I was reading about stages of jhana today. I don’t know very much about them, and I don’t know which of my experiences map onto which stages.
I felt as though I’ve gone through some progression of ‘stages’ in myself, and I thought maybe describing them would be helpful for the people who’ve expressed curiosity in my experiences.
This felt like an ‘awakening’, as though a veil had been pulled away from my eyes. Maybe Satori? Everything made sense in a way it hadn’t before. I had a heightened awareness of body, a more holistic sensation of the world, a feeling of unity, ‘rightness’, a deep sense of peace, and an understanding of what I was. This was very motivating; I was heavily driven to talk to other people about this, to talk about it in general. This stage was characterized by excitement, a dramatically improved quality of life, and desire for communication.
The perception of myself as reality-creator; the understanding that I was fundamentally a part of all my sensations, the sensation of godhood, profound solitude, and dreamlikeness. Despite this understanding it penetrated into the sensory level of experience inconsistently. I had a great urge to express self-referential or self-defeating things. Koans became especially meaningful for me at this point. I found the word ‘enlightened’ to be appealing and I considered myself enlightened.
The fusion of pleasure and pain occurred at this stage, like wires getting crossed, and they stopped occurring as wholly separate sensations. Sometimes it was a unified sensation, ‘pleasurepain’, and when it wasn’t, the boundary between the was fuzzy, and switching between both of them became way easier. This stage was very value-destroying.
There’s a sense of disappearing when the self is witnessed, and this occurred at this stage. Here I began to lose, on a very base and instinctive level, the sense of knowing anything about what I was going through. Often I would think I understood, and only occasionally realize that my feeling of knowledge was VOID. At this stage the realization of knowledge as VOID became much more common and started to eliminate the feeling of knowledge.
The removal of distinction between self and other in regards to enlightenment. I began to perceive other people as equally enlightened as myself, that they had everything I had. It was also around this stage where I abandoned the concept of ‘loving oneself’ as meaningful.
A constant, pervasive immersion/disconnection from ‘reality’. The way my thoughts functioned became wholly modified. This was marked by cessation of want and a complete embracing of desire and pain, with severely reduced or no internal resistance to those sensations.
The removal of enlightenment as a meaningful concept. I began to view enlightenment as unreal, an illusion, as something nonsensical to talk about. I completely stopped viewing myself as enlightened. This stage was marked by profound silence.
A ‘looking away’ from the realizations and sensations leading up to this point, and a return of anxiety and fear; however the feelings of anxiety and fear were now pleasurable. Desire and pain became motivating and embodied again, and I felt like I ‘believed’ in them – but in contrast to the start of this whole journey, these experiences were greatly tolerable and usually welcomed. The ‘episodes’ I have began occurring at this stage. This stage was marked by a slight increase in words and desire for communication.
I don’t know/find it meaningful the concept of being ‘done’ with the stages. I’m sure there’s more to come, and I don’t find any particular stage to be more meaningful or closer to truth than another.
I also have the impression that some parts of the stages occurred ‘out of order.’ For example, stage 5 seems like something that occurs much earlier in other people than it did for me.
But to reiterate, I’m not educated in any of this stuff at all. I just have had some weird experiences and like to talk about them, and I’m really happy to know any other interpretations or how this maps on to other types of philosophies.