Guided tour of the Jhanas

Garrett E, modified 5 Years ago.

Guided tour of the Jhanas

Posts: 21 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Hey folks,
I recently stumbled across this serious of youtube videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRdiOoTZC3A) where Kenneth Folk and Nick team up for a guided tour of the jhanas. Essentially, they are offering phenomenological descriptions of their experience as they move up the jhanic arc. This seems to function as a “pointing out” certain aspects or qualities of jhanas and also, as Ken says, offers a kind of psychic resonance for each state. Anyway, I have found these videos helpful in my own practice and thought I would share some thoughts.

I tried sitting while listening to these videos and found I could pretty well follow them up through the 7th. Now, my experience of these jhanas, particularly beyond the 5th, was quite soft, and it was only when they named particular qualities of the state that the absorption would deepen. This leads to a bit of a controversy that I’ve seen coming up here. Does what I was experiencing count as jhana? Well, I am going to partially dodge this question and instead say that whether or not it "counts as jhana”, the qualities of each state that they were pointing out and which I was experiencing were real qualities of those jhanas. While there was almost certainly some degree of “scripting” of experience that was going on, I am going to go out on a limb and say that even so, my mind was tuned in to the genuine qualities of those jhanas. And experiencing these qualities and having them specifically pointed out is an extremely good and pragmatic thing! Not so I can say, “Look at me, I have attained to these jhanas - I am so great, so wonderful!” But because knowing what qualities each state has and what these feel like in my own experience is super helpful for training my mind to see them and absorb itself in them more deeply. Right, it is this learning which gradually leads to the ability to enter thee states according to higher standards and to attaining “mastery” of them. It’s practice!

I would love to hear others’ thoughts!

Warmly,
Garrett
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Nikolai ., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Guided tour of the Jhanas

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
Garrett E:
Hey folks,
I recently stumbled across this serious of youtube videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRdiOoTZC3A) where Kenneth Folk and Nick team up for a guided tour of the jhanas. Essentially, they are offering phenomenological descriptions of their experience as they move up the jhanic arc. This seems to function as a “pointing out” certain aspects or qualities of jhanas and also, as Ken says, offers a kind of psychic resonance for each state. Anyway, I have found these videos helpful in my own practice and thought I would share some thoughts.

I tried sitting while listening to these videos and found I could pretty well follow them up through the 7th. Now, my experience of these jhanas, particularly beyond the 5th, was quite soft, and it was only when they named particular qualities of the state that the absorption would deepen. This leads to a bit of a controversy that I’ve seen coming up here. Does what I was experiencing count as jhana? Well, I am going to partially dodge this question and instead say that whether or not it "counts as jhana”, the qualities of each state that they were pointing out and which I was experiencing were real qualities of those jhanas. While there was almost certainly some degree of “scripting” of experience that was going on, I am going to go out on a limb and say that even so, my mind was tuned in to the genuine qualities of those jhanas. And experiencing these qualities and having them specifically pointed out is an extremely good and pragmatic thing! Not so I can say, “Look at me, I have attained to these jhanas - I am so great, so wonderful!” But because knowing what qualities each state has and what these feel like in my own experience is super helpful for training my mind to see them and absorb itself in them more deeply. Right, it is this learning which gradually leads to the ability to enter thee states according to higher standards and to attaining “mastery” of them. It’s practice!

I would love to hear others’ thoughts!

Warmly,
Garrett

My current take.
  • Jhanas = fabrications of mind, fabricated mindstates.
  • Scripting = fabricating, giving shape to
  • Resonating with the video descriptions = scripting, giving shape to the qualities and aspects of the descriptions


There does however seem to be a "cutting edge" that each person has, conditioning how far up they can fabricate without hindrance. This may be because they haven't visited a particular territory (or corresponding nana with similar aspects) before and thus have no memory of its "handle" or "shape" so to speak, so it may take some continued practice to access territory where no "handles" have taken root.

By "handle" I mean a memory of the shape of a fabrication. You "know" how it looks and feels and all one does to bring it into formation is to recall this rooted memory. You then have instant access to the handle. When following along to the video descritpions, one may be accessing previous experience that one may have visited before whether in soft, hard or nana-related format. The fact that you can't follow past 7th may be because you haven't created nor cultivated a rooted handle yet for the 8th. It may take other tricks to get that far as opposed to following along to the video. These instructions could help trigger a handle. 

http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/the-yogi-toolbox-attaining-jhana.html

My 2 cents
Nick


Edited for spelling
Eva M Nie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Guided tour of the Jhanas

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Nikolai .:

My current take.
  • Jhanas = fabrications of mind, fabricated mindstates.
  • Scripting = fabricating, giving shape to
  • Resonating with the video descriptions = scripting, giving shape to the qualities and aspects of the descriptions
Yeah I would agree.  I suspect that feeling like you are in a jhana and being in a jhana, assuming the feeling and qualities are the same, is basically the same, although there may be differences in intensity (energy level?) from one experience to another.  I think people make it harder than it needs to be by putting jhanas on some kind of pedestal.  IMO, they are moods and you can change your mood with concentration and/or with imagination and/or intense remembering of past experiences.  The easiest ones to get to are the ones that we have more experience with and are closer to our normal states. 
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Noah S, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Guided tour of the Jhanas

Posts: 1532 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Fascinating and expert thoughts from Nikolai, elaborated on by Eve!  Awesome.

My new theory is that the order in which the factors of jhana arise is what determines the hardness of that state.  Meaning, if I am able to rouse a sense of rapturous energy, but I have not taken the time to willfully sustain my attention to the point where it is effortlessly sustained,  I will be in some sort of 'soft' jhana.  The times when I have done daily, formal sitting (including hard determination sits), have led to the initial steps of attention, and then a few, sparse experiences of super strong absorption energies.  In contrast, my experience with 'remembering' mind states or accessing them while walking around in daily life, have led to spontaneous absorptions that were not that strong and did not last.

My theory might be weak because it is too specific to me.  But yeah, order of the factors arising.
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Nikolai ., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Guided tour of the Jhanas

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
I should also add that getting the first perceptual brain-changing cessation seemed to be the prerequisite for me  to use "handles" extremely easily. Not sure I would have developed the same access without the 1st cessation. 



I've also read people argue that the videos don't show the real deal jhanas (whatever they are supposed to be). I often thought back then if I could record with a special machine what happened to perception,  my brain and overall ongoing experience of the 5 aggregates after the 1st cessation  and then get someone to experience that ongoing experience via that machine, they'd be utterly and totally convinced of the post-cessation insanely easy will of mind access to these deep states of mind being the "jhanas". 

But in the end, your own experience convinces alone and that is enough....unless conceit comes into play....... thus my very post. In the end they are just fabrications of mind, and if they don't teach one to see the dangers in assigning weight to such fabrications, and don't eventually teach one to neither move forward nor stay still then such access is worth not much at all.

Nick

Edited for clarity and honesty

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