Jhana and the early Mahayana

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by Ceisiwr »

auto wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:03 pm
It isn't confused to me,
The sutta itself refers to the singular kāmo as lust. The sutta is, in essence, teaching that external pretty things are not lust. Greedy intention is. It is then confusing to switch to the plural. If the sutta wanted to show that kāmo is lust, not the pretty things, it should read as:

Kāmo, bhikkhave, veditabbā
Vedanā, bhikkhave, veditabbā
Saññā, bhikkhave, veditabbā
Āsavā, bhikkhave, veditabbā
Kammaṃ, bhikkhave, veditabbaṃ
Dukkhaṃ, bhikkhave, veditabbaṃ

Rather, what we have is

Kāmā, bhikkhave, veditabbā
Vedanā, bhikkhave, veditabbā
Saññā, bhikkhave, veditabbā
Āsavā, bhikkhave, veditabbā
Kammaṃ, bhikkhave, veditabbaṃ
Dukkhaṃ, bhikkhave, veditabbaṃ

A possibility is that the reciters simply accidently changed "Kāmo" to "Kāmā" to match the following 3 plurals of vedanā, saññā & āsavā. The change, of course, introduces anomalies around the ancient core verse:
‘Sensual pleasures should be known. And their source, diversity, result, cessation, and the practice that leads to their cessation should be known.’ That’s what I said, but why did I say it? There are these five kinds of sensual stimulation. Sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. Sounds known by the ear … Smells known by the nose … Tastes known by the tongue … Touches known by the body that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. However, these are not sensual pleasures. In the training of the Noble One they’re called ‘kinds of sensual stimulation’.

Saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo,
Greedy intention is a persons lust

Nete kāmā yāni citrāni loke;
Not the kāmā which are pretty in the world

Saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo,
Greedy intention is a person’s lust

Tiṭṭhanti citrāni tatheva loke;
The world’s pretty things stay just as they are,

Athettha dhīrā vinayanti chandanti.
but a wise one removes desire for them.
See what has happened? The verse has kāmā as being external beauties, but the prose reads as a denial of this. Thankfully we have the verse section preserved elsewhere:

“Na te kāmā yāni citrāni loke,
Not these kāmā whichever are pretty in the world.

Saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo;
Greedy intention is a person’s lust

Tiṭṭhanti citrāni tatheva loke,
The world’s pretty things stay just as they are,

Athettha dhīrā vinayanti chandaṁ.
but a wise one removes desire for them.

SN 1.34

It is clear that kāmā are external beauties, whilst kāma is a person's desire.
you are trying to write off dhammavicaya - making difference between unwholesome and wholesome.
That is an absurd conclusion that cannot be deduced from what I am saying.
Mendicants, a mendicant who has five things will soon penetrate the unshakable. What five? It’s when a mendicant has attained the analytical knowledge of meaning, the analytical knowledge of Dhamma, the analytical knowledge of language, the analytical knowledge of discernment and they review the extent of their mind’s freedom. A mendicant who has these five things will soon penetrate the unshakable.”

AN 5.95
waryoffolly
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by waryoffolly »

Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:25 pm

“Na te kāmā yāni citrāni loke,
Not these kāmā whichever are pretty in the world.

Saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo;
Greedy intention is a person’s lust

Tiṭṭhanti citrāni tatheva loke,
The world’s pretty things stay just as they are,

Athettha dhīrā vinayanti chandaṁ.
but a wise one removes desire for them.

SN 1.34

It is clear that kāmā are external beauties, whilst kāma is a person's desire.
Both Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Sujato translate the first line of the poem in the SN as something like “The world’s pretty things aren’t the kaamaa”. Given that the occurence in the SN doesn’t include the first line (sankaparago purissasa kamo). I think it’s a stronger translation since otherwise we have to wonder “what is being negated” by “na te” here. Word order in verse is often switched correct? Tricky to rely on a single line of poetry to make a clear cut definition I think.

It seems to be that both kamo and kaamaa can refer to sense desire(s) if we don’t dismiss AN 6.63 as corrupted. In general kaamaa only ever refers to external sense objects connected with kamo, or as in AN 6.63 it seems to refer to sense desires in the plural since the diversity of kaamaa is defined as kamo towards the five external sense objects. I personally haven’t seen an instance where kaamaa is listed as just being the five external sense bases whether desirable or not; It’s always five external sense bases + attractiveness/connected with kamo. Can you provide an example besides the poem to substantiate this claim?

