Skillful Concentration: The Stages of Full Concentration II

Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness (pp. 233-236)

In the last talk, we discussed the first level or stage of full concentration:  the first jhana.

There are three other levels of jhana briefly described below.

The Jhanas

Recall that there are five factors necessary to achieve the first jhana:

  • Initial application of thought
  • Sustained application of thought
  • Joy
  • Happiness
  • Concentration

In the second jhana, the first two factors needed to achieve the first level (initial and sustained applications of thought) disappear.  Thus there is no thinking involved, only the three factors of joy, happiness and a stronger one-pointedness of mind remain.

In the third jhana, the factor of joy fades away.  Happiness remains and equanimity becomes stronger as well as concentration (one pointedness).

In the fourth jhana, happiness fades leaving only mindfulness and equanimity

Practice and progression with the jhanas builds concentration.  Concentration and mindfulness work together to see the true nature of reality.  It is very worthwhile to strengthen your concentration. 

“At this point you have gained the real force of concentration.  The mind has consolidated, become pure, bright, free of hindrances, and steady.  It is malleable yet imperturbable, strengthened and sharpened for its most important task.  When you focus that concentrated mind on an object, you see that object as it is.  In other words, the perfectly concentrated mind can penetrate into the true nature of reality.”  –Bhante G., P. 236 

Reflection

  • Read this talk every day and reflect on it. 

Meditation

  • Try practicing concentration meditation daily.
  • Don’t set reaching the first jhana as a goal or trying to reach the other jhanas until you have sufficiently been able to attain the first jhana many times.  Merely, follow the steps as outlined in two talks and see what happens.

Next: Skillful Concentration: Mindfulness of Skillful Concentration
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