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4th Jhana or 1st Nana?

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4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/25/16 6:42 PM
I've been meditating for exactly one year and a day now and previously I've managed to attain the 4th jhana (according to the good people here who diagnosed me!) but haven't had anything which particularly would be recognisable as one of the nanas. Until just now. Possibly. 

Usually when I got into the jhanas, there's a sort of long and extended out breath which is a signal and then the breath become very shallow. Tonight it was more of of an all-over body tingling, I felt like it was more of a 'head rush' as I was going into this state instead of the more casual feeling when a jhana come on. When in it, my breath was still quite shallow but I could still breathe fairly normally. It seemed different than when I'm in a jhana.

With my body, there were often patches of it that sort of had a light tremble, had a lightly pulsating feeling to it. Sensations seemed to be perhaps more intense and there were more of them, so it seemed. I had the sense that my body was still there to some degree, if I concentrated I could just about feel my bum on the seat, but the general sense was that body had kind of dissolved a bit.

When I stopped meditating I felt very awake and with a very good level of concentration but I get this when I come out of meditiaton usually anway.

Does this sound like the 1st nana? It did seem to be different to what I experience when I experience jhanas but it wasn't massively different so I wonder if this was just another jhana, just experiened differerntly for some reason.

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/25/16 9:54 PM as a reply to Lee.
Good question.

I don't know the answer.

Am familiar with jhana-s through the 4th, but, so far, practice samahdi back-and-forth with vipassana as investigation, evaluating -- along the lines of Thai / Thanissaro-Bhikkhu teaching. More familiar with the Visudhimagga-type insight stages (and Burmese practices grounded therein) as theory, that is to say, from reading.

But, as nyana  does mean some sort of "knowledge", I would expect there would be some sort of clarity, certainty of knowing that accompanies a significant attainment.

Others here can likely describe this more directly (or correct my view).

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 1:56 AM as a reply to Lee.
Not all meditative experiences can be placed onto the Visuddhimagga maps.

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 2:13 AM as a reply to Lee.
Yes, to me it sounds like you clicked into a nana.  Was it first?  Maybe.  Observing the relation between your concentration and your bodily awareness sounds like the second nana.  The aspect of whole body tingling sounds like it could be the third nana, in its all-pervasiveness.   You could have been moving between the first three.  

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 5:38 AM as a reply to neko.
neko:
Not all meditative experiences can be placed onto the Visuddhimagga maps.

This statement is labelled as reply to Lee, but Lee didn't mention Visudhimagga maps. My post mentioned that book as the MCTB insight stages (nyana-s) clearly reflect those maps, via the Burmese school of teaching.

The point is that nyana means direct knowledge (Indo-European root related to Greek word gnosis), so attaining a nyana might properly be understood as having clear knowing. (Irrespective of whether one's referring to Visudhimagga material or not.)

Lee appeared to be describing sensory phenomena which didn't quite fit his understanding of the experience of jhana, wondering if that were a nyana. But he didn't seem to recognize it in the form of some well-defined knowledge. Perhaps someone can help him map it into an insight stage, as commonly understood in DhO as referringto a MCTB / Visudhimagga scheme,  maybe as Noah was suggesting.

However, I suspect what he experienced wasn't fully a nyana, just because he didn't quite know what it was. This refers not to anything specifically Visudhimagga-ish, but in the spirit of the language often used by the Buddha (according to the Pali sutta-s), where one has a particular experience (phenomena), AND "knows" what it is. That sounds more like nyana. Now, if someone guides him to recognize the experience, understand what's it really about, that might becomea nyana, but the understanding itself would be yet a different experience.

Then again, maybe neko's statement points in some other direction entirely...

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 6:14 AM as a reply to Lee.
howdy lee,
there is much made here about the differences between jhana and vipassana.  each of us has unique traits which we bring to the table of contemplation.  these two aspects of mind are not separate things but are aspects of the same chitta and there is always an element of both when you do a sit.

tending toward calm, stillness, tranquility etc. emphasizes the jhana aspects while inclining your attention to the three characteristics, the impermanence of meditation objects and the dissection of experience puts more focus on the wisdom or vipassana side of your contemplation.

wisdom aspects are present though in jhanas.  there is a discriminating aspect of mind which helps us navigate the jhanas and when doing vipassana it is the tranquility aspects that temper the sometimes jagged nature of vipassana.

my guess is that you are experiencing vipassana but that your makeup and your practice makes for a less distinct or obvious trip through the nanas.

some people experience jhanas but don't know that they are doing so because they are expecting very exotic states.  the inverse is also true with vipassana.  some of the states are subtle and fly past without notice. the A&P is recognized as the place where wild things happen.  while this is generally so there are many people who barely notice it.  likewise, some are almost completely unfazed by the "scary dark night" stages of the 'progress of insight'.

expectations can be good and troublesome.  knowing the progress of insight can be empowering or hindering.

for my money, the best place to get a clear view and experience of the stages of insight, a retreat is perfect.  the compressed practice, the momentum and the dedication to consistent practice allows one to see patterns unfold which may be lost or overseen in sits with hours or days between them.

a practice log is also a good place to see these things develop over time.

if you are getting into 4th jhana consistently that is a seriously great achievement.  this makes me tend to think that you are simply not noticing the stages of vipassana that you are going through.  that is one of the main reasons to develop jhanas: to reduce the instability that pure vipassana practices can engender. if this is the case, congratulations!  you are a wet vipassana practitioner.

the "head rush" you describe could be a move into equanimity.  this is a particulare milestone of mine and lines up with your fourth jhana story.  or maybe it was just bad cabbage ;-) 

just my take on an outlying possibility.  do a retreat and find out for yourself.  try doing hard vipassana for a while to emphasize that aspect of your citta and take this with a grain of salt anyway. 

above all , have fun

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 6:16 AM as a reply to Lee.
Thanks to everyone for their posts.

Perhaps a few more details of the experience might help: when I felt the onset of this experience, it was a little bit scary; like I said it was a little bit of a 'rush'. But I manged to say to myself, 'no, it's okay, got with it.' And when I did and during this initial phase of this, I felt very good and quite euphoric. This feeling did lessen slightly over the course of the rest of the meditation.

The body sensations were sometimes localised in a particular area and had a sort ot tingling, almost wave like feel, which I something that I don't feel I've experienced before.

In regards to having a conscious breakthrough, i.e. thinking along the lines of 'I'm now seperating the body's sensations from my mind', I wouldn't really say that there was a definite conscious acknowledgement of this. I feel that when I meditate I'm already aware of this, that it's 'me' observing an itch, for example. That the two things are seperate. But this hasn't never really come as a big 'revelation' during meditation.

Talking of this, do the nanas generally come in this fashion, as a conscious appreation of a specific thing or is it more subconscious? I rememer reading Daniel's book and I think he said that being aware of the insight behind the nanas, in this case that one's mind and sensations are seperate, might not come as a conscious realisation, more that your inner mind has recognised it in the background and the senstions you feel when you enter the nana are indications of this.

Is this correct?

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 6:27 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
tom moylan:
howdy lee,
there is much made here about the differences between jhana and vipassana.  each of us has unique traits which we bring to the table of contemplation.  these two aspects of mind are not separate things but are aspects of the same chitta and there is always an element of both when you do a sit.

tending toward calm, stillness, tranquility etc. emphasizes the jhana aspects while inclining your attention to the three characteristics, the impermanence of meditation objects and the dissection of experience puts more focus on the wisdom or vipassana side of your contemplation.

wisdom aspects are present though in jhanas.  there is a discriminating aspect of mind which helps us navigate the jhanas and when doing vipassana it is the tranquility aspects that temper the sometimes jagged nature of vipassana.

my guess is that you are experiencing vipassana but that your makeup and your practice makes for a less distinct or obvious trip through the nanas.

some people experience jhanas but don't know that they are doing so because they are expecting very exotic states.  the inverse is also true with vipassana.  some of the states are subtle and fly past without notice. the A&P is recognized as the place where wild things happen.  while this is generally so there are many people who barely notice it.  likewise, some are almost completely unfazed by the "scary dark night" stages of the 'progress of insight'.

expectations can be good and troublesome.  knowing the progress of insight can be empowering or hindering.

for my money, the best place to get a clear view and experience of the stages of insight, a retreat is perfect.  the compressed practice, the momentum and the dedication to consistent practice allows one to see patterns unfold which may be lost or overseen in sits with hours or days between them.

a practice log is also a good place to see these things develop over time.

