Anapanasati Vs. jhana

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starter
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Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by starter » Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:45 pm

Hello Teachers/Friends,

When we practice Anapanasati for samadhi, should we only practice Step1-4 until reaching jhana someday, and then continue with Step 5-16 for vipassana?

I suppose if we practice Anapanasati for vipassana after reaching access concentration, it's OK to do all the 16 steps; however, it's hard to enter jhana this way due to too many steps and changes.

Metta,

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Kenshou
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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by Kenshou » Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:59 pm

Hm, I would disagree. The majority of those 16 steps involve calming and stabilizing the mind, so I think they would probably be conductive to jhana. Aside from the last tetrad which is obviously a different kind of practice.

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legolas
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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by legolas » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:25 am

starter wrote:Hello Teachers/Friends,

When we practice Anapanasati for samadhi, should we only practice Step1-4 until reaching jhana someday, and then continue with Step 5-16 for vipassana?

I suppose if we practice Anapanasati for vipassana after reaching access concentration, it's OK to do all the 16 steps; however, it's hard to enter jhana this way due to too many steps and changes.

Metta,

Starter
Hi,

This question does not arise within the Suttas. The Buddha's jhana is an integral part of vipassana. Also access concentration is not a term to be found within the Sutta's. The term "access" is a later addition tied up with nimittas and such like, which again were never mentioned in the Sutta's. If a meditator has achieved one of the Sutta jhana's then vipassana proper can take place, indeed it has already begun. :smile:

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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by Sylvester » Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:41 am

Hi Legolas

You might wish to reconsider your points about "upacara samadhi" and "nimitta".

For the former, yes, I can agree that the nomenclature is Commentarial. But if you get past the label/denotation, what does it connote? Is the connoted phenomenon described in the Suttas, albeit by a different denotation? What are the states that are bereft of the 5 Hindrances besides the jhanas?

As for the latter, perhaps a visit to the Upakkilesa Sutta MN 128 might change your mind about the canonicity of nimittas.

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legolas
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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by legolas » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:42 am

Sylvester wrote:Hi Legolas

You might wish to reconsider your points about "upacara samadhi" and "nimitta".

For the former, yes, I can agree that the nomenclature is Commentarial. But if you get past the label/denotation, what does it connote? Is the connoted phenomenon described in the Suttas, albeit by a different denotation? What are the states that are bereft of the 5 Hindrances besides the jhanas?
As for the latter, perhaps a visit to the Upakkilesa Sutta MN 128 might change your mind about the canonicity of nimittas.
Not really. Nimitta, Nimitta - so important they mentioned it once? Nimitta Jhana and Non- Nimitta Jhana, the choice is yours. Please remember that Ven. Anuruddha was the foremost disciple with the divine eye, this could explain the "concentration" exercises the Buddha talked about. If supernormal powers/experiences are desired then possibly Nimitta Jhana is the path to follow. A nimitta would seem a reasonable part of developing supernormal powers/divine eye.

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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by Sylvester » Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:12 am

What might you mean by "once"?

The jhanas were only mentioned by the Buddha as a sequel to mastering the nimittas, after the abandonment of the upakkilesas -
When Anuruddha, I understood that inattention is an impurity of the mind...
…that sloth and torpor is an impurity of the mind…
…that fear is an impurity of the mind…
…that excitement is an impurity of the mind…
…that inertia is an impurity of the mind…
…that excessive effort is an impurity of the mind…
…that weak effort is an impurity of the mind…
…that longing is an impurity of the mind…
…that perception of diversity is an impurity of the mind…

Now, Anuruddha, when I understood that excessive gazing at forms is an impurity of the mind, I abandoned excessive gazing at forms that is an impurity of the mind.

Then I thought thus about it: ‘I have abandoned these impurities of the mind. Let me now cultivate concentration in three ways.
The sutta is quite clear about the nimitta being a prequel to jhana, so I'm not sure I understand your neo-logisms "Nimitta Jhana" and "Non- Nimitta Jhana".

Do note that the narrative extended not just to Ven Anuruddha, but to Ven Nandiya and Ven Kimbila as well. Neither of the latter were renowned for abhinnas, although Ven Kimbila pops up in the context of anapanasati when the Buddha questioned him on it (SN54.10).

It would appear that the postscript to MN 128 can be found in MN 31, where the Buddha again visits the 3 venerables, and this time, the 3 venerables are reported to abide in the jhanas. No special mention made of the abhinnas being contingent on the nimittas. I thought the "standard reading" of the Samannaphala pericope was that the abhinnas were dependant on 4th Jhana?

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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by Nyana » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:11 am

legolas wrote:Not really. Nimitta, Nimitta - so important they mentioned it once?
Indeed, if you're referring to a sign of light (obhāsanimitta) and a sign of form (rūpanimitta) mentioned in MN 128 Upakkilesa Sutta. Some contemporary teachers and commentators have suggested that the sign of light (obhāsanimitta) and/or the sign of form (rūpanimitta) mentioned in MN 128 Upakkilesa Sutta are canonical references to what later came to be designated as the counterpart sign (paṭibhāganimitta) in the commentaries, and thus establishes that these nimittas were considered an essential aspect of the development of jhāna even in the early tradition.

There are a couple of points worth mentioning in this regard. Firstly, MN 128 is the only discourse where the term nimitta is used in this context. None of the other canonical occurrences of nimitta as either samādhinimitta, samatha nimitta, or cittanimitta refer to any of these nimittas being an obhāsanimitta or rūpanimitta as explained in the Upakkilesa Sutta.

Secondly, nowhere in the Upakkilesa Sutta does it state that either the obhāsanimitta or the rūpanimitta are essential prerequisites for attaining the first jhāna. Nor does this sutta maintain that the complete elimination of any experience of the five sensory spheres is essential for the arising of either of these two cognitive signs. Therefore, while these apperceptions of light and visions of form can occur during the course of meditational development, there is no explicit statement here, or elsewhere in the suttas, that such apperceptions must arise for one to enter jhāna. Indeed, even the commentarial tradition doesn’t maintain that either of these types of nimittas are essential for the first jhāna.

For example, the Vimuttimagga takes the instructions offered in the Upakkilesa Sutta to refer to the development of the divine eye. This is understandable, as Anuruddhā, the main interlocutor in this discourse with the Buddha, was later designated as the foremost disciple endowed with the divine eye.

And not even the Visuddhimagga limits counterpart signs to apperceptions of light or forms. According to the Visuddhimagga analysis, of the thirty meditations which lead to jhāna, twenty-two have counterpart signs as object. And of these, only nineteen require any sort of counterpart sign which is apprehended based solely on sight, and can therefore give rise to a mental image resulting from that nimitta (the ten stages of corpse decomposition and nine kasiṇas, excluding the air kasiṇa which can be apprehended by way of either sight or tactile sensation).

And so taking all of the above into consideration, according to the early Pāḷi dhamma there is no need to establish a jhāna nimitta (or samathanimitta or cittanimitta) apart from the jhāna factors. And even according to the Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga — where the presentation of the method using a counterpart sign is explicitly developed — there is no suggestion that a counterpart sign necessarily must be a sign of light (obhāsanimitta) and/or a sign of form (rūpanimitta). Indeed, according to the Vimuttimagga, when employing mindfulness of breathing in order to attain jhāna, the counterpart sign should be concomitant with the pleasant feeling which arises as one attends to the breath at the nostril area or the area of the upper lip, which is likened to the pleasant feeling produced by a breeze. The text says that this counterpart sign doesn’t depend on color or form, and any adventitious mental images which arise in the course of practice should not be attended to.

All the best,

Geoff

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Alexei
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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by Alexei » Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:23 am

Thank you, Ñāṇa.
"Singleness of mind is concentration, friend Visakha; the four frames of reference are its themes [nimitta]; the four right exertions are its requisites; and any cultivation, development, & pursuit of these qualities is its development."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
In the same way, there are cases where a wise, experienced, skillful monk remains focused on the body in & of itself... feelings in & of themselves... the mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in & of themselves, his mind becomes concentrated, his defilements are abandoned. He takes note of that fact [nimittaṃ uggaṇhātī]. As a result, he is rewarded with a pleasant abiding here & now, together with mindfulness & alertness. Why is that? Because the wise, experienced, skillful monk picks up on the theme of his own mind [sakassa cittassa nimittaṃ uggaṇhātī].
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


More about nimitta: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2770" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Last edited by Alexei on Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by Ben » Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:28 am

Thanks Geoff, very interesting as always.

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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by rowyourboat » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:09 pm

starter wrote:Hello Teachers/Friends,

When we practice Anapanasati for samadhi, should we only practice Step1-4 until reaching jhana someday, and then continue with Step 5-16 for vipassana?

I suppose if we practice Anapanasati for vipassana after reaching access concentration, it's OK to do all the 16 steps; however, it's hard to enter jhana this way due to too many steps and changes.

Metta,

Starter
Hi Starter

Steps 1-12 (first three tetrads) outline the developments (and things you can do to hasten it) to reach release- here release of the mind ie first jhana.

Steps 13-16 (last tetrad) is purely vipassana, best practiced after attaining the first jhana.

When you go past these first- pure concentration, not worrying too much about these steps is fine (otherwise it might get in the way of your concentration). Just keep focusing on the breath, keep getting into deeper and deeper samadhi...until you reach the first jhana.

There is a time and a place for knowledge as well. It can be helpful or it can even be a hindrance. We must be wise and be aware when to resort to remembering it.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by legolas » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:42 pm

Sylvester wrote:What might you mean by "once"?

The jhanas were only mentioned by the Buddha as a sequel to mastering the nimittas, after the abandonment of the upakkilesas -
When Anuruddha, I understood that inattention is an impurity of the mind...
…that sloth and torpor is an impurity of the mind…
…that fear is an impurity of the mind…
…that excitement is an impurity of the mind…
…that inertia is an impurity of the mind…
…that excessive effort is an impurity of the mind…
…that weak effort is an impurity of the mind…
…that longing is an impurity of the mind…
…that perception of diversity is an impurity of the mind…

Now, Anuruddha, when I understood that excessive gazing at forms is an impurity of the mind, I abandoned excessive gazing at forms that is an impurity of the mind.

Then I thought thus about it: ‘I have abandoned these impurities of the mind. Let me now cultivate concentration in three ways.
The sutta is quite clear about the nimitta being a prequel to jhana, so I'm not sure I understand your neo-logisms "Nimitta Jhana" and "Non- Nimitta Jhana".

Do note that the narrative extended not just to Ven Anuruddha, but to Ven Nandiya and Ven Kimbila as well. Neither of the latter were renowned for abhinnas, although Ven Kimbila pops up in the context of anapanasati when the Buddha questioned him on it (SN54.10).

It would appear that the postscript to MN 128 can be found in MN 31, where the Buddha again visits the 3 venerables, and this time, the 3 venerables are reported to abide in the jhanas. No special mention made of the abhinnas being contingent on the nimittas. I thought the "standard reading" of the Samannaphala pericope was that the abhinnas were dependant on 4th Jhana?
Geoff's post pretty much sums up my opinion on nimitta. As far as non nimitta and nimitta jhana go, I think the terms to some extent sum up the two approaches to jhana that prevail today. If the Buddha's approach to jhana was to first develop nimitta then we have a real problem of why it was only mentioned the once in the whole of the sutta/vinaya, and then it was to a disciple intent on developing the divine eye. Jhana development was taught/mentioned, hundreds perhaps thousands of times in the suttas, one mention of nimitta does not really cut it.

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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by Sylvester » Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:59 pm

From Geoff-

Secondly, nowhere in the Upakkilesa Sutta does it state that either the obhāsanimitta or the rūpanimitta are essential prerequisites for attaining the first jhāna. Nor does this sutta maintain that the complete elimination of any experience of the five sensory spheres is essential for the arising of either of these two cognitive signs. Therefore, while these apperceptions of light and visions of form can occur during the course of meditational development, there is no explicit statement here, or elsewhere in the suttas, that such apperceptions must arise for one to enter jhāna.
From legolas

If the Buddha's approach to jhana was to first develop nimitta then we have a real problem of why it was only mentioned the once in the whole of the sutta/vinaya, and then it was to a disciple intent on developing the divine eye. Jhana development was taught/mentioned, hundreds perhaps thousands of times in the suttas, one mention of nimitta does not really cut it.
I think there's been an unnecessary fixation on "obhasanimitta" and the "rupanimitta" at passage #28, and it's been forgotten that the nimitta was actually in relation to the primary phenomena of the perception of "obhasa" and the "rupa dassana" in the earlier sections. I'm happy to note that MN 128 is not a solitary sutta that promotes the perception of obhasa and rupa as a factor on the Path.

In the Gayasisa Sutta, AN 8, (Sutta #4 in the Bhumicalavagga), the Buddha again brings up the perception of obhasa and forms in the context of His pre-Enlightenment meditations. It is addressed to a group of unnamed monks. Unlike MN 128, which gives a treatment of the abandonment of 10 upakkilesas in order to stabilise the perception of obhasa and rupa dassana, the Gayasisa Sutta tells of how to deepen the perceptions of obhasa and rupa progressively through 8 stages.

