The Great Jhana Debate

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
SarathW
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby SarathW » Sat Apr 02, 2016 9:54 am

Thanks :thumbsup:
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Zom
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Zom » Sun Apr 03, 2016 11:49 am

Agree with him on the 1st topic (vitakka), but don't agree on the 2nd (sound in jhana). He takes the passages but shows only one side of them, while there is another side, if we are to take some more passages refering to this topic. For example, he says that sound is a thorn to 1st jhana (according to a sutta) and vitakka-vicara are thorns to 2nd one. Then he explains: in the 2nd jhana there are no vitakka-vicaras, so this means in the 1st jhana there are no sounds (they can't happen in it). Sounds solid, but actually there is at least one another passage that shows that both vitakka-vicara can actully happen to a meditator of the 2nd jhana and when they happen he sees them as an affliction. In the same way sound actually can be heard in the 1st jhana, while the meditator will see (hear) it as an affliction. Same with the second vinaya passage about Moggallana, where the subject is not the 1st jhana & sounds, but, obviously, arupa-lokas & jhana, and according to MN 43 it is there where the mind is totally separated from the 5 senses, including hearing. But again Ven. Analayo doesn't mention that.

As for the 2nd lecture about "kaya" - again fully agree with him that this term is (in several cases) ideomatic and should not be understood directly as "body" -esp. in the 3rd jhana formula. But again don't agree that in jhana "everything becomes one", because "oneness" again is the unique feature of arupa-attainments, not jhanas.

Kabouterke
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Kabouterke » Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:03 am

Textual analysis of the suttas is certainly of prime importance in trying to discern if the jhanas taught during the Buddha's teaching career were the "vipassana / sutta" or "Visuddhimagga-style" jhanas (or possibly a continuum of the two types). But coming from a background in research, I'm surprised that no one has thought to test empirically what the differences are between the two types. Currently, there are already a number of studies that Leigh Brasington (and others) has participated in that offer us insight into what's going on in the brain during (sutta-style) jhanas. See: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2013/653572/ for one example.

You could test to see if there is an actual difference between the two types of jhana by testing if they create significantly different brain activity, and if so, what those differences are. The benefit of the doing the sutta-style jhanas in this type of research is that you are able to maintain awareness of the body and can offer important information that the researchers need in order to keep track of which jhana you are entering and when. With the Visuddhimagga-style jhanas, this would be more difficult. It would also probably be harder to find Visuddhimagga-style jhana practitioners who could consistently enter and emerge from the jhanas, in addition to being in a noisy setting with the fMRI pounding away in the background. But with all research, where there is a will (and a large enough grant), there is a way.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that the two styles are actually just one phenomenon on continuum of intensity (think Bhante Vimalaramsi v. Bhante Gunaratana v. Ajahn Brahm v. Pa Auk Sayadaw) and that most people will find themselves at various positions on that continuum, even when using the same technique. But for those who really must know, empirical research might be able to offer answers that deciphering 2,500+ year old words can't.

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Kumara
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Kumara » Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:47 am

mikenz66 wrote:
polarbear101 wrote:I just want to point people to two lectures by Venerable Anālayo where he gives a very thorough investigation of the various controversies around jhana and he approaches from a very agreeable and open-minded perspective. ...

Thanks. Nice talks. I really appreciate commentators with an open-minded non-argumentative approach.

Outward impression can be deceiving.
I'm not just a monk. I'm a human being. — Sayadaw U Jotika

PeterHarvey
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby PeterHarvey » Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:51 pm