Grammatically, I’m assuming this is a valid way of translating the line since both do so. That being said maybe someone here can let me know if “Nete kaamaa yani citrani loke” cannot really be translated that way, and both Bhikkhu Bodhi, and Ajahn Sujato are mistaken?
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by Ceisiwr »

waryoffolly wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:54 pm
Both Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Sujato translate the first line of the poem in the SN as something like “The world’s pretty things aren’t the kaamaa”. Given that the occurence in the SN doesn’t include the first line (sankaparago purissasa kamo). I think it’s a stronger translation since otherwise we have to wonder “what is being negated” by “na te” here. Word order in verse is often switched correct? Tricky to rely on a single line of poetry to make a clear cut definition I think.
They do indeed, but the literal translation is:

“Na te kāmā yāni citrāni loke,

Na = Not

te = these

kāmā

yāni = whichever/whatever

citrāni = pretty/beautiful

loke = world

"Not these kāmā whichever pretty world"

Which I would translate as:

"Not these kāmā whichever are pretty in the world."

Which makes kāmā external pretty things. Regarding "saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo" it is in the very next line. The message is the same. Greedy intention is lust, not the external pretty kāmā. In other words, lust for the kāmā is the problem not the external pretty kāmā themselves.
It seems to be that both kamo and kaamaa can refer to sense desire(s) if we don’t dismiss AN 6.63 as corrupted. In general kaamaa only ever refers to external sense objects connected with kamo, or as in AN 6.63 it seems to refer to sense desires in the plural since the diversity of kaamaa is defined as kamo towards the five external sense objects. I personally haven’t seen an instance where kaamaa is listed as just being the five external sense bases whether desirable or not; It’s always five external sense bases + attractiveness/connected with kamo. Can you provide an example besides the poem to substantiate this claim?
Apart from the verse I have quoted, from two suttas, which is very likely the original core of the sutta in question we also have instances like MN 13 where we find the following:

Ko ca, bhikkhave, kāmānaṁ assādo?
And what, Bhikkhus, is the enjoyment of kāmānaṁ?

Pañcime, bhikkhave, kāmaguṇā.
There are five strings of lust.

Katame pañca?
What five?

Cakkhuviññeyyā rūpā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṁhitā rajanīyā,
Sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing.

sotaviññeyyā saddā …pe…
Sounds known by the ear …

ghānaviññeyyā gandhā …
Smells known by the nose …

jivhāviññeyyā rasā …
Tastes known by the tongue …

kāyaviññeyyā phoṭṭhabbā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṁhitā rajanīyā—
Touches known by the body that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing.

ime kho, bhikkhave, pañca kāmaguṇā.
These are the five kinds of strings of lust.

Yaṁ kho, bhikkhave, ime pañca kāmaguṇe paṭicca uppajjati sukhaṁ somanassaṁ—ayaṁ kāmānaṁ assādo.
The pleasure and happiness that arise from these five strings of lust: this is the enjoyment of kāmānaṁ.

We could simplify this to:

"And what, Bhikkhus, is the enjoyment of sensual objects? The pleasure and happiness that arise based on pleasurable sights, sounds etc. This is enjoying of sensual objects."
Grammatically, I’m assuming this is a valid way of translating the line since both do so. That being said maybe someone here can let me know if “Nete kaamaa yani citrani loke” cannot really be translated that way, and both Bhikkhu Bodhi, and Ajahn Sujato are mistaken?
I'm not sure why Ven. Sujato translates it that way. Of course I do not know for Ven. Bodhi either, but i suspect its due to him following the line of the Vibhaṅga.
Mendicants, a mendicant who has five things will soon penetrate the unshakable. What five? It’s when a mendicant has attained the analytical knowledge of meaning, the analytical knowledge of Dhamma, the analytical knowledge of language, the analytical knowledge of discernment and they review the extent of their mind’s freedom. A mendicant who has these five things will soon penetrate the unshakable.”

AN 5.95
waryoffolly
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by waryoffolly »

Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:09 pm

They do indeed, but the literal translation is:

“Na te kāmā yāni citrāni loke,

Na = Not

te = these

kāmā

yāni = whichever/whatever

citrāni = pretty/beautiful

loke = world

"Not these kāmā whichever pretty world"

Which I would translate as:

"Not these kāmā whichever are pretty in the world."
Yes I see the way you translated it. My question is more whether or not it’s grammatically valid to translate it the way Bhikkhu Bodhi/Ajahn Sujato have done. Basically could the word order here have been switched for the sake of meter? My understanding is that it’s common to do so with poetry in pali. Then the line could mean something like “Whichever pretty things in the world are not kaamaa”. I think the crux of this depends on the word yani- can yani ever be used like this, or does yani instead always act as a modifier in the form Noun + yani + some quality of the noun. Probably one of us should ask this in the pali section to see as well. If we interpret the poem in this way instead of your translation, then it’s consistent with the explicit prose line in AN 6.63, and we don’t have to assume corruption of the sutta.
Which makes kāmā external pretty things. Regarding "saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo" it is in the very next line. The message is the same. Greedy intention is lust, not the external pretty kāmā. In other words, lust for the kāmā is the problem not the external pretty kāmā themselves.
Yes sankapparago purissas kamo is in the next line, however the negation (na te) here seems to be “hanging” in your translation. Shouldn’t the negation be referring to something within the first line of poetry itself so that each line is self-contained? In your translation the question raised is what exactly is being negated as not equal to the kaamaa? When the sankapparago purissasa kamo line occurs first, your translation works more easily-ie we can take na te to be negating the previous line of the poem. I guess we could interpret the na te as referring to the next line though 🤷‍♂️.
Apart from the verse I have quoted, from two suttas, which is very likely the original core of the sutta in question we also have instances like MN 13 where we find the following:

