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A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas” - Page 6 - Dhamma Wheel

A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Sylvester
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:05 am


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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:27 am


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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Dmytro » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:04 pm



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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby morning mist » Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:20 pm

Last edited by morning mist on Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:51 pm, edited 3 times in total.
with metta,

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Sylvester » Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:51 pm


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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:40 pm

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby morning mist » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:55 pm

Hi Nana,

One can develop Vipassana shortly AFTER EMERGING from any of the Jhanas in Samma Samadhi ( 1st- 4th Jhana) . How is it possible to develop Vipassana from within ( during or inside ) second, third, and fourth Jhana .

According to the Honey Ball Sutta:

"Dependent on mind & ideas, mind-consciousness arises ( manovinnanam). The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling (Vedana) . What one feels, one perceives (sanjanati: labels in the mind). What one perceives, one thinks about ( VITAKKETI: reflecs, reason,considers) . What one thinks about ( VITAKKETI) , one mentally proliferates ( papanceti: explains, delays on, to be obsessed, to be profuse) . Based on what a person has mentally proliferated as the source, the perceptions ( SANNA) & notions (sankha) assail ( papanca: obstacle, impediment, delay hindrance to spiritual progress) him/her with regard to past, present, & future ideas cognizable through the mind….

"When there is the mind, when there are ideas, when there is mind-consciousness, it is possible to point out the manifestation of contact. When there is a manifestation of contact, it is possible to point out the manifestation of feeling. When there is a manifestation of feeling, it is possible to point out the manifestation of perception ( SANNA PANNATTIM ) . When there is a manifestation of PERCEPTION, it is possible to point out the manifestation of THINKING (VITAKKA PANNATTIM) . When there is a manifestation of THINKING (VITAKKA PANNATTIM) , it is possible to point out the manifestation of being assailed by the PERCEPTIONS & notions born of mental proliferation ( papanca SANNA sankha samudacarana pannattim )...

"When there is no mind, when there are no ideas, when there is no mind-consciousness, it is impossible to point out the manifestation of contact. When there is no contact, it is impossible to point out the manifestation of feeling. When there is no feeling, it is impossible to point out the manifestation of perception. When there is no perception, it is impossible to point out the manifestation of thinking. When there is no THINKING, it is impossible to point out the manifestation of being assailed by the PERCEPTIONS & notions."- Honeyball Sutta

With metta,
with metta,

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:27 pm


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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby daverupa » Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:25 pm

I've been trying to follow the detailed conversation thus far, and while my understanding is definitely still embryonic it seems the main question is thus: is it the case that being in jhana allows the mind to be "knowing one by one", or only after?

It's certainly not an area I'm versed in, but it seems to me that having no physical sense-bases accessible while in jhana doesn't thereby necessitate that jhana is a total aggregate anesthesia - of the six senses, only the five cords are secluded away; of the five aggregates, only form is secluded away. Of the remaining sense-base/mental aggregates, the hindrances are secluded away, but naught else seems required, at least for first jhana. Applied and sustained thought can still be present in first jhana, and "apperception" of the mental sense-base/mental aggregates still seems possible throughout, in various ways as detailed in the jhana factors.

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby morning mist » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:10 pm

with metta,

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby nathan » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:34 pm

I expect that what I can post about this subject will be discounted from the discussion because I'm not going to quote from the Tipitaka at all but I am optimistic that I can at least post this here because this is the modern Theravada sub-forum.

When I develop first Jhana, I develop it based on contact between consciousness and the entire body through attending to the breath until the mind is calm and unified and then by directing attention to the body form as a whole. So first Jhana is very pleasant for me because it is simply attending to the single perception of contact noted by consciousness in touch with the whole body form and the corresponding absence of all attention to any diversity of thought objects or sense objects. The point being that there is not much left to think about and that thinking about any of the remaining simplicity of attention discursively ends that single pointed quality of simple attention to contact with the body form.

Similarly with the attention in second jhana, the attending is comparatively effortless to establishing the simple attention of the first jhana and so even simpler. With the third jhana attention shifts ever so slightly from the pleasantness that arises on the basis of the one simple type of attention on the pleasant quality of attention to the body form to the pleasant quality that arises in the mind on the basis of the singular attention to conscious contact with the body and the pleasantness of the body contact fades. In shifting slightly to the fourth jhana both of these two previously noted pleasant qualities, the bodily and the mental qualities, fade out as attention shifts to the singleness of attention that is steady and peaceful.

These are very simple and very subtle shifts of attention and not complicated, difficult or unnatural to progress through within the jhanas from one to the next without emerging from jhana completely in passing from one jhana to the next. The insights into the conditions that are present and the conditions that are not present or into what is occurring and what is not occurring during jhana are very simple and obvious and so there is no need for discursive thought or any sort of complicated analysis or reflection.

This becomes even simpler in progressing further to the formless realms as only mental qualities remain when the body form is let go of and drops from attention as well. In the realm of neither perception nor non perception it is not possible to discern qualities at all as there is only one quality, that of consciousness without any contacts, not even with the simplest type of contact or the perception of nothing to serve as a quality for reflection. Because of this extreme simplicity one can only note or discern the difference between discernment of the formless perception of nothing and of neither perception nor non-perception when one again returns to the previous perception of nothing or one of the other jhanas. Similarly with the cessation of perception and feeling altogether, whereupon the last faint trace of consciousness is abandoned, one can not discern in that state as there are no qualities supportive of discernment remaining. Within the nirodha samapatti it is not possible to discern any qualities at all because the quality of consciousness has ceased entirely in a similar matter to how all of the other form and mental qualities in contact with consciousness have also previously ceased through a discerning and concentrated direction of attention successively away from these various qualities towards those which are more subtle and underlying to those which previously have been directly and correctly known and directly and correctly discerned.

What is clear and obvious during jhana and which requires no discursive thought throughout attending within all of the four jhanas and the four formless attainments is that these dependently compounded forms of attention are all composed of much simpler, steadier and more refined kinds of mental qualities and forms of attention than are any more ordinary perceptions of sensations or thought objects or other mental qualities and that owing to these forms of attention still being fabricated (with the exception of nirodha samapatti wherein fabrication ends together with all aspects or qualities composing fabrication) that these also carry all three marks of dependently conditional phenomena.

So there is no need for discursive thought or thought objects or anything of the sort to clearly cognize and comprehend what is and is not occurring in a given jhana or in the transition from one jhana to the next or from one formless realm to the next. One is discerning, one has insights but these insights need not be complex or disruptive of the calm and concentration of the jhanas as these insights are largely obvious and self evident. What is made clear by the emergence from nirodha samapatti is that not only has consciousness ceased altogether at that point but that this cessation is markedly more pleasant and peaceful than any of the previous jhanas and realms. After emerging from nirodha samapatti it is unquestionably clear, in a manner made similarly, directly and immediately clear in no other way, that there is no lasting core or essence or soul or spirit or atman or brahma or anything else which is central or consistent to the arising and passing of consciousness and the contact between consciousness and other dependent and compounded mental qualities and bodily forms and the rest.

Before the nirodha samapatti one might still hope or imagine or believe in notions like the atman or the soul or buddhanature or brahman or some eternal thing or condition but after emerging from nirodha samapatti it is entirely impossible to maintain such misconceptions because one can reflect on having directly observed the complete ending of consciousness through a progressive process of simplifications which is largely what the four jhanas and the four formless realms are. These eight simplifications of attention progressively culminate in the abandonment of all conditions and complete release. Having known the indescribable nature of that release one need no longer speculate on how one arrives at it or what it is like or if it is actually preferable to ongoing being and becoming.

A great deal of vipassana and discernment of the characteristics of conditions in all modes and at all times in more ordinary and complex states of mind necessarily precedes the refined conditions present during the modes of attention which are characteristic of jhana. Jhana is also capable of maintaining discernment, very simply and straightforwardly, but it is no less very clearly the quality of discernment which is functioning during the acknowledgment of what is occurring and in the subtle shifting of attention while passing through the four jhana and the four formless realms leading to nirodha samapatti and discernment into the absolutely undeniable truth of anatta which occurs on emergence from the NS.

That is how it is and how it works, as such, I like the Tipitaka because it describes all of this very well in a variety of ways and no other set of texts describes any of this at all. Arguing about the minutia of the texts or holding one view point or another preferentially won't cause this to occur for the individual. Practicing calm and alert attention at all times leads eventually to these concentrated and easily discernible states occurring, one after the next, exactly and precisely as described. Arguing for one interpretation of the texts vs. another is only that, practicing calm and mindful attention to the body, sensations, mental objects and mental qualities when these are in flux and then when these are relatively entirely calm and composed leads to direct understanding and the ending of any further need for debate, one can see the truth of the composure, refinement and discernment present within these modes of attending very clearly and for oneself in ones own experience and one can then confirm the wisdom as variously presented in the texts.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:39 pm


morning mist
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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby morning mist » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:24 am

with metta,

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:53 am


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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

Postby Nyana » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:35 am


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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

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Re: A Critique of Brahmavamso’s “The Jhanas”

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