4 Developments of Samadhi

I’ve recently read AN4.41, and I find it quite interesting. I wonder if I get could a discussion going concerning the difference between these 4, and what exactly the Buddha means by the descriptions he gives. I often see this sutta used as a reference for why the Jhanas aren’t exactly necessary, and although I certainly think that is nonsense, I do understand how people could get confused. Especially since the Buddha talks about Jhanas as a pleasant abiding in the here and now, and then gives two other descriptions for developing mindful alertness and ending the affluents. That last one is explained in a way that seems to mirror the whole “arising and passing” momentary concentration vipassana jhana or whatever people say. I’m not so sure about that, but in a strange way I feel like they’re on to something, but simultaneously way off track. Any thoughts?

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It is noteworthy that this sutta seems to record an explanation of what is said by the Buddha to Punnaka at the conclusion of Snp5.4.

I really struggle to see in these words evidence that jhanas are not to be understood as synonym to the eighth factor of the path, of samma samadhi.

Nevertheless, above all we need to acknowledge people are free and entitled to hold any point of view on whatever topic they wish. If that results in anything or not it is up to the individual to realize.



According to my understanding ,
the Four jhāna does not
" directly " equivalent to
samma samadhi ! However , when a person whom are well developed and equipped with the first 7 factors , where one already possessed the dhamma eye ,
the right view and right mindfulness especially ! Then the jhāna that attained is considered samma samadhi !
The Essence lies in the attaining the view first where one develop through contemplating the phenomenon of co arising dependent origination .

Otherwise , other ascetics whom had four jhāna also has samma samadhi !

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This is how I understand it.

  1. This is Jhana which can be achieved by even non-Buddhist. It appears this is referring to Samatha practice. I am working with a Muslim girl (Islam faith) Yesterday she said to me that she learn breath meditation from her fitness and health club. She was very excited how much pleasure she got from meditation.
  2. This is very interesting. I know what light means in meditation. But I am not sure how it translated to knowledge and vision. It appears some people practice only light Kasina.

3)This is partly Satipathana. Interesting to see that Satipathana also considered concentration. This is very similar to Satipathana taught by secular Buddhists in Western countries.

  1. It appears this is referring to dry insight attainers. But why then it is called concentration. The way I understand we practice this in satipathana already. It appears this is referring to Vipassana practice.

AN 4.41 after reading it again is a very interesting sutta to me, and it gave an idea about the composition of the AN (possibly, for at least some of the suttas). See how method 3 and 4 are partly overlapping.

3 is “a bhikkhu knows feelings… perceptions… thoughts as they arise, as they remain present, as they disappear” (vedana - sanna - vitakka)

4 is “a bhikkhu dwells contemplating arising and vanishing in the five aggregates subject to clinging” (where vedana and sanna are included)

To me it opens the possibility that this enumeration is not done by the Buddha but by the bhanakas who grouped together different instances when the Buddha talked about developing samadhi.

The knowledges of seeing vedana - sanna - vitakka apearing and disappearing can be found again in AN 7.38, AN 7.38, SN 47.35, DN 33.4.5 (a direct copy of AN 4.41), and MN 123. It might be that AN 4.41 (or its source) is foundational directly for the DN, the MN and the expanded version of AN 7, because the SN version has the different order of vedana - vitakka - sanna.

Note that the sutta is not about samma-samadhi, a term probably much more limited indeed to the 4 jhanas.

  1. Jhanas are pleasant abiding, when they are stand alone attainments (i.e. Without the rest of the 7 steps of the Noble Eightfold Path as Sarath1 said:

“It is possible here, Cunda, that quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, some bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement. ’ But it is not these attainments that are called ‘effacement’ in the Noble One’s Discipline: these are called ‘pleasant abidings here and now’ in the Noble One’s Discipline. MN8

They are of course integral to the Noble Eightfold Path, nevertheless.

With metta

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  1. There is the case where a monk attends to the perception of light

"But if by doing this you don’t shake off your drowsiness, then attend to the perception of light, resolve on the perception of daytime, [dwelling] by night as by day, and by day as by night. By means of an awareness thus open & unhampered, develop a brightened mind. It’s possible that by doing this you will shake off your drowsiness. AN7.58

Perception of light is a technique to overcome one of the five hindrances- drowsiness. The result is a ‘brightened’ mind. ‘Perception of day time’ is another related practice.

With metta

  1. There is the case where feelings are known to the monk as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Perceptions are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Thoughts are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. This is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness.

