The Great Jhana Debate

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:11 pm

Hello

In this forum I've seen many times a discussion about meditation that involves jhana, and usualy there's a confusion between the members because they are talking about different notions of jhana. I think it would be good to clarify this subject and discuss it in depth.

There are two types of jhana being talked about: the sutta jhanas and the visuddhimagga jhanas. An introduction to the subject can be found here:

http://www.leighb.com/jhanantp.htm

In the next post I'll post an essay by a former member of e-sangha nicknamed emptyuniverse. It presents very good (and definitive in my opinion) arguments in favor of the sutta jhana defenition. I've yet to see a convincing argument for the visuddhimagga jhanas.

Metta
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:12 pm

Here goes a link to the new version of the essay:


viewtopic.php?f=33&t=5761#p89675
Last edited by Modus.Ponens on Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Moggalana » Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:32 pm

According to Bhikkhu Analayo's From Grasping to Emptiness, the suttas provide evidence for absorption jhanas, too. The chapter about concentration starts at page 115 (117 in the pdf viewer). Here is an excerpt (Sorry about the formatting):

Bhikkhu Analayo - From Grasping to Emptiness (emphasis mine) wrote:
Another noteworthy aspect of the Upakkilesa-sutta is its ref-
erence to the "sign", nimitta. According to the Upakkilesa-
sutta, Anuruddha and his companions told the Buddha that
they saw meditative lights and forms, but these soon disap-
peared. In reply, the Buddha explained that they should "pene-
trate that sign" (MN III 157). The use of the expression "sign"
in the present context is to some extent ambiguous, as it could
have a plain causal sense, simply indicating that they should
understand the cause for the disappearance of their meditative
visions.
Alternatively, nimitta can also stand for a "sign" in the sense
of the characteristics with the help of which perception recog-
nizes an object. To understand nimitta in the sense of a medita-
tive sign would also fit the present context, which treats medi-
tative visions and the development of concentration. In fact, at
a later point the Upakkilesa-sutta speaks of directing attention
to the meditative experience of forms or to that of light in
terms of the rūpanimitta and the obhāsanimitta (MN III 161).
This passage explicitly uses the term nimitta to refer to the vi-
sion of light and forms that Anuruddha and his companions
had been unable to stabilize, a usage where nimitta unequivo-
cally stands for something that is perceived.
From this it seems that the Upakkilesa-sutta could indeed be
describing the development of the mental nimitta required in
order to enter the first absorption. This interpretation would
also fit with the mental imperfections listed in the Upakkilesa-
sutta, which, as already mentioned above, do not cover the first
two of the five hindrances, sensual desire and aversion. Their
absence implicitly shows that the meditative development
treated in the present discourse sets in at a more advanced
stage, when these two comparatively gross mental defilements
have already been successfully subdued and a minimal basis of
mental tranquillity has been established. It is precisely at this
stage, when the gross hindrances of sensual desire and aversion
have been overcome and the mind becomes increasingly con-
centrated, that the nimitta in the sense of a mental sign can
manifest to the meditator.


The use of the term nimitta in a context related to the devel-
opment of concentration is not unique to the Upakkilesa-sutta.
Elsewhere the discourses also refer to the "sign of tranquillity",
samathanimitta (DN III 213; SN V 66; SN V 105), to the "sign
of concentration", samādhinimitta (DN III 226; DN III 242;
DN III 279; MN I 249; MN I 301; MN III 112; AN I 115; AN I
256; AN II 17; AN III 23; AN III 321), and to the "sign of the
mind", cittanimitta (SN V 151; AN III 423; Th 85). The unique
contribution made by the Upakkilesa-sutta is that it offers a re-
port of actual practice that involves the nimitta in a context
geared towards absorption attainment.



later in the text:

Bhikkhu Analayo - From Grasping to Emptiness wrote:
Another significant indication related to the nature of absorp-
tion can also be gathered from the Upakkilesa-sutta. According
to its account, before his awakening the Buddha had to make
quite an effort in order to overcome a whole series of obstruc-
tions until he was able to attain the first absorption (MN III
157). This suggests the first absorption to be a state of mind
reached only after prolonged practice and requiring consider-
able meditative expertise.
This impression is confirmed by turning to the cases of Anu-
ruddha and Mahāmoggallāna. In the case of each of these two
chief disciples the personal intervention of the Buddha was re-
quired for them to be able to attain and stabilize the first ab-
sorption (MN III 157 and SN IV 263). If Anuruddha and Ma-
hāmoggallāna, who later on were reckoned as outstanding
among the Buddha's disciples for their concentrative abilities
(AN I 23), had such difficulties, then it can safely be con-
cluded that the first absorption stands for a level of concentra-
tion that requires considerable meditative training.
Elsewhere the discourses in fact indicate that during the first
absorption it is impossible to speak (SN IV 217), and the hear-
ing of sounds is an obstruction to its attainment (AN V 135).
With the first absorption one has gone beyond Māra's vision
(MN I 159), having reached the end of the world of the senses
(AN IV 430). These passages confirm that the first absorption
is indeed a state during which the mind is "absorbed" in deep
concentration.


As always, I don't think that there is only one true way. The real question is what is useful and skillful for us.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby bodom » Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:59 pm

Excellent Moggalana, thank you for posting this. Analayo's works are brilliant.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:32 pm

Hi Moggalana

I remain unconvinced.

Regarding nimita, there's no evidence there that it is a prerequisite for jhana. Ajahn Lee, on the subject of lights appearing during meditation, says it is important to learn how to deal with them because it is important to later develop psychic powers. It's in this sense that I interpret the nimita passage of the Upakkilesa sutta.

Regarding deep jhana, I see no more than indirect sugestions that deep (visuddhimagga) jhana is the jhana that the Buddha teached. In this subject, MN111 is a direct proof of the contrary as is also other suttas quoted in the essay.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:43 pm

If I had to choose I'd take Ven Analayo's over EU's, but what this points to to is that the idea of what jhana is not really a settled, concrete thing. And given the variety of experiences associated with the term jhana, it is not ever going to be.
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: Tha jhana debate

Postby Moggalana » Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:59 pm

Hi Modus.Ponens,

I'm no scholar and my knowledge of the suttas is very limited. I also lack direct experience of (absorption) jhanas. That's why I'm not going to get too involved in this discussion. If you think that the Buddha didn't practice and teach absorption jhanas, that's fine with me. I don't know! But there is enough evidence for me (either from the experience of teachers I trust, or scholary work like that of Bhikkhu Analayo) to consider it as one of two (or more) possibilities. I regard samadhi as a tool, a means to an end. It's like a knife: the sharper your knife, the easier it is to cut through your veil of delusions. It may not be necessary to cultivate absorption jhanas, but I think it's a valid path. That's all I'm saying.

tiltbillings wrote:If I had to choose I'd take Ven Analayo's ove EU's, but what this points to to is that the idea of what jhana is not really a settled, concrete thing. And given the variety of experiences associated with the term jhana, it is not ever going to be.

True!
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:22 pm

Moggalana wrote:Hi Modus.Ponens,

I'm no scholar and my knowledge of the suttas is very limited. I also lack direct experience of (absorption) jhanas. That's why I'm not going to get too involved in this discussion. If you think that the Buddha didn't practice and teach absorption jhanas, that's fine with me. I don't know! But there is enough evidence for me (either from the experience of teachers I trust, or scholary work like that of Bhikkhu Analayo) to consider it as one of two (or more) possibilities. I regard samadhi as a tool, a means to an end. It's like a knife: the sharper your knife, the easier it is to cut through your veil of delusions. It may not be necessary to cultivate absorption jhanas, but I think it's a valid path. That's all I'm saying.

tiltbillings wrote:If I had to choose I'd take Ven Analayo's ove EU's, but what this points to to is that the idea of what jhana is not really a settled, concrete thing. And given the variety of experiences associated with the term jhana, it is not ever going to be.

True!


I'm no scholar either. I just think the essay I quoted settles the issue.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Kenshou » Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:35 pm

Oh no, it's this again!

I don't see all that much conflict between the perspectives posted so far, really, besides a difference in view on just how concentrated is concentrated enough, which is one of those questions nobody is going to agree on. The main dividing issue is the nimitta thing, which the upakkilesa sutta is often drug out to support, though as far as I can see that sutta doesn't seem to be saying anything about the practice of absorption in particular, but something a little different, the development of iddhi of a variety as Modus suggests seems to make sense. Additionally as far as I have seen, perception of beautiful visions etc. isn't really associated with the development of jhana in general in the suttas. I'm willing to make the assumption that if it were vital, it would have been made a bit more obvious.

I think the core of this jhana issue comes down to which texts the individual decides to take as authoritative. Some people like the suttas, and their perspective is colored by that, some people like commentary, abhidhamma, and the same thing applies. There's got to be an agreement on that before this will be settled, and I don't think that'll ever happen.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:08 am

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa.

Hello to everyone at Dhamma Wheel!

Geoff (emptyuniverse) here.

Oh my, that is a very old draft of that essay.... Nevertheless, the basic points that (1) sensory consciousness is necessarily stopped in jhāna, and (2) that jhāna requires a vision of a light or form nimitta, are simply never stated or implied in the sutta-s.

Of course jhāna requires a nimitta, both in terms of cause and in terms of mental sign. One of the four satipaṭṭhāna-s is the nimitta which serves as the cause for the eventual elimination of the five hindrances and, beyond that, the arising of the five concomitant mental factors (pañcaṅgika) of the first jhāna.

And the mental sign of the first jhāna, according to the sutta-s, is the presence of these five mental factors: non-sensual (nirāmisā) pīti and sukha, as well as vitakka, vicāra, and cittekaggatā. This is not only the content of the standard jhāna formula (except cittekaggatā), it is mentioned in the context of the nimitta of the first jhāna in the discourses (e.g. A iv 418: “...idhekacco bhikkhu paṇḍito byatto khettaññū kusalo vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. So taṃ nimittaṃ āsevati bhāveti bahulīkaroti svādhiṭṭhitaṃ adhiṭṭhāti.”). The presence of these concomitant mental factors is the “sign” of having attained jhāna.

Moggalana wrote:
Bhikkhu Analayo - From Grasping to Emptiness (emphasis mine) wrote:In fact, at a later point the Upakkilesa-sutta speaks of directing attention
to the meditative experience of forms or to that of light in
terms of the rūpanimitta and the obhāsanimitta (MN III 161).
This passage explicitly uses the term nimitta to refer to the vi-
sion of light and forms that Anuruddha and his companions
had been unable to stabilize, a usage where nimitta unequivo-
cally stands for something that is perceived.
From this it seems that the Upakkilesa-sutta could indeed be
describing the development of the mental nimitta required in
order to enter the first absorption.



Not even the Visuddhimagga limits counterpart signs to visions of light or forms. According to the Visuddhimagga analysis, of the 30 meditations which lead to jhāna, 22 have counterpart signs as object. And of these, only 19 require any sort of counterpart sign which is apprehended based solely on sight, and can therefore give rise to a mental image resulting from that nimitta (the 10 stages of corpse decomposition and 9 kasiṇa-s, excluding the air kasiṇa which is apprehended by way of both sight and tactile sensation).

As for the Upakkilesa Sutta, nowhere in this sutta does it say that either the obhāsanimitta or the rūpanimitta are essential prerequisites for attaining the first jhāna. Nor does this sutta maintain that the stopping of all sensory consciousness whatsoever is essential for the arising of either of these two signs. Therefore, while these apperceptions and visions can occur during the course of of meditational development, there is no explicit statement here, or elsewhere in the suttas, that such apperceptions and/or visions must arise for one to enter jhāna. Indeed, even the commentarial tradition doesn’t maintain that either of these types of nimitta-s are essential.

Also, the Vimuttimagga understands the teaching in the Upakkilesa Sutta to refer to the development of the divine eye. This is understandable as Anuruddhā was designated as the foremost disciple endowed with the divine eye.

Moggalana wrote:
Bhikkhu Analayo - From Grasping to Emptiness (emphasis mine) wrote:Elsewhere the discourses also refer to the "sign of tranquillity",
samathanimitta (DN III 213; SN V 66; SN V 105), to the "sign
of concentration", samādhinimitta (DN III 226; DN III 242;
DN III 279; MN I 249; MN I 301; MN III 112; AN I 115; AN I
256; AN II 17; AN III 23; AN III 321), and to the "sign of the
mind", cittanimitta (SN V 151; AN III 423; Th 85). The unique
contribution made by the Upakkilesa-sutta is that it offers a re-
port of actual practice that involves the nimitta in a context
geared towards absorption attainment.


None of these references refer to any of these nimitta-s being an obhāsanimitta or rūpanimitta related to the context of the Upakkilesa Sutta. The Upakkilesa Sutta is the only discourse where “nimitta” is used in that context.

Moggalana wrote:
Bhikkhu Analayo - From Grasping to Emptiness wrote:
Elsewhere the discourses in fact indicate that during the first
absorption it is impossible to speak (SN IV 217), and the hear-
ing of sounds is an obstruction to its attainment (AN V 135).
With the first absorption one has gone beyond Māra's vision
(MN I 159), having reached the end of the world of the senses
(AN IV 430). These passages confirm that the first absorption
is indeed a state during which the mind is "absorbed" in deep
concentration.


According to Ven. Anālayo’s interpretation of S iv 217 it would be “impossible to breathe” in the fourth jhāna or any of the formless attainments. Although this interpretation has also been put forward over the centuries, IMO it’s not a correct interpretation of the discourse. One doesn’t speak in the first jhāna because there is no volitional intention to do so. And while breathing can slow to the point of being imperceptible in the fourth jhāna, this doesn’t mean that one has completely ceased breathing. Breathing – even when imperceptible – is an involuntary process.

As far as sounds are concerned, A iii 137 states that one must be able to tolerate sounds to both enter and remain in sammāsamādhi. And sammāsamādhi is most commonly defined as the four jhāna-s in the discourses, as is the training of heightened mind (adhicittasikkhā), as well as the faculty of concentration (samādhindriya) and the strength of concentration (samādhibala) as practiced by a noble disciple (ariyasāvaka). There is simply no integrated eightfold path without the inclusion of jhāna – in the suttantika sense of “jhāna.”

And A iv 430 doesn’t say what Ven. Anālayo wants it to say. The kāmagunā (“strings of sensuality”) metaphor only applies to sensory phenomena “that are wished for and desired, agreeable and endearing, associated with sense-desire and tempting to lust.” A iii 410 tells us that they are not inherently “kāma” in and of themselves. MN 13: Mahādukkhakkhandha Sutta tells us that they are “the allure” (or gratification) of kāma. It goes on to tell us that it’s the “abandoning of desire-passion (chandarāga) for sensuality,” which is the escape from kāma. Thus external sensory objects are only “strings” of kāma insofar as they are desired and wished for. Returning to A iv 430, it states that it is only with the attainment of the cessation of apperception and feeling that one actually comes to the end of the world (an attainment not necessary for liberation).

BTW, Ven. Anālayo goes to significant lengths to suggest that sammāsamādhi is actually satipaṭṭhāna, and yet he also maintains that jhāna – which he acknowledges is necessary at some point on the noble eightfold path – is an absorption somehow beyond sammāsamādhi.

Regarding what else is present or absent in the four jhāna-s, S v 214 states that the pleasure faculty (sukhindriya) doesn’t cease until the third jhāna, and S v 211 defines the pleasure faculty as pleasure born of body contact. S iv 236 further tells us that nirāmisā pīti and sukha are what is experienced in jhāna – hence the pīti and sukha of jhāna are non-sensual, yet sukha is still born of body contact.

Moreover, M i 293 and A iv 426 both explicitly state that it is only when abiding in the fully purified formless attainments that the mind is isolated from the five sense faculties and doesn’t attend to any apperceptions of the five sensory spheres. It’s worth quoting both. MN 43 Mahāvedalla Sutta:

“Friend, what can be known with the purified mental-consciousness (manoviññāṇa) isolated from the five [sense] faculties?”

“Friend, with the purified mental-consciousness isolated from the five faculties the sphere of infinite space can be known as ‘infinite space.’ The sphere of infinite consciousness can be known as ‘infinite consciousness.’ The sphere of nothingness can be known as ‘there is nothing.’”

AN 9.37 Ananda Sutta:
Ven. Ananda said, “It is amazing, friends, it is marvelous, how the Blessed One ... has attained and recognized the opportunity ... for the attainment of the right method ... where the eye will be, and forms, and yet one will not be sensitive to that dimension; where the ear will be, and sounds... where the nose will be, and aromas... where the tongue will be, and flavors... where the body will be, and tactile sensations, and yet one will not be sensitive to that dimension.”

When this was said, Ven. Udayin said to Ven. Ananda, “Is one percipient when not sensitive to that dimension, my friend, or unpercipient?”

[Ananda:] “One is percipient when not sensitive to that dimension, my friend, not unpercipient.”

[Udayin:] “When not sensitive to that dimension, my friend, one is percipient of what?”

[Ananda:] “There is the case where, with the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, [perceiving,] ‘Infinite space,’ one enters and remains in the dimension of the infinitude of space. This is one way of being percipient when not sensitive to that dimension....”


Moggalana wrote:As always, I don't think that there is only one true way. The real question is what is useful and skillful for us.

Indeed. Sammāsamādhi.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:11 am

Greetings Geoff,

Nice to see you here!

:hello:

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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Freawaru » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:02 am

Hi All,

during first jhana one can still sense the body - but are you all really sure it is the physical body we sense? In my experience there is a distinct shift when leaving the first jhana and becoming aware of the physical body again. It is similar to the becoming aware of the physical body when coming out of deep relaxation or trance or during waking up. The tactile image of the body is already present during first jhana but physical pain is not there for example so the awareness of the five senses that connect us to the physical is absent.

As far as I understand it the first jhana is an experience of the rupa realm (just as the experience of the jhana five to eight is arupa realm). So I think it is the mind-made body that is sensed during it. Anything else one might experience during it - as nimitta - is mind-made, too.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Virgo » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:03 pm

Freawaru wrote:Hi All,

during first jhana one can still sense the body - but are you all really sure it is the physical body we sense? In my experience there is a distinct shift when leaving the first jhana and becoming aware of the physical body again. It is similar to the becoming aware of the physical body when coming out of deep relaxation or trance or during waking up. The tactile image of the body is already present during first jhana but physical pain is not there for example so the awareness of the five senses that connect us to the physical is absent.

As far as I understand it the first jhana is an experience of the rupa realm (just as the experience of the jhana five to eight is arupa realm). So I think it is the mind-made body that is sensed during it. Anything else one might experience during it - as nimitta - is mind-made, too.

Freawaru,

That's fine as long as you understand that is nothing like what is described in the Canon as a whole...

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:32 pm

Hi Geoff

Welcome! I hope you didn't mind me posting your essay.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Freawaru » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:59 pm

Hi Virgo,

Virgo wrote:
Freawaru wrote:Hi All,

during first jhana one can still sense the body - but are you all really sure it is the physical body we sense? In my experience there is a distinct shift when leaving the first jhana and becoming aware of the physical body again. It is similar to the becoming aware of the physical body when coming out of deep relaxation or trance or during waking up. The tactile image of the body is already present during first jhana but physical pain is not there for example so the awareness of the five senses that connect us to the physical is absent.

As far as I understand it the first jhana is an experience of the rupa realm (just as the experience of the jhana five to eight is arupa realm). So I think it is the mind-made body that is sensed during it. Anything else one might experience during it - as nimitta - is mind-made, too.

Freawaru,

That's fine as long as you understand that is nothing like what is described in the Canon as a whole...

Kevin


Loka: 'world', denotes the 3 spheres of existence comprising the whole universe, i.e. 1 the sense-world kāma-loka or the world of the 5 senses; 2 the fine-material world rūpa-loka corresponding to the 4 fine-material absorptions see: jhāna 1-4; 3 the immaterial world arūpa-loka corresponding to the 4 immaterial absorptions see: jhāna 5-8.
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... l.htm#loka


Deva: lit: the Radiant Ones; related to Lat. deus: divine beings, deities, celestials, are beings who live in happy worlds, and who, as a rule, are invisible to the human eye.
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... d.htm#deva


If they had a physical body they would not be invisible to the human eye. (Well, excluding the possibility of some alternate universes reachable by Myrdin's devices a la Stargate of course - but even then it would be a different kind of physical than ours.) The moment one enters first jhana it is the rupavacara one senses including one's own fine-material body.

