Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby reflection » Sat Aug 11, 2012 8:19 pm

Hi dhamma friends,

Over time I've seen a general idea (on this forum and elsewhere) of the suttas teaching a meditation focussed on the body as the main or only approach. I am not trying to debunk this idea, or trying to put it down. But while it is undeniable that body awareness is an important aspect of the training, I am not of the opinion that all meditation (specifically the jhanas) have to do with bodily awareness. Deep meditation is about absorption in the mind, leaving behind the 5 bodily senses. This is not just my view, there are many sharing this view, including respectable monastics.

Still, to me there often seems to be confusion amongst practitioners who either agree with, or investigate this perspective. They may think it is not in the suttas and is just a commentarial approach. I think this is partly because it is often called a 'visuddhimagga meditation', which I think is an erroneous and sort of off-putting label. Also some major scholars do not agree with this view and translate the suttas accordingly.

I decided to share some evidence from the suttas which -in my eyes- show that deep concentration is not bodily, but mental. Usually I'm more of taking the way of experience into meditation, but for others this thread may be very useful.

I'm fully aware that all quotes I put here can textualy be interpreted in other ways if one wants to. And so a textual debate is certainly not what I'm after. For that please use the 'great jhana debate' thread or open a new one. Also, the existing debate threads are so massively long, I wanted this outside of it because I think it is important and deserves attention. So rather than a debate, I would like to use this thread as a sort of sutta reference for those who think or experience concentration can go into states where there is no contact with the 5 senses; both as an inspiration, support and an opportunity to study. Also (although again I'm not trying to convince anybody) it could provide people who don't agree with a small perspective on the others opinion, which could lead to more mutual understanding and harmony.

I'm not the greatest sutta expert, neither a pali expert. So I can't go into detail and I surely can't consider myself to be the best person to open this topic. But since I think it's important, I'd like to kick it off anyway. I would like to invite everybody to share any additional sutta quotes and comments they would like to add. Or perhaps something similar already exists without me knowing about it. The below is what I could find so far. I hope somebody can benefit from it. There's more in the back of my mind which I couldn't recall or find at this time. Those I will most probably add later.

With a lot of metta,
Reflection

:anjali:

-------------------------------------


For starters, it's important to consider how the word 'kaya' (body), which is often used in relation to jhana or other words on meditation, does not have to refer to the physical body.

From ATI:
kaya: Body. Usually refers to the physical body (rupa-kaya; see rupa), but sometimes refers to the mental body (nama-kaya; see nama)."

From PTS:
Kaya: Group, heap, collection, aggregate, body.


A clear example of kaya as a mental body as opposed to a physical body is here:
"'From name-&-form as a requisite condition comes contact. Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how, from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes contact. If the qualities, traits, themes, & indicators by which there is a description of name-group (mental activity) were all absent, would designation-contact with regard to the form-group (the physical properties) be discerned?"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Another example of the wide use of kaya is the anapanasati sutta where the breath is called "a kaya among all kayas":
I tell you, monks, that this — the in-&-out breath — is classed as a body among bodies, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the [breath]-body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.


So kaya could also refer to a collection of mental experiences for one thing. Seeing kaya as a general collection rather than 'physical body' gives the jhana descriptions another interpretation of jhana being mental.

The anapanasati sutta goes on to feelings (again mentiones it's about feelings amongst feelings) and goes on telling us to focus on the mind in and of itself:
On whatever occasion a monk trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out sensitive to the mind'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out satisfying the mind'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out steadying the mind'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out releasing the mind': On that occasion the monk remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I don't say that there is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing in one of lapsed mindfulness and no alertness, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

So anapanasati is one way of focussing on the mind, letting go of the other senses.

The following suttas shows how the pleasure of jhana is not of these five senses:
"And what is rapture of the flesh? There are these five strings of sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Sounds cognizable via the ear... Aromas cognizable via the nose... Flavors cognizable via the tongue... Tactile sensations cognizable via the body — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Now whatever rapture arises in dependence on these five strands of sensuality, that is called rapture of the flesh.

