Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

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reflection
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by reflection » Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:11 pm

Kumara wrote:
reflection wrote:Good, get addicted to meditation, that's not a problem if you ask me. But there is quite a difference between the types of pleasure as explained before.
"Addicted" sounds like a serious form of attachment to me. How about "interested", or even "enthusiastic". As our Teacher advised: Sabbe dhammā nālaṃ abhinivesāyāti (All things are unworthy of attachment.)
Yeah, those words may be better. Good suggestion.

Just to take it a bit further and aimed toward everybody here: If there is anything in the world worth getting addicted to, I think it's meditation. Meditation is not just a tool to get enlightened. It's supposed to be fun. The Buddha also continued to meditate after his enlightenment. If the mind sees the peace it can get from meditation, it's only natural it will leap towards it and become 'addicted' to it. It's our attitude and what we add to this 'addiction', which could turn into a problem. There can be desire for peace and craving for peace; the two are slightly different. There can be a draw towards meditation and attachment to it. So it's all words here which are unable to accurately describe what goes on. But that's just the thing with words. Still, my main point is I think it's only natural for the mind to develop a tendency to want to meditate more. If this is not arising, meditation is not going as it should.

People say one can get attached to jhana, in a way maybe true, in another way not. You are already attached to jhanas before experiencing it. We already have the fetters of attachment before we experience jhana, they don't suddenly arise after jhana experiences, but where hidden in us all the time. So if I hear a warning for addiction to jhana by practicing jhana, I don't agree. I think it is through samadhi that we can leave those most subtle of attachments behind. Because in samadhi we see the most basic mind. We can see even such basic existence is suffering and can let the attachments to existence go. At least, that's how it seems to me.

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Translating "sukha"

Post by Kumara » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:22 am

Sylvester wrote:
Kumara wrote: Theravadin orthodoxy generally use the word jhana as the Visuddhimagga describes it. Indeed for this kind of jhana, the sukha that is experienced can be aptly translated as bliss and pleasure. For the Sutta type, they would be inappropriate. Having sukha as simply happiness would be just perfect.
Hi Bhante

Might it be possible that sukha ought to be translated as pleasure, but happiness should be reserved instead for somanassa? See MN 13 on the 2 types of feelings that arise in dependance on the 5 cords of sensual pleasure. There seems to be enough suttas to justify this bifurcation of feelings into kāyika (bodily) and cetasika (mental).
If we translate "sukha" as "pleasure", we have a problem of explaining how it is different from piti. Isn't piti pleasure too? Besides, if we look at the various contexts in which sukha occurs, we would find that pleasure can't work at all in some cases.

Case in point is "nibbānaṁ paramaṁ sukhaṁ". Nibbāna can't possibly be pleasure or pleasurable. The English word "pleasure" refers to a sukha vedana, which is a form of dukkha, though not dukkha vedana. So translating "nibbānaṁ paramaṁ sukhaṁ" as "Nibbana is the highest pleasure" is problematic, besides potentially suggestive.

Also, in Laṭukikopama Sutta (MN66) and Araṇa·vibhaṅga Sutta (MN139), we find the Buddha saying that the jhanas are sukha, but the 4th jhana is devoid of sukha. Obviously "sukha" has a much wider meaning than a feeling (just as dukkha is much wider in meaning compared to dukkha vedana).

Happiness is an English words with a wide usage. It fits in perfectly with sukha, which is just as wide in usage: from sensual happiness (kamasukha) to jhanic happiness to Nibbanic happiness. (Btw, suka is very much a living word in Malay lauguage, which is largely based on Sanskrit. It means happiness too.)
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by Sylvester » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:10 am

Thanks Bhante, for your thoughts. I guess this is where we disagree on the classification of the jhana formulae's pīti and sukha within the kāyika versus cetasika division of feelings. Looking at the standard 4th jhana formula, it appears to me more plausible that jhanic sukha is kāyika feeling, as somanassa (the cetasika feeling) is said to have disappeared earlier.

Just for clarification -I don't follow the Abhidhamma and Comy in limiting kāyika feelings to those arising from contact at the 5 sense faculties. I take it that sukha/dukha and neutral feelings can also arise at the mind-base. I think it might be better to tie kāyika feelings with hedonic tone, while cetasika feelings are the affective sequel to the initial contact.

:anjali:

PS - Bhante bermastautin di Sasanarakkha?
Last edited by Sylvester on Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by manas » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:49 am

Hi phil

you might find this useful

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDmEFFfYNP0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In this talk, Ajahn Thanissaro discusses useful strategies for dealing with sensual desires, and how the pleasure born of seclusion (of the first jhana) is useful in this. Of course we also need to ultimately transcend that pleasure also, but hey, 'first things first'... :)

kind regards

:anjali:
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by Kumara » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:26 am

Sylvester wrote:PS - Bhante bermastautin di Sasanarakkha?
Betul.
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:17 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote: Worrying about becoming attached to Jhana is like worrying about becoming addicted to not smoking.
Yes, or worrying that people will get addicted to physical exercise in the middle of an obesity epidemic. ;)
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by Kumara » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:17 am

Having taught meditation on and off for some years, I do find some people who are addicted to calm states, what to speak of pleasureable states. (I avoid using Pali terms to minimise (mis)interpretating.) Once that happens, they tend to are highly resistant to instructions to observe the nature of things. All they want to do is to get back there.

Some can't even get back to those states anymore, yet they keep on trying and hoping. One was eventually forced to meet suffering when she became clinically depressed. A "gifted" student of mine helped her through. Hope she has learnt the lesson.

Yet, I don't know anywhere in the Suttas speaking of such situations. Makes you wonder: Could it be that these aren't the same experience/practice?
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by robertk » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:02 am

Kumara wrote:Having taught meditation on and off for some years, I do find some people who are addicted to calm states, what to speak of pleasureable states. (I avoid using Pali terms to minimise (mis)interpretating.) Once that happens, they tend to are highly resistant to instructions to observe the nature of things. All they want to do is to get back there.

Some can't even get back to those states anymore, yet they keep on trying and hoping. One was eventually forced to meet suffering when she became clinically depressed. A "gifted" student of mine helped her through. Hope she has learnt the lesson.

Yet, I don't know anywhere in the Suttas speaking of such situations. Makes you wonder: Could it be that these aren't the same experience/practice?
Dear Ven.
I think we can see from the rather strange ideas we hear about jhana (some while in 'jhana' think they can feel the body , for instance) that many these days are simply having some pleasurable sensation associated with lobha.

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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by Dmytro » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:01 pm

Bhante Kumara,
Kumara wrote:Yet, I don't know anywhere in the Suttas speaking of such situations.
IMHO, Brahmajala sutta covers such situations:

5. Doctrines of Nibbāna Here and Now (Diṭṭhadhammanibbānavāda): Views 58–62

93. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who maintain a doctrine of Nibbāna here and now and who, on five grounds, proclaim Nibbāna here and now for an existent being. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

94. "Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin asserts the following doctrine or view: 'When this self, good sir, furnished and supplied with the five strands of sense pleasures, revels in them — at this point the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

95. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? Because, good sir, sense pleasures are impermanent, suffering, subject to change, and through their change and transformation there arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. But when the self, quite secluded from sense pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, enters and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by initial and sustained thought and contains the rapture and happiness born of seclusion — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way others proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

96. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? Because that jhāna contains initial and sustained thought; therefore it is declared to be gross. But when, with the subsiding of initial and sustained thought, the self enters and abides in the second jhāna, which is accompanied by internal confidence and unification of mind, is free from initial and sustained thought, and contains the rapture and happiness born of concentration — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way others proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

97. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? It is declared to be gross because of the mental exhilaration connected with rapture that exists there. But when, with the fading away of rapture, one abides in equanimity, mindful and clearly comprehending, and still experiencing happiness with the body, enters and abides in the third jhāna, so that the ariyans announce: "He abides happily, in equanimity and mindfulness" — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

98. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? It is declared to be gross because a mental concern, 'Happiness,' exists there. But when, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the disappearance of previous joy and grief, one enters and abides in the fourth jhāna, which is without pleasure and pain and contains purification of mindfulness through equanimity — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

:anjali:

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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by Awakening » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:55 pm

James the Giant wrote:
daverupa wrote: “Here, bhikkhus, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna…the second jhāna…the third jhāna…the fourth jhāna. This is called the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment. I say of this kind of pleasure that it should be pursued, that it should be developed, that it should be cultivated, and that it should not be feared.
I quoted this to a vipassana assistant teacher last weekend, and he grimaced, and said:
"That's why you shouldn't read so much."
He wanted me to avoid reading the suttas, and just stick to the teacher's writings.
Game over, that's the end of my respect for him.
The sublimity of the jhanic states is to be cultivated with proper mindfulness, and seen with proper wisdom. When one sees the sublimity of the jhanic states as impersonal (anatta), there can be the cultivation of them without attachment to them.

