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 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:19 am

Hi Nana and Dmytro,

Ñāṇa wrote: Mind-produced form (cittajarūpa) suffuses every area where there is kamma-produced form (kammajarūpa).


The " Mind-produced form  suffuses the kamma-produced form,  but that is not to say that the mind-produced form receives external inputs from the outside/ the 5  senses world.

The stock formula describing the first jhana is :
“Here, a bhikkhu,  quite withdrawn  from sensuality ( kamehi) , withdrawn from ( vivicca : separating oneself from)  unwholesome mental states — And with vitakka  and vicara , rapture ( piti) , and happiness ( sukkha) born of solitude  he enters and abides in the first jhana.

Here, " quite withdrawn from sensuality " ( kamehi) , "kamehi" is from " kama". In this context both objective sensuality of the senses and subjective sensual defilements are intended here for  kama , just as in the Aneñja-sappaya Sutta as well. The   Maha Malunkyaputta Sutta - MN 64  gives more details to the instruction for the first jhana , and confirms that this is the case:

"Here, with seclusion from the acquisition ( upadhi-viveka) , with the abandoning of unwholesome states, with the complete tranquilizing of kāyaduṭṭhullānaṃ , withdrawn from  unwholesome mental states — And with vitakka  and vicara , rapture ( piti) , and happiness ( sukkha) born of solitude  he enters and abides in the first jhana."- MN 64 Sutta

Upadhi-viveka

Upadhi: For those who like to check with the Majjhima Nikaya Commentary, MA glosses upadhi here as the five cords of sensual  pleasure. Though the first three clauses of this statement seem to express the same ideas as the two more usual clauses that follow.  M indicates that they are intended to show the means for becoming " quite withdrawn from sensuality ( kamehi) , withdrawn from  unwholesome mental states "

Viveka: detachment, separation, seclusion



káma may denote: 

1.objective sensuality, the five sense-objects. 
2. subjective sensuality, 'sense-desire'; 

1. Objective sensuality is, in the canonical texts, mostly called káma-guna, 'cords (or strands) of sensuality'. "There are 5 cords of sensuality: the visible objects, cognizable by eye-consciousness, that are desirable, cherished, pleasant, lovely, sensuous and alluring; the sounds ... smells ... tastes ... bodily impressions cognizable by body-consciousness, that are desirable .... " (D. 33; M. 13, 26, 59, 66). 

2. Subjective sensuality, or sense-desire, is directed to all five sense-objects

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

Postby morning mist » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:21 am

Hi Dmytro and Nana, 

Ñāṇa wrote: And such indulgence can certainly be addictive. It can impede development whereby one gets stuck in a habitual pattern of "blissing-out……
 The pītisukha of jhāna can definitely become an object of deep attachment. Especially for anyone who has a predisposition for addiction. It's far better than any drug. And if one knows how to induce it, it's free.



About engaging in the pleasantness of jhana, the Latukikopama Sutta- MN 66 states:

"And, Udayin, there are these five strings of sensuality ( kama-guna) . Which five? Forms cognizable by the eye that are agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, provocative of desire, enticing. Sounds cognizable by the ear... Aromas cognizable by the nose... Flavors cognizable by the tongue... Tactile sensations cognizable by the body that are agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, provocative of desire, enticing. These are the five strings of sensuality ( kama-guna). 

Now, any pleasure & happiness that arises dependent on these five strings of sensuality is called sensual pleasure ( kama-sukha), a filthy pleasure, a coarse pleasure, an ignoble pleasure. And of this pleasure I say that it is not to be cultivated, not to be developed, not to be pursued, that it is to be feared.

“Here, Udayin,  quite withdrawn from sensuality ( kamehi) , withdrawn from ( vivicca)  unwholesome mental states ….. he enters and abides in the first jhana. With the subsiding (vupasama) of  vitakkavicaranam … he enters and abides in the Second jhana. With the fading away of rapture  (piti) as well…he enters and abides in the Third jhana. …And with mindfulness fully purified by equanimity, he enters and abides in the fourth jhana. 

“This is called the bliss of leading a holy life ( nekkhamma-sukham, bliss of renunciation) , bliss of seclusion ( paviveka-sukham ) , calm-pleasure ( upasama-sukham ), bliss of awakening ( sambodha-sukham ).  And of  this kind of pleasure , I say that it should be cultivated ( asevitabham, asevita: associated, practiced, frequented) , should be developed ( bhavetabha: should be cultivated) , should be pursued ( bahuli-katabbam, bahuli: to make much of , katabbam:  what ought to be done, can or must be done ) , that it should not be feared ( na bhayitabbam) . "- Latukikopama Sutta


For those into Commentaries, "MA explains the jhanas as -

1. the bliss of leading a holy life ( nekkhamma-sukham, bliss of renunciation) -because they yield the bliss of renouncing sensual pleasures
2. bliss of seclusion ( paviveka-sukham ) - because they yield the bliss of being secluded from the crowd and from defilements
3. calm-pleasure ( upasama-sukham ) - because their bliss if for the purpose of quieting down the defilements
4. bliss of awakening ( sambodha-sukham )- because their bliss is for the purpose of attaining enlightenment.

The jhanas themselves , of course, are not states of enlightenment."




We see the Aranavibhanga Sutta MN 139 suggests the pleasantness of jhana should be pursued, while in MN 138 it states that the pleasantness found in each states of jhana should be abandoned. How to make sense of this. The  Buddha mentioned both aspects of developing and abandoning the pleasantness of jhana in MN 66.

As you can see above that the Buddha started out asserting that the pleasantness of jhana should be cultivated , developed ,pursued , and that it should not be feared .  Later on he taught them to let go of the pleasantness found in each jhana to move from one jhana to the next, or to lead them beyond "Neither Perception- nor Non- Perception" and abides in the "Cessation of Perceptions and Feelings" .



“Here, Udayin, quite withdrawn from sensuality ( kamehi) , withdrawn from ( vivicca) unwholesome mental states — And with vitakka and vicara , rapture ( piti) , and happiness ( sukkha) born of solitude he enters and abides in the first jhana. That, I tell you, comes under vacilliation ( injitasmim, injita: shaken, moved, movement, vacillation, perturbable) . And what comes under vacillation there? The vitakka and vicara that haven't ceased there: that's what comes under vacillation . Here, Udayin, with the subsiding of  vitakkavicaranam ,  the mind is inwardly assured and brought to a single point . Free from vitakka and  vicara ,  with rapture ( piti) and happiness ( sukkha)  born from concentration ( samadhija) , he enters and abides in the Second jhana. That, I tell you, comes under vacilliation ( injitasmim, injita: shaken, moved, movement, vacillation, perturbable) . And what comes under vacillation there? The rapture and pleasure ( pitisukham) that haven't ceased there: that's what comes under vacillation . With the fading away of rapture  (piti) as well,  he abides equanimous, mindful and fully aware. Experiencing happiness with the body, he enters and abides in the Third jhana. About which the noble ones declare:  ‘Abiding in sukha ( sukhavihari’ti) , mindful , equanimous . ‘ That, I tell you, comes under vacilliation ( injitasmim, injita: shaken, moved, movement, vacillation, perturbable) . And what comes under vacillation there? The equanimity-pleasure ( upekkhasukham) that haven't ceased there: that's what comes under vacillation . He abandons  pleasure and pain, 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.  Now this, I say, does not vacillate ( comes under the imperturbable) .

