While you wait for the new jhana guide…

I’ve received a lot of messages asking me when the new jhana guide is coming out. That’s fair enough — I have been talking about it for around a year now.

The introductory chapters are written. I got sidetracked however by things like real life, client work, and of course cultivating the siddhis and fucking around with gambling.

But I should probably now set a date for when the jhana guide is going to be released, for myself if no one else. I intend to make it available some time in February. There will be a charge — I am thinking of something like $30. This will a membership fee, giving you access to an “Ask Me Anything” in the comments section of the guide, and some hidden techs and other resources.

Actually, I don’t know what I would keep hidden. The goal of this site is to raise the consciousness of all people, and I don’t consider any tech off limits for that. Humanity really, really needs an upgrade. I’ve already shared the fundamentals for free, anyway, in various posts and especially in the comments sections recently. There is literally nothing you cannot obtain from the information already shared. All the forthcoming guide(s) will do is wrap it up in a neater package.

The fee for the guide is just to cover my time. It will also show who’s serious about practice, since participation in the discussion will hold you accountable for how often you practise. The fee will therefore mainly be to receive priority message time from me in the comments section. The benefit there will be that not only will you be able to read replies to your own comments, but to everyone else’s too. It could be quite a resource when it’s finished, better even than Absolutus’s AMA — in fact, this one will be very tech-heavy (which his wasn’t), so it could be a lot more useful. Obviously, time spent replying to non-membership comments in the rest of the blog will go down as there are only so many hours in the day.

After the first year I will probably lift membership restrictions and make the guide publicly available. I have no interest in making a living from this site, or being a “guru” or a cult leader, with hidden shenanigans behind closed doors. I have other skills to make money, and I made this site mainly because I love writing and communicating with people — and, of course, creating and sharing this great tech.

Anyway, so let’s set February in our minds for when this guide comes out. In the meantime, if you are not already an experienced meditator, you need to head over to this post immediately and begin implementing the following meditation every day, for 30-minute sessions, until the guide comes out: 

Basic Mindfulness Meditation

Practising nothing but mindfulness in this style, for a recommended period of two months, is going to be the first step in the new jhana guide anyway. The reason for this is as follows.

I get questions from two types of people, via email and via the comments sections. We could call them “pre-mindfulness” and “post-mindfulness” people.

  • The pre-mindfulness people have not practised mindfulness long enough to even be attempting jhana (concentration meditation), in my opinion. Their questions tend to involve asking what to do about thoughts. In fact, their questions are almost entirely about thoughts. “I tried concentrating on the breath but I can’t even go one second without having a thought!”, said an email I received just today. This preoccupation with thoughts is exactly the reason why basic mindfulness training is required. Getting beyond thoughts is basically lesson #1, and you can’t skip over it. For many of you, you will require an extended period of just mindfulness practice before you start getting noticeable gaps between thoughts. The goal there is not jhana but, rather, confidence that you can calm your own mind. (Soon, after some practice, you will begin to realize that thoughts are a nonentity and can be easily dismissed or ignored.)
  • The post-mindfulness people (e.g. Yuki and Mayath, recently) crossed the no-thought bridge a long time ago and are now into the fun stuff. Their questions (if they have any) are about technique or the meaning behind experiences, and are mostly obscure and incomprehensible to pre-mindfulness people. These guys don’t need to ask about thoughts or general mindfulness methods because they solved those problems a long time ago by putting the hours in.

The guide will cater amply to both camps. However, I will say again, the first instruction in the guide is going to be for you to put in a minimum of two months of basic mindfulness — so, if you haven’t already done that, now is the time to do so. The guide will hopefully be ready for you soon after that!

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26 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    I agree with you charging. I was going to suggest a membership model. I hope plenty of people take you up on this. You deserve some reward for all you have given.

  2. Edenist Whackjob says:

    Will you be doing a podcast tour?

  3. Bishop says:

    So exciting!

  4. Chrome says:

    I haven’t tried cocaine so I don’t know it feels like – but I imagine it feels a bit like this? Does jhana feel like you are very wired yet calm? I’m hitting a mental state regularly after concentration meditation that lingers between equanimity and rapid energy, and a surge of energy particularly at the back of my neck – it makes my eyes go pretty wide, and objects in my vision seem to vibrate particularly rapidly after exiting meditation (almost like fuzz in my vision but it’s part of everything?) You feel giddy afterwards, like you feel like laughing? No sharp inhales or exhales either, so I know I’m not coming off a pranayama high.

    Really looking forward to the guide, with the comment section section discussion being really informative as it is, I know we can’t go wrong.

    • Illuminatus says:

      That sounds like rapture (one of the early jhana factors — seguing into bliss then deep equanimity). You should try to cultivate that feeling while doing concentration meditation — it could catapult you into jhana.

