Jhana: yes, no, neither, could be? Hmm?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Jhana: yes, no, neither, could be? Hmm?

Postby AdvaitaJ » Tue Oct 20, 2009 1:24 am

catmoon wrote:I am worried the people here are putting jhana up on some inaccessible pedestal.

I assert that it is accessible, at least the first few jhanas, and accessible to the average practioner as well.
Catmoon,

I agree. I suspect the rupa jhanas are probably attainable by a diligent practitioner, but I'm not certain what "average practitioner" means in this context.

Regards: AdvaitaJ
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Re: Jhana: yes, no, neither, could be? Hmm?

Postby catmoon » Tue Oct 20, 2009 10:13 am

AdvaitaJ wrote:
catmoon wrote:I am worried the people here are putting jhana up on some inaccessible pedestal.

I assert that it is accessible, at least the first few jhanas, and accessible to the average practioner as well.
Catmoon,

I agree. I suspect the rupa jhanas are probably attainable by a diligent practitioner, but I'm not certain what "average practitioner" means in this context.

Regards: AdvaitaJ


Can we just leave it vague? I see disadvantages to getting specific here.
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Re: Jhana: yes, no, neither, could be? Hmm?

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Oct 20, 2009 11:43 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Ben,

I must admit, like puthujjana, I was also thinking of a certain mental aspect behind the "perfect sila" too.

By way of extreme example simply to make a point... a paraplegic might abide by the five precepts, but it's not exactly perfect sila if they're desperately wishing that they were out for a night of beer and hookers.

Metta,
Retro. :)


I agree with this. The first verses of the Dhammapada came to mind when reading your post:

1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.


So, to me, Sila is first of all the intention to act in a restrained way, not harmfull. As I see it this mental posture fits in the definition of Right Resolve http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-sankappo/index.html. And it leads to Right Action and keeping the percepts, that set the conditions for developing Right Concentration, which will help developing Right Attention as a way of achieving Wisdom.

The other way of looking at it is also excelent, by acting in restraint and keepoing the percepts you will avoid acting in ways that will harm you and may prevent you form developing concentration and mindfulness, actions that produce results in the short term like drinking alcohol or liying will not affect you, that will also aid our pursuing of wisdom.

I believe we can take any part of path and link it with the others, and there are many Suttas where this is done, so the entry point depends on each person's kamma.
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Re: Jhana: yes, no, neither, could be? Hmm?

Postby Sudarsha » Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:33 pm

If I may, for the moment, return to thereductor's initial inquiry, I wonder if some of the problematic area is down to the Visuddhimagga itself. The doubt expressed by yes, no, neither, could be, maybe and so forth might be arising from too much dependence upon the cataloging done by Buddhaghosa himself. OK, I'm being confusing here and I'm not at all sufficiently scholarly to know if I am able to lay out my mentation with clarity. So, here goes: I don't see Buddhaghosa making an effort to clarify the Doctrine so much as just straightforwardly documenting what was going on in whatever community or communities he visited. To me, he seems more like an anthropologist listing his encounters and nothing more.

Out of this tends, then, to arise the thought that this must be the way it is or this is how it must be when in point of fact, some of the ideas in the Visuddhimagga are not exactly coherent with the Buddha's teaching as expressed in the Pali Canon. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I can give an example, but I seem to remember Ajahn Sona discussion a point of discrepancy in this regard. Buddhaghosa was document what was, as it was, nearly a millennium after the Buddha spoke the words that became the Doctrine and Discipline.

I'm making a muddle of this. :cookoo: Take, for example the idea that as one progresses towards jhana one experiences "joy" ... but when I read the descriptions of the Buddha and the Visuddhimagga, what I seem to be hearing is that as one progresses, one notices a contrast between what was and what is now and this contrast is characterizes as "joy"; but to me, it is "relief". BUT if I try to limit my thinking to the words of the Visuddhimagga, then I end up looking for someone else's experience and miss my own. My sense of "relief" is probably in no way of any significance when compared to (if that were possible) someone else's!

I don't know if that makes any sense whatsoever. For some reason, I think it does.

For me, at least as I think I understand the words of the Buddha, one sits and sets up mindfulness. This means "sets up a particular goal", one sets up an objective, makes a resolution and keeps that "in front". That is, in front of everything else, foremost. Then, aware of what is going on with body, attitude, emotions and discursive thought, one simply remains mindful of remaining mindful.

