The Great Jhana Debate

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
Nyana
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Nyana » Sat Jul 10, 2010 7:16 am

Sylvester wrote:So, it should be apparent that how our differences on the little zeroth premises underlying our understanding of the Suttas can lead to such wildly divergent models of Jhana.
Hi Sylvester,

Our models may not be that widely divergent. For example, I can interpret cognition in jhāna in terms of manoviññāṇa and thus avoid the sahajāta citta-s issue. But I wouldn't go as far as to agree that Ajahn Brahm's demarcation for what qualifies as jhāna is the only correct jhāna.
Sylvester wrote:And I seriously doubt if our short little engagement over the last 2 weeks is going to make the debate go away.
Indeed. It's a pretty old debate. It can be found in the Abhidharmakośabhāsya, and as you know, was at some point included in the Kathāvatthu.
Sylvester wrote:Shall we keep this idle on the back-burner until either of us comes back with fresh demurrers?
Sounds good.

All the best,

Geoff

Sylvester
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Sylvester » Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:37 pm

Dear Geoff

And if I have caused any offence, I ask your forgiveness.

With metta

Nyana
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Nyana » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:50 pm

Sylvester wrote:And if I have caused any offence, I ask your forgiveness.
Hi Sylvester,

No offense whatsoever. It has been a good discussion.

All the best,

Geoff

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gavesako
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by gavesako » Mon May 30, 2011 9:06 am

I came across this curious explanation of the phrase "body in the body" in a Dhammakaya publication:

"... The problem is that we see only our one outer body. THis has led some scholars to treat the phrase as an idiom and render it with interpretations like 'contemplating the body as the body'. Amazingly, however, the fact is that thousands of modern meditators have seen 'body-in-body' over and over again, using the mind' eye during meditation. ... Such insight requires letting of the limited small-minded 'self' mentality that we have each created and opening up to our higher mentality buried deep inside. ... By seeing, entering and becoming more and more refined bodies, the meditator takes on their mentality and raises consciousness to purer and purer levels."

For more info see http://www.dhammacenter.org/dhammakaya_ ... meditation" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
Dhammatalks.org - Sutta translations

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Alex123
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Alex123 » Mon May 30, 2011 2:40 pm

Hello Yundi, all,
Yundi wrote: Scholarship cannot be based on inaccurate translation. I would say the Buddha is not referring to the physical body here. I would say he is referring to the kaya or group of jhana factors. The similie is of a ball of bath powder that does not drip. Now, if the rapture suffused into the physical body, that would be "dripping".
Well what about Kāyagatāsati suttaṃ - Mindfulness of the Body (Kāya) sutta?

In that sutta it says that body Kāya can take 4 postures, is made of 4 elements, has 32 bodyparts, can undergo decomposition as a corpse, and oh yeh, experience the bliss of jhāna that is felt.
"Furthermore, quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body (kāyaṃ) with the rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal. Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again & again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within & without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body (kāyassa) unpervaded by rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & centered. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Taken the context, it is clear beyond any reasonable doubt that Kāya is what we call physical body. And since the attainment is jhāna, 5 senses do not shut down because it is not yet aruppa planes. Sense-contact is overcomed only between 4th jhāna and base of infinite space. Infinite space is because you don't see any forms that would limit it.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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reflection
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by reflection » Mon May 30, 2011 6:32 pm

In jhana the mind settles on itself, shutting down all sensations of anything but the mind itself. This has nothing to do with the physical body. In fact, your mind already leaves the physical body behind prior to jhana. This you can know for yourself. I guess everybody who meditated for a while knows the body (and the other senses) slowly disappear from the scope of attention and can even disappear. But the mind can still be restless, filled with doubt or sleepy, so it is obviously no jhana yet. If you also overcome these obstacles, the mind can be concentrated enough to focus on itself, be beyond hindrances.

I support Yundi's view of "body" not referring the whole physical body always. I could support this with quotes, however meditation is about experience, not about suttas so I would suggest everybody to try and see for themselves how deep the mind can go. Those of us who enter absorptions will find out for themselves their importance to cultivate insights and can form a justified opinion on the issue. You can't really talk about how (not) important it is for a car to have traction control if you have never driven a car before, let alone never seen one. Same with jhanas.

With loving kindness,
Reflection

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Alex123
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Alex123 » Mon May 30, 2011 6:56 pm

Suttas do teach that one can see object with the eyes in the Jhānas. It is also possible to misinterpret what one has attained, so we need to check the suttas.

Ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ samāpannassa rūpasaññā niruddhā hoti. Also dozens of suttas state that one overcomes rūpasaññānaṃ, paṭighasaññānaṃ, and nānattasaññānaṃ when one enters Base of Infinite Space (Ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ).

