Fandom

Religion Wiki

Jhāna

34,278pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Talk0 Share

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.

Jhāna (Pāli: Sanskrit; Dhyāna) is a meditative state of profound stillness and concentration. It is sometimes taught as an abiding in which the mind becomes fully immersed and absorbed in the chosen object of attention,[1]characterized by non-dual consciousness.[2] Other times it is taught as an abiding in which mind becomes very still but does not merge with the object of attention, and is thus able to observe and gain insight into the changing flow of experience.[3][4] It is discussed in the Pali Canon (and the parallel agamas) and post-canonical Theravada Buddhist literature. The Buddha himself entered jhana during his own quest for enlightenment, and is constantly seen in the suttas encouraging his disciples to develop jhāna as a way of achieving awakening and liberation.[5][6][7] A key innovative teaching of the Buddha was that Jhana should be combined with the practice of Vipassana.[8]

Just before his passing away, The Buddha entered the jhānas in direct and reverse order, and the passing away itself took place after rising from the fourth jhāna.[9]

Stages of Jhāna

Template:JhanaFactors

The Rupa Jhānas

There are 4 stages of deep concentration which are called the Rupa Jhāna (Fine-material Jhāna):

  1. First Jhāna - To attain this jhāna, the meditator must fix his mind on the meditation object to reduce and eliminate the lower mental qualities which are called the Five Hindrances (sensual desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubt) and promote the growth of five jhāna factors (applied/directed thought, sustained thought, rapture, bliss and unification of mind (or, "one-pointedness", depending on the exact attainment in question). In this stage, only the subtlest mental movement remains. The ability to form unwholesome intentions ceases.
  2. Second Jhāna - To attain this jhāna, the meditator must reduce and eliminate the two initial factors of the first jhāna itself (applied/directed thought and sustained thought), the three remaining jhāna factors still possessed by the meditator are the rapture, bliss and unification of mind (or, "one-pointedness", depending on the exact attainment in question). In this stage, the meditator acquires complete confidence and internal assurance.
  3. Third Jhāna - To attain this jhāna, the meditator must reduce and eliminate the third initial factor of the first jhāna itself (rapture), the two remaining jhāna factors still possessed by the meditator are the bliss and unification of mind (or, "one-pointedness", depending on the exact attainment in question). Three additional components are possessed by the meditator (equanimity, mindfulness and discernment).
  4. Fourth Jhāna - To attain this jhāna, the meditator must reduce and eliminate the fourth initial factor of the first jhāna itself (bliss) and replace it with another jhāna factor (equanimity/neutral feeling), the two remaining jhāna factors still possessed by the meditator are the equanimity/neutral feeling and unification of mind (or, "one-pointedness", depending on the exact attainment in question). In this stage, the meditator enters a state of supreme purity, equanimity, and pure consciousness.

The Formless Dimensions

Beyond the four jhāna lie four higher attainments in the scale of concentration, referred to in the early texts as āruppas, also referred in commentarial literature as the Arūpajhānas (Immaterial/formless Jhāna). The immaterial jhānas are designated as:

  1. Dimension of infinite space.
  2. Dimension of infinite consciousness.
  3. Dimension of nothingness.
  4. Dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

In the suttas, these are never referred to as "jhanas". According to the early scriptures, the Buddha learned the last two formless attainments from two teachers, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, respectively, prior to his enlightenment.[10] It is most likely that they belonged to the Brahmanical tradition.[11]

Cessation of feelings and perceptions

The Buddha himself discovered an attainment beyond the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, the "cessation of feelings and perceptions" — this is sometimes called the "ninth jhana" in commentarial and scholarly literature.[12][13] Only someone who is already an anagami or arahant can attain this state; here a person gains a sort of unconscious meeting with nibbana.[14] It is attained through an integral blending of jhana and vipassana.[15]

Historical development

Element and formless meditation

Early Brahminic passages on meditation suggest that the most basic presupposition of early Brahmanical yoga is that the creation of the world must be reversed, through a series of meditative states, by the yogin who seeks the realization of the Self.[16] These states were given doctrinal background in early Brahminic cosmologies, which classified the world into successively coarser strata. One such stratification is found at TU II.1 and Mbh XII.195, and proceeds as follows: Self, space, wind, fire water, earth. Mbh XII.224 gives alternatively: Brahman, mind, space, wind, fire, water, earth.[17] In Brahmanical thought, the meditative states of consciousness were thought to be identical to the subtle strata of the cosmos.[18] There is no similar theoretical background to element meditation in the early Buddhist texts, where the elements appear simply as suitable objects of meditation.[19] It is likely that the Brahmanic practices of element meditation were borrowed and adapted by early Buddhists, with the original Brahmanic ideology of the practices being discarded in the process.[20] The uses of the elements in early Buddhist literature have in general very little connection to Brahmanical thought; in most places they occur in teachings where they form the objects of a detailed contemplation of the human person. The aim of these contemplations is to induce the correct understanding that the various perceived aspects of the human person do not comprise a Self.[21]