“Here, Udayin, quite withdrawn from sensuality ( kamehi) , withdrawn from ( vivicca) unwholesome mental states — And with vitakka and vicara , rapture ( piti) , and happiness ( sukkha) born of solitude he enters and abides in the first jhana. That, I say, is insufficient ( anala: not enough, not sufficient) . Abandon it, I say. Passing beyond it ( samatikkamatha) , I say. And what is passing beyond it? Here, Udayin, with the subsiding of  vitakkavicaranam ,  the mind is inwardly assured and brought to a single point . Free from vitakka and  vicara ,  with rapture ( piti) and happiness ( sukkha)  born from concentration ( samadhija) , he enters and abides in the Second jhana. That is passing beyond it. But that too, I say, is insufficient ( anala: not enough, not sufficient) . Abandon it, I say. Passing beyond it ( samatikkamatha) , I say. And what is passing beyond it? With the fading away of rapture  (piti) as well… he enters and abides in the Third jhana. … That is passing beyond it. But that too, I say, is insufficient ( anala: not enough, not sufficient) . Abandon it, I say. Passing beyond it ( samatikkamatha) , I say. And what is passing beyond it? He abandons  pleasure and pain… enters and abides in the fourth jhana. That is passing beyond it. But that too, I say, is insufficient ( anala: not enough, not sufficient) . Abandon it, I say. Passing beyond it ( samatikkamatha) , I say. And what is passing beyond it? Here Udayin, a bhikkhu completely passes beyond the perception of form ( rupa sannanam, rupa: form, material composition, Sannanam:  perception).  With the setting down of all sense of resistence ( patigha-sannanam ) , not attending to the perception of diversity ( nanatta sannanam amanasikara) ,   aware that :’ space is infinite,' he enters and abide in the Sphere of Infinity of Space.  That is passing beyond it. But that too, I say, is insufficient ( anala: not enough, not sufficient) . Abandon it, I say. Passing beyond it ( samatikkamatha) , I say. And what is passing beyond it? Here Udayin, a bhikkhu completely passes beyond the Sphere of Infinity of Space and with the awareness that 'Consciousness is Infinite', he enters and abides in the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness.  That is passing beyond it. But that too, I say, is insufficient ( anala: not enough, not sufficient) . Abandon it, I say. Passing beyond it ( samatikkamatha) , I say. And what is passing beyond it? Here Udayin, a bhikkhu completely passes beyond the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness and aware that there is ’ nothing', he abides in the Sphere of Nothingness. That is passing beyond it. But that too, I say, is insufficient ( anala: not enough, not sufficient) . Abandon it, I say. Passing beyond it ( samatikkamatha) , I say. And what is passing beyond it? Here Udayin, a bhikkhu completely passes beyond the Sphere of Nothingness and abides in the Sphere of Neither -Perception- nor Non- Perception. That is passing beyond it. But that too, I say, is insufficient ( anala: not enough, not sufficient) . Abandon it, I say. Passing beyond it ( samatikkamatha) , I say. And what is passing beyond it? Here Udayin, a bhikkhu completely passes beyond the Sphere of Neither -Perception- nor Non- Perception and abides in the Cessation of Perceptions and Feelings. That is passing beyond it. Thus I speak of even the abandoning of the Sphere of Neither -Perception- nor Non- Perception. Do you see any fetter, large or small, of whose abandoning I don't speak?"
"No, lord."
- MN 66 :Latukikopama Sutta



Someone read this statement and came to the conclusion that we should not practice jhana at all or engage in the pleasantness of jhana: "Thus I speak of even the abandoning of the Sphere of Neither -Perception- nor Non- Perception. Do you see any fetter, large or small, of whose abandoning I don't speak?"


But here it only means that someone in the state of Neither -Perception- nor Non- Perception should go beyond it to the " Cessation of Perception and Feelings :

"Here Udayin, a bhikkhu completely passes beyond the Sphere of Nothingness and abides in the Sphere of Neither -Perception- nor Non- Perception. That is passing beyond it. But that too, I say, is insufficient ( anala: not enough, not sufficient) . Abandon it, I say. Passing beyond it ( samatikkamatha) , I say.

And what is passing beyond it? Here Udayin, a bhikkhu completely passes beyond the Sphere of Neither -Perception- nor Non- Perception and abides in the Cessation of Perceptions and Feelings. That is passing beyond it. "


Dmytro wrote: I hope that this "Early Buddhism" thing will evolve to accurate and non-biased definition of terms, directly based on the most reliable texts possible, and this will help to make the meditative practice truly enlightening.


It's great having the opportunity to discuss dhamma . Hopefully things can become more clear in the process. After all we are on the same path, perhaps with different interpretation. But we shouldn't let that come between us. Discussion can be helpful sometimes (But that is not to say that it can replace practice) . Best wishes on your path.

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

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:51 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:this body/kaya is also incapable of establishing phassa with jhanic pitisukha

Kāyapasāda rūpa is spread throughout the whole body, and can be a mental object (dhammārammaṇa) directly cognized by mental consciousness (manoviññāṇa). In fact, all five sensorial forms (pasādarūpa) can be mental objects directly cognized by mental consciousness. This is how mental consciousness can directly cognize a light nimitta when one's eyes are closed without the occurrence of eye-consciousness, and can directly cognize the inner body being saturated with pītisukha without the occurrence of body-consciousness. Moreover, the phenomenology has already been established by the Peṭakopadesa and the Dīghanikāyaṭīkā. The Peṭakopadesa:

    The twofold bodily and mental pain does not arise in one steadied in directed thought and evaluation, and the twofold bodily and mental pleasure does arise. The mental pleasure thus produced from directed thought is joy, while the bodily pleasure is bodily feeling.

