A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:01 pm

Dmytro wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Anyone who is a worldling or a stream-attainer will fail to attain the cessation attainment and slip into a non-apperceptive samādhi. This is a dangerous state to cultivate because it can lead to rebirth as a non-percipient being.


Very interesting. Would you please give a reference to to the Pali source?

A non-apperceptive attainment (asaññasamāpatti) is a non-apperceptive absorption practiced by worldlings who attempt to realize nibbāna by stopping apperception in an attempt to stop the mind. In the Theravāda commentaries it is considered to be non-Buddhist, and is said to result in rebirth as a non-percipient being (asaññasatta) without any functional mind or mental faculties. It is also considered to be an inappropriate and inopportune plane (akkhaṇa bhūmi), because there is no possibility of practicing dhamma either within the non-apperceptive absorption or as a non-percipient being reborn in such a realm. Both as a practice and a saṃsāric realm it arrests any possibility for mental development (bhāvanā). This is detailed in the commentary and sub-commentary on the Brahmajāla Sutta. See Ven. Bodhi's translation: The Brahmajāla Sutta and its Commentaries.

Ven. Brahmavamso's teachings on jhāna are either a non-apperceptive attainment (asaññasamāpatti) or dangerously close to being one. His understanding of mindfulness (sati), full awareness (sampajañña), and apperception (saññā) in the context of jhāna bear no resemblance to how these dhammas are defined and used in the canonical literature.

Dmytro wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Neither the suttas, nor the Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, or Sautrāntika authors require the attainment of cessation of apperception and feeling for awakening to occur. Moreover, for the Theravāda the cessation attainment is only possible for non-returners and arahants (and it is not considered supramundane).


The Kathāvatthu and the Visuddhimagga maintain that the cessation of apperception and feeling (saññāvedayitanirodha), which is also called cessation attainment (nirodhasamāpatti) is neither supramundane nor not-conditioned (asaṅkhata). Cf. Visuddhimagga 23.52:

    As to the question: Is the attainment of cessation formed or unformed, etc.? It is not classifiable as formed or unformed, mundane or supramundane. Why? Because it has no individual essence. But since it comes to be attained by one who attains it, it is therefore permissible to say that it is produced, not unproduced.

The Visuddhimagga also states that only non-returners and arahants can attain the cessation of apperception and feeling. The suttas and the commentaries both state that arahants who are liberated through discernment do not. Therefore it is not accurate to equate nibbāna with nirodhasamāpatti. Cf. MN 70 Kīṭāgiri Sutta:

    And what, monks, is the person liberated through discernment? There is the case where a certain person does not remain touching with his body those peaceful liberations that transcend form, that are formless, but having seen with discernment his mental outflows are ended. This is called a person who is liberated through discernment.

And AN 4.87 Samaṇamacala Putta Sutta:

    And how, monks, is a person a white lotus ascetic? Herein a monk, having eliminated the mental outflows, is without mental outflows. With liberation of mind and liberation through discernment, having realized supramundane gnosis, he abides with that attainment. Yet he does not abide personally experiencing the eight deliverances. Thus, monks, is a person a white lotus ascetic.

The eighth deliverance of the eight deliverances (aṭṭha vimokkhā) is the cessation of apperception and feeling (saññāvedayitanirodha). Arahants who are liberated through discernment do not attain this cessation.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Dan74 » Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:28 am

I apologize in advance to the learned members for my naive question, but if Ven Brahmavamso was indeed teaching and practicing this apperceptive samadhi which basically results in a rebirth as a vegetable, would he be the extremely active and hard-working monk that he is today?
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby morning mist » Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:34 am

Hi Nana and Dan74,

Ñāṇa wrote: Vipassanā doesn't require vitakka and/or vicāra. It requires apperception (saññā), which is functional in all four jhānas.


According to SN 27.6 Sanna Sutta:

" Any desire-passion with regard to Perception of ideas ( dhamma sanna) is a defilement of the mind ( cittasseso upakkileso) . When, with regard to these six bases, the defilements of awareness are abandoned, then the mind is inclined to renunciation. The mind fostered by renunciation feels malleable for the Direct Knowing ( abbhina: special knowledge, supranormal knowledge) of those qualities worth realizing ( sacchikaraniyesu: fit to be realized) ."


