The mind makes gross objects (praise, laughing, kissing, romantic affection) as object, engages in craving and liking and bouncing around in a pleasant state of liking and delight, but there’s also a sense of strain- an inconstancy in the pleasure, there’s a comparing and evaluating process going on that takes away from the giddy joy that’s in the mind. As this calms and cools the mind enters the 2nd jhana, where a more subtle sense of the mental pleasure seems to well up from the mind effortlessly, there is no longer that gross evaluation and comparing process going on, there’s no longer the effort and the mind prefers the state of 2nd jhana. 2nd jhana is a very blissful state because there is no longer a sense of effort to stay on the object or remain in the state. It’s a more refined type of mental pleasure. The peace of 3rd jhana is at another level of refinement. There isn’t so much of a delighted joy, there’s a deeper, contented joy that permeates and suffuses the body. Here we start to really actually see the more subtle impulses of mind. When things quiet down this way, the mind’s more subtle but fundamental craving process can be seen more clearly. For jhanas, you always want to pay attention to what makes you feel satisfied about one state over another, how that changes, and what kind of basic impulses drive it. That is why I like to do jhanas and let the mind decide for itself when to move on. You simply go into the jhana, and as soon as the intention arises to go to the next jhana, the next jhana arises. If you do this a lot, you see that intentions are not you, yet they are somehow. Intentions and liking and disliking and craving and all the basic experiences arise spontaneously and conditionally, yet right now you can think of whatever you want and intend, dream, create an image in the mind of the destination, and then the mind will do a series of things. In the third jhana you can see intention very clearly because things have calmed considerably. Ok, so we’re in 3rd jhana, very blissful contentment and happiness welling up from the belly region, attention is broadly embracing the borders of the body, there are body pulses and/or subtle vibrations and the vibrations are blissful. There is a sense of centered, secure, comfort that is very blissful. The mind itself is more stable and the intention you can tell is to remain enjoying that soothing bliss. You could stay there forever. But then subtly, out of the background, you notice flashes of intention, flashes of subtle craving, flashes of mental states that if you allow to happen without further craving or aversion and clinging, then the mind will seemingly go up a level and gravitate to the next state. But you have to be very awake and subtle and effortless to be able to notice this.
4th jhana is broad and spacious – there is a quietness of the mind that is sublime. The breath and the body have cooled, there is deep, deep relaxation and equanimity, while the focus is broad, there may or may not be bodily fabrications, but in the lighter end there is an awareness of the body as a field of vibrating energy, there can be pulses but the pulses and buzz are neutral – not blissful. Here you get down to the more subtle fabrications- there is some sense of clearly perceiving everything, yet the mind is still somehow separate from experience. It’s subtle, but you still notice a little bit of referencing back in some sensations toward a point somewhere that superficially looks like an observer. This is subtle because the mind is tuned such that all sensations appear to be registering in the same space as the same kind of energy, there is a lot less of the referencing happening.
With letting go of the body, one can move into 5th jhana. There is a sense that the body sensations are just energetic arisings, already sort of just humming along in an undifferentiated way, but you simply appreciate the aspect of the 4th jhana that seems to give the mind space. This spacious sense that the mind is seeing everything without collapsing in on sensations. The mind can tune to an expansion in the other direction, there is a sense of awareness reaching far out and then looping back into the mind in a strange paradoxical way. If I’m more visually attuned I notice the field of vision expands out there is a real sense of power in the mind perceiving all this space. You start to appreciate the mind aspect more than the space aspect.
In 6th jhana the perceptual nozzle flips and now there is a sense that sense contacts are being projected from all directions into a single point or observer (Immature) This state is the same state as TMI “realizing the witness” . Then as the state matures there is a felt sense of energy looping from objects into the point and out again. With eyes open outdoors with trees this state is spectacular. There is a mystical sense to it. The point observer feels perfectly detached from sensate experience, but not from mind. It’s paradoxical- what exactly is left? At this point we are very close to being able to nudge the mind.
7th jhana comes about when a mature 6th is fully comprehended, and dispassion is achieved. Suddenly in 6th I will enter a dark room, like someone turned the lights off, body is gone, there is peaceful, peaceful, quiet and dark. It’s a very simple state for me, and actually it comes about for me any time I’m in formless states 7th seems to be the one for me that just suddenly clicks on without warning. Everything just drains out, there is a dark nothingness and peace.
8th jhana is when you take the peaceful dark quiet nothingness and enjoy that fully, comprehend it, appreciate the merits and the insight, and then you are gone, there is only this perception, wiggling sort of, a very primal, fundamental clinging motion that appears to be happening. Not much more to say about it.