mañjughosamaṇi wrote:Patañjali and the Saṃkhyā scholars believed that once the mind's activity stopped the self (puruṣa) would be liberated from materiality (prakṛti). This is obviously incompatible with the Buddha's Dhamma..
Some might think that the Eight Limbs of the yoga sutras shows Samadhi as one of its limbs. But the Eight limbs of the Yoga Sutra was only developed after the Buddha to counter the popularity of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path. It is likely to be a Buddhist influence. The suttas show that during the time of the Buddha Nigantha Nataputta ( Jain leader) did not even believe that it is possible to enter a state where the thoughts and examination stop.
Also , Rhys Davids and Maurice Walshe agreed that " the term ' samadhi' is not found in any pre-buddhist text. Hindu texts later used that term to indicate the state of enlightenment. This is not in conformity with Buddhist usage." - From the Long Discourse of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya” ( pg. 1700)
Although Samadhi where the mind stop was adopted by later hindu texts, but it was considered Enlightenment. However, the Buddha clearly taught an Eightfold Path consisting of three division: Sila, Samadhi, and Panna. Just Samadhi alone will not be sufficient for enlightenment. The Buddha himself entered Samadhi when he was a little boy, but without the third division ( Panna), he did not become enlightened back then. Later on he developed Panna using that Samadhi.
" In whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there exists not the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is there to be found a true samana of the first ( Stream Entry) , second ( Once Returner) , third ( Non-Returner) , or fourth ( Arahant) degree . But in whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, there is found a true samana of the first, second, third, and fourth degree of saintliness. In this Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there exists the Noble Eightfold Path; and in it alone are also found true samanas of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness (enlightenment). The systems of other schools are empty of true samanas . If the bhikkhus live (practice) rightly, the world will not be empty of arahants. " - Mahaparinibbana Sutta
Besides, the two meditation taught by his teachers are not quite the same one taught by the Buddha, by the same name.
It appears that when 500 hundred carts going by Alara Kalama was oblivious to it with eyes closed. But if there were thunderstorm occurring he is not able to not notice it. That 's why the Buddha said:
"Now what do you think, Pukkusa? What is more difficult to do, more difficult to meet with — that a man, while conscious and awake , should not see a great number of carts, even five hundred carts, that passed him by one after another, nor hear the noise, or that one CONSCIOUS AND AWAKE , in the midst of a heavy rain, with thunder rolling, lightning flashing, and thunderbolts crashing, SHOULD NEITHER SEE IT NOR HEAR THE NOISE ?"
"What, O Lord, are five hundred carts — nay, six, seven, eight, nine hundred, or a thousand or even hundreds of thousands of carts — compared with this?" - Mahaparinibbana Sutta
If Alara Kalama was able to do both ( not noticing the carts rolling by and not noticing the thunderstorm) then there is no need to ask which is better. The Buddha asked this because his teacher was only able to do one ( not noticing the carts rolling by) but not the other ( not noticing the heavy thunderstorm). If a person is really beyond the 5 senses, he would notice neither the carts nor the thunderstorm. But here the Buddha's statement indicated that Alara Kalama was only able to do one ( not noticing the carts) and if there is a loud thunderstorm, Alara Kalama would hear it.
"When this had been said, Pukkusa of the Malla clan said to the Blessed One: "The faith, Lord, that I had in Alara Kalama I now scatter to the mighty wind, I let it be carried away as by a flowing stream! Excellent, O Lord, most excellent, O Lord!...And so, O Lord, I take my refuge in the Blessed One, the Dhamma, and the Community of Bhikkhus. May the Blessed One accept me as his disciple, one who has taken refuge until the end of life."
It appears that Alara Kalama is not yet beyond the 5 senses yet. The Sphere of Nothingness which he claimed to teach is not beyond the 5 senses. The state which he claimed to teach the Buddha is not the same one the Buddha later taught by the same name. In the Sphere of Nothingness taught by the Buddha, the 5 senses have been totally left behind long ago before reaching the Sphere of Nothingness. If we look at the various teachers claiming to teach jhana today, we can also see examples of this case, where two teachers said they teach Jhana meditation. But if you look at the state they are pointing to , some are way lighter than the other and still called jhana. Natalie Quli from the Graduate Theological Union’s article provides a good example.
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In the Uddaka Sutta , the Buddha mentioned:
“ Bhikkhus , though Uddaka Ramaputta was not himself a knowledge master, he declared: ‘ I am a knowledge master.’
“ Though he was not himself a universal conquerer, he declared: ‘ I am a universal conquer.’
“Though he had not excised the tumour’s root, he declared: ‘ I have excised the tumour’s root.’
