Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby pegembara » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:38 am

Ekaggata (One -Pointedness) is the one common factor through all the 4 jhanas states. Without fixing the mind one an object, the mind cannot settle (enter samadhi). The mind that is not settled (?monkey mind) cannot be said to be freed from the hindrances especially restlessness. What is debatable is whether full absorption is necessary for jhana.
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:30 am

daverupa wrote:I just can't understand why it's missing from the vast majority of pericopes on the matter, and why the ekagatta-lust connection isn't made explicit in the Suttas. Lust is talked about a lot; why is the antidote never mentioned there?

:coffee:

here is a note for the satipatthana translation I done
Sensual lust is the desire for any of the sense objects, sights, sounds, smells tastes or tactile objects. The Ahara Sutta SN46.51) talks of how the hindrances rise and fall, the inappropriate attention to beauty develops sensual lust, while the perception of unattractiveness diminishes and stops sensual lust. Other useful practices and things to develop are; guarding the sense doors, i.e, learning where to focus our attention, and using the perception of unattractiveness appropriately; moderation in eating; suitable conversations with admiral friends; mindfulness as a faculty and a step towards awakening are also useful. Sensual lust is also the underlying tendency of pleasant feelings as found in Cūḷavedalla sutta MN44. In the Pattakamma Sutta AN4.61, the Buddha is addressing a householder, lust (kāmacchanda) changes to “covetousness and rampant greed” (Abhijjhāvisamalobhā.)

it is not a hard push to associate this inappropriate attention with a mental unification.
but considering it is a quality discernible in each Jhana its omission could be seen as a corruption not just its inclussion. I know its absence has confused people at least.
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:40 am

manas wrote:Hi all

I wonder if 'one-pointed' is really the most appropriate translation for 'ekagata'. 'One pointed' might lead some to believe that the mind has to be literally brought in on 'a single point in space', rather than there being an awareness of the entire body (as the suttas seem to be describing). Being 'sensitive to' the entire body would not preclude awareness of the breath as well, because it is this very body that moves with each breath in any case. Looking at the definition of 'gata'

Gata [pp. of gacchati in medio -- reflexive function] gone, in all meanings of gacchati (q. v.) viz. 1. literal: gone away, arrived at, directed to

then maybe a better definition of ekagata could be 'gone (to), arrived at, directed to one-(ness)', that 'one' being 'one object' - ie, kaya, rather than the mind flitting about between various objects.

:anjali:

hi Manas
just to quote myself again
The first jhāna factors sometimes includes 'cittass'ekaggata' which can be translated as arriving at a unified mind, although it can also be translated as
one-pointedness of mind
, as-well as
calmness of mind
, however as cetaso ekodibhāva can also be translated in both ways, and is always used for the second Jhana, it would be reasonable to assume jhana has fixed itself upon the opject hence the dropping away of the verbal fabrications.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby reflection » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:08 am

Jhana is absorption. So to enter jhana without absorption is impossible. And absorption naturally is in one object, in the case of jhana the mind. So it's also not reasonably possible to enter it while walking.

With metta, :anjali:
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:43 am

reflection wrote:Jhana is absorption. So to enter jhana without absorption is impossible. And absorption naturally is in one object, in the case of jhana the mind. So it's also not reasonably possible to enter it while walking.

With metta, :anjali:
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One can reach with walking meditation very profound levels of "absorbed" concetration. Often we do not give this practice the credit it is due. But the primary question is, of course, what is meant by jhana/absoprtion. Opinions vary.
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby reflection » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:19 am

tiltbillings wrote:
reflection wrote:Jhana is absorption. So to enter jhana without absorption is impossible. And absorption naturally is in one object, in the case of jhana the mind. So it's also not reasonably possible to enter it while walking.

With metta, :anjali:
Reflection
One can reach with walking meditation very profound levels of "absorbed" concetration. Often we do not give this practice the credit it is due. But the primary question is, of course, what is meant by jhana/absoprtion. Opinions vary.

I'm not trying in any way to dismiss walking meditation. It's a wonderful practice. Thank you for stipulating that. Practices that don't give rise to jhana directly are still worth just as much. And that's not just meditation. Just as an example, following the precepts quite obviously (at least to me) doesn't immediately result in jhana. Still, without these we wouldn't get very far.

I wouldn't say the question is 'what is meant by jhana', but 'what is jhana'. And opinions vary on this, indeed. But some idea of what practices make it possible is also partly answering that question in a way. Of course, opinions vary. What I say is my view, what somebody else says is theirs. But every post here could use such a disclaimer and it would get quite tiresome to add it every time. Still useful to point it out once more, I agree.

But more on topic perhaps: One other piece of evidence why jhana is something not attained during most activities, is the fact the Buddha wasn't always in jhana. He had to enter it too, applying some effort to get there.


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:anjali:
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby daverupa » Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:32 am

Cittasanto wrote:but considering it is a quality discernible in each Jhana its omission could be seen as a corruption not just its inclussion. I know its absence has confused people at least.


If you scan the Majjhima Nikaya, the fifth factor occurs three times. I stopped counting after I got to 20 for the occasions which have four factors only. If it had originally been paired 5-5 with the hindrances, I would definitely expect a stronger presence given that mnemonic synergy, so while it could be so seen, it seems much less likely.

The "born from withdrawal" and "born from samadhi" aspects differ between the first two jhana, so unification of awareness and samadhi are indeed related, but first jhana is absent from both. "Singleness of mind" doesn't even seem to be a factor of any jhana at all - the Pali reads "single-themed mind" to me.

I therefore do not think it is accurate to say that while 'single-point object-absorption' isn't in first jhana, it subsequently arises - I find this to be a backreading of arupa/brahmin meditation values & experience onto these descriptions. Jhana is not this.
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    "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: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby santa100 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:40 pm

twelph wrote:
"When the second paragraph says "dwelling by means of this dwelling" it seems to be referring to the prior paragraph, in which it is stated he is attending to the " imperturbable", which I have been lead to believe is the 4th Jhana"

While it seems like so, it's actually not. If you go on to the subsequent paragraphs, they all start with that phrase "dwelling by means of this dwelling", for example:

"while he is dwelling by means of this dwelling, his mind inclines to speaking, he resolves that 'I will not engage in talk that is base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unbeneficial, that does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calm, direct knowledge, self-awakening, or Unbinding — i.e., talk about kings, robbers, & ministers of state; armies, alarms, & battles; food & drink; clothing, furniture, garlands, & scents; relatives; vehicles; villages, towns, cities, the countryside; women & heroes; the gossip of the street & the well; tales of the dead; tales of diversity, the creation of the world & of the sea; talk of whether things exist or not.' In this way he is alert there."

So if the monk was in the 4th jhana while walking, he must've also been in one while speaking!! (which is definitely impossible..)
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby twelph » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:08 pm

santa100 wrote:twelph wrote:
"When the second paragraph says "dwelling by means of this dwelling" it seems to be referring to the prior paragraph, in which it is stated he is attending to the " imperturbable", which I have been lead to believe is the 4th Jhana"

While it seems like so, it's actually not. If you go on to the subsequent paragraphs, they all start with that phrase "dwelling by means of this dwelling", for example:

"while he is dwelling by means of this dwelling, his mind inclines to speaking, he resolves that 'I will not engage in talk that is base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unbeneficial, that does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calm, direct knowledge, self-awakening, or Unbinding — i.e., talk about kings, robbers, & ministers of state; armies, alarms, & battles; food & drink; clothing, furniture, garlands, & scents; relatives; vehicles; villages, towns, cities, the countryside; women & heroes; the gossip of the street & the well; tales of the dead; tales of diversity, the creation of the world & of the sea; talk of whether things exist or not.' In this way he is alert there."

So if the monk was in the 4th jhana while walking, he must've also been in one while speaking!! (which is definitely impossible..)


Thanks for pointing out my selective reading. I should have been skeptical when I couldn't seem to find mention of entering into even the first jhana while walking anywhere in the suttas.
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby marc108 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:46 pm

http://www.leighb.com/jhana_4factors.htm

There is a wide spread misunderstanding that the first jhana has 5 factors. But this is not what is described in the suttas and is certainly not what the Buddha taught and practiced. The first jhana has 4 factors (Yes! Four - look it up, see it in Pali):

vitakka - thinking
vicara - more thinking, examining
piti - rapture, glee, zest
sukha - happiness

In the vast majority of cases - over 100 suttas, the first jhana is described as having only the 4 factors listed above. However the Abhidhamma and the Commentaries do speak of 5 factors for the first jhana - they add ekaggata (one-pointedness). Ekaggata isn't mentioned in the suttas because it is not and cannot be part of the formula.
...
It is simply not possible to have one-pointedness and thinking at the same time, so experiencing ekaggata in the same jhana as vitakka and vicara makes no sense whatsoever.

