What is your practical interest in jhana?

Guillermo Z, modified 15 Years ago at 4/25/08 9:54 PM
Created 15 Years ago at 4/25/08 9:54 PM

What is your practical interest in jhana?

Posts: 20 Join Date: 9/8/09 Recent Posts
Forum: The Samatha Jhanas

I want to start this tread as a response to Dan's question in the tread “Kamalashila's Map”:

For those here: what are you looking for? What is your practical interest in jhana? Are you doing or going to do jhana practice at the level we are discussing? The rest is all just talk.

I am interested in the Jhanas because:

1) From my experience, I have seen that the quality of my vipassana practice is much better if I do half hour shamatha before. I can notice faster and the probability of getting lost in my own stories is lower.

2) We live in a high speed world and I see the Jhanas as way of counterbalance this hyperactivity/insanity. Sometimes I decide to do only shamatha meditation because I had a bad day and those states gives me the feeling more balanced samsara (sometimes I simply indulge in those states).

For those practicing shamata: What is your take on this point? What do you want to get out of the shamata practice?
Nathan I S, modified 15 Years ago at 4/26/08 7:57 AM
Created 15 Years ago at 4/26/08 7:57 AM

RE: What is your practical interest in jhana?

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
I also tend almost always to begin practice with samatha; I seem to have an inclination towards concentration. While there is an artificial solidity to it, it is usually easy to see past this--I only really find myself getting lost in jhana if I slip into a higher state unintentionally. This almost always lends stability and focus to vipassana for me. That said on retreat recently my mindfulness of individual sensations involved in breathing was overwhelming my ability to sense the breath as an easeful, solid thing.

You don't even need to live in a "high speed world" to benefit from the soothing effect of samatha. To paraphrase, the mind is going to feed, so give it something wholesome to feed on. While jhana may still be conditioned, unlike any external sense-pleasure, it is one that, with training or skill, be accessible right away, and causes less harm to one's self and to others than anything else. Even something as simple as a scoop of ice cream involves many, many interdependent contigencies, each being another node of pain and suffering; concentration is far more wholesome (i.e., "skillful").

Beyond that, what do I want to get out of samatha? Levitation and the ability to increase my bank account with my mind.
Wet Paint, modified 15 Years ago at 4/28/08 6:50 PM
Created 15 Years ago at 4/28/08 6:50 PM

RE: What is your practical interest in jhana?

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: woman_alone

Let me preface this by saying I'm not so far along as to be sure what I'm getting into. From where I stand, however, I see the two, samatha and vipassana, like complementary parts of an intensive exercise regime. I practice Parkour, an 'extreme' running discipline (not unlike a martial art) which involves a lot of running, jumping, and careful controlled landings. Any practitioner of parkour will tell you that while it is entirely possible to train just your jump power for better vaulting, or just your agility for more graceful motion/landing, the best parkour comes from mastering both. I see it to be much the same with meditation. While attainment is perhaps more quickly attained through vipassana (just like clearing an object is better achieved through plyometric jump power), samatha gives us added precision and 'power' in concentration (like agility improves take off/landing).

So both, in my view, are important components of developing one's capacity as a strong mediator. That being said, I tend to give priority to vipassana.

Florian, modified 15 Years ago at 4/28/08 11:33 PM
Created 15 Years ago at 4/28/08 11:33 PM

RE: What is your practical interest in jhana?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
I like do samatha: it's fun, beautiful, a bit of an escape from everyday life sometimes. Apart from the fun, it's a training in posture, concentration, determination, mindfulness. Teachers I respect value it highly.

I'd place myself right in step six of the map. The description is spon on, right up to the lethargy and melancholy.

I'm actually doing more samatha than vipassana currently.

What concentration objects do you use? For me, it's the in-and-out-breath, benevolence, and that high-pitched buzzing pseudo-sound, depending on whether I'm in a balanced mood (breath), distracted (sound) or angry (benevolence).