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I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?

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I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Joshua D 8/29/15 10:01 PM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Pål 8/30/15 12:47 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Small Steps 8/30/15 1:20 PM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Joshua D 8/30/15 6:35 PM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? tom moylan 9/2/15 4:44 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Scott Kinney 9/2/15 7:10 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Laurel Carrington 8/30/15 1:33 PM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? CJMacie 8/30/15 11:15 PM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Pål 8/31/15 12:36 PM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? CJMacie 8/31/15 3:43 PM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Pål 9/2/15 1:41 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? CJMacie 9/2/15 10:02 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Pål 9/6/15 11:11 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? svmonk 9/2/15 11:56 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Noah 9/2/15 3:57 PM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? CJMacie 9/4/15 1:09 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? CJMacie 9/4/15 12:55 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Pål 9/6/15 11:18 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? CJMacie 8/30/15 11:20 PM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Small Steps 8/31/15 12:05 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? CJMacie 9/2/15 9:42 AM
RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts? Jeff Goldman 8/31/15 12:43 PM
I sat tonight with the resolve to concentrate on the breath as focused as possible for the entire hour. My background is insight meditation, but I wanted to do concentration tonight.  During my afternoon sit I did about 20 minutes of breath-focused concentration, and then 40 minutes of scanning / noting. This evening, mostly on a whim, I decided to really try to push the boundry of concentration. 

After about half an hour of moderate concentration (but with some wandering) there was a period of about 5-10 minutes of very little concentration. I considered switching to body scanning / noting, but decided to continue to pursue concentration. 

I told myself to watch every moment of the breath 'like my life depended on it' and really pushed myself to put every part of my mind into the breath.  For a moment, I considered picturing someone holding a gun to my head with the threat that they would pull the trigger if I lost hold of the breath, but decided that was probably a Bad Idea, so I didn't embrace that imagery. I continued to try to work with that level of intensity though. 

Soonafter, I had some midly strange sensations arise in my face, which quickly distracted me. Realizing that distraction, I made the same resolve again, this time repeating to myself "no matter what sensations arise, focus on the breath. Stay with the breath..... stay with the breath..... stay with the breath...."

After a short period of being fully imersed in the breath, I felt a rush of very strong and pleasant sensations rise up. My heart started beating faster and my eyes started twitching. I continued to repeat "stay with the breath" and the sensations grew stronger. My entire head and upper body were filled with sensations that were like a very strong orgasm (although no sexual energy was present). After about 5-10 seconds I grew distracted with the intense pleasant sensations, twitching face, and fast beating heart, and my concentration detached from the breath.  The sensations receded almost immediately.

For the rest of the hour, I pushed myself to that edge, and had similar experiences another 2 or 3 times, but was never able to stabilize the state.

Does it seem that I started to enter the first jhana, or do you think this is something else? 

If it was the first jhana, any advice on how to stabilize the state? It was difficult to: 1. keep from exploring the really pleasant sensations and losing concentration on the breath; 2. stop my ego from getting involved in the process. 

edit: It is about 20 minutes later, and I am still experiencing more-pleasant-than usual sensations in my face and arms. Nothing super strong, but like a mild afterglow. 

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
8/30/15 12:47 AM as a reply to Joshua D.
Jhana master Ajahn Brahm could probably help you, even though his definition of Jhana is a lot stricter than Daniels. If MCTB describes jhana, Brahms definition describes Hard-ass Jhana. What you experienced was, acccording to him, probably more like an appertizer to Upacara Samadhi than Jhana. 

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_Brahm_The_Jhanas.pdf

(take my advice with a grain of salt since I still consider myself a beginner)

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
8/30/15 1:20 PM as a reply to Joshua D.
First jhana is usually associated with the following factors:
vitakka: applied attention
vicara: sustained attention
piti: rapture
sukha: gladness
(and sometimes) ekagatta: one pointedness

When these factors are mature and present, then one is said to be in first jhana. Additionally, there's a large tradition of commentarial procedures which provide a more descriptive and stringent set of requirements to ascertain the first jhana state. I think you'll find it interesting to review materials describing both the sutta and commentary's (visuddhimagga) prescriptions/descriptions.

