Arahatta (enlightened, mystic) Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks) is a self-ordained Western Buddhist monk in the Great Western Vehicle, a 4th Wheel Buddhist tradition. He is a fully kundalini awakened (completed) and self actualized contemplative, who was a simple householder for 25 years, during which he maintained a contemplative life that was saturated and suffused with the phenomena of meditative absorption (jhana/kundalini), while raising two children. After completing his responsibilities to his dependents he renounced the householder's life and a successful 25-year technical career in Astronomy, Optics and Computing and became a full-time contemplative recluse monk, who now lives in the National Forest.
His 3 decades of contemplative life have been based upon an engaged daily practice of study, reflection, journaling, ethics and meditation. Through this practice path (magga) he has studied, as well as practiced, within the context of many of the contemplative traditions of the major religions of the world, as well as various shamanic traditions. As a consequence of his rigorous practice and study he has arrived at many of the spiritual attainments (phala) that the mystics of the past have manifested.
Jhanananda believes it is essential to teach from one's personal experience, otherwise people get bored with teachers who endlessly pontificate from an ancient and often misunderstood document that is too often subject to highly biased translations. This is true for almost any topic; even top mba programs have executives give guest lectures to classroom and online mba students to help provide personal insight. He has, however, been ostracized from the lay and monastic Buddhist community because he speaks openly about his personal experiences with meditative absorption (jhana/kundalini). The orthodox monastic community believes this is a serious violation of the monastic code (Vinaya). Jhanananda believes it is all too easy for a mediocre monk, nun, priest, minister or lay meditation teacher to hide behind these monastic rules that came centuries after the Buddha had left this Earth, and seem to have been instituted only to favor the mediocre non-contemplative community (sangha). After all, the record indicates the Buddha spoke openly about his experiences, and he often asked his students to speak openly about theirs as well.
In addition to acquiring and sustaining the various spiritual attainments (phala), such as Out-Of-Body (OOB) skills, various charismatic phenomena including clairvoyance and clairaudience, the tranquility and equanimity of “No Mind,” and the 8 meditative absorption states (jhanas) he has also mastered many of the meditation practices (magga) of these contemplative traditions.
Finding so few meditation teachers able to articulate the experience of skilful
meditation Jhanananda has dedicated most of his time to responding
to the needs of contemplatives who through a dedicated and
skilful contemplative lifestyle have discovered the meditative
absorption states (jhanas). Through the years of this dialog he
has thus built an extensive archive of articles on the subject
of skilful meditation (jhana) and the attainments (phala) there of. This archive is being transformed into a book on skilful meditation
and its attainments. That book is called Jhana, the Joyful Home of the Way and is available in its pre-publication form.
Through his rigorous cross-religious study of contemplative traditions and practices Jhanananda has also acquired a degree in Anthropology from the University of Arizona, where he also obtained degrees in Fine Art and Creative Writing. He is thus an accomplished artist and poet as well.
While Jhanananda can articulate a contemplative practice regimen within almost any cultural and religious context, he most often teaches based upon the teachings of the Buddha, as found in the Pali Canon, because he has found these original teachings are the least culturally determined practice strategy (magga) and philosophy (dhamma) that he has yet found, and thus accessible to the broadest community of people. He has also found the Buddha’s original teachings to be very clear and precise when not encumbered by translator bias.
Since so few translators of Asian literature are contemplatives, and thus can never really understand the subtleties of what they are translating, Jhanananda has been learning Pali and Sanskrit and has begun to edit these highly biased translations, into readable English that reflect an understanding of cognition and gnosis.
He is also the founder of the Great Western Vehicle, which is a 4th wheel engaged Ecstatic Contemplative Buddhist tradition that seeks to teach Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practices within the context of any culture or religious tradition. Many find the Buddhist philosophy and meditation techniques helpful in a variety of areas of life. For example it could be very beneficial to a stressed student taking his online mba exam who is unable to unwind and find balance in his life. The GWV does not expect nor require conversion to Buddhism.
Jhanananda’s main interest all along has been the study of the mystics, such as Sidharta Gotama; Christian contemplatives, such as Saints Francis of Assisi, Bernard of Clairvaux, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross; Sufi mystics al-Hallaj, Rumi and Kabir; Kabbalists Isaac Luria and the Ba’al Shem Tov of Turin; and Hindu mystics, such as Sankara, Sri Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi. Through the study of the lives and teachings of these mystics and others, Jhanananda has found enlightenment is not the exclusive possession of a people, time or place, but is available to all peoples, at all times, in all places.
As an Anthropologist, Jhanananda has also studied a wide range of shamanic traditions from Aborigine to Zuni. While studying Anthropology, he was not content with observing the minutia of a culture's religious practices from an armchair, he wanted to understand them from the inside out, so he participated in fire ceremonies, sweat lodges, vision quests and fasts; he lived in ashrams, chanted and prostrated, practiced meditation and dzikr, until he had the attainments the mystics had spoken of.
Jhanananda thus speaks from personal experience regarding the subjective experiences of the mystics, because he lives his contemplative life, and it has born fruit (phala). Thus he is qualified to advise students at any level of meditation experience. Do feel free to write Jhanananda if you have questions about your spiritual experiences in meditation. If you write please realize that he only comes to town to check his email once every week, so it may take a week or two for a reply
Jhanananda has maintained a journal of his life and subjective experiences throughout the 3 decades of his spiritual journey. Those journals are now becoming available.
Jhanananda is available to lecture on Buddhism, the mystics, the joy of meditation, the practices that leed to the joy of the contemplative lifeand dhamma studies. He is available to give public dhamma talks, lectures, poetry readings, public exhibitions of his art work and photography, workshops and retreats. If you are interested in schedualing Jhanananda for an event feel free to email him Jhanananda
PLEASE NOTE: Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks) is not affiliated with any lineage, teaching, method, tradition, religion or ideology other than his own; he is not part of any movement or organization other than his own, nor has he been sent out by anyone to teach. Jhanananda is an independent contemplative mystic, writer, teacher, speaker, artist and poet who has no spiritual affiliation of any kind other than with his own organization, the Great Western Vehicle. He has no guru, nor is he endorsed by one. He is not anyone’s disciple, devotee, representative or student.
Jhanananda did not find a single contemplative tradition or priest class that understood either the path (magga) to attainment or the attainments (phala). Instead he found the contemporary contemplative traditions bound up in myth and folklore. He is outspoken about his insights and attainments, and has thus incurred the wrath of some of the more narrow minded factions of the orthodoxy of some intolerant religions, who have become incensed with Jhanananda's free and open ways of communication and have thus instituted a boycott against his work. Finding his retreats and classes habitually canceled at the last minute due to this boycott Jhanananda has taken refuge in the National Forest until people realize that the priest class of all religions, including Buddhism, have been the same all throughout history, they have never been more than self-serving instruments of the hegemony.