Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Coëmgenu
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by Coëmgenu »

form wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 9:46 amIf the word jhanas is interchangeable with concentration, the thread starter can argue his case as the Buddha invention of the right concentration?
"Jhāna" is not always translatable as "concentration," because not all concentration is jhāna, like how not all concentration is samādhi in Theravāda. This is more ambiguous in Sarvāstivāda, where they claim that the mind is always engaged in mindfulness and samādhi, however weak.

As I understood Skandha, they were arguing that all of the jhānas "discovered" by the Buddha were different and unlike the jhānas practiced by other Samanas and the samana Brahmins. While this is a fine idea, it has no grounding IMO in scripture. Zom beat me to pointing out that it is an insertion of the reader to assert that the Buddha invented and/or (re)discovered a new kind of jhāna as a child and remembered it amidst austerities later in life.
The spotless mind,
the most highly pure, the tranquil,
all unspoiled phenomena supporting,
this name applying to the consciousness of the Tathāgata.

A bodhisattva, one of two vehicles, an ordinary person:
these are thrones which hold seeds subject to germination.
In acquiring the virtuous pure mind of a Buddha,
which is resolute suchness, the sūtra says:

The Tathāgata's spotless mind
is a pure place without outflows.
It is liberation from all bondage.
It is like a spherical mirror.
It is consciousness always in internal agreement.

(T1585.13a19 Vijñaptimātratāsiddhiśāstra)
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by mikenz66 »

Coëmgenu wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 6:56 pm As I understood Skandha, they were arguing that all of the jhānas "discovered" by the Buddha were different and unlike the jhānas practiced by other Samanas and the samana Brahmins. While this is a fine idea, it has no grounding IMO in scripture. Zom beat me to pointing out that it is an insertion of the reader to assert that the Buddha invented and/or (re)discovered a new kind of jhāna as a child and remembered it amidst austerities later in life.
Perhaps someone who thinks that the Buddha's version of jhānas is unique could explain what the practical difference is. I don't recall anything in the canon that suggests that jhāna, in itself, provides the liberating wisdom that is special to the Buddha. Of course, it's essential, but so is sila, and I don't think anyone is arguing that sila was unique to the Buddha's teaching.

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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by auto »

mikenz66 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 9:31 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 6:56 pm As I understood Skandha, they were arguing that all of the jhānas "discovered" by the Buddha were different and unlike the jhānas practiced by other Samanas and the samana Brahmins. While this is a fine idea, it has no grounding IMO in scripture. Zom beat me to pointing out that it is an insertion of the reader to assert that the Buddha invented and/or (re)discovered a new kind of jhāna as a child and remembered it amidst austerities later in life.
Perhaps someone who thinks that the Buddha's version of jhānas is unique could explain what the practical difference is. I don't recall anything in the canon that suggests that jhāna, in itself, provides the liberating wisdom that is special to the Buddha. Of course, it's essential, but so is sila, and I don't think anyone is arguing that sila was unique to the Buddha's teaching.

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Mike
i think you nailed it, it is actually sila.
sila missing from the list
https://suttacentral.net/mn100/en/sujato wrote:Then it occurred to me,
Tassa mayhaṁ, bhāradvāja, etadahosi:
‘It’s not just Āḷāra Kālāma who has faith,
‘na kho āḷārasseva kālāmassa atthi saddhā, mayhampatthi saddhā;
energy,
na kho āḷārasseva kālāmassa atthi vīriyaṁ …pe…
mindfulness,
sati …
immersion,
samādhi …
and wisdom; I too have these things.
paññā, mayhampatthi paññā.
the difference is sila.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by Ceisiwr »

auto wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 9:33 pm the difference is sila.
You can’t get to the formless without sense restraint and sila.
“The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.”


