Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 8980
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by DooDoot »

Dear forum

The Buddhist Commentaries refer to Three Types of Concentration.
1. parikamma samadhi – preliminary concentration
2. upacara samadhi – access concentration
3. appana samadhi – fixed concentration
While the explicit teaching of Three Types of Concentration is not found in the Pali suttas (although it may possibly be inferred), it is interesting the non-commentarial or non-mainstream teacher Ajahn Buddhadasa taught about the Three Types of Concentration (attached below).

The teaching of Three Types of Concentration interests me because I notice Western Jhana-Boasters or Jhana-Clingers rarely, if ever, mention the Three Types of Concentration.

Why I think the Three Types of Concentration are important is because, if it is not known there are Three Types of Concentration, meditators can overestimate their experience and believe a lower level of concentration is "jhana".

Are the Three Types of Concentration real?

Please discuss. :smile:

Jeffrey S Brooks wrote:The concept of "access concentration" (upacara-samadhi) is presented in both the Buddhist Commentaries and in the Abhidhamma it however does not appear in the Discourse of the Buddha. Because the concept of access concentration first appears in the Abhidhamma we can say the idea arrived very early in Buddhist doctrine, but since this concept is absent from the Discourses of the Buddha we can say it was most probably not part of the Buddha's original discourse. And, due to this early arrival it is present in all three vehicles of Buddhism. The question is, however, is access concentration a relevant concept, or does it represent religious doctrine and myth that only serves to obfuscate the experience of successful meditation (samma-samadhi)?

By the contemplative recluse monk Sotapanna Jhanananda (Jeffrey S, Brooks)

Ajahn Buddhadasa below:
Attachments
buddhadasa laugh.jpg
buddhadasa laugh.jpg (10.76 KiB) Viewed 2352 times
Samadhi x 3 Buddhadasa.png
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 17928
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by mikenz66 »

I've moved this thread, since in the Classical Forum the Commentaries are considered to be authoritative, so debate about this issue would be constrained.

:heart:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 17928
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by mikenz66 »

I have a couple of thoughts:

1. The traditional training of Asian monks such as Ajahns Buddhadasa, Chah, Mun, Maha Bua, etc would include plenty of commentarial concepts, so it's no surprise to see them using commentarial terminology in their teachings.

2. There are hints in the suttas about obstacles of getting into jhana, and how to overcome them, but nothing like the detail one sees in modern texts (such as Ajahn Buddhadasa's: https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhik ... athing.htm).

In the Buddha's time there was small-group or personal instruction (as is available today) that presumably went into more details, and the suttas provided broad-brush overarching guidance. See, for example, MN118 where:
Now at that time the senior mendicants were advising and instructing the junior mendicants.
Some senior mendicants instructed ten mendicants, while some instructed twenty, thirty, or forty.
https://suttacentral.net/mn118/en/sujato#2.1
for some months before the Buddha gave the keynote address:
Mendicants, when mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated it is very fruitful and beneficial.
...
https://suttacentral.net/mn118/en/sujato#15.1
So, if we consider the suttas as keynote addresses rather than detailed instructions, perhaps it is not surprising that they don't need to describe the approach to jhana in detail, hence don't have the various terms for "close to jhana".

:heart:
Mike
User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2608
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by Zom »

non-commentarial or non-mainstream teacher Ajahn Buddhadasa
He was not non-commentarial. Actually, quite otherwise. So he taught what he read in Commies, that's it.

Why I think the Three Types of Concentration are important is because, if it is not known there are Three Types of Concentration, meditators can overestimate their experience and believe a lower level of concentration is "jhana".
This goes back to Great Nimitta Debate. If there is no such thing prior to jhana as "visual nimitta", then these 3 types of concentration are fake as well.
SarathW
Posts: 14745
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by SarathW »

Are the Three Types of Concentration real?
Any type of categories are man made.
Categories are a way of communication.
You can split the Jhana in to as many types you wish.
Having said that I can recall there was a sutta which describe the in between stages of Jhana.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
form
Posts: 1771
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:23 am

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by form »

For meditation, one can read all he wants. It is all meaningless unless he test it out. Meaning he is allocating like minimum one hour to explore meditation seriously and slowly increase to more hours daily. After accumulated the experience for maybe a year minimum then he can really discuss it practically. Then he will know who is talking merely theories or he can even tell who are those that can meditate.
User avatar
Volo
Posts: 1065
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:32 am

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by Volo »

Zom wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:50 am This goes back to Great Nimitta Debate. If there is no such thing prior to jhana as "visual nimitta", then these 3 types of concentration are fake as well.
Not really. Upacara and appana samadhi occur even for the objects, which don't have visual nimitta, like metta or arūpa jhānas.
Last edited by Volo on Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Volo
Posts: 1065
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:32 am

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by Volo »

mikenz66 wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:18 am 1. The traditional training of Asian monks such as Ajahns Buddhadasa, Chah, Mun, Maha Bua, etc would include plenty of commentarial concepts, so it's no surprise to see them using commentarial terminology in their teachings.
Yes, they use commentarial terminology, but often they mean by it something different. I haven't read much of Ajahn Buddhadasa, and cannot say what he means by upacara, but for Ajahn Mahaboowa upacara samadhi seemed to be a state in which one doesn't really focus on the meditation object, but entering which allows to see devas, other realms or preform psychic powers, which would make it similar to abhiñña consciousness in Abhidhamma.

