Jhanas and Hindrances

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:03 am

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:
I think this is an important point that Ajahn Geoff is trying to bring out. A number of western teachers that developed the 'vipassana school' in the west came, in part, from a Burmese background, that taught vipassana as a separate practice, sometimes thought of as 'dry insight,' or a standalone form of insight meditation exclusive of jhana.
The reality is, as has been discussed at length on DW, that that is not really an accurate portrayal of vipassana meditation as it is actually practiced.


And yet, the misunderstanding persists that this is what Vipassana Practice^TM looks like - altogether different than jhana, vipassana and samatha as practices and not qualities, etc etc.

Surely we all know that vipassana-samatha are a pair to be developed in tandem, with imbalances duly rectified, and that this paired foundation is what facilitates bringing the awakening factors to fulfillment by development, which includes jhana.

So I wonder, where is this repetitive structure of misunderstanding coming from?
likely from later practioners who pushed jhana to deeper limits: viewtopic.php?f=43&t=9016#p140097
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:10 pm

daverupa wrote:
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).


Based on what, Dave?
Last edited by Spiny Norman on Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:12 pm

barcsimalsi wrote: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.


Good point. But if we're looking at the 8-fold path, isn't samma samadhi defined in terms of jhana?
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:15 pm

Mkoll 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?


"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 .....

-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.


This passage seems to be describing jhana followed by insight - which seems to support the idea of jhana as a foundation for insight.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Anagarika » Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:17 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote:


Good point. But if we're looking at the 8-fold path, isn't samma samadhi defined in terms of jhana?


Yep. Good point, too.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Anagarika » Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:34 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
daverupa wrote:
So I wonder, where is this repetitive structure of misunderstanding coming from?
likely from later practioners who pushed jhana to deeper limits: viewtopic.php?f=43&t=9016#p140097
[/quote]

Thanks, for this link, Tilt. I always enjoy reading LB's commentaries on jhana.

One thought that I had about the 'development' of jhana practice through the Abhidhamma into the Buddhaghosa period might be reflective of the human tendency for one-upsmanship. The Sutta jhanas are understandable and accessible. The later descriptions (later suttas, Abhi material and Buddhaghosa) might reflect the effort to make the jhanas less accessible, more precious, and a merit badge that only the most senior monks might achieve. Kind of a Maha-jhana sensibility vs a Hina-jhana practice.

The Buddha strikes me as someone who was trying to make these practices accessible to his serious bhkkhus and bhikkhunis, and not a high bar that only few could leap over. "Go, do jhana" suggests to me that this practice was highly accessible, and one needed only find that tree root and, as Nike says, just do it.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby daverupa » Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:42 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote:
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).


Based on what, Dave?


So, with AN 4.94 and AN 4.170 we see that samatha-vipassana are to be developed together, and that when this is being done they are to be continually tuned to a higher degree for the ending of the asavas.

Now, satipatthana precedes jhana, and satipatthana interfaces with samatha-vipassana per the simile in SN 35.204, which has samatha-vipassana guided by mindfulness at the sense gates. Samatha-vipassana therefore begin development quite early, as can be seen when guarding the sense-gates is located within the gradual training pericopes, and seen to be prior to jhana.

With AN 9.64 we can see that the hindrances are to be subdued & abandoned via satipatthana. This means satipatthana also precedes & facilitates jhana.

So samatha-vipassana is along for the whole ride, at various strengths and in various balances, some time before satipatthana has been sufficiently developed to render 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 Anagarika » Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:57 pm

daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:So samatha-vipassana is along for the whole ride, at various strengths and in various balances, some time before satipatthana has been sufficiently developed to render jhana.


...and then the jhana states are the foundational environment for further and stronger cultivation of vipassana.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby daverupa » Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:46 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:
daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:So samatha-vipassana is along for the whole ride, at various strengths and in various balances, some time before satipatthana has been sufficiently developed to render jhana.


...and then the jhana states are the foundational environment for further and stronger cultivation of vipassana.


...and samatha. They each, after all, have a share in clear knowing...
    "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 Anagarika » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:21 pm

daverupa wrote:...and samatha. They each, after all, have a share in clear knowing...
[/quote]

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:31 pm

daverupa wrote:So, with AN 4.94 and AN 4.170 we see that samatha-vipassana are to be developed together, ...

It would be more accurate to say that both need to eventually be developed:
"There is the case of the individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment. Then there is the case of the individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, but not internal tranquillity of awareness. Then there is the case of the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment. And then there is the case of the individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.

Evidently different individuals may have developed them in different orders...
"The individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, should approach an individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment and ask him: 'How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?'

The various orderings of development in the suttas suggests to me that there is plenty of sutta support for the various ways modern teachers teach. Some recommend developing a high degree of concentration first, some don't. Presumably they teach in a way that they find works for them and their students.

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby daverupa » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:38 pm

mikenz66 wrote:It would be more accurate to say that both need to eventually be developed... Evidently different individuals may have developed them in different orders...


On the contrary, I think (or, simply to add some detail).

Notice that there is no case of vipassana being present, samatha being absent, and an instruction to keep at vipassana to the exclusion of samatha. The reverse is also not present. So I don't see any grounds here for the claim that samatha and vipassana comprise a choice of any kind.

The sutta states only that, if there is an imbalance, it is to be redressed through consultation with experienced folk. If neither quality seems to be present, it continues, one ought to seek someone who can teach both.

Finally, if both are present, keep tuning it... but only in a case of both being present.

Like two hands washing each other, or two hands alternating rungs on the way up a ladder.
    "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 mikenz66 » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:51 pm

Dave,

We are not disagreeing that both need to be eventually developed. However, it seems to me that if one has the inclination, or the expert instruction, to allow one to develop one more than another at some particular point, this is entirely compatible with the suttas. Different approaches work better for different people, and good teachers will recognise that...

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby daverupa » Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:22 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Dave,

We are not disagreeing that both need to be eventually developed. However, it seems to me that if one has the inclination, or the expert instruction, to allow one to develop one more than another at some particular point, this is entirely compatible with the suttas. Different approaches work better for different people, and good teachers will recognise that...

:anjali:
Mike


I guess I want to emphasize that samatha and vipassana aren't approaches, they are qualities. The approach is satipatthana, and both qualities develop thereby.

Put another way: whether one wants to "do samatha" or "do vipassana", one is going to be doing satipatthana.
    "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 mikenz66 » Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:41 pm

I agree that it's a matter of emphasis. And since I normally do Mahasi-style practice, which is definitely in the "develop both together" camp, I obviously would not disagree with taking that approach. What I would disagree with would be claims that teachers with different emphases or sequences are in contradiction with the suttas.

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby barcsimalsi » Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:00 am

Spiny Norman wrote:Good point. But if we're looking at the 8-fold path, isn't samma samadhi defined in terms of jhana?

Right.
I mean i should be aware that the practice that leads to jhana has not been neglected.

And thanks to Dave and Mike for elaborating the sam-vip relation.

Thank you everyone.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Sylvester » Thu Nov 28, 2013 5:16 am

I think it's probably long overdue, but perhaps it's time to tease out the meaning of the word vipassanā in the suttas.

Samatha has a fairly uniform meaning associated with the stilling of the defilements, but vipassanā and its verbs vipassati and pajānāti seem to have 3 slightly different ranges.

1. You have the bare observational sense of knowing the rise and fall of states, such as the usage of -

- pajānāti in the 2 major Satipaṭṭhāna suttas (eg ‘dīghaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti);
- vipassati in MN 111 (anupadadhammavipassanaṃ vipassati) or vipassanti in Iti 2.18

2. Against that, you have a slightly more discursive form of vipassana that knows in a more complex fashion, ie understanding the rise and fall in accordance with idappaccayatā. These can typically be identified by the standard phrase yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti or yathābhūtaṃ passati (too many to be listed here and many times more frequent that the bare observation passages). The absence of the adverb yathābhūta does not necessarily connote the first type of vipassana. Eg in SN 36.7, you have -

so evaṃ pajānāti; uppannā kho myāyaṃ sukhā vedanā, sā ca kho paṭicca no apaṭicca ...

He discerns that 'A feeling of pleasure has arisen in me. It is dependent on a requisite condition, not independent....


3. Finally, there are passages in the suttas that employ the very common pericope of the event of Stream-Entry itself, where one "sees" the 4 Noble Truths -

idaṃ dukkha’nti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhasamudayo’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhanirodho’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti.


For the 2nd type of vipassanā , I suppose the ideal would be the inherent ability of a Trainee to frame all of his/her observations within idappaccayatā. That being said, I don't think the suttas suggest that wordlings cannot do the same on an intellectual level, even if they have not personally "seen" the 4 Noble Truths under scenario 3.

So, which sense of vipassanā might be intended by the suttas that discuss it in the context of samatha?
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:37 am

Hi Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote:So, which sense of vipassanā might be intended by the suttas that discuss it in the context of samatha?

Do go on, the suspense is killing me...

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby robertk » Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:54 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:

One thought that I had about the 'development' of jhana practice through the Abhidhamma into the Buddhaghosa period might be reflective of the human tendency for one-upsmanship. The Sutta jhanas are understandable and accessible. The later descriptions (later suttas, Abhi material and Buddhaghosa) might reflect the effort to make the jhanas less accessible, more precious, and a merit badge that only the most senior monks might achieve. Kind of a Maha-jhana sensibility vs a Hina-jhana practice.

The Buddha strikes me as someone who was trying to make these practices accessible to his serious bhkkhus and bhikkhunis, and not a high bar that only few could leap over. "Go, do jhana" suggests to me that this practice was highly accessible, and one needed only find that tree root and, as Nike says, just do it.


I wonder why in the suttas mundane jhanas are referred to as superhuman..
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Nov 28, 2013 10:04 am

Sylvester wrote:Samatha has a fairly uniform meaning associated with the stilling of the defilements, but vipassanā and its verbs vipassati and pajānāti seem to have 3 slightly different ranges.


So can vipassana be viewed both as a quality and as an activity?
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