Friday, January 1, 2010
Just call it Jhāna
Your Jhāna attainment, safety and dangers.
Welcome to Read this Article
You are welcome to read this article. See, if you like you are welcome to continue, if you don't like it, just leave it.
What is Jhāna?
Jhāna is Jhāna. Jhāna is a pure and traditional Pāli word. We can't translate some traditional P āli words; if we could, the true essence of the word would get lost, such as The Buddha, Dhamma, Sugato, Arahant, Jhāna, and many more. So we just call it Jh āna.
There is a word in Vedic literature as well called “Dhāyana,” which has essentially the same meaning as the word Jh āna. In Hinduism or Vedic tradition Dhayana is regarded as meditation or a meditative state, considered to be instrumental in gaining self knowledge, separating Māyā (illusion) from reality to help attain the ultimate goal, Moksha. In ancient times, Dhāyana was also regarded as a kind of Yoga, such as Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jn āna yoga, and so on.
Now, if you want to translate the word Jh āna into English, Buddhist scholars translate Jh āna as absorption, specifically meditative absorption. Absorption itself has many other meanings like assimilation, combination, and inclusion of thoughts, etc. In clinical practice it can be called the disordered mind being put into order. So the concept of Jhāna is all about the mind and mentality.
In the Buddhist way of saying it, it is not just considered a process of putting the disordered mind into order but also self-actualization, and it can only be gained or understood through meditation. Therefore, Jh āna is a meditative state of profound stillness and concentration. It is sometimes taught as an abiding in which the mind becomes fully immersed and absorbed in the chosen object, with singleness of attention, characterized by non-dual consciousness. It is also practiced as an abiding to observe and gain insight into the flow of experience. Even for the Buddha’s own quest for enlightenment, Jhāna(s) was always His prioritiy. Though the Jh āna state is not the insight path yet, to enter the land of insight, Jh āna works as passport, visa or permission for landing. Another key point to articulate is that the breath continues in any state of the mind, even Jh āna , which can be described as a state of willful concentration on any object (Ek āggata), a one-pointed state of consciousness.
In Buddhist Traditional Way of Teaching-
Jh āna is a state of mind that is pure, skillful, concentrated, comprehended, educated, full of wisdon, freed from worries and stresses, freed from agitation, and freed from the 5 great hindrances (Panca-nivarana). We don’t use any electronic devices to scan this mental state, but it becomes visible in how you behave, with universal love-compassion-sympathetic-joy-equanimity in combination (mettā-karunā-mudit ā-upekkhā). If you try to compute it in the alpha-delta technique, you miss the point.
So, what are five hindrances that always agitate, and stress, and pollute the mind?
They are called-
1. K āmacchanda- indulgent in delightable sensual objects ( I would simply call it lust, causes huge trouble in societies).
2. By āp āda- ill-will, extreme dislike or extremity, war, conflict, revenge. Remember, those are just the mental states. Self-conflict, domestic violence and international violence are all caused by those states of mind.
3. Uddhacca-kukkuccha- restlessness, worry, and stress are also the mental states that we/you possess. To become stressed is to become lost.
4. Thina-middha- slothful, torpor, laziness, and dullness. No matter what or how, everything you do by/for yourself in this circumstance is dull. In such situation I could be called a depressed monk [laughter], you also could be called a depressed person.
5. Ditthit- doubt, wrong view, wrong perception, wrong school, wrong teaching, wrong teacher, wrong tradition, wrong book, and wrong technique. In here rather than the negative, I would say wrong also means the unwise or unskillful thought, intention, belief, and so on. So, no matter what you do, if you are in the wrong place and doing the wrong thing, you lose everything.
So, these are the five great hindrances identified by the Buddha that cause self-conflict, domestic, international, or global violence, both internally and externally. I strongly recommend that these five names should be given to American intelligence agencies FBI and CIA to put them on the most wanted list.
Well, those five great hindrances cannot be identified, caught, controlled, defeated, or stopped until you are trained in the three-fold training, namely morality, concentration, and wisdom (sila-sam ādhi-pannā). Following or practicing the Middle Way (Majjhima-patipada ) will be the only useful and wise way to defeat them.
This entire matter and process is about MENTALITY. That’s why the Buddha used to say “Cittena niyati loko”: the world is led by the mind.
One would not be surprised if the practicioners of the materialistic traditions of clinical psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, and counselling called this path a 'SPIRITUAL CRISIS'. Remember, governments have to create the job market, to keep money flowing to the insurance companies, and practitioners have to pay the bills. They also have to live. Well, now if you have respect for the Buddha’s first Noble Truth which is called “STRESS”, Dukkha, and are ready to face the so-called “SPIRITUAL CRISIS”, then let us face it. You are welcome to continue reading this article.