Avacara: Sphere, realm, level or dimension. The 3 levels of existence are: the sense-level kāmāvacara, the fine-material level rūpāvacara, the formless level arūpāvacara. Which things are of the sense-level kāmāvacara? Whatever things exist within the interval bounded beneath by the Avīci hell and above by the paranimmitavasavatti heaven (see: deva), being therein included, to wit: the groups of existence, the elements, sources (see: khandha dhātu āyatana), form, feeling, perception, mental constructions and consciousness, all these things are of the sense-level. But which things are then of the fine material level rūpāvacara? Whatever things exist within the interval bounded beneath by the Brahma-world and above by the akanittha world (see: deva), having therein their level, and being therein included... and also consciousness and mental properties in one who has entered the fine-material absorptions, or who has been reborn at that level, or who already during his life-time is living in happiness of the absorptions, all these things are of the fine-material level. Which things are of the formless level arūpāvacara? Consciousness and mental properties arising within the interval bounded beneath by the beings reborn in the level of unbounded space and above by the beings reborn at the level of neither-perception-nor-non-perception (see: jhāna 5-8), and the consciousness and mental properties in one who has entered the formless absorptions, or who has been reborn at that level, or who already during his lifetime is living in happiness of the formless absorptions, all these things are of the formless level.
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... tm#avacara
Freawaru
 
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:14 am

Hi Retro & Modus.Ponens (I don't mind you posting it at all).

Freawaru wrote:during first jhana one can still sense the body - but are you all really sure it is the physical body we sense?

Hi Freawaru,

I suspect that we are coming to this discussion from somewhat different perspectives. For myself, it doesn't really matter what you or I or anyone else thinks jhāna is; for the purposes of discussion I'm mainly interested in what the discourses have to say on the matter. And from the statements I cited on my previous post from M i 293 and A iv 426, there is no reason to exclude the body, or any other phenomena, from what can be experienced in jhāna.

Neither of those statements from M i 293 or A iv 426 are of interpretive meaning (neyyattha). They aren't in need of further interpretation. They are of definitive meaning (nītattha). They speak directly in terms of the faculties (indriya-s) and sense spheres (āyatana-s). A iv 426 is very explicit. Venerable Ānanda states that when not experiencing the form, sound, etc., āyatana-s, one is percipient of one of the three formless perception attainments, or aññāphala samādhi.

If it were the case that one cannot experience any of these āyatana-s while abiding in the four jhāna-s, then this discourse would have included the four jhāna-s along with the three formless perception attainments and aññāphala samādhi.

The same holds true for S v 214 and S v 211 regarding the pleasure and equanimity faculties (sukhindriya & upekkhindriya).

Of course, the abhidhammikas reinterpreted all of this. And if one wants to follow that interpretation, that's fine by me.

Freawaru wrote:So I think it is the mind-made body that is sensed during it.

According to the post-canonical abhidhammika analysis, it is designated as cittaja rūpa: "mind produced form."
Nyana
 
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Freawaru » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:04 am

Hi Geoff,

I suspect that we are coming to this discussion from somewhat different perspectives.


Frankly, I just come from a perspective of experience and struggle to get the correct terminology describing them in Theravada.

So let's see whether we can get our perspectives to converge somewhat...

And from the statements I cited on my previous post from M i 293 and A iv 426, there is no reason to exclude the body, or any other phenomena, from what can be experienced in jhāna.


I don't see that. There are the three realms and in the form (rupa) realm one experiences a form body. We have quoted translations of the Potthapada sutta here: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4580 describing the three kinds of acquisition of self. The form body experienced in the rupa realm of the first jhanas is supposed to be "Possessed of form, mind-made, complete in all its parts, not inferior in its faculties".

"Potthapada, there are these three acquisitions of a self: the gross acquisition of a self, the mind-made acquisition of a self, and the formless acquisition of a self. [9] And what is the gross acquisition of a self? Possessed of form, made up of the four great existents, feeding on physical food: this is the gross acquisition of a self. And what is the mind-made acquisition of a self? Possessed of form, mind-made, complete in all its parts, not inferior in its faculties: this is the mind-made acquisition of a self. And what is the formless acquisition of a self? Formless and made of perception: this is the formless acquisition of a self.


It seems to me that it is not that difficult to identify the formless acquisitions of a self, I mean, when one experiences, say, infinite space it is rather easy to name it. But the difference between the "gross" and the "mind-made" bodies is not that easy to discern because they feel so similar. The rupa body has form (usually takes the form of our physical body but is changeable), one can see with it, hear, touch, etc. How to discern it from the "gross"?


