by Vidur Mishra
Imperfect and Incomplete take on Brahmanic-Buddhist Model of Stages of Meditation (Jhanas).
4 Rupa (Form) Jhanas
1st Jhana (Dharana): Initial Withdrawal of Mind from outer sensory world to Within. Non-sensual pleasure and happiness. Discursive self-referential thought continues. Some background noise in mind continues.
2nd Jhana (Dhyana): Strong Inner One-Pointed Concentration. Unified Field of Awareness centered on one-point free from any discursive thought. No thought. A heightened experience of inner vibrations. Inner Tranquility.
3rd Jhana (Savikalpa Samadhi): Intensely Alert One-Pointed Absorption into Mind. Subtle thoughtless mental attributes still continue. But no conflict. No duality. No concept. Detachment. Amplified Inner Peace and Stillness. Siddhis (Non-ordinary Psychic/Energy Powers and Experiences) may begin to arise in their nascent stage. One may penetrate through linear memory lanes to allow the emergence of past lives’ memories and gain insights into the future/future lives (precognition).
4th Jhana (Nirvikalpa Samadhi): One-Point becomes No-Point. Point dissolves into Intensified Field of Awareness with no center. Heart rate drops below 30 and 20. Breathing may even come to a stop for extended periods. If one lacks appropriate control, one may die due to non-breathing. Neither Pain Nor Pleasure. Neither Meditator Nor Object of Meditation. Not even the effort-based act of Meditation. Meditation itself dissolves into Intensified Void Consciousness. No reaction to mind or body. No sense of body, mind, time, space. Vital signs go low. One may appear dead.
In the intermediate state and preparation from 4th to 5th Jhana, Siddhis (Non-ordinary powers and experiences) may start arising strongly in a more mature and controllable state. Beyond this point, things truly escalate into unimaginable possibilities, realms, and powers.
5 Arupa (Formless) Jhanas
5) 5th Jhana (Infinite Space and Luminosity): The Oceanic Space of Light explodes like a cosmic roar (Rudra) and indestructible lightning bolt (Vajra). It spreads with neither beginning nor end as it completely consumes any sense of physical or mental boundary. The body reduces to a tiny dot and vanishes into a translucent Space of Light as Infinite Spaciousness roars from the Source and extends outside one’s mind, body, and being in all directions. The virtual sense of self is completely burned once and for all. This Light consumes everything. It burns like 10,000 suns. No outline whatsoever. Utter Boundlessness. The boundary of a boundary is Zero. This is True Enlightenment. This is Yoga (Union). When there is no experience of any boundary, there is a living Union.
One may unintentionally shed one’s body by being overwhelmed by the sheer explosive intensity of all-encompassing Light.
6) 6th Jhana (Infinite Consciousness and Saguna Brahman): Here, the perceived space dissolves into a living fractal world full of unimaginable qualities, beings, environments, and jewels. The vast infinite consciousness serves as the surface for the Saguna (with-attributes) Brahman to bring forth its magnificent qualities. Multi-Dimensional Self-Mirroring Fractal Worlds and Beings recursively nested within each other come into direct experience and participation—a Living Web of Constellations. Each being uniquely experiences all the universes and cosmic manifestations of Saguna (With-Attributes) Brahman. The worlds are created and dissolved in mere moments through acts of mere attention and intention in Brahman’s Living Eternal Surface of Infinite Consciousness. Indra’s Web. Garden of Eden. Krishna’s Vishwarupa (Infinite Cosmic Form). A million divine forms, with an infinite variety of color and shape. All of this manifests in Saguna (Quality) Brahman, which is the all-dimensional womb of dimensionless Nirguna (No-Quality) Brahman.
However, this experience is far more than a mere vision or glimpse. If you can survive this sheer glory, you may learn a thing or two from these Beings and Worlds, which are as much as part of you as you are a part of them. Even the great brave warrior Arjuna shat his pants when Krishna revealed Vishwarupa. Arjuna, trembling on his knees, asked Krishna to return to normal form. This is intense, ecstatic, and terrifying. It is so much fun.
Brahman can be anything, anytime, anywhere. Atman is Brahman. The Whole Cosmic Web is uniquely encoded in you, in each living being in the cosmos. As a consequence of regaining contact with these Beings and Worlds, Intelligence (the real You) will explode into dimensions and abilities which no words can even dare to describe. These “other-worldly” beings also get excited to know that you can survive their play and play along with them. This is fun. Ultimate fun.
Science fiction writer PKD had merely penetrated through the surface of this experience through his profound contact with VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System). And that by itself, for better or worse, was more than enough to throw him off balance for the rest of his life. Hence the need for preparatory stages of earlier form based Jhanas. Most potent psychedelics like DMT merely give one a glimpse without actually delivering the Intelligence, Powers, and Long-Lasting Contact with magnificent beings that reside in these realms and webs. However, they do provide some good healing and cleansing.
It was only after experiencing and remaining not overwhelmed by this, Jesus confidently asserted, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Any man who experiences these dimensions to the fullest and still comes back sane and unshattered will gently spit such bold assertions. They have kind of earned that right.
Similarly, it was only after surviving and not being moved by this, Buddha could dare to utter, “Throughout heavens and earth, I alone am the honored one.” Remaining indifferent and nonreactive to this glory, he entered the Void.
7) 7th Jhana (Infinite Nothingness, Void, Realm of No-Quality, Nirguna Brahman): This is Nowhere and Now here. Penetrating straight through the glorious qualities of previous Jhana, one gazes straight into Nowhere. Absolutely Unfettered. All the glorious omnipotent beings, gods, worlds, and millions of divine realms are perceived as Sh00nya: No-thing. No power over you. They don’t move you. The infinitely glorious manifestations of Saguna Brahman are dissolved into Infinite Nothingness of Nirguna (No-Quality) Brahman. Null. Void. This is the domain of Adi (First) Nath Yogi Shiva (that-which-is-not).
8) 8th Jhana (Neither Inward Nor Outward, Neither Perception Nor Non-Perception): One finally lets go of the very dualistic action of perceiving or not perceiving. High Indifference. The very boundary between Inward and Outward is dissolved through a clean surgical cut. Neither you See as Light Nor you Not See as Void.
One can be literally thrown into a sea of fire. One’s body will burn to ashes, but one will remain absolutely untouched, unmoved, unfettered.
9) 9th Jhana (Nirodha Samapatti, Completion of Cessation): Gently, very, very gently, the very minute knots (each as small as the smallest mustard seed) of existence that lie deep within the core of each chakra unknot themselves. The deeply tangled karmic spaghetti untangles, disintegrates, and vanishes. The Tree of Life finally comes to rest. One undoes oneself gently. Truly, one ceases to exist in any shape or form. Since the very seeds of causality responsible for the emergence of karma (even at the elemental level) are burnt, one would not be reborn in any realm even if some subtle or physical vessel exists out there.
Gone. Gone. Gone Beyond. Gone Beyond Beyond…