What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

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mikenz66
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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:48 am

Kumara wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:From the long thread that I linked to, and various other threads and source, it's clear that some modern teachers/commentators (for example, Ajahn Brahm) interpret jhana as described in the suttas (and in practice) to be much the same as what is described in the Visuddhimagga, with access to them via a light nimitta.
Yes, indeed, that's his position. He would have to ignore a lot of suttas to make that equation.

Anyway, care you share yours?
Since there seem to be a lot of opinions, I don't take any one them to be the last word. [And the more anyone says that they have the only possible interpretation, the less I tend to believe them...]

My main practise is Mahasi style. It seems to me that the sort of concentration level that tends to involve is what some here would classify as "sutta jhana". Obviously Ajahn Brahm and his followers would disagree....

I've certainly not experienced the sort of highly-concentrated jhana that Ajahn Brahm or the Visuddhimagga describe, so I can't make any really useful first-hand comments on that, but my observation is that the depth of concentration is a matter of focus.

If you keep returning to the grounding/primary/(whatever you want to call it) object (breath, metta, whatever) as quickly as possible when distracted, and have a fairly conceptual object (metta, breath nimitta, etc) then the concentration gets a lot stronger than if you focus on the other objects that come up, and focus on the details. I think that is because a conceptual object is more stable. An object like the rise and fall of the abdomen is complex and varies constantly, so it's really not possible to get so absorbed in it.

:anjali:
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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by Zom » Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:52 pm

What's your understanding of "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?
How is it different from the Visuddhimagga jhana (which the Visuddhimagga indirectly says is unnecessary for Awakening)?
I read a lot on this topic - many people tell many different (often contrary) things. I've never experienced jhana, so I have no idea about what it is in reality, but from the suttas I took some obvious points:

- It is called "uttari-manussa-dhamma" (superhuman phenomenon); the sphere of jhana is also called "acinteyya" (AN 4.77) - unthinkable. When you have jhana, you are close to superpowers such as levitation, mind-reading, clairvoyance, etc, including direct nibbana vision which results in arahantship/non-returning. So, as I see it for myself -- jhana is something totally different from our normal states of mind and, obviously, not so easily gained as some may think.

- There is no even slightest bodily discomfort even in the 1st jhana (SN 48.40). Using this key one can easily understand if he really is in jhana or not.

- In the 1st jhana both body and mind are filled with intense pleasure. This happen because you remove even suble hindrances from your mind -- and not because you think about something pleasurable. This "spiritual" pleasure is also the key to understand if this is real jhana or not.

- Generally suttas keep silence about "uninterrupted looking onto 1 object" and "nimitta" needed to enter 1st jhana. There are some passages, but they are obscure and speculative and occur rarely. So I don't consider these to be "important keys" for jhana. I think jhana is more about the clarity of your mind rather than the ability to concentrate (recall a case with young boy Siddhattha spontaneously entered 1st jhana under the tree). That is why, in my opinion, jhana is achievable not through "technical retreat meditation" (that is - "concentration exercises"), but only through deep, wide, and long-term Noble Path practice (simply because you can't clear your mind fast and those who could lived during Buddha's lifetime or close to that due to their perfect kammic consequences 8-) )

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by Mkoll » Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:19 pm

Zom wrote:
What's your understanding of "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?
How is it different from the Visuddhimagga jhana (which the Visuddhimagga indirectly says is unnecessary for Awakening)?
I read a lot on this topic - many people tell many different (often contrary) things. I've never experienced jhana, so I have no idea about what it is in reality, but from the suttas I took some obvious points:

- It is called "uttari-manussa-dhamma" (superhuman phenomenon); the sphere of jhana is also called "acinteyya" (AN 4.77) - unthinkable. When you have jhana, you are close to superpowers such as levitation, mind-reading, clairvoyance, etc, including direct nibbana vision which results in arahantship/non-returning. So, as I see it for myself -- jhana is something totally different from our normal states of mind and, obviously, not so easily gained as some may think.

- There is no even slightest bodily discomfort even in the 1st jhana (SN 48.40). Using this key one can easily understand if he really is in jhana or not.

- In the 1st jhana both body and mind are filled with intense pleasure. This happen because you remove even suble hindrances from your mind -- and not because you think about something pleasurable. This "spiritual" pleasure is also the key to understand if this is real jhana or not.