What is the Characteristic of Jh āna?
Jh āna itself is just peace, peace, and peace. When someone attains Jhāna, the mind is freed from disturbance, from all kinds of agitation. At that time, the mind produces only wholesome, skillful and wise thoughts. That means the mind is no longer disordered and defiled. This is the state where the mind is free from defilement.
There are two forms of Jh āna:
1. Rupa Jh āna- translated as fine-material Jhāna ( they are all together 15)
2. Arupa Jh āna- translated as immaterial or formless Jhāna ( 9 in total).
Stages of the Jh āna
There are five stages of a Jh āna attained mind
1. Vitakka- initial application that directs the mind towards the object
2. Vic āra- sustained application that examines the object again and again (positively!)
3. Piti- joy or pleasurable interests in the object
4. Vedan ā- feeling, sensation. There are only two kinds of feeling that arise in the Jhāna state, and they both are affirmative. A. sukha vedanā- pleasant or agreeable feeling, which is bliss, and B. upekkhā vedanā – neutral feeling, equanimity (non-judgemental but one pointed in the thought).
5. Ekaggatā- the one-pointedness or concentration. Mind is there concentrated.
The First Jh āna State
As I have mentioned earlier there are several kinds of Jhāna stages in several forms. I would love to talk about the first Jhāna more. If you ever attain the first Jhāna: job well done (but not done yet)! Why? I'll explain to you later on.
The very first state of the Jhāna-family is as follows-
“Vitakka, vicāram, piti, sukham ekkāgatam rupavacaran kusala jhāna cittam ekam”. To attain this Jhāna the meditator (or the client) must fix his mind on the meditation object to reduce and eliminate the lower or unskilled mental qualities which are called the great five hindrances (sensual pleasure or lust, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubt or confusion or wrong view), and advance the growth of five Jhāna stages (as above mentioned) with the unification of mind or one-pointed-ness, depending on the exact attainment in question). In this state, only subtle mental movement remains. The ability to form unwholesome intentions ceases.
The clinical way to say this is the disordered mind is now ordered and the client is ready to be released. That’s why I said, "Job well done (but not done yet)!"
If, for example, you are in the Jhāna state and you die, you will go straight away to the realm of super-being, or Brahma realm. Because of non-attachment to sensual pleasure, you will not be reborn in any desiring realms such as heavenly realms, hell realms, or even the human realm. Born in the realm of super-being you will only be meditating and enjoying being there at the present moment. Then you will only go upward through your concentration and meditation to the upper realms toward the final Jhāna state of Arupa Jhāna (the immaterial world) named Nevasanna-na-sannāyātana, which means the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. Can you imagine that situation! But you still breathe in this state and finally you head to the attainment of Nibbana, the end of suffering. Then you are done.
Clinical practitioners might call me insane, because I’m heading into NOTHINGNESS. Well, here's the REALITY. I want to say to them your reality is SEX, MONEY AND POWER, and my reality is MORALITY, CONCENTRATION and WISDOM.
You can name this NOTHINGNESS. Only we don’t call it nothingness but ever-lasting peace and happiness.
Your Dangerous Turns
Jhāna is not a permanent state. You must keep practicing in the way by which you attained it. The Jhāna state is like a rising and falling situation; it is not secured. You rise there with good intention and again you fall down with your desires. Jhāna does not secure your attainment but produces energies to fight against the five mental hindrances, and it produces peace, calm and happiness. Sometimes in Jhāna you live, leave, enjoy and come back. During those times, with a one-pointed mind, a person may develop EGO, a BIG EGO, a SUPER EGO. That is the most dangerous part, a dangerous turn. According to Buddhist teaching there is no real ego or absolute soul. We call it an illusion, a delusion, and the root cause of all mental unhappiness.
It becomes all about ego instinct, Freud calls it ID, EGO and SUPER EGO. Schopenhauer calls it SEXUALITY, LIBIDO, and SUICIDE, and the Buddha called it KAMATANHA (desire for sensual pleasure), BHAVATANHA (desire for existence), VIBHAVATANHA (desire for non-existence). According to Buddhist teaching, all kinds of desire have these kinds of effects and side-effects. So when someone attains Jhāna but does not continue his practice and again gets attached to himself and builds his ego, he keeps saying, "I have attained Jhāna," and talks about Jhāna for the purpose of gaining attention. If he does not keep practicing Jhāna, he might really get lost. In that situation, if you are a monk you might lose your attainment, your right path, then people will reconsider about you. You will become a controversial person, and finally you may lose your position and become excommunicated. If you are an ordinary follower and you build an ego as above mentioned. Your reality will be Sex, Money and Power instead of Morality, Concentration and Wisdom. That is the way you will lose your true identity.