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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by Kumara » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:20 am

Dmytro wrote:Bhante Kumara,
Kumara wrote:Yet, I don't know anywhere in the Suttas speaking of such situations.
IMHO, Brahmajala sutta covers such situations:

5. Doctrines of Nibbāna Here and Now (Diṭṭhadhammanibbānavāda): Views 58–62

93. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who maintain a doctrine of Nibbāna here and now and who, on five grounds, proclaim Nibbāna here and now for an existent being. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

94. "Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin asserts the following doctrine or view: 'When this self, good sir, furnished and supplied with the five strands of sense pleasures, revels in them — at this point the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

95. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? Because, good sir, sense pleasures are impermanent, suffering, subject to change, and through their change and transformation there arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. But when the self, quite secluded from sense pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, enters and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by initial and sustained thought and contains the rapture and happiness born of seclusion — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way others proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

96. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? Because that jhāna contains initial and sustained thought; therefore it is declared to be gross. But when, with the subsiding of initial and sustained thought, the self enters and abides in the second jhāna, which is accompanied by internal confidence and unification of mind, is free from initial and sustained thought, and contains the rapture and happiness born of concentration — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way others proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

97. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? It is declared to be gross because of the mental exhilaration connected with rapture that exists there. But when, with the fading away of rapture, one abides in equanimity, mindful and clearly comprehending, and still experiencing happiness with the body, enters and abides in the third jhāna, so that the ariyans announce: "He abides happily, in equanimity and mindfulness" — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

98. "To him another says: 'There is, good sir, such a self as you assert. That I do not deny. But it is not at that point that the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now. What is the reason? It is declared to be gross because a mental concern, 'Happiness,' exists there. But when, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the disappearance of previous joy and grief, one enters and abides in the fourth jhāna, which is without pleasure and pain and contains purification of mindfulness through equanimity — at this point, good sir, the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.' In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being.

:anjali:
This does cover something. However, it's more about the view here, isn't it? The people I was referring to don't think they were experiencing "supreme Nibbāna". They are there for the pleasurable experience. "Ecstasy" as Aj Brahm calls it.
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by Kumara » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:33 am

robertk wrote:Dear Ven.
I think we can see from the rather strange ideas we hear about jhana (some while in 'jhana' think they can feel the body , for instance) that many these days are simply having some pleasurable sensation associated with lobha.
Let me quote Aj Thate (from Only the World Ends):
… in the case of jhāna there is a single-minded contemplation… until the mind becomes motionless and firm and merges in bhavaṅga. Sometimes it may be a blank sort of stillness, devoid of self-awareness like the state of deep sleep, and may last for a long time, perhaps many hours. Other times there may survive a sense of pleasure in the tranquility and bliss of that state.
I need to add that by jhana he was clearly referring to Visuddhimagga jhana, which he distinguished from what he referred to as samadhi, which seem be the Sutta jhana. From the book, it is obvious that he did not favour the Visuddhimagga jhana.

Anyway, the above tallies with my own finding that for the Visuddhimagga jhāna there are two possibilities: one allows for awareness of pleasure and bliss, and another is complete absorption, thus without any awareness. As I see it, the cause for the difference is the level of concentration on the conceptual object of attention.

I'm having this as an appendix in my book, which has taken way too long to complete!
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by Vakresvara » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:03 pm

Hello everyone, I am new, but I fascinated by reading about this matter on this forum. On my own experience, those, which never had experience Jana, tends to repeat the idea of those with inclination to a specific teaching or practice.
This had been a common saying by some practitioners, whom in good faith, had been teach these concepts, and somehow, we fail to investigate for ourselves, what the Buddha Taught.

The Buddha did not make a distinction of these practices on the Satipatthana Sutta, but he described the process of the practice:

• Contemplation of the Body (Mindfulness of Breathing)
• The Contemplation of Feeling
• The Contemplation of Consciousness
• The Contemplation of Mental Objects

It is a natural process for practitioners to feel identified with certain aspects of the practice, and as consequence, narrows the practice to their own experience and results, and this is what I think is the source of the disagreement. (Suiting the Practice to your Own) it is valid, but not all individuals are the same, practitioners may have different nature and tendencies, and it is up to them, alone, to walk the path, after all, when certain level of practice is reached, there is no need for external confirmations, ones knows.

Doubt, is one of the Hindrances, an obstacle that only may be removed by the practice, and when we do not know things as they really are, we tend to doubt, and this is why we should learn from our Supreme Master Directly, by practicing diligently and reading the Suttas.

This is what is in the Suttas;

“Friends, whatever monks or nuns declare before me that they have attained the final knowledge of Arahantship, all these do so in one of four ways. What four?

“1. Here, friends, a monk develops insight preceded by tranquility. While he thus develops insight preceded by tranquility, the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops, and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so, the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies eliminated.

