Ways and Means Into Jhana | Four Noble Truths | Noble Eightfold Path

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  WAYS AND MEANS INTO JHANA Transcription of a Dhammatalk given on 14.7.1996.by Ajahn Brahmmavamso Tam sukhan annatra kamehi annatra akusalehi dhammehi na bhayitabbam .(M I 247 & II 454)This is a small saying by the Buddha in which he said that that happiness which is other or apart from sensuality, that pleasure which is apart from unwholesomedhammas, is not be feared. And indeed I want to use this opportunity this evening to, instead of giving a general talk, to give a specific talk on the process of meditation leading up to jhanas. Iwant to give this talk now, because it is the right time in the retreat. After just over a fortnight much of the external activity has disappeared and the mind and thebody should be settling down. The mind should be inclining towards these quiet and peaceful states of mind. Now I want to give a talk on how one deals with thismind to lead it into these deep states of peace and bliss, these very useful states.Many of you who have heard my talks on the subject before will hear much which is repeated, but then again because these talks are not planned there will beother pieces of information which you have not heard before which will help. And anything which helps will settle the mind to let go of the hindrances, to let go of the world of the five senses, and gain these 'uttarimanussadhamma', these superior human states which are worthy of the ariyas, any such information will beuseful.I was talking in my last discourse about the need for sense-restraint, and it goes without saying in this discourse that sense-restraint gives one the groundwork,the foundation, for taking this mind into a fuller restraint of the senses. A fuller letting go of many, many things where the mind use to dwell and a going to another place inside the mind. A place of great peace and bliss, and a very profound place as well which gives you great insights into the nature of the mind. What themind is capable of and how it feels to be in these states. Why these states are such and how they come about. This gives one great insights into a world, a worldwhich you cannot know unless you have been there, because these worlds, these samadhi states are so strange compared to the external world that they are verydifficult to describe. Those who have not been there find it very difficult to understand that such states can exist.Though, one has to start from the very beginning. Having practised some sense-restraint there comes a time when one sits down on one's cushion, still, and onestarts training the mind. That initial training of the mind should begin with, what the Buddha called the iddhipada s. The iddhipada s are the four roads or bases of success or bases of power. These are what empowers you to actually succeed in this process of meditation. As you will all know these iddhipada s are thearousing of a desire for a goal and the maintaining of the desire for that goal: the chandasamadhi. This is a prerequisite of gaining any success in this meditation.If you do not set yourself a goal then you will not set up that desire, the movement of your mind to achieve that goal and there will be no results. You do not get toone-pointedness of mind by allowing the mind to wander along. It will never get close. It needs to be directed, to be pointed, and that direction, that pointedness of the mind, has to be done through a very clear resolution.The most important thing about this iddhipada  is that this resolution has to be maintained throughout the course of the meditation. If you make that resolution andyou maintain it, then you have got a hope for success. If you make that resolution and after one or two minutes you forget what you are supposed to be doing, whatyou are aiming for, then it is very easy to turn a corner and go backwards or go sideways and waste a lot of time.These are very profound states and they need that degree of effort. Not immense effort, but that constant effort. So you take your goal and keep it in mind. That isthe chandasamadhi and that generates energy to achieve the goal, and it generates the application of the mind onto that goal and the investigation of dhammaswhich go along with the desire for success. This investigation of the Dhamma is the vimansasamadhi  , which is like the investigating and maintaining thatdemonstrates that the path of samatha is not apart from the path of vipassana. But in order to gain success in meditation you have to use wisdom. You have touse the desire, the energy, the application of the mind and the wisdom faculty generated through vimansa. In order to gain success all of these need to befunctioning and need to be maintained throughout the meditation. When I define the word 'samadhi' as the sustaining of these things, you can see that if yousustain these iddhipada , these roads to success, these functions of the mind, then your meditation will be successful. If you do not maintain these, that is why themeditation does not succeed - one forgets.So it is very helpful that at the beginning of the meditation to set a goal clearly in mind. A goal which is achievable, but which is going to test you rather than Justsit down and meditate and just see what happens. If you see what happens you will probably see a wandering mind, especially if you have not had success indeep tranquil states before.So you set a goal and when you set the goal that becomes the means to generate these iddhipada s. Do not be afraid of desiring that goal, of craving for thatgoal. We just chanted the Dhammacakkapavattanasutta, the first sermon of the Buddha. In that sermon, the Buddha talked about the Noble Truths. The secondNoble Truth he talked about is the cause of suffering, the Dukkhasamudaya. This cause is that craving which leads to rebirth, that craving which seeks delighthere and there and which is associated with delight and lust, that craving which is called ' kamatanha ': the craving for the delights in the world of the five senses,the craving for existence, the craving for the annihilation of your idea of self. These are the cravings which gives rise to rebirth. The craving for a jhana, the cravingto let go of the world of the five senses is the complete opposite of kamatanha . It is as it were the craving to overcome craving, and as such it is specifically saidin the suttas by Ven. Ananda to be the craving which leads to the end of craving (A II 144). As such it should not be feared but encouraged. Any craving whichleads to the end of rebirth is part of the iddhipada s, part of the Eightfold Path, part of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, because it generates the Eightfold Pathand the Seven Factors of Enlightenment.When you have a chance to meditate make clear the goal which you want to have for this meditation and keep that goal in mind. The goal which I encourage for your meditation is to gain the first jhana, because it will equip each one of you with both an experiential knowledge of some uttarimanussadhamma, some other-worldly-states. It will also be training yourself to let go of those coarse defilements which we call the hindrances, the coarser defilements which keep you attachedto the rupaloka, even though you are only abandoning them temporarily. In the way of the Dhamma you have to abandon things temporarily before you get used tobeing apart from them, then you can abandon them fully. It is just like a person who comes to a monastery temporarily, goes back into the world again, then comesa second time, and a third time, until he gets used to abandoning this world. Then he can abandon it fully and permanently. First of all it is important to abandon atleast temporarily. To see what it is like. So this is the goal which I am encouraging for this rains retreat: to gain a jhana, just the first jhana. Having made that one'sgoal then one develops the desire, the energy, the application of the mind and the investigation towards that end.The application of the mind is the citta-samadhi. The mind has many functions to it, one of these functions is sati - mindfulness. You have to maintain thismindfulness throughout the meditation period. As I have mentioned many times in our city-centre, that maintenance of mindfulness means that one maintains thefull knowledge of what one is doing. Always as it were checking up on oneself, but not on a verbal level: just knowing what one is doing, fully experiencing thecontent of one's consciousness from moment to moment. And also remembering of what one is supposed to be doing. Remembering the goal which one hasassigned for this meditation. Remembering to maintain the desire for that goal, the energy, the application of the mind and the investigation. Because if you donot keep the map with you on the journey you will get lost. You need to maintain that map in your mind and that is why it is helpful, in order to maintain the goal, inorder to maintain the instructions, to very carefully state a resolution to yourself at the beginning of a meditation. It is well known, even to Western psychology, thatif you carefully make a resolution to yourself, for example, and this is only an example, that by making that resolution three times with as much care andmindfulness as you can, then you find that you recall it and you remember it for a long time. The more effort you put into making that resolution the moreimpression it makes on your mind and the longer it stays in the mind. This one way of maintaining, whose function is to recall the instructions throughout themeditation, by making that firm resolution at the beginning, this shows that you are meticulous in the process of meditation and thereby you find that you will notwaste so much time having the mind wander around. WAYS AND MEANS INTO JHANA11/16/2013http://www.metta.lk/english/ways-jhana.htm1 / 7  So having made that resolution this is what you are aiming for. You have made that resolution to keep the iddhipada s going, to maintain the desire for this state,to maintain the energy......application of mind......investigation. At that point you can start looking at your meditation object. The meditation object with which youwill find it easiest to gain jhana will be the breath. You can try other things, but I would encourage to keep the main object of meditation the experience of breathingbecause that was the meditation which the Buddha used and which the forest monks in Thailand use. It is the most popular meditation object and there is areason for that. The reason is that is the most convenient way into these jhana states. Other ways may be used, but, as I was saying to a few people during theweek, if you can not sustain your attention on the breathing it is very unlikely that you will be able to sustain your attention on other things. It is the ability of the mindto sustain attention which is the function of samadhi and which leads one into jhanas. Whatever the meditation object is, it is not so important