thank you for your help
It's going to be difficult to start the discussion, even with that concession. We have quite a gap to bridge in terms of finding some common ground on the characteristics of a Jhana.
Yes. When I started to look into Theravada I tried to get exact definitions of terms. It prooved impossible because different translators and teachers would use different translations into english (or german at that) and tried to name different experiences and factors of experience by them.
Take for example "samadhi". In yoga the term is translated as "collection". "Concentration" - the term translated as samadhi in Theravada - is "dharana" in yoga, literally "holding fast". In yoga samadhi/collection denotes a state with different possible objects, different activities, I think "flow" is what we use today:
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity
That is why I compare it to how a horse is collected. Same name even. Collection, both in yoga (aka samadhi) and horses refers to a specific state the horse or mind can be in. What horse or mind DO during collection can vary widely. But in Theravada samadhi is just translated as concentration. Concentration is an activity, not a state. It is what is done, to hold something fast, not the resulting state of flow.
As Theravada seems to already use samadhi as the deed, rather than the state, thus jhana seemed the appropriate translation of "collection/flow".
To understand flow, collection, one has to experience it. In my experience, flow itself is not lucid. Meaning, there is no sati, no awareness of what happens while it happens. Only afterwards one realises one has been in flow. For becoming lucid during flow other processes need to awaken: sati and uppekha (looking on).
In yoga today the term "samadhi" seeems to always refer to a lucid state, a state with sati, while in Theravada it has several meanings http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#ch1.3) . But - just for the sake of discussion - what if neither was the orignal definition, or the definition during the time of the Buddha? What if the original definition was "collection", aka flow? In this case "samadhi + sati + uppekha might be the definition of a lucid flow-state called jhana. Would this make sense in the suttas?
Personally, I believe that the samadhi from which the iddhis are accessed is probably that state denoted by the Commentaries as "upacara samadhi".
In my experience the iddhis do require a specific state of concentration but not absorption with it nor necessarily sati. There had not always been awareness when they happened but their appearance in general was more often when I would practice jhana. Also, all the traditions, Theravada, Mahayana, Hinduism, etc, agree that practice of a specific state of concentration leads to the arising of iddhis. So there is a connection.
Clearly, the Jhanas are not the only states that are free from the Hindrances, given the many "sudden stream entry" suttas using the standard pericope of the Buddha teaching the 4 Noble Truths when the listener was "free from the Hindrances".
I didn't know that.
Have you considered the Iddhipadasamyutta of the SN as perhaps containing the answer to your query? It seems to me that all the 4 iddhipada-s are based on certain samadhi-s with specific qualities.
Yes, but it seems just to describe that it is so, not the mechanism. Sort of "if the monk did that, this will happen." Without further information of the "that" in the "did that" - and there are after all several interpretations - it is not much of a help.
All I can be sure of is that if I practice the way I used to there is an increase of experiencing the iddhis. And not always due to my intent or even lucidity. This is why I search for a way to develop sati during their appearance.
I am of the view that the iddhipadas samadhi are not Jhana, especially when you consider the 1st and 4th iddhipada. The 1st samadhi contains "volitional formations of striving" (padhānasaṅkhārasamannāgataṃ), whereas DN 34 and the Samadhi Sutta (in AN 5s) specifically mention that the Jhanas are "na sasaṅkhāraniggayhavāritagatoti" (without being controlled by volition).
There is control during jhana, has to be, just as there is control during samadhi. But the authority that keeps control can differ. Using the horse-rider analogy, during samadhi (my speculative defintion above aka flow) the horse is in control, but during jhana it is the rider (a transcendental function based on sati). Samadhi is like a horse collecting itself (for fight or impressing another horse). Samadhi with sati is like a rider sitting on a horse that collects itself for it's own reasons - the rider has no control. Jhana is like a collected horse controled by the rider due to the "throughness" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Throughness). The question is: what exactly is "throughness" in terms of Dhamma? Or to put it differently: what is the transcendental authority (in terms of a function) in control of the state of jhana when it is not volition?
This is further reinforced by the 4th iddhipada which is based on investigation (vimaṃsa). That is the function of the Enlightenment Factor of Dhammavicaya; see this post - viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7360&p=121106&hilit=vicarati#p121106
These are not states that can occur in a Jhana.
Let me get this straight: you think that when Gautama moved through the levels of jhana he "sidesteped" fourth jhana and entered another samadhi to access the "recall all my previous lives iddhi"?
Sorry if I cannot be of much help.
You provided me with a lot of new possibilites and links to search for a many-years quest. Thank you for that