Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:37 pm

manasikara wrote:I found this article by Ven. Thanissaro very helpful in clarifying some of the issues raised so far:
One Tool Among Many: The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... etool.html


kind regards
And in that essay an accurate description of the goal of the Burmese vipassana traditions can be found:

    So, to answer the question with which we began: Vipassana is not a meditation technique. It's a quality of mind — the ability to see events clearly in the present moment. Although mindfulness is helpful in fostering vipassana, it's not enough for developing vipassana to the point of total release. Other techniques and approaches are needed as well. In particular, vipassana needs to be teamed with samatha — the ability to settle the mind comfortably in the present — so as to master the attainment of strong states of absorption, or jhana. Based on this mastery, samatha and vipassana are then applied to a skillful program of questioning, called appropriate attention, directed at all experience: exploring events not in terms of me/not me, or being/not being, but in terms of the four noble truths. The meditator pursues this program until it leads to a fivefold understanding of all events: in terms of their arising, their passing away, their drawbacks, their allure, and the escape from them. Only then can the mind taste release.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:42 pm

tiltbillings wrote: In particular, vipassana needs to be teamed with samatha — the ability to settle the mind comfortably in the present — so as to master the attainment of strong states of absorption, or jhana. Based on this mastery, samatha and vipassana are then applied to a skillful program of questioning, called appropriate attention, directed at all experience: exploring events not in terms of me/not me, or being/not being, but in terms of the four noble truths. The meditator pursues this program until it leads to a fivefold understanding of all events: in terms of their arising, their passing away, their drawbacks, their allure, and the escape from them. Only then can the mind taste release.[/b][/list]


Is this saying that jhana is a necessary precursor for insight to arise?

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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:22 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: In particular, vipassana needs to be teamed with samatha — the ability to settle the mind comfortably in the present — so as to master the attainment of strong states of absorption, or jhana. Based on this mastery, samatha and vipassana are then applied to a skillful program of questioning, called appropriate attention, directed at all experience: exploring events not in terms of me/not me, or being/not being, but in terms of the four noble truths. The meditator pursues this program until it leads to a fivefold understanding of all events: in terms of their arising, their passing away, their drawbacks, their allure, and the escape from them. Only then can the mind taste release.[/b][/list]


Is this saying that jhana is a necessary precursor for insight to arise?

Spiny
Do the suttas say that jhana is a necessary precursor for insight to arise such that even the sutta-jhana-istsas agree without differing opinions? Do the the suttas define jhana in all its aspects such that there are no differing opinions as what the various aspects are much less what jhana means in the suttas? Jhana is understood in such variation of ways as to make any question concerning jhana such as to require extensive qualifications to be actually meaningful.

Vipassana, insight, does not require jhana, certainly not as jhana is understood in the far end of the bell curve:

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9016&start=0

But insight meditation practice certainly does lead to highly refined levels of concentration, which some feel looks like the jhanas some see in the suttas.

This sentence -- vipassana needs to be teamed with samatha — the ability to settle the mind comfortably in the present — so as to master the attainment of strong states of absorption, or jhana -- is, of course, the problem in the above paragraph. I would simply argue that the practice vipassana meditation does lead to highly refined levels of concentration that could be called jhana.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vipassana_jhanas
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:30 am

tiltbillings wrote: I would simply argue that the practice vipassana meditation does lead to highly refined levels of concentration that could be called jhana.


So in your experience does the experience of vipassana "continue" when jhana is reached?

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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:17 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: I would simply argue that the practice vipassana meditation does lead to highly refined levels of concentration that could be called jhana.


So in your experience does the experience of vipassana "continue" when jhana is reached?

Spiny
The problem, as always, with a question such as this is what is meant by jhana. If one means something like the vipassana jhanas, yes to your question; if one means the heavy duty absorption of jhana that is described in the Visuddhimagga, then probably not.

There is no definitive answer that I have seen, but there are a lot of varying opinions on both sides and in-between, often well researched and documented. Look at the OP msgs of this thread, which are, of course, well done, but they are certainly not the final word on the subject of jhana in general or even jhana in terms of the Nikayas.

