good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Beoman Beoman, modified 11 Years ago.

good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
I just read thru most of MCTB. Somewhat out of order, and I have yet to read some sections, but I expect I'll re-read it a bunch. Seems like a great resource.

Anyway. The book mentions how it's necessary to master concentration enough to reach the first jhana to have a good shot at progressing. That got me to thinking that it'd be a good idea to only do concentration practice until I can reach it. In your experience (as I realize every person is different), is that a good idea? I've read other information saying how "if you want to reach the jhanas you won't be able to, you must be free from desires/etc", but after reading the book that seems not true. I understand that while I'm sitting, I can't be thinking "o my god!! im gonna reach the first jhana!! it will be awesome so awesome", but should instead be solely focusing on my object of meditation (the breath in my case). But as a general goal, as in what will guide my practice, is it a good idea?

Also can you usually tell once you're there? Sometimes when I sit (with my eyes closed) and focus on my breath, I feel like the blackness that I "see" since my eyes are closed seems to change and expand in a strange way. But this has also happened when not focusing like that, but trying to notice all sensations that come up. It also doesn't last very long, and I don't thiink it has the quality of "rapture" or "happiness", more just that it's pretty interesting and that something strange is happening. and I haven't read descriptions of this particular kind of thing happening.. or maybe i have but it was in different words?

Ah also in terms of it being possible - I only meditate 30 mins a day, currently. It used to be 15 but then I realized I could do 30 without much difficulty. I want to go on a retreat but won't be able to for a few months at least.
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Florian Weps, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Beoman,

Welcome to the Dharma Overground!

First Jhana before attempting insight - yeah, the book does seem to imply this strongly.

Pro this view: concentration meditation is generally fun, so building a meditation routine around that might be easier than diving into straight-up Mahasi noting technique from day one. Also even noting technique requires a bit of concentration. Concentration skills can also come in handy during later stretches on the path prior to stream-entry.

Contra: it's so much more easy to master the Jhanas after stream-entry. You'll be training concentration too by doing noting technique. Trying to get into arbitrarily hard jhana before attempting to do insight can be disappointing and disempowering. Many people do really well with visual objects, also called "kasinas" btw, and find the breath a bit tricky to start with.

Well, experiment a bit. I enjoy concentration meditation, and thus did a mix of both right from the start.

That bulging sense of distortion or motion is one of the many, many fun and interesting things that can and will happen. If you like, you can keep a diary of that stuff, this can make "mapping" more interesting, if that's your thing.

There's a really, really good chapter on skillful use of goals in MCTB. Read it slowly, there's at least one important point being made per sentence. I still re-read it on occasion, despite knowing entire paragraphs almost by heart.

15-30 minutes is great. Maintaining a meditation routine is a long-term endeavor; most if not all of us start over many times and adjust it not and then.

Cheers,
Florian
Beoman Beoman, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for the reply!

Florian Weps:

Contra: it's so much more easy to master the Jhanas after stream-entry. You'll be training concentration too by doing noting technique. Trying to get into arbitrarily hard jhana before attempting to do insight can be disappointing and disempowering. Many people do really well with visual objects, also called "kasinas" btw, and find the breath a bit tricky to start with.

Hm that's a good point.. I have to admit part of the reason I want to do it is also to get something definitely recognizable happening, and also to see what it feels like =P. Also to see if a random experience I had earlier this year before I was really meditating was anything like a jhana.. so mostly for experience.

I do like noting. Although I haven't really tried noting in the way Daniel describes, in the sense of labelling everything. I find I notice too many things, so if I take the time to label everything with a word it takes too long and breaks my concentration. But I definitely try to "note"ice as many thing happening as I can. And I have had some interesting experiences with that, too.. like one of the more recent sessions I had a pretty intense length of time of noticing lots of things quickly, including thoughts - more like shards of thoughts. After that it all slowed down, and in the aftermath I noticed 3 distinct rapid flashes of whiteness. I'm not sure what it was. I didn't feel too different afterwards =P. My window blinds were not closed (this was at night), so maybe it was some car passing by, but I doubt it. Anyway I plan to meditate with eye shades now to remove that possibility.

