Kenshou wrote:But as catalyst for conversation maybe, I'd like to add this: What do you consider to be the adequate "intensity" of one-pointedness to qualify as jhana? Is a strong presence of the jhana factors enough? Or the complete immersion that the Visuddimagga describes? Or something between? This does seem to be somewhat of a topic with various views.
Your last comment above seems more in keeping with this issue. Practitioners view this in different ways.
There used to be a great visual schematic about these differences between the sutta definition of jhana and the commentarial definition of jhana up at geocities.com/tokyo/6774/jhanatrd.htm which of course is no longer there as geocities has been disbanded. (You might be able to find it on the Wayback Machine website
if they archived that page.) Anyway, it showed how the suttas defined the first jhana as being with four factors: vitakka, vicara, piti, and sukkha. Both the Abhidhamma and the Visuddhimagga defined it as having five factors: vitakka, vicara, piti, sukkha, and ekaggata (or one-pointedness of mind). In the second jhana, the suttas included the following factors: the disappearance of vitakka and vicara, with only inner tranquility
, unification of mind
, piti, and sukkha remaining. Both the Abhidhamma and the Visuddhimagga versions included the disappearance of vitaka and vicara, with only piti, sukkha, and ekaggata remaining.
As my concentration began to become more stable, I began to side with those who described this "coming together" of the mind as a "unification of mind" rather than as "one-pointedness." The description "one-pointedness" has a kind of one dimensional feel to it, whereas "unification of mind" has a more comprehensive (inclusive) connotation to it. And then the sutta way of describing this became more visible to me. Since these are all very subtle mind states, a person might experience them in a variety of ways. But the ways described in the suttas are pretty much exactly how I experience a good session of samatha absorption.
According to this schematic, the third jhana described in the suttas contains the disappearance of piti with only sukkha, clear awareness
, and mindfulness
remaining. The commentarial literature only designates sukkha and ekaggata as remaining. The fourth jhana described in the sutta version has the subsiding of sukkha with only equanimity and mindfulness
remaining. The commentarial literature version has it that sukkha subsides with equanimity and ekagatta remaining.
My mature meditative experience has it more like the sutta version of these descriptions than like the version in the commentarial literature.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV