FallAway wrote:Who does Buddha mean by "I" when he says that "I can...." enter into such or such a state? He has attained emptiness and returned with the power to re-enter as an observer?
As suggested by others, this is merely conventional language. Buddha was comparing his development with that of the arahant Kassapa. It would be clumsy if Buddha said: "This five aggregates can at will enter jhana and that five aggregates over there can enter jhana
Free of the taints, free of all the hindrances, free of all fetters...it is my understanding that such liberation leaves only empathetic joy, metta, compassion and equinamity.
This is incorrect. The four brahmavihara are not the destruction of the taints. Nibbana is the destruction of the taints. MN 43 states of the liberations, which include brahma vihara, the destruction of the taints/emptiness is the foremost & brahmavihara is inferior.
Do these abodes transcend themselves to become some kind of namarupa?
Are you inferring a reincarnation here? This question is difficult to understand.
Or, maybe he is talking about freedom from all the taints and only the taints, as the key into the jhanas. If that's the case, I need clarification on "taints". Will start looking.
The destruction of the taints occurs due to vipassana (insight). Here, jhana provides support.
Given that Buddha dwelled in the heavenly abodes (assuming that is the taint-less state)
The heavenly abodes are not the taintless state. Nibbana is the taintless state. However, when a Buddha enters jhana (due to the calming of the body), it is taintless because the Buddha is already taintless. But for a student, such as a once-returner or non-returner, jhana is not yet taintless.
Given that Buddha dwelled in the heavenly abodes which of any, or do all five aggregates remain with him in purified form? Could these purified aggregates resonate at all with at least the first three jhanas? Would they not just "bypass" them having no reason to remain?
Each jhana is a heavenly abode (refer to MN 1). Whatever purity there is, each of the aggregates remains & is purified.
The power of "having been one, I become many; having been many, I become one" is making me wonder if his transcendent state has yet another power, i.e. the power to untranscend, so to speak, and separate out that which is inseparable. The power to group, re-group, form and re-form the aggregates in any manner at all, including making what is not changeable, changeable. In an analogy, the power to take a glass of water and turn it into a glass of hydrogen and oxygen, then reform it back into water. The power of changing death into life...
This is a bonus psychic power and not a requirement for liberation (refer to SN 12.70). While I do not know what it means, I would guess it is merely an ability to create with the mind a mental projection or image, including to another person, such as when Jesus did the transformation to his disciples on the mountain. In other words, I doubt it is anything physical. Just brainwashing others with psychic powers.
Perhaps you will now share your understanding of what Buddha means by "having been one, I become many; having been many, I become one" and why such a being would even want to "return" to a first jhana state.
Walking, speaking (refer to SN 36.11), eating, etc, is not possible in the 1st jhana. For example, if a Buddha walks up a mountain, the vigor of the breathing required to walk up a mountain prevents the 1st jhana. Then when he reaches the mountain destination and calms the body, the mind will enter the 1st jhana before progressing to the 4th jhana for meditation.
I'll refer to the heavenly abodes now as the Brahmaviharas - the highest abodes of mind and body
This view is incorrect. Nibbana is the highest thing.
I am a perpetual student
It doesn't sound like this, to me. To me, it sounds like you have very fixed & rigid views about the brahma vihara.
Cultivating each and all of the brahmaviharas is almost a prerequisite I would think.
Brahmavihara is a social attitude. Therefore, both before & after enlightenment, the practitioner develops brahma vihara as social attitudes (rather than explicitly means of liberation).
I began by wondering why the Buddha spoke in the first person about his own accomplishments in each of the jhanas and beyond
i would suggest his purpose here was to bring attention to Kassapa as equal to him. The purpose was to praise Kassapa, which would include as a teacher to the other monks.
So it seemed to me that this sutta is not intended as a training discourse, but is pointing out something else, something that both Buddha and Kapassa would like the bikkhus to understand.
Many suttas use personal pronouns where not expected, such as the Anapanasati Sutta, which repeatedly states: "I breathe in; I breathe out". This is how many suttas are written. Possibly something goes missing here in the translation because in English there is one word for "I".
I would like to throw this question out there for any response: What does Buddha mean when he says having become many he becomes one and having been one he becomes many?
As I suggested, this is a psychic power. What it means I do not know. But it is a mental power; power of the mind (rather than the body).
given that Nibbana is a changeless state, entered into only with much purification and transcendence of all the aggregates, how can the aggregates "change back" into previous levels of non-purification in order to be able to feel any of the healing effects of a jhana state? Or even "feel" an entry at all? Are the aggregates purified in a permanent way or not? Would not a permanent state of Nibbana also include a permanent state of the aggregates?
Nibbana is the end of craving; end of greed, hatred & delusion. Therefore, all of the aggregates continually change in Nibbana. But the purity of mind does not change. As for jhana, as I mentioned, these are called "rupa jhana" & are states related to the relaxation of the physical body. For a Buddha, they are not related to purity from craving because a Buddha has already destroyed craving so it can never arise again.
I would suggest to learn the basics, particularly what Nibbana is, which is simply non-attachment towards the changing aggregates.