". . . when samadhi is considered in its broader meaning it involves a wider range of reference than jhana. The Pali exegetical tradition recognizes three levels of samadhi: preliminary concentration (parikammasamadhi), which is produced as a result of the meditator's initial efforts to focus his mind on his meditation subject; access concentration (upacarasamadhi), marked by the suppression of the five hindrances, the manifestation of the jhana factors, and the appearance of a luminous mental replica of the meditation object called the counterpart sign (patibhaganimitta); and absorption concentration (appanasamadhi), the complete immersion of the mind in its object effected by the full maturation of the jhana factors."
There are two types of jhāna: samatha jhāna and vipassanā jhāna. Some of you may have read about the samatha jhānas and wonder why I am talking about them in the context of vipassanā. Samatha jhāna is pure concentration, fixed awareness of a single object — a mental image, for example, such as a colored disk or a light. The mind is fixed on this object without wavering or moving elsewhere. Eventually the mind develops a very peaceful, tranquil, concentrated state and becomes absorbed in the object. Different levels of absorption are described in the texts, each level having specific qualities.
On the other hand, vipassanā jhāna allows the mind to move freely from object to object, staying focused on the characteristics of impermanence, suffering and absence of self that are common to all objects. Vipassanā jhāna also includes the mind which can be focused and fixed upon the bliss of nibbāna. Rather than the tranquility and absorption which are the goal of samatha jhāna practitioners, the most important results of vipassanā jhāna are insight and wisdom.
Vipassanā jhāna is the focusing of the mind on paramattha dhammas. Usually these are spoken of as “ultimate realities,” but actually they are just the things we can experience directly through the six sense doors without conceptualization. Most of them are sankhāra paramattha dhamma, or conditioned ultimate realities; mental and physical phenomena which are changing all the time. Nibbāna is also a paramattha dhamma, but of course it is not conditioned.
2. ". . . Sariputta has penetrative wisdom. During half a month, bhikkhus, Sariputta had insight into states one by one as they occurred. Now Sariputta's insight into states one by one as they occurred was this:
3. "Here, bhikkhus, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, Sariputta entered upon and abided in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained attention, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.
4. "And the states in the first jhana — the applied attention, the sustained attention (examination), the rapture, the pleasure, and the unification of mind; the contact, feeling, perception, volition, and mind; the zeal, decision, energy, mindfulness, equanimity, and attention — these states were defined by him one by one as they occurred; known to him those states arose, known they were present, known they disappeared. He understood thus: 'So indeed, these states, not having been, come into being; having been, they vanish.' Regarding those states, he abided unattracted, unrepelled, independent, detached, free, dissociated, with a mind rid of barriers. He understood: 'There is an escape beyond,' and with the cultivation of that [attainment], he confirmed that there is."
5. "Again, bhikkhus, with the stilling of applied and sustained attention, Sariputta entered and abided in the second jhana, which has self-confidence and singleness of mind without applied and sustained attention, with rapture and pleasure born of concentration.
 The first five states in the list are the jhana factors proper of the first jhana; the following states are additional components each performing their individual functions within jhana. This minute analysis of mental states into their components anticipates the methodology of the Abhidhamma, and it is thus no coincidence that the name of Sariputta is so closely linked with the emergence of the Abhidhamma literature.
 All these terms signify the temporary suppression of the defilements by the power of the jhana, not the full liberation from defilements through their eradication by the highest path, which Ven. Sariputta had yet to attain.
 The "escape beyond" (uttarim nissaranam) here is the next higher attainment, the second jhana.
(the four material and the four fine material sense spheres)
Ben wrote:My own context is that I have been meditating since 1985 and have remained under the guidance of my teacher, SN Goenka, since then. I practice the samatha-variation of anapana during the first 1/3 of all retreats I have attended before switching to and remaining with vedananupassana for the remainder of the retreat. Meditation in daily life, for me, is centred around practicing vedananupassana and finishing with metta bhavana.
