of my teachers) mentioned that once one has practiced to that level, the aura, so to speak, of that immeasurable awareness can be recalled, evoked almost instantly at any time, and instantly lead into jhana, without going through any person-related protocol. And somewhere Bante Gunaratana (I think it was) wrote that the state of mind at this level has nothing to do with "emotion", per se. (He may have been making that point somewhat rhetorically, but I found it interesting, as many Western teachers don't go much beyond the personal, emotional aspects.)

Relating to what Steph S mentioned:
"…essentially using metta (and the other brahma viharas as your practice advances) as your object to rise up the jhanas into the formless realms…"
In the canonical tradition (that one can believe and make use of, or not) the 1st 3 Brahmaviharas can reach absorption up to the 3rd jhana, but only equanimity (upekkha) can reach the 4th jhana, which is then gateway to the formless ayatanas. That's because the 1st 3 are s/w 'bound' to that sense of person-to-person relationship or orientation, whereas equanimity is essentially impersonal, looking at it all in terms of kamma (karma).

Another note: Metta and the brahamaviharas in general in the suttas are presented as samatha practices, and presume a solidly established practice of sila / virtue / morality. At least according to Than-Geof. c.f. "Metta Means Goodwill", at:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/metta_means_goodwill.html

For what it's worth…

* Karaṇīyamettā Sutta in the Suttanipāta (Sn 1.8) and Khuddakapāṭha (Khp 9).

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/5/15 12:48 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
He goes very deep into discussion of the , jhanas, including the formless realms, and discusses things like path attainments. 
I watched this talk by Bhante V. That Steph mentions. Check out the stuff at about 40 minutes into it for the next 20 minutes....it maps the Brahma Viharas to the formless realms, which I've not seen done before. He seems to be creating fusion jhanas. Whether these are truely fully formless or the formless aspect of EQ, or whatever, I find it interesting. Fusing compassion to spaciousness and radiating it out...etc
Good luck,
~D

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/5/15 7:27 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph,
  
        Thank you. I can't get into Bhante V., but the way you present it sounds interesting. I suppose there are just some teachers -like Shinzen Young, who everyone else loves- who just seem dry to me. I think is personal taste rather than objective value. I've corresponded with Sister Khema before, and she seems like a good person to work with, and perhaps the new teacher would be an option too. Thank you for sharing. 

Bill

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/5/15 7:29 PM as a reply to Oochdd.
Blue Jay: Thank youemoticon

Oochd: Thanks for sharing your experience. I too find it the easiest way to deepend samadhi.

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/5/15 7:31 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris,

     Thank you for that. There is a lot there, and I'd like to respond when I have more time. This week is particulalry busy. The section on U Jagara seems particularly interesting. Will respond later.

Bill

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/5/15 7:32 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dreamwalker: The fusion jhanas aspect seems very interesting. I will definitely give it a look when time allows. Thank you.-Bill

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/5/15 7:34 PM as a reply to Bill F..
Thanks to all who responded. I will update this when I have more time, and add what I learned in the interim from a correspondence with Leigh Brasington about this very subject, a Bhante Sujato retreat devoted simply to using jhana to enter metta, and instructions for radiating metta as prescribed by Analayo (who Chris mentioned above). Be well.

RE: Brahma Vihara Jhanas
Answer
5/6/15 1:49 AM as a reply to Bill F..
I'm not at all practiced in Brahma Viharas.  I found Ron Crouch's Mahamudra-noting-Metta idea interesting: http://alohadharma.com/loving-kindness-meditation/ ... the Mahamudra portion begins 3/4 of the way down.  This also isn't directly about jhana so it might not be applicable.