jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:18 am

Hi Robert,

I've always been confused about this point. If jhana was practised by other ascetics pre-Buddha, why is it said to be impossible today. Or is it the mastery in a Buddhist sense that is impossible.

A reference would be useful, too.

:anjali:
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:21 am

alan... wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
alan... wrote:to clarify: what i meant was that if you have fulfilled the other eight steps on the path and deeply considered anicca, dukkha and anatta and THEN you sit in jhana you will be able to see clearly anicca dukkha and anatta and thus let go of your attachments to ideas of self and permanence. the full circle of the path leading back to right view. i wasn't saying jhana magnifies any kind of wonderful things to attach to, i was saying it magnifies the ideas of the path which automatically lead to detachment.
Sounds like a conceptual process you are describing.


a conceptual process that leads to detachment, cessation, nibbana, yes. i'm describing the eightfold path as depicted in the suttas, what are you describing?
I was not describing anything.
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: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:42 am

robertk wrote:For those who master the jhanas ( no longer possible at this time) they can be used as a basis for insight by seeong thir inherent instability.


"No longer possible at this time"? Who says that?
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:45 am

tiltbillings wrote:The point is that the jhanas, by themselves, are not sufficient for awakening...


I agree, but that isn't the same as saying that they're unimportant or unecessary. Right Concentration is defined in terms of the jhanas after all.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby robertk » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:50 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Robert,

I've always been confused about this point. If jhana was practised by other ascetics pre-Buddha, why is it said to be impossible today. Or is it the mastery in a Buddhist sense that is impossible.

A reference would be useful, too.

:anjali:
Mike

Jhana, as in first jhana is potentiay available to thexrare giftedcon who has reaaly given up sense desire and lives a secluded life. It is mastery that is no longer available.

So we see that the jhana labhi who attains arahatship using jhana as basis was extinct soon after the sasana began.e
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:51 am

porpoise wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The point is that the jhanas, by themselves, are not sufficient for awakening...


I agree, but that isn't the same as saying that they're unimportant or unecessary. Right Concentration is defined in terms of the jhanas after all.
And do note for those who still might a little confused: I did not say that the jhanas were unimportant.
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: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:54 am

robertk wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Hi Robert,

I've always been confused about this point. If jhana was practised by other ascetics pre-Buddha, why is it said to be impossible today. Or is it the mastery in a Buddhist sense that is impossible.

A reference would be useful, too.

:anjali:
Mike

Jhana, as in first jhana is potentiay available to thexrare giftedcon who has reaaly given up sense desire and lives a secluded life. It is mastery that is no longer available.

So we see that the jhana labhi who attains arahatship using jhana as basis was extinct soon after the sasana began.e
References?
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: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby barcsimalsi » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:33 pm

I'm not sure how reliable is wiki but it writes:
Psychic powers
Traditionally, the fourth jhāna is seen as the beginning of attaining psychic powers (abhijñā)

Enumerations of special knowledges
In the Pali Canon, the higher knowledges are often enumerated in a group of six or of three types of knowledge.
The six types of higher knowledges (chalabhiññā) are:
"Higher powers" (iddhi-vidhā), such as walking on water and through walls;
"Divine ear" (dibba-sota), that is, clairaudience;
"Mind-penetrating knowledge" (ceto-pariya-ñāṇa), that is, telepathy;
"Remember one's former abodes" (pubbe-nivāsanussati), that is, recalling ones own past lives;
"Divine eye" (dibba-cakkhu), that is, knowing others' karmic destinations; and,
"Extinction of mental intoxicants" (āsavakkhaya), upon which arahantship follows.


So if those brahmin or ascetic already attained various psychic powers, does it mean they had attained the 4th jhana as well?

I will try to find some source from the suttas to see if they can verify this claim.
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby robertk » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:17 pm

[MODERATOR Note: In response to a complaint, in order to make this more readable, I added (quite randomly, paragraphs and enlarged the font. -- tb]
Dear tilt and mike
I know you both like the mahasi system si I dug out a citation from one of that group which makes some good points about the difficulty of jhana

Vol 4 No 2Access & Fixed Concentration Dhamma talk by Venerable Sujivo, Kota Tinggi, January 1993 Transcribed by Bhikkhu Bodhisara.

There are two approaches in the practice of meditation. The first approach is called samatha yanika. Those meditators who follow this approach practise initially by using concentration, or tranquillity, as a base. This means they practise pure tranquillity meditations like kasinas, visualisations; asubhas, meditations on loathsomeness of the body. There are forty such objects enumerated in the Visuddhimagga. They usually practise until they have reached an established state: At least to upacara samadhi, or to any of the jhanas, the blissful absorptions. When they are established here, they go further and practise vipassana.The second type of approach is suddha vipassana yanika, the pure insight practice.

There is another type of approach: The practice where both concentration and insight are developed. The meditators are not established in either one alone but they practise alternatingly whenever one is more suitable. Usually people talk about the first two types, the pure samatha yanika and the pure vipassana yanika. You find that both these methods have been taught by the Buddha and his instructions can be found in the Tipitaka itself. For some the Buddha taught pure samatha methods before going to vipassana. Others he taught directly the Four Foundations of Mindfulness without going through the jhanas.

There are many cases of both ways in the Tipitaka.If you ask which one to practise, ideally it is the more you know the better. It's better when you know all the eight jhanas, as well as all the magga-phalas. But that would not always be possible. First, you have to find a suitable teacher who can teach you all these things. Second, of course, you need the time to do it. There are also different ways to approach it. Sometimes you may be practising vipassana for a period as we are doing here. After that, at a suitable time, one can also practise samatha. Some find that vipassana is good enough. That means they keep on practising and progressing and they do not need to go into samatha at all.

Certain people find it necessary to go through some degree of samatha before they go into vipassana. But finally they will have to go to vipassana if they want to find enlightenment. In any case you have to do a lot of practice. And you need a lot of time.Of course the emphasis of the Mahasi tradition is on vipassana. Not that the teachers are ignorant about the nature of samatha. From what I gather in Myanmar we know that many of the teachers can actually teach all the forty objects of samatha. When I was there many years ago, I asked them, "Why don't you teach me samatha? I also want to learn samatha." They said:"Vipassana is more important. After you have established vipassana well then you can do all the samatha you want." The reason is that most people do not have so much time to practise. Even if you're a monk, it doesn't mean you have all the time to practise. You get involved with other things.

The important thing is that while there is the sasana period we learn what we can and as much as we can in vipassana. From what we understand, the concentration in an intensive retreat in vipassana is usually able to carry a person forward for a long time. Therefore, the emphasis here is on vipassana. As a lay person has even less time than a monk he should practise what is most important. Also according to our understanding, it is rather difficult to practise samatha successfully. Moreover, it may take some time if you are required to attain the jhanas. The object must be suitable and you also must have the potential.Now we come to the subject of the jhanas. When you talk of jhana, it does not necessary mean something that occurs in samatha, pure tranquillity meditation, alone. It can also be applied to experiences of concentration within the vipassana meditation. Therefore there are such things as samatha jhanas, that means the jhanas or the type of absorptions that occur in pure tranquillity meditations, and vipassana jhanas, the other type of tranquillity or absorptions that occur in vipassana meditation.

What is the general idea behind the word 'jhana'? 'Jhana' usually means strong concentration fixed on the object. Here we quote an excerpt from a book written by Mahasi Sayadaw, The Wheel of Dhamma:"Jhana means closely observing an object with fixed attention. Concentrated attention given to a selected object of meditation, such as breathing for tranquillity concentration, gives rise to samatha jhana, whereas noting the characteristic nature of mind and body and contemplating on their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality brings about vipassana jhana. There are two types of jhanasamatha jhana and vipassana jhana. Fixed attention that develops into tranquillity is called samatha jhana. Contemplating on the three characteristics constitutes vipassana jhana.

There are also three kinds of samadhi (concentration): momentary, access and absorption concentration."In another book, Sayadaw U Pandita refers to jhana as the mind sticking onto the object. It is like taking a wooden rod and poking through a leaf with it; or sticking it to something soft and then bringing it close to see what it is. So when the mind fixes on an object, it is like penetrating the object and going to it, sticking to it. This is the nature of jhana. It is a fixed, deep concentration.

Depending on how you use it, jhana can refer to different things. Just as when you say concentration, you can have wrong concentration and right concentration. It is still concentration. It refers to different experiences.First we go into the general meaning of samatha concentration and how it occurs, as mentioned in the text. Here samatha jhana can be divided into two types. One is upacara jhana or upacara samadhi, the other one is appana jhana or appana samadhi. In this usage, jhana and samadhi mean the same thing. Appana means fixed concentration, that means the mind becomes unified, one with the object. Upacara means access, that means close to the fixed concentration.We have to understand that upacara samadhi is very wide. There is a wide level of upacara, access concentration. It covers many experiences. And it differs with different objects.

Generally, we can say a person reaches upacara samadhi when the five hindrances are inhibited. That means the concentration goes up to the level where greed, anger, sloth and torpor, worry and restlessness, and doubts do not arise. When the concentration has reached up to the level where the five hindrances are pushed aside (although they may come back after one comes out from the meditation) one can be said to have attained initial access concentration. Because the function of putting away the defilements or hindrances is satisfied, you can, if you want, go into the practice of vipassana and observe with a sharp and calm mind.

When the hindrances are put aside and are inhibited, it doesn't mean that the deepest form of access concentration has already been reached. At this moment of time you may still now and then hear sounds coming and going. At this point you can still have some idea of the form of the body. For example, if you are watching the in- and out-breaths and you come to a point where the hindrances are not there and the mind is very clear and calm. At this stage you still have some idea of the form of the body. And when sounds come, you can still hear them, although they may not be loud. At times they may be very loud or sometimes very blur. This is one lower stage of upacara samadhi.But one can go further. When you say access concentration is close to absorption, it doesn't mean access concentration is weak. It can be very strong.

Take for example a person, either he is watching the in- and out-breaths, or he is mentally chanting 'itipiso...', or he may be doing metta, spreading loving-kindness to somebody. After some time of developing the practice with mindfulness, with metta, with awareness, his mind will become calmer and calmer. When it becomes calmer and calmer he forgets about everything else. The mind becomes very soft, very quiet and very concentrated. It will at times become very light. And he forgets about the body, he won't feel his body at all. He won't be able to hear any sounds at all. He just knows the mind is very still and quiet either on the breath, or on sending loving-kindness to a person, or it might be a visualisation, a light for example. The mind does not move. The mind is very still, very quiet, he cannot hear anything, he doesn't know where he is. But he still knows that he is concentrated on the object. And if he wants to think he can; if he doesn't want to think he can, too.

Often, in this stage, the mind is like one who is floating. It is like being half-asleep. But it is not really sleep. This still constitutes upacara samadhi, access concentration.Thus, in the process of developing concentration, after reaching upacara samadhi where the hindrances have been put aside, one still has to go much further in the concentration before attaining the actual absorption, samatha jhana which we call appana jhana. In certain objects, you can see very clearly that they become finer and finer. Take for example, upacara samadhi, access concentration just before going into the first jhana and upacara samadhi just before going into the second jhana. Both are upacara samadhi but they are different in experience. And when you go to the third and fourth upacara samadhi, just before going into third and fourth jhana respectively, it is again different. The samadhi is finer and more still. The object also becomes much finer. So there are actually different levels of upacara samadhi which can be experienced.

We take an example from the kasinas meditative objects like colours, earth, etc. Let's say someone is doing a type of kasinawater kasina. Water kasina involves the visualisation of water. Before reaching absorption there arises what we call a nimitta, a mental sign, called uggaha nimitta. Uggaha nimitta is the 'grasped object'. That means it is a direct replica of what you see as water. When you can do that the mind is already very calm . Usually in this state you cannot be thinking here and there. Thisis because when you're thinking here and there you not only see water, you see other things as well. You may see fish inside the water or you may even see insects moving about. Sometimes you may see your friend swimming in the water and if you have craving arising, you may even see ladies swimming in the water!

You may see them very clearly.When you have the uggaha nimitta you see the water very clearly but the water may be moving. You see the water moving and the mind becoming one with the water. It is as if the mind is the water and the water is the mind. And it can be moving. At that time it is not very close to blissful absorption yet. It is still some way off. But if the mind can almost be one with the water and is sticking to the surface of the water, you cannot think of anything else. You cannot be having the idea of the body or anything. You cannot be hearing what is outside, you cannot think where you are either. At that time the nimitta is called uggaha nimitta, grasped object. It is upacara samadhi but not the one very close to the jhana yet. From here you can understand that the samatha concentration should be deep even before getting very close to the jhana.

Now if one is doing the water kasina when the uggaha nimitta arises, the mind is one with the object as if the mind is the water and the water is the mind. As the mind at this moment isn't yet completely still there will be movement. That means the water which is the mind and the mind which is the water are still moving. At that time you might find that it is a bit similar to the vipassana experience, but it is not the same. Another example is when doing the wind kasina, the stage is reached where the mind is like the wind and the wind is like the mindthe mind could be moving as if the wind is blowing. It is a bit like vipassana rising and falling, wind going up and down. But if you're sharp enough you know it is not the same.As you progress and the concentration deepens, any movements within the object will stop, it will become very still. The mind which is the water and the water which is the mind become very still and very clear, completely transparent. Very bright. At that point the mind will approach a stage which is extremely clear and extremely bright. When that happens excitement sometimes comes up and the concentration is broken. At that point the mind goes into what we call patibhaga nimitta, the 'mirror image', which is very purified. This is now much closer to blissful absorption, first jhana. But still it is not yet absorption.

You will find that the process of upacara samadhi just before entering the first jhana or a matter of fact, the third or fourth jhana, differs in its fineness. For example, when going to first jhana it is like water moving and the mind is the water and the water is the mind. Then just before entering the first jhana, the water may be like a very clear round pool of water. But if you go to higher jhanas it will occur in finer stages. It becomes not just water moving but very fine droplets, like a mist, floating about. And just before entering the absorption (jhana) the object becomes very fine, pinpoint drops and you know that those pinpoint drops are moisture. So it is very much finer. The mind is also much finer and lighter.

This upacara samadhi can last long. You can sit for hours. It seems that people can sit for days. But it is still only upacara samadhi. In samatha you get very peaceful and very good experiences. There is no doubt about that. One can never say anything bad about samatha meditations. One can only praise samatha meditations. Only that they have to be properly learned, otherwise it can give rise to some problems.At this level of upacara samadhi, because it is so peaceful and quiet, so happy and joyful, many things can happen. And because it is not so fixed like in appana (fixed concentration) it can sometimes lapse. Being so peaceful, it can lapse into sleep. For example, once when I was doing samatha the mind was very quiet and I knew I was sitting. I thought I had sat for five minutes only and was aware all the time, but when I turned to look at the clock it was already a few hours later. Either the sitting was very peaceful or that I could have fallen asleep. At times it's so peaceful and the mind so subtle that there is not much difference being aware or not being aware.

It is just like you closing your eyes for a while only and already a few hours could have passed. In this type of samadhi it is very easy to slip off into sleep and you actually go into very, very deep sleep. And when you come out, if you're not careful, you may even think that it was nibbana. Because you may say it was cessation altogether, it was like you've gone to a void, there was nothing there. Or, you may think it was jhana, first absorption. But actually it was sleep. There is nothing wrong with sleep. Only when you start getting attached to it then problems come.Besides sleeping there are other things that can happen. For example, at times there may be very strong joy that makes you feel like you are floating. Lots of joy and lightness may envelope one's mind and body and make them seem to disappear. When you come back to your senses you may recall, 'Oh! You've gone to a very peaceful and blissful state'. That is not jhana. It is still a kind of upacara, a kind of being completely enveloped in joy or happiness.

Again, if you're not careful, you can get attached to it as nibbana or as jhana. There is nothing wrong with that bliss or that peacefulness. It is only when the attachment arises that problems follow. And it is very easy to get attached to such things.In this access concentration for certain people, and certain types of meditation, a lot of nimittas arise. There arise what we call 'visions' or 'visualised images'. It may be things that you have seen before. It may be just nonsense. It may be, what they say, things from the past lives. It may be just fantasies. But usually the objects are quite clear because the mind is calm and peaceful. Especially in the beginning, they are very clear and nice. In fact some of them may be true. But inexperienced persons cannot differentiate so well as the concentration is not really deep yet. Little, subtle defilements quickly arise with visual images.

And if you start to get attached to it: "I've psychic powers"; "I've divine eyes"; "I can see my past lives", "in my past life I was king of India", "in my past life I was emperor in China", then troubles arise. If you don't get attached, then they are just mental images that arise. There is nothing wrong with that, they will come and go. They may just be impressions from anywhere. But once attachment or fear arises, these images will not stop, they'll keep on continuing and continuing. Until finally you get total hallucinations. Therefore if you are into samatha meditations you are not encouraged to go into this at all until you have complete mastery over the mind, until you are one hundred percent sure whether these images are real or not. From here you may see that upacara samadhi is not just simple experience but actually covers a range of experiences.

There will come a point when the concentration is developed deep enough to enter what we call appana samadhi, the blissful absorptions, or fixed concentration. When this happens the mind changes into a different level, called rupavacara, the form-sphere. It is a jhanic sphere. This type of mind is totally cut off from what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch. In fact it also cuts off from the normal type of thinking and awareness. It has been described by some people as a kind of deep sleep. But they know very clearly how they sink into the object and get completely absorbed in it. Once the mind absorbed into the object, they are completely unconscious at that time. But when they come out they will know the nature of the state of mind that has just passed and also the object that they were attending to. So even if you enter into the first absorption for one second you will know that for that one second you were completely unconscious.

Only when you come out are you aware of the blissful state of jhana during that one second. Even if you go in for half a second you will know that for half a second you are completely cut off from the whole sensual sphere. Only when you come out from this half a second of concentration will you know how the state of mind was.When you go into absorption there occurs a completely different level of consciousness. Therefore if you're meditating and that you may forget the form of the body, no thoughts and the mind is very still and blissful that is still not appana, not the first samatha jhana. But that doesn't mean it's bad, it's still a good and peaceful state of mind.It is very clear that in the absorption you are mindful. And sooner or later you may know after emerging, the nature of the object as going into absorption means that your mind is absorbed in the object.

When the mind is completely absorbed in the object you know what the object is! Of course there are certain types of samatha meditation where the objects are very abstract. And when you first enter into jhana they may not be very clear, because they are very abstract objects that last only a very short time. But when you go in constantly and you go up to the third and fourth jhana they should be clear as well.In certain meditations, like the kasinas and also the breathing meditation, anapana, where the object before absorption is very clear and bright, the object in which you are absorbed in is also very clear. As in the example of the water kasina and the access concentration of water kasina before the first absorption, it may be a completely clear pool of water which is very still. When you are entering into the absorption, it is like sinking into the water as if you are diving and finally in the water. When in the water you don't know anything. But once out of the water you know how the mind was, how you were while under water, so to speak. This is a very clear and blissful experience, but you know how clear and blissful only when you come out of it.For these types of absorption there are four rupa jhanas, that means there are four levels and each is different in character. In the suttas it is very clearly said that they differ in terms of jhana factors, called jhanangas.

These are cetasikas, certain states of mind that are present and which play an important part in the respective jhana, absorption. For example in the first jhana the factors involved are: vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha, ekaggata. Vitakka is 'initial application'. Initial application is the force of the mind which brings it to the object. This is a mental force. Vicara, sustained application, is the force of the mind that is keeping it on the object, and is again a mental force, something like an energy. Piti is joy or interest. Sukha is a very happy feeling. And ekaggata is one-pointedness, that means when the mind is as if one with the object. These mental factors which are present in the first jhana play an important part.But it does not mean that when you have these five factors you have the first jhana. Even if you don't have any concentration these five mental factors are already there.

When you think of food, when you miss very much your food, or your 'Penang Laksa' there are also these five factors present , because the mind keeps running to the Laksa, it stays on it thinking 'how nice if I have Laksa', and then after that when you think of the Laksa you have joy 'when I had Laksa it was so nice, I was enjoying myself' and you feel very happy also and the mind is actually as if you could taste the Laksa, then these five factors are there but it is more like wrong concentration, greed.You must know what the five jhana factors are to understand the jhanas. You must know at least something about Abhidhamma before you can have a clearer idea. These five factors actually describe a type of consciousness, a type of mind.

When you know what factors are present you know what jhana you are in. For example, in the first jhana you have all the five factors involved. In the second jhana, you don't have the initial and sustained application, you have only joy, happiness and one-pointedness. In the third jhana, you have only happiness and one-pointedness. In the fourth jhana, you have only equanimity and one-pointedness. From the description I've given on the absorptions you definitely cannot know it while you are in the jhana. While you are in these absorptions it is like you are in deep sleep, you are in a state deeper than deep sleep so how can you know while in it? You know it only before you go in, because before you enter it will be clear which factors are stronger and which are weaker and have to disappear, or after emerging, through making of proper resolutions to reflect on the factors present.

We will not go into this because it is not part of our topic.What I want is to give you a good idea of what access concentration and what actually fixed concentration is in what we call pure samatha jhana, when we talk about first, second, third and fourth jhana as samatha jhana. According to our experience it is important to have a certain degree of understanding. It is because of a lack of this type of understanding that wrong views arise. You find that in the Brahmajala Sutta, the discourse on wrong views, a large extent of wrong views do not come through thinking or philosophies, they come from meditative experiences. Because people hold on to their meditative experiences as something which is true and good but which in reality is very false, it gives rise to many types of wrong views. For example, one of them is dittha dhamma nibbana dittha dhamma vada. Nibbana you understand, dittha dhamma is a present state, vada is a view. This is the view regarding the present state as nibbana.

For example if a person gets attached to the jhana as nibbana then he goes into wrong views. Of course there is nobody who can argue with him because he thinks "I have experienced it and you not". At certain times entering into jhana is as if going into a void, the object becomes so subtle that it is very easy to fall into false views if one does not have a proper teacher. Even before going to the blissful absorptions one can experience many subtle states which can be misunderstood.Therefore tonight's talk is to give you an idea so that you do not get attached to these experiences. If you cannot differentiate between upacara samadhi and appana samadhi, access concentration and fixed concentration, it's even easier for you to make a mistake between what is nibbana and what is not nibbana because nibbana is something more subtle and deeper than jhana.

For example, when people are practising meditation and everybody starts saying, "I've got first jhana, second jhana, third jhana, fourth jhana, this magga-phala, that magga-phala", we don't say that they are wrong because we don't really know what their experiences are, but the fact that they are saying all these things so easily and so happily makes it obvious that there are attachments. And you can see sometimes when they say it, they are very proud of it. If they are actually attached to wrong views it is even worse. We hope that this will not happen among the Buddhists here. If a person has really gone through all these practices he will know that it is not easy to know whether somebody has this jhana or that jhana, this magga-phala or that magga-phala. One would be very reserved in making such statements. Therefore, if somebody says all these things too freely, we don't say directly that he is wrong, we say, be very careful with him, you may go into wrong views.
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:28 pm

robertk wrote:Dear tilt and mike . . .
That really does not answer the question. Also, if one reads the story of Dipama, one sees she was trained in the jhanas at Mahasi Sayadaw's urging, so obviously they did not feel jhana was lost. And what jhana training I had was from a Mahasi Sayadaw trained teacher.
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: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby daverupa » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:29 pm

It seems there is a difference of opinion in this matter, which is not surprising given which sources are being accepted as authoritative.
    "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: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby alan... » Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:20 am

robertk wrote:Just to note that the mundane jhanas mentioned in the suttas are the same as those attained by wise ascetics at pre budda times.
For those who master the jhanas ( no longer possible at this time) they can be used as a basis for insight by seeong thir inherent instability.


you really think jhana is impossible today? what in the world would give you this idea? it was practiced before the buddha by other traditions and is still today practiced by many other traditions. so we have all those people, and the buddhists, that passed this tradition down to today. it's not like it's some ancient book that was forgotten for a thousand years and someone found it in the desert and no one knows how to properly practice. it's a living practice that spans across many traditions.

jhana is just mind states, writing them off as impossible is absurd. they're mundane, they're not even anything special by themselves. a deluded person with no knowledge of the dhamma could master them through and through and get no where with them. i could see deciding that developing the supernormal powers is impossible or something considering no one is walking around in the earth like it was water that you have seen but why deny yourself the possibility of mastering peaceful mindstates that help you concentrate? have you never seen someone who goes into meditation for hours and comes out shining, blissful and totally at peace? could just be the first jhana, it doesn't really need a lot of evidence to be proven and it is totally impossible to prove that they are impossible to master today.

bottom line: what we have today is the pali canon and counterpart agamas. that's it, everything else is just people interpreting them in their own way. either accept that the buddha in them is saying jhana works and we should practice it, or don't. this is the ultimate authority on buddhism and it strongly suggests that we practice jhana or at any rate that it is a good and important thing to do and that it is something that can be done.

just because someone today says they're not possible doesn't really mean anything. why would they have authority to say this? not to mention all the people practicing them today still who say they do work and have just as much authority as whoever is saying they don't work any more or whatever. the dhamma is recorded in writing, it would take a fully enlightened buddha to start a brand new dhamma and change everything to really have the authority to decide that something passed down in the pali canon/agamas and living tradition is no longer possible.

you can't change what's in the suttas to suit your own opinions. otherwise what's next?

"people cannot master the four foundations of mindfulness any more. it doesn't work. here is a long post about such and such master that explains why."

"people cannot master metta meditation any more, so and so decided this for the rest of us. it doesn't work so don't even try."

"it is a waste of time to contemplate the aggregates. it is impossible to master it according to this teaching so give up now."

and so on and so on until nothing is left, until none of the practices work any more! decide for yourself. practice, practice, practice. the dhamma has been passed down to you. don't let any one elses opinion deprive you of the opportunity to master something that, according to the dhamma laid out by the buddha, you can master!

the buddha in the suttas is the only real authority on buddhism, he said we can and should master jhana so that's it. anything else is conjecture and hearsay.
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby Dmytro » Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:53 am

Hi Alan,

alan... wrote:i read an article about pre buddhist jhana but it doesn't specify whether or not this practice continued into hinduism or if it did, how it was/is regarded. at least not that i saw, i skimmed some and did a couple of ctrl+f word searches for words like "hinduism", "vedas" and so on. it talks about a group called "Parama-diṭṭhadhamma-nibbānavāda" or perhaps this is a person? i'm not clear on that and a web search was fruitless. does anyone know more of the details on this or have any opinions?


On one hand, there has been a spiritual school you named where jhana was practiced:
http://www.chibs.edu.tw/ch_html/chbj/08/chbj0815.htm

This school did not survive.
However, later much of the Buddhist samadhi practice has been incorporated into the "Yoga-sutra" by Patanjali, and was widely practiced. Nowadays it is a largely lost art.
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:47 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hi Alan,

alan... wrote:i read an article about pre buddhist jhana but it doesn't specify whether or not this practice continued into hinduism or if it did, how it was/is regarded. at least not that i saw, i skimmed some and did a couple of ctrl+f word searches for words like "hinduism", "vedas" and so on. it talks about a group called "Parama-diṭṭhadhamma-nibbānavāda" or perhaps this is a person? i'm not clear on that and a web search was fruitless. does anyone know more of the details on this or have any opinions?


On one hand, there has been a spiritual school you named where jhana was practiced:
http://www.chibs.edu.tw/ch_html/chbj/08/chbj0815.htm

This school did not survive.
However, later much of the Buddhist samadhi practice has been incorporated into the "Yoga-sutra" by Patanjali, and was widely practiced. Nowadays it is a largely lost art.


ideed. what was this school (other than the name, i know that and found nothing in a web search)? do you know of any other place i can read about them?

it seems to me that many modern yoga practitioners of the hindu tradition practice them and would undoubtedly disagree with the notion of it being a "lost art". the same goes for all the modern theravada practitioners that practice it. i feel like this would be the same as stating that "qigong is a lost art" or "prayer is a lost art" or any other non physical practice that exists only in the mind (in that no quantifiable physical manifestation is apparent for evidence). people everywhere are practicing them and have been doing so for thousands of years, i'm at a loss as to why people think they are suddenly "lost".

considering they are unprovable mind states the only way they will ever be definitively "lost" is if they are utterly forgotten. or if there was a break in jhana practice. like no one on earth knows about them and the practice has been forgotten for a thousand years and then someone finds a book in the desert detailing their practice. one could argue that it cannot be learned from a book and so it is a lost technique without any living person who has mastered them to teach. other than that even if one person lives who claims they can enter the jhanas then we still have reason to believe they can still be practiced. in the unlikely event that only one person can do them we could have reason to believe that the ability to practice them is in decline and that it may die with them, however as it is thousands of people practice them.

in fact since it is so impossible to prove one way or another, even if it was forgotten and then a book was found someone could claim that they have been doing that all along but calling it something else! then they can say they've mastered them and can teach them, boom, jhana not lost again. although in that scenario people would have more reason to claim it as lost compared to brazenly claiming that the thousands of people practicing today do not know how to do it based on nothing other than opinions. it's all speculation. there's no way to prove it one way or another. the only authority is ancient sacred texts. unless these texts are lost and totally forgotten along with their practice there will be no reason to blindly assume jhana is a "lost art".
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby Dmytro » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:56 am

alan... wrote:ideed. what was this school (other than the name, i know that and found nothing in a web search)? do you know of any other place i can read about them?


I don't know such places. You may find useful the book:

The Origin of Buddhist Meditation
By Alexander Wynne

http://books.google.com/books?id=TiZWJ1 ... frontcover

it seems to me that many modern yoga practitioners of the hindu tradition practice them and would undoubtedly disagree with the notion of it being a "lost art". the same goes for all the modern theravada practitioners that practice it.


I said it is a largely lost art, in a sense "to a large extent":

Definition of LARGELY
: in a large manner; especially : to a large extent : mostly, primarily <words largely unknown a decade ago>

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/largely

Only some enthusiasts attain samadhi, it is not a widely known art, as in ancient India.

When I read modern authoritative commentaries, for example, on Yoga-Sutra, it is evident for me that the authors don't comprehend the full meaning of the text.

The same applies to the Suttas. The translators who render "nimitta" of jhana as "sign", IMHO, don't know some important practical nuances of the original texts.

Surely some talented people can attain samadhi largely spontaneously, without knowing any texts. However in such a case they have difficulties with teaching it to others. Effective teaching requires precise terminology.

Any tradition is a system of transferring knowledge, - a process of education which involves terminology. Samadhi states exist independently of traditions. With the partial lost of terminology, the art of education is partly lost. And then talented enthusiasts attain samadhi, but can't teach it to public at large.
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby alan... » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:35 pm

Dmytro wrote:
alan... wrote:ideed. what was this school (other than the name, i know that and found nothing in a web search)? do you know of any other place i can read about them?


I don't know such places. You may find useful the book:

The Origin of Buddhist Meditation
By Alexander Wynne

http://books.google.com/books?id=TiZWJ1 ... frontcover

it seems to me that many modern yoga practitioners of the hindu tradition practice them and would undoubtedly disagree with the notion of it being a "lost art". the same goes for all the modern theravada practitioners that practice it.


I said it is a largely lost art, in a sense "to a large extent":

Definition of LARGELY
: in a large manner; especially : to a large extent : mostly, primarily <words largely unknown a decade ago>

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/largely

Only some enthusiasts attain samadhi, it is not a widely known art, as in ancient India.

When I read modern authoritative commentaries, for example, on Yoga-Sutra, it is evident for me that the authors don't comprehend the full meaning of the text.

The same applies to the Suttas. The translators who render "nimitta" of jhana as "sign", IMHO, don't know some important practical nuances of the original texts.

Surely some talented people can attain samadhi largely spontaneously, without knowing any texts. However in such a case they have difficulties with teaching it to others. Effective teaching requires precise terminology.

Any tradition is a system of transferring knowledge, - a process of education which involves terminology. Samadhi states exist independently of traditions. With the partial lost of terminology, the art of education is partly lost. And then talented enthusiasts attain samadhi, but can't teach it to public at large.

Ill get back to you in a few weeks. Im going to be studying the info from that link you posted. Ive never heard of a dictionary before! Weird right? Now im going to learn the definitions of all the words. Thanks much!
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby perkele » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:11 pm

Ive never heard of a dictionary before! Weird right? Now im going to learn the definitions of all the words. Thanks much!

:thinking:
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Re: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby polarbuddha101 » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:02 pm

Dmytro wrote:\
I don't know such places. You may find useful the book:

The Origin of Buddhist Meditation
By Alexander Wynne



Here's a link to the full text:

http://www.e-reading-lib.org/bookreader ... tation.pdf
"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: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:04 pm

Dmytro wrote:
alan... wrote:Only some enthusiasts attain samadhi, it is not a widely known art, as in ancient India.
I rather doubt that samadhi was any more widely known in "ancient India" than it is now.
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: jhana pre buddhist, hinduism today and so on.

Postby marc108 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:15 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Dmytro wrote:
alan... wrote:Only some enthusiasts attain samadhi, it is not a widely known art, as in ancient India.
I rather doubt that samadhi was any more widely known in "ancient India" than it is now.


this is an interesting point :jumping:
"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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