      • Chrome says:

        Getting a lot of eye tremors and some face tremors, is this a sign of entry along with lingering equanimity and one-pointedness without focus (sensations along the nose bridge)?

        • Illuminatus says:

          Sounds close, yes. You should try to relax the breath — make it bigger, and softer, while maintaining the one-pointedness on the nose bridge. Jhana won’t be far.

  5. Mayath says:

    Sounds great and glad to be mentioned 🙂 I like the idea of trying to make something even better than Absolutus AMA. His Ama is what kicked it all off for me really.

    The pre-mindfulness people should just read The Mind Illuminated and apply it. It has alot of potential solutions to any beginner problems you may have. Also don’t be afraid to play around and come up with your own solutions to problems. Meditation is an art.There’s only so much someone can guide you.

  6. sebster says:

    I am defiently looking forward to this guide, I a love the concept of a special membership model. 🙂

  7. P_locked says:

    Really looking forward to this guide as well. I have been practicing concentration meditation for a year with very little results. I’ve experienced random generations of piti sometimes but never felt so engrossed in the object that my field of vision lights up and pleasure floods my body and senses. Therefore, I’ve jumped back to step 1 and have solely cultivated mindfulness.

    Would you say, Illuminatus, that it is acceptable to practice mindfulness on the bridge of the nose or is that too small of an area to bring your awareness to that it would interfere with the goal of mindfulness meditation. I find that when I meditate with a goal of mindfulness, I start out with bring my attention back to the large object of the breath going in and out of my entire nose whenever a thought arises to bringing my attention back to the bridge of my nose whenever a thought starts to arise. Would you consider that progress or should I just stick to the one overall object of my nose?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I think general mindfulness should be a whole-body process. The breath as a whole should be focused on. This can include things like “body scanning” — darting attention around to any tense places that present themselves.

      I think a general goal of mindfulness should be reduced verbal thoughts — but this is achieved by using body-attention instead. So, you don’t attempt to suppress thoughts in this state, but rather keep training your awareness to notice that thoughts also have a body component (some tension here, a current there, which generates them). And also notice how thoughts affect the breath. So it’s training a different type of awareness (body awareness) in order to train a different mode of attention to ordinary monkey-mind thinking.

      You should then switch to a tiny area of attention, e.g. the bridge of the nose, for concentration meditation — and it is during this meditation that you actively suppress thoughts, and you do this by flexing the “concentration muscle” (see my latest post: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/mailbag-dark-stuff-behind-the-eyelids-as-object/)

  8. Rishi says:

    Hello Illuminatus,

    Thanks for your posts. Sometimes the right just comes to you.

    I am following your recent advice concerning Mindfulness practice and also looking forward to your guide in 2 months.

    Just had a query:

    Now that I’m doing it let my ‘being’ decide on the nature of the meditation. For example somedays the sound of breath, snsation in nostrils, abdomen or just now – a feeling of ‘breath of life’ coming from and going back to the centre of my chest.

    In practice – I don’t know what ‘style’ I am doing even though I know that being with the breath is the main thing.

    I try mindfulness like you said with a ‘gentle attention’ then get lost in thought so I bring it back.

    This seems very similar to concentration meditation. Actually similar to Anapana which is insight meditation if I’m not mistaken.

    So how do I distinguish between whether I’m doing mindfulness, concentration or insight?

  9. P_locked says:

    Hey Illuminatus,

    I have been doing mindfulness meditation every day while waiting for this Jhana guide. I got the closest to jhana yesterday when after my mindfulness session, I felt calm and confident enough to give concentration a shot. I focused on the bridge of my nose and just eased into the breath. I read some of your new comments about nursing it and did just that. I played with it for 20 minutes and then felt locked on. My vision started to become a bit luminous but I experienced nothing of the flashing white light sort. I started to feel some pleasure around my body but I’ve felt that so many times before I ignored and stayed at that spot. I then began to derive pleasure from the bridge of my nose but ignored that and kept feeling the sensations of the breath. Unfortunately, when I used my peripheral awareness, I noticed that my body had tensed up and me trying to relax it while focusing was just not going to happen very easily so I gave up. I have to say though that the mindfulness has helped a lot in getting myself to this point. I just need to work on stopping myself from subconsciously tensing up when the intensity of my concentration rises. Otherwise, the entire time I was pretty relaxed.

    I wanted to know about your opinion on this method (http://www.yogaforums.com/forums/f20/technique-to-obtain-a-100-hard-jhana-or-very-solid-state-of-samadhi-with-ease-10603.html) posted by Siro on yogaforums.com. It sounded a lot like Absolutus when he talked about sitting in a classroom but I digress. Here, he uses mindfulness and concentration to achieve jhana. I tried it before I started mindfulness but considering my weak awareness before, it did not help me.