Neither of those statements from M i 293 or A iv 426 are of interpretive meaning (neyyattha). They aren't in need of further interpretation. They are of definitive meaning (nītattha). They speak directly in terms of the faculties (indriya-s) and sense spheres (āyatana-s). A iv 426 is very explicit. Venerable Ānanda states that when not experiencing the form, sound, etc., āyatana-s, one is percipient of one of the three formless perception attainments, or aññāphala samādhi.


Yes, and I agree to that. But I think that there are "fine-material" form, sound etc, to be sensed in the rupa realm. And if you ask me they can seem more "real" than physical reality.

Freawaru wrote:So I think it is the mind-made body that is sensed during it.

According to the post-canonical abhidhammika analysis, it is designated as cittaja rūpa: "mind produced form."


Do you know the Pali terms used in the Potthapada sutta for "the gross acquisition of a self", "the mind-made acquisition of a self", and "formless acquisition of a self"? Also, what is the Pali term translated as "perception" here (cause this translation translates the very same term as "consciousness"?) http://www.leighb.com/dn9.htm (my Pali is lousy, you know)
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby wouter_doorn » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:23 am

Ñāṇa wrote:Oh my, that is a very old draft of that essay....


Hello Geoff,

could you put the newest version of your essay online (or send it to me via PM)?
The old one is very good already (even though I am more of the abhidhamma inclination ;)), but if you have made additions to it I'm definately interested in what they are!
Keep up the good work :twothumbsup: .

Metta,

Wouter
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:54 am

wouter_doorn wrote:could you put the newest version of your essay online (or send it to me via PM)?

Hi Wouter,

It's been in a sorry state of disarray for a couple of years now.... I will try to assemble it to some degree of readability in the next few weeks. I'll PM you when I have something ready.

Freawaru wrote:The form body experienced in the rupa realm of the first jhanas is supposed to be "Possessed of form, mind-made, complete in all its parts, not inferior in its faculties".

Hi Freawaru,

Traditionally it's maintained that some advanced meditators can produce the mind-made body (manomaya kāya) after perfecting the fourth jhāna. This is not the same thing as the inner felt-sense of the body pervaded with joy and pleasure in the first two jhāna-s (pleasure in third jhāna, and equanimity in fourth jhāna). That said, it is probably related to these meditative experiences, as one can feel very expansive, blissful, open-hearted, and even weightless while abiding in jhāna. In colloquial terms, "heavenly" or "divine" feelings.

Freawaru wrote:The rupa body has form (usually takes the form of our physical body but is changeable), one can see with it, hear, touch, etc. How to discern it from the "gross"?

As DN 11 states, "And what is the gross acquisition of a self? Possessed of form, made up of the four great existents, feeding on physical food: this is the gross acquisition of a self. And what is the mind-made acquisition of a self? Possessed of form, mind-made, complete in all its parts, not inferior in its faculties: this is the mind-made acquisition of a self. And what is the formless acquisition of a self? Formless and made of perception: this is the formless acquisition of a self."

The first type of "form" (rūpa) is made of the "four great elements" (cātu-mahābhūta), i.e. matter, etc.. The second type of "rūpa" is "mind-made" (manomaya). The third is formless (arūpa) and made of perception (saññāmaya). As best as I can remember, tradition maintains that deities of the higher form-realm planes don't have all of the six senses (but I can't remember the specifics).

Freawaru wrote:Do you know the Pali terms used in the Potthapada sutta for "the gross acquisition of a self", "the mind-made acquisition of a self", and "formless acquisition of a self"?

They are oḷāriko attapaṭilābho, manomayo attapaṭilābho, arūpo attapaṭilābho.

Freawaru wrote:Also, what is the Pali term translated as "perception" here (cause this translation translates the very same term as "consciousness"?) http://www.leighb.com/dn9.htm (my Pali is lousy, you know)

It is saññā.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Brizzy » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:02 pm

What is one thing that the Buddha continuously asked his followers to practice? - Mindfulness of Body.

What is the most common reference to meditation the Buddha makes? - Jhana.

Now without being a genius, would'nt the jhana taught by the Buddha be the actual means for the the fulfillment of Mindfulness of Body.

Why would the Buddha exhort his followers to practice a meditation that cut off the tie between body & mind?

Would'nt he rather teach a means of experiencing a calmed body with a perfectly calm mind?

:smile:
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