Two types of jhana

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Two types of jhana

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:39 am

This may be of interest. Have not had time to listen, so it may be very good, middling or bad:

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2009/03/bg ... vipassana/

http://www.richardshankman.org/
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: Two types of jhana

Postby Ben » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:57 am

Thanks Tilt
Downloading the podcast now.
kind regards

B
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Two types of jhana

Postby Moggalana » Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:02 am

I wanted to post that too, and ask what you think. Any thoughts yet, anyone?
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Re: Two types of jhana

Postby Kenshou » Thu Apr 29, 2010 5:22 pm

I like Shankman. I've got his book as well as listened to several of his talks, and overall I tend to agree with him. Since I haven't read the entire canon I cannot know, but his analysis of jhana (and dividing it into two sorts) seems sensible, however I also like the fact that he seems to remain fairly egalitarian and doesn't condemn either.

As for that retreat, if I weren't across the country that would be something interesting. But no luck.
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Re: Two types of jhana

Postby FrankT » Sat May 22, 2010 5:59 am

Friend Moggalana,

Sutta Jhana's are the Jhana's taught by the Blessed One -- they are awareness or discerning meditations.

Richard Shankman, is just reiterating what the Blessed One has taught us all along in the Sutta's. Nowhere do the Sutta's teach the methodology of the Visuddhimagga Jhana. Of intense one-pointed concentration and fixed over preoccupation on a single object of meditation.

Moggalana wrote:I wanted to post that too, and ask what you think. Any thoughts yet, anyone?


Interesting, the nearest approach to the methodology of the Visuddhimagga Jhana, can be found at MN 36 - Maha-Saccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html). Where the Blessed One explains the meditation steps he went through on the eve of his enlightenment.

"I thought: 'Suppose that I, clenching my teeth and pressing my tongue against the roof of my mouth, were to beat down, constrain, & crush my mind with my awareness.' So, clenching my teeth and pressing my tongue against the roof of my mouth, I beat down, constrained, & crushed by mind with my awareness. Just as a strong man, seizing a weaker man by the head or the throat or the shoulders, would beat him down, constrain, & crush him, in the same way I beat down, constrained, & crushed my mind with my awareness. As I did so, sweat poured from my armpits. And although tireless persistence was aroused in me, and unmuddled mindfulness established, my body was aroused & uncalm because of the painful exertion. But the painful feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain."

You will notice the Blessed One wasn't too impressed with the crushing of mind with mind, etc... Eventually, he goes on to explain...

"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then -- quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities -- I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities..."

In addition, if you read over MN 111 - the Anupada Sutta: One After Another (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.111.than.html), where the Blessed One is explaining to the monks about Sariputta's, meditation progress through the Rupa and Arupa Jhana's.

The main point that stands out starting from the 1st Jhana to the Base of Nothingness, is that he (Sariputta) was aware of the 5 aggregates by way of contact, feeling (sensation), perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention all the way through.

"...he (Sariputta) ferreted them out one after another. Known to him they arose, known to him they remained known to him they subsided. He discerned, 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play (by way of the arising of the 5 hindrances). Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, and dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers."

Great words, indeed...

With Metta,
FrankT :reading:
The 2nd Recollection: The Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One, directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, worthy of application, to be personally experienced by the wise. (AN 6:10; III 284-88)
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Re: Two types of jhana

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 22, 2010 7:19 am

Hi Frank,

Can you explain where in the Visiddhimagga it is said that crushing mind with mind is presented as an instruction for attaining Jhana? All I see in Chapter IV is practical advice such going to secluded places, balancing the faculties, etc...

Mike
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Re: Two types of jhana

Postby FrankT » Sat May 22, 2010 5:48 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Frank,

Can you explain where in the Visiddhimagga it is said that crushing mind with mind is presented as an instruction for attaining Jhana? All I see in Chapter IV is practical advice such going to secluded places, balancing the faculties, etc...

Mike


Friend Mike,

Good call...

