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The Great Jhana Debate - Dhamma Wheel

The Great Jhana Debate

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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Modus.Ponens
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The Great Jhana Debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:11 pm

Hello

In this forum I've seen many times a discussion about meditation that involves jhana, and usualy there's a confusion between the members because they are talking about different notions of jhana. I think it would be good to clarify this subject and discuss it in depth.

There are two types of jhana being talked about: the sutta jhanas and the visuddhimagga jhanas. An introduction to the subject can be found here:

http://www.leighb.com/jhanantp.htm

In the next post I'll post an essay by a former member of e-sangha nicknamed emptyuniverse. It presents very good (and definitive in my opinion) arguments in favor of the sutta jhana defenition. I've yet to see a convincing argument for the visuddhimagga jhanas.

Metta
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:12 pm

Here goes a link to the new version of the essay:


viewtopic.php?f=33&t=5761#p89675
Last edited by Modus.Ponens on Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

Moggalana
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Moggalana » Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:32 pm

Last edited by Moggalana on Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.

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bodom
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby bodom » Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:59 pm

Excellent Moggalana, thank you for posting this. Analayo's works are brilliant.

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:32 pm

Hi Moggalana

I remain unconvinced.

Regarding nimita, there's no evidence there that it is a prerequisite for jhana. Ajahn Lee, on the subject of lights appearing during meditation, says it is important to learn how to deal with them because it is important to later develop psychic powers. It's in this sense that I interpret the nimita passage of the Upakkilesa sutta.

Regarding deep jhana, I see no more than indirect sugestions that deep (visuddhimagga) jhana is the jhana that the Buddha teached. In this subject, MN111 is a direct proof of the contrary as is also other suttas quoted in the essay.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:43 pm

If I had to choose I'd take Ven Analayo's over EU's, but what this points to to is that the idea of what jhana is not really a settled, concrete thing. And given the variety of experiences associated with the term jhana, it is not ever going to be.

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Moggalana » Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:59 pm

Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:22 pm

He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

Kenshou
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Kenshou » Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:35 pm

Oh no, it's this again!

I don't see all that much conflict between the perspectives posted so far, really, besides a difference in view on just how concentrated is concentrated enough, which is one of those questions nobody is going to agree on. The main dividing issue is the nimitta thing, which the upakkilesa sutta is often drug out to support, though as far as I can see that sutta doesn't seem to be saying anything about the practice of absorption in particular, but something a little different, the development of iddhi of a variety as Modus suggests seems to make sense. Additionally as far as I have seen, perception of beautiful visions etc. isn't really associated with the development of jhana in general in the suttas. I'm willing to make the assumption that if it were vital, it would have been made a bit more obvious.

I think the core of this jhana issue comes down to which texts the individual decides to take as authoritative. Some people like the suttas, and their perspective is colored by that, some people like commentary, abhidhamma, and the same thing applies. There's got to be an agreement on that before this will be settled, and I don't think that'll ever happen.

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:08 am

Last edited by Nyana on Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:11 am

Greetings Geoff,

Nice to see you here!

:hello:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

Freawaru
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Freawaru » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:02 am

Hi All,

during first jhana one can still sense the body - but are you all really sure it is the physical body we sense? In my experience there is a distinct shift when leaving the first jhana and becoming aware of the physical body again. It is similar to the becoming aware of the physical body when coming out of deep relaxation or trance or during waking up. The tactile image of the body is already present during first jhana but physical pain is not there for example so the awareness of the five senses that connect us to the physical is absent.

As far as I understand it the first jhana is an experience of the rupa realm (just as the experience of the jhana five to eight is arupa realm). So I think it is the mind-made body that is sensed during it. Anything else one might experience during it - as nimitta - is mind-made, too.

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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Virgo » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:03 pm



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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:32 pm

Hi Geoff

Welcome! I hope you didn't mind me posting your essay.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

Freawaru
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Freawaru » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:59 pm


Nyana
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:14 am


Freawaru
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Freawaru » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:04 am


wouter_doorn
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby wouter_doorn » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:23 am


Nyana
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Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:54 am


Brizzy

Re: Tha jhana debate

Postby Brizzy » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:02 pm

What is one thing that the Buddha continuously asked his followers to practice? - Mindfulness of Body.

What is the most common reference to meditation the Buddha makes? - Jhana.

Now without being a genius, would'nt the jhana taught by the Buddha be the actual means for the the fulfillment of Mindfulness of Body.

Why would the Buddha exhort his followers to practice a meditation that cut off the tie between body & mind?

Would'nt he rather teach a means of experiencing a calmed body with a perfectly calm mind?

:smile:


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