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simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) jhana

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simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) jhana tarin greco 2/20/09 6:00 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j tarin greco 2/20/09 6:11 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j tarin greco 2/20/09 6:24 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j tarin greco 2/20/09 6:40 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j tarin greco 2/20/09 7:02 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j Kenneth Folk 2/20/09 10:39 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j Florian 2/21/09 4:48 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j Chuck Kasmire 2/21/09 5:28 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j tarin greco 2/21/09 7:46 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j C4 Chaos 2/21/09 7:48 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j tarin greco 2/21/09 7:59 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j C4 Chaos 2/21/09 8:05 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j Kenneth Folk 2/21/09 9:45 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j Abingdon . 2/22/09 1:53 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j Wet Paint 2/22/09 2:55 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j tarin greco 2/22/09 12:33 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j triple think 2/23/09 7:54 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j triple think 2/23/09 9:04 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j Julius P0pp 2/23/09 11:46 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j triple think 2/25/09 12:27 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j tarin greco 2/26/09 9:12 PM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j triple think 2/27/09 1:11 AM
RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j triple think 3/3/09 1:55 AM
Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j Nikolai . 10/10/12 1:16 AM
RE: Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j Fitter Stoke 10/10/12 11:08 AM
RE: Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j Tommy M 10/10/12 3:56 PM
RE: Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j faraz ahmed 12/13/13 1:11 AM
RE: Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j (D Z) Dhru Val 12/13/13 1:33 AM
RE: Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j faraz ahmed 12/14/13 2:43 AM
Forum: Simple Instructions for Attaining Concentration Jhanas 1-8

these are instructions for learning to sort out which strata of mind are for which jhana. they are surprisingly straight-forward and easy and not at all out of reach of someone who is familiar with the stages of insight up to equanimity regarding formations.. and the more familiarity the better (and mastery of at least one path even better, but i have given this instruction to a pre-stream-enterer and he learnt it with remarkable rapidity).

i hope this summary writing will help de-mystify the states a bit and help make them more accessible and therefore attainable. they are not at all as hard as the old texts and the popular meditation culture make them sound. they're right under our noses.. the thing to remember about all of this is that they're already right there.

i also invite anyone, especially people who have mastered the jhanas (i have not), to add and comment, and to correct me if they feel i'm off somewhere. but i disagree already.

the instructions are for attaining jhana, not for mastering them. i am only teaching you to recognise the realms, not abide in them hard for long periods of time. figure that out elsewise. doing it this way, you will, most likely, only be able to hit them hard (unaware of any other phenomena) for a matter of seconds at most, though you may be able to sustain them soft for a much longer time. regardless, just consider the ability to recognise and focus on these strata of mind your mark of success.

so, to get started, get physically comfortable and relaxed. my favourite position is in a chair, leaning against the back rest. i do this on the sense of presence (thanks dan) and suggest you do too. forget about getting your concentration strong, just go right to the strata of mind you want to be absorbed into. thats the whole point. just trying to absorb into it will do a lot to strengthen concentration.

(cont.)

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/20/09 6:11 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
1st jhana is basically just the sense of protracted effort, held solid and unmoving. turn the mind toward that quality, focus on it and keep it still. dive into it, forget about anything/everything else.

2nd jhana is about the bliss of the a&p. just conjure up the a&p (particularly early- to mid- a&p) and solidify the whole sense of that. steep in the rapture or bliss, whatever you want to call it. it's bright, it's light, it's got both a bodily as well as metal quality to it. another easy way to hit it this, by the way, besides straight from sense of presence, is to to look at the sun from behind closed eyelids and let the red light suffuse your whole awareness (thanks kenneth). anyway, 2nd jhana is like a 1st jhana you dont have to concentrate on as tightly. let the mind relax and let it do it itself, with only mild and gentle hints and help to stay on focus. this also applies from here on in.

3rd jhana is like late a&p/early dissolution. it's marked by a coolness on the surface of the body. it's like a better 2nd jhana. if you end up getting dark night vibrations while trying to find this, that's no problem at all. try catching and 'holding' one of those chunky clunky rattling or jarring vibes still - just stop it in its tracks. the coolness will then suffuse. in fact, doing this may give a clue as to why daniel ingram classifies the entire dark night as '3rd vipassana jhana' in his book, and may even give you a place of rest if you're stuck in dark night territory and just don't feel like insight'ing your way onward just yet (although if you have the concentration to hold a vibe still you probably also have the concentration to keep going and reach equanimity soon enough, even though it may not seem that way at the moment - just a quick piece of insight advice).

(cont.)

