Four Jnanas by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

1st Jhana           

 Perhaps you noticed that we were considering our body, and our mind, and our personality, and our consciousness, but now we consider the whole physical world instead of our body, and so on and so forth. We will be proceeding on those lines. Now these are the Jhanas, instead of the Vipassanas or Satipathanas. And the first Jhana is from the moment that you are able to see that your body is the formation made out of the impersonal forces of nature, well then you look at the whole of nature, the whole of the physical world, and then you start realizing, or better still of course, once you’ve gone through all the four stages of Vipassana, and consciousness is not limited within the perspective, the vantage point of the person, you suddenly realize that the whole physical world now looks totally different. For example, from the point of view of consciousness threaded into, let’s say, the lens of the person, the stars look like points in the sky. The sun seems to turn around the earth. And so on. That’s the way that the universe, physical universe, appears to me. That’s not the way the universe is, it’s the way it appears to me. I’m only perceiving the frequencies and the electromagnetic field that I perceive represents about one fiftieth of the total spectrum. So I’m caught in a very narrow view of the universe. I don’t see the atoms. So the things that I see are within the middle ranges of the scale of values of size, let’s say. And I think that I know the universe? The picture that I have of the universe is a far cry from the reality of the physical universe. It’s just a picture. It’s like the map that I make of a territory is not the territory. It’s just a map, it’s just an approximation.

And that’s how most of us are caught in an illusion. And we are so convinced of it. We argue about it and we act on the strength of this image that we make of the universe that is not the way things are. And the reason is because I’m referring everything to my sense of me as a person. That’s the reason why I don’t see things as they are. The reason is of course because the eyes are programmed in such a way as to refer everything to the eyes.


Now supposing that I, instead of contacting the physical universe through my senses, which makes, which limits the way I see it, which limits my experience to the vantage point, supposing that I were to experience the universe beyond my senses, without threading the universe through my senses. Supposing for example, that I would get into the consciousness of the trees and the rocks and the animals and the people. Then imagine how different the universe would look. Supposing that when I think of the stars, they’re little points in the sky, as seen from the vantage point of my eyes. But supposing that I were able to reach out with my consciousness into outer space, I would realize that the stars are enormous, and the planets, that I can’t even see when I try to look at them from the planet Earth, are enormous. That’s the kind of state in which you are, if you are high. All of a sudden, the space relationships are altered. You discover a totally different way of experiencing the universe. You suddenly get a direct contact with the universe by eliminating your image of it.


Now this, we can confirm this in the latest scientific models in that, it is now found that subatomic particles do have some action upon one another by colliding, for example, or by sending signals to one another. Light signals, for example, or radio signals. But we find, it has been found that they influence one another, or interact rather, without being able to reach each other from person to person, let’s say, from subatomic particle to subatomic particle. But because they are all part of the total body of the universe, and so that overall transformations of the body of the universe affect two particles even though they are not able to reach each other. So let us say they communicate through the consciousness of the whole when they cannot communicate directly from their individual consciousnesses to each other…this may be difficult for some of you to follow.

Really, what this amounts to, is that some action is carried out at the individual level, and some action is carried out beyond the individual. And in the same way, we do communicate with the universe through our senses, and limited through the vantage point, you see.

But we can communicate with the universe without being limited by the senses. Now we can do both.

We can walk in the forest, and our eyes may be aware of how the trees look, but we can at the same time experience a kind of transfigured universe, and experience what it feels like to be those trees at the same time as we are seeing them. So we are communicating with them in a limited way through our senses, and at the same time, we are communicating with them in a deeper way. Exactly as I said, you could sit in that concert hall and be aware of the music, and at the same time be aware of what’s going on elsewhere. Part of you, let’s say, consciousness is partly working, functioning through the personalized, let’s say the focalized, let’s say focal center of consciousness. And at the same time, consciousness may be functioning without being limited by its focalized center.

For example, the ant may partly be operating from his personal vantage point and partly from the consciousness of the total ant nest.

Carl Pribram says that the brain acts as a hologram but nevertheless, certain cells have more specific functions than others. It’s the same principle.

So this is the first Jhana. A totally different relationship with matter from the moment that one dismisses, let’s say one unmasks, the hoax that one sees clearly that one’s idea of the universe is not the universe. From that moment, one begins to communicate with the universe directly. And as you see, it’s a stupendous experience. Suddenly, you realize how you’ve let yourself be fooled!

