Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
zan
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Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by zan » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:43 pm

Dear friends,

I have heard the opposite end of the argument enough.

I was hoping that you all may be able to present all of the arguments and textual evidence that support the idea that one can hear sounds in the first jhana.

As of now I know only of AN 10.72 (sound is a thorn to the first jhana) and I assume there must be more than just this one line that people believe shows that one can hear in the first jhana.

Thank you
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

SarathW
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by SarathW » Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:54 am

The way I understand you have Vitakka, Vicara, Pithy, Sukaha, and Ekagata all five in first Jhana.
When you have Vitakka and Vicara you can hear the sound.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by DooDoot » Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:08 am

SarathW wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:54 am
When you have Vitakka and Vicara you can hear the sound.
This idea about vitakka & vicara does not agree with Bhante Sujato's idea.

zan
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by zan » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:20 am

SarathW wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:54 am
The way I understand you have Vitakka, Vicara, Pithy, Sukaha, and Ekagata all five in first Jhana.
When you have Vitakka and Vicara you can hear the sound.
Thank you. Do you know of anywhere that this is apparent in the suttas or any other textual work?
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

zan
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by zan » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:23 am

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:08 am
SarathW wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:54 am
When you have Vitakka and Vicara you can hear the sound.
This idea about vitakka & vicara does not agree with Bhante Sujato's idea.
Thanks. Does Bhante Sujato support the idea that one can hear while in the first jhana? If so, could you tell me what he says or where I could find it? If not, I am sure I know what his reasoning is as I've heard it many different ways and am looking only for discussion in favor of this idea rather than against it, so I do not need any information that is against this idea.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

SarathW
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by SarathW » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:24 am

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:08 am
SarathW wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:54 am
When you have Vitakka and Vicara you can hear the sound.
This idea about vitakka & vicara does not agree with Bhante Sujato's idea.
Can you provide the link, please?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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DooDoot
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by DooDoot » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:26 am

zan wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:23 am
Does Bhante Sujato support the idea that one can hear while in the first jhana? If so, could you tell me what he says or where I could find it?
Hi Zan. I cannot say what Bhante Sujato has said about 'sound' but I can provide a link about what Bhante Sujato says about vitakka & vicara.

Here: https://sujato.wordpress.com/2012/12/06 ... -in-jhana/

Saengnapha
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by Saengnapha » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:03 am

Why should it not be possible to hear while in the first jhana? The first jhana is not a formless experience and neither are the next 3 jhanas. The fact that some Bhantes think that hearing is not possbile in the first jhana and others do think it is possible shows a real lack of unity about what is being taught in Theravada.

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robertk
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by robertk » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:26 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:03 am
Why should it not be possible to hear while in the first jhana? The first jhana is not a formless experience and neither are the next 3 jhanas. The fact that some Bhantes think that hearing is not possbile in the first jhana and others do think it is possible shows a real lack of unity about what is being taught in Theravada.
There is complete unity in Theravada provided one relies on the ancient texts.
of course there will always be, and has always been, various monks and lay disciples who 'bravely' strike out with their own beliefs which are in opposition to Theravada orthodoxy.

One example being the idea that it could be possible to hear while experiencing jhana.

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mikenz66
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:31 am

There is an extensive technical discussion between Sylvester and Frankk here:
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/he ... jhana/7784

:heart:
Mike

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Polar Bear
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by Polar Bear » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:56 am

I was just reading a book and it's raining outside. When I'm absorbed in the book I'm not hearing the rain, it's only when my reading focus is broken that I notice the sound of the rain, so it's seems fair to say that someone deeply immersed in their meditation object is not going to hear sound, and if they do hear a loud sound then that means their concentration has lapsed momentarily.

It's interesting, in Bhikkhu Anālayo's book Early Buddhist Meditation Studies footnote 59 it says:
In what follows my discussion of the possibility of "hearing sound" concerns the mental processing of sound waves created externally in such a way that these are understood for what they are. The question at stake is thus whether a mind immersed in the second absorption can at the same time, while remaining in the absorption attainment, be conscious of a particular sound. (pg 137)
I don't see this as being an extreme suggestion. There's a difference between this and Ajahn Brahm suggesting that if one is in jhana people could pick up their body and rush them off to a hospital without the meditator noticing in any way. So there will be gradations in what it means to not be able to hear sound while in deep meditation.


:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

Saengnapha
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by Saengnapha » Sun Mar 11, 2018 9:39 am

robertk wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:26 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:03 am
Why should it not be possible to hear while in the first jhana? The first jhana is not a formless experience and neither are the next 3 jhanas. The fact that some Bhantes think that hearing is not possbile in the first jhana and others do think it is possible shows a real lack of unity about what is being taught in Theravada.
There is complete unity in Theravada provided one relies on the ancient texts.
of course there will always be, and has always been, various monks and lay disciples who 'bravely' strike out with their own beliefs which are in opposition to Theravada orthodoxy.

One example being the idea that it could be possible to hear while experiencing jhana.
I guess that puts you in the camp of the non-hearers in the first jhana. How does this make sense?

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robertk
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by robertk » Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:08 am

I guess that puts you in the camp of the non-hearers in the first jhana. How does this make sense
Well this thread is supposed to be about the other side.

But as you ask it is clearly stated as a wrong view in the Abhidhamma pitika.

Think about it: jhana is nothing like the usual life where sense door objects alternate with mind-door processes. During jhana cittas repeatedly take the same object- impossible for a citta to rake more than one object.

So no hearing or any other sense door experience while in jhana.

auto
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by auto » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:29 pm

abhidhamma

‘Vãthi’ means a chain of consciousness or cognitive series that
arises when a sense object appears at one of the sense-doors in
order to be aware of the object.
...
2 Four conditions must meet for the arising of sota-dvàravãthi.
They are:
i Sota-pasàda (ear-door) must be good,
ii Saddà-rammaõa (sound) must be present,
iii âkàsa (space) for the passing of sound must be
present,
iv Manasikàra (attention) must be present.
2 Seven Jhànaïgas (Seven Constituents of Jhàna)
‘Jhànaïgas’ means ‘jhàna-factors’ or ‘constituents of absorptions’.
The jhàna-factors help the cittas and their associated cetasikas to
observe an object, either bad or good, keenly, closely and fixedly.
1 Vitakka – initial application,
2 Vicàra – sustained application,
3 Pãti – joy,
4 Ekaggatà – one-pointedness,
5 Somanassa-vedanà – pleasant feeling,
6 Domanassa-vedanà – unpleasant feeling,
7 Upekkhà-vedanà – neutral feeling or equanimity.

zan
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by zan » Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:05 pm

Polar Bear wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:56 am
I was just reading a book and it's raining outside. When I'm absorbed in the book I'm not hearing the rain, it's only when my reading focus is broken that I notice the sound of the rain, so it's seems fair to say that someone deeply immersed in their meditation object is not going to hear sound, and if they do hear a loud sound then that means their concentration has lapsed momentarily.

It's interesting, in Bhikkhu Anālayo's book Early Buddhist Meditation Studies footnote 59 it says:
In what follows my discussion of the possibility of "hearing sound" concerns the mental processing of sound waves created externally in such a way that these are understood for what they are. The question at stake is thus whether a mind immersed in the second absorption can at the same time, while remaining in the absorption attainment, be conscious of a particular sound. (pg 137)
I don't see this as being an extreme suggestion. There's a difference between this and Ajahn Brahm suggesting that if one is in jhana people could pick up their body and rush them off to a hospital without the meditator noticing in any way. So there will be gradations in what it means to not be able to hear sound while in deep meditation.


:anjali:
Thank you. It sounds like Venerable Analayo is implicitly accepting that sound may be possible in the first jhana, as he mentions only the second, no?
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

Saengnapha
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by Saengnapha » Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:17 pm

robertk wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:08 am
I guess that puts you in the camp of the non-hearers in the first jhana. How does this make sense
Well this thread is supposed to be about the other side.

But as you ask it is clearly stated as a wrong view in the Abhidhamma pitika.

Think about it: jhana is nothing like the usual life where sense door objects alternate with mind-door processes. During jhana cittas repeatedly take the same object- impossible for a citta to rake more than one object.