At the end of the description of the 8 exercises involving the nimittas, the Buddha declares -
Yāvakīvañca me, bhikkhave, evaṃ aṭṭhaparivaṭṭaṃ adhidevañāṇadassanaṃ na suvisuddhaṃ ahosi, neva tāvāhaṃ, bhikkhave, ‘sadevake loke samārake sabrahmake sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiyā pajāya sadevamanussāya anuttaraṃ sammāsambodhiṃ abhisambuddho’ti paccaññāsiṃ.

Yato ca kho me, bhikkhave, evaṃ aṭṭhaparivaṭṭaṃ adhidevañāṇadassanaṃ suvisuddhaṃ ahosi, athāhaṃ, bhikkhave, ‘sadevake loke samārake sabrahmake sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiyā pajāya sadevamanussāya anuttaraṃ sammāsambodhiṃ abhisambuddho’ti paccaññāsiṃ; ñāṇañca pana me dassanaṃ udapādi; akuppā me cetovimutti; ayamantimā jāti natthi dāni punabbhavo”ti.

Bhikkhus, until my knowledge and vision of higher gods in this eightfold cycle was completely pure I did not acknowledge my rightful enlightenment to the world together with its gods Màra, Brahma and to the Community of recluses and Brahmins.

Bhikkhus, when my knowledge and vision of higher gods in this eightfold cycle was completely pure I acknowledged my rightful enlightenment to the world together with its gods Màra, Brahma and the Community of recluses and Brahmins. Knowledge and vision arose to me, my release of mind was immovable. This is my last birth. Now there is no more birth.
I can't imagine stronger language of exhortation to emphasise the importance of these nimittas in the gradual build-up to Enlightenment.
Last edited by Sylvester on Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by rowyourboat » Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:01 pm

I think we should clearly differentiate between the path to 'divine eye (Dibba cakkhu) that Ven Anuruddha developed and the path to the jhanas. The path to the jhanas may go through nimittas but it does not automatically mean the person will develop Divine Eye.

The divine eye (which allows the pracitioner to see Devas/heavenly beings etc) is not a prerequisite to enlightenment. This cannot be stated strongly enough.

Only rare people will go on to develop divine eye, and often after having attained jhana. They would have developed these capabilities in previous lifetimes most probably.

I would say it can be beneficial in that it allows the person to see rebirth and devas etc and fulfil mundane right view. However it can be a hindrance as it was to Ven Anuruddha because he became quite attached and conceited about his ability. So, no great loss if it is not developed.

with metta

Matheesha
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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by Sylvester » Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:29 pm

Hi Mateesha

I think your analysis is in line with the Commentarial explanation of the perception of obhasa and rupa dassana described in MN 128.

However, as Ven Analayo points out, this explanation does not fit in with the Samannaphala "model" of the gradual training, where the iddhis come only after 4th Jhana.

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Re: Anapanasati Vs. jhana

Post by starter » Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:18 am

Hello Teachers/Friends,

Many thanks for the very helpful comments/advice and information.

As stated in the following:

"There are, monk, these six quietenings. In him who has attained the first absorption, speech (vitaka) is quietened. Having attained the second absorption, thought-conception and discursive thinking (vicara) are quietened. Having attained the third absorption, rapture is quietened. Having attained the fourth absorption, inhalation and exhalation is quietened.[5] Having attained the cessation of perception and feeling, perception and feeling are quietened. In a taint-free monk greed is quietened, hatred is quietened, delusion is quietened." -- SN 36.11

I'm wondering if all distractive thoughts are quietened in one who has attained the 1st absorption -- no pumping up of any undirected thoughts at all from entering such absorption to withdrawing? Or probably such a quietening is only for certain periods of time and then get lost and then get back ...? Does vitaka mean "speech" like "in/out" or "Buddho"? Is the mere following of the breath without such "speech" also a type of vitaka? Vicara seems to mean "directed thoughts" to me. Is the mere following of the breath without such "directed thoughts" also a type of vicara? It's strange I experience piti and occasionally sukha sometime before but not recently. To my understanding, the stop of inhalation and exhalation (when the breathing is done via the pores of the body instead of noticable breathing) is different from step 4 of the anapanasati, which means more like calmed, subtle breathing instead of non-detectable breathing. In Meditation4, such "still breath" (stop of noticable breathing) is considered as the mark of the 4th (sutta) jhana. Would it be possible for some people to experience such still breath before reaching any sutta jhana, while still feeling the body and hearing some sounds? Would one who has reached the 4th (sutta) jhana still hear sounds and feel the body at all?

Your kind help has been most appreciated. Metta,

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