2nd Jhana: The Thinking Behind the Universe

Now the second Jhana is that you begin to enter into the thinking behind the physical universe. Instead of just assuming well this is reality, it’s the physical world. All of a sudden you realize that this, what appears as physical, is simply a crystallization of thought. Like this subatomic particle, this electron or whatever it is, well of course it’s the thinking of the universe that is manifested in a tangible way that means, that affects our retina for example, tangible, but it couldn’t exist without the thought that it incorporates. It is thought. It is materialized thought. And a cell of the body is a thought that is proliferating and pulsing and moving. And all of a sudden you discover the thinking of the universe.


And you realize that you yourself are part of the thinking of the universe.

And so your connection with the physical universe is now very different. When you see a tree, you don’t think well this is a physical tree. Or when you enter into the consiousness of the tree, you don’t enter into the consciousness of the physicalness of the tree, you enter into the consciousness of the thought that manifested in its physicalness as a physical tree.

It’s like the universe behind the universe. A universe of thought beyond, behind the physical universe. I say behind, but it’s still so much part of it. You can’t say it’s, you don’t jump from one to the other. It’s all one reality.

Now see if you can get into that consciousness of the thinking behind the universe, behind the physical universe.

And then you can see very well that if you are just conscious of your thinking, you can’t be aware of the thinking of the universe. It’s like, if you are sitting in that concert hall, you can’t be aware of what’s going on outside. If you just let yourself be confined to that concert hall. So in the same way, if you are just caught up in your thoughts, you can’t be conscious of the thinking of the universe.


And so you see that it’s the notion of me as an individual that stands in the way of my experience, of the vastness of my experience. I have been caught in a limitation. And the way of Buddhism is freedom from all limitation. And so you see that it is the notion of the self that is the limitation. The more I am able to let go of my assumption of being a person, the more I am able to be aware of the thinking of the universe.

And when I become conscious of me, the I get enclosed in my personal thinking. Or let’s say that part of the thinking of the universe that’s enclosed in the section of the totality.

Third Jnana: The Emotion Behind the Universe

And now Buddha goes one stage further. And he gets into the emotion behind the universe. And everywhere he sees people caught in personal emotions. People thinking that a situation is the way they are get, feel all happy about it, and then they think that the situation is bad and they get sad. The best way of understanding this is when Murshid says a defeat can prove finally to have been a victory, and what seems to be a victory might prove to be a defeat. So one’s emotion is part of what one, the way one sees things. One thinks, oh, this is terrible. Like one has parted company with someone. Someone’s left one and one feels terrible. And people there are people who feel they can just not live because the person they love has left them. It might be the best thing that could’ve happened, but if they’re caught in their personal point of view, it seems like a terrible tragedy.

And so once more, one is caught in an appearance and one’s emotions are all tied up with the appearance. With one’s judgement, because one is caught in a very limited perspective. If one could see from a vaster perspective, one’s emotions would be totally different. Now once you get into the consciousness of the emotion of the universe, your own emotions just don’t seem important any longer. For example, how can you jubilate at being elected president of your club when you know that there are people being beaten to death in concentration camps? It’s just sheer ignorance of what’s happening.

And how can you be depressed because you lost five thousand dollars that was stolen when you are aware of the tremendous jubilations in the heavens?

Consciousness, when consciousness reaches into the vastness, and when one sees that everywhere there’s emotion. One can even see that a person is his emotion. Vulgar emotions. See people manifesting vulgar emotions. Sadistic emotions. Enjoying deceiving people. Selfish emotions. And then there are very self-sacrificing emotions. And then some jubilant emotions and serene emotions. Everywhere there are emotions. And what Buddha does is, of course, from the time that you overcome the notion of the personal self, you overcome any kind of personal emotions, like hatred, or selfishness, or self-satisfaction. And one sees that a lot of emotions, what one might call lure emotions, are related with the fulfillment of desire. And these emotions attune one to a certain pitch and keep one at that pitch. And when one is desirousless, emotions become very sublime. One’s love for people becomes very very beautiful. So one is passing, it’s a kind of chemistry of emotion, one is passing from the more lush emotions to the, one could say, frigid emotions. Like the emotions of a nun, or the emotions of the Virgin Mary. Very pure, impersonal, serene. And so if you want to get into the consciousness of the Buddha, that is the emotion that he is, that he IS, that manifests his being. You can’t see him giggling and even loving, he smiles, he doesn’t laugh. And you can’t see him breaking down into tears of personal suffering, not at all. No personal emotions. The consequence is the emotions become absolutely cosmic. It’s the emotion, he is experiencing the emotion of the cosmos.

And he calls it the cure. He calls it the curing, the healing of the wounds. One suffers because one desires. And this is the way to overcome suffering. To be free. Free from the self.