as one's ability tohold it.If one is going to use the breath, then there are a couple of tricks which are extremely useful. The first skilful means is to make sure that you are watching thefeeling of the breath not the thought of the breath. There is a great difference between experience and what we call a commentary. If you get accustomed in your meditation to knowing and staying with the experience and discarding the commentary then you will find that your mediation becomes much easier. You can dothis throughout the day by discarding commentary: by making a resolution that one will try to restrict the commentary one makes on life and to become moreattentive to the bare experience of life. Making that resolution will arouse the mindfulness necessary to stop that inner conversation. You do not listen to it, you arenot interested in it, you are more interested in the experience.When you are watching the breath you have to fully experience the breath, not think about it, not note it, not say anything about it, but just know it. The more simpleyou can make that meditation object, the more powerful it will become. This is also one reason why I encourage that when you put your attention on the breath notto concern yourself about where the experience on feeling is located in your body. If you are concerned where it is located in the body that concern just brings uptoo much body-awareness and with that body-awareness will come the disturbances of the body such as painful and pleasant feelings, heat and cold, itches,aches, pains and other feelings. Whatever those feelings are, this body is just a mess of painful and pleasant feelings. It is just a cacophony of different sounds,as it were, going off at the same time and never giving one any respite or peace. So the quicker one can take one's attention from the physical body, the better itis for one's success in meditation. Just know the experience of breath and do not concern yourself where it might be in this physical body.You are going to use the experience of breath to take you into a jhana state, and the way you use it is as follows: The first task is to be able to sustain your attention fully on the breath. This is getting the samadhi, the sustained attention, on this coarse object of breathing. This should not be difficult for everyone of you.If you cannot sustain your attention on the breath, which is a coarse object, then it is impossible to sustain the attention on anything more fine like the samadhinimitta , the sign of concentration, which arises later. It will be impossible for you to sustain your attention on any aspect of the mind, such as thekhandhas, the aggregates associated with the mind, enough to gain true insight into their nature. These are very refined things, and to be able to fully know themyou have to, as it were, hold them before the eyes of your mind, long enough to fully penetrate into their depths.We have to start with developing just that ability of the mind to sustain its attention on the coarse breath. This is a process which requires a lot of endurance andpersistence, but there are some helpful hints as well. I already mentioned one of them: remember what you are supposed to be doing to make sure thatmindfulness is very clear. Very often in your meditation the mind wanders off, because it forgets what it is supposed to be doing. If there was someone, as it were, just behind you watching every moment and as soon as you wandered off he reminded you: You have lost the breath . Then you find that you would not havewandered off so far: you would be training the mind to stay with the breath. No one else can do that other than mindfulness which you establish through aresolution.However, there is another important trick, a skilful means, which can help you maintain the awareness of the breath and it comes through understanding why themind wanders off in the first place. Knowing the ways of this thing we call the mind. The mind seeks for pleasure, for happiness, for contentment and if it will notfind contentment with the breath, it will find it elsewhere, it will wander off. Sometimes, no matter how strong your mindfulness is, you find that just by trying to forcethe attention to remain with the breath it creates tension, because you are forcing the mind, as it were, against its will to stay in a place where it does not want tobe - with the breath. The way to overcome that problem, to make it simple, to remain with the breath without needing enormous amounts of mindfulness andwillpower constantly applied, is to make the breath a pleasant abiding so that the mind finds happiness and satisfaction remaining with the breath. The way we dothat is by developing the perception of a happy breath, a peaceful, beautiful breath, and that is not too difficult to do with training. If you can remind yourself whenmeditating to develop the perception of joy and happiness with the breath you will find that the mind remains with the breath with very little difficulty. One way to dothat is to develop loving-kindness towards the breath, because loving-kindness towards an object sees only the joyful, beautiful and positive aspects of thatphenomena. If you can develop that positive way of looking at the breath when it goes in and comes out, then you will find that the mind naturally will just want toremain with the breath. It will not be so interested in those other sensory-phenomena which try to steal your attention away. Once one can develop a perception of the breath as a beautiful