The Buddha never taught that one must use a mediation object to enter Jhana. Instead, the Buddha's approach was for one to first get rid of unwholesome thoughts and attachements to the mundane world. This process required one to first develop virtue "Sila", then develop "Sense Restraint", Devote oneselves to Wakefulness and then abandon the Five Hinderances before one could enter into Jhanas.
Early texts in the Pali Canon and the early Buddhist Abhidhamma tradition describe a different type of meditation. This meditation involves renouncing sensual desires, unwholesome mental qualities, and cultivating right mindfulness and right understanding. This form of meditation is often referred to as authentic meditation.
In this authentic meditation, the practitioner does not rely on any specific object. Instead, the focus is on renunciation, right mindfulness, and right understanding. This is the only meditation that the Buddha explicitly taught.
To practice this authentic meditation, one doesn't rely on a specific target; it's all about renouncing and dwelling in renunciation. In sharp contrast to Samatha and Vipassana meditation, this authentic meditation doesn't require concentration on an external object.
It's essential to remember that this practice is not dependent on any object. It leads towards renunciation and staying in renunciation. This is the unique meditation taught by the Buddha in the early texts.
It appears that the Buddha indeed realized a new form of meditation, which allowed him to attain enlightenment. He continued to teach this meditation throughout his life. However, soon after the Buddha's parinirvana, the true meaning of this meditation began to be confused with external meditation practices, misinterpreted, and altered. The presence of these alterations is evident in the earliest versions of the scriptures, indicating that the period of the true Dharma's preservation was indeed quite brief.
The Experience of Real Jhana
Anyone with practical experience knows that when you sit in a meditation room after communicating with someone, chatting, dialogues, discussions, and disputes with this person will continue to appear in your mind, which is difficult to calm down for a long time, making you very tired and difficult to enter meditation , I often think, this annoying words are always lingering, what is the reason?
Once I found out that it was because I kept thinking of a certain person in my mind. When a certain person's image appeared, I had a conversation with him. If I didn't think of a certain person in my mind, there would be no conversation with him. At this time, I was already in the quiet room, and no one would talk to me. Why should I keep thinking about someone, letting go of these endless conversations would only increase my fatigue? Therefore, when anyone’s image appear in my mind, I let it go, because when I let go of thinking about people, the dialogue with people in my mind disappears, and my heart is purified.
After so much practice, I found that even if no anyone else’s image appear in my mind, there will still be words in my mind, which is not pure enough. What is the reason? I realized that although no specific person image appears, there are still talking in the mind. Because of the habitual thinking of others and me, when there is a known phenomenon, I habitually translate it into language, but now I don’t need to describe what I know to anyone, why don't I give up all words and just live in solitary knowing? As if there is no one in the world but me, all the words in my mind will stop at this moment, and my heart will be silent.
After so much practice, I found that when the words are silent, knowledge begins to appear in the form of vision, for example, when I hear a bird singing, I see the bird image, but I have not actually seen the bird. How did such a image arise? I realized that “there are birds” is just a perception, no matter whether there are birds singing or not, this perciption is definitely not real, such an unreal perrception, why should I care about it? When I found out that everything I know is like this, I no longer pay attention to all perceptions, and just live in the truthful kowing without perceptions.
After being stabilized in this way, I found that when I hear the sound, the only real knowledge is the hearing consciousness. Once there is such hearing counsciousness, there are following sound perception and ear perception. When there is no such hearing counsciousness, there is no arise of consequent thinking about the sound you heard. If there is a sound. Thinking, ear thinking, it thinking, I thinking, thinking here, thinking there, thinking inside, thinking outside, if there is no such hearing consciousness, these thoughts will not arise. Consciousness is the origin of all these . It is further discovered that all external knowledge is like this. When a corresponding consciousness arises, there will be a corresponding thought.
However, before the consciousness arises, there is no place to come from, and after it disappears, there is no other place to exist. It arises and perishes due to conditions. , Self-generated and self-destroyed, has nothing to do with me, and the corresponding thoughts after the consciousness arises are born because of the consciousness, and have nothing to do with me, why should I care about them? When I am determined in this way, I will no longer pay attention to all external knowledge, nor will I have any external thoughts. When I don’t think about external things or think externally, external consciousness will no longer arise.
In this way, I discovered that when I know that there is a sound, it has leaks and actions. When I know that there are ears, this also has leaks and actions. There will be no birth, the heart will be still, without leaks, and will not act. This is like a lighted candle in a room. When there is an air leak, the flame will move, and when there is no air leak, the flame will remain still. It is also like a person standing in a bush of thorns. When he moves, he will feel pain. Because of the pain, he will know that there is a thorn. If he does not move, he will not feel pain, and he will not know that there is a thorn.
After practicing so much, I found that in such a state, there are still perceptions and mental formations. To have thoughts is to do something and to be reborn. If life ends at this time, nothing will disappear. It’s just that these thoughts don’t arise, and there’s nothing to be afraid of; if life continues, there is nothing continuing, just the rebirth of these thoughts, there is rebirth, there is feeling, and there is suffering, when I see the harmlessness of thoughts that are not born and the danger of rebirth. At this time, the mind tends to do nothing and abandons all thinking and mental formations.
The above experiences arose naturally in the process of my continuous meditation practice. This process spanned about two years. There are so many experiences that it is difficult to summarize systematically, so I only list some that I think have played an important role.