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I searched for the word 'Jhana' on this site and read almost all about 50 odd questions on Jhana. I asked few questions myself.

It seems like one has to put extreme efforts to attain to Jhana.

This is part of one of the answers;

...They sit 12+ hours everyday for many months or years to get this light which can shine in their mind trough the dark night. It is shining breathe or meditation's object, not sunlight. Today, many of them have not been laying on a bed for 20 years...

This isn't practical for lay disciples, or at least for me outside of retreat. At this point Jhana feels like a wishful thinking.

Should one aim for Jhana in sitting? If not Jhana, then, is there any other state to aim as an intermediary to Nirvana.

I do a daily 90 minute sitting and some chanting. Is it possible for me to attain Jhana?

What is recommended daily duration?

  • Absorbed-Jhana is for everyone who want to attain Magga and Phala. Actually, Magga and Phala are Appana-Jhana as well, so the mundane Appana-Jhana is an important step to access powerful Vipassana enough for Magga-Appana. The hidden hindrances are hindering Vipassana to keep accessing on powerful enough state to attain Appana-Magga. Jhana is for every gesture, not only sitting. We try to get back to focus on breathe in every moment. However, the easiest gesture to get absorption is sitting. Meditation is for whole life, included Arahanta. Chanting or sitting entire life is enough. – Bonn Jul 18 at 16:11
  • Just do it continuously, 90 minute lesser or higher is excellent all until you give up. Continuous less become much when 20 years gone by, but giving up is nothing left even less. – Bonn Jul 18 at 16:17
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I think you are misunderstanding the nature of jhanas. In your defense, this is a mistake made by almost everyone on a certain stage.

You think jhanas are some concrete states that are specific and can be recognized, that all people must go through same exact experiences on their way to nirvana/enlightenment. That the final Liberation is also something very concrete. Alas, those are all wishful simplifications.

Real-life experiences are a lot more fluid and variegated. That's one, and two, as you get more and more enlightened you realize more and more clearly that labels are mere labels and that in real life everything "it depends".

So, the jhanas are not something mighty specific that can be entered, that's bullshit (pardon my language). Jhanas are approximate phases in your mastery of your emotional intelligence, mastery of mind. You don't sit for 12 hours straight staring at the wall and then boom! you're in jhana, no. Instead, you must learn to analyze and condition the state of your mind.

Specifically, you learn what makes you sad and glad, and how to make yourself joyful and motivated. You discover your inner pre-logical core and learn to reconnect with it. You learn to puncture through noise of thoughts and into the inner clarity. You discover first-hand how your mind's association and interpretation circuitry works. You master the connection between your interpretations and your emotions. You understand the power of context, the power of comparison, the role of reference point in evaluation. You learn to juggle contexts. You can freely enter and exit the contexts of other people.

Mastering all this makes you very even-handed. You are no longer carried away by your emotions. First, you have to apply effort to keep your emotions steady and stable in the moments of frustration or challenge, but with time you get rather steady even without much effort, things don't disturb you as much. You can go through difficult life situations without getting overwhelmed.

Because you are no longer overwhelmed by your emotions and no longer bounded by your mental contexts, you are not obsessed with your problems, you can actually see and hear other people's problems from their sides.

Then eventually you get to the existential questions like the meaning of life, the death, the happiness and suffering, karma - and you begin to see it rather clearly. It gets pretty clear, how things work.

That's what this training is about. You don't have to sit until your ass falls off. The point is not in sitting, it's in what you are sitting about. Mental and emotional untangling. And half of that work (if not more) is done off the cushion.

It is serious, hard, non-trivial, but deeply rewarding, process of discovery and mastery. Not some childish fantasy. But in the end it's much more cool - and real - than any fiction.

So the First Jhana, is when you learn to make yourself joyful at will using auto-suggestions, recollections, deliberate thinking on appropriate topics. That's it. Magic!

The Second Jhana, is when you can do the above then stop and keep joyful and energized, optimistic and confident without the auto-suggestions, for as long as you stay awake that day.

The Third Jhana is almost same as above but more refined, without the show-off marching parade function of joy. You can stay lucid, calm, emotionally sober, peaceful, harmonious - all day long, without auto-suggestions - just by maintaining your inner balance.

And the Fourth Jhana is pure judgement-free awareness. Whatever is going on, externally or internally, you can stay judgement-free, not qualifying any experience as good or bad. Unperturbed, immovable like a mountain. Clear like water. Transparent like space. Everything is just the way it is, and not a tad different.

This is all real - and practically useful - stuff, not sitting and wishing for some fictional inner sun to shine.

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    Thank you so much for this answer. It gave me a different vantage point to look at my 'mind created' problem. I also read your answers to other questions on Jhana, quite enlightening. Thanks again :). – The White Cloud Jul 18 at 15:14
  • I have gotten all state in this answer for many years ago, and I still have 10 fetters left, so I am not recommend to stop the higher meditation because enjoying tiny effect in this answer . The main idea of the Buddhism is enlightenment. The above state is not enlightenment. We can do it in any uncountable next life. But if we can't use it to meditate the higher meditation, the life in Buddha time will be blank, then you will have uncountable times to enjoy the tiny effect in this answer. I have gotten them all, and the fetters still going on. My life is happy, but how long it will be? – Bonn Jul 18 at 16:30
  • If you can abide in pure judgment-free awareness, without interpreting any experience as good or bad, how can you have kāmacchanda and vyāpāda? – Andrei Volkov Jul 18 at 17:00
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    @TheWhiteCloud Please also see this answer by Andrei and the comments below that answer. – ruben2020 Jul 18 at 18:24
  • Interesting theory. Totally wrong, but interesting! – user19437 Jul 20 at 15:30
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Jhana means "to gaze, to focus" but the exact significance varies with the context. Here it signifies a high level of samadhi often translated "absorption."

