The Great Jhana Debate

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Freawaru » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:36 am

Hi Matheesha,

rowyourboat wrote:
"besorbs, resorbs, & supersorbs" = flow, having not got rid of objects of sensuality, focused only on objects of sensuality ie- what you like to be absorbed into/focus on. This is WRONG concentration.


Obviously :roll:

What I meant was that the Buddha used four different terms to describe what we just name absorption. I think he refers to four different processes by naming them absorb, besorbs, resorbs, & supersorbs - whatever the original terms are. Of these the absorb seems not to be the problem because "nor did he criticize mental absorption of every sort". So what are the tree problematic processes he calls besorbs, resorbs, & supersorbs that may or may not happen in addition to absorption?
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Freawaru » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:48 am

Hi Daverupa,

daverupa wrote:
Freawaru wrote:I think the ability to enter flow is a pre-condition for jhana. Or to put it differently: a person who can enter flow can also enter jhana.


Anyone can enter jhana, but it takes the whole of the Noble Eightfold Path to accomplish, including sammasati - not mere 'flow'.


First, it seems to me that you believe that I think flow IS jhana. What makes you think so?

Second, I, too, believe that everybody can enter jhana, just as everybody can enter flow. But there are times, such as immense stress or illness, that bar one from entering flow or normal absorption such as into a movie or book. Depression, anxiety and other times of crisis keep one from one and also the other. So if one wants to know if this, now, is a good time to aim for jhana I think one just has to think whether during these days one can enter flow. You see, it seems to me that many people start meditation while they are in a time of crisis (depression, stress, etc), and, IMO, this is the worst time to aim for jhana. Because it is much more difficult during those times.

Freawaru wrote:As far as I know upekkhabhavana is an abode. Meaning, one cannot practice it - one has to live it.


So, by this reasoning, mettabhavana is also not practicable - which is patently false.


Mettabhavana is also an abode. One enters it, just like upekkhabhavana, and leaves it. The practice of metta can open oneself to these abodes, but the practice is not the abode.

Freawaru wrote:I still don't understand the difference between sati and sampajanna.


"Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu should live mindful and clearly comprehending. This is our instruction to you. And how is a bhikkhu mindful? Herein, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives practicing body-contemplation on the body feeling... feeling-contemplation on feelings... mind-contemplation on mind... mind-object-contemplation on the objects of mind, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome covetousness and grief concerning the world. In this manner, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is mindful.

"And how is a bhikkhu clearly comprehending? Herein, bhikkhus, feelings are known to a bhikkhu as they arise, known as they stay, known as they come to an end. Thoughts are known as they arise, known as they stay, known as they come to an end. Perceptions are known as they arise, known as they stay, known as they come to an end. In this manner, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is clearly comprehending.

"A bhikkhu should live mindful and clearly comprehending. This is our instruction to you."

— SN 47.35


Thank you.

So the difference is that sati is regarding the four foundations of mindfulness (kaya, vedana, citta and dhamma) and sampajanna is regarding thoughts and perceptions?
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby daverupa » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:55 am

Freawaru wrote:First, it seems to me that you believe that I think flow IS jhana. What makes you think so?


Re-read the sentence, you've misunderstood. It says that flow hasn't got a place in sammasati. As we discovered with the Sutta quote, mindfulness has a strict definition and method, and flow differs from that.

Freawaru wrote:Second, ...this is the worst time to aim for jhana.


Aiming at sammasamadhi (by which we mean trying in this or that meditation session specifically to attain jhana) is probably not helpful at any time. Either one has mastery and can enter and remain for however long one chooses, or one does not, in which case one ought to be aiming (in our sense) at sammasati.

Using flow as a diagnostic is also foolish, as we ought instead to be addressing any hindrances, noting that the Dhamma offers better diagnostics than flow.

Flow happens or not; it doesn't matter. I probably consider trying for it to be distracting.

Freawaru wrote:Mettabhavana is also an abode. One enters it, just like upekkhabhavana, and leaves it. The practice of metta can open oneself to these abodes, but the practice is not the abode.


Okay... so when you said you didn't understand how upekkha could be practiced outside jhana, you did understand how it could be? :thinking:

Freawaru wrote:So the difference is that sati is regarding the four foundations of mindfulness (kaya, vedana, citta and dhamma) and sampajanna is regarding feelings and thoughts and perceptions?


Fixed.

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Freawaru » Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:57 pm

H Daverupa,

daverupa wrote:
Freawaru wrote:First, it seems to me that you believe that I think flow IS jhana. What makes you think so?


Re-read the sentence, you've misunderstood.


I apologise.


It says that flow hasn't got a place in sammasati. As we discovered with the Sutta quote, mindfulness has a strict definition and method, and flow differs from that.


I agree. Flow lacks (usually) sammasati. It is necessary to develop sammasati during flow.

