Difference between Ninth Jhana and Enlightenment

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Difference between Ninth Jhana and Enlightenment

Postby Jesse » Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:23 pm

What exactly is the difference between the ninth jhana and enlightenment?

The Ninth Jhana: Cessation

When you reach the limits of perception, you realize that lesser mental activity is better for your calm and peaceful state. You enter a state of “cessation” of consciousness where there is only a very sublte form of perception. The meditator may appear to be unconscious. There have been reports of meditators having heart beats as low as 20 to 40 beats per minute at this jhanic level. The nearest way to describe this state is something like a very deep sleep. The eight and ninth jhanas are not full enlightenment, but very close stepping stones to full awakening. Only those who are very close to being fully enlightened can enter the eighth and especially, the ninth jhana.


That is just a quote from wikipedia about it, but I am curious, once all perception disappears, what is essentially left is awareness with no object, or a non-dual form of awareness, correct?

I am curious how that differs from from enlightenment as a Buddha would experience it (At least theoretically)
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Re: Difference between Ninth Jhana and Enlightenment

Postby kirtu » Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:13 pm

Jesse wrote:What exactly is the difference between the ninth jhana and enlightenment?

The Ninth Jhana: Cessation

When you reach the limits of perception, you realize that lesser mental activity is better for your calm and peaceful state. You enter a state of “cessation” of consciousness where there is only a very sublte form of perception. The meditator may appear to be unconscious. There have been reports of meditators having heart beats as low as 20 to 40 beats per minute at this jhanic level. The nearest way to describe this state is something like a very deep sleep. The eight and ninth jhanas are not full enlightenment, but very close stepping stones to full awakening. Only those who are very close to being fully enlightened can enter the eighth and especially, the ninth jhana.


That is just a quote from wikipedia about it, but I am curious, once all perception disappears, what is essentially left is awareness with no object, or a non-dual form of awareness, correct?

I am curious how that differs from from enlightenment as a Buddha would experience it (At least theoretically)


The jhanas are not deeply emphasized in Mahayana Buddhism. I question the extent to which they are emphasized in Theravada Buddhism these days since the general rise of the emphasis on vipasana - which is vipasana early and often, just after stable concentration - very much in line with Zen and Vajrayana.

So I'm not sure that anyone can answer this experientially (but maybe).

However at a lower jhana level a sign naturally arises and some people do in fact experience this. The sign arises after outer perception has seemed to stop. This can arise as a vivid vision. At this point the mediator is supposed to shift their focus to this sign and continue. This is far below the level you mention though.

But how do the higher levels of jhana differ from what a Buddha would experience? The main difference is that after reengaging perception, no negativity can arise in the experience of a Buddha whereas meditators capable of higher jhanas can still experience unwholsome mind states.

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Re: Difference between Ninth Jhana and Enlightenment

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:22 am

I think there are two other important differences.

1. The jhanas are attained through very specific practices and stages. That is, you don't chance upon the 3rd jhana for example but arrive there by practicing and establishing the 1st, then the 2nd, then the 3rd. You don't skip any steps. Each one is clearly delineated.
Therefore, short of doing these steps, you do not experience the jhanas. They are conditioned and impermanent, albeit very refined states. This is different from enlightenment, which is more like a recognition than fabricating an experience for a purpose.

2. The jhanas are skillful means. I remember reading in a sutta that practice of the jhanas has several purposes: one, to wean oneself off worldly sense pleasures that are often unwholesome by instead discovering an even greater and more wholesome spiritual pleasure.
Two, by experiencing these refined forms of bliss, to understand the predicament of beings in higher realms, and to see the drawbacks of even such subtle, wholesome pleasure. Three, this powerful and stable concentration is ideal for piercing the delusion of samsaric habits and views through their most subtle traces.
This is also different from enlightenment, or practices whose aim is to directly establish you in some kind of recognition.

Keep in mind I've only experienced access concentration a small handful of times, let alone any of the jhanas. I'm merely relaying what I've read over time.

