A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

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morning mist
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by morning mist » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:05 pm

Hi Dmytro,
Dmtro wrote: Thank you for the good classification of nimittas. Would you please give the source of it?
You are welcome. It's from the Suda Sutta, also the

- Anguttara Nikaya , Nivaranappahana Vagga:

http://www.buddhagautama.com/apps/blog/ ... hindrances" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

-Nimitta Sutta

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cac ... set2trIoAQ" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Numerous other suttas also mention some other types of nimitta, or where the word nimitta is being used in a different context, but I for the sake of simplicity let's just discuss a few.
Dmtro wrote: explicitly recommends to attend to the beautiful aspect, the subha-nimitta.


In the context which he used it, the word beautiful is simply a descriptive term just like he also called the breath, the Beautiful Breath when piti and sukkha arise from it. But if you look at his description of the nimitta , it is a reflective representation of one's own mind.

" The eyes are closed, and the sight consciousness has long been turned off. IT A THE MIND CONSCIOUSNESS freed for the first time from the world of the five senses. ....IT IS THE MIND MANIFESTING "- Ajahn Brahm

Other terms he used to refer to is is a " MENTAL SIGN" , a " pure MENTAL OBJECT "
Dmtro wrote: can be various types of jhana, including those coloured by passion, as described in Gopaka-Moggalana sutta


The way I understand this sutta is that one is not suppose to focus on the 5 hindrances or take any one of the hindrances as a meditation object. An example of taking desire as a meditation object can be tantra, where a person takes sexual pleasure as an object of meditation. People will engage in sex and focus on these sensual experience as a meditation object. It is not referring to the Cittassa nimitta which arise after one abandons the 5 hindrances, grasping , displeasure, and things of the 5 sense world.
"And what sort of jhana did he not praise?
There is the case where a certain person dwells with his awareness overcome by sensual passion ( kamaraga: sensual passion), obsessed with sensual passion. He does not understand as it actually is the escape from arisen sensual lust. Making that sensual passion the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, premeditates, outmeditates, and mismeditates.
"He dwells with his awareness overcome by ill will...
"He dwells with his awareness overcome by sloth & drowsiness...
"He dwells with his awareness overcome by restlessness & worry...
"He dwells with his awareness overcome by doubt, obsessed with doubt. He does not understand as it actually is the escape from arisen doubt. Making that doubt the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, premeditates, outmeditates, and mismeditates. This is the sort of meditation (jhana) that the Blessed One did not praise." - Gopaka Moggallana Sutta


With Metta,
with metta,

morning mist
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by morning mist » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:17 pm

Hi Nana,
Ñāṇa wrote:It's been demonstrated to you time and again that there is nothing Buddhist about jhāna devoid of vipassanā, .
As the Pamsudhovaka Sutta and the Nigantha Nataputta sutta have shown that a samadhi where there are still thoughts about the dhamma ( dhamma vitakka) is not considered full tranquility, and that Citta shows how he directly experience a samadhi without thoughts and examination in Samma Samadhi. Also, full samadhi is required instead of just access concentration.

Accordingly, it is not recommended by the suttas to develop the Right View before Samadhi ( such as access concentration) nor should we develop the insight required for Right View inside Samadhi by reflecting on the dhamma. After the mind has been purified with Samma Samadhi ( Any one of the four jhanas) , one can relfect on a certain subject of the dhamma to arrive at insight that liberates. Without developing Right View, defilements will not be uprooted and one cannot enter Stream Entry ( first level enlightenment) and the rest. Without developing insight for Right View or develop the Panna division, defilements are simply made to become dormant temporarily during and shortly after Samadhi until it returns later on. Also the Eightfold Path is not yet complete. The Sammaditthi Sutta and the Mahasatipatthana Sutta give list of subjects that a person can select to penetrate and develop insight. For example:

-Five Clinging Aggregates (Anatta-lakkhana sutta is an example of how the this brought the five first disciples to inight )

-Sense Bases ( Cula-Rahulovada Sutta sutta is an example of how the this brought Rahula to insight )

-Four Noble Truth (The Maha-Saccaka Sutta is an example of how this brought the Buddha enlightenment)


The Buddha also mentioned in the Samannaphala Sutta, Kayagatasati Sutta, and many other suttas that one can develop insight after the mind has been prepared:

"with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to knowledge and vision......"

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, the monk directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the asava." - Samannaphala Sutta

"When anyone has developed & pursued mindfulness of the body, then whichever of the six higher knowledges pertaining to things that can be realized he turns his mind to know & realize, right there he attains a realization of it, whenever the necessary conditions obtain ." - Kayagatasati Sutta

The Satipatthana and Mahasatipatthana Sutta mentioned that it takes anywhere from days to years before a breakthrough in insight occur, depending on the person.

Ñāṇa wrote: Neither the suttas, nor the Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, or Sautrāntika authors require the attainment of cessation of apperception and feeling for awakening to occur.
The sutta mentioned that even the first jhana is enough. Usually it can be First Jhana, or Second Jhana, or Third Jhana, or Fourth Jhana, or First to Fourth. These jhanas are considered suitable for the development of insight.

However, whenever the Buddha guides a disciple to other states other than Samma Samadhi, he always make sure to take them to the " Cessation of Perception and Feeling " though. The reason is because he doesn't want them to get stuck on the Sphere of Nothingness or Neither Perception Nor Non Perception. These still lead to rebirth.


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legolas
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by legolas » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:33 pm

How is it even possible to acquire Right Samadhi without having some basis of Right View? Any samadhi gained can hardly be called right.

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by morning mist » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:18 pm

Hi legolas,
legolas wrote:How is it even possible to acquire Right Samadhi without having some basis of Right View? Any samadhi gained can hardly be called right.
Given that some basis of Right View is necessary. However, there are two aspect to right view, one is mundane the other is supramundane. One is hearing it from an outside source ( parato ca ghoso: the words of another). This can be learning the recorded words/ teachings of the Buddha, either in written or verbal format, or listening to correct dhamma talks, etc...This can serve as an operation manual or guide map to help you in developing understanding and meditation. This is one reason why I wouldn't recommend a person to choose exclusively between mediation and dhamma study. Perhaps, depending on a person's personal disposition he or she might study more than meditate, meditate more than study, or start with more study than meditation at the beginning of the path and gradually shift to more meditation than study towards the later parts of the path, or study and meditate equally, but both support each other. They should go hand in hand. Neither one should be left out.

The other aspect is internally reflecting the root causes ( yoniso manasikara: reflecting on the source, appropriate attention). This second aspect is associated the development of insight after the mind has been prepared with samadhi. This Right View is the direct knowing from within.

According to Mahavedalla Sutta ( MN 43):

"Friend, how many conditions are there for the arising of right view?"
“Friend, how many ways are there for the arising of right view? Friend, there are two ways for the arising of right view. Hearing it from an outside source ( parato ca ghoso: the voice of another) and internally reflecting the root causes ( yoniso manasikara: reflecting on the source, appropriate attention) .These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."

"And by how many factor is Right View supported when it has cetovimuttiphala (awareness-release) as its fruit & reward, and pannavimuttiphala (discernment-release) as its fruit & benefit?”
"Assisted by five factors, right view has cetovimuttiphala as its fruit & reward, and pannavimuttiphala as its fruit & benefit. Right view is assisted by virtue ( sila) , assisted by learning , assisted by discussion, assisted by tranquility (samatha ), assisted by insight (vipassana). Assisted by these five factors, right view has cetovimuttiphala as its fruit & benefit, and pannavimuttiphala as its fruit & benefit.”

With Metta,
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Nyana » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:27 pm

morning mist wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:It's been demonstrated to you time and again that there is nothing Buddhist about jhāna devoid of vipassanā, .
As the Pamsudhovaka Sutta and the Nigantha Nataputta sutta have shown that a samadhi where there are still thoughts about the dhamma ( dhamma vitakka) is not considered full tranquility, and that Citta shows how he directly experience a samadhi without thoughts and examination in Samma Samadhi.
Vipassanā doesn't require vitakka and/or vicāra. It requires apperception (saññā), which is functional in all four jhānas.