Dan74 wrote: I apologize in advance to the learned members for my naive question, but if Ven Brahmavamso was indeed teaching and practicing this apperceptive samadhi which basically results in a rebirth as a vegetable, would he be the extremely active and hard-working monk that he is today?


That's a very good question Dan74.

With metta,
with metta,
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby darvki » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:58 am

Dan74 wrote:I apologize in advance to the learned members for my naive question, but if Ven Brahmavamso was indeed teaching and practicing this apperceptive samadhi which basically results in a rebirth as a vegetable, would he be the extremely active and hard-working monk that he is today?


I don't see the the two as being mutually exclusive at all. One can be active, hard-working and still teach mediation based around blankness.

Perhaps from some peoples' point of view, what Ajahn Brahmavamso is teaching is some sort of Hindu or Yogic practice. I believe Ven. Huifeng once stated on ZFI that many Brahmin practices try for citta-nirodha (or some term signifying something similar) whereas Buddhadharma tries for kilesa-nirodha.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby manjughosamani » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:25 am

Hi,

This is a very interesting discussion.

darvki wrote:I believe Ven. Huifeng once stated on ZFI that many Brahmin practices try for citta-nirodha (or some term signifying something similar) whereas Buddhadharma tries for kilesa-nirodha.


This is pretty much true. Ven. Huifeng was probably referring to this line from the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali which defines yoga as follows:

Yogaś cittavṛttinirodaḥ |
Yoga is the cessastion of the fluctuations of the mind.


The text goes on to define the fluctuations (vṛtti) as all the fluctuations of the mind, both afflictive (kliṣṭā) and non-afflictive (akliṣṭa). Patañjali and the Saṃkhyā scholars believed that once the mind's activity stopped the self (puruṣa) would be liberated from materiality (prakṛti). This is obviously incompatible with the Buddha's Dhamma.

Wishing you all the best.
Sabbe saṅkhārā anicca'ti yadā paññāya passati
Atha nibbindati dukkhe esa maggo visuddhiyā.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby morning mist » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:46 am

Hi all,

mañjughosamaṇi wrote:Patañjali and the Saṃkhyā scholars believed that once the mind's activity stopped the self (puruṣa) would be liberated from materiality (prakṛti). This is obviously incompatible with the Buddha's Dhamma..


Some might think that the Eight Limbs of the yoga sutras shows Samadhi as one of its limbs. But the Eight limbs of the Yoga Sutra was only developed after the Buddha to counter the popularity of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path. It is likely to be a Buddhist influence. The suttas show that during the time of the Buddha Nigantha Nataputta ( Jain leader) did not even believe that it is possible to enter a state where the thoughts and examination stop.

Also , Rhys Davids and Maurice Walshe agreed that " the term ' samadhi' is not found in any pre-buddhist text. Hindu texts later used that term to indicate the state of enlightenment. This is not in conformity with Buddhist usage." - From the Long Discourse of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya” ( pg. 1700)

Although Samadhi where the mind stop was adopted by later hindu texts, but it was considered Enlightenment. However, the Buddha clearly taught an Eightfold Path consisting of three division: Sila, Samadhi, and Panna. Just Samadhi alone will not be sufficient for enlightenment. The Buddha himself entered Samadhi when he was a little boy, but without the third division ( Panna), he did not become enlightened back then. Later on he developed Panna using that Samadhi.

" In whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there exists not the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is there to be found a true samana of the first ( Stream Entry) , second ( Once Returner) , third ( Non-Returner) , or fourth ( Arahant) degree . But in whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, there is found a true samana of the first, second, third, and fourth degree of saintliness. In this Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there exists the Noble Eightfold Path; and in it alone are also found true samanas of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness (enlightenment). The systems of other schools are empty of true samanas . If the bhikkhus live (practice) rightly, the world will not be empty of arahants. " - Mahaparinibbana Sutta


Besides, the two meditation taught by his teachers are not quite the same one taught by the Buddha, by the same name.

It appears that when 500 hundred carts going by Alara Kalama was oblivious to it with eyes closed. But if there were thunderstorm occurring he is not able to not notice it. That 's why the Buddha said:

"Now what do you think, Pukkusa? What is more difficult to do, more difficult to meet with — that a man, while conscious and awake , should not see a great number of carts, even five hundred carts, that passed him by one after another, nor hear the noise, or that one CONSCIOUS AND AWAKE , in the midst of a heavy rain, with thunder rolling, lightning flashing, and thunderbolts crashing, SHOULD NEITHER SEE IT NOR HEAR THE NOISE ?"

