Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

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Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby christopher::: » Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:19 am

Tilt recently recommended a dhamma talk by Joseph Goldstein on the Five Hindrances. I'm about half way thru, and it is excellent. Then today I came across this dhamma talk- Degrees of Seeing by Ajahn Brahm, where he mentions the hindrances and the importance of jhana, in subduing them.

excerpt:

The Buddha explained that it is the five hindrances that distort perception and corrupt our thinking. He called the five hindrances the nutriment that feeds delusion (Anguttara Nikaya (AN) 10.61). The first hindrance, sensual desire, selects what we want to see, hear, sense, and cognize. It often embellishes the truth. It presents to our consciousness the product of wishful thinking. The second hindrance, ill will, is the negative impulse that blocks us from seeing, hearing, sensing, or cognizing what we don’t want to know. It blinds us to what is unpleasant, and to what is contrary to our view. Psychology knows the second hindrance as the process of denial. The third hindrance is sloth and torpor. This does not distort what we see, hear, sense, or cognize; rather, it buries it in a fog so that we are unable to discern clearly. The fourth hindrance, restlessness and remorse, keeps our senses on the run, so fast that we do not have sufficient time to see, hear, sense, or cognize fully. Sights do not have time to fully form on our retina before the back of the eye has another sight to deal with. Sounds are hardly registered when we are asked to listen to something else. The fourth hindrance of restlessness, and its special case of remorse (inner restlessness due to bad conduct), is like the overdemanding boss in your office who never gives you enough time to finish a project properly. The fifth hindrance is doubt, which interrupts the gathering of data with premature questions. Before we have fully experienced the seen, heard, sensed, or cognized, doubt interferes with the process, like a cocky student interrupting the teacher with a question in the midst of the lecture. It is these five hindrances that distort perception, corrupt thinking, and maintain a deluded view.

It is well known among serious students of Buddhism that the only way to suppress these five hindrances is through the practice of jhana. As it says in the Nalakapana Sutta (MN 68), for those who do not attain a jhana, the five hindrances (plus discontent and weariness) invade the mind and remain. Anything less than jhana is not powerful and lasting enough to suppress the five hindrances sufficiently. So, even if you are practicing bare mindfulness, if the five hindrances are still active at a subconscious level, you are not seeing things as they truly are; you are only seeing things as they seem, distorted by these five hindrances.



As I'm contemplating this, it's fascinating how all elements of the path are inter-related. PeterB had mentioned in another discussion the essential role of cultivating upekkha in our practice. Metta also, seems crucial. How do you view this, the difficulties caused by the hindrances and successful methods for defeating, suppressing or subduing them?

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:35 pm

christopher::: wrote:As I'm contemplating this, it's fascinating how all elements of the path are inter-related. PeterB had mentioned in another discussion the essential role of cultivating upekkha in our practice. Metta also, seems crucial. How do you view this, the difficulties caused by the hindrances and successful methods for defeating, suppressing or subduing them?


Guarding the sense doors. Guard the sense doors well, and the rest can follow with the cultivation of metta and upekkha. Craving comes through one of the sense doors and then it's all downhill from there. Guarding the sense doors can never be under-stated.

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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby BlackBird » Tue Sep 15, 2009 7:13 pm

I think it's clear to say one does not need Jhana to achieve nibbana. Some methods stress the importance of Jhana, others say it's not so important.

Venerable Pesala sums it up well

Venerable. Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Moral Kamma Producing Effects in the Realms of Form

These powerful wholesome kammas transcend the sensual realm. Sensual desire is one of the five hindrances to concentration, so to attain jhāna one has to overcome sensual thoughts. The jhānas are difficult to attain, and difficult to maintain. They are not usually attained when practising the pure insight method, but insight meditators do experience states comparable to jhāna. Insight cuts off defilements at the root, jhāna only cuts them off at the base, so insight meditation is preferable.

- http://aimwell.org/Books/Pesala/Kamma/kamma.html

At the Pa Auk Forest Monastery for example (which draws much of it's basis from the authoritative texts) Jhanas are taught before mature insight practices. It's easy to understand why too, because the peace brought about by Samadhi (tranquility) practice provides a very stable ground for insight to arise.

Thus Jhanas are not necessary (See: Mahasi Method), but certainly very very helpful.

As far as the hindrances are concerned. At a mundane level, each individual hindrance can be prevented from 'taking over' through a series of means. Venerable Nyanaponika writes an excellent exposition on this:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el026.html

A great way for developing equanimity is to frequently contemplate the body and mind as not self. The thought occurred to me the other day that the body exists after death. It remains in it's form after the "person" has died. Now if the body were self, surely it would dissappear when the person died and was reborn. But it doesn't, because it is not the self, it is not who I am, or who you are. :smile: In the moments where we no longer identify with the self, all the problems of our life cease to be our problems. It no longer matters so much when we break a plate, or that the dishes have mounted up exponentially and it's not fair. It doesn't mean we don't care, it just means we don't get caught up in identifying with it. Voila, a degree of equanimity.

At least, that's what makes sense to me anyway.
:anjali:
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"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:46 pm

BlackBird wrote:
A great way for developing equanimity is to frequently contemplate the body and mind as not self. :anjali:
Jack


How?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby BlackBird » Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:19 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
BlackBird wrote:
A great way for developing equanimity is to frequently contemplate the body and mind as not self. :anjali:
Jack


How?


Well I usually direct my awareness towards the whole body, then holding that awareness on the one hand I imagine and think about what the body looks like, imagining an external point of view somewhat akin to looking in the mirror I think: Is this who I am? Is this the self? How could this be the self, if it remains after death? This is not the self, this cannot be who I am.

So far it's been very good at generating equanimity towards some of the more coarse objects of dukkha.
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:17 am

BlackBird wrote:Well I usually direct my awareness towards the whole body, then holding that awareness on the one hand I imagine and think about what the body looks like, imagining an external point of view somewhat akin to looking in the mirror I think: Is this who I am? Is this the self? How could this be the self, if it remains after death? This is not the self, this cannot be who I am.

So far it's been very good at generating equanimity towards some of the more coarse objects of dukkha.


There is nothing wrong with this. It is, however, still pretty much a conceptual practice.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:26 am

Greetings Tilt,

Yes, but not overly dissimilar to the Satipatthana techniques on body parts.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby Jechbi » Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:42 am

Why are we evaluating somebody else's contemplation technique here? I don't see how this benefits anyone, or what it has to do with the OP. Maybe I'm missing something here ...

BlackBird, best wishes for success in your practice. Thank you for your efforts.
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:53 am

Greetings Jechbi,

Jechbi wrote:Why are we evaluating somebody else's contemplation technique here? I don't see how this benefits anyone, or what it has to do with the OP.


The connection I had in mind was that "conceptual" forms of meditation are only good up to the first jhana, and that upekkha is the trademark of the third jhana.

"He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' "

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 16, 2009 5:08 am

Jechbi wrote:Why are we evaluating somebody else's contemplation technique here? I don't see how this benefits anyone, or what it has to do with the OP. Maybe I'm missing something here ...

BlackBird, best wishes for success in your practice. Thank you for your efforts.
:anjali:


No one here is "evaluating" (and certainly not criticizing) any one's practice here. My comment is made in light of the style of vipassana as taught by Joseph Goldstein, which is very to the point of this thread, and as Retro points what BB describes is in line with the contemplative practices one finds in the Satipatthana Sutta.

BB stated: "A great way for developing equanimity is to frequently contemplate the body and mind as not self."

There is, also, another way of doing this in line with what the vipassana practice Joseph Goldstein teaches in the linked talked in the OP, which would be worth considering. So, yes, you seemed to have missed something here, but thanks for allowing for some clarification.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby christopher::: » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:07 am

Hey guys, thanks all for jumping in.

So far i think i'm understanding your explanations. I did have some questions though, concerning the role of jhanas, as Ajahn Brahm described them. What he wrote makes sense to me conceptually, but its not something i've had more then extremely fleeting experience with. Goldstein, on the other hand, seems to be speaking more of mindfulness, which I think i have much more experiential understanding of... Its for that reason that I insterted upekkha into the title of this thread, cause in my own experience equanimity is a necessary component for maintaining careful concentration, observing the arising of hindrances in the mind, and then letting them go freely, fading away, without responding.

But Ajahn Brahm said this:

It is well known among serious students of Buddhism that the only way to suppress these five hindrances is through the practice of jhana. As it says in the Nalakapana Sutta (MN 68), for those who do not attain a jhana, the five hindrances (plus discontent and weariness) invade the mind and remain. Anything less than jhana is not powerful and lasting enough to suppress the five hindrances sufficiently. So, even if you are practicing bare mindfulness, if the five hindrances are still active at a subconscious level, you are not seeing things as they truly are; you are only seeing things as they seem, distorted by these five hindrances.


