A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

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

Postby morning mist » Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:48 pm

Hi Nanna,

Ñāṇa wrote:
Alexei wrote:In regard to 5 senses in jhana I would prefer plain explanation

there is a difference between simply attending to a mental object (nimitta) via mental consciousness, and the formless attainments wherein the mind is totally isolated from the five sense faculties. In commentarial terms, attending exclusively to a cognitive representation/mental object already occurs at the stage of access samādhi.


The nimitta appears right before entering jhana . I don't think he is saying that one attends to the nimitta in various stages of jhana.

There is no support for the claim that one goes beyond the 5 senses only in the arupa states. The sutta didn't state that. In the Therigatha there are examples of a lay woman entering the form jhana and when someone tried to pour hot oil over her in order to kill her and take her husband, it did not hurt her.

By the way, it appears that when 500 hundred carts going by Alara Kalama was oblivious to it with eyes closed. But if there were thunderstorm occurring he is not able to not notice it. That 's why the Buddha said:

"Now what do you think, Pukkusa? What is more difficult to do, more difficult to meet with — that a man, while conscious and awake , should not see a great number of carts, even five hundred carts, that passed him by one after another, nor hear the noise, or that one CONSCIOUS AND AWAKE , in the midst of a heavy rain, with thunder rolling, lightning flashing, and thunderbolts crashing, SHOULD NEITHER SEE IT NOR HEAR THE NOISE ?"

"What, O Lord, are five hundred carts — nay, six, seven, eight, nine hundred, or a thousand or even hundreds of thousands of carts — compared with this?" - Mahaparinibbana Sutta


If Alara Kalama was able to do both ( not noticing the carts rolling by and not noticing the thunderstorm) then there is no need to ask which is better. The Buddha asked this because his teacher was only able to do one ( not noticing the carts rolling by) but not the other ( not noticing the heavy thunderstorm). If a person is really beyond the 5 senses, he would notice neither the carts nor the thunderstorm. But here the Buddha's statement indicated that Alara Kalama was only able to do one ( not noticing the carts) and if there is a loud thunderstorm, Alara Kalama would hear it.

"When this had been said, Pukkusa of the Malla clan said to the Blessed One: "The faith, Lord, that I had in Alara Kalama I now scatter to the mighty wind, I let it be carried away as by a flowing stream! Excellent, O Lord, most excellent, O Lord!...And so, O Lord, I take my refuge in the Blessed One, the Dhamma, and the Community of Bhikkhus. May the Blessed One accept me as his disciple, one who has taken refuge until the end of life."

It appears that Alara Kalama is not yet beyond the 5 senses yet. The state which he claimed to teach the Buddha is not the same one the Buddha later taught by the same name. If we look at the various teachers claiming to teach jhana today, we can also see examples of this case, where two teachers said they teach Jhana meditation. But if you look at the state they are pointing to , some are way lighter than the other and still called jhana.

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

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:25 am

Alexei wrote:It seems that we try to create our own Abhidhamma.

Vitakka and vicara are just verbal fabrications: "Having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech. That's why directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Their function in insight was discussed here: viewtopic.php?p=107920#p107920



Indeed, Alexei. We are like Byzantine church doctors trying to make sense of the Word.

You'll excuse me if I disagree with your proposition above that vitakka-vicara are "just" verbal fabrications. Besides disagreeing with Ajahn Thanissaro's translation/interpretation of "vitakketvā" and "vicāretvā", it should be clear from MN 117 that the vacisankhara fall within the Sammasankappa definition in MN 117. They are forms of cetana, as MN 117 demonstrates, and not limited to cetana that initiates speech, but all possible movement of the mind that manifest as "thoughts" (takko), "application of mind" (vitakka), "intention" (sankappa), "absorption" (apanna), "fixing of mind" (byappanā) etc etc etc in MN 117.

Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo? Yo kho, bhikkhave, ariyacittassa anāsavacittassa ariyamaggasamaṅgino ariyamaggaṃ bhāvayato takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā vacīsaṅkhāro— ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo.