Goenka: He asked me if, as a Hindu leader, I had any objection towards sila, that is, morality. How can there be any objection? But how can you practice sila unless you have control of the mind? He said, I will teach you to practice sila with controlled mind. I will teach you samadhi, concentration. Any objection? What can be objected to in samadhi? Then he said, that alone will not help—that will purify your mind at the surface level. Deep inside there are complexes, there are habit patterns, which are not broken by samadhi. I will teach you prajna, wisdom, insight, which will take you to the depth of the mind. I will teach you to go to the depth of the mind, the source where the impurities start and they get multiplied and they get stored so that you can clear them out.
So when my teacher told me: I will teach you only these three—sila, samadhi and prajna—and nothing else, I was affected. I said, let me try.
Kenshou wrote:My teeth are as of yet quite short, but I can't say I object to anything you've said on this topic, Ian. I am currently of the opinion that the whole jhana thing is not such a terribly complicated, difficult, or mystical thing, but not to imply that it doesn't take practice, that'd probably be the single most important factor. . . .
Kenshou wrote:Continuing in this way, one eventually becomes "absorbed" in the process, and mind, body and everything else are brought together lucidly and attentively to this cooperative process of mindfulness and pitisukha. When it really becomes "absorbing", there's little question about it, and though the senses are by no means turned off, attention is firm enough that what little sounds or perturbations might come at you make so little impact on concentration that they may not even be noticed. And though the capacity to form thoughts is not disabled, it is calmed and under control, though a subtle flux of attention always remains. Not proliferative thought by any means but the acts of noticing and comprehension continue to operate, and preferably are put to work on insight themes. And in this place where everything in the body and mind, the 5 aggregates you might say, are brought together calm and collected, insight is ripe for the picking.
. . . But it's as simple as establishing mindfulness, overcoming the hindrances, allowing the peacefulness of an unperturbed mind to be noticed, and continuing on in that way and allowing the mind to become more and more concentrated. As long as that practice is kept in context, that is, the Buddhist context, and not used as a support for funky wrong-views, it's extremely helpful.
The ridicule may have been undeserved, but the criticism was not.IanAnd wrote:My reason for starting this thread was as a gentle response to another thread. I was a bit concerned about some of the undeserved ridicule that some visitors to this forum had received from some of our members here with regard to a thread in the Dhammic free-for-all forum. Passion and personal bias seem to prevail more often than not in that forum, where reason and tolerance in an effort to understand each others' points of view ought to prevail. Although not all of the responses were done in ridicule.
That was in the very early 80's and was initially with an Indian teacher trained by Mahasi Sayadaw, but there is no way in hell I would discuss this on an open forum, even though there is an anonimity here and even though no one here really knows me in a direct face-to-face way. This is something between me and my teacher(s). I have described an early experience during a three month retreat at IMS in the late 70's ( viewtopic.php?f=16&t=4956&start=40&hilit#p76894 ). While it is not jhana, it is interesting, but I would certainly make no claim based upon it.IanAnd wrote: And Tilt . . . well Tilt is Tilt, you never know what he might say, if anything at all, regarding this subject. But he's mentioned having practiced absorption with reputable teachers, so I was rolling the dice with him.
Kenshou wrote:And though the capacity to form thoughts is not disabled, it is calmed and under control, though a subtle flux of attention always remains. Not proliferative thought by any means but the acts of noticing and comprehension continue to operate, and preferably are put to work on insight themes.
The Sayadaw talked to us about what he called slight imperfection of jhana, where you might kind of pop out into a high level of access and then go back in; and if that’s not happening too much then that’s considered to be full absorption, but if there’s thought arising, that is not jhana.
Stephen: In this tradition, that’s one of the characteristics of jhana is that there is no thinking.
Tina: Right, so you know, this is where a lot of people get confused about access concentration versus full absorption...
IanAnd wrote:S.N. Goenka is a curious fellow (and I don't mean that in a disparaging way). When, ten years ago, I was beginning to get back into a study of Buddhism, I read an interview he did with Tricycle magazine (2000 Winter edition; at the time I had a subscription, otherwise I might not have seen the interview) and what he had to say in that interview really impressed me. Especially the answers he gave to the first couple of questions. It was the story he told of his teacher, U Ba Khin, that impressed me. The relative simplicity of the answers to his questions that U Ba Khin gave really made practical sense:Goenka: He asked me if, as a Hindu leader, I had any objection towards sila, that is, morality. How can there be any objection? But how can you practice sila unless you have control of the mind? He said, I will teach you to practice sila with controlled mind. I will teach you samadhi, concentration. Any objection? What can be objected to in samadhi? Then he said, that alone will not help—that will purify your mind at the surface level. Deep inside there are complexes, there are habit patterns, which are not broken by samadhi. I will teach you prajna, wisdom, insight, which will take you to the depth of the mind. I will teach you to go to the depth of the mind, the source where the impurities start and they get multiplied and they get stored so that you can clear them out.
So when my teacher told me: I will teach you only these three—sila, samadhi and prajna—and nothing else, I was affected. I said, let me try.
I wondered if you had ever come across this interview and were aware of his outlook.
IanAnd wrote:I also wondered whether or not Goenka presents himself in that manner at gatherings he attends. I'm speaking primarily about his view of the Buddha, which after I had an opportunity to read the discourses and do a little a little more reading and thinking about the matter, I tended to agree with. Goenka mentioned:
"When I began to learn Vipassana meditation, I became convinced that Buddha was a not a founder of religion, he was a super-scientist. A spiritual super-scientist." Then toward the end of the interview he states again: "Buddha never taught any isms. In all his words, and the commentaries, which number thousands of pages, the word 'Buddhism' is not there. So this all started much later, when Buddha’s teaching began to settle. I don’t know when it started, how it started, calling it Buddhism, but the day it happened it devalued the teaching of Buddha. It was a universal teaching, and that made it sectarian, as if to say that Buddhism is only for Buddhists, like Hinduism is for Hindus, Islam is for Muslims. Dharma is for all."
He was probably one of the first people I came across who presented the idea that Gotama never intended to found a religion. He did, however, intend to set up a mechanism that passed along the truths he had learned, which is why he set up monastic colonies to preserve the teachings for future generations. Yet, when you stop to think about it, sila, samadhi, and prajna, these are simple concepts to get the mind around. Of course, the Dhamma is a little bit more complicated than that. But that's why virtue, concentration, and wisdom are stressed as keys which will help open the door to comprehension and eventual awakening.
IanAnd wrote:I've gotten the impression from your posts, as well as others in the Goenka movement, that it seems hesitant to teach samadhi. Is that correct, or do I have that all wrong? Perhaps he does teach samadhi, but it is jhana that he is hesitant to teach. The reason I ask is that it seems strange that he would talk openly about this in an interview and yet not included it in his general curriculum. Curious. But then, I can understand why he might be hesitant to teach jhana given the way the organization he runs is set up.
tiltbillings wrote:IanAnd wrote: And Tilt . . . well Tilt is Tilt, you never know what he might say, if anything at all, regarding this subject. But he's mentioned having practiced absorption with reputable teachers, so I was rolling the dice with him.
That was in the very early 80's and was initially with an Indian teacher trained by Mahasi Sayadaw, but there is no way in hell I would discuss this on an open forum, even though there is an anonymity here and even though no one here really knows me in a direct face-to-face way. This is something between me and my teacher(s).
tiltbillings wrote:I have described an early experience during a three month retreat at IMS in the late 70's ( http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... lit#p76894 ). While it is not jhana, it is interesting, but I would certainly make no claim based upon it.
tiltbillings wrote:As for jhana, I cannot get too excited about it. It has been pointed out that as to what they are depends:
Interpretations of the Jhanas
tiltbillings wrote:and what is more, the jhana experience easily can be colored by one's beliefs and expectations, which is why working with a teacher is not at all a bad idea and why not taking any of it too seriously is even a better idea. Mind you, I am not saying do not work with the jhanas; rather, I would say be mindful of their limitations and dangers, just as one should be aware of the dangers of attainment.
