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#1 RobertK

RobertK

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 03:21 AM

Here is one I found by a Buddhist monk.
http://www.bhavanaso...ut_of_Jhana.pdf
1
Should we come out of Jhåna
to practice Vipassanå?
By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Coming out of Jhåna to practice Vipassanå:
Can Jhånic concentration penetrate things as they really are? Do we have to come
out of Jhåna in order to practice Vipassanå? Is concentration the same as absorption? If
Jhånic concentration is the same as being absorbed by our object of focus then yes, we
must leave Jhåna to practice Vipassanå. But, when we become absorbed into our object
of focus, what we are practicing is “wrong” Jhåna. When we practice “right” Jhåna we
will be able to see things as they really are.
When we read how the Buddha used his own fourth Jhånic concentration, as
described in many Suttas, we have no reason to believe that he came out of Jhåna to
develop the three kinds of knowledge—knowledge of seeing the past, knowledge of
seeing beings dying and taking rebirth, and knowledge of the destruction of defilements.
The Buddha used the fourth Jhåna for Vipassanå.
Using the English word “absorption” to denote the deep concentration in the
Jhåna is very misleading. There are many mental factors in any Jhåna and the meditator is
quite aware of them. When you are aware of these mental factors you are not absorbed
into them, but conscious of them or mindful of them. If you are absorbed in the subject
you will not understand, nor remember anything.
In this paper we will also consider the question of whether it is best to come out
of Jhåna to reflect upon the impermanence, suffering, and selflessness of Jhånic factors or
to continue into higher Jhånas.
The Mahåsakuludåyi Sutta clearly expresses that the meditator, even in very
refined states of Jhåna, sees and knows what it is going on in his mind. The verbs in the
Sutta are used in the present tense not in the past tense. The Sutta states clearly what the
meditator sees and knows while he is in the Jhåna state. If he were to see and know these
things after emerging from meditation the Sutta would have used the past tense.
It is virtually impossible to find evidence in the Suttas that one should come out
of Jhåna to practice Vipassanå. There are a number of passages repeated in many Suttas
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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dealing with the four fine material Jhånas. Nowhere in any of these passages is it said that
one should come out of Jhåna to gain the three kinds of knowledge—knowledge of
seeing previous lives, knowledge of beings dying and taking rebirth according to their
kammas, and knowledge of the destruction of defilements.
Consolidation of factors:
Right concentration is the unification and consolidation of all the wholesome
mental factors into one harmonious balance. In fact all the thirty-seven mental factors of
enlightenment (the four foundations of mindfulness, the fourfold right efforts, the four
roads to power, the five faculties, the five powers, the seven factors of enlightenment, the
noble eightfold path) are consolidated in right concentration. The factors that work
together as a team are: confidence, effort, mindfulness, wisdom, friendliness,
compassion, joy, happiness, concentration, contact, feeling, perception, volition,
consciousness, desire, decision, equanimity, attention, letting go of greed, the seven
factors of enlightenment and the factors of the noble eightfold path. Each of them
supports one another thus maintaining the delicate balance of all.
When the aforementioned factors are working together in perfect balance the
mind has full control of them for as long as the mind is in that state. While the conscious
mind maintains the delicate balance of these factors the opposite factors are also working
to get in and disturb the balance. They are working in the background. If they invade the
mind you lose the Jhåna.
Concentration and Light
The Buddha said that the range of his vision of light and form depended on
concentration.
“On the occasion when concentration is limited, my vision is limited, and with
limited vision I perceive limited light and limited forms. But on the occasion when
concentration is immeasurable, my vision is immeasurable, and with immeasurable vision
I perceive immeasurable light and see immeasurable forms, even for a whole night or a
whole day or a whole day and night.” 1
Only when the mind is cultivated (cittabhåvanå) does the luminous mind shine
brightly. This statement clearly expresses that when the Buddha was in Jhåna he had the
light and vision of the luminous mind. As soon as he lost this Jhåna he also lost the light
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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and vision. Having considered the reason for this disappearance, he found that when one
of the imperfections arose in his mind concentration fell away. When concentration fell
away he lost the light and vision. He would then practice mindfulness until he had
regained the concentration, vision and light. When he lost concentration again, he would
also, once again, lose the light and vision. When he reflected on the reason this had
happened he realized that another mental imperfection had arisen in him. He would then
start mindfulness practice again and regain concentration, vision, and light. This is
unmistakable evidence that mindfulness must be present in concentration in order to
understand and recover from lost concentration.
When there is bright light our vision is clear and we can see things as they really
are. When we come out of Jhåna, we lose this vision and clarity of mind.
Just as gold loses its luminosity and is corrupted by five things: iron, copper, tin,
lead, and silver, so, too, the mind loses its luminosity because of the five hindrances. 2
When the hindrances appear, Jhåna is lost.
The belief that one must come out of Jhåna to gain supernormal knowledge
(abhiññås) or to destroy defilements and attain enlightenment is based on an assumption
that the concentrated mind becomes one with the object of meditation and is absorbed
into that object. For this reason some people translate Jhåna or samådhi as absorption
concentration. If the mind is absorbed into the object then the mind is paralyzed and
incapable of doing anything.
This may be true when the Jhåna is gained without mindfulness. This is what
happened to the teachers of the Bodhisatta Gotama. They were stuck in Jhåna but they
thought that they had attained enlightenment. This cannot happen when you practice
Jhåna with mindfulness. When we attain right Jhåna, our mindfulness is pure, our
equanimity is strong, our concentration is strong and our attention is sharp. Right
concentration3 consolidates all the mental factors that the Buddha has listed in the
Anupada Sutta4 . Concentration is one of the factors present in right Jhåna. You are fully
aware, without words or concepts, of the subtlest impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and
selflessness that takes place in this state of samådhi. These are your direct experience, not
philosophical or logical thoughts. You know that you are in Jhåna, but you don’t say,
“Ah! I am in Jhåna.”
