Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby SamKR » Mon May 07, 2012 3:48 am

Among the different parts of the eight-fold path the one with which I am most confused is samma samadhi. So I have the following questions:
* What is Samma Samadhi actually (in simple words)?
* What does it include besides concentration and tranquility?
* Samadhi is often translated as concentration. Is concentration essential part of samadhi, or can there be samadhi without concentration?
* What makes it Samma?
* Does it refer to tranquil states of mind, or to a process of becoming tranquil?
* Is Samma Samadhi equivalent to jhana or a superset of jhana? If both are not equivalent how are they related?
* Can there be Samma Samadhi without jhana?
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby reflection » Mon May 07, 2012 4:14 am

In the suttas, samma samadhi refers to the 4 jhanas. I guess this answers all questions.

"And what, monks, is right concentration? (i) There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: [..] the second jhana [..] the third jhana [..] the fourth jhana [..] This, monks, is called right concentration."
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby SamKR » Mon May 07, 2012 4:48 am

reflection wrote:In the suttas, samma samadhi refers to the 4 jhanas. I guess this answers all questions.

"And what, monks, is right concentration? (i) There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: [..] the second jhana [..] the third jhana [..] the fourth jhana [..] This, monks, is called right concentration."


Hello reflection,

I am aware of these suttas but the problem is they can be interpreted and explained in many ways. So I was wondering how others interpret or understand it.
Also, I doubt "concentration" is the accurate translation of "samadhi". It leaves other aspects of samadhi like attaining tranquility. Concentration does not necessarily imply tranquility.

Looking only into your sutta-quote above, I see that "samma samadhi" is a process of entering and remaining in the states of mind (jhana). So it seems that jhana is the objective of samma samadhi. I am in confusion.
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby reflection » Mon May 07, 2012 6:16 am

I personally go with the suttas in saying samma samadhi is the jhanas. So now the question, how to interpret it? Concentration doesn't entail everything samadhi stands for. It's not based on the kind of concentration we usually use for other tasks, which is more forced concentration, or a concentration from sense indulgence. Right tranquility would also be a nice translation, I think, but there is this factor of concentration -or one pointedness- in it, so the translation 'concentration' is not that bad. So you can also choose not to translate it, perhaps that's the best option.
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby manas » Mon May 07, 2012 6:31 am

I can recommend the 'Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life' http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
It is a long sutta, and alot of the section on virtue could be skimmed through, as it applies more to renunciates (such as monks and nuns) rather than laypeople such as ourselves (although it is interesting to note how the five, eight or ten precepts are all included in it). Only after virtue has been exhaustively explained does it go on to guarding the sense doors, mindfulness in daily activites, contentment with simplicity, abandoning the five hindrances, and then finally it goes into the jhanas. And after the jhanas, there's even more...it just gets better and better, all the way to the total destruction of the asavas.

I get the feeling (from this sutta) that jhana involves a whole-life approach; inclining to quietude in all one's activities, avoiding silly entertainments, abstaining from obtrusive music, cultivating brahmacariya, etc. I sense that for many of us laypeople, jhana might be a long-term cultivation, that will require steady effort, and much patience.

:anjali:
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby polarbuddha101 » Mon May 07, 2012 9:00 am

according to the book Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization by Venerable Analayo

Direct quote: "samadhi is related to the verb samadahati, 'to put together' or 'to collect', such as when one collects wood to kindle a fire. Samadhi thus stands for 'collecting' oneself, in the sense of composure or unification of mind. The discourses use the term 'concentration' (samadhi) in a surprisingly broad manner, relating it to walking meditation, for example, or to observing the arising and passing away of feelings and cognitions, or to contemplating the arising and passing away of the 5 aggregates. In a passage from the Anguttara Nikaya, even the 4 satipatthanas are treated as a form of concentration. These occurences demonstrate that, as used in the discourses, the term 'concentration' (samadhi) is not restricted to the development of calm (samatha) only, but can also refer to the realm of insight meditation (vipassana).
Turning to 'right concentration' (samma samadhi), here one finds time and again that the discourses equate right concentration with the four absorbtions (jhanas). This is of considerable importance since 'right' concentration is a prerequisite for awakening." page 72
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby Cittasanto » Mon May 07, 2012 10:48 am

Hi Sam
hope this helps
* What is Samma Samadhi actually (in simple words)?
Samma - Upright, right, correct, complete
samadhi - Concentration, focus,


* What does it include besides concentration and tranquility?
the rest of the eightfold path. see MN117 the great fourty

* Samadhi is often translated as concentration. Is concentration essential part of samadhi, or can there be samadhi without concentration?
it is essential

* What makes it Samma?
the appropriate attention on an object, which leads to liberation.

* Does it refer to tranquil states of mind, or to a process of becoming tranquil?
a process of dropping the hindrences could be more accurate.

* Is Samma Samadhi equivalent to jhana or a superset of jhana? If both are not equivalent how are they related?
it is equivalent to

* Can there be Samma Samadhi without jhana?
The Jhana are the culmination of Sammasamadhi, so yes, I would say there is, but this would just be called samadhi
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby SamKR » Tue May 08, 2012 12:07 am

Thank you reflection, manas, polarbuddha, and Cittasanto for your inputs.

So far, by some readings and a little bit of thinking what I gather is nibbana is the ultimate Samma Samadhi which is the ultimate aim of Buddha's teachings. There is no more right view after the right view he/she attains immediately after this ultimate samma samadhi.

The different jhanas (peaceful and clear mind-states) are the different deepest-states of the meditator's mind that he/she can possibly attain at his/her stage (during his/her development in the noble eight-fold path). The process of development culminates in the ultimate samma samadhi (nibbana: the cessation of all hindrances,suffering) and the right view immediately thereafter (if one is alive), or more precisely it culminates in the the parinibbana.

So a beginner, who starts with right view (the forerunner), right resolve, ..., right mindfulness, ends up with right samadhi (first jhana).
Then equipped with first jhana he gains more right view, more right resolve,...,more right mindfulness, and attains more right samadhi (second jhana).
In this way developing further he attains more and more right samadhi (third jhana, fourth jhana, and finally nibbana).

Do you think my view about samma samadhi is right?

[Perhaps already obvious, I have not attained any of these states. I just wanted to understand what samma samadhi is so that I can practice better.]
Last edited by SamKR on Tue May 08, 2012 6:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby SamKR » Tue May 08, 2012 6:19 am

Ok, no other replies so far. And, I am about to read Ñāṇa's thread "Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas". Initially avoided it as the discussion is 12 pages till now, but want to start reading it (though I have final exam of this semester this week; Dhamma Wheel has been my major cause of distraction -- away from my study :) )
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby Cittasanto » Tue May 08, 2012 6:29 am

Hi Sam
what about the other aspects of the path? and although Jhana can be mistaken for Nibbana it is not Nibbana.

the Eightfold path should be developed, but it is not itself the final goal!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby SamKR » Tue May 08, 2012 6:56 am

Cittasanto wrote:Hi Sam
what about the other aspects of the path? and although Jhana can be mistaken for Nibbana it is not Nibbana.

the Eightfold path should be developed, but it is not itself the final goal!


Hello Cittasanto,

I am not sure if I quite understand your question "what about the other aspects of the path? "

Yes, it seems logical to conclude that the personal experiences of Jhana can be mistaken for different attainments, but if and only if other parts of the eightfold path are ignored to the degree that it is insufficient to have samma ditthi. I can not imagine a person attaining samma samadhi (which should bolster right view) being mistaken about his/her experience. Isn't samma samadhi a cause of right view and vice versa? I think the only critical thing is to find out whether one's samadhi (or its aspects like jhana) is samma or not. I think it will be samma if it is based on samma ditthi and other factors of eightfold path. The noble eight-fold path seems to demand utmost care, balance, and skillfulness of the traveler. Those who lack that will definitely be mistaken.

I agree that the eightfold path should be developed and is not a final goal. The final goal is nibbana. My point is that through the iteration of the eightfold path (as I described in previous path) one reaches the nibbana which is not a path but the end of the path. (After reaching the end of the path you can turn back and see the path you traveled :)).

I am just trying to make sense of the things as I realized that I can not practice with confused mind. I could be very wrong, and would be happy to be corrected.
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby reflection » Tue May 08, 2012 7:20 am

Well, a bit of a 'sad' thing about jhana is, both teachers and practitioners disagree quite a lot on what they actually are. On this board these ideas are all represented. Which is fine, but finding the end of your confusion here probably won't happen because of that. What will end your confusion is your own experience. Which doesn't have to be a problem, because you can also admit to yourself that you don't know.