“2. Or again, friends, a monk develops tranquility preceded by insight. While he thus develops tranquility preceded by insight, the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops, and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so, the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies eliminated.

“3. Or again, friends, a monk develops tranquility and insight joined in pairs. While he thus develops tranquility and insight joined in pairs, the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops, and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so, the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies eliminated.

“4. Or again, friends; a monk’s mind is seized by agitation caused by higher states of mind. But there comes a time when his mind becomes internally steadied, composed, unified and concentrated; then the path arises in him. He now pursues, develops, and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so, the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies eliminated.”

Quoted from: The Chapter of the Four

Furthermore, it is described that when a practitioner develops one side of the practice more than other at advanced level of practice, in order to succeed and reach the final goal, a balance between these two aspects of the practice must be attained. In other words, there can’t be Enlightenment without both.

This is what is in the Suttas:

“These four kinds of persons, O monks, are found existing in the world. What four?

“1. Therein, monks, the person who gains internal tranquility of mind but not the higher wisdom of insight into things should approach one who has gains the higher wisdom and inquire of him: ‘How, friend, should formation be seen? How should formations be explored? How should constructions be discerned with insight?’ The other then answers him as he has seen and understood the matter thus: ‘Formations should be seen in such a way; they should be explored in such a way; they should be discerned with insight in such a way.’ At a later time, this one gains both internal tranquility of mind and the higher wisdom of insight into things.

“2. Therein, monks, the person who gains the higher wisdom of insight into things but not internal tranquility of mind should approach one who has gained internal tranquility and inquire of him: ‘How, friend, should the mind be steadied? How should the mind be composed? How should the mind be unified? How should the mind be concentrated?’ The other then answers him as he has seen and understood the matter thus: ‘The mind should be steadied in such a way, composed in such a way, unified in such a way, concentrated in such a way.’ At a later time, this one gains both internal tranquility of mind and the higher wisdom of insight into things.

3. Therein, monks, the person who gains neither internal tranquility of mind nor the higher wisdom of insight into things should approach one who has gained both and inquire of him; ‘How, friend, should the mind be steadied?... How, friend, should formations be seen?…’ The other then answers him as he has seen and understood the matter thus: ‘The mind should be steadied in such a way… Formations should be seen in such a way…’ At a later time, this one gains both internal tranquility of mind and the higher wisdom of insight into things.

“4. Therein, monks, the person who gains both internal tranquility of mind and the higher wisdom of insight into things should establish himself in just these wholesome states and make a further effort for the destruction of the taints. “These are the four types of individuals to be found existing in world.”

Quoted from: The Chapter of Four

I hope with this contribute to some clarity.

Vakresvara

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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by pegembara » Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:16 pm

Seems that there is a risk that having not seen the drawback of bliss, one remains stuck. The heart doesn't leap up at being without bliss. Even clinging to equanimity is to be discarded.

[3] "The thought occurred to me: 'What if, with the fading of rapture, I were to remain in equanimity, mindful & alert, to be physically sensitive to pleasure, and to enter & remain in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, "Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding"?' But my heart didn't leap up at being without rapture, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace... So at a later time, having seen the drawback of rapture, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of being without rapture, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at being without rapture, grew confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace. With the fading of rapture, I remained in equanimity, mindful & alert, physically sensitive to pleasure, and entered & remained in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.'

[4] "The thought occurred to me: 'What if, with the abandoning of pleasure & stress — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — I were to enter & remain in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain?' But my heart didn't leap up at being without the pleasure of equanimity, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace... So at a later time, having seen the drawback of the pleasure of equanimity, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of neither-pleasure-nor-pain, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at neither-pleasure-nor-pain, grew confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace. With the abandoning of pleasure & stress — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — I entered & remained in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain.

"As I remained there, I was beset with attention to perceptions dealing with equanimity. That was an affliction for me. Just as pain arises as an affliction for a healthy person, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with equanimity that beset me was an affliction for me.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Jhana meditation and attachment to pleasure

Post by Kumara » Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:42 am

pegembara wrote:Seems that there is a risk that having not seen the drawback of bliss, one remains stuck. The heart doesn't leap up at being without bliss. Even clinging to equanimity is to be discarded.
....
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Good that you shared this sutta, pegembara (or should that be pengembara?)

This sutta provides us with a picture of jhanas that can't possibly fit into the Visuddhimagga idea of jhana. Instead of increasing levels of absorption, here we see increasing levels of composure due to gradual letting go of something that one has come to see as an affliction, brought about by seeing the drawback of that something and pursuing it, understanding the reward of its absence and familiarizing oneself with that. These are made possible by various factors, but the one made obvious here is investigation of mental phenomena (dhammavicaya).
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