abiding one finds it easier to achieve the goal of full awareness of the breath. This goal is achieved when the mindfulness remainscontinuously with the breath from the very beginning of an in-breath right to its end, noticing any gaps between the in and out breaths. Seeing the out-breath fromits beginning to its end, the next in-breath etc., breath after breath after breath.You might be able to notice certain stages in this full awareness of the breath. The first stage is when you are actually holding it with a little bit of force. At thisparticular time, the reason why you have to hold it with some sort of force is because the mind is yet to be settled on the breath. The sign of this is that you areaware of other things in the background. This is the sign that shows you have awareness of other objects, sounds, feelings, thoughts, apart from the experience of the breath. It means that the mind is yet to be fully involved in the breath, and is still keeping these other things in the backburner, so to speak, 'just in case'. It hasnot yet fully abandoned interest in these extraneous objects. One way of overcoming this problem is to maintain the attention of the breath, as it were putting thebreath in the centre of your field of vision, your mind's field of vision. I am using this metaphor of a 'field of vision', the mind does not see, the mind experiences,but for many we use a metaphor from the world of sight to talk about the mind. So the central object in your mind should always be the breath and if there are anydisturbances, disturbances means anything other than the experience of breath, including thoughts and orders from yourself, keep them on the edge of your awareness. Keep your mind fully focussed on the full experience of the breath, developing joy in this breath. This will keep it centred.You find that when the mind wanders, it wanders from what was once your centre on to one of these peripheral objects. Those peripheral objects, as it were, takeover your mind, become the object of your attention and the breath just disappears off the edge of the screen like something falling off the edge of the table intothe great void - you have lost the breath. However, if you keep the experience of the breath in the centre of your screen and maintain your attention there, then it isonly a matter of time before all those peripheral objects themselves will fall off the screen and disappear. This is because the nature of focussing your attention onone thing is for the mind to narrow down, for the field to get smaller and smaller, until it just sees what is in the centre. What was on the edge becomes completelyout of vision and you are left with the experience of the breath. This is the way one drops such a thing as the body, one drops such a thing as attention to sounds,and such things as thoughts which can roam around in the mind.If one focuses just on the breath, the experience of the breath, and maintains that long enough so that everything else disappears except the experience of thebreath - and if everything else has disappeared, and all what you have is the full experience of the breath from moment to moment maintained for a long time, thenyou know that you have the first level of what really can be called samadhi. You have got an object and you have maintained your attention on it. When you haveattained to this stage your attention should be relatively effortless, because you have already abandoned the disturbances: they have, as it were, fallen off thescreen. You have got full attention on a coarse object, the breath. You all know that in the anapanasati-sutta that stage is called 'sabbakayapatisanvedi'':'Experiencing the whole body of the breath. The whole body, just the breath, fully on the breath'. 'Fully' means that there is no room for anything else. All other disturbances have not got a door into the mind at this stage. At this stage it is not all that necessary to develop a perception of a beautiful breath, because it is so peaceful just watching the breath from its beginning to itsend, because the thoughts have been given up, because the sounds have disappeared, because the body is no longer disturbing you. Just this much is a greatrelease for the mind. The mind has let go of a lot at this stage, in fact it has let go of many of the hindrances, it has just got a little bit of restlessness left to trulyovercome.What we need to do next, once we have got to this stage and we know it and we can maintain it, is that we start to practise the fourth practice in the anapanasati-sutta: the 'Passambhayan kayasankharan', 'The settling down, the tranquillising of the object of meditation'. Once we have the samadhi on the object, and notbefore, at that point we tranquillise the object. If you find that you are unable to maintain your attention on a fine object then make the object a bit coarser. I WAYS AND MEANS INTO JHANA11/16/2013http://www.metta.lk/english/ways-jhana.htm2 / 7  remember Ajahn Chah once teaching that if you lose attention on the breath, and you cannot find the breath, then just stop breathing for a few moments. The nextbreath will be a very coarse breath and you will find it easy to watch. You have been breathing, but the breath has been refined, too refined for you to notice. Soyou have to go to a coarser object and keep on that coarser object of the breath until you can really maintain full attention on it. Sometimes this is a bit restrainingand restricting, because very often at this stage you are getting very close