A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

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

Postby morning mist » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:57 am

Hi Nana,

Ñāṇa wrote: Saññā is necessary for discernment obtained through meditative development


Where in the sutta did it say that you use Perception ( sanna) while inside Samma Samadhi to develop Vipassana? Most of the suttas on perception suggest that we realize that Perception is non-self, perception is impermanent, perception leads to dukkha. The same goes with the other four aggregates. For example:

“ Perception is impermanent. That which is the cause, that which is the condition, for the appearing of Perception, that is also impermanent. How could Perception, produced by what is impermanent, ever be permanent?" - SN 22:18 Impermanent with cause

“So seeing, Bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple is dispassionate towards body, feeling, perception, mental activities and consciousness.45 Being dispassionate he detaches himself, being detached he is released and in release is the knowledge of being released and he knows: Finished is birth, lived is the holy life, done is what had to be done, there is no more of this or that state." -SN 12:61 Uninstructed

“Herein, Bhikkhus, feelings are known to a Bhikkhu as they arise, known as they stay, known as they come to an end. Thoughts are known as they arise, known as they stay, known as they come to an end. Perceptions are known as they arise, known as they stay, known as they come to an end. In this manner, Bhikkhus, a Bhikkhu is clearly comprehending." -SN 47:35 Mindful


Ñāṇa wrote: The Dhammasaṅgaṇī details a number of different jhānas, including the kasiṇa jhānas, the brahmavihāra jhānas, the asubha jhānas, and so on.


I am aware that the Brahmaviharas and the other formless states are expansive. But here we are discussing the four jhanas found in Samma Samadhi in particular.

Ñāṇa wrote: " many people who rely on the Visuddhimagga jhāna descriptions without a careful study of all relevant older material) is going to have a very different understanding of what jhāna is, than someone who relies on the Tipiṭaka as canonical authority"


Let's keep the Commentaries to the minimum.

Ñāṇa wrote: of these jhānas are capable of expansive development. Terms such as totality (kasiṇa), immeasurable (appamāṇa), and expansive (mahaggatā) which are used in the descriptions of these samādhis indicate the expansiveness of jhāna. MN 127 explains the meaning of expansive mind-liberation and indicates the way of development.


Perhaps you missed my post on this earlier. Mahaggatam Cetovimutti refers to a different meditation. Only Adukkhamasukhaya cetovimutti refers to the first four jhanas.

According to MN 43 and MN 127, there are various types of Cetovimutti. Not all of these terms refers to the first four jhanas. For example, the word appamana refers to appamana cetovimutti , that is the the Four Brahmaviharas meditation.


There are :

1. Neither-Pleasant-nor-Unpleasant cetovimutti( adukkhamasukhaya cetovimuttiya)

2. Exalted Cetovimutti (Mahaggatam Cetovimutti , mahaggatam: lofty, become great)

3. Boundless cetovimutti (appamana cetovimutti),
4. Nothingness cetovimutti ( akincanna cetovimutti)
5. Signless cetovimutti (animittaya cetovimuttiya)
6. Voidness cetovimutti ( sunnata cetovimutti)

While the the Adukkhamasukhaya cetovimutti (1) refers to the four Jhanas found in Samma Samadhi, the other ones do not, including the Mahaggatam Cetovimutti. "And what is the way of explanation by which these states are different in meaning & different in name? "


1.Adukkhamasukhaya cetovimutti :

"Friend, how many conditions are there for the attainment of the Neither-Pleasant-nor-Unpleasant cetovimutti ( adukkhamasukhaya cetovimuttiya) ?”

"Friend, there are four conditions for the attainment of the neither-pleasant-nor-unpleasant cetovimutti. Here, a bhikkhu abandons pleasantness and unpleasantness, and with the setting down of previous joy and displeasure there is neither pain nor pleasure. And with mindfulness fully purified by equanimity, he enters and abides in the fourth jhana. These are the four conditions for the attainment of the neither-pleasant-nor-unpleasant cetovimutti ( adukkhamasukhaya cetovimuttiya). -MN 43


2. Exalted Cetovimutti (Mahaggatam Cetovimutti , mahaggatam: lofty, become great)

“And what, householder, is the exalted cetovimutti (mahaggata cetovimutti) ? Here a bhikkhu abides resolved upon an area the size of the root of one tree, pervading it as exalted: this is called the exalted cetovimutti (mahaggata cetovimutti). Here a bhikkhu abides resolved upon an area the size of one village, pervading it as exalted…an area the size of two or three villages…an area the size of one major kingdom…an area the size of two or three major kingdoms…an area the size of the earth bounded by the ocean, pervading it as exalted: this too is called the exalted cetovimutti (mahaggata cetovimutti). It is in this way, householder, that it can be understood how these states are different in meaning and different in name."- MN 127


3.Boundless cetovimutti - This refers to the Four Brahmaviharas

"The Boundless cetovimutti (appamana cetovimutti), the Nothingness cetovimutti ( akincanna cetovimutti) , the Voidness cetovimutti ( sunnata cetovimutti) , the Signless cetovimutti (animittaya cetovimuttiya):

“Here a bhikkhu abides with a mind imbued with loving kindness ( metta) pervading one direction, likewise the second, likewise the third, and likewise the fourth direction, above, below , around, and everywhere, to all as to himself, he abides pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, expansive, boundless, without hostility and without ill will.

“ He abides with a mind imbued with compassion ( karuna)…..”

“ He abides with a mind imbued with altruistic joy ( karuna, sympathy in other’s welfare)…..”

“ He abides with a mind imbued with equanimity ( upekkha)pervading one direction, likewise the second, likewise the third, and likewise the fourth direction, above, below , around, and everywhere, to all as to himself, he abides pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with equanimity, abundant, expansive, boundless, without hostility and without ill will. This is called the limitless awareness-release.”


4. Nothingness cetovimutti

"And what is the Nothingness cetovimutti ? Here a bhikkhu completely passes beyond the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness , and aware that there is ’ nothing', he abides in the Sphere of Nothingness. This is called the Nothingness cetovimutti.


5. Signless cetovimutti

"And what is the Signless cetovimutti ? Here a bhikkhu not attending to all signs, a bhikkhu enters and abides in the signless concentration of mind.This is called the Signless cetovimutti .


6. Voidness cetovimutti

"And what is the Voidness cetovimutti ? Here the bhikkhu gone to the forest, to the root of a tree or to an empty house reflects: ‘ This is empty of a self or of anything belonging to a self. This is called the Voidness cetovimutti.


The Similarities Between Various types of Cetovimutti ?
“Here, friend, passion (raga) is a limiting factor (pamanakarano) , aversion ( dosa) is a limiting factor, delusion ( moha) is a limiting factor.

“In a bhikkhu whose mind is free from intoxication/ the taints ( khinasavassa) , these have been abandoned, pulled out with the roots, made like a palm stump, deprived of the conditions to arise again.

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

Postby Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:29 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:At your leisure...

I think Ven. Yuttadhammo said it quite accurately in his critique of Ven. Brahmavamso's The Jhānas:

    What I have a problem with is what seems clearly to be a distortion of the Buddha’s teaching in order to support his own way of teaching.

I would extend this to Ven. Sujato's methodology of beginning with a preconceived thesis and then attempting to force the suttas into agreement.

All the best,

Geoff


It is quite adequate to discount Ven Yuttadhammo's misgivings by referring to his category mistake discussed earlier.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:01 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Pls track down this Enlightenment Factor for my benefit.

Already done in the quotation from the Dhammasaṅgaṇī:

    What at that time is the faculty of discernment? That which at that time is discernment, thorough understanding, investigation, comprehensive investigation, dhamma-investigation, consideration, discrimination, direct discrimination, erudite intelligence, proficiency, refined intelligence, discriminative examination, reflection, comparative examination, breadth of knowledge, wisdom that destroys defilements, penetrative wisdom, vipassanā, full awareness, discernment like a guiding goad, faculty of discernment, strength of discernment, discernment like a sword, discernment like a tower, discernment like light, discernment like radiance, discernment like a torch, discernment like a jewel, non-delusion, dhamma-investigation, right view, awakening factor of dhamma-investigation, a path factor, knowledge included in the path – this at that time is the faculty of discernment.

    What at that time is vipassanā? That which at that time is discernment, thorough understanding, investigation, comprehensive investigation, dhamma-investigation, consideration, discrimination, direct discrimination, erudite intelligence, proficiency, refined intelligence, discriminative examination, reflection, comparative examination, breadth of knowledge, wisdom that destroys defilements, penetrative wisdom, vipassanā, full awareness, discernment like a guiding goad, faculty of discernment, strength of discernment, discernment like a sword, discernment like a tower, discernment like light, discernment like radiance, discernment like a torch, discernment like a jewel, non-delusion, dhamma-investigation, right view, awakening factor of dhamma-investigation, a path factor, knowledge included in the path – this at that time is vipassanā.

All the best,

Geoff


You're still evading the elephant in the room. How is the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayabojjhanga indicated in red above different from the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayasambojjhanga in the suttas? The suttas which Dmytro and I cited clearly state that Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayasambojjhanga must have vicara, and be preceded by vitakka in Sati.

Let me just put it very simply -

Do you assert that one can vipassati without the Dhammavicayasambojjhanga?

Yes or No?


Pls explain how the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayabojjhanga indicated in red above are different from the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayasambojjhanga in the suttas. Citations pls, not ex cathedras.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:06 am

morning mist wrote:Hi Nana,

Nana wrote: " impedes the jhāna factors of mindfulness and full awareness."


Perhaps there is a misconception regarding the jhana taught by Ajahn Brahmavamso, From step one all the way through jhana, there is no point where the person is not consciously aware . Awareness doesn't have to be towards the distractions of the 5 senses in the external world to be called aware and mindful.

Ajahn Brahm does not suggest that one is not conscious at any point in jhana. Often what we are used to seeing is that when someone is not aware of 5 sense world the person is unconscious. What we are not familiar with is a state where one is being conscious , mindful , and aware even when be don't hear things in the outside world. One is aware , mindful , and conscious , but not the outside world . That is something we don't often see or hear about.

In jhana you don't even notice the sounds of thunder or feel the water on your skin if there is a thunderstorm . Still in meditative absorption, you are fully alert and mindful , such as experiencing the happiness that is non-sensual. And you are not unconscious .

Is it possible to be conscious and awake and not perceive the world of the 5 senses ? The Buddha saids that it is:

"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…."

But where, Lord, were you?'
"'I was here, brother.' 'Yet, Lord, did you not see it?' 'I did not see it, brother.' 'BUT THE NOISE , Lord, you surely heard?' 'I DID NOT HEAR IT, brother.' Then that man asked me: 'Then, Lord, perhaps you slept?' 'No, brother, I was not sleeping.' 'Then, LORD, YOU WERE CONSCIOUS?' 'I WAS, brother.' Then that man said: 'Then, Lord, WHILE CONSCIOUS AND AWAKE, IN THE MIDST OF A HEAVY RAIN, WITH THUNDER ROLLING, LIGHTNING FLASHING, and THUNDERBOLTS CRASHING, YOU NEITHER SAW IT NOR HEARD THE NOISE?' And I answered him, saying: 'I DID NOT, brother.'= Mahaparinibbana Sutta


Nana wrote: This is another inaccurate characterization of jhāna.


Then please describe exactly how someone contemplate the dhamma inside jhana. Do you suggest that we use vitakka and vicara , or sanna ?


Mindfulness is brought to onepointedness in jhana ( samma samadhi). Where did it say samadhi is expansive.

With metta,


Hi morning mist

It's not a misconception, but a clear misrepresentation. Some people just need strawmen.

These strawmen tactics allege that Ajahn Brahm teaches asanna samadhi. If Ajahn Brahm's students were truly asanna, there would be absolutely no possibility for experiencing, remembering, recollection and review of the states that were and had passed in the Jhanas. But time and time again, Ajahn Brahm emphasises the Anapanasati's 4th tetrad of dhammānupassī. So much data being collected and remembered from a jhana does NOT count as asanna.

Dhammavicaya truly has to function outside of a jhana. I would like to see Geoff give a categorical answer to my 2 questions above about his brand of vipassati and whether it proceeds in the absence of Dhammavicaya.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:18 am

Dmytro wrote:I don't think there's any misconception. Here's what Brahmavamso writes:

If you want to know the way to develop that nimitta, then this fourth stage of developing the four jhanas is to pay attention to that aspect of the nimitta which is beautiful, which is attractive, which is joyful, the pleasant part of it. And again, it is at this stage where you have to be comfortable with pleasure and not be afraid of it, not fear that it is going to lead to some sort of attachment, because the pleasure of these stages can be very intense at times, literally overpowering: overpowering your sense of self, overpowering your control, overpowering your sensitivity to your physical body. So you have to look for that pleasure and happiness which is in the nimitta, and this becomes the fourth stage because once the mind has noticed the pleasure and happiness in the nimitta, that will act like what I call the magnet or the glue. It is that which will draw one's attention onto it, and it's not the will or the choice or the decision which takes the attention and puts it onto the samadhi nimitta. In fact once the choice, the intention, the orders inside yourself arise, they'll actually push you away. You have to let the whole process work because the samadhi nimitta at this stage is very pleasurable; it literally pulls the mind into it. Many meditators when the possibly experience their first taste of a jhana, experience the mind falling into a beautiful hole. And that's exactly what's happening. It's the joy, the bliss, the beauty of that nimitta which is before the mind that actually pulls the mind into it. So you don't need to do the pushing, you don't need to do the work. At this stage it becomes a natural process of the mind. Your job is just to get to that second stage, calm that breath down, allow the samadhi nimitta to arise. Once the samadhi nimitta arises strongly, then the jhana happens in and of itself.

Again, because the quality of knowing is very strong but very narrow in these states, while you are in these states, there is no way that you can truly assess where you are and what's happening to you. The ability to know through thinking, through analysing, is taken away from you in these states. You usually have to wait until you emerge from these states, until your ordinary thinking returns again, so you can really look back upon and analyse what has happened.

http://www.viet.net/anson/ebud/ebmed042.htm


IMO, this deliberate attention to the beautiful and attractive aspect of the mental object leads to the development of "rupa-raga"and "arupa-raga" - passions for jhana. And it is this passion which acts like "a magnet or a glue" in this case. Consequently, the jhana which occurs is devoid of sati and sampajanna, though there may be some residential awareness left.

Is it possible to be conscious and awake and not perceive the world of the 5 senses ? The Buddha saids that it is:

"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…."


Thank you for the quote. In the disembodied attainments (arupa-samapatti) one indeed does not have physical perception. This is explained in more detail in Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga.

With metta, Dmytro


Hi Dmytro

If this indulgence in the subha nimitta of a dhamma were such a bad thing, why would the Buddha have recommended it as part of the Third Vimokkha or as the Subha Vimokkha? I see the Buddha teaching a gradual Path, and if niramisa sukha is not touched, how will His disciples desire to escape samisa sukha?

You might recall that conversation that Ven Ananda had with Unnabha in SN 51.15. It's OK with start with desire, in order to abandon desire. If the mind has not tasted the joys of niramisa sukha, how will it be prepared to give up samisa sukha?

As for the arupa-samapatti not having kamasanna, I hope you won't make the same logical mistake of the fallacy of denying the antecedent which Geoff committed with MN 43.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:35 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:why did you omit the tail marked by XXXXXXXX in that section? It is very important to note that the sentence does not end with "...non-distraction" followed by a footstop as you have presented it. It ends with a semi-colon ";" followed by which reads -

...avikkhepo hoti; ye vā pana tasmiṃ samaye aññepi atthi paṭiccasamuppannā arūpino dhammā— ime dhammā kusalā.

Why do you persist in re-writing the Abhidhamma?

Just to add to my previous reply to your mistaken assumptions and fallacious accusations: Reading the Introduction to U Kyaw Khine's translation of the Dhammasaṅgaṇī may help you to understand the text. It states:

    [ B]esides those fifty-six dhamma factors, there are also nine dhamma factors which may occur, wherever appropriate on the occasion of the arising of those fifty-six dhamma factors, thereby making up a total of sixty-five dhamma factors. These nine are denoted, by 'yevapana...dhamma in Pali. They are: 1. Chanda - Desire, 2. Adhimokkha - Decision, Choice, 3. Manasikara - Attention, 4. Tatramajjhattata - Balance of mind, Equanimity, 5. Karuna - Compassion, 6. Mudita - Sympathetic joy, 7. Sammavaca - Abstinence from evil speech, 8. Sammakammanta - Abstinence from evil action, 9. Samma-ajiva - Abstinence from evil livelihood.

Sylvester wrote:11 iddapaccayata relations which are possible (but not always present with each lokiya citta)

From the same Introduction:

    The actual fact is that there are thirty dhamma factors occurring as fifty-six items in the complete list and these arise simultaneously.... The same fifty-six dhamma factors that constitute the Meritorious Thought pertaining to the Sensuous Sphere can be found in the Meritorious Thought pertaining to the Fine Material Sphere.

Sylvester wrote:If you're going to insist on reading this locative absolute formulation as importing the concomitance of all dhammas, that's your problem. The problem is not with the Dhammasangani, but your bizarre insistence on reading the Dhammasangani in the way that you do.

From the same Introduction:

    It has been said above that fifty-six dhamma factor constitute the First Category of Meritorious Thought. There are two points to be made here. The first is that in the seventeen groups of dhamma factors mentioned above, the first group of dhamma factors, namely, the group of five dhamma factors headed by contact, is the most proximate cause for the arising of the meritorious thought; the second group which consists of the five factors of the first jhana is the most proximate cause for arising of the first group headed by contact. and so it goes on step by step till the seventeenth group. However, this is only an analytical view. The actual fact is that there are thirty dhamma factors occurring as fifty-six items in the complete list and these arise simultaneously.

Your qualms, as per usual, are completely unfounded.

All the best,

Geoff


And if you want to foist the Commentarial interpretation of concomitant cetasikas which are either universals or particulars, that's fine. The Dhammasangani does not say this - U Kyaw Khine has done nothing more than what an orthodox Theravadin would do, namely cite the Commentarial essay on the Dhammasangani. And the Commentarial requirement for concomitance makes perfect sense within the Commentarial approach, because the Commentarial approach treats the Abhidhamma's duration of "tasmin samaye" as being a "khana", where the citta is infinitesimally momentary/khanika.

For someone who has such high disdain for the Pali Commentaries, your resort to the Commentaries certainly looks promiscuous here. Elsewhere, you've indicated your rejection of radical momentariness, but here you have no qualms applying it. You're not weaving a tapestry but hobbling together a patchwork of mutually inconsistent theories. The "pamsukula civara" is recommended for monastic robes, but not for Dhamma.

Clutching at straws?
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:53 am

Sylvester wrote:Do you assert that one can vipassati without the Dhammavicayasambojjhanga?

This is clearly indicated in the Dhammasaṅgaṇī. Without the discernment faculty (paññindriya, where dhammavicayasambojjhaṅga and vipassanā are said to be subsets), being able to function in the absence of vitakka and vicāra there would be no possibility of J2-J4 path attainment. The Dhammasaṅgaṇī Cittuppādakaṇḍa Lokuttarakusala Suddhikapaṭipadā lists both the discernment faculty and vipassanā as separate supramundane dhammas occurring at the time of attaining the noble path via supramundane jhāna and abiding in that path attainment via resultant supramundane jhāna. And as also already mentioned, the Mahāniddesa equates awakening (bodhi) with gnosis of the four paths (catūsu maggesu ñāṇa), the faculty of discernment (paññindriya), the strength of discernment (paññābala), the dhamma-discrimination factor of awakening (dhammavicayasambojjhaṅga), investigation (vīmaṃsā), clear seeing (vipassanā), and right view (sammādiṭṭhi).

Sylvester wrote:Pls explain how the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayabojjhanga indicated in red above are different from the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayasambojjhanga in the suttas. Citations pls, not ex cathedras.

The citations have already been provided from the Dhammasaṅgaṇī. I can understand why you may have difficulty understanding the synthesis of the Abhidhammapiṭaka, as it presents an integral eightfold path, whereas Ven. Brahmavamso's teachings aren't very integral. I would recommend beginning with Wings to Awakening by Ven. Ṭhānissaro, and The Buddhist Path to Awakening by R. M. Gethin.

All the best,

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

Postby Nyana » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:56 am

morning mist wrote:Most of the suttas on perception suggest that we realize that Perception is non-self, perception is impermanent, perception leads to dukkha. The same goes with the other four aggregates.

There is no possibility of attaining or abiding in the four jhānas without apperception, just as there is no possibility of attaining or abiding in the four jhānas without feeling. Just because the aggregates are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and selfless doesn't mean that they aren't to be engaged for meditative development. There's no possibility of developing the path otherwise.

morning mist wrote:I am aware that the Brahmaviharas and the other formless states are expansive. But here we are discussing the four jhanas found in Samma Samadhi in particular.

The kasiṇa jhānas, the brahmavihāra jhānas, the asubha jhānas, and so on, cover the four jhānas. Developed within the context of the noble eightfold path they are all sammāsamādhi.

morning mist wrote:Let's keep the Commentaries to the minimum.

Of course. I'm not relying on commentaries, I'm relying on the Tipiṭaka. Failure to refer to the Tipiṭaka to assist in clarifying terms and passages in the suttas leads to the same problematic errors of interpretation and meaning made by Ven. Brahmavamso and Ven. Sujato.

morning mist wrote:Mahaggatam Cetovimutti refers to a different meditation. Only Adukkhamasukhaya cetovimutti refers to the first four jhanas.

Not so. I've already provided the reference to the Dhammasaṅgaṇī which explains mahaggatā in the context of jhāna. The term cetovimutti is used in different ways in different contexts (e.g. mettā cetovimuti, adukkhamasukhā cetovimutti, etc. Cf. Bhante G. A Critical Analysis of the Jhānas, p. 355) where it often refers to meditative attainments realized through the development of calm (samathabhāvanā). AN 2.32 Vijjābhāgiyā Sutta:

    When calm (samatha) is developed, what purpose does it serve? The mind is developed. And what is the benefit of a developed mind? Passion is abandoned.... Defiled by passion, the mind is not released.... Thus, monks, from the fading away of passion there is liberation of mind (cetovimutti).

This use of mahaggatā cetovimuti refers to jhāna attainment. These terms as they relate to the jhānas are standardized in the Abhidhammapiṭaka.

All the best,

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

Postby Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:02 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Do you assert that one can vipassati without the Dhammavicayasambojjhanga?

This is clearly indicated in the Dhammasaṅgaṇī. Without the discernment faculty (paññindriya, where dhammavicayasambojjhaṅga and vipassanā are said to be subsets), being able to function in the absence of vitakka and vicāra there would be no possibility of J2-J4 path attainment. The Dhammasaṅgaṇī Cittuppādakaṇḍa Lokuttarakusala Suddhikapaṭipadā lists both the discernment faculty and vipassanā as separate supramundane dhammas occurring at the time of attaining the noble path via supramundane jhāna and abiding in that path attainment via resultant supramundane jhāna. And as also already mentioned, the Mahāniddesa equates awakening (bodhi) with gnosis of the four paths (catūsu maggesu ñāṇa), the faculty of discernment (paññindriya), the strength of discernment (paññābala), the dhamma-discrimination factor of awakening (dhammavicayasambojjhaṅga), investigation (vīmaṃsā), clear seeing (vipassanā), and right view (sammādiṭṭhi).

Sylvester wrote:Pls explain how the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayabojjhanga indicated in red above are different from the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayasambojjhanga in the suttas. Citations pls, not ex cathedras.

The citations have already been provided from the Dhammasaṅgaṇī. I can understand why you may have difficulty understanding the synthesis of the Abhidhammapiṭaka, as it presents an integral eightfold path, whereas Ven. Brahmavamso's teachings aren't very integral. I would recommend beginning with Wings to Awakening by Ven. Ṭhānissaro, and The Buddhist Path to Awakening by R. M. Gethin.

All the best,

Geoff


I wanted a categorical Yes or No, Geoff.

Are you prepared to state it?
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:06 am

Sylvester wrote:For someone who has such high disdain for the Pali Commentaries, your resort to the Commentaries certainly looks promiscuous here.

The concomitance is quite obvious from the text itself, taken in context. It's been noticed that one of your favorite diversion tactics for raising qualms which are no more than red herrings is to attempt grammatical distinctions which have no relevance to the passage in question. And FTR, I don't have "high disdain" for the commentaries.

All the best,

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

Postby Nyana » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:11 am

Sylvester wrote:Are you prepared to state it?

How could I be any clearer? Vipassanā has to occur and be present as a supramundane dhamma whenever there is path attainment. It doesn't matter if it's the first jhāna, second jhāna, third jhāna, or fourth jhāna path attainment.

All the best,

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

Postby Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:13 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Are you prepared to state it?

How could I be any clearer? Vipassanā has to occur and be present as a supramundane dhamma whenever there is path attainment. It doesn't matter if it's the first jhāna, second jhāna, third jhāna, or fourth jhāna path attainment.

All the best,

Geoff


Just state Yes or No. That will be clear.

How difficult can it be?
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:34 am

Sylvester wrote:For someone who has such high disdain for the Pali Commentaries, your resort to the Commentaries certainly looks promiscuous here. Elsewhere, you've indicated your rejection of radical momentariness, but here you have no qualms applying it. You're not weaving a tapestry but hobbling together a patchwork of mutually inconsistent theories. The "pamsukula civara" is recommended for monastic robes, but not for Dhamma.

Clutching at straws?

This is just another sustained ad hom with no basis in fact. I don't have "such high disdain for the Pali Commentaries." The understanding that the noble path is attained at once, designated as "one moment," is a canonical Theravāda doctrine which is stated in the Paṭisambhidāmagga. This doctrine doesn't entail adherence to a theory of radical momentariness; nor does the understanding of concomitant dhammas entail adherence to a theory of radical momentariness. At any rate, it seems that this discussion isn't worth pursuing any further.

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

Postby Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:39 am

Don't scuttle away without having given your categorical Yes or No.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:13 am

morning mist wrote:Hi Nana,

Ñāṇa wrote: Saññā is necessary for discernment obtained through meditative development


Where in the sutta did it say that you use Perception ( sanna) while inside Samma Samadhi to develop Vipassana? Most of the suttas on perception suggest that we realize that Perception is non-self, perception is impermanent, perception leads to dukkha. The same goes with the other four aggregates.


And this is the answer -

Ñāṇa wrote: There is no possibility of attaining or abiding in the four jhānas without apperception, just as there is no possibility of attaining or abiding in the four jhānas without feeling. Just because the aggregates are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and selfless doesn't mean that they aren't to be engaged for meditative development. There's no possibility of developing the path otherwise.


The question was about the FUNCTION of jhanic saññā, but why did the answer get diverted to the ABSENCE of saññā?

The pattern is pretty obvious...
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Dmytro » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:28 am

Hi Morning Mist,

morning mist wrote:Initially , but there are instructions to let go of it and develop insight after you attained jhana.


Buddha clearly discouraged the passion for jhanas in MN 138 and other suttas:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7360#p118466

The Buddha did not say not to attend to nimitta or not to practice jhana because it is pleasant.


Yes, there's nothing wrong with the pleasure of jhanas, if it doesn't become addictive.

In the Pasakika Sutta, the Buddha distinguished what is wholesome pleasure ( Four stages of Jhanas that is Samma Samadhi ) and what is unwholesome pleasure ( worldly sense pleasure ).

'' These are the four modes of being attached and devoted to pleasure, Cunda, which conduce absolutely to unworldliness, to passionlessness, to cessation, to peace, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. What are the four ? " The four jhanas. - Pasakika Sutta


There's no Pasakika sutta.

In the Pasadika sutta (DN 29), Buddha says (in translation of Ven.Bodhi):

"There are, Cunda, these four kinds of life devoted to pleasure which are entirely conducive to disenchantment, to dispassion, to tranquillity, to realisation, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. What are they? Firstly, a monk, detached from all sense desires, detached from all unwholesome states, enters and remains in the first jhana..."

Buddha would never praise attachment to pleasure.

One is always awake and aware just not of the outside world.


As Brahmavamso writes, in his jhanas one does not comprehend what's going on.

Also , there is no support for the claim that one goes beyond the 5 senses only in the arupa states.


This is described, for example, in Potthapada sutta (DN 9):

‘‘Puna caparaṃ, poṭṭhapāda, bhikkhu sabbaso rūpasaññānaṃ samatikkamā paṭighasaññānaṃ atthaṅgamā nānattasaññānaṃ amanasikārā ‘ananto ākāso’ti ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ upasampajja viharati. Tassa yā purimā rūpasaññā, sā nirujjhati. Ākāsānañcāyatanasukhumasaccasaññā tasmiṃ samaye hoti, ākāsānañcāyatanasukhumasaccasaññīyeva tasmiṃ samaye hoti. Evampi sikkhā ekā saññā uppajjati, sikkhā ekā saññā nirujjhati. Ayampi sikkhā’’ti bhagavā avoca.

"Again, by passing entirely beyond bodily sensations, by the disappearance of all sense of resistance and by non-attraction to the perception of diversity, seeing that space is infinite, he reaches and remains in the Sphere of Infinite Space. In this way some perceptions arise through training, and some pass away through training."

For more detailed discussion, see: http://dhamma.ru/forum/index.php?topic=367.0

In the Therigatha there are examples of a lay woman entering the form jhana and when someone tried to pour hot oil over her in order to kill her and take her husband, it did not hurt her.


I don't see the connection of this with the matter at hand, and I don't remember such story in Therigatha. Perhaps it is from the Commentary?

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

Postby nathan » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:46 am

This post is once again from a contemporary and experiential perspective, which may be understandably irrelevant to those who prefer to derive a methodology solely from their studious and reasoned arguments about descriptions recounted from relatively ancient people's direct experience and as recorded in canonical and commentarial books. This owing to these books longstanding cache (the respect for these sagacious ancients is something about which I can only say that I think the highest esteem for the Blessed Buddha and his Noble Sangha is entirely justified in relation to what I have encountered in the nature of my own introspective experience). However what I offer here may be of some use to those who are simply interested in replicating what those in the long gone past have done for themselves without recourse to a great deal of technical jargon.

The development of discernment, insights, skillful mental qualities, realizations, and understandings for oneself, however these are later categorized, can only proceed from intensive and extensive introspective self examination. This would be my interpretation of the meaning of 'the only way' as I suspect the Buddha originally intended that statement and not a reference to some sort of technique.

In practice, successful introspective insights, realizations and understanding are ultimately comprehensive of every phenomena that occurs within an individual human being and a full cognizance of how it is that these phenomena come to occur.

By necessity the investigation begins with a relatively superficial but ever deepening kind of attentive introspection which encounters a diversity of changing conditions arising and passing in the changing elemental forms which make up the body, a diversity of sensory awareness of forms of external stimulus arising and passing in contact with the bodily senses, a diversity of fleeting sensations arising and passing throughout the body, a diversity of thought objects arising and passing in the mind and a diversity of mental qualities which together make up conscious awareness of the rest that is introspectively cognizable.

One can continue examining one's nature in this way for an extensive period of time until one discerns and develops considerable insight into the consistent instability of all of this flux of temporary and shifting perceptions and the patterns of shifting conscious attention which are supportive of this experiential flux. One develops from this the direct insight that none of this can possibly be considered 'ones self' or the property of 'ones self' as it is neither entirely under ones control nor entirely estranged from the influence of ones directed introspective conscious attention.

On this basis one can then proceed to investigate what underlies this flux and one encounters mental qualities more directly in terms of the hindrances to steadily directed mindful attention. In this way one can develop both considerable discernment and insight into unskillful and skillful mental qualities and one can considerably strengthen the mental quality of concentration through the examination and overcoming of the five mental qualities which significantly hinder any kind of singular, steady, maneuverable and fully focused or concentrated mindful attention.

One is then more readily capable of examining how it is that consciousness is capable of such rapid movement and change as it rapidly shifts from one object to the next in relation to the sensations arising and passing via sense contacts, in the forms of bodily sensations, in the forms of thought objects and in the nature of mental qualities. One develops considerable discernment and insight in this way into the qualities of and the causes of and the effects of all of the varieties of this flux of conscious attention.

On the basis of these previous discernments and insights one then is capable of noting that conscious contact potentially pervades the entire body. One may then examine what occurs if, instead of directing attention to the flux of sense perceptions, diverse and momentary sensations within the body, diverse and momentary thought objects and shifting mental qualities, one examined the point of contact between consciousness and the entire body as a whole, as a single perception of the body fully pervaded with conscious awareness.

On the basis of the well developed discernment that conscious contact pervades the entire body and on the basis of the well developed mental quality of concentration one steadies this perception of the body pervaded by conscious awareness and one discovers that, in contrast to the diversity, the discomfort and the flux typical of a rapidly changing flow of perception that this sort of perception, the steady perception of the whole body is significantly more pleasant, simple and calm.

On the basis of this discernment of and insight into a much calmer, steadier and more concentrated kind of perception and on the basis of discovering this type of novel and persistently pleasant sensation, a sensation that is not related to the changing responses of the bodily forms, the objects of the senses or of thought objects. One may then discern that one can further stabilize and steady this novel and singular type of perception of the body pervaded by concentrated conscious attention effortlessly.

One may note on the occasion of this singular, steady and novel type of perception the presence of the appearance that the body is filled with light. One can discern that this is briefly interesting but that persisting in the perception of light leads to nothing but the persistence of this perception and that it can therefore be discounted whereupon it will eventually fade from attention as well.

On the basis of the effortless stability of this steadiness of pleasant perception of the form of the body as a whole, wholly pervaded by conscious attention, or in other words on the basis of the fully developed capacity for effortless concentration on one type of perception, one can further directly discern the qualities present within this novel form of perception without concern for any interruptions in the various forms of the more typical or ordinary perceptions of the diversity of bodily forms, the diversity of sense perceptions, the diversity of body sensations, the diversity of thought objects and the changes in mental qualities.

One is then in a position to directly discern the qualities that make up the fully developed mental quality of effortless concentration. One can discern that the attention to the body pervaded by conscious contact is indeed very pleasant and unusual in that it is not connected with the flux of perceptions but rather serves as the basis for consciousness of the more typical flux of perceptions.

One can then move on to examine the subtler qualities involved in the mental quality of concentrated attention and thereby both discernment and the mental quality of concentration are further refined.

One can then discern that the body fully pervaded by conscious contact is a very pleasant perception but not owing to the same causes as the type of pleasant perception that comes through sense contacts with that which is otherwise pleasing but owing to the steadiness and simplicity of the perception of the whole body in itself.

One can then discern that there is a corresponding pleasant perception which is simply a mental quality. One can then discern that in this subtle redirection of attention the perception of the pleasant perception of the body fades away and that the more subtle perception of the simplicity of the mental quality of the concentration is in the forefront of attention, that the mental qualities are even more simple and that this is even more subtly pleasant.

One can then discern that there is a mental quality of concentration which can take this steadiness and simplicity and pleasantness of a mental quality as its object and one can discern that with this subtle shift of attention onto the mental quality of concentration itself the pleasant mental quality which was previously most prominent fades away and the quality of the concentrated conscious attention is now itself the object of its own attention.

One can then discern that due to attention fully occupied with attending to the mental qualities of concentrated attention the awareness of the body has faded entirely from ones concentrated conscious attention. One can then discern that owning to such a refined concentration of conscious attention one is now capable of carefully examining and discerning the mental qualities supportive of consciousness directly without any interruption from the coarser object of conscious attention to form and the subtler object of pleasant mental qualities.

One can then discern that apart from awareness of contact with the body the mental quality of consciousness appears boundless as it has no contact with the object of form upon which to base any sense of confinement. One can then discern that without any contact with the object of form the perception of boundless space is largely useless as a space empty of forms cannot be measured or qualified in any way.

One can then shift attention to the quality of conscious contact that occupies the sense of boundless space and discern that this mental quality also appears boundless. One can then discern that the sense of boundless space fades away and the sense of boundless consciousness predominates.

One can then discern that the sense of boundless consciousness without objects of consciousness to qualify it is likewise largely useless as it too serves no purpose. One may then discern that the sense of boundless consciousness also fades away and with this one may discern that one has shifted one's attention to the perception of nothingness or no-thing-ness.

One can then discern that the conscious attention to no-thing-ness requires both this very comprehensive and subtle kind of concentration of attention to no-thing and no qualities of any-thing together with the quality of consciousness. One may then discern that with the subtle shift of attention to the quality of consciousness itself one can discern the fading away of the consciousness of no-thing-ness.

One can not discern at this point how very subtle and slight and completely useless consciousness so concentrated and refined actually is because it is completely cut off from all other mental qualities and objects of consciousness but upon exiting from this concentration into any of the previous concentrations or into the ordinary forms of conscious attention one can reflect and readily conclude that, fully and absolutely concentrated and in isolation, the quality of consciousness is very subtle, slight and entirely useless.

When one has reduced the previously variously complicated and compounded nature of consciousness to the absolute limit of its simplification by means of the skillful employment of discernment, insight and concentration, one can then move on to examine what might be found if one proceeded to abandon the underlying quality of consciousness itself.

One then discovers that consciousness can indeed fully cease and that there is another kind of unmade, unborn and indescribable dhamma to be found in the absence of consciousness and the objects of consciousness or in other words in the absence of being and becoming.

One then discovers, for the first time, something sukkha, something indescribably pleasant and peaceful, something uncompounded, something neither born nor dying but that it too is without self or atta, that it too is anatta and upon emerging from this cessation one subsequently encounters the arising of incredible dispassion for all that is compounded and conscious together with an incredible relief to have finally encountered something else which is neither conscious nor compounded. One may then discern that one need only wait upon and cultivate this dispassion until it is also comprehensive and complete, while similarly waiting upon this dependently conditioned body and mind until these have run their course and then gratefully acquiesce into that that which remains, the directly known, supreme and lasting sukkha.

This is how discernment and concentration work together, in practice and in fact.

I now return you to the arguments about the much older, highly and justifiably venerated descriptions of this introspective process together with the very old comments on those older descriptions of this process. Thank you for your kind attention.
Last edited by nathan on Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:11 am, edited 4 times in total.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Dmytro » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:55 am

Hi Sylvester,

Sylvester wrote:You're still evading the elephant in the room. How is the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayabojjhanga indicated in red above different from the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayasambojjhanga in the suttas? The suttas which Dmytro and I cited clearly state that Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayasambojjhanga must have vicara, and be preceded by vitakka in Sati.


It seems this elephant is an illusion.

There's no 'must have' in the descriptions of 'dhamma-vicaya' I quote:

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=5582

For example, "parivīmaṃsa" without the "vicara" would still be dhamma-vicaya.

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Dmytro » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:14 am

Hi Sylvester,

Sylvester wrote:If this indulgence in the subha nimitta of a dhamma were such a bad thing, why would the Buddha have recommended it as part of the Third Vimokkha or as the Subha Vimokkha?


Indeed, why would the Buddha have recommended it?

In fact, he never recommended it. Subha Vimokkha is related to the development of Metta.

I see the Buddha teaching a gradual Path, and if niramisa sukha is not touched, how will His disciples desire to escape samisa sukha?


There's nothing wrong with niramisa sukkha per se, if there's no attachment to it.

As Buddha said:

"And how is one developed in body and developed in mind? There is the case where a pleasant feeling arises in a well-educated disciple of the noble ones. On being touched by the pleasant feeling, he doesn't become impassioned with pleasure, and is not reduced to being impassioned with pleasure.

...

"But perhaps there has never arisen in Master Gotama the sort of pleasant feeling that, having arisen, would invade the mind and remain."

...

"So when I had taken solid food and regained strength, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities, I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

As for the arupa-samapatti not having kamasanna, I hope you won't make the same logical mistake of the fallacy of denying the antecedent which Geoff committed with MN 43.


This sounds like an old manipulative trick: "I hope you don't beat your wife every day, don't you?".

If you would like a reply from me, please be more explicit.

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:27 am

nathan wrote:. . . I now return you to the arguments about the much older, highly and justifiably venerated descriptions of this introspective process together with the very old comments on those older descriptions of this process. Thank you for your kind attention.
While interesting, the above is subject to the same sort of problems illustrated in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=7654 Also, while the above's author may make certain experiential claim, others can, with no less justification, make claims that are at variance with them. There is something to be said for a careful consideration of the "old descriptions."
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