Recent Email response to a Meditator question:
"So you are saying sit down, and you say you are getting into neither-perception almost immediately, and wonder if that is actually real or not. You say you don't need to go through the lower jhānas and the Metta...Equanimity because your mind "doesn't need to..."
Trying too hard here! Let's let go of the desire to "get through them (jhānas)" - it sounds like that might be causing some tension for you. :-(
There is some doubt here about what to do, so that is creating some tension in your mind.
So what to do?
Neither perception doesn't arise unless you have prepared the way for it. This means starting with Lovingkindness and letting that radiate in each direction in the way you were instructed originally.
You say you are not on retreat right now but just practice daily 1-2 hrs. in a sitting. So, please start with radiating Lovingkindness to yourself for 10-15 minutes with a smile. Don't forget to put a little smile on your face. It can be very powerful to keep the feeling going. Have an attitude of total contentment and that this is just a vacation for you from the routine of life. It isn't Work! It is just enjoying the feeling. You are sitting on a park bench just enjoying the sunny day, and it occurs to you to send love to all beings. Why, because you are happy.
So, do all 6 directions 2-5 min each. This is very important. Sending it to each direction is written in the suttas quite specifically. There is a reason for it. It widens and stretches the mind out so that later you can go in all directions simultaneously.
Start with the feeling of Lovingkindness every sitting. But you say you have gone beyond that. OK fine. The unique thing about Lovingkindness is that when you start it and keep it going, it will automatically shift to the next feeling of compassion on its own. When Lovingkindness is attained fully, it then disappears, and the mind goes to the next feeling on its own. It might take 10-15 minutes or 5 minutes. It might not change the whole sitting because it isn't fully attained yet, but it will change. Then you can't bring up Lovingkindness anymore. You can try, but that specific feeling won't arise now. The next feeling arises, which is Compassion or Karuna. And when that disappears, then Muditā or sympathetic Joy, and when that disappears, then Upekkhā or Equanimity, and when that disappears, Quiet Mind or the Neither Perception Jhana. It changes in a subtle way, and you just watch it and radiate what's there, all the way to Equanimity. And don't put time limits or demands on it- it will disappear on its own, and then the quiet mind is there.
You might go into a dream-like sequence and come up out of that. This is the beginning of Neither-Perception-nor-Non-perception. When this happens, now you have arrived a the real Quiet Mind. Now the mind is bright and energetic. There are no thoughts. Now just observe the mind and know that is what you are doing. 6R and come back to just knowing you are there and watching that, "Mind is quiet" If you are unsure - just repeat it to yourself a few times. "Here I am in the present with this peaceful mind." In a way, enjoy that space as there is no disturbance. This is a good thing! It is called Peace. Now you develop that Peace. Observe and 6R -just release and relax - any movements away from that or anything that catches your attention.
Sit for 1-3 hrs at least. Sometimes you will get bored. 6R that and come back to being peaceful. Sometimes the mind will wander in a thought, so just observe and release your attention and don't react to that. Let it be. Gradually the mind will not wander into thought at all for 10-15 minutes. Now you are doing well. Sometimes there is not a thought for 30 minutes or even an hour. Great, stay with this quiet mind, and it will get deeper and deeper. We will leave it at that.
This should refresh your understanding of how to properly arrive at the actual Quiet Mind. Based on how much sitting you are doing and your skill in the practice, you will arrive at that state quickly, or it will take some time. Do NOT jump to what you think it is and try to avoid going through the other states. You may do well, but it won't be as deep, and your progress won't be that deep. If you have doubt, bring up Equanimity once again to test whether there really is no more feeling. If you can bring it up, then keep it going. At some point, your mind will just say, "no, no need to radiate anymore." Then you can go to Quiet Mind. Two to Three-hour sits are perfect for this state.
You might feel to go through all this is going backward in your progress. It isn't. Lovingkindness is the gateway and door to all of the other higher states and jhānas. Start with it and let it take you through the door to the ultimate!