Some modern books that I found helpful on the subject:
Focused and Fearless by Shaila Catherine
Practicing the Jhanas by Tina Rasmussen and Stephen Snyder
The Experience of Samadhi by Richard Shankman

What you're describing is very similar to my first experience of piti: overt, ragged orgasmic thrills. My suggestions: don't chase it; see if you can learn what makes it arise and how to sustain it; do practice in a quiet setting allowing you to relax into things; don't do this while driving. Also, watch out for "weird" side effects arising out of this opening into the body. For me, it manifested as spontaneous spasms and jerky body movements, visual and auditory distortions. YMMV.

Also, it's sometimes helpful to ask: if I thought this was first jhana and someone came by and popped my bubble and told me it wasn't, how does that make me feel? If I didn't think it was, and someone came by and affirmed that it was, how does that make me feel? In the end, see how the experience was just an experience, and your need to have a label for it is pointing to something, as well as how you might be pulled this way and that by some stranger on the Internet's response.

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
8/30/15 1:33 PM as a reply to Joshua D.
A guy that knows a lot about this stuff is Leigh Brasington. He is not a hard liner, but he is solid. His book on jhana will be out this fall. 

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
8/30/15 6:35 PM as a reply to Small Steps.
Small Steps:
First jhana is usually associated with the following factors:
vitakka: applied attention
vicara: sustained attention
piti: rapture
sukha: gladness
(and sometimes) ekagatta: one pointedness


What is the difference between "applied attention" and "sustained attention"? 
When these factors are mature and present, then one is said to be in first jhana. Additionally, there's a large tradition of commentarial procedures which provide a more descriptive and stringent set of requirements to ascertain the first jhana state. I think you'll find it interesting to review materials describing both the sutta and commentary's (visuddhimagga) prescriptions/descriptions.

Some modern books that I found helpful on the subject:
Focused and Fearless by Shaila Catherine
Practicing the Jhanas by Tina Rasmussen and Stephen Snyder
The Experience of Samadhi by Richard Shankman



Thank you, I will. 

What you're describing is very similar to my first experience of piti: overt, ragged orgasmic thrills. My suggestions: don't chase it; see if you can learn what makes it arise and how to sustain it; do practice in a quiet setting allowing you to relax into things; don't do this while driving. Also, watch out for "weird" side effects arising out of this opening into the body. For me, it manifested as spontaneous spasms and jerky body movements, visual and auditory distortions. YMMV.

That's really helpful, and seems accurate, thank you.

Also, it's sometimes helpful to ask: if I thought this was first jhana and someone came by and popped my bubble and told me it wasn't, how does that make me feel? If I didn't think it was, and someone came by and affirmed that it was, how does that make me feel? In the end, see how the experience was just an experience, and your need to have a label for it is pointing to something, as well as how you might be pulled this way and that by some stranger on the Internet's response.
Really just grateful for some explanation of what I experienced. I've been practicing for 8 years (goenka body scanning) and have had very few "interesting" experiences. The few times I have, the teachers have downplayed their importance.

I think I'm the sort of person who does better understanding clearly what's happening (what's not happening) and what might happen next. 

If it was Jhana (it sounds like it was not) then cool. If it was just one of the factors, then that's cool too. I'm seeking understanding, and I'm really grateful that you may have helped provide it. Your description very accurately describes what I experienced. 

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
8/30/15 11:15 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
re: Laurel Carrington (8/30/15 1:33 PM as a reply to Joshua D.)
"A guy that knows a lot about this stuff is Leigh Brasington. He is not a hard liner, but he is solid. His book on jhana will be out this fall." 

There's a wealth of sources and perspective at Leigh's website, on the page: "The Jhānas (Meditative Absorptions)" (at: http://www.leighb.com/jhanas.htm)– maybe the best place to browse and/or study the various viewpoints. (A couple of the copious links provided there are stale – no longer work – as of last week when I surveyed the sight; I sent him email pointing those out, so they may get fixed.)

