The Great Jhana Debate

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby IanAnd » Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:41 am

It's hard to respond to pronouncements ex cathedra, so I'll leave them as that.

My, how formal this debate has gotten.

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Statements by a pope that exercise papal infallibility are referred to as solemn papal definitions or ex cathedra teachings. These should not be confused with teachings that are infallible because of a solemn definition by an ecumenical council, or with teachings that are infallible in virtue of being taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium.

I don't think there is such a precedent in Buddhist practice. And certainly not in this forum :shock:

Anyone care for some papal bull?
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:53 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Any "tactility" is a kamaguna (if you concur with me that kamas are affectively neutral) or only a kamaguna if it is pleasureable (going by Geoff's model).

Geoff insists that the panca kamaguna are only "kamas" is they are attractive and pleasant. Here, in his model, pleasurable tactile feelings are felt. But the Jhana formula insists that 1st Jhana is "quite secluded from the kamas". Even by Geoff's subjective idealist model of the kamagunas, the tactile pleasures should not be felt in Jhana.

Again, either the intentional misrepresentation of another's position and therefore attempted misdirection, or a complete lack of understanding of said position.... Which is it Sylvester?


Dear Geoff

Oops, I thought you said this on 11 June -

"SN 3.12 highlights what I’ve been saying, i.e. what constitutes a “string of sensuality” for person A, may very well be revolting to person B, and hence, not a “string of sensuality” for them at all. It’s entirely subjective."

and this, on 3 Jul -

"What constitutes a kāmaguṇa is subjective, based on the apperception of the observer."

I trust I have not misrepresented you on the above?

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:02 am

Sylvester wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Any "tactility" is a kamaguna (if you concur with me that kamas are affectively neutral) or only a kamaguna if it is pleasureable (going by Geoff's model).

Geoff insists that the panca kamaguna are only "kamas" is they are attractive and pleasant. Here, in his model, pleasurable tactile feelings are felt. But the Jhana formula insists that 1st Jhana is "quite secluded from the kamas". Even by Geoff's subjective idealist model of the kamagunas, the tactile pleasures should not be felt in Jhana.

Again, either the intentional misrepresentation of another's position and therefore attempted misdirection, or a complete lack of understanding of said position.... Which is it Sylvester?

Oops, I thought you said this on 11 June -

"SN 3.12 highlights what I’ve been saying, i.e. what constitutes a “string of sensuality” for person A, may very well be revolting to person B, and hence, not a “string of sensuality” for them at all. It’s entirely subjective."

and this, on 3 Jul -

"What constitutes a kāmaguṇa is subjective, based on the apperception of the observer."

I trust I have not misrepresented you on the above?

Hi Sylvester,

Neither of those statements entails an "idealist model."

Moreover, it has been shown that the discourses differentiate between the kāmaguṇa-s and the four satipaṭṭhāna-s, and also that kāyasamphassa vedanā is experienced in jhāna. You have yet to cite one textual source which informs us that the body is a kāmaguṇa or that kāyasamphassa vedanā is not dependent on body phassa.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:26 am

Dear Geoff

I'd rather not get entangled in the "Objective Idealism" versus "Subjective Idealism" debate, if you do not mind. When I identify your model as being subjective idealism, it does not entail radical idealism (ie objective idealism a la quantum wave function collapse or the likes of the Participatory Anthropic Principle)

Since when have I said that the kaya is a kamaguna? I thought I'd always confined them to forms, sounds, smells, tastes and tactility.

As to SN 47.6, I've previously said this -

"It’s a fair distinction between the panca kamagunas and the tactility necessary for the 1st satipatthana, but I have a different take on it. The satipatthanas, quite tellingly, are simply a different way of relating to the kamas. Instead of being swept along by ayoniso manasikara, Sammasati has the function of yoniso manasikara: AN V 118. This stage of the satipatthana probably fits into the 1st Deliverance of “rupi rupani passati”.

The next sutta in the series, SN 47.7, draws out this distinction based with the simile of the monkey – I would infer that the contrast between the monkey’s grabbing and the satipatthanas as simply contrasting ayoniso manasikara against yoniso manasikara
."

The debate as to kayasamphassa vedana in Jhana revolves around the meaning of "kayasamphassa" which cannot turn only on the SN 22.56 definition in relation to the 6 contacts. Conflating SN 22.56's definition of "kayasamphassa" to vibhangas that deal with vedana and emotions, in my view, leads to the untenable result that kayika vedanas are limited to SN 22.56's kayasamphassa vedana.

I do accept, however, that you do not find my reasons for identifying kayika vedana with vedana flowing from all 6 contacts (based on SN 36.6 together with MN 38, MN 137 and MN 148) persuasive.


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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:39 pm

Sylvester wrote:Since when have I said that the kaya is a kamaguna?

Hi Sylvester,

Okay.

Sylvester wrote:I thought I'd always confined them to forms, sounds, smells, tastes and tactility.

What about the experience of breathing in and out (MN 10, kāyānupassanā ānāpānapabba, steps 1-3)? In the context of kāyānupassanā do you know of any textual sources which inform us that tactual sensation associated with the breath is a kāmaguṇa, or that a feeling of pleasure associated with the experience of breathing in and out when engaging in kāyānupassanā is carnal pleasure (sāmisa sukha)?

How about the nimitta-s of the stages of corpse decomposition (i.e. apperception of a skeleton, apperception of a worm-infested corpse, apperception of a blue-black [corpse], apperception of a [corpse] full of holes, or apperception of a bloated [corpse] – DN 33)? In the context of kāyānupassanā are the nimitta-s of these apperceptions kāmaguṇa-s?

And what about the visible sphere consisting of “the ridges & hollows, the river ravines, the tracts of stumps & thorns, the craggy irregularities” associated with the apperception of wilderness (MN 121)? Is the nimitta of the apperception of wilderness a kāmaguṇa? Is a feeling of pleasure associated with the apperception of wilderness carnal pleasure (sāmisa sukha)?

Sylvester wrote:I'd rather not get entangled in the "Objective Idealism" versus "Subjective Idealism" debate, if you do not mind. When I identify your model as being subjective idealism, it does not entail radical idealism

Subjective idealism isn’t applicable either. But this is beyond the scope of the present discussion.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:39 am

Dear Geoff

I LOVE your ubhatokotikam panham, one of my favourites when questionning the possibility of satipatthanas whilst in Jhana.

And therein lies the problem with your 2-horned dilemma. Since I do not hold that kāyānupassanā (as the 1st satipatthana) is done whilst in Jhana (when one is drenched with niramisa piti and niramisa sukha), why should the presence of samisa piti, samisa sukha in kāyānupassanā be relevant or objectionable? In fact, without those samisa vedanas, how is the yogi supposed to move on to the next satipatthana of contemplation of vedana? So taking your paragraphs in turn -

(i) kāyānupassanā ānāpānapabba in the 1st satipatthana's Steps 1 to 3. Since I follow the interpretation of MN 44's characterisation of the "satipatthanas being the nimitta of samadhi" to be that satipatthanas are the cause of samadhi, it should be apparent that I do not view kāyānupassanā ānāpānapabba to be done when in Jhana (unless you wish to insist that cause and effect are sahajata). There is nothing in MN 10 to suggest that during kāyānupassanā ānāpānapabba there is niramisa piti or niramisa sukha.

(ii) the asubha contemplations and the apperception of wilderness. I'm afraid I don't quite agree with your formulation of the practice as being stateable by -

"... are the nimitta-s of these apperceptions kāmaguṇa-s?" or
"is the nimitta of the apperception of wilderness a kāmaguṇa?"

You have equated the nimitta with the kamaguna.

As I've indicated previously, my view of the kamagunas is that they are affectively neutral. It's the vipallasas that pervert the cognitive and apperceptive experience of a kamaguna. As such, the nimitta of a kamaguna is a perceiver's interpretive overlay to the bare experience of "in the seen will be merely what is seen etc etc" : Ud.1.10. A nimitta can never be equivalent to that kamaguna, in my view.

So, I hold that the asubha practices are apperceptions of the asubha nimittas of the kamaguna. Likewise, the apperception of wilderness are apperceptions of the subha and asubha nimittas of that wilderness. Since I do not subscribe to either of your views that (i) only forms etc which are attractive = kamagunas, or (ii) what constitutes a kāmaguṇa is subjective, based on the apperception of the observer, I am permitted to treat (i) the nimittas as being apart from the kamagunas and (ii) the apperception of a kamaguna as including apperception of asubha forms etc.