Ko ca, bhikkhave, kāmānaṁ assādo?
And what, Bhikkhus, is the enjoyment of kāmānaṁ?

Pañcime, bhikkhave, kāmaguṇā.
There are five strings of lust.

Katame pañca?
What five?

Cakkhuviññeyyā rūpā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṁhitā rajanīyā,
Sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing.

sotaviññeyyā saddā …pe…
Sounds known by the ear …

ghānaviññeyyā gandhā …
Smells known by the nose …

jivhāviññeyyā rasā …
Tastes known by the tongue …

kāyaviññeyyā phoṭṭhabbā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṁhitā rajanīyā—
Touches known by the body that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing.

ime kho, bhikkhave, pañca kāmaguṇā.
These are the five kinds of strings of lust.

Yaṁ kho, bhikkhave, ime pañca kāmaguṇe paṭicca uppajjati sukhaṁ somanassaṁ—ayaṁ kāmānaṁ assādo.
The pleasure and happiness that arise from these five strings of lust: this is the enjoyment of kāmānaṁ.

We could simplify this to:

"And what, Bhikkhus, is the enjoyment of sensual objects? The pleasure and happiness that arise based on pleasurable sights, sounds etc. This is enjoying of sensual objects."
Thanks for digging up a reference and neatly presenting it line by line 🙏.

I personally think it works better here to interpret kaamaa here as sense desires, but I can see an argument for either interpretation. It seems to me that both kaamaa and kamo can have the same meaning at times-just that one is the plural of the other (ie we can talk about kamo towards a single sense object or kaamaa towards all five-as in AN 6.63 when the diversity of kaamaa is defined). Other times kaamaa (btw can you pm me how you typeset pali?), seems to actually be the kamaguna themselves- but it’s always mentioned in the context of alluring external sense objects (that I’ve seen), not all sense objects. The smoking gun here for your argument would be a case where kaamaa are equated explicitly to the first five external salayatana (pretty/attractive or not!) although that’s probably asking too much.
I'm not sure why Ven. Sujato translates it that way. Of course I do not know for Ven. Bodhi either, but i suspect its due to him following the line of the Vibhaṅga.
See my above comment on how I think their interpretation could be a valid translation. Btw Bhikkhu Bodhi takes the first line of AN 6.63 as not being part of the poem interestingly, since in the SN version it’s only four lines. He treats it as a prose summary of the poem before the actual poem itself (see his endnotes to this sutta).

As another comment on AN 6.63-we see that kaamaa arise based on contact. But if they are referring to external sense bases in this sutta it doesn’t make sense because the dependency is always the other way around- ie contact depends on internal/external sense base plus vinnana. It would be very odd to have an external sense base arise after contact! But if we take kaamaa to be intentions of lust (at least as used in this specific sutta) then it makes better sense and is consistent with other suttas which have intentions arising based on contacts.
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by auto »

Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:25 pm ..
You said kāma are external objects.
https://suttacentral.net/an6.63/en/sujato wrote: Sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing.
cakkhuviññeyyā rūpā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṁhitā rajanīyā
..
However, these are not sensual pleasures. In the training of the Noble One they’re called ‘kinds of sensual stimulation’.
Api ca kho, bhikkhave, nete kāmā kāmaguṇā nāmete ariyassa vinaye vuccanti
"Sights known by the eye that are sensual".
Sight is sensual to the eye not to the person. Person's sensual desire makes sight known to be sensual to the eye.
kāmūpasaṁhitā
saṁhita,
https://dictionary.sutta.org/browse/s/sa%E1%B9%81hita/ wrote:PTS Pali-English dictionary The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary
Saṁhita,[pp.of sandahati] connected,equipped with,possessed of
sights connected, equipped with sensuality.
Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:25 pm It is clear that kāmā are external beauties, whilst kāma is a person's desire.
Sentence you make here is contradictory.
Something what is beautiful for you might be not for some other thus kāma can't be external.
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by Coëmgenu »