Florian Weps:

That bulging sense of distortion or motion is one of the many, many fun and interesting things that can and will happen. If you like, you can keep a diary of that stuff, this can make "mapping" more interesting, if that's your thing.

hehe fun. I am attracted to this idea. but I also feel like i will write things down, then I will forget the experience, and then I will try to match them to the maps in an intellectual, "rational"-seeming way, but one that doesn't reflect what actually happened. but maybe if I keep that in mind I won't fall into the trap as much.
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Ian And, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Beoman Beoman:

Anyway. The book mentions how it's necessary to master concentration enough to reach the first jhana to have a good shot at progressing. That got me to thinking that it'd be a good idea to only do concentration practice until I can reach it. In your experience (as I realize every person is different), is that a good idea?

That is an excellent idea. Because in Buddhist meditation, using the techniques and instruction originally taught by the Buddha (which, by the way, actually do work! if they are followed), in order to make progress on the noble eightfold path, which is the practice path recommended by the Buddha for the overcoming of sorrow and dissatisfaction (dukkha), the path leading to awakening, it is imperative that the mind be able to become still and to quiet down so that it is able to concentrate upon various phenomena and how that phenomena interacts with the Dhamma that was taught. Buddhist meditation is a bit more complicated and exacting than other types of meditation. It therefore requires one to be able to develop a mind like a steel trap — that is, able to fix upon and hold an object or subject in its grasp for examination and inspection so that the truth of its existence/characteristics can be observed.

Beoman Beoman:

I've read other information saying how "if you want to reach the jhanas you won't be able to, you must be free from desires/etc", but after reading the book that seems not true.

Well, it is somewhat true. The mind, in order to attain to absorption, must remain undistracted. In the Satipatthana Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 10) we find the following instruction is given: "Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world." The last phrase of this sentence points at the ability of the mind to be free from worldly cares and desires. So, in that sense, it is correct. And when you think about it for a moment, you will agree. If the mind is all roiled up with attachments or concerns for worldly living, it won't be able to settle down and become concentrated on an object of meditation. It will be distracted by its cares and concerns.

In order to achieve absorption, the ability you must have is the ability to be able to overcome the Five Hindrances to meditation concentration. Are you familiar with the five hindrances? (Sensuous lust, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and skeptical doubt — that is, doubt about the teachings.) When the mind is encapsulated in absorption (jhana), it is incapable of being reached or affected by any of these five hindrances.

Beoman Beoman:

I understand that while I'm sitting, I can't be thinking "o my god!! im gonna reach the first jhana!! it will be awesome so awesome", but should instead be solely focusing on my object of meditation (the breath in my case). But as a general goal, as in what will guide my practice, is it a good idea?

That is correct. Especially if you are practicing to enter absorption for the first few times, as you become familiar with how they are entered as well as with the general landscape of absorption in general. Once you know where you are going and how to get there, the newness and giddiness of the experience will gradually wear off, and you can get down to business. The important thing here is to gain a good idea about what absorption actually is and how it can be used to further your progress in understanding and realization of the Dhamma.

Beoman Beoman:

Also can you usually tell once you're there?

Don't worry. You'll be able to tell. It should be unmistakable, once you become more familiar with the territory. Your mind will feel at ease, wieldy, unblemished, malleable, established, and unperturbed. It will obey where you send it without any backtalk or disobedience. You will be able to clearly focus it on any object or subject without any trouble.

Beoman Beoman:

Sometimes when I sit (with my eyes closed) and focus on my breath, I feel like the blackness that I "see" since my eyes are closed seems to change and expand in a strange way. But this has also happened when not focusing like that, but trying to notice all sensations that come up. It also doesn't last very long, and I don't think it has the quality of "rapture" or "happiness", more just that it's pretty interesting and that something strange is happening.

