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Jhanas according to Brahmali


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#1 RobertK

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 04:36 AM

Dear Group
I just saw this website where a Buddhist monk claims the Theravada Commentaries have misunderstood jhanas and later in the article that the decline in Dhamma is due to the ancient Theravada Commentaries because they wrongly interpreted samadhi.

QUOTE

http://www.bswa.org/...ex.php?page=94
Brahmali
it might reasonably be asked why the Commentaries would mistakenly reinterpret the jhāna/samādhi of central Sutta passages in terms of the later Abhidhamma concept of lokuttarajjhāna and thereby significantly distort the message of the former. There are in fact several Sutta passages that relate to this question. These passages concern the future of the Dhamma and, in particular, they mention how a reduced respect for samādhi is a condition for the decline of the Buddha's teaching as a whole. Consider the following:

"Just as, Kassapa, gold does not disappear so long as counterfeit gold has not arisen in the world, but when counterfeit gold arises true gold disappears, so the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world, but when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma arises in the world then the true Dhamma disappears. ...
It is senseless people who arise right here who cause the true Dhamma to disappear.


Thus it appears that over time there is a natural tendency for the Dhamma to get distorted, that the distorters are members of the Sangha itself, and finally that one of the factors that lead to the gradual confusion and disappearance of the Dhamma is a lack of reverence and deference for samādhi


#2 Guest_Scott Duncan_*

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 02:57 PM

Dear Robert,

Interesting essay. I don't know enough about this to comment. I'd like to learn more about lokkuttarajhaana.

As far as "decline" of the Dhamma goes, one can just as easily suggest that the levelling out or "dumbing-down" of things is equally erosive. Is the position regarding lokkuttarajjhaana that it is a difficult-to-reach attainment? Does Ven. Brahmali make the point that the Commentarial literature "distorts" the message of the Suttas by clarifying that this is so? This would only seem to raise its status, that is, that it is an attainment requiring effort and arising only when conditions are ripe.

Is this an example of disrespect for the Abhidhamma?

Sorry for the naive questions; I've got to learn more about this distinction.

Sincerely,

Scott.

#3 RobertK

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 03:03 AM

QUOTE(Scott Duncan @ May 28 2006, 11:57 PM) View Post

.

As far as "decline" of the Dhamma goes, one can just as easily suggest that the levelling out or "dumbing-down" of things is equally erosive. Is the position regarding lokkuttarajjhaana that it is a difficult-to-reach attainment? Does Ven. Brahmali make the point that the Commentarial literature "distorts" the message of the Suttas by clarifying that this is so? This would only seem to raise its status, that is, that it is an attainment requiring effort and arising only when conditions are ripe.

Is this an example of disrespect for the Abhidhamma?


Dear Scott,
Other members might have comments on the essay. I think like you; the Venerable Brahmali notes that these days it is said to be very difficult to attain genuine jhana, and then makes a leap and suggests that this is a lack of respect for jhana. However I think saying it is difficult is not showing disrespect, it is being realistic, as these days many take unusual experiences in concentration as being jhana.
Maybe Suan has comments about the Pali expressions and the essay.
edit: see this post by Suan http://www.abhidhamm...hp?showtopic=97
Robert

#4 Guest_Scott Duncan_*

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 12:14 PM

QUOTE(RobertK @ May 28 2006, 09:03 PM) View Post

However I think saying it is difficult is not showing disrespect, it is being realistic, as these days many take unusual experiences in concentration as being jhana.

Yes, this is it. I'd like to read of some experiential or phenomenological accounts of jhaana; have some basis for comparison in order to better differentiate the "unusual" but irrelevant experience from that which is genuine.

Scott.

#5 RobertK

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 01:35 PM

Dear Scott,
This is an old post from Kom on dsg.
In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "tikmok" <tikmok@y...>
wrote:

Words can be very helpful. The tipitakas have tons of words that help us understand the different realities that are rising now. It's mind boggling to see how many different ways the tipitaka describes the word panna (wisdom), also a wordless state. It's not a question of how many words there are: it is the question of why we read/listen to the words for, and why we use those many words. Words are two-sided blades: they cut either way.

I am not sure if I am right to assume that your latter statement (Dissuading...) refers to Robert K's post. However, it does seem to me that his discussion is along the line of the former statement (Discussing jhana...).

Regarding to the sentiment that dissuading people from the practice of Jhana is a DSG instituition, let me offer an explanation from someone who have asked a similar question.

Possible reasons why some people in DSG seem to disuade people from Jhana:

1) Satipathana (knowing realities as they are) is the path to nibanna. Even if you develop Jhana, you would have to develop satipatthana to reach nibbana. There is no dispute (even within DSG!) about this point as far as I know.

2) As nibbana attainment is the highest fruit of the Buddha's teaching, it is of paramount importance for a beginner (like I am) to first learn what Satipatthana is, and what realities are. Learning about this is already overwhelming to some of us.

3) Beyond studying realities and satipathana, it is important to develop all kinds of kusala (wholesome deeds, words, and thoughts) knowing that without these development, reaching nibbana is impossible. I believe the Buddha taught that all kusala states (for the right reasons) are supportive of reaching nibbana. Jhana, as a kusala state, clearly falls within this parameter.

4) Developing other kusala states (besides Jhana) can happen for everybody, in their everyday life, regardless of what life they take (householder or a monk), and what their accumulations are. Learning about other kinds of kusala states that are very natural in our daily life as a householder are already surprisingly intricate and detailed. Before learning about Buddhism, did you know that the joy that rises after seeing other people doing good deeds can be wholesome states?

5) Jhana is said to be a kuru-kamma (a heavy kamma that if retained just before death, it will give results immediately in the next life) that gives result for a long time (at least 1 kappa, in the first rupa plane). Because of this, it is extremely hard to develop, and only few people with the right accumulations can develop this.

6) Learning how to develop Jhana is most likely to be as intricate as learning about satipathana and about realities conceptually. How many people in DSG truly devote their time to learning about the intricacies of
Jhana? As far as I can tell, none of the people that you may think of (certainly, people I think of) as DSG institution devote their time to doing this.

7) The texts say this about Jhana:
a) Have 10 obstacles (pari-potha), versus just 1 for satipathana
cool.gif Extremely hard to maintain
c) Most people that were mentioned to develop Jhana clearly see faults in the 5 sensualities.

