Breath as the Object of Jhana

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby convivium » Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:57 am

Hello,
I'm looking for descriptions of how the perception of breath arises in line with each particular jhana. How does perception of the breath become a steady enough object to go beyond access concentration? What does this look like in first, second, third, and fourth jhanas. Does the perception of breath go away in the arupa jhanas? In the fourth jhana?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
User avatar
convivium
 
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 7:13 am

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby santa100 » Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:20 pm

From SN 36.11 ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ):

"And I have also taught the step-by-step cessation of fabrications. When one has attained the first jhāna, speech has ceased. When one has attained the second jhāna, directed thought & evaluation have ceased. When one has attained the third jhāna, rapture has ceased. When one has attained the fourth jhāna, in-and-out breathing has ceased. When one has attained the dimension of the infinitude of space, the perception of forms has ceased. When one has attained the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space has ceased. When one has attained the dimension of nothingness, the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness has ceased. When one has attained the dimension of neither-perception nor non-perception, the perception of the dimension of nothingness has ceased. When one has attained the cessation of perception & feeling, perception & feeling have ceased. When a monk's effluents have ended, passion has ceased, aversion has ceased, delusion has ceased."
santa100
 
Posts: 1537
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby convivium » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:41 pm

so what does, for example, "speech has ceased" mean? it sounds like it's supposing a verbal mantra, but that seems like an unjustified interpretation.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
User avatar
convivium
 
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 7:13 am

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:56 pm

convivium wrote:so what does, for example, "speech has ceased" mean? it sounds like it's supposing a verbal mantra, but that seems like an unjustified interpretation.

It means that you do not speak, or that it is not possible for speech to arise.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
User avatar
LonesomeYogurt
 
Posts: 900
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm
Location: America

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby daverupa » Wed Oct 10, 2012 6:03 pm

I'm not so sure about the statement that, in third jhana, piti ceases.

The jhana pericope has

pītiyā ca virāgā

which is indifference to piti, not the cessation of piti. That Sutta spends most of its time connecting jhana progression with formless progression, which for various reasons I take to be a sign of relative lateness.

I think the breath isn't properly an object of meditation (depending on what this means, of course); I don't think it disappears a la formless attainments, at any rate - jhana is altogether different than the formless stuff which made the rounds during and after the Buddha's life, as far as I can tell.
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4174
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby santa100 » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:51 pm

daverupa wrote:
I'm not so sure about the statement that, in third jhana, piti ceases.

The jhana pericope has

pītiyā ca virāgā

which is indifference to piti, not the cessation of piti.


According to Ven. Gunaratana's analysis, indifference to piti is the first step to take, but one enters the third jhana only when piti has disappeared ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 1.html#ch4 ):
"To attain the third jhana the meditator must use the same method he used to ascend from the first jhana to the second. He must master the second jhana in the five ways, enter and emerge from it, and reflect upon its defects. In this case the defect of proximate corruption is the nearness of applied and sustained thought, which threaten to disrupt the serenity of the second jhana; its inherent defect is the presence of rapture, which now appears as a gross factor that should be discarded. Aware of the imperfections in the second jhana, the meditator cultivates indifference towards it and aspires instead for the peace and sublimity of the third jhana, towards the attainment of which he now directs his efforts. When his practice matures he enters the third jhana, which has the two jhana factors that remain when the rapture disappears, happiness and one-pointedness, and which the suttas describe as follows:

With the fading away of rapture, he dwells in equanimity, mindful and discerning; and he experiences in his own person that happiness of which the noble ones say: 'Happily lives he who is equanimous and mindful' — thus he enters and dwells in the third jhana. (M.i,182; Vbh.245)"
santa100
 
Posts: 1537
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby convivium » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:06 pm

So, I take it there are controversies in the interpretation of this first passage posted by Santa, not to mention in the other passages that map the jhanas. Should this worry me?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
User avatar
convivium
 
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 7:13 am

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby santa100 » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:16 pm

All I did was providing some resources so that you could read, practice, and find out for yourself. I'm doing the same thing too. Good luck..

