Book about jhana

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
Arbol
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:33 pm

Re: Book about jhana

Post by Arbol » Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:36 pm

Sobhana wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:21 pm

But Brasington acknowledges, or at least he did, that his jhanas are not as deep as what he believes the Buddha's jhanas to be. But he believes to give busy householders a taste of lesser/lighter jhana is better than saying it is nearly impossible for the "real deal."
Could you please provide a source for this?
Last edited by Arbol on Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

Eraka
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2019 2:53 pm

Re: Book about jhana

Post by Eraka » Mon Sep 09, 2019 8:07 pm

Arbol wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:36 pm
Sobhana wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:21 pm

But Brasington acknowledges, or at least he did, that his jhanas are not as deep as what he believes the Buddha's jhanas to be. But he believes to give busy householders a taste of lesser/lighter jhana is better than saying it is nearly impossible for the "real deal."
Could you provide a source for this?

To my understanding, Leigh believes that he is teaching jhanas which are slightly lighter than those described in the Suttas. This is due to students (and himself) often experiencing 4th jhana differently than it is described in the Suttas (as sitting under a white cloth. Leigh's typical 4th jhana is dark, not white.) And that Vissudhimagga jhanas (or as some would say 'hard jhanas') are significantly deeper than those described in the Suttas.

As far as which is the 'real deal', I've heard him give a cool analogy about picturing the 8 jhanas as 8 Olympic swimming pools sitting next to one another. There is a shallow end and a deep end to each and, to his knowledge, there's no end to how deep the deep end can go. So to use this analogy, different teachers set up in different spots of the pool and say that thier jhana understanding is the correct one, and anything more shallow is not real jhana, and anything deeper is too deep.

This is all from memory hearing Leigh speak in person, sorry I don't have a better reference. Some of this might be in his book, and I've heard him say similar things on recorded podcasts, so a motivated person might be able to find something there, or his website is pretty extensive.

Arbol
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:33 pm

Re: Book about jhana

Post by Arbol » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:41 pm

Eraka wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 8:07 pm
Arbol wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:36 pm
Sobhana wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:21 pm

But Brasington acknowledges, or at least he did, that his jhanas are not as deep as what he believes the Buddha's jhanas to be. But he believes to give busy householders a taste of lesser/lighter jhana is better than saying it is nearly impossible for the "real deal."
Could you provide a source for this?
To my understanding, Leigh believes that he is teaching jhanas which are slightly lighter than those described in the Suttas. This is due to students (and himself) often experiencing 4th jhana differently than it is described in the Suttas (as sitting under a white cloth. Leigh's typical 4th jhana is dark, not white.) And that Vissudhimagga jhanas (or as some would say 'hard jhanas') are significantly deeper than those described in the Suttas.

As far as which is the 'real deal', I've heard him give a cool analogy about picturing the 8 jhanas as 8 Olympic swimming pools sitting next to one another. There is a shallow end and a deep end to each and, to his knowledge, there's no end to how deep the deep end can go. So to use this analogy, different teachers set up in different spots of the pool and say that thier jhana understanding is the correct one, and anything more shallow is not real jhana, and anything deeper is too deep.

This is all from memory hearing Leigh speak in person, sorry I don't have a better reference. Some of this might be in his book, and I've heard him say similar things on recorded podcasts, so a motivated person might be able to find something there, or his website is pretty extensive.
Thanks but without a reference for a specific statement in print or even audio I just can't see that. I don't want to say you're wrong, since I've no idea, so let's just say I'm stubborn and like to have sources lol!

All I've read by him seems to strongly imply that, for at least the first jhana, what he teaches is in line with the suttas, as opposed to the hard jhana interpretation, which he seems to argue is not in line with the suttas.

I find it hard to believe that he would go through so much trouble explaining how his interpretation of the sutta jhanas, again particularly the first jhana, is more accurate and in sync with the suttas themselves than the hard jhana interpretations only to then do a 180 and say his jhanas are not as deep as the suttas. He would just be contradicting himself.

He has written a lot explaining this. For example that the number of factors of the first jhana and his first jhana are the same number as most commonly found in the suttas, whereas the hard jhanas have a number more than that, which is found a minority of times in the suttas. He has also written on how the hard jhanas are said to be achievable by only one in a million practitioners, then goes on to point out that the Buddha only had a few thousand followers and yet there are many accounts of them having been able to enter jhana ("Five Factors for the First Jhana-NOT!", article By Leigh Brasington on his web site). He makes a very strong case for the sutta jhanas being easier than the hard jhanas, the implication being that his jhanas are more in line with the sutta jhanas, and so naturally also easier than the hard ones.

Or is it that he argues that the sutta jhanas are easier than the hard jhana interpretations and then teaches his own super extra easy jhanas that are even easier than the sutta jhanas? Seems this would be odd too. He argues for his as the correct interpretation of jhana from the suttas, and that the hard jhana interpretation is incorrect because it is not in line with the suttas, and then teaches his own method, openly implying it is also not in line with his own correct sutta interpretation?

tl;dr: He has argued that what he considers to be the correct interpretation of the sutta jhanas are much easier than hard jhana interpretations. Why would he then say his jhanas are less deep than his already easier interpretation of the sutta jhanas, thus making his own teachings out of sync with what he argues is the correct interpretation of the sutta jhanas? Without a source I can't accept this, not because it's necessarily untrue, but because I'm stubborn and like sources.

Eraka
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2019 2:53 pm

Re: Book about jhana

Post by Eraka » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:32 am

I found some of his writings that might help bridge the gap! Here he writes about an experience meditating with Pa Auk Sayadaw: http://www.leighb.com/jhana_fr.htm

Notable excerpt: "Now I'm not about to claim that what I experienced was the "actual sutta jhanas". What I was doing was concentrating for 3 or 4 hours and then playing with the jhanas for maybe half an hour or so. The monks and nuns in the suttas would eat their meal (9:00am?, 10:00am?) and then go "for the day's abiding" - practicing meditation until sunset. I imaging that these full time practitioners where sitting much longer than I did and getting even more concentrated."