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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If you are not aware of consciousness, mindfulness, attention, and concentration
then you are in deep sleep. This is the state you go through when you are under an
anesthetic. We struggle to attain concentration not to get into this kind of deep sleep and
forget ourselves. We strive very hard to gain concentration to become fully aware of
impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness of the body, feelings, perceptions,
volitional formations and consciousness.
Coming out of Jhåna means that we are no longer in Jhåna. All the hindrances that
we have overcome with great difficulty will rush back to the mind and the mind will once
again be cluttered with hindrances. We will lose clarity, purity, concentration, light, and
mindfulness. If you want to come out of Jhåna to practice Vipassanå, then you should not
waste your valuable time to attain it at all. You should use that time to practice Vipassanå
from the beginning.
The Po††hapåda Sutta 5says this, about attaining Jhånas, “Having reached the first
Jhåna, he remains in it. And whatever sensations of lust that he previously had disappear.
At that time there is present a true but subtle perception of delight and happiness, born of
detachment, and he becomes one who is conscious of this delight and happiness. In this
way some perceptions arise through training, and some pass away through training.”
“Again, a monk, with the subsiding of thinking and pondering, by gaining inner
tranquility and unity of mind, reaches and remains in the second Jhåna, which is free
from thinking and pondering, born of concentration, filled with delight and happiness.
His former true but subtle perception of delight and happiness born of detachment
vanishes. At that time there arises a true but subtle perception of delight and happiness,
born of concentration, and he becomes one who is conscious of this delight and
happiness. In this way some perceptions arise through training, and some pass away
through training.” 6 This final statement is repeated for the other Jhånas.
Praising Venerable Såriputta’s perfection in noble virtue, noble concentration,
noble wisdom, and noble deliverance the Buddha explained how venerable Såriputta was
able to use his concentrated mind to know everything that happened when he was in
Jhånas. Venerable Såriputta knew the arising, presence and passing away of all mental
states from the first Jhåna up through the base of nothingness.
The mental states he found in the first Jhåna were: “applied thought, sustained
thought, rapture, pleasure, and unification of mind; contact, feeling, perception, volition
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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and the mind; zeal, decision, energy, mindfulness, equanimity and attention. Known to
him those states arose, known they were present, known they disappeared. He understood
thus: ‘So indeed, these states, not having been, come into being; having been, they
vanish.”
In the second Jhåna he found inner tranquility7 , rapture, pleasure, and unification
of mind; contact, feeling, perception, volition and mind; zeal, decision, energy,
mindfulness, equanimity and attention.
In the third Jhåna he found equanimity, pleasure, mindfulness, full awareness, and
unification of mind; contact, feeling, perception, volition and the mind; zeal, decision,
energy, mindfulness, and attention.
In the fourth Jhåna he found equanimity, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling,
mental unconcern due to tranquility, purity of mindfulness, and unification of mind,
contact, feeling, perception, volition and the mind; zeal, decision, energy, mindfulness,
and attention.
In the base of infinite space he found perception of the base of infinite space and
unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, volition and mind; zeal, decision,
energy, mindfulness, and attention.
In the base of infinite consciousness he found perception of the base of infinite
consciousness and unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, volition and the
mind, zeal, decision, energy, mindfulness, and attention.
In the base of nothingness he found perception of the base of nothingness and
unification of mind, contact, feeling, perception, volition and the mind; zeal, decision,
energy, mindfulness, and attention.
“These states were defined by him one by one as they occurred; known to him
those states arose, known they were present, known they disappeared.” 8
The Venerable Såriputta emerged mindfully from the base of nothingness and the
base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. It is never stated in the Sutta that he came
out of any of the previous Jhånas or bases. 9
In the base of nothingness there are some mental states that venerable Såriputta
defined one by one as they occurred; knew those states as they arose, knew that they
were present, knew that they disappeared. In his pure, clear, uninterrupted mind as they
appeared and disappeared, he knew, “So indeed, these states, not having been, come
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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into being; having been, they vanish.” This is not intellectual or logical or rational
thinking. When these states happened in his mind he simply became aware that they
were happening.
On the night the Buddha attained enlightenment he attained the fourth Jhåna.
Then he recalled previous lives, saw beings dying and taking rebirth according to their
Kamma and destroyed defilements. There was never a time when the Buddha was not
mindful. His mind was always pure, clean, equanimous, imperturbable, bright, shining,
and steady. Even so he attained the fourth Jhåna in order to get the sharpest and most
powerful one-pointed concentration. With this he was able to perform many kinds of
miracles like disappearing from one place and reappearing in another.
Even a very tiny little spec of dust can distort the clarity and purity of the most
powerful telescope. It then cannot operate at its fullest strength nor can it bring images of
pristine clarity to human eyes. Our own heart, brain, and nervous system will not operate
at their maximum capacity nor perform their appropriate functions if there is any iota of
dirt in them. These are the faculties we use for perceiving relatively gross material
objects. Needless to say it is much more important for the mind, that is dealing with
spiritual matters, to become totally free from impurities in order to recall previous lives,
see beings dying and taking rebirth according to their kammas and above all, most
importantly, to destroy all defilements. This kind of understanding is not intellectual
speculation. These truths are understood directly with a pure, clean and well-concentrated
mind. This happens naturally without any great effort. The concentrated mind sees the
truth as it really is without any wishing.
