I imagine I’ll be referring to the phrase “skillful and rigorous meditation practice” over and over again, since this is the baseline for harnessing meditative absorption as a “divine locomotive” to transport the contemplative Home.
Here, then, is my friend and teacher, Jeffrey Brooks (aka, Jhanananda), laying out his own daily sadhana… which is what I emulate to the best of my ability:
March 28, 2005
(copyright 2005 all rights reserved)
Someone intent upon enlightenment in this very lifetime recently asked me to prescribe for him a practice strategy that would bring him to enlightenment in this very life. I can only speak about my contemplative practice strategy. This is it:
In meditation (sati) practice:
In the morning arise when your awareness first becomes aware of the physical world. Wash your face and mouth out, empty your bladder and drink a little water, then sit in meditation as if you will never get up again. Do not end any absorption. Let the absorption end on it’s own. Often times an absorption will appear to be ending, but I have found if I just sit with the absorption until I am sure it is done, then occasionally there has been a second wave front that was many, many times more power than the first. So, stick with it until you really know it is done.
When in meditation remain observant of the signs of absorption (jhana-nimitta). Once jhana-nimitta arises sensory phenomena is no longer relevant. Allow yourself to become utterly and completely saturated in the jhana-nimitta. This is relevant for jhanas 1-4. Allow all absorptions to sweep you away as far as they will take you. Cling to nothing. Sometimes the absorption is of such intensity that it feels as though the body will be destroyed, good, let the body die, because you are done with it anyway and you are not coming back.
You will eventually find while in meditation the signs of absorption will efface the physical phenomena (rupa-nimitta) this will bring you to the non-material absorptions (arupa-jhanas). Cling to nothing. There is a transitional phase in absorption that is neither material absorption, nor is it absorption in an infinite dimension. This transitional phase is characterized by a single luminous sphere that is often called a kasina. Do not try to resolve it into anything. If it becomes a tunnel then you will be propelled out of body. If so, just fly wherever it takes you. Cling to nothing.
When you eventually enter infinite space (5th jhana), it will be because the kasina opened into an infinite domain. At this time give up all attachment to ever having had a body, or ever having another one. If you can remain in infinite space for a considerable amount of time, then absorption into Infinite time will occur. The infinite time dimension, has not yet been assigned a name.
When you enter into the infinite time dimension then let go of ever having been born at any time or ever returning again. From the infinite dimension of time and space you may see an ocean of stars. You may realize these stars are all beings. This is the infiinite psyche (6th jhana). Open yourself up to them. Resist noting. If you can remain in infinite time and space for an infinity, then you may become all of those infinite beings of light, if you do this is the 7th jhana. When you become all of those light beings (7th jhana), then let go of ever having been a being or ever becoming one again
If you can let go of ever having been a being or ever becoming again, then you arrive at no longer being able to tell who you are, this is the 8th jhana, then give up ever having been someone. When the universe collapses around you into a black hole, that will swallow both you as an individual and as an infinite being from which you can never escape, then love it utterly and completely, because this is called nibbana . If you return from that my friend, you will be the Maitreya.
Each time you sit, you sit with no agenda, no intention to ever get up again. Only rise from meditation when the body is fatigued, or sore, or hungry. Meditate thus at least 3 times a day, or more often. Only keep track of the beginning time and ending time, and never, ever set an end time for the session. If your sessions gradually increase to more than an hour to 2 hours, or more, then you are doing well.
You are now ready for death to occur at any time. If you have any loose ends, then tie them up. Leave nothing pending for the next day. You are now finished, you are ready to die
Lying down meditation:
If your body feels fatigue during the day, then lie in shivassana and allow absorption to take you away. When you lie down day or night, say silently, “I am ready, take me now.” When you rest the body endeavor to remain conscious at all times. Deal with sleep as if it is simply a long period of lying down meditation. Gradually you will become conscious throughout the sleep cycle. When you no longer lose consciousness during the sleep cycle then you can say, “The holly life has been lived, death has been conquered there is no more coming to being.”
Endeavor to remain mindful and alert at all times. If any of the signs of absorption persist after your sitting session is over then be mindful of them throughout the day. Endeavor to keep the signs of absorption (jhana-nimitta) present with you at all times. This is what is called “saturation.” If you can maintain the signs of absorption (jhana-nimitta) throughout the day, then you can say, “I have arrived in the joyful home of the dhamma (Di.t.thadhammasukhavihaaraa).
Whenever anxiety arises, let it go, be ever mindful of any arising of tension, stress or anxiety, and become skillful in letting them go as soon as they first appear. Live your life in such a way that you have no stress, no anxiety, and no tension even if that means dumpster diving for subsistence and sleeping under a tree at night.
Live your life for the benefit of all beings. Do nothing for yourself. Harm no one in body, speech or mind.
Read the teachings of all enlightened ones. Read the Discourse of the Buddha until you have read all 5 volumes. Then read the Christian mystics, then the Sufi mystics, then the Kabbalists, then the Yogis, then the Taoist masters, then the Shaman, etc. Keep reading the teachings and biographies of the enlightened ones, and keep living the ethics and keep meditating as described above until this body is dead. Do not ever assume that you need not maintain the Noble Eightfold Path after you have had all of these absorption experiences listed above. Because if you stop living the Noble Eightfold Path your absorptions will eventually dissipate.
If you diligently engage in the contemplative life you will become enlightened in this very life-time,
Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks)
Let me just say, this will keep you busy, eat into your television consumption, and cause your friends to wonder.
To say it’s worth it is a gross understatement.
Imagine living in constant 24/7 bliss, joy and ecstasy without resorting to drugs or alcohol….
Seems like a no-brainer, yes?
And yet, most humans would rather entertain their neuroses, pretending they will be able to gain succor and satisfaction through external means. Only on their death beds will they find that it was never going to happen.
True succor and satisfaction is self-arising, and it is your birthright.