I wonder, why do you think he used the term "suppression" and why does he view mindfulness as insufficient? Do you agree with him, in all cases, or does it depend on the person? Goldstein's approach seems to be based more on mindfulness and understanding, which leads to the slow unraveling of habit patterns. They lose power over time as we understand how they work and don't respond reactively. In my limited experience that seems like a better approach over the long term then suppression...

It's quite possible though, even probable, that I am missing something here in the Ajahn's perspective, especially since I'm not the world's greatest meditator...

:smile:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:19 am

christopher::: wrote:
I wonder, why do you think he used the term "suppression"? Goldstein's approach seems to be a bit different, based more on mindfulness and understanding, which leads to the slow unraveling of habit patterns. They lose power over time as we understand how they work and don't respond reactively...

It's quite possible, even probable, that I am missing something here in the Ajahn's perspective, especially since I'm not the world's greatest meditator...

yet..!

:namaste:


You are not missing anything. What you are seeing here is the divide between the two camps of practice. My preference is in terms of the mindfulness practice as outlined by Goldstein. (And for those who like to jump on what I am saying, this is not to dismiss jhana.) Not only do these thing lose power over time, that is in good part to gaining insight - seeing directly - into their conditioned, impermanent, unsatisfactory, empty of self nature.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:31 am

Hi Christopher,

The short answer is that Ajahn Brahm teaches the classic Jhana approach:
Attain the Jhanas, come out and, as it says in the various Suttas:
"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, the monk directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. He discerns, as it has come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are mental fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.'

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

Joseph Goldstein teaches (and illuminates with his great depth of personal experience) an approach from the Mahasi school, which he primarily learned from U Pandita. This is a "dry insight" approach, which does not rely on attaining Jhana, "access concentration" being deemed enough to suppress the hindrances enough to attain enough calm for the insight process (any development of concentration, including what one does in the Mahasi appraoch, tends to temporarily suppress the hindrances, which gives one a chance to do the insight bit...).
See, for example, the material on: http://aimwell.org/
If you want an introduction to the meditation style then this is a good brief introduction:
http://buddhanet.net/imol/wrkshp.htm

The "dry insight" approach is expounded in great detail in the Commentaries and the Visuddhimagga, though one could argue that it is based on the approach taught in the Satipatthana Sutta.

Metta
Mike




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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:41 am

Like everything, it is never quite so simple as the traditional dry insight vs jhanas divide, as we can see in the discussions of the "vipassana jhanas", a coinage coming out of the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition. One thing this suggests is that the traditional commentarial descriptions of the jhanas are not quite the full picture and that dry insight is not quite so dry.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:51 am

tiltbillings wrote:Like everything, it is never quite so simple as the traditional dry insight vs jhanas divide, ...

Well, of course, I agree, but I was trying to give Christopher some background to understand what he was reading/listening to. In my view it's a matter of whether concentration or insight is emphasised. Attaining Jhana without some quite good insight into the hindrances, or attaining insight without any concentration seems unlikely to me.

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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby christopher::: » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:44 am

Wow.

Forgive my ignorance on this topic but a number of things are starting to become clearer (i think). The insight vs. concentration distinction is very interesting. I think i've definitely leaned in Goldstein's direction all these years, but agree with you Mike, both are needed to make progress...

I will take this a bit out on a limb, and so don't mind being corrected... The method Ajahn Brahm describes is somewhat similar to that of zazen in Zen Buddhism, isn't it?

Jhana = Dhyana = Chan = Zen?

If so it might explain why I've always been such a lousy Zen practitioner- when it comes to long-term intensive zazen- and yet find mindfulness quite comfortable and helpful as an approach, and also the writings and insights of Zen patriarchs and teachers to be so sensible..!

Here's wikipedia's entry on Dhyana. How accurate is this?

:namaste:

Dhyāna in Buddhism

In the Theravada tradition
Main article: Jhāna


In the Pali Canon the Buddha describes eight progressive states of absorption meditation or jhāna. Four are considered to be meditations of form (rupa jhana) and four are formless meditations (arupa jhana). The first four jhānas are said by the Buddha to be conducive to a pleasant abiding and freedom from suffering (DN 22). The jhānas are states of meditation where the mind is free from the five hindrances (craving, aversion, sloth, agitation, doubt) and (from the second jhāna onwards) incapable of discursive thinking. The deeper jhānas can last for many hours. When a meditator emerges from jhāna, his or her mind is empowered and able to penetrate into the deepest truths of existence.