You can also take a look here to see what I mean with the different opinions: (I'm sorry, it'll add to your confusion :tongue: )
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4597
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby SamKR » Tue May 08, 2012 7:35 am

reflection wrote:Well, a bit of a 'sad' thing about jhana is, both teachers and practitioners disagree quite a lot on what they actually are. On this board these ideas are all represented. Which is fine, but finding the end of your confusion here probably won't happen because of that. What will end your confusion is your own experience (and/or trust in a particular meditation method/teacher)

You can also take a look here to see what I mean with the different opinions:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4597

Thanks, reflection for the reply and suggestion.
Despite the disagreements among the teachers and practitioners most of them could be right (as long as they are developing towards the goal and not recessing); of course, some of them could be quite mistaken.
The type of experiences (and the details) or even the methods may not matter that much. What may matter is whether there is development of the different factors of the eight-fold path.
So, now I think that there need not be unanimity among the practitioners regarding the definition of jhana or samadhi and their practice, and yet they could be heading towards the same goal.
My questions in the first post do not expect one and only answer. I wanted to see what could be the different answers for the questions. I know this topic has been discussed many times in other threads but I wanted to ask the direct questions for which I wanted to see direct answers (if possible :)) rather than myself delving into the sea of threads. :P
But I genuinely and urgently want to find the possible answers so that I can practice better.
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby Buckwheat » Tue May 08, 2012 9:27 am

SamKR wrote:* What makes it Samma?

Here is an example of the opposite of samma: the powerful concentration that accompanies indulgence in pleasure, such as watching porn, driving recklessly fast, or skydiving. During all these activities, concentration is usually very strong, but it is not at all right concentration. Right concentration is concentrated on withdrawal from craving pleasure, craving becoming, or craving non-becoming.

When I can focus on my breath with the same steadiness that I can focus on a riveting movie, that is when I have really started to settle down and concentrate - accompanied by great joy that is less dependent on conditions.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby reflection » Tue May 08, 2012 4:04 pm

SamKR wrote:So, now I think that there need not be unanimity among the practitioners regarding the definition of jhana or samadhi and their practice, and yet they could be heading towards the same goal.

I think that is a wise attitude. But still only personal experience will remove the doubt in the end. Anyway, often doubt is just a hindrance, you can just recognize doubt as doubt and not be too bothered with it.
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby SamKR » Tue May 08, 2012 4:49 pm

Buckwheat wrote:
SamKR wrote:* What makes it Samma?

Right concentration is concentrated on withdrawal from craving pleasure, craving becoming, or craving non-becoming.

Thanks for this important point.

According to the Buddha:
There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation.[...]

In the above quote he has encouraged the monks to enter and remain in rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal (along with directed thought and evaluation). So, it seems that he is suggesting there is a kind of pleasure (different from sense pleasure) that is born from withdrawal, and he is encouraging to cultivate such rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal -- which is a stage of samma samadhi (? first jhana)
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby SamKR » Tue May 08, 2012 4:57 pm

reflection wrote:
SamKR wrote:So, now I think that there need not be unanimity among the practitioners regarding the definition of jhana or samadhi and their practice, and yet they could be heading towards the same goal.

I think that is a wise attitude. But still only personal experience will remove the doubt in the end. Anyway, often doubt is just a hindrance, you can just recognize doubt as doubt and not be too bothered with it.

I agree, thanks.
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby Cittasanto » Tue May 08, 2012 8:49 pm

Hi Sam,
SamKR wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:Hi Sam
what about the other aspects of the path? and although Jhana can be mistaken for Nibbana it is not Nibbana.

the Eightfold path should be developed, but it is not itself the final goal!


Hello Cittasanto,

I am not sure if I quite understand your question "what about the other aspects of the path? "



it was more rhetorical than a question proper!

Yes, it seems logical to conclude that the personal experiences of Jhana can be mistaken for different attainments, but if and only if other parts of the eightfold path are ignored to the degree that it is insufficient to have samma ditthi. I can not imagine a person attaining samma samadhi (which should bolster right view) being mistaken about his/her experience. Isn't samma samadhi a cause of right view and vice versa? I think the only critical thing is to find out whether one's samadhi (or its aspects like jhana) is samma or not. I think it will be samma if it is based on samma ditthi and other factors of eightfold path. The noble eight-fold path seems to demand utmost care, balance, and skillfulness of the traveler. Those who lack that will definitely be mistaken.

I agree that the eightfold path should be developed and is not a final goal. The final goal is nibbana. My point is that through the iteration of the eightfold path (as I described in previous path) one reaches the nibbana which is not a path but the end of the path. (After reaching the end of the path you can turn back and see the path you traveled :)).

I am just trying to make sense of the things as I realized that I can not practice with confused mind. I could be very wrong, and would be happy to be corrected.


Sammaditthi is the forerunner, it is, in my opinion, right view which cuts through the greed, hatred, & delusion, with the power of Sammasamadhi.
but just so we are on the same page, Jhana can refer to two different things in meditation, if you have a copy of the Samyutta Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi have a look at the chapter titles, for a good example, but Jhana can mean reflection/meditation as well as Jhana as in the definition of Sammasamadhi.