Moreover, the Self is conceptualized in terms similar to both "nothingness" and "neither perception nor non-perception" at different places in early Upanishadic literature.[22] The latter corresponds to Yajnavalkya’s definition of the Self in his famous dialogue with Maitreyi in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, and the definition given in the post-Buddhist Mandukya Upanishad. This is mentioned as a claim of non-Buddhist ascetics and Brahmins in the Pancayattaya Sutta (M II.228.16 ff).[23] In the same dialogue in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya draws the conclusions that the Self that is neither perceptive nor non-perceptive is a state of consciousness without object. The early Buddhist evidence suggests much the same thing for the state of "neither perception nor non-perception".[24] It is a state without an object of awareness, that is not devoid of awareness (the state following it in the Buddhist scheme, the "cessation of perception and sensation", is so devoid).[25] This and other evidence suggest that Uddaka Ramaputta belonged to the pre-Buddhist tradition portrayed by the Buddhist and Brahmanic sources, in which the philosophical formulations of the early Upanishads were accepted, and the meditative state of "neither perception nor non-perception" was equated with the Self.[26] Furthermore, there is early Upanishadic evidence suggesting that the goal of Alara Kalama was a Brahminical concept. Evidence in the Chandogya Upanishad and the Taittiriya Upanishad suggests that a different early Brahminic philosophical tradition held the view that the unmanifest state of Brahman was a form of non-existence.[27] Thus it seems likely both element and formless meditation was learned by the Buddha from his two teachers, and adapted by him to his own system.[28]

The Buddha and jhana

The Buddha did not reject the formless attainments in and of themselves, but instead the doctrines of his teachers as a whole, as they did not lead to nibbana. He then underwent harsh ascetic practices. He also became disillusioned with them, and then remembered entering jhana as a child, and realized that "that indeed is the path to enlightenment." According to Ajahn Sujato, the key difference between the experience the Buddha had as a child and the experience he had as an adult was that as a child, his mind was uncluttered by the views that would later obscure his path to enlightenment. Sujato interprets the statement to mean that while the states of samadhi were not the goal, they were indeed the path.[29]

Three discourses in the Bhojjhanga-Samyutta present the claims of non-Buddhist wanderers that they too develop Buddhist-style meditation, including samadhi. They ask the Buddha what the difference is between their teachings and his. He does not respond by teaching right view, but by telling them that they do not fully understand samadhi practice. Ajahn Sujato interprets this statement as explaining a statement of the Buddha's elsewhere that he "awakened to jhana"; it is not a claim that he was the first to practice samadhi, but that he was the first to fully comprehend both the benefits and limitations of samadhi experiences.[30]

While the Buddha was not the first to attain meditative absorption, the stratification of particular samadhi experiences into the four jhanas seems to be a Buddhist innovation. It was then borrowed and presented in an incomplete form in the Mokshadharma, a part of the Mahabharata.[31] It appears that in early Brahminic yoga, the formless spheres were attained following element meditation.[32] This is also taught as an option in the early Buddhist texts.[33] The primary method taught to achieve the formless attainment in early Buddhist scriptures, on the other hand, is to proceed to the sphere of infinite space following the fourth jhana.[34]

Preliminary Stage

The Buddha explains right concentration (samma samādhi), part of the Noble Eightfold Path, as the four first jhānas. According to the Pali Canon commentary, there is a certain stage of meditation that the meditator should reach before entering into jhāna, this stage is called upacāra-samādhi (Access/Neighbourhood Concentration). The overcoming of the Five Hindrances (sensual desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry and doubt), marked the entries into access concentration. Access concentration is an unstable state where the mind becomes well concentrated on an object but it is still not yet a state of full concentration (jhāna). The difference is in full concentration, where certain factors become strengthened to such a degree that they bring about a qualitative shift in the level of consciousness, they actually shift the mind to a different level of consciousness, and it no longer functions on the ordinary sensory level. Access concentration is not mentioned in the discourses of the Buddha. However there are several suttas where a person gains insight into the dhamma on hearing a teaching from the Buddha. Often their minds are described as being free from hindrances when this occurs, which some have identified as being a type of access concentration.[35] The equivalent of upacāra-samādhi used in Tibetan commentaries is nyer bsdogs.[36]

At the state of access concentration, some meditators may experience vivid mental image (Pāli: nimitta), which is similar to a vivid dream (as vividly as if seen by the eye), but in this case the meditator is fully aware and conscious that they are seeing mental images.