Leigh can acknowledge that his jhanas might not be as deep as the Sutta jhanas (at least, not typically) because he understands that the depth of jhana will be dependent on conditions. This is not really in conflict with saying that Leigh teaches jhanas which are very much in line with the Sutta descriptions. They are. It's more a matter of degree of depth a practitioner is likely to experience, based on having different conditions.

Sobhana
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:34 pm

Re: Book about jhana

Post by Sobhana » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:36 am

Arbol wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:36 pm
Sobhana wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:21 pm

But Brasington acknowledges, or at least he did, that his jhanas are not as deep as what he believes the Buddha's jhanas to be. But he believes to give busy householders a taste of lesser/lighter jhana is better than saying it is nearly impossible for the "real deal."
Could you please provide a source for this?
This is from https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/article ... he-seeing/
One thing I’ve discovered along the way is that the level of concentration that I get to on a ten-day course or a month-long course or that my students get to is probably not the level the Buddha and his disciples were getting to, because they were doing this practice full-time.

On long retreats, particularly during the two retreats I’ve done with Pa Auk Sayadaw, I was able to get deeply concentrated and then work with the same jhāna states I initially learned from Ayya Khema. The experiences I had during those retreats more closely matched the way they’re described in the suttas.

So then the question becomes, “If what I’m teaching is at a lesser level of concentration than what the Buddha was teaching, is that of any value, or should I just be teaching what he taught?” I’ve decided that, given that I’m working with lay students who come on retreat for ten or twenty days, it’s much more important to teach something that people can actually learn and use than to hold out for something that most people don’t have the time to properly develop. If someone wants to take their concentration to the level the Buddha was teaching, I can help with that as well. Basically, they just have to stay much longer in access concentration before moving into the first jhāna.

Arbol
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:33 pm

Re: Book about jhana

Post by Arbol » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:27 pm

Eraka wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:32 am
I found some of his writings that might help bridge the gap! Here he writes about an experience meditating with Pa Auk Sayadaw: http://www.leighb.com/jhana_fr.htm

Notable excerpt: "Now I'm not about to claim that what I experienced was the "actual sutta jhanas". What I was doing was concentrating for 3 or 4 hours and then playing with the jhanas for maybe half an hour or so. The monks and nuns in the suttas would eat their meal (9:00am?, 10:00am?) and then go "for the day's abiding" - practicing meditation until sunset. I imaging that these full time practitioners where sitting much longer than I did and getting even more concentrated."

Leigh can acknowledge that his jhanas might not be as deep as the Sutta jhanas (at least, not typically) because he understands that the depth of jhana will be dependent on conditions. This is not really in conflict with saying that Leigh teaches jhanas which are very much in line with the Sutta descriptions. They are. It's more a matter of degree of depth a practitioner is likely to experience, based on having different conditions.
Thanks.

Arbol
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:33 pm

Re: Book about jhana

Post by Arbol » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:55 pm

Sobhana wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:36 am
Arbol wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:36 pm
Sobhana wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:21 pm

But Brasington acknowledges, or at least he did, that his jhanas are not as deep as what he believes the Buddha's jhanas to be. But he believes to give busy householders a taste of lesser/lighter jhana is better than saying it is nearly impossible for the "real deal."
Could you please provide a source for this?
This is from https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/article ... he-seeing/
One thing I’ve discovered along the way is that the level of concentration that I get to on a ten-day course or a month-long course or that my students get to is probably not the level the Buddha and his disciples were getting to, because they were doing this practice full-time.

On long retreats, particularly during the two retreats I’ve done with Pa Auk Sayadaw, I was able to get deeply concentrated and then work with the same jhāna states I initially learned from Ayya Khema. The experiences I had during those retreats more closely matched the way they’re described in the suttas.

So then the question becomes, “If what I’m teaching is at a lesser level of concentration than what the Buddha was teaching, is that of any value, or should I just be teaching what he taught?” I’ve decided that, given that I’m working with lay students who come on retreat for ten or twenty days, it’s much more important to teach something that people can actually learn and use than to hold out for something that most people don’t have the time to properly develop. If someone wants to take their concentration to the level the Buddha was teaching, I can help with that as well. Basically, they just have to stay much longer in access concentration before moving into the first jhāna.
Phew! I am surprised! So is he saying that his method is directly from the suttas but his instructions on the usage of it to his students on ten day retreats is deliberately altered to achieve a shallower jhana than the suttas speak of?

This makes sense me thinks! I was thinking he would be implying his method was not correct according to the suttas, which he writes a lot about himself interpreting correctly in his opinion. Which would mean he was teaching a method that, by his own implication, is not found in the suttas. Decidedly strange after he wrote so much about the hard jhanas being beyond the suttas and that his understanding was the correct interpretation. But instead it sounds like he is only implying that he teaches a use of his interpretation of the correct sutta method that is shallower.

Does he tell all students like: "Hey, here's the shallower jhana we're doing. Technically not exactly like the suttas. Here is how to do the sutta version when you have more time." And then explain the full method?

What about his book Right Concentration? Does it contain what in his opinion is the correct instructions according to the suttas? Or does it contain only the shallow, less than the suttas jhanas? Same question for his other writings, articles and website?

Sobhana
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:34 pm

Re: Book about jhana

Post by Sobhana » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:15 pm

I haven't really paid attention to Brasington in the last couple of years. So I'm not fit to answer your questions.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 25 guests