Does concentration on concentration lead to jhanas?

Andreas Thef, modified 5 Years ago.

Does concentration on concentration lead to jhanas?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
Hello,

it's been a while since I last posted here but have ever since been a silent reader. Lately my samatha practice is improving (i.e. getting deeper) and I have a question regarding my technique. In MCTB Daniel writes:

Training in concentration has had thousands of pages dedicated to it, and there are probably thousands of concentration exercises. Some very commonly used objects of meditation are the breath (my personal favorite), ones posture, a mantra or koan, a candle flame, various visualization exercises, and even the experience of concentration itself. The object you choose should be one on which you would be happy to steady your mind.

The bold part of the quote is exactly what I do lately with some success.

I basically focus on making the experience of concentration a very continuous and uninterrupted one. It's a little hard to explain but I mainly concentrate on the space in front of me. This sometimes involves seeing what goes on behind my closed eyes but more often is the simple act of maintaining the illusion of the fluidity of the awareness (which is more of concentration on a feeling or perception). This works pretty well and I am now able to have very long phases of an uninterrupted and fluid concentration experience. Sometimes it feels like I'm pulled into the space in front of me, sometimes I start to have facial carmp-like movements (kriyas) and sometimes I get a very heavy feeling on my shoulders and torso. I guess those are all signs of a certain depth and progress.

However, I'm not sure if I have ever been in a jhana as I don't experience any kind of bliss or joy. There's just this comfortable absence of effort and not much else going on. Which is nice but sometimes feels like a dead end. Maybe I'm too impatient here, I don't know. So my question after all this is:

Can meditation on concentration itself lead one to Jhana? Or am I better advised to choose one of the other meditation object like the breath or a kasina?


Another question would be: Are there any books, texts, websites, teachers out there, that write about or teach this concentration method?

Thanks in advance for your help!
neko, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Does concentration on concentration lead to jhanas?

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
Andreas Thef:

However, I'm not sure if I have ever been in a jhana as I don't experience any kind of bliss or joy. There's just this comfortable absence of effort and not much else going on. Which is nice but sometimes feels like a dead end. 

From how you describe it, it could be. There is this blunt, dull, lazy state that is possible to get into. It is restful and kind of pleasurable in its uneventfulness but it doesn't lead anywhere useful in my experience. From the Theravada point of view the factors are absent (no vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha, upekkha...); from the Mahamudra point of view, the space is not luminous / aware.

(I can't exclude the possibility that there other other traditions that make use of it, though.)

It is hard to say for sure without being in your head though.
Andreas Thef, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Does concentration on concentration lead to jhanas?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
Thank you both for your help!
So are you are taking on the thought and feeling of spaciousness as the object of concentration?
Hm, I am not sure. It doesn't feel like that. It's more like focusing on the continuity of awareness itself. But I will also try to implement the breath or some other object in my meditation.

Also thanks for your insight instructions!
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Does concentration on concentration lead to jhanas?

Posts: 1333 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Andreas Thef:

Some very commonly used objects of meditation are the breath (my personal favorite), ones posture, a mantra or koan, a candle flame, various visualization exercises, and even the experience of concentration itself.
The object you choose should be one on which you would be happy to steady your mind.


The bold part of the quote is exactly what I do lately with some success.

I basically focus on making the experience of concentration a very continuous and uninterrupted one. It's a little hard to explain but I mainly concentrate on the space in front of me. This sometimes involves seeing what goes on behind my closed eyes but more often is the simple act of maintaining the illusion of the fluidity of the awareness (which is more of concentration on a feeling or perception).
So are you are taking on the thought and feeling of spaciousness as the object of concentration?
I have explored spaciousness a bit and there are good things to be had by getting concentrated on it as well as deconstructing the various aspects that make up space and objects in space. I did not do this work until much later in my practise and usually just use my breath to get concentrated then switch to spaciousness.

Andreas Thef:

However, I'm not sure if I have ever been in a jhana as I don't experience any kind of bliss or joy.
Just allow the spaciousness to be pleasant and realize that space inherently has a nice pleasing quality to it already....allow this to grow and see what happens as you do so. 
If that doesnt work, prime the pump...fill the spaciousness with pleasant feelings.....spacious joy, spacious bliss. See where that goes.
Andreas Thef:

So my question after all this is:
1. Can meditation on concentration itself lead one to Jhana?
2. Or am I better advised to choose one of the other meditation object like the breath or a kasina?
1. Sure, but you are actually taking the various aspects of concentration as the objects.
2. You should try other objects too so you can compare and contrast the various objects and see first hand what works for you. Often more physical objects like the physical sensations of breath or the visual sensations of kasina are easier to lock onto than something more vague like a thought or feeling, but your results may vary.
Andreas Thef:

Another question would be: Are there any books, texts, websites, teachers out there, that write about or teach this concentration method?

Thanks in advance for your help!
Be very exacting in the actual sensations/thoughts involved in fabricating what you call concentration...deconstruct this to its components and apply the standard instructions to these objects. Experiment....curiosity reaps the rewards when it comes to meditation. Get closer and more intimate with the actual sensations and try to distinguish the slightest variations as they happen....past the very beginning its not a forcing of the mind but making the object so interesting that the mind wants to stay on it.
Good Luck,
~D

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