Freawaru wrote:Second, ...this is the worst time to aim for jhana.


Aiming at sammasamadhi (by which we mean trying in this or that meditation session specifically to attain jhana) is probably not helpful at any time. Either one has mastery and can enter and remain for however long one chooses, or one does not, in which case one ought to be aiming (in our sense) at sammasati.


I don't think that mastery can be gained without training. To keep sati is important, yes, but I think something else is required for jhana than simply to keep sati during wake-time. Namely, concentration, focus. And this can be learned and trained.

Using flow as a diagnostic is also foolish, as we ought instead to be addressing any hindrances, noting that the Dhamma offers better diagnostics than flow.


The interpretation of specific terms of the Dhamma is not universally accepted. Flow is. To define something it is always useful to base the definition of something that is already defined.

Freawaru wrote:Mettabhavana is also an abode. One enters it, just like upekkhabhavana, and leaves it. The practice of metta can open oneself to these abodes, but the practice is not the abode.


Okay... so when you said you didn't understand how upekkha could be practiced outside jhana, you did understand how it could be? :thinking:


I actually think that an abode is jhana with a specific object (such as metta or upekkha) as point of focus. Entering an abode means to become absorbed (in the jhanic way) into this specific object.

Freawaru wrote:So the difference is that sati is regarding the four foundations of mindfulness (kaya, vedana, citta and dhamma) and sampajanna is regarding feelings and thoughts and perceptions?


Fixed.

:heart:


Thank you :smile:
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:30 pm

Alex123 wrote:Are you suggesting that one can be aware of thing's radiance through the ears? No, you are aware of radiance through the eyes.


Well, why do you presume that a Brahma has eyes, when Hatthaka's attabhava kept sinking into the ground? Could eyes exist in such a situation? Isn't the mind capable of cognising radiant mental states, such as the radiant mind?


ANY seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching is cognized by the mind. But the mind operates through corresponding sense door for corresponding cognition.


You may have overlooked the allowance in MN 43 for mind to experience vicariously the 5 senses, presumably by mano contacting any of the Namakaya associated with sights, smells, sounds, tastes and touches.


If the Buddha wanted to say that one transcends purely mental object, the clearest term to use would be dhammasañña.


A totally irrelevant point. We're discussing the meaning of the transcendance of rūpasañña in the Arupa transition formula. What has your point to do with this discussion, given that I've said before that the Namakaya and mental objects persist in the Arupa attainments?


the idea of a kāma is dhammasañña.


Sutta citation pls. Since when did a mental object/dhamma/idea become a member of the Aggregate of Perception?


Sylvester wrote:Equally, why must rūpa be present in order for rūpasañña to be present? As you said -


Because it is an object of the eye, Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṃ.


More petitio principii, when you've not established that the "rupa" in rupasanna refers to cakkhuvinneya rupa, rather than MN 102's explanation. If you wish to assign that meaning to this polysemous word, pls work out your arguments, instead of begging the question again and again, and running away from the semantics and nit-picking. It's because there's not enough semantic exactness and nit-picking that the rupa component of Namarupa gets confused with cakkhuvinneya rupa, which the vivicceva kamehi pericope clearly excludes.

I can think of no clearer exposition on the difference between rupa as a kāma, and rupa in the Rupa Jhanas than SN 5.4 -

“Rūpā saddā rasā gandhā,
phoṭṭhabbā ca manoramā;
Niyyātayāmi tuyheva,
māra nāhaṃ tenatthikā.

Iminā pūtikāyena,
bhindanena pabhaṅgunā;
Aṭṭīyāmi harāyāmi,
kāmataṇhā samūhatā.

Ye ca rūpūpagā sattā,
ye ca arūpaṭṭhāyino;
Yā ca santā samāpatti,
sabbattha vihato tamo”ti.


Forms, sounds, tastes, odours
and delightful tactile objects -
I offer then right back to you,
For I, O Mara, do not need them.

I am repelled and humiliated
by this foul, putrid body,
subject to break up, fragile:
I've uprooted sensual craving.

As for those beings who fare amidst form
and those who abide in the formless,
and those peaceful attainments too:
Everywhere darkness has been destroyed
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:59 pm

I've read your SN 5.4 quote and I do see how it proves the point that desire is NOT equal to bare consciousness of the object.

Sylvester wrote:"Forms, sounds, tastes, odours and delightful tactile objects -I offer then right back to you,For I, O Mara, do not need them."
"Rūpā saddā rasā gandhā, phoṭṭhabbā ca manoramā; Niyyātayāmi tuyheva,
māra nāhaṃ tenatthikā. "


That quote shows us, again, that Rūpa is an object of the eye, and it is listed alongside 4 other sense objects. I have yet to see any sutta where rūpa is not an object of the mind. I've just looked at MN102 again, and there is nothing there to contradict this.

There is this statement: Yadi rūpasaññānaṃ yadi arūpasaññānaṃ yadi ekattasaññānaṃ yadi nānattasaññānaṃ natthi kiñci'ti ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ eke abhivadanti appamāṇaṃ āneñjaṃ.

All it says is that base of nothingness is the highest perception. It is higher than perception of form, or perception of formlessness, perception of oneness or diversity. arūpasaññā is purely mental perception of non-material object. While rūpasañña is perception (sañña) of visible/material (rūpa) object.


Furthermore, that wonderful sutta, thank you Sylvester, tells us that

I am repelled and humiliated by this foul, putrid body, subject to break up, fragile: I've uprooted sensual craving.
Iminā pūtikāyena, bhindanena pabhaṅgunā; Aṭṭīyāmi harāyāmi, kāmataṇhā samūhatā.


Even though Buddha has uprooted all kāmataṇhā, He still can obviously see, hear and so forth. This shows us again that kāma is a mental reaction that is independent of sense objects. The sense objects such as rūpa which remain as they are whether there is or not there is kāma.


Sylvester wrote:Equally, why must rūpa be present in order for rūpasañña to be present?


Because rūpa is an object of the eye, Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṃ.

If we were talking about purely mental object without physical sense organ + sense object, the it would be
Manañca paṭicca dhamme ca uppajjati manoviññāṇaṃ

What is transcended in 1st Jhāna is desire (kāma) and other unwholesome qualities. What is transcended in Arūppa plane is perception of form (rūpasañña).


Memory of previously seen sense objects is purely mental (dhamma) that is cognized by mano. Rūpa is not by itself a mental object. When you remember something, the physical object doesn't appear. Only mental memory impression.

MN64 is an interesting sutta. There one is aware of all 5 aggregates in 4 Jhānas, but only 4 aggregates in Arūpa attainments.
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:56 pm

Alex123 wrote:I've read your SN 5.4 quote and I do see how it proves the point that desire is NOT equal to bare consciousness of the object.

Sylvester wrote:"Forms, sounds, tastes, odours and delightful tactile objects -I offer then right back to you,For I, O Mara, do not need them."
"Rūpā saddā rasā gandhā, phoṭṭhabbā ca manoramā; Niyyātayāmi tuyheva,
māra nāhaṃ tenatthikā. "


That quote shows us, again, that Rūpa is an object of the eye, and it is listed alongside 4 other sense objects.


And you've conveniently overlooked the subsequent verse, which mentions another rūpa -

As for those beings who fare amidst form
and those who abide in the formless,
and those peaceful attainments too:


Certainly, verse No 1's rūpa refers to eye-cognisable form, but I would imagine Ayya Vijaya's 3rd verse on rūpa would have been referring to rupakhandha, since all 3 verses are discussing the end of the standard presentation of the 3 Loka-s.


I have yet to see any sutta where rūpa is not an object of the mind. I've just looked at MN102 again, and there is nothing there to contradict this.

There is this statement: Yadi rūpasaññānaṃ yadi arūpasaññānaṃ yadi ekattasaññānaṃ yadi nānattasaññānaṃ natthi kiñci'ti ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ eke abhivadanti appamāṇaṃ āneñjaṃ.


And I suggest that you look at the preceding passage, where its discusses perception which is form-ly or formless -

Tatra, bhikkhave, ye te samaṇabrāhmaṇā saññiṃ attānaṃ paññapenti arogaṃ paraṃ maraṇā, rūpiṃ vā te bhonto samaṇabrāhmaṇā saññiṃ attānaṃ paññapenti arogaṃ paraṃ maraṇā, arūpiṃ vā te bhonto samaṇabrāhmaṇā saññiṃ attānaṃ paññapenti arogaṃ paraṃ maraṇā, rūpiñca arūpiñca vā ...


This passage furnishes the context for the interpretation of rūpasañña and arūpasañña. Rūpiṃ and arūpiṃ are adjectives, which indicates that rūpasañña is denoting a noun with a quality.


Furthermore, that wonderful sutta, thank you Sylvester, tells us that

I am repelled and humiliated by this foul, putrid body, subject to break up, fragile: I've uprooted sensual craving.
Iminā pūtikāyena, bhindanena pabhaṅgunā; Aṭṭīyāmi harāyāmi, kāmataṇhā samūhatā.


Even though Buddha has uprooted all kāmataṇhā, He still can obviously see, hear and so forth. This shows us again that kāma is a mental reaction that is independent of sense objects. The sense objects such as rūpa which remain as they are whether there is or not there is kāma.


Again, you're confusing kāma with kāmā. The kāmā are denoted by the 5 objects mentioned. You seem to think that kāmataṇhā is a compound of kāma + taṇhā. Are you suggesting that the 2nd Noble Truth's kāmataṇhā should be translated to mean craving for sensual desire, rather than craving for kāmā? You might want to check out what the Pali grammars say about compounds and stem forms, before you answer this.


What is transcended in 1st Jhāna is desire (kāma) and other unwholesome qualities. What is transcended in Arūppa plane is perception of form (rūpasañña).


And as the MN 102 passage above suggest, the Arupa transition formula's rūpasañña is not "perception of form" but "form-ly perception". Do bear in mind that while kāma (desire) is certainly transcended in 1st Jhana, so are the the kāmā (plural), given the vivicceva kamehi formula.


MN64 is an interesting sutta. There one is aware of all 5 aggregates in 4 Jhānas, but only 4 aggregates in Arūpa attainments.


Which I totally agree. But, you still have offered nothing to prove that the rupakhandha is necessarily eye-cognisable rupa...
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby reflection » Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:49 pm

Guys, still throwing with suttas? ;) We don't even know for sure whether the Buddha spoke Pali. (now don't go and debate this here :tongue: )

But come on Alex, it can be quite clear what the Buddha meant with jhana has nothing to do with absorption in a book or 'flow' or something like that. The jhanas are the peaks of meditative development. The suttas seem to say the formless attainments aren't even needed to become fully enlightened, that's how strong the jhanas must be. It's ridiculous to think you can just attain this without being aware of it, let alone forgetting it... If "absorption" in the 5 sense activities would be samma samadhi, thousands of people would have become enlightened while watching television. ;)

Jhana is absorption in the 6th sense, the mind. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less. The 5 senses are gone, all thoughts are gone, the sense of time is gone and the will to influence the process is gone also. It's just awareness of the mind itself, totally unlike anything else, like another dimension. And it'll be one of the strongest memories you'll have.

Now, its importance in the first stages of the development can be discussed, however we shouldn't underestimate the actual experience.

With metta,
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:37 am

Dear Sylvester,

There are MANY suttas that define rūpa as being "four great elements and form derived from them". There are also plenty of suttas which place rūpa alongside 4 other sense objects and purely mental phenomenon. There are suttas that explicitly state that rūpa is an object of the eye. I've provided few of these suttas. I can provide with more if you want. The sheer number of such suttas give a weight to this most likely proposition.

Is there any sutta that states that one can perceive rūpa in arūpa attainment? Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

rūpasañña is not "perception of form" but "form-ly perception".


What is "formly perception" ? Eye sees form, or at least it is a visual perception. Form or color is a visual data.
"perception of form" or "form-ly perception" seem to mean the same thing. Form is perceived. BTW, formly is not even a proper word. Please don't invent new English words to twist the meaning of Buddha's words.


MN102 talks about conception of Self after death. If one is reborn in rūpa loka, then one has rūpa perception (unless one is in asaññi state). If one is reborn in arūpa plane, then one has only arūpa perception (or base of neither perception nor non-perception). How difficult is this to understand?


As for your sutta quotes, there is nothing to suggest that form isn't visible form.

Forms, sounds, tastes, odours and delightful tactile objects - I offer then right back to you, For I, O Mara, do not need them.
I am repelled and humiliated by this foul, putrid body, subject to break up, fragile: I've uprooted sensual craving. As for those beings who fare amidst form
and those who abide in the formless, and those peaceful attainments too: Everywhere darkness has been destroyed



It merely states that one has let go of craving for everything, including all the worlds.
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:40 am

Hello Reflection,

reflection wrote:Jhana is absorption in the 6th sense, the mind. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less. The 5 senses are gone, all thoughts are gone, the sense of time is gone and the will to influence the process is gone also. It's just awareness of the mind itself, totally unlike anything else, like another dimension. And it'll be one of the strongest memories you'll have.


What is the exact difference between 4th Jhāna and base of infinite space?
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Sylvester » Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:38 am

Dear Alex

Alex123 wrote:Dear Sylvester,

There are MANY suttas that define rūpa as being "four great elements and form derived from them". There are also plenty of suttas which place rūpa alongside 4 other sense objects and purely mental phenomenon. There are suttas that explicitly state that rūpa is an object of the eye. I've provided few of these suttas. I can provide with more if you want. The sheer number of such suttas give a weight to this most likely proposition.



Verily, verily, verily so! And I would point out that all of these sutta definitions were given in relation to the rupakhandha.

Now, the issue is simply this - is "rupa" in the rupakhanda (form aggregate) the same as the cakkhuvinneya rupa (eye-cognisable form) as you assert, or do the 2 "rupa" mean different things? For one, are you aware of any sutta definition of cakkhuvinneya rupa, that coincides with the rupakhandha definition?

Secondly, the standard rupakhanda definition is occassionally supplemented with another pericope -

Whatever form is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: That is called the form aggregate.


Given the many qualities that can predicate rupakhandha, what is your basis for asserting that cakkhuvinneya rupa will fulfill all of these predicates?

Thirdly, your equating rupakhandha's "rupa" with cakkhuvinneya rupa violates Dependant Origination on 2 scores. Consider this nidana -

From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.


Clearly, the "rupa" in Namarupa is rupakhandha (per MN 9). The six sense media (salayatana) are simply the eyes, ears, tongue, nose, body and mind.

If you insist that the "rupa" in rupakhandha means cakkhuvinneya rupa, it would mean that the salayatana cannot come "to be" without cakkhuvinneya rupa. Your thesis would entail that the sense organs can only come into existence if there is eye-cognisable data. This sort of "Idealism" completely abrogates what MN 28 says about external rupa and the eyes -

Now if internally the eye is intact but externally forms do not come into range, nor is there a corresponding engagement, then there is no appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness.


Whether or not cakkhuvinneya rupa is present, the eye can "be". However, your insistence that the rupakhandha's "rupa" must mean eye-cognisable form will lead to a form of Idealism that contradicts MN 28.

A little further, MN 28 explicates what happens when there is phassa, ie the conjunction of eye, external form and eye-consciousness -

But when internally the eye is intact and externally forms come into range, and there is a corresponding engagement, then there is the appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness.

The form of what has thus come into being is gathered under the form clinging-aggregate. The feeling of what has thus come into being is gathered under the feeling clinging-aggregate. The perception of what has thus come into being is gathered under the perception clinging-aggregate. The fabrications of what has thus come into being are gathered under the fabrication clinging-aggregate. The consciousness of what has thus come into being is gathered under the consciousness clinging-aggregate. One discerns, 'This, it seems, is how there is the gathering, meeting, & convergence of these five clinging-aggregates.
(repeated verbatim for each of the other 5 indriyas, ayatanas and vinnanas)


This makes clear that something apart of cakkhuvinneya rupa is constituting our rupakhandha; the "rupa" of rupakhanda is that "something" that arises as an experience, but is definitely not the eye-cognisable form itself. "Rupa" as rupakhandha is "what has thus come into being" (Yaṃ tathābhūtassa rūpaṃ taṃ rūpupādānakkhandhe saṅgahaṃ gacchati), not the visual data.

If you look at the last peyyala in the series, where phassa is described in terms of the conjunction of dhamma, mind and mind-consciousness -

But when internally the intellect is intact and externally ideas come into range, and there is a corresponding engagement, then there is the appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness.

The form of what has thus come into being is gathered under the form clinging-aggregate. The feeling of what has thus come into being is gathered under the feeling clinging-aggregate. The perception of what has thus come into being is gathered under the perception clinging-aggregate. The fabrications of what has thus come into being are gathered under the fabrication clinging-aggregate. The consciousness of what has thus come into being is gathered under the consciousness clinging-aggregate. One discerns, 'This, it seems, is how there is the gathering, meeting, & convergence of these five clinging-aggregates.


As you can see, even contact that is purely mental will generate rupakhandha.

Your definition of the rupakhandha's "rupa" also distorts the traditional interpretation of the preceding nidana of consciousness being the condition of Namarupa. It would mean that eye-cognisable data do not arise until consciousness has arisen.


What is "formly perception" ? Eye sees form, or at least it is a visual perception. Form or color is a visual data.
"perception of form" or "form-ly perception" seem to mean the same thing. Form is perceived. BTW, formly is not even a proper word. Please don't invent new English words to twist the meaning of Buddha's words.


I think the neo-logism is justified as an abbreviation for "perception with reference to form". Given what MN 28 allows in terms of the form aggregate and purely mental phassa, there is every reason to take rupasanna to simply mean "perception with reference to form-world/form-jhana). This ties in neatly with the foil presented by MN 102's arupasanna.


MN102 talks about conception of Self after death. If one is reborn in rūpa loka, then one has rūpa perception (unless one is in asaññi state). If one is reborn in arūpa plane, then one has only arūpa perception (or base of neither perception nor non-perception). How difficult is this to understand?


Very easy to understand, if you note that MN 102 is using "rupim" and "arupim" as adjectives of the types of sanna in the respective worlds.
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Nyana » Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:10 am

reflection wrote:Jhana is absorption in the 6th sense, the mind. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less. The 5 senses are gone, all thoughts are gone, the sense of time is gone and the will to influence the process is gone also.

"Jhāna" as it occurs in the suttas can refer to either (i) jhāna which scrutinizes an object-support (ārammaṇūpanijjhāna) or (ii) jhāna which scrutinizes characteristics (lakkhaṇūpanijjhāna). The former is also called samatha jhāna and the latter is also called vipassanā jhāna. Mahāsi Sayādaw, The Wheel of Dhamma:

    Jhāna means closely observing an object with fixed attention. Concentrated attention given to a selected object of meditation, such as breathing for tranquility concentration, gives rise to samatha jhāna, whereas noting the characteristic nature of mind and body and contemplating on their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality brings about vipassanā jhāna.

