using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Winter 2009
62 a railroad track. There is a well-defined track that leads to full emancipation. Incorrect jhana—jhana without mindfulness— can lure you off the track and into a cul-de-sac. The challenge is that this cul-de-sac is in a very attractive location. You can sit there forever enjoying the view. After all, what could pos- sibly be better than profound ecstasy? The answer, of course, is a lasting liberation that frees you from all suffering, not just for the period you are maintaining your ecstatic state. The second danger is also perilous. The jhana states are rare accomplishments. When we attain them we begin to con- ceptualize ourselves as very special people. “Ah, look how well I am doing! I am becoming a really advanced meditator. Those other people cannot do this. I am special. I am becom- ing enlightened!” Some of this may, in fact, be true to a greater or lesser degree. You are special. And you are becoming an advanced meditator. But you are also falling into an ego trap that will stall your progress and create discouragement for everyone around you. You must take these cautions seriously. The ego is subtle and clever. You can fall into these traps without knowing you are doing so. You can engage in these harmful ways of being with the full conviction that you are not doing so! This is where the teacher enters the picture. Teachers have walked the full path themselves, and can shepherd the process and keep you from fooling yourself too badly. The value of a true teacher, especially in the middle and later stages of jhana practice, cannot be overstated. Please seek one out. The Jhana States As you practice jhana-oriented meditation, you move gradu- ally through mental states that become more and more subtle. You start where you are now and you go far, far beyond. You move beyond the range of concepts and sensory perceptions. We really cannot talk about such things with any real preci- sion. Our normal concepts just do not apply to the noncon- ceptual. Yet that is where the jhana states lead, and we must use words to describe it. As we proceed through the coming description of the jhana states, words become more and more metaphorical. It cannot be helped. All we have are the con- cepts of our perceptual realm, but we must keep in mind that we are not really telling the full truth. Only the experience itself will reveal the truth. There are two categories of “mundane jhanas.” The states in the first category do not have names. They are simply num- bered first, second, third, and fourth jhana. These are called the “material jhanas” or the “fine material jhanas.” Those who have attained these jhanas are called “those who live happily in this very life.” The second category is known as the “immaterial jhanas” because the meditation objects of these jhanas are pure con- cepts, not anything material. You center your mind upon a concept until it takes you into a direct, nonconceptual experi- ence. Those who have attained these jhanas are called “those who are liberated and live in peace.” These two categories of mundane jhanas are followed by the “supramundane jhanas.” The Material Jhanas The material jhanas are four states of experience that lie just beyond our ordinary cognitive, sensory world, but still have some relationship to it. The First Jhana As you enter the first jhana, something remarkable happens. There is a total break with normal thought and perception. Your mind suddenly sinks into the breath and dwells. The breath is still there, but it is no longer a “thing.” It is just a subtle thought, much like a memory or an afterimage. The Bhante henepola Gunaratana was born in rural Sri lanka and became a monk at age twelve. he took full ordination at age twenty. after arriving in the united States in 1986, he became the founding abbot of the Bhavana Society, based in West Virginia. he is the author of the classic meditation manual Mindfulness in Plain English. this teaching is adapted from his new book, Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English, published with permission of Wisdom publications. KuanSeng The jhanas taste like liberation, but they are not that total freedom; they are temporary states that eventually end. Still, through the jhanas you can be assured experientially that liberation is not just a theory.