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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by auto »

Ceisiwr wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 9:35 pm
auto wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 9:33 pm the difference is sila.
You can’t get to the formless without sense restraint and sila.
yes,
to clarify that's what Alara taught, sila what got one up to 7th.
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by BrokenBones »

mikenz66 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 9:31 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 6:56 pm As I understood Skandha, they were arguing that all of the jhānas "discovered" by the Buddha were different and unlike the jhānas practiced by other Samanas and the samana Brahmins. While this is a fine idea, it has no grounding IMO in scripture. Zom beat me to pointing out that it is an insertion of the reader to assert that the Buddha invented and/or (re)discovered a new kind of jhāna as a child and remembered it amidst austerities later in life.
Perhaps someone who thinks that the Buddha's version of jhānas is unique could explain what the practical difference is. I don't recall anything in the canon that suggests that jhāna, in itself, provides the liberating wisdom that is special to the Buddha. Of course, it's essential, but so is sila, and I don't think anyone is arguing that sila was unique to the Buddha's teaching.

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Mike
Simple. Awareness/discernment in jhana as opposed to concentration meditation where 'one loses one's will' and is so oblivious to one's body that you can receive a good kicking and not know it. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with concentration practices but they're not the Buddha's jhanas.
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by DooDoot »

BrokenBones wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 10:37 pm Simple. Awareness/discernment in jhana as opposed to concentration meditation where 'one loses one's will' and is so oblivious to one's body...
This forum is getting like it is called Jhana Wheel. Its interesting observing the false speech accumulate greater & greater; of those making claims to things not actually attained but merely misconstrued.

1. Awareness/discernment is not related to "one's will"; therefore the above quote is nonsensical. The Buddha taught about five aggregates. Awareness/discernment is related to vinnana khandha (MN 43). The will is related to sankhara khandha (SN 22.56). The will is not required for awareness/discernment. The emphasis upon "the will" above shows no dissolution of self-thought and no letting go; thus no jhana. The Buddha taught (SN 48.9 & 10) jhana is reached by making "letting go" the meditation object. Obviously assertive willfulness is lost in the consummation of jhana. The only will that remains is the will to remain in jhana (rather than the will to exit jhana).

2. Awareness/discernment is not related to the physical body since the physical body is mere matter; therefore, again, the above quote is nonsensical.

:roll:
BrokenBones wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 10:37 pm you can receive a good kicking and not know it.
More non-Buddhist language. Such like pub talk.
BrokenBones wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 10:37 pm There's nothing intrinsically wrong with concentration practices but they're not the Buddha's jhanas.
Jhana is concentration. Obvious, the above is nonsense, particularly claiming to speak for the "Buddha's jhanas". The Buddha's jhanas are "superhuman", which does not apply to those engaged in drunken pub language or who have not even reached access concentration.

:roll:
Last edited by DooDoot on Fri May 14, 2021 11:13 pm, edited 15 times in total.
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by mikenz66 »

BrokenBones wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 10:37 pm
Perhaps someone who thinks that the Buddha's version of jhānas is unique could explain what the practical difference is. I don't recall anything in the canon that suggests that jhāna, in itself, provides the liberating wisdom that is special to the Buddha. Of course, it's essential, but so is sila, and I don't think anyone is arguing that sila was unique to the Buddha's teaching.
Simple. Awareness/discernment in jhana as opposed to concentration meditation where 'one loses one's will' and is so oblivious to one's body that you can receive a good kicking and not know it. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with concentration practices but they're not the Buddha's jhanas.
OK, so this goes back to the argument about what jhāna actually is. But putting that aside, why do you think noone else does/did what you describe? What is unique about the state (the use one makes of it is, of course, unique, but what about the state itself)?

Looking at it another way, I've said before that what you are describing sounds to me like what Mahasi Sayadaw and U Pandita describe as "vipassana jhāna'" http://aimwell.org/inthisverylife.html# ... sanaJhanas
And those who have a more absorbed interpretation of what jhāna is would say that it's the state described in passages such as this, which they would interpret as the Buddha emerging from jhāna to gain the three knowledges:
When my mind had immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—I extended it toward knowledge of the ending of defilements.
I truly understood: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering.’
https://suttacentral.net/mn36/en/sujato
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by skandha »

mikenz66 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 9:31 pm
Last edited by skandha on Fri May 14, 2021 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by skandha »

mikenz66 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 9:31 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 6:56 pm As I understood Skandha, they were arguing that all of the jhānas "discovered" by the Buddha were different and unlike the jhānas practiced by other Samanas and the samana Brahmins. While this is a fine idea, it has no grounding IMO in scripture. Zom beat me to pointing out that it is an insertion of the reader to assert that the Buddha invented and/or (re)discovered a new kind of jhāna as a child and remembered it amidst austerities later in life.
Perhaps someone who thinks that the Buddha's version of jhānas is unique could explain what the practical difference is. I don't recall anything in the canon that suggests that jhāna, in itself, provides the liberating wisdom that is special to the Buddha. Of course, it's essential, but so is sila, and I don't think anyone is arguing that sila was unique to the Buddha's teaching.

