manasikara wrote:The Buddha himself advises us to 'be yoked' to the pleasure of Jhana, and that it is 'not to be feared'.
Well, I wouldn't quite state it using those terms. The quotation from Mahasaccaka Sutta
(MN 36) goes like this:
"I considered: 'I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. Could that be the path to enlightenment?' Then, following on that memory, came the realization: 'That is the path to enlightenment.'
"I thought: 'Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?' I thought: 'I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states.' "
Vepacitta wrote:The jhanic states can be highly pleasurable (esp. the first Jhana - concentration with thought, rapture [and pleasure or joy]...). They are intense, concentrated states . . .
That's basically correct. It takes the development of mindfulness (sati
) and equanimity (upekkha
) with regard to this attainment to offset the possibly addicting "bliss factor" of the jhanas.
In fact the Buddha's first two teachers (someone fill in the names) had each reached different jhanic states and had 'stopped there'. It took the Buddha to realise that such states weren't "it".
A more thorough rendering of this idea can be found in Ven. Analayo's book Satipatthana, The Direct Path to Realization
, where he shows the Buddha emphasizing that the attainment of absorption alone will not take one to the liberation he attained. It must be combined with the other path factors:
Analayo wrote:Interestingly, in the Mahacattarisaka Sutta and several other discourses another definition of right concentration can be found that does not mention the absorptions at all. The importance of the Mahacattarisaka Sutta to the present discussion is further highlighted in the preamble to this discourse, which states the topic to be a teaching on right concentration. The definition of right concentration given here speaks of unification of the mind (cittassekaggata) in interdependence with the other seven path factors. That is, in order for unification of the mind to become “right” concentration it needs to be contextualized within the noble eighfold path scheme. . . .
Thus the decisive factor that qualifies concentration as “right” is not just a question of the depth of concentration achieved, but is concerned with the purpose for which concentration is employed. In particular, the presence of the path factor right view is indispensable. By way of contrast, the Buddha’s former teachers, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, despite their deep concentration attainments, were not endowed with “right” concentration because of the absence of right view. This goes to show that the ability to attain absorption in itself does not yet constitute the fulfilment of the path factor of right concentration.
A similar nuance underlies the qualification samma, “right”, which literally means “togetherness”, or “to be connected in one”. Thus to speak of the four absorptions or of unification of the mind as “right” concentration does not simply mean that these are “right” and all else is “wrong”, but points to the need to incorporate the development of concentration into the noble eightfold path.
And Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu fleshes this same thing out in his suttric definition of Right Concentration
"These are the four developments of concentration. Which four? There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to a pleasant abiding in the here & now.
There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the attainment of knowledge & vision.
There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness.
There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents."
— AN 4.41
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV