The Great Jhana Debate

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
TroyAsher
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Post by TroyAsher » Sun May 20, 2012 4:43 am

Greetings to all,

I have some questions I am hoping you might be able to help with. I was reading about the Arupa Jhanas in a book by Dean Hayson and then I did a search on Jhana and found Dhamma Wheel. I have read through all 17 pages here (no small feat :0) incase you had already discussed these points but i don't think so. Please pardon me if you have.

Reading about the progression of the jhanas, the different levels of absorption, in AN 9.35, i have the impression that there is (referring to Samatha Jhana practice) the cessation of concepts/conceptual thinking in the 2nd Jhana and then in the 8th Jhana the awareness of perceptions seems to be fading out "neither perception nor non-perception" and then in the 9th Jhana there is the cessation of percepts/perception.

My initial questions are about whether i have understood AN 9.35 and these jhana experiences correctly:
Is the 8th Jhana a twilight of perception where the meditator finds it hard to tell whether he/she is perceiving?
Is the 9th Jhana's cessation of perception a mind without conscious activity aka blank?

Regards,
Troy Asher

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Rui Sousa
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Post by Rui Sousa » Thu May 24, 2012 11:28 pm

TroyAsher wrote:Greetings to all,

I have some questions I am hoping you might be able to help with. I was reading about the Arupa Jhanas in a book by Dean Hayson and then I did a search on Jhana and found Dhamma Wheel. I have read through all 17 pages here (no small feat :0) incase you had already discussed these points but i don't think so. Please pardon me if you have.

Reading about the progression of the jhanas, the different levels of absorption, in AN 9.35, i have the impression that there is (referring to Samatha Jhana practice) the cessation of concepts/conceptual thinking in the 2nd Jhana and then in the 8th Jhana the awareness of perceptions seems to be fading out "neither perception nor non-perception" and then in the 9th Jhana there is the cessation of percepts/perception.

My initial questions are about whether i have understood AN 9.35 and these jhana experiences correctly:
Is the 8th Jhana a twilight of perception where the meditator finds it hard to tell whether he/she is perceiving?
Is the 9th Jhana's cessation of perception a mind without conscious activity aka blank?

Regards,
Troy Asher

Hi Troy, Welcome to Dhamma Wheel.

As I understand it, the 8th Jhana is a state of mind were the mind cannot tell if it is perceiving information from the senses or not.

I have asked a similar question about the 9th Jhana a few years ago in e-shanga, and I remember Ven. Dhammanando answering me in a way I was satisfied with, but since that forum is down I can't really know the exact words he used. According to my memory he explained that the 9th Jhanna is a special achievement some meditators can reach.
With Metta

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reflection
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Re: The Great Jhana Debate

Post by reflection » Thu May 24, 2012 11:58 pm

TroyAsher wrote:Greetings to all,

I have some questions I am hoping you might be able to help with. I was reading about the Arupa Jhanas in a book by Dean Hayson and then I did a search on Jhana and found Dhamma Wheel. I have read through all 17 pages here (no small feat :0) incase you had already discussed these points but i don't think so. Please pardon me if you have.

Reading about the progression of the jhanas, the different levels of absorption, in AN 9.35, i have the impression that there is (referring to Samatha Jhana practice) the cessation of concepts/conceptual thinking in the 2nd Jhana and then in the 8th Jhana the awareness of perceptions seems to be fading out "neither perception nor non-perception" and then in the 9th Jhana there is the cessation of percepts/perception.

My initial questions are about whether i have understood AN 9.35 and these jhana experiences correctly:
Is the 8th Jhana a twilight of perception where the meditator finds it hard to tell whether he/she is perceiving?
Is the 9th Jhana's cessation of perception a mind without conscious activity aka blank?

Regards,
Troy Asher
Just on a sidenote, the suttas only speak about jhana 1-4. The four immaterial attainments are not called jhana. That is something from the commentaries. Doesn't really change anything, I guess, but thought it may be interesting and possibly opening a new view for you.

TroyAsher
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The Great Jhana Debate

Post by TroyAsher » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:21 am

Thank you Rui Sousa and reflection, your responses are appreciated. I take note of reflection’s comment that the use of the term Jhana for the four immaterial attainments appears in the later commentaries. I continue to use the term purely for ease rather than accuracy.

I have another question if you don’t mind. This is in regards to how people perceive the 6th Jhana. In Leigh Brasington’s article “Sharpening Manjushri’s Sword” he makes a point of noting that “The Base of Infinite Consciousness has been mistaken for achieving oneness with all consciousness.” Leigh goes onto explain that the 6th Jhana is entered by “realizing that in order to gaze at an infinite spaciousness (5th Jhana) you must have an infinite consciousness, and then shifting your attention to that consciousness.” I get the point. This “realization” is a logical deduction and leads the meditator to the 6th Jhana.

However, I have found that in my personal, subjective, experience, my perception and feeling of the 6th Jhana is that of “oneness with all consciousness.” I’d describe it as “the perception of interconnectedness with all”. I also like this latter term as it lacks the supernormal abilities sometimes associated with the word “oneness”. There is no ability to communicate with or control all things, just a feeling of being interconnected with all.

For those that have worked through the arupas, what has been your experience ?

Regards,

Troy

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Post by Son » Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:29 am

Kenshou wrote:Deduction from experience is not very relevant when the discussion comes down to the question of what exactly the suttas are saying. Some people are interested in taking a critical look at the texts. Not to the exclusion of real life practice, of course.

If you think a disembodied samadhi is great, then great, but saying that doesn't have any weight when the question is about what the content of the texts is.

It helps to actually know from experience, what textual terms are referring to, when you're trying to discern meaning out of that text. If you're confused, or worse incorrect, about the experiences referred to in the text, then it may be difficult to "critically understand exactly what the suttas are saying." On the other hand, if you know from your experience what the sutta is referring to, in all likelihood it will be simple to arrive at exactly what the suttas are critically saying. So direct experience or experience of understanding is crucial in my perspective and I agree with him.
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ignobleone
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Re: Buddhism cult

Post by ignobleone » Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:26 am

My anonymous cult warner seems to stop responding since I demanded sutta references which support his points/claims.
He said: 1)Sotapanna is an enlightened being. 2)Jhanas can only be reached by Sakadagami and above.
As far as I can remember, I know only Arahat does have something to do with jhana. So far I couldn't find any sutta which contains the relationship between Sakadagami/Anagami and jhanas. Maybe anyone can help?

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Re: Buddhism cult

Post by DNS » Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:59 am

ignobleone wrote:My anonymous cult warner seems to stop responding since I demanded sutta references which support his points/claims.
He said: 1)Sotapanna is an enlightened being. 2)Jhanas can only be reached by Sakadagami and above.
As far as I can remember, I know only Arahat does have something to do with jhana. So far I couldn't find any sutta which contains the relationship between Sakadagami/Anagami and jhanas. Maybe anyone can help?
The 'cult warner' is incorrect, again. The jhanas can be accessed by anyone of noble level or lower. The Jhana Sutta (AN 4.123) outlines proficiencies in all of the jhanas and how each level tends to correspond to a different deva realm, not necessarily requiring noble attainments.
See: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Even the fourth jhana proficiency need not be an arahant:

"Again, there is the case where an individual, with the abandoning of pleasure & stress — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain. He savors that, longs for that, finds satisfaction through that. Staying there — fixed on that, dwelling there often, not falling away from that — then when he dies he reappears in conjunction with the Vehapphala devas."

He/she becomes a Vehapphala deva, i.e., not enlightened.

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Re: Buddhism cult

Post by JhanaStream » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:40 am

David N. Snyder wrote:The jhanas can be accessed by anyone of noble level or lower. The Jhana Sutta (AN 4.123) outlines proficiencies in all of the jhanas and how each level tends to correspond to a different deva realm, not necessarily requiring noble attainments.
Hello David

The four levels of Nobles do actually correspond with a reduction in defilments, just as jhanas correspond with a reduction in defilements. The once-returner has significantly lessened sensual desire & ill-will, just as the conscious absence of sensual desire & ill-will is a prerequisite for jhana. The non-returner has fully eradicated sensual desire & ill-will, which is a guarrantee for jhana. The arahant has overcome lust for jhana, which requires the experience of actual jhana to occur.