    • Illuminatus says:

      I think that Siro is blatantly Absolutus but he denied it when I asked him. Anyway, that doesn’t matter. There’s nothing wrong with that method so give it a go and let us know what happens.

      I personally don’t like noting because my mind becomes aware of far more “thoughts” than I could ever possibly label. My mind becomes aware of itself looking for thoughts to note, too, which makes it recursive and adds to the noise. It’s just a clusterfuck. But that’s my personal subjective experience of it. That technique could work great for other people. I might actually give it a try in the next few days to see what happens.

      The jhana guide isn’t going to happen. This site is my hobby and when deadlines and promises start getting made it’s no longer fun. I will release everything I was going to say as a series of posts, which I have been doing anyway. The next one is half-written and will be out tomorrow morning. It talks exclusively about working with mental objects (e.g. the breath as a mental object) to create jhana. I am sure it will help you stop tensing up.

      • P_locked says:

        Yeah, I understand that recursiveness. When I tried it, I found it awkward to be wary about thoughts while simultaneously trying to keep all of my concentration on one object. I feel like his river metaphor to be very apt for explaining what each practice does but ultimately, these two practices are better done separately in the quest for jhana. I feel that for this to work for some people, they must be naturally gifted in meditation to be able to do both at once without screwing up.

        It’s your blog so do what you feel is right. I’m down for anything.

      • Kautilya says:

        Aahhh unfortunate….but I understand.

        Should we look as your future and previous posts as like what could have been a chapter in your book and see them as collections of insights and tech we should experiement with – with comments being for deeper understanding and tweaks?

        • Illuminatus says:

          Absolutely. These posts are essentially the chapters I would have written. What’s happening now though is I’m getting feedback in real-time so I can figure out which teachings work well. This is a much better way than just dumping a guide out there. Also, I’m learning a LOT myself about practice from writing and interacting with the feedback.

          I see this as all progressing EXACTLY as it is meant to.

    • Mayath says:

      I don’t think you have to separate these two types of practices. I think it’s almost impossible to that actually. There is no difference between mindfulness meditation and concentration meditation. Concentration is just mindfulness zeroed in on a particular object. Concentration meditation seems to be used as a shorthand for meditation that has Jhana has a goal and mindfulness as insight as the goal but these things are really difficult to separate from one another. I don’t think this idea of trying to separate mindfulness as something that is separate from concentration is very useful.

      Concentration isn’t even a very good word for describing what your trying to do when reaching Jhana. Jhana is just something that arises when you have calm relaxed stabilised attention on a object and your mind isn’t pulling itself apart in a million different directions. It’s focused energy that’s released when there’s no tension. It’s a mind unified around joy , bliss, peace or equanimity.Concentration seems to imply some sort of tight tension to me while Jhana feels almost the opposite of that. It’s release. Seems like we’re stuck with the term concentration meditation but it gives people wrong ideas.

      I also don’t like the word mindfulness as it’s very vague and sounds like some idiot in marketing translated it. Present focused awareness would be more accurate but not as catchy.

      On Noting:

      It’s a useful technique in the beginning when reoccurring thoughts and feelings are very prominent. Noting a painful memory as “memory” or a daydream as “daydream” helps bring you back to your object. It also helps you build mindful awareness allowing you not to get wrapped up in the content of sensations. It’s grounds you which you need when starting as our natural instinct in to follow prominent sensations rather than staying focused on the original object of our intention.

      I used it alot when I was beginning but rarely need it now. Ideally you’ll develop a range of techniques that you can use to handle a variety of problems. There is no perfect technique unfortunately so you have to read widely and experiment to find what works for you and what works for you today might not work tomorrow.

      I haven’t tried the technique in this post yet but will report back in a few days when I’ve tried it a few days. I’ve just got got back from a meditation retreat and I some new thoughts on Jhana and its relationship to imagination which I’ll post when Illuminatus puts up his Jhana post. I’m gonna touch upon creativity and imagination which are never spoken about in meditation circles but which are aspects of the mind which I think are essential to progress and really are the core types of thinking you need to master if you want to get far.

      • Illuminatus says:

        Well put, Mayath.

        I prefer the word “absorption” to “concentration” but I use the word most commonly used in English for samatha, i.e. the one people will be typing into Google.

        Concentration and insight are different aspects that emerge when turning one’s attention toward an object. When trying to make a mental object (such as the breath or a kasina image) smooth and stable then what you are effectively doing is pulling all mind and body sensations in the same direction — toward the object, where they flow into it and give it the appearance of substance. Any process counter to that intended flow will appear as “lumps” in the stream, which is where Siro gets his “rocks in the river” metaphor from.