All the best,

Geoff

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Nyana » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:01 pm

Dmytro wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Anyone who is a worldling or a stream-attainer will fail to attain the cessation attainment and slip into a non-apperceptive samādhi. This is a dangerous state to cultivate because it can lead to rebirth as a non-percipient being.
Very interesting. Would you please give a reference to to the Pali source?
A non-apperceptive attainment (asaññasamāpatti) is a non-apperceptive absorption practiced by worldlings who attempt to realize nibbāna by stopping apperception in an attempt to stop the mind. In the Theravāda commentaries it is considered to be non-Buddhist, and is said to result in rebirth as a non-percipient being (asaññasatta) without any functional mind or mental faculties. It is also considered to be an inappropriate and inopportune plane (akkhaṇa bhūmi), because there is no possibility of practicing dhamma either within the non-apperceptive absorption or as a non-percipient being reborn in such a realm. Both as a practice and a saṃsāric realm it arrests any possibility for mental development (bhāvanā). This is detailed in the commentary and sub-commentary on the Brahmajāla Sutta. See Ven. Bodhi's translation: The Brahmajāla Sutta and its Commentaries.

Ven. Brahmavamso's teachings on jhāna are either a non-apperceptive attainment (asaññasamāpatti) or dangerously close to being one. His understanding of mindfulness (sati), full awareness (sampajañña), and apperception (saññā) in the context of jhāna bear no resemblance to how these dhammas are defined and used in the canonical literature.
Dmytro wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Neither the suttas, nor the Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, or Sautrāntika authors require the attainment of cessation of apperception and feeling for awakening to occur. Moreover, for the Theravāda the cessation attainment is only possible for non-returners and arahants (and it is not considered supramundane).
The Kathāvatthu and the Visuddhimagga maintain that the cessation of apperception and feeling (saññāvedayitanirodha), which is also called cessation attainment (nirodhasamāpatti) is neither supramundane nor not-conditioned (asaṅkhata). Cf. Visuddhimagga 23.52:
  • As to the question: Is the attainment of cessation formed or unformed, etc.? It is not classifiable as formed or unformed, mundane or supramundane. Why? Because it has no individual essence. But since it comes to be attained by one who attains it, it is therefore permissible to say that it is produced, not unproduced.
The Visuddhimagga also states that only non-returners and arahants can attain the cessation of apperception and feeling. The suttas and the commentaries both state that arahants who are liberated through discernment do not. Therefore it is not accurate to equate nibbāna with nirodhasamāpatti. Cf. MN 70 Kīṭāgiri Sutta:
  • And what, monks, is the person liberated through discernment? There is the case where a certain person does not remain touching with his body those peaceful liberations that transcend form, that are formless, but having seen with discernment his mental outflows are ended. This is called a person who is liberated through discernment.
And AN 4.87 Samaṇamacala Putta Sutta:
  • And how, monks, is a person a white lotus ascetic? Herein a monk, having eliminated the mental outflows, is without mental outflows. With liberation of mind and liberation through discernment, having realized supramundane gnosis, he abides with that attainment. Yet he does not abide personally experiencing the eight deliverances. Thus, monks, is a person a white lotus ascetic.
The eighth deliverance of the eight deliverances (aṭṭha vimokkhā) is the cessation of apperception and feeling (saññāvedayitanirodha). Arahants who are liberated through discernment do not attain this cessation.

All the best,

Geoff

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Dan74 » Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:28 am

I apologize in advance to the learned members for my naive question, but if Ven Brahmavamso was indeed teaching and practicing this apperceptive samadhi which basically results in a rebirth as a vegetable, would he be the extremely active and hard-working monk that he is today?
_/|\_

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by morning mist » Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:34 am

Hi Nana and Dan74,
Ñāṇa wrote: Vipassanā doesn't require vitakka and/or vicāra. It requires apperception (saññā), which is functional in all four jhānas.
According to SN 27.6 Sanna Sutta:

" Any desire-passion with regard to Perception of ideas ( dhamma sanna) is a defilement of the mind ( cittasseso upakkileso) . When, with regard to these six bases, the defilements of awareness are abandoned, then the mind is inclined to renunciation. The mind fostered by renunciation feels malleable for the Direct Knowing ( abbhina: special knowledge, supranormal knowledge) of those qualities worth realizing ( sacchikaraniyesu: fit to be realized) ."