The law of Dhamma tells us:
“Monks, for one who is virtuous, in full possession of virtue, there is no need for
the purposeful thought: ‘May freedom from remorse arise in me.’ This, monks, is in
accordance with nature—that for one who is virtuous, in full possession of virtue,
freedom from remorse arises. Monks, for one who is free from remorse there is no need
for the purposeful thought: ‘May joy arise in me’. This, monks, is in accordance with
nature—that for one who is free from remorse joy arises. Monks, for one who is joyous
there is no need for the purposeful thought: ‘May rapture arise in me.’ This, monks, is in
accordance with nature—that for one who is joyous rapture arises. Monks, for one whose
heart is enraptured there is no need for the purposeful thought: ‘May my body be
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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calmed.’ This, monks, is in accordance with nature—that for one whose heart is
enraptured the body is calmed. Monks, for one whose body is calmed there is no need for
the thought: ‘I feel happiness.’ This, monks, is in accordance with nature—that one
whose body is calmed feels happiness. Monks, for one who is happy there is no need for
the thought: ‘My mind is concentrated.’ It follows that the happy man’s mind is
concentrated. Monks, for one who is concentrated there is no need for the thought: ‘I
know and see things as they really are.’ It follows naturally that one concentrated does
so. Monks, for one who knows and sees things as they really are there is no need for the
thought: ‘I feel revulsion; interest faces in me’. It follows naturally that such an one feels
revulsion and fading interest. Monks, for one who feels revulsion and fading interest
there is no need for the thought: ‘I realize release by knowing and seeing.’ It follows
naturally that he who feels revulsion and fading interest realizes release by knowing and
seeing.” 10
It is stated here in unambiguous terms that the concentrated mind sees things as
they really are without any thinking. It says specifically, “For one who knows and sees
things as they really are there is no need for thought”.
Thinking is the work of logic, reason, and philosophy with words, ideas and concepts.
Long before he attains samådhi the meditator has already left behind all discursive
thought with its logic, reasoning, investigation and philosophizing with words concepts
and ideas.
It is in the Jhånic state and only in the Jhånic state that equanimity, mindfulness
and concentration are powerful enough to perform these activities. Once the meditator
comes out of Jhåna the mind’s strength and power begin to weaken. The longer the
meditator is out of Jhåna the weaker becomes that power and strength because the
hindrances slowly return in their full strength. Finally the mind becomes as it was before
attaining Jhånas.
When you have climbed a mountain you have a much wider vision of the
surroundings. So long as you are there you can see the entire surrounding area because
your eyesight and visibility go so far. If you come down even one step you lose some of
that vision. The farther down you go the narrower the visibility becomes.
Similarly, so long as you are in Jhåna the clarity, purity, steadiness, stainlessness,
whiteness, equanimity and imperturbability of the mind are very powerful. You can
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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understand things clearly. But when you come out of the Jhåna they become weak and
eventually they are lost. Then you cannot directly see past and future lives nor destroy
defilements. You can think rationally and logically about them, but you cannot
experience them directly.
The Meditator does not become one with the object.
When we attain any Jhåna, we don’t become one with the meditation object.
Meditation objects are like launching pads. We use them to train the mind to gain right
concentration, which, as we have seen already, is one-pointedness of mind, not onepointedness
of the meditation object. We use an object to start the meditation practice.
Then, as the mind gets subtler and the mind becomes sharper, it leaves the meditation
object behind and remembers the image of the object. We then focus the mind on the
memorized image. As the hindrances are suppressed, the memorized image is replaced
with a bright light. The mind shifts its focus to the bright light. From that point onward
the object of the mind is this bright light. It is this luminosity that the Buddha has spoken
about in the Anguttara Nikåya, where he said:
“This mind, Oh monks, is luminous, but it is defiled by adventitious defilements.
The uninstructed worldling does not understand this as it really is; therefore for him there
is no mental development.
This mind, O monks, is luminous, and it is freed from adventitious defilements.
The instructed noble discipline understands this as it really is; therefore for him there is
mental development.” 11
This luminous mind no longer requires any external objects or their counterpart
images. It stays focused on the bright light. The mind becomes clear and sharp and onepointed.
Now the mind holds everything together by its own power and strength.
It is only when we are in the deepest level of concentration that we can experience
the most minute changes taking place in our mind and body. Words, thoughts and verbal
concepts have stopped, but the feeling of impermanence goes on. This is when we
understand that the Dhamma is unaffected by time12 . This is where we experience time
consuming us and ourselves consuming time. It is here that we see suffering without
succumbing to it. We can see the truth of dhammas, feelings, consciousness, thoughts,
and perceptions. The truth that we see in all of them is that they all are flowing through
our awareness. This truth can only be clear when we gain concentration with
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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mindfulness; otherwise the truth will be obscure. This is when we experience a subtle
desire to hold on to fleeting pleasure, a pleasure which is incessantly changing. Our
desire is always attempting to stick to the pleasure, but the pleasure is always changing.
Our attempt to hold on to pleasure is like trying to balance a mustard seed on a tip of a
fast moving needle in a sewing machine. We try to attach to the experience of
impermanent pleasure while it is changing. Because desire can never stick to any object,
a person with desire always experiences frustration. Because they are not able to stop and
freeze pleasure they cannot keep enjoying it forever. From time to time insight arises and
we realize that this is an impossible attempt. With that realization revulsion arises. This
leads to the abandonment of desire altogether. By abandoning desire we experience
moments of relief and a glimpse of happiness. We know the truth of Dhamma that the
Buddha so clearly pointed out. Every time we see this truth of impermanence, our trust
and confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha increases. This happens only
in the Jhåna state. We can neither gain the same experience out of Jhåna nor can we
explain it in the way we have experienced it while in Jhåna.
In contrast, when we are outside this meditative experience, we use our
knowledge of logic, philosophy, psychology, physics, chemistry and mathematics to
explain the connection between desire, impermanence and suffering. We can talk for
hours about it without making any sense. These are all words, but there is no experience.
The Jhåjic state is a perfect state of mind from which to focus on the four noble
truths, impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness. It is the perfect state from
which to realize Nibbåna by eliminating all the fetters. Once we attain Jhåna we use its
powerful concentration with the light and vision to see things as they really are.
Training for gaining Jhånas.
In order to enter Jhåna one must go through vigorous training. One must have
virtue, restraint, mindfulness, clear comprehension, contentment, and make effort. One
must choose a secluded place and practice mettå to gain concentration of this quality.
Since you are not attached to these wholesome thoughts, even though they are very
pleasing, you can stay mindfully in this state without being attached to it. This is what the
Buddha meant when he said, “Protect what has been won, clinging to nothing,”13
Your attention, mindfulness, and concentration work together to see the
impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness of the Jhånic factors. These are not
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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thoughts but dynamic actions or activities in the mind and body. The mind can easily
notice these three characteristics as they occur. In fact in Jhåna they are clearer and more
prominent than at any other time. After coming out of Jhåna you may remember the
factors that were present in Jhåna, but the characteristics you experienced are gone.
Reflecting on the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness of these factors
should be done while they are present, not before nor after they occur. What you do after
or before your experience is only intellectualizing or philosophizing using logic and
reason.
One meaning of Jhåna, as venerable Buddhaghosa pointed out, is to burn away
the factors opposing Jhåna. You cannot burn these away by thinking about them. You can
only burn away real objects while they are present. . In Jhåna you dissolve the influxes
and out-fluxes (åsavas), which are deep down in your subconscious mind, but which are
coming to the conscious level in very subtle and small doses. Since the Jhånic state is
very calm, peaceful and quiet, the concentrated mind, with mindfulness that has been
purified by equanimity, has no emotional reaction to these influxes and out-fluxes. It can
uproot them. If you try to do this outside Jhåna, you will simply use logical and rational
thinking to hide the influxes (åsavas) from yourself. You will not succeed in eliminating
them.
If you burn away a fetter in a mundane Jhåna your mind quickly pushes you to a
supramundane Jhåna. For instance, if you see the root of doubt about the Buddha, the
Dhamma and the Sangha buried in delusion while you are in a mundane Jhåna, you will
experience their full impact on your conscious mind. Your Jhånic concentration,
mindfulness, and equanimity can penetrate this root in your subconscious mind and you
can eliminate it right then and there. When you have eliminated even one fetter, your
mundane Jhåna instantly becomes supramundane and you attain the Path of Stream
Entry. You must surely be in supramundane Jhåna to burn away all the fetters.
During the training period for the attainment of Jhåna we begin to suppress
hindrances. While we are in Jhåna the Jhånic factors hold them at bay. Once we master
the first Jhåna the mind finally loses interest in applied thought (vitakka) and sustained
thought (vicåra). Because these two create thoughts, which eventually turn into words,
the mind cannot become very calm while they are present. The mind wearies of this
commotion and then it just glides into the second Jhåna. In the first Jhånic state the
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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presence of joy was very pleasant, but it gradually becomes coarse as the mind repeats
and masters the second Jhåna. When the mind loses all interest in this coarse joy it glides
naturally into the third Jhåna. While mastering the third Jhåna the mind experiences even
the coarseness of happiness. With this the mind loses interest in the third Jhåna and glides
into the fourth Jhåna. This is the elimination process, which is found in attaining all the
Jhånas. This process occurs at each stage of higher attainment, first from the non-Jhånic
state to the first Jhåna, and then from the first Jhånic state to the formless state. There is
no intermediary state between a lower Jhåna and a higher Jhåna. When the mind is ready
it will just naturally glide from one to the next.
The Base of supernatural power (Iddipåda ) can be cultivated from within
the Fourth Jhåna
When one is in the fourth Jhåna, all the mental states that the Buddha has seen in
Venerable Såriputta’s mind will take place.14 Mindfulness, attention, concentration and
equanimity are sufficiently present in the fourth Jhåna, to note the subtlest changes of the
five aggregates, the subtlest degrees of suffering and the deepest awareness of
selflessness.
When one uses the fourth Jhåna for cultivating the knowledge of recalling
previous lives, seeing beings dying and taking rebirth and focusing the concentrated mind
for the destruction of taints, there is no transition from the fourth Jhåna to any
intermediary state. The development of supernormal powers always follows the fourth
Jhåna in every Pali Sutta. The meditator uses the concentration with purity of
mindfulness and equanimity found in the fourth Jhåna for developing the three kinds or
five kinds of knowledge. During the interval between attaining a lower Jhåna and
attaining each of the next higher Jhånas the meditator undergoes further training and
mastering of the lower Jhåna. During this period when concentration, mindfulness, clear
comprehension and equanimity undergo the process of purification so that they will be in
perfect condition when the meditator attains the fourth Jhåna. The fourth Jhånic qualities
provide the mind the best opportunity for seeing the minutest changes in the five
aggregates.
“When his concentrated mind is thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of
imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs it to
knowledge of the recollection of past lives.…
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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When his concentrated mind is thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of
imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs it to
knowledge of the passing away and reappearance of beings.…
When his concentrated mind is thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of
imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs it to
knowledge of the destruction of the taints. He understands as it actually is: ‘This is
suffering’;… ‘This is the origin of suffering’;… ‘This is the cessation of suffering’;…
‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’;…‘These are the taints’;…’this is
the origin of the taints’;… ‘This is the cessation of the taints’;… ‘This is the way leading
to the cessation of the taints.’”15
These passages are repeated in many places in the Pali Suttas. They refer to the
fourth Jhåna. It is the fourth Jhåna itself that is purified, bright, unblemished, rid of
imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability. In this passage
there is no suggestion at all that the meditator should leave the fourth Jhåna to attain these
understandings.
This is the state of mind the Buddha ascribes to Venerable Såriputta in Anupada
Sutta. “And the states in the fourth Jhåna—the equanimity, the neither-painful-norpleasant
feeling, the mental unconcern due to tranquillity, the purity of mindfulness, and
the unification of mind; the contact, feeling, perception, volition, and the mind; zeal,
decision, energy, mindfulness, equanimity and attention—known to him those state arose,
known they were present, known they disappeared.”16 .
Venerable Såriputta knew them when they were present, when they arose and
when they disappeared. He was fully mindful of it when any mental state was present. He
was completely aware while he was going through these Jhånic states, even though he
had not yet attained enlightenment.