8) Getting more controversial:
a) The 10 obstacles mentioned are virtually impossible to overcome with a life of a householder who so much enjoy the 5 sensualities.
cool.gif Having just one strong desire will force you to start over from the beginning. How many Jatakas about Bodhisatta that you have seen where the bodhisatta lost all his Jhana attainment because he saw a beautiful woman? Are you married? Are you engaged in sexual relationship? Now, the probability of the attainment is becoming less and less.
c) Do you see faults of the 5 sensualities? Are you willing to attenuate, very substantially, the seeking /exposures to the 5 sensualities in everyday life? Or is this a temporary thing?
d) Many people are attracted to Buddhism because the mediation offers "peace" in dailylife. The peace they are after is unlikely to be the "right" peace, and is not the highest fruit. Peace in Buddhism at the minimum means kusala, with Jhana being higher kusala, with nibbana being the highest peace.

9) Really controversial:
a) Nowadays, Many people who think they are developing Jhana are deluded. They can't tell the difference between the kusala states and states with attachment (lobha) and delusion (moha). Take anapanasati for example. Try observing your breath right now. If you are like me, the feeling of that observation will be neutral. Is that kusala or akusala? If you can't tell the difference, then you can't develop Jhana through Anapanasati. Now, try take something simpler, development through compassion (karuna). Pick your kid. When you do something for your kid when he is in pain, it can be either because of the attachment you have for your kid, or for the kusala compassion you have for him. Can you tell the difference? One gauge that was given is that if you equivalently treat other people (not the one you know or like) in the same situation, it is likely to be compassion. Without being able to tell the difference between kusala and akusala state, you can't develop this to the level of total absorption.
cool.gif Jhana attainment is not neccessary to attain the path. The tipitaka mentioned instances of Ariyans without Jhana attainments.
c) People develop tranquil meditation believe that by doing this, the wisdom will become sharper when observing other realities. Some people think that panna at the patti-patti (practice) level can only become sharper because there are development of panna (about realities) at all levels, not because of the tranquility that one might attain via tranquil meditation.

10) A point I have heard, remembered, but haven't bought into: Developing tranquil meditation nowadays is only possible to the level of upacara (access concentration), but not Jhana (total absorption).

I think my conclusion is that it only feels like that there seems to be a institutional discouragement only because:
I) Priority of learning
II) Hard to verify the genuine instances of Jhana development.
III) Unclear if needed for path attainment.

kom

#6 RobertK

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 02:13 PM

Vol 4 No 2




Access & Fixed Concentration
Dhamma talk by Venerable Sujivo, Kota Tinggi, January 1993
Transcribed by Bhikkhu Bodhisara


There are two approaches in the practice of meditation. The first approach is called samatha yanika. Those meditators who follow this approach practise initially by using concentration, or tranquillity, as a base. This means they practise pure tranquillity meditations like kasinas, visualisations; asubhas, meditations on loathsomeness of the body. There are forty such objects enumerated in the Visuddhimagga. They usually practise until they have reached an established state: At least to upacara samadhi, or to any of the jhanas, the blissful absorptions. When they are established here, they go further and practise vipassana.

The second type of approach is suddha vipassana yanika, the pure insight practice.

There is another type of approach: The practice where both concentration and insight are developed. The meditators are not established in either one alone but they practise alternatingly whenever one is more suitable. Usually people talk about the first two types, the pure samatha yanika and the pure vipassana yanika. You find that both these methods have been taught by the Buddha and his instructions can be found in the Tipitaka itself. For some the Buddha taught pure samatha methods before going to vipassana. Others he taught directly the Four Foundations of Mindfulness without going through the jhanas. There are many cases of both ways in the Tipitaka.

If you ask which one to practise, ideally it is the more you know the better. It's better when you know all the eight jhanas, as well as all the magga-phalas. But that would not always be possible. First, you have to find a suitable teacher who can teach you all these things. Second, of course, you need the time to do it. There are also different ways to approach it. Sometimes you may be practising vipassana for a period as we are doing here. After that, at a suitable time, one can also practise samatha. Some find that vipassana is good enough. That means they keep on practising and progressing and they do not need to go into samatha at all. Certain people find it necessary to go through some degree of samatha before they go into vipassana. But finally they will have to go to vipassana if they want to find enlightenment. In any case you have to do a lot of practice. And you need a lot of time.

Of course the emphasis of the Mahasi tradition is on vipassana. Not that the teachers are ignorant about the nature of samatha. From what I gather in Myanmar we know that many of the teachers can actually teach all the forty objects of samatha. When I was there many years ago, I asked them, "Why don't you teach me samatha? I also want to learn samatha." They said:

"Vipassana is more important. After you have established vipassana well then you can do all the samatha you want."

The reason is that most people do not have so much time to practise. Even if you're a monk, it doesn't mean you have all the time to practise. You get involved with other things. The important thing is that while there is the sasana period we learn what we can and as much as we can in vipassana. From what we understand, the concentration in an intensive retreat in vipassana is usually able to carry a person forward for a long time. Therefore, the emphasis here is on vipassana. As a lay person has even less time than a monk he should practise what is most important. Also according to our understanding, it is rather difficult to practise samatha successfully. Moreover, it may take some time if you are required to attain the jhanas. The object must be suitable and you also must have the potential.

Now we come to the subject of the jhanas. When you talk of jhana, it does not necessary mean something that occurs in samatha, pure tranquillity meditation, alone. It can also be applied to experiences of concentration within the vipassana meditation. Therefore there are such things as samatha jhanas, that means the jhanas or the type of absorptions that occur in pure tranquillity meditations, and vipassana jhanas, the other type of tranquillity or absorptions that occur in vipassana meditation.

What is the general idea behind the word 'jhana'? 'Jhana' usually means strong concentration fixed on the object. Here we quote an excerpt from a book written by Mahasi Sayadaw, The Wheel of Dhamma:

"Jhana means closely observing an object with fixed attention. Concentrated attention given to a selected object of meditation, such as breathing for tranquillity concentration, gives rise to samatha jhana, whereas noting the characteristic nature of mind and body and contemplating on their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality brings about vipassana jhana. There are two types of jhanasamatha jhana and vipassana jhana. Fixed attention that develops into tranquillity is called samatha jhana. Contemplating on the three characteristics constitutes vipassana jhana. There are also three kinds of samadhi (concentration): momentary, access and absorption concentration."

In another book, Sayadaw U Pandita refers to jhana as the mind sticking onto the object. It is like taking a wooden rod and poking through a leaf with it; or sticking it to something soft and then bringing it close to see what it is. So when the mind fixes on an object, it is like penetrating the object and going to it, sticking to it. This is the nature of jhana. It is a fixed, deep concentration.

Depending on how you use it, jhana can refer to different things. Just as when you say concentration, you can have wrong concentration and right concentration. It is still concentration. It refers to different experiences.

First we go into the general meaning of samatha concentration and how it occurs, as mentioned in the text. Here samatha jhana can be divided into two types. One is upacara jhana or upacara samadhi, the other one is appana jhana or appana samadhi. In this usage, jhana and samadhi mean the same thing. Appana means fixed concentration, that means the mind becomes unified, one with the object. Upacara means access, that means close to the fixed concentration.

We have to understand that upacara samadhi is very wide. There is a wide level of upacara, access concentration. It covers many experiences. And it differs with different objects. Generally, we can say a person reaches upacara samadhi when the five hindrances are inhibited. That means the concentration goes up to the level where greed, anger, sloth and torpor, worry and restlessness, and doubts do not arise. When the concentration has reached up to the level where the five hindrances are pushed aside (although they may come back after one comes out from the meditation) one can be said to have attained initial access concentration. Because the function of putting away the defilements or hindrances is satisfied, you can, if you want, go into the practice of vipassana and observe with a sharp and calm mind.

When the hindrances are put aside and are inhibited, it doesn't mean that the deepest form of access concentration has already been reached. At this moment of time you may still now and then hear sounds coming and going. At this point you can still have some idea of the form of the body. For example, if you are watching the in- and out-breaths and you come to a point where the hindrances are not there and the mind is very clear and calm. At this stage you still have some idea of the form of the body. And when sounds come, you can still hear them, although they may not be loud. At times they may be very loud or sometimes very blur. This is one lower stage of upacara samadhi.

But one can go further. When you say access concentration is close to absorption, it doesn't mean access concentration is weak. It can be very strong. Take for example a person, either he is watching the in- and out-breaths, or he is mentally chanting 'itipiso...', or he may be doing metta, spreading loving-kindness to somebody. After some time of developing the practice with mindfulness, with metta, with awareness, his mind will become calmer and calmer. When it becomes calmer and calmer he forgets about everything else. The mind becomes very soft, very quiet and very concentrated. It will at times become very light. And he forgets about the body, he won't feel his body at all. He won't be able to hear any sounds at all. He just knows the mind is very still and quiet either on the breath, or on sending loving-kindness to a person, or it might be a visualisation, a light for example. The mind does not move. The mind is very still, very quiet, he cannot hear anything, he doesn't know where he is. But he still knows that he is concentrated on the object. And if he wants to think he can; if he doesn't want to think he can, too. Often, in this stage, the mind is like one who is floating. It is like being half-asleep. But it is not really sleep. This still constitutes upacara samadhi, access concentration.

Thus, in the process of developing concentration, after reaching upacara samadhi where the hindrances have been put aside, one still has to go much further in the concentration before attaining the actual absorption, samatha jhana which we call appana jhana. In certain objects, you can see very clearly that they become finer and finer. Take for example, upacara samadhi, access concentration just before going into the first jhana and upacara samadhi just before going into the second jhana. Both are upacara samadhi but they are different in experience. And when you go to the third and fourth upacara samadhi, just before going into third and fourth jhana respectively, it is again different. The samadhi is finer and more still. The object also becomes much finer. So there are actually different levels of upacara samadhi which can be experienced.

We take an example from the kasinas meditative objects like colours, earth, etc. Let's say someone is doing a type of kasinawater kasina. Water kasina involves the visualisation of water. Before reaching absorption there arises what we call a nimitta, a mental sign, called uggaha nimitta. Uggaha nimitta is the 'grasped object'. That means it is a direct replica of what you see as water. When you can do that the mind is already very calm . Usually in this state you cannot be thinking here and there. Thisis because when you're thinking here and there you not only see water, you see other things as well. You may see fish inside the water or you may even see insects moving about. Sometimes you may see your friend swimming in the water and if you have craving arising, you may even see ladies swimming in the water! You may see them very clearly.

When you have the uggaha nimitta you see the water very clearly but the water may be moving. You see the water moving and the mind becoming one with the water. It is as if the mind is the water and the water is the mind. And it can be moving. At that time it is not very close to blissful absorption yet. It is still some way off. But if the mind can almost be one with the water and is sticking to the surface of the water, you cannot think of anything else. You cannot be having the idea of the body or anything. You cannot be hearing what is outside, you cannot think where you are either. At that time the nimitta is called uggaha nimitta, grasped object. It is upacara samadhi but not the one very close to the jhana yet. From here you can understand that the samatha concentration should be deep even before getting very close to the jhana.

Now if one is doing the water kasina when the uggaha nimitta arises, the mind is one with the object as if the mind is the water and the water is the mind. As the mind at this moment isn't yet completely still there will be movement. That means the water which is the mind and the mind which is the water are still moving. At that time you might find that it is a bit similar to the vipassana experience, but it is not the same. Another example is when doing the wind kasina, the stage is reached where the mind is like the wind and the wind is like the mindthe mind could be moving as if the wind is blowing. It is a bit like vipassana rising and falling, wind going up and down. But if you're sharp enough you know it is not the same.

As you progress and the concentration deepens, any movements within the object will stop, it will become very still. The mind which is the water and the water which is the mind become very still and very clear, completely transparent. Very bright. At that point the mind will approach a stage which is extremely clear and extremely bright. When that happens excitement sometimes comes up and the concentration is broken. At that point the mind goes into what we call patibhaga nimitta, the 'mirror image', which is very purified. This is now much closer to blissful absorption, first jhana. But still it is not yet absorption .

You will find that the process of upacara samadhi just before entering the first jhana or a matter of fact, the third or fourth jhana, differs in its fineness. For example, when going to first jhana it is like water moving and the mind is the water and the water is the mind. Then just before entering the first jhana, the water may be like a very clear round pool of water. But if you go to higher jhanas it will occur in finer stages. It becomes not just water moving but very fine droplets, like a mist, floating about. And just before entering the absorption (jhana) the object becomes very fine, pinpoint drops and you know that those pinpoint drops are moisture. So it is very much finer. The mind is also much finer and lighter.

This upacara samadhi can last long. You can sit for hours. It seems that people can sit for days. But it is still only upacara samadhi. In samatha you get very peaceful and very good experiences. There is no doubt about that. One can never say anything bad about samatha meditations. One can only praise samatha meditations. Only that they have to be properly learned, otherwise it can give rise to some problems.