"What, O Lord, are five hundred carts — nay, six, seven, eight, nine hundred, or a thousand or even hundreds of thousands of carts — compared with this?" - Mahaparinibbana Sutta

If Alara Kalama was able to do both ( not noticing the carts rolling by and not noticing the thunderstorm) then there is no need to ask which is better. The Buddha asked this because his teacher was only able to do one ( not noticing the carts rolling by) but not the other ( not noticing the heavy thunderstorm). If a person is really beyond the 5 senses, he would notice neither the carts nor the thunderstorm. But here the Buddha's statement indicated that Alara Kalama was only able to do one ( not noticing the carts) and if there is a loud thunderstorm, Alara Kalama would hear it.

"When this had been said, Pukkusa of the Malla clan said to the Blessed One: "The faith, Lord, that I had in Alara Kalama I now scatter to the mighty wind, I let it be carried away as by a flowing stream! Excellent, O Lord, most excellent, O Lord!...And so, O Lord, I take my refuge in the Blessed One, the Dhamma, and the Community of Bhikkhus. May the Blessed One accept me as his disciple, one who has taken refuge until the end of life."

It appears that Alara Kalama is not yet beyond the 5 senses yet. The Sphere of Nothingness which he claimed to teach is not beyond the 5 senses. The state which he claimed to teach the Buddha is not the same one the Buddha later taught by the same name.  In the Sphere of Nothingness taught by the Buddha, the 5 senses have been totally left behind long ago before reaching the Sphere of Nothingness. If we look at the various teachers claiming to teach jhana today, we can also see examples of this case, where  two teachers said they teach Jhana meditation. But if you look at the state they are pointing to , some are way lighter than the other and still called jhana. Natalie Quli from the Graduate Theological Union’s article provides a good example.


http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cac ... rsjrTPlctA

In the Uddaka Sutta , the Buddha mentioned:

“ Bhikkhus , though Uddaka Ramaputta was not himself a knowledge master, he declared: ‘ I am a knowledge master.’
“ Though he was not himself a universal conquerer, he declared: ‘ I am a universal conquer.’
“Though he had not excised the tumour’s root, he declared: ‘ I have excised the tumour’s root.’

A closer look at the Sutta show some reasons why various stages of Jhana discussed was not practiced by people before the Buddha’s Enlightenment ( That is not to say that people didn't practice it some time after the previous Buddha) .During the Buddha's time there are Brahmins and Wandering Ascetics ( such as Jains, etc..).

“One of the reasons why Jhana was not practiced before the Buddha’s Enlightenment was because people then either indulged in seeking pleasure and comfort of the body or else following a religion of tormenting the body. Both were caught up with the body and its five senses and knew no release from the five senses. Neither produced the sustained tranquility of the body necessary as the foundation for Jhana . "

Alexander Wynne attempted to find parallels in Brahmanical texts to the meditative goals the two teachers taught, drawing especially on some of the Upanishads and the Mokshadharma chapter of the Mahabharata. But in the Brahmanical texts cited by Wynne assumed their final form long after the Buddha’s lifetime and all scholars agree that the Mokshadharma postdates him.


BRAHMANICAL TRADITION DURING THAT PERIOD :

Various examples can be found in the Ambattha Sutta and others. Ambattha , “ who was a student of the Vedas, who knew the mantras, perfected in the Three Vedas, a skilled expounder of the rules and rituals, the lore of sounds and meanings and, fifthly, oral tradition, complete in philosophy and in the marks of a Great Man, admitted and accepted by his master in the Three Vedas with the words: “ What I know, you know; what you know, I know.”
He was sent to test the Buddha and was rude to him. He said “ These shaven little ascetics, menials, black scrapings from Brahma’s foot, what converse can they have with brahmins learned in the Three Vedas ?”

The Buddha taught him that “ those who are enslaved by such things are far from attainment of the unexcelled knowledge – and – conduct, which is attained by abandoning all such things” when discussing about the vanities concerning who is worthy is to marry whom based on caste and status.

“ But, Reverend Gotama, what is this conduct, what is this knowledge ?”