In order to attain Jhånas you must memorize the object of your meditation. When
you use the breath to gain concentration, the breath is your preliminary object and is
called the preliminary sign (parikammanimitta). When the breath becomes so subtle that
you may not be able to notice it but you still remember the very subtle sensation of the
breath, this memory is your learning sign (uggahanimitta). Concentrating on the learning
sign gives rise to the counterpart sign (pa†ibhåganimitta), which is the conceptualized
image. Your mind becomes concentrated when you focus your mind on this counterpart
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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sign. Your preliminary meditation object and the counterpart sign are two different
things. Having left the meditation object behind you focus on the counterpart sign. When
you finally gain concentration you have neither the original object, nor the secondary
counterpart sign. The mind becomes concentrated and is focused on itself. This is like the
vortex in a whirlpool. A vortex needs nothing external. It is only the circular motion of
water that creates the cavity in the center. Similarly when the mind is free from
hindrances it gathers force within itself in order to gain further concentration.
This is a pre-verbal process. It is the same pre-verbal process that can take place
while listening to a Dhamma talk. During the Dhamma talk your mind may go into the
deep meaning of the words being uttered. When that happens you will see the intrinsic
nature of the things the speaker explains. The Dhamma becomes perfectly clear and your
vision of the Dhamma becomes clear and pure. As this realization arises, your mind
experiences the pristine purity of Dhamma and doubt about the Buddha, Dhamma and
Sangha can vanish from your mind.
This is nonverbal non-conceptual realization. You don’t think in words or in a
philosophical way about suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, the path
leading to the end of suffering, the taints, their origin, their end and the way to their end.
When you realize the four noble truths at this level they are not gross in nature. They are
the finest level of the four noble truths. The taints you eradicate are deeply settled in your
mind. Only with this kind of nonverbal non-conceptual mindfulness, clear
comprehension, and equanimity can you reach the very root of the taints. In this state
verbal conceptualization has totally ceased. The pure concentrated mind clearly
comprehends these things without the sound of words or the vibration of thoughts. This is
not a verbalizing or thinking stage.
Once we attain a Jhåna we do not abandon it. We don’t let it subside and we don’t
overcome it. We have been working very hard to attain the Jhåna. We do not to discard it,
but we use it for developing insight and/or supernatural powers. As venerable Ónanda
elucidated in his discourse17 one can use any Jhåna to attain any stage of enlightenment
because every Jhåna has sufficient clarity and purity of mind, the necessary mental
factors and sufficient mindfulness, clear comprehension, concentration and equanimity.
Although the factors present in the lower Jhånas are not as perfect, as they become in the
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
14
fourth Jhåna, they are strong enough to focus the mind on the four noble truths and the
taints.
When the meditator is in samådhi all mental factors don’t simply disappear.
Samådhi (saμ+å+dhå) means collectedness or consolidation of all wholesome mental
factors. These operate in harmony with one another maintaining a perfect balance of
mind, which is calm, relaxed and peaceful without any disturbance from external objects.
The mind does not go out to bring in new sound, smell, taste, and touch. The mind must
be wholesome and equanimous to remain calm while seeing impermanence,
unsatisfactoriness and selflessness. It is impossible for a mind without samådhi, polluted
by external stimuli and emotions, to develop impartial and mindful awareness of
impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness.
The meditator who has attained a Jhåna should master it for two reasons. The first
is to go to higher Jhånas. The second is to make the Jhånic mind sharper in order to
destroy the anusaya. When the Jhånic mind loses interest in a Jhåna the meditator
automatically comes out of it. When that happens he should attain it again. He should
repeat the attainment of that particular Jhåna until his mind is ready to go to the next
higher Jhåna. After completely mastering any particular Jhåna the mind will be ready to
go to next. After a meditator attains the same Jhåna again and again his mind gradually
glides into the next higher Jhåna.
This is like climbing a ladder. When you climb a ladder you step from one rung to
the next rung without getting down between each rung. You don’t climb down the
ladder each time you want to climb to the next higher rung. Similarly when you have
mastered the lower Jhåna your mind is ready to put itself on the next higher Jhåna
without leaving the Jhånic state entirely before doing it.
The Buddha has taught that the destruction of taints is dependent on attaining any
of the Jhånas excepting the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception Jhåna and the
cessation of perception and feeling Jhåna.
I” declare, Oh monks, that the destruction of the taints occurs in dependence on
the first Jhåna, the second Jhåna, the third Jhåna, the fourth Jhåna; in dependence on the
base of the infinity of space, the base of the infinity of consciousness, and the base of
nothingness.
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
15
… “Here, monks, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome
states, a monk enters and dwells in the first Jhåna, which is accompanied by thought and
examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. Whatever states are included
there comprised of form, feeling, perception, volitional formations or consciousness: he
views those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease, as a boil, as a dart, as
misery, as affliction, as alien, as disintegrating, as empty, as non-self. Having viewed
them thus, his mind then turns away from those states and focuses upon the deathless
element: “This is peaceful, this is sublime: that is, the stilling of all formations, the
relinquishment of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation,
Nibbåna. If he is firm in this, he attains the destruction of the taints; but if he does not
attain the destruction of the taints because of that attachment to the Dhamma and that
delight in the Dhamma, then by the destruction of the five lower fetters he is due to be
spontaneously reborn (in a celestial realm) and there attain final Nibbåna, without ever
returning from that world.
Just as, monks, an archer or his apprentice might practise on a straw man or a pile
of clay, and thereby later become a long-distance shot, an impeccable marksman who can
fell a large body, just so it is with a monk who reaches the destruction of the taints in
dependence on the first Jhåna.”18
(The same formula is repeated for the remaining Jhånas.)
Situations where one does come out of Jhåna :
Thus, monks, the penetration to final knowledge takes place to the extent that
there are attainments with perception. But as to these two bases—the attainment of the
base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception and the cessation of perception and
feeling—I say that these are to be extolled by those monks who are meditators, skilled in
their attainment and in emerging from the attainment, after they have attained them and
emerged from them.” 19
This passage shows very clearly that the mental contents in these two highest
attainments are so extremely refined and subtle that even the purest mindfulness and
concentration cannot explore them. Therefore these two attainments cannot be used as the
basis for insight. For this reason the experienced meditator practices them, comes out of
them and uses any lower samådhi, from first Jhåna up to the base of nothingness, to
destroy defilements.
