is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

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Stephen K
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is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby Stephen K » Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:35 pm

"...quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana..." (SN 45.8)

Is listening to music, being a sensual indulgence, a hindrance to attaining the first jhana?

In other words, if I want to attain jhana, should I stop listening to music?
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana

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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:32 pm

Hi Stefan
If you want to attain jhana then you should cultivate perfect sila and it is best to remove yourself and live in seclusion, quite withdrawn from sensuality while undertaking the work of developing concentration. Its a matter of practicality that if you are serious about jhana then having your mind distracted by this or that sensual entertainment or pleasure is going to be a hindrance. Within the retreat centres of the Goenka tradition, there is an embargo on students bringing with them music players and musical instruments as well as books and pen and paper. Students are instructed to maintain 'noble silence' with the attitude of practice as though they were the only people at the centre.
kind regards

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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby Stephen K » Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:12 pm

Thanks Ben. :smile:
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana

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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 24, 2009 11:37 pm

Stefan wrote:
In other words, if I want to attain jhana, should I stop listening to music?

Ben's advice is to the point, but don't torture yourself with stopping listening to music. All of this depends upon what you are trying to do. Why jhanas? (Rhetorically.) Probably more important, maybe, is cultivating mindfulness.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby AdvaitaJ » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:19 am

Stefan,

I've been a music fan for 40 years, but I now have trouble "turning the music off". I've found that I usually have tunes stuck in my head when I awake or when my mindfulness is at low ebb. Will music stop you from attaining the jhanas? I'd say that depends on how strong your ability to concentrate has become. I've found that my years of computer programming have sustained my ability to concentrate and I count myself quite lucky in that regard. Had I been in some other occupation, not as demanding of concentration as programming, well...

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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby Emi » Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:51 am

So does this mean that 'meditation music' is a big no-no? Disregarding separate people's abilities, is it theoretically impossible to remain mindful whilst having music on in the background?
My experience tells otherwise. Sometimes, a quiet, lengthy track helps me focus, and keep my mind where it should be, rather than listening to the creaks of the house and wondering what it was!

Is it just me? :shrug:
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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:56 am

Craving for music is a type of craving for sensual pleasure.
This is the first of the five hindrances to jhana.
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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby BudSas » Sat Nov 28, 2009 5:50 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Craving for music is a type of craving for sensual pleasure.
This is the first of the five hindrances to jhana.


Dear Bhante,

How do you think of melodious chanting often seen at some Buddhist temples? Would you see it as a form of music, and if so, would it be considered as a hindrance?

BDS

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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:16 am

BudSas wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Craving for music is a type of craving for sensual pleasure.
This is the first of the five hindrances to jhana.


Dear Bhante,

How do you think of melodious chanting often seen at some Buddhist temples? Would you see it as a form of music, and if so, would it be considered as a hindrance?

BDS


Note the use of the word "craving". :sage:
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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby BudSas » Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:47 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:Note the use of the word "craving". :sage:


:smile: Thanks

BDS

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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby Laurens » Sat Nov 28, 2009 9:29 pm

I can definately see how it would be. I don't meditate to attain Jhana personally, but even so I find having music stuck in my head to be a great distraction on occaison.
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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby Stephen K » Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:39 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:Craving for music is a type of craving for sensual pleasure.
This is the first of the five hindrances to jhana.

That's exactly what my OP implied. So, to ask again, can jhana be attained while not having given up music?
With metta,
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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby phil » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:05 am

Stefan wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Craving for music is a type of craving for sensual pleasure.
This is the first of the five hindrances to jhana.

That's exactly what my OP implied. So, to ask again, can jhana be attained while not having given up music?


In my opinion Titbillings (?) hinted at something important. If there is even a question about whether the brain tingling pleasure to be gained from listening to music is comparable to the bliss obtained in deep concentration, maybe jhanas are quite far away and needn't be the goal for now? I imagine people who have the conditions to develop jhanas would have already dropped the need to get pleasure from music. (That's just guessing, maybe completely wrong.) So the fact that there is enough craving for music to lead you to ask this question indicates maybe that seeking jhanas is not a realistic option now? Just some thoughts to chew over, I don't know if there is any value in them and I trust they won't discourage you from seeking jhanas if you know that is your way. :smile:

Metta,

Phil

p.s I personally believe there is great benefit in practicing samattha even far short of the jhanas, the stilling of the mind is beneficial to any degree that it occurs, I think. That cooling down of the fires of greed, hatred and delusion is valuable to any degree....
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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Re: is music a hindrance to the jhanas?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:48 am

Stefan wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Craving for music is a type of craving for sensual pleasure.
This is the first of the five hindrances to jhana.

That's exactly what my OP implied. So, to ask again, can jhana be attained while not having given up music?


While sensual craving is present, there is no jhana.
So, one could conceivably listen to music, and then at some other time, enter jhana.
The problem is, the way the mind works, the sensual desire almost leaves a kind of residue in the mind.
Even when the object of desire is not there, one may still arise thoughts of desire for it.
It may take some time to abandon this desire for a suitable continuous period so as to develop jhana.

It is a lot like drug addiction. (Remember, the "outflows" (asava) have been translated as "drugs" before.)
Addiction does not mean that one is 24/7 involved with the drug.
But it does mean that the craving is almost always there, at least in subtle form.
Even when one is not using it, that craving is still there.
Even when one tries to quit that drug, it is still there.
It does not just instantly go away.
One needs a kind of long term program to abandon craving for that drug.
During that program, even contact with the drug is risky, it may arouse thoughts and memories, that in turn lead to indulgence again.
Once one has totally abandoned craving for it, then one could be around the drug - though not use the drug - and not be effected.

Such are sensual cravings and pleasures.
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