It appears his scope is an attempt to be encyclopedic – cover all bases (perhaps following in the footsteps of, improving on Richard Shankman's efforts) – and his own perspective seems to change over time. The forthcoming book will be interesting, to see how he frames the 'lite-jhana'', which he has taught a lot in the past, in light of his obvious more recent understanding (and first-hand experience) with the deeper, more 'hard' interpretations of jhana. The website lists Leigh's own many writings, teachings on the subject spanning 20 years or so, which tract the evolution of his understanding.

While teaching in a retreat (at IRC,January 2014) he denied that 'absorption' was an essential part of entering jhanic state. But that may have been rhetorical at the time, as he was making various provacative assertions of interpretation, which, in hindsight, I think may have been just a way of attracting attention. (For instance, "the commentaries just got it WRONG!" vs "jhana as the Buddha taught") And he didn't seem to offer much detailed instruction on cultivation; but that may have to do with the fact that the retreat was co-taught by Gil Fronsdal, who is definitely adept at, and teaches concentration, but more in a vipassana context. I've not seen/heard Gil explicitly teach jhanas.

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
8/30/15 11:20 PM as a reply to Joshua D.
re: Joshua D (8/29/15 10:01 PM)

I think you're on the right track, but not quite at the absorption that marks the traditional jhana. According to other, more modern interpretations, what you've experience might be considered as jhana, but I would say if you continue effort (and study viewpoints, find what suits you), you are likely to come upon full absorption, and find it well-worth the effort. I would recommend keeping at it with regular sessions, the longer the better (30 minutes and longer); heroic pushes to do it (or let it happen) NOW have a better chance on the basis of gradually accumulated skill and ease from regular practice.

"After a short period of being fully imersed in the breath, I felt a rush of very strong and pleasant sensations rise up…."
Agreeing with Small Steps comments, I would consider this a clear taste of piti ('rapture'). Traditionally, piti is said to arise as as sort of mental celebration of achieving concentration on one sensation (e.g. breath). As also can be experienced further down the road in full absorption, when the mind is relieved of it's otherwise constant activity keeping track of this or that, planning, obsessing, etc., it can experience itself in wonderful new ways.

I would suggest a qualification of Small Steps statement: "When these factors are mature and present, then one is said to be in first jhana." Namely that the presence of the factors, as signifying the absence of the hindrances, is usually considered as 'access concentration' (aka 'neighborhood concentration') rather than jhana. This is, however, a crucial launching pad for going either into jhanic samadhi (absorption) or into khanika samadhi (momentary concentration, aka Mahasi's 'vipassana samadhi').

Access concentration is sort of floating without being bothered, tugged here or there. Both absorbed and momentary concentration involve a more intentionally focused relationship to object(s). With jhanic absorption (using a single object), there's a definitive, a quantum shift of mental state/process that's unmistakable – it's as if the object's image (nimitta) suddenly swallows the mind, the mind falls into the object which then encloses it, and mental motion seems to stop (there are various levels of this). There is also, in my experience, a clear shift in bodily sensation as a sort of fullness felt around the back and base of the skull.

(This relates to a phenomenon mentioned by Ven Vimalaramsi, that I also noticed back on my first retreat (2008): Becoming mindfull of either (externally triggered) pleasure /attraction or displeasure / aversion, there's a noticeable tension at the back of the head. This tension is similar to what happens intension or stress headaches, which I treat often as an acupuncturist (and have experienced myself). With treatment (needles or other), this tension can resolve into a sort of fullness or distending sensation at the same location -- the tension being the muscular tightening due to stress, blocking 'qi' flow (e.g. circulation, nerve transmission, etc.), while the release of that tightening opens the area to a flood of 'qi', and relief. This experience is like what I've felt at the back of the head in jhana.)

