Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Zom » Tue May 06, 2014 3:10 pm

This begs the question: the texts say those teachers taught certain formless attainments, but they do not mention the four jhanas at all.


Because they mention only highest attainment. You can't reach highest one without mastering lower first. Arupa-attainments are based on 4th jhana and have 4th jhana factors as many texts say, but no need to mention that in that particular sutta about Alara & Uddaka.

Anyway, he recollects the rose-apple experience, not any training in formless attainments.


This is because he recollected only "the path hint", not the path itself. Presumably, he was searching for some hint, for some clue, in some memories from very distant past, and when he directed his mind there, to this distant past, he recalled what...? Exactly - jhanic experience. So he acknowledged, that Alara and Uddaka method was actually right, not wrong (though he mistakenly thought otherwise at first). Again, there are many-many suttas that do confirm that, where Buddha says that ending of defilements depends on all jhanas, including arupa ones. For example, AN 11.16 mention eleven doors to Deathless, and arupa-spheres are also mentioned there as doors to Deathless. This is just one sutta, but there are many many more.

That his first two teachers were first in his mind to instruct can be read a number of ways; that they would easily have understood doesn't mean anything about jhana, only about their ability to grasp sammaditthi as stream-enterers, which doesn't require jhana at all.


They were in his mind precisely because of "highest purity". And "highest purity" was gained by them via jhanas as AN 10.29 says.

That sutta reads like a list of outsider practices; and the formless attainment is explicitly said to be so.
Jhanas aren't mentioned at all...?


Sure, because 4 jhanas are inferior attainments. Btw, DN 1 mention that non-buddhist ascetics also attained 1-4 jhanas and considered them "nibbana". So, if we think this way, we may also say that 4 jhanas are also "outsider practices" .)
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Wed May 07, 2014 2:19 am

robertk wrote:
Kumara wrote:Anyway, if you're open to this, I suggest reading Moggallanasamyutta, SN40.1-8. That may clarify the matter for you. You can also refer to Tapussa Sutta (AN9.41) and Nibbānasukha Sutta (AN9.34) where you'll find something similar. The basic idea is that jhanas of the Suttas don't have well defined lines between them. E.g, "... I entered and dwelled in the second jhana.... While I was dwelling in this state, perception and attention accompanied by thought occurred in me and I felt it as an afflic­tion." (CDB p1311-2)

Dear Ven Kumara
this is showing that in the lower jhanas certain mental factors are present. In the higher jhanas these mental factors get dropped off and so each successive jhana is more refined than the last.

See highlighted words above.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sylvester » Wed May 07, 2014 3:26 am

Yes, sounds can be heard in the jhanas, but only as noted in this situation outlined by Ven Analayo -

At Vin III 109, some monks accused Moggallãna to have falsely claimed attainment, because he had stated that
while being in the “imperturbable concentration” (i.e. fourth jhãna or an immaterial attainment) he had heard sounds.
The fact that this led the monks to accuse him of false claims shows that the impossibility of hearing sound during deep absorption
was generally accepted among the monks. However, the Buddha exonerated Moggallãna, explaining that it was
possible to hear sound even during such a deep level of jhãna, if the attainment was impure (aparisuddho).
Sp II 513 explains that because he had not fully overcome the obstructions to absorption, Moggallãna’s attainment
was not stable and thus the hearing took place in a moment of instability of the
concentration.

Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization, p 91


The Tapussa Sutta, AN 9.41 is in fact quite a useful study in just how absorbed a sutta jhana (versus the English jhanas) is supposed to be :stirthepot: . It may be read in conjunction with AN 10.72 to get a sense of what a "thorn" (kaṇṭaka) is.

In AN 10.72, we get this listing -

Pavi­vekā­rāmassa saṅga­ṇikā­rāmatā kaṇṭako, asu­bhani­mittā­nu­yogaṃ anuyuttassa subhani­mittā­nuyogo kaṇṭako, indriyesu guttadvārassa visūkadassanaṃ kaṇṭako, brahma­cari­yassa mātugāmūpacāro kaṇṭako, paṭhamassa jhānassa saddo kaṇṭako, dutiyassa jhānassa vitakkavicārā kaṇṭakā, tatiyassa jhānassa pīti kaṇṭako, catutthassa jhānassa assāsapassāso kaṇṭako, saññā­ve­dayi­ta­nirodha­samā­pattiyā saññā ca vedanā ca kaṇṭako rāgo kaṇṭako doso kaṇṭako moho kaṇṭako.