Ceisiwr wrote: Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:37 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:34 pm[...] the breath is a tactile kasina that can lead no higher than entrance into the fourth
I still don't understand how if one has the 1st jhāna via the colour kasiṇa they can also experience the 5 senses?
Not totally relevant to your response to the above, but as I'm still working on substantiating all of the post from a few days ago with actual quotes people can read themselves, I found this amidst my notes:
1. Counting

i. Four types of breath

The methods of counting and following the breath uses the breath as the mental object of meditation. Breath is the air drawn into and sent out of our lungs, that is, inhalation and exhalation. There are four types of breath: 1) outgoing breath, 2) inner-outgoing breath, 3) incoming breath, and 4) inner-incoming breath. The outgoing breath goes out from the abdomen to the nostril, directing the inner air out of the body. When exhaling, the air is exhaled naturally without intentional control. At the end of each exhalation, there is a pause before next inhalation, when the air is neither going out nor coming in. This brief pause before the incoming breath starts is called the inner-outgoing breath. After that, the incoming breath directs the air into our body, from the nostril all the way to the abdomen. The inhalation lasts a while, then there is a brief pause before the air is exhaled again; this brief moment wherein the air is neither coming in nor going out is called the inner-incoming breath.

People who do not meditate may not notice this process but at least can know the outgoing and incoming breaths, yet rarely aware of the other two. However, an experienced meditation practitioner knows the existence of these four types of breath. Furthermore, his inner-incoming breath and inner-outgoing breath will gradually be lengthened with time. For old people, inner-outgoing breath are longer than the other three breaths and the opposite is true for the children. According to the Chinese medical theory, this is because old people have weak kidneys. When the inner-incoming breath reaches the kidney, it is not taken in; thus the inner-incoming breath becomes shorter. For children, they have strong kidneys, so their inner-incoming breath is longer. The above situation only applies to people who do not meditate in general since it is not necessarily true for diligent practitioners. They can advance in age but the breathing patterns may gradually be improved and not only the inner-outgoing breath is long, the other three types of breaths will be prolonged as well.

ii. Methods of Counting

Counting uses breath as the meditation object. It counts the number of exhales and inhales. There are numerous ways of counting and it is up to individual preference to count the outgoing breath, inner-outgoing breath, incoming breath, or inner-incoming breath. Although one can count both incoming and outgoing breaths, he will be busy with counting then, since the time interval is rather short between each type of breath. Therefore, it is better to concentrate in counting just one type of breath, for instance, only the outgoing breath is counted and not the other three, for one will have a certain leisure between two counts. The count starts from one and ends in ten, then repeat again and again in a one-to-ten cycle.

There are some varieties in the counting method. You can first count one, two and three silently, and then rest to sense the following three rounds of inhalation and exhalation. Resume counting four, five, and six, and then rest again to sense the next three rounds of inhalation and exhalation. Pick up counting seven, eight, nine and ten, which is then followed by observing the next four rounds of breaths without counting. The benefit of this method is to allow our mind to rest quiet and still in such moments. Another alternative way is that you can count one then skip two and three, count four and skip five and six, then count seven but not eight, nine and ten. This way of counting allows a longer interval of quietness.

By this method of counting, one may reach different levels of meditative concentration, from the Concentration of the Desire Realm, the Access Concentration, up to the Third Dhyana-concentration. Including and up to the Third Dhyana-concentration, inhalation and exhalation are still noticeable. In the Fourth Dhyana-concentration there will be no more inhalation or exhalation.
(Ven Miàojìng in commentary to T1917 六妙法門)

I don't know what the translator is rendering as "access concentration." This is from a commentary on the Six Subtle Dharma Gates that I was reading in 2018. It used to be housed on the Internet here, http://fayun.org/index.php?p=issue12-22, but that link is dead, so I don't know where to find it anymore to generate a better citation. I'm not even sure if the certain Ven Miàojìng who wrote it is medieval, contemporary, and of the two contemporary, I don't know if he is the one still alive or the one who died in 2003.

I also found this in my old papers. This is from when I was really into looking at the Dhyanasutras. This one seems to have 觀 as its own meditation that is performed either "in," in the sense of "during," or "after" dhyanic samadhi. The text is not clear:
既得初禪念本所習修行道門或有異緣所謂念佛三昧或念不淨慈心觀等
After attaining the first dhyāna, he is mindful of the original practice, (which is) the gateway of the path, or else he has a different object, such as the samādhi of remembrance of the Buddha, remembrance of the impure, loving-kindness, vipaśyanā, etc.
(T616.288c2 禪法要解 commentary to Dhyānasūtra T613)

This is mostly resting on this particular translation of 觀, however the activities of buddhānusmṛti, aśubhānusmṛti, etc., cannot be performed "in dhyāna" according to how the Southern Tradition explains it. I will need to look further to see if this dhyānasūtra is specifying these various activities as performed "in" dhyāna. Ambiguously, this seems to be the case, but the text could also presume that you need to come out of the dhyāna before engaging in vipaśyanā. 等 is a grammatical particle indicating plurality that, when used at the end of a sentence, has a sense nearly identical to "etc."

Also this, the context here is the contemplation of the bones of the dead, referring to entry into the first dhyāna (the section to do with the second onward starts further down at 275c6 with "復次初禪二禪中[...]"):
若心久住是應禪法若得禪定即有三相身體和悅柔軟輕便白骨流光猶如白珂心得靜住
If the mind for a long time dwells there [on the white bones], the dharmas of the dhyāna will come to be. When the dhyāna is obtained, there are three signs of this. The physical body feels bliss, relaxation, and comfort. The white bones stream light, appearing as if they were white jade. The mind attains a calm abiding.
(T614.272a20 坐禪三昧經 "Seated Meditation Dhyānasūtra")

This idea of "luminous dhyāna" or "bright dhyāna," where objects like bones etc. are made brilliant, sanctified, illuminated, sometimes very literally, is actually closer to what I am familiar with from "in the world of flesh" instruction in meditation as opposed to online. "The white bones glow," "the rivers stream with light," "the trees shine," etc. they say, though not necessarily to me. I personally am agnostic towards these more incredible claims concerning reality experienced by the saints. Maybe it really glows, maybe it "glows" in the same way that the "luminous mind" is "luminous," which is to say "not actually shining." Who knows?

I don't know how this squares with the idea of jhanas as visionless:
The Buddha said in the Abhidhamma that this whole world is made up of very small particles. Where did the Buddha say this? In the Abhidhamma. When you practically engage in four elements meditation, at a certain time you will break your body down into very small particles. If you pay attention with four elements to living and non-living things, both internally and externally, you will see that everything around you is just tiny particles. The Buddha said there is no man, there is no woman. There are no living or non-living things. There are only very small particles. The Buddha said that, to be able to see them, you need to practice four elements meditation. When you practice four elements meditation, you will develop concentration. When you develop concentration, your body will emit light. If you continue discerning four elements in your whole body, it becomes a block of bright light, you will need to break it down into its components. You will break the block of light down into very tiny particles. At that time, you will agree with the Buddha. You will not argue with the Buddha.
(Venerable Revata in an essay on the Rejection of Abhidhamma)

When Ven Revata talks about the body emitting light when one has developed concentration, is he talking about your everyday walking around experience post-jhana? He can't be talking about he experience of doing these things in jhana, because you can't AFAIK according to the Theravadin mainstream.

I was not aware that Theravadins thought that sensory experience dropped out at the first dhyāna and was also unaware that "access concentration" involved the appearance of a particular nimitta, the "countersign," comparable to a constellation of stars. There is no "countersign" in the anāgamya that I am familiar with.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by Coëmgenu »

Coëmgenu wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:01 pmWhen Ven Revata talks about the body emitting light when one has developed concentration, is he talking about your everyday walking around experience post-jhana?
It is too late to further edit the post. Please read the above as "[...] is he talking about your everyday walking around experience post-jhana, a special non-jhanic samādhi -- what does he refer to?"
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by Ceisiwr »

Coëmgenu wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:01 pm
I was not aware that Theravadins thought that sensory experience dropped out at the first dhyāna and was also unaware that "access concentration" involved the appearance of a particular nimitta, the "countersign," comparable to a constellation of stars. There is no "countersign" in the anāgamya that I am familiar with.
Yes, the suttas and commentaries take the view that even from the 1st Jhāna there is no experience of the 5 senses. In the commentarial literature, with some support from the suttas, what occurs is a nimitta which is taken to mean image here. This is not so much a visual image, but a perceptual creation. A conceptual image. If we take the fire kasiṇa it starts with an image of the flame or flames. One can see them with eyes closed just as with eyes open, in the mind. You see the flame with the mind, not the eyes. Before Jhāna the image refines to something more refined and static. As it is a stable image it can be the basis for Jhāna. For mindfulness of breathing it can be a static image, such as a bright light, or a sensation of cool air or "airiness".
Mendicants, a mendicant who has five things will soon penetrate the unshakable. What five? It’s when a mendicant has attained the analytical knowledge of meaning, the analytical knowledge of Dhamma, the analytical knowledge of language, the analytical knowledge of discernment and they review the extent of their mind’s freedom. A mendicant who has these five things will soon penetrate the unshakable.”