The ego is created by a monk in this state by developing an attachment to the state that he has attained, experienced, and enjoyed. Because he developed concentration and one-pointedness, he knows what he does, but because of his purpose of gaining attention from others, getting profits from others or showing himself off to others, he creates an ego. Now in the clinical way of saying how mental or psychological practitioners develop ego, they read and write a lot, develop a certain kind of interest in other personalities, and start judging. That is the way clinical practitioners build a so-called ego.
Buddha told his students that to prevent such kinds of ego states they must not tell or show their attainments to others, even if they have attained such kinds of higher attainment or developed some kind of supernatural power. They should not tell anyone "I know this" or "I know that" (iti jānāmi, iti pssāmi). There is a rule for Monks, NOT TO SPEAK OF ATTAINMENTS. Breaking this kind of rules means loss of Monkhood (Pārājika, the 3rd grave rule).
The clinical way of saying this is: "I know this technique to prevent mental disorder I know that technique to prevent mental disorder." This is a kind of losing their personality.
How do these Hindrances could be Dangerous
In the Samyutta Nikaya, the Buddha explains with the aid of water as a smilies how each of these cloud one's mental vision. The mind at birth, the Buddha said is lustrous and pure. Its contact with the outer world that defiles and sets it a flutter like a fish thrown out of water gasping and grappling in the throes of death. The mind that for sense pleasures yearn is like a bowl of coloured water in whose admix of red, blue or yellow no true reflection of oneself can be seen. The mind that seethes with anger, is like a pot of boiling water in whose frenzy of making steam and vapour No true reflection of oneself can be seen. The mind that's overcome with sloth and torpor, is like a pond that's overgrown with moss and weeds In whose dark and murky depths of water, No true reflection of oneself can be seen. The mind to excitement and worry given, is like a sea of storm-tossed water in whose constant motion of to and fro no true reflection of oneself can be.
There are two kinds of reality: 1. Real reality (paramattha sacca). 2. Conceptual reality (pannatti sacca). I know that this is very controversial, but I still want to mention it. I want to talk about conceptual reality; in this present day this materialistic society, we regard conceptual reality as reality, and that is sex, money and power. That is the reality, and you seek after it. The real reality of the situation is that whatever you have--money, sex, or power--one day you will die or face death and the game is over. That is the real reality. So actually we are not heading into nothingness, we are heading to the everlasting mental peace which we call Nibbāna.
Good People do Bad Things
You might think I’m judging, maybe, maybe not. What will you say then? By saying this, it also means the one-ness, in this the conceptual reality helps us to practice real reality. For example, some one is asking you for a YES or NO answer. Then you have to choose yes or no. So then simply yes could be positive and no could be negative. One of my friends from USA suggested to me that I should not translate some words into Negative or Positive, but like the translation wise and unwise, skilful and unskilful. What is the big different? Why are we so allergic to such a conceptual matter? How would we be able to face the real reality?
Let us come back to the point. I’m going to explain to you how and why good people do bad things. Again, the reason is the EGO, SELF, or SOUL. If someone in Jhāna manages to end up with the EGO, thinking he or she is super good, then they leave themselves open to do super bad, too. We live in human society, and society doesn't judge things as they are. Mahatma Gandhi (Mahanlal Karamchand Gandhi) is one my favourite personalities. He is called Mahatma. Mahatma means the Great Soul (Maha means Great and Atma means Soul). He is also known as Bapu, the Father. He was such a patient, humble, devoted, dedicated, simple, and non-violent leader. The British occupation in India was in trouble because of his leadership. Even the British Crown was shaken by the leadership of this simple living Great Soul. There is a funny scene in one Indian movie: there is a drunken actor with his friend walking in the street. The drunk actor is asking his friend, “Look, I see there is a big doll, some one must have forgotten it.” Then his friend says, "no! this is our BAPU’s idol, and it is made as a memorial and veneration to our BAPU." You know, our Bapu was a very powerful man, he always had a bamboo stick in his hand, pointing the bamboo stick to the British saying “get out of my home”, and they did.
Yes, his soul had that kind of power, Maha Atma. Sad but true, though he was such a great soul his life was not a bed of roses. He was shot to death by Nathuram Godse, a terrible victim of the ethnical division of Hindustan-Pakistan. Gandhi's decision to divide of India and Pakistan caused massive destruction, millions of humans lives have been taken, women and children were raped-tortured, killed, and houses were burnt. Even now India and Pakistan are considered traditional enemies towards of each other.
In exactly the same way, Jhāna attainment could give you such a great soul or ego. Your skeleton could be worshipped as a symbol of a nation and your bamboo stick would be more destructive than American M-16 or a Russian AK47. If you manage to misuse such a great soul, your wrong decision would cause a massive destruction by taking millions of human lives, and you would shot to death.
In the same way, if you are a monk with a great soul or ego with your Jhāna attainment, you could be worshipped by the many followers and students, many countries and traditions would invite you to pay a visit and give teachings. If you misuse the Jhāna attainment with such soul or ego, people would be traumatized by your acts, by calling you a betrayer, a loser, liar, finally you would be excommunicated.
If you are a clinical practitioner with such a kind soul or ego in such Jhāna attainment, you could be awarded by the Nobel committee for your excellent research works, you could be a national hero, could get a Ph.D. or M.D., you might get more and more clients. If you manage to misuse such a soul or ego, you might lose your licence and be prohibited from seeing clients. I heard Freud had that sort of a bad time. Even you would manage to commit suicide yourself. I also heard there are many psychologists who have committed suicide.
Not Done Yet
As I indicated earlier, even though you have attained or experienced a certain stage of Jhāna, remember, you are not done yet. By your mental power (even a certain kind of miraculous power) or any other dignity you can be a king, queen, a president, a nobel prize winner, a good person in society, a good husband or wife, a good monk, a saint, a good psychologist or therapist, and so on. However, if we don’t keep practicing, we can get really messed up with nasty stuff.
Please note that Jhāna doesn’t eradicate mental hindrances from the mind. There is no insurance for that, no companies even do that business. But your Jhāna attainment encourages you and keeps secure your further development, it works like a security service. As long as you need security, or as long as you need help, Jhāna comes along and helps you. Jhāna depends on your moral or ethical (Sila) and concentrative circumstances (Samādhi). Only Pannā or wisdom can eradicate the metal hindrances through insight knowledge (Vipassanā).
So, yes, in this way, Jhāna has to kept in practice. If we don’t do that then we lose it.
If you are a good Buddhist, a practitioner of another faith, or a professional psychologist or counselor, if ever you have attained Jhāna or experienced Jhāna, DO NOT TELL anyone that you have experienced Jhāna and please don't misuse Jhāna. Avoid parties (especially where cocktails and DJ or Karaoke are available), try to live in a quiet place, avoid attending seminars often, be wise of what you eat, buy, sell and do. Be generous to others; care for others as well as the planet. And keep to your practice of meditation up.
If you are a city or village-dwelling monk (Gāmavāsi) who has experienced Jhāna and want to develop it further, you better go to the forest. Do not keep your diary or any data entry stuff, just meditate in the right way. If you are a forest-living monk (Arannavāsi) do not come out from the forest to a city or village. Do not keep your diary with you or any assistant. If you already have one throw it in the garbage bin. Do not fly often to other countries for teaching or any other purposes; do not receive any invitation. You're better off to go deeper into the forest and meditate in the right way.
Just call it Jh āna
The Buddha always advised his followers that they should try to attain at least a certain kind of Jhāna state in their present human lives. That’s why the purpose or ultimate goal of the Buddhist meditation is to attain at least Jhāna. Avoid intellectual analysis of Jhāna; just call it Jhāna, and if you wish to experience, go for it.
Well, there is no true conclusion. Nothing actually concludes until we attain Nibbāna. Everything has is effect and side-effect, action and reaction. What made me write this thing was a request from some Devoted Buddhists who are concerned about a matter. I promised them I would write and explain how these things happen. I have some friends here that I asked to read and correct the grammar of this article. They did correct my grammar and some said if any western psychologist read this article they would say that I don’t understand western psychology. And I said ‘maybe, maybe not’. Then I said to them that they don’t understand Buddhist psychology, ‘maybe, maybe not’. So, one of my friends in the U.S.A, who is 24, a student of psychology, a very wise person, knows about Buddhist teaching. I asked him to read this article, just as a general reader and comment on it. He said that it is very informative and very interesting to read, easy, clear. He also said that I was too overly concerned about the topic. I said, ‘Yes! thank you’, this is just what I wanted.' I told him that more than 90% of traditional Buddhists don’t understand exactly what Jhana is. And 95%f clinical practitioners have no idea or even never heard of what Jhāna is.
In my point of view, that is the Jhāna. If we want to know Jhāna or attain Jhāna we just need to go for it.
Thank you for reading this.