Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

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Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby Nibbida » Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:20 pm

I have a question about the Buddha's use of jhana in the Mahaparinibbana. In that sutta, it's said that he he rose through the eight jhanas and immaterial states, came back down to the first jhana, and then went back up to the 4th jhana when he then died.

My question is, why would he do that? It would seem that he had some purpose, as opposed to doing that arbitrarily. So I suspect that there is some. In contrast, why wouldn't he not just go up through the eight jhanas and material states and stay there?
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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby pink_trike » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:13 pm

More interesting to me is - who is telling us this, and how do they presume to know?

9.
And the Blessed One entered the first jhana. Rising from the first jhana, he entered the second jhana. Rising from the second jhana, he entered the third jhana. Rising from the third jhana, he entered the fourth jhana. And rising out of the fourth jhana, he entered the sphere of infinite space. Rising from the attainment of the sphere of infinite space, he entered the sphere of infinite consciousness. Rising from the attainment of the sphere of infinite consciousness, he entered the sphere of nothingness. Rising from the attainment of the sphere of nothingness, he entered the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. And rising out of the attainment of the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, he attained to the cessation of perception and feeling.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:19 pm

Hi PT,

Just before the passage you quoted we have:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html
And the Venerable Ananda spoke to the Venerable Anuruddha, saying: "Venerable Anuruddha, the Blessed One has passed away."

"No, friend Ananda, the Blessed One has not passed away. He has entered the state of the cessation of perception and feeling."

The implication is that Ven Anauruddha had the psychic powers necessary to discern the mind of others. Ven Ananda did not...

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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby pink_trike » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:38 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi PT,

Just before the passage you quoted we have:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html
And the Venerable Ananda spoke to the Venerable Anuruddha, saying: "Venerable Anuruddha, the Blessed One has passed away."

"No, friend Ananda, the Blessed One has not passed away. He has entered the state of the cessation of perception and feeling."

The implication is that Ven Anauruddha had the psychic powers necessary to discern the mind of others. Ven Ananda did not...

Mike


So Anauruddha was able to track this progress through the jhanas in real-time?
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:01 am

Hi PT,
pink_trike wrote:So Anauruddha was able to track this progress through the jhanas in real-time?

Well, that's how I understand the text. Similarly, some modern meditation masters are said to be able to "read" the mind-state of their students.

I have seen a discussion of the original question before, but I can't quite locate it right now.

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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby pt1 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 1:43 am

pink_trike wrote:So Anauruddha was able to track this progress through the jhanas in real-time?


Hi, if I remember correctly from reading The great disciples of the Buddha, Anuruddha was declared by the Buddha to be the foremost disciple in Divine Eye ability. With this ability he would have been able to read other people's minds I think, and so track the Buddha's progress through the jhanas.

It's interesting though, according to abhidhamma, when a person is in jhana, then the citta is jhana citta, not cuti citta (dying consciousness), so to pass away, the Buddha would have had to exit jhana first. Perhaps someone can check mahaparinibbana commentary if there's anything on why the Buddha went through jhanas? It was published by PTS, English title - The Buddha's last days, translation by Yang-Gyu An.

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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby vinasp » Fri Nov 13, 2009 6:05 pm

Hi everyone,

In my understanding it is not possible for an enlightened individual to enter any of the jhanas. So I have a problem not just with DN 16 but with every passage which depicts the Buddha or an arahant meditating. This is one of the "deep contradictions" in the teachings which most people ignore.

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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Nov 13, 2009 7:09 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

In my understanding it is not possible for an enlightened individual to enter any of the jhanas..


why not?
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby Moggalana » Fri Nov 13, 2009 7:10 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,
In my understanding it is not possible for an enlightened individual to enter any of the jhanas.

Who says so? That would be new to me.
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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby vinasp » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:31 pm

Hi everyone,

Is it possible for an enlightened individual to enter the jhanas ? No, for the following reasons :

1. The enlightened individual experiences nibbana continuously, all mental formations have ceased. This is already the best possible state of mind. How could he through some effort improve on it ?

2. The jhanas are states of mind experienced by ordinary unenlightened people. They are the result of a temporary suppression of unwholesome mental factors. All of these unwholesome things have been permanently eliminated by the enlightened individual.

3. The enlightened individuals mind is already way beyond the jhana states, do you think he should re-create defilements in order to experience jhana ?

