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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

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.

Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:47 pm

Viscid wrote:
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,
That does not mean it is not true, though the Buddha certainly did point to any number of wrong views as a result of jhana.



but does repeated exposure to Jhana (temporary suppression of sensuality) gradually reduce the arising of sensuality,
Depends upon what else one is doing as part of one's practice.

or is there a 'sensuality cliff' upon attainment of non-returning?
Damdifino what you mean by that.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"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 9:26 pm

tiltbillings wrote: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.

I'm sorry, but that is not what the text is saying. It is quite clear that the Buddha found pure (or "dry" or "bare") insight lacking when it comes to preventing, by itself, sensual desire. Both the wisdom of insight and the joy of tranquility are required to break the bonds of sensuality. I'm not arguing that Jhana is capable of doing this without a base of strong insight backing it up; if you look at the structure of that text, it's clear that the Buddha is encouraging insight as well as Jhana pleasures, not one or the other. But the fact stands that the Buddha encouraged Jhana as a way to eliminate sensual desires that insight alone cannot tackle.

I'm honestly curious why you are taking such a hard anti-Jhana standpoint here. You are obviously well-versed in the suttas, can you really deny that the Buddha encouraged the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Jhanas over and over and over again, calling them "the meditation he approved of," "the practice that inclines one towards Nibbana," etc.? It seems to me that you are harping repeatedly on the "dangers" and "risks" and "drawbacks" of Jhana, while I have yet to hear you say one positive thing about that which the Buddha praised so highly!
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 9:37 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: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.

I'm sorry, but that is not what the text is saying. It is quite clear that the Buddha found pure (or "dry" or "bare") insight lacking when it comes to preventing, by itself, sensual desire. Both the wisdom of insight and the joy of tranquility are required to break the bonds of sensuality. I'm not arguing that Jhana is capable of doing this without a base of strong insight backing it up; if you look at the structure of that text, it's clear that the Buddha is encouraging insight as well as Jhana pleasures, not one or the other. But the fact stands that the Buddha encouraged Jhana as a way to eliminate sensual desires that insight alone cannot tackle.
I think you are over-reading the text, but I shrug my shoulders. I don't care to get into a battle over it.

I'm honestly curious why you are taking such a hard anti-Jhana standpoint here. You are obviously well-versed in the suttas, can you really deny that the Buddha encouraged the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Jhanas over and over and over again, calling them "the meditation he approved of," "the practice that inclines one towards Nibbana," etc.? It seems to me that you are harping repeatedly on the "dangers" and "risks" and "drawbacks" of Jhana, while I have yet to hear you say one positive thing about that which the Buddha praised so highly!
You make my point here about over-reading things. I am not taking an anti-jhana position. My point was that your initial statement about jhana and sensuality, without considerable qualification, was at face value wrong.

As for -- It is quite clear that the Buddha found pure (or "dry" or "bare") insight lacking when it comes to preventing, by itself, sensual desire -- there is no justification forthis statement. Do you know why?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"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 9:41 pm

tiltbillings wrote:As for -- It is quite clear that the Buddha found pure (or "dry" or "bare") insight lacking when it comes to preventing, by itself, sensual desire -- there is no justification forthis statement. Do you know why?


"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."

There are other verses like this that say the exact same thing; pure "dry" insight without Jhana is not sufficient for eradicating sensual desire. But I'd be interested in knowing why there is no justification for that.
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 9:49 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:As for -- It is quite clear that the Buddha found pure (or "dry" or "bare") insight lacking when it comes to preventing, by itself, sensual desire -- there is no justification forthis statement. Do you know why?


"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."

There are other verses like this that say the exact same thing; pure "dry" insight without Jhana is not sufficient for eradicating sensual desire. But I'd be interested in knowing why there is no justification for that.
Two things are going on in this passage, which makes my point. Jhana by itself is not going to bring an end to kama. There needs to be discernment. Now, you are the one who has brought into this discussion "dry-insight." I did not mention it, nor did I allude to it and it really has not a thing to do with what I said.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"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 9:55 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Two things are going on in this passage, which makes my point. Jhana by itself is not going to bring an end to kama.

As I said, Jhana is not going to magically remove desire; I have been arguing from the beginning that both insight and Jhana pleasure are required, just like both a sharp blade and heavy handle are required for a functional axe.

Now, you are the one who has brought into this discussion "dry-insight." I did mention it, not did I allude to it and it really has not a thing to do with what I said.

One who says that sensual desire can be removed without the need for Jhana is by definition a proponent of dry insight, at least in the sense that I understand it. Please correct me if that is inaccurate.
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 10:30 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Two things are going on in this passage, which makes my point. Jhana by itself is not going to bring an end to kama.

As I said, Jhana is not going to magically remove desire;
Only after I questioned your initial statement: Jhana, when practiced diligently, removes sensual craving, subdues hindrances, and allows for deeper and more penetrating insight.

I have been arguing from the beginning that both insight and Jhana pleasure are required,
That certainly was not clear in what you wrote "from the beginning."

Now, you are the one who has brought into this discussion "dry-insight." I did not mention it, nor did I allude to it and it really has not a thing to do with what I said.

One who says that sensual desire can be removed without the need for Jhana is by definition a proponent of dry insight, at least in the sense that I understand it. Please correct me if that is inaccurate.
It is, indeed, inaccurate. Again, kama is an asava and it removed at the level of the non-returner, and I believe that some level of jhana is required for that. And again, this "dry-insight" business is not something I brought into this discussion.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:01 am

tiltbillings wrote:As I said, Jhana is not going to magically remove desire;
Only after I questioned your initial statement: Jhana, when practiced diligently, removes sensual craving, subdues hindrances, and allows for deeper and more penetrating insight.[/quote]
Perhaps I was vague; it is more accurate to say that Jhana, when practiced diligently, allows for the removal of sensual craving - when teamed with insight, which I just assume is a given. Very few people think that you can become enlightened through purely Jhana without insight, or even that Jhana is possible without insight.

But yes, you're right, obviously both Jhana and insight (or more accurately, both insight and tranquility, the two mutually-supporting qualities of Jhana) are responsible for lessening sensual desire.
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 Spiny Norman » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:01 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.


That's how it looks to me - jhana as an antidote to the hindrances, effectively replacing unwholesome states of mind with wholesome ones. I've been looking recently at the 7 factors of enlightenment, and I can see some parallels there, ie developing the 7 factors instead of "developing" the 5 hindrances ( see SN 46 ).
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
Peter Gabriel lyric
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:22 pm

porpoise wrote:
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.


That's how it looks to me - jhana as an antidote to the hindrances, effectively replacing unwholesome states of mind with wholesome ones. I've been looking recently at the 7 factors of enlightenment, and I can see some parallels there, ie developing the 7 factors instead of "developing" the 5 hindrances ( see SN 46 ).
Yes, but did you read the whole exchsange? Jhana alone will not remove kama.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby nibbuti » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:12 pm

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.


Contradictions do not exist. One-pointedness - cittaṃ ekaggaṃ - is a factor of every jhana. Cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ is not cittaṃ ekaggaṃ. Vitakka & vicara are not active verbal thought. Vitakka & vicara are movements of the mind to the meditation object.

Imagine a wheel bound to an axle. Bound to the axle is one-pointedness. Moving around the axle is vitakka & vicara. The wheel cannot leave the axle but the wheel can continue to move around the axle.

When the mind reaches the 1st jhana, it will then know, without doubt. When the mind has doubt, this is a hindrance. When there is the hindrance of doubt, there can be no 1st jhana.

The scriptures:

'Thinking imbued with harmlessness has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, & leads to Unbinding. If I were to think & ponder in line with that even for a night... even for a day... even for a day & night, I do not envision any danger that would come from it, except that thinking & pondering a long time would tire the body. When the body is tired, the mind is disturbed; and a disturbed mind is far from concentration.'

So I steadied my mind right within, settled, unified, & concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind would not be disturbed.

Āraddhaṃ kho pana me vīriyaṃ ahosi asallīnaṃ, upaṭṭhitā sati asammuṭṭhā, passaddho kāyo asāraddho, samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ.

Unflagging persistence was aroused in me, and unmuddled mindfulness established. My body was calm & unaroused, my mind concentrated & single. Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, I entered & remained in the first jhana:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.019.than.html

"And how many factors does the first jhana have?"

"The first jhana has five factors. There is the case where, in a monk who has attained the five-factored first jhana, there occurs directed thought, evaluation, rapture, pleasure, & singleness of mind. It's in this way that the first jhana has five factors."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.043.than.html

:anjali:
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:16 am

tiltbillings wrote:
porpoise wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote: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.


That's how it looks to me - jhana as an antidote to the hindrances, effectively replacing unwholesome states of mind with wholesome ones. I've been looking recently at the 7 factors of enlightenment, and I can see some parallels there, ie developing the 7 factors instead of "developing" the 5 hindrances ( see SN 46 ).

Yes, but did you read the whole exchsange? Jhana alone will not remove kama.


I'm not arguing for jhana and against insight, I think both are necessary. I think the debate is about which comes first, and on that point I think the suttas support both approaches - for me it makes most sense practically speaking to calm the mind first as a basis for seeing more clearly.
I do think the jhanas are necessary, not least because Right Concentration ( samma samadhi ) is defined in terms of the jhanas.
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:23 am

nibbuti wrote: When there is the hindrance of doubt, there can be no 1st jhana.


And vice versa? It seems to me that the absorptions and hindrances are mutually exclusive - you could say that the absorptions displace the hindrances.
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby reflection » Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:42 pm

Let's try to describe the taste of a banana in theory..
We can't.

If we can't even describe something that common, we can simply forget trying to get jhana in some theoretical format.
When you are hungry you don't care about the theory of how a banana tastes, you just eat.
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby Sekha » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
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?

I would say jhana appears as a result of temporary suppression of sensual craving, and it also does help to remove the remaining at-that-time-non-arisen sensual craving.

Samatho, bhikkhave, bhāvito kam-attham-anubhoti? Cittaṃ bhāvīyati. Cittaṃ bhāvitaṃ kam-attham-anubhoti? Yo rāgo so pahīyati.
By developping Samatha, bhikkhus, what purpose is served? Citta is developped. By developping citta, bhikkhus, what purpose is served? Whatever rāga there is is abandoned.
http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/angu ... 2-032.html

I think it is arguable that samatha and citta bhavana (equivalent for citta-sikkha) both refer to jhana practice.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: 1st jhana factors: theory vs experience

Postby Zom » Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:54 pm

Two useful points to keep in mind:

1). MN 64 passage (why jhana is needed):

There is a path, Ananda, a way to the abandoning of the
five lower fetters; that anyone, without coming to that path, to
that way, shall know or see or abandon the five lower fetters -
this is not possible. Just as when there is a great tree standing
possessed of heartwood, it is not possible that anyone shall cut
out its heartwood without cutting through its bark and sapwood,
so too, there is a path.. .this is not possible.
...
"And what, Ananda, is the path, the way to the abandoning
of the five lower fetters? Here, with seclusion from objects of
attachment, with the abandoning of unwholesome states, with
the complete tranquillization of bodily inertia, quite secluded
from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a
bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhana, which is
accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture
and pleasure born of seclusion.

"Whatever exists therein of material form, feeling, perception,
formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent,
as suffering, as a disease, as a tumour, as a barb, as a
calamity, as an affliction, as alien, as disintegrating, as void, as
not self. He turns his mind away from those states and
directs it towards the deathless element thus: "This is the peaceful,
this is the sublime, that is, the stilling of all formations, the
relinquishing of all attachments, the destruction of craving,
dispassion, cessation, Nibbana.' Standing upon that, he
attains the destruction of the taints. But if he does not attain the
destruction of the taints, then because of that desire for the
Dhamma, that delight in the Dhamma, with the destruction of
the five lower fetters he becomes one due to reappear spontaneously
[in the Pure Abodes] and there attain final Nibbana
without ever returning from that world. This is the path, the
way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters.


2). DN 2 passage (how to be sure you are in it):

"Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.

:reading: :buddha2: 8-)
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