I meditated in a theravada monastery in Thailand for ~ 3 months and experienced soft forms of Jhana (not those extreme ones you describe in your question). Many would say that that's not real Jhana, I just got a bit absorped by the meditation, saw a bright light although my eyes were closed or lost a bit the feeling on time. 90 min a day is more than enough to reach this absorption, too.

The founder of that monastery Ajan Buddhadasa Bikkhu had teached a lot about Jhana and his main point was that you don't need these extreme forms of Jhana. A bit of absorbtion is enough, just calm down your mind down to a point where it's still enough so that contentment (piti) and afterwards happiness (sukha) can arise. If you want to read more about this, this style of meditation, where you don't focus too much on Jhana is called Anapanasati.

I think for us who grew up with smartphones and constant entertainment, it's way more difficult to reach a very deep jhana. People 2000 y ago just didn't know that much other distractions.

In our practice of step four of Anapanasati, it is not necessary to try to enter jhana completely. In the practice of Anapanasati those very refined levels of concentration are not necessary. We only need to have a sufficient and appropriate level of concentration to continue with our practice, that is, enough samadhi that there are the feelings of piti and sukha (contentment and happiness). We need to use piti and sukha in the next steps of our study. If you can go on into jhana, into the material absorptions (rupa-jhana), that will be useful. It will make the next steps easier. Even if you do not reach jhana, as long as there is some piti and sukha you are doing fine. Now that will not be too difficult, will it?

From a very good book from Ajan Buddhadasa about Anapanasati

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The Buddha indeed recommended lay people to try to meditate, in the Piti Sutta:

Then Anathapindika the householder, surrounded by about 500 lay followers, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there the Blessed One said to him, "Householder, you have provided the community of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick, but you shouldn't rest content with the thought, 'We have provided the community of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick.' So you should train yourself, 'Let's periodically enter & remain in seclusion & rapture.' That's how you should train yourself."

But is it possible for lay people to successfully attain the state of jhana, at least the first jhana?

Ajaan Fuang addressed this very question in "Awareness Itself":

A student came to complain to Ajaan Fuang that she had been meditating for years, and still hadn't gotten anything out of it. His immediate response: "You don't meditate to 'get' anything. You meditate to let go."

What is the recommended daily duration? Please watch this YouTube video talk by Ven. Yuttadhammo entitled "Q&A: Short Meditation Sessions".


In SN 41.9, we find that the householder Citta, in his thirty years as a lay follower of Buddhism, was able to achieve and master the fourth jhana:

“But householder, how long have you been a lay follower?”

“It’s been thirty years, sir.”

“But householder, in these thirty years have you achieved any superhuman distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones, a meditation at ease?”

“How, sir, could I not? For whenever I want, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I enter and remain in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected. And whenever I want, as the placing of the mind and keeping it connected are stilled … I enter and remain in the second absorption. And whenever I want, with the fading away of rapture … I enter and remain in the third absorption. And whenever I want, giving up pleasure and pain … I enter and remain in the fourth absorption.

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The best thing you can do is learning how to quickly overcome the hindrances as it will increase the actual time you spend effectively meditating beyond the treshold of jhana. Just sitting with hindrances is a waste of time.

I would advise to learn the development of various perceptions, the arousal of energy and to take note of the mind throughout the day in order to keep hindrances in check. Then when you see an opening to develop samadhi andor other factors you go for it.

At such times, monks, as the mind is sluggish, that is the wrong time to cultivate the enlightenment-factor[1] of tranquillity, the enlightenment-factor of concentration, the enlightenment-factor of equanimity. What is the reason? A sluggish mind is hard to arouse by these factors. [...] When the mind is agitated, that is the right time to cultivate the enlightenment-factors of tranquillity, concentration, equanimity. Why? Because an agitated mind is easy to calm[4] through these factors. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn46/sn46.053.wlsh.html

It's definitely not necessary to sit 12 hours consequtively but if you do have days off you can try walking and sitting all day, switch between sitting & walking for as long as you are comfortable and delight in cleansing the mind by developing various perceptions, faculties and factors of enlightenment as you see fit.

I think if a person is fairly virtuous, has some less stressful work, few duties and is skilled in overcoming the hindrances then 90 minutes a day is plenty to get beyond the jhana treshold.

As to what their mind inclines to at that point, whether percepient of various pleasant feelings, lights & visions or is directed to the Deathless, that depends entirely on their faculties & prior development, either way it should absolutely be possible to occasionally get to a manyfold of profound jhana states for one like this.

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Certain, good householder, would it be possible if leaving home and abound stinginess, since it's impossible for one still stingy and holding on things, a person who has no perfection in generosity, to gain Jhana.

Macchariya Suttas: Stinginess.

Now think about it, especially the matter gratitude.

Even such as access-concentration, the six Anussatis, would require certain deeds and behavior, conducts, to be able to clean ones mind.

What does one think of how many householders around here, seeking to avoid all basics, have even little chance to gain Jhana... No, no... not in this sphere around here. If some are good they can make use of meditation as a tool for compensation of daily wrong deeds and livelihood.

On the other hand there are many lay woman listed in Buddhas "who is who"-list for greatness in regard of Jhana, but those have been real Upasikas, Upasakas, not just "Buddhists"...

Gives surely much space for serious reflections or the more usual consumer protest - withdraw and rebellion. Ones choice, even caught inbetween.

[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, other worldbinding trades but for escape from this wheel]

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