Kenshou wrote:Freawaru wrote:Hi Kenshou,Kenshou wrote: I believe that Johannes Bronkhorst's, The Two Traditions of Meditation in Ancient India (http://my.unil.ch/serval/document/BIB_A88A22EFD384.pdf) covers this subject. His conclusion was that the 4 jhanas (or dhyanas as he calls them) appear to be an innovation by the historical Buddha, but that does not include the formless realms. I haven't read it for awhile, though.
The iddhis are gained by practice of the jhanas (all eight of them) and concentration practice with the elements as objects. As there were masters of the iddhis before the Buddha's Enlightment and independently of His teachings (some suttas mention the iddhis even in persons who were not students of the Buddha) I don't see how the first four jhanas could possibly be innovations of the Buddha.
If those abilities are attainable through concentration practices, I would speculate that they could be gotten through means other than just jhana of the sort we are referring to. I assume that there have been many different sorts of concentration practice throughout history. But you may know more about this than I do.
And I second Brizzy's request for evidence that the 4 jhanas as we know them are the Buddha's redefinition of a preexisting practice. Are there any pre-buddhist sources describing anything similar? Or are we pushing the limits of written history looking for such a thing. I don't have a particular attachment to either side, but it would be interesting to know. It wouldn't be that surprising to me if that's the case, but I don't know where to find such information.
the jhanas are not really that difficult to experience (now, mastery is a different kind of animal). They just base on concentrating on the right objects (and they arise kinda naturally when you are there). They are known in many cultures and religions today, I don't see any reason why it should have been different at the time of the Buddha.
Near the end of the conference, Michael Freeman gave a talk and led a discussion focusing on the similarities between the Jhanas and related contemplative practices in other major religious traditions. Michael is the director of the Southwest Sangha self-retreat center near Silver City, New Mexico, which hosts meditators from a wide variety of religious traditions who wish to go on silent self-retreat in this stunning setting in the remote highlands near the Gila Wilderness. He pointed out that although the Jhanas may be relatively new to the experience of most Western practitioners of Theravada meditation methods, Jhana-like states of mind are familiar territory (as are techniques for achieving them) to many of the retreatants of other spiritual traditions who practice at his center.
Here are good instruction how to enter jhana. Just try it for yourself. When you feel generally okay, got enough sleep and are ready for something new, sit somewhere nobody wants something from you and concentrate. You can also choose another object than breath (some people have problems with breath as object for various reasons). Once you have reached access concentration on your choosen object enter the first jhana by this:
Once access concentration has been established, you now induce the next factor of the first Jhana. This third factor is called piti and is variously translated as delight, euphoria, rapture and ecstasy. By shifting your attention from the meditation object to a pleasant sensation, particularly a pleasant physical sensation, and doing nothing more than not becoming distracted from the pleasant sensation, you will "automatically" enter the first Jhana. The experience is that the pleasant sensation grows in intensity until it explodes into an unmistakable state of ecstasy. This is piti, which is primarily a physical experience. Physical pleasure this intense is accompanied by emotional pleasure, and this emotional pleasure is sukha (joy, happiness), which is the fourth factor of the first Jhana.
Of course, you might also be one of those who - after reaching access concentration - skip the first three and enter the fourth (equanimity). It is really not that difficult.