At this level of upacara samadhi, because it is so peaceful and quiet, so happy and joyful, many things can happen. And because it is not so fixed like in appana (fixed concentration) it can sometimes lapse. Being so peaceful, it can lapse into sleep. For example, once when I was doing samatha the mind was very quiet and I knew I was sitting. I thought I had sat for five minutes only and was aware all the time, but when I turned to look at the clock it was already a few hours later. Either the sitting was very peaceful or that I could have fallen asleep. At times it's so peaceful and the mind so subtle that there is not much difference being aware or not being aware. It is just like you closing your eyes for a while only and already a few hours could have passed. In this type of samadhi it is very easy to slip off into sleep and you actually go into very, very deep sleep. And when you come out, if you're not careful, you may even think that it was nibbana. Because you may say it was cessation altogether, it was like you've gone to a void, there was nothing there. Or, you may think it was jhana, first absorption. But actually it was sleep. There is nothing wrong with sleep. Only when you start getting attached to it then problems come.

Besides sleeping there are other things that can happen. For example, at times there may be very strong joy that makes you feel like you are floating. Lots of joy and lightness may envelope one's mind and body and make them seem to disappear. When you come back to your senses you may recall, 'Oh! You've gone to a very peaceful and blissful state'. That is not jhana. It is still a kind of upacara, a kind of being completely enveloped in joy or happiness. Again, if you're not careful, you can get attached to it as nibbana or as jhana. There is nothing wrong with that bliss or that peacefulness. It is only when the attachment arises that problems follow. And it is very easy to get attached to such things.

In this access concentration for certain people, and certain types of meditation, a lot of nimittas arise. There arise what we call 'visions' or 'visualised images'. It may be things that you have seen before. It may be just nonsense. It may be, what they say, things from the past lives. It may be just fantasies. But usually the objects are quite clear because the mind is calm and peaceful. Especially in the beginning, they are very clear and nice. In fact some of them may be true. But inexperienced persons cannot differentiate so well as the concentration is not really deep yet. Little, subtle defilements quickly arise with visual images. And if you start to get attached to it: "I've psychic powers"; "I've divine eyes"; "I can see my past lives", "in my past life I was king of India", "in my past life I was emperor in China", then troubles arise. If you don't get attached, then they are just mental images that arise. There is nothing wrong with that, they will come and go. They may just be impressions from anywhere. But once attachment or fear arises, these images will not stop, they'll keep on continuing and continuing. Until finally you get total hallucinations. Therefore if you are into samatha meditations you are not encouraged to go into this at all until you have complete mastery over the mind, until you are one hundred percent sure whether these images are real or not. From here you may see that upacara samadhi is not just simple experience but actually covers a range of experiences.

There will come a point when the concentration is developed deep enough to enter what we call appana samadhi, the blissful absorptions, or fixed concentration. When this happens the mind changes into a different level, called rupavacara, the form-sphere. It is a jhanic sphere. This type of mind is totally cut off from what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch. In fact it also cuts off from the normal type of thinking and awareness. It has been described by some people as a kind of deep sleep. But they know very clearly how they sink into the object and get completely absorbed in it. Once the mind absorbed into the object, they are completely unconscious at that time. But when they come out they will know the nature of the state of mind that has just passed and also the object that they were attending to. So even if you enter into the first absorption for one second you will know that for that one second you were completely unconscious. Only when you come out are you aware of the blissful state of jhana during that one second. Even if you go in for half a second you will know that for half a second you are completely cut off from the whole sensual sphere. Only when you come out from this half a second of concentration will you know how the state of mind was.

When you go into absorption there occurs a completely different level of consciousness. Therefore if you're meditating and that you may forget the form of the body, no thoughts and the mind is very still and blissful that is still not appana, not the first samatha jhana. But that doesn't mean it's bad, it's still a good and peaceful state of mind.

It is very clear that in the absorption you are mindful. And sooner or later you may know after emerging, the nature of the object as going into absorption means that your mind is absorbed in the object. When the mind is completely absorbed in the object you know what the object is! Of course there are certain types of samatha meditation where the objects are very abstract. And when you first enter into jhana they may not be very clear, because they are very abstract objects that last only a very short time. But when you go in constantly and you go up to the third and fourth jhana they should be clear as well.

In certain meditations, like the kasinas and also the breathing meditation, anapana, where the object before absorption is very clear and bright, the object in which you are absorbed in is also very clear. As in the example of the water kasina and the access concentration of water kasina before the first absorption, it may be a completely clear pool of water which is very still. When you are entering into the absorption, it is like sinking into the water as if you are diving and finally in the water. When in the water you don't know anything. But once out of the water you know how the mind was, how you were while under water, so to speak. This is a very clear and blissful experience, but you know how clear and blissful only when you come out of it.

For these types of absorption there are four rupa jhanas, that means there are four levels and each is different in character. In the suttas it is very clearly said that they differ in terms of jhana factors, called jhanangas. These are cetasikas, certain states of mind that are present and which play an important part in the respective jhana, absorption. For example in the first jhana the factors involved are: vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha, ekaggata. Vitakka is 'initial application'. Initial application is the force of the mind which brings it to the object. This is a mental force. Vicara, sustained application, is the force of the mind that is keeping it on the object, and is again a mental force, something like an energy. Piti is joy or interest. Sukha is a very happy feeling. And ekaggata is one-pointedness, that means when the mind is as if one with the object. These mental factors which are present in the first jhana play an important part.

But it does not mean that when you have these five factors you have the first jhana. Even if you don't have any concentration these five mental factors are already there. When you think of food, when you miss very much your food, or your 'Penang Laksa' there are also these five factors present , because the mind keeps running to the Laksa, it stays on it thinking 'how nice if I have Laksa', and then after that when you think of the Laksa you have joy 'when I had Laksa it was so nice, I was enjoying myself' and you feel very happy also and the mind is actually as if you could taste the Laksa, then these five factors are there but it is more like wrong concentration, greed.

You must know what the five jhana factors are to understand the jhanas. You must know at least something about Abhidhamma before you can have a clearer idea. These five factors actually describe a type of consciousness, a type of mind. When you know what factors are present you know what jhana you are in. For example, in the first jhana you have all the five factors involved. In the second jhana, you don't have the initial and sustained application, you have only joy, happiness and one-pointedness. In the third jhana, you have only happiness and one-pointedness. In the fourth jhana, you have only equanimity and one-pointedness. From the description I've given on the absorptions you definitely cannot know it while you are in the jhana. While you are in these absorptions it is like you are in deep sleep, you are in a state deeper than deep sleep so how can you know while in it? You know it only before you go in, because before you enter it will be clear which factors are stronger and which are weaker and have to disappear, or after emerging, through making of proper resolutions to reflect on the factors present. We will not go into this because it is not part of our topic.

