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 » Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:58 am

reflection wrote:In fact, this is not even an argument.
It wasn't meant to be an argument. I've already pretty much said all that I ever intended to say on this subject as well as other subjects (1 year and 812 posts on DW should be more than enough!). The path remains open. I have little interest in re-posting any of it again in detail. (There are at least 3 PhD dissertations currently being written by scholar-monastics which support everything I've said on the textual analysis of jhāna.)

All the best,

Geoff

Sylvester
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Sylvester » Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:51 am

Alex123 wrote:It would be misleading on Buddha's part to use perception based on visible form to designate perception of object coming from the mind only.
Now, now. Petitio principii. You've not proven that "rūpa" in "rūpasañña" means "cakkhuviññeya rūpa", so how can you read the Buddha as intending "perception based on visible form"? You still have not offered any rejoinder to how MN 102 furnishes the context in which rūpasañña and arūpasañña are to be understood.

Without 5 saññā-s , what is left is dhammasaññā (or perception of such-and-such an āyatana). If we say that ALL 5 senses shut down in 1st Jhāna, then we couldn't go above 4th Jhāna, it would be Nirodha Sammapatti.
Wherein does your logic lie? Just because 5 indriyas do not make phassa with the 5 kāmā during the Rupa Jhana-s, does not mean that ONLY the Arupa attainments have a mental āyatana. Isn't the perception of Jhanic pitisukha also a dhammasaññā (per DN 9)? Or are you proposing the niramisa sukha are material and not mental? If you are going to suggest that perception of Jhanic pitisukha is a rūpasañña, perhaps you may like to offer a re-writing of the 1st Jhana's "born of seclusion" formula and DN 9.

"And why do you call it 'form'?[1] Because it is afflicted,[2] thus it is called 'form.' Afflicted with what? With cold & heat & hunger & thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles. Because it is afflicted, it is called form.

If rūpa is some sort of mental only object with no physical base, then how can it ever experience "touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles."
It is clearly a 3-dimensional object that can be seen.


Has anyone argued that "rūpa is some sort of mental only object with no physical base"? Now certainly, a human rūpa is afflicted by those things, but do flies and mosquitoes roam the Rupaloka? Or are you suggesting that there flies with fine-rupa in the Brahmaloka to afflict the Brahmas?

Why did the Buddha instruct the baby-Brahma (ex Hatthaka) to take on a "gross" (oḷārika) appearance, as its original rupa kept collapsing under gravity (AN 3.128)? In fact, instead of using "rupa", the Buddha instructed Hatthaka to take on a "gross" attabhāva (personality); this choice of word serves probably to distinguish how Brahmas experience rūpa versus the kamaloka beings.

I mentioned this to you before in another forum, namely your line of reasoning presupposes that a human's rupa is always establishing contact/phassa with the exterior. You're short-circuiting DO by jumping straight from Namarupa to Phassa, bypassing Salayatana completely. You're completely ignoring MN 28's account of the cognitive process and the necessity of tajja samanahara. Your model requires that tajja samanahara is always present when a rupa is present, which violates MN 28's allowance for its absence. As it is, I am not even conscious of my underwear or socks or watch or assorted piercings, even though each of these is a kāma in the form of tactility.

As for the "cold & heat & hunger & thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles" that afflicts a human's rūpa, check out all the many suttas that deal with the allure and drawbacks of the kāmā (plural). In those suttas, the unpleasant feelings that arise with contact with "cold & heat & hunger & thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles" are specifically identified as the drawback (adinava) in the case of the kāmā. Seems pretty clear to me that the Buddha was thinking of "cold & heat & hunger & thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles" as being examples of kāmā, while the allure section portrays the Buddha depicting another example of kāmā, namely the kāmaguṇā. Check out MN 13 as a representative sutta of this genre.


What is the difference between 4th Jhana and base of infinite space? In 4th Jhana one can still perceive rūpa (rūpasaññā is not yet overcomed). In the base of infinite space one cannot. Hence, base of infinite space, is an arūpa attainment.