In terms of actual practice, mostly, it is a matter of looking at what is out there, what speaks to you and then working diligently with that. Concerning these issues, I don't think we need to draw hard and fast lines around our various positions, and probably, for any number of reasons, we really should not.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Brizzy » Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:55 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: I would simply argue that the practice vipassana meditation does lead to highly refined levels of concentration that could be called jhana.


So in your experience does the experience of vipassana "continue" when jhana is reached?

Spiny
The problem, as always, with a question such as this is what is meant by jhana. If one means something like the vipassana jhanas, yes to your question; if one means the heavy duty absorption of jhana that is described in the Visuddhimagga, then probably not.

There is no definitive answer that I have seen, but there are a lot of varying opinions on both sides and in-between, often well researched and documented. Look at the OP msgs of this thread, which are, of course, well done, but they are certainly not the final word on the subject of jhana in general or even jhana in terms of the Nikayas.

In terms of actual practice, mostly, it is a matter of looking at what is out there, what speaks to you and then working diligently with that. Concerning these issues, I don't think we need to draw hard and fast lines around our various positions, and probably, for any number of reasons, we really should not.


I actually agree :jawdrop: ! (mostly). One area of concern is the actual term 'vipassana jhana', which in itself is a good description. Unfortunately the term is inextricably linked with 'nana knowledges', 'momentary concentration' etc. Which to me personally, only blur the teachings and can lead one in all different directions. How about 'tranquil wisdom'?

I offer the following link for readers to assess for themselves, how 'vipassana jhana' can lead to differing views on what the Buddha actually taught.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pandita/html/jhanas.html

Metta

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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:09 am

Brizzy wrote:I actually agree :jawdrop: ! (mostly). One area of concern is the actual term 'vipassana jhana', which in itself is a good description. Unfortunately the term is inextricably linked with 'nana knowledges', 'momentary concentration' etc. Which to me personally, only blur the teachings and can lead one in all different directions. How about 'tranquil wisdom'?
A rose by any other name . . . . (Actually, in response to something you said in another thread about this: momentary concentration is not a matter of speeding up; rather, it is a kind of slowing down.) As for "tranquil wisdom," I shrug my shoulders. What's in a name?

As for agreeing, that is a good thing.

I offer the following link for readers to assess for themselves, how 'vipassana jhana' can lead to differing views on what the Buddha actually taught.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pandita/html/jhanas.html
It is a matter of opinion and matter of interpretation. I'd point the readers to these two talks found here:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/talks/?search ... =-rec_date

Obviously we are going to disagree, but I am not sure this requires a debate, and as I have tried to say elsewhere, I am not so sure that the Dhamma is inflexible as some try to make it.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Brizzy » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:24 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Brizzy wrote:I actually agree :jawdrop: ! (mostly). One area of concern is the actual term 'vipassana jhana', which in itself is a good description. Unfortunately the term is inextricably linked with 'nana knowledges', 'momentary concentration' etc. Which to me personally, only blur the teachings and can lead one in all different directions. How about 'tranquil wisdom'?
A rose by any other name . . . . (Actually, in response to something you said in another thread about this: momentary concentration is not a matter of speeding up; rather, it is a kind of slowing down.) As for "tranquil wisdom," I shrug my shoulders. What's in a name?

As for agreeing, that is a good thing.

I offer the following link for readers to assess for themselves, how 'vipassana jhana' can lead to differing views on what the Buddha actually taught.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pandita/html/jhanas.html
It is a matter of opinion and matter of interpretation. I'd point the readers to these two talks found here:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/talks/?search ... =-rec_date

Obviously we are going to disagree, but I am not sure this requires a debate, and as I have tried to say elsewhere, I am not so sure that the Dhamma is inflexible as some try to make it.


Agreed! :hug:
However, since this thread is titled 'Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas' I think that there are certain aspects to 'vipassana jhana' as portrayed in my link that I personally find hard to reconcile with jhana as portrayed in the suttas. That is my personal opinion and people are free to make their own determinations.
I am sorry to say I have not listened to the 2 talks you posted, but will endeavour to do so when time permits.

