how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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fivebells
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by fivebells » Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:09 am

In fact, jhana is something fabricated in our brain. :)

culaavuso
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by culaavuso » Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:16 am

fivebells wrote:In fact, jhana is something fabricated in our brain. :)
More than just jhana. The very concepts "my" and "brain" are fabrications as well.

Generally what's referred to as "real" are experiences that are mutually consistent, orderly, and/or reproducible. Hallucinations would fail this test because they tend to be inconsistent internally and with other experiences, they tend to be more disorderly than non-hallucination experiences, and they are much less reproducible than non-hallucination experiences. If this definition is assumed then the way to verify that Jhana and Nibbana are "real" is to see if they are consistent with other experiences, orderly, and/or reproducible. Only through experience can these questions be answered, otherwise it's a matter of faith.

In terms of faith, how do you know every city on a map is "real"? Through following a course of actions derived from the map and reaching the location that the map indicated would be reached, faith in the map grows. After visiting enough places and finding that experiences are consistent with those predicted by the map, it tends to be taken for granted that the rest of the map is accurate as well. This is the same process that leads to faith in the conceptual map of reality that indicates that things like "brain" are "real". The map has been useful in planning and predicting experiences enough times that unvisited places on the map may be seen as likely to be accurately represented until proven otherwise. The teachings of the Dhamma are just another conceptual map that can be used to plan and predict outcomes.
Last edited by culaavuso on Sat Feb 15, 2014 2:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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fivebells
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by fivebells » Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:52 am

Yes, but jhana is also explicitly a fashioned state of mind.

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Mkoll
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by Mkoll » Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:19 am

ibelieve wrote:My question is, when we have reached jhana or nibbana, how do we know it is not only something fabricated in our brain?

My current answer is that probably when we reach it, we will know. So the most important thing right now is to "do it" instead of thinking about it.

Thanks a lot for everyone for your answers and have a great weekend!

ibelieve
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This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise.
-SN 6.1
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

ibelieve
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by ibelieve » Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:04 pm

If you develop some supernatural power through jhana, for example, (according to the Buddha) you can make yourself invisible, you can touch the moon, you can detect other people's thoughts and verify that what you detect is correct. Are you going to say it is only something fabricated in your brain?

Regards,

ibelieve
fivebells wrote:In fact, jhana is something fabricated in our brain. :)

binocular
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by binocular » Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:29 pm

ibelieve wrote: I having been reading suttas for a year and I have a question I cannot answer: how can you know Jhana and Nibbana are real rather than some tricks played just in your brain?

My partial answer to the question is that if you can obtain some psychic power through meditation, at least you know that there is indeed something beyond modern science. However this is not a good answer obviously.

What is your answer to the question?
I think it all comes down to the issue of whom one is trying to justify oneself to.

When one has a question and is looking for an answer to it: with whom in mind is one assessing the various answers that one finds? Whom is one trying to please or appease, and why?

I think it is very important to work out who exactly the internal audience of one's thoughts is. For example, if that audience is a merciless critic, then no matter what answer one may come up with, it's never going to be good enough.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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fivebells
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by fivebells » Sat Feb 15, 2014 2:33 pm

ibelieve wrote:If you develop some supernatural power through jhana, for example, (according to the Buddha) you can make yourself invisible, you can touch the moon, you can detect other people's thoughts and verify that what you detect is correct. Are you going to say it is only something fabricated in your brain?
Can you expand on your argument? If something like that is caused by jhana, it doesn't contradict the fact that jhana is a deliberately fashioned mental state.

ibelieve
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by ibelieve » Sat Feb 15, 2014 3:45 pm

fivebells wrote:
ibelieve wrote:If you develop some supernatural power through jhana, for example, (according to the Buddha) you can make yourself invisible, you can touch the moon, you can detect other people's thoughts and verify that what you detect is correct. Are you going to say it is only something fabricated in your brain?
Can you expand on your argument? If something like that is caused by jhana, it doesn't contradict the fact that jhana is a deliberately fashioned mental state.
I mean, if you can develop supernatural power through jhana, then it can be concretely verified that it is not just your imagination. The problems are

1. Supernatural power is not necessarily a product of jhana
2. What about nibbana?

Thanks everyone for the discussion. My answer so far is that "let's try to reach it first. Probably I will know by then".

ibelieve

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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by Babadhari » Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:24 pm

ibelieve wrote:

I think I need to judge by myself and some faith is necessary. Indeed I believe in the Buddha and the so many master after him.
this is a good starting point
ibelieve wrote:"let's try to reach it first. Probably I will know by then".
the Buddha has shown us the Path, Up to us to do the practice and experience the results
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28

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fivebells
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by fivebells » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:58 pm

ibelieve wrote:
fivebells wrote:I mean, if you can develop supernatural power through jhana, then it can be concretely verified that it is not just your imagination
Yes, but any such byproducts are irrelevant to the purpose of cultivating jhana. The utility of a purportedly jhanic state can be evaluated purely in terms of its mental effects, as far as Buddhist practice is concerned.

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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:43 pm

ibelieve wrote: ...how can you know Jhana and Nibbana are real rather than some tricks played just in your brain?
What do you mean by "trick"?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

Dinsdale
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:46 pm

fivebells wrote: Yes, but any such byproducts are irrelevant to the purpose of cultivating jhana. The utility of a purportedly jhanic state can be evaluated purely in terms of its mental effects, as far as Buddhist practice is concerned.
Yes, that's how I understand it. I wouldn't mind some supernatural powers, but nothing's happened yet.... ;)
Buddha save me from new-agers!

Ananda26
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Re: how do you know Jhana and Nibbana are real?

Post by Ananda26 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:01 pm

ibelieve wrote:Hi,

This is my first post and please forgive my English, which is not my native language.

I having been reading suttas for a year and I have a question I cannot answer: how can you know Jhana and Nibbana are real rather than some tricks played just in your brain?

My partial answer to the question is that if you can obtain some psychic power through meditation, at least you know that there is indeed something beyond modern science. However this is not a good answer obviously.

What is your answer to the question?

Thank you!

ibelieve
There is a monk who attained Jhana and attained Nibbana.

Prior to that time though he had gained confidence in Buddha's teaching which includes how to gain Nibbana and how to meditate on Jhana and he knew that Buddha got it right.

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