Nowhere does it say in the Visuddhimagga, "it is said that crushing mind with mind is presented as an instruction for attaining Jhana."

However, in my defense, I wasn't pointing to the passage "crushing mind with mind" as taken from the Visuddhimagga.

I was only pointing out that this (kind of) methodology (of one-pointed concentration) is practiced in Visuddhimagga Jhana.

To expand on my assumption, it is my conjecture that this confusion of methodologies between Visuddhimagga and Sutta Jhana is a result of conflicting passages taken from the Sutta's. And, is itself a result of later Vedic meditation influences been incorporated in the meditation practices -- possibly during the reign of the King Asoka.

Again it is my conjecture these Vedic meditation influences were later infused with Visuddhimagga Jhana meditation practice, and can be currently observed in many practices at this time.

Friend Mike, pardon my ignorance if I am incorrect in my above assumption.

For example...

In contrast to MN 36 - Maha-Saccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html). Where the Blessed One explains the meditation, steps he went through on the eve of his enlightenment, and his rejection of the crushing of mind with mind approach...

...I would like to present MN 20 - the Vitakkasanthana Sutta: The Relaxation of Thoughts (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.020.than.html), where the Blessed One approves the crushing of mind with mind.

"If evil, unskillful thoughts (the 5 hindrances that arise during meditation) -- imbued with desire, aversion or delusion -- still arise in the monk while he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts, then -- with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth -- he should beat down, constrain, and crush his mind with his awareness. As -- with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth -- he is beating down, constraining, and crushing his mind with his awareness, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it. Just as a strong man, seizing a weaker man by the head or the throat or the shoulders, would beat him down, constrain, and crush him; in the same way, if evil, unskillful thoughts -- imbued with desire, aversion or delusion -- still arise in the monk while he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts, then -- with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth -- he should beat down, constrain, and crush his mind with his awareness. As -- with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth -- he is beating down, constraining, and crushing his mind with his awareness, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it."

Again it is my conjecture that this Sutta, is a later addition, otherwise the conflict and confusion it implies would call into question the validity of MN 36, and Sutta Jhana practice. I would also point out that the Visuddhimagga is a Theravada Buddhist commentary written by Buddhaghosa approximately in 430 CE in Sri Lanka, nearly a 1000 years after the death of the Blessed One.

A reading of history of the practice of Sutta Jhana, shows that it has been in decline in the Theravada countries for the past 1500 years. It is only recently due to modern translations of the Sutta's, especially in the West, that we find a resurgence of the validity of Sutta Meditative Jhana practices, and subsequent recent scholarly debates questioning the unimpeachable authority of the Visuddhimagga Jhana practice.

An excellent thesis regarding the above is explored by Robert Sharf -- "Buddhist Modernism and the Rhetoric of Meditative Experience," Numen 42, no. 3 (1995), pp. 228-283. Republished in Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Buddhist...

You can download the PDF file at: http://buddhiststudies.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/sharf/2.html

With Metta.
Frank
The 2nd Recollection: The Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One, directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, worthy of application, to be personally experienced by the wise. (AN 6:10; III 284-88)
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Re: Two types of jhana

Postby nathan » Tue May 25, 2010 2:01 am

FrankT wrote:In addition, if you read over MN 111 - the Anupada Sutta: One After Another (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.111.than.html), where the Blessed One is explaining to the monks about Sariputta's, meditation progress through the Rupa and Arupa Jhana's.

The main point that stands out starting from the 1st Jhana to the Base of Nothingness, is that he (Sariputta) was aware of the 5 aggregates by way of contact, feeling (sensation), perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention all the way through.

"...he (Sariputta) ferreted them out one after another. Known to him they arose, known to him they remained known to him they subsided. He discerned, 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play (by way of the arising of the 5 hindrances). Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, and dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers."

Great words, indeed...

