Jhana + Vipassana

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby Dmytro » Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:21 pm

Hi Sean,

seanpdx wrote:I'm curious if anyone in this forum has read Alexander Wynne's "The Origin of Buddhist Meditation"? If so, any thoughts?


I've read some parts of it at Google books:
http://books.google.com/books?id=TiZWJ1 ... frontcover

and explored the Brahmanic "jhana" practices, referred to in this book. Quite interesting.

Regards, Dmytro
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Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby Dmytro » Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:41 pm

Hi BlackBird,

BlackBird wrote:
Dmytro wrote:"The suddhivipassanayanika yogi, the subject under discussion, is the lowest of several types of yogis, and he needs not develop jhana particularly to dispel the hindrances before the contemplation of the four foundations of mindfullness. He dispels them while contemplating on the four foundations of mindfullness. He has to do so because he is not possessed of special powers. He is like a person, who, having no boat to cross by, has to swim across the river."


I am quite interested in this classification, I was wondering if you could point me to some more stuff on it, couldn't find much beyond your quote in the source page.


That's from Majjhima Nikaya Atthakatha 4.67:

Nissāya nissāyāti taṃ taṃ samāpattiṃ nissāya. Oghassa nittharaṇā akkhātāti oghataraṇaṃ kathitaṃ, tatiyajjhānaṃ pādakaṃ katvā ṭhitabhikkhuno oghanittharaṇā kathitā…pe… nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṃ pādakaṃ katvā ṭhitabhikkhuno oghanittharaṇā kathitāti vadati.

Katamo pana, bhante, ariyo vimokkhoti idha kiṃ pucchati? Samāpattiṃ tāva padaṭṭhānaṃ katvā vipassanaṃ vaḍḍhetvā arahattaṃ gaṇhanto bhikkhu nāvaṃ vā uḷumpādīni vā nissāya mahoghaṃ taritvā pāraṃ gacchanto viya na kilamati. Sukkhavipassako pana pakiṇṇakasaṅkhāre sammasitvā arahattaṃ gaṇhanto bāhubalena sotaṃ chinditvā pāraṃ gacchanto viya kilamati.

One who makes the concentration attainments a basis for vipassana, can be compared to one who crosses the great flood on a boat, and does not exhaust himself in the process. However the dry-insight practitioner can be compared to one who crosses the stream without a boat, and gets tired in the process.

Metta, Dmytro
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Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Dec 06, 2009 8:25 pm

there are advantages as well as disadvantages in doing vipassana in jhana
advantages: the mind is more maleable in deep samadhi so any insight gained will strike deeper and last longer
the samadhi component is already well developed so there is no struggle to build that up like in dry vipassana
disadvantages: you may not see impermanence of the world you normally inhabit ie the kama loka, but only see impermanence in the rupa world/jhanas. Hence not letting go completely, hence getting stuck at certain levels of progression. If a person's wisdom is penetrating enough to see the symbolic nature of seeing impermanence in one thing being (mind door) applied to everything (6 sense doors) then it would be less of a problem.
Because of the deep samadhi it maybe difficult to see impermanence and as there is little that one may observe as the self- difficulty in understanding non-self.

I would leave this to the experts who have already attained stream entry and understand the impermanence of all phenomena already. Their minds will be more amenable to limitations that this method poses but are well placed to make use of the advantages it offers.

with metta
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Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby seanpdx » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:53 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hi Sean,

seanpdx wrote:I'm curious if anyone in this forum has read Alexander Wynne's "The Origin of Buddhist Meditation"? If so, any thoughts?


I've read some parts of it at Google books:
http://books.google.com/books?id=TiZWJ1 ... frontcover

and explored the Brahmanic "jhana" practices, referred to in this book. Quite interesting.

Regards, Dmytro


Unfortunately, google books doesn't have any of the really good stuff. The paper is quite apropos considering the topic of discussion. Ah well.
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Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby Freawaru » Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:29 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hi Smokey,

Here's a relevant quotation:

"The suddhivipassanayanika yogi, the subject under discussion, is the lowest of several types of yogis, and he needs not develop jhana particularly to dispel the hindrances before the contemplation of the four foundations of mindfullness. He dispels them while contemplating on the four foundations of mindfullness. He has to do so because he is not possessed of special powers. He is like a person, who, having no boat to cross by, has to swim across the river."

http://www.mahasi.org.mm/discourse/E24/E24ch03.htm

It seems that nobody is against jhana.