Please note, perception of visual form ceases ONLY in aruppa planes, not in Jhāna. The suttas do talk about feeling kāya, and in the context of that sutta MN119 it is clearly that physical body that can take 4 postures, is made of 4 elements, and can decompose in a cemetery is what is meant.

Rūpa is a visual object, not purely mental abstraction.
Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṃ. Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye.

Purely mental object is dhamma, not Rūpa.
Manañca paṭicca dhamme ca uppajjati manoviññāṃ. Dependent on the intellect & ideas there arises consciousness at the intellect.

Perception of purely mental object is dhammasaññā not rūpasaññā.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Freawaru » Mon May 30, 2011 7:42 pm

Alex123 wrote:The suttas do talk about feeling kāya, and in the context of that sutta MN119 it is clearly that physical body that can take 4 postures, is made of 4 elements, and can decompose in a cemetery is what is meant.
Don't know about your physical body but I am sure that my physical body is made of physical matter, not those esoteric "elements" called fire, water, earth and air. It can also take more than 4 postures (I can stand on my head for example). And it won't necessarily take a cemetery to decompose. :stirthepot:

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reflection
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by reflection » Mon May 30, 2011 8:15 pm

Alex123 wrote:Suttas do teach that one can see object with the eyes in the Jhānas. It is also possible to misinterpret what one has attained, so we need to check the suttas.
Hiya,

:toast:

To me it makes more sense to explain the suttas in terms of experiences than it does the other way around. If you experience something and need a sutta to find out if was real, the experience probably wasn't that interesting anyway. Meditation can't be accurately described in words -not even by a Buddha- so confusion or ignorance is bound to happen if one bases their views too much on those. I browsed through this topic and see that suttas seem to support both views on the matter, so that approach probably won't really get anybody anywhere but solidifying their own views. To me it's a bit like arguing whether the earth is 6000 years old because it is told so in the bible, the evidence to find out who is right is not found inside it.

To me the Mindfulness of the Body sutta also supports the total absorption view, but I won't try and explain it because I get the feeling nobody will really change his mind on the subject no matter how much suttas are analyzed. Therefore I suggested the approach of trying it out and see for ourselves. Focus on the breath until it disappears and the mind "gathers & settles inwardly".

:namaste:

With loving kindness,
Reflection

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Alex123
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Alex123 » Mon May 30, 2011 8:38 pm

reflection wrote:To me it makes more sense to explain the suttas in terms of experiences than it does the other way around.
It depends on your goals. If one wants to pursue the Awakening, then suttas are a must. It is a given that from Buddha's that ignorant worldling would make lots of mistake, so having the guidance of the suttas (in the absence of the living Buddha) is a must, unless one is following the Bodhisattva path and wants to become a Buddha after 100,000 MahaKappas.
reflection wrote: If you experience something and need a sutta to find out if was real, the experience probably wasn't that interesting anyway.
The point is having experiences that lead to Awakening, cessation of all Suffering. Until we are Awakened, it is a given that most or almost all experiences, and their interpretations, can be colored by ignorance.
reflection wrote: To me the Mindfulness of the Body sutta also supports the total absorption view,
Absorption into the Body, but 5 senses still work. They just do not distract one. The point is NOT to get into some coma, where one is totally oblivious and can't observe triple characteristic and develop wisdom. If not seeing and not hearing was conducive to Awakening, then blind and deaf people would be awakened. If getting into a coma was in any way helpful, then we ALL would be awakened, as we fall into deep sleep where 5 senses temporarily shut down each night. Wisdom is important, and suttas are required for guidance. Until we are awakened at least to stream, it is a given that most/all experiences are Under the power of delusion and kilesas. So one can't fully trust oneself at first, trust the suttas.

IMHO,

With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

Kenshou
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Kenshou » Mon May 30, 2011 8:47 pm

A whole lot of things can and will happen in meditation over time. I would think that if a person has a genuine interest in what Buddhism has to offer, the honest approach would be trying to practice what it states, rather than trying to make it fit in with what they've experienced.

But I realize that this is one of those issues with a lot of interpretations of what exactly is being stated. I have my own views on it, but I think all that really matters is that we develop concentration by some means, so whatever.