To one who wants seclusion, company is a thorn. To one developing the sign of loathsomeness, an agreeable sign is a thorn. To one protected in the mental faculties, sight seeing is a thorn. To a man leading a celebate life, the behavior of a woman is a torn. To one in the first jhana, sounds are a thorn. To one in the second jhana, thinking and examining are a thorn. To one in the third jhana, piti is a thorn. To one in the fourth jhana, in breathing and out breathing is a thorn. To one attaining the cessation of perceptions and feelings, perceptions and feelings are a thorn. Greed is a thorn. Hate is a thorn and delusion is a thorn.

translation from - http://www.leighb.com/an10_72.htm


I have highlighted the treatment of 3 jhanas in this sutta, as they may be usefully compared to AN 9.41 which has this repeating structure -

1. See the drawback of a state
2. Pursue this understanding
3 Understand the reward of giving it up
4 Familiarize with it
5 Gravitate towards the opposing and higher state, grow confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace
6 Attain the higher state
7 Be afflicted at that time (iminā vihārena viharato) with an intrusive state.


According to AN 9.41, the intrusion into the First Jhana is kāmasahagatā sañ­ñāmana­sikārā, the intrusion into the Second Jhana is vitak­ka­saha­gatā sañ­ñāmana­sikārā and the intrusion into the Third Jhana is pītisahagatā sañ­ñāmana­sikārā. Leaving aside the issue about whether sañ­ñāmana­sikārā is a dvanda compound or a type of tappurisa, we get the clear sense from the suttas that the 3 instrusions are respectively connected to kāma, vitakka and pīti. This maps very neatly to the listing of thorns highlighted above in AN 10.72.

Let's take a look at the compounds ending with -sahagatā. The first member of Pali compounds are not inflected to indicate case or number, so that the substantive noun in the 1st intrusion may be either kāma (singular) or kāmā (plural). So, what's the big deal?

The singular kāma is used in the early sutta strata to refer to sensual desire, whereas the plural kāmā refers to the 5 sense objects (see CPD entry and suttas such as MN 13 where kāmā are clearly the contents of the sensual world, giving rise to both pleasure and pain). It is only with the Abhidhamma that the plural kāmā comes to refer to sensual desires (plural). An example of this Abhidhammic usage would be Ven Nanamoli's original translation of "vivicceva kāmehi" (quite secluded from sensual desires) which BB changed to "quite secluded from sensual pleasures". You can see how this early singular/plural distinction is used in the famous verse from AN 6.63 -

Saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo (sg),
Nete kāmā (pl) yāni citrāni loke;
Saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo (sg),
Tiṭṭhanti citrāni tatheva loke;
Athettha dhīrā vinayanti chandanti.

The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality (sg),
not the beautiful sensual pleasures (pl)
found in the world.
The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality (sg).

The beauties remain as they are in the world,
while the wise, in this regard,
subdue their desire.

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


I've indicated in brackets the numerical status of each occurrence of kāma versus kāmā, to make it clear that the plural kāmā is not a multiplicity of kāma. So with respect to Bhante Kumara, I would suggest that not enough has been done to distinguish between the Early Buddhist lexicon versus Abhidhammic lexicon if one insists on translating vivicceva kāmehi as referring to seclusion from sense desires. The plain and simple reading of it seclusion from sense objects.

Is the intrusion in First Jhana an intrusion of sensual desire or of the sense objects? According to MN 44, in the First Jhana, rāgānusaya (the latent tendency to lust) does not underlie the pleasure of the First Jhana (unless you follow the Comy adoption of the Abhidhamma's supramundane jhana model to explain this passage). It seems clear to me that the intrusion into the First Jhana is not of sense desire, but of sense objects. This agrees with AN 10.72's characterisation of sound being a thorn in the First Jhana.

I do realise that Bhante Kumara makes much of the iminā vihārena viharato (while I was dwelling) situation, but the context shows that what happened then was not welcome, but a nuisance. Bear in mind that the standard definition of the Second Jhana is the absence of vitakkavicāra, but yet, in AN 9.41, vitakkavicāra intruded into the Bodhisatta's Second Jhana. The Buddha called this intrusion ābādha, an affliction.

Now, was this a narrative of the Bodhisatta's difficulty in stabilising each jhana, or is it a roadmap of the ideal jhana? To me, the context suggests the former.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Wed May 07, 2014 8:34 am

Sylvester, are you ignoring the earlier part that gives a context to what kaṇṭaka (thorn) means?

Pavi­vekā­rāmassa saṅga­ṇikā­rāmatā kaṇṭako, asu­bhani­mittā­nu­yogaṃ anuyuttassa subhani­mittā­nuyogo kaṇṭako, indriyesu guttadvārassa visūkadassanaṃ kaṇṭako, brahma­cari­yassa mātugāmūpacāro kaṇṭako...

B.Bodhi's translation:
(1) Delight in company is a thorn to one who delights in solitude. (2) Pursuit of an attractive object is a thorn to one intent on meditation on the mark of the unattractive. (3) An unsuitable show is a thorn to one guarding the doors of the sense faculties. (4) Keeping company with women is a thorn to the celibate life.

These all imply that those thorns are perceivable. Otherwise, they wouldn't be thorns.

As for the thorns of 2nd-4th jhana, certainly when one is properly in those jhanas, those thorns are not present. But that doesn't imply that sound/noise is not perceivable in any jhana. Remember that the sutta is about thorns to a state, not their presence. Sound is a thorn to the first jhana, but not to the others, because the mind is composed enough to not be bothered.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sylvester » Wed May 07, 2014 8:43 am

Of course the thorns are perceptible. That means that sound, when perceived in the First Jhana, makes it a thorn. Just as the speech formation, when perceived in the Second Jhana makes it a thorn to the Second Jhana.

I think what you are glossing over is the fact that the thorns are deemed as such because they are incompatible with each of the states they pop up in. How else do you reconcile the standard definition of the Second Jhana with the presence of its thorn? It's not their perceptibility per se that makes them thorns, but the fact that they intrude into a state which they have no business being in, under the standard definition of the attainments. By your logic, rapture should be a thorn in the Second Jhana, because rapture is clearly perceptible there.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Thu May 08, 2014 4:41 am

Sylvester wrote:Of course the thorns are perceptible. That means that sound, when perceived in the First Jhana, makes it a thorn. Just as the speech formation, when perceived in the Second Jhana makes it a thorn to the Second Jhana.

I think what you are glossing over is the fact that the thorns are deemed as such because they are incompatible with each of the states they pop up in. How else do you reconcile the standard definition of the Second Jhana with the presence of its thorn? It's not their perceptibility per se that makes them thorns, but the fact that they intrude into a state which they have no business being in, under the standard definition of the attainments. By your logic, rapture should be a thorn in the Second Jhana, because rapture is clearly perceptible there.

Looking at what you've written, I wonder if it's possible to explain to you.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sylvester » Thu May 08, 2014 5:35 am

Why does AN 10.72 describe certain phenomena to be "thorns" to the respective states?

Let's start first with an inventory of the thorns, and map them against the states against which they are incompatible -

1. saṅga­ṇikā­rāmatā (delight in company) - discussed in the context of seclusion, eg MN 122 –

Ananda, a monk does not shine if he delights in company, enjoys company, is committed to delighting in company (saṅgaṇikārāmo saṅgaṇikārato saṅgaṇikārāmataṃ anuyutto); if he delights in a group, enjoys a group, rejoices in a group. Indeed, Ananda, it is impossible that a monk who delights in company, enjoys company, is committed to delighting in company; who delights in a group, enjoys a group, rejoices in a group, will obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening. But it is possible that a monk who lives alone, withdrawn from the group, can expect to obtain at will — without difficulty, without trouble — the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of self-awakening.


So, here we see "delight in company" being diametrically opposed to the monastic's effort at seclusion.

2. subhani­mittā­nuyoga - (bondage to an agreeable sign) – likely in the context of sense restraint, where subhani­mittā­nuyoga might be equivalent to grasping at an agreeable sign in such pericopes –

So cakkhunā rūpaṃ disvā na nimittaggāhī hoti nānubyañjanaggāhī. Yatvādhikaraṇamenaṃ cakkhundriyaṃ asaṃvutaṃ viharantaṃ abhijjhā domanassā pāpakā akusalā dhammā anvāssaveyyuṃ.

On seeing a form with the eye, he does not grasp at any theme or details by which — if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him.


It should be obvious here that "bondage to an agreeable sign" should be diametrically opposed to someone cultivating the sign of the unattractive. The person embarking on the meditation on the unattractive does so for the sake of allying lust - Ud 4.1, and in the sense restraint pericope, abhijjhā is synonymous with lust.

3. visūkadassana - appears in the sections on ethical conduct in the DN -

And how is a monk consummate in virtue? …

He abstains from dancing, singing, instrumental music, and from watching shows (visūkadassana ).

Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to watching shows such as these — dancing, singing, instrumental music, plays, ballad recitations, hand-clapping, cymbals and drums, magic lantern scenes, acrobatic and conjuring tricks, elephant fights, horse fights, buffalo fights, bull fights, goat fights, ram fights, cock fights, quail fights; fighting with staves, boxing, wrestling, war-games, roll calls, battle arrays, and regimental reviews — he abstains from watching shows (visūkadassana ) such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.


