Is it possible to attain the first jhana outside of a retreat?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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cjmacie
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Re: Is it possible to attain the first jhana outside of a retreat?

Postby cjmacie » Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:57 am

postby SarathW » Sat Jun 25, 2016 3:02 pm
... There are mainly two types of Jhana. Samatha and Vipassana ...


SInce "vipassana jhana" is mentioned, which is s/w questionably attributed to Mahasi Sayadaw, it might be good to read what he actually writes (rather extensively) about the kinds of samadhi.

c.f. the new book-form translation "Manual of Insight", or free from the internet the 1984 translation as "THE TREATISE ON THE METHOD OF VIPASSANA INSIGHT MEDITATION" -- Chapter 2. (page 103ff in the 1st PDF file below)

Here's the whole thing (in 4 PDFs, total 900 or so pages):
http://www.saraniya.com/books/mahasi-sayadaw/pdf/mahasi_sayadaw-vipassana_treatise_volume_i_part_i.pdf
http://www.saraniya.com/books/mahasi-sayadaw/pdf/mahasi_sayadaw-vipassana_treatise_volume_i_part_ii.pdf
http://www.saraniya.com/books/mahasi-sayadaw/pdf/mahasi_sayadaw-vipassana_treatise_volume_ii_part_i.pdf
http://www.saraniya.com/books/mahasi-sayadaw/pdf/mahasi_sayadaw-vipassana_treatise_volume_ii_part_ii.pdf

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Re: Is it possible to attain the first jhana outside of a retreat?

Postby cjmacie » Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:31 pm

Re-reading this thread, here's another, individual perspective.

My experience was working towards jhana (with Shaila Catherine, personal student of the Pa Auk Sayadaw), for several 7-10 day retreats. I wouldn't call it frustrating, though many do, but "no banana" – couldn't get it. On a subsequent retreat, with Ven. U. Jagara (who'd also worked with the Pa Auk for a couple of decades) assisting Shaila, his instructions greatly helped. At one point he led a guided meditation, which did it for me. In brief (he used lots of repetition, over about ½ hour), focusing on breath (at nostrils/upper lip), getting closer up to it (the object, as it gradually became nimitta), slowly, again and again, more and more deeply, closer and closer, as it seems to get larger and larger,… then, when very close, seemingly very large, as he put it "suddenly the mind falls into the nimitta; the nimitta swallows the mind." The sense is the nimitta is surrounding the mind, like a sphere.

This was not the multi-hour-long solid absorption that the Pa Auk Sayadaw emphasizes, but there's no doubt it was the real McCoy – an unmistakable qualitative shift that stilled all mental motion; not total oblivion to sensory stimuli (as more likely in 4th jhana) – sounds, light, etc are still there, but just "somewhere out there", and as if bouncing off; the mind doesn't follow them, doesn't react. Consulting with U. Jagara, he readily confirmed that this was really it. He also mentioned that once known, repeated reliably, there grows a sense, a memory of "how it feels", which one can eventually recall next time, and, often, very quickly re-invoke it.

Another factor, relative to my own progress, was to gradually realize, trying again and again (all those retreats), the negative effect of all the distractions of meditating in a room full of 20-30 people, with the creaking sounds (some in chairs), others breathing or coughing, some coming and going,… Tried instead sitting in the bedroom, or off in a remote "meditation" cottage on the premises – i.e. alone. Much better. Also recalling the standard sutta instructions: go off to abandoned hut, roots of a tree, charnal ground, etc. – i.e. SECLUSION. The standard Insight-Meditation retreat format is, IMO, often something of a hindrance.

After the breakthrough it turned-out to be relatively easy to reproduce, and away from retreat. At first it took some effort (though not of the straining sort), and only after a minimum of 40-50 minutes. With continued practice – just like, say, playing the piano, or riding a bicycle – it became like a trained habit. Now, except at times of notably unsteady energy, it's accessible in as little as 10-20 minutes.

Subsequently, along lines that Thanissaro teaches, the mind naturally combines it with vipassana. During absorption, something happens, often some 6-door stimulus (coming not from external sensation, but from the mind itself) arises; the mind moves slightly out of fixation, and looks closely at what came up – often seeing it in a totally new way. Then the mind can easily drop back into absorption. U. Jagara also taught that – that even when, say, shifting physical position, one is still close enough to easily drop back in.

