Staying in the Mind Current

susdhyana

iii. 2. Dhyana

3.2 Uninterrupted Meditation

Dhyana is sustained Dhāranā. After mastering the ability to remain focused on one point without any interruption, one then develops the ability to enter into an uninterrupted current of focus. It is said that when one enters into Deep Dhyana then one is truly meditating. For instance, one sets aside a particular time frame for meditation, say One-Hour. At the end of the session it felt like you were only participating in this for just 5 minutes—it’s then that you know you’ve been truly meditating. If, on the other hand, the whole experience seems so laborious—unending—then you are certainly not in the “current”, but rather, fighting against it.

This is pure merging with the Non-Dual Mind Itself; the discursive-thought process is now cessated. This is also known as Dhyana—when the “process” of transcending all conflicting thought patterns is effectively administered within the mind of the yogin. Technically Patañjali states that this meditative (Dhyana) process effectively stifles the mind fluctuations (vrtti) of the lower body-consciousness, thereby empowering the Pure and Unimpeded Primordial (Amala) Consciousness to shine through. One can also say that paravrtti, or the turning-about from all the former lower-mind fluctuations, occurs during this junction. It’s all beyond measured-time as well, as the yogin—centered in Deep Dhyana—flows now in the Primordial Mind current that transcends Time and Space. This is what’s authentically known as “Now”. Not a “now” that is just an isolated interval between past and future, but the Eternal-Now of Suchness.

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8 Responses to Staying in the Mind Current

  1. Neti-Neti Yeti says:

    Vajragoni, I have experienced these realizations, exactly as described, the timelessness and lower body consciousness, etc. This does not happen every session, sometimes I have only light, vexed meditation although this is becoming very rare. How do we actually know if this turning about has taken place? By what means do we know if it is an authentic realization? Generally, if I had to guess, I would say my meditations probably drift anywhere from the second or third jhana. In zazen I am not sure I have ever technically gone past the second jhana but I am reasonably certain I have gone beyond the first, and I certainly would not exclude the possibility of having realized the fourth at rare moments, for reasons difficult to explain here. Yet I am very skeptical of any mental construct which claims to measure advancements in meditation, and I don’t grasp to any of these peak moments. So I am a bit surprised to see that what is described here as deep meditation is something I regularly experience, without being able to confirm to my own satisfaction that I am getting past even the initial stuff.

    • Vajragoni says:

      By what process are you trying to measure any kind of “success”, and for “whose” satisfaction? Remember, it’s not “you” who’s supposed to be entering into the turn-about. Also, what do you mean by experiencing timelessness, but at the same time some form of “lower body consciousness?” I think Tozen can better help you here, in particular in discerning what layer of jhana you’ve been experiencing.

  2. Neti-Neti Yeti says:

    Yes, of course you’re right. I meant both timelessness and stifling of the body consciousness — as if everything drops through the bottom of the bucket so to speak. Not that I experience both body and timelessness at the same time. Sorry, poor communication on my part.

    I have rarely even questioned such things, but have been following this series with interest and thought I’d chime in with the doubt to see how other meditators view what appears to be (at the surface) the same experience.

    These experiences in my case have been the fruit of self-guided meditative practice (without a formal teacher or training or discipleship of any kind). This is not overt ego-affirmation (at least not at all intended to be) but to clarify the matter because I am trying to understand whether what others are experiencing is the same as what I am experiencing.

    Some years back, I had a profound experience in meditation which changed my view of everything by a discovery of single-pointed concentration of conciousness on a point outside the body. The result was quite unexpected and led to very earnest dharma study and a more disciplined approach to meditation, when I took up zazen an intensive scriptural study.

    This experience was very similar to what I’ve found in the literature to be described as satori or kensho, and I have neither expected not tried to repeat it, but it was a kind of wake-up call so to speak. That’s one of the reasons why I am puzzled by this series, because the end result seems to have happened first.

  3. Neti Neti Yeti says:

    Come to think of it, no need to bother Tozen with any of this. It actually doesn’t matter. There is no real reason why I’d need to know one way or the other.

    • Vajragoni says:

      On the contrary my dear friend…I believe that Tozen’s experience can shed much light on the matter…the only other thing I’d like to add at this point is that yes, many people wonder why Patanjali seems to start (in Book I) off with the culmination of the teachings first. This revolves around the classical impetus of defining the heart of the matter first, and then working (apparently backwards) to fill-in the foundations that need to be met before one actually “yokes” with the Ultimate Treasure. Much like a great adventure story that starts off with the clues first, and then gradually revealing the whole picture. Orson Welles “Citizen Kane” comes to mind.

  4. Tozen says:

    NetiNeti;

    It is always hard to determine the spiritual state of a student over the internet. I have watched you. You show promise yet you are a layman (a family father) and hence fettered to the world in ways that might make any real spiritual progress hard for you as long as these duties remains.

    I have written more treatises on the various aspects of dhyana, then I can remember (laughs). Most of them are archived in my School (Zen school of the Unborn Mind) which is heavily based on the more mystical Lankavatarian aspects of Buddhism and hence not aimed for the average person.

    Wiki has an excellent page on jhanas here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhy%C4%81na_in_Buddhism

    Reading it you should remember that the 9th stage in Theravada tradition  (Nirodha-Samapatti) is more or less the 2dstage in genuine Chan meditation of the old schools (and our UBM school).

    It is the stage where the student through the spiritual eyes of his or hers dormant bodhisattva (bodhi child) for the first time stands face to face with the IMAGELESSnature of his own True Unborn Mind. This is an awesome experience and more or less makes the now partly awakened “child” Mind conscious of its true immortal body in relation to that repulsive heap of bones and flesh “beneath” it.