Different meditators will experience different mental images, some meditators may not experience any mental images at all. The same meditator doing multiple meditation sessions may experience different mental images for each session. The mental image may be pleasant, scary, disgusting, shocking or neutral.

As the concentration become stronger, the feeling of breathing and the feeling of having a physical body will be completely disappear leaving only pure awareness. At this stage the inexperienced meditator will usually become afraid thinking that they are going to die if they continue the concentration because the feeling of breathing and the feeling of having a physical body has completely disappeared, at this stage the meditator should not be afraid and should continue their concentration in order to reach full concentration (jhana).[37]

Mastering the Jhāna

A meditator should first master the lower jhāna, before they can go into the higher jhāna. There are five aspects of jhāna mastery:

  1. Mastery in adverting: the ability to advert to the jhāna factors one by one after emerging from the jhāna, wherever he wants, whenever he wants, and for as long as he wants.
  2. Mastery in attaining: the ability to enter upon jhāna quickly.
  3. Mastery in resolving: the ability to remain in the jhāna for exactly the pre-determined length of time.
  4. Mastery in emerging: the ability to emerge from jhāna quickly without difficulty.
  5. Mastery in reviewing: the ability to review the jhāna and its factors with retrospective knowledge immediately after adverting to them.

The early suttas state that "the most exquisite of recluses" is able to attain any of the jhanas and abide in them without difficulty. This particular arahant is "liberated in both ways:" he is fluent in attaining the jhanas, and is also aware of their ultimate unsatisfactoriness. If he were not, he would fall into the same problem as the teachers from whom the Buddha learned the spheres of nothingness and neither perception nor non-perception in seeing these meditative attainments as something final. Their problem lay in seeing permanence where there is impermanence.[38]

Usage of the Jhāna

The meditator uses the jhāna state to strengthen and sharpen the mind, in order to investigate the true nature of phenomena (dhamma) and to gain higher knowledge. The longer the meditator stays in the state of jhana the sharper and more powerful the mind becomes. The jhana will sometimes cause the Five Hindrances to be suppressed for days.[39]

According to the later Theravada commentorial tradition as outlined by Buddhagosa in his Visuddhimagga, after coming out from the state of jhāna, the meditator will be in the state of post-jhana access concentration. This post-jhāna state of access concentration will have the qualities of being certain, long-lasting and stable. This is where the job of investigation and analysis of the true nature of phenomena start. It is also where deep insight into the characteristics of impermanence, suffering and not-self arises. The meditator can experience these truths, which lie at the heart of the Buddha's teachings, through direct experience.

In contrast, according to the sutta descriptions of jhāna practice, the meditator does not emerge from jhāna to practice Vipassana but rather the work of insight is done whilst in jhāna itself. In particular the meditator is instructed to enter and remain in the 4th jhāna before commencing the work of insight in order to uproot the mental defilements.[40][41]


With the abandoning of pleasure and pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress — he enters and remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither-pleasure nor pain...With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, the monk directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. He discerns, as it has come to be, that 'This is suffering... This is the origination of suffering... This is the cessation of suffering... This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering... These are mental fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.'
Samaññaphala Sutta


As the Five Hindrances may be suppressed for days after entering jhāna, the meditator will feel perfectly clear, mindful, full of compassion, peaceful and light after the meditation session. This may cause some meditator to mistakenly assume that they have gained Enlightenment. [39]

The jhāna state cannot by itself lead to Enlightenment as it only suppresses the defilements. Meditator must use the jhāna state as an instrument for developing wisdom by cultivating insight and use it to penetrate the true nature of phenomena through direct cognition, which will lead to cutting off the defilements and Nibbana.

In other schools

Schools of Mahayana Buddhism have different approaches to calm concentration.[42]

The most distinctive feature of Zen meditative techniques is the emphatic rejection of the meditative absorption states of early Buddhism, in favor of total mindfulness of one's surroundings.[43] Hui Neng says in his Platform Sutra: "To concentrate the mind and to contemplate it until it is still is a disease and not Zen." He goes on to say that the meditator who enters a state in which thoughts are suppressed must allow them to arise naturally once again.[44]

Tibetan Buddhism also lacks emphasis on achieving levels of concentration higher than access concentration. According to B. Alan Wallace, one possible explanation for this situation is that virtually all Tibetan Buddhist meditators seek to become enlightened through the use of tantric practices. These practices require the presence of sense desire and passion in one's consciousness, but jhana effectively inhibits these phenomena.[45]

See also

References

  1. "Jhana". Access to Insight. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-samadhi/jhana.html. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  2. Ajahn Brahm, Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond. Wisdom Publications 2006, page 156.
  3. Richard Shankman, The Experience of Samadhi - an in depth Exploration of Buddhist Meditation, Shambala publications 2008
  4. "Should we come out of Jhana to practice vipassana?". Venerable Henepola Gunaratana. http://www.bhavanasociety.org/pdfs/Should_we_Come_out_of_Jhana.pdf. 
  5. "A Sketch of the Buddha's Life". Access to Insight. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/buddha.html. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  6. Henepola Gunaratana. "The Jhanas". Buddhist Publication Society. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/gunaratana/wheel351.html. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  7. In the Pali Canon, the instruction on jhana is contained in suttas MN119, AN 1.16, MN118, MN4, MN19, MN36, MN43,MN45, MN64, MN65, MN66, MN76, MN77, MN78, MN79, MN85, MN105, MN107, MN108, MN119, MN125, MN138, MN152, AN2.2, AN3.6, AN3.7, AN3.8, DN1, DN2, MN94, MN100, MN101, MN111, MN112, MN122, MN139 & MN141. This list is not exhaustive.
  8. Alexander Wynne, The origin of Buddhist meditation. Routledge, 2007, page 73.
  9. Sister Vajira & Francis Story. "Maha-parinibbana Sutta". Buddhist Publication Society. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  10. Steven Sutcliffe, Religion: Empirical Studies. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004, page 135.
  11. John J. Holder, Early Buddhist Discourses. Hackett Publishing Company, 2006, page xi.
  12. Steven Sutcliffe, Religion: Empirical Studies. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004, page 135.
  13. Chandima Wijebandara, Early Buddhism, Its Religious and Intellectual Milieu. Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya, 1993, page 22.
  14. Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism. Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 252.
  15. Winston L. King, Theravada Meditation: The Buddhist Transformation of Yoga. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1980. Chapter 6, "The Attainment of Cessation (Nirodha-Samaapatti)", page 108.
  16. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, pages 41, 56.
  17. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 49.
  18. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 42.
  19. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 39.
  20. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 41.
  21. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 35.
  22. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 42.
  23. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 43.
  24. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 43.
  25. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 44.
  26. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 44, see also 45-49.
  27. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, pages 44-45, see also Noa Ronkin, Early Buddhist Metaphysics. Routledge 2005, page 196.
  28. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 50.
  29. Ajahn Sujato, A History of Mindfulness. Santipada Publications, page 97. Digital version available online: [1].
  30. Ajahn Sujato, A History of Mindfulness. Santipada Publications, page 98. Digital version available online: [2].
  31. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 29.
  32. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, page 56.
  33. Alexander Wynne, The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Routledge 2007, pages 29-31.
  34. Henepola Gunaratana, The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation. [3].
  35. Peter Harvey, Consciousness Mysticism in the Discourses of the Buddha. In Karel Werner, ed., The Yogi and the Mystic. Curzon Press 1989, page 95. He finds access concentration described at Digha Nikaya I, 110, among other places. "The situation at D I, 110, then, can be seen as one where the hearer of a discourse enters a state which, while not an actual jhana, could be bordering on it. As it is free from hindrances, it could be seen as 'access' concentration with a degree of wisdom." See also Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind, page 170.
  36. B. Alan Wallace, The bridge of quiescence: experiencing Tibetan Buddhist meditation. Carus Publishing Company, 1998, page 92. Wallace translates both as "the first proximate meditative stabilization".
  37. Venerable Sujivo, Access and Fixed Concentration. Vipassana Tribune, Vol 4 No 2, July 1996, Buddhist Wisdom Centre, Malaysia. Available here.
  38. Nathan Katz, Buddhist Images of Human Perfection: The Arahant of the Sutta Piṭaka Compared with the Bodhisattva and the Mahāsiddha. Motilal Banarsidass, 1990, page 78.
  39. 39.0 39.1 Ajahn Brahmavamso. "Deep Insight". BuddhaSasana. http://buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebmed059.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  40. "Samaññaphala Sutta". http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.039.than.html. 
  41. Richard Shankman, The Experience of Samadhi - an in depth Exploration of Buddhist Meditation, Shambala publications 2008
  42. Regarding the role of calm and insight in both Tibetan and Eastern Mahayana Buddhism see Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism. Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 257, available online: [4]. The following pages contain concise descriptions of Zen and Dzogchen/Mahamudra meditation.
  43. Peter N. Gregory, Traditions of Meditation in Chinese Buddhism. University of Hawaii Press, 1986, page 27.
  44. Roderick S. Bucknell and Martin Stuart-Fox, The Twilight Language: Explorations in Buddhist Meditation and Symbolism. Routledge, 1995, pages 49-50.
  45. B. Alan Wallace, The bridge of quiescence: experiencing Tibetan Buddhist meditation. Carus Publishing Company, 1998, pages 215-216.

External links


th:ญาณ

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki