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early jhana practice
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9/2/16 2:08 PM
Hi all.  I hope this is an appropriate type of post from a beginner.  Seems so.

I have made some progress since finally learning what access concentration is and (roughly) what the jhanas are.  Read in MCTB that without access concentration you can't attain anything, so I focused on that.  After flubbing around for a couple days, I unmistakably got into it on Tuesday.  I focused on the pleasant sensation as advised and was covered in waves of what I guess must have been piti.  

I think even during this sitting I got "kicked out" of the intense piti (first jhana?) into another state even more cool and collected than access concentration (second?).  I sat there content for some time until I got up to walk for a while and and see if I could access these states again.  It seemed I could, and have done so since with ease.  

If anyone cares to reply, I would be interested to hear whether you think these were, as I think, access concentration and (unmastered) first and second jhana.  

About the state that I think is first jhana -- the intensity varies, but I can turn it up almost to a pleasant discomfort.  But I can also shift out of it after just a few seconds into what I think may be second -- in fact, that feels easier.

Am interested in deepening this second state and learning a lot more from MCTB and this community.

​​​​​​​Thank you for reading.

RE: early jhana practice
Answer
9/5/16 2:54 PM as a reply to john wright.
Hey John, I'm in pretty much the same boat as you. I don't know about you but have set aside 12 months to really investigate the Jhana states to a serious level. What you describe sounds like you dropping into the first Jhana, having a look ( feel) around and bouncing out again. That seems reasonable to me, it's a big deal, if taken seriously it has to be transforming to some extent. So I expect in my own case ( as with you) it's going to take some time to get stable.
Because I've been a long time spiritual practitioner, outside of the the Theravada model, I'm only starting to realize I've been to these states before, to fleeting and often unnoticed degrees. Even the 6th Jhana of vast/endless space I've touched before. This may be your experience as well?
All the best on your journey and feel free to write it up. I will read.Marty.

RE: early jhana practice
Answer
9/5/16 4:08 PM as a reply to john wright.
Hi Marty,

Thanks for the reply.  Am pretty sure I haven't ever touched the sixth jhana or anything like it.  I guess what you described is what's happening.  Anyway, I'm going to spend a week or more just on controlling access concentration, since worrying about jhanas seems to have shaken me up a little!  Your plan to spend a year on them sounds cool, but I think I need a pre-year cooldown period to build on.  Wish I knew of some goal-oriented groups in my area.  Well, it's my practice, better get back to it. 

​​​​​​​John

RE: early jhana practice
Answer
9/6/16 3:48 AM as a reply to john wright.
John that should have been 5th Jhana not 6th (learning)

Have you read "Focused and Fearless" by shaila Catherine, really goes into fine detail on  access concentration and all the Jhanas best book on the subject I have come accross, thus far.

If you like old texts this one is incredibly detailed and requires real concentration to get the gist out of it but well worth it (Vimuttimagga)

http://urbandharma.org/pdf1/Path_of_Freedom_Vimuttimagga.pdf

Marty

RE: early jhana practice
Answer
9/7/16 9:09 AM as a reply to john wright.
jhana meaning is meditation. It is contemplation on emptiness, void. But not void or emptiness as a thing but nature of reality.

When you focus on a object, you using specific conciousness to do so. Then you notice you can concentrate two ways, either energy or force feeling flowing outwards, or you "defocus" and you feel force is in bottom point in the ass somewhere or energy moving towards it. At first when psychic points not much purified you won't feel a thing, so thats why you need to trust scriptures what they say.

When you read about jhana then the piti rises from seclusion as when your second factor is solid. Not from watching outward object or sensation on body or inside body.

RE: early jhana practice
Answer
9/8/16 3:27 PM as a reply to john wright.
Hey John, welcome! Looks like jhana and it looks like you have some natural talent for it. Good for you!



john wrightI have made some progress since finally learning what access concentration is and (roughly) what the jhanas are.  Read in MCTB that without access concentration you can't attain anything, so I focused on that.  After flubbing around for a couple days, I unmistakably got into it on Tuesday.  I focused on the pleasant sensation as advised and was covered in waves of what I guess must have been piti.  
Looks like first/second "pleasure" jhana. Of the soft / sutta / MCTB type if you still heard outside noise and had verbal thought, of the hard / visuddhimagga / "The Mind Illuminated" type if outside noises and verbal thoughts were absent or strongly attenuated.


I think even during this sitting I got "kicked out" of the intense piti (first jhana?) into another state even more cool and collected than access concentration (second?).  
What do you mean by "cool"?

The main difference between 1st and 2nd is that it takes directed attention and "effort" to keep 1st up, while 2nd is self-sustaining and more stable.

If you mean that the excitement (piti) went away but there was a more physical kind of relaxed pleasure (sukha) then it might have been 3rd. Particularly if the focus seems to become fuzzy and/or shaped like a doughnut around the point you are "looking" at.

A couple caveats:

1) It may happen that in the future these states will not be as easily accessible as they are right now for you.

2) It may happen that you get into unpleasant territory in the future (the dark night). Do come back on this forum for support and feedback if that happens.

​​​​​​​ Keep up the good work!

RE: early jhana practice
Answer
9/13/16 10:00 PM as a reply to neko.
I'm the OP.  An admin told me my original account was deleted (by accident, I guess).  Anyway.  

Thanks for all the replies.  A couple days ago I thought I wasn't hitting any dark night stuff and wasn't sure what it woukd mean, and now I feel fairly sure I am unless I learn otherwise.  

I feel groggy but not groggy, down but not quite depressed.  My dreams have become truly deranged.  My practice, however, seems fine.  I get access concentration fairly easily and sometimes work on developing it, sometimes switch into what I think is 1st jhana or that other state.  I don't want to keep going but I don't want to sink into depression, either.  I feel almost detached from myself, like i was shifted a little out of my life and now I'm never at rest in it.  It's disturbing, because I got married last year and really need to get used to things.  

I dunno.  I feel like I'm making ok progress in regular sitting and it's obviously doing something to my brain.  But I don't really know what to do now.

RE: early jhana practice
Answer
9/14/16 5:27 AM as a reply to Banned For waht?.
i like the translation "absorption" for jhana.  it mirrors my experience better, so my personal preference.

the methods of reaching, and deepening jhanic absorptions as championed by several noted teachers (including Gotama) by focusing on the bliss and happiness sensations are very good instructions IMO.

it was also the case for me that when i first started to tame my mind a bit by reducing the hindrances, the progression of jhanas became more apparent.  i also had the revelation that I had experienced these states before but simply did not have the refined conceptual framework to name and to order them.

so...work on the hindrances, sit quietly focusing on the sensations related to happiness and tend towards subtlety.

RE: early jhana practice
Answer
9/14/16 9:04 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
tom moylan:

so...work on the hindrances, sit quietly focusing on the sensations related to happiness and tend towards subtlety.


All right.  I'll keep working on it.  Thanks for the advice.