Metta, Dmytro


Hi Dmytro,

I have two questions:

How does one discern between momentary, access, absorption, and neighbourhood concentration? According to Leigh Brasington

How do you know access concentration has been established? The mind is fully with the object of meditation and, if there are any thoughts, they are wispy and in the background; they do not draw you away from the meditation object.
http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm


I thought this to be a clear definition: the object of concentration is stable in the mind, one can observe it and analyse it (with thoughts and concepts) and think about something else, too, without loosing track of it.

Absorption concentration means, I think, that one is merged with the object. One gets the impression "I am the object". Say, one concentrates on the tactile impression of the nostrils then absorption concentration is reached when one feels "I am the nostrils" - there is a shift of perspective, a shift INTO the object and away from our "normal" view (which localises us somewhere in the head and our personality). So I expect that when one reaches absorption concentration with, say, the "The Base of Infinite Space" (5th jhana) one has the impression "I am Infinite Space". One IS that "Infinite Space" rather than one's body and personality but one knows that this is so and that normally one is body and personality. It was mentioned that during this state of absorption concentration one cannot practice insight but I don't understand why this should not be possible. Just like during access concentration there is an awareness present that can be used to observe and analyse. In fact it is more easy to analyse because letting go of controlling the object is even more easy than during access concentration and the awareness is more lucid. So I would say that vipassana practice during a jhana should be more easy than afterwards. One just has to pay more attention to the awareness itself than to the object of the absorption.

Then there is neighbourhood concentration. The name itself suggests that it is that concentration on an object before absorption happens. For example

Leigh Brasington wrote:It has been mistaken for achieving oneness with all consciousness. It can be entered from the fifth Jhana by realizing that in order to "gaze" at an infinite spaciousness, you must have an infinite consciousness, and then shifting your attention to that consciousness.


So before the absorption into another object happens one is already aware of the object and it is stable and there is concentration linked on it. This is a slightly different state than absorption concentration: while during absorption one has the impression "I am Infinite Space", during neighbourhood concentration one has the impression "There is infinite space". It is also different from access concentration because there are no wispy thoughts and the like any more. I think vipassana should be also possible during neighborhood concentration.

And finally, momentary concentration. If I understand Mahasi Sayadaw's definition correctly the only difference is regarding the stability of an object. While during access concentration there is always the same object the object changes from moment to moment during momentary concentration. The point is that here, too, the lucid awareness arises in tandem with the object (any object that arises) so vipassana is possible, too.

Please correct me if these definitions are incorrect.

My second question is regarding the difference of classification of different kinds of yogis. I think I understand first jhana then vipassana: one enters jhana and then uses the awareness that is present during it (the very same lucid awareness that enables one to switch to another jhana) to observe and analyze (which slightly changes the experience). But I don't understand why it shouldn't be possible to ALSO practice dry insight as in the Mahasi Method during both sittings and every day issues? Isn't it possible to practice both ways and so be kinda both kinds of yogis?
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Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby Moggalana » Tue Dec 08, 2009 4:39 pm

There is this book, The Experience of Samadhi - An In-depth Exploration of Buddhist Meditation. The first part of the book is an analysis of how Samadhi/Jhana is defined in the Suttas compared to how they are defined in the Visduddhimagga. The second part consists of interviews with various buddhist teachers (Jack Kornfield, Ajahn Thanissaro, Sharon Salzberg, Bhante Gunaratana, Christina Feldman, Leigh Brasington, Ajahn Brahm, Pa Auk Sayadaw), each of them representing a slightly different view on the subject. Part of it is accessible online: The Experience of Samadhi.

At first, I was slightly bewildered by all those different interpretations. Now, I have a more relaxed view on this topic. We don't know exactly what the Buddha actually taught, and we probably never will. Each teacher's inerpretation is in accord with his own experience and the tradition he has been trained in. Maybe we should understand that this is actually a gift and not something to worry about. There is this great range of skilful means. Just use what works for you (as long as it is in compliance with an authentic tradition/teacher).

There was this one part, in the interview with Bhante Gunaratana, which provides a possible solution to the old jhana vs. dry insight controversy.

...
Richard Shankman: Teachers do not all agree that jhana is necessary to attain enlightenment, regardless of the style of practice you engage in.
Bhante Gunaratana: When you attain enlightenment, you have to attain jhanic concentration at the attainment of stream entry. You may not have practiced jhana, per se, seperately. But when you attain stream-entry, that attainment is always attained at the jhanic concentration level.
...


:anjali:
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby Dmytro » Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:18 pm

Hi Freawaru,

Freawaru wrote:How does one discern between momentary, access, absorption, and neighbourhood concentration?


To put it simple, appana-samadhi (absorption) is stable - one maintains it steadily, neighbourhood (upacara-samadhi) is unstable - one is still unable to maintain the concentration, and khanika-samadhi (momentary) lasts from moment to moment.

There's not much more about it.

Absorption concentration means, I think, that one is merged with the object. One gets the impression "I am the object".


Identification is a possible way to get hold of meditative attainment, but IMHO, a poor one.

Samadhi is synchronization of the mind, collecting it together. The basis of concentration serves as a kind of pitchfork for such synchronization.

The mind is not crumbling into a single point, but instead it is getting very spacious.

The development of vipassana is possible in all these kinds of samadhi. Thought it may somewhat problematic in some respects in formless jhanas.

My second question is regarding the difference of classification of different kinds of yogis. I think I understand first jhana then vipassana: one enters jhana and then uses the awareness that is present during it (the very same lucid awareness that enables one to switch to another jhana) to observe and analyze (which slightly changes the experience). But I don't understand why it shouldn't be possible to ALSO practice dry insight as in the Mahasi Method during both sittings and every day issues? Isn't it possible to practice both ways and so be kinda both kinds of yogis?


Surely it's possible. It's called 'yugannadha' in Pali.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:33 pm

Hi Freawaru, Moggalana,
Freawaru wrote:How does one discern between momentary, access, absorption, and neighbourhood concentration?

As far as I can see, access and neighbourhood are two names for the same thing.
Nyanatiloka http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... m%C4%81dhi defines:
parikamma-samādhi: preparatory (basic mundane concentration)
upacāra-samādhi : access, neighbourhood.
appanā-samādhi: absorption
He doesn't mention momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi), e.g. see http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/gunaratana/wheel351.html, which is what the Mahasi school emphasises. As I understand it, the Mahasi school claim that khanikasamadhi is able to suppress the hindrances sufficiently for insight to occur. This was discussed earlier in this thread: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2890#p41795. Access and absorption are discussed in detail in the Commentaries and Visuddhimagga.

Moggalana wrote:There was this one part, in the interview with Bhante Gunaratana, which provides a possible solution to the old jhana vs. dry insight controversy.
...
Richard Shankman: Teachers do not all agree that jhana is necessary to attain enlightenment, regardless of the style of practice you engage in.
Bhante Gunaratana: When you attain enlightenment, you have to attain jhanic concentration at the attainment of stream entry. You may not have practiced jhana, per se, seperately. But when you attain stream-entry, that attainment is always attained at the jhanic concentration level.
...


Thank you for quoting that. However, it is hardly a "controversy", unless one disregards the Commentaries, Visuddhimagga, etc. Ven Gunaratana is simply giving the standard Abhidhamma/Commentary explanation of how dry insight works.

Metta
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Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby Freawaru » Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:17 am

Hi Dmytro,

thank you for your explanations :)

Dmytro wrote:To put it simple, appana-samadhi (absorption) is stable - one maintains it steadily, neighbourhood (upacara-samadhi) is unstable - one is still unable to maintain the concentration, and khanika-samadhi (momentary) lasts from moment to moment.

There's not much more about it.


I see. In this case neighbourhood and access concentration are indeed just two words for the same thingy.

Identification is a possible way to get hold of meditative attainment, but IMHO, a poor one.


I admit this surprises me as it does not agree at all with my own experience. In my experience a stable concentration without a shift of perspective is less useful as it does not change the self-view at all. I still are "Freawaru" if you know what I mean. But conscious shifts of perspective alter this idea of "I am a permanent self" in a way stable concentration on any object without a shift cannot. This is why I would discern between these two kinds of stable concentration. Could you please explain this statement of yours more deeply.

Surely it's possible. It's called 'yugannadha' in Pali.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Thank you :)
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Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby Dmytro » Wed Dec 09, 2009 1:08 pm

Hi Freawaru,

Freawaru wrote:I admit this surprises me as it does not agree at all with my own experience. In my experience a stable concentration without a shift of perspective is less useful as it does not change the self-view at all. I still are "Freawaru" if you know what I mean. But conscious shifts of perspective alter this idea of "I am a permanent self" in a way stable concentration on any object without a shift cannot. This is why I would discern between these two kinds of stable concentration. Could you please explain this statement of yours more deeply.


IMHO, the shift of perspective is truly useful, but it need not to be identified with.

On the contrary, it may be eventually quite liberating to contemplate the impermanence of the subtle self and happiness, and disidentify from it.

See, for example, Jhana sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Metta, Dmytro
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Re: Jhana + Vipassana

Postby Freawaru » Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:34 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hi Freawaru,

IMHO, the shift of perspective is truly useful, but it need not to be identified with.


Ah, okay.

On the contrary, it may be eventually quite liberating to contemplate the impermanence of the subtle self and happiness, and disidentify from it.

See, for example, Jhana sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Metta, Dmytro


Thank you, Dmytro. :D
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