Practice jhana


“”Over there are the roots of trees; over there, empty dwellings. Practice jhana, monks. Don’t be heedless. Don’t later fall into regret. This is our message to you.”””

For those who have said that the practice of the jhanas is unnecessary, I wonder what you think of this direct statement of the Buddha’s?


Dear Rob E.

I was impressed with your post to Nina today. Glad you brought this sutta up, as there are several like it in the Tipitaka. I think it is one of those phrases that need a little explication. The Pali (supplied by Jim Anderson) of an almost identical phrase:

“Jhaayatha, Cunda, maa pamaadattha maa pacchaa vippa.tisaarino ahuvattha …” — M i 46 (near the end of MN 8). Also found at M i 118 (MN 19) with ‘bhikkhave’ instead of Cunda. Here, the commentary interprets “Meditate” as “Increase samatha and vipassanaa”.

“Samatha~nca vipassana~nca va.d.dhethaa ti vutta.m hoti.” –MA ii 195 (there’s a bit more just before this)


I know about this translation of ‘jhaayatha’. I find that it does not quite agree with the commentary which includes both samatha and vipassanaa. That’s why I think ‘Meditate’ is a better translation than ‘Practice jhana’.

“Jhaayatha’ is a verb in the 2nd person plural with the -tha ending. In the PED, the verbs are entered in their 3rd pers. sing. forms with the -ti ending. So you will have to look for ‘jhaayati’ for which you will find two
entries. The first one has the following senses: to meditate, contemplate, think upon, brood over (c. acc.): . . . — and for the second: to burn, to be on fire: . . . They are derived from two distinct roots. In the commentarial passage from which I quoted “Increase samatha and vipassanaa” in explaining ‘jhaayatha’ there is also the following comment that helps to clarify the difference between samatha and vipassana: “Meditate (upanijjhaayatha) on the 38 objects ( with the meditation (upanijjhaana) on an object and on aggregates, bases, etc. according to anicca, etc. with the meditation on a characteristic (” — MA i 195.” end of section by Jim Anderson.
When the texts talk about meditation, jhaya, it is useful to know that there are two types. The Dhammapada 371 :”Meditate, o bhikkhu and be not heedless.” (same pali phrase as the sutta you quoted above. The atthakatha says “o bhikkhus meditate by the two kinds of meditative absorptions” And the tika notes that this is twofold in “the sense of meditative absorption that arises depending on an object and meditative absorption that arises dependent on characteristics” The tika later explains this by saying that the first is (p506 note 6 of carter and palihawadana) “the eight attainments (jhanas) to be obtained by training the mind in concentrating on one of the thirty eight objects such as kasina [or metta, or Buddha or Dhamma or breath etc] and the second means ‘insight wisdom, path and fruit’ be obtained by reflecting on the three characteristics'”endquote

Now when it says ‘reflecting’ this means direct insight into the actual characteristics and conditions of the present moment right up to the vipassana nanas and magga and phala. The Dhammapada pradipaya (see p457 of carter) says “to consider the coming into being of rupa on account of ignorance, craving, kammaand nutrition, and also to see the mere characteristics of its instantaneous coming into being, without looking for causative aspect; thus one should consider the rise of rupa in five ways. Likewise to consider the rise of
the other 4 khandas in the same way…Thus the rise of the pancakkhanda (five aggregates )is seen in 25 ways. To see that the rise of the khandas is stopped by abolishing the causes:ignorance, craving, kamma and this way the cessation of the agregates should be seen” end quote

best wishes


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