Author Topic: Jhanas Experinced With the Body and Without the Body  (Read 106 times)

Offline Avrax

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Jhanas Experinced With the Body and Without the Body
« on: October 25, 2017, 11:12:24 am »
Hello,

I have a question. These three passages below seem to state that one can experience the jhanas with the body and without the body. I am wondering whether I am interpreting these passages correctly or not because I cannot find anyone who has written about jhanas experienced with only the body, with only the mental aspect/discernment of jhana and both of them. If am incorrect in my interpretation, could you tell why am I incorrect, if am I correct could you tell me where I can find someone who has discussed this point?

Thanks!


Bodily Witness

[Udayin:] “Bodily witness, bodily witness,” it is said. “To what extent is one described by the Blessed One as a bodily witness?” [Ananda:] “There is the case, my friend, where a monk, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as a bodily witness, though with a sequel. Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhāna... the third jhāna... the fourth jhāna... the dimension of the infinitude of space... the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as a bodily witness, though with a sequel. Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, he enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. And as he sees with discernment, the mental fermentations go to their total end. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as a bodily witness without a sequel [brackets in original].”

Released Through Discernment

[Udayin:] “Released through discernment, released through discernment,” it is said. “To what extent is one described by the Blessed One as released through discernment?" [Ananda:] “There is the case, my friend, where a monk, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. And he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released through discernment, though with a sequel. Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhāna... the third jhāna... the fourth jhāna... the dimension of the infinitude of space... the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. And he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released through discernment, though with a sequel. Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, he enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. And as he sees with discernment, the mental fermentations go to their total end. And he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released through discernment without a sequel [brackets in original].”

Released Both Ways

[Udayin:] “Released both ways, released both ways,” it is said. “To what extent is one described by the Blessed One as released both ways?” [Ananda:] “There is the case, my friend, where a monk, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there, and he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released both ways, though with a sequel. Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhāna... the third jhāna... the fourth jhāna... the dimension of the infinitude of space... the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there, and he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released both ways, though with a sequel. Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, he enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. And as he sees with discernment, the mental fermentations go to their total end. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there, and he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released both ways without a sequel [italics added brackets in original].’”


By the way, in case this helps, I am aware that these three types of people (witness, discernment, both ways) refer to something very specific in terms of liberation (A “bodily witness” is a person who has attained nibbana but is not yet an Arahat.  A person “released through discernment” (liberated by wisdom) is an Arahat who has attained nibbana and has access to the four mundane jhanas but not the immaterial jhanas (the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth jhana and cessation of perception and feelings).  A person “released both ways” is an Arahat who has attained nibbana, has access to the material jhanas and at least one of the immaterial jhanas). Yet, these passages seem to also make a distinction in the ways a person can experience the jhanas: 1. with the body, 2. with the mental/discernment aspect of the jhanas, or 3 with both.



Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Jhanas Experinced With the Body and Without the Body
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2017, 08:18:51 pm »
These three passages below seem to state that one can experience the jhanas with the body and without the body.

Welcome Avrax

I can offer you my newly formed opinion because I have never studied this topic before but just did some very quick reading.

The physical body (rupa) is unable to experience anything because it is mere materiality of earth, wind, fire & water. The Pali word 'kaya' does not necessarily mean the 'physical body' but can also mean the 'group' or 'collection' of the five aggregates, as found in the term 'sakkaya' (per MN 44, which refers to the five aggregates) or in the term 'nāmakāyā' (mental body/group; in DN 15 & Snp 5.7).

Given the sutta you quoted (AN 9.43) refers to the "body witness' (kaya sakkhi) in respect to the formless jhanas, it appears impossible the term "body witness' refers to the physical body because the physical body cannot be experienced in the formless jhanas. For example, SN 36.11 states, at the 4th jhana, any residual vibration of the breathing has completed ceased. That a "body witness" experiences formless jhana is confirmed by MN 70.17.

In AN 3.21, the term 'body witness' is equated with the predominance of concentration: https://suttacentral.net/en/an3.21 therefore the term 'body witness' may refer to seeing or experiencing without the predominance of wisdom. In other words, experiencing very clearly & intimately but not with enough wisdom to cut through &/or uproot the tendencies (anusaya) to defilement.

The "body witness" meaning witnessing with concentration would explain why a 'body witness' cannot be an arahant (according to footnotes I read by Bhikkhu Bodhi). In other words, if phenomena could be witnessed with the physical body, arahantship would be possible as a 'body witness'.

Without having done a close examination of the Pali, it seems possibly the term "kaya sakkhi" means "witnesser of the group (aggregates)" rather than "witnessing with the body".

However!! The sutta you quoted (AN 9.43) refers to the total ending of fermentations, which is arahantship, as follows:
Quote
And as he sees with discernment, the mental fermentations go to their total end. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as a bodily witness without a sequel.

I need to research more although possibly this quote from AN 9.43 is an error because Ananda spoke the sutta.

(Returned to business work... and now back...)

Returning to Bhikkhu Bodhi's footnote # 1955 (page 1,833 of his AN), BB confirms AN 9.43 to be an error or "wordplay" because the description at the end of AN 9.43 does not conform with the definition of "body witness" in MN 70.17, which states the "body witness' has destroyed "some" but not all fermentations (asava). .

However, I personally do not attribute the error to "wordplay" but to the often displayed confusion of Ananda. In short, if any sutta is attributed as spoken by Ananda, students should be vigilant for errors or inconsistencies.

In conclusion, I suggest to follow the definitions found in AN 3.21 & MN 70, which appear to equate the "body witness" with a predominance of concentration. Therefore, it seems the "body-witness' experiences predominantly with calming (samatha) concentration rather than predominantly with defilement-cutting wisdom (vipassana).

Also, as I posted, the word "kaya" does not necessarily refer to the physical body. Words such as "kaya", "dukkha", "nirodha" & "sankhara" have myriad meanings in context therefore often it is merely clumsy & rigid translations that create problems of interpretation. it is important to be aware the Western translators are far from perfect.

With metta  :namaste:
« Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 10:52:35 pm by VisuddhiRaptor »

Offline Avrax

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Re: Jhanas Experinced With the Body and Without the Body
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2017, 01:20:03 pm »
Dear VisuddhiRaptor,

Thank you for taking some time to research the subject!

I think you also answered my question to my other post about the body witness experiencing the end of fermentation. Thank you!

I am confused regarding you saying that the passage I quote on the body witness refers to the formless jhanas. I believe that the sutta I quoted mentions both the formless and the material jhanas (1-4). Right?

Thank you for the Kaya explanation and explaining the difference between people leaning toward having more concentration or more discernment.

I still have the same question though. Do you, or does anyone know, wherever it is possible to experience the jhanas with the kaya (as defied by you) or more with a mental aspect?

Namely, if we take as an example the 4 factors of the first jhana: "rapture and pleasure" filling the body ("touched" by the body), vs applied and directed thought being a mental concentration.

Basically my question is: is it possible to just experience rapture and pleasure and not applied and directed thought, and viceversa?

And could the sutta I quoted about the bodily witness, liberated by descernment, and both ways refer to that?

Thanks!

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Jhanas Experinced With the Body and Without the Body
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2017, 03:40:46 pm »
I am confused regarding you saying that the passage I quote on the body witness refers to the formless jhanas. I believe that the sutta I quoted mentions both the formless and the material jhanas (1-4). Right?
Right. The sutta includes both form & formless jhanas. My point was there is no experience of the physical body in formless jhanas therefore there term "body witness" is obviously not related to the physical body.


Quote
I still have the same question though. Do you, or does anyone know, wherever it is possible to experience the jhanas with the kaya (as defied by you) or more with a mental aspect?
Kaya means 'group' thus jhana is experienced by consciousness, feeling & perception aggregates and also affects the quality of the rupa and sankhara aggregates.

Quote
Namely, if we take as an example the 4 factors of the first jhana: "rapture and pleasure" filling the body ("touched" by the body), vs applied and directed thought being a mental concentration.
I disagree with this interpretation. Rapture & happiness of jhana affect the physical body by making the physical body perfectly relaxed however rapture & happiness are not experienced within the physical body by body-consciousness, unlike say the breathing that is experienced within the physical body by body-consciousness. Practitioners who have described jhana correctly, such as Ajahn Brahm, say the physical body is not experienced in jhana, particularly in the 1st & 2nd jhana.

Quote
Basically my question is: is it possible to just experience rapture and pleasure and not applied and directed thought, and viceversa?
The 1st jhana must include all five factors but, as you know, vitakka & vicara cease in the 2nd jhana. Therefore, rapture &/or happiness is experienced without vitakka & vicara in the 2nd & 3rd jhanas. Each jhana has the factor of ekkaggata or singleness of mind (refer to MN 111). it is ekkaggata that defines what jhana is (rather than rapture or happiness).

Quote
And could the sutta I quoted about the bodily witness, liberated by descernment, and both ways refer to that?
For me, I ignore the common interpretations that the word "kaya" in relation to jhana is related to the physical body. However, what the term "rupa jhana" or "form jhana" means is not something clear. My impression is monks like Ajahn Brahm & Sujato believe it is called "form jhana" because of the nimtta (mental image) that arises. My view is it is called "form jhana" because the rapture & happiness of those jhanas arises because the neurons of the physical body have been completely calmed. Therefore, rupa jhana involves the calming of the physical body but not necessarily the awareness/experienced of that bliss within the physical body.

With metta  :namaste:
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 03:44:35 pm by VisuddhiRaptor »

Offline Avrax

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Re: Jhanas Experinced With the Body and Without the Body
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2017, 04:44:27 pm »

Quote
Right. The sutta includes both form & formless jhanas. My point was there is no experience of the physical body in formless jhanas therefore there term "body witness" is obviously not related to the physical body.


Oh ok, now I understand what you meant.

Could it also be argued that, the consciousness that experiences e.g. infinite space (5th jhana) could be experienced in two ways, either as including pervading the body (even if no material form is perceived or felt), or as not pervading the body if one has practice jhana without embodiment. What do you think? If that is a possible interpretation then the body witness would refer to jhana body experience.


Quote
I disagree with this interpretation. Rapture & happiness of jhana affect the physical body by making the physical body perfectly relaxed however rapture & happiness are not experienced within the physical body by body-consciousness, unlike say the breathing that is experienced within the physical body by body-consciousness. Practitioners who have described jhana correctly, such as Ajahn Brahm, say the physical body is not experienced in jhana, particularly in the 1st & 2nd jhana.

Interesting interpretation. Thank you.

Yet, the Buddha in the jhana formula explicitly states that rapture and pleasure pervade the body and gives the example of water filling the bath powder and pervading the lake. So, it seems that rapture and pleasure--even if the physical body is not experienced--are really pervading the body. No?


Quote
The 1st jhana must include all five factors but, as you know, vitakka & vicara cease in the 2nd jhana. Therefore, rapture &/or happiness is experienced without vitakka & vicara in the 2nd & 3rd jhanas. Each jhana has the factor of ekkaggata or singleness of mind (refer to MN 111). it is ekkaggata that defines what jhana is (rather than rapture or happiness).

Got it.

I still find it hard to believe that the passages quoted below do not refer to 2 possible ways of experiencing jhana. Buddhaghosa, in Visuddhimagga, for example explains that jhana can be experience with just one part of the body out of 30 or 32 (I think). So, this leads me to believe that one could experience jhana in one part of the body and no-jhana in another part of the body. Hence, possibly the same with the mental aspects jhanas. What do you think?

I am insisting on this possibility because the suttas say something similar about the deathless: it can be experience with discernment and with the body. So, it make me think whether it is possible for the jahans too. Right?

Quote
For me, I ignore the common interpretations that the word "kaya" in relation to jhana is related to the physical body. However, what the term "rupa jhana" or "form jhana" means is not something clear. My impression is monks like Ajahn Brahm & Sujato believe it is called "form jhana" because of the nimtta (mental image) that arises. My view is it is called "form jhana" because the rapture & happiness of those jhanas arises because the neurons of the physical body have been completely calmed. Therefore, rupa jhana involves the calming of the physical body but not necessarily the awareness/experienced of that bliss within the physical body.

Ok, I see.



I really appreciate your answers and time, VisuddhiRaptor! :namaste:

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Jhanas Experinced With the Body and Without the Body
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2017, 07:49:29 pm »
Could it also be argued that, the consciousness that experiences e.g. infinite space (5th jhana) could be experienced in two ways, either as including pervading the body (even if no material form is perceived or felt), or as not pervading the body if one has practice jhana without embodiment. What do you think? If that is a possible interpretation then the body witness would refer to jhana body experience.

Personally, I doubt it because consciousness always needs an object to arise & operate, i.e, to exist (SN 22.53). For example, the 9th jhana is a state of unconsciousness because the must subtle objects needed for the arising of consciousness, namely, perception & feeling, have ceased. I recommend to carefully study MN 111, how various mental factors begin to disappear in the 8th jhana.