A closer look at the Sutta show some reasons why various stages of Jhana discussed was not practiced by people before the Buddha’s Enlightenment ( That is not to say that people didn't practice it some time after the previous Buddha) .During the Buddha's time there are Brahmins and Wandering Ascetics ( such as Jains, etc..).
“One of the reasons why Jhana was not practiced before the Buddha’s Enlightenment was because people then either indulged in seeking pleasure and comfort of the body or else following a religion of tormenting the body. Both were caught up with the body and its five senses and knew no release from the five senses. Neither produced the sustained tranquility of the body necessary as the foundation for Jhana . "
Alexander Wynne attempted to find parallels in Brahmanical texts to the meditative goals the two teachers taught, drawing especially on some of the Upanishads and the Mokshadharma chapter of the Mahabharata. But in the Brahmanical texts cited by Wynne assumed their final form long after the Buddha’s lifetime and all scholars agree that the Mokshadharma postdates him.
BRAHMANICAL TRADITION DURING THAT PERIOD :
Various examples can be found in the Ambattha Sutta and others. Ambattha , “ who was a student of the Vedas, who knew the mantras, perfected in the Three Vedas, a skilled expounder of the rules and rituals, the lore of sounds and meanings and, fifthly, oral tradition, complete in philosophy and in the marks of a Great Man, admitted and accepted by his master in the Three Vedas with the words: “ What I know, you know; what you know, I know.”
He was sent to test the Buddha and was rude to him. He said “ These shaven little ascetics, menials, black scrapings from Brahma’s foot, what converse can they have with brahmins learned in the Three Vedas ?”
The Buddha taught him that “ those who are enslaved by such things are far from attainment of the unexcelled knowledge – and – conduct, which is attained by abandoning all such things” when discussing about the vanities concerning who is worthy is to marry whom based on caste and status.
“ But, Reverend Gotama, what is this conduct, what is this knowledge ?”
The Buddha then taught him about morality, guarding the sense doors, jhanas, insights, and the like. Here is a man who mastered the Three Vedas and was declared by his teacher with the words : “ What I know, you know; what you know, I know.” , And yet still doesn’t know about sense restraints , much less, jhanas and panna :
1. “ A disciple goes forth and practices the moralities …( Sila)
2, he guards the sense doors…..
2. attains the four jhanas …… Thus he develops conduct ( Samadhi)
3. He attains various insights ……( Panna)
4. and the cessation of the corruptions……( Awakening)
“…..What do you think, Ambattha ? Do you and your teacher live in accordance with this unexcelled knowledge and conduct ?”
“ No indeed, Reverend Gotama! Who are my teacher and I in comparison? We are far from it!”
The Buddha mentioned various sensory pleasure that Ambattha, his teachers and other Brahmins indulge in, which prevent them from experiencing the above ( observing sila, seclusion from sense pleasure, jhanas, insight, etc..) .
1. “ Perfumed, their hair and beards trimmed, adorned with garlands, and wreaths,… indulging in the pleasures of the five senses and addicted to them”
2. “ Amuse themselves with women dressed up in flounces and furbelows”
3. “ Ride around chariots drawn by mares with braided tails, that they urged on with long goad-sticks…have themselves guarded in fortified towns with palisades and barricades, by men with long swords..”
“ So , Ambattha, neither you nor your teacher are a sage or one trained in the way of a sage.”
He also taught other many other learned brahmins masters ( about sila, sense restraints, jhana, insight, etc..) in Sonadanda Sutta, Kutadanta Sutta , etc…
ASCETIC OR JAINS TRADITION DURING THAT PERIOD:
On the other extreme we have the wandering ascetics who indulge in torturing their bodies.
“When the Bodhisatta began the easy ‘practices leading to such tranquility of body, his first five disciples abandoned – him in disgust. Such practice was not regarded as valid. Therefore it was not practiced, and so Jhana never occurred.”
For example, in the Nigantha Nataputta sutta of the Citta Samyutta # 41 ) , the Nigantha Nataputta ( Jain leader) does not even believe that it is possible, much less practice it, or attained it:
Nigantha Nataputta said to Citta ( a non-returner disciple of the Buddha) : “ Householder, do you have faith in the ascetic Gotama when he says: “ There is a concentration without thought and examination, there is a cessaton of thought and examination?”
Citta : “ In this manner, venerable sir, I do not go by faith in the Blessed One …..”
Nigantha Nataputta said “ …….One who thinks that thought and examination can be stopped might imagine he could catch the wind in a net or arrest the current of the river Ganges with his own fist.”
Citta then goes on to explain that he doesn’t just go by mere faith, but directly experienced it for himself. Also he explained how he entered these jhanas ( First- Fourth Jhanas)