Author Topic: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana  (Read 268 times)

Offline Avrax

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The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« on: October 27, 2017, 02:26:16 pm »
Hi Again!

I have a question which I have been pondering for some time but I have never seen anyone writing about it.

Since the 8 jhanas can be experienced in nibbana (see quotes below) couldn't the jhana formulas be a detailed description of nibbana when a liberated person, or so, is in jhana (of course, one needs to take out the fact that usually the jhanas are viewed as having aggregates/hindrances/fetters)?

For example, rapture and pleasure of the first two jhana (and their equation to water) purified from clinging aggregates may be describing the experience of nibbana in the body (mental-body). It may be describing the "touching the deathless" with the body.

Saṁyutta Nikāya 36.31 states:
[1] And what is rapture of the flesh? There are these five strings of sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable via the eye—agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Sounds cognizable via the ear...  Aromas cognizable via the nose... Flavors cognizable via the tongue... Tactile sensations cognizable via the body—agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Now whatever rapture arises in dependence on these five strands of sensuality, that is called rapture of the flesh. [2] And what is rapture not of the flesh? There is the case where a monk—quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful qualities—enters & remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance. This is called rapture not of the flesh. [3] And what is the rapture more not-of-the-flesh than that not of the flesh? Whatever rapture arises in a fermentation-ended monk as he is reflecting on his mind released from passion, reflecting on his mind released from aversion, reflecting on his mind released from delusion, that is called rapture more not-of-the-flesh than that not of the flesh.


The Buddha in jhana:

Dīgha Nikāya 28 (III 113). states, “The Blessed Lord is able, here and now, to enjoy the surpassing happiness of dwelling in the four jhānas.”  Maurice Walshe, The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of Dīgha Nikāya (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications), 424

Dīgha Nikāya 16.6 explains that, before his death, the Buddha entered the jhānas and went up and down through all of them:

Then the Blessed One addressed the monks, “Now, then, monks, I exhort you: All fabrications are subject to decay. Bring about completion by being heedful.” Those were the Tathāgata’s last words. Then the Blessed One entered the first jhāna. Emerging from that he entered the second jhāna. Emerging from that, he entered the third... 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. Emerging from that, he entered the cessation of perception & feeling. Then Ven. Ānanda said to Ven. Anuruddha, “Ven. Anuruddha, the Blessed One is totally unbound.” “No, friend Ānanda. The Blessed One isn't totally unbound. He has entered the cessation of perception & feeling.” Then the Blessed One, emerging from the cessation of perception & feeling, entered the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. Emerging from that, he entered the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of the infinitude of space... the fourth jhāna... the third... the second... the first jhāna. Emerging from the first jhāna he entered the second... the third... the fourth jhāna. Emerging from the fourth jhāna, he immediately was totally Unbound. When the Blessed One was totally Unbound, simultaneously with the total Unbinding, there was a great earthquake, awesome & hair-raising, and the drums of the devas sounded.

Yes?  :namaste:


Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2017, 10:34:39 pm »
As discussed in another post, The Jhanas are but a method of preparation for the attainment of nibbana.

For example, to experience the various jhannas one must first prepare with study, and practice mindfully to understand and eliminate the five hindrances:
  https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an09/an09.064.than.html

The same process applies to studying and understanding the nature of "defilements":

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.007.nypo.html

Also, cankers must be understood by those preparing for entry into the Jhanas as Buddha discusses here so that one may be prepared and know when to respond appropriately with effective countermeasures.:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.023x.wlsh.html#fn-2

And, of equal importance we must first deal with "taints" and the root of all suffering, "ignorance":

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca2/avijja.html




This process of preparation for entering the jhanas is stated  here:
  https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/gunaratana/wheel351.html

Quote
The jhanas do not arise out of a void but in dependence on the right conditions. They come to growth only when provided with the nutriments conductive to their development. Therefore, prior to beginning meditation, the aspirant to the jhanas must prepare a groundwork for his practice by fulfilling certain preliminary requirements. He first must endeavor to purify his moral virtue, sever the outer impediments to practice, and place himself under a qualified teacher who will assign him a suitable meditation subject and explain to him the methods of developing it. After learning these the disciple must then seek out a congenial dwelling and diligently strive for success. In this chapter we will examine in order each of the preparatory steps that have to be fulfilled before commencing to develop jhana.

As for the reference to a "teacher", if none is available, then as the Buddha himself found, there is no better teacher than examination of the results of one's own practice.

My suggestion is to study followed immediately with practice.  Only with practice can we verify, validate, and most importantly compare our own personal results with that described in our studies. :wink1:
« Last Edit: October 29, 2017, 04:30:40 am by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline ground

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2017, 11:45:08 pm »
Since the 8 jhanas can be experienced in nibbana (see quotes below) couldn't the jhana formulas be a detailed description of nibbana when a liberated person, or so, is in jhana (of course, one needs to take out the fact that usually the jhanas are viewed as having aggregates/hindrances/fetters)?

No. All jhanas are 'fabricated & mentally fashioned'.

Quote
"He discerns that 'This theme-less concentration of awareness is fabricated & mentally fashioned.' And he discerns that 'Whatever is fabricated & mentally fashioned is inconstant & subject to cessation.' For him — thus knowing, thus seeing — the mind is released from the effluent of sensuality, the effluent of becoming, the effluent of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.121.than.html
« Last Edit: October 28, 2017, 12:40:29 am by ground »

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2017, 03:37:29 am »
Since the 8 jhanas can be experienced in nibbana (see quotes below) couldn't the jhana formulas be a detailed description of nibbana when a liberated person, or so, is in jhana (of course, one needs to take out the fact that usually the jhanas are viewed as having aggregates/hindrances/fetters)?
Jhanas are tranquilisations of body & mind. For example, if a fully enlightened Buddha walks up a steep mountain, while walking, his mind is in Nibbana due to non-clinging, non-craving & non-self but his mind cannot be in jhana because his body & breathing are too exerted & too coarse. But when Buddha reaches the top of the mountain, Buddha sits in meditation & his body & breath are tranquillised, which makes jhana arise. Therefore, jhana is not the same as Nibbana. A Buddha is always in Nibbana but not always in jhana.

Quote
For example, rapture and pleasure of the first two jhana (and their equation to water) purified from clinging aggregates may be describing the experience of nibbana in the body (mental-body). It may be describing the "touching the deathless" with the body.
Jhana is not the Deathless. The Deathless is described in the suttas as the destruction of greed, hatred & delusion. Therefore, when jhana is experienced without greed, hatred, delusion & clinging towards those jhanas, this is the Deathless, due to the non-clinging & not-self.

But if jhana is clung to, this is not the Deathless. Note: jhana is also an aggregate.

 :namaste:
« Last Edit: October 28, 2017, 03:39:49 am by VisuddhiRaptor »

Offline Avrax

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2017, 02:22:55 pm »
Thank you Ron-the-Elder for you answer and all the links. Question, if as you say "The Jhanas are but a method of preparation for the attainment of nibbana" how can a Buddha experience the jhanas? Wouldn't they also have another function, namely a way to become absorbed (deep spontaneous state of meditation) while living in nibbana.

Thank you Ground. Question, how can a Buddha be in the jhanas if as you say, "All jhanas are 'fabricated & mental
ly fashioned'"?

Thank you VisuddhiRaptor for your answer. I like your explanation here:

Quote
Jhanas are tranquilisations of body & mind. For example, if a fully enlightened Buddha walks up a steep mountain, while walking, his mind is in Nibbana due to non-clinging, non-craving & non-self but his mind cannot be in jhana because his body & breathing are too exerted & too coarse. But when Buddha reaches the top of the mountain, Buddha sits in meditation & his body & breath are tranquillised, which makes jhana arise. Therefore, jhana is not the same as Nibbana. A Buddha is always in Nibbana but not always in jhana.?

I agree. The Buddha is not always in jhana, but since he is always in nibbana no matter what, when s/he enters the jhanas, s/he must still be in nibbana. Therefore, nibbana includes jhana mental absorbtion (of course without clinging aggregates), but it also includes non-mental absorption while still in nibbana. As you say, it's like living in nibbana and then coming to a resting moment (meditation/like moment) and spontaneously entering jhana absorption without exiting nibbana. Hence, my point: the description of the jhanas can be used as a description on nibbana in absorption.
Quote
"Therefore, when jhana is experienced without greed, hatred, delusion & clinging towards those jhanas, this is the Deathless, due to the non-clinging & not-self."