I think they're very difficult outside of a retreat environment, given the sheer number of distractions and opportunities for mental disturbance in modern society.
Nonetheless, the Buddha of the suttas stresses in many places the importance of establishing at least the first jhana in order to be liberated. Theravadan monks like Thanissaro Bikkhu have written things in the same vein.
Obviously, Mahayana has a different view.
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: Difference between Ninth Jhana and Enlightenment

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:57 am

I would have thought that with any level of samadhi that whenever it happens, one would not be around to experience it. In other words, the process of being aware of and apart from what you're experiencing would be part of what is suspended by the process itself. (That's one of the reasons never to seek it, as I understand it.)

I too have read accounts of yogis who go into states where their pulse slows down and they appear unconscious. That actually is one of the reasons for adoption the lotus position - if the body is in that position it will remain stationary even whilst unconscious. That said, I think those who enter such states are few, and I don't think speculation about what such states would be like would be very illuminating.
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Re: Difference between Ninth Jhana and Enlightenment

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:19 am

There are only four Jhanas

In the suttas after the fourth Jhana is taught then anouther list of stages is mentioned....
People call these the (Arupa Jhanas).

In truth the suttas never list theses as seperate Jhanas,they are actually individual stages of the 4th Jhana,at the end of the last stage of the 4th Jhana (what people call the 8th) one will attain Enlightenment.

In the 8fold path the Buddha taught
(7)mindfulness
(8)Jhana

If you extensively study the doctrine of Jhana you will see Mindfulness is contained within the Jhana progression....which is to say mindfulness and Jhana were never seperate meditations but instead are one and the same process.

As far as the signs go there are considered 3 signs in kasina practice
Or 2 in mindfulness of breath
(kasina)
(1) is mind created visual image which is used as the focal point for concentration.
(2) is the initial of development of the vision (sphere appears that you did not create but instead manifests without you trying to create it) it is weak shaky and unstable and needs development
(3)is when it is bright and fixed this then leads to the stages of conciousness.

(mindfulness of breath only has 2 signs cause a kasina was never used....which is why you see some people freak out and ask "what was that sphere i experienced while i was just being mindfull of my breath?"


For which you will get the answer.....its a Nimitta

(note practices and views on practices and practice teachings are different in every sect of Thervadan)
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Re: Difference between Ninth Jhana and Enlightenment

Postby Martin007 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:29 pm

Jesse wrote:What exactly is the difference between the ninth jhana and enlightenment?


The first is conditioned, the second is unconditioned.
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Re: Difference between Ninth Jhana and Enlightenment

Postby xabir » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:09 pm

Jesse wrote:What exactly is the difference between the ninth jhana and enlightenment?

The Ninth Jhana: Cessation

When you reach the limits of perception, you realize that lesser mental activity is better for your calm and peaceful state. You enter a state of “cessation” of consciousness where there is only a very sublte form of perception. The meditator may appear to be unconscious. There have been reports of meditators having heart beats as low as 20 to 40 beats per minute at this jhanic level. The nearest way to describe this state is something like a very deep sleep. The eight and ninth jhanas are not full enlightenment, but very close stepping stones to full awakening. Only those who are very close to being fully enlightened can enter the eighth and especially, the ninth jhana.


That is just a quote from wikipedia about it, but I am curious, once all perception disappears, what is essentially left is awareness with no object, or a non-dual form of awareness, correct?

I am curious how that differs from from enlightenment as a Buddha would experience it (At least theoretically)
The ninth jhana (the cessation of apperception and feelings) is a state of non-analytical cessation, whereas Nirvana is a state of analytical cessation.

http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Cessation

Cessation

Cessation (Wyl.‘gog pa; Skt. nirodha) — generally the word refers to the absence or extinction of a given entity. As the third of the four noble truths, it refers specifically to the pacification of suffering and its causes, and is therefore a synonym of nirvana.
Subdivisions

Cessation is of two kinds:

analytical (so sor brtags pa'i 'gog pa) and
non-analytical (brtags min 'gog pa).