You know how a person can draw you into their personal emotions, their storms in their teacups, and their tantrums and their hysteria. If you get into the consciousness of Buddha, you can’t be stirred by personal emotion. You see it. And you can help a person to overcome it by the fact that you have overcome it yourself. And your peace becomes contagious and helps people to overcome their personal sorrow. Can you understand that Buddha said, “I have found the way to overcome suffering.”

The Fourth Jnana: The Consciousness Behind the Universe

Now I get to the next stage. And that is, you see, consciousness, that already happened when you were doing the Satipathana, consciousness is carried beyond the notion of the self. And so, as long as, I think, what am I conscious of? I am conscious of this physical world, I think, at least, actually now I realize that it’s just my image of the physical world. And I’m conscious of having remembered something that happened when I was two years old maybe, or even one year old. But consciousness has been interrupted at my birth. Those are the edges of consciousness. Now if consciousness spills over the edges of consciousness, of the person, then of course I will remember right back into previous, well first of all, into the lives of my grandfathers, grandparents, and right back into my ancestors. I will remember previous incarnations, I will remember the planes through which I passed on the descent, through the physical world, into the state of incarnation. In fact the whole, and not only will I get back the memory of all those things which may have been communicated by, physically, let’s say, by my parents and ancestors, or non physically at the level of incarnation, of reincarnation. But I will remember the whole past of the universe. And what is more, I will be aware of all the planes and the beings in all the planes if my conscious is not limited to my, if consciousness is not limited to my sense of me, my vantage point, then it’s going to extend and encompass the whole universe. And this is the great victory of Buddha. This is the moment that is called the moment of illumination.

At the end of the forty-nine days under the tree, and all of a sudden, consciousness spilled over the frontiers of that man sitting under that tree, that wasn’t, it wasn’t important where his body was. He wasn’t enclosed in his environment. Consciousness reaches right out and the whole past, panoramic view of the whole past, and all levels of angelic beings, archangels, the universes beyond universes, the whole breathtaking vision. Not just of the physical universe. Imagine, you know, that you had been thinking, you know you’d been caught in a little environment, little personal problems, personal emotions, and here’s the vastness of consciousness. It breaks through. It includes all beings, all things…

Well it’s so obvious that this is the way out of the prison. And what he sees is universes informed and growing, and proliferating, and then exploding, and then another universe replacing it. So it tallies very much with what we hear in science about the universe expanding, and maybe contracting, and then other universes beyond the ones that we are aware of. Black holes, and beyond black holes, other even white holes and, well there’s no end to it. We just, when we start reaching beyond what we generally experience, we realize that there’s no end. And that’s what happens to the consciousness of Buddha. It reaches into realms that a person caught in his personal consciousness could never dream of.

And he gives even the clue. He says all you have to do is to identify yourself with the level, with the reality, the mode of reality corresponding to the level that you want to reach, and then you experience that level, for example, if you identify yourself with a body, wherever you go, you are going to see bodies. People are bodies for you. If you identify with your personality, wherever you go, you will communicating with personalities of people. People will be personalities. You will enjoy their personalities, or your communication with their personalities. It you identify yourself with your thinking, you will communicating your thoughts to people. But if you identify yourself with a being of light, everywhere you go you will be seeing the light. The reality of light, the mode of light behind the physical aspect of things. You will discover the worlds of light.

And Buddha recognizes nine different levels. But that’s, I suppose that’s what the disciples make a system out of, from their genuine experience. Because the experience reaches beyond what one would call existence, into non-existence.

For example, what we call existence is, for example we say, are there beings in outer space? Well, those beings would have to have a body made out of carbon, and oxygen, all those things that we, hydrogen and so on, all those things that we are aware of in our universe. We think that those are the criteria of existence. So any being who didn’t have such bodies, we would say, how could he exist? And Buddha speaking about realms which are beyond what we think can exist. Beyond existence.

And then he goes on beyond consciousness. For example, we are conscious of a physical object, and we are conscious of a thought, and we are conscious of a cause. But, so there’s duality. There’s duality in the consciousness in the object. But when we were in samadhi if you remember, there was no dichotomy between a subject and an object, there was just awareness. If you remember, there was awareness without an object. Well those are the realms beyond existence.

So Buddha includes the state of samadhi in his experience. But he does not exclude the physical universe in this vast panoramic experience.

When he has done this then he says, and these are the final words before he dies, and he says, “That which had to be done has been done.” A stage when you have overcome the whole process of fulfillment. And then he says, this is the cessation of the determined. Like, you know, your body is determined, your mind is determined by the environment, but when you reach the stage of awakening, you have overcome causality. And that means that you are totally free.

This comes from

( This is a great resource)


~ by James Myoe on December 21, 2007.

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