What I want is to give you a good idea of what access concentration and what actually fixed concentration is in what we call pure samatha jhana, when we talk about first, second, third and fourth jhana as samatha jhana. According to our experience it is important to have a certain degree of understanding. It is because of a lack of this type of understanding that wrong views arise. You find that in the Brahmajala Sutta, the discourse on wrong views, a large extent of wrong views do not come through thinking or philosophies, they come from meditative experiences. Because people hold on to their meditative experiences as something which is true and good but which in reality is very false, it gives rise to many types of wrong views. For example, one of them is dittha dhamma nibbana dittha dhamma vada. Nibbana you understand, dittha dhamma is a present state, vada is a view. This is the view regarding the present state as nibbana. For example if a person gets attached to the jhana as nibbana then he goes into wrong views. Of course there is nobody who can argue with him because he thinks "I have experienced it and you not". At certain times entering into jhana is as if going into a void, the object becomes so subtle that it is very easy to fall into false views if one does not have a proper teacher. Even before going to the blissful absorptions one can experience many subtle states which can be misunderstood.

Therefore tonight's talk is to give you an idea so that you do not get attached to these experiences. If you cannot differentiate between upacara samadhi and appana samadhi, access concentration and fixed concentration, it's even easier for you to make a mistake between what is nibbana and what is not nibbana because nibbana is something more subtle and deeper than jhana. For example, when people are practising meditation and everybody starts saying, "I've got first jhana, second jhana, third jhana, fourth jhana, this magga-phala, that magga-phala", we don't say that they are wrong because we don't really know what their experiences are, but the fact that they are saying all these things so easily and so happily makes it obvious that there are attachments. And you can see sometimes when they say it, they are very proud of it. If they are actually attached to wrong views it is even worse. We hope that this will not happen among the Buddhists here. If a person has really gone through all these practices he will know that it is not easy to know whether somebody has this jhana or that jhana, this magga-phala or that magga-phala. One would be very reserved in making such statements. Therefore, if somebody says all these things too freely, we don't say directly that he is wrong, we say, be very careful with him, you may go into wrong views.

#7 RobertK

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 05:30 AM

It is not uncommon for Buddhist and non-Buddhist to mistake states of concentration for an actual attainment of higher a plane of consciousness. As the Dhammasangani makes clear such factors as sukkham (mental ease) and samadhi do not neccesarily indicate anything auspicious- it may in fact be only purified lobha: ""What on that occasion is ease (sukkham) the mental pleasure, the mental ease which on that occasion is pleasant, easeful experience born of contact ...What on that occasion is ekaggatta. The stability, solidity, absorbed steadfastness of thought which on that occasion is absence of distraction, balance, unperturbed mental procedure, quiet, the faculty and the power of concentration WRONG concentration.'"------------
However, because these concentration states are much less distracting and concentrated than normal daily life they are naturally attractive and deceiving.

____________

There is so much jhana teaching in the suttas because the Buddha taught a complete path from the lowest to the highest. In the Budda's time there were many arahants of the highest order- those with complete mastery of jhana, like Sariputta or Rahula. It is different now. Sarah gave this sutta recently I think: AN, Bk of 4s, X1V, iii(133) Quick-Witted (PTS)

"Monks, these four persons are found existing in the world. What four?

He who learns by taking hints [uggha.tita~n~nu= (brief-learner)= sankhepa~n~nu]: he who learns by full details [vipa~ncit~n~nu (diffuse-learner)= vitthaarita~n~nu]: he who has to be led on (by instruction)[neyyo=netabba]: he who has just the word (of the text) at most [padaparamo=vya~njana- padam eva parama.n assa, one who learns by heart, is word-perfect but without understanding it]. These are the four."

At this time (acording to the texts) there are only padaparama and neyya. The extremely wise types with high accumulations of parami called Ugghatitannu and Vipancitannu are now extinct. Padaparama cannot attain in this life, although they can in future lives.. We, at this time, - so the Theravada commentaries say- are either padaparama or neyya and we need many details so we have to study and consider a great deal as a condition for understanding. From Ledi sayadaw
http://web.ukonline....sm/individu.htm

""(1) A Ugghatitannu : an individual whoキ encounters a Buddha in person, and who is capable of attaining the Holy Paths and the Holy Fruits through the mere hearing of a short concise discourse.

(2) A Vipancitannu: an individual who キ encounters a Buddha in person, but キ who is capable of attaining the Paths and the Fruits only when the short discourse is expounded to him at some length.

At the present day, only the following Neyya and Padaparama classes of individuals remain.

(3) A Neyya : an individual who needs キ to study the sermon and the exposition, and then キ to practise the provisions contained therein for 7 days to 60 years, to attain the Paths and the Fruits during this lifetime if he tries hard with guidance from the right teacher.

(4) A Padaparama : is an individual who cannot attain the Paths and the Fruits within this lifetime can attain release from worldly ills in his next existence if he dies while practising samatha or vipassana and attains rebirth either as a human being or a deva within the present Buddha Sasana. ""endquote Ledi sayadaw. --

According to the texts there are 3 ways by which nibbana is attained: that is by samathayanika (the one who has mastery of jhana); By samatha and vipassana combined ; and by vipassana alone. The Netti-pakarana (587)
"Tattha Bhagava tikkhindriyassa samatham upadassati, majjhindriyassa Bhagava samathavipassanam upadissati, mudindriyassa Bhagava vipassanam upadassati."

Herein the Blessed one teaches samatha to one of keen faculties; The blessed one teaches samatha and insight to one of medium faculties and the blessed one teaches insight [alone] to one of blunt faculties.

Again in the Netti (746)it says that the Buddha teaches insight [alone] to one who is guidable (neyya) and teaches in detail to neyya.
--
Relating this to the earlier quotes the only path now available is that of pure vipassana, as we are all mudindriyassa (blunt or dull facultied). This doesn't totaly rule out the possibilty of someone attaining genuine jhana - but even if they did they could not use it as a basis for insight, because for that mastery of jhana is needed. It would nevertheless be advantageous becuase of giving a respite from sense desire. But anyway what is most urgent is the development of vipassana.
Robert

#8 RobertK

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 08:26 AM

Visuddhimagga (XII, 8) "One in a hundred or thousand can do it." referring to upacara (access samadhi) and repeats for further stages.