AN 5.95
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by Ceisiwr »

waryoffolly wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 5:12 pm
Yes I see the way you translated it. My question is more whether or not it’s grammatically valid to translate it the way Bhikkhu Bodhi/Ajahn Sujato have done. Basically could the word order here have been switched for the sake of meter? My understanding is that it’s common to do so with poetry in pali. Then the line could mean something like “Whichever pretty things in the world are not kaamaa”. I think the crux of this depends on the word yani- can yani ever be used like this, or does yani instead always act as a modifier in the form Noun + yani + some quality of the noun. Probably one of us should ask this in the pali section to see as well. If we interpret the poem in this way instead of your translation, then it’s consistent with the explicit prose line in AN 6.63, and we don’t have to assume corruption of the sutta.
A quick response to your query, as I have been studying the Pāli in greater detail:

“Na te kāmā yāni citrāni loke"

Na = Not

Te = those

Kāmā = ?

yāni = whichever

citrāni = ?

loke = world

You are right that word order is not as important in Pāli as it is with say English. In order to answer this question then we need to find the subject of the sentence. You will notice that I have placed a ? in relation to "citrāni". The reason being that it can have slightly different meanings. If we look at the definition given in the Concise Pali Dictionary we find the following:
Citra : (nt.) mind; thought; (m.), name of a month: March-April. (adj.), variegated; manifold; beautiful. (nt.), a painting; picture.
Now, "citrāni" is found in the text in question. It can either be a noun or adjective in the nominative or accusative case. Since being a noun in the nominative or accusative case would mean "mind", "thought" or "month", which clearly doesn't apply here, we are left with an adjective. It is describing something. By contrast "kāmā" here is a noun in the nominative plural case. It can only be an adjective when it is in suffix form. Since citrāni is an adjective and since kāmā is a noun, kāmā is the subject of the sentence. With this in mind we can then only read the sentence as either:

Not those citrāni [adj.] kāmā [noun] whichever are in the world.

Not those pretty kāmā whichever are in the world.

Or as:

Not those manifold kāmā whichever are in the world.

If you doubt this usage of citrāni, and since you seem to like his translations, please note that Ven. Sujato also recognises this use of "citrāni", albeit in a different text:

Kāmā hi citrā madhurā manoramā,
Sensual pleasures are diverse, sweet, delightful,


https://suttacentral.net/thag5.1/en/sujato

Of course, I would change this myself to:

Kāmā hi citrā madhurā manoramā,
"Because sensual objects are diverse, sweet, delightful"


From all of this it is clear that the grammar of the Pāli has kāmā as being external things, rather than "sensual pleasures". They are described as being either "pretty" or "manifold" and are in the world. Given the findings by Ven. Anālayo and many others regarding verse being the ancient core and prose being a commentary, for suttas with verse and prose, we have a strong case for accepting kāmā as being external and the prose in question in AN 6.63 as having either been subject to editing under the influence of the Vibhaṅga or a simple corruption. I hope this clarifies my position.

:anjali:
Mendicants, a mendicant who has five things will soon penetrate the unshakable. What five? It’s when a mendicant has attained the analytical knowledge of meaning, the analytical knowledge of Dhamma, the analytical knowledge of language, the analytical knowledge of discernment and they review the extent of their mind’s freedom. A mendicant who has these five things will soon penetrate the unshakable.”

AN 5.95
waryoffolly
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by waryoffolly »

Ceisiwr wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:19 pm

Now, "citrāni" is found in the text in question. It can either be a noun or adjective in the nominative or accusative case. Since being a noun in the nominative or accusative case would mean "mind", "thought" or "month", which clearly doesn't apply here, we are left with an adjective. It is describing something. By contrast "kāmā" here is a noun in the nominative plural case. It can only be an adjective when it is in suffix form. Since citrāni is an adjective and since kāmā is a noun, kāmā is the subject of the sentence. With this in mind we can then only read the sentence as either:

Not those citrāni [adj.] kāmā [noun] whichever are in the world.

Not those pretty kāmā whichever are in the world.

Or as:

Not those manifold kāmā whichever are in the world.
Thanks again for the well-explained post. I’m aware of the bare basics of pali declensions. I agree that in isolation (ie ignoring the prose in An 6.63), what you have here is a valid possible translation. However, my question was more about the word yani. To be more explicit: Can yani itself be the subject here?

If yani is the subject then we could have potentially have “Whichever beautiful things in the world are not the kaamaa”. So yani would mean roughly “whichever things”, and citrani would be an adjective of it? I have no idea if yani can be the subject though, as I’m not sure what case it’s in. Do you know?

(Let’s try to figure out why Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Sujato both translate this way- surely their translations are at least grammatically valid!)
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by Ceisiwr »

waryoffolly wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 11:21 pm
Thanks again for the well-explained post. I’m aware of the bare basics of pali declensions. I agree that in isolation (ie ignoring the prose in An 6.63), what you have here is a valid possible translation. However, my question was more about the word yani. To be more explicit: Can yani itself be the subject here?

If yani is the subject then we could have potentially have “Whichever beautiful things in the world are not the kaamaa”. So yani would mean roughly “whichever things”, and citrani would be an adjective of it? I have no idea if yani can be the subject though, as I’m not sure what case it’s in. Do you know?

