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Quantum Jhānas and the Arahant-Body

August 22, 2013

Q: This is a technical question. Earlier I had speculated that the jhānas are the chakras of the Arahant-body. Last night I had an experience of an energy body full of spherical golden lights. The lights were not in any fixed pattern, and in constant motion. I identified with this body and moved into it, and found that the golden spheres were the jhānas. Entering one of them, I could see that the space inside was curved. Once inside, I had no difficulty maintaining concentration, even in the higher jhānas, as I had before. What is going on?

The Arahant: Yes, that is a bit technical. [chuckles] Let me think. [long pause]

Earlier you had observed that your view of the jhānas was external, and that your concentration was steady if it was light, but hard to maintain when it was strong. You compared that to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which states that you cannot know both the position and energy of a particle, because the act of observing it changes its qualities. I think this new experience confirms that view.

Editor’s note: Here is an excerpt from my Journal regarding my previous experience:

July 13—When the Music Starts

We live simply and austerely because we regard the jhānas (stages of concentration) as ultimate pleasure. The pleasure of the jhānas does not require action of any kind; in fact they spring from the cessation of all action. One sits quietly, practices Ānāpānasati, and the jhānas arise spontaneously in the concentrated mind, one after another. That’s when the music starts for the meditator.

In the perfection of this practice, one breathes in ecstasy through the third eye, and breathes out mettā through the heart. This is extremely pleasurable, even ecstatic. The flood of pleasure from jhāna washes away the mind, the false ego, the ‘self’ and concepts based on it. In the end, there is nothing left but pure joy itself, without any support. That is the ultimate and final enlightenment. But until that highest stage is reached, one should experience the pleasure of the jhānas to one’s heart’s content, and this will satisfy one’s heart and mind completely.

The path to the higher jhānas goes from the third eye, up through the top of the head. There is more structure beyond that. It is literally beyond ecstasy; but the first four jhānas still persist and are foundational to attaining higher jhānas. I discovered this on the first day of my retreat. I got access to the higher jhānas and could see all of them as fabrications or conditioned states.

First during concentration, I felt a pressure on my nose, as if someone were pressing it with a finger. Of course, no one was there; it was an energy phenomenon. Normally our habitual discursive thinking pulls energy out of the 6th (third eye) chakra; in the higher states of meditation, the energy flows into the third eye.

There are various methods for accomplishing this change. I used one of them to switch the direction of energy flow, and was rewarded with brilliant lights and an intense feeling of bliss. Now the energy illuminated the ‘upper room’, the highest chakra of the thousand-petalled lotus at the top of the head. I could feel it from the inside. I found a way to direct the energy to the center of the crown chakra, and it suddenly opened.

I felt the energy rush through the opening. As I rose up and up, I saw a vision of a Bo tree with a strong straight trunk and lush greenery, planted firmly in the center of the crown chakra. The roots went down into the ordinary mind, and were nourished by the water of purified thoughts. The trunk was the first four jhānas; and the branches, leaves, flowers and fruits were the higher jhānas. A pair of strong lions guarded the base of the tree.

I agree that the jhānas constitute the chakras of the Arahat-body, and that the Buddha’s body must be even more developed, though in our present position we cannot see how. From our present point of view, the jhānas seem to be in motion, because each one of them is an independent space-time coordinate system.

The jhānas are composed of energy and consciousness, so naturally they are dynamic. Thus when you approach them, the space inside appears to be curved and they seem to be in motion. Once inside, the external Cartesian coordinates become invalid, just like when a sailor goes to sea, he has to learn a different way of walking because of the motion of the water. Similarly, the attitude and motion of an airplane must be calculated in relation to the air, not in reference to the ground.

So each jhāna is a complete space in and of itself, so it has its own space-time coordinate system. From inside the jhāna, the external world appears to be in motion. When you perceive the jhānas as internal, it becomes easier for you to let go of the ordinary Cartesian space-time coordinates and move with the jhāna—ride it, as it were. This explains why your concentration is better when you enter and move with the jhāna than when you remain grounded in Cartesian space.

I am very happy to see that you are using your physics background to analyze and explain your inner experience, and that you give your experience in meditation precedence over the descriptions in books. The Suttas and senior dhamma-friends are valuable guides, but they are limited; they cannot understand or cover every possible situation. You have to trust yourself to analyze your experience and take appropriate action.

This is an important time for you. There are great energies at work. To avoid misfortune, be sure to maintain your modesty and patience.

The pressures of the moment are enormous. In fact,  you have been preparing yourself for this time for years. Even when you think nothing is happening in meditation, you are accumulating a powerful energy. Imagine a reservoir pressing against a dam. Your practice is the dam, and it is up to you to direct its flow. Your previous understanding of life and the world is under great stress because of your transcendent experiences in meditation.

There may be a temptation to escape, to resort to plotting, conniving, aggressive egotism. Don’t let a moment of inattention destroy all your good work. If under pressure you succumb to fear, desire, or anger and give up your practice or resort to incorrect behavior, it is like the dam bursts and the pent-up energy causes destruction and misfortune.

If, on the other hand, you take complete refuge of the Dhamma—modesty, balance, patience, independence, and gentleness—that will help you direct the accumulated energy toward the perfection of enlightenment. Take great care now to remain correct in every moment.

“Thy body is called a chariot, swift and provided with the mind as a charioteer: having the abstinence from all injury as its axle, liberality as its covering, a careful walk with the feet as the circumference of the wheel, a careful handling with the hands as the side of the carriage; watchfulness over the belly is the name of the wheel, watchfulness over the tongue is the prevention of the wheel’s rattling. Its parts are all complete through truthful speech, it is well fastened together by the absence of slander, its frame is all smooth with friendly words and joined well with well-measured speech; well-constructed with faith and the absence of covetousness, with the respectful salutation of humility as the carriage-pole, with the shaft of gentleness and meekness, with the rope of self-restraint, according to the five moral precepts, and the key of absence of anger, and the white umbrella of righteousness, driven with a thorough knowledge of the proper seasons, having the three sticks prepared in his assured confidence, having humble speech as the thong, and with the absence of vain-glory as the yoke, with the cushion of unattached thoughts, following wisdom and free from dust, let memory be thy goad, and the ready application of firmness thy reins; mind pursues the path of self-control with its steeds all equally trained, desire and lust are an evil path, but self-control is the straight road. As the steed rushes along after forms and sounds and smells, intellect uses the scourge and the individual being is the charioteer. If one goes with his chariot, if this calmness and firmness be steadfast, he will attain all desires, O king, and he will never go to hell. — Mahanaradakassapa-Jataka (Jat. 544)

From → Q&A

  1. peaceandwisdom2013 permalink

    I have the following five questions. Please reply at your convenience. Kind wishes.

    Jhana Sutta (AN 9.36): “I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana….He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self.”
    Question: 1) When one is in concentration such as jhana, can one discern and clearly see the phenomenon arise without losing the focus and concentration of jhana? Simply put, does one discern the phenomenon within or immediately following jhana? 2) This Sutta continues on through the rest of the jhanas. So, Deathless can be attained during any jhana as long as one can completely detach and remove desire?

    Sariputta Sutta (AN 10.7): Ven. Ananda, “But how, lord, could a monk have an attainment of concentration such that he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth… nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient?” Ven. Sariputta (and the Buddha) both gave a response, “I was percipient at that time of ‘The cessation of becoming — Unbinding.”
    Question: 3) I would appreciate clarification, but I thought Unbinding was the result of cessation of perception and feeling, not being percipient of Unbinding?

    Anupada Sutta (MN 111): “…For half a month, Sariputta clearly saw insight into mental qualities one after another. This is what occurred to Sariputta through insight into mental qualities one after another…Whatever qualities there are in the first jhana — directed thought, evaluation, rapture, pleasure, singleness of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness,[2] desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention — he ferreted them out one after another…”
    Question: 4) So is this Sutta an example of realizing the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination? I see this as a clear example of leading to release, although I am light-years away from it! 5) Is this why the Buddha stated his Teaching is difficult to see, difficult to understand: because it is difficult to discern all the mental qualities due to presence of desire?

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