With Metta,
FrankT :reading:
The approach taken in the Vism. to the description of the one pointed quality of Jhanas is probably misleading for many people. This is complicated in this discussion by the Vism. implication that Jhana can only be examined by adverting after emerging from absorption.

Meditators with experience of Jhana discover, typically by trial and error, as the suttas referred to describe, that the single pointed quality of Jhana is not a quality that is imposed by willfully restraining attention to diversity but rather by cultivating attention to non-diversity. That is why it is important to relate this development of singular and steady attention to calming and tranquilizing as opposed to exerting and restraining. As a process, arriving at a single form of attention is characteristically one of slowly and increasingly letting go of restless attention that takes various forms with diverse qualities in favor of nurturing attention that is content with a single consistent form and correspondingly simple qualities.

When conscious attention is calm enough to remain with one form it has entered into 'full' concentration or jhana. The form jhanas are combinations of the four qualities of the consciousness aggregate together with four, three, two or one, qualities or quality of the form aggregates. When the last quality of a condition of form is let go of only the four qualities of the consciousness condition remain and these are also let go of over the course of the progressively more subtle formless jhanas. A calm and steady consciousness that is giving no attention to form or qualities of form has the objective qualities that are evident in the absence of that form or forms.

In the absence of forms and form qualities there is a sense of space empty of objective forms, a sense of the unlimited potential for conscious apprehension of objective qualities, a sense that the condition of consciousness has no forms or qualities and the quality of the subjective capacity fundamental to consciousness. As each of the qualities of consciousness is let go of these qualities are no longer given attention. When the sense of the space accessible by conscious objectification and the sense of the range of qualities accessible by conscious objectification are let go of, the sense of no forms or qualities is all that remains for the subjective quality to objectify. When the subjective quality no longer objectifies this nothingness a subjective capacity is the only quality of consciousness remaining.

A concentration that has let go of all forms and form qualities and the objective qualities of consciousness itself is no longer capable of objectification in any sense. In the formless concentration of neither perception nor non-perception the single remaining subjective
quality of consciousness can not objectify that single subjective quality.

When consciousness lets go of this last quality it ceases to arise. It is not possible therefore to objectify either the subjective arising and passing of consciousness in it's simplest qualitative condition or the cessation of consciousness where even the simplest qualitative condition is abandoned. The simplest condition, the subjective quality of consciousness apart from all further compounding by additional qualities of consciousness and/or with conditions and conditional qualities can not be observed because only the 'observer quality' is present. The observer or subjective quality of attention is the simplest condition consciousness can adopt. When the observer quality attempts a bifurcation and 'self reflection' it encounters 'nothingness' which is again two qualities of consciousness and not consciousness in it's simplest condition.

(In order to further objectify consciousness again subdivides into the formless qualities of seeking added objective qualities and the space in which to apprehend those qualities. With these four qualities it has the adopted conditions with which to contact the other aggregate conditions and to compound forms of lesser or greater complexity.)

Similarly cessation of conditions can not be observed because consciousness in even it's simplest condition as merely the subjective quality is not arising and so cessation can not be objectified. This is what makes rational discourse about the consciousness condition in relation to cessation and the rest of complex compounded conditionally objective experience very difficult.

Concentrations are very simple kinds of attention. When the mind is concentrated as it is in the form jhanas discernment is made possible by the simplest quality of the condition of consciousness, that consciousness is, by nature in its simplest condition, the presence of subjective attention. The subjective quality is the most basic quality that consciousness has and because this quality can objectify all other qualities perceptible to consciousness discernment is possible. Discernment is the clear and accurate objectification of the conditions and forms that the subjective quality is apprehending. So clear and accurate discernment is not impossible in the context of jhana concentrations until the eight Jhana and cessation.

In regards to the Vism. there may be a number of points that are either misunderstood by the commentators or else misunderstood by those who have translated or interpreted those comments. I lack the scholarly expertise to comment one way or the other. I don't see anything in the suttas that is inconsistent with what can be observed via actual concentration, the sutta texts all seem very accurate in relation to what can actually be observed.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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