- Generally suttas keep silence about "uninterrupted looking onto 1 object" and "nimitta" needed to enter 1st jhana. There are some passages, but they are obscure and speculative and occur rarely. So I don't consider these to be "important keys" for jhana. I think jhana is more about the clarity of your mind rather than the ability to concentrate (recall a case with young boy Siddhattha spontaneously entered 1st jhana under the tree). That is why, in my opinion, jhana is achievable not through "technical retreat meditation" (that is - "concentration exercises"), but only through deep, wide, and long-term Noble Path practice (simply because you can't clear your mind fast and those who could lived during Buddha's lifetime or close to that due to their perfect kammic consequences 8-) )
:goodpost:
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Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by SarathW » Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:44 pm

Kumara wrote:
cooran wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi's article is worth reading:

The Jhanas and the Lay Disciple according to the Pali Suttas
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha267.htm
I've had a look before. Too much hedging and speculation.
I think Bhikkhu Bodhi's article is a very good one considering the complexity of this subject.
Please find the attached linked for Jhana's by Henepola Gunaratna.
I think this is the mother of all Jhana analyses!
:shrug:

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/printguna.pdf
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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by Kumara » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:15 am

SarathW wrote:
Kumara wrote:
cooran wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi's article is worth reading:

The Jhanas and the Lay Disciple according to the Pali Suttas
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha267.htm
I've had a look before. Too much hedging and speculation.
I think Bhikkhu Bodhi's article is a very good one considering the complexity of this subject.
It seems to me he tried too hard to reconcile the Suttas and Commentaries on the need to jhana. Thus the excessive hedging and speculation. Read carefully how he framed his words.
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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by Kumara » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:40 am

daverupa wrote:
Kumara wrote:Can one be walking when in jhana, or is it possible only in static postures?
I will say, only static postures, and this based partly on the pericope of retiring to a seated situation & partly on what seclusion from kamaguna necessitates.
What about the ability by some to attain the jhanas at will? If one has to be seated first, then it's not quite at will, isn't it?
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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by robertk » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:00 am

Kumara wrote:
daverupa wrote:
Kumara wrote:Can one be walking when in jhana, or is it possible only in static postures?
I will say, only static postures, and this based partly on the pericope of retiring to a seated situation & partly on what seclusion from kamaguna necessitates.
What about the ability by some to attain the jhanas at will? If one has to be seated first, then it's not quite at will, isn't it?
In even first khana the object is taken continuosly and so there can be no hearing , or bodily feeling/ experience at all. Thus for one who is not a master they must be seated in a stable posture .
However for one who has mastered jhana they can enter and leave instantly and can be in any posture.
Thus sariputta while fanning the buddha and listening to him talk to another monk was entering and leaving various jhanas, so the texts indicate, and became an arahat to boot.

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:04 am

robertk wrote: Thus sariputta while fanning the buddha and listening to him talk to another monk was entering and leaving various jhanas, so the texts indicate, and became an arahat to boot.
Citation, please.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by robertk » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:10 am

Just delete the post tilt. I didnt know this forum required citations for all posts.

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:15 am

robertk wrote:Just delete the post tilt. I didnt know this forum required citations for all posts.
I am not going to delete the post. It is common courtesy to provide a citation for what looks to be a textual reference, and it has been standard practice here to ask for a citation for what is obviously a textual reference if a citation is not given.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by cooran » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:47 am

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by Mkoll » Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:01 am

From that link:
But the Venerable Sariputta continued to stay near the Master, at a cave called the Boar's Shelter (Sukarakhata-lena), depending on Rajagaha for his almsfood. Half a month after his ordination the Blessed One gave a discourse on the comprehension of feelings[6] to the Venerable Sariputta's nephew, the wandering ascetic Dighanakha. The Venerable Sariputta was standing behind the Master, fanning him. While following with his thoughts the progress of the discourse, as though sharing the food prepared for another, the Venerable Sariputta on that occasion reached the acme of "knowledge pertaining to a disciple's perfection and attained to Arahatship together with the fourfold analytical knowledge (patisambhida-ñana)."[7] And his nephew, at the end of the sermon, was established in the Fruition of stream-entry.[8]

6.
Dighanakha Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya No. 74.
7.
The fact of his attainment to analytical knowledge, which has here been added to the commentarial text, was mentioned by the Venerable Sariputta himself in Anguttara Nikaya, Fours, No. 172.
8.
The Venerable Sariputta refers to his way of attaining Arahatship in verses 995-96 in the Theragatha.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:22 am

That text does say he became an arahant, but it does not say that he was entering and leaving jhanas while listening to the Buddha. There is no mention of jhanas in Sariputta's account of his awakening in the Theragatha (PTS trans: p 92), nor could I find in the suttas such an accounting as robertk gave.
robertk wrote:Thus sariputta while fanning the buddha and listening to him talk to another monk was entering and leaving various jhanas, so the texts indicate, and became an arahat to boot.
So, please cite your source. I am interested in seeing it.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by daverupa » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:08 am

