When someone practices Metta meditation towards a beloved person using a phrase,

e.g. May xx be be free from enmity and danger

what is the counterpart sign (nimitta) in this method and how does the practitioner identify whether he's reached a Jhana level?

  • I don't think that is possible Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 10:55
  • It's definitely possible. You can reach Jhana's for each phrase for each person using this method.
    – dmsp
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 11:07
  • Indeed, Jhana can definitely be reached, why don't you post it as an answer? Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 12:20
  • Whether Jhana can be reached or not was not my question. My question was how to identify if you've reached that level? For that I don't know the answer.
    – dmsp
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


Mettā jhāna. How to know. You should have continuous concentration with out any distracting thoughts for starters. Only after one attains should one reflect if they attained. Basically that means until you consistently get continuous concentration for one to three+ hours according to your determination at will, then you should reflect on the jhāna factors in the heart area. The five factors are: Applied thought Sustained thought Joy Happiness experience One object (repeated one pointedness of mind on one object..no distractions)

You can see lesson seven in my pdf at http://Subhuti.net.tf about the technicalities regarding jhāna. Although it mentions breath meditation, all jhānas are the same. The Vissudhimagga actually explains jhāna by using the Earth Kasina as its primary example. The only difference is the meditation object and whether it is expanded. Metta has a visual object too and it can be expanded in range or a single person/being or group of beings or direction. Metta can be quite complex in the numerous ways that one can do it. Please see The book "Knowing and Seeing" by Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw for details.


IMO, you are mixing apples and oranges. Metta meditation is practiced towards "the state of brahmas" (AN 4.190 and AN 3.63), not one of the Four Jhanas. The "state of brahmas" (brahmapatta) is a state of non-dualistic unity with the world. The way to attain it, is through progressively expanding the context of Metta meditation, starting from yourself, to include a closest person (e.g. mom), then friends, then neutral people, then enemies, then all the world. The sign of having reached the state of Brahma are the thoughts like "I am God", "I am all this infinite Universe", "I am True Goal of all religions and the Real Meaning of Love" etc. It is a very powerful experience.

While Four Jhanas are much more localized around oneself, esp. one's emotional state. Like you say in your question, The First Jhana can indeed be practiced with a help of a phrase, that helps one focus on the topic of meditation (in case of the first Jhana the topic is one's actual state of successfully having separated oneself from unwholesome dharmas). However, from Second Jhana onward, the target state of rapture/bliss/equanimity must be generated directly, with no help of discursive thinking.

To emphasize one important point: Four Jhanas are "mastered", not "reached". They are not states/levels you automatically find yourself in. In other words, you don't practice something towards Jhana level X and then "reach Jhana level X". You practice Xth Jhana itself. After having mastered First Jhana, you then practice Second Jhana and so on. The sign of having mastered the First Jhana is ability to successfully do the First Jhana at will at any time, that's it.

  • Thanks I think I got the point. It's the same vitakka, vicāra, pīti, sukha, ekaggatā as mastered in other techniques you experience in 1st Jhana. I don't think I can agree with the first paragraph though. My understanding is that you are born in Brahma realms after death once you master Jhana levels through meditation.
    – dmsp
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 14:59
  • 1
    @dmsp Brahmalokas (realms) are not Brahmapatta (state)
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 22:46

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