The Great Jhana Debate

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Moggalana » Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:48 am

Geoff's site is also a very good resource: http://measurelessmind.ca/samadhi.html
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Re: Buddhism cult

Postby mogg » Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:36 am

Ben wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:I believe you may be analyzing it the other way around. Bhikkhu Bodhi states:

Recently, however, several articulate teachers of meditation have argued down the validity of the dry insight approach, insisting that the jhānas are necessary for the successful development of insight at every stage. Their arguments usually begin by making a distinction between the standpoints of the Pāli Canon and the Commentaries. On this basis, they maintain that from the perspective of the Canon jhāna is needed to attain even stream-entry. The Nikāyas themselves do not address this problem in clear and unambiguous terms, and it is difficult to derive from them any direct pronouncement on its resolution.


Jhanas may be necessary for successful development of insight, but one need not be at such a high level just because jhana has occurred. Alara Kalama was not a Buddhist and attained the jhanas up to the third formless realm. Udaka Ramaputta was not a Buddhist and attained the jhanas up to the fourth formless realm.


And let's not forget Bahiya who was a master of the eight jhanas before he encountered the Buddha.

Citation please Ben?

The Buddha said that he who practices the jhanas is in the vicinity of nibbana (paraphrasing), so I think its unlikely that jhana was being practiced before the Buddha rediscovered the path. This is supported by the suttic reference to Nigantha Nataputta being oblivious to the existence of jhana, and also by the Budda recollecting the rose apple tree rather than his time with Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta.

The one person that I know who can attain to all 8 jhanas has told me that he can't see how the arupas can be attained to without going through the first four jhanas.

I think Ajahn Brahm is correct with his comments in this area. I think many who propose that jhana was commonplace do so mainly because they have a vested interest (i.e proposing a separate insight path), or because they themselves struggle to attain these states and so downplay the importance of jhana.

The clue is in the descriptions of Nibbana. The samatha-ing of all kamma formations. Its all about samatha.

The path is a progressive letting go towards cessation. The intermediary stages are the jhanas.

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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Zenainder » Fri May 31, 2013 3:27 pm

This may seem like a silly question, and I am one for a good conversation, but is not a debate (which are always endless) pointless? Seeing that its the conceptualized world that interferes with seeing things as they are is it not contradictory to be arguing... concepts? Also having understood that much of the spiritual progress and techniques depend upon temperament will not the jhana's arise specifically to each practioner (holding to some mutual understanding)?

I suppose I don’t see the point of debating and so I want to confer with those who are regarding as to why they choose to do so. I’ve learned quite a bit between the multiple understandings and choose no preference to either one. I figure I will discover more as time goes on. :)

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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri May 31, 2013 3:47 pm

Zenainder wrote:This may seem like a silly question, and I am one for a good conversation, but is not a debate (which are always endless) pointless? Seeing that its the conceptualized world that interferes with seeing things as they are is it not contradictory to be arguing... concepts? Also having understood that much of the spiritual progress and techniques depend upon temperament will not the jhana's arise specifically to each practioner (holding to some mutual understanding)?

I suppose I don’t see the point of debating and so I want to confer with those who are regarding as to why they choose to do so. I’ve learned quite a bit between the multiple understandings and choose no preference to either one. I figure I will discover more as time goes on. :)

Metta,

Zen


You use concepts for everything, including eating. We are not enlightened so we need concepts to understand things. Using that logic it wouldn't be useful that anyone explains the dhamma, since it would be conceptual.

If we are not arahats, we must use concepts to think and language to comunicate. You can't start at the end. It just doesn't work.
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Zenainder » Fri May 31, 2013 4:02 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:
Zenainder wrote:This may seem like a silly question, and I am one for a good conversation, but is not a debate (which are always endless) pointless? Seeing that its the conceptualized world that interferes with seeing things as they are is it not contradictory to be arguing... concepts? Also having understood that much of the spiritual progress and techniques depend upon temperament will not the jhana's arise specifically to each practioner (holding to some mutual understanding)?

I suppose I don’t see the point of debating and so I want to confer with those who are regarding as to why they choose to do so. I’ve learned quite a bit between the multiple understandings and choose no preference to either one. I figure I will discover more as time goes on. :)

Metta,

Zen


You use concepts for everything, including eating. We are not enlightened so we need concepts to understand things. Using that logic it wouldn't be useful that anyone explains the dhamma, since it would be conceptual.

If we are not arahats, we must use concepts to think and language to comunicate. You can't start at the end. It just doesn't work.


That's a fair explanation. Thank you.

Btw, "never mind your conditioned thoughts, sit and listen". I believe I have seen you say that on multiple ocassions here. I love that phrase. A contemplative statement that often times makes me chuckle depending upon the context it is used.
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri May 31, 2013 5:24 pm

I don't remember saying that. If I've said it it must have been few times. You're probably confusing me with someone else.

Be well :)
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Zenainder » Fri May 31, 2013 5:43 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:I don't remember saying that. If I've said it it must have been few times. You're probably confusing me with someone else.

Be well :)


I've been wrong before, many times in fact ;) ! Either way, be well and happy.

Blissings!

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Re: Buddhism cult

Postby manas » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:20 pm

[sorry deleted post...I need to study more, meditate more, then maybe I will feel competent to comment on issues relating to jhana.]

metta
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Re: Buddhism cult

Postby daverupa » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:33 pm

manas wrote: the suttas don't support the notion that the jhanas were not practiced before the Buddha's time.


Narratives I'm familiar with all mention the jhana platform discovered during the Bodhisatta's youth, and the lack of any such jhana platform being based on his later teachers further suggests that the suttas in fact do support the idea that sammasamadhi was not around prior to the Buddha's dispensation.

There were probably quite a few ways to jhayati back in the day, just as there are now, but only one set of jhana is sammasamadhi.
    "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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Sammasamadhi

Postby Kumara » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:05 am

manas wrote:I think the question is, did those who attained it previously regard it correctly? It would be one thing to attain the four rupa jhanas and cling to the phenomena experienced as 'me' or as 'mine', but quite another to witness the phenomena without such clinging. The Buddha may have taught the importance of jhana for liberation, but that was in the context of practicing the entire Noble Eightfold Path, which includes right view, in which anything subject to arising and passing away is seen as 'not me or mine'.

Fully agree. See Jhāna Sutta (AN9.36) and Mahāmāluṅkya Sutta (MN64). Here we find that the jhāna attainer "regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self." (Trans. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu.)

manas wrote:So, contemplatives, shamans etc have always (since time immemorial?) been entering into states of concentration, including the four rupa jhanas, but as they lacked right view, they would have simply delighted in the jhana, identified with it as me or as mine, and gone no further than that.

I know someone who while attending a Mahasi retreat discovered for himself how to get into ecstatic absorptions. He got addicted to it. Fortunately, he no longer practice that, and has realised that those aren't the kind of jhana the Buddha meant as sammasamadhi.

Btw, I find that most arguments/debates would be a whole lot more fruitful when participants are clear about the difference between the jhanas of the Suttas and Visuddhimagga.
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Kumara » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:22 am

alan... wrote:this is an appropriate place for this i think. and if this has already been covered forgive me, i don't have time to read all 18 pages back to 2009.

Modus.Ponens wrote:There are two types of jhana being talked about: the sutta jhanas and the visuddhimagga jhanas.


anyway: obviously the visudhimagga type jhana is well covered and available in said work.

what about the sutta jhana? i see details here and there but no clear concise instructions (they are clear enough with a little commentary but not to work from square one without any commentary like the visuddhimagga instructions). can anyone help? is there something i'm missing or perhaps some compilation of sutta sections that when looked at as a whole make a complete picture?

I too used to wonder about this. Later, once I get the idea that sutta jhanas aren't the Vm absorption type, I realised that the answer is clear as day: It's the four satipatthana, with the support of all other factors of the N8P of course.

It's also interesting to read the Buddha recounting his own endeavors. Refer to Dvedhāvitakka Sutta (MN 19). Refer to the part just before the 4 jhanas. Also see AN 9.41.
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby manas » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:00 am

[sorry deleted post...too speculative.]

metta,
manas.
:anjali:
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Mkoll » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:07 pm

Wow, I'm really glad I read this post and saw retro's post before coming here. The quote there from MN 117 pretty much answers the question. This forum is outstanding!

The Blessed One said: "Now what, monks, is noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions? Any singleness of mind equipped with these seven factors — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, & right mindfulness — is called noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions.
-MN 117

:anjali:
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Re: Buddhism cult

Postby Pondera » Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:07 am

Citation please Ben?

The Buddha said that he who practices the jhanas is in the vicinity of nibbana (paraphrasing), so I think its unlikely that jhana was being practiced before the Buddha rediscovered the path. This is supported by the suttic reference to Nigantha Nataputta being oblivious to the existence of jhana, and also by the Budda recollecting the rose apple tree rather than his time with Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta.


But Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta taught the last two of the jhanas. And Buddha learned them from those teachers. He reexamined his childhood experience later.

The one person that I know who can attain to all 8 jhanas has told me that he can't see how the arupas can be attained to without going through the first four jhanas.
[/quote]

So, this is confusing. Wouldn't your friend agree that the Buddha's former teachers had experience with the other jhanas?

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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:56 am

Kumara wrote:I too used to wonder about this. Later, once I get the idea that sutta jhanas aren't the Vm absorption type, I realised that the answer is clear as day: It's the four satipatthana, with the support of all other factors of the N8P of course.


But the suttas specifically describe the absorption factors of jhana. What basis is there for equating these absorption factors with the four frames of reference?
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Re: Buddhism cult

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:58 am

mogg wrote:The clue is in the descriptions of Nibbana. The samatha-ing of all kamma formations. Its all about samatha.
The path is a progressive letting go towards cessation. The intermediary stages are the jhanas.


Interesting view. So where do you think insight fits in?
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Kumara » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:27 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Kumara wrote:I too used to wonder about this. Later, once I get the idea that sutta jhanas aren't the Vm absorption type, I realised that the answer is clear as day: It's the four satipatthana, with the support of all other factors of the N8P of course.


But the suttas specifically describe the absorption factors of jhana. What basis is there for equating these absorption factors with the four frames of reference?

Who says they are "absorption factors"?
Besides, who's equating them?
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:48 pm

Kumara wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
Kumara wrote:I too used to wonder about this. Later, once I get the idea that sutta jhanas aren't the Vm absorption type, I realised that the answer is clear as day: It's the four satipatthana, with the support of all other factors of the N8P of course.


But the suttas specifically describe the absorption factors of jhana. What basis is there for equating these absorption factors with the four frames of reference?

Who says they are "absorption factors"?
Besides, who's equating them?


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

You're comment above seems to be equating the sutta jhanas with the four satipatthana - or wasn't that what you meant?
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Kumara » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:41 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Kumara wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:But the suttas specifically describe the absorption factors of jhana. What basis is there for equating these absorption factors with the four frames of reference?

Who says they are "absorption factors"?
Besides, who's equating them?


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

OIC. Note that the only place where "absorption" occurs there is in the title. It's not in the sutta. Also, the sutta doesn't speak of "factors". It provides descriptions of the 4 meditative states.

Spiny Norman wrote:You're comment above seems to be equating the sutta jhanas with the four satipatthana - or wasn't that what you meant?

Nope. I was answering to the question on "clear concise instructions" in the Suttas for achieving jhanas. Dhammanupassana in particular brings about the abandonment of the 5 hindrances to make 1st jhana possible.
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:34 am

Kumara wrote:Also, the sutta doesn't speak of "factors". It provides descriptions of the 4 meditative states.


The factors are described here for example in MN43, the Mahavedalla Sutta. Effectively the 5 factors of jhana "displace" the 5 hindrances:

The first jhana
"What, friend, is the first jhana?"
"There is the case, friend, where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. This is called the first jhana."
"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.""And how many factors are abandoned in the first jhana, and with how many is it endowed?"
"Five factors are abandoned in the first jhana, and with five is it endowed. There is the case where, in a monk who has attained the first jhana, sensual desire is abandoned, ill will is abandoned, sloth & torpor is abandoned, restlessness & anxiety is abandoned, uncertainty is abandoned. And there occur directed thought, evaluation, rapture, pleasure, & singleness of mind. It's in this way that five factors are abandoned in the first jhana, and with five it is endowed."
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