The Dīghanikāyaṭīkā:

    Mind-produced form (cittajarūpa) suffuses every area where there is kamma-produced form (kammajarūpa).


You'll forgive me Geoff, if I find your resort to these exegetical devices of some deus ex machina quite unnecessary. Where in the suttas or Abhidhamma is it stated that there's this ghostly Commentarial "kāyapasāda rūpa" present in Jhana?

As for the Peta's "twofold bodily and mental pleasure", why should the Peta's kayika sukha and cetasika sukha be any different from SN 36.6's division of kayika vedana and cetasika vedana where kayika vedana includes vedana from any of the 6 senses, while cetasika vedana allows only for manosamphassa vedana?
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:22 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Those who claim that Jhana is a nice pleasant feeling and perception of the body forget that kāyaviññeyyā phoṭṭhabbā belongs to the kāmā and the Buddha specifically identifies jhanic sukha as "having nothing to do with kāmā" (MN 36.32). Worse, those who identify jhanic pleasure as pleasurable phoṭṭhabbā /tactility conveniently forget the Buddha's admonition in MN 66 against cultivating such "a filthy pleasure, a coarse pleasure, an ignoble pleasure", in contrast to the "sambodhi sukha" that are Jhanic sukha (MN 66.19 - 21).


Not only is your understanding of sensual pleasure and the strands of sensual pleasure mistaken, now you're demonstrating that you have no experiential knowledge of the subject at hand. The pītisukha that I'm talking about has nothing whatsoever to do with kāma. They are completely different planes of experience. In comparison to the pītisukha of jhāna, even the most ecstatic kāma is gross -- a violent psychosomatic seizure. For anyone who's experienced both, there's no possibility of thinking that the pītisukha of jhāna and kāma induced pleasure are even remotely similar.


Excellent. Then may we sing a Requiem for the following interpretation of kāmā in "vivicc'eva kamehi" -

Secondly, these five strands of sensual pleasure are those external sensory objects that are considered to be desirable, lovely, agreeable, endearing, sensually enticing, and tantalizing. And so it isn’t all sensory objects whatsoever that the meditator need to withdraw from. ...

Thus external sensory objects are only strands of sensual pleasure if they are agreeable, sensually enticing and tantalizing.

viewtopic.php?f=33&t=5761#p89676


Or do you persist in conflating the kāmā with the kamaguna?

I don't understand why you are prepared to only say -

The pītisukha that I'm talking about has nothing whatsoever to do with kāma. (singular)


when the Buddha goes much further and says -

‘na kho ahaṃ tassa sukhassa bhāyāmi, yaṃ taṃ sukhaṃ aññatreva kāmehi aññatra akusalehi dhammehī’ti

'So why am I afraid of that pleasure which has nothing to do with kāmā (plural), nothing to do with unwholesome states?
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:36 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:
Your suggestion that vipassanā should require engagement in discursive thought fails to appreciate the subtleties of the process.


I can hardly take credit for this. The Buddha himself stated so.

As already indicated, the seven factors of awakening are a model of the conditioned process explaining how right mindfulness, right effort/right exertion, and right samādhi are to be developed and integrated. The process model of the seven factors of awakening is directly related to the process model of the four jhānas. Insight can be developed at every stage of the seven factors of awakening, and therefore in every jhāna. In fact, there can be no gnosis without it. SN 46.71 Anicca Sutta: ...


Frankly, I don't see how this sutta helps your cause of an avitakka avicara dhammavicaya operating in Jhana. There is no such animal.

As far as I can see, the only nexus when all 7 Bojjhangas collide is in upacara samadhi, when it is possible to have vitakka vicara to drive dhammavicaya. But that's just the sutta position. You can keep harping on the Vibhanga and Dhammasangani presentation of "lokuttara jhana-s" but that is not what the Dhammasangani says - that is the Commentarial interpretation of the Dhammasangani's super-gigantic iddapaccayata cluster.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:07 am

Sylvester wrote:Or do you persist in conflating the kāmā with the kamaguna?

I don't understand why you are prepared to only say -

The pītisukha that I'm talking about has nothing whatsoever to do with kāma. (singular)


I have never conflated kāmagunā with kāmā. In accord with MN 38 Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta, a phenomenon is reckoned by the particular condition dependent upon which it arises. Kāmā (plural) as mental defilements, refers to the diversity of sensual pleasures (kāmānaṃ vemattatā). AN 6.63 Nibbedhika Sutta:

    And what is the diversity of sensual pleasures? Sensual pleasure with regard to forms is one thing, sensual pleasure with regard to sounds is another, sensual pleasure with regard to odors is another, sensual pleasure with regard to flavors is another, sensual pleasure with regard to tactual sensations is another. This is called the diversity of sensual pleasures.

Singular vs. plural makes no difference. Kāmā are either objects or defilements which arise in dependence upon those objects. All of which are merely designated for the sake of classification. Moreover, as Nettippakaraṇa 4.22 states:

    The five strands of sensual pleasure are the proximate cause (padaṭṭhāna) of passion for sensual pleasure. The five faculties with form are the proximate cause of passion for form. The sixth sense sphere is the proximate cause of passion for existence.

Thus, if one is not attending to the five kāmaguṇas there is no proximate cause for the occurrence of passion for sensual pleasure (kāmarāga) with regard to any of those five kāmaguṇas. The five faculties (eye-, ear, nose-, tongue-, and body-) don't serve as a proximate cause for the occurrence of sensual pleasure. It's also worth mentioning that the five faculties (pañcindriyāni) are not "shut off" in jhāna, as they are the proximate cause for attachment to rūpāvacara phenomena (i.e. rūparāga).

Sylvester wrote:You'll forgive me Geoff, if I find your resort to these exegetical devices of some deus ex machina quite unnecessary. Where in the suttas or Abhidhamma is it stated that there's this ghostly Commentarial "kāyapasāda rūpa" present in Jhana?

Nothing "ghostly" about it. In canonical terms, pasādarūpa refers to the first five of the six internal sense spheres (ajjhattikāni āyatanāni) and the first five of the six sense faculties (indriyas). The point is that mental consciousness can directly cognize these five internal sense spheres. If this were not so there would be no possibility of congizing light nimittas or the inner felt-sense of the body. Neither of these phenomena arise in dependence upon contact between the internal and external sense spheres of the eye/form or body/tactual sensation.

Sylvester wrote:As for the Peta's "twofold bodily and mental pleasure", why should the Peta's kayika sukha and cetasika sukha be any different from SN 36.6's division of kayika vedana and cetasika vedana where kayika vedana includes vedana from any of the 6 senses, while cetasika vedana allows only for manosamphassa vedana?

Your interpretation of SN 36.6 remains novel and unsupported by anything other than your own hermeneutic cartweels. :tongue:

All the best,

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

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:14 am

Sylvester wrote:Frankly, I don't see how this sutta helps your cause of an avitakka avicara dhammavicaya operating in Jhana. There is no such animal.

Another non-starter. In suttanta terms, perception of impermanence (aniccasaññā) is the development of insight. The seven factors of awakening are a process model which includes the process model of the four jhānas.

Sylvester wrote:but that is not what the Dhammasangani says - that is the Commentarial interpretation of the Dhammasangani's super-gigantic iddapaccayata cluster.

It is precisely what the Dhammasaṅgaṇī says. Once again, there is no need for novel hermeneutic cartwheels....

All the best,

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

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:28 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Kāmā (plural) as mental defilements, refers to the diversity of sensual pleasures (kāmānaṃ vemattatā). AN 6.63 Nibbedhika Sutta:

    And what is the diversity of sensual pleasures? Sensual pleasure with regard to forms is one thing, sensual pleasure with regard to sounds is another, sensual pleasure with regard to odors is another, sensual pleasure with regard to flavors is another, sensual pleasure with regard to tactual sensations is another. This is called the diversity of sensual pleasures.


What an odd translation of -

Katamā ca, bhikkhave, kāmānaṃ vemattatā? Añño, bhikkhave, kāmo rūpesu, añño kāmo saddesu, añño kāmo gandhesu, añño kāmo rasesu, añño kāmo phoṭṭhabbesu. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, kāmānaṃ vemattatā.


You are translating "kāmo" as sensual pleasure, as if kāmo were a vedana? Oh please. Cease this acrobatics at once. Whose translation is this, if not yours? Or did you just conveniently use Ajahn Thanissaro's translation and simply replaced his "sensuality" with your "sensual pleasure"? Just because Ven Bodhi translates "kāmā" as "sensual pleasures" to refer to sensual objects, does not mean all occurences of "sensual pleasures" in the CDB were kāmā. You're repeating the same distortion that you tried pulling off here - viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6785&start=0#p109333.

It's obvious that "kāmo" above does not mean sense object or sensual sukha, but sankapparaga, where this very same equation is made a few lines earlier in the sutta.

I'm not agile enough for cartwheels, but just agile enough to catch you at your antics. :juggling:
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:51 pm

Sylvester wrote:Just because Ven Bodhi translates "kāmā" as "sensual pleasures" to refer to sensual objects, does not mean all occurences of "sensual pleasures" in the CDB were kāmā.

Ven. Bodhi translates kāma (singular) as "sensual pleasure." Based on the Pāli and Sanskrit for kāma this is accurate. Better than "sensuality." At any rate, there is no point in pursuing this discussion any further. I'm following Dmytro's lead and retiring. Be well.

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

Postby Dmytro » Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:40 am

Hi Geoff,

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:As for the Peta's "twofold bodily and mental pleasure", why should the Peta's kayika sukha and cetasika sukha be any different from SN 36.6's division of kayika vedana and cetasika vedana where kayika vedana includes vedana from any of the 6 senses, while cetasika vedana allows only for manosamphassa vedana?

Your interpretation of SN 36.6 remains novel and unsupported by anything other than your own hermeneutic cartweels. :tongue:


This seems like a reference to Mahasatipatthana sutta:

393. "Katama~nca, bhikkhave, dukkha.m? Ya.m kho, bhikkhave, kaayika.m dukkha.m kaayika.m asaata.m kaayasamphassaja.m dukkha.m asaata.m vedayita.m, ida.m vuccati, bhikkhave, dukkha.m.

394. "Katama~nca, bhikkhave, domanassa.m? Ya.m kho, bhikkhave, cetasika.m dukkha.m cetasika.m asaata.m manosamphassaja.m dukkha.m asaata.m vedayita.m, ida.m vuccati, bhikkhave, domanassa.m.

"And what is pain? Whatever is experienced as bodily pain, bodily discomfort, pain or discomfort born of bodily contact, that is called pain.

"And what is distress? Whatever is experienced as mental pain, mental discomfort, pain or discomfort born of mental contact, that is called distress.

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

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

Postby mogg » Fri Apr 12, 2013 3:52 am

I think Venerable Yuttadhammo is teaching incorrect dhamma with respect to Jhana as I understand it from the Pali canon. His video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF4K0bnxrLA

flies contrary to everything I know and have been taught regarding the Buddha's dispensation. Can I get some feedback from the learned academics on here as to whether I am correct in this assumption or whether the venerable is in fact teaching correctly?

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

Postby Reductor » Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:16 am

mogg wrote:I think Venerable Yuttadhammo is teaching incorrect dhamma with respect to Jhana as I understand it from the Pali canon. His video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF4K0bnxrLA

flies contrary to everything I know and have been taught regarding the Buddha's dispensation. Can I get some feedback from the learned academics on here as to whether I am correct in this assumption or whether the venerable is in fact teaching correctly?

With metta.


Sounds fine to me. Since you cite the pali canon, I'd ask you to offer a sutta or two, or three, that contradicts the Venerable.

Maybe you could start a new thread?
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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

Postby mogg » Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:00 am

Reductor wrote:
mogg wrote:I think Venerable Yuttadhammo is teaching incorrect dhamma with respect to Jhana as I understand it from the Pali canon. His video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF4K0bnxrLA

flies contrary to everything I know and have been taught regarding the Buddha's dispensation. Can I get some feedback from the learned academics on here as to whether I am correct in this assumption or whether the venerable is in fact teaching correctly?

With metta.


Sounds fine to me. Since you cite the pali canon, I'd ask you to offer a sutta or two, or three, that contradicts the Venerable.

Maybe you could start a new thread?


How about MN 66.21 "This is called the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment. I say of this kind of pleasure that it should be pursued, that it should be developed, that it should be cultivated, that it should not be feared."

The whole idea that one can become attached to jhana is incorrect dhamma IMO. I also consider the proposed dual vipassana samatha paths as being spurious. They are conjoined in my experience, and this is supported by MN 52.4
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Reductor » Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:45 am

mogg wrote:
Reductor wrote:
mogg wrote:I think Venerable Yuttadhammo is teaching incorrect dhamma with respect to Jhana as I understand it from the Pali canon. His video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF4K0bnxrLA

flies contrary to everything I know and have been taught regarding the Buddha's dispensation. Can I get some feedback from the learned academics on here as to whether I am correct in this assumption or whether the venerable is in fact teaching correctly?

With metta.


Sounds fine to me. Since you cite the pali canon, I'd ask you to offer a sutta or two, or three, that contradicts the Venerable.

Maybe you could start a new thread?


How about MN 66.21 "This is called the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment. I say of this kind of pleasure that it should be pursued, that it should be developed, that it should be cultivated, that it should not be feared."

The whole idea that one can become attached to jhana is incorrect dhamma IMO. I also consider the proposed dual vipassana samatha paths as being spurious. They are conjoined in my experience, and this is supported by MN 52.4


Well and good, Mogg.

The venerable is talking about the use of 'jhana' as a word, and talks about how 'jhana' is used in the suttas verses how the commentary uses the word 'jhana'.

In the commentary, he is saying, the distinction between samatha and vippasana leads to the conclusion that samataha goes to 'jhana' while vippasana goes to 'insight'. He says that the 'jhana' being discussed in the commentary is a fixed focus on a mental construct, which leads to a kind of a very pronounced calm that could be attached to.

He then says that focus on a mental construct like that could be helpful, but that the experience from such a focus is not the experience being referred to in the suttas when the word 'jhana' is used. He's saying that in the suttas the word 'jhana' referes to the mind which is being directed toward clear seeing once it has shed the hinderances. That is, in the suttas vippasana and 'jhana' are seen as occuring in the same meditation practice. They are not duel, but two facets of proper practice.

This conception of 'jhana' as going with vippasana still allows jhana to be a very pleasant experience, and integral to the path.

Venerable then concludes that you shouldn't get to preoccupied with concepts like 'jhana' but just practice meditation properly and let these aspects develop in due course.

Anyway, either I don't understand your complaint, or you don't understand Yuttadhammo (or I don't understand Yuttadhammo :rolleye: ).
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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

Postby mogg » Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:52 am

Reductor wrote:Well and good, Mogg.

The venerable is talking about the use of 'jhana' as a word, and talks about how 'jhana' is used in the suttas verses how the commentary uses the word 'jhana'.

In the commentary, he is saying, the distinction between samatha and vippasana leads to the conclusion that samataha goes to 'jhana' while vippasana goes to 'insight'. He says that the 'jhana' being discussed in the commentary is a fixed focus on a mental construct, which leads to a kind of a very pronounced calm that could be attached to.

He then says that focus on a mental construct like that could be helpful, but that the experience from such a focus is not the experience being referred to in the suttas when the word 'jhana' is used. He's saying that in the suttas the word 'jhana' referes to the mind which is being directed toward clear seeing once it has shed the hinderances. That is, in the suttas vippasana and 'jhana' are seen as occuring in the same meditation practice. They are not duel, but two facets of proper practice.

This conception of 'jhana' as going with vippasana still allows jhana to be a very pleasant experience, and integral to the path.

Venerable then concludes that you shouldn't get to preoccupied with concepts like 'jhana' but just practice meditation properly and let these aspects develop in due course.

Anyway, either I don't understand your complaint, or you don't understand Yuttadhammo (or I don't understand Yuttadhammo :rolleye: ).

OK, thanks Reductor. If thats what he was saying then I must have misunderstood his intent. What you said conforms to my own limited understanding of jhana and insight. I tend to shy away from the commentaries so that could account for the misunderstanding.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Reductor » Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:36 am

mogg wrote:
Reductor wrote:Well and good, Mogg.

The venerable is talking about the use of 'jhana' as a word, and talks about how 'jhana' is used in the suttas verses how the commentary uses the word 'jhana'.

