0

Recently, I've been reading a lot about the different methods and perspectives for reaching the jhanas.

For a long time, the only method I've been using is to "let go" everything, and to use the breath as a kind of anchor for the eventual and sporadic distraction. But I never felt anything like joy or rapture.

A few days ago, I found a meditation instruction where the instructor tells that effort and will can be used to give rise to joy and to expand it throughout the body. An as soon as I started doing that, I felt and important qualitative difference in the kind of feelings arising.

Is this application of effort compatible with "letting go"?

What do the suttas tell us about this?

Kind regards!

  • Elsewhere I believe Dhammadhatu mentioned that even Stream Enterers haven't reached Jhana yet. The reason why once-returner and even more so non-returner can enter Jhana is because they have less hindrances to let go. The latter for example only must let go sleepiness and restlessness. – Val Aug 13 at 20:15
3

The method you cite first is correct. Do not pursue the second. Any authentic feelings of joy and rapture will arise of their own accord. Anything forced or willfully attained is not jhana. The first stirrings of jhana will invariably catch you by surprise and will seem to come out of no where. We cannot force them to arrive.

If I had to guess, I'd say the main reason why you [and really most people] aren't experience jhana is that you haven't been sitting enough. Outside of a retreat setting, daily 90 minute sits is really the bare minimum for effective samatha meditation. Any less than that and the mind just isn't quelled enough for jhana factors to present themselves in any kind of stable way. To be terribly honest, you are also highly unlikely to find full absorption outside of a retreat setting. It usually takes at least three days of 10+ hours a day of sitting for the mind to release its hold on the world and the grosser manifestations of the hindrances. Only afterwards is the mind prepared for jhana practice.

0

"There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.

"Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal...

Jhana / Right Concentration (samma samadhi)

One should quite withdraw from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities. To do this one must put effort to develop Vitarka-vicara on a chosen object exclusively. The Jhana factors that follow automatically.

This is not comparable to "letting go" (viraga) which is more Vipassana oriented results due to Nibbida. When one focuses on and objects one temporarily suspends sensuality. Vipassana totally eradicates it. Therefore Vipassana also leads to Jhana when one develops viraga, but suppression of sensuality and unskillful qualities is sufficient for the 1st Jhana.

0

responding to user 000's answer:

The method you cite first is correct. Do not pursue the second. Any authentic feelings of joy and rapture will arise of their own accord. Anything forced or willfully attained is not jhana. The first stirrings of jhana will invariably catch you by surprise and will seem to come out of no where. We cannot force them to arrive.

That is completely wrong. Meditation is a subtle art, and both viriya-sambojjhanga (vigor/energy awakening factor, equivalent to right effort, right exertion) and passaddhi-sabojjhanga (pacification/relaxation/letting go of all tension in mind and body) are active before, and through all the 4 jhanas. See MN 78, and study the 7sb awakening factors.

Blissful aspects of Jhana can hit you suddenly and seem to come out of nowhere, as user 000 described, but piti, pamojja and mudita are active things you do to engender joy and bliss. Piti-sambojjanga (rapture awakening factor) is to be developed (bhavana), just like samadhi. https://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-miseducation-of-piti-in-theravada.html

  • Eh. I wholeheartedly disagree and think that pursuing that method is to set yourself up for failure. Whenever I run into difficulty entering jhana, it generally comes from too much directed effort. Emphasizing that from the beginning seems just about the worst possible course of action I can think of. Don't get me wrong, there still is effort...but the kind of effort that steers a boat, not of the sort that moves the vessel. – user16808 Aug 14 at 12:13
  • Try actually reading the suttas. If you want to disagree with the Buddha's way of teaching meditation, and come up with your own, that's your business. – frankk Aug 15 at 8:46
  • "So at a later time, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of renunciation, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at renunciation, grew confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace. Then, quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation..." AN 9.41 – user16628 Aug 15 at 12:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.