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
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It is reported in Anupada Sutta that Venerable Såriputta emerged from the base of
nothingness and the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in order to
contemplate the state that had passed, ceased, and changed and also in order to attain the
cessation of perception and feeling.20
For the emergence from signless deliverance there are two conditions, attention to
all signs and non-attention to the signless element. This suggests that while he is in this
very refined Jhåna the meditator is consciously paying attention to his sign, which is his
object during this attainment. Otherwise he could neither withdraw from the signless
element nor could he pay attention to signs.21
Mahåparinibbana Sutta,22 on first reading, seems to give us different advice. It
reports that the Buddha entered and emerged from each Jhåna before he entered the next
higher Jhåna. After attaining the cessation of feeling and perception he came down to the
first Jhåna. He then returned to the fourth fine material Jhåna and came out of it.
Immediately after leaving the fourth Jhåna this final time he attained the Final passing
away (Parinibbåna).
This rendition is different because this is a description of what happened just
before the Buddha’s final passing away. His mind was already purified and he had
accomplished everything. There was nothing at this level left for the Buddha to
accomplish. He attained the Jhånas and quickly came out of them because he did not have
any taints to destroy while being in Jhåna. He had done what had to be done, nothing
more was to be done. But the ordinary person or trainee, whose mind is not free from
defilements, should make use of the Jhånas. While being in Jhåna, the trainee should use
the Jhåna to destroy taints and to attain enlightenment. An unenlightened persons’ deep
samådhi with mindful attention, clear comprehension and equanimity naturally burns
taints like a laser beam burning a cataract in the eye.
In addition to the five specifically Jhånic mental factors, there are many other
mental factors in Jhåna. All of them have particular individual functions within the Jhåna.
In Anupada Sutta the Buddha has credited Venerable Såriputta with identifying all the
mental factors one by one as they occurred. Each factor performs its specific function.
Venerable Såriputta’s mind was so clear, sharp, bright, steady, undisturbed, concentrated,
equanimous and luminous that he was able to define these factors one by one. Since there
are no defilements present in that state, impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
17
become very clear without any distortion. Despite his wisdom, he does not seem to have
defined them intellectually. This is the stage where mental states appear in the mind just
like objects reflected in a mirror. The mind free from hindrances sees them as they appear
clearly and distinctly one by one.
Significantly, the name of this Sutta, Anupada, means uninterrupted. Ven.
Såriputta not only saw the mental factors in each Jhåna by turn, he did it without leaving
the Jhånic state. His Jhåna was uninterrupted.
The Buddha has given a series of similes to illustrate how knowledge of the mindmade
body is experienced. “Just as though a man were to pull out a reed from its sheath
and think thus: ‘This is the sheath, this is the reed; the sheath is one, the reed is another; it
is from the sheath that the reed has been pulled out; or just as though a man were to pull
out a sword from its scabbard and think thus: ‘This is the sword, this is the scabbard; the
sword is one, the scabbard another; it is from the scabbard that the sword has been pulled
out’; or just as though a man were to pull a snake out of its slough and think thus: ‘This is
the snake, this is the slough; the snake is one, the slough another; it is from the slough
that the snake has been pulled out.’ So too, I have proclaimed to my disciples the way to
create from this body another body having form, mind-made, with all its limbs, lacking
no faculty. And thereby many disciples of mine abide having reached the consummation
and perfection of direct knowledge.”23
One cannot do this kind of thing while out of Jhåna. All this must happen while
one is in Jhåna. This requires very powerful mental work, which itself requires being in
Jhåna. After a person comes out of Jhåna he would not have the power necessary to
perform these supernormal feats.
The Eight Liberations:
Another very vivid paradigm for using Jhåna to liberate the mind is given in the
same Sutta under eight liberations. The meditator sees forms; sees forms externally;
becomes aware of infinite space; becomes aware that "consciousness is infinite",
becomes aware that "there is nothing" and becomes aware of neither-perception-nor-nonperception.
He can become aware of all of them only when he is in those specific Jhånas.
The meditator is fully aware of everything happening in each Jhåna while he is in that
Jhåna. When he comes out of the Jhåna he may only have some memories of what has
occurred. That memory is not strong enough for the meditator to be fully aware of what
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
18
was happening while in the Jhåna. Mindful awareness can only be completely effective
when it is focused on what is happening right now.
Satipa††håna Sutta gives us a very important word to remember. It talks of
“Estabishing Mindfulness in the present”24. The key word that we should remember here
is “Parimukhaμ”. This word means that we must establish mindfulness in the present, not
as it is sometimes translated, in front of the mouth or nose. The function of mindfulness is
the same in Jhåna as it is out of Jhåna. The mindful mind becomes aware of whatever is
present. This awareness is not verbalization or conceptualization. It is a pure preconceptual
awareness of whatever truly exists.
The meaning of the Påli word “anupass¥” is also very significant. It means seeing
in accordance with. “Anupassanå” means seeing what is happening as it is happening.
This means mentally seeing things as they are happening while they are happening, not
before, nor after they have happened.
Investigation:
While we are in Jhåna we are sensitive to mental states and conditions but we do
not engage in discursive investigation. This has already been done when we were
practicing the enlightenment factor of investigation. This applies to both Jhåna attainers
and to non-Jhåna attainers. When we are in samådhi there is equanimity with its
equipoise balanced mindfulness, concentration, faith, effort and wisdom and all the
factors that are present in the Jhånas. This is especially true in the fourth Jhåna where
equanimity is the leader or commander. Under its command, mindfulness and
concentration act together taking note of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and
selflessness. Mindfulness is mindful of not letting words, concepts, ideas, logic,
philosophy and psychology disturb the smooth running of samådhi. It does not get swept
away with their verbal specifications. Attention simply keeps paying attention to
whatever is happening without verbalizing, conceptualizing and it makes sure that this is
non-conceptual awareness. Mindfulness at the highest level does not use concepts.
