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Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:51 am
by Sylvester
Zom wrote:I'd just say, that nowhere in the suttas i saw a clear statement that stream-enterer or once-returner can attain or attains jhana.
That does seem to be the case. More importantly, however, should we restrict ourselves to categorical declarations, or are inferences permitted? How about SN 22.122-123? For the Arahant with nothing left to do, the contemplation is said to lead to sukhavihāra, the standard coding for the attainments. Would this apply to the trainees and the virtuous one?

This depends on how one handles such suttas. For me, when a sutta shows a serial structure, I would look for the common denominators that form the thread that unifies the sections of the sutta. Clearly, the 5 different stages are distinguishing factors and will not constitute the thread. What is obviously common from the angle of the cause is proper attention to the Aggregates as in terms of the 3-Signs. The effects of this cause is the ascending levels of realisations. But since there is no commonality in terms of these 4 attainments, they cannot form the thread in terms of effect/consequence. I think suttas with a clear serial structure cannot have been intended to be bereft of a common consequence that unifies each level to the next, and the consequence to the cause. I think the common thread in the consequence would be the sukhavihāra.

Just an inference.

Further, the formula you quoted could actually be looked at another way -
“And what, Ānanda, is the path, the way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters? Here, with seclusion from the acquisitions, with the abandoning of unwholesome states, with the complete tranquillization of bodily inertia, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.

Whatever exists therein of material form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease, as a tumour, as a barb, as a calamity, as an affliction, as alien, as disintegrating, as void, as not self. He turns his mind away from those states and directs it towards the deathless element thus: ‘This is the peaceful, this is the sublime, that is, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all attachments, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna.’ If he is steady in that, he attains the destruction of the taints. But if he does not attain the destruction of the taints, because of that desire for the Dhamma, that delight in the Dhamma, then with the destruction of the five lower fetters he becomes one due to reappear spontaneously [in the Pure Abodes] and there attain final Nibbāna without ever returning from that world".
Here, the trace of clinging leads towards Non-Return. This doesn't actually say that prior to attaining the jhānas, the person was already a Non-Returner. Of course, one might need to do a detailed temporal analysis of this passage -
no ce āsavānaṃ khayaṃ pāpuṇāti teneva dhammarāgena tāya dhammanandiyā pañcannaṃ orambhāgiyānaṃ saṃyojanānaṃ parikkhayā opapātiko hoti, tattha parinibbāyī, anāvattidhammo tasmā lokā
especially on when the parikkhayā occurs. I suspect it has to occur after the etaṃ santaṃ meditation, in keeping with the earlier passage when pāpuṇāti (attains) occurs. The pāpuṇāti situation seems to be the crossroad of either Yes, or No. If Yes, then arahanta. If No, then Non-Return. Parikkhayā being the ablative of parikkhaya is either indicating the starting point or the cause of the Non-Return, and this seems clearly to be following after the no ce āsavānaṃ khayaṃ pāpuṇāti .

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:14 am
by khlawng
Zom wrote:...sensual desire is an obstacle to jhana?
Is this what you are saying? On what basis do you know this statement to be true?

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:26 am
by mikenz66
Jhana descriptions almost always talk about being "quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures".
"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
:anjali:
Mike

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:29 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings,
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:The point Nårada is making is that the direct discernment of all these items (the chain of dependent origination and the nature of Nibbåna) is the defining characteristic of the sekha, the disciple from the stage of stream-entry through the one on the path to arahantship. The arahant is distinguished from the sekha in that he not only sees these principles with paññå, but has carried this vision through to the point where all defilements have been eradicated. This gives him access to the personal meditative experience of Nibbåna, in which he can "touch Nibbåna with the body." The sekha understands all this, but because he has not yet succeeded in eliminating all the defilements he cannot enter this meditative state
Thanks for sharing this, Sylvester.

What is being said accords with my understanding of the matter.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:04 am
by Sylvester
mikenz66 wrote:Jhana descriptions almost always talk about being "quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures".
"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
:anjali:
Mike
Hi Mike

I think a firmer lexical distinction needs to be established on the meaning of the seclusion pericope. The formula says "vivicceva kāmehi" = secluded from the kāmā (plural), -ehi being the ablative plural.

