Importance of Jhana

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Importance of Jhana

Postby someguysomeguy » Mon May 12, 2014 6:51 am

I read in Bikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Nikayas that Concentration levels of 1st Jhana is sufficient to attain Nibbana through Insight meditation.

I have few questions:-
a. Can Nibbana be obtained by just Insight Meditation (without attaining even 1st Jhana?).
b. Lets say a person obtains Nibbana without reaching 4th Jhana - will he not have these powers on attaining Nibbana ?
- Divine eye and ears
- Power to see the passing away and birth of beings
- Power to see one's own previous lives?.

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby Mkoll » Mon May 12, 2014 7:44 am

I like the stellar Ven. Anālayo's take on this. Sorry for the formatting. Read starting from page 161 here for the original format.

12.4 Liberated Beings
Progress towards final liberation proceeds through stages and
may involve the development of other types of liberation to
differing degrees. This variety of approaches is reflected in a
listing of seven types of disciples (e.g. MN I 477):
- one who is liberated both ways,
- one who is liberated by wisdom,
- one who is a body-witness,
- one who has attained to view,
- one who is liberated by faith,
- one who is a Dhamma-follower,
- one who is a faith-follower.
Notably, one of these disciples is reckoned to be `liberated'
by faith, the saddhavimutta. According to the definition given,
someone liberated by faith has not developed the ability to
attain the immaterial attainments and only some of his or her
influxes have been eradicated (MN I 478). That is, someone
liberated by faith could be a stream-enterer, a once-returner, or
a non-returner (AN I 120). By having attained stream-entry at
the very least, someone liberated by faith is `liberated' from
the prospect of any lower rebirth and also from the uncertainty
of doubt and perplexity through being endowed with unwavering
confidence, aveccapasada, in the Buddha, the Dhamma
and the Sa#gha (SN V 357).
The notion of being liberated by faith introduces a different
aspect into the types of liberations discussed so far, which
were the outcome of developing concentration and / or wisVimutti
160
dom. Though concentration and wisdom are certainly also
required for becoming one who is liberated by faith, the distinctive
characteristic of this type of noble disciple is the
prominence of the faculty of faith or confidence (AN I 118).
A higher level of liberation is reached by the one who is `liberated'
by wisdom, paññavimutta. This refers to an arahant
who has not developed the ability to attain the immaterial attainments
(MN I 477), though he or she would nevertheless be
well aware of their impermanent and ultimately unsatisfactory
nature (DN II 70). This awareness could explain why someone
liberated by wisdom may not make any further effort for developing
the immaterial attainments, once final liberation has
been won, since clear understanding of the impermanent and
unsatisfactory nature of such attainments would make any effort
to attain them appear futile.
A discourse in the A#guttara-nikaya distinguishes different
types of arahants that are liberated by wisdom, according to
their ability in the realm of concentration. In this discourse, the
lowest type of being liberated by wisdom is able to attain the
first jhana (AN IV 452). This indicates that, at least from the
perspective of this discourse, one liberated by wisdom would
not be completely bereft of jhana attainment. The same discourse
does, however, also list someone liberated by wisdom
who is able to attain the immaterial attainments, which is not
easy to reconcile with the definition of an arahant liberated by
wisdom given elsewhere.
The nature of one who is liberated by wisdom was apparently
not easily appreciated by the Buddha's contemporaries.
The Susima-sutta reports the puzzlement of the wanderer Susima
in this respect, who had become a monk in order to spy
out the Buddha's teaching. When other monks declared to have
won final knowledge, Susima was perplexed by the fact that
Liberation
161
they were not able to avail themselves of supernatural powers,
nor did they have the divine ear, telepathic knowledge of the
mind of others, recollection of past lives, the divine eye, or the
ability to enter the immaterial attainments (SN II 123).
His perplexity suggests that the early Buddhist conception of
one who has been fully liberated by wisdom was unusual in the
ancient Indian setting, where the attainment of the final goal
was apparently associated with the ability of displaying supernormal
abilities. In reply to Susima's puzzlement, the Buddha
clarified that it is insight, in the sense of knowledge of the stability
of the Dhamma, dhamma..hitiñaa, which is the precursor
of the experience of Nibbana (SN II 124). This reply highlights
that the attainment of Nibbana does not require the development
of any supernatural powers. Instead, penetrative insight
into the true nature of things is required,which then leads
to liberation by higher knowledge, aññavimutti (AN I 231).
Such penetrative insight is the distinctive mark of one who is
liberated by wisdom, who has overcome all ignorance (Sn
847). From a discourse in the Sayutta-nikaya one could get
the impression that those who were liberated by wisdom were
the most numerous type of arahant. At least on this occasion,
sixty out of a congregation of five-hundred arahants were endowed
with the triple knowledge, sixty had the six higher
knowledges, sixty were liberated both ways, but three-hundred-
and-twenty were liberated by wisdom (SN I 191). This
presentation also highlights that someone liberated by wisdom
need not have developed the first two of the three higher
knowledges, tevijja, whose exercise requires the same mental
strength of the mind that forms the basis for reaching the immaterial
attainments, namely the fourth jhana.
Another type of arahant mentioned in the above seven-fold
listing of disciples is the one who is "liberated both ways",
Vimutti
162
ubhatobhagavimutta. Such an arahant is able to attain the immaterial
attainments (MN I 477), and therefore is perfected
also in this respect (AN IV 316). He or she "has a more complete
type of liberation because of his [or her] meditative skill"
(Wynne 2002: 35). The Mahanidana-sutta defines the same
type of arahant in a slightly different manner by indicating that
he or she has mastery over the eight deliverances (DN II 71). A
complement to this can then be found in a discourse in the A#-
guttara-nikaya, which describes an arahant bereft of the ability
to attain all eight deliverances (AN II 87). This discourse
compares such an arahant to a coloured lotus, whereas an
arahant who attains all eight deliverances is like a white lotus.
Thus the theme of this presentation is indeed the difference
between those who are liberated by wisdom and those who are
liberated both ways, a difference elsewhere said to be related
to differences in their respective faculties, indriyavemattata
(MN I 437).
Though arahants may differ in their degree of accomplishment
in the realm of concentration, with the attainment of arahant-
ship their liberation of the mind has become unshakeable,
akuppa cetovimutti. When liberation of the mind is qualified as
unshakeable it indeed stands for the final goal of early Buddhism,
being a type of liberation that is no longer temporary.
During the course of the history of Buddhism, the final nature
of this attainment eventually became a matter for discussion
among different Buddhist schools, some of which developed
the concept of an arahant who is liable to fall away again
from his or her level of attainment, the parihanadharma arhant
(Abhidh-k 6.56; see also Kv-a 37). This, however, appears to
be a later development. In the Pali discourses, once someone
has reached the unshakeable liberation of the mind and liberation
by wisdom, akuppa cetovimutti paññavimutti, and has
Liberation
163
thereby destroyed the influxes, no falling back from this level
of liberation is envisaged.
Peace,
James

