A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

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Kumara
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Kumara » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:37 am

Spiny Norman wrote:I think it depends on what we mean by "vipassana", there seem to be a number of different interpretations and methods. If for example it means paying close attention to bodily sensation, then I don't see much difference from anapanasati, which arguably is a means of developing both jhana and vipassana.

It also depends on what we mean by "jhana" and "samatha". ;)

I can fully appreciate what you mean. Having been delving into the Suttas for the meaning of such words, I see a lot of differences with current orthodox usage.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby suwapan » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:48 pm

Dear nyanasuci
May I refer you to the Abhidhamma Forum, Topic "Vipassana vs Jhanas."

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby waterchan » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:03 am

Ven Yuttadhammo's post is back: http://yuttadhammo.sirimangalo.org/2011 ... hanas.html

For some reason there are now only two commentators in the comments box: "Yuttadhammo" and "Anonymous".
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby dhammarelax » Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:01 am

nyanasuci wrote:http://yuttadhammo.sirimangalo.org/posts/a-critique-of-brahmavamsos-the-jhanas/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

...The error mentioned above is important. It shows that one cannot take the word jhāna as referring to an exclusive entity with a specific meaning. It means “meditation”, or perhaps “trance” or “absorbtion”. This becomes even more important when we look at the context of Brahmavamso’s statement about the first jhāna experience. He is using the fact (now proven to be fiction) of the Bodhisatta’s only jhāna experience having occurred in his youth as proof that the meditations taught by Alara and Udaka and perfected by the Bodhisatta “could not have been connected with jhāna” (p. 6). As I have shown, however, even holding one’s breath can be a sort of jhāna; it is clearly plain-and-simple dogmatism to say that because they weren’t Buddhist, Alara and Udaka weren’t practicing Jhāna.
It seems, though I am not so bold as to make a statement either way, that the Bodhisatta, in considering his childhood experience of the first jhāna, was simply reflecting on the indulgence in meditative bliss at that time, and how that indulgence was not dangerous. This realization led him to decide that there was no need to avoid happiness by torturing himself.
This, at least, is more in line with the rest of the Buddha’s teachings on the rūpa and arūpa jhānas, wherein it is quite clear that the states taught by Alara and Udaka come only after attainment of the rest of the jhānas. And, seriously, does anyone really believe that one could enter into “the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception” without some sort of seclusion from sensuality?
The point of the Buddha’s words on not being afraid of the bliss that comes from jhāna, of course, is that he had missed something important. Previously, he had dismissed such meditative states as merely leading to transcendental attainments (i.e. arūpa jhānas). Now, he thought, what if I were to use them for the purpose of developing focused contemplation of reality and enlightenment? When we step back from our preconceived notions of what jhāna might be, I think we can clearly see that, rather than being some exclusively Buddhist attainment, jhāna simply refers to meditative focus or samādhi, and so it is unwarranted to claim that what Alara and Udaka taught “could not have been connected with Jhāna”, not to mention going against the whole Theravadin commentatorial tradition and Abhidhamma.
This may seem like nit-picking to those who are not familiar with the disagreement in question here. Again, the disagreement is one thing, and no cause for writing such a post as this; distorting the facts to mislead people into thinking your argument superior, however, is another. You see, one of the arguments I would use against placing too much importance on “The Jhānas” is the fact that they are not particularly Buddhist. Which is simply to say that Hindu meditators have been realizing states like the young Bodhisatta, Alara, and Rāma (Udaka’s teacher) for as long as anyone can remember, and are still to this day practicing them, ostensibly without any proper Buddhist attainment of enlightenment following therefrom. An explanation of why and how that is would do much to shed light on this subject.
...


Isn't there an inherent contradiction in considering that Jhana can be be any form of meditation and the actual detailed definition of the Jhanas in the Suttas? It seems obvious that we cannot consider the 1rst (etc.) Jhana to be any kind of meditation as it has specific factors, it seems unlikely that a confusion of this kind would be encouraged unless there was an important reason for it, after all why not choose a different word to describe the Jhanas that the Buddha teaches as he encourages the practice of a specific type of Jhana? I dont think there is a doubt that Jhana (1rst, 2nd, etc.) can be acheived outside the Buddhas dispensation, it seems that Patanjali teaches at least the first Jhana : http://sarit.indology.info/exist/apps/s ... .2.19.html

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Dmytro » Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:57 am

dhammarelax wrote:Isn't there an inherent contradiction in considering that Jhana can be be any form of meditation and the actual detailed definition of the Jhanas in the Suttas?


Jhana can be of different kinds:

"Certainly, Master Ananda, the Bamboo Grove is delightful, quiet, free of noise, with an air of isolation, remote from human beings, & appropriate for retreat because of venerable ones who are endowed with mental absorption (jhana), who make mental absorption their habit. You venerable ones are both endowed with mental absorption & make mental absorption your habit.

