The four successive rupa jhanas are:
- Pathama jhana - Directed thought and evaluation, rapture and pleasure in the unification of the mind.
- Dutiya jhana - Internal assurance, rapture and pleasure in the unification of the mind.
- Tatiya jhana - Equanimity-pleasure in the unification of the mind.
- Catuttha jhana - Complete equanimity with neither pleasure or pain and utter serenity of awareness in the unification of the mind.
Each level is considered more challenging to obtain than the last because it necessitates relinquishing attachment to a positive experience from the preceding state. The yogi is helped along this process when he/she realizes that, in fact, each aspect that they let go of is simply a form of agitation of the mind, although it may appear positive at first.
The rupa jhanas are said to bring about a pleasant and abiding freedom from suffering. When the mind is in these meditative states, it is free from aversion, craving, agitation and doubt. They are believed to empower the mind of the yogi, allowing it to understand the deep truths of existence.