We see that entertainment is prima facie obstructive to basic and intermediate monastic ethics.

4. mātugāmūpacāro - likely opposed to the ethical quality ārācārī (living apart [from women]) found in the formulaic silā passages in the DN.

5. sadda (sound) - we'll leave this to later after we've examined the rest of the series, to see if the pattern of opposition is applied to the rest of the thorns.

6. vitakkavicāra needs no introduction. It is described invariably in the jhana pericopes as something that disappears for the Second Jhana to be attained. See also AN 9.31 which says niruddhā (has ceased) in relation to this phenomenon. So, here again we have the opposition pattern manifesting - the appearance of vitakkavicāra in the Second Jhana is a thorn because it should not be there.

7. pīti - as above for vitakkavicāra.

8. assāsapassāsa - also said to have ceased in the Fourth Jhana in AN 9.31.

9. saññā & vedanā in the attainment of Cessation. As above.

So, in this series of nine, 8 of the states have been shown to be viewed as "thorns", simply because they cannot co-exist with their opposing state. That leaves only sound. Can anyone think of any sutta series where the Buddha conveniently cut the thread unifying the series, to interject a totally irrelevant proposition? The most natural reading of sound's place in this series is that it cannot be (or at least should not be) perceived in the First Jhana.

To round it off, AN 9.31 also says that kāmasaññā has ceased in the First Jhana. Ven T translates this as "perception of sensuality", by which "sensuality" he has indicated refers to "sensual desire". It is of course possible to parse the compound as he has done, ie as a kammadhāraya, where kāma is adjectival singular, rather than substantive.

It is also possible to parse kāmasaññā as a genitive tappurisa consisting of kāmā (pl) and saññā. And this should be the natural reading of this compound, since everywhere else, the First Jhana pericope says vivicceva kāmehi (secluded from the kāmā (pl)).

Food for thought for the English-jhana campers...
Last edited by Sylvester on Thu May 08, 2014 5:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sylvester » Thu May 08, 2014 5:40 am

Kumara wrote:Looking at what you've written, I wonder if it's possible to explain to you.



You may try again Bhante. But I expect something rigorous that does not call for a convenient interruption of the thread unifying all 9 pairs of oppositions in that sutta.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 08, 2014 10:41 am

Hi Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote:Food for thought for the English-jhana campers...

Your reference to an "English jhana" is a little obscure to me. Can you explain what you mean?

:anjali:
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sylvester » Thu May 08, 2014 12:14 pm

I'm taking a dig at those who insist that they are sutta-jhana proponents, when the reality is that the Pali does not quite support them on several counts. I've given enough examples in the past of those who push for these untenable readings, when the underlying Pali grammar contradicts them, eg the confusion of the present tense's function, or not seeing the temporal disjunction expressed by the locative absolute formed with a kiriya past participle, or spreading out periphrastic constructions beyond one sentence to imply dhammavicaya in jhana.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby daverupa » Thu May 08, 2014 2:00 pm

Sylvester wrote:I've given enough examples in the past of those who push for these untenable readings, when the underlying Pali grammar contradicts them, eg the confusion of the present tense's function, or not seeing the temporal disjunction expressed by the locative absolute formed with a kiriya past participle, or spreading out periphrastic constructions beyond one sentence to imply dhammavicaya in jhana.


You've taken great pains over much time, now and before, to clarify these issues, and it's very helpful.

---

MN 64 has the "whatever exists therein of form" line for the jhanas alongside other lines for the other aggregates. For the arupa attainments - naturally - rupa is missing.

I was wondering if you could shed some light on this issue in terms of the difference between jhana and formless states: jhana has rupa, while the other attainments do not, but since both are secluded from the five senses, what is the distinction here, as you understand it?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby beeblebrox » Thu May 08, 2014 2:16 pm

I think it's concievable that this could been seen like the thorns on a rose. They're still there, but you learn not to grasp onto them. With some practice (as in cutting a lot of rose stems for a floral shop), you learn how not to touch them (which is contact, or phassa).

For example, sounds are disruptive for first jhana, so they're not grasped after.

Intentional thoughts are disruptive for second jhana, so they're not grasped after.

Etc.

:anjali:
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sylvester » Fri May 09, 2014 5:23 am

daverupa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:I've given enough examples in the past of those who push for these untenable readings, when the underlying Pali grammar contradicts them, eg the confusion of the present tense's function, or not seeing the temporal disjunction expressed by the locative absolute formed with a kiriya past participle, or spreading out periphrastic constructions beyond one sentence to imply dhammavicaya in jhana.


You've taken great pains over much time, now and before, to clarify these issues, and it's very helpful.