As Pa-Auk Sayadaw points out:
Both types of concentration have the patibhāga-nimitta as their object. The only difference between them is that in access concentration the jhāna factors are not fully developed. For this reason bhavangas still occur, and one can fall into bhavanga (life-continuum consciousness). The yogi will say that everything stopped, and may even think it is Nibbāna. In reality the consciousness has not stopped, but the yogi is just not sufficiently skilled to discern this, because the bhavangas are very subtle.
User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 8980
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by DooDoot »

mikenz66 wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:18 am The traditional training of Asian monks such as Ajahns Buddhadasa, Chah, Mun, Maha Bua, etc would include plenty of commentarial concepts, so it's no surprise to see them using commentarial terminology in their teachings.
Possibly but Ajahn Buddhadasa was notorious for rejecting commentarial material he believed was untrue. For example, his views about Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga were very clear, where he said lots of it was useful but certain parts he rejected. Its unlikely Ajahn Buddhadasa would teach three types of concentration if he didn't believe they were real.
Buddhadasa wrote: Don't surrender to the commentaries with your eyes and ears closed. Don't submit yourself one hundred percent to later works, such as the Visuddhimagga.

https://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.c ... nation.pdf
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati
auto
Posts: 1917
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:02 pm

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by auto »

parikamma

nidāna

https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/AN/AN3_34.html
“Any action performed with greed—born of greed, caused by greed, originating from greed: Wherever one’s selfhood [atta-bhāva] turns up, there that action will ripen. Where that action ripens, there one will experience its fruit, either in this very life that has arisen or further along in the sequence.
samadhi will dawn because of actions in the past. Birth by your own doing

https://suttacentral.net/sn41.7/en/sujato
Greed, hate, and delusion are makers of signs. Rāgo kho, bhante, nimittakaraṇo, doso nimittakaraṇo, moho nimittakaraṇo.
then

upacara

http://dictionary.sutta.org/browse/c/carita
caritaPTS Pali-English dictionary The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary
Carita,[pp.of cāreti,see cara & carati] 1.(adj.) going,moving,being like,behaving (-°) J.VI,313; Miln.92 (rāgac°=ratta); Vism.105,114 (rāga°,dosa°,moha°,etc.).-- 2.(nt.) action,behaviour,living Dh.330 (ekassa c.living alone)
coming by other doing. Under the swing of urges, anusaya.

then

appana

it is spontaneous arising or birth. Without assertion.
User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2608
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by Zom »

Not really. Upacara and appana samadhi occur even for the objects, which don't have visual nimitta, like metta or arūpa jhānas.
Arupa jhanas are attained on the base of 4th jhana. As for metta, I don't remember but generally Visuddhimagga standardizes all objects fitting them into "earth kasina" way of attainment, including complex objects as corpses, as fas as I remember. And this includes visual nimitta.

Anyway, 3 types of samadhi are present only in Visuddhimagga. 2 types are there in earlier Vimuttimagga. And no types are in the suttas 8-)
Meaning he is allocating like minimum one hour to explore meditation seriously and slowly increase to more hours daily. After accumulated the experience for maybe a year minimum then he can really discuss it practically.
This doesn't work as jhana (at least true one, which is a superhuman state and grants some superhuman abilities) is not attained in this primitive way.
User avatar
Volo
Posts: 1065
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:32 am

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by Volo »

Zom wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:19 pm Arupa jhanas are attained on the base of 4th jhana.
Each jhāna (including arūpa) has upacara as preliminary stage, when the jhāna is not yet fully developed and a person is kind of falling back.
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 17928
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by mikenz66 »

DooDoot wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:38 pm
mikenz66 wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:18 am The traditional training of Asian monks such as Ajahns Buddhadasa, Chah, Mun, Maha Bua, etc would include plenty of commentarial concepts, so it's no surprise to see them using commentarial terminology in their teachings.
Possibly but Ajahn Buddhadasa was notorious for rejecting commentarial material he believed was untrue. For example, his views about Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga were very clear, where he said lots of it was useful but certain parts he rejected. Its unlikely Ajahn Buddhadasa would teach three types of concentration if he didn't believe they were real.
Buddhadasa wrote: Don't surrender to the commentaries with your eyes and ears closed. Don't submit yourself one hundred percent to later works, such as the Visuddhimagga.

https://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries.c ... nation.pdf
I think you are missing my point.
I was responding to:
DooDoot wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:42 am... the non-commentarial or non-mainstream teacher Ajahn Buddhadasa ...
I'm quite aware that some of these Asian monks, such as Vens Buddhadassa in Thailand and Nanananda in Sri Lanka, had some rather harsh things to say about some parts of the Commentaries.

However, my point is that it seems obvious that they (and other, similarly-trained monastics) extensively studied the Commentaries, which is how they developed their criticisms of parts of them, and incorporated other parts into their analysis and practice.

It seems mostly the Western converts, rather than Asians, who took the attitude: "this stuff isn't even worth reading, so I'll just provide a few sound-bites to show how silly it is". I don't see that attitude in the writings of the serious Asian "reformers", who seem to have studied and practised seriously and used what they found useful.

:heart:
Mike
User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2608
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by Zom »

Each jhāna (including arūpa) has upacara as preliminary stage
Preliminary stage for arupajhana is 4th jhana, I think this is obvious (from canonical texts).
User avatar
Volo
Posts: 1065
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:32 am

Re: Jhana: are the three types of concentration real?

Post by Volo »

Zom wrote: Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:17 am Preliminary stage for arupajhana is 4th jhana, I think this is obvious (from canonical texts).
I meant that each jhāna has it's own upacara samadhi as preliminary stage. There are many upacara samadhis as there are many jhānas.
Post Reply