Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby mirco » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:28 am

Hey everyone,


as we all know there are several ideas around of what and how Jhana is supposed to be.

Now, for all who trust in th Suttas, here is one that contradicts the widely believed version of jhana being a one point concentration method, where "jhāna is a state of uninterrupted absorption in an object".

Have a look at venāngapurasuttaṃ (venānga), that is AN III 63(or 64).

“But, Master Gotama, what is the celestial high and luxurious bed that at present you gain at will, without trouble or difficulty?”

“Here, brahmin, when I am dwelling in dependence on a village or town, in the morning I dress, take my bowl and robe, and enter that village or town for alms. After the meal, when I have returned from the alms round, I enter a grove. I collect some grass or leaves that I find there into a pile and then sit down. Having folded my legs crosswise and straightened my body, I establish mindfulness in front of me. Then, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I enter and dwell in the first jhāna, which consists of rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by thought and examination. With the subsiding of thought and examination, I enter and dwell in the second jhāna, which has internal placidity and unification of mind and consists of rapture and pleasure born of concentration, without thought and examination. With the fading away as well of rapture, I dwell equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, I experience pleasure with the body; I enter and dwell in the third jhāna of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and dejection, I enter and dwell in the fourth jhāna, neither painful nor pleasant, which has purification of mindfulness by equanimity.

When I am in such a state, if I walk back and forth, on that occasion my walking back and forth is celestial. If I am standing, on that occasion my standing is celestial. If I am sitting, on that occasion my sitting is celestial. If I lie down, on that occasion this is my celestial high and luxurious bed. This is that celestial high and luxurious bed that at present I can gain at will, without trouble or difficulty.”

https://www.palicanon.org/index.php/sut ... at-chapter


Much Metta,
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby daverupa » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:48 am

The footnote (#444) to that sutta offers a short discussion:

so ce ahaṃ, brāhmaṇa, evaṃbhūto caṅkamāmi, dibbo me eso tasmiṃ samaye caṅkamo hoti
"Mp says that his walking back and forth is celestial when, having entered the four jhānas, he walks back and forth; and his walking back and forth is celestial when, after emerging from the four jhānas, he walks back and forth. This seems to imply that walking can occur even with the mind in jhāna. This, however, is contradicted by the dominant understanding that jhāna is a state of uninterrupted absorption in an object, in which case intentional movements like walking would not be possible. Mp-ṭ explains the first case of Mp (walking after entering the jhānas) to mean that he walks back and forth immediately after emerging from the jhāna, while the second case (walking after emerging) to mean that he walks back and forth after having emerged some time earlier. The same explanation holds for the divine and the noble beds."


Dominant understanding, indeed. There seems to have been an early, and relatively thorough, exegetical reaction to this sort of thing.
    "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: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby mirco » Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:38 am

daverupa wrote:There seems to have been an early, and relatively thorough, exegetical reaction to this sort of thing.

I wonder why ...
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby Sylvester » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:23 pm

No need to wonder why and mount a critique of the Comy. If you pay closer attention to the sutta, it says -

so ce ahaṃ, brāhmaṇa, evaṃbhūto caṅkamāmi, dibbo me eso tasmiṃ samaye caṅkamo hoti


It does NOT say -

so ce ahaṃ, brāhmaṇa, evaṃbhūtā caṅkamāmi, dibbo me eso tesu samayesu caṅkamo hoti


Sometimes, the simplest answer is found in whether the inflection is in the plural or singular. That passage describes (i) establishment of mindfulness, and (ii) 4 jhanas. Since the Pali is in the singular, which of these 2 would the walking passage refer to?
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby daverupa » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:05 pm

I am left wondering why this isn't the approach contained in the Comy. They simply declare the ordinal place of the walking, instead of going the language route, unless the abbreviated reference obscures such a thing.
    "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: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby santa100 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:15 pm

According to AN 9.31: "For one who has attained the fourth jhana, in-breathing and out-breathing have ceased" ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ). So, it's hard to imagine one's able to walk back and forth without any breathing. As a result, Comy's interpretation that the walking happening either immediately or some time after emerging from the 4th jhana kind of make sense in this case..
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby mirco » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:05 pm

santa100 wrote:According to AN 9.31: "For one who has attained the fourth jhana, in-breathing and out-breathing have ceased" ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ). So, it's hard to imagine one's able to walk back and forth without any breathing. As a result, Comy's interpretation that the walking happening either immediately or some time after emerging from the 4th jhana kind of make sense in this case..

It's not only hard to imagine to walk back and forth without breathing,
it's ridiculous to imagine to stay alive without any breathing.
So, this has to be something else.
Why should breathing come to an end?
"catutthaṃ jhānaṃ samāpannassa assāsapassāsā niruddhā honti"

I think, it's perception that becomes to subtle to recognize breathing.
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby piotr » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:35 pm

Hi,

Sylvester wrote:Sometimes, the simplest answer is found in whether the inflection is in the plural or singular. That passage describes (i) establishment of mindfulness, and (ii) 4 jhanas. Since the Pali is in the singular, which of these 2 would the walking passage refer to?


Cf.

    [2] "Furthermore, when walking, the monk discerns, 'I am walking.' When standing, he discerns, 'I am standing.' When sitting, he discerns, 'I am sitting.' When lying down, he discerns, 'I am lying down.' Or however his body is disposed, that is how he discerns it.

    "In this way he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or focused externally... unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself.

    Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta (MN 10)
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby santa100 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:45 pm

mirco wrote:It's not only hard to imagine to walk back and forth without breathing,
it's ridiculous to imagine to stay alive without any breathing.
So, this has to be something else.
Why should breathing come to an end?
"catutthaṃ jhānaṃ samāpannassa assāsapassāsā niruddhā honti"

I think, it's perception that becomes to subtle to recognize breathing.


Actually for the ceasing of breathing in the fourth jhana part, I wouldn't immediately jump to the conclusion that it's all nonsense. Check out Ajahn Lee/Ven. Thanissaro article where they mentioned the "pores" breathing during this stage..http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/eyeof.html
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby Pondera » Sat Nov 30, 2013 6:23 pm

What are the siddhis accompanied in the fourth jhana? Perhaps the type of walking is not what we think. I mean, is there any standard definition of "celestial walking"? :smile:
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby kmath » Sat Nov 30, 2013 6:54 pm

mirco wrote:
santa100 wrote:According to AN 9.31: "For one who has attained the fourth jhana, in-breathing and out-breathing have ceased" ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ). So, it's hard to imagine one's able to walk back and forth without any breathing. As a result, Comy's interpretation that the walking happening either immediately or some time after emerging from the 4th jhana kind of make sense in this case..

It's not only hard to imagine to walk back and forth without breathing,
it's ridiculous to imagine to stay alive without any breathing.
So, this has to be something else.
Why should breathing come to an end?
"catutthaṃ jhānaṃ samāpannassa assāsapassāsā niruddhā honti"

I think, it's perception that becomes to subtle to recognize breathing.


Not so fast. There's a story about when Ajahn Chah was in the hospital and hooked up to breathing monitors. Apparently he was sitting in bed meditating, when the nurses noticed that his breathing had stopped. Of course they freaked out, but when they grabbed his shoulder to wake up him, he quickly opened his eyes and his breathing started again... Fourth jhana. :buddha2:
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:25 am

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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby SarathW » Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:08 am

I have seen people sleep walking.
I think, the walking in Jhana is a possibility.
If sleeping is possible why not walking?
Bats can fly in the dark!
:juggling:
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby equilibrium » Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:29 am

No sleep walking at all.
Its about the state of mind relative to ones attainment.

Maybe the sutta needs to be understood in details.
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby thelotuseffect » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:37 pm

I think you could safely assume celestial to be a synonym to heavenly, or divine.

Equanimity is a brahma vihara; a divine, heavenly, celestial state of mind.
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Re: Venānga Sutta - jhana not absorbtion method

Postby khlawng » Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:35 am

It seems to me that there is a general perception that jhana states are binary.
Perhaps a better way to look at it is that there are depth and qualities to jhanas.
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