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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - The Great Jhana Debate

The Great Jhana Debate

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:30 pm

Daverupa,

You are exactly right. The suttas are filled with such kinds of statements. And I also feel that rūpasaññā is related to aggregate of form which are present in 4 Jhānas. What makes something an immaterial (rather than material) attainment is the absence of perception of matter.

rūpa/arūpa Jhana simply reinforce the presence of perception of matter in 4 Jhānas.

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby reflection » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:53 pm

Freawaru wrote:too.

It is my experience that during absorption and states of high concentration (such as "flow" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_%28psychology%29 ) there can also be sati. And there can also be other functions such as volition and observation and analysis. It is very much like riding a horse ( viewtopic.php?f=16&t=8448 ). When doing it in the right way the "horse" will obey the rider's will immediately and without resistance - it is called "throughness" in the case of a horse, don't know what it is called in Pali when taken in the context of jhana). This mental "throughness" during jhana is very useful to practice sati and analysis and the key to use "openings".

Hi Freawaru,

May I ask you: Who is this rider you are referring to?

Absorption is like a horse that throws of the rider.

:namaste:
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:30 pm

Alex123 wrote:Daverupa,

You are exactly right. The suttas are filled with such kinds of statements. And I also feel that rūpasaññā is related to aggregate of form which are present in 4 Jhānas. What makes something an immaterial (rather than material) attainment is the absence of perception of matter.

rūpa/arūpa Jhana simply reinforce the presence of perception of matter in 4 Jhānas.

Alex


I wondered if this Sutta contradicted something elsewhere in the SuttaVinaya, or if it only contradicted later sources (up to and including modern-day practitioners).
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:54 pm

daverupa wrote:[
I wondered if this Sutta contradicted something elsewhere in the SuttaVinaya, or if it only contradicted later sources (up to and including modern-day practitioners).


It doesn't contradict in that sense.

Also, I suggest reading that part in MN152 where the Buddha ridiculed development of faculties as being able to enter the state where one doesn't see or hear.

"There is the case where one does not see forms with the eye, or hear sounds with the ear [in a trance of non-perception]. That's how the brahman Parasiri teaches his followers the development of the faculties."

"That being the case, Uttara, then a blind person will have developed faculties, and a deaf person will have developed faculties, according to the words of the brahman Parasiri. For a blind person does not see forms with the eye, and a deaf person does not hear sounds with the ear."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


IMHO, it is much better to develop peace based on wisdom rather than getting into a "dark cave" where one doesn't see or hear anything (and thus doesn't at that time suffer from that). Peace should be through elimination of the desire & passion, kilesas, etc, not through mere suppression of seeing,hearing,smelling, tasting, touching itself. In this life, escape from the 5 senses is the removal of desire & passion. Not becoming blind, deaf, mute and so on.

"The subduing of desire & passion for consciousness, the abandoning of desire & passion for consciousness: that is the escape from consciousness." - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Same for other 4 khandhas.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:09 pm

Hi Alex, Sylvester,

Kama refers to those sense objects, from the five senses, that are enticing. The breath and one's own body is not.

To give up craving for sense objects is to give up the craving to see, to hear etc as well. This leads very well to internalising one's focus away from the 5 sense bases. But of course, the mind sense is intact- hence the action of the hindrances and the upakilesas (upakilesa sutta) remain. When even these are overcome we are heading into deep samadhi territory. The journey is well explained in positive terms in the anapanasati sutta (ie in reference to the changes of the breath, the arising of niramisa piti sukha and other changes to the mind). The upakilesa sutta mentions the light in some detail. That's how I see it, based on the suttas cross referenced with personal experience.

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:47 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hi Alex, Sylvester,
Kama refers to those sense objects, from the five senses, that are enticing. The breath and one's own body is not.


So are you saying that there are no enticing objects in Rūpa-Loka? Are you saying that an Arahant or the Buddha cannot see any sight that is considered enticing in the world?

rowyourboat wrote:To give up craving for sense objects is to give up the craving to see, to hear etc as well.


As I understand it, one gives up the craving itself.

One can see, hear, etc, with craving or without craving. Buddha could see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. Does this mean that He had craving for seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking? Was He full of Kama in order to be able to see, hear, etc?
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Freawaru » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:49 pm

Hi Reflection,

reflection wrote:Hi Freawaru,

May I ask you: Who is this rider you are referring to?


The question "who" cannot be answered because "who?" requires a personality as an answer. The correct question would be "what?". Because the term "mind" is not defined exactly and used differently by different people I will use a term from modern science: brain. Both "horse" and "rider" are processes of the brain.

"The horse" are specific processes and the "rider" are other processes. A process that is part of the "rider" is sati. Processes that are part of the horse are "walking", thinking, imagining, the personality, and so on.

Absorption is like a horse that throws of the rider.

:namaste:


Do you think so? Think of how you are when absorbed in a book or in a debate - do you have this impression afterwards. That the "rider" had been thrown of?
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby reflection » Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:43 pm

Freawaru wrote:Hi Reflection,

reflection wrote:Hi Freawaru,

May I ask you: Who is this rider you are referring to?


The question "who" cannot be answered because "who?" requires a personality as an answer. The correct question would be "what?". Because the term "mind" is not defined exactly and used differently by different people I will use a term from modern science: brain. Both "horse" and "rider" are processes of the brain.

"The horse" are specific processes and the "rider" are other processes. A process that is part of the "rider" is sati. Processes that are part of the horse are "walking", thinking, imagining, the personality, and so on.

Hi Frea!

Thanks for your explanation. I think you mean what I call 'acting' and 'seeing'. Or 'doing' and 'knowing'. In the brain no 'main center' is found, so no real rider. Processes happen in parallel. Of course this corresponds with the Buddhist view of no self. So YEEYH for Buddhism :toast:


Absorption is like a horse that throws of the rider.

:namaste:


Do you think so? Think of how you are when absorbed in a book or in a debate - do you have this impression afterwards. That the "rider" had been thrown of?

Yes, I think so. But absorbed in a book or debate is totally different from a mental absorption. Not comparable. Absorption in meditation is unlike anything else experienced. As I've said before there are no senses active so you can't even read a book or hear a debate. ;) In Jhana the mind looks at itself with the doing part inactive. The will (the doing) is so still it can not do anything, so you can't come out by will. This is why it is called absorption. For a bit more of a description on how it is totally unlike reading a book ;) , see for example this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1oK4Vt_ntY

As also described in the video, you can start to see that it is actually empty inside (after you come out). That's why Jhana does not oppose insights as some claim. In fact they are highly productive, even unmissable. I think the other kinds of 'numbed down jhanas' are therefore not what the Buddha meant. That doesn't mean they are not helpful and usable in their own right, of course. Maybe some brave souls can produce very deep insights with that kind of concentration, they seem to appear in some suttas. However I'm sure the "commentary Jhanas" and "sutta Jhanas" are meant to be the same thing and one who wants to get enlightened needs to cultivate them.

However I'm starting to repeat things I've already said before. I think it's not that bad to misjudge what a jhana actually is as long as one doesn't think s/he experienced them while s/he actually didn't. So to avoid going in circles just to try and prove something quite useless I'll think I'll leave it at this and let everybody decide for themselves.

:namaste:
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:14 pm

reflection wrote:The will (the doing) is so still it can not do anything, so you can't come out by will.

This is a good definition of wrong samādhi.

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:31 pm

So are you saying that there are no enticing objects in Rūpa-Loka? Are you saying that an Arahant or the Buddha cannot see any sight that is considered enticing in the world?


No and no. Kama-tanha is the hindrance, not rupa-raga, arupa-raga. Buddhas can see enticing things when they are not secluded from it.

One can see, hear, etc, with craving or without craving. Buddha could see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. Does this mean that He had craving for seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking? Was He full of Kama in order to be able to see, hear, etc?


I think without the craving to use the sense doors there would be more inclination towards seclusion, to renunciation, to not take the signs or the details- they just wouldn't be interested. :shrug: in fact there seems to be some anecdotal evidence that arahanths don't even focus their eyes. Rather this 'vacant gaze' sees the cessation of the universe, I like to think. In anycase as long as there is life and the faculties are working, the mind and body are working, consciousness will arise and they will see. :meditate: ..which is why I think that in rupa jhana they can sense the breath and the body, hear nooses etc, if they want to. . It is a very intentional, very deliberate act of breaking from the intense internal focus to use an external sensory stimulus.

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby reflection » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:53 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
reflection wrote:The will (the doing) is so still it can not do anything, so you can't come out by will.

This is a good definition of wrong samādhi.

All the best,

Geoff

This is a good example of a bad argument. :tongue:

In fact, this is not even an argument.

But ok, doesn't matter. I would like to advice you to try it out.

:namaste:
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:11 pm

reflection,

have you read the whole thread to dismiss Nana so easily?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby reflection » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:44 pm

I didn't read the whole thread because I'm not that interested in the sutta vs sutta approach on this subject, personally. I explained before why I'm not. But I don't see what that has to do with it. Even if Nana says a lot of wise things that doesn't mean the statement above is automatically also correct ;)

But as I've said before I've said practically all I've got to say and from now on it'll probably only go in circles. I think one should be able to support a statement like "this is a definition of wrong samadhi" with some argument, though. Because without arguments the topic becomes even more useless, no matter who's right or wrong.

I just want to add, volitions are without a self and this can be experienced in Jhana. Nothing wrong about that. The Buddha even called it right samadhi. :tongue: ;)

:focus:

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:20 am

rowyourboat wrote:I think without the craving to use the sense doors there would be more inclination towards seclusion, to renunciation,


Right. But Buddha/Arhat has to eat, drink, bathe, walk for alms, instruct monks, etc.


rowyourboat wrote: to not take the signs or the details- they just wouldn't be interested.


Right. But there is still sight. Buddha could still see people, and He didn't walk into trees or off the cliffs. He and other arhats could hear, despite being totally secluded (by eradication) from kāma and ALL unwholesome qualities.

There can be seeing without kāma for an Awakened person.
There can be temporary seeing without kāma for a person who has suppressed kāma.
There can be seeing with addition of kāma for a worldling.

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby daverupa » Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:33 am

rowyourboat wrote:Kama refers to those sense objects, from the five senses, that are enticing. The breath and one's own body is not.


""Whatever exists therein {in jhana 1-4} of material form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease..."
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:58 am

reflection wrote:In fact, this is not even an argument.

It wasn't meant to be an argument. I've already pretty much said all that I ever intended to say on this subject as well as other subjects (1 year and 812 posts on DW should be more than enough!). The path remains open. I have little interest in re-posting any of it again in detail. (There are at least 3 PhD dissertations currently being written by scholar-monastics which support everything I've said on the textual analysis of jhāna.)

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:51 am

Alex123 wrote:It would be misleading on Buddha's part to use perception based on visible form to designate perception of object coming from the mind only.


Now, now. Petitio principii. You've not proven that "rūpa" in "rūpasañña" means "cakkhuviññeya rūpa", so how can you read the Buddha as intending "perception based on visible form"? You still have not offered any rejoinder to how MN 102 furnishes the context in which rūpasañña and arūpasañña are to be understood.


Without 5 saññā-s , what is left is dhammasaññā (or perception of such-and-such an āyatana). If we say that ALL 5 senses shut down in 1st Jhāna, then we couldn't go above 4th Jhāna, it would be Nirodha Sammapatti.


Wherein does your logic lie? Just because 5 indriyas do not make phassa with the 5 kāmā during the Rupa Jhana-s, does not mean that ONLY the Arupa attainments have a mental āyatana. Isn't the perception of Jhanic pitisukha also a dhammasaññā (per DN 9)? Or are you proposing the niramisa sukha are material and not mental? If you are going to suggest that perception of Jhanic pitisukha is a rūpasañña, perhaps you may like to offer a re-writing of the 1st Jhana's "born of seclusion" formula and DN 9.


"And why do you call it 'form'?[1] Because it is afflicted,[2] thus it is called 'form.' Afflicted with what? With cold & heat & hunger & thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles. Because it is afflicted, it is called form.

If rūpa is some sort of mental only object with no physical base, then how can it ever experience "[i]touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles
."
It is clearly a 3-dimensional object that can be seen.


Has anyone argued that "rūpa is some sort of mental only object with no physical base"? Now certainly, a human rūpa is afflicted by those things, but do flies and mosquitoes roam the Rupaloka? Or are you suggesting that there flies with fine-rupa in the Brahmaloka to afflict the Brahmas?

Why did the Buddha instruct the baby-Brahma (ex Hatthaka) to take on a "gross" (oḷārika) appearance, as its original rupa kept collapsing under gravity (AN 3.128)? In fact, instead of using "rupa", the Buddha instructed Hatthaka to take on a "gross" attabhāva (personality); this choice of word serves probably to distinguish how Brahmas experience rūpa versus the kamaloka beings.

I mentioned this to you before in another forum, namely your line of reasoning presupposes that a human's rupa is always establishing contact/phassa with the exterior. You're short-circuiting DO by jumping straight from Namarupa to Phassa, bypassing Salayatana completely. You're completely ignoring MN 28's account of the cognitive process and the necessity of tajja samanahara. Your model requires that tajja samanahara is always present when a rupa is present, which violates MN 28's allowance for its absence. As it is, I am not even conscious of my underwear or socks or watch or assorted piercings, even though each of these is a kāma in the form of tactility.

As for the "cold & heat & hunger & thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles" that afflicts a human's rūpa, check out all the many suttas that deal with the allure and drawbacks of the kāmā (plural). In those suttas, the unpleasant feelings that arise with contact with "cold & heat & hunger & thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles" are specifically identified as the drawback (adinava) in the case of the kāmā. Seems pretty clear to me that the Buddha was thinking of "cold & heat & hunger & thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles" as being examples of kāmā, while the allure section portrays the Buddha depicting another example of kāmā, namely the kāmaguṇā. Check out MN 13 as a representative sutta of this genre.


What is the difference between 4th Jhana and base of infinite space? In 4th Jhana one can still perceive rūpa (rūpasaññā is not yet overcomed). In the base of infinite space one cannot. Hence, base of infinite space, is an arūpa attainment.