(iii) the nature of the pleasurable feelings in apperception of wilderness. It's the same problem as in (i). I am of the view that apperception of wilderness is nothing more than the 1st satipatthana of -

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or externally on the body in & of itself, ..."

This to me looks like nothing more than the 2nd Deliverance (vimokkha, not vimutti). Since I follow the reading of "nimitta" in MN 44 to mean "cause", there is nothing again to suggest that apperception of wilderness is done in Jhana. So, the absence of niramisa piti and niramisa sukha here will not conflict with the presence of samisa pitisukha in this sanna.

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:22 am

Sylvester wrote: Since I do not hold that kāyānupassanā (as the 1st satipatthana) is done whilst in Jhana

Hi Sylvester,

Surely body contact can be present during the engagement in any of the four satipaṭṭhāna-s? And while engaging in the satipaṭṭhāna-s there can be concomitant sukha. What about at the pre-jhāna stage of sammāsati, if when engaging in kāyānupassanā or the other three satipaṭṭhāna-s the five hindrances have been abandoned, but the five jhāna factors aren’t fully present? If one has developed renunciation and the hindrances have been abandoned is this concomitant pleasure still sāmisa sukha?

Sylvester wrote:There is nothing in MN 10 to suggest that during kāyānupassanā ānāpānapabba there is niramisa piti or niramisa sukha.

There is nothing to suggest that there is sāmisa pīti or sukha either. It’s my understanding of MN 118 as well as the Paṭisambhidāmagga Ānāpānassatikathā that one doesn’t necessarily need to enter jhāna in order to practice vedanānupassanā. For example, with regard to sukhapaṭisaṃvedī the Ānāpānassatikathā states:

    Pleasure (sukha): there are two kinds of pleasure: bodily pleasure and mental pleasure.

    What is bodily pleasure?

    Any bodily well-being, bodily pleasure, well-being and pleasure born of body contact, welcome satisfactory feeling born of body contact, is bodily pleasure.

    What is mental pleasure?

    Any mental well-being, mental pleasure, well-being and pleasure born of mental contact, welcomed pleasant feeling born of mental contact, is mental pleasure.

    How is he acquainted with that pleasure?

    When he understands unification of mind and non-distraction through long in-breaths his mindfulness is founded. By means of that mindfulness and that knowledge he is acquainted with that pleasure. When he understands unification of mind and non-distraction through long out-breaths ... through short in-breaths ... through short out-breaths, through in-breaths while acquainted with the whole body, through out-breaths while acquainted with the whole body ... through in-breaths calming the body formation ... through out-breaths calming the body fabrication ... through in-breaths while acquainted with pīti ... through out-breaths while acquainted with pīti, his mindfulness is founded. By means of that mindfulness and that knowledge he is acquainted with that pleasure.
And so if one is practicing sukhapaṭisaṃvedī vedanānupassanā and has abandoned the five hindrances but has not entered jhāna, why would the presence of pīti and sukha necessarily be sāmisa pīti and sukha?

Sylvester wrote:why should the presence of samisa piti, samisa sukha in kāyānupassanā be relevant or objectionable?

Well, as we have already seen, according to SN 47.6 one is instructed to not wander into the range of the kāmaguṇa-s (and by extension sāmisa sukha), but to instead remain in the proper range of the four satipaṭṭhāna-s:

    [Y]ou should not wander into what is not your proper range and is the territory of others. In one who wanders into what is not his proper range and is the territory of others, Mara gains an opening, Mara gains a foothold. And what, for a monk, is not his proper range and is the territory of others? The five strands of sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable by the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Sounds cognizable by the ear... Aromas cognizable by the nose... Flavors cognizable by the tongue... Tactile sensations cognizable by the body — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. These, for a monk, are not his proper range and are the territory of others.

    Wander, monks, in what is your proper range, your own ancestral territory. In one who wanders in what is his proper range, his own ancestral territory, Mara gains no opening, Mara gains no foothold. And what, for a monk, is his proper range, his own ancestral territory? The four frames of reference. Which four? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. This, for a monk, is his proper range, his own ancestral territory.

Sylvester wrote:I am of the view that apperception of wilderness is nothing more than the 1st satipatthana.... So, the absence of niramisa piti and niramisa sukha here will not conflict with the presence of samisa pitisukha in this sanna.

If sāmisa sukha is present is it accurate or advisable to suggest that the practitioner’s “mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, & indulges in its perception of wilderness” (araññasaññāya cittaṃ pakkhandati pasīdati santiṭṭhati adhimuccati)? Especially in light of the above injunction from SN 47.6, and also MN 66 which informs us that any sukha and somanassa that arises dependent upon the kāmaguṇa-s is not to be cultivated or developed, rather it is to be feared:

    Now, any pleasure & happiness that arises dependent on these five strings of sensuality is called sensual pleasure, a filthy pleasure, a run-of-the-mill pleasure, an ignoble pleasure. And of this pleasure I say that it is not to be cultivated, not to be developed, not to be pursued, that it is to be feared.

And also SN 35.115:

    There are forms, monks, cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. If a monk relishes them, welcomes them, & remains fastened to them, he is said to be a monk fettered to forms cognizable by the eye. He has gone over to Mara's camp; he has come under Mara's power. The Evil One can do with him as he wills.

    Now, there are forms cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. If a monk does not relish them, welcome them, or remain fastened to them, he is said to be a monk freed from forms cognizable by the eye. He has not gone over to Mara's camp; he has not come under Mara's power. The Evil One cannot do with him as he wills.

I’m wondering why you find in necessary to maintain that all visible forms, sounds, odors, flavors, and tactual objects are kāmaguṇa-s? Given that SN 3.12 tells us that:

    Those same forms... sounds... odors... flavors... tactual objects that are agreeable to one person, great king, are disagreeable to another.

Is there something intrinsic to all visible forms, sounds, odors, flavors, and tactual objects which binds the mind? In your view, what is it about all visible forms, sounds, odors, flavors, and tactual objects that is “agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing” and therefore requires all of them to be kāmaguṇa-s?

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:16 pm

Dear Geoff

Ñāṇa wrote:Surely body contact can be present during the engagement in any of the four satipaṭṭhāna-s? And while engaging in the satipaṭṭhāna-s there can be concomitant sukha. What about at the pre-jhāna stage of sammāsati, if when engaging in kāyānupassanā or the other three satipaṭṭhāna-s the five hindrances have been abandoned, but the five jhāna factors aren’t fully present? If one has developed renunciation and the hindrances have been abandoned is this concomitant pleasure still sāmisa sukha?


Absolutely! I agree with almost everything you suggest here. But I have to be really cautious about inferring that the sukha in upacara samadhi (hope you'll forgive the commentarial shortform) is niramisa sukha. Perhaps both niramisa and samisa sukha are present on the cusp of Jhana. But I hesitate to promote this, lest I be accused of the poly-citta heresy. Frankly, nothing will please me more to believe that niramisa sukha can be present in upacara samadhi. But I have to bear in mind that the allowance in MN 44 for pleasure which does not trigger raganusaya extends only to Jhana. If niramisa sukha does exist in upacara samadhi, MN 44 should extend the allowance to upacara samadhi. But it doesn't...

The same reservation extends to the sukhapaṭisaṃvedī vedanānupassanā in anapanasati.

Ñāṇa wrote:If sāmisa sukha is present is it accurate or advisable to suggest that the practitioner’s “mind takes pleasure, finds satisfaction, settles, & indulges in its perception of wilderness” (araññasaññāya cittaṃ pakkhandati pasīdati santiṭṭhati adhimuccati)? Especially in light of the above injunction from SN 47.6, and also MN 66 which informs us that any sukha and somanassa that arises dependent upon the kāmaguṇa-s is not to be cultivated or developed, rather it is to be feared:


This is a very good point. May I venture to explain that the Buddha's injunction was against sukha AND somanassa. It's the same old kayika/cetasika vedana pair at work again. If pleasure derived from the kamagunas were to be faulted, it would be quite inconsistent with SN 36.6 which clearly states Ariyans "too feel a pleasant/painful/neutral" feelings" without feeling the 2nd Dart. There is nothing wrong with the kamagunas or the pleasure per se; the problem is kamacchanda - AKA the intention for passion from AN 6.63. When the 2nd Dart arises, that's when the blame game begins.

May I trouble you for a favour? Is the "finds satisfaction" ( pasidati) mentioned in arannasanna above the same "satisfaction" (pasada?) experienced by the Buddha in the 3 satipatthanas of MN 137? I'm lazy and a very, very slow Pali reader.