---

MN 64 has the "whatever exists therein of form" line for the jhanas alongside other lines for the other aggregates. For the arupa attainments - naturally - rupa is missing.

I was wondering if you could shed some light on this issue in terms of the difference between jhana and formless states: jhana has rupa, while the other attainments do not, but since both are secluded from the five senses, what is the distinction here, as you understand it?



WAIL!!! What you ask requires a full-scale PhD! :cry: :cry: :cry:

But thankfully, Sue Hamilton has written what, IMHO, is the definitive analysis of the Aggregates schema in Early Buddhism. You can get a sense of where she’s coming from in this thread – viewtopic.php?f=23&t=13799

In the Upanisads, the mahadhatus were three, namely water, earth and fire, in that sequence of creation (BAU 1.2.2). (Wind comes in at different layers of the text). Earth and fire held an upanisad (secret connection/correspondence) to speech, where earth is the “body of speech” and fire is its “luminous appearance”. Water was the “body of the breath” : BAU 1.5.3. See also BAU 1.5.18 for how the rituals were used to draw these “elements” as prāṇa (functionalities) into dying man to ensure his immortality.

We come now to the most telling part of how the BAU views the “elements”. This appears in the section dealing with the death process and the person’s realisation of “self” as “brahman” –

"Now, as this self (atman) grows steadily weaker and begins to lose consciousness, these vital functions (prāṇa) throng around him. Taking into himself these
particles of light, he descends back into the heart. When the person connected with sight turns back, the man loses his ability to perceive visible forms.

2 So people say:
'He's sinking; he can't see!'—'He's sinking; he can't smell!'—'He's sinking; he can't taste!'—'He's sinking; he can't speak!'—'He's sinking; he can't hear!'—
'He's sinking; he can't think!'—'He's sinking; he can't feel a touch!'—'He's sinking; he can't perceive!' Then the top of his heart lights up, and with that light the
self exits through the eye or the head or some other part of the body. As he is departing, his lifebreath (prana) departs with him. And as his lifebreath departs, all his
vital functions (prana) depart with it.

He then descends into a state of mere awareness and develops into one who is thus endowed with perception. Then learning and rites, as well as memory, take hold of him.

"It is like this. As a caterpillar, when it comes to the tip of a blade of grass,
reaches out to a new foothold and draws itself onto it, so the self (atman), after it
has knocked down this body and rendered it unconscious, reaches out to a new
foothold and draws itself onto it.

4 "It is like this. As a weaver, after she has removed the colored yarn, weaves a different design that is newer and more attractive, so the self, after it has knocked
down this body and rendered it unconscious, makes for himself a different figure that is newer and more attractive—the figure of a forefather, or of a Gandharva, or
of a god, or of Prajapati, or of brahman, or else the figure of some other being. a god, or of Prajapati, or of brahman, or else the figure of some other being.

5 "Clearly, this self is brahman—this self that is made of perception, made of mind, made of sight, made of breath, made of hearing, made of earth, made of
water, made of wind, made of space, made of light and the lightless, made of desire and the desireless, made of anger and the angerless,
made of the righteous and the unrighteous; this self that is made of everything. Hence there is this saying:

'He's made of this. He's made of that.' What a man turns out to be depends on how he
acts and on how he conducts himself. If his actions are good, he will turn into
something good. If his actions are bad, he will turn into something bad. A man turns
into something good by good action and into something bad by bad action. And so
people say: 'A person here consists simply of desire.' A man resolves in accordance
with his desire, acts in accordance with his resolve, and turns out to be in accordance with his action.

6On this point there is the following verse:

A man who's attached goes with his action,
to that very place to which
his mind and character cling.
Reaching the end of his action,
of whatever he has done in this world—
From that world he returns
back to this world,
back to action.

"That is the course of a man who desires.

"Now, a man who does not desire—who is without desires, who is freed from desires, whose desires are fulfilled, whose only desire is his self—-his vital functions
(prana) do not depart. Brahman he is, and to brahman he goes.

7On this point there is the following verse:

When they are all banished,
those desires lurking in one's heart;
Then a mortal becomes immortal,
and attains brahman in this world.

"It is like this. As a snake's slough, lifeless and discarded, lies on an anthill, so
lies this corpse. But this noncorporeal and immortal lifebreath (ayam aśarīro 'mr̥taḥ prāṇo) is nothing
but brahman, nothing but light (bráhmaivá loká [K teja] evá)."