There are four deeper states of meditative absorption called the immaterial attainments. Sometimes these are also referred to as the "formless" jhānas, or arupajhana (distinguished from the first four jhānas, rupajhana). In the Buddhist canonical texts, the word jhāna is never explicitly used to denote them, but they are always mentioned in sequence after the first four jhānas. The enlightenment of complete dwelling in emptiness is reached when the eighth jhana is transcended.

Jhānas are normally described according to the nature of the mental factors which are present in these states

1. Movement of the mind onto the object, Vitakka (Sanskrit: Vitarka)
2. Retention of the mind on the object, Vicāra
3. Joy, Pīti (Sanskrit: Prīti)
4. Happiness, Sukha
5. Equanimity, Upekkhā (Sanskrit: Upekṣā)
6. One-pointedness, Ekaggatā (Sanskrit: Ekāgratā)[1]

Four progressive states of Jhāna:

1. First Jhāna (Vitakka, Vicāra, Pīti, Sukha, Ekaggatā): The five hindrances have completely disappeared and intense unified bliss remains. Only the subtlest of mental movement remains, perceivable in its absence by those who have entered the second jhāna. The ability to form unwholesome intentions ceases.
2. Second Jhāna (Pīti, Sukha, Ekaggatā): All mental movement utterly ceases. There is only bliss. The ability to form wholesome intentions ceases as well.
3. Third Jhāna (Sukha, Ekaggatā): One-half of bliss (joy) disappears.
4. Fourth Jhāna (Upekkhā, Ekaggatā): The other half of bliss (happiness) disappears, leading to a state with neither pleasure nor pain, which the Buddha said is actually a subtle form of happiness (more sublime than pīti and sukha). The Buddha described the jhānas as "the footsteps of the tathāgata". The breath is said to cease temporarily in this state.

Traditionally, this fourth jhāna is seen as the beginning of attaining psychic powers (abhigna).[

The scriptures state that one should not seek to attain ever higher jhanas but master one first, then move on to the next. "Mastery of jhana" involves being able to enter a jhana at will, stay as long as one likes, leave at will and experience each of the jhana factors as required. They also seem to suggest that lower jhana factors may manifest themselves in higher jhanas, if the jhanas have not been properly developed. The Buddha is seen to advise his disciples to concentrate and steady the jhana further.

In Mahayana traditions Buddhist Perfections

10 pāramī
dāna
sīla
nekkhamma
paññā
viriya
khanti
sacca
adhiṭṭhāna
mettā
upekkhā

6 pāramitā
dāna
sīla
kṣānti
vīrya
dhyāna
prajñā

The importance of dhyana in the Mahayana tradition can't be over emphasized. Dhyāna is the fifth of six pāramitās (perfections). It is usually translated as "concentration," "meditation," or "meditative stability." In China, the word dhyana was originally transliterated as chan-na (禅那; Mandarin: chánnà), and was eventually shortened to just chan (禅) by common usage.

Dhyana, usually under the related term of samadhi[3], together with the second and sixth paramitas are also known as the three essential studies, or threefold training, of Buddhism: moral precepts (sila), meditation (dhyana or samadhi), and wisdom (prajna). In Mahayana Buddhism no one can be said to be accomplished in Buddhism who has not successfully trained in all three studies.

When Buddhism was brought to China, the Buddhist masters tended to become more focused or primarily adept in one of the three studies. Vinaya masters were those who specialized in the monastic rules of discipline and the moral precepts (sila). Dharma masters were those who specialized in the wisdom teachings of the Sutras and Buddhist treatises (shastras). Dhyana or Chan masters were those who specialized in meditation practice and states of samadhi. Monks would often begin their training under one kind of master, such as a Vinaya master, and then transfer to another master, such as a Dharma master or a Dhyana master, to further their training and studies. At that time there was no separate school known as Chan.

Chan: The Dhyana School of China

According to tradition, Bodhidharma brought his lineage school of a line of dhyāna masters from India to China. After a somewhat disappointing interview with an Emperor in the south of China, Bodhidharma went into the north and resided in relative obscurity at the Shaolin Temple until several disciples found him. As it became more and more independent, popular and politically influential, the lineage school that was attributed to Bodhidharma became known as the Chan school in China and was transplanted to Korea as Seon, to Japan as Zen, and to Vietnam as Thiền.

"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby Moggalana » Wed Sep 16, 2009 8:40 am

There is some good information about jhanas on Leigh Brasington's site: http://www.leighb.com/jhanas.htm
Including a short compendium about the various interpretations of jhana: http://www.leighb.com/jhanantp.htm
Ajahn Brahm's book "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond" and Shaila Catherine's "Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity" are also highly recommended.
You will encounter very different opinions about this topic, with each party emphasizing that their way is the only right way (not everyone does that though). There is also a book about samadhi ("The Experience of Samadhi") with several interviews (Jack Kornfield, Ajaan Thanissaro, Sharon Salzberg, Bhante Gunaratana, Christina Feldman, Leigh Brasington, Ajahn Brahm, Pa Auk Sayadaw) which gives a good overview of the broad spectrum of opinions.
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby christopher::: » Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:31 am

Thanks for those suggestions, Moggalana.

"Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity"
sounds really good. As i was walking outside just now i was contemplating the relationship of mindfulness, concentration & upekkha to insight/clarity and the hindrances...

It's always seemed like the calmer I feel the happier and more appreciative i am about life. My ego makes less noise. Experiences flow smoothly and its like there's no need to grasp or push away anything. There's just this satisfaction with life moment-to-moment, just as it is...

When things click into place the dhamma is so wonderful.

Unfortunately- up till now at least- moments of peace and clarity like this rarely last...

Two amazing years when i first lived in Japan. Two years of deep calm in grad school... but since then its like these periods will last for a few hours, weeks or months and then something will happen and i'm back on samsara's treadmill again...

:tongue:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby Jechbi » Wed Sep 16, 2009 3:51 pm

tiltbillings wrote:No one here is "evaluating" (and certainly not criticizing) ...

I never mentioned criticism. But certainly, there's no other way to describe your earlier post except to acknowledge that it constituted a form of evaluation of Blackbird's contemplation practice. In what respect would you say that your comment about his practice fails to rise to the level of an evaluation of it? Of his practice, you wrote: "There is nothing wrong with this. It is, however, still pretty much a conceptual practice." Clearly, that is an evaluation.

tiltbillings wrote:So, yes, you seemed to have missed something here ...

No, I don't think I did in this case. I feel as though now I'm defending myself here.

---

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:The connection I had in mind was that "conceptual" forms of meditation are only good up to the first jhana, and that upekkha is the trademark of the third jhana.
One wonders whether upekkha in any form is possible outside of jhana, for example, can we bring equanimity to the processes of driving a car, or to the process of engaging with colleagues at work? In other words, can we bring upekkha into our practice when we bring our practice out into the world?

Or would you regard upekkha as a narrow term in this context that only can be applied to its manifestation at some stage of meditative absorption?

In answer to the OP, I think one outcome of practicing the 8fold path is that it can strenghthen upekkha on and off the cushion.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Jhana, Upekkha & the the 5 Hindrances

Postby EOD » Wed Sep 16, 2009 5:36 pm

BlackBird wrote:I think it's clear to say one does not need Jhana to achieve nibbana.

Hello,

I doubt that. The path leading to the cessation of dukkha (fourth noble truth) is the noble eightfold path. And one part of that path is right concentration. But right concentration is defined as the jhanas:

"And what is right concentration? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is called right concentration."

(Maha-satipatthana Sutta, DN 22)


If the jhanas were not really necessary, why should the Buddha include them in the path leading to the cessation of dukkha? If we start doubting that one part of the path is not really necessary, there is no reason to stop there. What about the other parts? Right speech for example. Unnecessary too? I don't think that this is an appropriate attitude towards the teachings.

There are many other suttas which indicate the necessity of jhana. I want to give only two more examples:

In the Mahamalunkya Sutta (MN 64) it is stated that the path to the destruction of the five lower fetters are the jhanas. Unfortunately I cannot find an English translation of that sutta in the moment.

And with regard to the five higher fetters it is stated:

"Bhikkhus, there are these five higher fetters. What five? Lust for form, lust for the formless, conceit, restlessness, ignorance. These are the five higher fetters. The four jhanas are to be developed for direct knowledge of these five higher fetters, for the full understanding of them, for their utter destruction, for their abandoning."

(Jhanasamyutta SN 9.53)


Some people base their argument for the dispensability of the jhanas for example on the Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10) where the jhanas are not explicitly mentioned. But what about morality? It is also not explicitly mentiond in that sutta. Does this mean that morality is not necessary? Certainly not. One has to read more than one sutta to get a picture of the whole.

But I don't want to say that we have to master all the four jhanas in order to achieve nibbana or that we have to develop the jhanas "extra". I think they are a result of a correct practice.

Best wishes,

EOD
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