How to Get Into Jhana (or A Date with Bliss, Deferred)

Rust

For a while I used to listen to a guided meditation by Bodhipaksa. It was a good recording, and I imagine he knows a thing or two. At his website he has a post, “How to get into jhana”. Jhana, for those of you not completely immersed in the technical language of meditation in Buddhism — is a blissful state one can achieve during concentration meditation. The piece begins with a description of the usual difficulties we often encounter, then:

“But once in a while, like a blessing, come joy and ease. We find ourselves effortlessly able to stay with our experience. Our distractions are nowhere to be seen. The mind is calm, and we’re deeply happy. We feel alive and vital. This kind of experience is called jhāna (Sanskrit: dhyāna), and it arises when the five hindrances of ill will, sense desire, restlessness and anxiety, sloth and torpor, and doubt have been dispelled. The turbulent emotions that normally fill our consciousness are gone, and we find that the mind is naturally joyful and focused.”

After that Bodhipaksa outlines, in a rather straightforward and non-woo woo way, the steps and characteristics of attaining jhana. It all sounds so easy. But wonder about this part. How do you get past the hindrances? That part looks very tricky.

“This kind of experience is called jhāna (Sanskrit: dhyāna), and it arises when the five hindrances of ill will, sense desire, restlessness and anxiety, sloth and torpor, and doubt have been dispelled. The turbulent emotions that normally fill our consciousness are gone, and we find that the mind is naturally joyful and focused.”

Can you dispel your ill will, sense desire, restlessness and anxiety, sloth and torpor? Do you even want to? The whole endeavor is decidedly non-trivial.

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kaleachapmanpsyd

Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

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