Worried about attachment to jhānas? The worst that can happen is that we will be reborn in a heavenly realm for up to 84 thousand eons of celestial bliss. Considering the range of possible rebirths within samsara that’s still not a bad option. The best that can happen is that we realize enlightenment. Virtue and states of samādhi are like rungs of a ladder. We have to hold onto higher and higher rungs in order to pull ourselves up. If we have already heard the wisdom teachings of the Buddha and are sincere about liberating the heart, then reaching the top of the ladder should be within our ability. As we go up, the attachment to the lower rungs is relinquished. But we have to first hold on firmly to each rung. If we let go too soon, we fall.
As the heart becomes increasingly peaceful it can feel as if we are entering uncharted territory. Fear of the unknown can sometimes be an obstacle. Having faith and trust in the Buddha can help to give us the confidence needed to forge ahead. Sometimes the mind will create inner visions, exciting light shows or unusual sensations. No matter how fascinating, frightening or funny they are, they are distractions from the meditation and should be ignored. If anything very strange occurs and we are unsure if we are proceeding correctly, then we can simply stop for the time being or go back to amore familiar level of meditation. When we later have the opportunity we can consult with a qualified teacher. At times the fear of losing control may arise. At subtle levels, attempting to control the meditation becomes an obstacle and must be let go of. The desire to control with attraction and aversion is a basic source of self-identity, and letting go of this control may result in fear of losing who we think we are. This notion of being in control is pure delusion in the first place. Relaxing the will to control and getting our ‘selves’ out of the way will lighten the heart and allow the process of meditation to deepen.
These reflections by Ajahn Chandako are from A Honed and Heavy Axe, pp. 26, 27.