to very beautiful states of mind. Sometimes you may want to rush forward into a samadhinimitta  or rush into a jhana, but you find that if you do not make this stage of full awareness of the breath solid, a samadhinimitta , once it arises, will veryquickly disappear again. If you go into a jhana then you will go in and bounce straight back again. It is because the faculty of the mind to sustain and hold an objectfor a long period of time, enough for the jhana to fully develop and to maintain itself, has not been developed. You have to train the mind at this stage on a fullawareness of the breath. Constantly, until you have that ability very underhand and you can do it. If you can maintain full awareness of the breath, and all other objects disappear, then you can start to quieten that breath down: as it were to allow it to settle until the physical feeling of the breath starts to give way to itsmental object.With experience there seems to be a physical part of experience and a mental part of experience. When that physical part disappears it reveals the mental part.You begin to experience how the mind sees the breath, not how the body feels the breath. The bodily function of body-consciousness disappears: the last of thefive senses in its very refined form. The eye, the ear, smell, taste and bodily feeling have shut down: all except just the feeling of the breath. The five senses have,as it were, only one thread left. This experience of the breath, and now you are also shutting that one down as you quieten the breath down.This is the stage where the samadhinimitta  starts to arise, and only if you have been able to maintain full attention on the breath for long periods of time you willbe able to handle the samadhinimitta . To be able to maintain attention on the breath for long periods of time takes this passive aspect of the mind. I was talking afew days ago in a couple of interviews that one can say that the mind has got two functions. It has got the passive function to receive information from the senses,what we call ‘the function to know’, and also the mind has the active function of interacting, what you might call: ‘the function to do’. In this meditation when onegets to these refined stages of mind, the main function of the mind has to be just to know. The doing-function has to be almost dead: just the last little piece leftwhich is just finally going to guide the mind into a jhana where the function of doing is completely suppressed and abandoned, because in a jhana one just knows,one can not do. That function of the mind which is active has passed away and the function which is receiving is the only thing left. So remember that the mind hasto be passive in these states - to be like a passenger, not a driver. Once one can do this with a coarse breath one can manage to do this with a samadhinimitta when it arises, whatever it manifests as, whether as a light or as a physical feeling.I should mention once again that the so-called samadhinimitta  is not a light, is not a physical feeling, but that is the closest description the mind can give to thisthing. It is an object of mind-consciousness, not an object of body-consciousness or eye-consciousness. However, because of its intensity it very often appearsas a light, or if the mind just perceives its effective quality, just as a feeling, but something very pleasant and appealing.The mind just has to be able to hold its attention on it without moving. To do that it has to be very passive, because any action of the mind to interfere, to control, todo , to order, to make, will disturb that tranquillity of the mind. The samadhinimitta  will disappear and you will be back on the breath or you will go way back to thebeginning of your meditation. So you have to remember at this point ( and this is one of the reasons why I give a talk like this to put that instruction in your mindand so hopefully at the right time the instruction will appear and you will remember and act accordingly) that instead of trying to interfere with the samadhinimitta you will leave it alone and hold it in your mind. You will then find that you will have the ability to hold it, it does not disappear and it does not start to change. It is justthere from moment to moment to moment. At this point you do not need to put that effort into trying to hold it; the effort will come from the mind itself. The samadhinimitta  will always be attractive to the mind, because this is a peaceful experience, a joyful experience, and sometimes very blissful, but a sort of blisswhich is not going to disturb the mind. If you have had samadhinimitta s and they are disturbing, it means that the mind does not know how to hold these thingswhen they are very strong, it cannot leave them alone. It is not that the samadhinimitta  or the pitisukha disturbs you, it is you disturbing the pitisukha. Just like Ajahn Chah's simile: ‘ Noise does not disturb you, you disturb the noise’. The pitisukha is never disturbing, you disturb the pitisukha. If you leave it alone then itremains because the mind is doing this.Those of you who have a great lot of vimansa, who have a very well developed faculty of wisdom, you will notice at this point that there is a difference between thecitta and this delusion of self. All of the work which disturbs is coming from your delusion of self - that which thinks and controls and manages. However, the cittaby itself, and this is a natural phenomena, its nature will be to go towards the samadhinimitta , hold on to