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Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:42 am
by zan
That jhana is strictly to be done with eyes closed?

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:57 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings Zan,

Interesting question. The closest I recall to "instructions" being given is here...
"There is the case where a monk — having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building — sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out."
The same text appears in both the Anapanasati Sutta and the Satipatthana Sutta, so I think it's safe to say it's good for all seated meditation. However, to your point, there is nothing specific about closing the eyes.

Similarly, I recall the following account from the Maha-Parinibbana Sutta where the Buddha is doing walking meditation, presumably with eyes open, yet in a deep state of jhanic concentration...
“One time, Pukkusa, I was staying near Ātumā in a threshing-barn. And on that occasion, when the rain-deva was raining, the rain-deva was pouring, lightning-streaks were shooting out, and a thunderbolt split (the air) not far from the threshing-house, two farmers—brothers—were killed, along with four oxen.

“Then a large crowd of people came out of Ātumā to where the two farmers—brothers—were killed, along with the four oxen. And on that occasion I, having come out of the threshing-barn, was doing walking meditation in front of the door to the threshing-barn. A certain man from the great crowd of people approached me and, on arrival, having bowed down to me, stood to one side. As he was standing there, I said to him, ‘Why, friend, has this great crowd of people gathered?’

“‘Just now, lord—when the rain-deva was raining, the rain-deva was pouring, lightning-streaks were shooting out, and a thunderbolt split (the air)—two farmers—brothers—were killed, along with four oxen. That’s why this great crowd of people has gathered. But you, lord: Where were you?’

“‘I was right here, friend.’

“‘But did you see anything?’

“‘No, friend, I didn’t.”

“‘But did you hear the sound?’

“‘No, friend, I didn’t.’

“‘But were you asleep?’

“‘No, friend, I wasn’t asleep.’

“‘But were you conscious?’

“‘Yes, friend.’

“‘Then, lord, being conscious & awake when the rain-deva was raining, the rain-deva was pouring, lightning-streaks were shooting out, and a thunderbolt split (the air), you neither saw anything nor heard a sound.’

“‘Yes, friend.’

“Then the thought occurred to that man, ‘How amazing! How astounding: the peaceful abiding by which those gone forth abide—in that, when the rain-deva was raining, the rain-deva was pouring, lightning-streaks were shooting out, and a thunderbolt split (the air), he would neither see them nor hear a sound!’ Having proclaimed immense conviction in me, he circumambulated me and then left.”
Metta,
Paul. :)

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:32 am
by mikenz66
retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:57 am
Similarly, I recall the following account from the Maha-Parinibbana Sutta where the Buddha is doing walking meditation, presumably with eyes open, yet in a deep state of jhanic concentration...
That's an interesting reading. I had always read:
... And on that occasion I, having come out of the threshing-barn, was doing walking meditation in front of the door to the threshing-barn. ...
to mean that the Buddha had been in the barn during the storm, in a deep jhana or formless absorption, and had just started walking when he learned about the storm.

:heart:
Mike

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:13 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings Mike,

Could well be. It may not be as relevant as I thought it may have been to the topic, given that it's not clear exactly what he was doing at that exact time being described, other than being super duper concentrated...

:meditate:

Metta,
Paul. :)

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:16 am
by mikenz66
retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:13 am
... it's not clear exactly what he was doing at that exact time being described, other than being super duper concentrated...
Super-duper indeed! I thought I read/heard somewhere recently an interpretation that this was a high formless attainment, but I can't remember where I heard it... :cry:

Mike

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:55 am
by SarathW
The way I understand you may or not keep your eyes closed in Jhana.
However, in deep Jhana even if your eyes open you may not see.

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:47 pm
by Zom
I thought I read/heard somewhere recently an interpretation that this was a high formless attainment, but I can't remember where I heard it...
If he didn't hear the storm, he was, obviously, in (at the very least) 1st formless attainment - because it is there all 5 senses do not work at all, as standard formula says.

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:19 pm
by cappuccino
retrofuturist wrote:it's not clear exactly what he was doing at that exact time being described, other than being super duper concentrated...
meditating perfectly, which we shall not necessarily do, nor need to do

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:50 pm
by budo
Yes, they can be done with the eyes open. Although it doesn't mean you will be necessarily "seeing" or "cognizing' anything while in jhana, so it will be no different than having your eyes closed other than the amount of light in the beginning, but will also not make a difference in the later jhanas either.

Do the suttas ever specify? Not to my knowledge.

Although meditating with the eyes open in the beginning is a good antidote for sloth.
Getting rid of sloth and torpor, he dwells without sloth or torpor; perceiving the light, mindful and clearly conscious he cleanses the mind of sloth and torpor.
- mn 107

Perceiving light can refer to both external light (with eyes open) or mental light (cittasa nimitta).

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:24 pm
by 2600htz
Hello:

I think many believe entering a jhana is something like this :rofl:
(just a joke, hope im not offending anyone)

Image

Regards.

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:45 pm
by dhammapal
The Buddha transl. Thanissaro wrote:But if by doing this you don’t shake off your drowsiness, then get up from your seat and, after washing your eyes out with water, look around in all directions and upward to the major stars & constellations. It’s possible that by doing this you will shake off your drowsiness.
From: Capala Sutta: Nodding

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 1:21 am
by Polar Bear
I think people may have mostly meditated with their eyes open back in the day. If your eyes were closed, it wouldn’t be amazing to not see anything while meditating.
Once it so happened that Āḷāra Kālāma, while traveling along a road, left the road and sat at the root of a nearby tree for the day’s meditation. Then around five hundred carts passed by right next to Āḷāra Kālāma. Then a certain person coming behind those carts went up to Āḷāra Kālāma and said to him: ‘Sir, didn’t you see the five hundred carts pass by?’ ‘No, friend, I didn’t see them.’ ‘But sir, didn’t you hear a sound?’ ‘No, friend, I didn’t hear a sound.’ ‘But sir, were you asleep?’ ‘No, friend, I wasn’t asleep.’ ‘But sir, were you conscious?’ ‘Yes, friend.’ ‘So, sir, while conscious and awake you neither saw nor heard a sound as five hundred carts passed by right next to you? Why sir, even your outer robe is covered with dust!’ ‘Yes, friend.’ Then that person thought: ‘It’s incredible, it’s amazing! Those who have gone forth remain in such peaceful meditations, in that, while conscious and awake he neither saw nor heard a sound as five hundred carts passed by right next to him.’ And after declaring his lofty confidence in Āḷāra Kālāma, he left.”
“What do you think, Pukkusa? Which is harder and more challenging to do while conscious and awake: to neither see nor hear a sound as five hundred carts pass by right next to you? Or to neither see nor hear a sound as it’s raining and pouring, lightning’s flashing, and thunder’s cracking?”
“What do five hundred carts matter, or six hundred, or seven hundred, or eight hundred, or nine hundred, or a thousand, or even a hundred thousand carts? It’s far harder and more challenging to neither see nor hear a sound as it’s raining and pouring, lightning’s flashing, and thunder’s cracking!”

https://suttacentral.net/dn16/en/sujato
I also vaguely recall accounts of Hindu yogis in Samadhi where it was said that there eyes were open (and rolling in the back of their head) which also could be a continuation from way back when.


:anjali:

Re: Do the suttas ever specify...

Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:38 am
by Dinsdale
SarathW wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:55 am
However, in deep Jhana even if your eyes open you may not see.
Yes, deeper meditative states seem to involve a withdrawal from sensory input. Though with eyes open, I have found that "looking" at a moving background makes this more difficult, since the movement is distracting. I asume that's why some people meditate looking at a blank wall, or whatever, a static visual field.