Please see this thread : Seeing the five aggregates
This is integral to stream entry of course.

With metta

  1. And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents? There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clinging-aggregates: ‘Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.’ This is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents.

This is the summation of understanding the five aggregates typically in the format of the Four Noble Truths, but without the fourth (Path) factor… The arahanth eradicates ignorance as the final fetter and fully realises the Four Noble Truths. The arising here is understanding how it arises in terms of the DO - and not just any arising. The passing away is the reversal of the DO, as in seeing Nibbana, and not just any passing away. The fourth factor (as seen in the Samma ditt sutta MN9) is missing here because this is detailing concentrations and not ‘Truths’ as in the Four Noble Truths.

With metta

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“The three aggregates are not included under the noble eightfold path, friend Visakha, but the noble eightfold path is included under the three aggregates. Right speech, right action, & right livelihood come under the aggregate of virtue. Right effort, right mindfulness, & right concentration come under the aggregate of concentration. Right view & right resolve come under the aggregate of discernment.” MN44

The Five faculties are relevant here as well.
Faith > Energy > Mindfulness > Concentration/Unification of mind > Insight, each leading to the next one. Mindfulness can then lead to a samatha or Vipassana samadhi, or a mix of both.

With metta

Can we say faith and energy also a type of concentration?

I also highly recommend reading AN5.28, especially the last factor of Right Samadhi. To me, this changes things significantly, and it implies that Right Samadhi is not just the Jhanas, but instead mindfully reflective Jhanas capable of Vipassana within them. I know it is so often said that Vipassana cannot be done within Jhana, but I never understood why people wanted this to be the case so badly that they either overlook evidence to the contrary, or even more vexing, perform a whole set of mental gymnastics to explain them away. I was introduce to Buddhism through the suttas and read and studied them extensively before I heard any teachers speak or read any commentary, contemporary or otherwise; and it always seemed clear to me that analysis of the 5 aggregates and the 3 characteristics wrapped up in them took place while in Jhana. I always just thought Jhana was a state of mind without the 5 hindrances, with the Jhana factors, and something you could turn toward whatever you wanted once you got good at it. I never pictured it as a state of mind so absorbed that you really couldn’t do much but be in it. It always seemed obvious to me that discursive thinking wasn’t necessary in any form for insight to take place. Operative Insight takes the form of a kind of feeling of knowing, the knowing insight sensation so to speak.


If I am correct Abhidhamma says all cittas are accompanied by samadhi. This doesn’t reflect the sutta view that samadhi needs to be developed. So, in answer to your question, faith and energy are not concentration. This is why concentration is a distinct factor in the five faculties (and five powers), apart from faith and energy.

With metta


Concentration and energy to be balanced.
Doesn’t this mean energy is the uncontrolled concentration?

When we make a cup of tea we need sugar, tea, hot water etc. These ingredients are distinct and have distinct names. When they are all mixed up together it is given the new name -a cup of tea. To name a cup of tea, ‘sugar’ is incorrect. Or even to call it dissolved sugar is incorrect and gives the wrong impression. It would be accurately called a cup of tea.

Similarly dissipated samadhi, isn’t samadhi anymore.

It is true that concentration and energy are to be balanced. It is exactly because they oppose each other (have opposite qualities), they can be used to balance. It is therefore not possible to say that energy is uncontrolled samadhi.

with metta


Please stay with this belief. Indeed your mind is fully active while in Jhanas one to four. No need to go out of Jhana to “do” Vipassana (one does not “do” Vipassana). Insights (aha-eureka moments) come at their own time including while in Jhana.


…quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities — entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Whatever qualities there are in the first jhana — directed thought, evaluation, rapture, pleasure, singleness of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness,desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention — he ferreted them out one after another. Known to him they arose, known to him they remained, known to him they subsided. He discerned, ‘So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.’ He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. MN111

I think it must be possible:

"When insight (vipassana) is developed, what purpose does it serve? Discernment is developed. And when discernment is developed, what purpose does it serve? Ignorance is abandoned. AN2.3

"The individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, should approach an individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment and ask him: ‘How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?’ The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: ‘Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.’ Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment. AN 4.94

with metta

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AN 4.94 is making the distinction between samatha and vipassana, not between jhana and vipassana.


That’s true. But if you practiced them separately the Samatha practitioner would be more likely to go into a jhana. I was making the point that they could be practiced separately.

With metta

What is then this vipassana meditation, not the one promoted by the Burmese Sayadaws but the one you consider is in the EBTs?