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I have been practicing meditation for quite a long time now and sadly I haven't entered any jhana(which I want to enter).

I think the reason for me not progressing is because I switch between methods of meditation a lot, for example if I'm practicing meditation where I simply see my mind wandering and after a week or so I stop and look for another method, like focusing on nostrils and same happens for a week and then I start to look my muscles moving while breathing(I do that because I think I'm not good at this, maybe another one will work), as a result I don't get anywhere and day by day my faith that meditation is helpful gets less and less.

I don't want to do that! But I simply can't get any sort of guarantee that I am practicing right mindfulness.

So my questions:

1) Is this the reason I'm not progressing? Do I have to choose a method and stick to it, when my mind tells me to change?

2) While doing routine work, do I have to do work while being mindful or stick to my meditation object(nostrils, these days :((()? or being mindful and having focus on meditation object will have same effect?

  • perhaps joining a meditation retreat might help, one whose theme is jhana, were you are all day dedicated to the practice in silence for many days and there's an experienced teacher guiding the retreat, giving instructions and answering questions. – Thiago Feb 20 '18 at 1:58
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Few suggestion I can give.

  1. Don’t set the goal to get Jhana, No goal at all.
  2. Don’t change the methods, Every methods was right it just a tool make you focus.
  3. Do consistently. At least once a day and same time of the day.
  4. Do anytime when you regcognize, Not just sit and shut your eyes.
  5. Do when sleep until last moment you slept and do at very first moment you wakeup. This is an indicator that your meditation is progress. If you can continue the meditate from slept this indicate you are likely near Jhana.

Jhana is nothing special. It's a state you can really control your concentration.

At initial step it's quite hard for people who are high skeptic or thoughtful with everything.

You don't need to take many hours everyday to sit and meditate.

You should try to take every seconds as meditate without distracting your work life.

Do until familiar then you reach Jhana.

Even it take 10 years still worth.

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There's a nice online guide by Leigh Brasington called "Entering the Jhanas". It teaches how to enter the first jhana. Leigh Brasington studied under Ayya Khema and Jack Kornfield. Do take a look at this guide and read it completely. I think it will answer your questions satisfactorily.

Leigh Brasington also wrote a book called "Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas".

Another book on this subject is "Practicing the Jhanas: Traditional Concentration Meditation as Presented by the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw" by Stephen Snyder and Tina Rasmussen.

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I have been practicing meditation for quite a long time now and sadly I haven't entered any jhana

Jhana is a supernormal state. Very few people enter real jhana. Only Ajahn Brahm provides detailed teachings on real jhana.

(which I want to enter).

'Wanting' is the obstacle to jhana. The Buddha taught in SN 48.10 that jhana is reached by making 'letting go' the meditation object.

I think the reason for me not progressing is because I switch between methods of meditation a lot, for example if I'm practicing meditation where I simply see my mind wandering and after a week

If the mind is still wandering, it is pointless to think about reaching jhana. To reach jhana, the mind must have no wandering at all & even then it may take months of full-time practise to reach jhana.

**or so I stop and look for another method, like focusing on nostrils and same happens for a week and then I start to look my muscles moving while breathing (I do that because I think I'm not good at this, maybe another one will work), as a result I don't get anywhere and **

To reach jhana, the mind must not have any of the five hindrances. Then, if that is so, the mind must let go and give up these techniques. The only way to jhana the Buddha taught was 'letting go'.

day by day my faith that meditation is helpful gets less and less.

It appears you have wrong faith. Right faith in Buddhism is jhana is a supernormal state attained by extremely Noble & Virtuous Individuals, such as the Noble Sangha, who put supernormal effort & sacrifice into their practise.

It sounds like your want for jhana is due to internet or consumerist advertising. Jhana is not like going to the department store to buy a fancy I-Phone or believing in Jesus for Eternal Life.

I don't want to do that! But I simply can't get any sort of guarantee that I am practicing right mindfulness.

