My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
SunWuKong
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My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:14 pm

So, as you may or may not know, Anapanasati, Satipatthana, samatha, Vipassana are taught in Theraveda, Mahāyāna, and Vajrayana programs. So what I was taught in the mindfulness practices in Thich Nhat Hanhs organization was simply samatha, and after about ten years of doing it I took it out and wondered if it needed fixing. I decided it needed more bare attention and wakefulness. And this was the result: strange things started happening. Didn’t know what it was. But I knew what it seemed like so I started searching online. It took s few months to piece together but it had something to do with samadhi and jhana. At first it was great but at the same time I didn’t have support from teacher or sangha due to my job and work schedule. Without going into details, let’s just say it was a game-changer. Recently I began to approach the problems of no teacher no sangha. Then I discover that my experience is not considered authentic by the same teacher who taught the samatha in the first place. I can’t ignore or discount the experience so until the dust settles I’m looking for other traditions/lineage. Ad hoc “mindfulness” teachings aren’t at the top of the list, I think that’s part of the problem, not the solution. I’m not sectarian, as I have no dog in this fight. My experience with jhana/samadhi is leading me somewhere I just need a road map and some fellow travelers.

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Sam Vara
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:30 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:14 pm
So, as you may or may not know, Anapanasati, Satipatthana, samatha, Vipassana are taught in Theraveda, Mahāyāna, and Vajrayana programs. So what I was taught in the mindfulness practices in Thich Nhat Hanhs organization was simply samatha, and after about ten years of doing it I took it out and wondered if it needed fixing. I decided it needed more bare attention and wakefulness. And this was the result: strange things started happening. Didn’t know what it was. But I knew what it seemed like so I started searching online. It took s few months to piece together but it had something to do with samadhi and jhana. At first it was great but at the same time I didn’t have support from teacher or sangha due to my job and work schedule. Without going into details, let’s just say it was a game-changer. Recently I began to approach the problems of no teacher no sangha. Then I discover that my experience is not considered authentic by the same teacher who taught the samatha in the first place. I can’t ignore or discount the experience so until the dust settles I’m looking for other traditions/lineage. Ad hoc “mindfulness” teachings aren’t at the top of the list, I think that’s part of the problem, not the solution. I’m not sectarian, as I have no dog in this fight. My experience with jhana/samadhi is leading me somewhere I just need a road map and some fellow travelers.
If I understand you correctly, you have been doing a form of Samatha meditation for a number of years; you have changed your practice, and found that this change has led to markedly different results in your practice; and now your original teacher is unable to advise on these different results, and indeed claims them to be "inauthentic". Please correct me if I've misunderstood!

It is very difficult to advise on meditation techniques and experiences on-line, as the communication is slow and rather crude for such purposes. Face to face personal instruction is best, but in your case, you have a dilemma. Going back to your original teacher would certainly solve the problem, but would mean that your experiences are discounted and labelled as "inauthentic". But you might want to consider this option, as there are indeed some spectacular effects that arise in meditation which are not particularly helpful. In addition, a good solid grounding in Samatha is always useful, and some people just keep going for years like this and thereby develop a very useful practice.

On the other hand, if you want to explore the "game-changing" aspects of the bare attention and wakefulness, you might want to look for a teacher who can accommodate those and advise on them. It's difficult to know where to look for such a teacher, but one approach would be to contact a teacher who you think might be helpful and open-minded, and lay all your cards on the table. Explain to him/her what has happened, and see if they are prepared to offer a way forward.

SarathW
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by SarathW » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:59 pm

My suggestion is to learn Theravada Sutta Jhana and compare your experience to it.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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DooDoot
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by DooDoot » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:11 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:14 pm
My experience with jhana/samadhi is leading me somewhere I just need a road map and some fellow travelers.
Hi SWK

According to the suttas, in jhana, all of the five hindrances have disappeared, including the hindrance of doubt. Since there appears to be many doubts in your post, it appears likely your mind did not reach jhana.

Regards

SunWuKong
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:59 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:11 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:14 pm
My experience with jhana/samadhi is leading me somewhere I just need a road map and some fellow travelers.
Hi SWK

According to the suttas, in jhana, all of the five hindrances have disappeared, including the hindrance of doubt. Since there appears to be many doubts in your post, it appears likely your mind did not reach jhana.

Regards
I have no doubts concerning the validity and truth of the Dhamma. Isn't that what it says?