In his commentary to Mipham Rinpoche’s Khenjuk, Khenpo Nüden writes:
Analytical cessation

This is the unconditioned aspect of the permanent elimination of destructive emotions and other factors to be eliminated, through the force of developing realization of the undefiling path, such as the wisdom of discernment, within the mind.
Non-analytical cessation

This does not refer to the ceasing of latent habitual tendencies as a result of analysis and investigation, but rather to the absence of a given thing in a particular place due to an incompleteness of necessary causes and conditions, as in the case of horns on a horse’s head, for instance. Another example which is mentioned in the commentaries is the fact that other types of consciousness do not arise when the eye-consciousness is distracted by a visual form. This also includes all the various forms of non-existence (or absence), such as the absence of a vase in a particular place.




Also jnana wrote:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... amp;t=6950

Firstly, nibbāna isn't a "state." Secondly, nibbāna is the cessation of passion, aggression, and delusion. For a learner it is the cessation of the fetters extinguished on each path. The waking states where "suddenly all sensations and six senses stop functioning" are (1) mundane perceptionless samādhis, and (2) cessation of apperception and feeling. Neither of these are supramundane and neither of these are synonymous with experiencing nibbāna.

All the best,

Geoff

....

Nibbāna is a negation. It means extinguishment. With the fruition of each of the four paths one knows the termination of the fetters which are eliminated by that path. This termination is nibbāna appropriate to that path. The Paṭisambhidāmagga:

How is it that the discernment of the termination of continuance in one who is fully aware is gnosis of full extinguishment (parinibbāna ñāṇa)?

Through the stream-entry path he terminates identity view (sakkāyadiṭṭhi), doubt (vicikicchā), and mistaken adherence to rules and duty (sīlabbataparāmāsa).... This discernment of the termination of continuance in one who is fully aware is gnosis of full extinguishment....

He causes the cessation of identity view, doubt, and mistaken adherence to rules and duty through the stream-entry path.


And so on for the fetters which are terminated on the remaining three paths. The once-returner path terminates the gross fetters of desire for sensual pleasure (kāmacchanda) and aversion (vyāpāda/byāpāda). The non-returner path terminates the secondary fetters of desire for sensual pleasure (kāmacchanda) and aversion (vyāpāda/byāpāda). The arahant path terminates the fetters of passion for form [existence] (rūparāga), passion for formless [existence] (arūparāga), conceit (māna), restlessness (uddhacca), and ignorance (avijjā).

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Difference between Ninth Jhana and Enlightenment

Postby Jinzang » Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:33 am

My undestanding is that only practitioners who have already achieved one of the supramundane levels (an arya) can attain the 9th jhana.There also is a "false cessation" mentioned in mahamudra teachings, which is a state devoid of consciousnes, but not a jhana level.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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Re: Difference between Ninth Jhana and Enlightenment

Postby xabir » Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:29 am

Jesse wrote:What exactly is the difference between the ninth jhana and enlightenment?

The Ninth Jhana: Cessation

When you reach the limits of perception, you realize that lesser mental activity is better for your calm and peaceful state. You enter a state of “cessation” of consciousness where there is only a very sublte form of perception. The meditator may appear to be unconscious. There have been reports of meditators having heart beats as low as 20 to 40 beats per minute at this jhanic level. The nearest way to describe this state is something like a very deep sleep. The eight and ninth jhanas are not full enlightenment, but very close stepping stones to full awakening. Only those who are very close to being fully enlightened can enter the eighth and especially, the ninth jhana.


That is just a quote from wikipedia about it, but I am curious, once all perception disappears, what is essentially left is awareness with no object, or a non-dual form of awareness, correct?

I am curious how that differs from from enlightenment as a Buddha would experience it (At least theoretically)

Forgot to add: no, in nirodha samapatti, there is not even "awareness with no object". There is no awareness at all. What you are describing is Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the Hindu absorption in Self or Pure Consciousness (but unconscious of any other perceptions). It is not Nirodha Samapatti (9th jhana), where all sense of awareness are shut and one is in a state of total oblivion. It's a temporary state. Some commentaries say only Aryas of a certain level (say, anagami) are able to attain Nirodha Samapatti, but I don't think so from what I've seen.
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