#9 Guest_Scott Duncan_*

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 01:53 PM

Here's the quote in more detail:

"It is impossible that a recluse, a beginner, who has not subdued his mind in these fourteen ways, nor developed the developing, should attain the practice of psychic powers. For to the beginner the preliminary work of the device is a burden; only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To him who has done the preliminary work of the device, the production of the after-image is a burden; only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. When one has produced the after-image and increased it, the attainment of ecstasy is a burden; only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To him who has attained to ecstasy the subjugation of the mind in the fourteen ways is a burden; only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To him who has subdued the mind in the fourteen ways, the practise of psychic powers is a burden; only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To him who has attained to the practise of psychic powers, the quick inducement of Jhaana is a burden; only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it,"
(The Path of Purity, pp. 434-435, Pe Maung Tin, tr.).

Sincerely,

Scott.

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 03:49 PM

I have a couple of questions regarding the above.

Does the quote refer to "psychic powers" including jhaana as one of these? Or does it refer specifically to the powers outlined in the chapter, such as "deva hearing," or "knowledge of other's thoughts," or "recollection of past existences," or "knowledge of the decease and re-birth of beings," and the like?

I'm tempted to read the numbers of capable practitioners to be in reference to these specific "psychic powers," and not necessarily to jhaana; that is, very, very few would be capable of these specific psychic powers. It is not clear that the mastery of jhaana is included in this. It is clear, however, that jhaana needs to be perfected to a high degree.

It is clear that mastery of jhaana is a prerequisite for these psychic powers, but is it to be considered as one of them?

Clarification, if you please.

Sincerely,

Scott.

#11 RobertK

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 11:28 AM

Dear Scott
What the Visuddhimagga says is that to attain even the stages preceeding jhana only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. And then out of those who attain this stage again only a small percentage can go further..

To have powers such as being able to walk through walls, visit Deva realms etc, one must have all these plus more- thus only the elite of the elite can have this.
Why were there so many bhikkhus with these powers in the Buddha's day? Becuase they are are born in such a time because of vast good kamma.
Robert

#12 Guest_Scott Duncan_*

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 01:24 PM

QUOTE(RobertK @ Jun 5 2006, 05:28 AM) View Post

What the Visuddhimagga says is that to attain even the stages preceeding jhana only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. And then out of those who attain this stage again only a small percentage can go further..
Why were there so many bhikkhus with these powers in the Buddha's day? Becuase they are are born in such a time because of vast good kamma.
Robert

Dear Robert,

Thanks. I wanted to make sure. This is important. There are so many claims and teachers these days.

Sincerely,

Scott.

#13 RobertK

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 01:46 PM

Dear Scott,
We cannot say jhana is impossible at this time, there may be some who have the special accumulations needed for this- but I think relatively few, and unlikely that even these could attain more than first or second jhana, let alone mastery. Attaining some moments of upacara is less difficult if someone really understands the right way.

Thus a certain amount of inquiry is needed before we accept any claims: they can be asked, ' what is the object, what is known..' If they are sincere about truth they may see that what they take for jhana is different from what the ancients said.
Robert

#14 Wolfgang

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 02:18 PM

Dear Robert and Scott,

As I said and understood the Visuddhi-magga: Only 1 out of 1 - 10 millions who try would succeed in the mastery of only the first Jhana. However, because no one, and certainly not a recluse, can know so many people personally - for me this remains a futile speculation - and a sign that the whole of the Visuddhimagga is written out of book-knowledge - and not out of personal experience of the path. This holds valid for me only!

Jhanas, to whichever degree one is able to practice it, in my eyes, is an integral part of the noble eightfold path. Miracles, in my understanding, belong to conventional language. And within conventional language the miracle of teaching the Dhamma is the highest miracle - the Buddha in the Sutta said.

More practically about this subject the Kevaddha Sutta:

Kevaddha Sutta, DN 11

For me the crucial question remains:
"Which texts do encourage me on this path to integrate its eight limbs."
Again, for me, it is unequivocally the Suttas. And never this talk about: 'How difficult it would be'. If I believed that, - I never would have tried. But its clear outline in the Sutta encouraged me to give it a try.

So I did: For 2 years I gave it a serious try in a monastery where the 4 Jhanas are regularly practiced. That time, in one way, was quite different to my 10-day retreats at Goenka's places before:

Usually my first day in a Goenka retreat I sleep the whole day in the sitting posture. In this monastery, I immediately became infected and I had to struggle for '2 months' with the same sloth and torpor.
The next hindrance I usually have to struggle for the following day on a Goenka retreat is restlessness. On the 3rd day its ill-will. On the fourth and fifth, after the arising of visions and Sukkha - sexual fantasies.
Now in the 2 years of my time of practice in this monastery such periods, where one hindrance was predominant, lasted in average 2-3 months!
But because everything is impermanent - so also the hindrances of the most worst meditator like me ;-)

So there were times when my mind really settled at least so far, that there was no movement of thought - except the onepointedness with the meditation-object - for about 20 Minutes. Together with the joy and bliss of - finally, at last - being removed from the hindrances (only after months of such struggling one would understand how much this can mean - and as it is outlined in the Kevaddha Sutta).

Of course, this was not Jhana, jet. It was just being removed from the hindrances. As it is described in the Kevaddha Sutta and through which - according to the Sutta - one would proceed to the Jhanas, if persisted long enough. This removal of the hindrances is called access-concentration, Upacara-samadhi in the commentaries. A word, I may add, not existing in the old Sutta text - but in this meaning it is.

The most astonishing of these small periods of only 20 minutes - it changed me always for weeks. Just as a blatant example: By not being allowed eating in the afternoon I always eat enough to get over without having to feel hunger till the next morning. Together with little bodily exercise, this led to an increase in my body-weight of 14 kilos! In these periods - that overeating completely stopped.

The Burmese laypeople coming to give alms-food, didn't particularly liked me. Because in the beginning I wore a beard and long hair - like the Muslims brothers in the vicinity, which were equally not particularly liked.
But in these periods, there was no way for my to avoid the rumor from spreading: I allegedly would have attained Jhana. Simply because my happiness radiated out of every gesture of mine, at that time. (anicca...)

Although, I really do not want to pass any judgment on any other meditator at that time in that particular forest-monastery - I do want to add that at the time I left (2001) in total 400 Meditators where meditating there: 100 Monks, the rest 10-precepts nuns and laypeople.
By now, the number of monks alone increased to 400.
According to Buddhaghosa, I would have been the only one who reached Upacara? That simply appears ridiculous - for me only. I've been only a layperson practicing there, beside so many Mahatheras from all over the Buddhist world!
Just one anekdote: One practitioner wanted to leave that monastery, because it seemed too difficult to him to progress in Jhana. He wanted to visit a famous Zen-teacher next. It didn't came to it, because his famous Zen teacher came there to practice Jhanas there himself.