Metta

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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Gena1480 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:58 am

the Jhana that is described as absorption in the suttas
are the ones that teacher/s of the ascetic Gotama practice
and Buddhaghosa discribes this kind of Jhanas practice calm or samatha, for example to drop the applied and sustain thought ,they concentrate on silence and suppress the thoughts
the Buddha teaches the samma samadhi this kind of practice are using applied thought and sustain thought to get to silence, like applying the word Buddho. this way you see how drop of
requirement occurs, thus producing the dry insight, with this drying insight, you then see which requirement conditions, making insight fulfill its function (sammasati)
thus making Jhana with Discernment. and this is the right way to practice according to Sutta 111 and this is the right way to spin the Dhamma wheel.
so the teaching of Calm Jhana are not 8nolbepath practice
metta mitta
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Gena1480 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:02 am

i wanted to say that when working with dry insight it sammasati
with the insight fulfill its function its Discernment
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Sylvester » Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:13 am

tiltbillings wrote:The problem, as always, with a question such as this is what is meant by jhana. If one means something like the vipassana jhanas, yes to your question; if one means the heavy duty absorption of jhana that is described in the Visuddhimagga, then probably not.



Ahem, the heavy duty absorption model is not only found in the Vsm. DN 9 gives the clearest statement about the impossibility of thinking and intending when experiencing the Jhanas.

But only if one audits this bad translation from ATI against the Pali -

Now, when the monk is percipient of himself here, then from there to there, step by step, he touches the peak of perception. As he remains at the peak of perception, the thought occurs to him, 'Thinking is bad for me. Not thinking is better for me. If I were to think and will, this perception of mine would cease, and a grosser perception would appear. What if I were neither to think nor to will?' [3] So he neither thinks nor wills, and as he is neither thinking nor willing, that perception ceases [4] and another, grosser perception does not appear. He touches cessation. This, Potthapada, is how there is the alert [5] step-by step attainment of the ultimate cessation of perception


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:42 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:Is this saying that jhana is a necessary precursor for insight to arise?


Here is interesting sutta passage:

It is possible to have "adhipaññādhammavipassanā" without internal tranquility (ajjhattaṃ cetosamatha).
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:28 pm

These above two msgs are of significant interest here.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Brizzy » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:40 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:Is this saying that jhana is a necessary precursor for insight to arise?


Here is interesting sutta passage:

It is possible to have "adhipaññādhammavipassanā" without internal tranquility (ajjhattaṃ cetosamatha).


Are you implying that 'insight' in this case is 'stream entry'?

I don't think anybody has said that insight's cannot arise without jhana.

The sutta in question is not advocating a 'dry insight' approach, it actually points out the necessity of jhana & insight yolked together.

For someone with neither tranquility or insight, it is suggested they try & learn both together.

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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:08 pm

Brizzy wrote:Are you implying that 'insight' in this case is 'stream entry'?


Why not?

    Whatever streams there are in the world: their blocking is mindfulness (Sati), mindfulness is their restraint — I tell you with discernment (paññā) they're finally stopped


According to the Culaniddesa (Nd.II), the streams that "flow every which way" are the streams of craving, views, conceit, defilement, corruption, and ignorance that flow out the six sense media.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Please note: The Buddha says that mindfulness blocks hindrances, and wisdom eliminates them (which would result even in Arhatship).

Jhāna on the other hand is taught to be:

    "It may be, Cunda, that some monk, detached from sense-objects, detached from unsalutary ideas, enters into the first absorption that is born of detachment, accompanied by thought-conception and discursive thinking, and filled with rapture and joy, and he then might think: 'I am abiding in effacement.' But in the Noble One's discipline it is not these [attainments] that are called 'effacement'; in the Noble One's discipline they are called 'abidings in ease here and now. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html

Also one can attain Jhāna and still be tempted by sensual desires, so what about permanent eradication of defilements?

    a certain person secluded from sensual desires ... re ... attains to the fourth higher state of mind. Thinking I am the gainer of the fourth higher state of mind [Jhāna] he mixes up with the bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, lay disciples male and female. kings and the ministers of kings, with those of other faiths and their disciples. Abiding with that association, diffused and engaged in talk, the mind touched with greed and corrupted he would give up the holy life and come to low life. - 6. Hatthisariputtasuttaṃ - Venerable Hatthisariputta
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Ytrog » Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:09 am

IMHO Eight Mindful Steps To Happiness contains a great chapter about the topic at hand. :anjali:
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby amtross » Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:24 am

tiltbillings wrote:...

