rhinoceroshorn wrote: ↑Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:02 am
I don't know why the Buddha would teach a part of the noble eightfold path which (by the words of Budagousa) one in one million can attain. Does it make sense? Everyone can practice some minor degree of right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, but no! You CAN'T practice jhānas because it's NEARLY I M P O S S I B L E, you need to see a light in your mind...
See how this nonsense works? And people believe it.
It's your choice thinking that way.
Here is Leigh Brasington discussing the "1 in a million who can attain jhāna ratio" that you are referring to:
This is the passage:
8. It is not possible for a meditator to begin to accomplish transformation by supernormal powers unless he has previously completed his development by controlling his mind in these fourteen ways. Now, the kasiṇa preliminary work is difficult for a beginner and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The arousing of the sign is difficult for one who has done the preliminary work and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To extend the sign when it has arisen and to reach absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To tame one's mind in the fourteen ways after reaching absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The transformation by supernormal power after training one's mind in the fourteen ways is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. Rapid response after attaining transformation is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it.
—Visuddhimagga, Ch. XII (p. 371)
With the passage itself in front of us, it seems like Leigh took the liberty to interpret it in certain way, and then make specific calculations based on that interpretation.
The passage above can either mean:
- Out of the "one in a hundred" of those that can accomplish the first task, out of these, only one in a hundred can accomplish the second task, and out of these, only one in a hundred can accomplish the third task (i.e., reaching absorption/jhāna).
If you do the math, (1/100) x (1/100) x (1/100) = 1/1,000,000
This is Leigh Brasington's 1 in a million number. Now if you take the "one in a thousand," also mentioned in the passage...
(1/1000) x (1/1000) x (1/1000) = 1/1,000,000,000
(or, at this moment... 8 people in the world)
Considering that the world population at the time of the Buddha was a fraction of our almost 8,000,000,000 population, it would mean that...
- At the time of the Buddha, no one could attain jhāna—not even the Buddha himself.
- And not even the hundreds of monks described in the Suttas as reaching jhāna.
However...the passage continues—if you were to continue with Leigh's way of calculating—it appears the Visuddhimagga claims that only 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 can attain what the passage describes!
This is impossible, and also an impossible statement...
OR, the other possibility is that...
- It's simply "one in a hundred/one in a thousand."
To add more meaning/information to the text was a stretch on the part of Leigh—and putting words in Buddhaghosa's mouth (words of which he never thought/wrote).
The interpretation and calculations that were used to come up with the "1 in a million can attain jhāna ratio" are, as shown above, clearly incorrect—especially with the impossibility of the 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 ratio, if you were to do the same calculations for the full passage.