it, and enter into a jhana. It is you, in the sense of themirage, which causes the problems. This is one of the reasons, the more one has let go of the sense of self, the easier it is to gain jhanas. For someone who isan ariyan: a sotapanna, or a sakadagami, or an anagami or an arahant, the higher one's attainments, the easier jhanas become. For this very reason one can letgo of this control, this control which comes from avijja, especially from the avijja which is the delusion of a self which always wants to control, speak, act, do and isafraid to let go of that much, simply because it is letting go of itself. So at this point, if you have a very strong wisdom faculty, investigate this point. Not by askingabout it, but just by observing, asking yourself: Why is it that, as it were, the samadhinimitta  is not stable? And if you can let go of the sense of self, justcompletely abandon all effort to control, to comment, and be completely passive, then the citta will do the work. The mind will go on to that nimitta which mayappear as a light or a pleasant feeling.The nature of that samadhinimitta  is that it is like a gateway into the mind. Because you have just come from the realm of the five senses, the kamaloka, youinterpret that samadhinimitta  with that language, that is why it looks to be a light or physical feeling. As you maintain your attention on the samadhinimitta , if you,as it were, go further from the world of the five senses, the perception of the samadhinimitta  changes. The perception of light or the physical feeling disappearsand you go to the heart which is just a very pleasant experience which we call 'pitisukha'. You do not need to think 'what does pitisukha mean?' 'What is piti, whatis sukha?' Because you will not be able to know the answer to those questions, not by looking at the suttas. The only way to what this one thing called pitisukhameans as it appears in the first jhana is to gain that first jhana, and know that it is the object of the mind at this stage. It is the object of mind-consciousness, theone dhamma the mind is aware of . Because it is pitisukha, because it is extremely pleasant, peaceful and satisfying, the mind finds it very easy to findcontentment in that one mental image, and so the mind does the work at this stage.You have let go, not only of the kamaloka, the world of the five senses: you have also let go of that function of self which tries to control, because you can not doany controlling in these jhana states. It is a wonderful experience to behold that experience which is beyond the control of Mara; this Mara which manifests as thedelusion of self. Mara is blindfolded in these states. The illusion of self which wants to struggle to be and by being it does, acts, orders, controls, manipulates andmanages what it thinks is its home, existence, that is abandoned. That is why by gaining a first jhana you have let go of an enormous amount of the world of suffering, of existence. For at this stage you will still be fully aware because the mind is still there, the mind is still knowing and because the knowing is a veryprofound knowing at this stage. A very powerful experience are these jhanas: they will certainly impress themselves on the mind, enough to very clearly remember what those experiences werewhen you emerge from a jhana after some length of time. The mind stays there because it finds full contentment at this stage: it is satisfied with the piti and thesukha, with the joy of this state. However, as I mentioned before, there is a defect in that first jhana and this you will notice after you emerge from the first jhana.You will not notice in that jhana what the defect is - in actuality the mind is not fully still. The mind is moving towards and away from, towards and away from. It is, asit were, oscillating around that pitisukha, because the mind has not fully entered into that state. It is still on the journey into samadhi. It is still wobbling, as it were,echoing and vibrating from what was happening before in the realm of the five senses, as the mind has not fully settled down. That wobbling of the mind is whatwe call 'vitakka - vicara '. It is the mind, it is not coming from you. It is not an order, it does not manifest as what we call thinking. As the mind does this, as the mindmoves towards that piti-sukha, that is called 'vitakka'. The mind's holding on to that pitisukha, that is what we call 'vicara '. After a while the mind has moved awayand so the mind has to move on to it again. It is a very gentle and hardly perceptible movement to and from this object, but it can not go very far away, thepitisukha remains fully in the mind's eye. So never does it go that far that the samadhi state is broken, that one feels the body. Actually the suttas say that the thorn of the first jhana is sound, and so it will be sound as the first of the five external senses which can break the first jhana. But if asound is heard it means that the samadhi of that jhana is already very weak and one is about to exit because of that sound within that jhana. Within that state youwill be unable to hear what people are saying next to you, because the mind is fully involved in this pitisukha object. When I say fully involved I stress the word 'fully'.There is no space for the mind to receive any other input: it is fully taken up with the joy and happiness of the pitisukha obviously. It does not even let it go for amoment, not enough to notice anything else.These are strane states to experience, because it