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Monks who did not practise jhana? - Dhamma Wheel

Monks who did not practise jhana?

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vinasp
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Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby vinasp » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:59 pm

Hi everyone,

Monks who did not practise jhana?

There is a sutta, AN 6.46, which seems to show that there was a tense
relationship between two groups of monks. Link to ATI version:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

[ Cunda Sutta, AN 6.46, PTS: A III 355, PTS: Gradual Sayings III, page 252.]

"Ven. Maha Cunda said, "Friends, there is the case where Dhamma-devotee monks[1] disparage jhana monks, saying, 'These people are absorbed and besorbed in jhana, saying, "We are absorbed, we are absorbed." But why, indeed, are they absorbed? For what purpose are they absorbed? How are they absorbed?' In that, the Dhamma-devotee monks do not shine brightly, and the jhana monks do not shine brightly. That is not practicing for the welfare of the masses, for the happiness of the masses, for the good of the masses, nor for the welfare & happiness of human & divine beings."

"Then there is the case where jhana monks disparage Dhamma-devotee monks, saying, 'These people say, "We are Dhamma-devotees, we are Dhamma-devotees,' but they are excitable, boisterous, unsteady, mouthy, loose in their talk, muddled in their mindfulness, unalert, unconcentrated, their minds wandering, their senses uncontrolled. Why, indeed, are they Dhamma devotees? For what purpose are they Dhamma devotees? How are they Dhamma devotees?' In that, the jhana monks do not shine brightly, and the Dhamma-devotee monks do not shine brightly. That is not practicing for the welfare of the masses, for the happiness of the masses, for the good of the masses, nor for the welfare & happiness of human & divine beings."

"Thus, friends, you should train yourselves: 'Being Dhamma-devotee monks, we will speak in praise of jhana monks.' That's how you should train yourselves. Why is that? Because these are amazing people, hard to find in the world, i.e., those who dwell touching the deathless element with the body.[2]"

"And thus, friends, you should train yourselves: 'Being jhana monks, we will speak in praise of Dhamma-devotee monks.' That's how you should train yourselves. Why is that? Because these are amazing people, hard to find in the world, i.e., those who penetrate with discernment statements of deep meaning."

------------------

How should we interpret this? Was there a group of monks who did not practise
the jhana's?

Regards, Vincent.

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daverupa
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby daverupa » Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:56 pm

MN 69 also offers an example of two potentially disputatious groups, that of forest-dwelling monks and village-dwelling monks. Combined with the example of jhana-monks and doctrine-monks, and the dichotomy which is (a) kalyanamitta as the whole of the holy life + (b) dwelling in solitude - diligent, ardent, resolute, it seems to me that the outlines of a brahminic-ascetic heteropraxis are apparent in the early Sangha, probably reflecting the demographics of early converts.

Speculative.

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SDC
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby SDC » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:11 am


vinasp
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby vinasp » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:24 am

Hi everyone,

It seems that AN 6.46 does not actually say that the dhamma-devotee monks
did not practise the jhana's at all. So many interpretations are possible.

However, I would like to put forward the most radical interpretation - that
they did not practise the jhana's in any way.

This raises the question of how they could be considered to be on the noble
eightfold path, since one of the path factors is right concentration. This
factor is usually explained by the stock formula which most people understand
as a description of the four jhana's.

Another interesting speculation would be to ask whether these two groups are
the same as another description of two groups found in AN. [The book of twos,
chapter V, #4.] This other description of two groups of monks is explained
by the Commentary as 'noble disciples' and 'ordinary men'.

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby vinasp » Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:47 am

Hi everyone,

We need to look carefully at the two kinds of liberation [see: MN 29.6-7
and MN 122.4]

1. asamaya-vimokkha - non-temporary or "perpetual" liberation, which is
the permanent removal of unwholesome states by seeing or insight.

2. samaya-vimokkha - temporary liberation, which is the four jhana's
and the four formless attainments.

From: Designation of Human Types, (Puggala-Pannatti), English translation
by B.C. Law, PTS Oxford 1997.

Chapter 1. [ the first two paragraphs.]

1. What sort of person is one emancipated at times? [samaya-vimokkha]

"Here a person goes on experiencing the eight stages of emancipation
from time to time, and he having seen them through insight, some of
his asava's are completely destroyed. Such a person is said to be
emancipated at times." [temporary liberation].

2. What sort of person is one emancipated not (only) at times? [asamaya-
vimokkha]

" Here a person goes on experiencing the eight stages of emancipation
though not from time to time, and having seen them through insight,
his asava's are completely destroyed. Such a person is said to be
emancipated not (only) at times. Indeed, all persons who are Ariyas
(noble or elect) are so emancipated in matters of the higher
emancipation." [non-temporary liberation].
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Here a person goes on experiencing the eight stages of emancipation
though not from time to time, .." The only alternative to experiencing
them "from time to time" is experiencing them continuously.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:32 am


vinasp
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby vinasp » Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:35 pm

Hi spiny,

Yes, it may be helpful to remind ourselves about the eight liberations, here
is the stock formula from DN 15.35 - Mahanidana sutta. Link to ATI version:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

35. "Ananda, there are these eight emancipations. Which eight?

"Possessed of form, one sees forms. This is the first emancipation.

"Not percipient of form internally, one sees forms externally. This is the second emancipation.

"One is intent only on the beautiful. This is the third emancipation.

"With the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, [perceiving,] 'Infinite space,' one enters and remains in the dimension of the infinitude of space. This is the fourth emancipation.

"With the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, [perceiving,] 'Infinite consciousness,' one enters and remains in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. This is the fifth emancipation.

"With the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, [perceiving,] 'There is nothing,' one enters and remains in the dimension of nothingness. This is the sixth emancipation.

"With the complete transcending of the dimension of nothingness, one enters and remains in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. This is the seventh emancipation.

"With the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, one enters and remains in the cessation of perception and feeling. This is the eighth emancipation."

------------------ End of Quotation. ---------------------------

The usual interpretation is that the first three liberations pertain
to the jhana's of the realm of form, the next four liberations are the four
formless attainments, and the last liberation is the cessation of perception
and feeling.

As one can see, these are simply descriptions of states of mind, and nothing
is said which indicates how these states are attained. One can certainly
correlate these eight liberations with the nine states described in the
"jhana" series. But those "jhana" descriptions are also only describing
states of mind.

The way that we use the word "jhana" refers to only one method for attaining
these states of mind, but are there two methods in reality? How do the five
Nikaya's actually use the word "jhana"?

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby vinasp » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:16 am

Hi everyone,

We may as well cite the stock formula for the four jhana's (of form), here
it is from MN 141, as a definition of right concentration - ATI version:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"And what is right concentration? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is called right concentration."

-------------------------- End of Quotation -----------------------------

This passage just describes four states of mind, which are attained one
after the other. These states are called, first jhana, second jhana, and
so on. If the term "jhana" refers to the state of mind, and not the method
used to attain it, and if there are, in fact, two methods, then this
description would apply to both of them.

The noble eightfold path is based on "seeing", which permanently removes
unwholesome mental states.
In developing the noble eightfold path, unwholesome mental states are
gradually reduced, but the reduction is permanent. On completion of the
path the unwholesome states have been eliminated, and they do not return.

The process resembles the eight liberations, in that the mind develops
powerful concentration, but the concentration is permanent and requires
no effort. The noble disciple passes through all eight liberations on
the way to nibbana.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:15 am


danieLion
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:16 am


vinasp
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby vinasp » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:58 am

Hi everyone,

What is meant by the term "jhana"? An interesting discourse is MN 36
the Mahasaccaka Sutta. Link to ATI version:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

* The Buddha describes some events from his life before his awakening,
including the two teachers that he practised under:

"Having gone forth in search of what might be skillful, seeking the unexcelled state of sublime peace, I went to Alara Kalama and, on arrival, said to him: 'Friend Kalama, I want to practice in this doctrine & discipline.' ..............

"In this way did Alara Kalama, my teacher, place me, his pupil, on the same level with himself and pay me great honor. But the thought occurred to me, 'This Dhamma leads not to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge, to Awakening, nor to Unbinding, but only to reappearance in the dimension of nothingness.' So, dissatisfied with that Dhamma, I left.