Not according to MN 102. That sutta offers a totally different meaning of rūpasaññā and arūpasaññā in the context of the rūpaloka and arūpaloka. They do not mean "perception of form/formless", but "perception in the form/formless world".

Even if I totally discount MN 102's explanation of rūpasaññā and arūpasaññā, and adopt the standard translation to be "perception of form", AN 3.128 gives a very clear indication that a Brahma's rūpa is absolutely nothing like a human's rūpa.


Sensuality (kāma) is purely mental and it comes from defilements which are purely mental. Seeing, hearing, etc, are Not defilements themselves. It is mental addition of kāma that makes it unwholesome, and what is unwholesome is kāma, not this or that viññāṇaṃ.


Not a relevant point to the discussion. Kāma is addressed in 1st Jhana's second seclusion formula. We are discussing the 1st Jhana's first seclusion formula which discusses kāmā. You can't seem to shake off conflating kāmā with kāma.


If desire and seeing (or hearing) where identical, then the only way to get rid of desire was to stop seeing or hearing. In such a case a blind-deaf person would be fully awakened for s/he doesn't see or hear.


If you reductio ad absurdum were valid, it would mean that suttas such as MN 148 and MN 152, which explicitly promise the possibility of equanimity and the freedom from raganusaya and patighanusaya on contacting the allure and drawback of kāmā, are false. I'll take my chances with the suttas' promise of the efficacy of satipatthana.


And kāmā is not 5 sense objects. It is purely mental event that originates from kilesas and ignorance which are totally mental. So in that part what is suppressed is the mental defilements, not ethically neutral phenomena such as this or that viññāṇa.


Not according to the CPD. Not according to the allure and drawback suttas.


"the eye is not the fetter of forms, nor are forms the fetter of the eye, but whatever desire & passion arises in dependence on the two of them: That is the fetter there. The ear is not the fetter of sounds... The nose is not the fetter of aromas... The tongue is not the fetter of flavors... The body is not the fetter of tactile sensations... The intellect is not the fetter of ideas, nor are ideas the fetter of the intellect, but whatever desire & passion arises in dependence on the two of them: That is the fetter there."" - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Which only addresses the 1st Jhana's second seclusion formula...
Last edited by Sylvester on Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sylvester
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Sylvester » Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:58 am

rowyourboat wrote:Hi Alex, Sylvester,

Kama refers to those sense objects, from the five senses, that are enticing. The breath and one's own body is not.
Hi Mateesha

Actually, that's not what AN 6.63 and suttas such as MN 13 say. The kāmā are the 5 sense objects, while the kāmaguṇā (kāmā that produce pleasant vedana) is a sub-set of the kāmā. AN 6.63 is strict in injuncting us not to confuse the 2. Maybe the Buddha gave that admonition after hearing a similar dispute in a group of monks... :rofl:

Sylvester
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Sylvester » Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:19 am

daverupa wrote:How does MN 64 fit into this discussion? That Greater Discourse to Malunkyaputta mentions the jhanas according to the boilerplate, and after each it reads:

""Whatever exists therein of material form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease..."

Next comes the arupa jhana boilerplate, and after each of these a similar refrain to above, with a very notable difference:

"Whatever exists therein of feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease..."

It seems apparent that material form, as one of the five aggregates, is still accessible while in 1-4 jhana.

It's the same old "present tense" problem. What is indicated by the "sees" is given by the standard vipassana proxy "samanupassati"; it does not mean eye-sight. Firstly, none of the present tense verbs in this passage can be read to necessarily infer contemporaneity with the "viharati" verb that marked Jhana. Secondly, three of the subsequent present tense verbs samanupassati, paṭivāpeti and upasaṃharati all require vitakka-vicara, which is certainly present in 1st Jhana, but absent in 2nd Jhana upwards. These verbs cannot be describing actions that are happening whilst in the Jhana.

So, no need to worry about MN 64 being inconsistent with the rest of the Canon. The inconsistency only appears when a reader's English grammar is forced onto the Pali, and when one forgets that there is no anupassati without dhammavicaya.

Nyana
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Nyana » Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:55 am

rowyourboat wrote:Kama refers to those sense objects, from the five senses, that are enticing. The breath and one's own body is not.

To give up craving for sense objects is to give up the craving to see, to hear etc as well. This leads very well to internalising one's focus away from the 5 sense bases. But of course, the mind sense is intact- hence the action of the hindrances and the upakilesas (upakilesa sutta) remain. When even these are overcome we are heading into deep samadhi territory. The journey is well explained in positive terms in the anapanasati sutta (ie in reference to the changes of the breath, the arising of niramisa piti sukha and other changes to the mind). The upakilesa sutta mentions the light in some detail. That's how I see it, based on the suttas cross referenced with personal experience.
Yes, this is accurate.

All the best,

Geoff

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by rowyourboat » Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:11 am

daverupa wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:Kama refers to those sense objects, from the five senses, that are enticing. The breath and one's own body is not.
""Whatever exists therein {in jhana 1-4} of material form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease..."
Hi Daverupa

Ultimately, nothing is enticing - when something is enticing it is only because of delusion, craving. It is important to not compare more mundane statements (stimuli from the opposite sex being alluring would be a good example) by the Buddha, with Ultmate truth statements (anicca, dukkha, anatta) of all phenomena. But then you know that already.. :jawdrop:
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

Freawaru
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Freawaru » Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:34 am

Hi Reflection,
reflection wrote: Hi Frea!

Thanks for your explanation. I think you mean what I call 'acting' and 'seeing'. Or 'doing' and 'knowing'.
Yes, this fits, too.

But the odd thing is that with development of sati during it another acting and seeing, doing and knowing arises, this one based on sati. Based on awareness. This is why I think the rider-horse analogy is quite good. There are two minds, one of the horse and one of the rider, and they can work in harmony and independently of each other.
In the brain no 'main center' is found, so no real rider. Processes happen in parallel. Of course this corresponds with the Buddhist view of no self. So YEEYH for Buddhism :toast:
I don't think that no-self can really be known during jhana, at least not without vipassana. Jhana hints at it, also because of this shift of the object of clinging away from the personality, but it cannot be seen directly without vipassana.
Yes, I think so. But absorbed in a book or debate is totally different from a mental absorption. Not comparable. Absorption in meditation is unlike anything else experienced. As I've said before there are no senses active so you can't even read a book or hear a debate. ;) In Jhana the mind looks at itself with the doing part inactive. The will (the doing) is so still it can not do anything, so you can't come out by will. This is why it is called absorption.
I suspect that you refer to absorption into formless objects. They are quite an experience! But I am sure that even in the formless absorptions one can develop sati and volition based on it. But before this will happen one experiences the formless states without awareness and volition - at least I did. I suspect that the first time I did not even remember afterwards - memory was likely not "downloaded" into the memory storage of the personality (that is rather limited after all). Memory might be related to sati, but I am not yet sure here.
For a bit more of a description on how it is totally unlike reading a book ;) , see for example this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1oK4Vt_ntY" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thank you. I will watch it and maybe comment on it then.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:43 am

Sylvester and Geoff ,

While I find your squabbling somwhat entertaining, albeit unintentionally so, and while I find your postings of interest, the squabbling is really rather petty and detracts from what is being said and is a distraction to the flow of the thread in general. Probably best for both of you to refrain altogether from such exchanges in this thread.

tilt
>> 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: The Great Jhana Debate

Post by Sylvester » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:09 am

Aye, aye sir. :embarassed:

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Alex123
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Alex123 » Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:04 pm

Sylvester wrote:
Actually, that's not what AN 6.63 and suttas such as MN 13 say. The kāmā are the 5 sense objects, while the kāmaguṇā (kāmā that produce pleasant vedana) is a sub-set of the kāmā. AN 6.63 is strict in injuncting us not to confuse the 2. Maybe the Buddha gave that admonition after hearing a similar dispute in a group of monks... :rofl:
So the Arahant or the Buddha, who is totally freed from kāmā, cannot see or hear anything? Also do you really think that arahants do not know what sensuality, lust, etc is? They do know what they are, but they are simply not attached to it and cannot be interested. They are like adults who talk about children playing in the sandbox without getting excited themselves.

If the only way of escape (nissaraṇa) from something was "don't see, don't hear, don't know it" (similar to those ascetics who enter this mindless state and are still reborn as asaññasatta), then one would have to drop dead as a log. The piece in this kind of state is dependent on there not being 5 sense consciousness, and in such way, it is still conditioned. What, IMHO, is more reliable is to develop the peace even if there are 5 sense consciousness. When one is in the state where one cannot see, hear, form thoughts, comprehend what is happening, etc, one can't really do any insight.

We all (or most of us) fall into deep sleep every night. That doesn't make us awakened and neither does it by itself brings us closer to it. Many of us do not need new special comatose states to know that 5 senses are a burden (though craving is a bigger burden and ultimately causes acquisition of more senses through rebirth).


True escape in this life is to eliminate all craving and other defiled emotions that come from craving. So escape from 5 senses does NOT mean that one becomes a log of wood, one is merely not reacting to it with craving/aversion/delusion.
"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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daverupa
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by daverupa » Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:13 pm

Comments below:
Sylvester wrote:It's the same old "present tense" problem. What is indicated by the "sees" is given by the standard vipassana proxy "samanupassati"; it does not mean eye-sight.
The Sutta I mentioned, however, did not say one sees with the eye. "I see what you're saying" <-- this is a similar use of the word, yes? Nevertheless, the Sutta said that, in 1-4 jhana, whatever exists of material form was to be seen with wisdom. Focusing on "see" is a red herring, because the point is that there is instruction on material form for rupa jhana, and not for arupa jhana.
Sylvester wrote:Firstly, none of the present tense verbs in this passage can be read to necessarily infer contemporaneity with the "viharati" verb that marked Jhana.
Viharati = enters and dwells in, or maybe abiding? Well, the word "therein" in the Sutta seems to claim what you are denying. Whatever material form therein, not whatever material form afterwards.
Sylvester wrote:Secondly, three of the subsequent present tense verbs samanupassati, paṭivāpeti and upasaṃharati all require vitakka-vicara, which is certainly present in 1st Jhana, but absent in 2nd Jhana upwards. These verbs cannot be describing actions that are happening whilst in the Jhana.
Require vitakka-vicara? Where is this stated elsewhere?
Sylvester wrote:So, no need to worry about MN 64 being inconsistent with the rest of the Canon. The inconsistency only appears when a reader's English grammar is forced onto the Pali, and when one forgets that there is no anupassati without dhammavicaya.
The thing is, as far as I can tell it isn't inconsistent with the SuttaVinaya, but it is inconsistent with the Canon. That means it's inconsistent with resources I don't consider valid, so no problem thus far...
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

Nyana
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Nyana » Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:07 am

Alex123 wrote:There can be temporary seeing without kāma for a person who has suppressed kāma.
Yes, you are quite correct. AN 4.12 informs us that singleness of mind can be maintained and the five hindrances suppressed while walking, standing, sitting, or reclining.

All the best,

Geoff

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daverupa
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by daverupa » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:20 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:There can be temporary seeing without kāma for a person who has suppressed kāma.
Yes, you are quite correct. AN 4.12 informs us that singleness of mind can be maintained and the five hindrances suppressed while walking, standing, sitting, or reclining.

All the best,

Geoff
The Budhabayana-sutra (which only exists in Ghandari), in connection with this, mentions that good action is difficult to do in any posture, and that even on account of the Dhamma it is only easy by a wise person, not a fool.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

Nyana
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Nyana » Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:28 am

daverupa wrote:The Budhabayana-sutra (which only exists in Ghandari), in connection with this, mentions that good action is difficult to do in any posture, and that even on account of the Dhamma it is only easy by a wise person, not a fool.
Of course. Abandoning the hindrances requires the maintenance of ethical conduct and the development of sense restraint and other skillful qualities.