    It is here the true path of Zen or Chan begins,  and the tenfold path of the awakened bodhisattva,  as the “newborn” Spiritual Child (little Mind) now starts its journey (return) towards its predestined Buddhahood (Tataghata) with the aid of the Buddhas.
     
    Lets see what old Hsuan Hua sais about the four Jhana stages in the tradition of his Chan school (I have borrowed this part from the wiki linked I pasted in this post);

    “Venerable Hsuan Hua, who taught Chán and Pure Land Buddhism, outlines the four preliminary stages of dhyāna

    1. In the First Dhyāna, there is the arising of bliss. The external breathing stops, while the internal breathing comes alive, and it is said that the mind is as clear as water and as bright as a mirror. When the external breathing stops, the nose and mouth do not breathe. While in this state, the mind and body have a feeling of existing within empty space.

    2. In the Second Dhyāna, there is pure bliss born from samādhi. In this stage, there is said to be happiness without compare. After reaching this stage, it is said that some practitioners may go without food or water for many days and still be alright. When in this second stage, not only does the external breathing stop, but the pulse comes to a stop as well. After leaving this state, the pulse resumes its normal function.

    3. In the Third Dhyāna, the joy of the previous stages is left, leaving only a subtle and blissful peace. At this stage it is said that not only do the breathing and pulse stop, but idle thoughts stop as well. Although idle thoughts have been cleared away, it is emphasized that this stage is nothing special, and just part of the progression. At this stage, the body becomes as soft as the body of an infant. Softness and suppleness of the body is considered to be a physical indicator of the quality of an individual’s samādhi. Nan Huai-Chin states: “All the eminent monks of great virtue in the past were able to predict what day they would die, and even on the brink of death their bodies were as soft and supple as a baby’s. Others who were even more lofty turned into a field of light, and their human forms disappeared. At most all they left behind were a few pieces of fingernail, or a lock of hair as a memento.”

    4. In the Fourth Dhyāna, the only manifestation is that of complete purity and perfection.At this stage one is still considered the stage of an ordinary mortal, and still far from the Nirvāṇa of the fully enlightened buddhas.In the tradition of Chinese Buddhism, it is said that those individuals who have reached this stage sometimes choose to walk with their feet one inch above the earth, so they do not harm any living beings.”

    What is not mentioned here is the reason why the breathing and pulse stops, or may stop, at the third stage.

    That is because the Bodhi-child is awoke (bodhisattva 1st bhumi) and fully conscious of its SPIRITUAL body(going basically WOW like a happy child would opening a huge christmas present by its parents- Buddhas). That happens because it is at this stage temporarly freed and fully residing as a self conscious manomayakaya “above” the carnal body; a body that has been a source to so much gulping of its spiritual energy (bodhi power) through countless life times, in order for it to function, move around and transmit the experinced sensor data received, to the childs dreaming Mind.

    That of course, leading to much distress and suffering, is not active or a HINDRANCE, and thus an extreme sense of bliss arises from being free from this evil creation of countless desires, fears and ignorance (avidya) by the constant tricks of the evil lord of all samsaric body consciousness, whether demons, animals, men or gods – (Mara).

    As you now have probably understood, this third jhana, is also the stage of experienced disembodiment.

    Some might experience it in the 2nd Jhana (Chan style), but most whom have their bodhi children awaken at with happy tiny hands at the wheel of that slimy smasaric avatar beneat them, do it in this stage.

    Those with few bonds to the saha world, even choose to completely sever the spiritual energy (bodhi power/Prana) link to the rupa which instantly turns its LIFE-LESS.

    In ancient Greece we would say the rupa is now without PSYCHE (Life force -bodhi power).

     As you can see Hsuan Hua describes this in his own special terms. Some Tibetan schools/lineages  describe this as the stage where the child has the choice to create a rainbow body (body of light) or possesses its true light body which  hasthe power to destroy the rupa by phasing it out of reality by the power of their immensely enhanced rupa liberated bodhisattva minds.

    You seem to have entered and experienced the two or three rupa jhanas in the Theravadic tradition, but you have with certainty not even entered the 1st state or Jhana in the old Chan Tradition.

    But do not feel disencouraged. Instead you should feel priviliged to have stumbled over this opportunity in this very life time where mopst others will not. A life time where you have the opportunity to approach the path you so desire within yourself with new means and that wondrous spiritually blessed child, the future Buddha to be, that lies dormant within you, in a cocoon of dreams, waiting for the Light of Lights,, of its true parents (the Tataghatas) to break through and wake it up on the other shore of Nirvana.

    May I read this Unborn Mind mantra to it, as to bless it with good merit and steady virtues to help it on its way.

    Bodhi – gate gate,
    dharmasvaha gate,
    dharma parasam gate,
    bodhi svaha. [1]

    [1] Homage to the enlightened Mind,
    by the excellent light of the dharma,  
    has awakened on the other shore,
    with a body freed from suffering.

    .

    In dharma,

    Tozen

    • Vajragoni says:

      Tozen,

      I have added your superb insights as an addendum to your “The four states of Zen bliss/samadhi by means of Tathagata Zen”. Thank-you!

  5. Neti Neti Yeti says:

    Tozen,

    Thank you for the beautiful reply. I must be brief because of the duties aforementioned. However in reading the Chan 1st jhana I have for some time noticed that my breathing slows and then stops entirely in certain sessions of meditation and that I breathe with an inner breath, without the slightest difficulty. I have to actually remind myself to breathe when this occurs. This has puzzled me until now, seeing your explanation. Going without food or water is more difficult — a three day fast for me is a significant challenge, which I do undertake from time to time for cleansing and clarity.

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