"Once, Ven. Ananda, Master Gotama was staying near Vesali in the Peaked Roofed Pavilion in the Great Wood. I went to him at the Peaked Roofed Pavilion in the Great Wood, and there he spoke in a variety of ways on mental absorption. Master Gotama was both endowed with mental absorption & made mental absorption his habit. In fact, he praised mental absorption of every sort."

"It wasn't the case, brahman, that the Blessed One praised mental absorption of every sort, nor did he criticize mental absorption of every sort. And what sort of mental absorption did he not praise? There is the case where a certain person dwells with his awareness overcome by sensual passion, seized with sensual passion. He does not discern the escape, as it actually is present, from sensual passion once it has arisen. Making that sensual passion the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, besorbs, resorbs, & supersorbs himself with it.

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by ill will...

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by sloth & drowsiness...

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by restlessness & anxiety...

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by uncertainty, seized with uncertainty. He does not discern the escape, as it actually is present, from uncertainty once it has arisen. Making that uncertainty the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, besorbs, resorbs, & supersorbs himself with it. This is the sort of mental absorption that the Blessed One did not praise.

"And what sort of mental absorption did he praise? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is the sort of mental absorption that the Blessed One praised.

"It would seem, Ven. Ananda, that Master Gotama criticized the mental absorption that deserves criticism, and praised that which deserves praise.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Buddha called his previous practice of non-breathing 'jhana' as well:

‘yaṃnūnāhaṃ appāṇakaṃyeva jhānaṃ jhāyeyya’

'Suppose I were to become absorbed in the trance of non-breathing.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Metta, Dmytro

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Kumara
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Kumara » Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:33 am

Dmytro wrote:
dhammarelax wrote:Isn't there an inherent contradiction in considering that Jhana can be be any form of meditation and the actual detailed definition of the Jhanas in the Suttas?


Jhana can be of different kinds: ...

Well said, Dmytro.

Quite unfortunately for those who can only read English translations of the Suttas, most translators translates "jhana", or don't, according to what they believe suits the contexts, thus the readers can't see (read) what you pointed out from their sutta reading.

In Chinese though, jhana is consistently transliterated as 禅.
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dhammarelax
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby dhammarelax » Thu Nov 03, 2016 12:43 pm

Dmytro wrote:
dhammarelax wrote:Isn't there an inherent contradiction in considering that Jhana can be be any form of meditation and the actual detailed definition of the Jhanas in the Suttas?


Jhana can be of different kinds:

"Certainly, Master Ananda, the Bamboo Grove is delightful, quiet, free of noise, with an air of isolation, remote from human beings, & appropriate for retreat because of venerable ones who are endowed with mental absorption (jhana), who make mental absorption their habit. You venerable ones are both endowed with mental absorption & make mental absorption your habit.

"Once, Ven. Ananda, Master Gotama was staying near Vesali in the Peaked Roofed Pavilion in the Great Wood. I went to him at the Peaked Roofed Pavilion in the Great Wood, and there he spoke in a variety of ways on mental absorption. Master Gotama was both endowed with mental absorption & made mental absorption his habit. In fact, he praised mental absorption of every sort."

"It wasn't the case, brahman, that the Blessed One praised mental absorption of every sort, nor did he criticize mental absorption of every sort. And what sort of mental absorption did he not praise? There is the case where a certain person dwells with his awareness overcome by sensual passion, seized with sensual passion. He does not discern the escape, as it actually is present, from sensual passion once it has arisen. Making that sensual passion the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, besorbs, resorbs, & supersorbs himself with it.

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by ill will...

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by sloth & drowsiness...

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by restlessness & anxiety...

"He dwells with his awareness overcome by uncertainty, seized with uncertainty. He does not discern the escape, as it actually is present, from uncertainty once it has arisen. Making that uncertainty the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, besorbs, resorbs, & supersorbs himself with it. This is the sort of mental absorption that the Blessed One did not praise.

"And what sort of mental absorption did he praise? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is the sort of mental absorption that the Blessed One praised.

"It would seem, Ven. Ananda, that Master Gotama criticized the mental absorption that deserves criticism, and praised that which deserves praise.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Buddha called his previous practice of non-breathing 'jhana' as well:

‘yaṃnūnāhaṃ appāṇakaṃyeva jhānaṃ jhāyeyya’

'Suppose I were to become absorbed in the trance of non-breathing.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Metta, Dmytro


Thanks this is new for me.
MN 38: "Abandoning harsh speech he abstains from harsh speech, he speaks words that are gentle, pleasant to the ear, and loveable as go to the heart, are courteous, desired by many and agreeable to many"


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