A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

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Nyana
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Nyana » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:04 am

Sylvester wrote:I take it from the above that, unlike Geoff, you are of the position that in order to vipassati, one must have Dhamma-vicaya?

Or are you opting for his interpretation that one can vipassati without Dhamma-vicaya?
Another fallacious misrepresentation. I completely fail to understand what you hope to gain by misrepresenting what I've said. I've already suggested two good sources for deepening one's appreciation and understanding of the integral model of the 37 requisites of awakening. Unless there is some agreement about path structure and some basic terms like sati, sampajañña, samādhi, saññā, nimitta, and mahaggatā citta, and how these relate to the kasiṇa jhānas, the brahmavihāra jhānas, the asubha jhānas, and so on, there is little basis for meaningful discussion.

All the best,

Geoff

Sylvester
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:44 am

Dmytro wrote:Hi Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote: If this indulgence in the subha nimitta of a dhamma were such a bad thing, why would the Buddha have recommended it as part of the Third Vimokkha or as the Subha Vimokkha?
Indeed, why would the Buddha have recommended it?

In fact, he never recommended it. Subha Vimokkha is related to the development of Metta.
I see the Buddha teaching a gradual Path, and if niramisa sukha is not touched, how will His disciples desire to escape samisa sukha?
There's nothing wrong with niramisa sukkha per se, if there's no attachment to it.
As to the blue point, I think the Mettasahagata Sutta is not speaking of mettabhavana. It spoke of mettasahagata. Then, it speaks of karunasahagata which leads to the attainment of Infinite Space, it speaks of muditasahagata which leads to the attainment of Infinite Consciousness, and it speaks of upekkhasahagata which leads to the attainment of Nothingness. The inference from the sequence must be that the development of the 7 Enlightenment Factors accompanied by metta leads to the Jhanas.

As to the red point, I have suggested that MN 44 makes it clear that there is no raga and no raganusaya when experiencing 1st Jhana sukha. You have opted instead for the Commentarial explanation, with which I disagree. Borrowing Ajahn Thannisaro's translation for convenience, with the key terms returned to the Pali and the key elision expanded-
"Does raganusaya anuseti with all pleasant feeling? Does patighanusaya anuseti with all painful feeling? Does avijjanusaya anuseti with all neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling?"

"No, raganusaya does not anuseti with all pleasant feeling..."

"But what is to be abandoned with regard to pleasant feeling? What is to be abandoned with regard to painful feeling? What is to be abandoned with regard to neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling?"

"Raganusaya is to be abandoned with regard to pleasant feeling. Patighanusaya is to be abandoned with regard to painful feeling. Avijjanusaya is to be abandoned with regard to neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling."

"Is raganusaya to be abandoned with regard to all pleasant feeling? Is patighanusaya to be abandoned with regard to all painful feeling? Is avijjanusaya to be abandoned with regard to all neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling?"

"No! ...

There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from kāmā, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With that he abandons raga. No raganusaya (latent tendency to lust) anuseti (underlies) there.

Sabbāya nu kho, ayye, sukhāya vedanāya rāgānusayo anuseti, sabbāya dukkhāya vedanāya paṭighānusayo anuseti, sabbāya adukkhamasukhāya vedanāya avijjānusayo anusetī”ti?

“Na kho, āvuso visākha, sabbāya sukhāya vedanāya rāgānusayo anuseti, na sabbāya dukkhāya vedanāya paṭighānusayo anuseti, na sabbāya adukkhamasukhāya vedanāya avijjānusayo anusetī”ti.

“Sukhāya panāyye, vedanāya kiṃ pahātabbaṃ, dukkhāya vedanāya kiṃ pahātabbaṃ, adukkhamasukhāya vedanāya kiṃ pahātabban”ti?

“Sukhāya kho, āvuso visākha, vedanāya rāgānusayo pahātabbo, dukkhāya vedanāya paṭighānusayo pahātabbo, adukkhamasukhāya vedanāya avijjānusayo pahātabbo”ti.

“Sabbāya nu kho, ayye, sukhāya vedanāya rāgānusayo pahātabbo, sabbāya dukkhāya vedanāya paṭighānusayo pahātabbo, sabbāya adukkhamasukhāya vedanāya avijjānusayo pahātabbo”ti?

“Na kho, āvuso visākha, sabbāya sukhāya vedanāya rāgānusayo pahātabbo, na sabbāya dukkhāya vedanāya paṭighānusayo pahātabbo, na sabbāya adukkhamasukhāya vedanāya avijjānusayo pahātabbo. Idhāvuso visākha, bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. Rāgaṃ tena pajahati, na tattha rāgānusayo anuseti.
In your earlier opinion, you offered your thoughts that the passage underlined red should be read as extinction of raga through insight into 1st Jhana. This is how you read "with that"/tena. IMHO, the passage is very clear that the "tena" simply occurs at 1st Jhana, and not much later on enlightenment. The point to note is that the passage explicitly says that raganusaya does not anuseti with 1st Jhana pleasure.