Jhāna which scrutinizes characteristics (lakkhaṇūpanijjhāna) occurs during any moment of the development of vipassanā (vipassanābhāvanā), as well as during any path or fruition attainment. As Sayādaw U Pandita explains in In This Very Life: The Vipassanā Jhānas, vipassanā jhāna can occur with the jhāna factors of each of the four jhānas, and therefore fulfill the criteria of the standard jhāna formula.

But even with regard to jhāna which scrutinizes an object-support (ārammaṇūpanijjhāna), attending to a mental representation (nimitta) in jhāna doesn't require that all the five senses are totally shut down. There is a difference between attending to a mental representation via mental consciousness, and the formless attainments wherein the mind is totally isolated from the five sense faculties.

In commentarial terms, attending exclusively to a cognitive representation already occurs at the stage of access samādhi. Thus, the engagement is exclusively that of the recognition of the counterpart representation via mental consciousness. The difference between access samādhi and and the first jhāna is the degree of stability of the jhāna factors. The difference between the first jhāna and the formless attainments is indicated in both the Vimuttimagga and the Visuddhimagga when they discuss the formless attainments and mention Aḷāra Kālāma not seeing or hearing the five-hundred carts passing by when abiding in a formless attainment.

Sensual pleasures (kāmā) are either objects or defilements which arise in dependence upon those objects. As Nettippakaraṇa 4.22 states:

    The five strands of sensual pleasure are the proximate cause (padaṭṭhāna) of passion for sensual pleasure. The five faculties with form are the proximate cause of passion for form. The sixth sense sphere is the proximate cause of passion for existence.

Thus, if one is not attending to the five strands of sensual pleasure (kāmaguṇā) there is no proximate cause for the occurrence of passion for sensual pleasure (kāmarāga) with regard to any of those five strands of sensual pleasure. The five faculties (eye-, ear, nose-, tongue-, and body-) don't serve as a proximate cause for the occurrence of sensual pleasure. Moreover, the five faculties (pañcindriyāni) are not shut off in jhāna, as they are the proximate cause for attachment to rūpāvacara phenomena.

All the best,

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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby reflection » Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:39 am

Alex123 wrote:Hello Reflection,

reflection wrote:Jhana is absorption in the 6th sense, the mind. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less. The 5 senses are gone, all thoughts are gone, the sense of time is gone and the will to influence the process is gone also. It's just awareness of the mind itself, totally unlike anything else, like another dimension. And it'll be one of the strongest memories you'll have.


What is the exact difference between 4th Jhāna and base of infinite space?

I don't know exactly, but infinite space must be inside the 4th jhana, there is not other way. As I've said, the 1st absorption is already totally unlike anything else ever experienced, one can only imagine what it will be like. So to imagine what the immaterial attainments are is even more impossible. And in a way it is quite meaningless to try and describe all of this in words. :smile: It lead people to think they attain things they didn't.

For example a common mistake I see is people thinking stages that are still before the jhanas (those that commentaries call access concentration) are the infinite space/time attainments. But that's not true. They mistake it because of the words used. Just because this concentration is quite spacious and timeless doesn't mean you have perfected samadhi. I can only guess this misunderstanding is partly because of the importance a lot of people put on understanding things in words.

Anyway, the Buddha said, the wise can attain jhana. If one can attain to the formless attainments, s/he must be -I think- at least a stream enterer. It's highly unlikely anybody who is not a noble one to have samma samadhi (which is defined as the 4th jhana afaik) without first having samma ditthi. To quote, "right view is the forerunner". Now of course, there are also people who seriously downplay stream entry, but let's not talk about that here. ;)

With metta,
Reflection
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:01 am

Hi Geoff,
Ñāṇa wrote:"Jhāna" as it occurs in the suttas can refer to either (i) jhāna which scrutinizes an object-support (ārammaṇūpanijjhāna) or (ii) jhāna which scrutinizes characteristics (lakkhaṇūpanijjhāna). The former is also called samatha jhāna and the latter is also called vipassanā jhāna. Mahāsi Sayādaw, The Wheel of Dhamma:

    Jhāna means closely observing an object with fixed attention. Concentrated attention given to a selected object of meditation, such as breathing for tranquility concentration, gives rise to samatha jhāna, whereas noting the characteristic nature of mind and body and contemplating on their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality brings about vipassanā jhāna.
...

I am familiar with this distinction from Mahasi-school teachers and the commentarial literature.
However, I'm a little hazy about references to the vipassana jhanas in the Suttas themselves. Are you able to point to some examples?

:anjali:
Mike
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby reflection » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:31 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
reflection wrote:Jhana is absorption in the 6th sense, the mind. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less. The 5 senses are gone, all thoughts are gone, the sense of time is gone and the will to influence the process is gone also.

"Jhāna" as it occurs in the suttas

Hi Geoff,
:namaste:

As I've said before I'm no fan of pure textual analysis on such topics, but as far as I know there is no reference to "vipassana Jhanas" (whatever that means) in the definition of right concentration in the discourse of the eightfold path. If they were that important, the Buddha would have mentioned the exact distinction between the different types of jhana right there. So like Mike, I'd like to know where in the suttas this is stated, so we can see it in context. :reading:

For now, I can only conclude "vipassana Jhana" has nothing to do with jhana. Also it can be quite logical that once you are noting things happening and contemplating it is not one pointed concentration, so can not possibly be jhanas or give rise to jhanas. Whatever any teacher says, contemplation can not be the development of concentration. I don't see how that is not obvious. That doesn't mean contemplating is useless as a whole, but it is a formation of the hindrance of restlessness (or possibly doubt) during concentration development.

The same goes for having more than one sense active. By the very definition of the word "one" ;) , one pointed concentration can not be involved with more than one of the 6 senses. Because the mind always backs up the other 5 senses and those can not be noticed separately, the one sense to be concentrated on is the mind itself. Having 5 sense activity is the first hindrance of sensual craving at work.

So samatha jhana is beyond the 5 hindrances, while "vipassana jhana" is not, so is not jhana. Vipassana in itself is important of course, but once the mind has seen itself from the inside, it has had an experience on which vipassana can really be developed. I really encourage everybody to give it a shot, you won't be disappointed. I keep repeating this, because an underestimation of jhana also means an underestimation of the hindrances. And the hindrances are the main thing between us and enlightenment. ;)

With metta,
Reflection
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Nyana » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:45 pm

reflection wrote:Whatever any teacher says, contemplation can not be the development of concentration. I don't see how that is not obvious. That doesn't mean contemplating is useless as a whole, but it is a formation of the hindrance of restlessness (or possibly doubt) during concentration development.

Contemplation (anupassanā) leads to integral meditative composure (sammāsamādhi). Contemplating one of the four applications of mindfulness is the cause of integral meditative composure. MN 44 Culavedalla Sutta:

    Singleness of mind (cittassa ekaggatā) is meditative composure, friend Visakha; the four applications of mindfulness are its causes (nimitta); the four integral exertions are its requisites; and any cultivation, development, and pursuit of these qualities is its development.

This relationship between the development of the four applications of mindfulness (catunna satipaṭṭhānā bhāvanā) and integral meditative composure is also presented in SN 47.4 Sāla Sutta:

    Come, friends, remain contemplating the body in the body, ardent, fully aware, unified, with a limpid mind, composed, with singleness of mind, in order to know the body as it really is. Remain contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, fully aware, unified, with a limpid mind, composed, with singleness of mind, in order to know feelings as they really are. Remain contemplating mind in mind, ardent, fully aware, unified, with a limpid mind, composed, with singleness of mind, in order to know the mind as it really is. Remain contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, fully aware, unified, with a limpid mind, composed, with singleness of mind, in order to know phenomena as they really are.

The mental qualities of remaining ardent (ātāpī) and fully aware (sampajāna), which are standard in the descriptions of integral mindfulness, are here directly related to remaining unified (ekodibhūtā), with a limpid mind (vippasannacittā), composed (samāhitā), with singleness of mind (ekaggacittā). This discourse also indicates the relationship between mindfulness, contemplation, and meditative composure in order to know as they really are (yathābhūta ñāṇāya) the body, feelings, mind, and phenomena; fully understand (pariññāya) the body, feelings, mind, and phenomena; and remain detached from (visaṃyuttā) the body, feelings, mind, and phenomena.

Regarding the relationship between the applications of mindfulness and the jhāna factors of the four jhānas, we find the following instructions in AN 8.63 Saṅkhittadesita Sutta:

    ‘I will remain contemplating the body in the body... feelings in feelings... mind in mind... phenomena in phenomena, ardent, fully aware, mindful, having removed covetousness and unhappiness with regard to the world.’ That, monk, is how you should train.

    When, monk, this meditative composure is developed in this way and made much of, you should develop this meditative composure with directed thought and evaluation, you should develop it without directed thought but with mere evaluation, you should develop it without directed thought and evaluation, you should develop it with joy, you should develop it without joy, you should develop it with comfort, you should develop it with equanimity.

reflection wrote:The same goes for having more than one sense active. By the very definition of the word "one" ;) , one pointed concentration can not be involved with more than one of the 6 senses. Because the mind always backs up the other 5 senses and those can not be noticed separately, the one sense to be concentrated on is the mind itself. Having 5 sense activity is the first hindrance of sensual craving at work.