Momentary concentration (as in the Mahasi vipassana samadhi) is more an intense focus on whatever changing sensations are arising. (see MCTB for much more on this)

One more point: Small Steps mentions "… (and sometimes) ekagatta: one pointedness" in the jhanic factors. This is a point of contention, especially among the proponents of 'jhana-lite'. I will spell out the details elsewhere, but here just note that the "vitakka: applied attention" and "vicara: sustained attention" (when understood as here translated, rather than verbal discursive mental 'thinking' as claimed by the jhana-lite proponents) can be understood (and is clearly experienced) as sort of 'working' one-pointedness. This interpretation corresponds to the metaphorical description in the suttas: like kneading moisture into dough. The fact that this 'working' one-pointedness in the 1st jhana is replaced by 'ekodibhavam' ('having become one') in the 2nd jhana clearly corresponds to the experience – one-pointedness is simply there in the 2nd, doesn't have to be worked at any more like in the1st. Furthermore, 'ekodibhavam' or the equivalent isn't mentioned in sutta description of the 3rd and 4th jhanas. In this light, the assignment of 'ekagatta' to all 4 jhanas in the commentarial tradition makes more sense – 'gone to one' (ekagatta) as jhanic absorption.

Another piece of evidence is that sutta descriptions emphasize that jhana is "entered into and abided in", which (textual-crtically) suggests that jhana does involve a definitive, quantum-shift state of consciousness, as opposed to the notion, in 'jhana-lite', that if you're experiencing rushes of rapture (piti), but still 'thinking', you can be already in the 1st jhana. That's s/w fuzzy – how do you know for sure when you've "entered into and abiding" in a jhana? From the often voiced questions and discussions here in DhO, some people really don't know for sure, other than in imagination.

P.S. The difference between "applied attention" and "sustained attention"?
"Applied" means here directing attention to an object, as in "I thought of that", meaning "that came to mind" (as distinct from thinking as a verbal discursive processing of thoughts about it); "sustained" means holding the object in mind, as in "keeping that in mind..." (also not necessitating a discursive thought process). The terms vitakka-vicara can mean either this kind of directing and holding, or it can mean working out trains of thought. One bit of evidence that the former meaning applies to the jhanic definition is that in the Chinese translations (made ca 1800 years ago), a different Chinese word is used in defining jhana than at other places where vitakka-vicara is used, and that word connotes the directing/holding kind of meaning.

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
8/31/15 12:05 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Great comments as always, Chris!

I have felt a release at the back of the head, near the base of the skull, that you're describing. Often, it manifests as tingling at two points, accompanied by a feeling of relief and sometimes euphoria. It occurs more as a spontaneous "while in daily life" thing than in meditation, for me, however.

I've been plugging along in jhana-lite territory for a while now. I will take your encouraging words for original poster, Joshua, and see where I can get with a sustained concentration practice for a bit.

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
8/31/15 12:36 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Interesting how you mention a feeling of fullness at the base of the skull etc. I guess, I'll learn with experience, but a main point of confusion with definging jhana for me is how/if the body is supposed to be felt. Thanissaro says that if it's real jhana, one has full body attention. This is also directly told in the suttas, that one is supposed to have full body awareness shile in Jhana. Ajahn Brahm, however, says what is meant with "kaya" in the context of Jhana is the mental constitution, because thefive  senses are completely shut down while in hus definition of Jhana, in line with the suttaic description of how you're supposed to be "secluded from sensuality". Is your experience of Jhana somewhere between those definitions?

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
8/31/15 12:43 PM as a reply to Joshua D.
Congrats, Joshua. Sounds like a piti rush to me and definitely on the road to 1st Jhana. You're approach is similar to Leigh's and no doubt soon you will be able to stabilize the experience.
Jeff

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
8/31/15 3:43 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
Interesting how you mention a feeling of fullness at the base of the skull etc. I guess, I'll learn with experience, but a main point of confusion with definging jhana for me is how/if the body is supposed to be felt. Thanissaro says that if it's real jhana, one has full body attention. This is also directly told in the suttas, that one is supposed to have full body awareness shile in Jhana. Ajahn Brahm, however, says what is meant with "kaya" in the context of Jhana is the mental constitution, because thefive  senses are completely shut down while in hus definition of Jhana, in line with the suttaic description of how you're supposed to be "secluded from sensuality". Is your experience of Jhana somewhere between those definitions?
Yes.

