Digity wrote: alan... wrote:
Digity wrote:I'd forget Jhana for now. Just meditate...states of Jhana may just arise naturally.
well i can enter the first jhana about 80% of the time. the only thing that stops me is sloth and torpor and as long as i'm rested i don't have that problem. considering it's an extremely important part of the dhamma i don't think i'll be forgetting it any time soon. also before reading about how to enter jhana i meditated for six years and had no naturally arising jhana. perhaps some jhanic factors but without knowledge of what they were or how to stabilize them and keep focus it never lead anywhere.
How would you describe your experience with first jhana? I don't have much experience with them. Are you able to just focus and experience feelings of bliss? Do you achieve it through directing your thoughts, focus in that area?
I'm no expert in jhana or meditation...I've only started practice meditation serious this past year, so you shouldn't necessarily listen to me. I just thought maybe you were caught up on "jhanas" and needed to focus elsewhere in your meditation.
i meditated zen for six years. so basically i was keeping myself in thoughtless alertness with eyes wide open for forty minutes or so at a time. then i read about jhana and how if you close your eyes you will see a nimitta which is like a ball of light. then if you keep it up that nimitta will envelope your mind and you will experience the first jhana which is great bliss. this worked for me a few times. then i read about getting into access concentration (basically focused concentration where thoughts come and go very easily or not at all) and then switching to a pleasant bodily sensation as your object of mindfulness. you just watch the pleasant feeling and do nothing else and it grows until you're in the first jhana. this worked a couple of times too. now i do both, i get into access, see the nimitta or not, then i pick a pleasant sensation and am mindful but i keep my breath as well and it turns into jhana, boundless bliss that gets stronger the longer you maintain it. consciousness becomes sharp and you see only the inside of your mind or the nimitta or whatever. for me it's just a soft red mixed with white. thoughts are usually about the experience and nothing else. like "this feels great" or "how long have i been in this jhana?" stuff like that as opposed to "what is on tv later?" "what am i having for dinner?".
it's utter bliss. then if you focus even more on the breath you can leave all thought behind, joy and bliss intensifies and you enter the second jhana. beyond that i don't know. i may have entered the third and forth but i'm not sure. however i have little problem entering the first.
none of this has been hard for me but that's probably due to practicing the prerequisite stage for six years! normally people probably practice that stage for a month or so or however long their patience allows before they start trying to enter jhana. if they're not ready this could lead to a lot of confusion. like thinking happy thoughts and thinking that's jhana when really you aren't even in access concentration yet or other issues.
with me i honed the access concentration skill down to where it is second nature. it was a miserable six years as well because i didn't know what i was doing! zen teaches mindfulness of breathing basically and then you open into shikantaza or silent illumination which is very similar to entering access concentration and then practicing vipassana instead of jhana. only i didn't know about shikantaza or silent illumination!!! so i just honed access for years and years waiting for realization that would never come since that's not how it works. then i discovered jhana and slid right in no problem. i think it took about a month to get near the first jhana, another three months to broach it's outer edges fairly well, and then after ten months or so or maybe a year i was deeply inside the heart of the jhana. now i can enter it within about twenty minutes or so.