Also, subsequently attending week-end retreats at a Mahasi-style monastery nearby (TMC, San Jose Calif.) I found that jhanic absorption could similarly be integrated with Mahasi-style khanika samadhi. I had initially talked to the instructor (Thuzana Sayadaw), and he did not disapprove of the use of appana-samadhi (jhana). My recent study of some of Mahasi's deeper writings also finds that Mahasi himself in no way discourages [i]jhana practice; he even states that this is a primary practice, and that the khanika vipassana samadhi[/i] practice that the Mahasi-technique is better known for, is just an alternative for some who find it easier than appana-samadhi. Jhana-samadhi isn't absolutely necessary (though some degree of samadhi is necessary), but can greatly enhance vipassana.

A major factor remains that all this is individually conditioned. The process I've described above will be different for each individual. I do believe that if one's able to practice under close guidance, over some time, of someone like the Pa Auk Sayadaw, or U. Jagara, it becomes much easier for almost anyone to relatively quickly gain the still of jhana. At least the initial ability – the beginning of a long road along which the skill strengthens in ways that can't be anticipated. (I can't yet at all claim, for instance, full mastery of the "5 masterys" of jhana, as in the Visuddhimagga.)

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Re: Is it possible to attain the first jhana outside of a retreat?

Postby cjmacie » Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:38 pm

The experiences I depict (in the last post) are very much along the lines of what katavedi so well discusses. A couple of differences of emphasis:

katavedi wrote:Hello Seladhamma,
...
Yes, this is a typical argument against jhana from the Mahasi tradition, but it's based on the definition of a jhana being the Visuddhimagga's extraordinarily-difficult-to-attain definition of jhana (which is the standard orthodox Theravadan definition), rather than what is described in the suttas. And if you use the Visuddhimagga jhanas as the standard, then Bhante Rahula is quite correct.

I disagree about "extraordinarily-difficult-to-attain"; it's over-exaggeration, does not apply across the board to everyone. And also that it's the "standard orthodox Theravadan definition". There are reputable viewpoints, within the tradition, that are less extreme. For some reason that sense of extreme has become the popular notion – perhaps due to defensiveness on the part of so many teachers having not been exposed to, not properly trained in jhana.

katavedi wrote:...those who have practiced in this tradition know that, once the mind is mostly staying in the present, the labels are dropped and one continues knowing the sense contacts wordlessly, without any concepts.

In Mahasi's written instructions, as well as, say, the introductory instructions given by Sayadaw Thuzana at every week-end (beginner-level) retreat (at TMC, San Jose), it's explicit that the verbal "noting" labels are not to be clung to, to be dropped as soon as possible. Reading Mahasi closely, "noting" means more than, other than recognizing with a conceptual label. That's a sort of pedagogical aid to get people started. It's clear he means it as "direct knowing" of phenomena (the words "note" and "know" both go back to similar roots as the Greek "gnosis"), and as such, a rudimentary form of "direct knowledge and vision" that becomes central in the more advanced "Stages of Insight".

(I don't believe I'm countering anything katavedi is saying; just adding modified perspective.)

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Re: Is it possible to attain the first jhana outside of a retreat?

Postby katavedi » Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:04 pm

Hello Christopher,

I enjoyed reading your last two posts on this thread. I wanted to clarify the excerpt of my post that you quoted with a bit more background information as to what informed my perspective.

cjmacie wrote:The experiences I depict (in the last post) are very much along the lines of what katavedi so well discusses. A couple of differences of emphasis:

katavedi wrote:Yes, this is a typical argument against jhana from the Mahasi tradition, but it's based on the definition of a jhana being the Visuddhimagga's extraordinarily-difficult-to-attain definition of jhana (which is the standard orthodox Theravadan definition), rather than what is described in the suttas. And if you use the Visuddhimagga jhanas as the standard, then Bhante Rahula is quite correct.

I disagree about "extraordinarily-difficult-to-attain"; it's over-exaggeration, does not apply across the board to everyone.

