“Jhana” is just the word in Pali, the language that the Buddha spoke, for meditation. For modern Buddhists, it sort of means meditation on crack. There are eight jhana states, the first four, or material jhanas, and four immaterial jhanas.
They were very important to the Buddha. He talked about them a lot. It is easy to find information about them on the web. Here is one page with very broad overviews of the eight jhana states. Buddhist teacher Rob Burbea has recordings on Dharmaseed of talks on all eight jhanas that are well worth listening to.
Burbea says one of his teachers claims that the jhanas are essential to full awakening, but Burbea disagrees. They may not be essential, but they are undoubtedly very helpful. Achievement of the jhana states brings bliss. Ayya Khema, another teacher who has recordings at Dharmaseed, says that it is impossible to achieve the highest jhana states without also having significant insight, which is the ultimate goal of the practice.
So get to work on meditating to the eighth jhana
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