Wanting is the opposite of Buddhist practise. To reach jhana, there must be no hindrances, such as sexual desire & fear.

1) Is this the reason I'm not progressing? Do I have to choose a method and stick to it, when my mind tells me to change?

The mind must be pure to reach jhana; particularly without sexual desire & sexual activity.

2) While doing routine work, do I have to do work while being mindful or stick to my meditation object(nostrils, these days :((()? or being mindful and having focus on meditation object will have same effect?

To reach jhana, full-time practise is required, such as meditating for 8 hours per day.

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  • Thank you for comprehensive answer and it is quite sad :p but I think you misunderstood my second question. It is about general practice, do I have to be mindful about my work or I have to focus on one single thing(nostrils in this case)? – user5954246 Feb 19 '18 at 11:14
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    Jhana is not reached by watching nostrils but by making the mind clear. I suggest to read Ajahn Brahm's book: dhammaloka.org.au/files/pdf/… Therefore when doing your general work, you should aim for a clear still mind; a mind that is open & awake but free from craving & hindrances. – Dhammadhatu Feb 19 '18 at 11:19
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I think first of all you have to meet a Buddhist monk, someone who really practices meditation and will talk about your problem. Because as far as I know "kamatahan" is given by the monks according to a person's behavior, character etc. If you don't follow the correct path you won't be able to succeed.

Please keep in mind that "jhana", as you called it, doesn't exist forever though you achieve the goal. It's a temporary state, but way better than being usual. So make effort correctly.

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This is not how it works. It's not that you sit, sit and then boom! and you suddenly enter Jhana.

Jhana is something you deliberately do. And in order to do it you need to know what exactly to cultivate.

The first Jhana is the self-generated state of joy, as simple as that. You generate it by thinking about your accomplishments in Sila (dharmic discipline). You go over your (hopefully) perfect mind qualities and that gives you energy to enter the first Jhana.

From this, obviously, it becomes clear that you need to practice pure mind in real life, so you have something to review for the first Jhana.

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  • Do I have to get rid of five hindrances first? – user5954246 Mar 30 '18 at 16:09
  • Not all five, no - that happens at arhanthood. First two, yes, you have to suspend them. They won't be eliminated completely until the root is out, but you can put them on hold. The other three are actually weakened by the very effort of generating the Jhana. – Andrei Volkov Mar 30 '18 at 16:18
  • I believe kamachanda is my main hinderance. Although I have stopped some parts of it, but it doesn't feel like I overcome it to a reasonable level. Do you have any resource or suggestion for overcoming this one? Thank you! – user5954246 Mar 30 '18 at 16:26
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    Well in this context kamachanda refers to the momentary impulses to engage with worldly pursuits and objects, arising during meditation. For example you sit and suddenly want to buy the nice new shoes that you saw the other day. Or you start thinking about renovating your house. When anything like this happens, you just have to let it go. It is as simple as that. Some ancient texts suggest thinking about grim topics like death as an antidote, but in my experience they can just be let go, if you make that determination. Again, we only need to stop them for the duration of meditation for now. – Andrei Volkov Mar 30 '18 at 17:16
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1) Is this the reason I'm not progressing? Do I have to choose a method and stick to it, when my mind tells me to change?

It is good to be consistent, but the most important factor is confidence that you're doing the right thing, regardless of which method you choose.

Check out the "five hindrances"- the list of five tendencies that subside as you approach jhana. They are:

  1. wanting
  2. ill-will
  3. restlessness and worry
  4. sloth and torpor
  5. doubt

The first four will subside (at least a bit) as you sit. But the fifth is hard because you will feel a lot of self-consciousness about sitting and a lot of worry about if your method is correct.

So take note when those doubts arise- don't try to suppress them, just take note- and forgive yourself. An attitude of kindness and forgiveness toward yourself is the key to overcoming doubt.