So no hearing or any other sense door experience while in jhana.
It still seems to me you are talking about a formless experience and nothing to do with any wisdom or natural state of equanimity, which the fourth jhana reputes to be. It is the fourth jhana that equanimity is experienced at, not the first. All the senses are calmed, not disengaged, disconnected, nor distracting. This is the point of disinterest, disenchantment, letting go. You don't experience this through shutting out anything. Sorry, I can't agree with what you are saying.

zan
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by zan » Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:25 pm

Saengnapha wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:03 am
Why should it not be possible to hear while in the first jhana? The first jhana is not a formless experience and neither are the next 3 jhanas. The fact that some Bhantes think that hearing is not possbile in the first jhana and others do think it is possible shows a real lack of unity about what is being taught in Theravada.
Excellent point! I do not know of any texts in the Nikayas that state specifically that one cannot hear in the four jhanas. Only the one that mentions sound as a thorn to the first jhana but not the rest. This of course does not necessarily mean that one becomes temporarily deaf but that sound will not be a "thorn" to one's concentration. So perhaps one could hear in even the fourth jhana but the sound would not be processed at all and could not break one's concentration.

So, for example, in the first jhana if someone gently called the meditators name right next to them it may break their concentration. But in the second jhana they wouldn't even register it. However if someone yelled "Tiger!" Then the second jhana meditator may break their own concentration deliberately.

Maybe their concentration cannot be "thorned" by sound but, as they are not said to be literally deaf, their ears still function and they could automatically respond to certain sounds?

A bit like Polar Bear's rain: one can focus on reading and not hear the rain, even thunder can be ignored, however if a tornado slams a car into the side of one's house they will drop the book and run.
Last edited by zan on Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

Saengnapha
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by Saengnapha » Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:38 pm

zan wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:25 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:03 am
Why should it not be possible to hear while in the first jhana? The first jhana is not a formless experience and neither are the next 3 jhanas. The fact that some Bhantes think that hearing is not possbile in the first jhana and others do think it is possible shows a real lack of unity about what is being taught in Theravada.
Excellent point! I do not know of any texts in the Nikayas that state specifically that one cannot hear in the four jhanas. Only the one that mentions sound as a thorn to the first jhana but not the rest. This of course does not necessarily mean that one becomes temporarily deaf but that sound will not be a "thorn" to one's concentration. So perhaps one could hear in even the fourth jhana but the sound would not be processed at all and could not break one's concentration.
Of course you could hear in fourth jhana. The body processes all kinds of information being fed to the brain through contact with the senses in spite of you being conscious of it or not. This doesn't stop, like your blood flowing or heart beating. Jhanas can also be thought of as deconstructing stress. Stress is not produced by sound or sight. It is produced by perception and interpretation of feeling into like and dislike and a personal experiencer of this. For me, the whole idea of whether there is sound or not in first jhana is meaningless. All of these experiences have no basis for real equanimity.

zan
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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by zan » Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:49 pm

Interestingly the commentary I believe says that the Buddha, when he was meditating and didn't notice an incredible storm going on, was in arahataphalasamadhi I believe which is an incredibly high meditation state. But according to the idea that one cannot hear even in the first jhana this would not be a unique feat at all as all and every person who can enter the first or at least the second jhana would have identical experiences.

The story is told to show that the Buddha can enter such a high state of meditation so as to hear literally nothing to show that he is special. If no one can hear in even the first jhana or at least the second on up, then what is the point of the story?

Does this story provide support for the idea that hearing is not impossible in jhana?
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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Re: Arguments in favor of being able to hear in the first jhana

Post by Dmytro » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:05 pm

Hi Zan,
zan wrote:
Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:43 pm
I was hoping that you all may be able to present all of the arguments and textual evidence that support the idea that one can hear sounds in the first jhana.
Here's an excellent explanation by Geoff Shatz:

http://web.archive.org/web/201603060020 ... jhana.html
http://web.archive.org/web/201603051817 ... hanas.html

Article by Ven. Thanissaro:

Silence Isn’t Mandatory
SENSORY PERCEPTION IN THE JHĀNAS

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... datory.pdf

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