Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.
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Kumara
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Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Mon May 05, 2014 7:59 am

Some meditators say that we can’t hear sounds in jhāna, not even the first one. They speak by conviction of their own experience, and I agree. It’s true we can’t hear sounds in the Visuddhimagga type of jhāna. However, some among them claim that they are going by the Suttas, citing the Kaṇṭaka Sutta (AN10.72), which says, “Sound is a thorn (i.e., bother, source of discomfort) to the first jhāna.” (paṭhamassa jhānassa saddo kaṇṭako)

But does this statement support that view? If sound is a thorn to the first jhāna, it means one can hear sound in that state, doesn’t it? If not, sound wouldn’t be a thorn at all. Would something be a thorn to you if you can’t perceive it?

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Unrul3r » Mon May 05, 2014 9:06 am

From my experience and from reading that very same sutta, sound is not present in first Jhāna.

To maybe understand the sutta better, lets see the Pāḷi:

dasayime, bhikkhave, kaṇṭakā. katame dasa? pavivekārāmassa saṅgaṇikārāmatā kaṇṭako, asubhanimittānuyogaṃ anuyuttassa subhanimittānuyogo kaṇṭako, indriyesu guttadvārassa visūkadassanaṃ kaṇṭako, brahmacariyassa mātugāmūpacāro kaṇṭako, paṭhamassa jhānassa saddo kaṇṭako, dutiyassa jhānassa vitakkavicārā kaṇṭakā, tatiyassa jhānassa pīti kaṇṭako, catutthassa jhānassa assāsapassāso kaṇṭako, saññāvedayitanirodhasamāpattiyā saññā ca vedanā ca kaṇṭako rāgo kaṇṭako doso kaṇṭako moho kaṇṭako.


We know from many other suttas that:
- vitakkavicārā is not present in 2nd Jhāna
- pīti is not present in the 3rd Jhāna
- assāsapassāso is not present in the 4th Jhāna

If we switch "thorn" (kaṇṭakā) by "is not present" for the 2nd, 3rd & 4th Jhānas in this sutta, this seems to fit with all the other suttas. This indicates that if we do the same with the 1st Jhāna, we are left with "saddo is not present in 1st Jhāna".

:namaste:

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sekha » Mon May 05, 2014 9:10 am

I think the bottom of the problem is
1) The vsm's 1st jhana includes ekaggata whereas the suttas' first jhana doesn't, and the suttas should be relied on more
2) many people who follow blindly the vsm refuse to acknowledge the fact above mentioned

so I would say that yes one can hear sounds in the suttas' first jhana, and not in the vsm's first jhana
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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sekha » Mon May 05, 2014 9:13 am

Unrul3r wrote:If we switch "thorn" (kaṇṭakā) by "is not present"

is there any logical semantic reason to do that?
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

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As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Unrul3r » Mon May 05, 2014 9:17 am

Sekha wrote:
Unrul3r wrote:If we switch "thorn" (kaṇṭakā) by "is not present"

is there any logical semantic reason to do that?


No, the point I'm trying to make there, is coherence with other suttas. I'm using these words to make the coherence clear.

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sekha » Mon May 05, 2014 9:36 am

Unrul3r wrote:
Sekha wrote:
Unrul3r wrote:If we switch "thorn" (kaṇṭakā) by "is not present"

is there any logical semantic reason to do that?


No, the point I'm trying to make there, is coherence with other suttas. I'm using these words to make the coherence clear.

I don't think the meaning of this word needs to be altered for this sutta to be consistent with other suttas, except those where abhidhamma lines have been incorporated (a few ones in MN) and where ekaggata has been added as a first jhana factor.
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As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Mon May 05, 2014 9:53 am

Unrul3r wrote:From my experience and from reading that very same sutta, sound is not present in first Jhāna.
...
If we switch "thorn" (kaṇṭakā) by "is not present" for the 2nd, 3rd & 4th Jhānas in this sutta, this seems to fit with all the other suttas.

Huh?