The Abhidhamma interprets kāmā to be the pluralisation of kāma (sensual desire).
Some suttas suggest, in some contexts, that kāmā = pañca kāmaguṇā, as in the sutta you cite above.
Other suttas suggest that kāmā = the totality of sensual experience (including the pleasure and the pain, plus the emotional sequels), eg MN 13, where the pañca kāmaguṇā is a sub-set of kāmā.

Ven Analayo mentions a comprehensive study done by a scholar on the usages of kāma and kāmā in Middle-Indo Aryan; need to track that down. But, at least in the Upanisads, the generative principle behind "Creation" is always expressed to be the singular kāma. I'm not sure if by the time the Vibhanga came to define kāmā, the Upanisadic roots had been forgotten and it simply followed the Sarva definition.

I'm still wondering what BB's translation of kāmā as the plural of "sensual pleasure"means. Is he referring to "sensual pleasure" as feeling, or as the object that engenders the pleasant feeling?

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:38 am
by mikenz66
Hi Sylvester,

I was responding to khlawng's query:
khlawng wrote:
Zom wrote:...sensual desire is an obstacle to jhana?
Is this what you are saying? On what basis do you know this statement to be true?
I appreciate your discussion of the subtleties, but do they make any difference to the basic point that jhana involves abandonment of something to do with sensual pleasures?

:anjali:
Mike

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:25 am
by Sylvester
Not really, Mike, except perhaps for nitpicking ninnies like me. The eva in the first seclusion formula is of some significance since it is an emphatic, and decides if the cosmological counterpart of jhāna is -

(1) psychological (ie one is more intensely secluded from desire than the other 4 Hindrances) or
(2) cognitive (what kind of sense data is one secluded from).

Both the Vsm and the Vimuttimagga noticed this anomaly and both struggled with very unsatisfactory replies.

:anjali:

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:33 pm
by khlawng
mikenz66 wrote:Hi Sylvester,

I was responding to khlawng's query:
khlawng wrote:
Zom wrote:...sensual desire is an obstacle to jhana?
Is this what you are saying? On what basis do you know this statement to be true?
I appreciate your discussion of the subtleties, but do they make any difference to the basic point that jhana involves abandonment of something to do with sensual pleasures?

:anjali:
Mike
sorry guys, i disagree with the general statement Zom made because he seems to imply that a sexual active person is unable to attain the jhanas. which in my opinion is incorrect.

one does not simply abandon sense desire to attain absorption. you can temporary suspend a certain amount of sense desire to develop the jhanas. even then, you may not be able to fully abandon all desires when in samadhi.

please remember jhana practises does not originate from buddhism. the buddha found a way to use jhana as a tool to gain enlightenment and recommended it to his followers. there are other sects and religions that uses jhanas to highten sense desire by developing supernormal powers.

base on the buddhas teaching, using jhanas to develop insight will eventually lead to the TOTAL abandonment of sense desire. not the other way round.

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:50 pm
by Zom
one does not simply abandon sense desire to attain absorption. you can temporary suspend a certain amount of sense desire to develop the jhanas. even then, you may not be able to fully abandon all desires when in samadhi.
In some suttas jhana is called "a superhuman state" (uttari manussa dhamma). In DN2 it is considered to be "a fruit of ascetic life" (samanna phala). I tell you, just "temporal celibacy" (for some weeks or months) won't clean your mind enough so you could reach it. And you do need very clear mind, free from even subtle hindrances, to reach it. Sex - is a very gross thing, which requires and launches very strong sensual desire - which is very very far from clear mind. Just think yourself - why did Buddha strictly prohibitied ANY sexual activity for monks? Including not only sex itself, but mastrubation and even thinking on this topic (which is considered a minor offense). Buddha would not do that if it would be "okey" for monks, who are intended to reach jhana so to eradicate fetters 8-)


And here are the words of the Buddha:

As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, "Is it true, Arittha, that this pernicious viewpoint has arisen in you — 'As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, those acts the Blessed One says are obstructive, when indulged in, are not genuine obstructions'?"

"Yes, indeed, lord. I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, and those acts the Blessed One says are obstructive, when indulged in are not genuine obstructions."

"Worthless man, from whom have you understood that Dhamma taught by me in such a way? Worthless man, haven't I in many ways described obstructive acts? And when indulged in they are genuine obstructions. I have said that sensual pleasures are of little satisfaction, much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks. I have compared sensual pleasures to a chain of bones: of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks. I have compared sensual pleasures to a lump of flesh... a grass torch... a pit of glowing embers... a dream... borrowed goods... the fruits of a tree... a butcher's ax and chopping block... swords and spears... a snake's head: of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks. But you, worthless man, through your own wrong grasp [of the Dhamma], have both misrepresented us as well as injuring yourself and accumulating much demerit for yourself, for that will lead to your long-term harm & suffering."