Body is experienceable only via mind -- the dichotomy itself is a mental construct.

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/2/15 1:41 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Why then, are the suttas so eager to explain we have six senses? According to Ajahn Brahm, and, I think, Pa-Auk too, the forst five are shut down from Upacara Samadhi and fourth and there is only the mind, the Nimitta, or as the Buddha put it in suttas: Light and vision of forms. Is your bodyawaremess reduced or only changed in what you call Jhana? 

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/2/15 4:44 AM as a reply to Joshua D.
howdy
vitakka: applied attention - often described as striking a bell, the initial setting of attention on a chosen object

vicara: sustained attention - often described as the continuous ringing of the bell after striking it, staying on the object and its sensation.

I agree that the "ragged" feelings could be the arising of piti. its important to note that it is the dropping of this factor allows one to move to the 2nd jhana..which was pointed out by Small Steps. 

IMO , the arising of piti, is the key to understanding jhana. for me, when this arises it is a good point of focus.   the first trick is getting used to setting the stage for piti to arise.  then the trick is to stay with those sensations thoroughly until they are boring and follow the "happy" sensations which are much more subtle.  this leads to the next jhana

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/2/15 7:10 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
tom moylan:
...
IMO , the arising of piti, is the key to understanding jhana. for me, when this arises it is a good point of focus.   the first trick is getting used to setting the stage for piti to arise.  then the trick is to stay with those sensations thoroughly until they are boring and follow the "happy" sensations which are much more subtle.  this leads to the next jhana


I'm at that 'tricky' stage. I am not yet consistent with setting the stage for piti, there's a quality to the concentration that I can't yet replicate reliably. I'll get there. When piti feels strong and consistent, I shift to monitoring the pleasure associated with the breath; seeing its shape, color and location (cloud-like, purple and about an inch in front of my face).  This isn't persistent or consistent yet, either. There's something of a feedback loop, though. Having focused on the pleasure of the breath, the feelings of relief, comfort and happiness associated with the breath are becoming more noticeable. 

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/2/15 9:42 AM as a reply to Small Steps.
Small Steps:

I have felt a release at the back of the head, near the base of the skull, that you're describing. Often, it manifests as tingling at two points, accompanied by a feeling of relief and sometimes euphoria. It occurs more as a spontaneous "while in daily life" thing than in meditation, for me, however...

It could be this is a form of piti (rapture), as it s/t has a welling-up sort of feeling. That can blossom into stronger sensations of release, as expansion-like phenomena. Maybe to compare with those 5-types of piti spelled out inthe Visudhimagga. "Euphoria" is a good word here.

When I first started-out trying this stuff, and on that first retreat, I considered such rapturous states / feelings were the goal – my closest notion of jhana at that time, taking various different forms. S/t like bubbling energy; s/t in association with scintillating visual phenomena, like flashinggems (e.g. in water) mentioned as a form of nimitta; also s/t as patterns like leaves of a tree vibrating with color as sunlight comes through them – also similar to the effect of light/color swimming in water.

That was before exposure to more detailed teaching, which was initially Shaila Catherine's book (and in-person teachings). And it was long after that I was exposed to the idea that piti is itself essentially 1st jhana, as one finds in some descriptions of jhana-lite.

Later I learned that such signs are significant, but to progress beyond them towards absorption, they must not be dwelt on or sought for themselves, but allowed to come and go as they will. Trying for them or clinging to them is a distraction from progressive stages of letting go, relaxing the active (doing) and reactive (responding) aspects of the mental activity so the mind can gravitate towards that release and quietude which takes over the mind in absorption. (In the suttas, jhana is often called ceto-vimutti – 'deliverance of the mind'.) In that release, sensations, both external and internal, can come and go, but without the mind doing anything to cause them, nor being moved in reacting to them.

Lots of paradox involved in trying to describe this stuff with verbal mental constructs.

