Jhanas and Hindrances

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Weakfocus » Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:41 pm

daverupa wrote:So I wonder, where is this repetitive structure of misunderstanding coming from?


Ignorance of the people who misunderstand and then spread their misunderstanding to others as wisdom?

How many people who contest these jhana versus 'dry-insight' issues on internet are actually practicing anapanasati or vipassana daily? And how many can truthfully claim to have attained sufficient level of concenteration with anapanasati to even practice vipassana properly (observe sensations throughout the body, not just on skin)?

Reminds one of the blind men and an elephant.

fivebells wrote:daverupa: Goenka practitioners don't know that. :-)


As a student of Goenakji I personally do not find jhana and vipassana to be at odds, even though Goenkaji does not talk about about jhana (IIRC, could be wrong) in the 10-day course. Oh sure, when I first read about jhana, I felt that Goenkaji should have touched on that in his discourses. I felt as if something important had been left out.

But over time I realize that this was my own ignorance. The format and time limit of the course means that most people will not attain jhana in a 10-day retreat anyway. So instead of talking about a hard-to-attain state Goenkaji's teaching jumps to something students can experience: sensations. And how to work with these sensations to attain wisdom.

And just because Goenkaji does not elaborate on jhana in his 10-day course does not mean he is somehow opposed to the practice of mindfulness. In fact, during the course he emphasizes the importance of developing a strong, penetrating concenteration, and to come back to anapanasati whenever it becomes difficult to observe sensations without reacting. Goenkaji also clearly states how the 10-day course is a first step, a bare-minimum introduction to the path. Students can always come back for longer courses (in which there is discussion of jhana from what I have read online, although I have not taken part in a 20-day or longer course as yet).

So the broad framework of the teaching is solid. Live a moral life, develop concenteration, observe the truth (annica, annata etc). If some student feels a need for developing stronger concenteration, they can always practice anapanasati for months/years in their daily practice. Then they might attain jhana, or develop strong enough concenteration to practice vipassana in depth even without having attained jhana.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby daverupa » Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:23 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:And yet most of the commentaries I've read on the Anapanasati Sutta tetrads effectively describe a progression from samatha to vipassana, with jhana early on in the progression. IMO it's more reminiscent of this progression: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html.


The progression found in e.g. MN 118 discusses the practice as being founded on satipatthana, which is appropriate given the way the eightfold path is set up as well as the common Nikaya progression as found in e.g. MN 125, where satipatthana follows guarding the sense gates and precedes seated hindrance scrubbing, which leads into jhana.

Overall, jhana follows as a development from satipatthana; the awakening factors are opposed to the hindrances, and this interface of development is what facilitates attaining jhana, which is marked by the relevant factors.

Perhaps we should look more closely at the purpose of developing jhana, and the corresponding awakening factors?


From MN 118 we see that we are to develop each of the the seven awakening factors "as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. This is how the seven factors for awakening are developed & pursued so as to bring clear knowing & release to their culmination."

Notice how these developmental dependencies look a lot like the instructions for the fourth tetrad of anapanasati...
Last edited by daverupa on Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "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: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby fivebells » Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:24 pm

Weakfocus: Maybe. My assertion is based on an unpleasant interaction with the teacher at a Goenka retreat, but it's possible that he was unrepresentative of the movement or I misunderstood.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Anagarika » Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:07 am

This article discusses "dry insight" or vipassana without jhana. http://www.vipassanadhura.com/jhana.html The article makes some very good points, and it is true that the practice of insight/vipassana without jhanic concentration is very valuable. We know, for example, that in the medical community people are being trained to implement insight meditation without jhana for pain management, PTSD alleviation, and many other purposes. To require jhana before experiencing insight would put this practice on a high shelf that few laypeople could initially reach.

But, I'm going to stick to my guns and suggest that jhana itself is expressed as the atom (carbon, for example), with samatha as the nucleus and vipassana as electrons ....I believe that Ajahn Geoff may have expressed it as being like a bird with only one wing, flying in circles...the two wings of samatha and vipassana are the elements of jhana, and cannot "fly" correctly without each other, or operate fully independently of each other.

A technical distinction to be sure, but it seems to me that when the Buddha admonished "go, do jhana," the task was for the monks to cultivate this practice at its most complex form, and the form that places one on the path to release. YMMV.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:50 am

daverupa wrote:Overall, jhana follows as a development from satipatthana; the awakening factors are opposed to the hindrances, and this interface of development is what facilitates attaining jhana, which is marked by the relevant factors.


I think there are different ways of looking at it, Dave. I agree that the awakening factors are opposed to the hindrances, but would also observe that there is a strong correlation between the awakening factors and the absorption factors of jhana - so by implication the purpose of jhana can be seen as getting rid of the hindrances.
I was looking at this sutta while ago, it appears early in the Chapter of the Twos in the Anguttara Nikaya. It describes how samatha leads to the abandonment of lust ( a proxy for the hindrances ), and how vipassana leads to the abandonment of ignorance. If we view jhana as the fullfilment of samatha, then this means that jhana leads to the abandonment of the hindrances.

Tranquillity and Insight
Two things, O monks, partake of supreme knowledge. What two? Tranquillity and insight.
If tranquillity is developed, what benefit does it bring? The mind becomes developed. And
what is the benefit of a developed mind? All lust is abandoned.
If insight is developed, what benefit does it bring? Wisdom becomes developed. And what is
the benefit of developed wisdom? All ignorance is abandoned.
A mind defiled by lust is not freed; and wisdom defiled by ignorance cannot develop. Thus,
monks, through the fading away of lust there is liberation of mind; and through the fading away
of ignorance there is liberation by wisdom.

(2:2.10)
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:53 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:I believe that Ajahn Geoff may have expressed it as being like a bird with only one wing, flying in circles...the two wings of samatha and vipassana are the elements of jhana, and cannot "fly" correctly without each other, or operate fully independently of each other.


I think it was "Wings of awakening" rather than "wings of jhana". So samatha and vipassana are both necessary for awakening, but I'd suggest that jhana is a development of samatha rather than vipassana.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby daverupa » Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:27 am

Spiny Norman wrote:...


We seem to agree in the meaning, and differ merely in the phrasing. This is something for us to see as silly. So - well spoken!
    "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: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:57 am

daverupa wrote:From MN 118 we see that we are to develop each of the the seven awakening factors "as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. This is how the seven factors for awakening are developed & pursued so as to bring clear knowing & release to their culmination."

Notice how these developmental dependencies look a lot like the instructions for the fourth tetrad of anapanasati...


"[7] He carefully watches the mind thus concentrated with equanimity. When he carefully watches the mind thus concentrated with equanimity, equanimity as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.


It is say that anapanasati practice fulfills both samatha and vipassana but when re-look at its instruction from the sutta, i don’t see any part of the tetrad says focus on one point or stick to the breath to develop concentration so at which point or what condition does ekaggata manifest?
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby daverupa » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:13 pm

barcsimalsi wrote:at which point or what condition does ekaggata manifest?


It doesn't. What manifests is ekodi-bhavam in the second jhana, which is unification of mind, but this only with the cessation of vitakka-vicara, which is otherwise present in first jhana.
    "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: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:34 pm

daverupa wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote:at which point or what condition does ekaggata manifest?


It doesn't. What manifests is ekodi-bhavam in the second jhana, which is unification of mind, but this only with the cessation of vitakka-vicara, which is otherwise present in first jhana.

Thanks for explaining, i never heard of ekodi-bhavam so googled and found this site:
Five Factors for the First Jhana - NOT!
It makes sense and if this happens to be, then attaining first jhana isn't so hard after all but can it be another controversial subject as it was dismissing some point from the sutta itself?
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby daverupa » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:47 pm

barcsimalsi wrote: can it be another controversial subject


It sure can. There are many threads about the jhana factors; it's probably best to let this one focus on the interplay of the hindrances and jhana, which offers a well-constrained topic.

:group:
    "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: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:20 pm

daverupa wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote: can it be another controversial subject


It sure can. There are many threads about the jhana factors; it's probably best to let this one focus on the interplay of the hindrances and jhana, which offers a well-constrained topic.

:group:

Fine.
Back to topic, whether it is samatha or vipassana, the point is the hindrances must be skillfully abandon first before one can develop jhana rather than hoping to jump into jhana by luck or special method and wake up like an enlightened being.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:50 pm

barcsimalsi wrote:Back to topic, whether it is samatha or vipassana, the point is the hindrances must be skillfully abandon first before one can develop jhana rather than hoping to jump into jhana by luck or special method and wake up like an enlightened being.


Yes, temporary suppression of the hindrances is required to develop jhana. But then what is the purpose of developing jhana, if not to reduce the hindrances long term?
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Anagarika » Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:48 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:I believe that Ajahn Geoff may have expressed it as being like a bird with only one wing, flying in circles...the two wings of samatha and vipassana are the elements of jhana, and cannot "fly" correctly without each other, or operate fully independently of each other.


I think it was "Wings of awakening" rather than "wings of jhana". So samatha and vipassana are both necessary for awakening, but I'd suggest that jhana is a development of samatha rather than vipassana.


My thought is that jhana is the practice and samatha and vipassana the attendant "byproducts" or vehicles that develop from or are contained within jhana. I do not see samatha and vipassana as practices, but as elements of the practice of jhana. Perhaps I am splitting hairs or being hypertechnical. I googled and found this:

This suggests that, in the eyes of those who assembled the Pali discourses, samatha, jhana, and vipassana were all part of a single path. Samatha and vipassana were used together to master jhana and then — based on jhana — were developed even further to give rise to the end of mental defilement and to bring release from suffering. This is a reading that finds support in other discourses as well. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... etool.html

I'm a Ven. Thanissaro fan, so I may have this definition ingrained in me by virtue of spending time w ATI and at Wat Metta.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby barcsimalsi » Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:07 am

Spiny Norman wrote:Yes, temporary suppression of the hindrances is required to develop jhana. But then what is the purpose of developing jhana, if not to reduce the hindrances long term?

Apart from that, as already been pointed out by fivebells, here's a quote from the sutta:
Cula-dukkhakkhandha Sutta wrote:"Even though a disciple of the noble ones has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, still — if he has not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that[4] — he can be tempted by sensuality. But when he has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and he has attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, he cannot be tempted by sensuality.

"I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened bodhisatta, saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, but as long as I had not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, I did not claim that I could not be tempted by sensuality. But when I saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and I had attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, that was when I claimed that I could not be tempted by sensuality.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:39 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:My thought is that jhana is the practice and samatha and vipassana the attendant "byproducts" or vehicles that develop from or are contained within jhana. I do not see samatha and vipassana as practices, but as elements of the practice of jhana. Perhaps I am splitting hairs or being hypertechnical. I googled and found this:


An alternative view is that jhana fullfils samatha and is the foundation for vipassana. I think this is one way of looking at the progression described in the 4 tetrads of anapanasati, and also in suttas like this: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... 1.than.htm.
And looking at the 7 factors of enlightenment, 2 factors relate to insight based on mindfulness, while the other factors strongly correlate with the absorption factors of jhana.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:44 am

barcsimalsi wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Yes, temporary suppression of the hindrances is required to develop jhana. But then what is the purpose of developing jhana, if not to reduce the hindrances long term?

Apart from that, as already been pointed out by fivebells, here's a quote from the sutta:
Cula-dukkhakkhandha Sutta wrote:"Even though a disciple of the noble ones has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, still — if he has not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that[4] — he can be tempted by sensuality. But when he has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and he has attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, he cannot be tempted by sensuality.

"I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened bodhisatta, saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, but as long as I had not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, I did not claim that I could not be tempted by sensuality. But when I saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and I had attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, that was when I claimed that I could not be tempted by sensuality.


I think this extract confirms that the jhana aborption factors ( and by proxy the relevant factors of enlightenment ) are an antidote to the hindrances.

But in your view is there another purpose to developing jhana, and if so, what exactly is it?
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Mkoll » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:57 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote:Back to topic, whether it is samatha or vipassana, the point is the hindrances must be skillfully abandon first before one can develop jhana rather than hoping to jump into jhana by luck or special method and wake up like an enlightened being.


Yes, temporary suppression of the hindrances is required to develop jhana. But then what is the purpose of developing jhana, if not to reduce the hindrances long term?


"And what, Ananda is the path, the way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters? Here, with seclusion from the acquisitions, with the abandoning of unwholesome states, with the complete tranquillization of bodily inertia, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.

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

-MN 64, Mahamalunkyaputta Sutta, trans. Bhikkhu Bodhi

This formula is applied to the other jhanas and the formless states up to the base of nothingness. It seems to me that an important purpose of jhana is as a means of seeing even the most blissful and peaceful states as anicca and therefore dukkha and anatta.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby daverupa » Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:40 am

Spiny Norman wrote:An alternative view is that jhana fullfils samatha and is the foundation for vipassana.


This pair (samatha-vipassana) begins development long before jhana (samadhi).
    "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: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby barcsimalsi » Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:57 am

Spiny Norman wrote:But in your view is there another purpose to developing jhana, and if so, what exactly is it?

From some dhamma talks, i often heard that Jhana offers its practitioners higher quality of concentration thus raising the limit of one's ability to contemplate and penetrate the truth deeper. For a silly analogy, i think jhana act like NOS boosting the effectiveness of hitting the objective.

At the mean time, i just want to make sure what i'm practicing is the 8foldpath and not the 7 or 7 and half fold path.
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