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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby santa100 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:51 pm

From Bhikkhu Bodhi: ( http://www.budsas.org/ebud/bd8p/bd8p_17.htm )
"When concentration is developed, these five factors spring up and counteract the five hindrances. Each absorption factor opposes a particular hindrance. Initial application of mind, through its work of lifting the mind up to the object, counters dullness and drowsiness. Sustained application, by anchoring the mind on the object, drives away doubt. Rapture shuts out ill will, happiness excludes restlessness and worry, and one-pointedness counters sensual desire, the most alluring inducement to distraction. Thus, with the strengthening of the absorption factors, the hindrances fade out and subside"


From Ven. Henepola Gunaratana: ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el351.html )
"Besides the five jhana factors, the first jhana contains a great number of other mental factors functioning in unison as coordinate members of a single state of consciousness. Already the Anupada Sutta lists such additional components of the first jhana as contact, feeling, perception, volition, consciousness, desire, decision, energy, mindfulness, equanimity and attention (M.iii,25). In the Abhidhamma literature this is extended still further up to thirty-three indispensable components. Nevertheless, only five states are called the factors of the first jhana, for only these have the functions of inhibiting the five hindrances and fixing the mind in absorption. For the jhana to arise all these five factors must be present simultaneously, exercising their special operations"


And finally, from the great Ajahn Chah: ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... steof.html )
"The fifth factor is ekaggata or one-pointedness. You may wonder how there can be one-pointedness when there are all these other factors as well. This is because they all become unified on that foundation of tranquillity. Together they are called a state of samadhi. They are not everyday states of mind, they are factors of absorption. There are these five characteristics, but they do not disturb the basic tranquillity. There is vitakka, but it does not disturb the mind; vicara, rapture and happiness arise but do not disturb the mind. The mind is therefore as one with these factors. The first level of absorption is like this"


Ajahn Chah's quote above is a succinct and direct response to Leigh Brasington's claim that: "It is simply not possible to have one-pointedness and thinking at the same time, so experiencing ekaggata in the same jhana as vitakka and vicara makes no sense whatsoever" ( http://www.leighb.com/jhana_4factors.htm )
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby marc108 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:20 pm

santa100 wrote:And finally, from the great Ajahn Chah: ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... steof.html )
"The fifth factor is ekaggata or one-pointedness. You may wonder how there can be one-pointedness when there are all these other factors as well. This is because they all become unified on that foundation of tranquillity. Together they are called a state of samadhi. They are not everyday states of mind, they are factors of absorption. There are these five characteristics, but they do not disturb the basic tranquillity. There is vitakka, but it does not disturb the mind; vicara, rapture and happiness arise but do not disturb the mind. The mind is therefore as one with these factors. The first level of absorption is like this"


Ajahn Chah's quote above is a succinct and direct response to Leigh Brasington's claim that: "It is simply not possible to have one-pointedness and thinking at the same time, so experiencing ekaggata in the same jhana as vitakka and vicara makes no sense whatsoever" ( http://www.leighb.com/jhana_4factors.htm )


i think a lot of lost here in translating a single word with two very different meanings. what Ajahn Chah says mirrors my own experience. I think one-pointedness is a bad translation of ekaggata and that 'unification on a foundation of tranquility' is likely much better and gives a much clearer meaning of the actual experience. The word being used in the translation of Ajahn Chahs Thai is one-pointedness but what he is alluding to is not actual one-pointed absorbtion. one-pointedness, in and of itself and not as a translation of ekaggata, does not allow for thinking.
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby santa100 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:56 pm

marc108 wrote:
"The word being used in the translation of Ajahn Chahs Thai is one-pointedness but what he is alluding to is not actual one-pointed absorbtion. one-pointedness, in and of itself and not as a translation of ekaggata, does not allow for thinking."

