Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

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zan
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Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by zan » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:25 pm

For simplicity please consider only the Visuddhimagga and commentaries definitions of jhana and vipassana for this topic.

Being that vipassana is actively watching things rise and fall and jhana is being completely absorbed in one's meditation object/nimitta, does getting into the habit of always watching every little moment rise and fall make it more difficult to enter and maintain jhana?

Also, does it make jhana different? For example instead of being one pointedly absorbed and experiencing bliss and pleasure in the second jhana, does one constantly see the rise and fall of one's mind moments as well while being absorbed? Or are these contradictions and one would not see rising and falling during jhana and would only see them before and after jhana but not during?

Thank you.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

SarathW
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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by SarathW » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:28 pm

Vipassana leads to Arahattaphala Samadhi.
Vipassana also lead to absorption if you take only one object for your Vipassana.
In that case Vipassna is termed as access concentration.
Samatha and Vipassana are overlapping and hard to separate.
However you know whether you are in Samatha or Vipassana state.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 6667&hilit
Last edited by SarathW on Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Caodemarte
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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:36 pm

zan wrote: Also, does it make jhana different? For example instead of being one pointedly absorbed and experiencing bliss and pleasure in the second jhana, does one constantly see the rise and fall of one's mind moments as well while being absorbed? Or are these contradictions and one would not see rising and falling during jhana and would only see them before and after jhana but not during?
If one is completely absorbed in seeing the rise and fall the mind's movements, including the rise/fall of wholesome joy, does this not lead to jhana? Or have I misunderstood?

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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:25 am

zan wrote: Being that vipassana is actively watching things rise and fall and jhana is being completely absorbed in one's meditation object/nimitta, does getting into the habit of always watching every little moment rise and fall make it more difficult to enter and maintain jhana?
Does it make it more difficult? No. Consider two modes of vehicle transport, riding a motorcycle and driving a car.
Being an excellent motorcycle rider does not make you a poor car driver, and vice versa.
Or baking cakes really well, does not mean you will find it more difficult to cook a bolognaise.

However, there can be difficulty if you are not clear which meditation you are doing, and for what purpose.

zan
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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by zan » Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:07 am

Bhante Lucky wrote:
zan wrote: Being that vipassana is actively watching things rise and fall and jhana is being completely absorbed in one's meditation object/nimitta, does getting into the habit of always watching every little moment rise and fall make it more difficult to enter and maintain jhana?
Does it make it more difficult? No. Consider two modes of vehicle transport, riding a motorcycle and driving a car.
Being an excellent motorcycle rider does not make you a poor car driver, and vice versa.
Or baking cakes really well, does not mean you will find it more difficult to cook a bolognaise.

However, there can be difficulty if you are not clear which meditation you are doing, and for what purpose.
Thank you so much for the explanation.

I think I am clear in which I am doing for which purpose but I am, despite many years of practice, still a beginner, I will try to explain: I do jhana for calm and tranquility in order to lessen grasping and aversion and suppress the hindrances which in turn makes mindfulness and vipassana stronger and easier. When I do vipassana meditation when coming out of jhana it is to see the impermanence of all things, starting with the jhana factors as they fade away. When I do just vipassana it is to see impermanence, suffering and not self in all things.

Does this sound like I am clear or not?

Could you elaborate further on the question of whether or not it makes it different please? To my knowledge, the Visuddhimagga jhanas are so specific and such fixed states that there is no way they could be different. If one did jhana for fifty years and then got very good at vipassana and then did jhana again it would be necessarily 100% the same as always and, likewise, if one did vipassana for fifty years and then got good at jhana it would be the exact same as if they had only learned only jhana in the first place. If they were different, then they are not jhana. If one is seeing rising and falling of anything at all in a Visuddhimagga jhana or anything is happening except pure bliss, pleasure, one pointedness and the object/nimitta (as in the second jhana) in a constant and unbroken state, then it is not a Visuddhimagga jhana. Is this correct?