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby Zom » Mon May 12, 2014 10:18 am

a. Can Nibbana be obtained by just Insight Meditation (without attaining even 1st Jhana?).


Read MN 64.

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 12, 2014 10:24 am

Zom wrote:
a. Can Nibbana be obtained by just Insight Meditation (without attaining even 1st Jhana?).


Read MN 64.
Could you quote the relevant bits.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby santa100 » Mon May 12, 2014 3:04 pm

someguysomeguy wrote:I read in Bikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Nikayas that Concentration levels of 1st Jhana is sufficient to attain Nibbana through Insight meditation.

That's also supported by Ven. Thanissaro in his intro to SN 12.70 though the Commentary mentioned the possibility of Nibbana with Dry Insight without jhana. But it's important to see Ven. Gunaratana's comment in his "The Jhanas":
The Buddha is constantly seen in the suttas encouraging his disciples to develop jhana. The four jhanas are invariably included in the complete course of training laid down for disciples. They figure in the training as the discipline of higher consciousness (adhicittasikkha), right concentration (sammasamadhi) of the Noble Eightfold Path, and the faculty and power of concentration (samadhindriya, samadhibala). Though a vehicle of dry insight can be found, indications are that this path is not an easy one, lacking the aid of the powerful serenity available to the practitioner of jhana. The way of the jhana attainer seems by comparison smoother and more pleasurable (A.ii,150-52). The Buddha even refers to the four jhanas figuratively as a kind of Nibbana: he calls them immediately visible Nibbana, factorial Nibbana, Nibbana here and now (A.iv,453-54).

On the Supernatural powers, they can only be developed through the jhana route (refer to SN 12.70 above).

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby SarathW » Tue May 13, 2014 12:42 am

The way I understand Insight Meditation will lead you to all Jhanas and also attain Nibbana.
:meditate:

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 13, 2014 1:00 am

Sure, there are various orderings of progress...
"There is the case of the individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
Then there is the case of the individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, but not internal tranquillity of awareness.
Then there is the case of the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
And then there is the case of the individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.

"The individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, should approach an individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment and ask him: 'How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
...
[and vice-versa...]
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

And various modes of concentration:
"Monks, these are the four developments of concentration. Which four? There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to a pleasant abiding in the here & now. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the attainment of knowledge & vision. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents.
...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:anjali:
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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue May 13, 2014 10:42 am

mikenz66 wrote:Sure, there are various orderings of progress...

"The individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, should approach an individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment and ask him: 'How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
...
[and vice-versa...]
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Yes, the Samadhi Sutta emphasises the importance of both tranquillity and insight, but it doesn't seem to equate tranquillity with jhana?
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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby santa100 » Tue May 13, 2014 1:34 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:Yes, the Samadhi Sutta emphasises the importance of both tranquillity and insight, but it doesn't seem to equate tranquillity with jhana?

From "In the Buddha's Words", Ven. Bodhi provided the Comy. explanation: "Mp explains internal serenity of mind (ajjhattam cetosamatha) as the concentration of full absorption (i.e., jhana), and the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena (adhipaññadhammavipassana) as the insight knowledge discerning formations (sannkharapariggahaka-vipassanañana)"

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed May 14, 2014 8:50 am

santa100 wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Yes, the Samadhi Sutta emphasises the importance of both tranquillity and insight, but it doesn't seem to equate tranquillity with jhana?

From "In the Buddha's Words", Ven. Bodhi provided the Comy. explanation: "Mp explains internal serenity of mind (ajjhattam cetosamatha) as the concentration of full absorption (i.e., jhana), and the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena (adhipaññadhammavipassana) as the insight knowledge discerning formations (sannkharapariggahaka-vipassanañana)"


Thanks. The name of the sutta ( Samadhi Sutta ) perhaps supports the idea that it's jhana which is being referred to?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... a-samadhi/
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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby santa100 » Wed May 14, 2014 3:31 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:Thanks. The name of the sutta ( Samadhi Sutta ) perhaps supports the idea that it's jhana which is being referred to?

The Samadhi Sutta of AN 4.94 actually explains how correct meditation practice consists of the development of both insight and tranquility (which involves jhana absorptions). The theme is also reflected in the other Samadhi Sutta at AN 4.41 which describes the four developments of concentration.

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby tiltbillings » Wed May 14, 2014 4:11 pm

santa100 wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Thanks. The name of the sutta ( Samadhi Sutta ) perhaps supports the idea that it's jhana which is being referred to?

The Samadhi Sutta of AN 4.94 actually explains how correct meditation practice consists of the development of both insight and tranquility (which involves jhana absorptions). The theme is also reflected in the other Samadhi Sutta at AN 4.41 which describes the four developments of concentration.
The question, however, is what is actually meant by jhana?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby Viscid » Wed May 14, 2014 7:28 pm

tiltbillings wrote:The question, however, is what is actually meant by jhana?


How important is it really to identify whether or not one's meditative state is actually jhana? 'Is it jhana yet?' seems to be to be a modern obnoxious Western mantra. What should be emphasized about the jhanic state is not its particular content but its result: equanimity, dispassion, insight, etc.

It's also possible that the content of the jhanic experience may be quite particular to the individual.. this would explain the wide variability in first-person descriptions of jhanic states. If so, analyzing universal qualities of jhana and devising a classification scheme to indentify 'genuine' jhana is perhaps a waste of time.

</ramble>
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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 14, 2014 8:01 pm

santa100 wrote:The Samadhi Sutta of AN 4.94 actually explains how correct meditation practice consists of the development of both insight and tranquility (which involves jhana absorptions).

Interestingly, it doesn't say that these are necessarily developed either together, or in any particular order.

Presumably the ordering given in the "gradual training" can vary...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
santa100 wrote:The theme is also reflected in the other Samadhi Sutta at AN 4.41 which describes the four developments of concentration.

Yes, that's an interesting sutta. This is the sort of thing that so-called "vipassana" approaches stress:
"And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents? There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' This is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents.


Viscid wrote:How important is it really to identify whether or not one's meditative state is actually jhana? 'Is it jhana yet?' seems to be to be a modern obnoxious Western mantra. What should be emphasized about the jhanic state is not its particular content but its result: equanimity, dispassion, insight, etc.

Exactly, it's the result that counts, and there seem to be a variety of routes.

:anjali:
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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 15, 2014 2:48 am

Viscid wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The question, however, is what is actually meant by jhana?


How important is it really to identify whether or not one's meditative state is actually jhana? 'Is it jhana yet?' seems to be to be a modern obnoxious Western mantra. What should be emphasized about the jhanic state is not its particular content but its result: equanimity, dispassion, insight, etc.

It's also possible that the content of the jhanic experience may be quite particular to the individual.. this would explain the wide variability in first-person descriptions of jhanic states. If so, analyzing universal qualities of jhana and devising a classification scheme to indentify 'genuine' jhana is perhaps a waste of time.

</ramble>
I agree with you here. A lot of time is wasted and a lot of anxiety is created by "Is it jhana, yet?"
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby culaavuso » Thu May 15, 2014 4:02 am

Viscid wrote:How important is it really to identify whether or not one's meditative state is actually jhana? 'Is it jhana yet?' seems to be to be a modern obnoxious Western mantra. What should be emphasized about the jhanic state is not its particular content but its result: equanimity, dispassion, insight, etc.


Jhana Not by the Numbers by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:This was why, as long as your awareness was still and alert all-around, it didn't matter whether you were in the first or the fourteenth jhana, for the way you treated your state of concentration was always the same. By directing your attention to issues of stress and its absence, he was pointing you to terms by which to evaluate your state of mind for yourself, without having to ask any outside authority. And, as it turns out, the terms you can evaluate for yourself — stress, its cause, its cessation, and the path to its cessation — are the issues that define the four noble truths: the right view that the Buddha says can lead to total liberation.

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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu May 15, 2014 9:28 am

santa100 wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Thanks. The name of the sutta ( Samadhi Sutta ) perhaps supports the idea that it's jhana which is being referred to?

The Samadhi Sutta of AN 4.94 actually explains how correct meditation practice consists of the development of both insight and tranquility (which involves jhana absorptions). The theme is also reflected in the other Samadhi Sutta at AN 4.41 which describes the four developments of concentration.


Yes, thanks - I'd forgotten about the other Samadhi Sutta!
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Re: Importance of Jhana

Postby Ananda26 » Sat May 17, 2014 2:24 pm

someguysomeguy wrote:I read in Bikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Nikayas that Concentration levels of 1st Jhana is sufficient to attain Nibbana through Insight meditation.

I have few questions:-
a. Can Nibbana be obtained by just Insight Meditation (without attaining even 1st Jhana?).
b. Lets say a person obtains Nibbana without reaching 4th Jhana - will he not have these powers on attaining Nibbana ?
- Divine eye and ears
- Power to see the passing away and birth of beings
- Power to see one's own previous lives?.


It is possible that a monk attain Nibbana before attaining jhana.
It is possible that a monk attain Nibbana before attaining the divine eye and divine ear, and the ability to recollect past lives, but the basic knowledge that what is subject to birth is subject to death is helpful to gaining the insight to attain Nibbana.


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