Rapture (or "elation," as I like to describe it) and joy/happiness refer to the Pali words, respectively, of piti and sukkha. As you may be aware, these are two of the five factors which arise during the first jhana, and persist until the third jhana when piti is extinguished, and the fourth jhana when sukkha is extinguished. It can sometimes be difficult to discern these two absorption factors when or as they arise and subside, so don't be too hard on yourself if you don't notice them in the beginning. The important thing is to get the "feel," so to speak, of what the absorption experience "feels" like so that you know it when you experience it. It's not that foreign an experience, but it can be a bit difficult to describe.

In athletics, people describe it as "going into the zone" where the mind is completely focused on the goal or endeavor at hand, whatever that may be. If you've ever read a book and become oblivious to the outside world because your mind is so "absorbed" in reading the book, then this is another way to relate to the experience. It's not that uncommon an experience. You just have to be able to recognize when you are there.

Beoman Beoman:

Ah also in terms of it being possible - I only meditate 30 mins a day, currently. It used to be 15 but then I realized I could do 30 without much difficulty. I want to go on a retreat but won't be able to for a few months at least.

Just a word of advice here. As you are able to schedule it, you may want to up the amount of times you meditate during the day to, say, two 30 minute sessions. And from there, to up the amount of the sessions themselves to 45 minutes and then to 1 hour each. If you are able to meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, you will be ready to take on the rigors of a retreat. And make no mistake: you will be "pushed" at a retreat (as it should be, btw).

Hope that helps.

In peace,
Ian
Beoman Beoman, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
Ian And:

In order to achieve absorption, the ability you must have is the ability to be able to overcome the Five Hindrances to meditation concentration. Are you familiar with the five hindrances? (Sensuous lust, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and skeptical doubt — that is, doubt about the teachings.) When the mind is encapsulated in absorption (jhana), it is incapable of being reached or affected by any of these five hindrances.

I've heard about them. They didn't seem to be that big a deal. Meaning, the answer to all of them is "keep meditating and overcome them," so they don't seem that special. I guess it's nice to list them out =).

Ian And:

Just a word of advice here. As you are able to schedule it, you may want to up the amount of times you meditate during the day to, say, two 30 minute sessions. And from there, to up the amount of the sessions themselves to 45 minutes and then to 1 hour each. If you are able to meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, you will be ready to take on the rigors of a retreat. And make no mistake: you will be "pushed" at a retreat (as it should be, btw).


Thanks for the advice! I'll start doing two sessions for now. I do notice that sometimes 30 mins is pushing it a little.. like I'll want to do something else at 25 minutes in. But that's just one of the hindrances isn't it? And I'll overcome them.. I used to feel that way 6 minutes into an 8-minute session when I was just starting =P.

Yes I look forward to being pushed at a retreat. Something about being in the right setting really helps with whatever you are trying to accomplish.
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Mikael Carlsson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 10 Join Date: 4/22/10 Recent Posts
Hi all !

Most people in here seem to master the jhanas and it would be interesting to know how long it took you to do this.
Of course it will vary from person to person but advising someone to master even the first jhana before doing insight practice
may lead to that person never doing insight practice at all emoticon

Myself I have only been meditating for seven months and in the beginning of this period I was unemployed and meditated for 3 - 6 hours a day ( after having done a 10 day retreat) and I managed to enter a jhana once.
Now I am working again and can only sit for two hours a day and I do not get jhana, and until just recently this got me very frustrated.
Then I realised that sitting two hours a day in two sessions probably is not enough to enter jhana and that waiting for this to happen before starting insight practice probably was not a very good idea. I am confident jhana will come again because I had it once.
I think at least three one-hour sessions every day for some time is recuired to enter jhana but again, this will probably vary a lot depending on the person.

And also, if one is a total beginner it will take several months just to learn how to really relax and let go of everything which is a must if one is to enter jhana, at least this is my experinece.
Beoman Beoman, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
Mikael Carlsson:
Hi all !

