My first jhana

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hermitwin
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My first jhana

Post by hermitwin » Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:57 pm

While I’ve not mastered the first jhana, I did experience it very briefly once (and only once, for reasons I’ll explain later): Ajahn Brahm calls it a “yoyo jhana” because the meditator goes briefly into the jhana, gets so excited, and the excitement then bounces the meditator straight out of the jhana.

I was meditating in an executive retreat (i.e. a retreat meant for working executives) held at the Le Meridien, Chiang Rai, Thailand in 2010, organized by the Singapore Buddhist Fellowship. It was the second time I had gone for a retreat: the very first retreat I ever attended was an S.N Goenka-tradition retreat at Dharamshala in 2005.

During this retreat, the instructor was Ajahn Brahmavamso (or Ajahn Brahm for short). In contrast to the instructions i encountered on my first retreat, Ajahn Brahm actually advised people to relax to the max, and to be comfortable first and foremost. It was important, he said, to make peace with whatever you feel, be kind, and be gentle. This is his rephrasing of the second factor of the Eightfold Path (nekkhamma, avayapada, avihimsa in Pali). I think this is key, because it allowed my mind to gradually settle over the course of the retreat. Instead of using willpower to hold the mind on the meditation object, my mind very quickly brightened up and held easily to the meditation object of the breath, because it was very delightful to do so.

Later on, the citta nimitta (sign of the mind) appeared as a bright light in my meditation. The more I did nothing, the brighter it became, until at one point it felt like I was staring into the noonday sun. I was also very naturally sleeping less: I needed only 4 hours of sleep a day.

Then one time, I was meditating in the meditation hall, doing the usual preliminaries (relaxing the body, letting the mind be in the present moment and switching to the breath when the mind was ready), and the nimitta popped up very quickly, and became brighter and brighter.

All of a sudden, the “light” of the nimitta dimmed down, as though someone had lowered the dimmer switch. This was accompanied by a sensation of falling, as though I was falling into an infinite pit within myself.

Then there was an absolute explosion of sheer bliss and ecstasy. It was as though someone had taken all the orgasms I had ever experienced in my life, condensed it into a moment, and multiplied it by a million.

I was so excited that the thought “What the…” formed and I came straight out of it, breathing excitedly in the dim meditation hall.

A few observations below.

If you experience the first jhana, it will be the greatest pleasure you’ve ever experienced in your life. There will be absolutely no doubt, because the ecstasy will be absolutely a thousand or million-fold more than all your life’s orgasms combined. There would be absolutely no doubt of what you experienced, because it’s a far higher pleasure than anything you’ve ever experienced in your life.

This is something of a double-edged sword, because while it will be the most earth-shaking pleasure you’ve ever experienced, it inevitably will be accompanied by the wanting and craving for a repeat experience. It is exactly this wanting that prevents one from regaining this, which is why I only experienced this once, and never experienced it again: the desire for it is too much.

(Side note: the pleasure is derived from the ceasing of the five senses. That is why there is a sutta that refers to the first jhana as “the end of the world as one knows it”, because you’re literally experiencing an unworldly pleasure (i.e. mindblowing pleasure without the five senses. It’s from this that one realizes that the five-senses are truly suffering…)

(Side-side note: the experience also made me realize why Buddhist monastics are celibate. They truly have a higher pleasure!)
The immediate sensation just before the jhana is one of falling. This is possibly because the mind was really letting go for the first time in one’s life. The cause of jhanas is letting go, which (according to the Satipatthana

sutta and its Chinese parallels from Ven Analayo’s translation) is fueled by seclusion, dispassion and cessation. As Ajahn Brahm’s teacher Ajahn Chah repeatedly said, “you meditate to let go, not to gain things”. It’s not from wanting, or striving or practice per se, and definitely not from willpower (i.e. even if you sit for an hour every day, that’s not going to help you get to jhanas if you’re not letting go but just using your willpower to force yourself to sit). So your question of “how did you do it (e.g. length of sessions)” is the wrong question, as it implies that you can “get” jhana by sitting for 10x10mins or whatever length of time.

Instead, it’s actually less about the amount of time you meditate, but the manner in which you meditate. Far too many meditators are using willpower, when meditation is about letting go/making peace, being kind, being gentle: it’s not about “gaining” jhana or making them happen. If you let go enough, jhanas will happen. But if you want them, then they won’t.
It’s also important to note that the rest of the Eightfold Path contribute to experiencing the jhanas: it’s practically impossible for one to experience the jhanas if your actions of body speech and mind are completely unrestrained. I had been keeping to the Eight Precepts prior to experiencing the jhanas, so I suspect that was a contributing factor too.
You can read detailed instructions in Ajahn Brahm’s book here if you’re interested to learn how to meditate as per the Buddha’s instructions. I personally think it’s THE best contemporary meditation book out there.

