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Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:12 pm
by Individual
What do they say about cultivating and maintaining the first jhana, in Vipassana and Suttanta?

I am not confused about the entry into the first jhana, only about how it can re-arise and be maintained once it has arisen.

Would you agree:
  • A relaxed, undisturbed mind and environment is a prerequisite to entry.
  • If one desires for it to arise or is averse to its arising, it will not arise. (So, allow it to arise.)
  • Once it has arisen, if you desire for it to stay or are averse to its leaving, it will leave. (So, when it has arisen, allow it to stay or leave.)
  • If you engage in conceptual proliferation, it will not arise. If it has already arisen, conceptual proliferation will cause it to leave. (So, pay attention to it and do not allow the mind to wander aimlessly, not even on thoughts of "Buddhism" and "helping other people".)
  • Once having entered the first jhana, contrary to the prerequisite for entry, one's environment should be irrelevant to its maintenance. The factors of the first jhana should be independent of the surrounding environment. So, it is an inner sense of happiness and intelligence born of concentration, independent of circumstances. Otherwise, it is not jhana at all.

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:02 am
by Sobeh
Sound is a thorn for the first jhana, and I recall a Sutta in the Majjhima about a monk who told Ananda to keep the monks quiet because that monk was unable to enter jhana, on account of the sound.

As for afterward, there's a Sutta about the Buddha being able to sit alongside a parade procession and not notice it, but I always assumed that apart from the sammasamadhi formula, jhana-range was an imponderable.

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:36 am
by Individual
Sobeh wrote:Sound is a thorn for the first jhana, and I recall a Sutta in the Majjhima about a monk who told Ananda to keep the monks quiet because that monk was unable to enter jhana, on account of the sound.

As for afterward, there's a Sutta about the Buddha being able to sit alongside a parade procession and not notice it, but I always assumed that apart from the sammasamadhi formula, jhana-range was an imponderable.
This is helpful. Thank you. :)

Pondering jhana seems vital to its understanding.

I think what's meant by jhana-range as an imponderable is something like, "How much samadhi can I have?" or "How much samadhi do Arahants have?" or "What's it like to have really good samadhi?" or "What's the greatest amount of jhana one can have, and why can't there be anymore?"

It is aimless speculation and fantasizing about the depth of jhana, rather than the practice and its benefit.

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:14 am
by Ytrog
If you have thoughts, then it isn't jhana.

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:54 am
by cooran
Hello Individual, all,

Perhaps chapter 3 may be of assistance? -
The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation - by Henepola Gunaratana
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el351.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:13 am
by Paññāsikhara
Individual wrote:What do they say about cultivating and maintaining the first jhana, in Vipassana and Suttanta?

I am not confused about the entry into the first jhana, only about how it can re-arise and be maintained once it has arisen.

Would you agree:
  • A relaxed, undisturbed mind and environment is a prerequisite to entry.
  • If one desires for it to arise or is averse to its arising, it will not arise. (So, allow it to arise.)
  • Once it has arisen, if you desire for it to stay or are averse to its leaving, it will leave. (So, when it has arisen, allow it to stay or leave.)
  • If you engage in conceptual proliferation, it will not arise. If it has already arisen, conceptual proliferation will cause it to leave. (So, pay attention to it and do not allow the mind to wander aimlessly, not even on thoughts of "Buddhism" and "helping other people".)
  • Once having entered the first jhana, contrary to the prerequisite for entry, one's environment should be irrelevant to its maintenance. The factors of the first jhana should be independent of the surrounding environment. So, it is an inner sense of happiness and intelligence born of concentration, independent of circumstances. Otherwise, it is not jhana at all.
1. Of course, the mind needs to be calm, and an undisturbed environment is conducive. For those proficient, the environment will be less important.
2. Depends exactly what one means by desire or aversion. One needs to be rid of sensual level desire and aversion, but higher forms of wanting to reach it may not be that restricting.
3. Again, depends on what one means by desire or aversion. One can desire for it to stay, and it won't necessarily cause it to be lost. That is form level desire, not sensual level desire.
4. If you mean "prapanca", then it depends on the level of depth of that. There is very subtle prapanca which won't be much of a problem. However, a lot of discursive thinking will be a disruption.
5. Changes in environment will influence it, eg. sharp sudden loud noise. The factors are depend on a number of things. As one goes deeper, though, and is more proficient, these become less of a problem, and it will be more voluntary. Not sure what you mean by "intelligence" at the end.