Dan74 wrote: I apologize in advance to the learned members for my naive question, but if Ven Brahmavamso was indeed teaching and practicing this apperceptive samadhi which basically results in a rebirth as a vegetable, would he be the extremely active and hard-working monk that he is today?
That's a very good question Dan74.

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by darvki » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:58 am

Dan74 wrote:I apologize in advance to the learned members for my naive question, but if Ven Brahmavamso was indeed teaching and practicing this apperceptive samadhi which basically results in a rebirth as a vegetable, would he be the extremely active and hard-working monk that he is today?
I don't see the the two as being mutually exclusive at all. One can be active, hard-working and still teach mediation based around blankness.

Perhaps from some peoples' point of view, what Ajahn Brahmavamso is teaching is some sort of Hindu or Yogic practice. I believe Ven. Huifeng once stated on ZFI that many Brahmin practices try for citta-nirodha (or some term signifying something similar) whereas Buddhadharma tries for kilesa-nirodha.

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by manjughosamani » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:25 am

Hi,

This is a very interesting discussion.
darvki wrote:I believe Ven. Huifeng once stated on ZFI that many Brahmin practices try for citta-nirodha (or some term signifying something similar) whereas Buddhadharma tries for kilesa-nirodha.
This is pretty much true. Ven. Huifeng was probably referring to this line from the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali which defines yoga as follows:
Yogaś cittavṛttinirodaḥ |
Yoga is the cessastion of the fluctuations of the mind.
The text goes on to define the fluctuations (vṛtti) as all the fluctuations of the mind, both afflictive (kliṣṭā) and non-afflictive (akliṣṭa). 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.

Wishing you all the best.
Sabbe saṅkhārā anicca'ti yadā paññāya passati
Atha nibbindati dukkhe esa maggo visuddhiyā.

morning mist
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by morning mist » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:46 am

Hi all,
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.


http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cac ... rsjrTPlctA" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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 :

Buddha:
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)


with Metta,
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:30 am

Hi Dmytro

You mentioned -
He explicitly recommends to attend to the beautiful aspect, the subha-nimitta.

Evidently Brahmavamso uses samadhi nimitta, with concomittant subha-nimitta.
If you refer to AN 1.2.1, I think the context in which the subha-nimitta is criticised is that it leads to the arising and increase of kamacchanda -
Nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, aññaṃ ekadhammampi samanupassāmi yena anuppanno vā kāmacchando uppajjati uppanno vā kāmacchando bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattati yathayidaṃ, bhikkhave, subhanimittaṃ. Subhanimittaṃ, bhikkhave, ayoniso manasi karoto anuppanno ceva kāmacchando uppajjati uppanno ca kāmacchando bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattatī”ti
Kāmacchanda is chanda for the kāmā - ie sights, smells, tastes, odours and tactility. In my view, it is quite clear that the subhanimitta that is being criticised are the subhanimittas of kāmā.

Now, as you know, Ajahn Brahm's teaching applies the "vivicc'eva kamehi" formula (ie "quite secluded from the kāmā") very simply and literally, according to the sutta usage and not according to the Vibhanga usage. The "beautiful breath" that he teaches will not fall within tactility, as he suggests that we don't note the breath at a particular locus, but just be aware that we are breathing. The breath, will by necessity, have to be perceived in a gross manner as tactility in the beginning. But the awareness of the breath eventually gets more refined and conceptual as one progresses, so that we can dispense with a tactile perception of the breath.

The technique that Ajahn Brahm recommends for the arising of the perception of the "beautiful breath" is to extend metta to the perception of the breath - this allows the perception of beauty to arise. And here, I think, the Canon supports him.

