Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Sekha » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:33 am

Chula wrote:he first jhāna is enough to attain liberation, it still doesn't make it inferior in terms of getting the job done. There are a lot of instances in the Canon where monks and nuns realize the goal while reflecting on asubha (Theragāthā and Therīgāthā come to mind).


I didn't know first jhāna is enough to gain liberation... Can you specify those suttas where it occurs?
Anyway, I think it is obvious you get a better job done while in 4th rather than in first jhāna...

By the way, it is stated in Abhidamma (see A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma, BB) that awareness of foulness stops at first jhāna. I still don't understand how one could enter nibbāna (the state where no physical, verbal nor mental sankhara comes up) while generating thoughts about foulness of the material world.

Chula wrote:
Dukkhanirodha wrote:So I'm not talking about sensual thoughts. I'm talking about deep rooted sankharas of clinging to the body which manifest themselves among others as sexual sensations, but also various kind of sensations in different chakras, in the chest, on the hara point, perineum etc.

Since withdrawing from sensuality is a factor of jhāna, I find it implausible that you can experience feelings of the five sense bases while in jhāna..


Are you sure you actually read my answers? I stated earlier that I think I fall from the jhāna state because of the power of these sankharas. I cannot enter jhāna for now because of that, and that is why I stated earlier I thought jhāna was not attainable without abandoning sexuality.

By the way, I'm not quite sure of anything now, so the time has come for me to stop discussing matters about which I'm still uncertain and refocus on my practice : )
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Chula » Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:12 pm

Dukkhanirodha wrote:I didn't know first jhāna is enough to gain liberation... Can you specify those suttas where it occurs?


AN 9.36: Jhānasutta
"'I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana.' Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said? There is the case where a monk, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana... He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

AN 4.123: Jhānasutta
"There is the case where an individual, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana... Staying there — fixed on that, dwelling there often, not falling away from that — then when he dies he reappears in conjunction with the devas of Brahma's retinue... But a disciple of the Blessed One, having stayed there, having used up all the life-span of those devas, is unbound right in that state of being.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Dukkhanirodha wrote:Anyway, I think it is obvious you get a better job done while in 4th rather than in first jhāna...
By the way, it is stated in Abhidamma (see A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma, BB) that awareness of foulness stops at first jhāna. I still don't understand how one could enter nibbāna (the state where no physical, verbal nor mental sankhara comes up) while generating thoughts about foulness of the material world.


I consider the Abhidhamma a later addition and not Buddhavacana (the Word of the Buddha). Either way, if you can attain nibbāna using the first jhāna, there is no "better" job to do. Using asubha as a theme disinclines one from sensuality - the vitakka vicāra in the first jhāna is unlike the usual discursive thinking we do in day-to-day life. It's much more subtle, and according to the suttas, the first jhāna is stable enough for one to see the nibbāna element and incline to that. Of course, if you want the best proof, you should try it out :). Also, I hope you're not mistaking aubha thoughts with aversive thoughts - those are two completely different things.

Dukkhanirodha wrote:Are you sure you actually read my answers? I stated earlier that I think I fall from the jhāna state because of the power of these sankharas. I cannot enter jhāna for now because of that, and that is why I stated earlier I thought jhāna was not attainable without abandoning sexuality.

I'm sorry if I misunderstood your post.
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:56 pm

what is sex? does it somehow fall outside of nama and rupa? if not how then is it different from plowing a field or getting all worked up over a political debate?
or take for instance a sports match, there is the physical side of it while there is the lust and craving to win. can athletes not achieve jhana?
one achieves jhana when one's kamma allows one to do so, when the conditions are met and the mind is sufficiently calm and concentrated. the mental defilement needed to block this could come from a sex act 10 minutes prior to the meditation or 30 years prior or over the want of a sex act in a virgin, or a celibate monk.

until we are arahants we all have something we need to let go of, so unless jhana is only available to arahants those still with greed, hate and delusion can attain jhana.
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby kayy » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:28 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:what is sex? does it somehow fall outside of nama and rupa? if not how then is it different from plowing a field or getting all worked up over a political debate?
or take for instance a sports match, there is the physical side of it while there is the lust and craving to win. can athletes not achieve jhana?
one achieves jhana when one's kamma allows one to do so, when the conditions are met and the mind is sufficiently calm and concentrated. the mental defilement needed to block this could come from a sex act 10 minutes prior to the meditation or 30 years prior or over the want of a sex act in a virgin, or a celibate monk.

until we are arahants we all have something we need to let go of, so unless jhana is only available to arahants those still with greed, hate and delusion can attain jhana.

:goodpost:
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Freawaru » Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:59 am

Hi Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:
One can even attain jhana while doing sex.
That might be so, but that would be a conversation we really would not want to have here.


I agree. It is tantric and pretty high level, too, as far as I know. Just wanted to state it for the sake of completeness.
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Darren_86 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:58 am

Dear Guys.. and especially to Dukkhanirodha,

This is an excerpt from Late. Mahasi Sayadaw commentary on Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta.

THREE SIMILES
A log of snappy wood freshly cut from a sycamore tree and soaked in water cannot produce fire by being rubbed with a similar piece of wet sappy wood or with a piece of some other wood. Just so, while still entangled with objects of sensual desires such as wife and family, while still delighting in passionate pleasures and lustful desires are not yet quieted within him, however strenuously someone strives, he is incapable of wisdom, insight and incomparable full awakening. This was the first simile that occurred to the Bodhisatta.

Even if the sycamore log is not soaked in water but is still green and sappy, being freshly cut from the tree, it will also not produce any fire by friction. Just so, even if he has abandoned the objects of sensual desires such as wife and family and they are no longer near him, if he still delights in thoughts of passionate pleasures and lustful desires still arise in him, he is incapable of wisdom, insight or full awakening. This is the second simile.

According to the Commentary, this simile has a reference to the practices of Brahma dhammika ascetics. Those Brahmins led a holy ascetic life from youth to the age of forty-eight when they went back to married life in order to preserve the continuity of their clan. Thus, while they were practising the holy life, they would have been tainted with lustful thoughts.

The third simile concerns with dry sapless logs of wood not soaked in water. These logs of dry wood will kindle fire when rubbed against one another. Similarly, having abandoned objects of sensual desires and weaned himself of lustful thoughts and cravings, he is capable of attaining wisdom, insight and full awakening, whether he practises extreme austerity or whether he strives painlessly without torturing himself.

So, I'm with Dukkhanirodha on this.. :buddha1: http://www.buddhanet.net/wheeld01.htm
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Chula » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:17 am

Those similes are actually straight from the suttas:

MN 36: Mahāsaccakasutta
"Then these three similes — spontaneous, never before heard — appeared to me. Suppose there were a wet, sappy piece of timber lying in the water, and a man were to come along with an upper fire-stick, thinking, 'I'll light a fire. I'll produce heat.' Now what do you think? Would he be able to light a fire and produce heat by rubbing the upper fire-stick in the wet, sappy timber lying in the water?"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Darren_86 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:22 am

Thanks Cula,

Yeap.. i think that is the one he (Late Mahasi Sayadaw) used to open up his commentary.

Regards,

Darren
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby adosa » Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:12 am

Dukkhanirodha wrote:
Chula wrote:he first jhāna is enough to attain liberation, it still doesn't make it inferior in terms of getting the job done. There are a lot of instances in the Canon where monks and nuns realize the goal while reflecting on asubha (Theragāthā and Therīgāthā come to mind).


Dukkhanirodha wrote:

I didn't know first jhāna is enough to gain liberation... Can you specify those suttas where it occurs?
Anyway, I think it is obvious you get a better job done while in 4th rather than in first jhāna...

By the way, it is stated in Abhidamma (see A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma, BB) that awareness of foulness stops at first jhāna. I still don't understand how one could enter nibbāna (the state where no physical, verbal nor mental sankhara comes up) while generating thoughts about foulness of the material world.


Please clarify. Are you both suggesting that jhana is a requisite for liberation?


adosa :smile:
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:35 am

adosa wrote:Please clarify. Are you both suggesting that jhana is a requisite for liberation?

There are various discussions of this matter. See:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#part3-f
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha267.htm

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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Chula » Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:22 am

adosa wrote:Please clarify. Are you both suggesting that jhana is a requisite for liberation?



According to MN 14, jhāna is required to overcome temptation to sensuality. Since sensual desire is only eradicated on the attainment of non-returning, it follows that jhāna is required for full Awakening. An important point is that as AN 9.36 shows, the first jhāna itself is adequate to use as a basis to end the fermentations (āsavakkhaya).

As Mike's links show, the suttas are not as explicit as to whether jhāna is essential for the first two fruits of the path. However, in MN 117, the attainment of stream-entry is shown to involve the eight factors of the path, in which right concentration is defined in terms of the jhānas. Nevertheless, attainment of jhāna is not the same as its mastery, and as AN 3.86 points out, mastery is only achieved at the level of non-returning.

My preference is to take the most stringent definition of sotāpanna in the suttas. After all, we're not looking for half-way liberation anyway. :)
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:13 am

According to MN 14, jhāna is required to overcome temptation to sensuality. Since sensual desire is only eradicated on the attainment of non-returning, it follows that jhāna is required for full Awakening.
All jhana does is suppress desire. It does not eradicate it. Something else is needed.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Chula » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:26 am

tiltbillings wrote:All jhana does is suppress desire. It does not eradicate it. Something else is needed.

Yes, but according to that sutta it is required to use jhāna as a basis to eradicate sensual desire.
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:44 am

Chula wrote:As Mike's links show, the suttas are not as explicit as to whether jhāna is essential for the first two fruits of the path. However, in MN 117, the attainment of stream-entry is shown to involve the eight factors of the path, in which right concentration is defined in terms of the jhānas. Nevertheless, attainment of jhāna is not the same as its mastery, and as AN 3.86 points out, mastery is only achieved at the level of non-returning.


Alara Kalama reached the "seventh" jhana and Udaka Ramaputta reached the "eighth" jhana, but not even the first stage of enlightenment.

(counting as seventh and eighth if you consider the formless realms as higher jhanas, which most do)
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Chula » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:26 am

David N. Snyder wrote:Alara Kalama reached the "seventh" jhana and Udaka Ramaputta reached the "eighth" jhana, but not even the first stage of enlightenment.

Of course, but attaining the formless jhānas does not imply mastery. I think there is a sutta defining mastery but I don't recall where.. it was something along the lines of being able to go into jhāna whenever one wants to, being able to come out when one wants to etc..
Also since even the first jhāna is adequate for arahantship (AN 9.36), mastery is different from attaining all jhānas.

Also it's interesting to note that right after attaining full Awakening, when the Buddha thought of who to teach first, he thought of his former teachers. He thought something along the lines of "they have practiced well for a long time and will understand this Dhamma quickly". So it shows that both his former teachers just needed that nudge of insight.

Anyway, I should have worded that better - mastery in jhāna does not necessarily imply one is a non-returner. It's the other way around.
Last edited by Chula on Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:31 am

Getting back to the original question: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana? No.
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: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:36 am

Chula wrote:Also it's interesting to note that right after attaining full Awakening, when the Buddha thought of who to teach first, he thought of his former teachers. He thought something along the lines of "they have practiced well for a long time and will understand this Dhamma quickly". So it shows that both his former teachers just needed that nudge of insight.


:thumbsup: I agree.

Anyway, I should have worded that better - mastery in jhāna does not necessarily imply one is a non-returner. It's the other way around.


:thumbsup: Yes, the other way around is better.
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