(Let’s try to figure out why Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Sujato both translate this way- surely their translations are at least grammatically valid!)
Yāni is the neutral plural of "ya", which can occur either in the nominative or accusative case:

Ya: which; what; whatever.

Ya is an aniyamita, or relative pronoun. As per Warder aniyamita pronouns work with niyamita, or demonstrative pronouns, in order to construct a sentence. The niyamita demonstrative pronoun in the sentence we are discussing is "te", which is the masculine plural of "ta" which too can appear in the nominative or accusative case:

Ta: that

Since both are plural we can translate yāni as "whatever", noticing a mistake in my previous translation. For te we can translate it as "those". If we take them in order, "te" is a demonstrative pronoun which points to a noun whilst "yāni" is a relative pronoun which introduces an adjective clause. Te then refers to the noun which is the subject of the sentence whilst yāni connects the noun to its adjective. In our case here we have the following

Na te [demonstrative pronoun] kāmā [noun] yāni [relative pronoun] citrāni [adjective] loke

Not those [demonstrative pronoun] kāmā [noun] whatever [relative pronoun] are pretty [adjective] in the world.

If we are to be completely precise the verse in question should then be read as:

Na te kāmā yāni citrāni loke
Not those kāmā whatever are pretty in the world


From this we can clearly see that the kāmā are external pretty things. To conclude then, no, it doesn't seem that yāni can be the subject of the sentence.

Warder work referenced: https://ia800105.us.archive.org/26/item ... 20Pali.pdf

:anjali:
Mendicants, a mendicant who has five things will soon penetrate the unshakable. What five? It’s when a mendicant has attained the analytical knowledge of meaning, the analytical knowledge of Dhamma, the analytical knowledge of language, the analytical knowledge of discernment and they review the extent of their mind’s freedom. A mendicant who has these five things will soon penetrate the unshakable.”

AN 5.95
waryoffolly
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by waryoffolly »

Thanks again for the clear reply.
Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 8:03 pm
Yāni is the neutral plural of "ya", which can occur either in the nominative or accusative case:

Ya: which; what; whatever.

Ya is an aniyamita, or relative pronoun. As per Warder aniyamita pronouns work with niyamita, or demonstrative pronouns, in order to construct a sentence.
If I understand this correctly you’re saying that according to Warder relative pronouns generally need a paired demonstrative pronoun? Or can they exist independently of each other? (I’m just curious, not referring to this specific passage.) In English this pairing would be something like “That which” or “Those who”.

To conclude then, no, it doesn't seem that yāni can be the subject of the sentence.
Which raises the question: Are both Bhikkhu Bodhi’s and Ajahn Sujato’s translations grammatically invalid?

So if your translation here is correct, and Bodhi/Sujatos’ translations are incorrect then for AN 6.63 it explicitly contradicts the prose in one place, and implicitly contradicts the prose in at least one other place (that kaamaa arise from contact-external beautiful sense objects do no arise from contact! Instead contact arises based on internal/external base and vinnana.)

Interestingly I think I read that the agama parallel does not include the verse in it. When you also consider that the verse here seems to have an extra line compared to the SN version it increases the odds in my mind that the poem has been inserted into AN 6.63, and that originally the poem was absent from this sutta. So my guess is that originally AN 6.63 used kaamaa to refer to sense desires (in contradiction with the poem), and as such was entirely self-consistent.

Anyways, I think if you look through the octads you find lines of poetry which suggest one can be full of kaamaa and also lines of poetry which suggest one can desire kaamaa. So this makes me think kaamaa can have either meaning of sense desires (being full of the kaamaa) OR beautiful external sense objects (desiring kaamaa) depending on the context.
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

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waryoffolly wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:12 pm ...
I need to pause this for now, as I'm eating into my meditation time. I'll give a more detailed response come the weekend, where I also need to respond to a few other members. As I am having numerous and quite detailed conversations I'm sure you can appreciate how time consuming it can be, and I don't want to give half-arsed answers. For now however I will say that is entirely consistent to view kāmā as sense objects and still say they arise at contact, without falling into ontological Idealism. We can do this if we translate rūpa not as matter, as per the Abhidhamma (also found in the northern Abhidharmas) but rather as "image". As per MN 28, in order to experience any sense object there must be attention even if the sense object comes into the perceptual field. If there is an external object, vision and attention then there is sense consciousness and the origination of rūpa. An image of the sense object arises, which causes resistance contact in the nāmakāya as per DN 15. This ties into the formless of course, where what is transcended is not "matter" but an "image". When seated in formal meditation and practicing for the fire kasiṇa via the maṇḍala of fire you do not see the flame via your eyes. The practice only really begins when you begin to see the rūpa via your mind, as an external dhamma at the mind rather than seeing it as an external thing which your eyes see. There is an external object, but the image is at your mind. You can literally feel the conceptual image offering resistance in the nāmakāya. However, I am getting to far into personal practice here which of course is not a valid frame of reference for this discussion.