This is a subtle point, and one that I perhaps should have clarified in my original post: I was referring to the actual Visuddhimagga (the text), not to the teachers or approaches that are based on the Visuddhimagga. Specifically, I was referring to this excerpt:
Now the kasina preliminary work is difficult for a beginner and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The arousing of the sign is difficult for one who has done the preliminary work and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To extend the sign when it has arisen and to reach absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it." Vsm. XII.8

Other things that have shaped my perspective are first-hand accounts from students who have studied with Pa Auk at his monastery and have reported that approximately 30% of the monks and nuns at the monastery are able to access the jhanas in the way that he teaches. Also, my wife is a close student of Sayalay Susila, so I've gotten an up-close look at the Visuddhimagga approach through her practice experiences. And a close comparison over the years of the Visuddhimagga's description of the jhanas with the descriptions found in the suttas have also shaped my particular perspective. But that's all it is: my perspective, based on these particular influences.


cjmacie wrote:And also that it's the "standard orthodox Theravadan definition". There are reputable viewpoints, within the tradition, that are less extreme. For some reason that sense of extreme has become the popular notion – perhaps due to defensiveness on the part of so many teachers having not been exposed to, not properly trained in jhana.

I'm sure that you're correct that there are those within the Theravada tradition that are less extreme, and I have met some of them. But the majority of my encounters with Theravadan monks and nuns (some of whom have advised not to pursue the jhanas because they require an amount of time and dedication and a lifestyle that most lay practitioners don't have) have revealed that they are operating from an understanding of jhana based on the descriptions found in the Visuddhimagga. And the majority of texts and articles on the jhanas that I've studied from authors that I would classify as "orthodox Theravada" seem to also be operating with the same definition. But again, this is my perspective, based on my own study and personal interactions.

I think the "true jhana" debates are quite silly, and my reply isn't an attempt to start one. My intent is just to provide some background information behind some of the statements I made in the post you cited.

What's far more interesting to me is your previous post about your experiences learning jhana and maintaining them outside of retreat. Several key elements in your description mirror my own experiences with learning, maintaining, and deepening these states: the difficulties involved in getting there for the first time; the "falling in" necessary to really enter the jhana; the mind gradually requiring less time to access them as familiarity with them increases; emerging but retaining the "feel" of the jhana so that one can easily slip back in; and learning how to dovetail jhana with Mahasi-style investigation.

Anumodana, my friend!

Kind wishes,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

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Re: Is it possible to attain the first jhana outside of a retreat?

Postby cjmacie » Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:58 am

Postby katavedi » Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:04 am

Thanks for detailing what you've been exposed to in shaping your understanding of these things. Interesting the degree of conditioning of ideas according to what one has been exposed to.

Somehow I was fortunate to study with a teacher (Shaila Catherine) who was enthusiastic about teaching jhana practice, and the value of learning it – before I came across the surprisingly common skeptical, pessimistic views as to how hard it may be to learn, and also how it's really not necessary, even dangerous. I can imagine how that kind of (mis-)information, as first impression, could influence others, even inhibit their ability to learn.

It wasn't easy, but not more difficult that other skills I've grappled with over the years. Granted I had a grounding in (khanika) concentration from decades of experience with music, especially performance; and am relatively free of serious psychological "hang-ups". It's also s/w surprisingly that (it seems) a lot of people attracted to Buddhism around here ARE seeking relief from various neuroses, which can, apparently, be obstacles to the kind of mental relaxation necessary for absorption concentration.

katavedi wrote: 30% of the monks and nuns at the monastery are able to access the jhanas in the way that he [Pa Auk Sayadaw] teaches.

That's a pretty good success ratio (relative to 1 in a million or billion), actually, given his very high standards. Shaila Catherine, who worked with the Pa Auk Sayadaw for a couple of multi-month stints, was definitely in that 30%, could do jhana-s for hours, days, and was trained further into the "7 purifications" (she wrote a book – "Wisdom Wide and Deep" --, with the support of the Sayadaw, about the whole vism. path; and her 1st book – "Focused and Fearless" – was dedicated to just training jhana). I believe that he holds to those high standards to preserve a purified standard for the tradition. In this day and age, things tend to get watered-down quite quickly when standards like that are not at least held up by some. Several years ago, Shaila took a group of us (devotees) to hear Pa Auk Sayadaw give a 2-hour talk when he was in town (SF Bay area). When he said things like try to hold the nimitta for ½ hour or more, or practice to hold 1st jhana for an hour –"two hours would be better" I heard him say – etc. my sense was that he was not saying that something less than that degree of mastery means total failure at getting basic jhana experience. I, for one, fall in the group outside of that 30%, but still am certain of knowing essential "hard" jhana (as distinct from the various "jhana-lites"), and, with further development, may get closer to that 30% (but that's not really the main goal).