One needs to investigate whether this "thinking" disturbs the mind or not. If it did, it'd definitely not be the vitakka of the 1st jhana. Whether it's "one-pointedness" or "unification on a foundation of tranquility", Ajhan Chah make it clear that for the first jhana: "There is vitakka, but it does not disturb the mind" and that leads to: "Together they(the factors) are called a state of samadhi. They are not everyday states of mind, they are factors of absorption. There are these five characteristics, but they do not disturb the basic tranquillity".
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby Micheal Kush » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:00 pm

marc108 wrote:
santa100 wrote:And finally, from the great Ajahn Chah: ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... steof.html )
"The fifth factor is ekaggata or one-pointedness. You may wonder how there can be one-pointedness when there are all these other factors as well. This is because they all become unified on that foundation of tranquillity. Together they are called a state of samadhi. They are not everyday states of mind, they are factors of absorption. There are these five characteristics, but they do not disturb the basic tranquillity. There is vitakka, but it does not disturb the mind; vicara, rapture and happiness arise but do not disturb the mind. The mind is therefore as one with these factors. The first level of absorption is like this"


Ajahn Chah's quote above is a succinct and direct response to Leigh Brasington's claim that: "It is simply not possible to have one-pointedness and thinking at the same time, so experiencing ekaggata in the same jhana as vitakka and vicara makes no sense whatsoever" ( http://www.leighb.com/jhana_4factors.htm )


i think a lot of lost here in translating a single word with two very different meanings. what Ajahn Chah says mirrors my own experience. I think one-pointedness is a bad translation of ekaggata and that 'unification on a foundation of tranquility' is likely much better and gives a much clearer meaning of the actual experience. The word being used in the translation of Ajahn Chahs Thai is one-pointedness but what he is alluding to is not actual one-pointed absorbtion. one-pointedness, in and of itself and not as a translation of ekaggata, does not allow for thinking.


I agree, misdirecting the pali word into a confusing translation can be quite a dangerous dilemma for practitioners. Perhaps this is why there are apparent contradictions between those who do a fully body awareness type of breathing meditation and those who narrowly focus on the nose tip. The latter believes that the jhanas will arise when this one pointedness starts to take place which evidently contradicts those who say that jhana is felt with the body while those opposing say they lose contact with the body. I think its suffice to say that Ajahn Chah's interpretation of the word deconstructs the confusion and clarifies it the closest.

Actually on Leigh B's website, he recalls a retreat in where he intensely focused on the nose tip and achieved "one pointedness" but also describes his expierence of piti pervading his whole body.
Defintely agree that one pointedness or at least its relations are decieving.

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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby Nyana » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:41 pm

Ekaggatā is a mental factor that occurs with every type of consciousness. It doesn't preclude thinking or activities like walking and talking.

Also, directed thought and evaluation of the first jhāna do have a subtle disturbing effect on the mind and body. The Peṭakopadesa:

    In the case of the first jhāna ... there is directed thought and evaluation [which still] disturb the mind, and the body [still] gets tired there, and when the body gets tired the mind is harassed....
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Re: Entering Jhana Without Single Object Absorption

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:39 am

daverupa wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:but considering it is a quality discernible in each Jhana its omission could be seen as a corruption not just its inclussion. I know its absence has confused people at least.


If you scan the Majjhima Nikaya, the fifth factor occurs three times. I stopped counting after I got to 20 for the occasions which have four factors only. If it had originally been paired 5-5 with the hindrances, I would definitely expect a stronger presence given that mnemonic synergy, so while it could be so seen, it seems much less likely.

The "born from withdrawal" and "born from samadhi" aspects differ between the first two jhana, so unification of awareness and samadhi are indeed related, but first jhana is absent from both. "Singleness of mind" doesn't even seem to be a factor of any jhana at all - the Pali reads "single-themed mind" to me.

I therefore do not think it is accurate to say that while 'single-point object-absorption' isn't in first jhana, it subsequently arises - I find this to be a backreading of arupa/brahmin meditation values & experience onto these descriptions. Jhana is not this.

The term in the first Jhana is not the same term as that of the second, so I think it is wrong to use the same term for translation of the first as it isn't going to mean exactly the same thing, as it is not a repetition of pseudonyms where this changing of terms is an emphasising of a single thing so the meaning is not important in the same way as here, even if it can be translated the same way there are other different terms which can be used which can not be used for the other. I do note other possible translations for the ekaggata term which would either indicate "calm", or "unification" each of which is withdrawing from the grosser activities to my understanding; and I see it as an early form of the one pointedness of the second and subsequent Jhana, just as the first is an early form of the second and subsequent jhana, not dissimilar but also not the same thing.
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