:anjali:
Mendicants, a mendicant who has five things will soon penetrate the unshakable. What five? It’s when a mendicant has attained the analytical knowledge of meaning, the analytical knowledge of Dhamma, the analytical knowledge of language, the analytical knowledge of discernment and they review the extent of their mind’s freedom. A mendicant who has these five things will soon penetrate the unshakable.”

AN 5.95
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

Post by pitithefool »

Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:30 pm
I need to pause this for now, as I'm eating into my meditation time. I'll give a more detailed response come the weekend, where I also need to respond to a few other members. As I am having numerous and quite detailed conversations I'm sure you can appreciate how time consuming it can be, and I don't want to give half-arsed answers. For now however I will say that is entirely consistent to view kāmā as sense objects and still say they arise at contact, without falling into ontological Idealism. We can do this if we translate rūpa not as matter, as per the Abhidhamma (also found in the northern Abhidharmas) but rather as "image". As per MN 28, in order to experience any sense object there must be attention even if the sense object comes into the perceptual field. If there is an external object, vision and attention then there is sense consciousness and the origination of rūpa. An image of the sense object arises, which causes resistance contact in the nāmakāya as per DN 15. This ties into the formless of course, where what is transcended is not "matter" but an "image". When seated in formal meditation and practicing for the fire kasiṇa via the maṇḍala of fire you do not see the flame via your eyes. The practice only really begins when you begin to see the rūpa via your mind, as an external dhamma at the mind rather than seeing it as an external thing which your eyes see. There is an external object, but the image is at your mind. You can literally feel the conceptual image offering resistance in the nāmakāya. However, I am getting to far into personal practice here which of course is not a valid frame of reference for this discussion.

:anjali:
I agree with these points for the most part and I want to ask a couple of questions.

What if we apply the same logic that rupa implies the image of the object rather than the object itself to the body, as are the instructions given in MN119? If rupa means something closer to image, does that mean it's a mental object? If kamehi is external sense objects and thus rupa, would that imply that kamehi can be thought of as a mental object? If that's the case, then does it follow that it is impossible for the mind to be outside of the mind door, since nama-rupa and kamehi are both purely mental? Further, what about contact at the five senses? Nama includes the term Phassa, for contact. So then if external sense objects (the five senses besides) as well as the contact, feeling, perception and attention are all experienced by the mind, does that mean that we are always experiencing the mind-door only and always nama?

This really seems like ontological idealism, and it's all deduced from the above statements. I'll give you this, it is coherent and I think represents a pretty orthodox Theravada interpretation, but I don't feel it quite tallies up with the suttas as well as you say it does. If we make those ontological assertions, namely that rupa is "image" and that kamas (being external sense objects and thus rupa) arise at contact, we are indeed committing idealism and I don't think that's what the Buddha originally taught though.

There is quite a lot of evidence from the suttas that rupa is meant to be understood as the four great elements (ncluding the body) just as it's defined in the suttas and just as we understand it in the modern day. This doesn't require special interpretation that aren't based directly on the definitions given in the suttas, avoids idealism, and is also in line with the description of MN 119 and others of jhana as a state of full-body awareness. Further, if this is correct then the description of the entrance into the formless makes all the more sense because to get there, we abandon awareness of the body and to all form.
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Re: Jhana and the early Mahayana

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There is also the issue of wanting to avoid the fallacy of "anti-physicalism for the sake of anti-physicalism." Physicalism/Materialism of course is the belief that only materiality exists and that mentality appears as a secondary derivation from materiality. The opposite of this is that there is no such thing as "the physical" when we deal strictly with the human experience, because human experience is innately non-physical. I don't necessarily believe this, but some do. We know nothing of "the physical," because we are purely mental beings in essence. This is a fallacy in thinking and IMO comes from stressing too much that the rupa-derived consciousnesses, the body, ear, etc., are not themselves external and physical like the objects they cognize. When we go too far down this alleyway, we end up like American Protestants who "just sit" and listen to the lecture and "believe" or "have faith" as part of their religion. Actual displays and embodied performances of religious activity are seen as "false." In the Dzogchen tradition, they believe in "the practice of non-practice," meaning a very sophisticated way to not practice Buddhism. This is much the same. I'm not sure what to call it, "cerebralism" or whatever, but that the senses are innately mental in nature and that there is a strong mental-material divide is a hallmark of modernist thinking be it right or wrong. I'm not accusing anyone of this, but noting that IMO a line needs to be drawn where we say "Rupa is mental." Rupa is "form," not "mentality." It might be an "appearance," but it is an appearance unlike the imagination or a dream, because other people share in the experience of external form.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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