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/2/15 10:02 AM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
Why then, are the suttas so eager to explain we have six senses? According to Ajahn Brahm, and, I think, Pa-Auk too, the forst five are shut down from Upacara Samadhi and fourth and there is only the mind, the Nimitta, or as the Buddha put it in suttas: Light and vision of forms. Is your bodyawaremess reduced or only changed in what you call Jhana? 

And the earlier quotation:
"Interesting how you mention a feeling of fullness at the base of the skull etc. I guess, I'll learn with experience, but a main point of confusion with defining jhana for me is how / if the body is supposed to be felt. Thanissaro says that if it's real jhana, one has full body attention. This is also directly told in the suttas, that one is supposed to have full body awareness while in Jhana. Ajahn Brahm, however, says what is meant with "kaya" in the context of Jhana is the mental constitution, because the five  senses are completely shut down while in his definition of Jhana, in line with the suttaic description of how you're supposed to be "secluded from sensuality". Is your experience of Jhana somewhere between those definitions?"

The experience is relatively simple and direct, and it is not an experience of "defining." I think of 'kaya' as being the 'body of experience' in a broad, polysemious sense (any and/or all of its meanings at any time, or at the same time). Trying to nail it down as 'physical' experience or not is guaranteed to distract and miss the experience itself. In Than-Geof's sense (my interpretation thereof) the whole of whatever sensation(s) -- associated with anything considered as 'bodily' -- that may appear is, at that time, the 'whole body'. With concentrated anapana focus, for instance, the touch of breath at the nostrils is the whole body of experience at the time. Right there in the words: "experience of the whole-body" or the "whole body-of-experience"?

The 'whole body' as the entire physical organism is a scientific construct, only observable externally where it's an "object". Nobody can directly "experience" their own whole physical body. I.e. what's going on right now in your gall bladder, the positions of the vertebrae, the activity of the venous valves and action of the soleus muscles in the calves, the presence and proportions of active hormones, the detailed nerve firings and patterns all over the place, and so on, through all the peta-bytes of scientific data and models.

The "mind-body problem" is a modern (couple of centuries old) Western concept, of no relevance, and actually deterrent to being able to experience the phenomenological Buddhism practices.

Another aspect you mention: "secluded from sensuality" does not have to mean "the five senses are completely shut down". 'Sensuality' dennotes involvement with, reaction to sensory input (at some level savoring – tasting - it). In the 1st two or three jhanas, sensations can be present, as if somewhere outside of the sphere of absorption, not breaking through to push the mind or pull it into reaction. Sound, light etc. (including proprioceptive / internal) sensations appear and pass, just as they are – no effect and nothing to do; they bounce off, so to speak. In the deeper levels (4th jhana and the arupa-jhanas) they don't impinge on awareness at all (except when the concentration isn't strong enough and they actually break it).

Watch out: seeking narrow, rigid definitions, and expecting the interpretations and metaphorical language of different authors to agree literally will indeed continue the confusion.

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/2/15 11:56 AM as a reply to Pål.
Hi Pal,

Maybe the distinction between Than Geoff and Ajahn Brahm/Pa-Auk has to do with the meditation object they use? Maybe Than Geoff uses the breath at the abdomen? I know Pa-Auk and Ajahn Brahm use the breath at the nostrils. That may, in turn, lead to absorption into a different sort of counterpart sign.

It would be interesting to see how people who use different kinds of meditation objects, kasinas and also metta, experience absorption with respect to awareness of the body.

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/2/15 3:57 PM as a reply to svmonk.
With regards to the different definitions of jhana:

In addition to the possibility of different objects affecting outcomes, I also think scripting and expectation must come into play.  As in, a certain teacher reaches a conclusion from reading the suttas, find support from his own personal absorption memories, and seeks to replicate those memories.  Another possibility is that a teacher's teacher taught a certain type of jhana, and his/her best students were able to energetically resonate with the vibe of that level of mind, and eventually replicate it in themselves.  A third possibility is that the different factors of enlightenment are more or less prominent in a certain flavor of jhana, or perhaps the order in which factors of enlightenment come on board affects the final outcome of jhana.