if you are getting into 4th jhana consistently that is a seriously great achievement.  this makes me tend to think that you are simply not noticing the stages of vipassana that you are going through.  that is one of the main reasons to develop jhanas: to reduce the instability that pure vipassana practices can engender. if this is the case, congratulations!  you are a wet vipassana practitioner.

the "head rush" you describe could be a move into equanimity.  this is a particulare milestone of mine and lines up with your fourth jhana story.  or maybe it was just bad cabbage ;-) 

just my take on an outlying possibility.  do a retreat and find out for yourself.  try doing hard vipassana for a while to emphasize that aspect of your citta and take this with a grain of salt anyway. 

above all , have fun


Hi Tom,

I posted my previous reply before reading this. I do think that I perhaps don't notice the subtle stages of a particular process perhaps as much as other people. It appears that I went straight to the 4th jhana without ever being conscious of going through the first three. It seems that for something to register with me, it has to be a big 'wow' moment!

As with the thing I experienced yesterday, this was definitely 'something' and it was slightly different to anything I'd experienced before and it was a different feeling to the jhana. With the jhana, I feel calm and still but with this it was more energetic and awake on not on the verge of kind of spacing out, as sometimes happens with the jhana. 

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 6:28 AM as a reply to Lee.
hi lee,
mind and body is the knowlege that your mind is one "thing" and your body is a different "thing".  that the distinct raw sensation is not the perception we generally hold in our minds about that sensation.  it comes early in the stages of insight and is not so distinct for some people and to others unremarkable because it seems so "obvious".

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 8:50 AM as a reply to Lee.
Lee:

Talking of this, do the nanas generally come in this fashion, as a conscious appreation of a specific thing or is it more subconscious?


Subconscious.  IMO, when the rubber hits the road with this stuff, its more so just brain and physio-energetic rewiring than it is conscious epiphanies.  

when I felt the onset of this experience, it was a little bit scary; like I said it was a little bit of a 'rush'

The body sensations were sometimes localised in a particular area and had a sort ot tingling, almost wave like feel,


With these details, particularly the thrill, I would add in the likelihood of it either being late 3rd nana, going into the 4th, or even late 4th nana, going into the 5th (in which case you would have bypassed obvious a&p fireworks, making it the less likely option).

Either way, it being the 11th nana is unlikely, as that is almost the opposite of an adrenaline rush.  However, if you can truly control getting into hard 4th jhana, than you can learn to deconstruct or 'vipassanize' that state, from within it, and cross over into the 11th nana.  From there, SE would theoretically be on the horizon.  

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 9:34 AM as a reply to Lee.
**Apologies. Having problems editing the above post. Can't get the hang of the 'quote' facility! Anway, in reply to the above quote:**

Thank Noah, most helpful. I think I may be more along the path that I thought and have not perhaps noticed the more sublter stages.

I'm also having 'visions' quite a lot whilst meditating. The other night I had a visions that totally filled my inner vision of a, what looked liked, an aged Tibetan man, who was very wrinkled, turning slightly to the side. It was so intense that it made me jolt. I've other visions too which while not quite a startling are very strange. A very vivid vision of the Buddha dressed in gold was another very vivid image some months back.

I meditate shortly before going to bed and whilst trying to get to sleep I now often 'see' things in my inner eye. I also get the sense that I'm looking athings with my eyes closed. All this is very unusal for me as prior to mediation I've always been absolutely rubbish at any visualisation techniques.

I believe that this sort of thing is indicative of heading towards 3 Characteristics territory, or have I got that wrong?

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 10:01 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:

However, I suspect what he experienced wasn't fully a nyana, just because he didn't quite know what it was. This refers not to anything specifically Visudhimagga-ish, but in the spirit of the language often used by the Buddha (according to the Pali sutta-s), where one has a particular experience (phenomena), AND "knows" what it is. That sounds more like nyana. Now, if someone guides him to recognize the experience, understand what's it really about, that might becomea nyana, but the understanding itself would be yet a different experience.

That is a very interesting point Chris, and I agree completely. Indeed, there are several different degrees by which a certain knowledge (ñāṇa) can be known.

