Meditation

Kevatta Sutta – Part 12

1st Jhana

 Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation

2nd Jhana

Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters and remains in the second jhana: rapture and pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation — internal assurance.

To understand 2nd Jhana, let us place the verse side by side.

The 1st Jhana was discussed in post 11. From the verse about 2nd Jhana, we understand how we can “refine” our concentration from 1st Jhana to attain the 2nd jhana.

In 1st jhana, we train to let go of being disturbed by our sensory inputs and not to react to them. (including our thoughts). This is done by focusing on a subject of meditation. For chanters, we should note that the chanting is done mentally. That mental recitation of our mantra becomes our subject. It is important to note that we shouldn’t be thinking about the meaning of the mantra during this practice. Just focused concentration.

In 1st Jhana, it is born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation

From here, we direct our concentration towards the stabilizing and maintaining the 1st Jhana state of mind. When we do that, the subject of our concentration, takes a backseat. Thus, some meditator describe it as “refining” the concentration. To put it simply, we enter jhana by making our mind let go of everything except one meditational subject. To go into 2nd Jhana, we focus on that “stillness” in 1st Jhana and slowly let go our “one thought” or that subject of meditation. Metaphorically, its like taking the next step on the ladder to climb upwards. To go up the stairs, we need to let go of our 1st step but without the 1st step we cannot go onto the 2nd.

In the sutta, going into 2nd Jhana is described as “Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters and remains in the second jhana:”

How does 2nd Jhana feel like?

rapture and pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation

The feeling of being at ease and satisfied with our state of awareness (A state of being) At this state, some people feel divine or “in the glory” of a divine power. But in Buddhism, we should understand that all these are just states of our mind. If you started your journey by praying to a “god-like” figure with complete devotion and concentration, then it is easy for us to misconceive the 2nd jhana as arriving at the presence of a divine being. In Buddhism, this “trap of cultivation” is known as attaching to a form. (着相)

Happy practicing. Oh by the way, in pureland school, the focused concentration is known as (一心不乱)one mind without delusive thoughts. Going into Jhana through recitation is 念佛三昧. And naturally, we had been taught not to look upon Amitabha Buddha as if he is a type of God.

May all be well and happy.

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