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ChatGPT on How to Attain Jhana Levels

My questions and responses are bold and the answers by ChatGPT, an iteration of AI on the road to general artificial intelligence, on 29 Jan 2023 follow unbolded.

Can you condense down the teachings of Vipassana to around 1000 words telling me how to reach the jhana levels?

Vipassana, also known as Insight Meditation, is a form of Buddhist meditation that aims to develop self-awareness and understanding of the nature of reality. The practice is said to lead to the attainment of the jhana levels, which are states of deep concentration and inner peace.

To reach the jhana levels through Vipassana, one should begin by finding a quiet and comfortable place to sit. The traditional posture for meditation is to sit cross-legged on the floor with a straight back. One can also sit in a chair with both feet flat on the ground and hands resting on the knees.

The next step is to focus on the breath. One should pay attention to the sensation of the breath as it enters and exits the body. The attention should be placed on the nose, the chest or the belly. If the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath without judgment.

As the mind becomes more focused, one can begin to observe the rising and falling of sensations in the body. These sensations are not good or bad, they simply are. The goal is to observe them objectively without getting caught up in them.

As the mind becomes more stable, one can begin to investigate the nature of reality. This can be done by asking oneself questions such as: “What is the nature of this sensation?” “What is the cause of this sensation?” “What is the purpose of this sensation?”

As one continues to practice and gain insight, the mind becomes more calm and peaceful. The jhana levels are said to be attained as the mind becomes absorbed in the present moment and the distractions of the external world fade away.

It’s important to note that reaching the jhana levels takes time and consistent practice, it’s not a instant thing. It’s also important to have a teacher or guide to help you along the way.

Not correct. The jhana levels are reached by specific actions leading up to the first jhana. Do you know what these steps are, or no?

I apologize for any confusion, you are correct that the Jhana levels are reached through specific actions and practices. In traditional Theravada Buddhism, the path to the Jhana levels typically involves the following steps:

  1. Samaadhi Bhavana: Developing concentration through methods such as Anapana (mindfulness of breath) or other meditation objects.
  2. Dhana Bhavana: Developing the Five Spiritual Faculties (faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom) which are necessary for attaining Jhana.
  3. Jhana Bhavana: The direct cultivation of the Jhana levels through the progressive refinement of concentration and the elimination of the five hindrances (sensual desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and remorse, and skepticism).
  4. Vipassana Bhavana: Developing insight through the investigation of the true nature of reality, using the Jhana levels as a foundation for deeper understanding.

It’s worth noting that these steps are not always followed in a linear fashion, and one may need to revisit earlier steps to continue progress. Additionally, it’s important to have a teacher or guide to help you along the way, as the Jhana levels are subtle and can be difficult to attain on your own.

Sort of. I am looking for a step by step practice that is very simplified and leads to concentration of the mind on the breath, then kasina, then jhana. Do you know this process, or no?

The process you’re describing is a traditional approach to attaining the Jhana levels through the use of specific meditation techniques. Here is a simplified version of the steps to reach Jhana through the use of the breath and kasina as the meditation object:

  1. Begin by finding a comfortable and quiet place to sit. Take a few deep breaths to relax and center yourself.
  2. Begin by focusing on the breath as it enters and exits the body. Pay attention to the sensation of the breath, such as the sensation of the air flowing in and out of the nose. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath without judgment.
  3. As your mind becomes more focused and stable, begin to lengthen your breath. Slowly inhale and exhale, counting each breath up to 10. When you reach 10, start again at one.
  4. Once you’re able to count up to 10 without losing focus, begin to shorten your breath. Inhale and exhale quickly, still counting each breath up to 10.
  5. As your mind becomes even more focused and stable, begin to use a kasina as your meditation object. A kasina is a visual object, such as a disc or a colored square, that is used to train the mind to become more concentrated.
  6. As your mind becomes absorbed in the kasina, the first Jhana, or “absorption state,” will be attained. The mind will be filled with a sense of joy, happiness, and one-pointedness.
  7. Continue to practice and refine your concentration, progressing through the Jhana levels until the mind is completely absorbed in the present moment, free from all distractions.

It’s important to note that reaching the Jhana levels takes time, patience and consistent practice. It’s also important to have a teacher or guide to help you along the way, as the Jhana levels are subtle and can be difficult to attain on your own.

Now you’ve got it. Sort of.

I’m glad that I could provide you with the information you were looking for. Remember that the process of reaching Jhana levels requires consistent practice, patience, and guidance from a teacher. It’s also important to keep in mind that the Jhana levels are a tool to help you gain insight into the true nature of reality, and not an end in themselves. If you have any other questions or need further clarification, please feel free to ask.

Actually the jhana levels can be and end in themselves too. Please don’t take traditional Buddhist texts or teachings as the be all end all. Each person’s experience with the meditative process can lead down a different path, no less valid than the Buddha’s or anyone else’s path.

You are correct that each person’s experience with the meditative process is unique, and that different paths can lead to different outcomes. While traditional Buddhist texts and teachings provide a framework for understanding and attaining the Jhana levels, it’s important to remember that these are simply tools that can be used to help individuals gain insight into their own experience. The ultimate goal is to find what works for each individual, and to use these tools in a way that is most beneficial for their own spiritual development.

It’s also important to note that Jhana can be an end in themselves, and not just a tool to insight. Jhana are a state of deep mental concentration and tranquility, which can bring a great deal of peace and contentment to the meditator. Jhana can also be a way to cultivate positive qualities such as equanimity and compassion.

That being said, it’s also important to keep in mind that Jhana is not the only way to reach enlightenment, and that different paths can lead to different outcomes. Each person should explore and experiment with different techniques and approaches to find what works best for them.

********* end of chat *********

It’s really quite good if it can pull the essence from the millions of words written about the meditative process and how to attain Jhana. It’s obviously pulling from resources that it considers authoritative on the topic.

So, is CHATGPT going to take over the world?

Maybe not yet, but it is going to replace many authorities it doesn’t consider valid on many topics. What I mean is, it may take only Buddhist monk’s point of view on the topic of meditation and jhana. It may only use Theravada Buddhism and not the others. It may decide who gets to be the authority. That’s scary because as I said in the chat above, each of us can have a different and equally valid experience as a result of meditation. It need not lead to enlightenment, which is of questionable value anyway. It may lead elsewhere.

I have been led elsewhere. I have some sort of nibbana baseline state, but I very rarely access it at all. I’d rather live life with all it’s shortcomings, emotions, grasping, and losing, and struggling and falling and succeeding. I’d rather live life than remain in a state where everything is perfectly fine as it is.

However! It is very nice to be able to access that place, that baseline that is always there, whenever it feels like the right time to do it… whenever the ego, mind, and body need a reset.

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