Occasionally it is extremely clear. For example, once, during a retreat, I started crying desperately because I saw a formation arise and pass away, and I was sad because, from that, I inferred that all formations in the future will arise and pass away. That is as clear as I have ever experienced Misery. (And, interestingly, identical with the Visuddhimagga's metaphor, for Fear, of the mother who watches her children killed one by one...) Other times, a ñāṇa is less clear. Most of the times, Misery to me feels more like "look, I have the physical manifestations of Misery, but I do not actually feel sad". But still, I believe that those moments do qualify as adinava ñana.

So, in addition to the possibility that the experience of Lee might be off the Visuddhimagga maps (or off all maps, for that matter), it is also possible that it was some kind of ñana experienced with a relatively low degree of clarity. Either way, attempts to repeat the experience should help, and tentative hypotheses about what it might be help confirm or debunk the event as valid, useful, to be repeated, disregarded, and so on.

Sorry if I sounded dismissive, I did not mean to emoticon 

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 10:03 AM as a reply to Lee.
Lee:
**Apologies. Having problems editing the above post. Can't get the hang of the 'quote' facility! Anway, in reply to the above quote:**



It's not you, it is broken. You either have to edit the "source code" of your message directly (last button in the "edit" interface) or use colour codes, like Chris does emoticon

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/26/16 1:23 PM as a reply to Lee.
Lee:

I'm also having 'visions' quite a lot whilst meditating. The other night I had a visions that totally filled my inner vision of a, what looked liked, an aged Tibetan man, who was very wrinkled, turning slightly to the side. It was so intense that it made me jolt. I've other visions too which while not quite a startling are very strange. A very vivid vision of the Buddha dressed in gold was another very vivid image some months back. 


Some would automatically call a&p but I think visions are a bad diagnostic tool when isolated because they could be a side effect of a variety of nanas, from a&p, to dissolution, to high eq.  

I believe that this sort of thing is indicative of heading towards 3 Characteristics territory, or have I got that wrong?


Maybe, I'm not sure about that one.  My experience with the 3rd nana is that I notice what all phenomena have in common, which contrasts with the previous two nanas, which are about distinguishing between different types of phenomena.  For example, in 3 C's I might feel all thoughts and physical sensations as tingles, ripples, or eddies. 

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/27/16 3:11 AM as a reply to neko.
re: neko (2/26/16 10:01 AM as a reply to Chris J Macie)

"Indeed, there are several different degrees by which a certain knowledge (ñāṇa) can be known." [and your examples]

That makes sense, after all we're mostly dealing with advancing stages on the way, but not yet total lack of ignorance (avijja).

"it is also possible that it was some kind of ñana experienced with a relatively low degree of clarity. Either way, attempts to repeat the experience should help, and tentative hypotheses about what it might be help confirm or debunk the event as valid, useful, to be repeated, disregarded, and so on."

Yes – reproducibility provides a basis for closer evaluation, enhanced perhaps with guidance from those here who know the territory well ("the wise" -- kalyana mittata).

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/27/16 4:06 AM as a reply to neko.
neko:
Chris J Macie:

However, I suspect what he experienced wasn't fully a nyana, just because he didn't quite know what it was. This refers not to anything specifically Visudhimagga-ish, but in the spirit of the language often used by the Buddha (according to the Pali sutta-s), where one has a particular experience (phenomena), AND "knows" what it is. That sounds more like nyana. Now, if someone guides him to recognize the experience, understand what's it really about, that might becomea nyana, but the understanding itself would be yet a different experience.

That is a very interesting point Chris, and I agree completely. Indeed, there are several different degrees by which a certain knowledge (ñāṇa) can be known.

Occasionally it is extremely clear. For example, once, during a retreat, I started crying desperately because I saw a formation arise and pass away, and I was sad because, from that, I inferred that all formations in the future will arise and pass away. That is as clear as I have ever experienced Misery. (And, interestingly, identical with the Visuddhimagga's metaphor, for Fear, of the mother who watches her children killed one by one...) Other times, a ñāṇa is less clear. Most of the times, Misery to me feels more like "look, I have the physical manifestations of Misery, but I do not actually feel sad". But still, I believe that those moments do qualify as adinava ñana.
I also find this an interesting observation. I share Neko´s experience in the sense that at times (especially during retreat) I´ve experienced the insight stages very clearly on a physical / energetic and emotional level and they have been accompanied by the coresponding "knowledge" pretty much in line with the Mahasi / Visudhimagga maps. At the other extreme, there has been some form of cycling through the stages almost purely on a physical / energetic level, not even accompanied by real emotions let alone insights.
I wonder if there is a consequence from that observation? E.g. that without "knowing" the stages there would be less insight and changes in real life when one makes it to a path moment? or that it is important to guide meditators towards the "knowledge" and not just the physical/emotional experience? or maybe it doesn´t matter and a path moment is a path moment, no matter what?