I'm familiar with the one-in-a-million (or billion…) interpretations of jhana in the vism. passage. (Similar to another puzzling passage saying that anapansati practice can be done only by "sons of Buddhas".) Somehow, when (first) reading thru the Visuddhimagga, I didn't notice, or make much of, those passages; there was so much else that is so fascinating. After gaining entrance to 1st jhana, I did study carefully the couple of pages in there about getting from there to 2nd and the other jhana-s. That helped, together with getting U. Jagara's advice about using those passages. At a subsequent retreat (at Spirit Rock) another teacher, who had spent a year as monk at the Pa Auk monastery, helped me sort-out the 2nd & 3rd, and even a get a taste of 4th jhana. He mentioned that getting 1st jhana is a something of a challenge; 2nd and 3rd relatively easy after that; but 4th is again challenging.

Anyway, my sense of the extreme character of some interpretations is also informed by exposure to the perhaps more relaxed attitude in Thai Forest/Wilderness tradition, mainly via Thanissaro, who goes a long way to preserve, present all the teachings of his predecessors (Ajahns Fuang, Lee, Mun). This tradition – out in the woods without the big libraries and study halls like the Burmese monks have – doesn't go that much by Abhidhamma or Visuddhimagga. Than-Geoff is much less formal, and in teaching more gradualistic about jhana, tho I'm sure that practice in his tradition (and his own) ultimately goes as deep as any.

And, over the last two years or so, with growing exposure to Mahasi tradition, I find at the deeper levels (reading Mahasi's own larger works beyond the introductory manuals) no essential difference from Than-Geoff's teaching (though a lot more detailed erudition in the commentarial tradition); and Mahasi stuff not really that different than Pa Auk Sayadaw, when one scratches the surface (i.e. reading "The Workings of Kamma"). Popularly, there's this big contrast between Mahasi's vipassana way and Pa Auk's jhana way. Turns out that's more like a news-journalist contrast, highlighted to attract attention.

Anecdote: Two years ago, attending a weekend retreat at TMC that happened to include the Wesak celebration, U. Pandita Sayadawgyi showed up (by surprise), and gave the Dhamma talk – very impressive experience. After the ceremonies, standing around, I chatted breifly with a woman (American) in his entourage, in white-pink garb like a Burmese nun, who had done the translating of Pandita's talk from Burmese into English. I mentioned that I'd had some training in Pa Auk methods, to which she replied something like "Oh but this is different; this [Mahasi-Pandita] way I know it works!." Reminded me of past conversations with born-again Christian fundamentalists. An attitude found among fanatic followers (fans), not the teachers/leaders.

katavedi wrote:I think the "true jhana" debates are quite silly, ...

Likewise in agreement. People getting started with jhana-lite (e.g. Brasington, Vimalaramsi, Bodhipaksa, et al) has its place, opens the door; when diligently pursued can go the whole 9-yards. But also admitting an irritation with the sometime polemics from "sutta-jhana" crowd; e.g. Leigh's assertions (as I've even heard in person) that "the Visuddhimagga got it all wrong", which is "so appalling" (e.g. in Part 2 of his recent book). I've done in-depth research into the origins of the "sutta-jhana" hypothesis (the writings of Rodney Bucknell, Martin Stuart-Fox, Paul Griffiths, writings and talks of Ayya Khema); could write a book about it – but is it worth the trouble?

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Re: Is it possible to attain the first jhana outside of a retreat?

Postby spacenick » Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:10 pm

Sure, you can even live in the first jhana on a daily basis. You might not be as quick to do stuff, and it might not be appropriate at work or so; but if you think about the jhanic factors it's nothing too crazy, especially since there's still thinking involved.

It has been mystified mainly because we love having medals for "accomplishments" in the system, but it's all about relinquishment & letting go. If you let go of the 5 hindrances, you'll be in jhana. Retreats provide good environments for that, but if you strengthen your mind you can be at ease (in jhana) anywhere. endurance+perseverance are gonna be big factors in cultivating that serenity in the midst of daily life (I work in a high-sensory environment so I know what it is to be "stressed out")

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Re: Is it possible to attain the first jhana outside of a retreat?

Postby cjmacie » Mon Aug 22, 2016 1:35 pm

spacenick wrote:Sure, you can even live in the first jhana on a daily basis. You might not be as quick to do stuff, and it might not be appropriate at work or so;...

Use the term "samadhi" here instead of "jhana" and it might make more sense. "Jhana" is Pali for Sanskrit "Dhyana", and in the broadest sense means just something like "sitting there meditating", as in a Buddhist meditator or a Vedic/Brahman yogi. Even in that broad sense, if would indicate that it's probably not usable in normal daily activities, at least as (we) Westerns live. "Jhana" as a technical Buddihst term is a bit more specific, but has a range of interpretations. "Hard jhana", not necessarily as intense as what the Pa Auk Sayadaw would recommend, but in general implies a mental "absorption", which, rather like that Dhyana-Jhana idea sketched above, would be incompatible with going around doing usual daily activities.

If we take the term "samadhi" instead, then there's "khanika samadhi" (aka momentary concentration) which means intense concentration while doing virtually anything. Arguably what's called "vipassana khanika samadhi" by Mahasi Sayadaw, or s/t "vipassana jhana" (more by Mahasi's followers) is also compatible with worldly activities, but applies only to Theravada vipassana practice on the Buddhist path. (Worldly "momentary concentration" is more amoral – as in the concentration of a safe-cracker, a sniper, brain-surgeon, or musician.)

spacenick wrote:...but if you think about the jhanic factors it's nothing too crazy, especially since there's still thinking involved.

This view is held by one of those views in the "range of interpretations" mentioned above, that considers the Pali terms "vitakka & vicara" to refer to "discursive" thinking, a mental working-out of ideas. This is heavily debated. Another interpretation is that those terms are used in different senses, according to context, in the Pali Sutta-s, and as jhanic factors refer rather to directing and holding attention (a rudimentary form of one-pointed attention). Just like the English term "think" has a range of meanings by context – it can mean a discursive progression of thoughts, but also can mean simply bringing to mind; as in "I thought of x" meaning "x came to mind", i.e. into attention, not necessarily as a discursive series of thinking.

spacenick wrote: ...If you let go of the 5 hindrances, you'll be in jhana. Retreats provide good environments for that, but if you strengthen your mind you can be at ease (in jhana) anywhere. endurance+perseverance are gonna be big factors in cultivating that serenity in the midst of daily life ...

Here a perhaps better term would be "access concentration" (upacāra-samādhi), where the hindrances are held at bay, but the mind is not absorbed (appanā-samādhi aka jhana), nor into full "vipassana khanika samadhi" (or "vipassana jhana"). This access concentration, as per the Visuddhimagga and Mahasi's teachings (and many modernist derivatives), is like a bare minimum, a gateway to both absorption or Mahasi's sense of vipassana khanika samadhi. This state can also be compatible with normal worldly activities.

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Re: Is it possible to attain the first jhana outside of a retreat?

Postby spacenick » Mon Aug 22, 2016 2:58 pm

Yeah, at the end of the day the technicalities really depend on what system you take as being your framework for practice. My intent here was to show that we shouldn't make it too much of a myth around jhanas (they are fabricated, therefore subject to ending and to cause suffering to one who is attached to them); and that with constant letting go there's the possibility to maintain concentration & bliss (there's no need to put a number next to it) during daily life.

I criticize, among many others, the Burmese approach and what the Visuddhimagga says. Mainly because it is on many points distant from Gotama's teachings. And mainly because, it has, in my personal experience, generated more suffering than less. And because I've seen so many people becoming emotional wrecks and ending up insulting each others on online forums (while at the same time claiming they're arahants! :rofl:)

So I can't really argue with the points you made, because I am way less technical in that system. but I trust that you know your stuff. I just do not practice in that framework!

:anjali:

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Re: Is it possible to attain the first jhana outside of a retreat?

Postby Yuki91 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:55 pm

cjmacie wrote:Re-reading this thread, here's another, individual perspective.

My experience was working towards jhana (with Shaila Catherine, personal student of the Pa Auk Sayadaw), for several 7-10 day retreats. I wouldn't call it frustrating, though many do, but "no banana" – couldn't get it. On a subsequent retreat, with Ven. U. Jagara (who'd also worked with the Pa Auk for a couple of decades) assisting Shaila, his instructions greatly helped. At one point he led a guided meditation, which did it for me. In brief (he used lots of repetition, over about ½ hour), focusing on breath (at nostrils/upper lip), getting closer up to it (the object, as it gradually became nimitta), slowly, again and again, more and more deeply, closer and closer, as it seems to get larger and larger,… then, when very close, seemingly very large, as he put it "suddenly the mind falls into the nimitta; the nimitta swallows the mind." The sense is the nimitta is surrounding the mind, like a sphere.

This was not the multi-hour-long solid absorption that the Pa Auk Sayadaw emphasizes, but there's no doubt it was the real McCoy – an unmistakable qualitative shift that stilled all mental motion; not total oblivion to sensory stimuli (as more likely in 4th jhana) – sounds, light, etc are still there, but just "somewhere out there", and as if bouncing off; the mind doesn't follow them, doesn't react. Consulting with U. Jagara, he readily confirmed that this was really it. He also mentioned that once known, repeated reliably, there grows a sense, a memory of "how it feels", which one can eventually recall next time, and, often, very quickly re-invoke it.

Another factor, relative to my own progress, was to gradually realize, trying again and again (all those retreats), the negative effect of all the distractions of meditating in a room full of 20-30 people, with the creaking sounds (some in chairs), others breathing or coughing, some coming and going,… Tried instead sitting in the bedroom, or off in a remote "meditation" cottage on the premises – i.e. alone. Much better. Also recalling the standard sutta instructions: go off to abandoned hut, roots of a tree, charnal ground, etc. – i.e. SECLUSION. The standard Insight-Meditation retreat format is, IMO, often something of a hindrance.

After the breakthrough it turned-out to be relatively easy to reproduce, and away from retreat. At first it took some effort (though not of the straining sort), and only after a minimum of 40-50 minutes. With continued practice – just like, say, playing the piano, or riding a bicycle – it became like a trained habit. Now, except at times of notably unsteady energy, it's accessible in as little as 10-20 minutes.

Subsequently, along lines that Thanissaro teaches, the mind naturally combines it with vipassana. During absorption, something happens, often some 6-door stimulus (coming not from external sensation, but from the mind itself) arises; the mind moves slightly out of fixation, and looks closely at what came up – often seeing it in a totally new way. Then the mind can easily drop back into absorption. U. Jagara also taught that – that even when, say, shifting physical position, one is still close enough to easily drop back in.

Also, subsequently attending week-end retreats at a Mahasi-style monastery nearby (TMC, San Jose Calif.) I found that jhanic absorption could similarly be integrated with Mahasi-style khanika samadhi. I had initially talked to the instructor (Thuzana Sayadaw), and he did not disapprove of the use of appana-samadhi (jhana). My recent study of some of Mahasi's deeper writings also finds that Mahasi himself in no way discourages [i]jhana practice; he even states that this is a primary practice, and that the khanika vipassana samadhi[/i] practice that the Mahasi-technique is better known for, is just an alternative for some who find it easier than appana-samadhi. Jhana-samadhi isn't absolutely necessary (though some degree of samadhi is necessary), but can greatly enhance vipassana.

A major factor remains that all this is individually conditioned. The process I've described above will be different for each individual. I do believe that if one's able to practice under close guidance, over some time, of someone like the Pa Auk Sayadaw, or U. Jagara, it becomes much easier for almost anyone to relatively quickly gain the still of jhana. At least the initial ability – the beginning of a long road along which the skill strengthens in ways that can't be anticipated. (I can't yet at all claim, for instance, full mastery of the "5 masterys" of jhana, as in the Visuddhimagga.)


Hey cjmacie,

When zooming in as close as possible on the object do u mean the breath sensations at the nostrils? To zoom into the air sensation as close as possible (laser like focus) so the air sensations might appear as small as possible on the nostrils or upper lid?

And do u need to keep feeling the spot (nostrils or upper lid) the whole time even when your breath is on pause and no air is brushing on it?


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