"And what is rapture not of the flesh? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. This is called rapture not of the flesh.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

For those who want some more information on my interpretation of the term 'sensuality', I eleborated here:
viewtopic.php?f=43&t=13526&start=20#p202719

"Monks, there are these nine step-by-step stoppings. Which nine?

"When one has attained the first jhāna, the perception of sensuality has been stopped.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Here we can see how it is possible and important to let the body and the 5 senses fade from the mind:
"And what is the earth property? ... head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or anything else internal... When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the earth property fade from the mind.

(Same for liquid, fire, wind and space)

"There remains only consciousness: pure & bright. What does one cognize with that consciousness? One cognizes 'pleasure.' One cognizes 'pain.' One cognizes 'neither pleasure nor pain.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Now 'there remains only consciousness' is perhaps accurate translation wise, but still wrong. Consciousness always needs an object, there can't be just consciousness. That there is not only consciousness, is also clear from the next sentence which says there are also feelings. So how can we interpret so it makes sense? Now if we look in the PTS dictionary at the entry vinnana:
there is a varying use of the term in the Canon itself. In what may be a very old Sutta S ii.95 v. is given as a synonym of citta (mind)
So here I would personally translate "there remains only mind: pure & bright". Or I would do something with the word 'only' (yeva). In any way, there remains more than just consciousness.

After this, the sutta goes on to explain the process through the jhanas without explicitly mentioning them. However we can see it, because after cessation of various feelings (which I take to be the 1st-2nd-3rd jhana factors), it ends with "There remains only equanimity", referring to the 4th jhana. Then the arupas are described.



Sariputta explains nibbana and the importance of letting go of the five senses to understand nibbana:
But what is the pleasure here, my friend, where there is nothing felt?"

"Just that is the pleasure here, my friend: where there is nothing felt. There are these five strings of sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable via the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing; sounds cognizable via the ear... smells cognizable via the nose... tastes cognizable via the tongue... tactile sensations cognizable via the body — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Whatever pleasure or joy arises in dependence on these five strings of sensuality, that is sensual pleasure.

"Now there is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality, that is an affliction for him. Just as pain arises as an affliction in a healthy person for his affliction, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality that beset the monk is an affliction for him. Now, the Blessed One has said that whatever is an affliction is stress. So by this line of reasoning it may be known how Unbinding is pleasant.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


The Buddha was able to meditate through a thunderstorm and a fight and not hear or see anything:
And I asked him: 'Why, brother, has this great crowd gathered together?' And he answered me: 'Just now, Lord, there was a heavy rain, with thunder rolling, lightning flashing, and thunderbolts crashing. And two farmers who were brothers were killed close by, together with four oxen. It is because of this that the great crowd has gathered. But where, Lord, were you?'

I was here, brother.' 'Yet, Lord, did you not see it?' 'I did not see it, brother.' 'But the noise, Lord, you surely heard?' 'I did not hear it, brother.' Then that man asked me: 'Then, Lord, perhaps you slept?' 'No, brother, I was not sleeping.' 'Then, Lord, you were conscious?' 'I was, brother.' Then that man said: 'Then, Lord, while conscious and awake, in the midst of a heavy rain, with thunder rolling, lightning flashing, and thunderbolts crashing, you neither saw it nor heard the noise?' And I answered him, saying: 'I did not, brother.'

"And to that man, Pukkusa, came the thought: 'Marvellous it is, most wonderful indeed it is, the state of calmness wherein abide those who have gone forth from the world!' And there arose in him great faith in me, and he respectfully saluted me, and keeping his right side towards me, he went his way."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Aug 11, 2012 11:43 pm

Hi Reflection,
There are many understanding and experience based on what the texts say, and Buddhagosa mentiones the mental body which is a form of nimita I believe (I am no expert of the Visudhimagga so someone please correct or confirm please)

if you look elsewhere the Buddha uses the phrase "touches with their body" sometimes this is something which can be touched sometimes not, but it is meaning direct experience. however some meditators experiance a body others do not, there is a wide range of experiance regarding the same thing.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby daverupa » Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:08 am

Kaya could refer to the body as a six-sense body, whereupon 'mental' states are properly considered as bodily states. On this view, mano functions as that sixth sense, vinnana functions across them all, and citta stitches it together (ignorantly, as it happens).

So being detached from kama and detached from akusala dhammas is being detached from the hindrances across the six senses, not being detached from the senses themselves. Going completely beyond rupa-sanna only happens in the arupas - and these aren't necessary for liberation, while jhana is.

There are a number of Suttas in this connection, but so too are there Suttas which laud arupa attainments. The problem is that these look rather stitched on to me, and it seems quite likely that they are brahman tools. Jhana is not this kind of thing, which seems apparent to me, but of course views on this matter are legion.
    "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: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby Sylvester » Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:22 am

daverupa wrote:So being detached from kama and detached from akusala dhammas is being detached from the hindrances across the six senses, not being detached from the senses themselves. Going completely beyond rupa-sanna only happens in the arupas - and these aren't necessary for liberation, while jhana is.



And this of course the Vibhanga position, which caused insufferable problems for poor Ven Buddhaghosa in his tortured explanation in the Visuddhimagga concerning the 'eva' problem in the 2 seclusion pericopes of the 1st Jhana.

What's wrong with taking a purely philological approach, such as the CPD's, as to what kāmā means in the sutta strata, versus the Abhidhamma strata?
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby reflection » Sun Aug 12, 2012 8:40 am

daverupa wrote:So being detached from kama and detached from akusala dhammas is being detached from the hindrances across the six senses, not being detached from the senses themselves. Going completely beyond rupa-sanna only happens in the arupas - and these aren't necessary for liberation, while jhana is.

Thank you for your reply. I think detachment from the 5 senses happens before jhana already. So although I don't agree with your comment, if I were to take on your interpretation, training towards being detached from the 5 senses leads one through the jhanas, because the arupas happen after the jhanas. So for those who have similar interpretations, the above can be helpful too, I hope.

:anjali:
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby daverupa » Sun Aug 12, 2012 4:23 pm

reflection wrote:I think detachment from the 5 senses happens before jhana already.


Well, when I study MN 125 I notice the following progression:

Acquisition of faith
Morality
Sense-Control
Moderation in eating
Vigilance
Mindfulness and clear consciousness
Overcoming of the five hindrances
The four applications of mindfulness
Jhana

So, where does detachment from 5 senses happen? I don't see it anywhere until the arupas, and those oft-intrusive pericopes are sometimes isolated from the gradual training and the jhanas entirely; it's incorrect to think the jhanas must precede them, as well, as the brahmins of the day were quite adept at them without doing any jhana at all.

The arupas are, in any event, unnecessary for liberation, which means that detachment from the five senses is also unnecessary. In fact,

MN 152 wrote:"There is the case where one does not see forms with the eye, or hear sounds with the ear [in a trance of non-perception]. That's how the brahman Parasiri teaches his followers the development of the faculties."

"That being the case, Uttara, then a blind person will have developed faculties, and a deaf person will have developed faculties, according to the words of the brahman Parasiri. For a blind person does not see forms with the eye, and a deaf person does not hear sounds with the ear."


In training, the senses are watched carefully and responded to according to the Teaching. This continues in satipatthana, and it continues in jhana:

AN 9.36 wrote:There is the case where a monk, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness...
    "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: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby reflection » Sun Aug 12, 2012 7:08 pm

Thank you for your reply.

I'm not going to argue, because as I've said, that would be better in a debate thread, where these things are undoubtedly already discussed. Also, in my eyes I have no experience of the arupas so I'd be talking in the dark. But as far as I know, the arupas follow the jhanas in progression in a lot of suttas. For example AN 9.34 I quoted before. So according to that I think it would be impossible to do the arupas without the jhanas. I agree it can be seen otherwise, so if you don't agree, that's fine. Anyway, I think for those who want to do the arupas (whether they follow jhana or not), this thread can also be a support.

I just want to say with reference to MN 152 that the Buddha went into a state of being non percipient of sounds and sights as well, as is obvious from the sutta on the thunderstorm I quoted. So there is nothing intrinsically wrong with such a state, and that's also not stated in MN 152. That sutta mainly says such a state is not the end of the training, in contrary to which the Brahman thought, considering "That's how the brahman Parasiri teaches his followers the development of the faculties.", referring to full developed faculties. But whatever Parasiri taught, according to the Buddha there is further development, so one can also stay equanimous outside of concentration states.

On the contrary, I think that sutta provides more support:
"And how is one a noble one with developed faculties? There is the case where, when seeing a form with the eye, there arises in a monk what is agreeable, what is disagreeable, what is agreeable & disagreeable. If he wants, he remains percipient of loathsomeness in the presence of what is not loathsome. If he wants, he remains percipient of unloathsomeness in the presence of what is loathsome. If he wants, he remains percipient of loathsomeness in the presence of what is not loathsome & what is. If he wants, he remains percipient of unloathsomeness in the presence of what is loathsome & what is not. If he wants — in the presence of what is loathsome & what is not — cutting himself off from both, he remains equanimous, alert, & mindful.


So there are multiple ways of remaining percipient of the loathsome and unloathsome. Also there is a state of 'cutting himself off', which does not mention being percipient of the sight (or sound) anymore. So he who has developed the faculties can remain percepient of those things, or not, and can also choose how to see them, which makes the Buddha's teachings superior to those of Parasiri.

The above is not wanting to argue or convince, I think it just fits well in the thread, adding a bit of evidence. That's the reason I went into it a bit, not to disprove you. All these tiny bits together, I personally think make quite a case. Of course, I can see your reasoning as well. So it's up to us to find out through experience what's right. And our experience makes us read things differently.


With metta,
Reflection
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby danieLion » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:22 pm

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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby daverupa » Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:15 am

danieLion wrote:Hi,
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=13339&p=201427#p201427
Best,
Daniel


We can also read viewtopic.php?f=43&t=11719#p177537 which discusses what is actually present, and what actually ceases, in jhana. I do not intend to be argumentative, but being careful and accurate here is a useful effort. If one is unpercipient of the body, one is not in jhana; being deceived about this will lead one astray.

"Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal...
    "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: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby danieLion » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:13 am

daverupa wrote:We can also read viewtopic.php?f=43&t=11719#p177537 which discusses what is actually present, and what actually ceases, in jhana.

Insert deep gratitude icon here.
daverupa wrote:I do not intend to be argumentative, but being careful and accurate here is a useful effort. If one is unpercipient of the body, one is not in jhana; being deceived about this will lead one astray.

No argument here. :clap:

"Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal...
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby reflection » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:06 am

daverupa wrote: If one is unpercipient of the body, one is not in jhana; being deceived about this will lead one astray.



With all respect,

I'm not trying to deceive anyone or lead them astray. Instead, I think I provided some quotes as directly from the suttas as possible so people can think for themselves.

Obviously I am convinced of the opposite and I think it is very important for people to experience absorptions as I think the suttas I quoted describe. A lot of those who experience such states -or experiences towards them- do agree, or will agree once they do experience it. So with all those practitioners in mind, may I ask you please be a bit careful when sharing your opinion. If we all do that we can have a bit of harmony even when we disagree, which was one of the reasons for opening this thread. So likewise, I also tend not to go around saying people who don't agree with me are being deceived and lead astray.

:focus:

:anjali:

With metta
Reflection
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:21 am

Hi Reflection,
reflection wrote:I'm not trying to deceive anyone or lead them astray. Instead, I think I provided some quotes as directly from the suttas as possible so people can think for themselves.

I think this is good. The problem with "jhana" is it is so unclear what it means. Certainly from the point of view of the experienced collected in the commentaries and Vissudhimagga and from modern teachers, the more concentrated states are obtained by focussing on the more conceptual objects (kasinas, brahmaviharas, breath nimitta, and so on), with the less-conceptual objects, such as elements, leading only to "access" concentration (e.g. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamma%E1%B9%AD%E1%B9%ADh%C4%81na#Forty_meditation_subjects). How much of the method or results of using these objects can be "deduced" from the suttas is difficult to say, but it may be worth noting that the vast majority of the mentions of jhana in the suttas don't even mention an object, let alone a method.

:anjali:
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:39 am

daverupa wrote:Acquisition of faith
Morality
Sense-Control
Moderation in eating
Vigilance
Mindfulness and clear consciousness
Overcoming of the five hindrances
The four applications of mindfulness
Jhana

Hi Dave,
Just to pick this up as you posted it, not directed to you specifically though :)
The four applications of mindfulness are not necessarily capturing all four applications at the same time.
So depending on which foundation you are using (which one could be mistaken about) would condition the experience within Jhana.

by "mistaken about" I mean one could believe they are focusing upon the body but they have unwittingly moved onto the mind, so the subsequent experience of Jhana is laced with mental rather than physical experiences.

As I noted earlier the description of touches with the body does not necessarily mean physicality is present, rather it means that something is fully known.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby reflection » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:10 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Reflection,
reflection wrote:I'm not trying to deceive anyone or lead them astray. Instead, I think I provided some quotes as directly from the suttas as possible so people can think for themselves.

I think this is good. The problem with "jhana" is it is so unclear what it means. Certainly from the point of view of the experienced collected in the commentaries and Vissudhimagga and from modern teachers, the more concentrated states are obtained by focussing on the more conceptual objects (kasinas, brahmaviharas, breath nimitta, and so on), with the less-conceptual objects, such as elements, leading only to "access" concentration (e.g. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamma%E1%B9%AD%E1%B9%ADh%C4%81na#Forty_meditation_subjects). How much of the method or results of using these objects can be "deduced" from the suttas is difficult to say, but it may be worth noting that the vast majority of the mentions of jhana in the suttas don't even mention an object, let alone a method.

:anjali:
Mike

This is certainly true. And that's also one of the reasons why it is so easy to put our own already existing interpretation on to other suttas. So I think it is important to get a big picture, both from experience and from the texts. So it's also about understanding how certain jhana experiences could possibly fit into developing wisdom.
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby reflection » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:24 pm

Some more:

'Sensual pleasure', may be deeper than it may seem to represent at first sight. It's not just delighting in pleasant sensual experiences, but any attachment to feelings in the body, even when it is painful:
The Blessed One said, "When touched with a feeling of pain, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person sorrows, grieves, & laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical & mental.

"As he is touched by that painful feeling, he is resistant. Any resistance-obsession with regard to that painful feeling obsesses him. Touched by that painful feeling, he delights in sensual pleasure. Why is that? Because the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person does not discern any escape from painful feeling aside from sensual pleasure. As he is delighting in sensual pleasure, any passion-obsession with regard to that feeling of pleasure obsesses him. He does not discern, as it actually is present, the origination, passing away, allure, drawback, or escape from that feeling. As he does not discern the origination, passing away, allure, drawback, or escape from that feeling, then any ignorance-obsession with regard to that feeling of neither-pleasure-nor-pain obsesses him.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


"In that case, the disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'Sensuality here & now; sensuality in lives to come; sensual perceptions here & now; sensual perceptions in lives to come: both are Mara's realm, Mara's domain, Mara's bait, Mara's range. They lead to these evil, unskillful mental states: greed, ill will, & contentiousness. They arise for the obstruction of a disciple of the noble ones here in training. What if I — overpowering the world [of the five senses] and having determined my mind — were to dwell with an awareness that was abundant & enlarged? Having done so, these evil, unskillful mental states — greed, ill will, & contentiousness — would not come into being.
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby reflection » Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:06 pm

The following is not directly linked with whether jhanas are bodily or not. But teachers who teach non-bodily jhanas often -if not always- teach nimattas, the sign of mind, which can present itself as mental light but also as a 'bodily form' (not really possible to describe accurately, but it is mind contact, not bodily contact). Here called "light and the vision of forms". So this sutta is indirectly connected with the other suttas:

15. “Good, good, Anuruddha. But while you abide thus diligent, ardent, and resolute, have you attained any superhuman states, a distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones, a comfortable abiding?”

“Venerable sir, as we abide here diligent, ardent, and resolute, we perceive both light and a vision of forms. Soon afterwards the light and the vision of forms disappear, but we have not discovered the cause for that.”

16. “You should discover the cause for that, Anuruddha. Before my enlightenment, while I was still only an unenlightened Bodhisatta, I too perceived both light and a vision of forms. Soon afterwards the light and the vision of forms disappeared. I thought: ‘What is the cause and condition why the light and the vision of forms have disappeared?’ Then I considered thus: ‘Doubt arose in me, and because of the doubt my concentration fell away; when my concentration fell away, the light and the vision of forms disappeared. I shall so act that doubt will not arise in me again.’

etc. etc.

31. “Thereupon, Anuruddha, I developed concentration with applied thought and sustained thought; I developed concentration without applied thought but with sustained thought only; I developed concentration without applied thought and without sustained thought; I developed concentration with rapture; I developed concentration without rapture; I developed concentration accompanied by enjoyment; I developed concentration accompanied by equanimity.

http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pitak ... tions.html


If you read the etc. etc. part, you can see the similarities with the 3rd satipatthana.

With metta,
Reflection
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby marc108 » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:15 pm

have you listened to Ajahn Brahm or Ajahn Sujato give talks on Jhana? They both have talks and Sutta commentary which are very convincing re: Jhana as a purely mental absorption.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby reflection » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:24 pm

Cittasanto wrote:Hi Reflection,
There are many understanding and experience based on what the texts say, and Buddhagosa mentiones the mental body which is a form of nimita I believe (I am no expert of the Visudhimagga so someone please correct or confirm please)

if you look elsewhere the Buddha uses the phrase "touches with their body" sometimes this is something which can be touched sometimes not, but it is meaning direct experience. however some meditators experiance a body others do not, there is a wide range of experiance regarding the same thing.


Hi Cittasanto,

Thanks for sharing.

I looked into this a bit more and indeed there are some peculiar things connected with 'touched with the body', kāyena. Some which can not be the physical indeed. And how about mind-made-body, manomayakaya? Something also not really connected with the physical. So some pieces of evidence that kaya is not always physical. So there is something there I'd say. But to put too much value all of this is not supporting meditation, but intellectual understanding, so I personally don't.

Metta!
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby reflection » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:26 pm

marc108 wrote:have you listened to Ajahn Brahm or Ajahn Sujato give talks on Jhana? They both have talks and Sutta commentary which are very convincing re: Jhana as a purely mental absorption.

Hi marc,

Thanks for sharing.

I did listen to Brahmavamso, but not to Sujato. I know he is a good scholar, so do you happen to know any talk where he goes into suttas with respect to the topic a bit?

With metta.
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Re: Purely mental absorption (jhana) in the suttas

Postby danieLion » Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:38 pm

reflection wrote:
marc108 wrote:have you listened to Ajahn Brahm or Ajahn Sujato give talks on Jhana? They both have talks and Sutta commentary which are very convincing re: Jhana as a purely mental absorption.

Hi marc,

Thanks for sharing.

I did listen to Brahmavamso, but not to Sujato. I know he is a good scholar, so do you happen to know any talk where he goes into suttas with respect to the topic a bit?

With metta.
Reflection

Hi marc, reflection,

Why are you capitalizing jhana? It's not, AFIK, a proper noun. It implies reification.
Brahm and Sujato are way off here. Very narrow interpretation; very typical of Brahm's personality cult, class clown driven hermeneutics (they're good teachers in general, though). Besides, all this hinges on the fuzzy notions of "mind" and "physicallity".... Very silly to nit-pick about absorption. Jhana is easy; learning it's lesson is the hard part.
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