The question of whether or not "jhana" is a "thing" is an interesting matter. Is it a case of generating various conditions such that jhana actually "arises", ie. jhana itself is something other than the jhana factors; or is the term "jhana" just a name for the presence of all those factors together. Personally, I go for the latter, but many would disagree.

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:14 am
by Paññāsikhara
Ytrog wrote:If you have thoughts, then it isn't jhana.
Depends on what one means by "thoughts", exactly.
Vitakka and vicAra are both factors in the first jhAna, for instance.

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:20 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings,

Sound is a thorn indeed... I was just trying to meditate earlier, but the dogs kept on sniffling, scratching, yelping, shaking themselves, eating etc.

Normally, such things would barely register.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:32 am
by tiltbillings
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Sound is a thorn indeed... I was just trying to meditate earlier, but the dogs kept on sniffling, scratching, yelping, shaking themselves, eating etc.

Normally, such things would barely register.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Ah, just sounds, arising and falling...oh, wait, never mind; that is vipassana practice.

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:17 am
by Individual
cooran wrote:Hello Individual, all,

Perhaps chapter 3 may be of assistance? -
The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation - by Henepola Gunaratana
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el351.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
Thank you. :)

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:07 pm
by Nyana
Hi Individual & all,

These teachings by Ven. Gunaratana may also be helpful.

What is samatha-vipassanā? (Pt 1):



What is samatha-vipassanā? (Pt 2):



Why do some teachers warn against practicing jhāna-s?



What are the benefits of practicing jhāna-s? (Pt 1):



What are the benefits of practicing jhāna-s? (Pt 2):



All the best,

Geoff

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:07 pm
by Ytrog
Ajahn Brahm dedicated an entire book to the achieving and developing of jhana. You might want to check it out.

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:49 am
by Individual
I watched the videos. They were nice. I think I will visit the Bhavana Society in West Virginia soon.

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 4:27 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Sound is a thorn indeed... I was just trying to meditate earlier, but the dogs kept on sniffling, scratching, yelping, shaking themselves, eating etc.
Ah, just sounds, arising and falling...oh, wait, never mind; that is vipassana practice.
Indeed... with a stronger platform of calm, they could have been an effective object for reviewing the three characteristics of sense-objects... much like the neighbour's hedge-trimmer was this morning.

The difference was that this morning I had already obtained a degree of calm first, whereas the other day I had not.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: Questions about the first jhana

Posted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:11 am
by IanAnd
Individual wrote:I watched the videos. They were nice. I think I will visit the Bhavana Society in West Virginia soon.
Bhante G is the real deal. An excellent resource. Sadly, too many of these "resources" are near to dying off. (Ven. K. Nanananda, I hear, is not in too good of health.) All the more incentive for the rest of us to get busy and not misuse our time in practice.

One can tell, even from these few videos, that the Bhante knows what he's talking about. He speaks openly and unashamedly from his experience. Anyone who has "been there" knows that the following is an accurate description of absorption. His description here makes clear that jhana is not some kind of "altered state of consciousness" such as a trance or some such, but rather a clear, bright, calm, concentrated, and focused state of mind once discursive (and wandering) thought is stilled.
Henepola Gunaratana wrote:Biggest advantage of jhana is getting your mind clear and focused. Focused on the deepest, the most subtle, finest states of mind and the mental content. . . . Concentrated mind, with mindfulness, can experience them in such a deep level. That is the advantage for having jhanic attainment.

When you attain jhana you don't simply become like a vegetable. Mind is still very, very powerfully dynamic. Mind is dynamic. It never stops its dynamic nature. In this dynamic state of mind, there are many mental factors. Attention is there. Mindfulness is there. Equanimity is there. Lovingfriendliness is there. Compassion is there. Determination is there. Effort is there. All these are mental factors. They don't die. And they rather become strong, very powerful, and clear. That is what happens when you are in jhana.