My take on the Jhanas from a Jungian perspective.

seattlegal

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I was a koan and jhana bliss junkie for a good number of years. I took the "generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent" part of Right Effort in the way only a junkie can. It was Thich Nhat Hanh's line in Living Buddha, Living Christ about how the Holy Spirit does not take over your mind--that when you are filled with mindfulness, you are filled with the Holy Spirit and my treating it as a koan whenever I'd get the urges to help break me from it. I am still a koan junkie, but I don't pursue it like I did. The Jhanas always snuck up on me and occurred when I wasn't looking for them, but my koan addiction kinda made me want to pursue them. I'm so thankful for Thay!
 
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Cino

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I wrote this pdf for Western Left Hand Path folks to explain the purpose and action of the rupa and arupa Jhanas. The pdf was too large to attach, so I put it in a zip file. I'm always up for a good heated debate! :D
Will read, thanks!
 

'Amir Alzzalam

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I wrote this pdf for Western Left Hand Path folks to explain the purpose and action of the rupa and arupa Jhanas. The pdf was too large to attach, so I put it in a zip file. I'm always up for a good heated debate! :D
Gee, you never wrote anything for H☿D :(
 

seattlegal

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I know the suttas put the bliss and rapture at the end of the second rupa jhana, and I put it at the beginning of the third rupa jhana. I do this because categorizing it as filling with rapture and then divesting of rapture makes more sense to this bliss-junkie's mind, following the meditative pattern of watching it rise and watching it pass away.
 

Cino

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Read it, reply upcoming, work week started, bad timing :)
 

Cino

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First of all, I like the symbols you chose for the two groups of Jhanas. I have a long-running relationship with the eight-rayed star myself.

I find myself agreeing with your assesment of the cyclical nature of the (rupa) Jhanas. The Theravada scriptures tend to present the rupa and arupa Jhanas as a sequence of eight stages, followed by the special goodie of "cessation of perception and feeling" A prime example of this presentation is Anupada Sutta, "One after another".

You are pointing out that the arupa Jhanas are different from the rupa Jhanas, not necessarily four in number, and accessible much more at random, not necessarily arising in linear fashion.

What I find fascinating is your experience of entering via a formless, arupa Jhana the cycle of the four rupa Jhanas. My own experience is that of the fourth (rupa) Jhana being a kind of springboard into any of the arupa Jhanas. The fourth Jhana, to my understanding of my own practice, is where my mind is still and, to use a traditional term, "malleable" enough to get into the formless states. And I agree with you that there seem to be far more than four of the formless ones.

Question: do you also have a notion of the "hardness" of Jhana? Traditionally, there are terms like "access concentration", characterizing the moment the mind "clicks" into any one of these states and a kind of shielding or coccoon is establishes, which does not numb the senses but makes sensations less invasive, in a way. Like the difference between standing in the rain with our without an umbrella, where the rain is clearly perceivalbe in both cases.

Question about the cycles: you give the sound advice of following through on the cycle all the way to the equanimity of the fourth Jhana, so as not to get stuck in the "holy roller / junkie" stage. Is there a particular jhana you associate this with, in your experience? Which time-frames are you talking about, for completing such a cycle?
 

seattlegal

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First of all, I like the symbols you chose for the two groups of Jhanas. I have a long-running relationship with the eight-rayed star myself.

I find myself agreeing with your assesment of the cyclical nature of the (rupa) Jhanas. The Theravada scriptures tend to present the rupa and arupa Jhanas as a sequence of eight stages, followed by the special goodie of "cessation of perception and feeling" A prime example of this presentation is Anupada Sutta, "One after another".
Indeed, that is the technique I followed for the example of individuating the formless jnana of neither-perception-nor-nonperception/nibbana, where the fire of addiction is extinguished.

You are pointing out that the arupa Jhanas are different from the rupa Jhanas, not necessarily four in number, and accessible much more at random, not necessarily arising in linear fashion.
Yes, one example I gave of the "Black Sadhana" practice from Herald of the Dawn is actually a more detailed form of one of the practices contained in the Kayagata-sati Sutta: Mindfulness Immersed in the Body. ("Furthermore, the monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down..." is the part of the sutta mentioned.) In that sutta, it mentions that these practices will trigger the rupa jhanas, as well as develop the siddhis.
What I find fascinating is your experience of entering via a formless, arupa Jhana the cycle of the four rupa Jhanas. My own experience is that of the fourth (rupa) Jhana being a kind of springboard into any of the arupa Jhanas. The fourth Jhana, to my understanding of my own practice, is where my mind is still and, to use a traditional term, "malleable" enough to get into the formless states. And I agree with you that there seem to be far more than four of the formless ones.
The formless jhanas listed in the suttas seem to be avenues by which one can learn and recognize the four rupa jhanas.