The Buddha then taught him about morality, guarding the sense doors, jhanas, insights, and the like. Here is a man who mastered the Three Vedas and was declared by his teacher with the words : “ What I know, you know; what you know, I know.” , And yet still doesn’t know about sense restraints , much less, jhanas and panna :

Buddha:
1. “ A disciple goes forth and practices the moralities …( Sila)
2, he guards the sense doors…..
2. attains the four jhanas …… Thus he develops conduct ( Samadhi)
3. He attains various insights ……( Panna)
4. and the cessation of the corruptions……( Awakening)
“…..What do you think, Ambattha ? Do you and your teacher live in accordance with this unexcelled knowledge and conduct ?”
“ No indeed, Reverend Gotama! Who are my teacher and I in comparison? We are far from it!”

The Buddha mentioned various sensory pleasure that Ambattha, his teachers and other Brahmins indulge in, which prevent them from experiencing the above ( observing sila, seclusion from sense pleasure, jhanas, insight, etc..) .
1. “ Perfumed, their hair and beards trimmed, adorned with garlands, and wreaths,… indulging in the pleasures of the five senses and addicted to them”
2. “ Amuse themselves with women dressed up in flounces and furbelows”
3. “ Ride around chariots drawn by mares with braided tails, that they urged on with long goad-sticks…have themselves guarded in fortified towns with palisades and barricades, by men with long swords..”

“ So , Ambattha, neither you nor your teacher are a sage or one trained in the way of a sage.”
He also taught other many other learned brahmins masters ( about sila, sense restraints, jhana, insight, etc..) in Sonadanda Sutta, Kutadanta Sutta , etc…





ASCETIC OR JAINS TRADITION DURING THAT PERIOD:

On the other extreme we have the wandering ascetics who indulge in torturing their bodies.
“When the Bodhisatta began the easy ‘practices leading to such tranquility of body, his first five disciples abandoned – him in disgust. Such practice was not regarded as valid. Therefore it was not practiced, and so Jhana never occurred.”
For example, in the Nigantha Nataputta sutta of the Citta Samyutta # 41 ) , the Nigantha Nataputta ( Jain leader) does not even believe that it is possible, much less practice it, or attained it:

Nigantha Nataputta said to Citta ( a non-returner disciple of the Buddha) : “ Householder, do you have faith in the ascetic Gotama when he says: “ There is a concentration without thought and examination, there is a cessaton of thought and examination?”
Citta : “ In this manner, venerable sir, I do not go by faith in the Blessed One …..”
Nigantha Nataputta said “ …….One who thinks that thought and examination can be stopped might imagine he could catch the wind in a net or arrest the current of the river Ganges with his own fist.”
Citta then goes on to explain that he doesn’t just go by mere faith, but directly experienced it for himself. Also he explained how he entered these jhanas ( First- Fourth Jhanas)


with Metta,
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:30 am

Hi Dmytro

You mentioned -

He explicitly recommends to attend to the beautiful aspect, the subha-nimitta.

Evidently Brahmavamso uses samadhi nimitta, with concomittant subha-nimitta.


If you refer to AN 1.2.1, I think the context in which the subha-nimitta is criticised is that it leads to the arising and increase of kamacchanda -

Nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, aññaṃ ekadhammampi samanupassāmi yena anuppanno vā kāmacchando uppajjati uppanno vā kāmacchando bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattati yathayidaṃ, bhikkhave, subhanimittaṃ. Subhanimittaṃ, bhikkhave, ayoniso manasi karoto anuppanno ceva kāmacchando uppajjati uppanno ca kāmacchando bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattatī”ti


Kāmacchanda is chanda for the kāmā - ie sights, smells, tastes, odours and tactility. In my view, it is quite clear that the subhanimitta that is being criticised are the subhanimittas of kāmā.

Now, as you know, Ajahn Brahm's teaching applies the "vivicc'eva kamehi" formula (ie "quite secluded from the kāmā") very simply and literally, according to the sutta usage and not according to the Vibhanga usage. The "beautiful breath" that he teaches will not fall within tactility, as he suggests that we don't note the breath at a particular locus, but just be aware that we are breathing. The breath, will by necessity, have to be perceived in a gross manner as tactility in the beginning. But the awareness of the breath eventually gets more refined and conceptual as one progresses, so that we can dispense with a tactile perception of the breath.

The technique that Ajahn Brahm recommends for the arising of the perception of the "beautiful breath" is to extend metta to the perception of the breath - this allows the perception of beauty to arise. And here, I think, the Canon supports him.

I'm sure you are familiar with the Attha Vimokkhas, where the Third Vimokkha is "Deliverance by being resolved on the Beautiful" (Subhanteva adhimutto hoti, ayaṃ tatiyo vimokkho). In the Mettasahagata Sutta, SN 46.54, the Buddha specifically identifies meditation accompanied by metta as "subha vimokkha" here -

If he wishes thus, ‘May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive,’ he dwells perceiving
the repulsive therein.
If he wishes thus, ‘May I dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive,’ he dwells perceiving
the unrepulsive therein.
If he wishes thus, ‘May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive and in the repulsive,’
he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein.
If he wishes thus, ‘May I dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive and in the unrepulsive,’
he dwells perceiving the unrepulsive therein.
If he wishes thus, ‘May I dwell rejecting both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, and dwell in
equanimity, mindful and fully aware,’ he dwells therein equanimously, mindful and fully aware.
Or else, he enters and dwells in the liberation by the beautiful (subha vimokkha).
Bhikshus, the liberation of mind by lovingkindness has the beautiful as its highest point, I say, for a
wise monk here who has not penetrated to a higher liberation.


Ven Analayo suggests that the Third Vimokkha listed in the standard Attha Vimokkha catalogues is nothing more than the "Subha Vimokkha" listed in SN 46.54. The correspondence is just too uncanny to deny, IMHO.

On this basis, I think Ajahn Brahm's teaching of the "subha nimitta" using metta is perfectly in line with the canonical supports above cited.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:37 am

Ñāṇa wrote:[
Sylvester wrote:I'm glad you've acknowledged your mistake in reading the Dhammasangani's "nanasampayutta" as meaning "concomittance" - at least we're rid of that possibility for vipassana in Sutta jhanas on the Dhammasangani approach.


The Dhammasaṅgaṇī clearly allows for vipassanā to be concomitant with rūpāvacarajjhāna. I've never said otherwise.

All the best,

Geoff


Hi Geoff

If by the underlined text, you mean to to say that the locative absolute formulation of the iddapaccayata set "samatho hoti, vipassana hoti" allows for contemporaneity of the two, you are absolutely correct.

But since the locative absolute formulation also allows for vipassana to follow after samatha, does the Dhammasanagani actually say when samatha and vipassana occur? Is there an express clause in the Dhammasangani that says that samatha and vipassana occur concurrently in Jhana?

There is a very good reason why the Abhidhammikas chose "nanasampayutta", rather than "nanasahagata".
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:46 am

legolas wrote:How is it even possible to acquire Right Samadhi without having some basis of Right View? Any samadhi gained can hardly be called right.



As to which I would pose this question -

Is it possible to reach Right Samadhi without Right Sankappa?

According to MN 78, unwholesome sankappa ceases without remainder in 1st Jhana, and wholesome sankappa cease without remainder in 2nd Jhana.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:52 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
morning mist wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:It's been demonstrated to you time and again that there is nothing Buddhist about jhāna devoid of vipassanā, .


As the Pamsudhovaka Sutta and the Nigantha Nataputta sutta have shown that a samadhi where there are still thoughts about the dhamma ( dhamma vitakka) is not considered full tranquility, and that Citta shows how he directly experience a samadhi without thoughts and examination in Samma Samadhi.

Vipassanā doesn't require vitakka and/or vicāra. It requires apperception (saññā), which is functional in all four jhānas.

All the best,

Geoff


And how do these ñana arise, without the vacisankhara to compose and organise them?

Note that the suttas always phrase the vipassana stuff within the "iti" markers (quotation marks), indicating thought. Can one think without the vacisankharas?

Another problem I have with your vipassana theory is that it pre-supposes that one can "vipassati" without dhamma-vicaya. Sure, perception is absolutely necessary to supply the data to enable recognition and discrimination. But for vipassana to "be", one needs to vipassati the data, instead of just soaking in the experience. Needless to say, I cannot see how one "investigates dhamma" without the vacisankharas to mobilise the mind. Dmytro has a nice essay on dhamma-vicaya somewhere in the Pali folder.

If anything, your "vipassana without vacisankhara" model seems like some process where the mind does its own thing unbridled and ñana pops up without any examination...
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:16 am

Ñāṇa wrote:Ven. Brahmavamso's teachings on jhāna are either a non-apperceptive attainment (asaññasamāpatti) or dangerously close to being one. His understanding of mindfulness (sati), full awareness (sampajañña), and apperception (saññā) in the context of jhāna bear no resemblance to how these dhammas are defined and used in the canonical literature.



Let's be very honest here about this sort of misrepresentation of Ajahn Brahm's teaching. As I mentioned here -

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7521&start=60#p120883

the accusations have surreptitiously evolved from attacking Ajahn Brahm's kāmasaññanirodha teaching of 1st Jhana (as uncanonical) to become an insinuation that he teaches sabbasaññanirodha for the jhanas. Worse, you now say that he teaches asaññasamāpatti.

In the thread above cited, I have given ample canonical examples where the Buddha extolled the Jhanas as stages of successive cessations of different dhammas that make up our experiential "world". Specifically, in DN 9, the Buddha pointedly mentions that it is "with training one perception arises and with training another perception ceases". This is repeated for all the Jhanas, the Arupa attainments and Nirodha Samapatti.

I keep seeing this slippery misrepresentation of Ajahn Brahm. For the record, the perceptions that Ajahn Brahm mentions disappearing are kāmasañña in 1st Jhana, and that is explicitly sanctioned by the Anupubbanirodha Sutta, besides the standard "vivicc'eva kamehi" pericope. He describes the cessation of different factors through each progression through the Jhanas, which are then replaced by other dhammas. If you actually read his book, you'll find that it is nothing more than an expanded version of DN 9, with details being supplied by other suttas.

Unless, of course, you now reject these suttas' descriptions of the training to attain these successive cessations...
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby legolas » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:01 am

Sylvester wrote:
legolas wrote:How is it even possible to acquire Right Samadhi without having some basis of Right View? Any samadhi gained can hardly be called right.



As to which I would pose this question -

Is it possible to reach Right Samadhi without Right Sankappa?

According to MN 78, unwholesome sankappa ceases without remainder in 1st Jhana, and wholesome sankappa cease without remainder in 2nd Jhana.


No.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:10 am

legolas wrote:
Sylvester wrote:
legolas wrote:How is it even possible to acquire Right Samadhi without having some basis of Right View? Any samadhi gained can hardly be called right.



As to which I would pose this question -

Is it possible to reach Right Samadhi without Right Sankappa?

According to MN 78, unwholesome sankappa ceases without remainder in 1st Jhana, and wholesome sankappa cease without remainder in 2nd Jhana.


No.



Precisely. If all forms of sankappa, wholesome or otherwise, can cease absolutely in 2nd Jhana, need one carry all the Path Factors together when practising one of the path factors?

MN 117 merely states that Right View is the support and the requisite for Noble Right Concentration. It is impossible to get to Noble Right Concentration without any of the other 7 path factors. But that being said, must all the 8 path factors be present at a time when one practices one path factor? If so, I would never be able to have Right View, since I do not have the jhanas.

"Views" are certainly a form of takka, or vitakka if you prefer. How do these things infiltrate the Jhanic experience in 2nd Jhana?
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:46 am

Sylvester wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Ven. Brahmavamso's teachings on jhāna are either a non-apperceptive attainment (asaññasamāpatti) or dangerously close to being one. His understanding of mindfulness (sati), full awareness (sampajañña), and apperception (saññā) in the context of jhāna bear no resemblance to how these dhammas are defined and used in the canonical literature.



Let's be very honest here about this sort of misrepresentation of Ajahn Brahm's teaching.

I am being honest Sylvester. Ven. Brahmavamso's use of of mindfulness (sati), full awareness (sampajañña), and apperception (saññā) in the context of jhāna bear no resemblance to how these dhammas are defined and used in the canonical literature. His use of the jhāna factors bear no resemblance to how these dhammas are defined and used in the canonical literature.

Sylvester wrote:the accusations have surreptitiously evolved from attacking Ajahn Brahm's kāmasaññanirodha teaching of 1st Jhana (as uncanonical) to become an insinuation that he teaches sabbasaññanirodha for the jhanas. Worse, you now say that he teaches asaññasamāpatti.