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pilgrim
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Re: My first jhana

Post by pilgrim » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:17 am

Are you Peijing PJ Teh who answered the question on Quora or is this a copy and paste?
https://www.quora.com/Have-you-achieved ... ssions-etc

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: My first jhana

Post by JamesTheGiant » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:48 am

hermitwin wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:57 pm
...jhana...
Yes, that's it! That's a good report, so unlike what a lot of people call jhana these days = "Jhana-Lite", fake low calorie Jhana.
Well done. I hope it is not many years until it happens for you again! When I had my deepest meditation in 2011 it was so amazing that it changed my life, and unfortunately because I crave it, "I" haven't been able to get that still again.

tamdrin
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Re: My first jhana

Post by tamdrin » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:26 pm

Hello,

I enjoyed reading your descriptions of the jhana. Which one of Ajahn Brahm's books is very good? I saw one at the bookstore.. Maybe I will pick it up.
Are there any available online?

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Manopubbangama
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Re: My first jhana

Post by Manopubbangama » Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:20 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:48 am

When I had my deepest meditation in 2011 it was so amazing that it changed my life, and unfortunately because I crave it, "I" haven't been able to get that still again.
We are in the same boat there; ditto on everything you said, except of course, the dates.
Sabbe Sankhara Anicca - Sabbe Sankhara Dukkha - Sabbe Dhamma Anatta

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one_awakening
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Re: My first jhana

Post by one_awakening » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:13 pm

Sometimes you think you've let got totally, but when you investigate the mind further you see there's still some very subtle holding on. Your mind becomes very sensitive to this holding on.

So even if you don't you get into Jhana you can still benefit greatly by developing a mind that lets go which can help you in your daily life.

Sometimes It's not always about the destination because the journey has its own rewards.
“You only lose what you cling to”

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Mkoll
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Re: My first jhana

Post by Mkoll » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:21 pm

tamdrin wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:26 pm
Hello,

I enjoyed reading your descriptions of the jhana. Which one of Ajahn Brahm's books is very good? I saw one at the bookstore.. Maybe I will pick it up.
Are there any available online?
The Quora post links to Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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StormBorn
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Re: My first jhana

Post by StormBorn » Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:38 am

hermitwin wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:57 pm
Later on, the citta nimitta (sign of the mind) appeared as a bright light in my meditation. The more I did nothing, the brighter it became, until at one point it felt like I was staring into the noonday sun. I was also very naturally sleeping less: I needed only 4 hours of sleep a day.

Then one time, I was meditating in the meditation hall, doing the usual preliminaries (relaxing the body, letting the mind be in the present moment and switching to the breath when the mind was ready), and the nimitta popped up very quickly, and became brighter and brighter.


All of a sudden, the “light” of the nimitta dimmed down, as though someone had lowered the dimmer switch. This was accompanied by a sensation of falling, as though I was falling into an infinite pit within myself.

Then there was an absolute explosion of sheer bliss and ecstasy. It was as though someone had taken all the orgasms I had ever experienced in my life, condensed it into a moment, and multiplied it by a million.
It appears you were heading the right direction here. But, you must have developed a subtle craving to that experience too. Once that craving peaked to a level that it was able to overcome the brightness of the mind, the nimitta dimmed down. The accompanied sensation of falling is actually the mind falling back to the sensual world, having released the prompted constrain that you had been maintained.

Indeed the sensual world is an infinite pit within oneself! Some dry Vipassana people wrongly consider "the release" you experienced to be Nibbana even. The Right Samadhi is something peaceful, calming, stilling, soothing, but the an experience of the absolute explosion of sheer bliss and ecstasy as though one had taken all the orgasms one had ever experienced in one's life, condensed it into a moment, and multiplied it by a million is clearly not the Right Samadhi.
"When he is rid of them, there remain thoughts of the Dhamma. His samadhi is not peaceful, not exalted, not allaying, and not attained one pointedness, but a state of prompted constrained.

There comes a time when his mind inwardly stands still, settled, one pointed, and attained samadhi. This samadhi is peaceful, exalted, allaying, attained one pointedness, and no longer a state of prompted constrained. And then whatsoever higher knowledge he inclines his mind to experience."

~ AN 3.102
hermitwin wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:57 pm
I was so excited that the thought “What the…” formed and I came straight out of it, breathing excitedly in the dim meditation hall.
If you were in a jhana, forming a thought is impossible.
“Greater in battle than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men, is he who would conquer just one—himself.”

auto
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Re: My first jhana

Post by auto » Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:03 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:48 am
hermitwin wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:57 pm
...jhana...
Yes, that's it! That's a good report, so unlike what a lot of people call jhana these days = "Jhana-Lite", fake low calorie Jhana.
Well done. I hope it is not many years until it happens for you again! When I had my deepest meditation in 2011 it was so amazing that it changed my life, and unfortunately because I crave it, "I" haven't been able to get that still again.
Its you who is calling jhana a jhana-lite. Persons who talk about their jhana experiences are calling them jhana.

