Jhanas and Hindrances

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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tiltbillings
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:09 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:
I think this is an important point that Ajahn Geoff is trying to bring out. A number of western teachers that developed the 'vipassana school' in the west came, in part, from a Burmese background, that taught vipassana as a separate practice, sometimes thought of as 'dry insight,' or a standalone form of insight meditation exclusive of jhana.
The reality is, as has been discussed at length on DW, that that is not really an accurate portrayal of vipassana meditation as it is actually practiced.
>> 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.

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daverupa
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by daverupa » Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:47 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:
I think this is an important point that Ajahn Geoff is trying to bring out. A number of western teachers that developed the 'vipassana school' in the west came, in part, from a Burmese background, that taught vipassana as a separate practice, sometimes thought of as 'dry insight,' or a standalone form of insight meditation exclusive of jhana.
The reality is, as has been discussed at length on DW, that that is not really an accurate portrayal of vipassana meditation as it is actually practiced.
And yet, the misunderstanding persists that this is what Vipassana Practice^TM looks like - altogether different than jhana, vipassana and samatha as practices and not qualities, etc etc.

Surely we all know that vipassana-samatha are a pair to be developed in tandem, with imbalances duly rectified, and that this paired foundation is what facilitates bringing the awakening factors to fulfillment by development, which includes jhana.

So I wonder, where is this repetitive structure of misunderstanding coming from?
  • "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]

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fivebells
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by fivebells » Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:14 pm

daverupa: Goenka practitioners don't know that. :-)

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:36 pm

daverupa wrote: Surely we all know that vipassana-samatha are a pair to be developed in tandem, with imbalances duly rectified, and that this paired foundation is what facilitates bringing the awakening factors to fulfillment by development, which includes jhana.
And yet most of the commentaries I've read on the Anapanasati Sutta tetrads effectively describe a progression from samatha to vipassana, with jhana early on in the progression. IMO it's more reminiscent of this progression: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html.

Perhaps we should look more closely at the purpose of developing jhana, and the corresponding awakening factors?
Last edited by Dinsdale on Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:37 pm

barcsimalsi wrote: Yet when we talk about jhana(which is the main concern of this thread), the emphasis is often more on samatha, hence i think there's still more for me to learn about improving the samatha part.
IMO jhana can be seen as the fullfilment of samatha.
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Weakfocus
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by Weakfocus » Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:41 pm

daverupa wrote:So I wonder, where is this repetitive structure of misunderstanding coming from?
Ignorance of the people who misunderstand and then spread their misunderstanding to others as wisdom?

How many people who contest these jhana versus 'dry-insight' issues on internet are actually practicing anapanasati or vipassana daily? And how many can truthfully claim to have attained sufficient level of concenteration with anapanasati to even practice vipassana properly (observe sensations throughout the body, not just on skin)?

Reminds one of the blind men and an elephant.
fivebells wrote:daverupa: Goenka practitioners don't know that. :-)
As a student of Goenakji I personally do not find jhana and vipassana to be at odds, even though Goenkaji does not talk about about jhana (IIRC, could be wrong) in the 10-day course. Oh sure, when I first read about jhana, I felt that Goenkaji should have touched on that in his discourses. I felt as if something important had been left out.

But over time I realize that this was my own ignorance. The format and time limit of the course means that most people will not attain jhana in a 10-day retreat anyway. So instead of talking about a hard-to-attain state Goenkaji's teaching jumps to something students can experience: sensations. And how to work with these sensations to attain wisdom.

And just because Goenkaji does not elaborate on jhana in his 10-day course does not mean he is somehow opposed to the practice of mindfulness. In fact, during the course he emphasizes the importance of developing a strong, penetrating concenteration, and to come back to anapanasati whenever it becomes difficult to observe sensations without reacting. Goenkaji also clearly states how the 10-day course is a first step, a bare-minimum introduction to the path. Students can always come back for longer courses (in which there is discussion of jhana from what I have read online, although I have not taken part in a 20-day or longer course as yet).

So the broad framework of the teaching is solid. Live a moral life, develop concenteration, observe the truth (annica, annata etc). If some student feels a need for developing stronger concenteration, they can always practice anapanasati for months/years in their daily practice. Then they might attain jhana, or develop strong enough concenteration to practice vipassana in depth even without having attained jhana.

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by daverupa » Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:23 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:And yet most of the commentaries I've read on the Anapanasati Sutta tetrads effectively describe a progression from samatha to vipassana, with jhana early on in the progression. IMO it's more reminiscent of this progression: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html.
The progression found in e.g. MN 118 discusses the practice as being founded on satipatthana, which is appropriate given the way the eightfold path is set up as well as the common Nikaya progression as found in e.g. MN 125, where satipatthana follows guarding the sense gates and precedes seated hindrance scrubbing, which leads into jhana.

Overall, jhana follows as a development from satipatthana; the awakening factors are opposed to the hindrances, and this interface of development is what facilitates attaining jhana, which is marked by the relevant factors.
Perhaps we should look more closely at the purpose of developing jhana, and the corresponding awakening factors?
From MN 118 we see that we are to develop each of the the seven awakening factors "as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. This is how the seven factors for awakening are developed & pursued so as to bring clear knowing & release to their culmination."