In this state of mind we can finally understand pre-conceptual awareness. When
the senses and their respective sensory objects meet, consciousness arises. The
combination (sangati) of these three factors is called contact. Feeling follows contact.
When feeling arises the mind cognizes or knows the feeling. We then perceive feeling,
contact, consciousness and sensory objects without words.
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
19
Here we can see that consciousness, contact, feeling and perception arise before
concepts. The mindful meditator, who has attained Jhåna, has four moments to be
mindful of what is going on before conceptualizing takes place. Pre-conceptual
awareness arises during these four mind moments and uninterrupted mindfulness
continues from mind moment to mind moment without conceptualizing anything. As
soon as a concept arises this continuity of mindfulness will be interrupted and the flow is
broken.
Strike when the iron is hot:
The three moments found in all conditioned things are totally ignored by most
people when they translate the Satipa††håna Sutta’s instruction on how to be mindful of
rising (uppåda), standing(†hiti) and passing away (bhanga). The Sutta says: “The bhikkhu
lives seeing rising phenomena of the body, vanishing phenomena of the body and risingand-
vanishing phenomena of the body.”25 These three phases are repeated in the
Satipa††håna Sutta for feeling, consciousness and Dhamma sections with appropriate
changes. People interpret these three stages as, “At one time the meditator becomes
mindful of rising phenomena, at another time he becomes mindful of vanishing
phenomena and at yet another time he is mindful of both rising phenomena and vanishing
phenomena.” Instead, they should be understood as appearing, disappearing and the
minutest change that takes place between the appearing and disappearing of body,
feelings, perception, volitional formation and consciousness.26
When a blacksmith wishes to shape a piece of iron into something he should heat
it. Only when it is red hot can he shape the iron into something by hammering it. He does
not wait until the iron is cool to hammer it into the shape he needs. When we sharpen a
knife we don’t make it blunt to use it to cut something. We use the knife when it is sharp.
Also, we don’t strike iron when it is in the fire. Nor can we cut something while we are
sharpening a knife. Similarly while we are preparing to attain Jhåna, it is difficult to use it
for seeing impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness.
While we were in the training period, before attaining Jhåna, the mind was not free
from hindrances. Only when the mind is concentrated should we use that mind to cultivate
supernormal powers, one of which is the attainment of liberation from suffering. The mind
is free from blemishes when we are in Jhåna and once we come out of Jhåna the
hindrances return to the mind. Jhåna suppresses them as a porous pot suppresses moss in a
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
20
pond while it is pressing down into the water. The moss stays away while the pot is in the
water. As soon as we remove the pot the moss returns and covers the water. Similarly as
soon as we come out of Jhåna the hindrances that have been held at bay, or pushed into
the subconscious mind, will return.
Suppose we drill a hole at the bottom of the pot and focus a powerful spotlight
through the hole. Then we could see the roots of the moss through the clear water. We
could cut through the roots of the moss in the water. Similarly concentration, attention,
and mindfulness look through the pure and luminous mind to see impermanence,
unsatisfactoriness and selflessness and remove the fetters.
The mind free from hindrances is luminous. This temporary luminosity and purity
become more prominent in the mind at the attainment of the fourth material Jhåna.
Conclusion:
In conclusion we would like to cite a passage from CËla-hatthipadopama Sutta in
Majjhima Nikåya. This passage is conclusive evidence that one should not come out of
Jhåna in order to attain full enlightenment by seeing the Four Noble Truths and destroying
the taints.
“When his concentrated mind is thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of
imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs it to
knowledge of the destruction of the taints. He understands as it actually is: ‘This is
suffering’; ‘This is the origin of suffering’; ‘This is the cessation of suffering’; ‘This is the
way leading to the cessation of suffering’; ‘These are the taints’; ‘This is the origin of the
taints’; ‘This is the cessation of the taints; ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of the
taints.’ … When he knows and sees thus, his mind is liberated from the taint of sensual
desire, from the taint of being, and from the taint of ignorance. When it is liberated there
comes the knowledge: “It is liberated.’ He understands: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life
has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of
being.’”27
1 Upakkilesa Sutta #128; MN. III. 161 -162 ; MLDB. By B B. 1014-1015; “yasmiμ kho samaye paritto
Samådhi hoti, parittaμ me tamhi samaye cakkhu hoti; so ‘haμ parittena cakkhunå parittañ c’eva obhåsaμ
sañjånåmi paritåni ca rËpåni passåmi. Yasmiμ pana samaye apparitto me Samådhi hoti, appamànaμ me
tamhi samaye cakkhu hoti; so’haμ appamånena cakkhunå appamàna¤c’eva obhåsaμ sañjånåmi ca rËpåni
passåmi kevalaμ pi rattiμ kevalaμ pi divasaμ kevalaμ pi rattindivanti.” (MN. III. 160).
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
21
2 SN. V. 92; CDB by BB, 1590
3 sammå Samådhi 4 MN. # 111 5DN. # 9 6DN. # 9, Po††hapåda Sutta, 181-187; The Long Discourses of the Buddha, A Translation of the D¥gha
Nikåya, by Maurice Walshe, 161 7ajjhattaμ sampasådana 8MN. iii. # 111, Anupada Sutta; MLDB by BB. 899-902. 9 “So tåya samåpattiyå sato vu††hahati. So tåya samåpattiya satovu††hahitvå ye dhammå at¥tå niruddhå
vipariˆatå te dhamme samanupassati: Evaμ kira ‘me dhamma ahutvå sambonti hutvå pativedent¥ti. So tesu
dhammesu anupåyo anapåyo anissito appa†ibaddho vippamutto visaμyutto vmariyådikatena cetaså
viharati.” MN. III. # 111, Anupada Sutta, 25-29. 10 “S¥lavato bhikkhave s¥lasampannassa na cetanåya karaˆ¥yaμ ‘avippa†isåro me uppajjatË’ti. Dhammatå
eså bhikkhave, yaμ s¥lavato s¥lasampannassa avippa†isåro uppajjati.