Bhikkhu Bodhi has written a rather convincing essay alienating the stream-enterer from jhana, here: http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha267.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. Are you able to refute it?

It is possible for non-Buddhists to reach a heavenly (jhanic) state & then later come to experience not-self (anatta), thus breaking the 1st fetter. But, generally in the Buddhist scriptures, stream-entry comes first (example: Sariputta & Mogallana) and then jhana comes later. For those such as Pukkusati (in MN 140) and possibly Bahiya, were they declared stream-enterers when breaking through to the Dhamma despite reportedly reaching jhana already? No. Because Pukkusati had already reached the 4th jhana, non-return was declared of him (despite his sloppy mindfulness, resulting in him being killed by a cow in his lust for obtaining robes & bowl).

:sage:

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Re: Buddhism cult

Post by DNS » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:49 am

I believe you may be analyzing it the other way around. Bhikkhu Bodhi states:
Recently, however, several articulate teachers of meditation have argued down the validity of the dry insight approach, insisting that the jhānas are necessary for the successful development of insight at every stage. Their arguments usually begin by making a distinction between the standpoints of the Pāli Canon and the Commentaries. On this basis, they maintain that from the perspective of the Canon jhāna is needed to attain even stream-entry. The Nikāyas themselves do not address this problem in clear and unambiguous terms, and it is difficult to derive from them any direct pronouncement on its resolution.
Jhanas may be necessary for successful development of insight, but one need not be at such a high level just because jhana has occurred. Alara Kalama was not a Buddhist and attained the jhanas up to the third formless realm. Udaka Ramaputta was not a Buddhist and attained the jhanas up to the fourth formless realm.

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Re: Buddhism cult

Post by JhanaStream » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:57 am

David N. Snyder wrote:I believe you may be analyzing it the other way around.
Yes, I am. I am pointing out the different ways of analyzing it.

I think as Buddha has already pointed out the path, it is wiser to pursue stream-entry rather than pursue a Deva Realm and hope to proceed from there.

Metta
Since the Nikāyas order the process of awakening into four stages -- stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning, and arahantship -- it is possible that the jhānas come to assume an essential role at a later stage in the unfolding of the path, and not at the first stages. Thus it may be that the insight required for the earlier stages does not presuppose prior attainment of the jhānas, while the jhānas become indispensable in making the transition from one of the intermediate stages to a more advanced stage. I myself believe there is strong evidence in the Nikāyas that the jhānas become an essential factor for those intent on advancing from the stage of once-returning to that of non-returner.

Bhikkhu Bodhi

ignobleone
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Re: Buddhism cult

Post by ignobleone » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:06 am

Cittasanto wrote:
ignobleone wrote: Please differentiate between "can not have" and "don't have". "Don't have" doesn't mean "can not have".
In Buddhist context, 'faith' means faith in Tathagata.
Of course if you talk about Jainism, 'faith' means faith in Jainism.
That seams false!
it was a question in the guise of a statement, in other words there is more to faith than in one thing. The now underlined part above is a statement of faith both Buddhists and non-buddhist can have faith in. The Buddha had faith that enlightenment is possible BTW.
You should pay attention to the context when talking about something which is context specific. When I say "don't have faith", it means "don't have conviction in Buddha/Tathagata". To be more precise, disciple's conviction in the Teacher. Jain's conviction is not conviction in the Buddha/Tathagata.
" The Buddha had faith that enlightenment is possible" is not talking about faith as in the disciple-teacher context.