If you look at how other suttas present raganusaya and how it anuseti sukha vedana, it becomes clear that raganusaya is the consequence of raga. Eg from SN 36.6 -
Having been touched by that painful feeling, he resists (and resents) it. Then in him who so resists (and resents) that painful feeling, an underlying tendency of resistance against that painful feeling comes to underlie (his mind). Under the impact of that painful feeling he then proceeds to enjoy sensual happiness. And why does he do so? An untaught worldling, O monks, does not know of any other escape from painful feelings except the enjoyment of sensual happiness. Then in him who enjoys sensual happiness, an underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feelings comes to underlie (his mind).

Tassāyeva kho pana dukkhāya vedanāya phuṭṭho samāno paṭighavā hoti. Tamenaṃ dukkhāya vedanāya paṭighavantaṃ, yo dukkhāya vedanāya paṭighānusayo, so anuseti. So dukkhāya vedanāya phuṭṭho samāno kāmasukhaṃ abhinandati. Taṃ kissa hetu? Na hi so, bhikkhave, pajānāti assutavā puthujjano aññatra kāmasukhā dukkhāya vedanāya nissaraṇaṃ, tassa kāmasukhañca abhinandato, yo sukhāya vedanāya rāgānusayo, so anuseti.
Since MN 44 explicitly states that raganusaya does not anuseti 1st Jhana's pleasure, it becomes clear that the cause of raganusaya is also absent in 1st Jhana. That, in my view, is how "Rāgaṃ tena pajahati" should be simply read.

1st Jhana is not the only place where raganusaya does not anuseti a pleasant feeling. Raganusaya is not inevitable. I've mentioned previously that MN 152 seems to imply that an instructed putthujana practising satipatthana will not be touched by raganusaya. There is another sutta in the SN (references later, if you can wait) where the sutta explicitly states that 3 anusayas do not underlie the respective feelings on the occassion when the meditator undertakes the satipatthanas correctly. The sutta was not referring to an Arahant's meditation.

Of course, MN 138 as it stands directly conflicts with the literal reading of MN 44, plus the SN satipatthana sutta I mentioned. Let's see how Ven Analayo proposes that MN 138 may have suffered a transmission error, based on his comparison of MN 138 to the Chinese MA 164. I suspect that when the analysis is offered, any inconsistency between MN 138 and MN 44 will be resolved.
Last edited by Sylvester on Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:52 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:50 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:I take it from the above that, unlike Geoff, you are of the position that in order to vipassati, one must have Dhamma-vicaya?

Or are you opting for his interpretation that one can vipassati without Dhamma-vicaya?
Another fallacious misrepresentation. I completely fail to understand what you hope to gain by misrepresenting what I've said. I've already suggested two good sources for deepening one's appreciation and understanding of the integral model of the 37 requisites of awakening. Unless there is some agreement about path structure and some basic terms like sati, sampajañña, samādhi, saññā, nimitta, and mahaggatā citta, and how these relate to the kasiṇa jhānas, the brahmavihāra jhānas, the asubha jhānas, and so on, there is little basis for meaningful discussion.

All the best,

Geoff
For the 4th time, Geoff -

Do you assert that one can vipassati without the Dhammavicayasambojjhanga?

Yes or No?

Pls explain how the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayabojjhanga indicated in the Abhidhamma are different from the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayasambojjhanga in the suttas.


Where is Vajirapani when I need him?
Last edited by Sylvester on Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:57 am

Dmytro wrote:Hi Sylvester,
As for the arupa-samapatti not having kamasanna, I hope you won't make the same logical mistake of the fallacy of denying the antecedent which Geoff committed with MN 43.
This sounds like an old manipulative trick: "I hope you don't beat your wife every day, don't you?".

If you would like a reply from me, please be more explicit.

Best wishes, Dmytro

No trick or trap. I merely assumed you may have followed the Jhana Debate thread. Anyway, my critique of Geoff's fallacy in misreading MN 43 is here-

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... ent#p74650" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:59 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Dmytro wrote:Thank you, Nathan, for your inspiring and valuable posts.

I think this discussion won't be so heated if the participants didn't have a personal experience of the states discussed. The issue is that people tend to mix the experience with it's interpretation, and then to defend this interpretation.

It's interesting how various interpretations of jhana become self-fulfilling prophecies - a person believes in a given interpretation, prectices the methods recommended, and indeed arives to the states described.

That's why the words of the Buddha are so precious to consult.

Metta, Dmytro
This all seems to be quite so.

Seconded.

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:10 am

Sylvester wrote:
Where is Vajirapani when I need him?
Image
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

Sylvester
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Sylvester » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:24 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Sylvester wrote:
Where is Vajirapani when I need him?
Image

Thanks, but I was thinking about the canonical one from DN 3, who should a nice chlorophyll green by Thai iconographic convention. :anjali:

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:32 am

Sylvester wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Sylvester wrote:
Where is Vajirapani when I need him?
Image

Thanks, but I was thinking about the canonical one from DN 3, who should a nice chlorophyll green by Thai iconographic convention. :anjali:
Alas, not to be found easily. Probably need the Thai name, but in the meantime scary Tibetan image will have to stand in.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by imagemarie » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:16 am

I can only say that I find the fixation with the minutia of the descriptions of the process by the Blessed Buddha and his Sangha somewhat odd considering the relative simplicity and fluidity of the process when one is truly concerned with it

I have never felt that jhana apart from the simultaneous employment of discernment and the development of insights is of any use or interest.

Nor have I ever encountered any passionate desire for remaining in jhana at any length nor for the purpose of avoiding normal day to day life or any other states of mind. Nor have I felt any need to deepen jhana to the point that there is no capacity to emerge from it at any point I would like to nor that there is any point in making a sport of entering into and out of various jhanas.

What initially took me to the point of cessation was an intense need to know what was on the receiving end of my conscious existence
This is pertinent to my own practice. Thank-you. :smile:

:anjali:

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by PeterB » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:23 am

imagemarie wrote:
I can only say that I find the fixation with the minutia of the descriptions of the process by the Blessed Buddha and his Sangha somewhat odd considering the relative simplicity and fluidity of the process when one is truly concerned with it

I have never felt that jhana apart from the simultaneous employment of discernment and the development of insights is of any use or interest.

Nor have I ever encountered any passionate desire for remaining in jhana at any length nor for the purpose of avoiding normal day to day life or any other states of mind. Nor have I felt any need to deepen jhana to the point that there is no capacity to emerge from it at any point I would like to nor that there is any point in making a sport of entering into and out of various jhanas.

What initially took me to the point of cessation was an intense need to know what was on the receiving end of my conscious existence
This is pertinent to my own practice. Thank-you. :smile:

:anjali:
In terms of the overall post mine too, although I have grave doubts about references to ones own "cessation" at all sorts of levels.

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Nyana » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:01 pm

Sylvester wrote:Do you assert that one can vipassati without the Dhammavicayasambojjhanga?

Yes or No?
No. And both vipassati and the dhamma-investigation awakening factor are multifaceted. They take on different levels of meaning at different stages of insight.
Sylvester wrote:Pls explain how the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayabojjhanga indicated in the Abhidhamma are different from the Dhamma-Vicaya and Dhammavicayasambojjhanga in the suttas.
In the Abhidhamma the seven factors of awakening are all considered to be present at the time of attaining the noble path -- hence "awakening." This demonstrates the integral synthesis of awakening. And of the seven factors, dhamma-investigation is singled out as synonymous with both the faculty of discernment, and vipassanā. As already mentioned, in the Mahāniddesa dhamma-investigation is said to be synonymous with bodhi. Also, from the Milindapañha:
  • “By how many factors does one awaken to the truth?”

    “By one, dhamma-investigation, for nothing can be understood without that.”
All the best,

Geoff

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by nathan » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:11 pm

PeterB wrote:
imagemarie wrote:
I can only say that I find the fixation with the minutia of the descriptions of the process by the Blessed Buddha and his Sangha somewhat odd considering the relative simplicity and fluidity of the process when one is truly concerned with it

I have never felt that jhana apart from the simultaneous employment of discernment and the development of insights is of any use or interest.

Nor have I ever encountered any passionate desire for remaining in jhana at any length nor for the purpose of avoiding normal day to day life or any other states of mind. Nor have I felt any need to deepen jhana to the point that there is no capacity to emerge from it at any point I would like to nor that there is any point in making a sport of entering into and out of various jhanas.

What initially took me to the point of cessation was an intense need to know what was on the receiving end of my conscious existence
This is pertinent to my own practice. Thank-you. :smile:

:anjali:
In terms of the overall post mine too, although I have grave doubts about references to ones own "cessation" at all sorts of levels.
It is refreshing not to have to argue about this in terms of any supposed status that an experience of cessation supposedly conveys upon people as I have no desire to be perceived as special or other than ordinary in any way as a consequence of having investigated this. In the past I never imagined that it would ever mean anything to anyone else for any reason and for the most part it most certainly never has meant anything to anyone I have ever known nor will it ever mean anything to anyone else in the future.