AN 4.12 Sīla Sutta informs us that singleness of mind can be maintained and the five hindrances abandoned in any of the four postures (standing, walking, sitting, reclining). Moreover, the occurrence of light nimittas and other rūpāvacara phenomena in jhāna requires the activity of the corresponding sense faculties. This has already been indicated in the quotation from Nettippakaraṇa 4.22.

reflection wrote:So samatha jhana is beyond the 5 hindrances, while "vipassana jhana" is not, so is not jhana.

The hindrances are abandoned through integral mindfulness prior to jhāna. MN 39 Mahāssapura Sutta elaborates:

    Here monks, a monk resorts to a secluded dwelling: a forest, the shade of a tree, a mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle grove, an open space, a heap of straw. After his meal, returning from his alms round, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body upright, and brings mindfulness to the fore.

    Abandoning covetousness with regard to the world [a synonym for the first hindrance], he dwells with a mind devoid of covetousness. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning aversion and anger, he dwells with a mind devoid of aversion, sympathetic to the welfare of all living beings. He cleanses his mind of aversion and anger. Abandoning lethargy and drowsiness, he dwells with a mind devoid of lethargy and drowsiness, mindful, fully aware, clearly percipient. He cleanses his mind of lethargy and drowsiness. Abandoning restlessness and anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness and anxiety. Abandoning doubt, he dwells having crossed over doubt, with no perplexity with regard to skillful phenomena. He cleanses his mind of doubt.

reflection wrote:I really encourage everybody to give it a shot, you won't be disappointed. I keep repeating this, because an underestimation of jhana also means an underestimation of the hindrances. And the hindrances are the main thing between us and enlightenment.

It would be good to drop the condescending attitude and acknowledge that other members may have just as much or more experience in these matters than you do.

All the best,

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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby reflection » Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:12 pm

Hi Geoff,

:namaste:

I am not saying other members don't know about this subject, but I think a debate should serve a purpose other than just trying to be right. So I try to encourage people, I'm not trying set them aside as inexperienced. I'm sorry if my intention wasn't clear enough. I do that because I think the quote below is only really possible having experienced absorption, when the mind saw the mind.

"Remain contemplating mind in mind, ardent, fully aware, unified, with a limpid mind, composed, with singleness of mind, in order to know the mind as it really is."

Likewise, it's quite hard to contemplate how an engine works without ever having opened the bonnet of a car to look at it. We can argue about the interpretation of the suttas, but I've said before why I don't think that will do a lot. They can easily be interpreted both ways depending on how one wants to read them.

With metta,
Reflection
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Nyana » Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:27 pm

reflection wrote:I am not saying other members don't know about this subject, but I think a debate should serve a purpose other than just trying to be right.

I would suggest that a statement such as the following is not only incorrect, it also fails to account for the actual experience of numerous teachers and practitioners:

reflection wrote:Whatever any teacher says, contemplation can not be the development of concentration. I don't see how that is not obvious.


Anyone who denies the efficacy of classical vipassanābhāvanā without rūpāvacarajjhāna and modern Burmese vipassanā jhāna is asserting that they -- and the select few that agree with them -- are right, and anyone who doesn't agree with them is necessarily wrong. This not only represents a dismissive, extreme agenda, the entire premise is nonsensical on the face of it.

All the best,

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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby reflection » Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:48 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
reflection wrote:I am not saying other members don't know about this subject, but I think a debate should serve a purpose other than just trying to be right.

I would suggest that a statement such as the following is not only incorrect, it also fails to account for the actual experience of numerous teachers and practitioners:

reflection wrote:Whatever any teacher says, contemplation can not be the development of concentration. I don't see how that is not obvious.


Anyone who denies the efficacy of classical vipassanābhāvanā without rūpāvacarajjhāna and modern Burmese vipassanā jhāna is asserting that they -- and the select few that agree with them -- are right, and anyone who doesn't agree with them is necessarily wrong. This not only represents a dismissive, extreme agenda, the entire premise is nonsensical on the face of it.

All the best,

Geoff


Dear Geoff,
:namaste:

Vipassana is very useful, I don't recall denying that. Those "vipassana jhana" experiences are undoubtedly true experiences. I'm just saying it is not an absorption when you can still contemplate in it, imo jhanas are deeper. And I think you need those kind of full absorptions on the path. To call that opinion dismissive of other practitioners doesn't really support a reasonable debate. That's like saying someone is dismissive of cyclers when one thinks you need a car to win a specific race; It doesn't add anything to the discussion other than tension.

Anyway, you can call me extreme if you want, that part may be true. :P Extreme views are not necessarily wrong views. If it was easy to develop samadhi, we would all be enlightened. ;)

Metta,
Reflection
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby beeblebrox » Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:59 pm

Maybe I missed something, but isn't the point of jhana is to create an ideal condition for yourself from which you can do the vipassana, i.e. to see clearly the characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta... and also to see the unfolding of the paticca sammupada... which leads to liberation? Practicing the jhana for its own sake just seems pointless to me. It's not samma-samadhi... just a wrongly directed concentration.

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