The fastest way to overcome doubt is to find a teacher who inspires you. It's hard to meet the right one in person, but in the meantime, there are many good teachers who have resources on the web. There are many excellent videos from Ayya Khema on YouTube. Leigh Brasington is very good. Ajahn Brahm is very inspiring but he has an extremely dogmatic and difficult-to-attain definition of jhana that many practicioners don't agree with. Take inspiration from his instructions on how to practice, but tune out his lectures about what is and isn't really jhana - you can decide that sort of thing for yourself later.

2) While doing routine work, do I have to do work while being mindful or stick to my meditation object(nostrils, these days :((()? or being mindful and having focus on meditation object will have same effect?

Don't try to force a classic meditation object while you're doing work (or relating to other people, generally).

Do your work, and just practice coming back to your task every time your mind wanders. If you can slow down mind-wandering and ruminative thinking in your regular life, you will be well set-up to concentrate when you meditate formally.

You'll never be able to make regular life the same as meditation. But the insights from calm and meditation will start to feed back into your regular life.

When you start to feel spontaneous, uncaused, calm happiness and physical comfort while meditating, you are either near, or in, jhana. You may have already experienced this. People are often "better" at meditation than they think they are. Try not to feel bullied by intra-Buddhist arguments about what exactly jhana is, and accept these as signs that your practice is good, and as motivation to keep going. When you have firm confidence within yourself in your practice, then you can start to explore the details of exactly what jhana is.

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The only thing to do is to change your »tendencies«, going from bad tendencies to good tendencies. First you must know what happens in »your world«, which as usual for the dhamma is what you experience. It turns out that you change your tendencies mostly by stopping to associate yourself with people who have the bad tendencies, and you begin to associate yourself with people who have the good tendencies. The concrete advises are at the end.

Once you know what happens in your life, you identify the tendencies which are bad, the ones which are good ; then you refrain from doing again the acts [actions, talks and thinking] which are deemed bad and you pursue the acts which are called good [it turns out that you do not know which tendencies are good since your remain a »normal people«, so you just follow the guidelines of the buddha on what are the good actions ]. It turns out that the principal, if not the only one, source which leads you away from nibanna is mental and not physical. [such as when athletes claim that the limit of their effort is the mind and not the body]

As usual , The beginning is, first, to stop going on the opposite of the path. SO that means to stop caring about what you have always been caring about in all the years you can remember living [since you are not at the stage of nibbanna, you know that whatever you did so far during the few decades of your life has been mediocre at best, if not totally pathetic and stupid. You must be sincere about your skills [you have none since you are miserable] and about the goal you want to reach. So far The only good thing about you, your behavior, your life is that you dislike some of your life and want to reach nibbanna and you have few hours of practice which are not effective according to you].

The usual objects of worry are about comfort, entertainment, the fear of missing out on pleasures and the worry being a good person as thought by people who do not care one bit about reaching a state where they are no longer unhappy once and for all [that is to say that there is nothing else to do after reaching this state of non-unhapinness and there is no dissipation of this new state ever].

The fear about missing out on pleasures is mental and is fed easily by other people who claim that »it would be a pity not to experience this ''happiness''« that is the experience when, let's say, you enjoy a yogurt or be on a cruise with a person you love, or Parachuting and so on.

The worry about comfort and a few other objects of habits is called »biological« by the same persons above, but it is not. It remains mental and you learn later on about managing them [ex: you learn tummo to stop being cold, instead of working to get money, then going shopping, then spending the money on cloths to get you warm, then washing the cloths because they stink, so you need other cloths while the last ones dry and then storing them].

Then the morality from those same toxic people. They claim that you must worry about money, worry about getting a house, worry about attending such event, worry about listening to the people they admire, worry about opinions, worry about who is here and who is not here, worry about the news and so on [it never ends with these people]. This part is also obviously mental.