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Mike
Presuming that the procedure of practicing jhana is similar in different traditions, and all train to develop seclusion from sensual pleasures and unwholesome states; and the factors of jhana such as vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha, ekagatta. However the motivation and attitude of why these factors are being trained is different for the different traditions. Some general examples of these motivations and attitudes may be like so;

Advaita Vedantin - To remove sense pleasures and unwholesome states that obscure the true nature of Atman and Brahman

Alara Kalama - To remove sense pleasure and unwholesome states so that one pointedness can be maintain on the sphere of emptiness

Sramanas of extreme asceticism - To remove sense pleasures and practice self mortification as a path of liberation. It's as if they are training to have joy, rapture, one pointedness; in spite of self mortification

Buddha - seclusion from sensual pleasures and unwholesome states is achieved by understanding the Noble Truths and understanding the work is to be at the level of craving of these sensual pleasures (or aversion to unsatisfactory sense experience), not by removing the sense experience themselves.

The Buddha's jhana is the direct application and training of the 4 Noble Truths, training to be secluded from sensual pleasures and unwholesome states at the root level of suffering, craving and not at the sense objects themselves, . The Buddha's jhana is based on the application of understanding the prominent formula in the suttas, "gratification, danger and escape". At face level it seems all traditions follow the same procedure for jhana, but they are applying it at a different level from the Buddha, they are not applying it at the root level of craving. It is no wonder the seclusion of the Buddha's jhana of the 4 Noble Truths give sustainable results while other traditions are not working at the root level of craving, and are not sustainable, despite the expertise in juggling these sense objects, it comes tumbling down sooner or later. It is from this perspective that I feel is unique in the Buddha's jhana, from the perspective of no jhana without wisdom and correct motivation; and every tradition have their own motivation.
Last edited by skandha on Fri May 14, 2021 11:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Form is like a lump of foam, Feeling like a water bubble; Perception is like a mirage, Volitions like a plantain trunk, and consciousness like an illusion
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by DooDoot »

skandha wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 11:12 pm Advaita Vedantin - To remove sense pleasures and unwholesome states that obscure the true nature of Atman and Brahman
The above did not appear to exist before the Buddha. Can you quote the above from the Vedas? Thanks :thanks:
skandha wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 11:12 pm Buddha - seclusion from sensual pleasures and unwholesome states is achieved by understanding the Noble Truths and understanding the work is to be at the level of craving of these sensual pleasures (or aversion to unsatisfactory sense experience), not by removing the sense experience themselves.

The Buddha's jhana is the direct application and training of the 4 Noble Truths, training to be secluded from sensual pleasures and unwholesome states at the root level of suffering, craving and not at the sense objects themselves, . The Buddha's jhana is based on the application of understanding the prominent formula in the suttas, "gratification, danger and escape". At face level it seems all traditions follow the same procedure for jhana, but they are applying it at a different level from the Buddha, the root level of craving. It is no wonder the seclusion of the Buddha's jhana of the 4 Noble Truths give sustainable results while other traditions are not working at the root level of craving, and are not sustainable, despite the expertise in juggling these sense objects, it comes tumbling down sooner or later. It is from this perspective that I feel is unique in the Buddha's jhana, from the perspective of no jhana without wisdom and correct motivation; and every tradition have their own motivation.
Buddha's jhana is based in "letting go" ("vossagga") - SN 48.9 & 10; end of MN 118. It is the "letting go" ("vossagga") which distinguishes the Buddha's jhanas from the fake jhana clingers on the internet (who probably use claims to jhana in attempts to seduce women in nightclubs).
BrokenBones wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 10:37 pm There's nothing intrinsically wrong with concentration practices but they're not the Buddha's jhanas.
:roll: Jhana is concentration. The Buddha's jhanas are called "samadhi" or "concentration". They are not called "awareness" ("vinnana") or "discernment" ("panna"). The above sounds very confused, mixed-up and broken. :pig:
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by BrokenBones »

Hi mike

Skandha has given a pretty good reply to your question and as for the sutta you quoted... I prefer this one...