I'd point the readers to these two talks found here:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/talks/?search ... rec_date...


Thanks Tiltbillings! I really enjoyed the Joseph G talk. I've listned to a bunch of his talks and like them all but this is one of my favorites.


sean
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby Brizzy » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:27 am

Alex123 wrote:
Brizzy wrote:Are you implying that 'insight' in this case is 'stream entry'?


Why not?

    Whatever streams there are in the world: their blocking is mindfulness (Sati), mindfulness is their restraint — I tell you with discernment (paññā) they're finally stopped


According to the Culaniddesa (Nd.II), the streams that "flow every which way" are the streams of craving, views, conceit, defilement, corruption, and ignorance that flow out the six sense media.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Please note: The Buddha says that mindfulness blocks hindrances, and wisdom eliminates them (which would result even in Arhatship).

Jhāna on the other hand is taught to be:

    "It may be, Cunda, that some monk, detached from sense-objects, detached from unsalutary ideas, enters into the first absorption that is born of detachment, accompanied by thought-conception and discursive thinking, and filled with rapture and joy, and he then might think: 'I am abiding in effacement.' But in the Noble One's discipline it is not these [attainments] that are called 'effacement'; in the Noble One's discipline they are called 'abidings in ease here and now. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html

Also one can attain Jhāna and still be tempted by sensual desires, so what about permanent eradication of defilements?

    a certain person secluded from sensual desires ... re ... attains to the fourth higher state of mind. Thinking I am the gainer of the fourth higher state of mind [Jhāna] he mixes up with the bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, lay disciples male and female. kings and the ministers of kings, with those of other faiths and their disciples. Abiding with that association, diffused and engaged in talk, the mind touched with greed and corrupted he would give up the holy life and come to low life. - 6. Hatthisariputtasuttaṃ - Venerable Hatthisariputta


I don't think anybody is suggesting that jhana is the end. On the other hand to portray jhana as you do is hardly representative of the suttas as a whole. Jhana is Right meditation, it is that simple. It has always been enough for me to know that on the night the Buddha attained enlightenment it was with the use of jhana.
Jhana is easy and it is also extremely difficult. To achieve jhana your virtue & renunciation have to be pretty hot at the time of attainment, also the jhana's(sutta) are achieved through discernment. If these factors are in place, then jhana becomes an easier process.
Dry insight on the other hand can be more appealing, since the practices can be undertaken 24/7, no lack of virtue or lack of renunciation actually impedes one in the process of noting or feeling. Indeed, such practices as noting or feeling can be undertaken regardless of ones actions.
Cultivation of jhana is a lifestyle choice in and of itself, one cannot claim to cultivate jhana and live life heedlessly.
I apologise if your intended use of insight has nothing to with noting/feeling practices. If your intended use of insight is reflection/investigation/discernment then I am in part agreement with you.

Metta

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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:45 am

Brizzy wrote: Dry insight on the other hand can be more appealing, since the practices can be undertaken 24/7, no lack of virtue or lack of renunciation actually impedes one in the process of noting or feeling. Indeed, such practices as noting or feeling can be undertaken regardless of ones actions.
That is an interesting and extremely unfortunate distortion of the Mahasi Sayadaw practice. It right up there with B. Alan Wallace's sniper business. In all my formal instruction, it has never, ever been presented outside a Buddhist context of sīla-samādhi-paññā. That mindfulness practice has been, by some, secularized does not diminish the significance of this profound practice within its Dhamma context.

Cultivation of jhana is a lifestyle choice in and of itself, one cannot claim to cultivate jhana and live life heedlessly.
Attainment of significant levels of jhana type concentration do not require a Buddhist context and certainly can happen within contexts thay are not at all in line with what is taught in the suttas.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Jhāna According to the Pāḷi Nikāyas

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:46 am

amtross wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:...

I'd point the readers to these two talks found here:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/talks/?search ... rec_date...


Thanks Tiltbillings! I really enjoyed the Joseph G talk. I've listned to a bunch of his talks and like them all but this is one of my favorites.


sean
You are welcome.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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