Most people in here seem to master the jhanas and it would be interesting to know how long it took you to do this.
Of course it will vary from person to person but advising someone to master even the first jhana before doing insight practice
may lead to that person never doing insight practice at all emoticon

...

Now I am working again and can only sit for two hours a day and I do not get jhana, and until just recently this got me very frustrated.
Then I realised that sitting two hours a day in two sessions probably is not enough to enter jhana and that waiting for this to happen before starting insight practice probably was not a very good idea. I am confident jhana will come again because I had it once.
I think at least three one-hour sessions every day for some time is recuired to enter jhana but again, this will probably vary a lot depending on the person.


Yeah that's mostly what I'm concerned about - getting nowhere cause I can't devote enough time to it. I'll probably just do some of each as my mood goes, maybe intense concentration one weekend, or intense insight another


And also, if one is a total beginner it will take several months just to learn how to really relax and let go of everything which is a must if one is to enter jhana, at least this is my experinece.


ya that's true. when I started out (january this year) my meditating had quite a different quality to it. I think my concentration has definitely gotten a lot better. I also remember one of the things I tried earlier was to just notice body sensations as they come up. I'd sit there and not feel a thing, and eventually some part of my body would get a little itchy so I'd go focus on that, thinking that was it. Now within a few seconds of sitting I can already feel my heart beating, my pulse in various parts of my body, etc.
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Ian And, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Mikael Carlsson:

Most people in here seem to master the jhanas and it would be interesting to know how long it took you to do this.
Of course it will vary from person to person but advising someone to master even the first jhana before doing insight practice may lead to that person [to] never doing insight practice at all emoticon

Highly unlikely. The mind can switch between samatha and vipassana in the blink of an eye. All it takes is the intention to do so. If your mind presents you with an insight that is particularly enticing, it's likely you will pursue that in place of calming meditation (samatha).

Also, you seem to be laboring under the false impression that calming meditation and insight meditation are two entirely separate meditation pursuits and practices. Yet, when you read and understand the suttas, you find that both are meant to go together and be used interchangeably. Carefully read this essay by a well-respected Thai Forest Bhikkhu, Ven. Thanissaro, to see what I'm talking about.

With regard to how long it takes to begin experiencing absorption, it can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending upon the quality of the instruction one receives and then how diligently they practice afterward. I've found that once a person has an idea of what jhana is, and how they got there, things progress pretty smoothly from that point on. In many cases, it's really a matter of figuring out what all these foreign terms mean in terms of one's actual experiences so that you have some solid foundation or basis to refer to when attempting to work with it.

Mikael Carlsson:

Myself I have only been meditating for seven months and in the beginning of this period I was unemployed and meditated for 3 - 6 hours a day ( after having done a 10 day retreat) and I managed to enter a jhana once. Now I am working again and can only sit for two hours a day and I do not get jhana, and until just recently this got me very frustrated.

Then I realised that sitting two hours a day in two sessions probably is not enough to enter jhana and that waiting for this to happen before starting insight practice probably was not a very good idea. I am confident jhana will come again because I had it once.
I think at least three one-hour sessions every day for some time is required to enter jhana but again, this will probably vary a lot depending on the person.

Actually, sitting two hours a day in two sessions is plenty of time to contact and enter absorption. You just have to know how to do it (meaning, knowing how to do it at will). But you're right in that when just starting out and attempting to achieve absorption it may take a bit more practice time before one is able to get the mind to settle down and become still enough for concentration (samadhi) to arise. When you can sense that the mind is well concentrated on your object of attention (like the breath) then you can direct the mind to begin "relaxing" into the pleasantness of the breath in order to bring on the absorption factors. It just takes a bit of practice and knowing what you are supposed to be doing.