"In search of what might be skillful, seeking the unexcelled state of sublime peace, I went to Uddaka Ramaputta and, on arrival, said to him: 'Friend Uddaka, I want to practice in this doctrine & discipline.' ....................

"In this way did Uddaka Ramaputta, my companion in the holy life, place me in the position of teacher and pay me great honor. But the thought occurred to me, 'This Dhamma leads not to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge, to Awakening, nor to Unbinding, but only to reappearance in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.' So, dissatisfied with that Dhamma, I left."

* The Buddha then describes his practice of various austerities, which did
not lead to awakening, he says:

"But with this racking practice of austerities I haven't attained any superior human state, any distinction in knowledge or vision worthy of the noble ones. Could there be another path to Awakening?"

* Then we find this remarkable passage:

"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.'

------------------------- End of Quotations ---------------------------------

Why does the Buddha have to remember a childhood experience, which he calls
"first jhana", when he has, more recently, been attaining the sphere of
nothingness, does not this attainment require mastery of the four jhana's?

I will attempt to list the possible solutions to this puzzle.

1. The sphere of nothingness was attained without requiring the jhana's.

2. The word "jhana" can be used to refer to two different things.

3. The term "jhana" refers to a state of mind, not the method used to
attain that state.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby Zom » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:57 pm


PTa
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby PTa » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:29 am

"No matter how much we may speak in line with what we understand to be right in accordance with the Dhamma, if the citta that is acting isn't right, how can we be right?"
-Ajaan Mahã Boowa

vinasp
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby vinasp » Tue May 01, 2012 9:08 am

Hi PTa,

Yes, MN 121 is interesting, although I find it hard to understand.

How do you interpret this sutta?

You say:
"which shows how by gradually dropping off coarser things from perception one can achieve "The Infinitude of Space" and higher states without going through jhanas 1-4, which aren't even mentioned."

Are you thinking of some sort of "meditation" or concentration, which results
in the temporary attainment of a state of mind.

Or, are you thinking of a gradual removal of "objects" from the mind, which
could be a permanent attainment?

Although the jhanas are not explicitly mentioned, the preceding passage
about "earth" is understood as a reference to the jhanas by the traditional
interpretation.

I think that before we can answer these questions we need to know what
these states really are.

For me, a key question is: what does perception (sanna) mean?

Does it refer only to becoming aware of an "object" in the mind?

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby PTa » Tue May 01, 2012 4:28 pm

"No matter how much we may speak in line with what we understand to be right in accordance with the Dhamma, if the citta that is acting isn't right, how can we be right?"
-Ajaan Mahã Boowa

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daverupa
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby daverupa » Tue May 01, 2012 8:38 pm


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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby reflection » Tue May 01, 2012 8:53 pm


fabianfred
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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby fabianfred » Wed May 02, 2012 1:27 pm

Even now there are those who practice conentration techniques aiming for Jhana and those who practice vipassana techniques aiming for the Four Noble states, and there is often friction between them, each claiming theirs is the true method.
I personally practice vipassana in the style of L.P.Teean.
We have to remember that no amount of practicng jhanas can attain to the four noble states...by themselves...without eventual practice of mindfulness and attaining the insights reachable from them.
How could it be possible to reach any of the four noble states by the practice of Concentration techniques alone? Since these techniques are practiced all over the world, in many religions, in all ages, whether there are Buddhas and their teachings or not.
If it were possible then there would be no need of Buddhas and their unique teachings of Dependant Origination, Four Foundations of Mindfulness, and Non-self...

I understand that if one practices concentration and reaches the jhanas, then one must come out of them, and whilst still in the state of peace and quiet untroubled by distractions, one then practices mindfulness and insight meditation to get to the state of stream-entry. Once that has been reached there is no going back or losing it since these are lokutra instead of the jhanas which are lokiya and can be lost.

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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 02, 2012 3:20 pm

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Monks who did not practise jhana?

Postby PTa » Wed May 02, 2012 6:43 pm

"No matter how much we may speak in line with what we understand to be right in accordance with the Dhamma, if the citta that is acting isn't right, how can we be right?"
-Ajaan Mahã Boowa


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