        As a beginner, these rocks will be gross, and you can label them “thought” or “feeling”. I would call that “mindfulness”. The only difference between mindfulness and insight in this context is that insight is far higher resolution. So instead of “thought” you perceive a fine spray of sensations running counter to the flow of the object. Lumping these sensations together as “a thought” would actually be regressive for me, since I already perceive it as fine vibrations. With insight, you want as fine a resolution as possible. I could never “note” this spray of sensations because there are hundreds of them perceived in rapid succession. I don’t know what planet Daniel Ingram was on when he advised saying “blip blip blip” to each one. SERIOUSLY, WHAT PLANET WAS HE ON? The actual method is that, by perceiving them so finely, it is like they hit a screen and “pop”. This actually fuels equanimity. They pop because one’s energies are pointing towards the object and they get annihilated in the counter-stream. The energy release from the annihilation actually flows more toward the object. This is how jhana is reached even from simply perceiving sensations on this level. So, both methods can lead to jhana. However, “concentration” in terms of the skilful creation of flowing mental objects is typically the faster way to jhana and provides a better energetic basis for the annihilation of opposing sensations.

        The goal in any of these meditations is to allow opposing sensations to arise and actually have their energy diverted towards the object thus robbing the formation of its energy, and annihilating it. Kundalini just involves working with the energy stream directly. Concentration creates an energy stream by creating an object which energy naturally flows towards. The object in jhana is essentially a big “heatsink” or “lightning conductor” which takes away all your crap for permanent annihilation.

        Mayath: Interestingly the new post (released tonight) also discusses creativity and imagination, namely in how to work effectively with mental objects. We seem to be very much in sync these last few months!

  10. Mayath says:

    @Illuminatus: Great minds think alike haha :)!

    I’m looking forward to what you think. What I will have to say will probably be long enough to justify its own post but essentially I want to talk about how imagination and creativity can help unite thoughts, emotions and the body into creating Jhana. Also about how mindfulness doesn’t have to be bare awareness which it is often described as but that it can be a form of creative awareness. My problem with a lot of pragmatic dharma types is that they talk about these things in a very intellectual dry way(left brain types essentially) when I’m more intuitive and creative. My own practice has been lacking something because I haven’t been bringing the creative mind into my life enough.

    Here’s an interesting discussion on MBCT. Follow the links to Jhanajenny.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/comments/5uzbn0/meta_mastering_the_core_teachings_of_the_buddha/

    Some guy linked to a woman who spoke about her difficult experiences working with him on writing MCTB 2. I think she comes off a bit crazy but she writes very clearly and Ingram is someone who badly needs an editor. You might find what she has to say about Daniels admissions about his own attainments very interesting. Personally I think the sections on the progress of insight in MCBT are good but it’s practice sections are useless and dangerous. I think Ingram should just stick to discussing Magick.

    • Illuminatus says:

      The first post on that Reddit thread is gold.

      Jhana Jenny sounds erratic and unstable, though. Her first gripe is how anti-feminist Dharma Overground is, how it’s “one big boy’s club”. Have you ever been on DhO? It’s the most feminized SJW symp hangout in the meditation sphere. Ingram himself boldly told me he is a raging leftie who was raised by militant feminists (which explains a lot). She complains about it being 99% male. Well, that one’s easy to explain: intelligent young men struggle to get their sexual needs met due to social awkwardness, which is a main reason many of them are coming to meditation. Even a fat ugly woman will typically have more than one male suitor on hand to shower her with attention (which is probably the main reason for women’s general self-absorption). Giving a site a pink logo isn’t going to make women start meditating when they can get their material needs met just by showing up. This general disapproval of maleness was common amongst the female posters on DhO when I was there, making that community even more unappealing.

      Then her next gripe involves psychologizing Ingram’s “relationship problems” with terms like “intimacy issues” referring to her attempting to get close to him then him backing away. Yet she still wrote 350 pages for his book(?!) I infer from that that she was attracted to him since he is the cult leader, and he somehow spurned her advances. Now she’s projecting her own buyer’s remorse onto him. That whole section of her rant reeked of projection.

      Finally, you have her various claims such as being “way beyond Fourth Path” (which would make her what..? More advanced than an actual arahat, the highest attainment in Theravada?). Arahats are supposed to have zero emotional affect, and the highly attained are supposed to generally be blissful. She comes across as livid, with a lack of self-knowledge. This makes me doubt her claims about her attainments.

      I would not take her as a credible character witness for Ingram. As Aldous just texted me, “I can smell an angry fat bird a mile off.”

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