So far all those worries are fed by living, and worse, listening to those people have bad habits. The first step is then to identify those people, typically by what they claim and what they do [since you do not have access to what they think] and to stay away from them as much as you can. [ex: your friends bugs you off with going to the cinema to watch a movie? you do not follow them, otherwise you would become absorbed in the movie and experience the emotions that the actors try to make you feel. Perhaps if you were skillful at attending to the senses, you could go, but it turns out that once you are good at it, you would not want to go]

Once you stop cognizing about all those objects fed by those people, there is not much to do in your daily life. All those intellectual activities that so many people praise are exactly what must not be pursued. The daily life will be about getting the money that a few people demand from you, to carry out the tasks that a few people demand from you, and more intimately, it will be about food and cleaning the body and the house, sometimes talking to a person who wants to know more about the dhamma.

Far fewer speculations will be generated once this life is led. Once most speculations disappear, you stay on the level of the »body« to know »what you experience« which really means »to know what happens through the 5 usual senses«. The first step is to relax the body, then the mano and the citta. When the speculations appear, you know they appear and when they do not disappear at once, you follow the sutta by recalling that their pursuit is bad and you go back to the body and its relaxation to make them disappear and know that they disappeared by this way. Do this as long as the mind is not relaxed. It turns out that the most natural and the only relevant way to analyze the body is through the »elements«:

  • find what is soft and hard
  • find what is dry and wet
  • find what is cold and warm
  • find what is airy

Beforehand, the explicit advices are as usual:

  • with other people: do not lie, do not create stories and drama, settle disputes even if, from the point of view of you and other normal people, you appear to be losing
  • do not eat too much, especially too much meat
  • do not ejaculate semen
  • to not sleep too much, so as soon you as you are awake you start knowing what happens until the moment you fall asleep
  • hold on even when the sensual experience is not pleasant and never succumb to the sensual experience when it is pleasant
  • change the postures if you want to : go from being sit, to standing up, to walking, to laying in bed [on the back or on the right side] and when you are bored with that, you can clean the house and keep continuing to know what happens.

Knowing what happens is the basis, the beginning. Once you know what happens, you begin to reject whatever leads you to bad acts and you steer towards the good acts.

Once the mind is relaxed and pliant, you either dive into the jhanas and leave them and or you turn your mano and citta to the discourses, especially the most important sequence to recall at any experience: whatever is experienced about the senses is anicca, what is anicca is dukkha, what is dukkha is anatta [NOT what is anicca is anatta].

Let's recall that Nibbanna is the only experience that is anatta and not anicca and not dukkha.

Let's recall that anatta has nothing to do with ''self'' and the specualtions that people put bedhing this word. The atta is not a concept, not an idea, not an opinion, not a belief, not a speculation, not a fantasy, not a dream, not a thought, not a theory, not an observation, not an operation, not a reasoning, not a game, not an information, not an illusion, not a vision, not an hallucination, not a chimera, not a mirage, not a lie, not a ghost, not a fiction, not a simulation, not a charm; atta is and always will be first and foremost about the experience of ''I''', of ''mine'', of ''me'' which projects, it turns out, whatever experiences them towards the opposite of the goal. For instance, the ''me'' in ''I, mine, me'' is not an idea, it is an experience and perhaps you even have a few records of it, typically when you said, without thinking, the word ''me'' when acting with and talking to other normal people. [same situation with '''I'' and ''my''].

The next natural step is to stop worrying about the actions and goods remaining from the old daily life with normal people, which are, let's recall, »about getting the money that a few people demand from you, to carry out the tasks that a few people demand from you, and more intimately, it will be about food and cleaning the body and the house«. Having a house and taking care of it is a burden, finding food is burden, storing food is a burden; so it is the ideal time to become a bhikkhu and continue to attend what happens in your world. Once this is done, It is the ideal time also to lose whatever appeal remains towards any of the »five aggregates«, and any form-ation involving them, like the jhanas which neutralize only temporarily only a few bad tendencies, which mean that they cannot be the end.

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