would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby alan... » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:22 am

is this possible? assuming no other knowledge of meditation could one read every sutta on jhana and perhaps on meditation in general and end up with the know how to enter jhana?
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:24 am

I think if you read the anapanasati sutta and a bunch of suttas on jhana then all you need to do after that is be virtuous and go find a secluded place to meditate and eventually you'll enter into jhana.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:37 am

alan... wrote:is this possible? assuming no other knowledge of meditation could one read every sutta on jhana and perhaps on meditation in general and end up with the know how to enter jhana?

Yes, because all it takes is anapanasati. Just sit and watch your breath with mindfulness, secluded from sensual indulgence. That's all that it takes.
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: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby nibbuti » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:43 am

alan... wrote:is this possible? assuming no other knowledge of meditation could one read every sutta on jhana and perhaps on meditation in general and end up with the know how to enter jhana?

Hi Alan. The know how to enter jhana is overcoming the five hindrances. Overcoming the five hindrances by looking at suttas and applying it is possible.

Good luck.
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby alan... » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:56 am

thanks all. that's what i was thinking. glad everyone agrees.
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby marc108 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:36 am

i think its possible, especially to someone gifted. Bhante G learned to meditate from the Suttas.
"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: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby Goob » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:03 pm

Like most of the suttas I feel that it is a collection of a number of important key points which is used mostly for memorization and that it takes a community of experienced practitioners to elaborate upon on it in order for it to be understood properly. Kinda like a rough sketch of a road map which makes sense once someone learned who has been through the terrain can explain the intricacies and fill in the details.
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby alan... » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:42 pm

richard_rca wrote:Like most of the suttas I feel that it is a collection of a number of important key points which is used mostly for memorization and that it takes a community of experienced practitioners to elaborate upon on it in order for it to be understood properly. Kinda like a rough sketch of a road map which makes sense once someone learned who has been through the terrain can explain the intricacies and fill in the details.


i kind of agree but on common topics such as jhana there are so many rough sketches that one can make a fairly detailed map if they put them all together. now something like kasina practice would take others to make a map of any kind since it is mentioned and discussed only a very small amount but i think jhana can be learned at least to a small degree, such as learning anapanasati and then entering the first jhana, i don't see why this would be so far off.
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby Jerrod Lopes » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:42 pm

In my experience, you don't even have to have ever heard of Buddhism or meditation to eventually enter into jhana. Suttas and doctrines are not required whatsoever. Then of course one wouldn't know to call it jhana, but why care to put a name to it anyway? I wish I had never been told about jhanas. :)
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby Goob » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:45 pm

i kind of agree but on common topics such as jhana there are so many rough sketches that one can make a fairly detailed map if they put them all together. now something like kasina practice would take others to make a map of any kind since it is mentioned and discussed only a very small amount but i think jhana can be learned at least to a small degree, such as learning anapanasati and then entering the first jhana, i don't see why this would be so far off.


I don't really think the suttas are explicit enough on the topic of jhana so that a clear step-by-step instruction emerges. What they offer, in my humble opinion, are rough key points, factors to be cultivated and similes. I'm sure that when we have learned to master these states and go back to read the suttas the descriptions will stand out as being self-evident. But in order to unpack the dense information in the suttas themselves I think we need collective experience and people who have been devoting their lives to practice and passing knowledge down through generations.
Last edited by Goob on Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby Dmytro » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:45 pm

Hi Alan,

alan... wrote:is this possible? assuming no other knowledge of meditation could one read every sutta on jhana and perhaps on meditation in
general and end up with the know how to enter jhana?


This is possible, but it may take years even for a highly gifted person.

As Leigh Brasington writes, personal instructions made his progress much easier and faster.
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby Jerrod Lopes » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:33 am

Dmytro wrote:Hi Alan,

alan... wrote:is this possible? assuming no other knowledge of meditation could one read every sutta on jhana and perhaps on meditation in
general and end up with the know how to enter jhana?


This is possible, but it may take years even for a highly gifted person.

As Leigh Brasington writes, personal instructions made his progress much easier and faster.


Respectfully,

I have to refute this for somone who is asking so as he won't be confused. Respectfully I say I don't know what you mean by "gifted person", you may well be right. However, I find that one doesn't even really need knowledge of Buddhism in this life to go into the jhana states. Anyone can do it. After much reflection I come to the same conclusion time and time again. It is much easier to get into jhana states when one isn't aware of their existence. It follows then in this line of understanding that people having defilements such as they do, study of the jhanas may actually make getting to the jahna states more difficult. My advice to people regarding jhanas has always been to forget about them. You'll know what you need to know about jhanas when the time comes. I am sorry to be contradictory. :namaste:
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby Goob » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:35 am

Jerrod Lopes wrote:
Dmytro wrote:Hi Alan,

alan... wrote:is this possible? assuming no other knowledge of meditation could one read every sutta on jhana and perhaps on meditation in
general and end up with the know how to enter jhana?


This is possible, but it may take years even for a highly gifted person.

As Leigh Brasington writes, personal instructions made his progress much easier and faster.


Respectfully,

I have to refute this for somone who is asking so as he won't be confused. Respectfully I say I don't know what you mean by "gifted person", you may well be right. However, I find that one doesn't even really need knowledge of Buddhism in this life to go into the jhana states. Anyone can do it. After much reflection I come to the same conclusion time and time again. It is much easier to get into jhana states when one isn't aware of their existence. It follows then in this line of understanding that people having defilements such as they do, study of the jhanas may actually make getting to the jahna states more difficult. My advice to people regarding jhanas has always been to forget about them. You'll know what you need to know about jhanas when the time comes. I am sorry to be contradictory. :namaste:


Also respectfully,

What experiences do you have that would lead you to this conclusion? I'm not saying you're wrong but I'm interested in who you've known that has never received instructions in meditation and yet has been able to enter jhana-equivalent states (the young Buddha doesn't count :tongue:).
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby Jerrod Lopes » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:59 pm

Richard,

Suffice it to say that I know someone. I don't think it necessary for anyone to know who exactly in name. With respect and a warm tone I say it is just going to be a matter of that you take me at my word or you don't. As a 5 Preceptor, I do my best never to lie, among other things, if that is any reassurance to you. I am sorry if this isn't satisfactory. Be well. :)

PS When I said in the previous post I made that "It is much easier to get into jhana states when one isn't aware of their existence" the word their was meant to convey jhanas. So I am saying that it is easier to enter and dwell in the jhanas without knowledge of the existence of jhanas or any such state to begin with. The desire for the bliss components or to say one has experienced this or that are a few conditions that may very well preclude one from entering these states to begin with. I hope that is more clear. Sorry for any confusion.
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby Goob » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:08 pm

Jerrod Lopes wrote:Richard,

Suffice it to say that I know someone. I don't think it necessary for anyone to know who exactly in name. With respect and a warm tone I say it is just going to be a matter of that you take me at my word or you don't. As a 5 Preceptor, I do my best never to lie, among other things, if that is any reassurance to you. I am sorry if this isn't satisfactory. Be well. :)

PS When I said in the previous post I made that "It is much easier to get into jhana states when one isn't aware of their existence" the word their was meant to convey jhanas. So I am saying that it is easier to enter and dwell in the jhanas without knowledge of the existence of jhanas or any such state to begin with. The desire for the bliss components or to say one has experienced this or that are a few conditions that may very well preclude one from entering these states to begin with. I hope that is more clear. Sorry for any confusion.


Jerrod,

I don't question your sincerity at all, and I wasn't after a name. I was just simply interested in what kind of person this might be who is able to enter extra-ordinary states without instructions or knowledge of them.

I'd say it's one thing to not know the details of higher levels of samadhi and another to know nothing about the basic practice and benefits of meditations at all. I'm assuming maybe your friend belongs in the former category, but then there'd be at least a knowledge of the potential benefits that cultivation might bring, right?
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby Jerrod Lopes » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:47 am

Richard,

The person that experienced this was interested in square breathing techniques and dwelling on thoughts of gratitude at the suggestion of a therapist he was seeing at the time as a way to deal with some PTSD due to the terror attacks in the US on 09-11-01. He kept at the breathing practice to relieve stress. Eventually he developed a small interest in spirituality to also help deal with his problem. He started experiencing some interesting and sometimes even startling things so he looked to the meditation experts, namely Buddhists for advice. One of his first few posts on a "Buddhist" forum was to ask what these strange meditation sessions and the resultant effects were all about. The near unanimous replies were the first he had ever known of the word jhana. Up until then, meditation was just meditation to him... a way to relax and relieve stress through concentrated effort on breathing is all he thought of it.
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:15 am

Jerrod Lopes wrote: However, I find that one doesn't even really need knowledge of Buddhism in this life to go into the jhana states. Anyone can do it. After much reflection I come to the same conclusion time and time again. It is much easier to get into jhana states when one isn't aware of their existence. It follows then in this line of understanding that people having defilements such as they do, study of the jhanas may actually make getting to the jahna states more difficult. My advice to people regarding jhanas has always been to forget about them. You'll know what you need to know about jhanas when the time comes. I am sorry to be contradictory. :namaste:
Jhana level of concentration is not unique to the Buddha's teachings. And what is interesting about these levels of concentration is that they can easily be colored by beliefs and expectations.

As for your advice: it is probably the best advice given here in quite sometime concerning jhana.
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: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:15 am

Many people experience mind body separation (Nama rupa Paricheda Nana) without realising that they are experiencing a type of meditative experience.
As a young child I experience this many times. They last only for few seconds. I thought that I was going mad and complained to my mother.
My niece also experienced the same and they take her to the doctors and the doctors said that there is nothing wrong with her.
I remember Mrs. Robert Holmes A Court talking about the same experience when she lost her husband Mr.H.A.Court (once Australia's richest man).
Sports people such as Tiger Wood also may have some level of onepointedness.

Onepointedness is a universal mental faculty and we all possess it that is why we all can realise Nirvana.

I know about this only now, as I have studied it and have a better undestandigng of it.

Meditation was there before Buddha’s time.

Please read attached for more info.

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/printguna.pdf

I may be wrong, if please correct me.

PS: As a child I was very much in to Buddha's teaching.
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:17 am

Hey Tilt
You are reading my mind! see the time. :twothumbsup:
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Re: would learning jhana solely from sutta be possible?

Postby mynameisadahn » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:16 pm

To answer the OP's question directly. Yes.

You can learn directly from the suttas. My example would be Ayya Khema. If you are interested in more explicit discussion about the jhanas then I would suggest googling her name (she was a buddhist nun, originally from germany, who passed away several years ago). As I understand, she learned jhanas from the suttas herself, before she was later told she did it correctly (or something like that). Many of her talks can be found online in audio file form. She appears to have done what you are interested in doing, so she would seem like a good source.

Personally, I really like her dhamma talks and find them very helpful. Learning about the jhanas directly may not be really emphasized by many of the posters in this forum, though, so perhaps Ayya Khema's approach is a bit different and more focused on teaching the jhanas in advance, and trying in some way to get into them, before the experiences actually happen.

To the OP, also, I would suggest that this forum -- while a great forum -- isn't going to be focused on explicitly discussing different jhanas and teachings of how to get into them. (IME). I have seen you post at least one other question about the jhanas. If you are taking a somewhat different approach and wanting to learn more explicitly about the absorptions, you may want to branch out some in your research.

This isn't disparaging anyone here. I am just answering the OP, who asked a very reasonable question, even if some people here think other approaches are better.
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