So, we are to 'adjust' to suttas to fit into our experience? Oh dear!

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Unrul3r » Mon May 05, 2014 9:59 am

Look guys, you are free to think whatever you want. I just made 2 points one was in regards to my experience, another was in regards to coherence with the many other suttas. You can discard both if you wish, I just tried to help.

:namaste:

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Mon May 05, 2014 10:05 am

Unrul3r wrote:Look guys, you are free to think whatever you want. I just made 2 points one was in regards to my experience, another was in regards to coherence with the many other suttas. You can discard both if you wish, I just tried to help.

I don't doubt your experience at all. In fact, I understand it very well.
The question to ask is whether the experience is Vism jhana or Sutta jhana.

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Mon May 05, 2014 10:11 am

Unrul3r wrote:To maybe understand the sutta better, lets see the Pāḷi:

dasayime, bhikkhave, kaṇṭakā. katame dasa? pavivekārāmassa saṅgaṇikārāmatā kaṇṭako, asubhanimittānuyogaṃ anuyuttassa subhanimittānuyogo kaṇṭako, indriyesu guttadvārassa visūkadassanaṃ kaṇṭako, brahmacariyassa mātugāmūpacāro kaṇṭako, paṭhamassa jhānassa saddo kaṇṭako, dutiyassa jhānassa vitakkavicārā kaṇṭakā, tatiyassa jhānassa pīti kaṇṭako, catutthassa jhānassa assāsapassāso kaṇṭako, saññāvedayitanirodhasamāpattiyā saññā ca vedanā ca kaṇṭako rāgo kaṇṭako doso kaṇṭako moho kaṇṭako.

The lack of clarity is well clarified in Tapussa Sutta, in which we find details of how the Ascetic Gotama progressed through the jhānas. It's among the suttas that the Vism's understanding can't fit in.

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Zom » Mon May 05, 2014 10:14 am

Suttas say thay 5 senses are absent only in the arupa-spheres. So, as it seems, sound can be heard in 1-4 jhanas.

"Friend, what can be known with the purified intellect-consciousness divorced from the five [sense] faculties?"
"Friend, with the purified intellect-consciousness divorced from the five faculties the dimension of the infinitude of space can be known [as] 'infinite space.' The dimension of the infinitude of consciousness can be known [as] 'infinite consciousness.' The dimension of nothingness can be known [as] 'There is nothing.'


MN 43

8. "It may be that, with the entire transcending of perceptions of corporeality,[13] with the disappearance of perceptions of sense-response,'[14] with non-attention to perceptions of variety,[15] thinking: 'Space is infinite,' some monk enters upon and abides in the sphere of infinite space;

[14] - Perceptions of sense-response (lit. resistance, patigha-sañña) are perceptions arisen through the impact of the physical sense bases (eye, etc.) and their objects.

MN 8

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Mon May 05, 2014 10:24 am

Zom wrote:Suttas say thay 5 senses are absent only in the arupa-spheres. So, as it seems, sound can be heard in 1-4 jhanas.

Indeed. But not true for the VisM jhana, I must add.

When we make a distinction between the two, much disagreement about this issue can be settled. Much, but not all. For those who insist that their experience of a state cut-off from the 5 senses is the Sutta jhana, it'll never be settled.

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sylvester » Mon May 05, 2014 10:29 am

Perhaps you should read what AN 9.37 has to say. It's not difficult to plot each of the predicates described by Ven Ananda to the female wanderer against their occurences in the suttas.

Where does MN 43 say "only"? Granted, you won't be the first to use this argument, given the Sautrantika resort recorded in the Kosa. I have demonstrated previously that this commits a very basic logical fallacy.

Time to confront a finding from Textual Critism. We owe it to the naughty Sarvastivadins for their Abhidharmic definition of namarupa that Vsm-bashers do not even realise informs tbeir reading of the suttas. Thank goodness BB has forsaken his MN experiment of Tavatimsa speak and reverted to the plain Indian sense of rupa.