Kumara wrote:
daverupa wrote:
Kumara wrote:Can one be walking when in jhana, or is it possible only in static postures?
I will say, only static postures, and this based partly on the pericope of retiring to a seated situation & partly on what seclusion from kamaguna necessitates.
What about the ability by some to attain the jhanas at will? If one has to be seated first, then it's not quite at will, isn't it?
They also can't obtain it in flagrante delicto. This isn't what "at will" means; this is a spurious query.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by Unrul3r » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:12 am

tiltbillings wrote:So, please cite your source. I am interested in seeing it.
It's probably this (but there is no mention of jhāna in this text):
MN 74 wrote:Now at that time Ven. Sariputta was sitting behind the Blessed One, fanning him. The thought occurred to him, "Indeed, it seems that the Blessed One speaks to us of the abandoning of each of these mental qualities through direct knowledge. Indeed, it seems that the One Well-gone speaks to us of the relinquishing of each of these mental qualities through direct knowledge." As Ven. Sariputta was reflecting thus, his mind was released from fermentations through not-clinging. While in LongNails the wanderer there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."
:anjali:

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:01 pm

Unrul3r wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:So, please cite your source. I am interested in seeing it.
It's probably this (but there is no mention of jhāna in this text):
MN 74 wrote:Now at that time Ven. Sariputta was sitting behind the Blessed One, fanning him. The thought occurred to him, "Indeed, it seems that the Blessed One speaks to us of the abandoning of each of these mental qualities through direct knowledge. Indeed, it seems that the One Well-gone speaks to us of the relinquishing of each of these mental qualities through direct knowledge." As Ven. Sariputta was reflecting thus, his mind was released from fermentations through not-clinging. While in LongNails the wanderer there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."
Also, the robertk version does not exist in Ven Nanamoli's THE LIFEOF THE BUDDHA, nor does Ven Bodhi mention jhanas in his footnote to the bit you just quoted. Though I could be proved wrong, which would be just fine, I suspect robertk is offering us his own creative interpretation of events. The problem, however, is that in the context of this thread robertk's claim is significant, and it is not part of the standard lore. Robertk needs to address this.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by robertk » Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:45 am

And he knows it
through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by
The Blessed One as released through discernment without a sequel."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Here is the Ancient Commentary to this sutta using a translation by nanamoli.

" "Again, bhikkhus, by completely surmounting the base of
neither-perception-nor-non-perception, Saariputta entered upon and abided
in the cessation of perception and feeling. And his taints were destroyed
by his seeing wisdom.*

" He emerged mindful from that attainment. Having done so, he recalled the
past states, which had ceased and changed, thus: 'So indeed, these states,
not having been come into being; having been, they vanish.** Regarding
those states, he abided unattracted, unrepelled, independent, detached,
free, dissociated, with a mind free of barriers. He understood: 'There is
no escape beyond,' and with the cultivation of that [attainment], he
confirmed that there is not.***



"MA offters this explanation of the
passage, transmitted by "the elders of India": "The Elder Sariputta
cultivated serenity and insight in paired conjunction and realised the
fruit of non-returning. Then he entered the attainment of cessation, and
after emerging from it he attained arahantship." "

** "Since there are no mental factors in the attainement of cessation, MA
says that "these states" her must refer either to the states of material
form that were occurring while he attained cessation, or to the mental
factors of the preceding fourth immaterial attainment."

*** "Note the realisation that there is "no escape beyone" the attainment
of arahantship."

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:10 am

robertk wrote:> "Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of
> neither perception nor non-perception, he enters & remains in the
> cessation of perception & feeling. And as he sees with discernment,
> the mental fermentations go to their total end. And he knows it
> through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by
> the Blessed One as released through discernment without a sequel."
> http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
> And MN111 (+ other MN suttas).
...
I quote from the Ancient Commentary to this sutta using a translation by nanamoli.

" "Again, bhikkhus, by completely surmounting the base of
neither-perception-nor-non-perception, Saariputta entered upon and abided
in the cessation of perception and feeling. And his taints were destroyed
by his seeing wisdom.*

" He emerged mindful from that attainment. Having done so, he recalled the
past states, which had ceased and changed, thus: 'So indeed, these states,
not having been come into being; having been, they vanish.** Regarding
those states, he abided unattracted, unrepelled, independent, detached,
free, dissociated, with a mind free of barriers. He understood: 'There is
no escape beyond,' and with the cultivation of that [attainment], he
confirmed that there is not.***



"MA offters this explanation of the
passage, transmitted by "the elders of India": "The Elder Sariputta
cultivated serenity and insight in paired conjunction and realised the
fruit of non-returning. Then he entered the attainment of cessation, and
after emerging from it he attained arahantship." "

** "Since there are no mental factors in the attainement of cessation, MA
says that "these states" her must refer either to the states of material
form that were occurring while he attained cessation, or to the mental
factors of the preceding fourth immaterial attainment."