I’ve just downloaded read through the ~300 pages of The Great Jhāna Debate postings. This needed some sustained mindfulness and calm:-), and included many interesting ideas and references.
It struck me that some emphasise texts and some emphasise practice, and a good Sutta to bear in mind when the discussion gets on the heated side is: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.046.than.htm- on the need for those devoted to Dhamma/teachings and those emphasising jhāna to appreciate each others’ qualities.
Regarding the differences of perspective over samatha and vipassanā practice, two useful passages are as follows.
A II 93-4: 1) one who has internal samatha of mind but not yet higher paññā of insight/vipassanā into phenomena needs to enquire about the nature of conditioned phenomena. 2) one who has higher paññā of insight/vipassanā into phenomena but not yet internal samatha of mind should ask how the mind is to be steadied, composed, unified and concentrated (cittaṃ saṇṭhapetabbaṃ … sannisāditabbaṃ … ekodikattabbaṃ … samādahātabbaṃ ) The underlined bits use words very much associated with jhāna.
A.II.156–8 emphasizes the different ways in which the Noble Path can be reached. One can go on to become an Arahat once the Path arises from one of:
i) vipassanā preceded by samatha;
ii) samatha preceded by vipassanā;
iii) samatha and vipassanā yoked together;
iv) the mind being ‘gripped by Dhamma excitement’ but then settling down and attaining concentration.
As samatha and vipassanā naturally became terms for the methods which respectively cultivated these qualities, the above four approaches came to be seen as different sequences in which such methods might be practised (Cousins, 1984: https://www.academia.edu/1417366/Samatha-y%C4%81na_and_Vipassana-y%C4%81na). As understood in Theravāda Buddhism:
i) is the ‘vehicle’ (-yāna) of samatha, which develops deep calm, then adds insight;
ii) is the vehicle of vipassanā, which on the basis of preliminary calm, develops insight then deeper calm (full ‘samatha’); and
iii) is the ‘yoked’ method, which has alternating phases of progressively deeper levels of calm and insight.
iv) seems to have referred to insight leading to the arising of various pleasant experiences to which there is excited attachment – later called the ‘defilements of insight’(Vism. 633–8) –, then a return to composure and concentration (Patis.II.100–01). In time it came to be seen as the way of the ‘dry/bare (sukkha) insight worker (vipassaka)’ (Vism. 666, 702): insight without the explicit need for the cultivation of samatha.
Apologies if many of you are already familiar with these passages.

Peter

atipattoh
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby atipattoh » Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:43 pm

Kabouterke wrote:.......... It would also probably be harder to find Visuddhimagga-style jhana practitioners who could consistently enter and emerge from the jhanas, in addition to being in a noisy setting with the fMRI pounding away in the background. ....


There is this Mahapurisa org, that if i am not mistaken, the site is managed by a person that had practice at Pa Auk monastery many yrs ago. You could try to invite him to participate. If i am not wrong, he is not a bhikkhu now (but i am unable to confirm that), good luck!

:anjali:

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cjmacie
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby cjmacie » Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:08 pm

atipattoh wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:.......... It would also probably be harder to find Visuddhimagga-style jhana practitioners who could consistently enter and emerge from the jhanas, in addition to being in a noisy setting with the fMRI pounding away in the background. ....


There is this Mahapurisa org, that if i am not mistaken, the site is managed by a person that had practice at Pa Auk monastery many yrs ago. You could try to invite him to participate. If i am not wrong, he is not a bhikkhu now (but i am unable to confirm that), good luck!

Do you know what's in that site -- beyond the slick graphics and high-sounding words -- when one gives a username and password to enter "Pali Tipitaka Academy"?

Doesn't smell good to me.

atipattoh
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby atipattoh » Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:01 am

cjmacie wrote:
atipattoh wrote:
Kabouterke wrote:.......... It would also probably be harder to find Visuddhimagga-style jhana practitioners who could consistently enter and emerge from the jhanas, in addition to being in a noisy setting with the fMRI pounding away in the background. ....


There is this Mahapurisa org, that if i am not mistaken, the site is managed by a person that had practice at Pa Auk monastery many yrs ago. You could try to invite him to participate. If i am not wrong, he is not a bhikkhu now (but i am unable to confirm that), good luck!

Do you know what's in that site -- beyond the slick graphics and high-sounding words -- when one gives a username and password to enter "Pali Tipitaka Academy"?

Doesn't smell good to me.


Hi,
sorry, i wasn't aware that there is a need for password. I read a few pages on some of the articles without entering password.
I was hoping Kabouterke would write to the site owner and invite him to participate in the brain wave experiment.
If he is not a bhikkhu, there should be no vinaya rules prohibiting him from being involved, so can be a good possible candidate.
Just a proposal!

:anjali:

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Jojola
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Jojola » Thu Dec 29, 2016 2:42 pm

I don't see how it's possible for a significant insight to arise in a mind that is enmeshing itself into the hindrances.
Regards,

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"Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha’s Teaching." - Nanavira Thera (1920-1965) :candle:


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