Making Determinations - Mastery of the Jhanas
Way to Practice
First - get a digital or analog clock with a second hand - You are suggested to do this to the second - not just the minute. Put it in front of you - You can open your eyes to check but don't move, if you wish to continue the sitting.
To summarize you will start with the first jhana and work all the way up to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.
Then you will jump around different jhanas for different durations.
Make a Determination to Sit in the First Jhana
You bring up a thought of lovingkindness and radiate that until you get you into the first jhana. You continue. Your determination will stop you from going higher than the first jhana, for example.
Make the determination mentally: "On will go no higher than the first jhana and emerge at 7:15:10Am. - 15 minutes 10 secs
You will work with increments of time starting first with:
then 1 hour
Sit and make the determination as follows:
"I will come out of the first jhana after 14 min 30 seconds"
Rather than saying "go no higher than the first jhana" you say can "emerge from" the first jhana at 12:15:10pm or in 15 min 10 secs.
Determining to sit "in" the jhana creates a trying mind, that wants to "get there."
You just give the mind the direction without making it about trying to do anything... it's a little tricky at first.
Be careful to put too much "I" or self into the process. Keep it impersonal.
You can do this multiple times in a sitting, until you get it right. It could take a few days or weeks to get it right.
Keep varying the times. 15min and 15 secs; 13 min and 50 seconds. Once you get 15 minute increments right you can work up to 30 minutes and then 60 minutes.
You may hit the time or you may not. Just open your eyes when it seems right to do it. After a while you will know. It will happen and you will get the hang of it. Trust your mind to know. Let your intuition work. Play with it and have fun doing it. It's like playing golf. At first you can't hit the ball -- then the day comes and you connect. It just happens.
Next do 30 minutes with varied times ie. 29:23; 31:50
Then 60 minutes in the same way.
When you master 60 Minutes then start using very small time increments.
Go in and out of the jhana for 5 seconds, 8 seconds, 23 seconds; no more than 30 second increments.
Then continue to the 2nd Jhana - Use the same process as above
and so forth to Base of Neither-Perception-nor-Non-Perception. Go through each jhana
using 15 min, 30 min and 60min time increments for each jhana and then proceed to the next higher jhana.
Once all the jhanas are mastered for the time increments above then you will jump around the jhanas and even do it in very small time increments.
Determine to go to the 3rd jhana for 5 minutes.
Go from 3rd jhana to 1st jhana for 3 seconds.
From the 3rd jhana go to the base of nothingness for 29 seconds.
And so on. Perfect this.
How do you know you are in the jhana? At first it won't be the right jhana you were working with or not even a jhana at all. But you will start to feel where these states are and your mind will know where to go.
If you want to go from one jhana to another then determine to go to the 3rd jhana for 23 min - when you come out make another determination to go to the 7th jhana and so no. Make a determination, come out, repeat.
The End Result
You have mastered determinations by this point. If you desire to put your mind into compassion (the base of infinite space-Karuna), and you are planning on going to see someone in the hospital, you can do that. You will radiate true compassion. If pain comes up in daily life you can determine to go to the 4th jhana and the pain will go away.
If you wish to nap for 20 minutes and then wake up in time to make your flight - that can be done.
Nirodha (Cessation) Determinations
Some advanced meditators are able to get into a cessation and stay in that state. You can use determinations.
Determine to come out of Nirodha after 10 minutes. Don't force yourself in but rather just tell yourself when you will emerge.
"At 7:05 One will emerge from Nirodha."
"In 4 hours and 53 minutes one will emerge from Nirodha."
It doesn't mean you will immediately go in to this state. It may take 15 or 30 or even 60 minutes to enter into the state and that's fine.
Work up to longer times. But always make a determination before entering, as the body can only last for 7 days... and we want you to say around and help us teach TWIM!
How to do it - from a practitioner: Q&A
I am interested in knowing how did you trained yourself with determination. How did your journey with determination unfold?
I began after receiving instructions from Bhante that are found on the Dhamma Sukha site. I followed what was written as closely as I could. My process entailed some failures at being able to be exact with my timing, but what I found was the reason for this was the focus was on the timing, rather than allowing the process to happen - with a sense of "playfulness." This shows that there is no striving or craving for it to happen. There has to be absolute trust. With that in mind, and applying it, the progress towards determining Cessation was quick. First, it was training with various times for each jhana, then in seconds, like staying in second jhana for five seconds, fourth jhana in three seconds, and then going from 4th jhana to 7th jhana and back down to 2nd jhana.
Which sentence or phrase did you mentally say to yourself for the determination, the time and the jhana level?
The phrase I used was, as an example, "At 6:53, I will emerge from the eighth jhana."
Is there something more you bring up in your determination, or before the sitting?
Nowadays, I don't use any phrase or determination. I close my eyes and I am in the jhana I want to be in.
What about making a determination to get into the Cessation?
In regard to Cessation, the process is the same. I used to start out from the base of nothingness, sometimes the base of Neither-Perception and allow the process to happen. The more automatic the 6r process becomes, the easier you get into Cessation. The more realization of anatta there is, the easier it is. Nowadays, I start from Neither-perception and continue to allow things to happen, and then Cessation occurs. The only intention I set is for Cessation itself. For example "I will emerge from Cessation after four hours." or "If I am needed or someone calls on me. or in an emergency, I will emerge from of Cessation."
D.A. San Diego