alan... wrote:here and a few other places the buddha talks about the body in reference to jhana, posted below is the one at MN 39. so what do we make of this? are we to keep the entire body in mind throughout meditation or what?
"Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. 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... this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal.
There's nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.
"Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters and remains in the second jhana: rapture and pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation — internal assurance. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of composure. Just like a lake with spring-water welling up from within, having no inflow from the east, west, north, or south, and with the skies supplying abundant showers time and again, so that the cool fount of water welling up from within the lake would permeate and pervade, suffuse and fill it with cool waters, there being no part of the lake unpervaded by the cool waters; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of composure. There's nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born of composure.
"And furthermore, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture. Just as in a lotus pond, some of the lotuses, born and growing in the water, stay immersed in the water and flourish without standing up out of the water, so that they are permeated and pervaded, suffused and filled with cool water from their roots to their tips, and nothing of those lotuses would be unpervaded with cool water; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture. There's nothing of his entire body unpervaded with pleasure divested of rapture.
"And furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure and stress — as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress — he enters and remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither-pleasure nor stress. He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. Just as if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the monk sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. There's nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness."
I find these similes very helpful to reflect on in practice. I note that there are decreasing levels of 'activity' as we progress through. In the first, there's a man kneading moistened bath powder. Kneading, just as with dough, is an active process, there is some movement involved. In the second, there's a lake fed from a spring welling up from below. Still some movement, but instead of a man acting on
a ball of moist powder, the movement wells up from within the lake itself - to my mind, there's less 'activity' here. In the third, the lotuses, which being plants don't move so much, are permeated by cool waters. So now it's not so much activity
, rather it's saturation.
And in the fourth, all the water similes are gone, and we have a man again, only this time he is very still, and covered head to foot with a white cloth - clean, pure, and touching the entire body.
Anyway, unfortunately I've only had fleeting brushes with the first, but from what I can surmise thus far, from my humble experience, these similes can be used as a guide
for what we ought to be doing and feeling. I find it helpful to compare what we read here with other suttas also, such as the satipatthana sutta and the kayagatasati suttas especially, because by getting a few different similes and points of observation of the practice, we can begin to see how really they all fit together, and are part of one teaching only, and only appear to vary or be different. Can the mind cleansed of the five hindrances encompass this entire body? I believe so. I've found that even the mind with the hindrances only weakened
, a mind 'only halfway there' so to speak, is already capable of things that the ordinary, discontented, distracted mind is not. So I extrapolate that when I'm able to one day totally cleanse out those nasty hindrances, the mind will be even more fit, flexible and capable. I believe that with good instructions and guides (something I've been blessed with) and consistent and regular, daily effort (this needs more work in my case) we can all progress through the levels of jhana, and gain the insights and benefits thereof. May it be so.