SunWuKong
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:02 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:30 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:14 pm
So, as you may or may not know, Anapanasati, Satipatthana, samatha, Vipassana are taught in Theraveda, Mahāyāna, and Vajrayana programs. So what I was taught in the mindfulness practices in Thich Nhat Hanhs organization was simply samatha, and after about ten years of doing it I took it out and wondered if it needed fixing. I decided it needed more bare attention and wakefulness. And this was the result: strange things started happening. Didn’t know what it was. But I knew what it seemed like so I started searching online. It took s few months to piece together but it had something to do with samadhi and jhana. At first it was great but at the same time I didn’t have support from teacher or sangha due to my job and work schedule. Without going into details, let’s just say it was a game-changer. Recently I began to approach the problems of no teacher no sangha. Then I discover that my experience is not considered authentic by the same teacher who taught the samatha in the first place. I can’t ignore or discount the experience so until the dust settles I’m looking for other traditions/lineage. Ad hoc “mindfulness” teachings aren’t at the top of the list, I think that’s part of the problem, not the solution. I’m not sectarian, as I have no dog in this fight. My experience with jhana/samadhi is leading me somewhere I just need a road map and some fellow travelers.
If I understand you correctly, you have been doing a form of Samatha meditation for a number of years; you have changed your practice, and found that this change has led to markedly different results in your practice; and now your original teacher is unable to advise on these different results, and indeed claims them to be "inauthentic". Please correct me if I've misunderstood!

It is very difficult to advise on meditation techniques and experiences on-line, as the communication is slow and rather crude for such purposes. Face to face personal instruction is best, but in your case, you have a dilemma. Going back to your original teacher would certainly solve the problem, but would mean that your experiences are discounted and labelled as "inauthentic". But you might want to consider this option, as there are indeed some spectacular effects that arise in meditation which are not particularly helpful. In addition, a good solid grounding in Samatha is always useful, and some people just keep going for years like this and thereby develop a very useful practice.

On the other hand, if you want to explore the "game-changing" aspects of the bare attention and wakefulness, you might want to look for a teacher who can accommodate those and advise on them. It's difficult to know where to look for such a teacher, but one approach would be to contact a teacher who you think might be helpful and open-minded, and lay all your cards on the table. Explain to him/her what has happened, and see if they are prepared to offer a way forward.
Thanks, thats a good plan

SunWuKong
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:11 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:59 pm
DooDoot wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:11 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:14 pm
My experience with jhana/samadhi is leading me somewhere I just need a road map and some fellow travelers.
Hi SWK

According to the suttas, in jhana, all of the five hindrances have disappeared, including the hindrance of doubt. Since there appears to be many doubts in your post, it appears likely your mind did not reach jhana.

Regards
I have no doubts concerning the validity and truth of the Dhamma. Isn't that what it says?
"Finally, the hindrance of doubt (vicikiccha) is explained as uncertainty with regard to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha and the training." Bhante Gunaratana
Bhikku Thanisarro say about the same.
If it's all the same, I could live alone as a hermit, but I'd still have Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, as well as Teacher? But that's a lot of unnecessary trouble. Best left alone.

SunWuKong
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:32 pm

SarathW wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:59 pm
My suggestion is to learn Theravada Sutta Jhana and compare your experience to it.
Good. I don't spend much time surveying the landscape as far as who is teaching what. But fortunately there's quite a wide selection of Theravada teachers around this city. What's the distinction between "Sutta Jhana" and other jhana practices?

SarathW
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by SarathW » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:26 pm

The way I understand the Sutta Jhana mainly explain if four stages.
Abhidhamma Jhana explain it five stages.
Basically there is no mark difference in them.
When I say Sutta Jhana what I meant was to follow the description is Sutta.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

SunWuKong
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:36 pm

Then again, i could always be wrong. It's happened before. :buddha1:

paul
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by paul » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:37 pm

You have an Asian mind and so have a natural facility with jhana which is a great advantage, but unfortunately has the downside of making the practitioner overlook or disparage vipassana; this is one of the dangers recognised in the path and represents an imbalance in the faculties where tranquility is in excess of wisdom, resulting in a practice which does not accord with the Theravada path of eradicating the defilements rather than just suppressing them. The practitioner must put jhana to one side for the time being and begin a study of vipassana from the ground up, from “Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization”, by Ven. Analayo, as the statements you make about the subject lack knowledge.
With the availability of access to the best Theravada minds on the internet (Bikkhu Bodhi, Ven. Analayo, Thanissaro Bikkhu), progress of independent study is accelerated using those sources and the need for a personal teacher has been superseded. The main real world experience the practitioner should aim for is investigation of dhamma principles in events of daily life.
Last edited by paul on Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SunWuKong
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by SunWuKong » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:14 am

SarathW wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:26 pm
The way I understand the Sutta Jhana mainly explain if four stages.
Abhidhamma Jhana explain it five stages.
Basically there is no mark difference in them.
When I say Sutta Jhana what I meant was to follow the description is Sutta.
Okay - were I was at during Rains Retreat in 2009 - pīti & sukha, sometimes cittass'ekaggatā, then one one or two occasions all these dropped away leaving only upekkhii-sati-piirisuddhl. Recently 2017-2018 pīti & sukha typically, but ekaggata less frequent, upekkhii - not yet. The difference being in 2009 i was applying bare knuckles attention, which i don't do now. The years in between were erroneously wasted thinking time wasn't of the essence.

