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Interpretations of Jhana - Dhamma Wheel

Interpretations of Jhana

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
Bakmoon
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Interpretations of Jhana

Postby Bakmoon » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:46 pm

There is currently a discussion going on in this forum about the valididy of a Bifrucated theory of Jhana (i.e. Samatha Jhana and Vipassana Jhana). I would like to be able to participate in the discussion, but I am not sure if I am knowlegable enough about what exactly these terms mean and whether or not they are used with diferent meanings by diferent groups. This is my question:

According to the traditions that classify Jhana into Samatha and Vipassana subtybes, what is the definition of Samatha Jhana, and What is the definition of Vipassana Jhana?

I have heard from some sources that Samatha Jhana is entered by directing the mind's attention to a single distinct point of focus (e.g. Kasina, or the tip of the nose or upper lip as some groups practice Anapanasati), whereas Vipassana Jhana is defined as Jhana that is entered with awareness that is not restricted to a point, but I'm not sure if that is a complete and exhaustive definition.

Can someone give the full definitions, preferably citing sources such as the commentaries, sub-commentaries, Vissudhimagga, or the works of Mahasi Sayadaw? I don't want to end up misrepresenting anyone in discussion.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Interpretations of Jhana

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:57 pm

Hello

There are two definitions of samatha jhana. Everybody accepts that the samatha jhanas are characterized by the standard formula in the suttas:

"And what is right concentration? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is called right concentration."

— SN 45.8

What distinguishes the 2 definitions is that in the "sutta jhanas" it is possible to do vipassana while in the jhanas. On the other hand, the "comentarial jhanas" define jhana as having your whole mind absorbed into a single point, meaning that there's no awareness of the body or any one of the five senses. Furthermore, there is no chance of doing vipassana in this state because the mind is rigidly still, focusing on the object.

Vipassana jhanas are states of concentration similar to the sutta jhanas but which were attained through the continuous practice of mindfulness/vipassana.

For a good discussion on what is jhana, see this topic: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=5761
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

Bakmoon
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Re: Interpretations of Jhana

Postby Bakmoon » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:00 am

The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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mikenz66
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Re: Interpretations of Jhana

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:34 am


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tiltbillings
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Re: Interpretations of Jhana

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:00 am


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mikenz66
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Re: Interpretations of Jhana

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:22 am


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Zom
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Re: Interpretations of Jhana

Postby Zom » Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:12 am

Good critical essay:

Jhana and Lokuttara-Jhana: http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebmed092.htm

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marc108
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Re: Interpretations of Jhana

Postby marc108 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:53 pm

"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."


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