Not according to MN 102. That sutta offers a totally different meaning of rūpasaññā and arūpasaññā in the context of the rūpaloka and arūpaloka. They do not mean "perception of form/formless", but "perception in the form/formless world".

Even if I totally discount MN 102's explanation of rūpasaññā and arūpasaññā, and adopt the standard translation to be "perception of form", AN 3.128 gives a very clear indication that a Brahma's rūpa is absolutely nothing like a human's rūpa.


Sensuality (kāma) is purely mental and it comes from defilements which are purely mental. Seeing, hearing, etc, are Not defilements themselves. It is mental addition of kāma that makes it unwholesome, and what is unwholesome is kāma, not this or that viññāṇaṃ.


Not a relevant point to the discussion. Kāma is addressed in 1st Jhana's second seclusion formula. We are discussing the 1st Jhana's first seclusion formula which discusses kāmā. You can't seem to shake off conflating kāmā with kāma.


If desire and seeing (or hearing) where identical, then the only way to get rid of desire was to stop seeing or hearing. In such a case a blind-deaf person would be fully awakened for s/he doesn't see or hear.


If you reductio ad absurdum were valid, it would mean that suttas such as MN 148 and MN 152, which explicitly promise the possibility of equanimity and the freedom from raganusaya and patighanusaya on contacting the allure and drawback of kāmā, are false. I'll take my chances with the suttas' promise of the efficacy of satipatthana.


And kāmā is not 5 sense objects. It is purely mental event that originates from kilesas and ignorance which are totally mental. So in that part what is suppressed is the mental defilements, not ethically neutral phenomena such as this or that viññāṇa.


Not according to the CPD. Not according to the allure and drawback suttas.


"the eye is not the fetter of forms, nor are forms the fetter of the eye, but whatever desire & passion arises in dependence on the two of them: That is the fetter there. The ear is not the fetter of sounds... The nose is not the fetter of aromas... The tongue is not the fetter of flavors... The body is not the fetter of tactile sensations... The intellect is not the fetter of ideas, nor are ideas the fetter of the intellect, but whatever desire & passion arises in dependence on the two of them: That is the fetter there."" - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Which only addresses the 1st Jhana's second seclusion formula...
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:58 am

rowyourboat wrote:Hi Alex, Sylvester,

Kama refers to those sense objects, from the five senses, that are enticing. The breath and one's own body is not.



Hi Mateesha

Actually, that's not what AN 6.63 and suttas such as MN 13 say. The kāmā are the 5 sense objects, while the kāmaguṇā (kāmā that produce pleasant vedana) is a sub-set of the kāmā. AN 6.63 is strict in injuncting us not to confuse the 2. Maybe the Buddha gave that admonition after hearing a similar dispute in a group of monks... :rofl:
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:19 am

daverupa wrote:How does MN 64 fit into this discussion? That Greater Discourse to Malunkyaputta mentions the jhanas according to the boilerplate, and after each it reads:

""Whatever exists therein of material form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease..."

Next comes the arupa jhana boilerplate, and after each of these a similar refrain to above, with a very notable difference:

"Whatever exists therein of feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease..."

It seems apparent that material form, as one of the five aggregates, is still accessible while in 1-4 jhana.



It's the same old "present tense" problem. What is indicated by the "sees" is given by the standard vipassana proxy "samanupassati"; it does not mean eye-sight. Firstly, none of the present tense verbs in this passage can be read to necessarily infer contemporaneity with the "viharati" verb that marked Jhana. Secondly, three of the subsequent present tense verbs samanupassati, paṭivāpeti and upasaṃharati all require vitakka-vicara, which is certainly present in 1st Jhana, but absent in 2nd Jhana upwards. These verbs cannot be describing actions that are happening whilst in the Jhana.

So, no need to worry about MN 64 being inconsistent with the rest of the Canon. The inconsistency only appears when a reader's English grammar is forced onto the Pali, and when one forgets that there is no anupassati without dhammavicaya.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:55 am

rowyourboat wrote:Kama refers to those sense objects, from the five senses, that are enticing. The breath and one's own body is not.

To give up craving for sense objects is to give up the craving to see, to hear etc as well. This leads very well to internalising one's focus away from the 5 sense bases. But of course, the mind sense is intact- hence the action of the hindrances and the upakilesas (upakilesa sutta) remain. When even these are overcome we are heading into deep samadhi territory. The journey is well explained in positive terms in the anapanasati sutta (ie in reference to the changes of the breath, the arising of niramisa piti sukha and other changes to the mind). The upakilesa sutta mentions the light in some detail. That's how I see it, based on the suttas cross referenced with personal experience.

Yes, this is accurate.

All the best,

Geoff
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