Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

thumbnail
Piers M, modified 5 Years ago.

Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/7/10 Recent Posts
When I sit I tend to sit for 1 hour without changing posture (although I might straighten up the posture if I'm slumping a bit or I might scratch an intense itch although I usually just try to observe it).
I've been sitting many years now using basically dry insight practices. First Goenka, then after reading MCTB got into Mahasi.

So after reading around a bit decided to try and cultivate Jhana (so as to use it for insight practice in the long run).

My theoretical understanding of Jhana is that they are states of body and mind that are very, enjoyable and comfortable when you get into them.

Typically when I sit, the first 30-45 mins are fairly neutral body sensations, then the last part starts to get uncomfortable. By that I mean painful pressure sensations or burning or just numbness or any combination. Mostly in the legs. If I'm only sitting 1-3 hours a day it's not usually extreme pain that I get on retreats which will often bring up aching back pains too.

Assuming I can build up a good level of concentration ie very little wandering mind over the course of an hour in the coming weeks/months  (I'm using breath at the nostrils right now) will the painful bodily sensations prevent jhanic absorption states?

I have heard somewhere way back that it is possible to enter Jhanic states through extreme pain. This sounds counter intuitive but heck what do I know?
thumbnail
Nicky, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 484 Join Date: 8/2/14 Recent Posts
Piers M:
 (I'm using breath at the nostrils right now) will the painful bodily sensations prevent jhanic absorption states?

I have heard somewhere way back that it is possible to enter Jhanic states through extreme pain. This sounds counter intuitive but heck what do I know?

Hi Piers

In my opinion, your concerns are not particularly relevant ('chicken vs egg') because to reach jhana the breathing & body must be very well calmed and concentration (samadhi) must be well developed. When this occurs, the relaxation of the body due to samadhi will itself lessen the pain from sitting and, most of all, the well concentrated mind is so 'absorbed' in the breathing that any pain in the legs is naturally not within the natural sphere of consciousness. In other words, pain in the legs is naturally ignored or blocked out. Thus, I think with well-developed samadhi, the pain issue will take care of itself thus the priority should be on learning to cultivate a quality of samadhi that produces the samatha (tranquility) effect. 

As for jhana, if 'right' samadhi is well-developed, sitting cross-legged is not particularly necessary. The mind can come close to jhana doing standing meditation and can enter jhana sitting in a chair (but with back unsupported). I think to cultivate jhana, the sitting needs to be over 1 hour and approach the 90 minute mark. Again, this can happen if samadhi & calmness are well developed.

Kind regards emoticon

~~And what is the faculty of concentration? There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to let go, attains concentration, attains singleness of mind. Buddha (SN 48.10)
thumbnail
Piers M, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/7/10 Recent Posts
Nicky:
Piers M:
 (I'm using breath at the nostrils right now) will the painful bodily sensations prevent jhanic absorption states?

I have heard somewhere way back that it is possible to enter Jhanic states through extreme pain. This sounds counter intuitive but heck what do I know?

Hi Piers

In my opinion, your concerns are not particularly relevant ('chicken vs egg') because to reach jhana the breathing & body must be very well calmed and concentration (samadhi) must be well developed. When this occurs, the relaxation of the body due to samadhi will itself lessen the pain from sitting and, most of all, the well concentrated mind is so 'absorbed' in the breathing that any pain in the legs is naturally not within the natural sphere of consciousness. In other words, pain in the legs is naturally ignored or blocked out. Thus, I think with well-developed samadhi, the pain issue will take care of itself thus the priority should be on learning to cultivate to quality of samadhi that produces the samatha (tranquility) effect. 

As for jhana, if 'right' samadhi is well-developed, sitting cross-legged is not particularly necessary. The mind can come close to jhana doing standing meditation and can enter jhana sitting in a chair (but with back unsupported). I think to cultivate jhana, the sitting needs to be over 1 hour and approach the 90 minute mark. Again, this can happen if samadhi & calmness are well developed.

Kind regards emoticon

~~And what is the faculty of concentration? There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to let go, attains concentration, attains singleness of mind. Buddha (SN 48.10)

Thanks Nicky. "your concerns are not particularly relevant"
Well, they feel relevant. I want to get a good steam up ahead of a Leigh Brasington 9 day retreat I aim to attend at the end of August.