I want to add that for a monk it is indeed a defeating Sila, to announce the attainment of Jhana, but only if he consciously lied. For example, it is not a breaking of the defeating rules - if it is true, or if the monk simple has been mistaken!

Highest regards...





#15 RobertK

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 02:59 PM

QUOTE(Wolfgang @ Jun 5 2006, 11:18 PM) View Post

I want to add that for a monk it is indeed a defeating Sila, to announce the attainment of Jhana, but only if he consciously lied. For example, it is not a breaking of the defeating rules - if it is true, or if the monk simple has been mistaken!

Highest regards...


Dear Wolfgang,
Lots of point in your post! I just reply to the above point now.
Yes, this is correct.
It should also be noted that:
http://www.metta.lk/...mc1/ch08-1.html
QUOTE
Should any bhikkhu report (his own) factual superior human state to an unordained person, it is to be confessed.
The factors for the full offense here are three:
1) Object: an unordained person, i.e., anyone -- human or not -- who is not a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni.
2) Effort: One reports one's actual attainment of a superior human state[these staes include jhana and higher] to such a person.
3) Result: The person immediately understands.
Only two of these factors -- effort and result -- require explanation.

Effort. The meaning of superior human state is discussed at length under Parajika 4. In brief, it covers (a) jhana, (cool.gif the cognitive powers that can arise as its result, and the transcendent states.
Factual is not explained in the texts, but probably means factual from the bhikkhu's own point of view. In other words, whether or not he has actually attained a superior human state, if he thinks he has and reports it to an unordained person, he commits an offense all the same. If he actually has attained such a state, e.g., jhana, but thinks he hasn't, and yet claims that he has -- in other words, he is telling what he thinks to be a lie -- he incurs a parajika.

To report, says the Vibhanga, means to speak directly of one's own attainments. To speak indirectly of one's own attainments -- e.g., "The bhikkhu who lives in this dwelling enters jhana at will" -- entails a dukkata. According to the Commentary, gestures fall under this rule as well. Thus, if a lay person asks a bhikkhu who has attained Stream-entry if he has reached any of the noble attainments, and the bhikkhu nods, his nod would fulfill the factor of effort here.
Result. As noted above, the bhikkhu incurs the full penalty only if his listener immediately understands what he has said. If the listener does not understand, the bhikkhu incurs a dukkata regardless of whether he spoke directly or indirectly of his attainments.

Whether or not the person addressed believes what is said, is of no account in determining the offense.

Non-offenses. The Vibhanga states that to report one's own superior human attainments to another bhikkhu or to a bhikkhuni carries no penalty.
Summary: To tell an unordained person of one's actual superior human attainments is a pacittiya offense.

Robert

#16 RobertK

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 03:42 AM

QUOTE(Wolfgang @ Jun 5 2006, 11:18 PM) View Post

Dear Robert and Scott,

As I said and understood the Visuddhi-magga: Only 1 out of 1 - 10 millions who try would succeed in the mastery of only the first Jhana. However, because no one, and certainly not a recluse, can know so many people personally - for me this remains a futile speculation - and a sign that the whole of the Visuddhimagga is written out of book-knowledge - and not out of personal experience of the path. This holds valid for me only!

Dear Wolfgang,
When The Visuddimagga talks about mastery it means having the ability to leave and enter at will in any situation at any time. One who has mastery could be listening to a talk while rapidly entering and exiting jhana. There were many monks like Sariputta and Moggalana who could do that in the Buddha's day, but I believe no one at this time would have such abilities.

Thus to be able to attain first jhana Buddhaghosa is saying only one in 10,,000 - 100,000 can do it (not 1 in 10million). In another commentary he says that there are still many now (at his time) who are arahants (which is much harder than even attaining jhana). You see those who have genuine abilities will tend to associate- like at the Mahavihara in Sri lanka where Buddhaghosa lived, thus you get a concentration of great beings . Among those beings the odds of attaining jhana are astronomically reduced.

I think we should be cautious in assuming Buddhaghosa had no personal experience. In any event he was editing the ancient Commentaries brought to sri lanka by venerable Mahinda, it is not his opinion, it is that of the ancients of Theravada. And Buddhaghosa's commentaries have been accepted, recited and carried on by the wise elders of Theravada for over a millenia; we are not so wise in this later half of the sasana.
Robert

#17 RobertK

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 05:05 AM

QUOTE(Wolfgang @ Jun 5 2006, 11:18 PM) View Post

Dear Robert and Scott,

Of course, this was not Jhana, jet. It was just being removed from the hindrances. As it is described in the Kevaddha Sutta and through which - according to the Sutta - one would proceed to the Jhanas, if persisted long enough. This removal of the hindrances is called access-concentration, Upacara-samadhi in the commentaries. A word, I may add, not existing in the old Sutta text - but in this meaning it is.

The Burmese laypeople coming to give alms-food, didn't particularly liked me. Because in the beginning I wore a beard and long hair - like the Muslims brothers in the vicinity, which were equally not particularly liked. But in these periods, there was no way for my to avoid the rumor from spreading: I allegedly would have attained Jhana. Simply because my happiness radiated out of every gesture of mine, at that time. (anicca...)


Dear Wolfgang,
Only we ourselves can really know, but I mention an experience I had. In the late eighties I was staying at a vipassana center in Thailand, several months. One day I had to go into the town to renew my visa or something. I went into a shop and someone said my complexion was so clear. And then in another shop a girl asked me why I looked so bright and glowing. I told her I was staying at a the center (which she knew) and she went and got her father (or uncle or someone). He came out and asked me about Dhamma and meditation and so on. All based on this glowing skin. Actually I found out (eventually), that what it was, was a purified type of lobha was conditioning this phenomena. But I was proud of it and thought it a good thing. Delusion - but taken as the right way. So wrong effort was producing wrong concentration and ..... The teacher was well-known, had written Dhamma books, was 85 years old, he thought I had made special progress, I was happy...

This type of subtle lobha is pleasant, and if it can be maintained you feel calmer than normal daily life with its constant interupitions and distractions. And it takes much effort to maintain it- but it is still only lobha.
I am not suggesting this is related to you but I mention it to show how it is possible to go wrong.
Especially I think we should not be excited by how others estimate us, or how they estimate others. I read on esangha yesterday about the very famous Luang por Koon in Thailand, many people think he is arahant but he gives out amulets, and gives special auspicious taps, magical things. People are exceedingly impressed by rumor and reputation.
Robert

#18 Wolfgang

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 08:30 PM

QUOTE(RobertK @ Jun 6 2006, 05:42 AM) View Post

And Buddhaghosa's commentaries have been accepted, recited and carried on by the wise elders of Theravada for over a millenia; we are not so wise in this later half of the sasana.