is a mind very different than the mind which has so many thins to deal with in the external world. A mind which WAYS AND MEANS INTO JHANA11/16/2013http://www.metta.lk/english/ways-jhana.htm3 / 7  has one thing come up to its attention and disappear and something else and something else. A mind which has such a stream, such a heavy load, such a burdenof information to deal with, and here the mind has just one pleasant object: it is the pleasantness of that object which keeps the mind attached to the pitisukha. Donot be afraid of that attachment: it is the attachment which led the Buddha to enlightenment, led many arahats to full enlightenment. Anyhow at this stage you cannot do anything about it anyway. This becomes the experience of the first jhana.Later on that vitakka-vicara, that last wobbling of the mind is abandoned. Remember that the first jhana is just less than the second jhana, just less than fullsamadhi, the full one-pointedness of mind on the object.Remember that Ven. Sariputta describes a jhana just in-between the first and second jhana where the movement of the mind onto the object has beenabandoned. In that jhana there is no vitakka: all that is left there is vicara. (See A IV 300 & 440 f, S IV 360-363, D III 219, M III 162 - transcriber): That state is whenthe mind has the pitisukha fully and does not move away from it, but, as it were, grasps that pitisukha. It holds on to it, not realising that it does not need to graspand put forth any effort to hold. The mind is doing this, not the illusion of self. At this stage it is very common that the mind will let go of the holding and it stays thereby itself according to natural causes and results. The cause is the inner contentment of the mind being with this beautiful pitisukha, the beautiful happiness andone-pointedness of mind. The mind remains there as a solid object, the mind comes to one-ness, comes to a point as it were. And again, these are not thingsthat one knows in this state, it is when one emerges afterwards and because the experience has impressed itself on your mind you can recall it very vividly. It is just as if you would remember a very vivid dream. Even more vivid are the experiences of jhana and you can remember them very clearly after you emerge. It is onemergence that you realise that it is the mind which is weird in the sense of being fully one. It could not move, it was like at a point of a rock, strong, powerful,blissful, completely immobile. The immovable, immobile mind of the second jhana. You can know these states and you can know these states afterwards as themind remains immobile, just as one thing, just as one object which remains for moment after moment after moment. The continuance, the continuity of the mentalobject which does not change, just remains, just one thing, moment after moment after moment, neither expanding nor contracting, neither changing in quality, justremaining that sameness. This I call the one-pointedness in time of the nimitta, of the sign, of the mental consciousness. Again you just see what is possible with consciousness, with mind. The only way you know mind is by knowing its objects: its objects are what define the mind.Once you know the different objects of the mind, including the samadhi objects, then you get some enormous insights and understandings into what this mind trulyis, what it is capable of, and what happiness and suffering are. Once you start getting into these states then you know what the Buddha meant by a pleasantabiding. He sometimes called these states 'Nibbana here and now'. Even though it is not true Nibbana, it is close. Why is it close? Because a lot of cessation hashappened. Very often the Buddha would equate Nibbana and nirodha, cessation, and here in these states a lot has ceased, by ceasing it has ended,disappeared, finished. A lot has ceased and that is why it is very close to Nibbana. As one develops these states not only it does give you a pleasant feeling, but it also makes your life as a monk secure. Only when you have the knowledge andexperience of niramisa-sukha, the happiness which is apart from the world of things, can you fully have contentment in monastic life. If you have not had theexperience of the niramisa-sukha, the happiness of renunciation, your renunciation will always be a struggle. You may be able to renounce on the surface and onthe outside appear to be an excellent monk towards others, but inside the mind still yearns for happiness and satisfaction. You will not stop that mind fromsearching that happiness and satisfaction in the world when it has not got any other resource inside. In one of the suttas, (M.14), Mahanama, one of Buddha'scousins, came up to the Buddha and said that even though he was a sakadagami, a once-returner, still passion invaded his mind from time to time and he never felt like fully renouncing. The Buddha said that it was because he was still attached to something: he had not given up something. What he was attached to wasthe kamaloka, and that illusory self which seeks for pleasure and control in this world.So this is what one has to do and every one of you here can do it. Don't rush, be patient, be persistent and these things will happen. You have all got sufficient sila,morality. You have all got sufficient indriya-sanvara, sense-restraint. You can increase each one of these, but they are sufficient. What one truly needs is thismeticulous application of the mind and doing things properly rather than rushing and doing things sloppily. There