Ñāṇa wrote:I’m wondering why you find in necessary to maintain that all visible forms, sounds, odors, flavors, and tactual objects are kāmaguṇa-s? Given that SN 3.12 tells us that:

Those same forms... sounds... odors... flavors... tactual objects that are agreeable to one person, great king, are disagreeable to another.

Is there something intrinsic to all visible forms, sounds, odors, flavors, and tactual objects which binds the mind? In your view, what is it about all visible forms, sounds, odors, flavors, and tactual objects that is “agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing” and therefore requires all of them to be kāmaguṇa-s?


I think the answer is to be found in SN SN 35.115 which you cited.

"There are forms, monks, cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. If a monk relishes them, welcomes them, & remains fastened to them, he is said to be a monk fettered to forms cognizable by the eye. He has gone over to Mara's camp; he has come under Mara's power. The Evil One can do with him as he wills.

Now, there are forms cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. If a monk does not relish them, welcome them, or remain fastened to them, he is said to be a monk freed from forms cognizable by the eye. He has not gone over to Mara's camp; he has not come under Mara's power. The Evil One cannot do with him as he wills.
"

I can't help but notice that both conditional statements "If he relishes..." and "If he doesn't relish..." are appended to a standard kamaguna stock formula.

As I've said before, I am of the view that kamagunas are affectively neutral. There is nothing inherent or intrinsic in a kamaguna that makes it attractive, repulsive or neither. The movement of the mind to establish contact does not depend on any quality inherent in form, sound, smell, taste, tactility or dhamma. That movement is very simply due solely to the intention for passion from AN 6.63.

With metta
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:18 am

Sylvester wrote:Frankly, nothing will please me more to believe that niramisa sukha can be present in upacara samadhi. But I have to bear in mind that the allowance in MN 44 for pleasure which does not trigger raganusaya extends only to Jhana. If niramisa sukha does exist in upacara samadhi, MN 44 should extend the allowance to upacara samadhi. But it doesn't...

Hi Sylvester,

It seems that the DN 22/MN 10 commentaries which we looked at make for this allowance.

Sylvester wrote:If pleasure derived from the kamagunas were to be faulted, it would be quite inconsistent with SN 36.6 which clearly states Ariyans "too feel a pleasant/painful/neutral" feelings" without feeling the 2nd Dart. There is nothing wrong with the kamagunas or the pleasure per se; the problem is kamacchanda - AKA the intention for passion from AN 6.63. When the 2nd Dart arises, that's when the blame game begins.

MN 66 tells us that any sukha and somanassa that arises dependent upon the kāmaguṇa-s is a filthy pleasure, a run-of-the-mill pleasure, an ignoble pleasure to be feared:

    Now, any pleasure & happiness that arises dependent on these five strings of sensuality is called sensual pleasure, a filthy pleasure, a run-of-the-mill pleasure, an ignoble pleasure. And of this pleasure I say that it is not to be cultivated, not to be developed, not to be pursued, that it is to be feared.

Seems pretty clear to me. Of course we disagree on what kāmaguṇa means, as well as kāyika and cetasika, etc.

Sylvester wrote:Is the "finds satisfaction" ( pasidati) mentioned in arannasanna above the same "satisfaction" (pasada?) experienced by the Buddha in the 3 satipatthanas of MN 137?

MN 137 uses the terms anattamana (not satisfied) and attamana (satisfied).

Sylvester wrote:As I've said before, I am of the view that kamagunas are affectively neutral.

And as I’ve said before, I’m of the view that sense objects are neutral, but kāmaguṇa-s are any sense objects which one considers to be “agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing.” The inner felt-sense of nirāmisa pītisukha which arises in jhāna is of a completely different kind. For one thing it doesn’t arise in dependence upon external sensory impingement.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:40 am

Dear Geoff

Many thanks for MN 137.

So, it should be apparent that how our differences on the little zeroth premises underlying our understanding of the Suttas can lead to such wildly divergent models of Jhana.

And I seriously doubt if our short little engagement over the last 2 weeks is going to make the debate go away. Others who have not joined in probably kept our engagement simpler by allowing us to focus on a few dichotomies, but I'm sure that there are other dimensions out there which can easily complicate the issue.