Question: do you also have a notion of the "hardness" of Jhana? Traditionally, there are terms like "access concentration", characterizing the moment the mind "clicks" into any one of these states and a kind of shielding or coccoon is establishes, which does not numb the senses but makes sensations less invasive, in a way. Like the difference between standing in the rain with our without an umbrella, where the rain is clearly perceivalbe in both cases.
I believe this to be the "withdrawal" of the first rupa jhana.

Question about the cycles: you give the sound advice of following through on the cycle all the way to the equanimity of the fourth Jhana, so as not to get stuck in the "holy roller / junkie" stage. Is there a particular jhana you associate this with, in your experience? Which time-frames are you talking about, for completing such a cycle?
Yes, that would be the third rupa jhana, where one rejoices in the divestment of the BLISS! at the end of the second rupa jhana/beginning of the third rupa jhana. (realizing it is not good to be a junkie, and that equinimity is more skillful than clinging to/being attached (addicted) to the BLISS! just as fire clings to its fuel.) The BLISS! is very yummy and easy to get addicted to.

As for time frames: the BLISS! will fade, but if the fiery cravings for the bliss don't fade, you will be a junkie, not reaching the stage of nibbana/extinguishing the flame/cravings. You can finish the cycle quickly, or you can get stuck as a junkie for as long as it takes for you to decide that being a spiritual junkie is not all that skillful.
 
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Cino

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Yes, one example I gave of the "Black Sadhana" practice from Herald of the Dawn is actually a more detailed form of one of the practices contained in the Kayagata-sati Sutta: Mindfulness Immersed in the Body. ("Furthermore, the monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down..." is the part of the sutta mentioned.) In that sutta, it mentions that these practices will trigger the rupa jhanas, as well as develop the siddhis.

The body is most definitely "a form" (rupa), so I think it is a bit of a far stretch to class the practice of mindfulness of the body as a formless jhana practice. Or am I misunderstanding you?
 

seattlegal

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The body is most definitely "a form" (rupa), so I think it is a bit of a far stretch to class the practice of mindfulness of the body as a formless jhana practice. Or am I misunderstanding you?
Good point. It will trigger the four rupa jhana cycle at the very least, being knowledge into the conscious mind from the unconscious mind. These jhanas also do involve a conceptual reflective practice just like the formless jhanas. Hmm. I will have to consider this further. Thank you.
 

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As for time frames: the BLISS! will fade, but if the fiery cravings for the bliss don't fade, you will be a junkie, not reaching the stage of nibbana/extinguishing the flame/cravings. You can finish the cycle quickly, or you can get stuck as a junkie for as long as it takes for you to decide that being a spiritual junkie is not all that skillful.

Do you see the cycling pattern also in the context of a single meditation session? A nesting of the cycles, if you will?

Anupada Sutta lends itself as a model for a single sit, as well as for the development over larger timespans.

Does your paper cover both the single-session and long-timespan development? It wasn't clear to me on reading?
 
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Good point. It will trigger the four rupa jhana cycle at the very least, being knowledge into the conscious mind from the unconscious mind.

Yes, agreed. I was fascinated by your description of "entering at the top" via some formless jhana, then "descending" to the rupa jhanas - do or did you experience the rupa jhanas in reverse order, when doing this? Were you able to access any of the rupa jhanas directly, skipping the sequence?
 

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You can finish the cycle quickly, or you can get stuck as a junkie for as long as it takes for you to decide that being a spiritual junkie is not all that skillful.

I like the term "spiritual bypassing". I've discovered that anything can serve as an avoidance mechanism, even the skills that could serve to address patterns of avoidance. It's a tough lesson for me to learn.
 

seattlegal

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Yes, agreed. I was fascinated by your description of "entering at the top" via some formless jhana, then "descending" to the rupa jhanas - do or did you experience the rupa jhanas in reverse order, when doing this? Were you able to access any of the rupa jhanas directly, skipping the sequence?
I don't recall ever experiencing the rupa jhanas in reverse order. Jhanas are a fairly rare occurrence with me--I really don't seek them out. As for "descending" to the rupa jhanas from a formless jhana: I see them as a means by which to "grab my attention" during a mental absorption, a signal to "remember this and recognize this." Once I recognize something for what it is, there is no need to experience the rupa jhana cycle in order to call my attention to it.
 

seattlegal

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I like the term "spiritual bypassing". I've discovered that anything can serve as an avoidance mechanism, even the skills that could serve to address patterns of avoidance. It's a tough lesson for me to learn.
Makyō is an analogous Zen term for this. I've spent a good amount of time in makyō.
 

seattlegal

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Do you see the cycling pattern also in the context of a single meditation session? A nesting of the cycles, if you will?

Anupada Sutta lends itself as a model for a single sit, as well as for the development over larger timespans.

Does your paper cover both the single-session and long-timespan development? It wasn't clear to me on reading?
I do see the cycle as optimal during a single sit. If you don't carry the rupa jhana cycle through to the end, then you will be stuck in makyō.
 
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