is a right way to sew a robe, there is a right wayto wash your bowl, and there is a right way to meditate. If you are sloppy then you find that you can waste many years. If you are meticulous, then you find thatprogress happens. These things occur through natural causes. You are not a factor, you are just an obstacle to the attainments. So get yourself out of the way andallow these things to happen. Then you will also enjoy the bliss of jhanas, and your monastic life will be assured and your power towards insights will bestrengthened enormously. In fact, with all your knowledge of the Dhamma, of the teachings of the Tipitaka, it will be very unlikely you won't get attainments. As theBuddha said in the Pasadika-sutta (D 29), four things can be expected, patikankha ,four benefits, anisamsa, there are practising the jhanas: the four stages of enlightenment. So may each one of you gain these jhanas and as the result, gain the benefits, the anisamsa. Just as the people who are staying the rains retreatautomatically get the anisamsa, the rainy season benefits. So much the same way, I maintain that if you practice the jhanas having got enough knowledge of theDhamma, you will certainly get the anisamsa, the four stages of enlightenment.So this is what I offer you today and what I can do for you. Now I will leave it for yourself.Question inaudible. ... You are mentioning that sometimes, late at night especially, one may experience tiredness and as such that one may use such things asthinking or verbalising to energise the mind. This is true, however, I would say that for you the achievements of the jhanas will come at unexpected times. The besttimes are obviously those you might call the quality times in the day: the times you do feel fit, energetic and clear. It is at those moments you should really push togain the four jhanas. At the times the body feels comfortable and the mind feels peaceful and you get the feeling inside you that the mind is set up, it is possiblefrom this stage that you get much deeper in your meditation. Those times will not come continuously throughout your day or week. But when those occasions doarise and you find that body and mind are like winged to go deeper, then do not waste those opportunities. However, at night-time or whenever you are feelingtired the chances are that you will not be able to get much depth in your meditation. But nevertheless it is a good time to train the mind, to go against thatsleepiness, to arouse energy by whatever means. You may not get into jhana from that state, but you are creating noble causes so that another time the mind willeasily get deeper into meditation. What you are overcoming here by saying 'no' to sleepiness is the mind's fixation with the comforts and needs of the body,because the feeling of sleep is an invitation of the mind to go into a comfortable physical abiding. You are saying: 'No, I am not interested in the comfort of theexternal world', so you are resisting, practising renunciation, and for that reason alone it is a worthwhile thing to do. However, the first experience of jhana will notcome if you are having such coarse obstacles in your meditation. Later on, when one becomes skilled in jhana then, whenever the mind is tired, you may have theability to enter jhana. It is not the ability of will power: it is the ability of experience born of wisdom to be able to bypass that tiredness, to go into a deep jhana, andthereby to be able to revive the mind and body.Some of the great meditation teachers and monks I knew in Thailand used to be able to do that. They would have been walking all day and would be feeling verytired, but they would be able to grab hold of their minds with wisdom, just the right amount of wisdom, and thereby revive their body as well as their mind. Youneed to be very skilled to do that.Question inaudible...You are asking whether reading will be an obstruction. This depends on two things. One is the material which you read and two is the way youread.If you read and you practise sustaining attention on what you are reading, putting your mindfulness on what you are doing, applying yourself to reading and notfinishing until the sutta is read. Not putting it down even though sometimes you feel tired or may want to go to the toilet or go outside for something. You can usereading as a way of sustaining your attention or something coarse, but you will still be developing that ability to commit yourself to a task and to maintain thatcommitment throughout.Secondly, the material which you read is important because if it is material which turns the mind inwards, which is talk on things like renunciation, simplicity,contentment, which is all you ever find in the suttas, then you will find that, that will be inspiring the mind and turning the mind in that direction. You will find that thatcan be very helpfulWhen I go on retreats I love to read the suttas and I do not find them a hindrance at all to samadhi practice, but a great support. If the mind is going to play in theexternal world it loves to play in the discourses of the Buddha. One gets joy and happiness there, but again it is a niramisa-sukha: a happiness not of the world,but of a happiness of renunciation.When you read some of the Buddha's words they just resound with renunciation. It is like someone is talking about one of your favourite places and when he talks WAYS AND MEANS INTO JHANA11/16/2013http://www.metta.lk/english/ways-jhana.htm4 / 7
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