""As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'""

~~ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ~~
santa100
 
Posts: 1537
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby daverupa » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:17 pm

convivium wrote:So, I take it there are controversies in the interpretation of this first passage posted by Santa, not to mention in the other passages that map the jhanas. Should this worry me?


Well, it should motivate you to pay careful attention:

AN 2.125-6 wrote:"Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of wrong view. Which two? The voice of another and inappropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of wrong view."

"Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of right view. Which two? The voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."


There are a number of different views about jhana; it's worthwhile setting out on the gradual path while you investigate for yourself.

:heart:
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4174
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby convivium » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:20 pm

Thanks again; any other clarifications or suggestions are warmly appreciated.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
User avatar
convivium
 
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 7:13 am

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:14 am

Hi Convivium,
convivium wrote:Hello,
I'm looking for descriptions of how the perception of breath arises in line with each particular jhana. How does perception of the breath become a steady enough object to go beyond access concentration? What does this look like in first, second, third, and fourth jhanas. Does the perception of breath go away in the arupa jhanas? In the fourth jhana?

"Access concentration" is commentarial terminology (which is by no means a bad thing, but it's not a Sutta term). If you are interested in the commentarial exposition of breath meditation you can check out the Visuddhimagga, VIII.145 (page 259 in the PDF here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanamoli/index.html), or Shaila Catherine's book, wisdom wide and deep http://imsb.org/books/wwd.php

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10379
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:38 am

I second Mike and Dave's good advice.
There's nothing to be of concern or worry to you.
Just be aware that there are differing interpretations when it comes to the wording within in the suttas. In my opinion, its best to practice according to the teachings of a respected monastic or lay teacher in whom you and many others have confidence. Differing teachings will have their own internal consistency. Also, under the instruction of a teacher or guide, you should have access to graduated guidance that is appropriate for the meditative experiences you've had/having.
All the best,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16133
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby convivium » Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:32 am

You seem suggest to becoming a relativist about interpretation. My initial intuition was critically examining the texts, in depth, to arrive at the most justified interpretations. This still seems reasonable, provided that "the texts" to which i am referring, namely the suttas, are not commentarial to begin with. But I gather that most scholars would argue that the majority of suttas are, in a sense, commentarial.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
User avatar
convivium
 
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 7:13 am

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:48 am

convivium wrote:You seem suggest to becoming a relativist about interpretation.

No, I am just focused on meditative practice.

convivium wrote:My initial intuition was critically examining the texts, in depth, to arrive at the most justified interpretations.

Well, you wouldn't be the first. There is a vast body of literature that does just that - that spans 2,600 years. My point is - there is justification for a number of different interpretations but at some point you'll need to commit to one particular approach and practice that with confidence.


This still seems reasonable, provided that "the texts" to which i am referring, namely the suttas, are not commentarial to begin with.

The commentarial tradition actually began with the Buddha leaving it to his senior monks to give a detailed exposition of the meaning of a large number of his short inspired utterances.

But I gather that most scholars would argue that the majority of suttas are, in a sense, commentarial.

I think "a majority of suttas" might be going a bit far. There is, apparently, evidence of additions and modifications to the suttas by the compilers. Bhikkhu Bodhi, in the intro to his Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya, discusses this. Other scholars who might be of interest to you, that is if this is of interest to you, include Ven Analayo and Richard Gombrich amongst others.
kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16133
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby convivium » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:41 am

Many traditions claim that they have the one true lineage, technique, or teaching passed down from 300BC. So naturally, in hearing this, one instills faith in a particular teacher/tradition. But then one notices that many explicitly mutually inconsistent teachers/lineages/traditions make this same sort of claim. Then one loses some amount of faith in following a particular teacher/lineage/tradition, at least on this basis. But when one consults history and finds that there is no tangible way the Suttas could have remained in their form presented in the first great council or initial codification, to provide some objective basis. Then, what one is left with is considering a variety of sources and synthesizing what seems most skillful, applicable, and compatible to the relatively common ends of all traditions and undeniable components of the Buddha's teaching, e.g. samadhi and discernment. So finding genuine faith in a teacher or community who still claims to have the one true lineage passed down from the buddha seems problematic. I might do this on the basis that the particular technologies of a given teacher/tradition/lineage are known to be particularly effective to actualizing those undeniable teachings of the Buddha. But many traditions/teachers/lineages also make this explicitly mutually inconsistent claim they alone are the most effective to this ends. It seems problematic for a system to be internally consistent, but mutually inconsistent (in the way i have described) with other systems that claim to 'affect' the same thing (or even worse something different which is the 'true thing') in the best or most direct way. I've come to see that meditation teachings are all essentially the same (except certain vajrayana or mantra based systems)...
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
User avatar
convivium
 