Shall we keep this idle on the back-burner until either of us comes back with fresh demurrers? My substative points are few, being limited to the kamagunas, the kayika/cetasika dichotomy, vedana versus emotions, and MN 43's and MN 44's impact on contact and the nature of the sukhas felt in upacara and Jhana respectively. I suppose I'll include the vacisankhara points, although that is in the other thread.

Or should we press on with the debate about "intention" in Jhana? I finally found another way to reconcile MN 111 with Ajahn Brahm's model of the "intentionless" Jhana, besides resorting to MN 43.

With metta
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Sat Jul 10, 2010 7:16 am

Sylvester wrote:So, it should be apparent that how our differences on the little zeroth premises underlying our understanding of the Suttas can lead to such wildly divergent models of Jhana.

Hi Sylvester,

Our models may not be that widely divergent. For example, I can interpret cognition in jhāna in terms of manoviññāṇa and thus avoid the sahajāta citta-s issue. But I wouldn't go as far as to agree that Ajahn Brahm's demarcation for what qualifies as jhāna is the only correct jhāna.

Sylvester wrote:And I seriously doubt if our short little engagement over the last 2 weeks is going to make the debate go away.

Indeed. It's a pretty old debate. It can be found in the Abhidharmakośabhāsya, and as you know, was at some point included in the Kathāvatthu.

Sylvester wrote:Shall we keep this idle on the back-burner until either of us comes back with fresh demurrers?

Sounds good.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:37 pm

Dear Geoff

And if I have caused any offence, I ask your forgiveness.

With metta
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:50 pm

Sylvester wrote:And if I have caused any offence, I ask your forgiveness.

Hi Sylvester,

No offense whatsoever. It has been a good discussion.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby gavesako » Mon May 30, 2011 9:06 am

I came across this curious explanation of the phrase "body in the body" in a Dhammakaya publication:

"... The problem is that we see only our one outer body. THis has led some scholars to treat the phrase as an idiom and render it with interpretations like 'contemplating the body as the body'. Amazingly, however, the fact is that thousands of modern meditators have seen 'body-in-body' over and over again, using the mind' eye during meditation. ... Such insight requires letting of the limited small-minded 'self' mentality that we have each created and opening up to our higher mentality buried deep inside. ... By seeing, entering and becoming more and more refined bodies, the meditator takes on their mentality and raises consciousness to purer and purer levels."

For more info see http://www.dhammacenter.org/dhammakaya_ ... meditation
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Alex123 » Mon May 30, 2011 2:40 pm

Hello Yundi, all,

Yundi wrote:Scholarship cannot be based on inaccurate translation. I would say the Buddha is not referring to the physical body here. I would say he is referring to the kaya or group of jhana factors. The similie is of a ball of bath powder that does not drip. Now, if the rapture suffused into the physical body, that would be "dripping".


Well what about Kāyagatāsati suttaṃ - Mindfulness of the Body (Kāya) sutta?

In that sutta it says that body Kāya can take 4 postures, is made of 4 elements, has 32 bodyparts, can undergo decomposition as a corpse, and oh yeh, experience the bliss of jhāna that is felt.
"Furthermore, quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body (kāyaṃ) with the rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal. Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again & again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within & without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body (kāyassa) unpervaded by rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & centered. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Taken the context, it is clear beyond any reasonable doubt that Kāya is what we call physical body. And since the attainment is jhāna, 5 senses do not shut down because it is not yet aruppa planes. Sense-contact is overcomed only between 4th jhāna and base of infinite space. Infinite space is because you don't see any forms that would limit it.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby reflection » Mon May 30, 2011 6:32 pm

In jhana the mind settles on itself, shutting down all sensations of anything but the mind itself. This has nothing to do with the physical body. In fact, your mind already leaves the physical body behind prior to jhana. This you can know for yourself. I guess everybody who meditated for a while knows the body (and the other senses) slowly disappear from the scope of attention and can even disappear. But the mind can still be restless, filled with doubt or sleepy, so it is obviously no jhana yet. If you also overcome these obstacles, the mind can be concentrated enough to focus on itself, be beyond hindrances.

I support Yundi's view of "body" not referring the whole physical body always. I could support this with quotes, however meditation is about experience, not about suttas so I would suggest everybody to try and see for themselves how deep the mind can go. Those of us who enter absorptions will find out for themselves their importance to cultivate insights and can form a justified opinion on the issue. You can't really talk about how (not) important it is for a car to have traction control if you have never driven a car before, let alone never seen one. Same with jhanas.

