1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby 1stjhanafactors » Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:41 am

First of all, I want to make clear that I am not creating this thread to boast about my experience. What would be the point anyway, no one here knows who I am, and there is no better way to fall off from those mental states than boasting about them, which is why everyone who attains them keeps quiet about it.

So my point is to try to adress the confusion there inevitably is about those 1st jhana factors by confronting theory with experience. This is I believe a somewhat valuable contribution as those who experience the 1st jhana generally rely on a tradition they don't even think of questioning, and those who are in a position to question the tradition generally don't have a lifestyle which is conducive to such attainments.

So I joined a retreat conducted by a monk who teaches in line with the visuddhimagga although I was quite reluctant to follow a teaching based on a book that triggers in me so many doubts, mostly because it contains a few striking contradictions with the suttas, but I did so because that teacher is reputed to be one of the most successful and efficient meditation instructors in the human realm at the present moment.

Prior to that, I was working with anapanassati and my progress was rather slow because it was not the most appropriate object for me given the experiences I had previously in my life. He diagnosed my case and appointed me one of the ten kasinas thanks to which I reached the first jhana within a few days. I want to underline that I have been abstaining from pretty much any sexual activity for the past few years, so it is not something that just fell on me from nowhere. It was the fruit of the successful encounter between a skillful teacher and a receptive student.

So even though I was supposed to focus on my object, I inevitably started confronting my experience with the theory.

According to the abhidhamma and the visuddhimagga, the first jhana is defined as any mental state in which these five factors are present: vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha and ekaggata (Vibh. 569: ‘‘Jhāna’’nti vitakko, vicāro, pīti, sukhaṃ, cittassekaggatā). Vitakka is taken as meaning "initial application of the mind" (Vibh 565: takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā sammāsaṅkappo), vicāra "sustained application of the mind" (Vibh 565: cāro vicāro anuvicāro upavicāro cittassa anusandhanatā anupekkhanatā), and (citass)ekaggata "one-pointedness (of the mind)". Since there is supposed to be ekaggata, which means that the mind is unwaveringly focused on the object, there would be no thoughts in the first jhana. This is already confusing because vitakka DOES mean "thoughts" pretty much everywhere its meaning is clear in the suttas, so in this case we have a situation in which there would be "vitakka" but NO thoughts. Confusing, ugh?

Now, ekaggata does not appear at all in the standard sutta definition of the first jhana: "bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi, vivicca akusalehi dhammehi, savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati". Rather, it appears in the definition of the second jhana, under the terms "cetaso ekodibhāva" ("vitakkavicārānaṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati"), which strongly suggests that ekaggata would rather be a second jhana factor.

And while searching for occurences of vitakka and vicara in the suttas, I have never found any place where it would distinctly mean anything like initial/sustained application of the mind. Instead, I have found many suttas that are dealing with concentration where vitakka clearly means "thought". For example, AN 3.100 clearly talks about adhicitta (the bhikkhu is taken to be adhicittam-anuyutta - "intent on heightened mind", bearing in mind that adhicitta-sikkha ["training in heightened mind"] is defined at AN 3.88 as the attainment of the 4 jhanas) and yet vitakka is spoken of in unequivocal terms as sensual thoughts (kama-vitakka), thoughts of ill-will (byapada-vitakka), thoughts of harmfulness (vihimsa-vitakka), "thoughts of the caste (ñāti-vitakka), thoughts of the home district (janapada-vitakka), thoughts related to not wanting to be despised (anuviññatti-paṭisaññutta vitakka)" and "thoughts of the Dhamma" (dhamma-vitakka).

Another sutta provides strong support for the interpretation according to which even in the context of jhanas, vitakka and vicara still simply relate to thoughts: SN 21.1 ('"Noble silence, noble silence," it is said. But what is noble silence?' Then the thought occurred to me, 'There is the case where a monk, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, enters & remains in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. This is called noble silence').

So as I am generally inclined to follow the suttas over other sources, I wanted to review my experience, as to which definition was describing it the most appropriately.


