Tozen: The four states of Zen bliss/samadhi by means of Tathagata Zen


A good student asked me;

“If IT (the light) is a feeling, it is not the self. Then how is uniting with a
feeling the right progress (practice)? ”

My rather lengthy answer, which I recommend you read several times is as

You are referring to the second skandha (vedana-feeling/sensation) as a falsely
confirming root source for the light. The fact is that it is the undivided light
(Pure Mind/Unborn Mind) that is the root source of this elevated sensation
(sukha) you feel.

Because your spirit has insulated itself with a layer of false consciousness (4
skandhas with the fifth in the middle), you could see it as thus;

The light of your true nature (your true self) is going outwards like a circle
expanding like a wave simultaneously equal in all expanding directions, towards
the skandha walls and through them.

Hence with each produced wave, the skandha walls are ‘painted’ and verified as
‘real’ (because the light itself is absolute/real), which they are not. It was
therefore Buddha deemed them empty of self (anatta- of the light) and just mere
mind/light constructs.

What you are doing in your current state is experiencing a direct but
brief encounter with the light Within the skandha walls.
You are ‘surfing the light waves’ of the pure Unborn Mind ocean.
The bliss you are experiencing at this stage is a mere reverberation
from your skandha filters/walls ‘transforming’ an ‘interpretation’ of the joy
your spirit is undergoing during this change of view (from false to right).
See this ‘interpretation as a finger pointing at the moon SEEING the KNOWER of
this finger pointing act as the root source of joy.

As you practise to commune directly with the light and not what it ‘paints’
(like a radar beam ‘painting’ a target), this undivided light-wave will
gradually cease to reinforce your skandha filters/walls by this re-direction
(paravritti) from old habit/desire energy, thus making the pure light more
present in your spirit (true self).

This means that one day your spirit (Mind beyond body consciousness) will
discover it can ride the outwardly expanding light wave -ring THROUGH
the skandha walls, and suddenly awaken to the strange sensation of seeing its
old notion of self (its material body and its world) from ‘outside’, as if
consciously disembodied.

This again arises bliss in the form of the happiness of spiritual
self-realization and freedom (which is still incomplete). This is also your
spirits first SATORI, eg. enlightenment of your true self being greater, more
real than your mortal body consciousness (eg. the worldly persona built around
your mortal body and its temporal values).

From here on the way of Tathagata Zen becomes a joyful passionate practise. You
become the great surfer trying to ride the light wave all the way to the other
side, where the permanent shore of Nirvana awaits you where no corruption,
impermanence is possible.

Once there your bliss is now Nirvana because you know Nirvana as such, your
spirit has by awakening (Budh/Bodhi) confirmed to itself its absolute reality.

You have here now the option/choice to cut the undivided light feed to your
mortal body, at which it will instantly die due to heart failure or cessation of
the energy field sustaining all brain activity (skandhic consciousness) which
results in physical death or keep it alive as a source of nirmankaya teachings
with which you can teach those whom cannot see your ‘surfer self’, sambhokaya
body in the sambhokaya realms.

If you sever the ties with your nirmankaya body (your worldly body) you are
said to choose to permanently stay on the shore of Nirvana which equals

So to sum up the nature of bliss. It is fourfold;

1. Bliss of 1st jhana in accordance with Tathagata Zen standards
(not theravada).

The mind is in an erratic communion (contact) with the undivided light by means
of Zen or dhyan meaning contemplation of the undivided light which is
continuously produced by your Unborn Mind in the form of outwardly going waves
from a centered singular point (absolute singularity-dharmakaya).
Thus the expression “Let there be light”. Indeed the Light of creation, paints
the world and everything in it.

Confirming Signs: The adept is experiencing brief moments of bliss, translated
through the skandha filter vedana. All experienced as natural happiness. A
soothing but intermitent cloud of well being pervades the adepts body and its
mortal consciousness. Wakes up happy or content in the morning, goes to sleep
happy or content in the evening.

Any meditation on the undivided light of the Unborn Mind, is entered easy and
not as before when mind tried to meditate on ‘states’ or simple light-less
phenomena/objects , constrained, forceful.


2. Bliss of 2nd jhana. Mind of the adept is now in complete union with the
light and the sensation of the material body is lost/gone/not present in any way
(much like peaks of perfect sexual orgasms without any physical sensations).

This is called Samadhi. The states of Samadhi are usually in three parts/levels.
The first level was described above of 1st jhana. The secondary level takes
focused willpower and maintaining it takes even more will. But good practise
(right concentration of the light) always brings good results.

All this will comes easy as the adept knows now that there is something worth
struggling for. Consequently right concentration (on the light) comes more easy
than before where there was only faith but no right view of the undivided light
beyond the skandhic walls.

This bliss, 2nd jhana samadhis of various strengths and durations, can be very
strong, due to NO NOTION of the heavy body consciousness and its gross world
phenomena. It is very addictive and candidates prone to past obsessions with
drugs or similar things should be careful not to get stuck here.

The knowledge of being beyond this stage is described below in 3d jhana.

Confirming Signs:

Extreme bliss of perfect ‘freedom’. Complete fearlessness. Like a huge stone
has dropped from your chest and you feel the sensation of extreme lightness
almost able to ‘fly’ away from this world.
Once you ‘come back’ to samsaric mind reality thing might seem to be in extreme
colors, heightened smell sensation, heightened hearing, ‘precognitive eyes’
(used by extremely skilled samurai’s trained by rinzaimasters in ancient japan)
and many more Mind heightened abilities/siddhis.


3. Bliss of 3d Jhana. Mind of adept has now by being in perfect union with the
light wave of the Unborn Mind broken through the skandha wall and disembodied
from the body consciousness fully conscious with his awakened SPIRIT
consciousness (standing on vulture´s peak). One can say that the adept is now on
the other side of the fence surfing the undivided light waves of pure Mind
Ocean. The sensation ofSELF-OTHER now at a minimum.

Confirming signs: Adepts mind perfectly equate with the real medium of undivided
light, Mind Only thus naturally mindful of the light ocean as more real
than samsara (the world of the body consciousness).

Blissful knowledge arises instantaneously about the Unborn Mind’s sheer
productiveness of constructing-destroying phenomena without the slightest
discrimination. Each arisal of a phenomenon,whether it be a thing, an action, a
sensation is instantly born with its counterpart end (its destruction), thus
birth and death of any-thing is seen instantly as such and right knowledge
of interdependent origination arises in the light pervaded, fully pure Mind of
the Adept.

The extreme bliss of the effortless function known as NO-thought and NO-Mind
arises. Eg. the wisdom filled light PRE-STATING/antesceding the construct of a
single thought. The adept instantly realises that this is far superior to a
thought stream that ‘takes time’ and only useful in a temporal samsara. Thus the
mindful self-acknowledgement of this highly samadhic ability is
investigated eagerly with each dhyana session where dis-embodiment from the body
consciousness and surfing on the light ocean occurs.


4. Bliss of 4th Jhana. The adept with a pure spirit body/consciousness stands
now on the permanent shore of Nirvana where neither pleasure nor pain permeates
this deathless body of pure mind. If the choice arises to permanently ‘stay’,
eg. hereby severing all connection with samsaric body, this act
equals Pari-nirvana.

Most dharma dragons prefer though to complete the remaining natural karmic age
of their nirmankaya bodies, by teaching the true dharma to their student/s until
moment of ‘death’ occurs to the body. When that happens, the dharma dragon is
already beyond the death pains of the body, and not touched by the karma known
as ‘Death’ which plagues ordinary beings.

Confirming signs: Impossible to translate signs to words. Must be experienced
directly as Buddha and all dharma sages have recommended since beginninngless


Best regards



Addendum 11/19/13

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

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.

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