One method of accomplishing this can be found in this passage from Thanissaro's book Mind Like Fire Unbound. Read from the bold section Habits & practices all the way down to the next bold headline (Doctrines of the self) for a better description of how this might be done. You'll have to concentrate on it in order to "get it."
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Ian And, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Beoman Beoman:
Ian And:

In order to achieve absorption, the ability you must have is the ability to be able to overcome the Five Hindrances to meditation concentration. Are you familiar with the five hindrances? (Sensuous lust, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and skeptical doubt — that is, doubt about the teachings.) When the mind is encapsulated in absorption (jhana), it is incapable of being reached or affected by any of these five hindrances.

I've heard about them. They didn't seem to be that big a deal. Meaning, the answer to all of them is "keep meditating and overcome them," so they don't seem that special. I guess it's nice to list them out =).

While this may be true in general, it may not always be the case. Sometimes the "keep meditating and overcome them" is easier said than done. The five hindrances are just obstacles that the Buddha recognized might come into play when someone is just starting to learn to meditate. The two I've had the most trouble with in the past are "sloth and torpor" and "restlessness and worry."

The first of these can have you feeling tired or sleepy during your meditation session, and therefore you have to learn how to overcome those moments so that they no longer hinder your progress in the session. The best method I've discovered for doing this was an instruction "hidden" in the suttas. Actually, it wasn't hidden at all, it was right there in plain sight. I just wasn't processing it (translation: I was glossing over it, not noticing it). In the Mahasatipatthana Sutta (Digha Nikaya 22), the Buddha instructs us: "Here a monk, having gone into the forest, or to the root of a tree or to an empty place, sits down cross-legged, holding his body erect, having established mindfulness before him. Mindfully he breaths in, mindfully he breaths out." Establishing mindfulness before you begin your meditation will go a long way toward alleviating this situation with "sloth and torpor." It also sets one up in the right condition for meditation.

As for "restlessness and worry," I had to learn how to quiet the mind from its internal dialog. In the beginning I would just follow the thoughts, not trying to interfere with them, letting them play out and naturally subside. Sometimes that might take the whole meditation session. That was okay, though, because at least I had some time to contemplate these things that were bothering me. Later on in my practice, I learned to tell the mind to set these things aside for the moment and to pursue the practice as I had intended to. With maturity and practice, one's mind eventually begins to obey one's orders. Of course, if you are able to enter into jhana at will, this in itself precludes the necessity of having to deal with this hindrance.

Beoman Beoman:

Thanks for the advice! I'll start doing two sessions for now. I do notice that sometimes 30 mins is pushing it a little.. like I'll want to do something else at 25 minutes in. But that's just one of the hindrances isn't it? And I'll overcome them.. I used to feel that way 6 minutes into an 8-minute session when I was just starting =P.

So, it seems on second thought, you are at times bothered by at least one of the hindrances. And it's a very common hindrance and situation that nearly all meditators have to face and overcome. One way to overcome that hindrance is to practice, shooting for the attainment of samadhi (mental concentration), and then, once that is accomplished, for entering into absorption (jhana). The trick then becomes: accomplishing those goals. As mentioned before, sometimes easier said than done.

Beoman Beoman:

Yes I look forward to being pushed at a retreat. Something about being in the right setting really helps with whatever you are trying to accomplish.

Ain't that the truth. Setting up the correct practice atmosphere can really grease the skids for a successful practice. It took me two extended periods of private retreat, each lasting for at least two years apiece, before I was able to get a handle on all this. It was a price I'd gladly pay again if need be.

Good luck to you.

In peace,
Ian
Beoman Beoman, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
Ian And:
Beoman Beoman:
Ian And:

Sometimes the "keep meditating and overcome them" is easier said than done. The five hindrances are just obstacles that the Buddha recognized might come into play when someone is just starting to learn to meditate. The two I've had the most trouble with in the past are "sloth and torpor" and "restlessness and worry."
...
So, it seems on second thought, you are at times bothered by at least one of the hindrances. And it's a very common hindrance and situation that nearly all meditators have to face and overcome. One way to overcome that hindrance is to practice, shooting for the attainment of samadhi (mental concentration), and then, once that is accomplished, for entering into absorption (jhana). The trick then becomes: accomplishing those goals. As mentioned before, sometimes easier said than done.