"the sitting needs to be over 1 hour and approach the 90 minute mark."

Also good to know. I have sat 2 or even 3 hours durations but only ever on retreat. The resulting pain levels rose exponentially.How many hours do you think I need to sit daily for realistic chance. I know it varies person to person. I'm thinking myself about aiming for 5 a day.
"pain in the legs is naturally ignored or blocked out"
Let's hope so. I've never before been able to totally ignore block out pain and my mind has tended to shift back and forth with object of attention changing from breath to painful sensation, which as I understand it is not what you want to do concentration practices wherein you only want to stay with the breath right?
John Power, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 95 Join Date: 3/16/14 Recent Posts
Pain can be a great object to boost your concentration! Have you ever wandered or got lost in daydreaming while you were in intense pain?
The aim is to stay present and pain will help you to stay present. Is it pleasant? No definitely not. Will it boost your concentration when you stay with the pain for as long as it last? Definitely yes! You can see the pain as an enemy but you can also see the pain as a friend who gives you the opportunity to boost your concentration. So when there is pain, say to yourself 'pain' 'pain' ''pain', just stay with the pain. Don't think about the breath, just stay with the pain. Make the pain your primary object, stay the whole time with the pain. When you stay with the pain, first the pain seems solid, there is just a block of pain. But when your concentration gets better, you will see the true nature of the pain. What is that true nature? You will have to find that out for yourself. Good luck and let us know.
John Power, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 95 Join Date: 3/16/14 Recent Posts
John Power:
Pain can be a great object to boost your concentration! Have you ever wandered or got lost in daydreaming while you were in intense pain?
The aim is to stay present and pain will help you to stay present. Is it pleasant? No definitely not. Will it boost your concentration when you stay with the pain for as long as it last? Definitely yes! You can see the pain as an enemy but you can also see the pain as a friend who gives you the opportunity to boost your concentration. So when there is pain, say to yourself 'pain' 'pain' ''pain', just stay with the pain. Don't think about the breath, just stay with the pain. Make the pain your primary object, stay the whole time with the pain. When you stay with the pain, first the pain seems solid, there is just a block of pain. But when your concentration gets better, you will see the true nature of the pain. What is that true nature? You will have to find that out for yourself. Good luck and let us know.

I wanted to say that when you have an injury or when the pain is causing damage to the body, please change your position!

@Not Tao:
The first time (and last time) entering samatha (hard) jhana was on a ten day vipassana retreat. I didn't had proper support while sitting, so I had intense pain. I just had to deal with it and stayed with the pain, then my concentration went up and up and I reached jhana and got really absorpted in this. Now I never have pain again because of sitting(for a long time), only when in #3 nana and in the DN, there is pain(stifness, unpleasant feeling). I think pleasure and pain can both be a good object to boost concentration, but that was not the question. The question was 'Is jhana possible despite painful vedana?', and the answer is yes.
thumbnail
Not Tao, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 997 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Hey John,

The reason I disagreed with you was because you said focusing on the unpleasantness will increase concentration, and this will lead to jhana.  Concentration (as in, a tight focus) is not necessary for jhana to arise.  I suspect what happened to you on your retreat was that the sustained focus on stress beat your mind into submission and it finally let go once it was overwhelmed. This happened to me as well the first time I experienced jhana.  Did it work as a sudden shift, for you, where experience was incredibly unpleasant, and then BOOM, it was jhana?  This sudden switch is where the letting go happens.  Its not a very good method, though (IMO) because it's takes a lot of pressure for the mind to pop.  Seeing as how the focus is on something unpleasant, it doesn't seem worth the effort considering there are easier methods that are pleasant from the beginning.  (And these easier methods can be done in spite of painful vedana.)
thumbnail
Piers M, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/7/10 Recent Posts
John Power:
Pain can be a great object to boost your concentration! Have you ever wandered or got lost in daydreaming while you were in intense pain?
The aim is to stay present and pain will help you to stay present. Is it pleasant? No definitely not. Will it boost your concentration when you stay with the pain for as long as it last? Definitely yes! You can see the pain as an enemy but you can also see the pain as a friend who gives you the opportunity to boost your concentration. So when there is pain, say to yourself 'pain' 'pain' ''pain', just stay with the pain. Don't think about the breath, just stay with the pain. Make the pain your primary object, stay the whole time with the pain. When you stay with the pain, first the pain seems solid, there is just a block of pain. But when your concentration gets better, you will see the true nature of the pain. What is that true nature? You will have to find that out for yourself. Good luck and let us know.

