- The theory of Nadi & Chakra
Q: Hello friend! If reached all four Jhānas, the four formless Jhānas and the Nirodha-Samapatti, is the Sushumna nadi opened, and all the Chakra activated? At what stage, do the Heavenly vision and Out-of-body experience come?
A: The exoteric Buddhism doesn’t talk about Nadi & Chakra. Only the Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism talks about it.
In the Vajrayana, it’s accomplished by the Paññā and Puñña of the Saṃbhogakāya, when Nadis are unblocked and Chakras are activated, it makes the Wisdom firm and stable, and enable Marvelous functions. (This is what it means to attain Buddhahood in one lifetime)
From the perspective of the exoteric Buddhism, after reaching Nirodha-Samapatti, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Nadis are unblocked and Chakras are activated, also doesn’t necessarily mean you will have Marvelous functions.
The Heavenly vision and Out-of-body experience depends on the personal condition. There is no fixed stage for them to appear. Some people have those experiences without practicing meditation. In general, the supernatural capabilities comes after long time of practicing Samadhi. But it’s possible for them to not appear at all. Even after reaching the all the Jhānas and Nirodha-Samapatti states, it’s still possible to not having the supernatural capabilities. So there isn’t an inevitable connection.
Q: If reaching Nirodha-Samapatti doesn’t guarantees to open the Sushumna nadi, does it still count as true practice?
A: First, the exoteric Buddhism doesn’t discuss Nadi & Chakra. Sutras from exoteric Buddhism emphasizes impermanence, all phenomena being like illusions, Śūnyatā (voidness), and non-existence of real phenomena.
The Vajrayana teaches Nadi & Chakra. But you have to know, Nadi & Chakra in Vajrayana means practicing for the Saṃbhogakāya, it is a practice of applying the Wisdom. It isn’t something with marks/forms. Please know that Buddhism tells people to attain Nirvana. This human body is going to perish. Practicing to open Nadis or activate Chakra is to practice Saṃbhogakāya with Śūnyatā. Don’t mistake it with Qigong or the stuff of the heretics.
Reaching all four Jhānas, the four formless Jhānas and the Nirodha-Samapatti doesn’t mean the Saṃbhogakāya achievements (Of course it is a foundation of practice for Saṃbhogakāya). Saṃbhogakāya is based on the Bodhicitta. Otherwise, Buddhists don’t need to practice for Saṃbhogakāya, only need to sever the afflictions.
For the reason of the wide relief of all sentient beings, for the reason of the adornment of Buddha pure land, and for reason of giving to the sentient beings by the merits from the practice, the practice for Saṃbhogakāya and Pure land make sense (I don’t have the Saṃbhogakāya achievement, so this is all my own understanding and guess, I might be wrong, it’s just a reference)
All of these should be based on the realization of Śūnyatā (voidness), otherwise the discussion is in vain.
- The difference between Buddhism and Taoism
Q: Once I have the mind of renunciation for the mundane world, then does it make it not suitable anymore to follow the Taoism’s practice methods?
A: The Taoism and Buddhism have different initial inspirations.
Taoism emphasizes to pursue immortality, to stabilize the Jing Qi Shen, this is the so-called alchemy for the elixir of immortality. It attempts to have out-of-body spirit and leave the “shell” (the human body) behind, and transcend, this is so-called becoming an immortal fairy.
Buddhism emphasizes the pursuing to be unborn, all sensations leading to suffering, no-selfness, the renunciation of the delusional three realms of Samsara, leaving the burning house and attaining the liberation.
In the later stages, Taoism seems to getting close to Buddhism, it emphasizes “refining spirit back into voidness”, and “refining the voidness to conform to the Tao”. Then it is close to the meaning of the liberation in Buddhism.
To me, a person follows Taoism starts to have the mind of renunciation at the stage of “refining spirit back into voidness”.
Which to select and fuse depends on each person’s wisdom.
Q: I recently can get into the Fourth Jhāna and start to have Fetal breath. I feel the breath isn’t really stopped, and I still have slight breath, in other words the Fetal breath. My belly was trembling, and it drove the breath, but very slowly, and it paused in the middle. I did a lot of research, I found in general “in the Fourth Jhāna the breath stops”, but there are information saying it’s when the Fetal breath appears, but there isn’t a consensus of whether Fetal breath means no breath with nose. I’ve read the book “Path of Samadhi and Wisdom”, and Master Kwang Chow said clearly in the book that the breath stops in the Fourth Jhāna, but no more details.
My question now is that whether the breath really completely stops in the Fourth Jhāna. Is my status between the Third and the Fouth Jhāna? Or am I at the Fourth Jhāna? Although I value my own experiences from the practice, I still want to know. Thank you!
A: In the stabilized concentration (Appana Samadhi) of the Fourth Jhāna, the breath stops completely.
Fetal breath means the external breath is stopped, but the internal breath has started. It can be said that the breath isn’t stopped, but it just no longer using the nose or mouth.
Fetal breath is at the access concentration (Upacara Samadhi) state, it hasn’t got to the real Jhāna yet.
Fetal breath happens because you think you have a body, you still have the attachment, the attachment to the breath, and so it turned into a type of weak internal breath.
