The 4 Jhanas
The Jhanas happen as states of mental absorption resulting from increasing concentration on a single focus. The nature of the focus is irrelevant. The purpose of the Jhanas is to eliminate pain/trauma.
First Jhana: “Here, quite secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unwholesome states, a monk enters and abides in the 1st jhana, which is accompanied by thinking and exploring, with happiness and pleasure born of seclusion.”
Second Jhāna: “With the stilling of thinking and exploring he enters and abides in the 2nd jhana which has self-confidence and singleness of mind without thinking or exploring, with happiness and pleasure born of concentration.”
Third Jhāna: “With fading away as well of happiness he abides in equanimity, and, mindful and fully aware, still feeling pleasure with the body, he enters upon and abides in the 3rd jhana, on account of which the noble ones announce: ’He has a pleasant abiding who is onlooker with equanimity and is mindful’”
Fourth Jhāna: “With the abandoning of pleasure pain, and with the previous disappearance of joy and grief, he enters upon and abides in the 4th jhana, which has neither pain nor pleasure, and the purity of whose mindfulness is due to equanimity.”
© 2018 Victor Langheld
Observed from the outside, i.e. with normal everyday awareness, the absorption states resemble sleep (Greek: hypnos) = coma states. They serve to eliminate the downside affects of everyday consciousness and which the Buddha claimed resulted in pain or suffering = trauma.
In other words, the Jhanas, or coma states (i.e. quasi waking sleep states,) serve to gradually eliminate pain/suffering (Pali: dukkha).
In practice this is achieved by restricting data flow in the brain to one datum, for instance, by means of Japa, which, un-relativized, drops out of awareness due to repetition.
The end result is emotionless reprocessing of basic mental operations without content, sort of like running your car in neutral or ‘running on empty’. Perfection of Jhana results in ‘in-this-life’ Nirvana.
The purpose of the Jhanas (as progressively deeper coma states) is to eliminate processing of all everyday data since the latter, being transient and without abiding substance, because arising conditionally, result in pain/trauma.
Compare. Individuals who have been seriously traumatised in, for instance, a car accident are induced into a healing coma to speed up the healing process.