I'm sure you are familiar with the Attha Vimokkhas, where the Third Vimokkha is "Deliverance by being resolved on the Beautiful" (Subhanteva adhimutto hoti, ayaṃ tatiyo vimokkho). In the Mettasahagata Sutta, SN 46.54, the Buddha specifically identifies meditation accompanied by metta as "subha vimokkha" here -
If he wishes thus, ‘May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive,’ he dwells perceiving
the repulsive therein.
If he wishes thus, ‘May I dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive,’ he dwells perceiving
the unrepulsive therein.
If he wishes thus, ‘May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive and in the repulsive,’
he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein.
If he wishes thus, ‘May I dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive and in the unrepulsive,’
he dwells perceiving the unrepulsive therein.
If he wishes thus, ‘May I dwell rejecting both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, and dwell in
equanimity, mindful and fully aware,’ he dwells therein equanimously, mindful and fully aware.
Or else, he enters and dwells in the liberation by the beautiful (subha vimokkha).
Bhikshus, the liberation of mind by lovingkindness has the beautiful as its highest point, I say, for a
wise monk here who has not penetrated to a higher liberation.
Ven Analayo suggests that the Third Vimokkha listed in the standard Attha Vimokkha catalogues is nothing more than the "Subha Vimokkha" listed in SN 46.54. The correspondence is just too uncanny to deny, IMHO.

On this basis, I think Ajahn Brahm's teaching of the "subha nimitta" using metta is perfectly in line with the canonical supports above cited.

Sylvester
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:37 am

Ñāṇa wrote:[
Sylvester wrote:I'm glad you've acknowledged your mistake in reading the Dhammasangani's "nanasampayutta" as meaning "concomittance" - at least we're rid of that possibility for vipassana in Sutta jhanas on the Dhammasangani approach.
The Dhammasaṅgaṇī clearly allows for vipassanā to be concomitant with rūpāvacarajjhāna. I've never said otherwise.

All the best,

Geoff
Hi Geoff

If by the underlined text, you mean to to say that the locative absolute formulation of the iddapaccayata set "samatho hoti, vipassana hoti" allows for contemporaneity of the two, you are absolutely correct.

But since the locative absolute formulation also allows for vipassana to follow after samatha, does the Dhammasanagani actually say when samatha and vipassana occur? Is there an express clause in the Dhammasangani that says that samatha and vipassana occur concurrently in Jhana?

There is a very good reason why the Abhidhammikas chose "nanasampayutta", rather than "nanasahagata".

Sylvester
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:46 am

legolas wrote:How is it even possible to acquire Right Samadhi without having some basis of Right View? Any samadhi gained can hardly be called right.

As to which I would pose this question -

Is it possible to reach Right Samadhi without Right Sankappa?

According to MN 78, unwholesome sankappa ceases without remainder in 1st Jhana, and wholesome sankappa cease without remainder in 2nd Jhana.

Sylvester
Posts: 2205
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:57 am

Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:52 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
morning mist wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:It's been demonstrated to you time and again that there is nothing Buddhist about jhāna devoid of vipassanā, .
As the Pamsudhovaka Sutta and the Nigantha Nataputta sutta have shown that a samadhi where there are still thoughts about the dhamma ( dhamma vitakka) is not considered full tranquility, and that Citta shows how he directly experience a samadhi without thoughts and examination in Samma Samadhi.
Vipassanā doesn't require vitakka and/or vicāra. It requires apperception (saññā), which is functional in all four jhānas.

All the best,

Geoff
And how do these ñana arise, without the vacisankhara to compose and organise them?

Note that the suttas always phrase the vipassana stuff within the "iti" markers (quotation marks), indicating thought. Can one think without the vacisankharas?

Another problem I have with your vipassana theory is that it pre-supposes that one can "vipassati" without dhamma-vicaya. Sure, perception is absolutely necessary to supply the data to enable recognition and discrimination. But for vipassana to "be", one needs to vipassati the data, instead of just soaking in the experience. Needless to say, I cannot see how one "investigates dhamma" without the vacisankharas to mobilise the mind. Dmytro has a nice essay on dhamma-vicaya somewhere in the Pali folder.

If anything, your "vipassana without vacisankhara" model seems like some process where the mind does its own thing unbridled and ñana pops up without any examination...
Last edited by Sylvester on Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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