Question about jhana

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Question about jhana

Postby Individual » Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:38 am

I was reading about the jhanas and have a vague memory, reading that one should develop jhanas in order, such that one can remain in one fully as long as one wants, before moving onto the next. Is this true?

If so, I have to ask: Why should one ever want to move beyond the first or second jhanas? Why should the removal of bliss be a desirable mental state? If I could maintain the first and second jhanas forever and ever, I cannot think of anything else that would be worth developing or striving for.

With metta :heart:,
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Re: Question about jhana

Postby Jechbi » Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:00 am

Individual wrote:If I could maintain the first and second jhanas forever and ever, I cannot think of anything else that would be worth developing or striving for.

Yeah, but that would never happen. It's never going to last forever and ever. That's the problem.

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Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Question about jhana

Postby thecap » Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:06 am

This is the Classical Theravada subforum. :soap: OK, apologies if this is not a Classical answer. In short, once your mind is tranquilized (one of the seven enlightenment factors) through real bliss/joy/rapture (unsupported by external substances, another enlightenment factor), then one can see through the paralysingly dull nature of bliss, which is not much unlike pain. Then one can go beyond pleasure and pain. But this happens naturally. You don't need to bother yourself with it on an intellectual level of understanding, only as much as is necessary to remove doubt and to practise.
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Re: Question about jhana

Postby Ben » Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:38 am

Hi Individual

The Jhanas will not take you to liberation, and they are impermanent. You can't stay in Jhanas forever. We know from the Abhidhamma that if one dies while in jhana, one will be reborn in the corresponding realm. Once in that realm, however blissful or pleasant it maybe, one is still subject to the dukkha of change when the kamma that brought one there is exhausted. Whereupon one will be subject to the manifestation of rebirth dependent on past kamma, and depending on the most predominant sankhara and the quality of death consciousness, one could end up anywhere in the 31 realms.

My understanding is that the jhanas can only be cultivated 'in turn'. Each jhana requires the base of the preceeding jhana. Unfortunately my Dhamma books are not with me presently but my readings suggest that as one moves from one jhana to the next, there is a corresponding refinement of experience. Individual, you will also find that scholars and teachers will warn against the danger of becoming attached to jhana and the need for the development of equanimity towards extremely agreeable and pleasant experiences. The whole point of developing jhana is develop the stable base of sammasamadhi (right concentration) whereupon one can develop the special insight-wisdom of vipassana that liberates the mind from suffering.

Individual, I recommend that you have a look at the Vissudhimagga, I also recommend that you dip into 'A comprehensive manual of the Abhidhamma' which contains the microscopic detail of the jhana cittas and cetasikas.
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Re: Question about jhana

Postby clw_uk » Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:52 pm

The Jhanas dont last forever, they just last a long time each time you go into one and each time you enter them the defilements of the mind are surpressed but not removed which is why jhanas dont give liberation.

The reason you abandon the first and move onto the second is because you realise that the first one is based on conditions and impermanent.

"he enters and dwells in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied thought and sustained thought with rapture and happiness born of seclusion"


then realisng hte impermanence of the happiness you abandon it for the second jhana and so on up until the fourth when the mind is very still and powerfully concentrated which allows you to break through into the truth.

You can go on to develop past the jhana for the immaterial attainments, the last of which is the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, which is said after entering and leaving the the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception one will either become a once returner or arahant, these are the only two options.

Hope this is clear

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Re: Question about jhana

Postby Heavenstorm » Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:40 pm

Individual wrote:I was reading about the jhanas and have a vague memory, reading that one should develop jhanas in order, such that one can remain in one fully as long as one wants, before moving onto the next. Is this true?


Devas/Brahmas of the form and formless realms can stay in the state of Jhanas for aeons and eventually, they will lose their concentration and fall back to the ordinary conceptual state. The ending of fetters is, however, permanent.

If so, I have to ask: Why should one ever want to move beyond the first or second jhanas? Why should the removal of bliss be a desirable mental state? If I could maintain the first and second jhanas forever and ever, I cannot think of anything else that would be worth developing or striving for.


The degrees of absorption increases as one proceeds to the higher ones, at certain stages, bliss is not removed but rather one is absorbed in his one pointed mental state that he fails to be distracted by any momentary blissful experience. Therefore, its a form of transcendence. This is how I interpreted the descriptions in Suttas.
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