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reflection
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by reflection » Mon May 30, 2011 9:25 pm

Alex123 wrote:
reflection wrote:To me it makes more sense to explain the suttas in terms of experiences than it does the other way around.
It depends on your goals. If one wants to pursue the Awakening, then suttas are a must. It is a given that from Buddha's that ignorant worldling would make lots of mistake, so having the guidance of the suttas (in the absence of the living Buddha) is a must, unless one is following the Bodhisattva path and wants to become a Buddha after 100,000 MahaKappas.
reflection wrote: If you experience something and need a sutta to find out if was real, the experience probably wasn't that interesting anyway.
The point is having experiences that lead to Awakening, cessation of all Suffering. Until we are Awakened, it is a given that most or almost all experiences, and their interpretations, can be colored by ignorance.
reflection wrote: To me the Mindfulness of the Body sutta also supports the total absorption view,
Absorption into the Body, but 5 senses still work. They just do not distract one. The point is NOT to get into some coma, where one is totally oblivious and can't observe triple characteristic and develop wisdom. If not seeing and not hearing was conducive to Awakening, then blind and deaf people would be awakened. If getting into a coma was in any way helpful, then we ALL would be awakened, as we fall into deep sleep where 5 senses temporarily shut down each night. Wisdom is important, and suttas are required for guidance. Until we are awakened at least to stream, it is a given that most/all experiences are Under the power of delusion and kilesas. So one can't fully trust oneself at first, trust the suttas.

IMHO,

With metta,

Alex
I'm not saying don't use suttas, I'm just not a supporter of overusing them in debates about meditation. I see almost nobody here using some form of deduction from experience or logic. Mostly it is just sutta vs sutta. Honestly, is that going to get anybody advance in their practice? I think not. Yes, maybe in their practice of pali, but not of the meditation :jumping: Besides, you can color your experiences with wrong interpretation of suttas very easily too. Thinking one has attained something while it is not so could stop progress or effort. For example, the Buddha said nibbana can be seen here and now makes some people say we are all already enlightened.. Obviously this is a misread the same may be said for "dumbed down jhanas". So I'd say: trust the suttas with care, because they are still subject to your own interpretation.

Jhana/absorption has nothing to do with coma or sleep. You have got a totally wrong idea of it. In sleep and coma all 6 senses are shutted down, but in jhana the sixth sense (the mind) is still highly aware. So you are widely awake, in a way more awake than ever. But there is no 5 sense activity and no willpower. I think most people can't really reflect on the dhamma -especially the will being without a self- without an experience like this so I encourage everybody to try and find the answer to "The jhana debate" outside of suttas.

:buddha1:

Reflection
Last edited by reflection on Mon May 30, 2011 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kenshou
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Kenshou » Mon May 30, 2011 9:39 pm

Deduction from experience is not very relevant when the discussion comes down to the question of what exactly the suttas are saying. Some people are interested in taking a critical look at the texts. Not to the exclusion of real life practice, of course.

If you think a disembodied samadhi is great, then great, but saying that doesn't have any weight when the question is about what the content of the texts is.

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reflection
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by reflection » Mon May 30, 2011 9:48 pm

Hi Kenshou,

Of course some people like to discuss the texts. There is no real problem with it, I don't judge it and I'm not here to stop anybody doing that :guns: . I'm just putting forth another view on the subject. In the end this topic is in the meditation forum and not in the Pali or sutta study forum.

And experience can show you what the texts tell. It's a thing that goes two ways.

With loving kindness,
Reflection
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Alex123
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Alex123 » Mon May 30, 2011 9:50 pm

reflection wrote:I'm not saying don't use suttas, I'm just not a supporter of overusing them in debates about meditation.
The suttas are higher authority than you or me. That is why, IMHO, they are so important. Until a person reaches awakening, it is almost a given that s/he will often misinterpret things.

reflection wrote: I see almost nobody here using some form of deduction from experience or logic.
Because these (experience & logic) could often be under the power of kilesas, and kilesas can twist them to their own liking. In Brahmajala sutta most wrong views come from thinking, and other wrong views come from deduction from experience.
reflection wrote: Thinking one has attained something because of this while it is not so could stop progress or effort.
This is very correct statement. One needs to be brutally honest with oneself, and the best solution is to work harder no matter what amount of bliss arises.

If one is an Arahant, then one will not mind to work more. If one is not an Arahant, it will help him/her to continue on the path.


reflection wrote: For example, the Buddha said nibbana can be seen here and now makes some people say we are all already enlightened..
I think that it means in this life.

In any case, if a person thinks that he is already awakened and cannot see it even when reading the suttas, then there isn't much one can do in the short term. We can only hope that s/he will have more wisdom arise and pick up the practice later on.

reflection wrote: Obviously this is a misread the same may be said for "dumbed down jhanas". So I'd say: trust the suttas with care, because they are still subject to your own interpretation.
Or dumbed down meditation with insight portion taken out... Again the suttas are clear about that one overcomes rūpasaññānaṃ, paṭighasaññānaṃ, and nānattasaññānaṃ when one enters Base of Infinite Space (Ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ).

There is absolutely no way to claim that sight shuts down prior to 1st Jhāna. And diversity (nānattasaññānaṃ) is also overcomed in Ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ.



Sabbaso rūpasaññānaṃ samatikkamā paṭighasaññānaṃ atthaṅgamā nānattasaññānaṃ amanasikārā ananto ākāsoti ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ upasampajja viharati.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#pts.410" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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