Samadhi could be described like a journey, right view is like a map, everything is their detailed, mindfulness looks and sees where we are in relation to the map, and effort moves us along the journey, the driving of the car. all these require some form of concentration, which isn't Jhana as in sammasamadhi, but is jhana as in meditation, this could be described as sammasamadhi, the right amount of focus, and is what we in general use day to day, off the cushion, i.e. speaking, acting, working, intention. but it is right view which holds these in check and reduces the likeliness of regret over what we do, say, think... and it is the right amount of focus or Yoniso manasicara (sorry about spelling) which keeps effort and mindfulness working reducing the hindrences so when we aim for the four Jhanas, it is easier.

I hope that makes sense! but like others have said there are differing interpretations of Jhana, and what you were describing (as I was seeing) seamed more like wet Jhana, and dry insight, there is one and the other, and they don't mix fully at least. I do see your description isn't as black and white as I am saying here.
here it is more like the windshield, and wipers, the Sammasamadhi clears the rain off so we can see, and Sammmaditthi is making sure we are going in the right direction, with the rest of the path, as described above, moving us out of the rain (the roots of affection, hatred, delusion in gross form) and to the final destination where we can park up and out of the car (end goal.)
I hope that makes sense also.

so in my view it is a combined movement however right view is the main apparatus both the driver and map. everything else is the complete path including sammasamadhi & sammaditthi.

everyone, please feel free to question or correct!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby SamKR » Fri May 11, 2012 8:10 pm

Sammaditthi is the forerunner, it is, in my opinion, right view which cuts through the greed, hatred, & delusion, with the power of Sammasamadhi.
but just so we are on the same page, Jhana can refer to two different things in meditation, if you have a copy of the Samyutta Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi have a look at the chapter titles, for a good example, but Jhana can mean reflection/meditation as well as Jhana as in the definition of Sammasamadhi.

Yes, it has two different meanings. Actually before reading suttas carefully, I always took jhana as just meditation.

Samadhi could be described like a journey, right view is like a map, everything is their detailed, mindfulness looks and sees where we are in relation to the map, and effort moves us along the journey, the driving of the car. all these require some form of concentration, which isn't Jhana as in sammasamadhi, but is jhana as in meditation, this could be described as sammasamadhi, the right amount of focus, and is what we in general use day to day, off the cushion, i.e. speaking, acting, working, intention. but it is right view which holds these in check and reduces the likeliness of regret over what we do, say, think... and it is the right amount of focus or Yoniso manasicara (sorry about spelling) which keeps effort and mindfulness working reducing the hindrences so when we aim for the four Jhanas, it is easier. [...] I hope that makes sense!

Yes, it makes sense.
but like others have said there are differing interpretations of Jhana, and what you were describing (as I was seeing) seamed more like wet Jhana, and dry insight, there is one and the other, and they don't mix fully at least.

My current practice is "dry" vipassana, and currently experiencing constant agitation in mind which would not go away (though trying to "let go" of the desire to get rid of this). So I want to explore the "wet" method too to see if that will help me become more relaxed and tranquil (using suttas as guide).
so in my view it is a combined movement however right view is the main apparatus both the driver and map. everything else is the complete path including sammasamadhi & sammaditthi.

Yes.
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Re: Questions Regarding Samma Samadhi

Postby Rui Sousa » Fri May 11, 2012 11:48 pm

SamKR wrote:Among the different parts of the eight-fold path the one with which I am most confused is samma samadhi. So I have the following questions:
* What is Samma Samadhi actually (in simple words)?
* What does it include besides concentration and tranquility?
* Samadhi is often translated as concentration. Is concentration essential part of samadhi, or can there be samadhi without concentration?
* What makes it Samma?
* Does it refer to tranquil states of mind, or to a process of becoming tranquil?
* Is Samma Samadhi equivalent to jhana or a superset of jhana? If both are not equivalent how are they related?
* Can there be Samma Samadhi without jhana?


1 - Focused mind in a proper mind object. Defining it by its opposite, as mentioned by Buckwheat focusing on porn or sexual fantasies is NOT Samma Samadhi, it is Micca Samadhi (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.108.than.html)
2 - In my opinion Samma Samadhi is the ability to enter the four Rupa Jhanas, with their different mental factors.
3 - Concentration, samadhi, unification of the mind, siglepointed mind, sharpened mind. All refer to the Jhanas.
4 - Because it is not Micca. For example, entering the Jhanas on Metta meditation is very beneficial for any mind. Focusing on a sexual fantasy, or on harming other beings, is not that good for any mind.
5 - Both.
6 - Previous answer.
7 - I believe not.

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