Dear Robert,

I can promise you that I have the highest respect for what a great scholarly task he accomplished. But if I look for encouragement in the practice of the noble 8-fold path, I turn to living teachers of the Dhamma, and the Suttas themself.

I am sure that the Buddha asked his monks not to agree with him out of respect for him as the Teacher, but because they had proven the teachings to be beneficial in their own experience.

Out of this reason - I leave the Visuddhimagga for my actual practice aside. If you can make use of it for the furthering of your understanding and practice - I will be with you. But the moment I am expected to function equal, I fear I cannot. Until now it simply didn't occure to me that the words of the best teacher need further clarification or interpretations. Sorry, that's simply me. If according to Ven. Buddhaghosa or Ven. Ledi Sayadaw (of whom U Ba Khin's laypeople vipassana-tradition originated) that would be impossible, so be it.

Now I really start to understand Ven. Brahmali, how such speculations could lead to the decline in the practice in Dhamma. Thanks for making me understand better.

May all your wishes come true,

Wolfgang

#19 Wolfgang

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 08:35 PM

Dear Robert,

I am really glad to hear that you meditated at one time in your life.

In addition, you know I took the superstitions of the Burmese laypeople just as some example. Because you also heard me say what I had to say about accessing Jhanas by becoming removed from the hindrances. You read about my struggle, and not only for months, to that end.

Are you saying this path should not be a constant fail and try again? One should start out with everything perfect? (no hindrances left to recognize?) - Otherwise better leave it? - Slowly I get the impression that is what you are saying in respect to 'Samma-samadhi'. And that means you gave it up to try, since then, more then 20 years ago (?)

However, because my interest in the noble 8-fold path is only practical. Therefore, I want to bring this discussion back from the detail: where you suspect my hindrance then - while I talked about a sincere process over 2 years becoming removed from the hindrances by practicing the path according to the Sutta.

Here is where I wanted to get at with the above mentioned Sutta, and the recount of my experience (the point is not: what particular hindrances you suppose now in retrospect, because, anyway - then I recognised them all - but to recognise the hindrances, or their absence in the present moment, from where all wholesome well-being arises)

Abandoning the Hindrances:
"Endowed with this noble aggregate of virtue, this noble restraint over the sense faculties, this noble mindfulness and alertness, and this noble contentment, he seeks out a secluded dwelling: a forest, the shade of a tree, a mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle grove, the open air, a heap of straw. After his meal, returning from his alms round, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body erect, and brings mindfulness to the fore.

"Abandoning covetousness with regard to the world, he dwells with an awareness devoid of covetousness. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning ill will and anger, he dwells with an awareness devoid of ill will, sympathetic with the welfare of all living beings. He cleanses his mind of ill will and anger. Abandoning sloth & drowsiness, he dwells with an awareness devoid of sloth & drowsiness, mindful, alert, percipient of light. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning restlessness and anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness and anxiety. Abandoning uncertainty, he dwells having crossed over uncertainty, with no perplexity with regard to skillful mental qualities. He cleanses his mind of uncertainty.

"Suppose that a man, taking a loan, invests it in his business affairs. His business affairs succeed. He repays his old debts and there is extra left over for maintaining his wife. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, taking a loan, I invested it in my business affairs. Now my business affairs have succeeded. I have repaid my old debts and there is extra left over for maintaining my wife.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man falls sick in pain and seriously ill. He does not enjoy his meals, and there is no strength in his body. As time passes, he eventually recovers from that sickness. He enjoys his meals and there is strength in his body. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was sick... Now I am recovered from that sickness. I enjoy my meals and there is strength in my body.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is bound in prison. As time passes, he eventually is released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was bound in prison. Now I am released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is a slave, subject to others, not subject to himself, unable to go where he likes. As time passes, he eventually is released from that slavery, subject to himself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where he likes. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was a slave... Now I am released from that slavery, subject to myself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where I like.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man, carrying money and goods, is traveling by a road through desolate country. As time passes, he eventually emerges from that desolate country, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, carrying money and goods, I was traveling by a road through desolate country. Now I have emerged from that desolate country, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"In the same way, when these five hindrances are not abandoned in himself, the monk regards it as a debt, a sickness, a prison, slavery, a road through desolate country. But when these five hindrances are abandoned in himself, he regards it as unindebtedness, good health, release from prison, freedom, a place of security. Seeing that they have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad. Glad, he becomes enraptured. Enraptured, his body grows tranquil. His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated.

The Four Jhanas:
"Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. Just as if a ... (well worth to read the whole Sutta; translated by Ven. Thanissanro)

Kind regards,

Wolfgang


#20 RobertK

RobertK

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 06:15 AM

QUOTE(Wolfgang @ Jun 19 2006, 05:35 AM) View Post

Dear Robert,

I am really glad to hear that you meditated at one time in your life.

In addition, you know I took the superstitions of the Burmese laypeople just as some example. Because you also heard me say what I had to say about accessing Jhanas by becoming removed from the hindrances. You read about my struggle, and not only for months, to that end.

Are you saying this path should not be a constant fail and try again? One should start out with everything perfect? (no hindrances left to recognize?) - Otherwise better leave it? - Slowly I get the impression that is what you are saying in respect to 'Samma-samadhi'. And that means you gave it up to try, since then, more then 20 years ago (?)

However, because my interest in the noble 8-fold path is only practical. Therefore, I want to bring this discussion back from the detail: where you suspect my hindrance then - while I talked about a sincere process over 2 years becoming removed from the hindrances by practicing the path according to the Sutta.



Kind regards,

Wolfgang

Dear Wolfgang,
As I said in my earlier post I was only pointing out my own error, only you yourself know whether you reached upacara samadhi. The thing is the one who genuinely does reach first jhana will have no doubt that somthing momentous has happened: they are have actually attained another plane- that plane of the Brahmas, higher than the highest devas of the kamaloka. But then again the one who hasn't attained may experience many subtle and unusual and pleasant experiences and take these to be jhana. I am writing not so much for you but for anyone who reads this thread.

You lived for 2 years in a temple devoted to samatha and thus you fulfilled the outward conditions of seclusion needed for success. Then again how do feel gaining samatha helped with insight, vipassana?

You ask if I give up striving for samma-samadhi. What is samma-samadhi and what is right effort, we need to think about this. Samma-samadhi has different types, it is not limited to temples or retreats.
Robert