Yes! I totally agree. Here I am repeating myself. Hence, if jhanas are experienced without clinging aggregates, they include the experience of the deathless. Therefore, if they do, it means that their description in the classic jhana formulas (read without clinging aggreagates/hindrances/fetters) could be a description of the deathless/nibbana while one is in absorption. Hence, the jhanas read without clinging aggregates can point to the description of the deathless while a person is in absorption. Yes?

:namaste:



Offline ground

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2017, 12:06:00 am »
...
Thank you Ground. Question, how can a Buddha be in the jhanas if as you say, "All jhanas are 'fabricated & mental
ly fashioned'"?
...
As long as the body is living (i.e. as long as the aggregates have not finally ceased) it is fabricating and mentally fashioning. Clinging or non-clinging makes the difference, fabrication and mentally fashioning is the same. Jhanas as such are totally useless. :fu:

« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 12:11:52 am by ground »

Offline Avrax

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2017, 02:10:59 pm »
Thank you Ground. Now I get what you are saying.

However, since the Buddha can be in jhana without clinging aggregates, wouldn't the jhanas describe nibbana while a person is in absorption?

Thank you!

:namaste:

Offline ground

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2017, 12:08:20 am »
Thank you Ground. Now I get what you are saying.

However, since the Buddha can be in jhana without clinging aggregates, wouldn't the jhanas describe nibbana while a person is in absorption?
No, because if this would be so then bodily pain would describe nibbana as well because 'the buddha' still experienced bodily pain.  :fu:

Offline Avrax

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2017, 12:27:48 am »
Thanks for your answer Ground.

You say that the fact that the Buddha experiences bodily pain shows that the jhanas experienced in nibbana are not a description of nibbana. But if one applies that reasoning then also nibbana is not nibbana because the Buddha can still experience bodily pain. It's not bodily pain that determines whether one is in nibbana or not.

I don't think bodily pain is a good criteria to answer this question.

 :namaste:

Offline ground

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2017, 12:38:42 am »
Thanks for your answer Ground.

You say that the fact that the Buddha experiences bodily pain shows that the jhanas experienced in nibbana are not a description of nibbana. But if one applies that reasoning then also nibbana is not nibbana because the Buddha can still experience bodily pain. It's not bodily pain that determines whether one is in nibbana or not.

I don't think bodily pain is a good criteria to answer this question.

 :namaste:

There is a sutta that mentions the buddhas bodily pain. So if you prefer experience of jhana over experience of bodily pain to describe nibbana what does that indicate about you?  :fu:

Offline ground

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2017, 01:09:33 am »
Thanks for your answer Ground.

You say that the fact that the Buddha experiences bodily pain shows that the jhanas experienced in nibbana are not a description of nibbana. But if one applies that reasoning then also nibbana is not nibbana because the Buddha can still experience bodily pain. It's not bodily pain that determines whether one is in nibbana or not.

I don't think bodily pain is a good criteria to answer this question.

 :namaste:

There is a sutta that mentions the buddhas bodily pain. So if you prefer experience of jhana over experience of bodily pain to describe nibbana what does that indicate about you?  :fu:

That shows that it is inappropriate to try to describe nibbana. All that can be descibed will always be an experience. But the characteristic of nibbana is the cessation of a certain quality of experience, not the cessation of experience as such or the cessation of only certain types of experiences.
How would one describe the cessation of clinging, grasping, liking and disliking? This cessation is an emptiness of clinging, grasping, liking and disliking and cannot be described since it is the mere absence of clinging, grasping, liking and disliking. But it can be  known for oneself.
Quote
"He discerns that 'This theme-less concentration of awareness is fabricated & mentally fashioned.' And he discerns that 'Whatever is fabricated & mentally fashioned is inconstant & subject to cessation.' For him — thus knowing, thus seeing — the mind is released from the effluent of sensuality, the effluent of becoming, the effluent of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

All experiences are 'fabricated & mentally fashioned'.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2017, 01:15:52 am by ground »

Offline Avrax

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Re: The Jhanas are a Detailed Description of Nibbana
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2017, 06:28:17 pm »
Thank you ground.

 


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