Follower and fellow meditator Vern Lovic wrote us recently to share exciting news: Meditative absorptions (jhanas) are accessible!
He states, "I'd like to hear from others experiencing jhana [because] for me, they came within a year. I started Jhana8.com to share some of my experiences. I hope, if you are experiencing something like [blissful absorption] during meditation, you write and share it..."
Wisdom Quarterly is dedicated to reviving the original teachings of the historical Buddha which is as much about kindness-compassion, serenity, and concentration (metta-karuna, shamatha, and samadhi) as scholarship, insight, and wisdom (atthakatha, vipassana, and panya).
Those original teachings are buried in the books and can be pulled out by careful, critical reading of the sutras aided, but not bound to, the commentaries.
Unlike many modern Asian teachers and their misled American Buddhist students, the commentaries are a precious resource. They are vital to the practice of meditation. Why? So much information is left out of chanted, oral tradition discourses, which in fact serve more as outlines and aids to memory not detailed sets of instructions.
One of the most detailed discourses dealing with instructions is the discourse on the establishing of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. But try to practice those instructions without a skilled teacher relying on the commentaries and a personal practice, and it quickly becomes apparent that the sutra is not enough.
In ancient times no one worried that it was insufficient because no one set out to meditate exclusively dependent on sutras. This is a living oral tradition still -- with regard to implementing the actual practices outlined in the discourses. Masters still meet with students and guide them in very detailed ways not found in books, ancient or modern.
Unfortunately, there is a "fundamentalist" anti-commentary attitude prevailing as if only the repetitive, stereotyped texts were the words and teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha taught meditation details directly. The information was preserved in commentarial literature and passed down as a living practice. Somehow in spite of everything it survives. Make a sincere wish to find it then go search for it and, karma willing, resources will reveal themselves.
Of course, we are familiar with many students of the most Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, a scholar-monk able to teach insight meditation to the ultimate degree. He does not shy away from teaching mastery of the absorptions as an aid to the final goal.
For it is based on a firm foundation of serene absorbed concentration and applied mindful investigation of the 12 links of Dependent Origination that enlightenment arises.
- One fantastic teacher to seek out is Ven. Dhammadipa -- a polyglot Western monk who is ordained in both Theravada and Mahayana traditions, of long standing, a personal friend of Bhikkhu Bodhi, a chief student and translator of Pa Auk Sayadaw, and a monk willing and able to teach Western students.
- The nuns Sayalay Susila and Ayya Dipankara are also very skillful and accomplished teachers who speak English and have a profound understanding of serenity-and-insight.
- We can also recommend the lay teachers Shaila Catherine, Stephen Snyder, and Tina Rasmussen without reservation.
- There are, of course, other excellent teachers, a growing number of them Americans. Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Pema Chodron, Leigh Brasington, Shinzen Young, Ruth Denison, Joseph Goldstein, and so on.
- Ajahn Brahm, Bhante G... there may even be hope for the self-ordained Jhanananda, and there is certainly something extraordinary about Daniel Ingram.
- adhicittasikkhā: [adhi+citta+sikkhā] training in higher mind. Adhi-citta-sikkhā is defined by the Buddha at AN 3.90. It is identical with the culture of sammā-samādhi, that is, the development of the first four jhānas. It is one of the three sikkhās.
- Dhyana in Buddhism
- Ven. Gunaratana (Wheel 351) West Virginia
- (BhavanaSociety.org) Should we come out of jhana?
- (DharmaWeb.org) Travelogue to the Four Jhanas, Ajahn Brahm
- (Theravadin.wordpress.com) Reflecting on the Jhana Factors
- (Scribd.com) Clarification on Feelings in Buddhist Dhyana...
- WhatBuddhaTaught.net: Ajahn Brahm on The Jhanas
- Surfing on the Wave of Bliss
- (Budsas.org) Jhanas
- (AccesstoInsight.org) Jhana
- (Dhammasukha.org) Study