Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby Freawaru » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:11 pm

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.


Hi Kenshou,

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.
http://www.leighb.com/jhanarptleb.htm


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:

First Jhana

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.
http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm


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.
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby Kenshou » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:35 pm

You've misunderstood me, Freawaru. I already have some familiarity with the first 4 jhanas. I think my post was fairly clear, I wasn't trying to say that jhanas are particularly difficult or anything like that. I was merely speculating about the nature of pre-Buddhist meditation, and asking for evidence of methods of meditation similar to the Buddhist jhana as we know it from pre-Buddhist sources, if they exist. It would be interesting to me.
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby Freawaru » Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:45 pm

Kenshou wrote:You've misunderstood me, Freawaru. I already have some familiarity with the first 4 jhanas. I think my post was fairly clear, I wasn't trying to say that jhanas are particularly difficult or anything like that. I was merely speculating about the nature of pre-Buddhist meditation, and asking for evidence of methods of meditation similar to the Buddhist jhana as we know it from pre-Buddhist sources, if they exist. It would be interesting to me.


Hi Kenshou,

I apologise for misunderstanding you.

As you are familiar with the jhanas by own experience I suggest to read the pre-Buddhist scriptures yourself and compare to your own experience. Don't let yourself be confused by translations (sati=memory) and non-Buddhist definitions like "self/atman". I don't have time at the moment but this might sound familiar:

Bhagavad Gita wrote:While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises."
"From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool."
"But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord."
http://www.bhagavad-gita.us/categories/ ... -2/?Page=4


Also, the Tibetans don't see that much difference between their tradition of Buddhism and the Bön-tradition of pre-Buddhist time.
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby meindzai » Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:54 pm

What I think, but can't prove. Feel free to disagree...

I think the various factors of jhana have been accessable to meditators for a very long time. But I think the *categorization* of these various factors into various "levels" (first, second, third, fourth, or more if you look at Abhidhamma) is a Buddhist invention. I think when we read about different mental factors in Suttas and Abhidhamma, and about meditation in particular, we get the impression of the mind as being very neat and computer-like - with neatly delineated levels, factors, and so forth that come in and out in perfect squares like bits of data. When we practice meditation I think we quickly learn that it's more organic and messy than that. I believe the Jhanas (as categorizations) were the Buddha's way of "standardization." First Jhana is this...Second Jhana is that... etc.

I think that there are plenty of meditators that experience deep levels of concentration that can be any combination of factors that we would call jhanic, and they could be anywhere along the spectrum from access concentration through the formless states. The Buddha's meditation teachers, as we know, experienced two of these deep states, one being the base of neither perception nor non-perception and the other being the base of nothingness. But I don't know that they really would have referred to them in those same terms that the Buddha used when relaying the story of his encounter with them.

Furthermore the Buddha was the first to teach "right concentration," which IMO is the Jhanas in conjunction with and supported by the eightfold path. So while non-Buddhist meditators may experience the various jhanic factors they are not necessarily practicing right concentration. There are plenty of examples in the canon of monks with extraordinary concentrative power, even supernormal powers, doing unwholesome things, or getting attached to Jhana. So, I believe tha even though Rigth Concentration is defined in terms of the Jhanas, I don't believe that simply experiencing the Jhanas or their factors is right concentration.

So - Can non Buddhists experience Jhana - I believe yes
Can non Buddhists (Non-Buddhist being defined as somebody without right view, right thought, etc.) have right concentration? - I believe no.

-M
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby imagemarie » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:39 pm

:goodpost:
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:33 pm

meindzai wrote:Can non Buddhists (Non-Buddhist being defined as somebody without right view, right thought, etc.) have right concentration? - I believe no.

-M

Depends upon what you mean by "right concentration/samadhi." Samadhi is not exclusively Buddhist. Samadhi, in and of itself, does not guarantee vipassana. As far what Buddhist jhana is, the opinions seem to vary.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby meindzai » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:41 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
meindzai wrote:Can non Buddhists (Non-Buddhist being defined as somebody without right view, right thought, etc.) have right concentration? - I believe no.

-M

Depends upon what you mean by "right concentration/samadhi." Samadhi is not exclusively Buddhist. Samadhi, in and of itself, does not guarantee vipassana. As far what Buddhist jhana is, the opinions seem to vary.


Which is why I qualified taht right concentration is "jhanas in conjunction with and supported by the eightfold path." Without the rest of the path it may be samadhi but not samma-samadhi.

-M
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:45 am

If you do not know that the jhanas come in specific jumps/steps then it is unlikely you have experienced jhana.
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby imagemarie » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:28 am

rowyourboat wrote:If you do not know that the jhanas come in specific jumps/steps then it is unlikely you have experienced jhana.

That sounds very prescriptive. Is it Vissuddhimagga?
I'm not sure it's as simple as that, or necessarily the case. Sometimes boundaries become more blurred (in my experience fwiw) and not all jhana factors appear in tick list fashion.
I think Ajahn Brahm compares moving through the jhanas to accessing a room only by first entering a set of preceding rooms? Or something like that.
Perhaps it's also possible to use the lift, and not know of the existence of the other floors?
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby Ben » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:34 am

rowyourboat wrote:If you do not know that the jhanas come in specific jumps/steps then it is unlikely you have experienced jhana.


I agree.

kind regards

Ben
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sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby meindzai » Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:12 pm

rowyourboat wrote:If you do not know that the jhanas come in specific jumps/steps then it is unlikely you have experienced jhana.


Sure, but how many steps? 4 as per the Suttas? 5 as per Abhidhamma? 12 or 15 if you classify them each in 3 levels?

-M
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby Freawaru » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:02 pm

rowyourboat wrote:If you do not know that the jhanas come in specific jumps/steps then it is unlikely you have experienced jhana.


Not necessarily. In my experience it is more easy to recall the end of a samadhi (including the jhanas) than their beginning. Meaning that the jumps I recall better are on the "downward" path again. In fact, to me, the observation and analysis of the "jumps" are more difficult than that of the stable states because they are so fast and awareness is not easily maintained. It is only when I focus on slowing things down that I can observe the change in concentration and levels.
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby Kenshou » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:15 pm

Everybody experiences these things differently, every sitting is a little different. *shrug*
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Re: Only Buddhists can attain full Jhana?

Postby oceanmen » Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:04 am

just a question and forgive my ignorance,

Only Buddhist can attain full Jhana


define Buddhist- define Jhana-

is it safe to say that a non-buddhist(label) following a path that includes the identical teachings of buddha(label) but labeled differently,
can not achieve a state that is identical to Jhana(label) but is labeled differently?

must we declare it once we attain the state of full jhana(label)?

and if not then how many that we know of, before, during and after buddha have attained that state?
who are we to judge what and who existed before, during and after buddha? let alone who attains(ed) jhana (labal)

metta :thinking:
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