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

I haven't got BB's translation handy but I think from memory it is the same. I don't think BB has an agenda in his translations.
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

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mikenz66 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 9:31 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 6:56 pm As I understood Skandha, they were arguing that all of the jhānas "discovered" by the Buddha were different and unlike the jhānas practiced by other Samanas and the samana Brahmins. While this is a fine idea, it has no grounding IMO in scripture. Zom beat me to pointing out that it is an insertion of the reader to assert that the Buddha invented and/or (re)discovered a new kind of jhāna as a child and remembered it amidst austerities later in life.
Perhaps someone who thinks that the Buddha's version of jhānas is unique could explain what the practical difference is. I don't recall anything in the canon that suggests that jhāna, in itself, provides the liberating wisdom that is special to the Buddha. Of course, it's essential, but so is sila, and I don't think anyone is arguing that sila was unique to the Buddha's teaching.

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Mike
As you mention “liberating wisdom” is the special difference between the Buddha and other traditions.

Whereas some might seek union with Brahma; the Buddha encouraged samma samadhi for the purpose of seeing the three marks in all skhandas.

That leads to disenchantment and dispassion. Which are the vital turning away points of right view.
“Monk, the property of light, the property of beauty, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of space, the property of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the property of the dimension of nothingness: These properties are to be reached as perception attainments.[2] The property of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is to be reached as a remnant-of-fabrications attainment. The property of the cessation of feeling & perception is to be reached as a cessation attainment."[3]

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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by skandha »

BrokenBones wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 10:37 pm
mikenz66 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 9:31 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 6:56 pm As I understood Skandha, they were arguing that all of the jhānas "discovered" by the Buddha were different and unlike the jhānas practiced by other Samanas and the samana Brahmins. While this is a fine idea, it has no grounding IMO in scripture. Zom beat me to pointing out that it is an insertion of the reader to assert that the Buddha invented and/or (re)discovered a new kind of jhāna as a child and remembered it amidst austerities later in life.
Perhaps someone who thinks that the Buddha's version of jhānas is unique could explain what the practical difference is. I don't recall anything in the canon that suggests that jhāna, in itself, provides the liberating wisdom that is special to the Buddha. Of course, it's essential, but so is sila, and I don't think anyone is arguing that sila was unique to the Buddha's teaching.

:heart:
Mike
Simple. Awareness/discernment in jhana as opposed to concentration meditation where 'one loses one's will' and is so oblivious to one's body that you can receive a good kicking and not know it. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with concentration practices but they're not the Buddha's jhanas.
I agree that there needs to be correct discernment as a background when pursuing concentration practices but there are also useful states where you are oblivious to your body senses, the direct experience of cessation, based on letting go and not skill in concentration. The Buddha practiced these states himself and in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the Buddha compared how his own level of oblivion to the sense of hearing while in absorption is of a higher degree than that of his teacher Alara Kalama.
Form is like a lump of foam, Feeling like a water bubble; Perception is like a mirage, Volitions like a plantain trunk, and consciousness like an illusion
- SN 22.95
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Re: Are the Jhānas the Buddha learned from his teachers before enlightenment the same as the ones he taught after it?

Post by mikenz66 »

BrokenBones wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 11:33 pm Hi mike

Skandha has given a pretty good reply to your question and as for the sutta you quoted... I prefer this one...

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

I haven't got BB's translation handy but I think from memory it is the same. I don't think BB has an agenda in his translations.
I don't see any significant difference between the translations: was/had/was (Sujato/Thanissaro/Bodhi). Obviously the immersion/concentration/whatever occurs before the insight. Whether one is still in jhāna during the insight is the point of contention of course. I wouldn't rely on translations to decide that, and my grasp of Pali is not up to adjudicating it.

PS, I'm not sure why you refer to ATI for Ven Thanissaro's translations, rather than dhammatalks.org: https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/MN/MN36.html

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Mike
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