1 What is liberation according to your understanding?
2 Is there any relation between jhana and liberation? If there is, what is it?
3 Isn't it good for us to make sure we understand these two things?
Hi Ignobleone, Retro, Ohnofabrications
I hope you don't mind me attempting an answer, to help.
Many thanks for your help.
1 Liberation is seeing the operation of craving and being able to disconnect from it. Craving is the fundamental factor because it is what drives actions and decisions up to liberation. I am still exploring the sutta's and I have not come to final decision if there are any such thing as glimpses to guide during the path or just a final sudden end (this seems most logical). My understanding is that the Buddha would focus on a final end to craving to consider it lasting nibbana. This being the case then there has to be complete elimination of craving in order to experience nibanna without interruption. I have not experienced nibbana without interruption and hence cannot cofirm if any experience is nibbana.
From the Law of Dependent Origination, craving(taṇhā) comes after feeling(vedanā), and feeling comes after the other three which constitute perception(sañña). The way to cut off craving is by cutting of the roots. Nibbana is also known as cessation of perception and feeling. Notice that perception and feeling are cut off here. The Buddha attained the nibbana from mastering jhanas. That's where the role of jhana takes place in the path to Liberation. That's the relation between jhana and Liberation.
Many people, mainly mainstream Theravadan Buddhists these days (including some in this forum, which I can tell from theirs replies) don't notice/realized this. This is also why there's jhana debate thread. I would blame all of this on commentaries, since they talk about jhana only in terms of ten fetters, which have puzzled people for so long.
3. Yes, but I find this part the most challenging and hence the need for a teacher or/and extensive study of the Suttas. I am finding the people on this forum to be very kind and helpful for that reason.
I have not been able to answer Ohnofabrications OP for this reason, I am not sure if the experiences are correctly related to Jhana, despite the effort going into them. If I judge on my experiences I would say that they are not the same. I still think they are helpful, but the right questions need to be asked of Ohnofabrications. Hence why I would have to refer Ohnofabrications to an experienced Buddhist teacher or/and extensive study of the sutta alongside those who are also keen and taking that route.
The problem is, it's very difficult to find a real quality teacher these days. For my case personally, I couldn't get satisfying answer even from a high caliber monk such as Bikkhu Bodhi. I once came to his sutta study class at the temple where he resides in upper New York State. I asked him in person how to make kamasanna ceases, the question which still puzzle me up to now. His answer was very simple: The Noble Eightfold Path. I wasn't satisfied with that answer. I replied: but my question is about one of the N8P, i.e. samma-samadhi/jhana, the answer went back to the question again, infinite loop. We ended up laughing together, until he told me to take some free books (from the temple) about N8P.
There's no doubt he masters many suttas, since the answer in the sutta is the same. But still, it remains a puzzle for me.
These are just answers from personal understanding I offer to help. I do not suggest taking them as fact, but focus on one's meditation as an inner-teacher also.
Be careful, inner-teacher can make us deluded too, unless we train our inner-teacher with right discernment.