BAU 4.4.1 – 4.4.7, trans. Olivelle



And here’s an interesting one that follows birth –

25He then draws close to the baby's right ear and says three times: "Speech!
Speech!" Next, he feeds the baby a mixture of curd, honey, and ghee with a golden
spoon without putting it inside the mouth, as he says: "The earth I place in you! The
intermediate region I place in you! The sky I place in you! Earth, intermediate re-
gion, sky—the Whole I place in you!"

BAU 6.4.25 (here, the “Whole” is the Vedic “Sarvam”, which the Buddha later redefined in SN 35.23)



I’ve censored the rather explicit passage on the copulatory act and its invocations, but you will see fire, water and wind invoked as prāṇas in the formation of the foetus.

The Chandogya does not innovate on or depart from the BAU conception of the “elements”.

What I’m suggesting here is that against this Indian backdrop that the Buddha worked with, the elements were not hard clumps of things that the Abhidhamma says is perceptible only by the 5 senses. For the Indians of the era, the elements were abstract qualities that define one’s appearance/form (rūpa). We see this Upanisadic conception of rūpa echoed in Ajita Kesakambalin’s view of the merger of the internal and external elements upon death : DN 2. Thus far, there is no evidence in the suttas that the Buddha described the elements very differently from the Upanisadic model.

And this is the crux of Hamilton’s argument about the 4 great elements – they are abstract qualities, and as such are neither material nor immaterial. I agree with her when she reads the standard sutta analysis of the elements (eg MN 28) as suggesting abstraction -

What, friends, is the earth element? The earth element may be either internal or external. What is the internal earth element? Whatever internally, belonging to oneself, is solid (kakkhaḷa), solidified (kharigata), and clung-to; that is, head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or whatever else internally, belonging to oneself, is solid, solidified, and clung-to: this is called the internal earth element. Now both the internal earth element and the external earth element are simply earth element.[ii] And that should be seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ When one sees it thus as it actually is with proper wisdom, one becomes disenchanted with the earth element and makes the mind dispassionate toward the earth element.


The internal-external dichotomy of the elements from the prevailing Indian worldview is present. More tellingly, these pericopes employ this standard structure –

yaṃ ajjhattaṃ paccattaṃ kakkhaḷaṃ kharigataṃ upādinnaṃ: seyyathīdaṃ kesā lomā nakhā dantā taco maṃsaṃ nahāru ….

Whatever internally, belonging to oneself, is solid, solidified, and clung-to; that is, head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews…..


This has a general definition, followed by examples, and the definition reiterated. This structure should inform us that the listing is not closed, and that the broader conception found in the head and tail definitions should be the overarching concept of an “element”.

That takes care of the primaries, for which the suttas discuss the 4 elements. And almost invariably, a 5th is pegged to the definition, ie space –

Friends, just as when — in dependence on timber, vines, grass, & clay — space is enclosed and is gathered under the term 'house,' in the same way, when space is enclosed in dependence on bones, tendons, muscle, & skin, it is gathered under the term, 'form’.

MN 28


Is this the “form derived from” the 4 primaries ([i]upādāya rūpa)? I think so, given how this relationship of spatial extension fits in nicely with the Upanisadic conception of rūpa as “appearance”.

We can now discuss the Form Aggregate, especially since MN 64 makes it clear that the jhanas have the Form Aggregate, while the Formless Attainments do not.

Firstly, the wretched problem of the “physical body”. Yes, the one made up of quarks, protons, neutrons and electrons. Is this body the Form Aggregate? You have this pericope –

ayaṃ kho me kāyo rūpī cātummahābhūtiko mātāpettikasambhavo odanakummāsūpacayo aniccucchādanaparimaddanabhedaviddhaṃsanadhammo

This body of mine is endowed with form, endowed with the four primary elements, born from mother & father, nourished with rice & porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing, pressing, dissolution, & dispersion.


But in SN 22.82, we see the origin of the Form Aggregate described in this manner –

What is the cause and condition, venerable sir, for the manifestation of the form aggregate? What is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the feeling aggregate?… for the manifestation of the perception aggregate?… for the manifestation of the volitional formations aggregate?… for the manifestation of the consciousness aggregate?”

“The four great elements, bhikkhu, are the cause and condition for the manifestation of the form aggregate. Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the feeling aggregate. Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the perception aggregate. Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the volitional formations aggregate. Name-and-form is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the consciousness aggregate.”


I take the “cause and condition” to be waxing syllable synonyms that are coding for Dependant Origination, which MN 28 applies to the Aggregates. Namely, what is the requisite condition for the arising of the Form Aggregate? And here, the 4 great elements are the requisite condition for the Form Aggregate. Taken together, these 2 suttas are suggesting that the body is part of the Form Aggregate, but not it’s only denizen, as MN 28 suggests.