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/4/15 12:55 AM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
Hi Pal,


Maybe the distinction between Than Geoff and Ajahn Brahm/Pa-Auk has to do with the meditation object they use? Maybe Than Geoff uses the breath at the abdomen? I know Pa-Auk and Ajahn Brahm use the breath at the nostrils. That may, in turn, lead to absorption into a different sort of counterpart sign.

(I'm not Pål,but…)In the guided meditations I've heard by Than-Geof, he encourages exploring breath throughout the body and finding whatever, where-ever it seems best. He doesn't talk much about the technical details like nimitta, factors, stages of jhana. -- all that Abhidhamma and Visudhimagga stuff which is more a Burmese speciality. TG I think is familiar with all that, but teaches more focusing on simply cultivating ever stronger and deeper concentration, without worrying about how it's defined, and using it to feret-out dukkha at increasingly more refined levels. He mapped this out once in describing stream-entry (which I took to be a 1st-person rendition): going to ever deeper concentration and then looking where tinges of dukkha are still be found. (The process he describes does seem to resemble the alternation between samadhi and vipassana-style evaluation of it.) Up to apoint where the remaining stress is so subtle that the mind can't get a handle on it, drops the intentional effort (release), and then – poof – "the Deathless" opens up. (Maybe the last remaining subtle stress at that point is itself the conditioned process of seeking further?)

It would be interesting to see how people who use different kinds of meditation objects, kasinas and also metta, experience absorption with respect to awareness of the body.
Shaila said once that the concentrative states with the 40-odd different types of object each have different flavors to them, as maybe the nimitta as a mental conterpart image retains some of the differing characteristics of the different objects. (It's also often said the 40-odd-dish buffet of possible objects also accomodates a wide range of differences, preferences, aptitudes of individual people.) My suspicion is that, while experiences of deep concentration may fall into some commonly occurring morphological patterns (one being the sense of quantum shift in mental and body awareness that I know as 'absorption'), the actual experience is highly influenced by a range of personal, historical, cultural factors (like those mentioned here by Noah S). Hence the 'tower of Babal' of differing personal descriptions and definitions.


RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/4/15 1:09 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
With regards to the different definitions of jhana:

In addition to the possibility of different objects affecting outcomes, I also think scripting and expectation must come into play.
 

That brings to mind the idea of havinga model (as in MCTB's extensive catalog of such). Might be thought ofin a sense of limiting, but also of empowerment – we all spent theinitial phases of life by necessity adapting to family and socialmodels, and later cultural ones ("higher education").*

As in, a certain teacher reaches a conclusion from reading the suttas, find support from his own personal absorption memories, and seeks to replicate those memories.  

Yes, can work out. More efficient is usually the next option you bring-up:

Another possibility is that a teacher's teacher taught a certain type of jhana, and his/her best students were able to energetically resonate with the vibe of that level of mind, and eventually replicate it in themselves.  A third possibility is that the different factors of enlightenment are more or less prominent in a certain flavor of jhana, or perhaps the order in which factors of enlightenment come on board affects the final outcome of jhana.

Also known as "standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before", or "not having to re-invent the wheel", aka participating in a lineage.

* We're not usually aware of the importance of this. Check out Werner Herzog's film "The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser" as an example of what can happen in the absence of such developmental models.

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/6/15 11:11 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Thanissaro is quite clear that he (and his preceding masters) means the full body as in arms, legs and everything. Ajahn brahm is quite clear that he (and his preceding masters) means that you can't hear sounds or even notice if you fall over while in Jhana. I'll just continue practicing and see what I fall into. 

RE: I think I touched the first Jhana, thoughts?
Answer
9/6/15 11:18 AM as a reply to svmonk.
Thanissaro teaches awareness of breath energy, feeling it expand and contract through the entire physical body. You get there through body scan and a "stretching" of breath awareness. Ajahn Brahm teaches breath awareness at no point in particular, so the methods differ a lot.