Notice how these developmental dependencies look a lot like the instructions for the fourth tetrad of anapanasati...
Last edited by daverupa on Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • "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]

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fivebells
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by fivebells » Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:24 pm

Weakfocus: Maybe. My assertion is based on an unpleasant interaction with the teacher at a Goenka retreat, but it's possible that he was unrepresentative of the movement or I misunderstood.

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by Anagarika » Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:07 am

This article discusses "dry insight" or vipassana without jhana. http://www.vipassanadhura.com/jhana.html The article makes some very good points, and it is true that the practice of insight/vipassana without jhanic concentration is very valuable. We know, for example, that in the medical community people are being trained to implement insight meditation without jhana for pain management, PTSD alleviation, and many other purposes. To require jhana before experiencing insight would put this practice on a high shelf that few laypeople could initially reach.

But, I'm going to stick to my guns and suggest that jhana itself is expressed as the atom (carbon, for example), with samatha as the nucleus and vipassana as electrons ....I believe that Ajahn Geoff may have expressed it as being like a bird with only one wing, flying in circles...the two wings of samatha and vipassana are the elements of jhana, and cannot "fly" correctly without each other, or operate fully independently of each other.

A technical distinction to be sure, but it seems to me that when the Buddha admonished "go, do jhana," the task was for the monks to cultivate this practice at its most complex form, and the form that places one on the path to release. YMMV.

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:50 am

daverupa wrote: Overall, jhana follows as a development from satipatthana; the awakening factors are opposed to the hindrances, and this interface of development is what facilitates attaining jhana, which is marked by the relevant factors.
I think there are different ways of looking at it, Dave. I agree that the awakening factors are opposed to the hindrances, but would also observe that there is a strong correlation between the awakening factors and the absorption factors of jhana - so by implication the purpose of jhana can be seen as getting rid of the hindrances.
I was looking at this sutta while ago, it appears early in the Chapter of the Twos in the Anguttara Nikaya. It describes how samatha leads to the abandonment of lust ( a proxy for the hindrances ), and how vipassana leads to the abandonment of ignorance. If we view jhana as the fullfilment of samatha, then this means that jhana leads to the abandonment of the hindrances.

Tranquillity and Insight
Two things, O monks, partake of supreme knowledge. What two? Tranquillity and insight.
If tranquillity is developed, what benefit does it bring? The mind becomes developed. And
what is the benefit of a developed mind? All lust is abandoned.
If insight is developed, what benefit does it bring? Wisdom becomes developed. And what is
the benefit of developed wisdom? All ignorance is abandoned.
A mind defiled by lust is not freed; and wisdom defiled by ignorance cannot develop. Thus,
monks, through the fading away of lust there is liberation of mind; and through the fading away
of ignorance there is liberation by wisdom.

(2:2.10)
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:53 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:I believe that Ajahn Geoff may have expressed it as being like a bird with only one wing, flying in circles...the two wings of samatha and vipassana are the elements of jhana, and cannot "fly" correctly without each other, or operate fully independently of each other.
I think it was "Wings of awakening" rather than "wings of jhana". So samatha and vipassana are both necessary for awakening, but I'd suggest that jhana is a development of samatha rather than vipassana.
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daverupa
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by daverupa » Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:27 am

Spiny Norman wrote:...
We seem to agree in the meaning, and differ merely in the phrasing. This is something for us to see as silly. So - well spoken!
  • "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]

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by barcsimalsi » Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:57 am

daverupa wrote: From MN 118 we see that we are to develop each of the the seven awakening factors "as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. This is how the seven factors for awakening are developed & pursued so as to bring clear knowing & release to their culmination."

Notice how these developmental dependencies look a lot like the instructions for the fourth tetrad of anapanasati...
"[7] He carefully watches the mind thus concentrated with equanimity. When he carefully watches the mind thus concentrated with equanimity, equanimity as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.
It is say that anapanasati practice fulfills both samatha and vipassana but when re-look at its instruction from the sutta, i don’t see any part of the tetrad says focus on one point or stick to the breath to develop concentration so at which point or what condition does ekaggata manifest?

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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by daverupa » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:13 pm

barcsimalsi wrote:at which point or what condition does ekaggata manifest?
It doesn't. What manifests is ekodi-bhavam in the second jhana, which is unification of mind, but this only with the cessation of vitakka-vicara, which is otherwise present in first jhana.
  • "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]

barcsimalsi
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Re: Jhanas and Hindrances

Post by barcsimalsi » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:34 pm

daverupa wrote:
barcsimalsi wrote:at which point or what condition does ekaggata manifest?
It doesn't. What manifests is ekodi-bhavam in the second jhana, which is unification of mind, but this only with the cessation of vitakka-vicara, which is otherwise present in first jhana.
Thanks for explaining, i never heard of ekodi-bhavam so googled and found this site:
Five Factors for the First Jhana - NOT!
It makes sense and if this happens to be, then attaining first jhana isn't so hard after all but can it be another controversial subject as it was dismissing some point from the sutta itself?

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