With loving kindness,
Reflection
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Alex123 » Mon May 30, 2011 6:56 pm

Suttas do teach that one can see object with the eyes in the Jhānas. It is also possible to misinterpret what one has attained, so we need to check the suttas.

Ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ samāpannassa rūpasaññā niruddhā hoti. Also dozens of suttas state that one overcomes rūpasaññānaṃ, paṭighasaññānaṃ, and nānattasaññānaṃ when one enters Base of Infinite Space (Ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ).

Please note, perception of visual form ceases ONLY in aruppa planes, not in Jhāna. The suttas do talk about feeling kāya, and in the context of that sutta MN119 it is clearly that physical body that can take 4 postures, is made of 4 elements, and can decompose in a cemetery is what is meant.

Rūpa is a visual object, not purely mental abstraction.
Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṃ. Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye.

Purely mental object is dhamma, not Rūpa.
Manañca paṭicca dhamme ca uppajjati manoviññāṃ. Dependent on the intellect & ideas there arises consciousness at the intellect.

Perception of purely mental object is dhammasaññā not rūpasaññā.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Freawaru » Mon May 30, 2011 7:42 pm

Alex123 wrote:The suttas do talk about feeling kāya, and in the context of that sutta MN119 it is clearly that physical body that can take 4 postures, is made of 4 elements, and can decompose in a cemetery is what is meant.


Don't know about your physical body but I am sure that my physical body is made of physical matter, not those esoteric "elements" called fire, water, earth and air. It can also take more than 4 postures (I can stand on my head for example). And it won't necessarily take a cemetery to decompose. :stirthepot:
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby reflection » Mon May 30, 2011 8:15 pm

Alex123 wrote:Suttas do teach that one can see object with the eyes in the Jhānas. It is also possible to misinterpret what one has attained, so we need to check the suttas.


Hiya,

:toast:

To me it makes more sense to explain the suttas in terms of experiences than it does the other way around. If you experience something and need a sutta to find out if was real, the experience probably wasn't that interesting anyway. Meditation can't be accurately described in words -not even by a Buddha- so confusion or ignorance is bound to happen if one bases their views too much on those. I browsed through this topic and see that suttas seem to support both views on the matter, so that approach probably won't really get anybody anywhere but solidifying their own views. To me it's a bit like arguing whether the earth is 6000 years old because it is told so in the bible, the evidence to find out who is right is not found inside it.

To me the Mindfulness of the Body sutta also supports the total absorption view, but I won't try and explain it because I get the feeling nobody will really change his mind on the subject no matter how much suttas are analyzed. Therefore I suggested the approach of trying it out and see for ourselves. Focus on the breath until it disappears and the mind "gathers & settles inwardly".

:namaste:

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Reflection
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Alex123 » Mon May 30, 2011 8:38 pm

reflection wrote:To me it makes more sense to explain the suttas in terms of experiences than it does the other way around.


It depends on your goals. If one wants to pursue the Awakening, then suttas are a must. It is a given that from Buddha's that ignorant worldling would make lots of mistake, so having the guidance of the suttas (in the absence of the living Buddha) is a must, unless one is following the Bodhisattva path and wants to become a Buddha after 100,000 MahaKappas.

reflection wrote:If you experience something and need a sutta to find out if was real, the experience probably wasn't that interesting anyway.


The point is having experiences that lead to Awakening, cessation of all Suffering. Until we are Awakened, it is a given that most or almost all experiences, and their interpretations, can be colored by ignorance.

reflection wrote:To me the Mindfulness of the Body sutta also supports the total absorption view,


Absorption into the Body, but 5 senses still work. They just do not distract one. The point is NOT to get into some coma, where one is totally oblivious and can't observe triple characteristic and develop wisdom. If not seeing and not hearing was conducive to Awakening, then blind and deaf people would be awakened. If getting into a coma was in any way helpful, then we ALL would be awakened, as we fall into deep sleep where 5 senses temporarily shut down each night. Wisdom is important, and suttas are required for guidance. Until we are awakened at least to stream, it is a given that most/all experiences are Under the power of delusion and kilesas. So one can't fully trust oneself at first, trust the suttas.

IMHO,

With metta,

Alex
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