So, we're back to the elephant in the room -

How can there be panna without thought, without mental words, without discursive conception? Can one "know" without differentiating? Can one differentiate when there is no vitakka as kusala sankappa to move the mind?
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:34 am

Alexei wrote:In regard to 5 senses in jhana I would prefer plain explanation:

    "Friend, what can be known with the purified intellect-consciousness divorced from the five [sense] faculties?"
    "Friend, with the purified intellect-consciousness divorced from the five faculties the dimension of the infinitude of space can be known [as] 'infinite space.' The dimension of the infinitude of consciousness can be known [as] 'infinite consciousness.' The dimension of nothingness can be known [as] 'There is nothing.'

    "With what does one know a quality that can be known?"
    "One knows a quality that can be known with the eye of discernment."
    "And what is the purpose of discernment?"
    "The purpose of discernment is direct knowledge, its purpose is full comprehension, its purpose is abandoning."
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

    Ven. Ananda said, "It is amazing, friends, it is marvelous, how the Blessed One who knows & sees, the worthy one, rightly self-awakened, has attained & recognized the opportunity for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding, where the eye will be, and forms, and yet one will not be sensitive to that dimension; where the ear will be, and sounds... where the nose will be, and aromas... where the tongue will be, and flavors... where the body will be, and tactile sensations, and yet one will not be sensitive to that dimension."
    When this was said, Ven. Udayin said to Ven. Ananda, "Is one percipient when not sensitive to that dimension, my friend, or unpercipient?"
    [Ananda:] "One is percipient when not sensitive to that dimension, my friend, not unpercipient."
    [Udayin:] "When not sensitive to that dimension, my friend, one is percipient of what?"
    [Ananda:] "There is the case where, with the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, [perceiving,] 'Infinite space,' one enters & remains in the dimension of the infinitude of space. This is one way of being percipient when not sensitive to that dimension.
    "Then again, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, [perceiving,] 'Infinite consciousness,' one enters & remains in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. This is another way of being percipient when not sensitive to that dimension.
    "Then again, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, [perceiving,] 'There is nothing,' one enters & remains in the dimension of nothingness. This is another way of being percipient when not sensitive to that dimension.

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



Hi Alexei

I believe I've demontrated the logical fallacy underlying this argument here -

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4597&start=80#p74650-

On MN 43 and AN 9.37

You suggest that –

“Moreover, M i 293 and A iv 426 both explicitly state that it is only when abiding in the fully purified formless attainments that the mind is isolated from the five sense faculties and doesn’t attend to any apperceptions of the five sensory spheres.”

“With regard to the formless attainments, since MN 43 states that it is with the attainment of the fully purified formless apperception attainments that the mind is isolated from the five sense faculties ... we can deduce from this that with entrance into the formless attainments bodily equanimity (kāya upekkhā) is no longer experienced, and what remains is mental equanimity (cetasika upekkhā).”

I do not think the Mahavedalla Sutta says that.

It simply says that “with the purified mental-consciousness isolated from the five faculties the sphere of infinite space can be known as ‘infinite space.” Logically, this works out to “If Infinite Space is attained, then the consciousness is isolated from the 5 faculties.”

But for your phrasing to work, the typical “If A, then B” proposition would have to be re-expressed as “If not-A, then not-B”. I think this is called the fallacy of denying the antecedent.

You might argue that the logical structure of MN 43 works out to “If the consciousness is isolated from the 5 faculties, then Infinite Space is attained”, and apply modus tollens to prove that no Arupa implies no isolation from the 5 faculties, but the premise itself would be proven false by the handicapped who cannot attain the Arupa states.

I’m afraid I can’t agree with your reading of AN 9.37. While Ven Ananda cites the 3 Arupa Attainment as examples of the phenomena “where the eye will be, and forms, and yet one will not be sensitive to that dimension”, there is nothing in there to suggest that these 3 Attainments exhaust the field of the general proposition made by Ven Ananda regarding insensitivity to “that” dimension. The first paragraph was a general axiom, followed by 3 examples but no suggestion that the 3 were exhaustive.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:30 am

Sylvester wrote:Besides disagreeing with Ajahn Thanissaro's translation/interpretation of "vitakketvā" and "vicāretvā", it should be clear from MN 117 that the vacisankhara fall within the Sammasankappa definition in MN 117. They are forms of cetana, as MN 117 demonstrates, and not limited to cetana that initiates speech, but all possible movement of the mind that manifest as "thoughts" (takko), "application of mind" (vitakka), "intention" (sankappa), "absorption" (apanna), "fixing of mind" (byappanā) etc etc etc in MN 117.

None of those terms are synonymous with cetanā or manasikāra.

Sylvester wrote:How can there be panna without thought, without mental words, without discursive conception? Can one "know" without differentiating? Can one differentiate when there is no vitakka as kusala sankappa to move the mind?

One who practices sammāsamādhi instead of asaññisamādhi learns the difference between apperception (saññā) and thought (vitakka). It is apperception which differentiates, not thought.

And this relates to the main issue: Meditation which is specifically Buddhist is qualified by the presence of vipassanā. This is explicitly stated in the Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, and Sautrāntika treatises already cited in this thread. And this is why the Mahāvihāra commentarial tradition can maintain that rūpāvacarajjhāna is not essential for awakening. Jhāna devoid of vipassanā isn't an essential dhamma of Theravāda or Sthaviravāda Buddhism.

All the best,

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

Postby morning mist » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:01 am

Hi all,

In the Nigantha Nataputta sutta of the Citta Samyutta # 41 , the Nigantha Nataputta does not even believe that it is possible to practice a meditation without thought and examination. Citta told him how he entered these states, and the instruction is for the Four Jhanas in Samma Samadhi:

Nigantha Nataputta said to Citta ( a non-returner disciple of the Buddha) : “ Householder, do you have faith in the ascetic Gotama when he says: “ There is a concentration (samadhi) without thought and examination, there is a cessaton of thought and examination ?”
Citta : “ In this manner, venerable sir, I do not go by faith in the Blessed One …..”
Nigantha Nataputta said “ …….One who thinks that thought and examination can be stopped might imagine he could catch the wind in a net or arrest the current of the river Ganges with his own fist.”
Citta then goes on to explain that he doesn’t just go by mere faith, but directly experienced it for himself. Also he explained how he entered these jhanas ( First- Fourth Jhanas).

"Venerable sir, why should I, knowing and seeing thus, rely on the faith of other recluses and Brahmins, there is concentration without vitakka and vicara and there is cessation of reasoning and investigation. "


Ñāṇa wrote:[Meditation which is specifically Buddhist is qualified by the presence of vipassanā. ... Jhāna devoid of vipassanā isn't an essential dhamma of Theravāda or Sthaviravāda Buddhism.


The complete Eightfold Path includes the Sila, Samadhi, Panna division. I would say that Jhana is just the Samadhi division. To develop Samadhi alone doesn't complete the eightfold path. There is also the need to develop the Panna division. Samadhi is just a stepping stone:

" In whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there exists not the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is there to be found a true samana of the first ( Stream Entry) , second ( Once Returner) , third ( Non-Returner) , or fourth ( Arahant) degree . But in whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, there is found a true samana of the first, second, third, and fourth degree of saintliness. In this Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there exists the Noble Eightfold Path; and in it alone are also found true samanas of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness (enlightenment). The systems of other schools are empty of true samanas . If the bhikkhus live (practice) rightly, the world will not be empty of arahants. "

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

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:16 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Besides disagreeing with Ajahn Thanissaro's translation/interpretation of "vitakketvā" and "vicāretvā", it should be clear from MN 117 that the vacisankhara fall within the Sammasankappa definition in MN 117. They are forms of cetana, as MN 117 demonstrates, and not limited to cetana that initiates speech, but all possible movement of the mind that manifest as "thoughts" (takko), "application of mind" (vitakka), "intention" (sankappa), "absorption" (apanna), "fixing of mind" (byappanā) etc etc etc in MN 117.

None of those terms are synonymous with cetanā or manasikāra.

Sylvester wrote:How can there be panna without thought, without mental words, without discursive conception? Can one "know" without differentiating? Can one differentiate when there is no vitakka as kusala sankappa to move the mind?