All the best,

Geoff

Sylvester
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Sylvester » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:58 am

Alex123 wrote:So the Arahant or the Buddha, who is totally freed from kāmā, cannot see or hear anything? Also do you really think that arahants do not know what sensuality, lust, etc is?
Hmm, I think you're still confusing kāmā (sense objects) with kāma (sensual desire). While an Arahant is bereft of kāma, the Arahant will phusati/contact kāmā, except in those attainments which are secluded from the kāmā (vivicceva kamehi).

To get a more direct sense of kāmā, check out MN 75. I would suggest you use BB's translation, as the translation on ATI is only an extract which omits this critical distinction. For those who insist that the "kāmā" in the "vivicceva kamehi" formula means ONLY "kāmagunā", consider what the Buddha says about kāmā and kāmagunā here -
Taṃ kiṃ maññasi, māgaṇḍiya, api nu so devaputto nandane vane accharāsaṅghaparivuto dibbehi pañcahi kāmaguṇehi samappito samaṅgībhūto paricārayamāno amussa gahapatissa vā gahapatiputtassa vā piheyya, mānusakānaṃ vā pañcannaṃ kāmaguṇānaṃ mānusakehi vā kāmehi āvaṭṭeyyā”ti?
I wonder why this bit was left out from the ATI translation?

I'll track to track down that MN sutta, where the Buddha was in fact asked if enlightment meant that an Arahant cannot enjoy the kāmā. Oddly enough, the Buddha did not give a categorical answer, but said that an Arahant is incapable of 5 things in respect of the kāmā, eg sex, squirelling away food.

If the only way of escape (nissaraṇa) from something was "don't see, don't hear, don't know it" (similar to those ascetics who enter this mindless state and are still reborn as asaññasatta), then one would have to drop dead as a log.
No, it is not the only way. One starts with DN 2's sense restraint, and then progress onto the sense restraint accompanied with happiness (MN 151). Then one progresses to the MN 148, MN 152 and satipatthana instructions, not to relate to the kāmā but to simply relate to the feelings engendered by the kāmā. To me, anapanasati seems a natural progression from satipatthana, but even then, the contemplation of kāmā seems to be very limited, ie the experience of breath (most likely potthaba). Whether one likes it or not, the progressive cessation schema of DN 9, SN 36.11 and AN 9.31 are supposed to unfold in the Jhanas.

Don't you think it's a rather flimsy strawman to label meditation without cognition of the kāmā as "mindless"? DN 9 specifically says that in 1st Jhana, kāmasaññā ceases and is replaced by another saññā, namely the "perception of pitisukha born of seclusion". Can you cite any absorption teacher who teaches a Jhanic state that is without consciousness, without feeling or without perception?

The piece in this kind of state is dependent on there not being 5 sense consciousness, and in such way, it is still conditioned. What, IMHO, is more reliable is to develop the peace even if there are 5 sense consciousness. When one is in the state where one cannot see, hear, form thoughts, comprehend what is happening, etc, one can't really do any insight.
But do the suttas actually state that vipassana proceeds in a Jhana? That is a mistake that is easy to make, if one refers only to the English translations, without a sense of the Pali grammar. Just like those who read the iddhi sections following 4th Jhana as thinking that one could exercise the iddhis within the 4th Jhana. A quick check with the grammar on the effect of a past participle verb in a locative absolute construction would immediately tell you that the verbs associated with the 4th Jhana happened well in the past and not concurrently with the iddhis.

We all (or most of us) fall into deep sleep every night. That doesn't make us awakened and neither does it by itself brings us closer to it. Many of us do not need new special comatose states to know that 5 senses are a burden (though craving is a bigger burden and ultimately causes acquisition of more senses through rebirth).
Another non-sequitor. Which teacher has presented a model of Jhana that resembles sleep or a coma? All 4 of my teachers present Jhana as state of intense awareness, and the intensity is remembered after arising.

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