I have a very limited understanding, clearly.

I am trying to wrap my head around the concept of getting into the habit of always watching changing mind movements and the difference of being in a fixed jhanic state in which nothing is changing and one is absorbed in pure bliss, pleasure, one pointedness and the object/nimitta (in the case of the second jhana) and whether or not one would involve the other.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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tiltbillings
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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:30 am

zan wrote:
I am trying to wrap my head around the concept of getting into the habit of always watching changing mind movements and the difference of being in a fixed jhanic state in which nothing is changing and one is absorbed in pure bliss, pleasure, one pointedness and the object/nimitta (in the case of the second jhana) and whether or not one would involve the other.
And what would the point be of "being in a fixed jhanic state in which nothing is changing and one is absorbed in pure bliss, pleasure, one pointedness and the object/nimitta?"

Take a listen to this talk. Also get hold of Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas by Leigh Brasington.

To answer your question doing vipassana practice can make doing jhana, even the "fixed jhanic state in which nothing is changing and one is absorbed in pure bliss, pleasure, one pointedness and the object/nimitta," easier.

Also, of interest and of use may be: The Art and Skill of Buddhist Meditation: Mindfulness, Concentration, and Insight by Richard Shankman.

Here are the table of contents to the two books. These books will likely address the questions you have, and then some. This stuff takes work both to do and to understand. Both these men are experienced and well regarded teachers, and these books will likely give the framework with which to approach the jhana practice. I would also recommend Joseph Goldstein's book: Mindfulness for understanding vipassana practice.
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>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by robertk » Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:51 am

zan wrote:For simplicity please consider only the Visuddhimagga and commentaries definitions of jhana and vipassana for this topic.

Being that vipassana is actively watching things rise and fall and jhana is being completely absorbed in one's meditation object/nimitta, does getting into the habit of always watching every little moment rise and fall make it more difficult to enter and maintain jhana?

Also, does it make jhana different? For example instead of being one pointedly absorbed and experiencing bliss and pleasure in the second jhana, does one constantly see the rise and fall of one's mind moments as well while being absorbed? Or are these contradictions and one would not see rising and falling during jhana and would only see them before and after jhana but not during?

Thank you.
'actively watching rise and fall' doesn't sound like vipassana.


Also it is impossible to be aware in the vipassana sense while in mundane jhana.However, for one who has mastered jhana - very unlikely in this day- then jhana is simply another daily occurrence and it can be object of insight after exiting jhana.

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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by cjmacie » Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:17 am

zan wrote:...When I do vipassana meditation when coming out of jhana it is to see the impermanence of all things, starting with the jhana factors as they fade away. When I do just vipassana it is to see impermanence, suffering and not self in all things...
That's clear and accurate, understanding jhana as mental stillness of absorption – the mind itself not actively moving.
If one did jhana for fifty years and then got very good at vipassana and then did jhana again it would be necessarily 100% the same as always...

Jhana has a distinctive quality ("fixed" absorption), which persists, but with variations of level and intensity according to practice and mastery, which is not always the same (for different individuals and at different times).
... the habit of always watching changing mind movements and the difference of being in a fixed jhanic state in which nothing is changing and one is absorbed in pure bliss, pleasure, one pointedness and the object/nimitta (in the case of the second jhana) and whether or not one would involve the other.
Sequential rather than simultaneous "involvement". For instance the Pa Auk Sayadaw (famous for emphasis on developing jhana mastery, less famous for then using it, as a principle practice, mahadhatu/elements vipassana) teaches, at more advanced stages, developing mastery at entering and exiting jhana very rapidly to alternate with active vipassana. This, I believe, resembles Thanissaro's teaching of concentrating more and more deeply, alternating with active examining (he says "evaluating") of the nature of the mind in concentration.