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Re: Buddhism cult

Post by DNS » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:08 am

JhanaStream wrote: I think as Buddha has already pointed out the path, it is wiser to pursue stream-entry rather than pursue a Deva Realm and hope to proceed from there.
Of course. I was just answering the statements in ignobleone's post. (see my post above which makes conclusion #2 below, which is a different conclusion from #1)

In conclusion / summary:

1. A noble one would most likely have attained proficiency in the jhanas (possibly even required)
2. An individual with attainment in jhanas is not necessarily a noble one (although it certainly doesn't hurt and only can help on the Path)

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Re: Buddhism cult

Post by Ben » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:11 am

David N. Snyder wrote:I believe you may be analyzing it the other way around. Bhikkhu Bodhi states:
Recently, however, several articulate teachers of meditation have argued down the validity of the dry insight approach, insisting that the jhānas are necessary for the successful development of insight at every stage. Their arguments usually begin by making a distinction between the standpoints of the Pāli Canon and the Commentaries. On this basis, they maintain that from the perspective of the Canon jhāna is needed to attain even stream-entry. The Nikāyas themselves do not address this problem in clear and unambiguous terms, and it is difficult to derive from them any direct pronouncement on its resolution.
Jhanas may be necessary for successful development of insight, but one need not be at such a high level just because jhana has occurred. Alara Kalama was not a Buddhist and attained the jhanas up to the third formless realm. Udaka Ramaputta was not a Buddhist and attained the jhanas up to the fourth formless realm.
And let's not forget Bahiya who was a master of the eight jhanas before he encountered the Buddha.
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Re: Buddhism cult

Post by Cittasanto » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:13 am

ignobleone wrote:My anonymous cult warner seems to stop responding since I demanded sutta references which support his points/claims.
He said: 1)Sotapanna is an enlightened being. 2)Jhanas can only be reached by Sakadagami and above.
As far as I can remember, I know only Arahat does have something to do with jhana. So far I couldn't find any sutta which contains the relationship between Sakadagami/Anagami and jhanas. Maybe anyone can help?
try looking at the names and descriptions of noble attainment, there is a big clue as to where they got this idea about Jhana from.
but what David said is correct, the need for any such attainment to reach the first two attainments is debated by some.
The Sotapanna, and Sakadagami do return to this world at least once.
The Anagami do not return to this world and are guaranteed a divine birth in the next life.
A Jhana Attainer of any pedigree is guaranteed divine birth in their next life.

I will add references if this is not shown in any of the texts David pointed to in a moment.
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Re: Buddhism cult

Post by Cittasanto » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:06 am

ignobleone wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
ignobleone wrote: Please differentiate between "can not have" and "don't have". "Don't have" doesn't mean "can not have".
In Buddhist context, 'faith' means faith in Tathagata.
Of course if you talk about Jainism, 'faith' means faith in Jainism.
That seams false!
it was a question in the guise of a statement, in other words there is more to faith than in one thing. The now underlined part above is a statement of faith both Buddhists and non-buddhist can have faith in. The Buddha had faith that enlightenment is possible BTW.
You should pay attention to the context when talking about something which is context specific. When I say "don't have faith", it means "don't have conviction in Buddha/Tathagata". To be more precise, disciple's conviction in the Teacher. Jain's conviction is not conviction in the Buddha/Tathagata.
there is enlightenment, a way to enlightenment, and those who have practiced rightly so can declare that path
you may wish to read the definition of faith in the texts, and what was replied to.
there is more to it! and no previous Buddha had faith in a Buddha (you know part of what you said; as is)
The problem is, non-buddhist cannot see the Dhamma, let alone becomes wise because of Dhamma.
The reason I replied to your first comment is because I don't get why a non-buddhist tries to correct a buddhist. It just doesn't make any sense.
which is the start of/the context informing what?
" The Buddha had faith that enlightenment is possible" is not talking about faith as in the disciple-teacher context.
you may wish to read the entire area I quoted
ignobleone wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
ignobleone wrote: buddhists = have sadha, non-buddhists = don't have
buddhist = Buddha follower, Mr. Gotama = follows himself? Please give me a break!
so a non-buddhist can not have faith that there is enlightenment, a way to enlightenment, and those who have practiced rightly so can declare that path? I think the Jain have faith, maybe from a Buddhist perspective in the wrong place but they have faith.
Please differentiate between "can not have" and "don't have". "Don't have" doesn't mean "can not have".
In Buddhist context, 'faith' means faith in Tathagata.
Of course if you talk about Jainism, 'faith' means faith in Jainism.
when I said that, the underlined part asking for a break was the context. as is the rest of what you said which led up to that.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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