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1st Jhana, 5th?
Answer
10/19/17 4:22 PM
I’ve just been getting into Buddhism, and have been reading Daniel’s book. I have a background that’s pretty heavy in Western Occultism.

I’m 27, and I started doing meditation in some form or another when I was around 12, the same time I started reading occult stuff, eventually getting into Crowley and all the other usual suspects of Western magick. For many years - all through high school and for at least a couple of years afterwards, I would meditate probably 45 minutes a night, doing a rather fast yet fluid clockwise scan over my body, starting at my left hand/arm, moving down my left side, left left, then right leg, right side, and so on. This would produce very intense vibrations. Occasionally, those vibrations would all of a sudden shift from a physical sensation into an audible noise, which had a sort of stereo-background-peripheral thing to it. Sometimes lights or images would appear. 
 
For a long time, this was all I experienced. I had little intention in these practices - they were just what I did every night. Eventually, probably around 7 years ago, these types of practices would sometimes lead to a state of what I might call rigid bliss. Meaning, it felt good - like the buildup right before orgasm, but lasting for many minutes, but it also caused spinal rigidity. A few times, getting to this state while laying down would cause me to slowly begin to shift into a sitting position. I almost always meditated laying down.
 
A couple of years ago I spent a few months doing the introductory practices from Bardon’s Initiation Into Hermetics. This was my first time doing dedicated long term hardcore concentration practice regularly instead of mostly body scanning. His vacancy of mind concentration exercises finally got me to what I think is a pretty hard form of access concentration. A shift would occur, and I’d be extremely aware, see an almost vibrant blackness, and sort of feel like I’d been plunged underwater. Basically a very clear, even extreme form of focus. 
 
From here, I’d often even see a sort of wall of blackness which would be speckled with spots of non-shifting white. Kind of like black marble. This was intensely visual, and fascinating, but it took a while to progress past it. 
 
One day, I had a hard shift into what sounds to me like the 5th Jhana (I may be mistaken). I was doing my standard concentration on nothingness, with strong access concentration (I got to the point where I’d have maybe 1-3 intruding thoughts over any given five minute period), when all of a sudden there was an almost explosive shift into what seemed to be infinite space. My awareness was infinitely expanded, and I felt as if I was in a sort of endless void. It was pretty amazing. There was no pleasurable sensation or anything with this, just amazement at the feeling. Even stranger, when I hit this state, my mind started racing with thoughts. I was thinking at a normal - everyday level while still staying in that space, just kind of musing on about it. Eventually, I let it go and ended the session. I never got to that point again, and never found any satisfying answers to what all I had experienced within Western traditions. 
 
Fast forward to a few months ago when I stumbled onto the Jhana descriptions and thought, hey, the Buddhists are actually onto something here. I read a couple of intro Dharma books, did a 2 day mindfulness retreat (which helped me emotionally open up a bit, but not much else in terms of attainment), and have been working on establishing daily practice following the advice in Daniel’s book. 
 
I’ve had for many years now a relatively largely equanimitous (is that a word?) disposition, unless I drink. However, I never did any morality training nor metta, and tend to be pretty emotionally vacant. Those are things I’m working on now. 
 
I’m curious if that was actually the 5th Jhana, or maybe an intense 1st Jhana expereince, or something else altogether. Regardless, thanks for reading.
 

RE: 1st Jhana, 5th?
Answer
10/22/17 6:25 AM as a reply to Nick.
Hey Nick, welcome!

Definitely sounds like some kind of jhana. Not getting to the jhanas with "standard" means is unlikely to get you in a territory that maps specifically to a certain, definite jhana, but if you are really curious we can do some back-and-forth Q&A to try to pin it down to a specific number. Might work or not emoticon

What I believe would be more useful for you is: Try to reproduce it using standard jhana techniques, rising up through jhanas 1-4, then working on the formless realms. Then you will know for sure what that was, and you'll have gained nice skills. 

Culadasa's The Mind Illuminated is a complementary approach to Daniel's. Slightly slower perhaps, but with more info on how to get harder jhanas. You might want to try that too.

I'd be curious to hear about your Occultism practice in a separate thread, if you feel like sharing emoticon

neko

RE: 1st Jhana, 5th?
Answer
10/22/17 3:08 PM as a reply to neko.
Thanks for the response! 
Not getting to the jhanas with "standard" means is unlikely to get you in a territory that maps specifically to a certain, definite jhana. 
That certainly makes sense. The context is a bit different. 

I have been doing daily meditation again for only the last few weeks. I'm definitely way out of practice. Right now I'm struggling to maintain access concentration and 1st Jhana, so that's my main goal, though I've done it briefly a couple of times. Once that practice gets solid again, I'll be trying to get back to the formless realms (if that is indeed what it was). Right now, when I do manage to hit solid AC, I can shift my concentration point to my entire body and the space around it, which causes expanded awareness, heavy vibration, and a sense that my body is being pulled upwards. That's about as far as I can get right now, and infrequently at that (maybe 1 in 5 sessions). I'm hoping to do another retreat in November for 4 days, which should help. 

I'm actually reading (and rereading as nescessary) TMI and MCTOB in conjunction. Both are very helpful books. TMI' classifications of the different form of dullness and meta-awareness I've found useful just to understand exactly what's going on up there.

I can start another Occult thread if others want to hear as well. I'm not any expert, though I've been involved in the stuff for a long time now. Otherwise, feel free to PM me. 

RE: 1st Jhana, 5th?
Answer
10/22/17 4:50 PM as a reply to Nick.
I'd be pretty interested in an occult/magick thread as well.