In the Fourth Jhāna, you feel the body is gone, no longer have the attachment to the body, and no longer have the thought of breath, so the breath stops.
Here is an insight to remember: when there is no thoughts, there is no breath. The reason why the breath doesn’t stop is because the false thoughts still exist (the false thoughts need the breath to power, they interdependent on each other). The reason why the breath stops in the Fourth Jhāna is because the it’s Upekkha-sati-parisuddhi state (thoughts are abandoned, pure equanimity and mindfulness)
Your status still have attachment to the breath and sensations. You should forget about breath and the view of having a body (or void the concept of having a body and breath), only focus on the feelings at the philtrum. If the breath stops completely, and the body disappears, and your feeling is clear and bright, then it is the Fouth Jhāna.
- Fetal breath and stopping the breath
Q: I can’t completely stop the breath, I feel a little suffocated. It feels uncomfortable that the breath is almost stopped but not completely.
May I ask, is it the Fetal breath? Should I gradually enter the stabilized concentration (Appana Samadhi) of the Fourth Jhāna via Fetal breath, or try to enter directly?
Moreover, I feel there are still breath in and out from the nose/mouth in the Fetal breath state, it’s just very slow. The breath starts from the belly, not driven from the cheat, is it correct?
A: If there still exists the clinging to the breath, the breath definitely wouldn’t stop. (The clinging is purely conceptual, if you let go this point of view, then you pass this hurdle)
But you feel suffocated, the breath is almost stopped but not yet. This means you have the capabilities to enter the Fourth Jhāna. It is the clinging to the breath that blocks you.
In this case, you first need to believe that no breath in Samadhi doesn’t make you die. You need to have the willingness to try not to breathe for extended period of time (at the same time, void the concept of breath). Also there is a trick, move you mind from focusing the breath to concentrate on the empty spaces 3 inches above your head. After the breath stopped, turn the concentrate back to the feelings at the philtrum (don’t try to find the breath, once you start to look for the breath, you fall from the Fourth Jhāna). If you no long feel your body, you just need to concentrate on the pure undefiled realm you are in.
Q: I still can’t make the breath completely stop. I still can’t understand the method you said. It looks like I need to keep practice on the first 3 Jhāna, and try to understand it step by step. It seems the Fourth Jhāna is a checkpoint, it is much more difficult than entering the First Jhāna.
I have another question: recently when I enter it, the rapture and joy is no longer as strong as the first time I entered the Third Jhāna, on which occasion I felt the comfort was unparalleled in the Third Jhāna. But now I don’t feel it’s that comfortable anymore, almost like I no longer care about that type of sensation. It might also be that I couldn’t tell which Jhāna I’m at, or I didn’t inspect the factors of Jhāna in Samadhi. I can know whether I’m in the Second Jhāna or Third Jhāna only if I inspect it closely. But the problem is that the joyful feeling isn’t as strong as before, I sometimes thought I was in the First Jhāna.
Is it a problem in my case, or does it generally happen after practice meditation for a long time?
A: Anything when you experience it the first time, it is most impressive. It is also true for Jhāna. The rapture and joy are especially intensive for the first time you enter the Samadhi states. After a few times, it is no longer as intensive. Later, it could seem to be bland. It is normal. After that, even the difference from the First Jhāna to the Third Jhāna feels very small. Only the Fourth Jhāna is obvious since the real purity appears from stopping the breath (no movement at all)
If you can’t get into the Fourth Jhāna, then stay in the Third Jhāna as long as you can. Many people need a process for the body to adjust. After staying in the Third Jhāna for a significant amount of time, getting into the Fourth Jhāna is easier.
This also tell us that, rapture, joy, etc., are a matter of comparison. They are not real. So from the perspective of the Dharma, the so-called happiness just means a little less of suffering. It is still suffering, in other words, all sensations leading to suffering.
Q: Hi Dharma brother. I have 3 questions: 1. From the Third Jhāna to the Fourth Jhāna, you mentioned to concentrate on the space 3 inches above the head. I tried a few times, and I felt my feet was leaving the ground and floating, then I was too afraid to keep going, and moved the concentration back to the philtrum, and didn’t calmed down until 5 minutes later. So I want to know, is it going to stabilize if I keep going for a bit longer? 2. Once in the Fourth Jhāna, I don’t know whether the focus should be on the consciousness or the some Vipassanā object? 3. Feel free to choose to answer this question or not. It is said that you used a little longer than 1 year to practice and reached Nirodha-Samapatti. Does the time start from when you entered the First Jhāna? I’m also a layperson. If you can share the history, I’d like to make a plan for the time frame. Thank you!
A: 1. It is just an expedient to focus on the space above the head, it isn’t necessary. It just temporarily diverts the attachment of the breath. The point is to relax, don’t make a lot of effort to focus on the space above the head. When the breath is stopped and you are stable in that state, you can move the concentration to the tactile sensation at the philtrum.
- Once in the Fourth Jhāna, maintain the concentration in the pure realm of Samadhi. The practice of Vipassanā comes after the Samatha ability is firm and stable.
- I spent a little over 1 year, starting from knowing nothing, having no prior knowledge whatsoever.