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/27/16 5:26 AM as a reply to Caro.
Caro:
"...without "knowing" the stages there would be less insight and changes in real life when one makes it to a path moment? or that it is important to guide meditators towards the "knowledge" and not just the physical/emotional experience? or maybe it doesn´t matter and a path moment is a path moment, no matter what?"


"Path moment" without the "knowing" -- you're not talking about Buddha's teaching (as per the Pali Canon), either in the Sutta-s or commentarial tradition (e.g. Visudhimagga). "Path moment" is rather being redefined in secular pragmatic terms ("changes in real life"), or psychological terms ("physical/emotional experience").

That doesn't mean it's no good or not useful in some sense. Just that the framework is completely different.

In the Buddhist (Pali) framework, "path" is a form of direct knowledge, of gnosis (lived knowledge rather than ideational). The goal (arahant awakening) is avijja -- literally "freedom from not-knowing".

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/28/16 12:39 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:
Caro:
"...without "knowing" the stages there would be less insight and changes in real life when one makes it to a path moment? or that it is important to guide meditators towards the "knowledge" and not just the physical/emotional experience? or maybe it doesn´t matter and a path moment is a path moment, no matter what?"


"Path moment" without the "knowing" -- you're not talking about Buddha's teaching (as per the Pali Canon), either in the Sutta-s or commentarial tradition (e.g. Visudhimagga). "Path moment" is rather being redefined in secular pragmatic terms ("changes in real life"), or psychological terms ("physical/emotional experience").

That doesn't mean it's no good or not useful in some sense. Just that the framework is completely different.

In the Buddhist (Pali) framework, "path" is a form of direct knowledge, of gnosis (lived knowledge rather than ideational). The goal (arahant awakening) is avijja -- literally "freedom from not-knowing".
Hi Chris, I see where you are coming from with the definition of path and direct knowledge based on the suttas and commentaries. When it comes to personal experience, I find it more difficult to draw such a clear line between the notion of "path" and "knowledge" in the Pali framework and what you refer to as a redefinition, though. At times, my experiences in meditation match very closely the description of the insight knowledges such as in the Visudhimagga. At times it´s mostly on a energetic/emotional level. These experiences get mixed up, change from one day to the next. I don´t understand what causes them to be one way or the other.
And beyond my personal experience, I am still wondering if the freedom from suffering and from not-knowing available through secular pragmatic dharma practice is similar to what was meant in these old texts. But that´s obviously not an easy question to answer.

RE: 4th Jhana or 1st Nana?
Answer
2/28/16 7:56 PM as a reply to Caro.
re: Caro (2/28/16 12:39 PM as a reply to Chris J Macie)

"…When it comes to personal experience, I find it more difficult to draw such a clear line…These experiences get mixed up, change from one day to the next…I am still wondering if the freedom from suffering and from not-knowing available through secular pragmatic dharma practice is similar to what was meant in these old texts. But that´s obviously not an easy question to answer."

That's where we are -- secular pragmatic dharma practice. (Few fully renunciate monks here.) We can explore further totally on our own, perhaps in the company of other contemporaries, (some of whom famously renounce much of traditional views). Or we can study, keep in the back of the mind the insights, metaphors of those from the past, who were in a similar position when they were living, practicing – evaluating their immediate experience in light of stuff passed-down. There is the risk of "reinventing the wheel", which wouldn't be that bad -- at least it can roll forward; not as bad as "reinventing the flat-tire" (quoting Alan Kay).

I find the study, keeping in mind (sati) frame-works handed-down can get onerus with trying to exactly duplicate the laid-out paths (e.g. these or those "maps"). Our circumstances, our conditioning is historically different. On the other hand, occasionally something happens and a light goes on:"Aha, that's what they were trying to convey!" That can be reassuring, can motivate to both continue "on one's own" as well as keep on hand the traditional perspectives for the hints, clues where they reveal themselves to be pragmatically relevant.