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/20/09 6:24 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
4th jhana is the background mind apparent in equanimity regarding formations stage. open awareness, wide, panoramic, still, neutral. open sky, clouds moving through.. except, for these shamatha purposes, ignore the clouds and solidify the sky. this one is my personal favourite.

(note: people who have mastered a path should, i think, be able to attain any of these with relative ease, in order or out of order. just call up the appropriate vipassana nanas and solidify them. even if you havent finished a path yet but maybe have enough familiarity with the stages, go ahead and try this.)

now the formless ones.

5th jhana, boundless space, is exactly what it sounds like. using your sense of presence as the base, recall equanimity (4th shamatha jhana), stay with it for some time... a few seconds, a few minutes. then coming out a little bit, catapult into the sense of space. what is it that pervades yet surrounds, this physical field, this mental field? expand further and further, wider and wider, til you cant see its limits. that sense of boundlessness... open to it, and hold it. that's boundless space. hold it with enough concentration and your body and the physical world will disappear completely for a while. but even if it doesnt, the point of my instruction is to get to know these strata, so just being able to recognise and access space is sufficient. steep in it. develop forgetfulness of anything else.

to get into 6th jhana, boundless consciousness, take the space and suffuse it with consciousness. fill the space with mind, so that its luminous, glowing, gently yet profoundly, everywhere.. open to it, and hold it. that's boundless consciousness. like space but brighter and fuller.

(note: i actually find boundless space to be more refined and subtle than boundless consciousness, even though consciousness admittedly feels more unitive. different strokes, i guess.)

(cont.)

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/20/09 6:40 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
7th jhana, nothingness, is a little different. to hit nothingness, you take anything so far (easiest by focusing on boundless consciousness though, which has already united things quite nicely), and ... simply ignore it. that's right, just totally tune out of it. bam. you're in nothingness. you're out of phase, but extremely attentive to what it's like to be out of phase, and attentive to what daniel calls in his book '[the sensations] that seem to imply nothingness'. it's blank. it's quiet. its really nothing. your whole mind in a soundproof room. open to it, be surrounded by it, suffused by it, be it. there's nada. attend to that nada. you'll be surprised how thick and existent nada can be.

8th, neither perception-nor-non-perception. to get to 8, you tune out of the quality of attending to anything at all, which has been present all along through the previous jhanas. so you stop noticing that you're there. but you cant quite say you're not there either cos something's still going on.

the best place to hit 8th jhana from is clearly from nothingness, cos so much is ignored already, but i find it possible to jump there directly just by looking at something (preferably a stable mental quality like 5th or 6th jhana) and attending to the looking itself, then just stop attending to all of it completely. it's like how, in order to find 7, you stop attending to what you're looking at (boundless consciousness) in order to tune out into the nothingness. except for with 8, you also tune out of the looking at the same time. 'looking' can be kind of sticky and hard to disregard but believe me, it's possible. this one may take a bit of practice.

(cont.)

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/20/09 7:02 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
daniel ingram writes in mctb that, unlike the others, 8th can always only ever be hit 'hard', never 'soft', but i disagree, and i was recently talking to him about that and he conceded the point saying yeah he wasn't so sure about that either anymore, having written that part of the book years ago. we talked about how there seem to be a couple forms of 8, either the total into it-ness and hardly aware of anything, or the just not really aware of what's going on-ness but a lot was still going on (in reflection). further, i also suspect that 8 may have more variety in how it presents to people than any of the other formless ones which are extremely straight-forward.

--

please report back if you try the methods i've presented here. just remember to not bother worrying if you're hitting it right or hitting the right one, or what you're hitting, anything like that. this is absorption, not investigation. these layers of the mind are already there, you dont have to mess with them. good luck and enjoy! this stuff is fun.

a closing note and personal story:
if you're a bliss junkie, especially an abstract bliss junkie, or a silence junkie, i strongly advise trying to attain the formless jhanas if only to learn how to bust em. you could get stuck in high equanimity stage for a long time otherwise. i spent quite some time not being able to get past high equanimity, before getting first path, without having any clue about it, until one strange little evening with pete and katy where it suddenly occurred to me, 'oh shit, im not noting silence! im totally missing silence'. so i wrote myself a note to remember to not space out/bliss out on the silence, read it later, then went on retreat and nailed the thing. then, a week or so later, when i first formally attained these jhanas, i discovered that 7th jhana is my favourite of the formless realms - surprise!

(fin.)

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/20/09 10:39 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
Very nice, prisoner. Thanks.

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/21/09 4:48 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Thanks! That's a lot of material. As threads get buried, have you considered writing this up as a page?