One who practices sammāsamādhi instead of asaññisamādhi learns the difference between apperception (saññā) and thought (vitakka). It is apperception which differentiates, not thought.

And this relates to the main issue: Meditation which is specifically Buddhist is qualified by the presence of vipassanā. This is explicitly stated in the Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, and Sautrāntika treatises already cited in this thread. And this is why the Mahāvihāra commentarial tradition can maintain that rūpāvacarajjhāna is not essential for awakening. Jhāna devoid of vipassanā isn't an essential dhamma of Theravāda or Sthaviravāda Buddhism.

All the best,

Geoff


If you demand a lexical/orthographic equivalence between sankappa and cetana, that's your prerogative. I follow Ven Analayo in simply looking at the functional definitions in MN 117 and MN 78. Since it is clear from MN 78 that kammas originate from sankappa, there is no need to devise some convoluted denial of the equivalence of sankappa to cetana.

As for your charge of "asaññisamādhi", that's just another flacid strawman's allegation. We stick with what the Buddha presents as His abhisaññānirodha and anupubbanirodha scheme. As DN 9 suggests, it's good to train for the cessation of the perception of kāmā in order to allow the arising of the perception of pitisukha born of seclusion.

I agree that Jhana devoid of vipassana cannot lead to enlightenment. But, you have a rather bizarre way of reading the Dhammasangani's "nanasampayutta" which does not entail concomitance; looks like your backreading a Commentarial concept into the Dhammasangani. Your reading entails "nanasahagata" and the only reason why you're re-writing the Abhidhamma is because you need some affirmation for the possibility that dhamma-vicaya can be contemporaneous with the jhanas.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:20 am

Sylvester wrote:If you demand a lexical/orthographic equivalence between sankappa and cetana, that's your prerogative. I follow Ven Analayo in simply looking at the functional definitions in MN 117 and MN 78. Since it is clear from MN 78 that kammas originate from sankappa, there is no need to devise some convoluted denial of the equivalence of sankappa to cetana.

The fallacious equivalence that you are trying to establish is this: vitakka is the same as saṅkappa, therefore vitakka is the same as cetanā. This isn't possible because in MN 111 Ven. Sāriputta differentiates between vitakka and cetanā as distinct dhammas. These dhammas are also differentiated in the Abhidhammapiṭaka.

Sylvester wrote:We stick with what the Buddha presents as His abhisaññānirodha and anupubbanirodha scheme.

Neither the suttas, nor the Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, or Sautrāntika authors require the attainment of cessation of apperception and feeling for awakening to occur. Moreover, for the Theravāda the cessation attainment is only possible for non-returners and arahants (and it is not considered supramundane). Anyone who is a worldling or a stream-attainer will fail to attain the cessation attainment and slip into a non-apperceptive samādhi. This is a dangerous state to cultivate because it can lead to rebirth as a non-percipient being.

Sylvester wrote:But, you have a rather bizarre way of reading the Dhammasangani's "nanasampayutta" which does not entail concomitance; looks like your backreading a Commentarial concept into the Dhammasangani. Your reading entails "nanasahagata" and the only reason why you're re-writing the Abhidhamma is because you need some affirmation for the possibility that dhamma-vicaya can be contemporaneous with the jhanas.

I merely wrote "concomitant" instead of "associated." My mistake. At any rate, the Dhammasaṅgaṇī Cittuppādakaṇḍa Lokuttarakusala Suddhikapaṭipadā explicitly equates the discernment faculty (paññindriya) with the dhamma-discrimination factor of awakening (dhammavicayasambojjhaṅga) as a supramundane dhamma at the time of attaining the noble path via supramundane jhāna. And the Mahāniddesa equates awakening (bodhi) with gnosis of the four paths (catūsu maggesu ñāṇa), the faculty of discernment (paññindriya), the strength of discernment (paññābala), the dhamma-discrimination factor of awakening (dhammavicayasambojjhaṅga), investigation (vīmaṃsā), clear seeing (vipassanā), and right view (sammādiṭṭhi). No back reading of anything.

All the best,

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

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:29 am

And so the cat's finally out of the bag.

The only "jhanas" where vipassana occurs contemporaneously with the "jhana" are the lokuttara jhanas of the Abhidhamma, not the suttas' Jhanas.

Glad we've got that cleared up.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:35 am

Sylvester wrote:The only "jhanas" where vipassana occurs contemporaneously with the "jhana" are the lokuttara jhanas of the Abhidhamma, not the suttas' Jhanas.

All that's out of the bag is your drawing fallacious conclusions.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:36 am

Ah, yes, the good old ex cathedra again. I was wondering when it'd turn up.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:38 am

It's been demonstrated to you time and again that there is nothing Buddhist about jhāna devoid of vipassanā, but you're very determined to not acknowledge it.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:50 am

On the contrary, I accept that jhanas are so full of the potential for vipassana, that repeated and persistent practice of jhana (within the N8P) leads inexorably to Enlightenment. I can't imagine any other reason for the SN's Ganges repetition series being applied to the Jhanas, or any reading other than the plain reading of the Pasadika Sutta.

You've not demonstrated the contemporaneity of vipassana with the Sutta Jhanas, and declaring otherwise is not going to change the fact. I'm glad you've acknowledged your mistake in reading the Dhammasangani's "nanasampayutta" as meaning "concomittance" - at least we're rid of that possibility for vipassana in Sutta jhanas on the Dhammasangani approach.

If you're happy using the Abhidhamma with your practice, well and good. But I would suggest that your preference hardly qualifies as a yardstick by which how "Theravada" or a "Theravadin" should be defined.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:22 am

Sylvester wrote:You've not demonstrated the contemporaneity of vipassana with the Sutta Jhanas, and declaring otherwise is not going to change the fact.

Just because you refuse to acknowledge it, doesn't mean that it hasn't been demonstrated by myself and numerous others. Moreover, it's explicitly affirmed by every Theravāda/Sthaviravāda school.

Sylvester wrote:I'm glad you've acknowledged your mistake in reading the Dhammasangani's "nanasampayutta" as meaning "concomittance" - at least we're rid of that possibility for vipassana in Sutta jhanas on the Dhammasangani approach.

The Dhammasaṅgaṇī clearly allows for vipassanā to be concomitant with rūpāvacarajjhāna. I've never said otherwise.

Sylvester wrote:If you're happy using the Abhidhamma with your practice, well and good. But I would suggest that your preference hardly qualifies as a yardstick by which how "Theravada" or a "Theravadin" should be defined.

There is no Theravāda without Abhidhamma. I'm not a hardcore ābhidhammika by any means, but without some recourse to these early exegetical treatises there is very little possibility of ever getting it right.

All the best,

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

Postby Dmytro » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:02 pm

Hi Geoff,

Ñāṇa wrote:Neither the suttas, nor the Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, or Sautrāntika authors require the attainment of cessation of apperception and feeling for awakening to occur. Moreover, for the Theravāda the cessation attainment is only possible for non-returners and arahants (and it is not considered supramundane). Anyone who is a worldling or a stream-attainer will fail to attain the cessation attainment and slip into a non-apperceptive samādhi. This is a dangerous state to cultivate because it can lead to rebirth as a non-percipient being.


Very interesting. Would you please give a reference to to the Pali source?

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Dmytro » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:26 pm

Hi Morning Mist,

Thank you for the good classification of nimittas. Would you please give the source of it?

morning mist wrote:
Dmytro wrote: "The "letting go" Brahmavamso talks about is slipping without any resistance into the passion for "beautiful representation" (subha-nimitta)."


There various types of sign mentioned in the sutta. When Ajahn Brahmavamso speaks about the sign which he describes as beautiful he is referring to the sign of the mind . Although the subha nimitta mentioned is translated as the sign of the beautiful , it is not the same one which he describes as beautiful.


He explicitly recommends to attend to the beautiful aspect, the subha-nimitta.

The cittassa nimitta is the reflective representation of one's own mind, as described in

Suda sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
and
Sacitta sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The one used to attain samadhi is samadhi-nimitta given in your list.

Evidently Brahmavamso uses samadhi nimitta, with concomittant subha-nimitta.

There can be various types of jhana, including those coloured by passion, as described in Gopaka-Moggalana sutta:

"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."

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

With metta, Dmytro
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby morning mist » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:05 pm

Hi Dmytro,

Dmtro wrote: Thank you for the good classification of nimittas. Would you please give the source of it?


You are welcome. It's from the Suda Sutta, also the

- Anguttara Nikaya , Nivaranappahana Vagga:

http://www.buddhagautama.com/apps/blog/ ... hindrances

-Nimitta Sutta

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cac ... set2trIoAQ

Numerous other suttas also mention some other types of nimitta, or where the word nimitta is being used in a different context, but I for the sake of simplicity let's just discuss a few.

Dmtro wrote: explicitly recommends to attend to the beautiful aspect, the subha-nimitta.


In the context which he used it, the word beautiful is simply a descriptive term just like he also called the breath, the Beautiful Breath when piti and sukkha arise from it. But if you look at his description of the nimitta , it is a reflective representation of one's own mind.

" The eyes are closed, and the sight consciousness has long been turned off. IT A THE MIND CONSCIOUSNESS freed for the first time from the world of the five senses. ....IT IS THE MIND MANIFESTING "- Ajahn Brahm

Other terms he used to refer to is is a " MENTAL SIGN" , a " pure MENTAL OBJECT "

Dmtro wrote: can be various types of jhana, including those coloured by passion, as described in Gopaka-Moggalana sutta


The way I understand this sutta is that one is not suppose to focus on the 5 hindrances or take any one of the hindrances as a meditation object. An example of taking desire as a meditation object can be tantra, where a person takes sexual pleasure as an object of meditation. People will engage in sex and focus on these sensual experience as a meditation object. It is not referring to the Cittassa nimitta which arise after one abandons the 5 hindrances, grasping , displeasure, and things of the 5 sense world.
"And what sort of jhana did he not praise?
There is the case where a certain person dwells with his awareness overcome by sensual passion ( kamaraga: sensual passion), obsessed with sensual passion. He does not understand as it actually is the escape from arisen sensual lust. Making that sensual passion the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, premeditates, outmeditates, and mismeditates.
"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 & worry...
"He dwells with his awareness overcome by doubt, obsessed with doubt. He does not understand as it actually is the escape from arisen doubt. Making that doubt the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, premeditates, outmeditates, and mismeditates. This is the sort of meditation (jhana) that the Blessed One did not praise." - Gopaka Moggallana Sutta


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

Postby morning mist » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:17 pm

Hi Nana,

Ñāṇa wrote:It's been demonstrated to you time and again that there is nothing Buddhist about jhāna devoid of vipassanā, .


As the Pamsudhovaka Sutta and the Nigantha Nataputta sutta have shown that a samadhi where there are still thoughts about the dhamma ( dhamma vitakka) is not considered full tranquility, and that Citta shows how he directly experience a samadhi without thoughts and examination in Samma Samadhi. Also, full samadhi is required instead of just access concentration.

Accordingly, it is not recommended by the suttas to develop the Right View before Samadhi ( such as access concentration) nor should we develop the insight required for Right View inside Samadhi by reflecting on the dhamma. After the mind has been purified with Samma Samadhi ( Any one of the four jhanas) , one can relfect on a certain subject of the dhamma to arrive at insight that liberates. Without developing Right View, defilements will not be uprooted and one cannot enter Stream Entry ( first level enlightenment) and the rest. Without developing insight for Right View or develop the Panna division, defilements are simply made to become dormant temporarily during and shortly after Samadhi until it returns later on. Also the Eightfold Path is not yet complete. The Sammaditthi Sutta and the Mahasatipatthana Sutta give list of subjects that a person can select to penetrate and develop insight. For example:

-Five Clinging Aggregates (Anatta-lakkhana sutta is an example of how the this brought the five first disciples to inight )

-Sense Bases ( Cula-Rahulovada Sutta sutta is an example of how the this brought Rahula to insight )

-Four Noble Truth (The Maha-Saccaka Sutta is an example of how this brought the Buddha enlightenment)


The Buddha also mentioned in the Samannaphala Sutta, Kayagatasati Sutta, and many other suttas that one can develop insight after the mind has been prepared:

"with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to knowledge and vision......"

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, the monk directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the asava." - Samannaphala Sutta

"When anyone has developed & pursued mindfulness of the body, then whichever of the six higher knowledges pertaining to things that can be realized he turns his mind to know & realize, right there he attains a realization of it, whenever the necessary conditions obtain ." - Kayagatasati Sutta

The Satipatthana and Mahasatipatthana Sutta mentioned that it takes anywhere from days to years before a breakthrough in insight occur, depending on the person.


Ñāṇa wrote: Neither the suttas, nor the Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, or Sautrāntika authors require the attainment of cessation of apperception and feeling for awakening to occur.


The sutta mentioned that even the first jhana is enough. Usually it can be First Jhana, or Second Jhana, or Third Jhana, or Fourth Jhana, or First to Fourth. These jhanas are considered suitable for the development of insight.

However, whenever the Buddha guides a disciple to other states other than Samma Samadhi, he always make sure to take them to the " Cessation of Perception and Feeling " though. The reason is because he doesn't want them to get stuck on the Sphere of Nothingness or Neither Perception Nor Non Perception. These still lead to rebirth.


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

Postby legolas » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:33 pm

How is it even possible to acquire Right Samadhi without having some basis of Right View? Any samadhi gained can hardly be called right.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby morning mist » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:18 pm

Hi legolas,

legolas wrote:How is it even possible to acquire Right Samadhi without having some basis of Right View? Any samadhi gained can hardly be called right.


Given that some basis of Right View is necessary. However, there are two aspect to right view, one is mundane the other is supramundane. One is hearing it from an outside source ( parato ca ghoso: the words of another). This can be learning the recorded words/ teachings of the Buddha, either in written or verbal format, or listening to correct dhamma talks, etc...This can serve as an operation manual or guide map to help you in developing understanding and meditation. This is one reason why I wouldn't recommend a person to choose exclusively between mediation and dhamma study. Perhaps, depending on a person's personal disposition he or she might study more than meditate, meditate more than study, or start with more study than meditation at the beginning of the path and gradually shift to more meditation than study towards the later parts of the path, or study and meditate equally, but both support each other. They should go hand in hand. Neither one should be left out.

The other aspect is internally reflecting the root causes ( yoniso manasikara: reflecting on the source, appropriate attention). This second aspect is associated the development of insight after the mind has been prepared with samadhi. This Right View is the direct knowing from within.

According to Mahavedalla Sutta ( MN 43):

"Friend, how many conditions are there for the arising of right view?"
“Friend, how many ways are there for the arising of right view? Friend, there are two ways for the arising of right view. Hearing it from an outside source ( parato ca ghoso: the voice of another) and internally reflecting the root causes ( yoniso manasikara: reflecting on the source, appropriate attention) .These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."

"And by how many factor is Right View supported when it has cetovimuttiphala (awareness-release) as its fruit & reward, and pannavimuttiphala (discernment-release) as its fruit & benefit?”
"Assisted by five factors, right view has cetovimuttiphala as its fruit & reward, and pannavimuttiphala as its fruit & benefit. Right view is assisted by virtue ( sila) , assisted by learning , assisted by discussion, assisted by tranquility (samatha ), assisted by insight (vipassana). Assisted by these five factors, right view has cetovimuttiphala as its fruit & benefit, and pannavimuttiphala as its fruit & benefit.”

With Metta,
Last edited by morning mist on Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:27 pm

morning mist wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:It's been demonstrated to you time and again that there is nothing Buddhist about jhāna devoid of vipassanā, .


As the Pamsudhovaka Sutta and the Nigantha Nataputta sutta have shown that a samadhi where there are still thoughts about the dhamma ( dhamma vitakka) is not considered full tranquility, and that Citta shows how he directly experience a samadhi without thoughts and examination in Samma Samadhi.

Vipassanā doesn't require vitakka and/or vicāra. It requires apperception (saññā), which is functional in all four jhānas.

All the best,

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