 Have you ever wandered or got lost in daydreaming while you were in intense pain?
Hello John, well it may surprise you to know that yes, my mind has wandered off whilst I've been in the midst of excruciating pain and not just a few seconds but even a few minutes.
I think it was a way of trying to escape the pain without actually dealing with it. Funny thing is that as soon as I became aware of the pain again then the mind wanted to immediately change posture. Which I found kinda humorous because whilst daydreaming I didn't care about the pain because I had dissociated from it. 
thumbnail
Not Tao, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 997 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Hi Piers,

In order to avoid sparking a "what is actually jhana" debate, I'll just say that there is no reason you can't have both physical and mental bliss and comfort within the first few minutes of sitting down to meditate.  Jhana or not, it will only deepen if you continue on to 90 minutes.  There is no need to view concentration practice as any kind of toil or marathon - this actually makes things more difficult, anyway, IME.

I think Ian gives some good advice - you don't want to reject the pain, but there is also no reason to try to muscle through it.  I don't spend any time these days trying to resist itches or knee pain.  I just shift and scratch.  Itching your face and shifting your legs doesn't have to be distracting.  When you're watching a movie do you have to sit perfectly still and lock your eyes on the screen so you don't lose the plot?  Just let the shifting and scratching be automatic and keep your mind on the object.  No big deal.

The key, more than anything else, is to drop everything as it comes up.  Thinking will keep happening, you don't need to suppress it, you just drop each thought stream as soon as you notice yourself in it.  Aversion will come up, you just accept it and forget it.  Physical comfort comes up, you just accept it and forget it.  I like to think of it as constantly dissolving whatever is noticed.  This dissolving of everything is what becomes pleasant.  Jhana seems to come from a different place than is expected.  I always remember the pysical and mental effects, but it's so easy to forget what they come out of, which is a sort of mental openness and freedom.  When there is nothing you're holding on to, you just drift and lose all sense of obligation, responsibility, need, desire, etc.  I like to call it "elf mind" haha.  It really is as simple as forgetting everything as soon as you notice it.  Use the object as an anchor for that.

EDIT: I disagree completely with John's advice, there, haha.  emoticon  I guess the main reason I disagree is because I don't see jhana as concentration.  Focusing on pain only ever makes it worse IME.  It generally builds a great deal until the mind "snaps" and finally lets go in spite of you.  It's easier just to let go right away, though.  There's no need to torture it out of yourself.
thumbnail
Nicky, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 484 Join Date: 8/2/14 Recent Posts
Piers M:

 never before been able to totally ignore block out pain and my mind has tended to shift back and forth with object of attention changing from breath to painful sensation, which as I understand it is not what you want to do concentration practices wherein you only want to stay with the breath right?


Yes. You only want to stay with the breath until the breath itself is like a refuge of peace & enjoyment for the mind.

However, if the back or legs to have a chronic condition conducive to pain then finding a less challenging posture I always advise.

The goal of jhana development is tranquility & enjoyment so the sitting posture is not particularly relevant.

Just before discovering meditation, I injured my knee very seriously in sport. When I discovered meditation, I did four retreats consecutively & also sat a lot between retreats over 4 months, sitting on the floor, using the 'Thai sitting posture' (see links). I was sitting to 2:15 hours, twice a day, at least, plus 1.5 hours, morning and evening.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasriddle/7503922180/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasriddle/7503917024/in/photostream/

However, after injuring my knee again walking down a mountain, my leg would lock up after sitting so I started sitting on a chair or stool (back unsupported) and also did a lot of standing meditation. The practise progressed as normal in these other postures.

Best wishes emoticon 
thumbnail
Chris J Macie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 863 Join Date: 8/17/14 Recent Posts
re: Piers M (3/18/15 7:22 AM as a reply to Nicky.)

"I want to get a good steam up ahead of a Leigh Brasington 9 day retreat I aim to attend at the end of August."