Basing all this on the handy Leigh Brasington chart. I find the word jhana and samadhi too general to deal with but invariably its usefully descriptive in some odd way, but less precise. So far I'm only describing my experiences on the zafu, while meditating. There's more, but its not analytical, too subjective.

The other oddity - in 2009 i wasn't even observing 5 precepts. A moral life by Christian standards, but now, 2018, i find not observing 5 Precepts too difficult, more difficult than observing them. My main needs are locating teachings and teachers compatible with life experience which i can, and won't try to change. :anjali:

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DooDoot
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by DooDoot » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:21 am

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:11 pm
Finally, the hindrance of doubt (vicikiccha) is explained as uncertainty with regard to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha and the training." Bhante Gunaratana
Doubt has many contexts in the suttas. Gunaratana is referring to "fetter" (samyojana). I was referring to "hindrance" (nivarana). As I suggested, when the mind reaches jhana, it should know without any doubt. In other words, no teacher should be required.
Abandoning the Hindrances

Endowed with this noble aggregate of virtue, this noble restraint over the sense faculties, this noble mindfulness & alertness, he seeks out a secluded dwelling: a wilderness, the shade of a tree, a mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a forest grove, the open air, a heap of straw. After his meal, returning from his alms round, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body erect, and brings mindfulness to the fore.

Abandoning covetousness with regard to the world, he dwells with an awareness devoid of covetousness. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning ill will & anger, he dwells with an awareness devoid of ill will, sympathetic with the welfare of all living beings. He cleanses his mind of ill will & anger. Abandoning sloth & drowsiness, he dwells with an awareness devoid of sloth & drowsiness, mindful, alert, percipient of light. He cleanses his mind of sloth & drowsiness. Abandoning restlessness & anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness & anxiety. Abandoning uncertainty, he dwells having crossed over uncertainty, with no perplexity with regard to skillful mental qualities. He cleanses his mind of uncertainty.

The Four Jhānas
Having abandoned these five hindrances — imperfections of awareness that weaken discernment — then, quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation.

"With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters and remains in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance (self-confidence).

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
:alien:
SunWuKong wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:14 am
Okay - were I was at during Rains Retreat in 2009 - pīti & sukha, sometimes cittass'ekaggatā, then one one or two occasions all these dropped away leaving only upekkhii-sati-piirisuddhl. Recently 2017-2018 pīti & sukha typically, but ekaggata less frequent, upekkhii - not yet. The difference being in 2009 i was applying bare knuckles attention, which i don't do now. The years in between were erroneously wasted thinking time wasn't of the essence.
Not every experience of piti & sukha is jhana. The primary characteristic of jhana is silence or the suspension of thought & speech. When real jhana is attained, there is obviously no tendency to talk about it.
SunWuKong wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:14 am
Basing all this on the handy Leigh Brasington chart.
Leigh Brasington descriptions of jhana often don't match with experiences of the most basic meditators. Leigh Brasington looks for feelings to volitionally concoct.
SunWuKong wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:14 am
The other oddity - in 2009 i wasn't even observing 5 precepts. A moral life by Christian standards, but now, 2018, i find not observing 5 Precepts too difficult, more difficult than observing them. My main needs are locating teachings and teachers compatible with life experience which i can, and won't try to change.
I imagine if jhana was reached, not only would not following the five precepts be difficult, but talking would be difficult.
For one who has attained the first jhana, speech has ceased.

https://suttacentral.net/en/sn36.11
:candle:
SunWuKong wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:14 am
...cittass'ekaggatā...
Maybe it would be useful if you described in more detail what cittass'ekaggatā is?

SarathW
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by SarathW » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:45 am

Leigh Brasington descriptions of jhana
I could not find any problem with LB's teaching according to the following chart.

http://the-wanderling.com/jhana_factors.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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DooDoot
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Re: My experience with jhana and samadhi, comments welcome

Post by DooDoot » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:05 am

SarathW wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:45 am
I could not find any problem with LB's teaching according to the following chart.

http://the-wanderling.com/jhana_factors.html
The words in the chart may be OK but the experiences LB's describes (elsewhere) may not match what these words really mean. This is why I suggested to SunWuKong to describe in detail the experience he/she is imputing the words 'cittaekaggata' upon.

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