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Flavors of divine abodes and jhanas

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  • Flavors of divine abodes and jhanas

    Hello Venerable Sunyo, thanks for your time. I was hoping you could answer some questions for me. I know about how in each jhana there is a fading away of sensations and parts of yourself. In the fourth rupa-jhana there is only equanimity left. Now there is also four divine abodes, being Love, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity. So my first question is does each jhana contain these divine abodes and have them fade away until it's only equanimity. Is for instance compassion only in the first one, or love, and then maybe in the third there is only equanimity and sympathetic joy left? Probably a hard question to answer.

    My second question is also in regards to the divine abodes. Now I've experienced compassion, love and equanimity, they all have flavors.

    Metta is like a warmth of heart and body. Compassion is like a heartache or quivering, Equanimity is like weightlessness or the lack of flavor. What does sympathetic joy feel like, or what is it like when compared to love? I've tried a mudita meditation, but out of all of them, it seems the hardest to rouse feelings for, or the feeling is just so subtle I don't even notice it.

    Thanks for your time.
    Billy :>

  • #2
    Hi Billy,

    The divine abodes are not really part of the jhanas. The jhanas are specific states with clear characteristics, and have a clear start and a clear end. The divine abodes are more like qualities of the mind. They can range from the weak to the incredibly strong and powerful, and sometimes they can be somewhat on the background. Let's call them emotions instead of abodes. You also can experience multiple divine emotions at the same time, but you can't have first and third jhana (say) at the same time. But of course the jhanas and these emotions support one another, so they are not totally separate either.

    As to your second question, you'll find that your understanding of these emotions will grow as you develop them. You may think you know what metta is, but wait until one day it literally blows you away and takes over. Anyway, the feeling of 'sympathetic joy' (mudita) is being happy for other's happiness. Other translations are 'rejoicing' or 'shared joy'. It is said to be the best antidote to jealousy and also to discontent. When I practice it, I usually imagine somebody in a very fortunate situation and see how that makes me feel. I may imagine also a little kangaroo (of which we have a lot here) jumping around, being happy and cheerful. That will make me happy as well, and that is the mudita. I find it a very nice meditation and do it quite often.

    With mudita!




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