The body has form, but more importantly, so does contact. MN 28 gives a fulsome account of the 6 types of contact arising at the respective 6 sense faculties, each of which yields the Form Aggregate. Our experience, mediated by consciousness of the 6 external bases, can have a Form component, together with the other 4 Aggregates. DN 15 goes further and adds another type of contact – designation contact (adhivacanasamphassa) - that contact at which wisdom either arises, or the defilements take hold.

I have been arguing ad nauseum that the Abhidhamma contradicts the suttas on this ground, by firstly equating the Form Aggregate with rūpa in the nāmarūpa doctrine and the other 4 Aggregates with nāma. This redefinition changed the focus from the interplay between consciousness with Name-&-Form, into a study of the ontology of rūpa with material things and nāma as immaterial states. The Abhidhamma then uses the resultant ontology to limit the contactability of rūpa with the 5 senses. We have the evil Sarvastivadins to thank for introducing this pernicious view. However, in the suttas, what the Aggregates are talking about is the interior world (loka) built upon contact – SN 35.82. See also AN 4.45 where the “world” the Buddha was interested in was the interior one, found “within this fathom-long body”. Your Form Aggregate is that aspect of contact that allows perception to delineate hardness, extension, etc, as suggested by DN 15 –

Yehi ānanda ākārehi yehi liṅgehi yehi nimittehi yehi uddesehi rūpakāyassa paññatti hoti, tesu ākāresu tesu liṅgesu tesu nimittesu tesu uddesesu asati api nu kho nāmakāye paṭighasamphasso paññāyethā?"Ti.

"No hetaṃ bhante. "
If the permutations, signs, themes, and indicators by which there is a description of form-group were all absent, would resistance-contact with regard to the name-group be discerned?"
"No, lord.”


Your Form Aggregate IS a sign (nimitta) of the contact.


So, the rūpakkhandha in the 4 jhanas is the “visible” aspect of the contact that is established. MN 128 suggests that the entry into the First Jhana as experienced by the Bodhisatta and the monks is preceded by light and forms. Was this Form Aggregate the interior counterpart of the 5 sense objects? Apparently not, as the perception of diversity was an obstacle to the stabilisation of the practice, and “diversity” is defined in MN 137 to refer to the 5 sense objects.

Coming now to the distinction between the jhanas and the Formless Attainments, obviously the Form Aggregate is absent in the Formless Attainments : MN 64. Let’s take a look at the First Formless pericope –

Sabbaso rūpasaññānaṃ samatikkamā paṭighasaññānaṃ atthaṅgamā nānattasaññānaṃ amanasikārā

with the complete surmounting of perceptions of form, with the disappearance of perceptions of sensory impact, with non-attention to perceptions of diversity,


Bear in mind that it is only in the Abhidhamma that paṭighasamphassa is confined to the 5 senses. This contradicts DN 15, in the passage I gave above, where paṭighasamphassa can be established with reference to nāma. Here, paṭighasaññā refers, IMO, to the perceptions that arise with paṭighasamphassa, the type of contact that –

- yields all 5 Aggregates; and
- more importantly, yields hedonic tone.

That leaves only one remaining type of contact for the Formless Attainments, namely adhivacanasamphassa (designation contact).

It does not depend on either diversity or form, and Hamilton suggests that it is a purely mental construct, ie an idea. But interestingly, it is a construct that is still tied to form. The first Formless Attainment is Infinite Space, but rūpa itself includes “space”. The spatial extension example from the rūpa pericopes do not talk of an all encompassing and boundless space. So perhaps the conceptualisation of Infinite Space requires one to go beyond the limitations of the spatial parameters of rūpa.

You might object that with rūpa dropping away, how will a Formless consciousness revolve around nāmarūpa? Not to worry, DN 15 takes care of that with this grammatical construction –

Yehi ānanda ākārehi yehi liṅgehi yehi nimittehi yehi uddesehi rūpakāyassa paññatti hoti, tesu ākāresu tesu liṅgesu tesu nimittesu tesu uddesesu asati api nu kho nāmakāye paṭighasamphasso paññāyethā?


The red bits are the existential locative absolute, which allows the 2 sets of verbs to be separated by any amount of time.

:anjali:
Last edited by Sylvester on Sun May 11, 2014 3:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 09, 2014 6:11 am

Sylvester, You are the Man.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Mkoll » Fri May 09, 2014 6:41 am

tiltbillings wrote:Sylvester, You are the Man.


I agree, that is excellent work.

Sylvester, do you have any suggestions of authors, other than yourself, who have done research into how the Abhidhamma or other unorthodox teachings have infiltrated the suttas and/or the common understanding of them?