Kāmasaññanirodha doesn't require that "all the five senses are totally shut down." Attending to a mental object (nimitta) in rūpāvacarajjhāna doesn't require that "all the five senses are totally shut down." There is a difference between attending to a mental object via mental consciousness, and the formless attainments wherein the mind is totally isolated from the five sense faculties. In commentarial terms, attending exclusively to a cognitive representation/mental object already occurs at the stage of access samādhi. Thus, the engagement is exclusively that of the apperception of the counterpart representation via mental consciousness. The difference between access samādhi and and the first jhāna is the degree of stability of the jhāna factors. The difference between the first jhāna and the formless attainments is indicated in both the Vimuttimagga and the Visuddhimagga when they discuss the formless attainments and mention Aḷāra Kālāma not seeing or hearing the five-hundred carts passing by when abiding in a formless attainment.

It's quite clear from Ven. Brahmavamso's descriptions of his jhānas that his use of of mindfulness (sati), full awareness (sampajañña), and apperception (saññā) and so on, have no basis in the suttas or abhidhamma. I and others have gone to great length to discuss this. I have no doubt that this doesn't sit well with his devout followers, but I think it's probably worth saying out loud (even if it stirs up a hornets nest of objections from his followers). And I assure you that I get no pleasure from criticizing him. As Dmytro and others have said more than once, this idea of approaching the suttas without reference to the canonical and para-canonical definitions of terms which are not explicitly defined in the suttas is problematic, to say the least. And the qualms you repeatedly raise are red herrings. The suttas simply don't say what you are trying to make them say. This has been demonstrated in great detail, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:20 am

It's your prerogative to give some convoluted exegetical spin to escape the plain and simple reading of the suttas.

You'll forgive me if I find your claim about Ajahn Brahm's divergence from "canonical literature" dubious. The problem is two-fold -

1. your understanding of the Dhammasangani ignores its textual presentation as being a discussion of 11 iddapaccayata relations, whereas you instead treat it in the Commentarial approach of universals and particulars to each type of citta;

2. your glossing over the rather serious differences between the Abhidhamma approach and the suttanta approach. Lumping Abhidhamma under the "canonical" rubric is of utility only in recognising that the Abhidhamma is treated as canonical, but disguises the fact that Early Theravada is not the same as Abhidhammic Theravada.

Kāmasaññanirodha doesn't require that "all the five senses are totally shut down."


Between giving a full-blown technical analysis as follows -

"Kāmasaññanirodha occurs when there is no tajjo samannāhāro directed at any kāmā and its corresponding indriya, thereby leading to the absence of the arising of the corresponding type of consciousness of any kāmā, which in turn entails the absence of the phassa-s corresponding to the kāmā, and thereby negating the paccaya for kāmasañña, QED - kāmasaññanirodha"


versus

"Kāmasaññanirodha occurs because all the five senses are totally shut down"


, I think a book popularising Samma Samadhi would need to simplify the matter to an extent that would make the matter more accessible. Toe-may-toes, toe-mah-toes.

There is a difference between attending to a mental object via mental consciousness, and the formless attainments wherein the mind is totally isolated from the five sense faculties.


If you still wish to repeat the fallacy of denying the antecedent in interpreting MN 43, I'll simply reiterate the call to demonstrate why your argument is not fallacious.

As Dmytro and others have said more than once, this idea of approaching the suttas without reference to the canonical and para-canonical definitions of terms which are not explicitly defined in the suttas is problematic, to say the least.


And thank goodness the redactors of the suttas gave more than enough examples of kāmā that we do not need to resort to the Vibhanga.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:29 am

Good stuff.
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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: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:09 am

Sylvester wrote:we do not need to resort to the Vibhanga.

Ah yes, the Vibhaṅga must be completely wrong. The Mahāniddesa must be completely wrong. The Peṭakopadesa must be completely wrong. And there can be no possibility of vipassanā while abiding in jhāna. Therefore, the Paṭisambhidāmagga must be completely wrong. The Vibhaṅga must be completely wrong. The Dhammasaṅgaṇī must be completely wrong. The Mahāvibhāṣā must be completely wrong. The Abhidharmakośabhāṣya must be completely wrong. The Tattvasiddhiśāstra must be completely wrong. In short, all of the major Indian Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, and Sautrāntika exegetical treatises must be completely wrong.