1) What Leigh Brasington teaches (at least according to his writings, and what he taught in a retreat I attended Jan 2014) could be called 'jhana-lite', and is relatively easy to experience (which makes it a good place to start). For instance, in that scheme, '1st jhana' is simply a bit of piti / rapture; and what is called '8th jhana' is equivalent to what is called '1st jhana'by most Theravadan monastics.

(If you're interested, I can point to or supply the source material on which Leigh bases his system – rather clever but dubious "research" by Rod Bucknell, and before him Martin Stuart-Fox. Leigh also claims his system is based on teachings of Ayya Khema, but I've listened to and read a lot of her stuff on jhana and found it to be straight-arrow Theravadan teaching, and very good, but nothing like what Bucknell and Stuart-Fox claim.)

So, in terms of expectations, theretreat in August will probably be not that challenging – not to say that whatever degree of preperation and/or attainment between now and then won't be very worthwhile.

2) Concentration and pain…

"Also good to know. I have sat 2 or even 3 hours durations but only ever on retreat. The resulting pain levels rose exponentially…I've never before been able to totally ignore block out pain and my mind has tended to shift back and forth with object of attention changing from breath to painful sensation, which as I understand it is not what you want to do concentration practices wherein you only want to stay with the breath right?"

Sounds like a chicken-or-egg situation to me. From my experience, I would say, similar to what Not Tao recommends (3/18/15 12:04 PM as a reply to Piers M.), find a middle way, so to speak: experiment with posture, with shifting position whenever too painful, taking a couple of minutes to stretch / relax limbs, back, etc. every so often. Then go back to focus on the object, etc. I would even recommend analgesic medicines (NSAIDs), and/or supplements (long-term joint strengthing like glucosamine-chondroiten-MSM, or Calcium-Magnesium is muscles cramping, etc.), just to help get through the initial stages to getting the hang of deeper concentration.

Yes, once one can get a degree of samadhi / jhana, then the mind has the strength to work with blocking out sensations and pain; and yes, acceptance of things like pain, etc. can help, again, with some degree of mastery. BUT the distractions of pain can seriously hinder, prolong the time it takes to get there. People talk about bodily comfort as pre-requisite for jhana, or as a central quality of jhana, but I would say the primary consideration is MENTAL ease and comfort, and the physical aspects only in so far as they affect the mental experience.

At least in my experience, what worked was getting around the pains as much as possible, and then focusing on seclusion (sit where there's no / minimal noise, light, activity, etc.), and longer (> 40-50 minutes in my case) sits to really lett he mind settle. As the mind settles more and more, one canperiodically, briefly take a break to shift position or stretch /relax joints and sinews WITHOUT breaking the momentum of gathering concentration. Later, with some experience of jhana (absorption), one will also find that shifting posture, sittint to standing or vice versa, brief muscle-joint relaxation, even going to the bathroom, etc. can be done by gently sliding out of absorption but keeping so close to it that going back in deep is easy.

When Not Tao goes into "I don't see jhana as concentration", I don't understand, am not sure if it's irony, but really don't want to go into that kind of discussion here.I agree in principle about John Power's advice, in the sense that when one has more highly developed powers of concentration, then pain, as well as a range of weird things (e.g. traditional body parts, stages of corpse decomposition), can provide for powerful concentration experiences.

3) But first how to get from here to there? Actually, to back-track to my first point (above), starting off with Leigh Brasington's system is a very good idea. It's light-weight (from a more traditional viewpoint), but is a step inthe right direction; and Leigh teaches it well; once you catch on to what he teaches, the deeper forms will become more accessibly too. Concentration / samdhi / jhana is a skill perhaps like playing a musical instrument, or skiing, or ballroom dancing – difficult at first and needing a gentle, easy progression of attainable steps to slowly gain confidence, which then will soon begin to snow-ball…

Good place to remember, to use the "4 factors of success (iddhi-pada)" – chanda: skillful desire, really wanting it; viriya: effort, persistance; citta: analysis, using your head; and vimamsa: cleverness, ingenuity, (rather than brute force willpower).

And, as you'll soon find out, it's well worth the effort.
thumbnail
Ian And, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 784 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Piers M:

Assuming I can build up a good level of concentration ie very little wandering mind over the course of an hour in the coming weeks/months  (I'm using breath at the nostrils right now) will the painful bodily sensations prevent jhanic absorption states?

I have heard somewhere way back that it is possible to enter Jhanic states through extreme pain.

Hello Piers,

The short answer to your main question above is "no, it won't, if you don't let it." However, this answer might not help you to discern how this might come about, leaving your mind with more confusion than understanding. Understanding arises when there is knowledge (preferably direct knowledge of the issue being examined).

If your mind rebels from accepting any bodily pain that it cognizes, then yes, the possibility of your reaching and maintaining a dhyana state may be in jeopardy. This is where maturity in insight can come in to reverse such a situation. When the mind accepts the pain and does not rebel, then the dhyana may arise without it being interrupted.

Nicky's comment was half correct. It does help to facilitate the dhyana condition when both the mind and the body are relaxed and experiencing a pleasurable abiding once unification of the mind/body is achieved in samadhi. As he pointed out:

    "When this occurs, the relaxation of the body due to samadhi will itself lessen the pain from sitting and, most of all, the well concentrated mind is so 'absorbed' in the breathing that any pain in the legs is naturally not within the natural sphere of consciousness. In other words, pain in the legs is naturally ignored or blocked out."
While this can occur, its opposite can also occur. Rather than being blocked out, the concentration can become centered upon the painful area of the body being affected. It is for this reason that it can be advisable to address the pain if one cannot just accept the pain as it is and move forward. This means it is acceptable to adjust the body so as to remove the possiblity of pain so that one may return to the intention to practice and enjoy the pleasurable sensations of the dhyana condition.

Think about it. If the mind is not able to put up with (accept) the pain, isn't it reasonable to end the pain from becoming a distraction and to continue on in one's intention to reach a dhyana condition? Especially for someone who is attempting to reach this state for the first time in order to learn about how to enter it at will and effortlessly.

One's meditation practice is only as difficult as one is willing to make it upon oneself. Do whatever works for you in order to achieve your goals, and I think you will find success in that approach.

In peace,
Ian
thumbnail
Piers M, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 116 Join Date: 12/7/10 Recent Posts
Ian And:
Piers M:

Assuming I can build up a good level of concentration ie very little wandering mind over the course of an hour in the coming weeks/months  (I'm using breath at the nostrils right now) will the painful bodily sensations prevent jhanic absorption states?

I have heard somewhere way back that it is possible to enter Jhanic states through extreme pain.

Hello Piers,

The short answer to your main question above is "no, it won't, if you don't let it." However, this answer might not help you to discern how this might come about, leaving your mind with more confusion than understanding. Understanding arises when there is knowledge (preferably direct knowledge of the issue being examined). 

If your mind rebels from accepting any bodily pain that it cognizes, then yes, the possibility of your reaching and maintaining a dhyana state may be in jeopardy. This is where maturity in insight can come in to reverse such a situation. When the mind accepts the pain and does not rebel, then the dhyana may arise without it being interrupted.

Nicky's comment was half correct. It does help to facilitate the dhyana condition when both the mind and the body are relaxed and experiencing a pleasurable abiding once unification of the mind/body is achieved in samadhi. As he pointed out:

    "When this occurs, the relaxation of the body due to samadhi will itself lessen the pain from sitting and, most of all, the well concentrated mind is so 'absorbed' in the breathing that any pain in the legs is naturally not within the natural sphere of consciousness. In other words, pain in the legs is naturally ignored or blocked out."
While this can occur, its opposite can also occur. Rather than being blocked out, the concentration can become centered upon the painful area of the body being affected. It is for this reason that it can be advisable to address the pain if one cannot just accept the pain as it is and move forward. This means it is acceptable to adjust the body so as to remove the possiblity of pain so that one may return to the intention to practice and enjoy the pleasurable sensations of the dhyana condition.

Think about it. If the mind is not able to put up with (accept) the pain, isn't it reasonable to end the pain from becoming a distraction and to continue on in one's intention to reach a dhyana condition? Especially for someone who is attempting to reach this state for the first time in order to learn about how to enter it at will and effortlessly.

One's meditation practice is only as difficult as one is willing to make it upon oneself. Do whatever works for you in order to achieve your goals, and I think you will find success in that approach.