Have you ever thought of writing a book or article on this subject? Or compiling what you know? I think this is very important information. Either way, your posts are worth going through!

Thank you.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby waterchan » Fri May 09, 2014 6:46 am

I second the notion that Sylvester should write a book. I would be quick to buy it.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Fri May 09, 2014 9:09 am

beeblebrox wrote:sounds are disruptive for first jhana

Very plainly put. In fact, the context of the sutta suggests that too.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Fri May 09, 2014 9:13 am

Sylvester wrote:
Kumara wrote:Looking at what you've written, I wonder if it's possible to explain to you.

You may try again Bhante.

I doubt it, but join the others in encouraging you to write a book.
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Zom » Fri May 09, 2014 10:27 am

Sylvester, thanks for interesting post. However, I've got a comment:

Was this Form Aggregate the interior counterpart of the 5 sense objects? Apparently not, as the perception of diversity was an obstacle to the stabilisation of the practice, and “diversity” is defined in MN 137 to refer to the 5 sense objects.


Yet still jhana formulas show that "perception of diversity" is removed only upon reaching 1st arupa-sphere. So it seems like this perception of diversity is still there, even in 4th jhana (otherwise, why mention this only in 1st arupa-shere formula?)

Yes, MN 127 says that "perception of diversity" is a hindrance to meditation, and it seems, this is a contradiction, but Commentary gives interesting explanation here (a paraphrase) which shows that "perception of diversity" is not just any perception from 5 senses, but is something else: "While I was attending to a single type of form, longing arose. Thinking, "I will attend to different kinds of forms". Sometimes I directed my attention toward heavenly world, sometimes towards the human world. As I attended to different kinds of forms, perception of diversity arose in me. When perception of diversity arose, I thought I would attend to one type of form, whether agreeable of disagreeable. As I did so, excessive meditation upon forms arose in me".

This commentary explanation nicely agree with AN 8.64: "So on a later occasion, as I was dwelling heedful, ardent, and resolute, I perceived a light and also saw forms. Yet I didn't associate with those deities, converse with them, and engage in a discussion with them".

The question is - how would you see and speak with deities if not with 5 senses?

And again, we have this statement (MN 43) about 1st arupa-sphere: "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.'


So it seems 5 senses are still there operating in all 4 jhanas. Maybe operating in some different way (unnatural to normal human being), but still, operating. Also interesting thing to recall here is "divine ear" and "divine eye". Can we say these are purely mental things? Or they need some corporeality to function? In Iti 3.12 there is an interesting line: "The arising of the eye of flesh is the path to the eye divine".

Bear in mind that it is only in the Abhidhamma that paṭighasamphassa is confined to the 5 senses. This contradicts DN 15, in the passage I gave above, where paṭighasamphassa can be established with reference to nāma.


As far as I understood, you imply that DN 15 speaks about the perception of form when speaking about "patigha" there. In 1st arupa-sphere formula that would mean that "patigha" is a synonym to "with complete surmounting of perceptions of form" there. Again, how would one perceive form if not via 5 senses?
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sekha » Fri May 09, 2014 10:28 am

Hi Sylvester, I was wondering if the arguments you give really support your conclusion:
Sylvester wrote:Yes, sounds can be heard in the jhanas, but only as noted in this situation outlined by Ven Analayo -
it was possible to hear sound even during such a deep level of jhãna, if the attainment was impure (aparisuddho).

I take this statement of yours as meaning that sounds can be heard in the first jhana only if it is impure.

It appears to me possible that the impurity of the jhana is the cause of still having the ability of hearing sounds in the case of 2nd-4th jhanas while the fact that this ability remains may be natural for the first jhana.

Sylvester wrote:Is the intrusion in First Jhana an intrusion of sensual desire or of the sense objects? (...) It seems clear to me that the intrusion into the First Jhana is not of sense desire, but of sense objects. This agrees with AN 10.72's characterisation of sound being a thorn in the First Jhana.

Admitting you are correct, this goes to prove that sounds, like the other 4 sense objects, are a nuisance to the first jhana, not that one should not have the ability to hear them while in 1st jhana. Otherwise, your argument would demonstrate that one with "protected sense faculties" can only see things if his sense restraint is impure (AN 10.72 indriyesu guttadvārassa visūkadassanaṃ kaṇṭako) and therefore should not have the ability to see them. I think it is more reasonable to consider that sights are an affliction because they can disrupt the state of having protected sense faculties rather than considering that one who protects his sense faculties should not be able to see things.

In the same way, it seems to me more reasonable to consider that sounds are an affliction because they can disrupt the first jhana than considering that one who is in the first jhana should not be able to hear sounds.
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