What I am saying here is SN 36.11 states the breathing completely stops at the 4th jhana therefore I doubt consciousness can feel the physical body without the vehicle of the breathing to move consciousness into the physical body. However, since I have never practised to this level of the 4th jhana, I cannot be certain.

Ajahn Brahm agrees with my view on the word "kaya", which I have had before reading his book.

Quote
Yet, the Buddha in the jhana formula explicitly states that rapture and pleasure pervade the body and gives the example of water filling the bath powder and pervading the lake. So, it seems that rapture and pleasure--even if the physical body is not experienced--are really pervading the body. No?

Again, the word here is "kaya" rather than "rupa". Ajahn Brahm comments on this in his book the same as I do.

As I previously said, rapture & happiness do pervade the entire physical body during the 1st jhana because it is the blissing out of the neurons of the physical body that gives rise to rapture. However, the mind is not conscious of the rapture within the physical body because the breath cannot be discerned & is replaced by the mental image (nimitta), which is the sign of the fruition of the 1st jhana.

Quote
I still find it hard to believe that the passages quoted below do not refer to 2 possible ways of experiencing jhana. Buddhaghosa, in Visuddhimagga, for example explains that jhana can be experience with just one part of the body out of 30 or 32 (I think). So, this leads me to believe that one could experience jhana in one part of the body and no-jhana in another part of the body. Hence, possibly the same with the mental aspects jhanas. What do you think?

I ignore Buddhaghosa. His V.M. is more like an encyclopedia of different ideas rather than a coherent work (to me).

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I am insisting on this possibility because the suttas say something similar about the deathless: it can be experience with discernment and with the body. So, it make me think whether it is possible for the jahans too. Right?

Where is this said? Thanks

Quote
I really appreciate your answers and time, VisuddhiRaptor! :namaste:

Thank you. You're welcome. Note: I am not a follower of Ajahn Brahm but agree with most of what he says about jhana.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 07:52:50 pm by VisuddhiRaptor »

Offline Avrax

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Re: Jhanas Experinced With the Body and Without the Body
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2017, 01:10:29 pm »
Dear VisuddhiRaptor,

Thank you for sharing your ideas and views!

Regarding the deathless experienced with and without the body that you asked about here is a quote:

Saṁyutta Nikāya 12.68 states:
My friend, although I have seen properly with right discernment [sammapaññāya], as it actually is present, that ‘The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,’ still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended. It’s as if there were a well along a road in a desert, with neither rope nor water bucket. A man would come along overcome by heat, oppressed by the heat, exhausted, dehydrated, & thirsty. He would look into the well and would have knowledge [ñāṇaṃ] of ‘water,’ but he would not dwell [vihareyya] touching [phusitvā] it with his body [kāyena]. In the same way, although I have seen properly with right discernment [pañña], as it actually is present, that ‘The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,’ still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended [brackets and italics added].

Ṭhānissaro states:
However, AN 9.43 [body witness] and 44 [released through discernment] make a distinction between touching a meditative dimension with the body and knowing it with discernment. In both cases, the experience is direct and personal, and in both it leads to the ending of the mental effluents. Thus, “touching with the body” seems to have a more precise meaning than simple personal experience. It could mean that there is a somatic aspect to the experience or that the awareness of the deathless occupies the same fullness of awareness that had been occupied by the body. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.046.than.html



Can I paste here what Buddhaghosa says? I am interested in what you think about his idea of reaching jhana with only some parts of the body, even if you don't think he is reliable.

When the meditator has defined the parts [of the body] beginning with the head hairs
in this way by colour, shape, direction, location and delimitation… As he cultivates and develops that counterpart sign, absorption  arises in him, but only of the first jhāna, in the same way as described under foulness as a meditation subject (VI.64f.). And it arises singly in one to whom only one part has become evident, or who has reached absorption in one part and makes no further effort about another. But several first jhāna, according to the number of parts, are produced in one to whom several parts have become evident, or who has reached jhāna in one and also makes further effort about another. As in the case of the Elder Mallaka. The elder, it seems, took the Elder Abhaya, the Dīgha reciter, by the hand, and after saying “Friend Abhaya, first learn this matter,” he went on: “The Elder Mallaka is an obtainer of thirty-two jhānas in the thirty-two parts. If he enters upon one by night and one by day, he goes on entering upon them for over a fortnight; but if he enters upon one each day, he goes on entering upon them for over a month” [brackets added].


I really appreciate this discussion!  :namaste:
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 03:37:00 pm by Avrax »

 


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