Ya I didn't mean to imply that I was free from their affliction =). And I didn't want to imply that they're not important - they do come up for all of us, I'm sure. Maybe I am just undervaluing them since I haven't paid so much attention to them. Thanks for your tips on dealing with two of them. My experience with my thoughts is.. that I'm not sure what is meant by "letting them play out." Because, if I just notice the thought, that usually stops it in its tracks. It seems being mindful of your thoughts lets them not roll on and on. I guess they then come up repeatedly. I'm still not sure how to deal w/ it in concentration practice, but in insight I can just notice them and then continue noticing other things.

Ian And:

Ain't that the truth. Setting up the correct practice atmosphere can really grease the skids for a successful practice. It took me two extended periods of private retreat, each lasting for at least two years apiece, before I was able to get a handle on all this. It was a price I'd gladly pay again if need be.

Is that two 2-year long retreats? Or did you mean something else? That is an impressive amount of time.


Good luck to you.

And to you.
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Ian And, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Beoman Beoman:
Ian And:

Sometimes the "keep meditating and overcome them" is easier said than done. The five hindrances are just obstacles that the Buddha recognized might come into play when someone is just starting to learn to meditate. The two I've had the most trouble with in the past are "sloth and torpor" and "restlessness and worry."
...
So, it seems on second thought, you are at times bothered by at least one of the hindrances. And it's a very common hindrance and situation that nearly all meditators have to face and overcome. One way to overcome that hindrance is to practice, shooting for the attainment of samadhi (mental concentration), and then, once that is accomplished, entering into absorption (jhana). The trick then becomes: accomplishing those goals. As mentioned before, sometimes easier said than done.

Ya I didn't mean to imply that I was free from their affliction =). And I didn't want to imply that they're not important - they do come up for all of us, I'm sure. Maybe I am just undervaluing them since I haven't paid so much attention to them. Thanks for your tips on dealing with two of them. My experience with my thoughts is.. that I'm not sure what is meant by "letting them play out." Because, if I just notice the thought, that usually stops it in its tracks. It seems being mindful of your thoughts lets them not roll on and on. I guess they then come up repeatedly. I'm still not sure how to deal w/ it in concentration practice, but in insight I can just notice them and then continue noticing other things.

Well, if you are, in general, not having any problems with the hindrances, that's good news! That means you're able to establish mindulness (sati) in your practice and thus to strengthen concentration (samadhi). These are the two conditions you want to establish first before making the attempt to enter into absorption. And you are correct to observe that being able to establish these two conditions may vary from individual to individual.

By "letting them play out" I mean that I simply follow them wherever they want to go. I was able to solve a few of my worldly concerns doing this, as insight into whatever was bothering me would arise naturally. Letting your thoughts "play out" and following them by giving attention to them (i.e. contemplating them) can take you directly into contemplation (vipassana) practice.

If you are able to "just notice the thought" and "stop it in its tracks" then congratulations. You are onto something here with regard to being able to quiet the mind into stillness. This allows you to return to the breath to resume with calming practice in pursuit of absorption (if that is your objective).

Beoman Beoman:
Ian And:

Ain't that the truth. Setting up the correct practice atmosphere can really grease the skids for a successful practice. It took me two extended periods of private retreat, each lasting for at least two years apiece, before I was able to get a handle on all this. It was a price I'd gladly pay again if need be.

Is that two 2-year long retreats? Or did you mean something else? That is an impressive amount of time.

Yes. You read that correct the first time. Two 2-year long personal retreats. There was a two year period in between the two retreats during which I worked at an outside job in order to save up for the second retreat. The second two-plus year retreat (which technically, I'm still on; I just found a way to be able to work out of my home without having to take an outside job), which lasted between March of 2005 'til May of 2007, was where I made the majority of the progress I was looking to make.