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sekha » Mon May 05, 2014 11:34 am

Zom wrote:Suttas say thay 5 senses are absent only in the arupa-spheres. So, as it seems, sound can be heard in 1-4 jhanas.

I wouldn't jump to conclusions this quickly. Your conclusion seems too far fetched for me. Interpreting the meaning of a text that relates not so trivially to something about which one has probably no experience at all, is pretty risky.
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As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby SarathW » Mon May 05, 2014 11:40 am

Cessation of perception and feelings occurs in 9th Jhana.
Isn't sound consider as perception and feeling?
:thinking:

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Sekha » Mon May 05, 2014 12:14 pm

SarathW wrote:Isn't sound consider as perception and feeling?
:thinking:

I think we have no idea what kind of perceptions and feelings one may experience in the 8th jhana, so all this is pure speculation.

I think that when ekaggata is present (2nd sutta-jhana onward) sounds may be heard but they won't be analyzed nor even noticed, otherwise it means one has lost the meditation object and therefore has lost ekaggata, which means one has lost the 2nd sutta-jhana.
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As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby santa100 » Mon May 05, 2014 1:47 pm

Kumara wrote:Some meditators say that we can’t hear sounds in jhāna, not even the first one. They speak by conviction of their own experience, and I agree. It’s true we can’t hear sounds in the Visuddhimagga type of jhāna. However, some among them claim that they are going by the Suttas, citing the Kaṇṭaka Sutta (AN10.72), which says, “Sound is a thorn (i.e., bother, source of discomfort) to the first jhāna.” (paṭhamassa jhānassa saddo kaṇṭako)

Could you provide the Vism. passage that specifically states that (more specifically, the first jhana)? Matter of fact, Vism X.19 even agrees with the Sutta:
In fact it is because they have not been abandoned already before this[Base of Infinity of Space] that it was said by the Blessed One that sound is a thorn to one who has the first jhána (A V 135). And it is precisely because they are abandoned here that the imperturbability (see Vibh 135) of the immaterial attainments and their state of peaceful liberation are mentioned (M I 33), and that Álára Káláma neither saw the five hundred carts that passed close by him nor heard the sound of them while he was in an immaterial attainment (D II 130).

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby daverupa » Mon May 05, 2014 2:09 pm

Kumara wrote:The lack of clarity is well clarified in Tapussa Sutta, in which we find details of how the Ascetic Gotama progressed through the jhānas. It's among the suttas that the Vism's understanding can't fit in.


That sutta describes the four jhanas and the other five attainments as sequential, but this is at odds with other suttas that describe only the four jhanas without equanimity being a problem, at odds with suttas that described the jhanas as unique to the Buddha's rose-apple experience & the Dhamma, at odds with an early Nikayic weltenschaung which sees these other attainments as among the common sramana stock, two methods of which the Buddha explicitly rejected...

There are numerous problems here, so using this sutta on its own doesn't generate much confidence in strong conclusions, for me.
    "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: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Mkoll » Mon May 05, 2014 9:38 pm

Kumara wrote:“Sound is a thorn (i.e., bother, source of discomfort) to the first jhāna.” (paṭhamassa jhānassa saddo kaṇṭako)

The question is whether sound is a bother to getting into the jhana or whether it's a bother while in the jhana. The second obviously implies sound impinging on oneself while in jhana.

Perhaps the experience of jhana is different for different folks with only the basic framework of each jhana (applied and sustained thought, rapture, happiness, etc.) held in common.
Peace,
James

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Re: Can We Hear Sound in Jhāna?

Postby Kumara » Tue May 06, 2014 2:20 am

Mkoll wrote:
Kumara wrote:“Sound is a thorn (i.e., bother, source of discomfort) to the first jhāna.” (paṭhamassa jhānassa saddo kaṇṭako)

The question is whether sound is a bother to getting into the jhana or whether it's a bother while in the jhana. The second obviously implies sound impinging on oneself while in jhana.

I would say both.


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