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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:35 pm

Hi Vincent,

How do you explain all the suttas that talk about arahants practising jhana?

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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby catmoon » Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:02 pm

Because the jhanas are an attainable states, and Nibbana is an attainable state, there is a tendency to create a ladder-like model, with each state on a rung of the ladder. So we would then have jhanas 1-8 and Nibbana as 9.

In creating this model we essentially reduce enlightenment to a number line, to a single numerical variable. This is liable to lead to error, because in so doing were are disregarding a great deal of information. To use such a model effectively, one must look carefully at the circumstances in which it used, and the nature of the model, and see if there is still harmony between the two. Having seen how enlightenment is like a ladder, it is just as important (if not more so)to see how enlightenment is NOT like a ladder.

Anyone want to look at this?
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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby vinasp » Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:10 pm

Hi mike,

That is a very interesting question. There are many problems in this area and there is much which I can't explain. But not having the answers does not mean that one should ignore the problem. One solution might be that many suttas are fiction written long after the Buddhas death. This view is common in academic circles but does not go down well among Buddhist practitioners. If they are fiction then the Buddha and arahants are depicted in this way to set an example for the monks.
However, there might be a completely different explanation. Perhaps certain puzzles have been put into the teachings for a reason which we do not yet understand. Do you think I am completely wrong on this ?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:29 am

vinasp wrote::

1. The enlightened individual experiences nibbana continuously, all mental formations have ceased. This is already the best possible state of mind. How could he through some effort improve on it ?.

Says who?
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 in Mahaparinibbana

Postby BudSas » Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:06 pm

Nibbida wrote:I have a question about the Buddha's use of jhana in the Mahaparinibbana. In that sutta, it's said that he he rose through the eight jhanas and immaterial states, came back down to the first jhana, and then went back up to the 4th jhana when he then died.


The Buddha did not pass away in the fourth jhana, only after he left that state:

"Rising from the first jhana, he entered the second jhana. Rising from the second jhana, he entered the third jhana. Rising from the third jhana, he entered the fourth jhana. And, rising from the fourth jhana, the Blessed One immediately passed away."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html

Translated by Bhikkhu Thanissaro:
"Emerging from the first jhana he entered the second... the third... the fourth jhana. Emerging from the fourth jhana, he immediately was totally Unbound."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.5-6.than.html#chap5

As I understand, he passed away in a state which could not be defined.

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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby vinasp » Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:59 am

Hi tiltbillings,

"Says who ?" That is just my interpretation but the following passages are interesting.

"Monks, there is a not-born, a not-become, a not-made, a not-compounded. Monks, if that not-born ... were not, there would be no escape here from what is born, become, made, compounded. But since, monks, there is a not-born ... therefore there is an escape from what is born, become, made, compounded". Itiv. 43. Translated by Nanananda, Concept and Reality, pages 71-72.

"By knowing the destruction of formations be thou O Brahmin, one who knows the unmade" Dhp. 383.

"And it is hard to see this truth, namely, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbana". MN 26. 19.

"There is, monks, that sphere wherein there is neither earth nor water nor fire nor air, wherein is neither the sphere of infinite space, nor that of infinite consciousness, nor that of nothingness, nor that of neither-perception nor non-perception; wherein there is neither this world nor a world beyond, nor moon and sun. There, monks, I declare, is no coming, no going, no stopping, no passing away, no arising. It is not established, it continues not, it has no object. This, indeed, is the end of suffering." Ud. 80. ( Nanananda page 71 ).

"That end of the world wherein one is not born, does not grow old or die, pass away or reappear, that I declare, is impossible to be known, seen or reached by travelling. But, friend, I do not declare that one can make an end of suffering without reaching the end of the world. Friend, I do proclaim that in this very fathom-long body, with its perceptions and consciousness, is the world, the world's arising, the world's cessation and the path leading to the world's cessation. A.N. II. 48

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:14 am

but none of that says he couldnt do jhana or enter jhana or however you put it. he still had a mind, still had a body subject to all the ailments and weakness' that the rest of us face (headaches, tummy aches etc) he still pooped, pee'd etc. he seems still quite capable of doing something as "simple" as jhana doesnt he?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:28 am

vinasp wrote:Hi tiltbillings,

"Says who ?" That is just my interpretation but the following passages are interesting.

"Monks, there is a not-born, a not-become, a not-made, a not-compounded. Monks, if that not-born ... were not, there would be no escape here from what is born, become, made, compounded. But since, monks, there is a not-born ... therefore there is an escape from what is born, become, made, compounded". Itiv. 43 [37-8]. Translated by Nanananda, Concept and Reality, pages 71-72.
So, what is this text actually saying?

"By knowing the destruction of formations be thou O Brahmin, one who knows the unmade" Dhp. 383.
What is actually destroyed?

"And it is hard to see this truth, namely, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbana". MN 26. 19.
What is actually stilled?

"There is, monks, that sphere wherein there is neither earth nor water nor fire nor air, wherein is neither the sphere of infinite space, nor that of infinite consciousness, nor that of nothingness, nor that of neither-perception nor non-perception; wherein there is neither this world nor a world beyond, nor moon and sun. There, monks, I declare, is no coming, no going, no stopping, no passing away, no arising. It is not established, it continues not, it has no object. This, indeed, is the end of suffering." Ud. 80. ( Nanananda page 71 ).
What is this “sphere?”

"That end of the world wherein one is not born, does not grow old or die, pass away or reappear, that I declare, is impossible to be known, seen or reached by travelling. But, friend, I do not declare that one can make an end of suffering without reaching the end of the world. Friend, I do proclaim that in this very fathom-long body, with its perceptions and consciousness, is the world, the world's arising, the world's cessation and the path leading to the world's cessation. A.N. II. 48
What is the “world?”
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 in Mahaparinibbana

Postby vinasp » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:25 pm

Hi tiltbillings,

Your second and third questions seem to be asking about formations. I made a short post a few weeks ago giving a simple explanation. It seems fitting to repost it here with some additional remarks.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

What is a mental construction ?

Pali : Samkhara - (mental) formation, construction.

Remember that kamma (action) is re-defined by the Buddha as cetana (intention or volition). Volition builds habits and these habits are called mental constructions. Almost everything in a normal persons state of mind is habits, built up over many years. habits of feeling, habits of perception, habits of thinking, habits of craving, habits of attachment, habits of belief. The normal state of mind is a mass of habits. We learn to think, see and behave in certain ways. We become conditioned.
Much of this learnt behaviour is unavoidable and perfectly wholesome. But a portion of it is unwholesome. When Buddhism talks about eliminating these mental constructions it means the unwholesome ones - otherwise one would be reduced to the state of a new-born baby! But how can these mental constructions be eliminated ? The key is that these constructions result from mis-understandings of certain things. When these mis-understandings are corrected then the resultant constructions just dissappear. This is why samkharas are said to be impermanent - it means capable of ceasing.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Additional remarks.

Samkhara means a constructive activity. When used for something in the real world the thing made is called a samkhata. So if a potter is making a pot then his actions are a samkhara and the pot is a samkhata.

For things in the mind samkhara is the usual term. So a belief is a samkhara. Now, a belief may persist for years. It looks like a static thing, but it is really an ongoing activity. So the belief will persist only as long as the activity continues. We do not normally see this activity.

One interpretation of the dependent origination formula sees it as a representation of the unenlightened mind. Eleven layers of samkharas grounded in ignorance. Habits of clinging depend on habits of craving, which depend on habits of feeling and so on. But the formula is "dual use" so some links are named in a way which is suitable for explaining rebirth using a
temporal interpretation. When understood psychologically a non temporal interpretation is employed, and some links need to be re-interpreted in a psycholgical sense. Understood in this way, the formula shows all the things which dissappear.

Answers to questions 1, 4 and 5 to follow.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: Jhana in Mahaparinibbana

Postby vinasp » Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:03 pm

Hi tiltbillings,

Q.1. What is this passage saying ?

In the mind, we can talk of the things made or the activity which is making them. This passage speaks of things made (katassa, sankhatassa) and things become (bhutassa). Born (jatassa) is a figure of speech. All these terms are roughly equivalent and mean the same thing. So it is just saying that there is a not-made (state of mind) which is the escape from the made (state of mind).

Q.5. What does "world" mean ?

I have not looked at this passage in Pali but it is probably "loka" which the old PTS dictionary says means - world, cosmos. When the self is constructed a world is constructed along with it. So self and world end together. The world constructed by people at this time would be better described as a cosmos. All three realms and all thirty-one classes of beings should be included.

Answer to question 4 to follow.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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