Mindfully, one just lets go - recognizing that it is all impermanent, unsatisfactory and devoid of essence. For me, and this is where I suspect I failed to be clear before, keeping the goal of mindfulness right in front (where, for example, I'd hold my hand if I were examining the palm of my hand), I sit. Here, some things I learnt from the practises of Mahamudra and Dzogchen trekcho have been helpful. Remaining mindful of mindfulness, one effortlessly cuts through everything that arises and eventually it all falls away and there is just mindfulness. With continued dedication or practise or just plain infrontness, even this falls away.

What I am trying to understand, and I hope you will forgive my clumsy efforts, is this: is the "fixation" about the pros and cons of is it or isn't it concerning jhana what is itself actually in the way of awakening?

OK, newbie here.

I don't know how to set up a new thread or rename this one, but I think thereductor's initial question deserves much more attention. Can we work out clarity of understanding about "jhana" in different terms only relying upon the words of the oldest parts of the Pali Canon? Can we talk about jhana as if it were as "real" and ordinary as any other part of our practise, liberating it as a concept from conceptual limitations or the Visuddhimagga's limitations??????

Oh, dear. I seem to have muddled down to an exact science. :rolleye:

I think there is something here, obviously I have failed to clarify my less than useful thoughts. :shrug: sigh, sniff, help
Sudarsha
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Re: Jhana: yes, no, neither, could be? Hmm?

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 20, 2009 9:17 pm

Hi Sudarsha

Please see the new thread here: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2495
I've placed it in the Classical section so that the focus can be on textual evidence rather than personal experience. I've also widened the scope of interest to include the Abhidhamma so that a more complete comparison can be made of all of the descriptions of Jhana from the canon and ancient commentarial literature.
Please feel free to participate in the new thread.
metta

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Re: Jhana: yes, no, neither, could be? Hmm?

Postby Sudarsha » Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:52 am

Thanks, Ben

I'll look in there ... but great scholarship is hardly my forte.
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Re: Jhana: yes, no, neither, could be? Hmm?

Postby puthujjana » Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:01 pm

I've recently read a sutta, which (in my opinion) strongly supports the 'dry insight' approach:

AN 4.41: Fourfold Development of Concentration

There are, O monks, these four kinds of development of concentration. What four?

There is a development of concentration that leads to a pleasant dwelling in this very life; there is a development of concentration that leads to obtaining knowledge and vision; there is a development of concentration that leads to mindfulness and clear comprehension; and there is a development of concentration that leads to the destruction of the taints.

And what, monks, is the development of concentration that leads to a pleasant dwelling in this very life? Here, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a monk enters and dwells in the first jhana, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwells in the second jhana, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body; he enters and dwells in the third jhana of which the noble ones declare: 'He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.' With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and sadness, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhana, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity. This is called the development of concentration that leads to a pleasant dwelling in this very life.

And what is the development of concentration that leads to obtaining knowledge and vision? Here, a monk attends to the perception of light, he resolves upon the perception of daytime: as by day, so at night, as at night, so by day. Thus with an open and unencumbered heart, he develops a luminous mind. This is the development of concentration that leads to obtaining knowledge and vision.

And what is the development of concentration that leads to mindfulness and clear comprehension? Here, for a monk feelings are understood as they arise, as they remain present, as they pass away; perceptions are understood as they arise, as they remain present, as they pass away; thoughts are understood as they arise, as they stand remain present, as they pass away. This is the development of concentration that leads to mindfulness and clear comprehension.

And what is the development of concentration that leads to the destruction of the taints? Here, a monk dwells contemplating rise and fall in the five aggregates subject to clinging: "Such is form, such its arising, such its passing away; such is feeling ... such is perception ... such are volitional formations ... such is consciousness, such its arising, such its passing away." This is the development of concentration that leads to the destruction of the taints.

These, monks, are the four kinds of development of concentration. And with reference to this it was said by me in "The Questions of Punnaka" in "The Way to the Far Shore":

"Having comprehended in the world the high and low,
For him there is no disturbance anywhere in the world.
Peaceful, fumeless, undistressed, desireless:
He has, I say, crossed birth and decay."


____________
"Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: An Anthology of Suttas from the Anguttara Nikaya" by Bhikkhu Bodhi and Nyanaponika Mahathera, p. 88
http://books.google.de/books?id=N7zCNaB ... q=&f=false


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Re: Jhana: yes, no, neither, could be? Hmm?

Postby Reductor » Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:03 pm

Hello,

I am sorry for dropping off the planet shortly after starting this thread. I've read it now, and I thank everyone that has contributed to it. It would have been ideal if I could have participated in it more, but it was about then (near the start of the thread) that I started training to be a primary care paramedic. I don't :juggling: well. :tongue: I have been successful in the paramedic training so far, so hopefully that continues.

Gladly, I did maintained my mediation practice.

So again, thank you much for all of your contributions.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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