“Avippa†isårassa bhikkhave s¥lasampannassa na cetanåya karaˆ¥yaμ ‘ påmujjaμ me uppajjatË’ti.
Dhammatå eså bhikkhave, yaμ avippa†isårassa påmujjaμ uppajjati.
Pamuditassa bhikkhave na cetanåya karaˆ¥yaμ ‘p¥ti me uppajjatË’ti. Dhammatå eså bhikkhave, yaμ
pamuditassa p¥ti uppajjati.
P¥timanassa bhikkhave na cetanåya karaˆ¥yaμ ‘ kåyo me passambhatË’ti Dhammatå eså bhikkhave, yaμ
p¥timanassa kåyo passambhati.
Passaddhakåyassa bhikkhave na cetanåya karaˆ¥yaμ ‘sukhaμvediyåm¥’ti. Dhammatå eså bhikkhave, yaμ
passaddhakåyo sukhaμvediyati.
Sukhino bhikkhave na cetanåya karaˆ¥yaμ ‘ citta me samādhiyatË’ti Dhammatå eså bhikkhave, yaμ
sukhino cittaμsamādhiyati.
Samåhitassa bhikkhave na cetanåya karaˆ¥yaμ ‘yathābhËtaμ
pajånåmi passām¥ti. Dhammatå eså bhikkhave, yaμ samåhito yathåbhËtaμ pajånåti passati. YathåbhËtaμ
bhikkhave jånato passato na cetanåya karaˆ¥yaμ ‘nibbindåm¥ ti’. Dhammatå eså bhikkhave, yaμ
yathåbhËtaμ jånaμ passaμ nibbindati. Nibbindassa bhikkhave na cetanåya karaˆ¥yaμ ‘virajjåm¥’ ti.
Dhammatå eså bhikkhave, yaμ nibbindo virajjati. Virattassa bhikkhave na cetanåya karaˆ¥yaμ
‘vimuttiñåˆadassanaμ sacchikarom¥’ti. Dhammatå eså bhikkhave, yaμ viratto vimuttiñåˆadassanaμ
sacchikaroti.” (AN. V. pp. 312-313; GS. V. 3-4). 11 Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, An Anthology of Suttas from the Aμguttara Nikåya, Translated
and edited by Nyanaponika There and Bhikkhu Bodhi, 36;
Pabhassaraμ idaμ bhikkhave cittaμ tañ ca kho ågantukehi upakkilesehi upakkili††haμ. Taμ
assutavå puthujjano yathåbhËtaμ nappajånåti. Tasmå assutavato puthujjanassa citta-bhåvana n’atth¥ ti
vadåmi.
Pabhassaraμ idaμ bhikkhave cittaμ tañ ca kho ågantukehi upakkilesehi upakkili††haμ. Taμ sutavå
ariyasåvako yathåbhËtaμ pajånåti. Tasmå sutavato ariyasåvakassa citta-bhåvana atth¥ ti vadåmi. AN. I, vi,
1 -2. 12 akåliko Dhammo 13 Dhp. # 40. 24 MN. # 111, Anupada Sutta 14 MN. # 27, 182-183; MLDB. by BÑ & BB, 276 15 MN. # 111, 26-27; MLDB. by BÑ & BB, 900 16 MN. # 52, A††hakanågara Sutta 17 AN. IV. 422, IX, 36; Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, an Anthology of Suttas from the Aμguttara
Nikaya, by Ñånaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi, 234—235 18 AN. IV. 422, IX, 36; Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, an Anthology of Suttas from the Aμguttara
Nikaya, by Ñånaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi, 234—235 20 MN. III. # 111, 25-29; MLDB by Ña & BB. 899-902.
Should we come out of Jhana to practice Vipassana?
22
21 MN. I. #. 43, Mahåvedalla Sutta, 297; MLDB by BÑ & BB. 312 20 DN. #16, p. 156 22 MN. # 77, Mahåsakuludåy¥ Sutta, 17-18; MLDB by BÑ & BB 643 23 Parimukhaμ satiμ upa††hapetvå 25 Samudayadhammånupass¥ vå kåyasmiμ viharati, vayadham,manupass¥ vå kåyasmiμ viharatai
samudayavayadhammånupass¥vå kåyasmiμ viharati. 26 Uppådo paññåyati, vayo paññåyati †hitassa aññatatthaμ paññåyati.SN. III. 37; AN. I. 152 27 MLDB, By Ña & BB. 276 277.
So evaμ samåhite cite parisuddhe pariyodåte anaμgane vigatËpakkilese mudubhËte kammaniye
†hite ånejjappatte åsavånaμ khayañåˆåya cittaμ abhininnåmeti. So: idaμ dukkhanti yathåbhËtaμ pajånåti,
ayaμ dukkhasamudayoti yathåbhËtaμ pajånåti, ayaμ dukkhanirodhoti yathåbhËtaμ pajånåti, ayaμ
dukkhanirodhagåmin¥ pa†ipadå ti yathåbhËtaμ pajånåti, ime åsavåti yathåbhËtaμ pajånåti, ayaμ
åsavasamudayo ti yathåbhËtaμ pajånåti, ayaμ åsava nirodho ti yathåbhËtaμ pajånåti, ayaμ
åsavanirodhagåmin¥ pa†ipadåti yathåbhËtaμ pajånåti.… Tassa evaμ jånato passato kåmåsavå pi cittaμ
vimuccati, bhavåsavå pi cittaμ vimuccati, avijjåsavå pi cittaμ vimuccati, vimuttasmiμ vimuttam it ñåˆaμ
hoti; kh¥ˆå jåti vusitaμ brahmacariyaμ. Kataμ karaˆ¥yaμ naparaμ itthattåyåti pajånåti.” MN. I, # 27,
C¬lahatthipadopama Sutta, 183-184.