1. To attain any level of Dhyana, one needs blessings. In other words, blessings will also create conditions to attain Dhyana levels without cultivation.
For example, I have a 5-year old disciple who is already at first Dhyana because his mother has transferred blessings to him. Recently, his grandfather made him eat seafood although he is allergic to it. After eating some lobster, his face was so swollen he could not breathe, and he was rushed to Emergency. After his hospitalization, he visited me with his mother. I commended him for his courage, and gave him an apple. He almost died but he was not scared. Because of his bravery at facing a life-threatening event and for visiting the temple after his hospital stay, he reached 2nd Dhyana right away. Under the right conditions, danger can increase one’s Dhyana level.
Tam Thien is Third Dhyana indeed.
Most of the Chan teachers cannot perceive their student’s level. Therefore, how can the student know their own level?
2. Third Dhyana is much higher than first Dhyana. When you are not in Samadhi, you are just a regular person with the usual greed and anger. But with a higher level, one can be angrier than a person at a lower level.
That’s why in our Chan training, we also teach virtue concurrently with cultivation: to learn how not to abuse your power, but to use it in a constructive way.