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first jhana?

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first jhana?
Answer
6/24/18 5:03 PM
Hi, first post.
I been delving more deeply into Theravada Buddhist meditation. After many years of practicing than teaching kundalini yoga & that style of meditation, there was an abrupt life event (death of husband), and afterwards, I had trouble accepting the whole concept of God or a soul. That led me to "rediscover" Buddhism.
Anyway, there seems to be a pattern lately while I"m meditating, and I'm wondering if it could be jhana related. Feelings of intense heat, then a few moments afterward, a wave of real joy and bliss, so much so that tears come to my eyes. Jhana?

RE: first jhana?
Answer
6/25/18 1:38 PM as a reply to Darby.
Hi Darby, welcome !

As you haven't received a reply yet, I'll offer some comments, although I usually only experience lite jhana.  

In short it could be a jhana factor, but likely not jhana on its own.  For jhana you should get into a flow state that enables the feeling to continue for some time, and to dominate your experience. Then when you exit jhana you should have significantly boosted concentration that you can then apply to investigation of your mind or reality.

For first jhana, you should have the jhana factors of initial thinking, sustained examination, piti (variously translated as rapture or joy) and sukkha (variously translated as happiness or bliss).  For second jhana you drop the conceptual thinking for a unified tranquil non-conceptual mind (if you are still conceptually thinking, it isn't second jhana).  For third jhana you let the piti subside but maintain sukkha with clear awareness.  For fourth jhana you let sukkha subside and mindful equanimity take its place.  Those are the basic descriptions.

However, matching piti and sukkha to people's experiences is not straightforward.  Piti and sukkha can have a variety of different flavours, will likely grow and fade throughout the jhana, and the translations of the terms are not always certain.  My own experience is that piti has more of a physical thrill to it, whereas sukkha is more emotional and non-conceptual.  I actually find joy (pamojja) to be diferent again.  So it is difficult to tell from your description whether you are experiencing piti, or sukkha, or both.

I would suggest that when this feeling occurs, try to determine whether it is more physical, or emotional, or both. Then try to let that feeling suffuse the body, and keep it going for as long as you can.  See if you can get into the flow state for 15 minutes.  Then exit jhana and study your mind in detail while still in meditation.  

Hope this helps. Maybe one of the jhana experts will chip in as well.  As always, MCTB is a great resource too.

RE: first jhana?
Answer
6/25/18 2:57 PM as a reply to Darby.
My feeling is that what you call it is not as important as what you can do with it.

Do you understand what you do to produce the state?
Can you produce it repeatably?
Does it help you see that emotions are impermanent and illusory?
Can you use it in daily life?
When it goes away, do you know why?


I use a meditation technique that produces bliss during meditation. I don't usually have the bliss turned up high - that can be a bit tedious after a while. But at a constant low level it is useful because when it goes away I notice what caused that to happen. It's usually because of an attachment or aversion or too much analytical thinking. It helps me see my attachments etc and helps me let go - producing the state involves letting go. Analytical thinking isn't bad but it is useful to see how different mental states interact. (Psychologists say that analytical thinking and empathic thinking can't occur at the same time. It's one thing to read about it and another to see the truth in your own experience. Analytical and empathic thinking are both useful in their appropriate circumstances neither one is "better" than the other.)


I posted a bit about how I meditate elsewhere on this forum:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5823529

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517

RE: first jhana?
Answer
6/25/18 3:17 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Thanks to both of you for your thoughtful responses. My intuition tells me I'm definitely feeling piti, since it has almost a wave-like experience for me... and at times, I've felt a bit breathless, too, and it doesn't last long at all. When I did the meditations in kundalini yoga, I had different experiences, but not like this.

Great Forum.

I'll check out the links!