The stilled mind (jhana) is a prime object of (reflective, afterwards) vipassana because against the stillness, "disturbance" / dukkha is more easily discernible to be worked-on. Compare the process outlined in MN-121 of progressing through jhanic levels by cultivating awareness of the presence and absence (sunnata – the theme of the sutta) of "disturbance". Also Sariputta's process in MN-111 of applying insight to the factors of jhana, after exiting, as his particular path of achieving liberation.

The above has to do with the path of the practitioner of "samadhi as vehicle", and Mahasi Sayadaw's teaching is notable for concentrating on outlining the alternative (but no less effective) practice with "vipassana as vehicle" – to use the terms he uses. Note Mahasi in no way puts-down jhana practice – and I have cause to believe that many monks in his lineage are quite proficient at it – but rather develops and teaches the alternative method as s/t more suitable, accessible for people in modern life where practicing seclusion and stillness can be problematic.

Mahasi's method uses "noting" (gnosis-type direct knowing), as well as mahadhatu-element vipassana (just like in the Pa Auk method) to develop insight and accompanying concentration – vipassana khanika samadhi – which, at advanced stages, can become just as intense as jhana- or appana-samadhi. BUT they are not the same -- he is very clear about that. The s/w problematic term "vipassana jhana" comes from his "successor" U. Pandita Sayadaw, and gets taken-up and elaborated more by Western interpreters – notably the IMS school (as in the dharma-talk that tiltbillings pointed out), and the "pragmatic" dharma school of Hamilton, Folk, Ingram, et al.
tiltbillings wrote:To answer your question doing vipassana practice can make doing jhana... easier.
True. And, conversely, developing the path first with jhana mastery, makes vipassana easier, according to which "vehicle" an individual finds best suited.

zan
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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by zan » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:06 pm

Thank you. That answers that question for me. I will look into them.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:13 pm

This talk by Ven Aggacitta Bhikkhu on Samatha and Vipassanā may be helpful.

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zan
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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by zan » Wed Sep 21, 2016 6:25 pm

Thank you so much for all the helpful information.

I'm a slow learner and I appreciate all of your patience.

So according to the Visuddhimagga, jhana is a fixed state of absorption that has no room for change either in practice or definition, is this right? The mind is still while in jhana and nothing changes, rises or falls, and one is not aware of anything but the immediate jhana factors which appear as constant, correct?

And vipassana is not fixed in one pointedness and one is noting and things rise and fall?

Finally, what about daily life? If one were very good at vipassana and always noting and was trying to keep their mind on one task only, like pouring an expensive soup, made with mass quantities of saffron (the most expensive spice in the world), from a big pot into a bottle with a small mouth would one be habitually and automatically seeing the event as a bunch of moments rising and falling and also noting everything else going on in ones awareness? Or would one be able to just be completely, silently focused on the task, without noticing anything else at all?

For example the goal would be laser focus, nothing but pouring the soup, not even noting "Pouring, pouring." just total absorption in the event.

But if one has gotten good at vipassana and has good habits for noting and seeing things as individual moments, would one have difficulty in focusing and end up more like: "Pouring, distracted, hearing, seeing, pouring, standing, standing, pouring, frustration, seeing, pouring, etc."? All the while trying to forget noting and just focus on the soup?

Even if one could easily stop noting and focus on the soup only would it be the same as for a regular person who has great focus in that it would just be pouring soup and nothing else, or would it be seeing the soup as a bunch of little moments rising and falling but without noting?

Basically, does being good at vipassana make it difficult or impossible to see things as we normally do? Flawed as our normal way of seeing is, it sometimes has usefulness.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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tiltbillings
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Re: Does practicing vipassana meditation make jhana more difficult or different?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:20 pm

zan wrote:. . .
You are making something of a problem for yourself by imagining what practice is to be like, or what you want it to be like. You might, rather, find it far more fruitful, in terms of practice, in dealing with the here-and-now and how the practice actually unfolds instead worrying about, imagining about, what you would like the practice be.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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