Here are my conclusions:

What the abhidhamma and visuddhimagga and their followers call "access concentration" (upacara-samadhi), and which is defined as a state in which "the five factors are present but not complete yet" corresponds to the sutta first jhana (it is only "absorption concentration", in which the five factors are present in full, which is considered as the full-fledged first jhana in abhidhamma and visuddhimagga). Reviewing my mind according to the sutta description (vivicceva kāmehi, vivicca akusalehi dhammehi, savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ) this is what I found:

1. "access concentration" is "vivicceva kāmehi" (detached from sensuality) as whatever sensual perception may still arise in the mind (which is why it is said at AN 9.34 "as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality") such perceptions are nevertheless immediately abandoned without any effort, because the pleasantness derived from piti-sukha is deeper and better than the pleasantness of sensual thoughts, so the mind is able to compare the two, it understands immediately the danger of sensual thoughts and abandons them in order to protect the nicer pleasantness derived from piti-sukha (which is why it said at MN 59: "whatever pleasure or happiness arises in dependence on these five strands of sensuality, that is called sensual pleasure. Though some might say, 'That is the highest pleasure that beings experience,' I would not grant them that. Why is that? Because there is another pleasure, more extreme & refined than that. And what, Ananda, is another pleasure more extreme & refined than that? There is the case where a monk.. remains in the first jhana. This is another pleasure more extreme & refined than that"). In other terms, the mind still keeps its hedonist tendency, but at that time it becomes beneficial."

2. it is "vivicca akusalehi dhammehi" as any perceptions connected with any unwholesome states that may still arise in the mind are similarly immediately abandoned. These two first characteristics of the first jhana are very important, because thanks to them the mind is fully protected against anything that could be harmful, as it is stated at MN 25: ("And where is it that Mara and his following cannot go? Here, quite secluded.. he abides in the first jhana. This bhikkhu is said to have blindfolded Mara, to have become invisible to the Evil One by depriving Mara’s eye of its opportunity"). So it is easily underdstandable that the Buddha would emphasize this mental state because it is much easier to reach than the second jhana where thoughts have to disappear, and yet it is a very useful and safe mental state, because the good habits of warding off unwholesome states gets deeply printed and still works after the meditation is over if one doesn't stop the practice for too long (ie. more than 12 hours).

3. it is "savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ" as there are thoughts and 'wandering-thoughts". The more one gets into them, the weaker the jhana becomes, that is piti-sukha becomes weaker, so generally the mind is not too much attracted towards them. The thing is that the mental pleasantness derived from wholesome thoughts might still attract the mind and divert it from the object, but piti-sukha are still there and sensuality as well as unwholesome states are still quite efficiently warded off. When the concentration becomes better and more focused, piti and sukha increase, so that the pleasantness derived from them becomes stronger than the pleasantness of wholesome thoughts, and the mind abandons them without specific effort to do so because of its underlying hedonist tendency. This is how one reaches the second jhana, and why the second jhana is said to be "samadhijam" (born of concentration).

4. it is "vivekajaṃ" (I understand viveka here as meaning "detachment") because it arises from the fact that one doesn't cling too strongly to any internal object. I have actually found it a very efficient way to attain or strengthen the first jhana to remember it is "born of detachment" and consequently release any grasping to inner phenomena. If one tries to achieve ekaggata too soon by focusing too strongly, one will start grasping too strongly at inner objects, which will weaken the jhana, and can even make one fall from it, which is why it is said at AN 9.35: ("there are cases where a monk — foolish, inexperienced, unfamiliar with his pasture, unskilled in being quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, and entering & remaining in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation — doesn't stick with that theme, doesn't develop it, pursue it, or establish himself firmly in it. The thought occurs to him, 'What if I, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, were to enter & remain in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance.' He is not able... to enter & remain in the second jhana... The thought occurs to him, 'What if I... were to enter & remain in the first jhana... He is not able... to enter & remain in the first jhana. This is called a monk who has slipped & fallen from both sides").

5. and obviously there is "pīti-sukhaṃ"; to be noted that if there is pain arising for any reason (insect bite or paiin arising from internal causes) the jhana will be weakened and if it becomes too strong it will vanish. On the other hand, the stronger the jhana, the longer on can sit continuously. 2 hours sittings without changing the posture become easy.

Now, here is what the teacher would say about the first jhana: actually ekaggata is reached only in the moment, so one keeps changing from access to absorption concentration. This makes clear that this is the definition of a state that is unstable, uneasy to grasp for the beginner, and it is much easier, more convenient and workable on the practical level to consider the whole thing as the first jhana.

Somehow, the teacher came to know what I was thinking and he eventually admitted that the first jhana with five factors is "a bit confusing".


Now, why this confusion? My opinion is that there has been a time when the abhidhamma was used as a weapon in discussions between sects, and every sect wanted to have in their abhidhamma discriminations that were finer than those introduced by other sects in order to prove that their doctrine was more profound (see quotation below). There are evidences of this tendency towards subtler interpretations in late Pali litterature with a variety of Pali terms, which are explicited in the book "studies in the origins of buddhism" but I am not in a position right now to put a hand on it. So my guess is that this definition has been introduced by unscrupulous people who were not reluctant to edit the contents of the abhidhammma (as well as the suttas - but that is another complex matter that goes beyond the range of this discussion) in order to serve their own immediate and trifle advantage.

There are indications that such people existed in the Sangha at an early stage. The following is extracted from "Buddhist Sects in India" by Nalinaksha Dutt and is about Mahadeva, the reported founder of the Mahasanghika scool, at the time of Asoka, around 150 BE, as related by Paramartha (who was a follower of the Vijñanavada school and one of the most learned translators of Vasumitra's treatise on sects - see p.69): "It is said that Mahadeva fabricated many sutras and authorized his disciples to compose treatises, as they thought fit, and they should also refute the objections raised by their adversaries so that the conservatives, ie. the Sthaviras, might be disposed to admit the authenticity of the Mahayanic tradition. Paramartha seems to be neutral and sophistic on the point. He had recourse to the expedient of conciliating the both the yanas" - see p.23.

I believe it is probable that these manipulations have taken place at a rather early stage, probably before the creation of the Theravada school, which would explain why the Theravadins would have just accepted these definitions - as they accepted the rest of what was transmitted by the tradition - without questioning them. Once the contradictions had been canonically accepted without being adressed even in the redaction of the visuddhimagga, which has later become a sacred scripture (and Buddhagosa is even strongly believed to have been an arahant - without any kind of evidence available) none would even dare to question the matter. It takes someone who is not a buddhist and is not afraid of looking at these scriptures more objectively and non-dogmatically, to analyse properly the contradiction.

As a support to what I have said here, PTSD says in its definition of vitakka: "Looking at the combn vitakka+vicāra in earlier and later works one comes to the conclusion that they were once used to denote one & the same thing: just thought, thinking, only in an emphatic way (as they are also semantically synonymous), and that one has to take them as one expression, like jānāti passati, without being able to state their difference. With the advance in the Sangha of intensive study of terminology they became distinguished mutually. Vitakka became the inception of mind, or attending, and was no longer applied, as in the Suttas, to thinking in general. The explns of Commentators are mostly of an edifying nature and based more on popular etymology than on natural psychological grounds."
Last edited by 1stjhanafactors on Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby James the Giant » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:21 am

Interesting, good first post. I like your use of the colour green.
In the end it doesn't really matter, right? It's just a matter of theory and labels and what to call these states.
On the level of practise it doesn't make any difference to the way we actually meditate or what we do.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby 1stjhanafactors » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:25 am

It does make a difference, in the light of AN 9.35, if one misunderstands what are the first and the second jhana:

"Suppose there was a mountain cow — foolish, inexperienced, unfamiliar with her pasture, unskilled in roaming on rugged mountains — and she were to think, 'What if I were to go in a direction I have never gone before, to eat grass I have never eaten before, to drink water I have never drunk before!' She would lift her hind hoof without having placed her front hoof firmly and [as a result] would not get to go in a direction she had never gone before, to eat grass she had never eaten before, or to drink water she had never drunk before. And as for the place where she was standing when the thought occurred to her, 'What if I were to go where I have never been before... to drink water I have never drunk before,' she would not return there safely. Why is that? Because she is a foolish, inexperienced mountain cow, unfamiliar with her pasture, unskilled in roaming on rugged mountains.

"In the same way, there are cases where a monk — foolish, inexperienced, unfamiliar with his pasture, unskilled in being quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, and entering & remaining in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation — doesn't stick with that theme, doesn't develop it, pursue it, or establish himself firmly in it. The thought occurs to him, 'What if I, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, were to enter & remain in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance.' He is not able... to enter & remain in the second jhana... The thought occurs to him, 'What if I... were to enter & remain in the first jhana... He is not able... to enter & remain in the first jhana. This is called a monk who has slipped & fallen from both sides, like the mountain cow, foolish, inexperienced, unfamiliar with her pasture, unskilled in roaming on rugged mountains.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


But I agree that people manage to attain higher jhanas anyway, so it does not stop them in their progress to work with a wrong definitions, it is just not optimal, and above all the major evil of all this is that it gets people confused and increases their doubts.
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby James the Giant » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:46 am

1stjhanafactors wrote:It does make a difference, in the light of AN 9.35, if one misunderstands what are the first and the second jhana:

Ah yes, I hear you there.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:50 am

Greetings 1stjhanafactors,

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel and thank you for your interesting opening post.

I have little to add other than that (as far as much own understandings go) I think you're pretty on the ball with your assessment. You may be interested also in this topic, in which the difference between vitakka and vicara and their respective definitions and implications were explored.

Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=10355

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Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby marc108 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:05 am

excellent post & analysis. thanks for that.

1stjhanafactors wrote:What the abhidhamma and visuddhimagga and their followers call "access concentration" (upacara-samadhi), and which is defined as a state in which "the five factors are present but not complete yet" corresponds to the sutta first jhana


i've come to the same conclusion but never voiced that opinion. pretty cool to hear someone else say it too.

on a side note you may enjoy reading this:
http://sujato.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/ ... -in-jhana/
"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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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:32 am

James the Giant wrote:Interesting, good first post. I like your use of the colour green.
In the end it doesn't really matter, right? It's just a matter of theory and labels and what to call these states.
On the level of practise it doesn't make any difference to the way we actually meditate or what we do.
If anything, these jhana discussions we have had here point to the utter plasticity of what gets called jhana, and in that they can be useful. The bottom line is, of course, one should do what works and is useful for one, be it the various sutta jhana interpretations or the classical Visuddhimagga type.
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
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby 1stjhanafactors » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:12 am

The sad and confusing thing about all this is that the majority of the most knowledgeable meditation teachers do not address these contradictions. I don't know if they are aware of the problem and they don't dare to say anything or if in spite of their high level of realization and nobility they are just blind to these matters as they take the tradition dogmatically.

I think it is better to recognize doubtful matters as doubtful matters rather than ignoring the contradictions as Buddhagosa did and present day teachers still do, which is why I have created this thread although it triggers some doubt in our minds. I believe it eventually prevents greater doubts from arising.
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:29 am

1stjhanafactors wrote:The sad and confusing thing about all this is that the majority of the most knowledgeable meditation teachers do not address these contradictions. I don't know if they are aware of the problem and they don't dare to say anything or if in spite of their high level of realization and nobility they are just blind to these matters as they take the tradition dogmatically.

I think it is better to recognize doubtful matters as doubtful matters rather than ignoring the contradictions as Buddhagosa did and present day teachers still do, which is why I have created this thread although it triggers some doubt in our minds. I believe it eventually prevents greater doubts from arising.
Or maybe these matters are not all that contradictory or doubtful in actual practice.
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
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby robertk » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:00 am

So many errors, but I only have time to point out one:
According to the abhidhamma and the visuddhimagga, the first jhana is defined as any mental state in which these five factors are present: vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha and ekaggata

Actually according to the Abhidhamma and Buddhaghosa these factors arise with any kusala state and also many AKUSALA states. They are of course also present in first jhana and upacara but their presence is no failsafe indication that genuine jhana has arisen: one could have these states in intensity and merely be having a concentration that increases ones delusion to the extent that one imagines they have attained jhana.
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:18 pm

Interesting thread. I was reflecting again on jhana again recently, and I have a question:
What basically is the purpose of jhana? Is it getting rid of the 5 hindrances?
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby daverupa » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:26 pm

porpoise wrote:Interesting thread. I was reflecting again on jhana again recently, and I have a question:
What basically is the purpose of jhana? Is it getting rid of the 5 hindrances?


I thought it was all about a pliable, workable mind. Increasing the mind's plasticity in order to mold it to the Dhamma, basically. Also, it's only when jhana is attained that sensual pleasures can start to lose their allure.

The hindrances are gotten rid of before jhana, anyway, so jhana doesn't help there.
    "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: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:53 pm

porpoise wrote:Interesting thread. I was reflecting again on jhana again recently, and I have a question:
What basically is the purpose of jhana? Is it getting rid of the 5 hindrances?

Jhana, when practiced diligently, removes sensual craving, subdues hindrances, and allows for deeper and more penetrating insight.
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

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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:01 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
porpoise wrote:Interesting thread. I was reflecting again on jhana again recently, and I have a question:
What basically is the purpose of jhana? Is it getting rid of the 5 hindrances?

Jhana, when practiced diligently, removes sensual craving, subdues hindrances, and allows for deeper and more penetrating insight.
Jhana by itself removes sensual cravings?
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
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:27 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Jhana by itself removes sensual cravings?

Yes.

From the Cula-dukkhakkhandha Sutta:

"I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened bodhisatta, saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, and greater drawbacks, but as long as I had not attained a rapture and pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, I did not claim that I could not be tempted by sensuality. But when I saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, and greater drawbacks, and I had attained a rapture and pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, that was when I claimed that I could not be tempted by sensuality."
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.
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:43 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Jhana by itself removes sensual cravings?

Yes.

From the Cula-dukkhakkhandha Sutta:

"I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened bodhisatta, saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, and greater drawbacks, but as long as I had not attained a rapture and pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, I did not claim that I could not be tempted by sensuality. But when I saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, and greater drawbacks, and I had attained a rapture and pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, that was when I claimed that I could not be tempted by sensuality."
This text is not saying that jhana by itself, jhana alone, will remove sensuality.
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
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:16 pm

tiltbillings wrote:This text is not saying that jhana by itself, jhana alone, will remove sensuality.

It is clearly saying that piti and sukha, the defining characteristics of the first Jhana, are the direct antidotes to sensuality. I'm not arguing that Jhana magically removes sensuality just by being there, but that Jhana brings about levels of pleasure and rapture capable of ending sensual desire in ways that pure insight cannot.

See Thanissaro's note on the passage, "The rapture and pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, is a factor of the first or second jhana. 'Something more peaceful than that' would be any attainments higher than the second jhana." This is the obvious conclusion; one would have to be intentionally searching for an alternative interpretation in order to find a meaning here that is not supportive of Jhana as a recommended antidote to sensuality.
Last edited by LonesomeYogurt on Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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.
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby daverupa » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:22 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:This text is not saying that jhana by itself, jhana alone, will remove sensuality.

It is clearly saying that piti and sukha, the defining characteristics of the first Jhana, are the direct antidotes to sensuality. I'm not arguing that Jhana magically removes sensuality just by being there, but that Jhana brings about levels of pleasure and rapture capable of ending sensual desire in ways that pure insight cannot.

What is your alternative interpretation?


Well, piti-sukha born of seclusion, which isn't quite the same. Part of that is seclusion from the kamaguna, e.g. the hindrance of sensual desire is absent, and addressing such instances of sensuality has to happen before jhana is even approached.
Last edited by daverupa on Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "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: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:26 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:This text is not saying that jhana by itself, jhana alone, will remove sensuality.

It is clearly saying that piti and sukha, the defining characteristics of the first Jhana, are the direct antidotes to sensuality. I'm not arguing that Jhana magically removes sensuality just by being there, but that Jhana brings about levels of pleasure and rapture capable of ending sensual desire in ways that pure insight cannot.

What is your alternative interpretation?
What jhana, in and of itself, can do is suppress sensuality -- kama -- for a period of time that can last for awhile after the experience of jhana, but don't forget kama is an asava, which means it is not until there is the attainment of non-returning is sensuality, sense desire, actually removed. Jhana can suppress a lot of stuff, leading one to thinking that one has attained far more than what is justified.
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
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby Viscid » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:22 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Jhana can suppress a lot of stuff, leading one to thinking that one has attained far more than what is justified.


This is perhaps not textually justifiable, but does repeated exposure to Jhana (temporary suppression of sensuality) gradually reduce the arising of sensuality, or is there a 'sensuality cliff' upon attainment of non-returning?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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