Then the Blessed One said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Is this monk Arittha Formerly-of-the-Vulture-Killers even warm in this Doctrine & Discipline?"

"How could he be, lord? No, lord."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


.

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:19 pm
by kirk5a
Zom wrote: I tell you, just "temporal celibacy" (for some weeks or months) won't clean your mind enough so you could reach it. And you do need very clear mind, free from even subtle hindrances, to reach it.
So are you speaking as a jhana-attainer? I am interested to know what your opinion is based upon.

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:28 pm
by Zom
So are you speaking as a jhana-attainer? I am interested to know what your opinion is based upon.
My opinion is based on personal practice, on practice of many other buddhists, including monks with whom I discussed that, and - the most important - on canonical texts, that is, word of the Buddha.

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:31 pm
by khlawng
Zom wrote: In some suttas jhana is called "a superhuman state" (uttari manussa dhamma). In DN2 it is considered to be "a fruit of ascetic life" (samanna phala). I tell you, just "temporal celibacy" (for some weeks or months) won't clean your mind enough so you could reach it. And you do need very clear mind, free from even subtle hindrances, to reach it. Sex - is a very gross thing, which requires and launches very strong sensual desire - which is very very far from clear mind. Just think yourself - why did Buddha strictly prohibitied ANY sexual activity for monks? Including not only sex itself, but mastrubation and even thinking on this topic (which is considered a minor offense). Buddha would not do that if it would be "okey" for monks, who are intended to reach jhana so to eradicate fetters 8-)
agree that sex is one of the strongest sensual desire, and mostly for the male practioner.

but i disagree that you need to be celibate to achive jhanic success. the overcoming of the first 3 fetters towards stream entry are easily destroyed using very preliminary jhana and insight methods. you do not need to be a celebate monk to achieve that. however, you do need a certain amount of paramis and meeting the right friend to guide you. no amount of sutta quoting negates what i am saying here. and if you have narrowed your understanding of jhana attainment to what you have stated in this thread, i urge you to relook into this so you do not place mental obstructions that hinders your's and other people's aspiration.

one other thing about the dhamma eye and the term "a glimpse of nibbana". these are mere terms used in the suttas to generally describe the experiences individuals go through when fruition occurs. for some, a sense of blissful and gladness in the heart that can carry on for weeks. others experience visions during samadhi. different individuals experience different things but the one thing that is common is that their confidence in the dhamma is unshakable.

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:03 pm
by kirk5a
Zom wrote:
So are you speaking as a jhana-attainer? I am interested to know what your opinion is based upon.
My opinion is based on personal practice, on practice of many other buddhists, including monks with whom I discussed that, and - the most important - on canonical texts, that is, word of the Buddha.
So again, are you a jhana-attainer or not? It's a straightforward question. "Based on personal practice" is ambiguous. You have a definite opinion about jhana, I am interested to know whether this is based upon your own attainment of jhana, or not.

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:06 pm
by kirk5a
khlawng wrote:but i disagree that you need to be celibate to achive jhanic success.
I'll ask you the same question: is your opinion based upon your own personal attainment of jhana, or not?
for some, a sense of blissful and gladness in the heart that can carry on for weeks. others experience visions during samadhi. different individuals experience different things but the one thing that is common is that their confidence in the dhamma is unshakable.
How do you know that? What is you opinion based upon?

Re: How common is stream entry?

Posted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:13 pm
by Zom
So again, are you a jhana-attainer or not? It's a straightforward question. "Based on personal practice" is ambiguous. You have a definite opinion about jhana, I am interested to know whether this is based upon your own attainment of jhana, or not.
This does not matter, because whatever I say - this does not prove/disprove anything. Why so? Because:

a) I may tell a lie,
b) I may not tell a lie, but overestimate myself,
c) I may tell yes, but you still wont believe me,
d) You can have very different idea about what jhana is.

Because of that, this question should be put aside as insignificant. What I will say - is that i'm not a beginner and I did and do practise a lot ,) What do I mean - is that I speak not relying solely on sutta readings.

However, the only valuable argument here is the words of the Buddha himself. I already cited a sutta which confirms greatly what I've said. As I don't see objections to this argument, I see this current question closed -)