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 7:13 am

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:28 am

Yes, I hear what you are saying.
You could either get lost or lose all confidence, that is for sure. By all means examine the differing teachings handed down to us.
If the teacher is reputable and the methodology sound, then there should be some discernable difference to the lives of those who are earnestly practicing under that teacher.
Lastly - you will need to take the plunge yourself. Try out a particular teacher's meditation practice and evaluate it yourself. If after, say one year of practice, it doesn't suit you - try something else.

There's no conflict with particular methodologies having internal consistency yet differ from other competing methodologies.
In some places, Ledi Sayadaw referred to Vipassana Meditation as "insight exercises", I have vague recollections that he also referred to samadhi/jhana as "concentration exercises" - they are just skilful means to develop particular mind states. So, imho, it doesn't really matter if Ajahn Brahm's method for attaining jhana appears different to my own teacher's instructions - so long as the applied method gets you to develop particular rarified mind states - that is the important thing.
with metta

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16133
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby convivium » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:56 am

Thanks Ben! So do they all agree on what qualifies as these particular rarefied states (specifically jhana)? Do they each simply emphasize different degrees of absorption within any possible jhana while they all agree on what qualifies as each particular jhana? For example, Thanissaro's jhana as against Brahm's or Pa-Auk's appears different. Would the latter teachers consider each jhana, under Thanissaro's description, true jhana (only to a lesser degree of absorbtion)?
Last edited by convivium on Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
User avatar
convivium
 
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 7:13 am

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby Sylvester » Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:00 am

daverupa wrote:I'm not so sure about the statement that, in third jhana, piti ceases.

The jhana pericope has

pītiyā ca virāgā

which is indifference to piti, not the cessation of piti. That Sutta spends most of its time connecting jhana progression with formless progression, which for various reasons I take to be a sign of relative lateness.



Ahem, I think you'd need to inflect the pīti into the accusative case to read as such. The instr/abl/gen/dat inflection does not appear to admit of such a reading, although the locative of reference might, save that there's no verb to trigger that...

I think the genitive is intended here, especially in light of DN 9 which says that the earlier perception of rapture and pleasure born of concentration ceases in 3rd Jhana.
Sylvester
 
Posts: 1511
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:57 am

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:44 am

Hi Convivium,
convivium wrote:Thanks Ben! So do they all agree on what qualifies as these particular rarefied states (specifically jhana)? Do they each simply emphasize different degrees of absorption within any possible jhana while they all agree on what qualifies as each particular jhana? For example, Thanissaro's jhana as against Brahm's or Pa-Auk's appears different. Would the latter teachers consider each jhana, under Thanissaro's description, true jhana (only to a lesser degree of absorbtion)?

See:
The Great Jhana Debate
viewtopic.php?f=43&t=4597

My opinion is that there are quite large differences in definition and interpretation because the suttas are quite vague on some details, especially details of how to achieve jhana (or develop satipatthana for that matter...).

If you look in the Visuddhimagga (which I referred to above) or teachings from Ajahn Brahm, or Pa Auk Sayadaw, you'll find techniques for entering very absorbed states, which they will say are the "true jhanas". Others teach much less absorbed states, which sound more like what U Pandita terms "vipassana jhana" See In This Very Life http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pandita/html/jhanas.html
This gives him the advantage of being able to advocate a "soft jhana" without contradicting the commentaries... :tongue:

Anyway, there is plenty of discussion in the thread I referred to above, so there is little point in repeating all of that, but I would agree with Ben that the respectable modern teachers teach well, but differ in emphasis and terminology.

:anjali:
MIke
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10379
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Breath as the Object of Jhana

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:18 am

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19556
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Next

Return to Samatha Meditation and Jhana

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest