Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Kumara » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:20 am

Dmytro wrote:Bhante Kumara,

Kumara wrote:Yet, I don't know anywhere in the Suttas speaking of such situations.


IMHO, Brahmajala sutta covers such situations:

5. Doctrines of Nibbāna Here and Now (Diṭṭhadhammanibbānavāda): Views 58–62

93. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who maintain a doctrine of Nibbāna here and now and who, on five grounds, proclaim Nibbāna here and now for an existent being. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

94. "Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin asserts the following doctrine or view: 'When this self, good sir, furnished and supplied with the five strands of sense pleasures, revels in them — at this point the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

95. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? Because, good sir, sense pleasures are impermanent, suffering, subject to change, and through their change and transformation there arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. But when the self, quite secluded from sense pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, enters and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by initial and sustained thought and contains the rapture and happiness born of seclusion — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way others proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

96. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? Because that jhāna contains initial and sustained thought; therefore it is declared to be gross. But when, with the subsiding of initial and sustained thought, the self enters and abides in the second jhāna, which is accompanied by internal confidence and unification of mind, is free from initial and sustained thought, and contains the rapture and happiness born of concentration — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way others proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

97. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? It is declared to be gross because of the mental exhilaration connected with rapture that exists there. But when, with the fading away of rapture, one abides in equanimity, mindful and clearly comprehending, and still experiencing happiness with the body, enters and abides in the third jhāna, so that the ariyans announce: "He abides happily, in equanimity and mindfulness" — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

98. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? It is declared to be gross because a mental concern, 'Happiness,' exists there. But when, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the disappearance of previous joy and grief, one enters and abides in the fourth jhāna, which is without pleasure and pain and contains purification of mindfulness through equanimity — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

:anjali:


This does cover something. However, it's more about the view here, isn't it? The people I was referring to don't think they were experiencing "supreme Nibbāna". They are there for the pleasurable experience. "Ecstasy" as Aj Brahm calls it.
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Kumara » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:33 am

robertk wrote:Dear Ven.
I think we can see from the rather strange ideas we hear about jhana (some while in 'jhana' think they can feel the body , for instance) that many these days are simply having some pleasurable sensation associated with lobha.


Let me quote Aj Thate (from Only the World Ends):
… in the case of jhāna there is a single-minded contemplation… until the mind becomes motionless and firm and merges in bhavaṅga. Sometimes it may be a blank sort of stillness, devoid of self-awareness like the state of deep sleep, and may last for a long time, perhaps many hours. Other times there may survive a sense of pleasure in the tranquility and bliss of that state.


I need to add that by jhana he was clearly referring to Visuddhimagga jhana, which he distinguished from what he referred to as samadhi, which seem be the Sutta jhana. From the book, it is obvious that he did not favour the Visuddhimagga jhana.

Anyway, the above tallies with my own finding that for the Visuddhimagga jhāna there are two possibilities: one allows for awareness of pleasure and bliss, and another is complete absorption, thus without any awareness. As I see it, the cause for the difference is the level of concentration on the conceptual object of attention.

I'm having this as an appendix in my book, which has taken way too long to complete!
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Vakresvara » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:03 pm

Hello everyone, I am new, but I fascinated by reading about this matter on this forum. On my own experience, those, which never had experience Jana, tends to repeat the idea of those with inclination to a specific teaching or practice.
This had been a common saying by some practitioners, whom in good faith, had been teach these concepts, and somehow, we fail to investigate for ourselves, what the Buddha Taught.

The Buddha did not make a distinction of these practices on the Satipatthana Sutta, but he described the process of the practice:

• Contemplation of the Body (Mindfulness of Breathing)
• The Contemplation of Feeling
• The Contemplation of Consciousness
• The Contemplation of Mental Objects

It is a natural process for practitioners to feel identified with certain aspects of the practice, and as consequence, narrows the practice to their own experience and results, and this is what I think is the source of the disagreement. (Suiting the Practice to your Own) it is valid, but not all individuals are the same, practitioners may have different nature and tendencies, and it is up to them, alone, to walk the path, after all, when certain level of practice is reached, there is no need for external confirmations, ones knows.

Doubt, is one of the Hindrances, an obstacle that only may be removed by the practice, and when we do not know things as they really are, we tend to doubt, and this is why we should learn from our Supreme Master Directly, by practicing diligently and reading the Suttas.

This is what is in the Suttas;

“Friends, whatever monks or nuns declare before me that they have attained the final knowledge of Arahantship, all these do so in one of four ways. What four?

“1. Here, friends, a monk develops insight preceded by tranquility. While he thus develops insight preceded by tranquility, the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops, and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so, the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies eliminated.

“2. Or again, friends, a monk develops tranquility preceded by insight. While he thus develops tranquility preceded by insight, the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops, and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so, the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies eliminated.

“3. Or again, friends, a monk develops tranquility and insight joined in pairs. While he thus develops tranquility and insight joined in pairs, the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops, and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so, the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies eliminated.

“4. Or again, friends; a monk’s mind is seized by agitation caused by higher states of mind. But there comes a time when his mind becomes internally steadied, composed, unified and concentrated; then the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops, and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so, the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies eliminated.”

Quoted from: The Chapter of the Four

Furthermore, it is described that when a practitioner develops one side of the practice more than other at advanced level of practice, in order to succeed and reach the final goal, a balance between these two aspects of the practice must be attained. In other words, there can’t be Enlightenment without both.

This is what is in the Suttas:

“These four kinds of persons, O monks, are found existing in the world. What four?

“1. Therein, monks, the person who gains internal tranquility of mind but not the higher wisdom of insight into things should approach one who has gains the higher wisdom and inquire of him: ‘How, friend, should formation be seen? How should formations be explored? How should constructions be discerned with insight?’ The other then answers him as he has seen and understood the matter thus: ‘Formations should be seen in such a way; they should be explored in such a way; they should be discerned with insight in such a way.’ At a later time, this one gains both internal tranquility of mind and the higher wisdom of insight into things.

“2. Therein, monks, the person who gains the higher wisdom of insight into things but not internal tranquility of mind should approach one who has gained internal tranquility and inquire of him: ‘How, friend, should the mind be steadied? How should the mind be composed? How should the mind be unified? How should the mind be concentrated?’ The other then answers him as he has seen and understood the matter thus: ‘The mind should be steadied in such a way, composed in such a way, unified in such a way, concentrated in such a way.’ At a later time, this one gains both internal tranquility of mind and the higher wisdom of insight into things.

3. Therein, monks, the person who gains neither internal tranquility of mind nor the higher wisdom of insight into things should approach one who has gained both and inquire of him; ‘How, friend, should the mind be steadied?... How, friend, should formations be seen?…’ The other then answers him as he has seen and understood the matter thus: ‘The mind should be steadied in such a way… Formations should be seen in such a way…’ At a later time, this one gains both internal tranquility of mind and the higher wisdom of insight into things.

“4. Therein, monks, the person who gains both internal tranquility of mind and the higher wisdom of insight into things should establish himself in just these wholesome states and make a further effort for the destruction of the taints. “These are the four types of individuals to be found existing in world.”

Quoted from: The Chapter of Four

I hope with this contribute to some clarity.

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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby pegembara » Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:16 pm

Seems that there is a risk that having not seen the drawback of bliss, one remains stuck. The heart doesn't leap up at being without bliss. Even clinging to equanimity is to be discarded.


[3] "The thought occurred to me: 'What if, with the fading of rapture, I were to remain in equanimity, mindful & alert, to be physically sensitive to pleasure, and to enter & remain in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, "Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding"?' But my heart didn't leap up at being without rapture, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace... So at a later time, having seen the drawback of rapture, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of being without rapture, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at being without rapture, grew confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace. With the fading of rapture, I remained in equanimity, mindful & alert, physically sensitive to pleasure, and entered & remained in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.'

[4] "The thought occurred to me: 'What if, with the abandoning of pleasure & stress — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — I were to enter & remain in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain?' But my heart didn't leap up at being without the pleasure of equanimity, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace... So at a later time, having seen the drawback of the pleasure of equanimity, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of neither-pleasure-nor-pain, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at neither-pleasure-nor-pain, grew confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace. With the abandoning of pleasure & stress — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — I entered & remained in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain.

"As I remained there, I was beset with attention to perceptions dealing with equanimity. That was an affliction for me. Just as pain arises as an affliction for a healthy person, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with equanimity that beset me was an affliction for me.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Kumara » Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:42 am

pegembara wrote:Seems that there is a risk that having not seen the drawback of bliss, one remains stuck. The heart doesn't leap up at being without bliss. Even clinging to equanimity is to be discarded.
....
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Good that you shared this sutta, pegembara (or should that be pengembara?)

This sutta provides us with a picture of jhanas that can't possibly fit into the Visuddhimagga idea of jhana. Instead of increasing levels of absorption, here we see increasing levels of composure due to gradual letting go of something that one has come to see as an affliction, brought about by seeing the drawback of that something and pursuing it, understanding the reward of its absence and familiarizing oneself with that. These are made possible by various factors, but the one made obvious here is investigation of mental phenomena (dhammavicaya).
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby manas » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:35 pm

pegembara wrote:Seems that there is a risk that having not seen the drawback of bliss, one remains stuck. The heart doesn't leap up at being without bliss. Even clinging to equanimity is to be discarded.


True. But don't discard bliss or equanimity, before you have fully tasted and comprehended them. We can't see the drawbacks of something unless we've seen the thing itself!

However I again realize that when two people say the word 'jhana' it might mean two different things. I was referring to jhana as described / instructed in the suttas, and not to jhana as per the visuddhimagga. Maybe one could get 'stuck' in the visuddhimagga version of jhana, I don't know enough about it to say. But since investigation and discernment are integral components of jhana as per the suttas, and not merely something one can only do 'when one emerges' from it, it would appear to me that, if one is doing the practice properly, one would naturally tend to progress through the jhanas, letting go first of rapture / pleasure, then of happiness / bliss, and so on, and would not get 'stuck'.

:anjali:
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Bakmoon » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:56 pm

I think it is worth noting that according to the Commentarial interpretation, although a medtiator will become attached to the pleasure of jhana, this isn't regarded as something that is specific to jhana based meditation. A practitioner of dry insight will also become attached to the pleasure of meditation for a time as well. Both the jhana meditator and the dry insight meditator will have this kind of attachment until they pass through magga-magga-nana-dasana-visuddhi, the purification of knowledge and vision of what is and what is not the path.

Personally I would say that this attachment shouldn't be a matter of concern unless the meditator starts practicing incorrectly or gets wrong motivation about the practice, but I think that would be quite unusual. I think this type of attachment, while present, isn't really a practical matter and certainly shouldn't be used to discourage jhana practice.
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Kumara » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:39 am

Bakmoon wrote:Personally I would say that this attachment shouldn't be a matter of concern unless the meditator starts practicing incorrectly or gets wrong motivation about the practice, but I think that would be quite unusual.

In my experience in practice and teaching, I've found this quite common though. Wrong motivation can be rather subtle. One can think that one's practice and motivation is correct when it is wrong. This is actually quite common. But everyone has to start somewhere and adjust along the way with discernment (partly that of another).

I think this type of attachment, while present, isn't really a practical matter and certainly shouldn't be used to discourage jhana practice.

That depends on what you mean by "jhana", right? After all, it's just a word, and there is such thing as wrong samadhi. Ultimately, it's one's growth in wisdom with the reduction in defilements and suffering that is the best measure.
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Bakmoon » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:22 pm

I would agree with your assessment, Ven. sir. This is why one should practice under a teacher, as the teacher will be able to be a check against such wrong motivation. But as long as one has a competent teacher, I would say that the jhanas themselves are not a major matter of concern.
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Kumara » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:13 am

Sylvester wrote:Thanks Bhante, for your thoughts. I guess this is where we disagree on the classification of the jhana formulae's pīti and sukha within the kāyika versus cetasika division of feelings. Looking at the standard 4th jhana formula, it appears to me more plausible that jhanic sukha is kāyika feeling, as somanassa (the cetasika feeling) is said to have disappeared earlier.


I had wanted to reply to this earlier, but put it off. Recently, I finally got around to make my own translation of the standard four jhanas formula and was reminded of this.

Let me get a few things straight first:
1. What do you mean by "somanassa (the cetasika feeling) is said to have disappeared earlier"? The descending of somanassa, besides other factors, signifies the 4th jhana, no?
2. How did you get the idea that MN13 is speaking of "kāyika versus cetasika division of feelings"?
3. Would you go along with the translation "Nibbana is the highest pleasure"?
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:27 am

Hi Bhante

Re Q1, I think this is where you and I inform ourselves differently on the nature of "sukha" mentioned in the 1st to 3rd jhāna pericopes. You look at it as somanassa (a cetasika feeling), whereas I view it as the hedonic prequel to "joy". For me, sukha in these pericopes mean pleasure. The cetasika sequel to pleasure simpliciter would be either pīti (1st and 2nd jhāna) or upekkhā (3rd jhāna). For example, when sukha disappears to give rise to the 4th jhāna, you will still have 2 types of feelings. The kāyika would be the adukkham-asukhā vedanā, while the cetasika would be upekkha. Where somanassa would seem to disappear would be the same place where domanassa disappears, namely when satipaṭṭhāna is well-established and has achieved vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ. I would just point out that I understand the term kāyika very differently from the standard exegesis that is based on the Abhidhamma. I'm afraid it's too involved to explain here, but perhaps you might look at viewtopic.php?f=23&t=13998 for a start. As I understand it, the kāyika pertains to the hedonic tone arising at any of the 6 faculties, while the cetasika is the evaluative and affective sequel that arises only at the mind. Essentially, what I am trying to say is that the mind is capable of kāyika feelings (in the sense of hedonic tone) and then experiencing the cetasika (affective) sequel. See a clear example of this from MN 148 -

after discussing the other 5 sense bases -

Dependent on the intellect & ideas there arises consciousness at the intellect. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there arises what is felt either as pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain. If, when touched by a feeling of pleasure, one relishes it, welcomes it, or remains fastened to it, then one's latent tendency to passion underlies. If, when touched by a feeling of pain, one sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats one's breast, becomes distraught, then one's latent tendency to aversion underlies. If, when touched by a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one does not discern, as it actually is present, the origination, passing away, allure, drawback, or escape from that feeling, then one's latent tendency to ignorance underlies.


Re Q2, see this -

If the clansman gains no wealth while thus working & striving & making effort, he sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught: 'My work is in vain, my efforts are fruitless!'

Tassa ce bhikkhave kulaputtassa evaṃ uṭṭhahato ghaṭato vāyamato bhogā nābhinipphajjanti, so socati kilamati paridevati urattāḷiṃ kandati sammohaṃ āpajjati: " moghaṃ vata me uṭṭhānaṃ, aphalo vata me vāyāmoti."


The underlined text is a standard pericope for the cetasika feeling of grief, explicitly identified as such in SN 36.6. The perception of loss is in itself unpleasant; what triggers the affective sequel is the latent tendency to aversion, again explained in SN 36.6. I try to keep the hedonic and affective components separate, as it is supposed to be a function of sense restraint to rein in the anusayas specific to each hedonic tone, such that one need not grieve over a painful feeling.

See also -

Whatever pleasure & joy arise in dependence on that beauty & charm: That is the allure of forms.

Yaṃ kho bhikkhave subhaṃ vaṇṇanibhaṃ paṭicca uppajjati sukhaṃ somanassaṃ. Ayaṃ rūpānaṃ assādo


Again, you have the experience bifurcated into hedonic tone and affective sequel.

Re Q3, I would answer Yes. I don't think the Great Disciples were incapable of lyrical speech, especially when in the same sutta, it was expressly acknowledged that nothing is felt in that. To me, nibbānaṁ paramaṁ sukhaṁ is simply inspired speech given poetic licence.

:anjali:
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Kumara » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:09 am

Sylvester wrote:....

Too many things to work out with you. I pass.
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:30 am

It's OK Bhante.

I do hope you will be able to give up your qualms about jhanic sukha. MN 44 has a very positive re-assurance about how it is impervious to rāgānusayo.
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