Jhana in Visuddhimagga

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Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby vitellius » Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:17 am

Dear friends,

I have heard that some people say that in all jhanas in Vsm sense perceptions are absent. E.g. one can't hear sounds when in jhana etc.

But I was unable to locate this statement in the text of Visuddhimagga.

Can you please help me to find any relevant passages?
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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby Sobeh » Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:59 pm

As an aside: here is an online translation of the text, for anyone who might want to go a-hunting.
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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby vitellius » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:19 pm

Sobeh wrote:As an aside: here is an online translation of the text, for anyone who might want to go a-hunting.


As far as I understand, this online text is a translation of two first chapters only. And jhanas are discussed mainly in chapter 4.
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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby vitellius » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:34 pm

My friend and I found these two places that may suggest absence of sense perceptions:

Chapter 4 about 3rd jhana:
175. Now, as to the clause he feels bliss with his body: here, although in
one actually possessed of the third jhana there is no concern about feeling
bliss, nevertheless he would feel the bliss associated with his mental
body, and after emerging from the jhana he would also feel bliss since
his material body would have been affected by the exceedingly superior
matter originated by that bliss associated with the mental body.47 It is in
order to point to this meaning that the words 4he feels bliss with his
body' are said.


Chapter 10 about first arupa-samapatti:
16. With the disppearance of perceptions of resistance: perceptions of
resistance are perceptions arisen through the impact of the physical base
consisting of the eye, etc., and the respective objects consisting of visible
objects, etc.; and this is a term for perception of visible objects (rupa)
and so on, according as it is said: 'Here, what are perceptions of resistance?
Perceptions of visible objects, perceptions of sounds, perceptions
of odours, perceptions of flavours, perceptions of tangible objects—these
are called "perceptions of resistance"' (Vbh. 261); with the complete
disappearance, the abandoning, the non-arising, of these ten kinds of perceptions
of resistance, that is to say, of the five profitable-resultant and
five unprofitable-resultant;1 causing their non-occurrence, is what is meant.
17. Of course, these are not to be found in one who has entered upon the
first jhana, etc., either; for consciousness at that time does not occur by
way of the five doors. Still [330] the mention of them here should be
understood as a recommendation of this jhana for the purpose of arousing
interest in it, just as in the case of the fourth jhana there is mention of
the pleasure and pain already abandoned elsewhere, and in the case of
the third path there is mention of the [false] view of personality, etc.,
already abandoned earlier.


Both fragments do not state directly about absence of sense-perceptions in (rupa) jhanas, but this claim seems to be a presupposition for these passages.
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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby pt1 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:15 am

Hi, I think this is because according to abhidhamma, while one is in jhana, every single citta at the time will be a jhana-citta. Since every citta must have an object, for a jhana citta that will be the nimitta of the meditation object (in the first 4 jhanas). Importantly, a citta can have only one object, so if every citta in jhana has nimitta as the object, then it cannot have some other objects like a sound for example. Since sound is a rupa, if sound became the object of citta, then that wouldn't be a jhana-citta anymore but a sense-door citta now. That's as far as I understand it in theory.

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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby Ben » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:48 am

Dear members

Just a gentle reminder that as this is the Classical sub-forum, all responses should contain references to canonical or early commentarial works in support of the answer you are providing.
many thanks

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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby vitellius » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:05 am

pt1, thanks, this seems reasonable.

I would appreciate a citation from (preferably canonical) Abhidhamma, where it is said that in jhana occur only cittas with nimitta as an object.
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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:20 am

There may be some related matter in an essay I wrote a couple of years ago:

SAMATHA & VIPASSANĀ AS PRESENTED IN THE THERAVĀDA ABHIDHAMMA esp. from pg. 17 to pg. 22.

It is not exactly an answered to your question, but I recall that it is definitely related, particularly viz the issues of pannatti / paramattha, and nimitta, and the issue of extension of objects.

Hope it may be of some assistance. :smile:
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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby pt1 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:24 am

My apologies Ben, I thought the quoted Vis. X,17 pretty much spelled it out:
Oleksandr wrote:17. Of course, these are not to be found in one who has entered upon the
first jhana, etc., either;

I take it that "these" refer to the sense-impressions which were discussed in XV,16. And then it's further clarified:
Oleksandr wrote:
for consciousness at that time does not occur by
way of the five doors.

Five-doors can only stand for the five sense-doors, so if there are none of the five sense-consciousnesses arising, I take it there cannot be any experiencing of sound, and other sense-objects while in jhana.


Another quote I saw stated on this topic - from Vibhanga (second book of abhidhamma pitaka), chpt.12, page 353 (PTS):
Three jhanas should not be said to have low objects or sublime
objects; sometimes have immeasurable object; sometimes should not be said to have the immeasurable object. The fourth jhana sometimes has low object; sometimes has sublime object... sometimes should not be said to have low object...

So, firstly regarding the first 3 jhanas that do not have a "low object" - the pali term is "paritta", which in Dhammasangani (first book of abhidhamma pitaka) 1019 is explained as "limited":
Which are states that are limited? All states
good, bad and indeterminate, which relate to the universe of sense

"Universe of sense" is kaamaavacara, so sense-sphere.

Commentary to the Vibhanga, The Dispeller of delusion par.1840, goes to state that the object of the three jhanas is nimitta - sign:
because of three jhanas having the sign as object, it should be known that they are not to be said to have a limited object and so on...

Nimitta, sign, I believe is a concept - so an object of the mind-door, not sense-doors.

Regarding the fourth jhana which sometimes can have paritta as object, this is when special powers are exercised - from the same commentary, par.1843:
Fourth of the various kinds of miraculous power, firstly in one who transforms the body by means of consciousness, because of having the body as object in the performing of miracles with a visible body, has limited object;


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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby Freawaru » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:38 am

Oleksandr wrote:My friend and I found these two places that may suggest absence of sense perceptions:

Chapter 4 about 3rd jhana:
175. Now, as to the clause he feels bliss with his body: here, although in
one actually possessed of the third jhana there is no concern about feeling
bliss, nevertheless he would feel the bliss associated with his mental
body, and after emerging from the jhana he would also feel bliss since
his material body would have been affected by the exceedingly superior
matter originated by that bliss associated with the mental body.47 It is in
order to point to this meaning that the words 4he feels bliss with his
body' are said.


I think this part describes that in the first jhana one looses awareness of the physical body with all it's sensory information of the physical world. Meaning: the impressions one gets are mind made. Entering first jhana means to enter the mind-made realm, the sense impressions are mind made (like in dream) and thus one does not get impressions from the physical world.

The mind made body can have fully functional senses, too. One can hear, see, feel tactile, smell and so on but they are all mind made. As described in that quote the tactile bliss one experiences during jhana is mind made (mental) but penetrates into the physical body and lingers when emerging from jhana. It is similar to the mechanism at work when dreaming something funny and even after waking the amusement will linger for some time.

Thank you, Oleksandr, for the quotes :smile:
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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby Ben » Thu May 13, 2010 1:59 am

This is a reminder that in the Classical Theravada forum the ancient commentarial literature and the Pali Tipitaka are considered authoritative for the purposes of discussion. A critique of the Vism from the context of modern scholarship should be done in the General Theravada forum as it is off-topic and liable to deletion in this forum.
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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 13, 2010 4:23 am

Greetings,

Further to Ben's comment, if there is an apparent discrepency between the Tipitaka and the commentaries, in this particular sub-forum, it's not the case that one simply trumps the other.

They are both considered authorative and any perceived discrepency between them merely gives a good opportunity for deeper enquiry.

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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby Virgo » Thu May 13, 2010 4:32 am

I believe it is explicitly stated in the Kathavatthu.

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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby Ben » Thu May 13, 2010 4:46 am

Virgo wrote:I believe it is explicitly stated in the Kathavatthu.

Kevin


What is explicitly stated?
And if it is explicitly stated, please quote and reference it.
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby Dmytro » Thu May 13, 2010 6:16 am

Hi Oleksandr,

Oleksandr wrote:I have heard that some people say that in all jhanas in Vsm sense perceptions are absent. E.g. one can't hear sounds when in jhana etc.

But I was unable to locate this statement in the text of Visuddhimagga.


Visuddhimagga is a bit controversial in this regard. It states in the chapter 10:

"17. Of course, these [perceptions of visible objects, perceptions of sounds, perceptions of odours, perceptions of flavours, perceptions of tangible objects] are not to be found in one who has entered upon the first jhana, etc., either; for consciousness at that time does not occur by way of the five doors."

However a little below there's a clarification:

"19. In fact it is because they [i.e. sensory phenomena] have not been abandoned already before this that it was said by the Blessed One that sound is a thorn to one who has the first jhana (A. v, 135). And it is precisely because they are abandoned here that the imperturbability (see Vbh. 135) of the immaterial attainments and their state of peaceful liberation are mentioned (M.i,33), and that Alara Kalama neither saw the five hundred carts that passed close by him nor heard the sound of them while he was in an immaterial attainment."

which implies that sensory phanomena are not abandoned until the immaterial attainments.

Also there's indeed a description of how rapture fills the body:

4.98. But when pervading (rapturous) happiness arises, the whole body is
completely pervaded, like a filled bladder, like a rock cavern invaded by
a huge inundation.
4.99. Now this fivefold happiness, when conceived and matured, perfects
the twofold tranquillity, that is, bodily and mental tranquillity. When
tranquillity is conceived and matured, it perfects the twofold bliss, that
is, bodily and mental bliss. When bliss is conceived and matured, it
perfects the threefold concentration, that is, momentary concentration,
access concentration, and absorption concentration.
Of these, what is intended in this context by happiness is pervading
happiness, which is the root of absorption and comes by growth into
association with absorption. [145]


As for Kathavatthu, etc. see:
http://dhamma.ru/forum/index.php?topic=367.0
http://www.forum.websangha.org/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=539

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Re: Jhana in Visuddhimagga

Postby Virgo » Thu May 13, 2010 1:21 pm

Ben wrote:
Virgo wrote:I believe it is explicitly stated in the Kathavatthu.

Kevin


What is explicitly stated?
And if it is explicitly stated, please quote and reference it.

Sorry Ben, I cannot. Maybe somebody who has a copy of the Kathavatthu can find and post the reference if they have time.

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