In the commentary, he is saying, the distinction between samatha and vippasana leads to the conclusion that samataha goes to 'jhana' while vippasana goes to 'insight'. He says that the 'jhana' being discussed in the commentary is a fixed focus on a mental construct, which leads to a kind of a very pronounced calm that could be attached to.

He then says that focus on a mental construct like that could be helpful, but that the experience from such a focus is not the experience being referred to in the suttas when the word 'jhana' is used. He's saying that in the suttas the word 'jhana' referes to the mind which is being directed toward clear seeing once it has shed the hinderances. That is, in the suttas vippasana and 'jhana' are seen as occuring in the same meditation practice. They are not duel, but two facets of proper practice.

This conception of 'jhana' as going with vippasana still allows jhana to be a very pleasant experience, and integral to the path.

Venerable then concludes that you shouldn't get to preoccupied with concepts like 'jhana' but just practice meditation properly and let these aspects develop in due course.

Anyway, either I don't understand your complaint, or you don't understand Yuttadhammo (or I don't understand Yuttadhammo :rolleye: ).

OK, thanks Reductor. If thats what he was saying then I must have misunderstood his intent. What you said conforms to my own limited understanding of jhana and insight. I tend to shy away from the commentaries so that could account for the misunderstanding.


Well, I've listened to it a few times, and I agree its not a really clear answer.

The thrust of what he's saying, and I hope to be more accurate than I was above, is that commentary makes the distinction of 'samatha (jhana)' and 'vippasana (insight)'. He goes on to say that 'jhana' can occur with 'vippasana' and is properly called 'vippasana jhana', which allows that jhana and vippasana go together as proper mediation (which echos back to the suttas, in my mind - and yours, too, I would gather).

He does not say the commentary is wrong. And he's continues to qualify this integrated 'jhana' with the term 'vippasana', as if it is not proper to call is 'jhana' without qualification. But this might well be a tactful way to sidestep the traditionalists while practising closer to the original meaning of 'jhana' (a theory that is not mine, but that I've read from well versed Buddhist on this very forum -- I will not name him in case I've gotten it wrong).

Anyway, I do agree with Venerable that 'jhana' (whether qualified or not) is properly integrated in healthy practice, although the word itself mostly causes a lot of confusion because of the difference between the suttas and commentary.

Oh, well. If I've made any factual mistakes about what Yuttadhammo is saying, I trust someone will point them out to me.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:33 pm

Reductor wrote:The thrust of what he's saying, and I hope to be more accurate than I was above, is that commentary makes the distinction of 'samatha (jhana)' and 'vippasana (insight)'. He goes on to say that 'jhana' can occur with 'vippasana' and is properly called 'vippasana jhana', which allows that jhana and vippasana go together as proper mediation (which echos back to the suttas, in my mind - and yours, too, I would gather).


I think it depends on what we mean by "vipassana", there seem to be a number of different interpretations and methods. If for example it means paying close attention to bodily sensation, then I don't see much difference from anapanasati, which arguably is a means of developing both jhana and vipassana.

It also depends on what we mean by "jhana" and "samatha". ;)
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby thelotuseffect » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:42 pm

Its good to see such a discussion occur. This is a very critical point in the development of a western tradition :)

I, too, am of the opinion jhana and vipassana must be yoked together, as per the suttas suggest. This is the easiest and most sublime way towards nibbana. Handling objects within the mind without losing calm stability and wise reflection is the craft that leads to realisation of the four noble truths and a pleasant abiding here and now.
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:25 pm

The blog post seems to have been either deleted or moved. You can read the blog and comments at this archive: http://web.archive.org/web/201307201524 ... he-jhanas/

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

Postby waterchan » Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:48 pm

mikenz66 wrote:The blog post seems to have been either deleted or moved. You can read the blog and comments at this archive: http://web.archive.org/web/201307201524 ... he-jhanas/

:anjali:
Mike


Thanks! I've been wanting to re-read this for a while now. :goodpost:

It was deleted, not moved, because I've searched for the entry on his blog all the way back to the month in 2009 before it was posted. It does not exist anymore.

I remember seeing some pretty good rebuttals in that the comments of that post, but they seem to be missing from the web archive. Maybe they were deleted at some point.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
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