Once one discerns the pathway to the cessation of consciousness it is a replicable process and the particulars of it can be reflected upon at length. Re-observation of these dhammas and due consideration removes all doubt about the consistently anatta nature of all dependently compounded phenomena and the anatta nature of cessation and release from dependent conditions as well. The only way to determine the efficacy of the skillful means is to develop them for oneself. As such either doubt or confidence about what others have done is entirely inconsequential compared to the necessity for the determination, urgency and persistence in making a determination of the nature of the dhammas within ones dependently compounded being for oneself.

As I stated in my reply to Dmytro, I was not searching for cessation but for my soul. Having been previously been told by my father, a PhD of Theology, that my soul was neither my body nor my mind I pressed on beyond the compounded phenomena I had thus far been observing in both of these. It initially came as a complete shock to discover that there was no soul underlying the mental qualities which support consciousness and in fact nothing at all that might be considered mine or my own or anything connected or dependent in any way upon my body, senses, sensations, thoughts or mental qualities or upon the cognizable universe any way and yet something real and so inconceivably and consistently peaceful and free. There is no description or indication that can come even remotely close to doing justice to revisiting or adverting to such an experience as this directly. In comparison to the taste of full release from the dependent conditionality bound up and referred to as being and becoming, all other forms of conscious contact, including the jhanas and the formless realms, all taste like sand.

therefore
upekkha
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by Nyana » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:23 pm

Sylvester wrote:That, IMHO, is the plain and simple meaning of kāmā in the vivicc'eva kāmehi formula of 1st Jhana.
The kāmehi refers to both the objects of sensual pleasure (vatthukāmā) and the defilements of sensual pleasure (kilesakāmā). In commentarial terms, the form portion of the "whole body" experienced in jhāna is mind-produced form which pervades the physical body. The Dīghanikāyaṭīkā:
  • Mind-produced form (cittajarūpa) suffuses every area where there is kamma-produced form (kammajarūpa).
All the best,

Geoff

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by morning mist » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:15 pm

Hi Nana,

There are different types of cettavimutti. Each refers to a particular meditation. Not all qualify as the four jhana in Samma Samadhi. You are using the name and description of one type of meditation to describe another. There is obviously a mix up.

For example, the description and name of akincanna cetovimutti can't be used as a synonym for adukkhamasukhaya cetovimuttiya, each describe a different meditation state. One of them qualify as Samma Samadhi the other one doesn't .
Another example is animitta cetovimutti. It is not the same state as adukkhamasukhaya cetovimuttiya or the ones in Samma Samadhi.


The term samatha can includes the four jhanas as well as the formless states. The formless states are not included in Samma samadhi. The reason is that they are different than the ones in Samma samadhi.

Cetavimutti includes both Samma samadhi and formless states depending on the type. Akincanna cetovimutti describes a formless state. Adukkhamasukhaya cetovimuttiya
describes the four form jhana. The description for the one state is not meant for the other.

Likewise , the description for mahaggatā cetovimuti is not for animitta cetovimutti
or Adukkhamasukhaya cetovimuttiya. Animitta cetovimutti and mahaggata cetovimutti are specific types of cetovimutti rather than different descriptions for the same state.

With metta,
with metta,

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Post by morning mist » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:16 pm

Hi Dmytro,


When Ajahn Brahm wrote that the piti and sukha or happiness or bliss served as a glue , it means that it holds one's attention on the nimitta. That way the mind's focus is not scattered or distracted by diversity or various other things. Concentration doesn't become scattered. That is not the same as being attached to jhana. The glue holds the attention on one object, the mental object .

No body is saying that you should become attached to Jhana. This is just a misinterpretation. A person has to let go of attachment of one jhana to move to the next. There are instruction for that and for developing insight which comes after.

Dmytro wrote: There's no Pasakika sutta.

It is a typo. It's suppose to be a d . Also about the translation, there are various version of translation online. They varies. Let's look at the Pali itself.

“cattārome, cunda, sukhallikānuyogā ekantanibbidāya virāgāya nirodhāya upasamāya abhiññāya sambodhāya nibbānāya saṃvattanti. katame cattāro?


Sukha-allika- anuyoga:

-sukha ( pleasantness, comfort, happiness)
-allika ( given to, attachment to)
- anuyoga ( devotion to)

One translator stick closely to the pali and rendered " attached and devoted to" , the other translator just rendered " devoted to" for short.

When I put "the four Jhanas " at the end because that's when the Buddha described the entire four jhanas. But instead of pasting the whole thing, I put " The four jhanas" there to shorten this post. But you should get the idea.

Dmytro wrote: As Brahmavamso writes, in his jhanas one does not comprehend what's going on.
Comprehending and awareness / being conscious are two different things. Thoughts are allowed to settle, so mental analyzing or dhamma vitakka should be left behind.

" This ATTENTIVE stillness that is able to sustain awareness on one thing is called samadhi."

" Samadhi is the attentive stillness that is able to sustain attention on one thing"

With Metta,
with metta,

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