. “ABSORPTION INTO JHANA STATES”: Excerpt From: Catherine, Shaila. “Focused and Fearless.”

  
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When the mind abandons its contact with the senses, including discursive thinking, the concentrated absorption of jhana begins. (In this book, jhana practice refers to a traditional sequence of specific states of absorption where the mind is secluded from sensory impingement and deeply unified with a chosen object).
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The mind is utterly still and focused on its object (breath).
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The specific object of focus becomes progressively refined in the development of concentration, from the physical sensations of breathing, to a perception of light. Rapture, pleasure, and equanimity may accompany the bright radiant mind, while attention is continually directed toward the place where the breath is known.
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As these perceptions grow increasingly subtle, attention remains connected and the subtle perception of breath is recognized as a perception of stable brightness in mind.
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In jhana, attention is virtually merged into its object (breath), creating an impression of complete unification.
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Even if there is sensory impact from sounds and sensations, the mind remains completely unmoved.
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Sensory contact—even strong pain or loud noise—does not disturb the tranquillity or affect the unification of the mind with its object of concentration.
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It is as though you don’t hear anything, yet the capacity of hearing is not impaired.
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It is as if you don’t feel pain, and yet the bodily processes are functioning.
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There may or may not be subtle awareness of the impact of a sound or physical contact, but the mind lets go so automatically that there can be no sensory residue to disturb the concentration.
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Because the mind is so still that even pain will not disrupt the attention, jhana can be sustained for very long periods of time.
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