Ben wrote:Having sat and served with him in Australia in the mid-to-late 1980s and sitting and serving with him during the 1989/90 Indian winter (long course) program at his main centre "Dhammagiri" west of Mumbai, I have had the opportunity to spend some time in close proximity with him as a student and also as a server. To quote a cliche, 'what you see is what you get', the Goenkaji one reads in the Tricycle article and the one on the ten-day course discourses is the same as the one who you see when you attend a one-on-one interview with him or in the presence of other servers discussing course management issues. He has a particular knack with humour. He's just a very natural man with no pretensions.
Ben wrote:IanAnd wrote:I've gotten the impression from your posts, as well as others in the Goenka movement, that it seems hesitant to teach samadhi. Is that correct, or do I have that all wrong? Perhaps he does teach samadhi, but it is jhana that he is hesitant to teach. . . .
Not quite so. Certainly during the 'introductory' ten day courses, one could be forgiven for thinking that there is a hesitancy to teach jhana. During the context of the ten-day course, the emphasis is on developing moment-to-moment samadhi during the 3.5 days one is practicing anapana. And for most people who are complete newbies not having had exposure to the Buddhadhamma and intensive retreat settings, that might be quite appropriate. In the afternoon of the fourth day, one ceases anapana and begins vedananupassana (vipassana). . . . Certainly during the special courses for 'old students' only, and during the long courses, there is far more emphasis on samadhi, greater precision of detail and on the 20-day course, more emphasis on upacarasamadhi and jhana.
Ben wrote:My understanding is, and I could be wrong here, the emphasis on acquiring less-than-jhana samadhi is common to many strands of the Burmese vipassana culture.
Ben wrote:I have been augmenting my own practice by reading and integrating some aspects of Buddhaghosa's exposition on anapanasati in Vism. One of the things I am looking forward to in my upcoming 30-day course is actually practicing anapana uninterrupted for ten days.
IanAnd wrote:Yes. That's been my understanding also, from the information I've read on the web. Now that I'm more familiar with the practice and what's needed to succeed, I can understand why the Burmese Sayadaws approach the training in this way. Just my educated opinion, but I agree with them that regular samadhi (as opposed to absorption samadhi) is the minimum amount of concentration needed for insight practice to be effective. If a person can attain samadhi pretty regularly at will, they've developed a valuable tool to assist them in realization of the Dhamma.
IanAnd wrote:It's been my experience that absorption samadhi helps one to more quickly recondition the mind for stronger and longer durations of concentration outside of meditation, concentration that can be carried into everyday consciousness.
IanAnd wrote:Of course, there are also little tricks that one learns along the way that help one establish concentration/mindfulness in key moments, like averting attention to the breath in order to reestablish concentration if concentration is at a low ebb. A practice of attaining regular samadhi should also allow one to use this trick.
Thanks! Its still up in the air as it took the meditation centre way too long to send me an invitation and issue a recommendation for me to be issued a long-stay meditation visa. The fact that meditation visa requests are processed back in Myanmar and the apparent 'relaxed' approach Burmese authorities have to get things processed quickly may mean that I don't get my visa processed before I go. However, I live in hope.IanAnd wrote:Best of fortune to you on your upcoming retreat. Sounds like a good opportunity to really take advantage of.
Yet, when one experiences the continuity of concentration (samadhi) within the context of absorption attainment and makes a slight averting of the mind from an object to a subject, then how is one to describe such an event?
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