Your remark about noticing silence - great hint! There's a clue in it for me, somewhere. I don't bliss or quiet out, and I haven't figured out what I'm missing out on, but this gave me something to work on.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/21/09 5:28 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Thanks Tarin, this is really good. Florian has a good point - can you put this up as a page?
-Chuck

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/21/09 7:46 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
This thread was saved as a page.

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/21/09 7:48 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
@prisoner

whoah! thanks for posting this! will incorporate this in my practice.

i agree, please make this into a page.

also, if you can expound on each jhana and provide more information as to the actual sensations (touch, sight, sound, etc..) of being there. the you can sensitize people the better. i think this would be helpful for us newbies emoticon

thanks again. take care and godspeed.

~C

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/21/09 7:59 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
you're very welcome, everyone. i just saved this as a page but i'm new to wiki'ing and think maybe some changes should be made, and maybe it should go under a specific section? i'll look over it after getting home from work, as well as try to figure out how to move (or attach) this thread to that page.

regarding expanding on each jhana, i think a plurality of people reporting from a variety of experiences might be most useful. chelek, kenneth, hipster, anyone?

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/21/09 8:05 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
yes, exactly! that's an excellent way to do it since people might have different sensory experience of each jhana emoticon

looking forward to it.

~C

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/21/09 9:45 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Hey Priz,

I'd like to see you expand a little on your experience of 1st jhana, as it's the one people are likely to discover first. I think of it as quiet exhilaration. It's very one-pointed, and as you say, there is the clear sense of subtle effort. One way to attain 1st jhana or to find out if the jhana you are in is the 1st is to gently pinch your nose with an imaginary thumb and forefinger. If you are in jhana and you can do that, you can only be in the first jhana, as you would have to let go of that to move on to the second.

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/22/09 1:53 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Hi Kenneth,

Could you elaborate on that a little? I don't quite grok the relationship between the exercise of pinching the nose and the jhanas. Thanks!


Also -- I agree that having different people relating their experiences of the jhanas would be very useful!

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/22/09 2:55 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Author: josh0

Wow, thanks for this. Your clear and straightforward descriptions have really helped me sort out the things that I've been experiencing. I definitely now think that I've been misunderstanding the nature of the jhanas and, as a result, misunderstanding my own progress.

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/22/09 12:33 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
kenneth,

i didn't write much about 1st jhana because unless i get it hard enough, i don't find it very interesting and unless i'm looking for them i don't notice a lot of the details. also, i tend to cycle into 2nd jhana quite quickly. i think the things we notice most about 1st jhana - especially if hit softly - might be the things that are most different from our minds when we're not actively reflecting. for me, focused effort (as opposed to a mental rambling) and marked lack of interest in restless sense gratification (like wanting chocolate) stand out most prominently. do you get any bodily stuff in 1st that's noteworthy? i remember sensing bodily distortion often in the early days, like feelings of being a large rock or an expanding balloon, and was recently reminded of this by a friend who was describing her experiences of meditating.

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/23/09 7:54 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
I serendipitously found a way to do it that is more stable, soft enough for insight and has a natural flow from 1-8+. Should be suitable for mastery as well.

Starts with breath and the whole body unified for 1. Stir the two together with the natural expansion and contraction of breath. Whole body breathing.

Flows into 2 with a subtle shift to focus on the bliss and lightness of the whole body breath.

Flows into 3 subtle shift to focus on the the lighter quality of the lightness and as the bliss fades a whole body light arises.

Flows into 4 with the fading of the lightness and a calm steady equanimity pervades the body of light.

Flows into 5, formless 1 with fading of the body of light leaving only equanimous mental qualities focused on an unbounded spacial quality.

Flows into 6, formless 2 with fading of the spacial quality and focusing on the unbounded consciousness quality.

Flows into 7, formless 3 with fading of the unbounded consciousness quality and focusing on the emptiness quality.

Flows into 8, formless 4 with fading of the emptiness quality leaving only non-percipient consciousness.

Drop that and you get a classic cessation moment and whatever fireworks after that.

No tricks, alert, relaxed, comfortable. Very passive approach, just let it happen. Very stable yet very soft, easy transitions.

Can't get a stable ongoing cessation. Would that be only when the rest of the insight cycles and paths are resolved then? Vets, Grads? Feedback welcome.

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/23/09 9:04 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
I could add there is nothing to do in the approach I posted except bare insight. Concentration is stabilized in Jhana 1 on whole body breathing. (I can post any number of techniques for getting that happening if you like.) It is stable and steady but not hard. Probably because of the breath dynamic which starts to get increasingly subtle once in jhana 1 and is pretty well faded out by 2.

All there is to do after 1 is going is to observe passively. The more gross qualities are always at the forefront and the others are all there underneath that. So let the attention rest on what it naturally will, the coarsest most prominent quality. The attention gets very intimate with it and it then tires of it. When it turns subtly to look at the next quality the previous surface quality starts fading and on down the line. So there is no active intent at all just natural knowing and letting go. I don't think there is a break in the insight all the way through and there is no work to do. It is about as smooth and pleasurable as it can get.

I just read Kenneth's Jhana page and I agree entirely with his thinking there. The nice thing about this approach is that over time concentration starts to become more of a versatile tool like insight. I have tried to keep concentration to a dull roar because it just kicks in sometimes unbidden. I think sometimes I should give up driving but it hasn't been a problem yet. I do think also, as others have suggested that it is playing some pretty strange games with me at times. So for me with jhana, it is caveat emptor. Hopefully someone else can really work this to their advantage.

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/23/09 11:46 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
hi triplethink,
I'd like to hear your suggestions on this, I'm sure I'll learn something from it, maybe maybe not only me.
I've never read of several techniques for doing the very same thing, I'm curious how you meant this.

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/25/09 12:27 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
The focus is elsewhere but I will do briefly. If it seems a worthy topic we can start another thread. Many body movement practices or energy practices can inform this. There are also very simple techniques. These may seem less familiar or natural for those who practice some insight techniques. For those with less experience of whole body awareness it may be helpful to think of the techniques as whole body sensate 'visualizations'. Attention is not employed in the same way as with following and noting. Attention in this case is on the sensation of breath experienced by the whole body as one object of attention so the effort is applied to feeling in the whole body simultaneously.

One technique is similar to body scanning and so this is one approach except that as one is scanning one does not let go of any previous presence of awareness. This is how I initially realized that awareness could be everywhere in the body simultaneously. One can use tension/relaxation techniques and I believe there is a thread here on that. One can visualize the body as a point and then as larger than the body and by oscillating in this way take that one point and disperse it into the entire body. I use breath and this is good because it leads quickly to bliss and rapture. I begin with long slow in/out breaths and then relax into more natural breathing. It may help to visualize/feel the breath entering the body through all the surfaces and collecting at the center and flowing out again the same way. Anything that brings attention to the whole body and the experience of breathing as the whole body responds to that process will contribute to the solidification of this kind of attention. Anything more extensive should probably go into a new thread.

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
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2/26/09 9:12 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
hi triplethink,

perhaps you could start up another page with the techniques you recommend?

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
2/27/09 1:11 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Can do. I'm fairly busy right now so I will get on it in a few days when I can keep an eye on it as well. In the meantime if someone else would like to tackle the body or the breath as a jhana vehicle that would be just as well. It would be great to see a page from either Daniel or Kenneth about the ways the whole body can be used for entering jhana. There are a lot of somewhat subjective approaches but the full on absorptions have fairly consistent qualities.

When trying to combine the body and breath into one object, physical fitness is probably quite important. Some kind of strong aerobic exercise routine can help more than anything. That and any kind of whole body consciousness practices like Qi Gong or Tai Chi, etc.. People with a background in athletics have many forms of body awareness that can be applied to concentration practices right away if they understand how they have been developing the same kinds of sensitivities but applying them a little differently. A lot could be learned from looking into where and why concentration training meets athletic training. Probably any number of world class athletes are doing huge amounts of concentration and insight work all the time, they just don't call it that.

RE: simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
3/3/09 1:55 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
ok here we go...

The pitch.
"Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination. The seven factors for awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to their culmination."

The play and the field.
MN 118 Anapanasati Sutta Mindfulness of Breathing
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

"He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' "
We can move an extended discussion on breath and jhana to this thread:
the breath sublime and supreme
http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/thread/2493501/the+breath+++sublime+and+supreme

Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
10/10/12 1:16 AM as a reply to triple think.
Bump because it's a good instructional thread.

RE: Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
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10/10/12 11:08 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Glad you did, as this is useful.

RE: Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
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10/10/12 3:56 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
I'm going to reformat the text and post Tarin's instructions, as well as Triplethink's, in separate threads 'cause this is some really good stuff.

RE: Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
12/13/13 1:11 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
I am quite new to this and have begun meditating like 2 weeks ago.
maybe I am thick headed but I dont get how to get to 1st jhana.
could you give some instructions or point to a post which gives instructions?
thanks.

RE: Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
12/13/13 1:33 AM as a reply to faraz ahmed.

RE: Simple instructions for attaining (as opposed to mastering) j
Answer
12/14/13 2:43 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
thanks.