Beoman Beoman:
IanAnd:

Good luck to you.

And to you.

Thank you. I've already accomplished what I came to the practice to accomplish. Best to you just the same.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Yeah, that particular line causes much complexity: I should revise it.

Remember, for me the first samatha and vipassana jhana are basically the same, and Mind and Body looks largely the same regardless of how one got there, which is the first vipassana jhana, except that the first samatha jhana will also get you to the same place.

Thus, however you get there, you are there. Then what happens next is dependent on your orientation and focus: stability vs Three Characteristics, concentration vs investigation. Noting can easily get people first jhana, as can more stability-oriented concentration practices.

I hope that helps clarify this. Play it as you like. I like noting.

Daniel
Beoman Beoman, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Yeah, that particular line causes much complexity: I should revise it.

...

Thus, however you get there, you are there. Then what happens next is dependent on your orientation and focus: stability vs Three Characteristics, concentration vs investigation. Noting can easily get people first jhana, as can more stability-oriented concentration practices.

I hope that helps clarify this. Play it as you like. I like noting.


It does, thanks. I am finding noting more interesting / easier for me, so I think I'll go with it too, generally.
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Remember, for me the first samatha and vipassana jhana are basically the same, and Mind and Body looks largely the same regardless of how one got there, which is the first vipassana jhana, except that the first samatha jhana will also get you to the same place.


Unfortunately, it still isn't clear for me. I apologize if this is a question you've heard a bunch already. You say they are "basically the same". Are they the same? or is there some difference?

If they are the same, then it follows that anyone who has made any progress on the path of insight (beyond the first stage of Mind and Body) has been at some point in the first samatha jhana?

Seeing that the hypothesis is that I'm in Equanimity, then it means I, at some point in the past, was in the first samatha jhana?

I don't really know when I was in Mind and Body or how many times, as the stages still seem like much of a blur to me. But, I suppose at some point it has happened.

I find it confusing, because if I take a definition of the first samatha jhana such as that posed by Ajahn Brahm, then it seems like something which take me another 5 years of hardcore meditation to achieve. If I look at it as just Mind and Body, then it's probably something I attained to maybe 15 years ago or something, and it may then be something so second nature that I don't even know I've already been there. This seems like a pretty wide range to look at.

Thanks a lot. By the way, your book has been super helpful for me as well. Thanks.

- Daniel
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Alright, first, check out this link:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/Jhana%20Development%20Axes?p_r_p_185834411_title=Jhana%20Development%20Axes

Second, consider that there are various strata of mind, as Kenneth often puts it, and then there various aspects to those and ways in which they can be experienced and developed.

So, one person may say that the first jhana must last so long, must have this level of depth, etc. However, this is like saying that a drop of water and the ocean are different stuff: they are not, one is simply larger, at least in terms of this analogy.

Mind and Body is the territory of the first jhana, end of story. One can develop the first jhana in all sorts of ways, or one can keep one's eye on the prize and go for stream entry, ignoring all this jhana stuff and just staying with the true and clear nature of sensations as they arise and vanish. Mind and body has a somewhat different feel if it is attained through noting practice than, say, if one got to it through kasina practice, but the territory is the same, both are still metaphorical water.

My concentration skills in terms of pure samatha were crap before I got stream entry, but I was able to investigate my objects and that was what mattered.

Helpful?

Daniel
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Daniel Johnson, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: good idea to try to reach first jhana?

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/16/09 Recent Posts
Yes, that's helpful. Makes much more sense now. It's mind boggling how much time can be spent wandering aimlessly through territory that has already been mapped out not having any idea where one is or what is happening. All the distinctions that bring clarity to this territory have been very helpful for me so far, and I still totally am amazed by how hard it is to find this information. Grattitude for the DhO, MCTB, and all those who have contributed to all this.

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