In peace,
Ian

Thanks all for your considered responses.

I'm heartened to hear the overall message that no it shouldn't be a problem unless I make it into one.

And so the  "sixth hindrance" if you will to enter the place in order to suppress the five hindrances needn't be an obstacle at all. 

As Ian says "One's meditation practice is only as difficult as one is willing to make it upon oneself". 

Always good to try and keep this in mind when the going gets tough.
thumbnail
Ian And, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 784 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Piers M:

As Ian says "One's meditation practice is only as difficult as one is willing to make it upon oneself". 

Always good to try and keep this in mind when the going gets tough.

You might be amaze at how many people here, in the DhO, end up making their practice harder than it needs to be, simply because they've bought into a post-hypnotic suggestion that "this is how you will experience this rite of passage along the path, so get used to it." The mind is set up with an expectation which may or may not be true for that person, and so until the expectation is met, the person doesn't "feel" as though he has made the progress that was projected because he never had to traverse through the expected hardship that was set up beforehand.

What I'm saying is that a person's mind will oftentimes create that hardship (artificially in the mind) for themselves just to exonerate the advice they were given about what to expect. They've been told what to expect and have bought into that so deeply that until that expectation arises for them to go through, they won't accept that they've made any progress. And so their mind creates the experience in order to go through it, when it was all so unnecessary. 

All I'm saying is: don't allow your expectations to over take your practice. Just practice and see what occurs, and deal with it if it occurs. Keep an open mind, void of expectation, and don't make things more difficult than they need be. If one is practicing mindful awareness during their contemplation, on the watch for whatever arises, then one can watch the arising and cessation of whatever phenomeon takes place without becoming attached to it. As Gotama was so fond of saying: "Just this is nibbana."

Piers M:
...well it may surprise you to know that yes, my mind has wandered off whilst I've been in the midst of excruciating pain and not just a few seconds but even a few minutes.
I think it was a way of trying to escape the pain without actually dealing with it. Funny thing is that as soon as I became aware of the pain again then the mind wanted to immediately change posture. Which I found kinda humorous because whilst daydreaming I didn't care about the pain because I had dissociated from it.

And here, in this statement, is a great big hint that most people will just skim past without realizing its importance.

For, what else is "dissociation" in this example but a detaching (a letting go) of the "I/Thou" dichotomy? The body may be in pain, but that is the body's problem to deal with. I am not the body. Yes, I know, the pain can be distracting. If I let it be distracting. But it is not my pain. It belongs to the body. In time it will subside. Or I can take measures to help it subside (depending upon the source of the pain).

One can sometimes experience such a realization of detachment as an "out of body" experience wherein they realize that the body and the pain it senses is one thing, and the mind which becomes aware of the pain is another. In other words, if you don't let the pain bother you (i.e. if you don't IDENTIFY with the pain; or as Gotama has often stated in the discourses "this pain is mine, this pain is me, this pain I am"), it is possible to view the pain as being something outside oneself. Just as if it were a pesky fly that keeps buzzing around one's head, attempting to irritate its target victim. Allow yourself to be irritated, and you lose. Allow the fly to buzz around you while you remain in perfect peace, and you win. It is just that simple. emoticon Or difficult, whichever way you wish to view it.
thumbnail
Nicky, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 484 Join Date: 8/2/14 Recent Posts
:)Ian And:

One can sometimes experience such a realization of detachment as an "out of body" experience wherein they realize that the body and the pain it senses is one thing, and the mind which becomes aware of the pain is another. In other words, if you don't let the pain bother you (i.e. if you don't IDENTIFY with the pain; or as Gotama has often stated in the discourses "this pain is mine, this pain is me, this pain I am"), it is possible to view the pain as being something outside oneself. Just as if it were a pesky fly that keeps buzzing around one's head, attempting to irritate its target victim. Allow yourself to be irritated, and you lose. Allow the fly to buzz around you while you remain in perfect peace, and you win. It is just that simple. emoticon Or difficult, whichever way you wish to view it.

Seems like folks here are attached to pain and attached to their gurus who teach about getting 'enlightened' from pain.

Too bad we don't find any of this in the scriptures, where the Buddha encouraged practitioners to make pain their meditation object.

Wasn't it the Buddha himself that wasted six years focused on pain?