Is it because of your jhana you expereinced only once? Having only one experience how you can judge your jhana to be the real one(or deep)?
edit
Maybe you have done fake jhanas that you know about the deep one you got? So can you describe your fake jhana?

and i don't put high hopes on that you reply you either say you don't understand what i wrote or just don't talk with scrubs like me.

auto
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Re: My first jhana

Post by auto » Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:28 pm

OP letter, he rejects willpower.. you forgetting that you used willpower i don't know how many years and then heard about being gentle. So how's it feel stabbing yourself in the back.

This is something of a double-edged sword, because while it will be the most earth-shaking pleasure you’ve ever experienced, it inevitably will be accompanied by the wanting and craving for a repeat experience. It is exactly this wanting that prevents one from regaining this, which is why I only experienced this once, and never experienced it again: the desire for it is too much.
Its not craving for repeat experience what doesn't let you get you reexperience it. On a nana scale its one nana you experienced, now there are other nanas.
Common sense, if you did notice separate steps what led you to that jhana then you should understand that its also a step. And apprently you don't recon stage where you aer at and it prolly keeps you from advangeing on path. Easy common peasant logic always help.

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Manopubbangama
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Re: My first jhana

Post by Manopubbangama » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:21 pm

StormBorn wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:38 am
hermitwin wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:57 pm
I was so excited that the thought “What the…” formed and I came straight out of it, breathing excitedly in the dim meditation hall.
If you were in a jhana, forming a thought is impossible.
Not my experience.

In jhana 1 there are still subtle thought patterns. I would imagine that the Pali equivalents to explain these phenomena would be vitakka and vicara.

Jhana 2 and above completely and absolutely eliminate thought.
Sabbe Sankhara Anicca - Sabbe Sankhara Dukkha - Sabbe Dhamma Anatta

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: My first jhana

Post by JamesTheGiant » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:25 pm

auto wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:03 pm
and i don't put high hopes on that you reply you either say you don't understand what i wrote or just don't talk with scrubs like me.
I understand, but I simply don't like to argue. You believe what you see as true, I believe what I see is true, and we can both be happy and not argue. :namaste:

tamdrin
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Re: My first jhana

Post by tamdrin » Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:17 am

How long had you been meditating when you reached your "first jhana"


Both in terms of that particular session of meditation (ie 20 minutes)

And in terms of your life (ie 2 years)

Thanks. :broke:

auto
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Re: My first jhana

Post by auto » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:21 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:25 pm
auto wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:03 pm
and i don't put high hopes on that you reply you either say you don't understand what i wrote or just don't talk with scrubs like me.
I understand, but I simply don't like to argue. You believe what you see as true, I believe what I see is true, and we can both be happy and not argue. :namaste:
i read your monastery experience, you don't like argue. But i'm not arguing, i got upset by reading the OP letter.

Then one time, I was meditating in the meditation hall, doing the usual preliminaries (relaxing the body, letting the mind be in the present moment and switching to the breath when the mind was ready), and the nimitta popped up very quickly, and became brighter and brighter.
"letting the mind be in the present" if that quality is what causes progress, then why not focus on that and cultivate it specifically.

but he doesn't recognize it as mind quality so he needs rely on reflexes and therefore the bright light is corrupted by the knowing; you don't have same starting point as you had before if try to gain it again. And its still a guess but bright light is sun and moon region, you should later have also the siddhi to touch the light orb.
Then there was an absolute explosion of sheer bliss and ecstasy. It was as though someone had taken all the orgasms I had ever experienced in my life, condensed it into a moment, and multiplied it by a million.
these are still the same centers used. Celibacy is because then you don't use that moment up in a gross way and don't make a bridge(link) this way. And the regular O will happen anyway in a dream and then because you got the kayaone in a subtle way then the link is broken and most if not all the liquid are hold back by your mind during the dream one happen.

So now if someone know better than me, counter what i say then.


what upsets me is how he tells to reject willpower
Instead, it’s actually less about the amount of time you meditate, but the manner in which you meditate. Far too many meditators are using willpower, when meditation is about letting go/making peace, being kind, being gentle: it’s not about “gaining” jhana or making them happen. If you let go enough, jhanas will happen. But if you want them, then they won’t.
upekkha is brahma realm, like 4th jhana. How you use high jhana factor to get low jhana. Basically perhaps you don't eevn reconed that you were in a "world"(jhana)

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Manopubbangama
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Re: My first jhana

Post by Manopubbangama » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:09 pm

tamdrin wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:17 am
How long had you been meditating when you reached your "first jhana"


Both in terms of that particular session of meditation (ie 20 minutes)

And in terms of your life (ie 2 years)

Thanks. :broke:
All of these are variables as everyone's kamma is different.

One book you may (or may not) like is "Knowing and Seeing." Its focus is on kasina (although it includes asubha and anapanasati material), which is rather controversial in some circles and not without good reason, despite kasina as a meditation object in the Suttanta being firmly established.

PDF is free and googlable, as a gift of the Dhamma.
Sabbe Sankhara Anicca - Sabbe Sankhara Dukkha - Sabbe Dhamma Anatta

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