Here is the complete jhana series on this blog:
- Jhana Wars! Pt. 1 What is Jhana Really?
- Jhana Wars! Pt. 2 Is Jhana Really Necessary (hint: yes)
- Jhana Wars! Pt. 3 Did The Buddha Invent Jhana?
- Jhana Wars! Pt. 4 Jhana Heavy vs. Jhana Light
- Jhana Wars! Pt. 5 The Jhana Formula
- Jhana Wars! Pt. 6 The Great Nimitta Debate
- Jhana Wars! Pt. 7 Doing Vipassana During Jhana?
- Jhana Wars! Pt. 8 The Immaterial Attainments
- Jhana Wars! Pt. 9 What Should My Expectations Really Be?
Is it reasonable to expect to get to jhana by meditating 20 minutes a day? Well, it’s certainly possible. The Buddha-To-Be fell into jhana without even trying as a child. Other people have reported similar experiences.
Still, it’s not the norm. Monks working with the Buddha himself have struggled to achieve jhana. While some teachers claim that large percentages of their students can achieve jhana in a 10 day retreat, I doubt it. It’s easy to fool yourself into believe that you have achieve high attainments, especially when a respected teacher is assuring you that you are. I think mostly they experience some jhana factors without the full experience. That’s ok, as long as they keep working to deepen their experience, but I don’t think their teachers are doing them any favors, ultimately.
What would this look like in practice? Let’s say you’re sitting, and you begin to experience jhana factors:
- a relaxed, focused mind
- peace, ease, tranquility
- bliss, joy, rapture
What do you do? Some teachers say, “Shake it off and get back to the business of seeing things as temporary, painful, and without essence.” Not the Buddha! Other say, “Congratulations, you’re done!” Please, don’t have that attitude. Instead, keep doing the practice that you have been doing. Dance with them what brung you, as they say in Texas, and see if those jhana factors intensify. Trust the practice, and it will bring you to the doorstep of liberation. Not all the way, but that’s another story…