The Buddha taught in-&-out breathing as the divine meditation object.

If we wish to develop JHANA then forget about this pain non-sense.

When the mind is abiding in beautiful non-attached bliss it will find a new source of happiness & realise what the path is about.  emoticon
thumbnail
Incandescent Flower, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 87 Join Date: 10/27/14 Recent Posts
Nicky:
:)Ian And:

One can sometimes experience such a realization of detachment as an "out of body" experience wherein they realize that the body and the pain it senses is one thing, and the mind which becomes aware of the pain is another. In other words, if you don't let the pain bother you (i.e. if you don't IDENTIFY with the pain; or as Gotama has often stated in the discourses "this pain is mine, this pain is me, this pain I am"), it is possible to view the pain as being something outside oneself. Just as if it were a pesky fly that keeps buzzing around one's head, attempting to irritate its target victim. Allow yourself to be irritated, and you lose. Allow the fly to buzz around you while you remain in perfect peace, and you win. It is just that simple. emoticon Or difficult, whichever way you wish to view it.

Seems like folks here are attached to pain and attached to their gurus who teach about getting 'enlightened' from pain.

Too bad we find any of this in the scriptures, where the Buddha encouraged practitioners to make pain their meditation object.

Wasn't it the Buddha himself that wasted six years focused on pain?

The Buddha taught in-&-out breathing as the divine meditation object.

If we wish to develop JHANA then forget about this pain non-sense.

When the mind is abiding in beautiful non-attached bliss it will find a new source of happiness & realise what the path is about.  emoticon

In my experience, and I believe the Buddha taught something similar (feel free to correct me), it is useful occasionally to investigate pains/distractions so that their causes can be understood, which helps you to drop them more swiftly if they should continue to arise in your meditation -- you keep nipping them in the bud, so to speak -- but dwelling on them as it were as a sole object of meditation (strangely, this can come about rather naturally) only really serves to amplify them.

Piers, my advice would be to allow yourself a little more comfort if it's becoming that pressing of an issue for you, especially if you don't see much in the way of improvement with regard to the pain lessening during your sits. Damn the congregation. You only have so much energy -- spending it trying to toughen your way through pain that could simply be avoided seems unwise.
thumbnail
tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy,
i think Ian is right on.

If Jhana is your goal, even if only an intermediary one, you should understand what its is and how to cultivate it.

I used to obsess over jhana and how to get into it.  That obsession held me back.  Once I did crack the code, I realized that I had stumbled into the Jhanas previously, even if only to relatively shallow levels.  The Jhanas can be very deep or very shallow.  They are an 'exclusive' practice, meaning that it is a process of focusing on certain aspects of experience and averring attention from others.

The overall flavor of Jhanas though is one of peace and happiness and this is a good guide.  The first steps are dependent on concentration and noticing the signs that you have 'enough' concentration, often expressed as 'access concentration'.
For me, the clear signs were some of the descriptions of 'rapture' and in my case manifest as the sensations of 'hair standing up on end', but there are other signs given in the suttas. 

The next step, once these signs appear, was to focus on them for a while, non-graspingliy, and then as disinterest starts to manifest, begin to find the sensations associated with 'happiness'.  You then try to 'inflate' or 'dig' the happiness sensations which are generally more subtle than the 'rapture' sensations and not as physically gross.

After that a little knowlege of the descriptions of the Jhanas are good to use as a guide, and then feel your way to the subtler levels.

For more explicit valuable pointers look to Leigh Brasington talks or those of Ayya Khema on dharmaseed.org.  After listening to her talks I had my first 'Ah HA!' moments of Jahna.

Another quick point.  While I have had several experiences of overcoming severe pain via hard core concentration on retreat, I don't think this is helpful at all during regular practice.  This could be unique to me but during regular sits I like to look at them as a sanctuary and don't want to encourage a brute force attitude.  That drive certainly has its place but in most cases developing a light, positive, happy attitude will encourage Jhana more then the warrior conquering mode.

tom
thumbnail
tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Is Jhana possible despite painful vedana?

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
here is the Ayya Khema talk I found very useful.

http://dharmaseed.org/talks/audio_player/334/7688.html

i was alrready familiar with the technical descriptions of jhana

bon chance

Breadcrumb