Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
User avatar
Modus.Ponens
Posts: 3199
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Gallifrey

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by Modus.Ponens »

I have a theory of how this approach maps well to the Anapanasati Sutta instructions. This is my personal opinion and, as far as I know, is not shared by Ayya Khema. The Anapanasati Sutta says

""[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

"[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' [10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.' [11] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind.' [12] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'
"

Steps 1 and 2 are to build concentration.
Steps 3 and 4 are to set the stage for jhana, with full body awareness, and a calm body and breath.

Step 5 is when the first jhana can mature. Rapture and pleasure arise, but the focus is on rapture.

Step 6 is when the second jhana can mature. The focus is now on pleasure.

This is where it gets tricky... because the transition to third jhana can be difficult if the meditator is not fully satisfied with the time spent absorbed in pleasure (sukkha).

Steps 7 and 8 are to notice and then let go of the attachment to pleasure. These are the mental fabrications to be calmed.
Steps 9 and 10 are to satisfy the mind with contentment.
Step 11 is to steady the mind on contentment, thus steadying the mind on the third jhana.

Step 12 is to release the mind of the attachment and aversion of the mind to pain and pleasure, thus entering the fourth jhana.

A skilled and experienced meditator will probably be able to skip the intermediary steps between jhanas, making the transitions smooth and natural. Also, if a meditator builds enough concentration at the beginning, it's probably possible to make the transitions smoother. I believe Ayya Khema instructed her students to build a solid concentration before shifting attention to the sequential jhana factors, thus making the transitions between jhanas natural and almost automatic. However, I personally believe this is a very plausible interpretation of the Anapanasati Sutta.
"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.' " - Jhana Sutta
User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 8713
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by DooDoot »

Modus.Ponens wrote: Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:44 pm"soft jhana"
It appears since all jhanas include the factor of 'ekaggata citta', they are all 'hard jhanas'. It might benefit you to read the Anapanasati Sutta which describes an experience of rapture together with knowing in & out breathing (which sounds like your "soft jhana") so to stop misrepresenting the teachings. In the history of Buddhism, when did the teaching of "soft jhana" ever exist or begin? Obviously, very recently, in the minds of Westerners.

The Commentaries correctly defined three levels of concentration, namely: (i) preparatory; (ii) neighbourhood; and (iii) jhana. As I already posted, Ayya Khema incorrectly defined 'neighbourhood concentration', saying it is something that wavers from the object, which is incorrect.
Attachments
Neighbourhood concentration.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
Modus.Ponens
Posts: 3199
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Gallifrey

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by Modus.Ponens »

The "Kayagata-sati Sutta" (MN119), translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, says:


"Furthermore, quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body with the rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal. Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again & again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within & without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & centered. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

"And furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of composure. Just like a lake with spring-water welling up from within, having no inflow from the east, west, north, or south, and with the skies supplying abundant showers time & again, so that the cool fount of water welling up from within the lake would permeate & pervade, suffuse & fill it with cool waters, there being no part of the lake unpervaded by the cool waters; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of composure. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture & pleasure born of composure. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & centered. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

"And furthermore, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture. Just as in a lotus pond, some of the lotuses, born & growing in the water, stay immersed in the water and flourish without standing up out of the water, so that they are permeated & pervaded, suffused & filled with cool water from their roots to their tips, and nothing of those lotuses would be unpervaded with cool water; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded with pleasure divested of rapture. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & centered. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

"And furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain. He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. Just as if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the monk sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & centered. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.



Personally I find this to be conclusive evidence that the jhanas, as taught at the time, were the "soft jhanas". But I see the value in both kinds of jhanas and I may be wrong about my interpretation. But if you want to bring new arguments to this debate, you'll have to read The Great Jhana Debate.
"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.' " - Jhana Sutta
User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 8713
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by DooDoot »

Modus.Ponens wrote: Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:54 amPersonally I find this to be conclusive evidence that the jhanas, as taught at the time, were the "soft jhanas". But I see the value in both kinds of jhanas and I may be wrong about my interpretation. But if you want to bring new arguments to this debate, you'll have to read The Great Jhana Debate.
Very old stubborn confusion. The word "kaya" does not necessarily mean "physical body". Therefore, no "evidence" has been presented. Ajahn Brahm, for example, comments below. Regards :ugeek:
The Buddha would often describe the experience within the four Jhanas using an evocative simile for each (MN39.15-18, MN 77.25. 28, etc.). Before explaining these similes, it is, helpful to pause to clarify the meaning of a key word used in all the similes, kaya. Kaya has the same range of meanings as the English word "body." Just as "body" can mean things other than the body of a person, such as a "body of evidence" for example, so too the Pali word kaya can mean things other than a physical body, such as a body of mental factors, nama-kaya. (DN 15.20). In the Jhanas, the five senses aren't operating, meaning that there is no experience of a physical body. The body has been transcended. Therefore, when the Buddha states in these four similes "...so that there is no part of his whole kaya un-pervaded (by bliss etc.)," this can be taken to mean "…so that there is no part of his whole mental body of experience un-pervaded (by bliss etc.)" (MN 39.16). This point is too often misunderstood.

The Buddha's simile for the First Jhana was a ball of clay (used as soap) with just the right amount of moisture, neither too dry nor leaking out. The ball of clay stands for the unified mind, wherein mindfulness has been restricted to the very small areas created by the "wobble." The moisture stands for the bliss caused by total seclusion from the world of the fives senses. The moisture pervading the clay ball completely indicates the bliss thoroughly pervading the space and duration of the mental experience. This is later recognized as bliss followed by bliss, and then more bliss, without interruption. The moisture not leaking out describes the bliss always being contained in the space generated by the wobble, never leaking out of this area of mind space into the world of the five senses, as long as the Jhana persists.

https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn ... Jhanas.htm
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
Cittasanto
Posts: 6636
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by Cittasanto »

retrofuturist wrote: Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:17 pm - Profiteering off the Dhamma (see: Charging For The Dhamma)
Hi Paul.
This one I believe to be more nuanced, than the face of it, and although this has been discussed before I think it is worth making the distinction.
There are certain expenses which goes along with teachings, publishing... And profits can be used to support the teacher/s, or other projects.
Depending upon the ordination of the teacher would depend how much leaway I would give.
In truth
Cittasanto
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill
User avatar
Modus.Ponens
Posts: 3199
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Gallifrey

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by Modus.Ponens »

DooDoot wrote: Tue Oct 01, 2019 5:13 am
Modus.Ponens wrote: Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:54 amPersonally I find this to be conclusive evidence that the jhanas, as taught at the time, were the "soft jhanas". But I see the value in both kinds of jhanas and I may be wrong about my interpretation. But if you want to bring new arguments to this debate, you'll have to read The Great Jhana Debate.
Very old stubborn confusion. The word "kaya" does not necessarily mean "physical body". Therefore, no "evidence" has been presented. Ajahn Brahm, for example, comments below. Regards :ugeek:
The Buddha would often describe the experience within the four Jhanas using an evocative simile for each (MN39.15-18, MN 77.25. 28, etc.). Before explaining these similes, it is, helpful to pause to clarify the meaning of a key word used in all the similes, kaya. Kaya has the same range of meanings as the English word "body." Just as "body" can mean things other than the body of a person, such as a "body of evidence" for example, so too the Pali word kaya can mean things other than a physical body, such as a body of mental factors, nama-kaya. (DN 15.20). In the Jhanas, the five senses aren't operating, meaning that there is no experience of a physical body. The body has been transcended. Therefore, when the Buddha states in these four similes "...so that there is no part of his whole kaya un-pervaded (by bliss etc.)," this can be taken to mean "…so that there is no part of his whole mental body of experience un-pervaded (by bliss etc.)" (MN 39.16). This point is too often misunderstood.

The Buddha's simile for the First Jhana was a ball of clay (used as soap) with just the right amount of moisture, neither too dry nor leaking out. The ball of clay stands for the unified mind, wherein mindfulness has been restricted to the very small areas created by the "wobble." The moisture stands for the bliss caused by total seclusion from the world of the fives senses. The moisture pervading the clay ball completely indicates the bliss thoroughly pervading the space and duration of the mental experience. This is later recognized as bliss followed by bliss, and then more bliss, without interruption. The moisture not leaking out describes the bliss always being contained in the space generated by the wobble, never leaking out of this area of mind space into the world of the five senses, as long as the Jhana persists.

https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn ... Jhanas.htm
Very old argument. Read the great jhana debate.
"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.' " - Jhana Sutta
User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6636
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by Cittasanto »

Hi MP
I think the commentaries harden the jhanas but I also think this loosens up the factors.
I think the suttas indicate piti, sukkha.. are specific forms and I believe the commentaries are right in distinguishing one form of piti... from another. So you could have all the factors and what can be called jhana but not what the Buddha taught as jhana. But also have hard jhana inline with the Buddha's teachings.
There is inappropriate attention, and factors of the path with effluents, and as studies show releasing anger can have short term/immediate effects of calm... But not get to the bottom of the issue. And I believe in the case at hand, whether the teachings can be brought in line or not and are they being used inline or not are two different things. If that makes sense.

In truth
Cittasanto
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill
User avatar
Modus.Ponens
Posts: 3199
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Gallifrey

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by Modus.Ponens »

Cittasanto wrote: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:13 pm Hi MP
I think the commentaries harden the jhanas but I also think this loosens up the factors.
I think the suttas indicate piti, sukkha.. are specific forms and I believe the commentaries are right in distinguishing one form of piti... from another. So you could have all the factors and what can be called jhana but not what the Buddha taught as jhana. But also have hard jhana inline with the Buddha's teachings.
There is inappropriate attention, and factors of the path with effluents, and as studies show releasing anger can have short term/immediate effects of calm... But not get to the bottom of the issue. And I believe in the case at hand, whether the teachings can be brought in line or not and are they being used inline or not are two different things. If that makes sense.

In truth
Cittasanto
I agree. One can experience the jhana factors in such a shallow and unstable way that it can barely be considered jhana. I think the key is the degree of concentration one builds in the initial part of the meditation. If it is calm and focused enough, and can be maintained throughout the rest of the session, there will be proper (soft) jhana.

It does make sense. I don't know Leigh Brasington well enough say either way in this regard.
"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.' " - Jhana Sutta
User avatar
greenjuice
Posts: 285
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:56 pm

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by greenjuice »

Anyways, regarding my original question, I have sent an email to Leigh so we'll see if he answers me, and I will share here what he said about the origins of his method.
User avatar
greenjuice
Posts: 285
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:56 pm

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by greenjuice »

Ha, got a response really quick, and he says that he discovered it himself through practice, noticing that he could enter into jhanas by focusing on the pleasant sensation, but he says that he interprets pamojja as referring to precisely that.

Now, if i could start another topic here, and ask people who are familiar with other meditation teachers and their more detailed descriptions of entering the jhanas, do they describe having an experience like the one which Leigh describes - namely, of "exploding", "exhilarating", "frenetic", "intense" energetic rapture? I see that the wiki page refers to Vsm like this:

"...five kinds of physical pleasure (piti) will arise. These are:

Weak rapture only causes piloerection.
Short rapture evocates some thunder "from time to time".
Going down rapture explodes inside the body, like waves.
Exalting rapture "makes the body jump to the sky".
Fulfilling rapture seems to be a huge flood of a mountain stream.

Note only the last two are considered specifically piti. The first four are just a preparation for the last one, which is the jhanic factor."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%ABti ... sification

Leigh actually says that while focusing on the pleasant sensation there will be irregular increases of pleasure and smaller instances of rapture until it explodes into a pervading sense of rapture which he says is the first jhana. So, my question is, do other meditation teachers describe such a state? How does their description of the first jhana differ?
User avatar
Modus.Ponens
Posts: 3199
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Gallifrey

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by Modus.Ponens »

Yes. Ayya Khema describes the first 4 jhanas in great detail in the two dhamma talks below. She also gives the instructions to attain them. I cannot recommend highly enough to listen to these two dhamma talks.
.
.

.
.
"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.' " - Jhana Sutta
User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 8713
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by DooDoot »

Modus.Ponens wrote: Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:27 pmYes. Ayya Khema describes the first 4 jhanas
Ayya Khema describes her personal ideas of the first 4 jhanas.
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
greenjuice
Posts: 285
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:56 pm

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by greenjuice »

Thanks, I'll watch (/listen) to the clips.

DooDoot, everything anyone ever says is their personal ideas of what they're talking about.
User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 8713
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by DooDoot »

greenjuice wrote: Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:44 pmThanks, I'll watch (/listen) to the clips.
The lady in the video speculates often about the Buddha & suttas, such as at around 29:00. The lady did not discern the Anapanasati Sutta mentions sixteen experiences with knowing breathing and the jhana suttas refer to the absence of knowing breathing in jhana. The lady relies on the Visuddhimagga. Practitioners that have practised both Anapanasati and jhana know that all hindrance-free rapture is not jhana.

Her discussion starting around 36:50 is scrambled regarding the relationships between the mind, breathe & feelings. Also, the lady thinks someone close to jhana may worry they are stopping breathing (which, in reality, demonstrates low concentration development). Then the lady says someone might not be aware of the pleasant sensation because they are focused on the breath. The lady makes the "rapture" sensation sound very subtle rather than something that is so predominant & unavoidable. The lady then says at 39:55 staying with the sensation for "10 minutes" for getting into jhana via the sensation. "10 minutes" is a "solid chunk of time". The lady says the jhana factors & sensations are "always there"; "we have got it within at all times". Doesn't sound related to jhana to me.
greenjuice wrote: Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:44 pmDooDoot, everything anyone ever says is their personal ideas of what they're talking about.
A person may live in America and climb the highest mountain in the Americas and believe they have climbed the highest mountain. But someone visits America and says I climbed a higher mountain in Nepal (Mt Everest). The climber of Mt Everest knows they climbed a higher mountain than in America. The Dhammapada says: one upon the summit of a mountain beholds the groundlings... Similar, meditators that have practised the two levels of real concentration know the absence of the five hindrances & the experience of rapture is not necessarily jhana. There are monks that have told us jhana is more lofty than the soft-jhana description. If we have taken refuge in the Triple Gem, we give the benefit of the doubt to the esteemed senior monks rather than to jhana-clingers.
Attachments
Hindrances neighb vs jhana.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
Modus.Ponens
Posts: 3199
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Gallifrey

Re: Brasington's entrance into jhanas in suttas and commentaries?

Post by Modus.Ponens »

DooDoot wrote: Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:03 pm
greenjuice wrote: Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:44 pmThanks, I'll watch (/listen) to the clips.
The lady in the video speculates often, such as at around 29:00. The lady did not discern the Anapanasati Sutta mentions sixteen experiences with knowing of breathing and the jhana suttas refer to the absence of knowing breathing in jhana. The lady relies on the Visuddhimagga. Practitioners that have practised both Anapanasati and jhana know that all hindrance-free rapture is not jhana.
greenjuice wrote: Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:44 pmDooDoot, everything anyone ever says is their personal ideas of what they're talking about.
A person may live in America and climb the highest mountain in the Americas and believe they have climbed the highest mountain. But someone visits America and says I climbed a higher mountain in Nepal (Mt Everest). The climber of Mt Everest knows they climbed a higher mountain than in America. The Dhammapada says: one upon the summit of a mountain beholds the groundlings... Similar, meditators that have practised the two levels of real concentration know the absence of the five hindrances & the experience of rapture is not necessarily jhana. There are monks that have told us jhana is more lofty than the soft-jhana description. If we have taken refuge in the Triple Gem, we give the benefit of the doubt to the esteemed senior monks rather than to jhana-clingers.
Ayya Khema was probably an arahat. I would not criticise her so carelessly if I were you.

I'm not claiming that there is no mount Everest, nor convinced that the highest American mountain is the highest in the world. It is actually reversed. You are convinced that only Mount Everest is worth climbing. I say both are worth climbing.

But let me explain something important. The perfectionist pursuit of hard jhana can have serious consequences. Hard jhana gives the mind a significantly deeper concentration, which has advantages when subsequently used for insight. But if you're convinced that hard jhana is strictly required for insight, you might never develop it. I've seen a serious lay practicioner trying to aim for hard jhana and never even trying vipassana because he was convinced that hard jhana is a prerequisite to vipassana. He wasted years with this approach. And I would bet this has happened to many monks too. These people would benefit from soft jhana, at least in the earlier stages of insight practice.

Soft jhanas are also pleasant and wholesome abidings. They can be good substitutes for sensual pleasures. Many monks disrobe because they do not have a substitute for sensual pleasures and the monastic life becomes very difficult.

So, while the hard jhanas are indeed deeper, they're not all sunshine and roses if you believe they're the only valid form of jhana, and absolutely required for insight.
Last edited by Modus.Ponens on Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
"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.' " - Jhana Sutta
Post Reply