*** "Note the realisation that there is "no escape beyone" the attainment
of arahantship."
So, there are two differing accounts of Sariputta's attaining awakening, and you are conflating the two into one story. I can see why you would try to do that. Interestingly, the commentaries do not seem to go your route.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by robertk » Sat Aug 30, 2014 9:17 am

tiltbillings wrote:Also, the robertk version does not exist in Ven Nanamoli's THE LIFEOF THE BUDDHA, nor does Ven Bodhi mention jhanas in his footnote to the bit you just quoted. Though I could be proved wrong, which would be just fine, I suspect robertk is offering us his own creative interpretation of events. The problem, however, is that in the context of this thread robertk's claim is significant, and it is not part of the standard lore. Robertk needs to address this.
Thanks cooran, mkoll and unrul3 for looking up these references. I lead a busy life and Just finding the other reference i supplied took me 10 minutes of precious time.
Mostly i assume these facts are well known and people can easily find them by themselves if they want to.
tiltbillings wrote:.
So, there are two differing accounts of Sariputta's attaining awakening, and you are conflating the two into one story.
The Commentary to both was written down by Buddhaghosa . In one he was explaining the situation -the fanning-at the time of Sariputta becoming arahat. In the other the various jhanas he entered and exited at the time of this attainment.
There is no discrepancy and this is a common feature of the Commentaries: if they give all background for all suttas on every occasion the Commentary becomes too cumbersome. So they focus on the most salient points each time.

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Re: What is "Jhana" accordingly to the Suttas?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Aug 31, 2014 6:46 am

robertk wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Also, the robertk version does not exist in Ven Nanamoli's THE LIFEOF THE BUDDHA, nor does Ven Bodhi mention jhanas in his footnote to the bit you just quoted. Though I could be proved wrong, which would be just fine, I suspect robertk is offering us his own creative interpretation of events. The problem, however, is that in the context of this thread robertk's claim is significant, and it is not part of the standard lore. Robertk needs to address this.
Thanks cooran, mkoll and unrul3 for looking up these references. I lead a busy life and Just finding the other reference i supplied took me 10 minutes of precious time.
Mostly i assume these facts are well known and people can easily find them by themselves if they want to.
If you quote or allude to a text, it is your responsibility to provide a citation.
robertk wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:.
So, there are two differing accounts of Sariputta's attaining awakening, and you are conflating the two into one story.
The Commentary to both was written down by Buddhaghosa . In one he was explaining the situation -the fanning-at the time of Sariputta becoming arahat. In the other the various jhanas he entered and exited at the time of this attainment.

There is no discrepancy and this is a common feature of the Commentaries: if they give all background for all suttas on every occasion the Commentary becomes too cumbersome. So they focus on the most salient points each time.
Of course, robertk, things are never so easy.

Ven Bodhi’s first footnote (MLDB fn: 1046, p. 1316):
    • MA explains that he developed insight into states in successive order by the way of the meditative attainments and jhana factors , as will be described. The two-week period referred to fell from the time of Ven. Sariputta’s ordination under the Buddha to his attainment of arahantship while listening to the Buddha explain the comprehension of feeling to Dighanakha (see MN 74.14).
And Ven Thanissaro’s footnote:
    • "Clearly saw insight": In Pali, this is vipassanam vipassi, which could be translated literally as "clearly saw clear seeing" or "insighted insight." The Commentary states that the half month mentioned here refers to the half month between Ven. Sariputta's ordination and his attainment of arahantship, described in MN 74. These two suttas treat Sariputta's attainment from two different perspectives. This sutta shows it from the standpoint of his mastery of the four jhanas and the formless attainments based on the fourth jhana. That sutta shows it as occurring when he starts reflecting on a point while listening to a discourse that the Buddha is giving to his nephew. To put the two suttas together, we can infer that prior to the discourse given in MN 74, Sariputta had mastered the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. While listening to the discourse, he reflected on the point that the Buddha recommended abandoning all mental qualities through direct knowledge. This would have led him to the cessation of perception and feeling (during which he would not be listening to the discourse) and so to Awakening.
Add to that Ven Sariputta’s self account of his awakening in the Theragatha (PTS trans: p 92) that does not mention jhana, much less “while fanning the buddha and listening to him talk to another monk [Ven Sariputta] was entering and leaving various jhanas, your attempt at conflating MN74 with MN 111 is a singularly unwarranted stretch.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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