And not only the Indian treatises. Ven. Ṭhānissaro who is a translator monk, and Ven. Gunaratana who wrote a doctoral dissertation on Theravāda jhāna, and Ven. Bodhi who is one of the best modern translators and and is also a scholar monk; these venerables are all completely wrong. In his anthology of translated discourses, In the Buddha's Words, Ven. Bodhi states:

    The commentarial method of explanation stipulates that the meditator emerges from the jhāna attainment and practices insight contemplation with a mind made sharp and supple by the jhāna. However, the suttas themselves say nothing about emerging from the jhāna. If one reads the suttas alone, without the commentaries, it seems as if the meditator examines the factors within the jhāna itself.

And the commentarial method of attaining the noble path via momentary samādhi (khaṇikasamādhi), access samādhi (upacārasamādhi), or prepatory stage samādhi (anāgamya-samādhi, which is the Sarvāstivāda equivalent of access samādhi) must also be completely wrong. Therefore, every single Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, and Sautrāntika commentator, ancient or modern, must be completely wrong. Ven. Brahmavamso and Ven. Sujato have miraculously rediscovered the Buddhadhamma after 2500 years, and their teachings must be right even though they are contradicted by almost every other scholar, translator, or commentator, ancient or modern, Theravāda or Sarvāstivāda or Sautrāntika or Yogācāra.

Sorry, but I don't buy it. :shock:

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:41 am

Sylvester wrote:1. your understanding of the Dhammasangani ignores its textual presentation as being a discussion of 11 iddapaccayata relations, whereas you instead treat it in the Commentarial approach of universals and particulars to each type of citta.

From the Vibhaṅga Satipaṭṭhānavibhaṅga:

    And how does a monk dwell contemplating the body in the body?

    Here a monk, at whatever time, develops supramundane jhāna, which leads on, which goes to decrease (of rebirth), to abandonment of wrong views, to the attainment of the first ground, (where) quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unwholesome things, having thinking, reflection, and the happiness and rapture born of seclusion, he dwells, having attained the first jhāna, and with painful practice and slow deepening of knowledge, and at that time: there is contact, there is feeling, there is perception, there is intention, there is thought, there is thinking, there is reflection, there is joyful interest, there is happiness, there is one-pointedness, there is the faculty of faith, there is the faculty of energy, there is the faculty of mindfulness, there is the faculty of concentration, there is the faculty of wisdom, there is the mind-faculty, there is the joy-faculty, there is the life-faculty, there is right view, there is right intention, there is right endeavour, there is right mindfulness, there is right concentration, there is the strength of faith, there is the strength of energy, there is the strength of mindfulness, there is the strength of concentration, there is the strength of wisdom, there is the strength of conscience, there is the strength of shame, there is no greed, there is no hate, there is no delusion, there is no avarice, there is no ill-will, there is right view, there is conscience, there is shame, there is bodily calm, there is mental calm, there is bodily lightness, there is mental lightness, there is bodily plasticity, there is mental plasticity, there is bodily workableness, there is mental workableness, there is bodily proficiency, there is mental proficiency, there is bodily uprightness, there is mental uprightness, there is mindfulness, there is full awareness, there is samatha, there is vipassanā, there is support, there is balance: these are wholesome things.

It's quite nonsensical to insist that a corresponding reading cannot be applied to the Dhammasaṅgaṇī's treatment of rūpāvacarajjhāna associated with gnosis.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:23 am

Sylvester wrote:2. your glossing over the rather serious differences between the Abhidhamma approach and the suttanta approach. Lumping Abhidhamma under the "canonical" rubric is of utility only in recognising that the Abhidhamma is treated as canonical, but disguises the fact that Early Theravada is not the same as Abhidhammic Theravada.

The Theravāda is a Three Piṭaka Abhidhamma school. There is no early Theravāda which can be differentiated from the Theravāda monastics who redacted the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka. Early Buddhism was not Theravāda any more than it was Sarvāstivāda or Mahāsāṃghika.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:52 am

Ñāṇa wrote:Sorry, but I don't buy it. :shock:



After that long tirade, it can best be summed up as this -

Geoff is making an emotional appeal and refusing to consider the texts.

Sorry, appeals to authority, as if I disagree with every authority are just a red herring. :popcorn:
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