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8th jhana compared to stream-entry / path glimpse?

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#1

When I conceptually imagine (I know, a problem already! but humor me…) what the realm of neither-perception-nor-non-perception is like, and then imagine what a path glimpse is like, they sound very similar.

Except, I understand that the “8th jhana” is a state of absorption, or perhaps a realm that one ventures to, but path glimpse / stream-entry is not?

Can anyone explain the differences? Is there any EBT, canonical, or commentarial relationship between stream-entry/path glimpse and the 8th jhana?

In MN121 the Buddha seems to say that one can go from 8th jhana to seeing the “signless immersion of the heart,” and from there Nibbana is just around the corner…

Furthermore, a mendicant—ignoring the perception of the dimension of nothingness and the perception of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception—focuses on the oneness dependent on the signless immersion of the heart. Their mind becomes eager, confident, settled, and decided in that signless immersion of the heart. They understand: ‘Even this signless immersion of the heart is produced by choices and intentions.’ They understand: ‘But whatever is produced by choices and intentions is impermanent and liable to cessation.’ Knowing and seeing like this, their mind is freed from the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. When they’re freed, they know they’re freed. They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’


#2

Buddha learned 8th Jhana from Uddaka and Buddha was not satisfiend with that teaching. Uddaka teaching does not contain four noble truths.

=============

I thought: ‘It wasn’t through mere conviction alone that Rama declared, “I have entered & dwell in this Dhamma, having realized it for myself through direct knowledge.” Certainly he dwelled knowing & seeing this Dhamma.’ So I went to Uddaka and said, ‘To what extent did Rama declare that he had entered & dwelled in this Dhamma?’ When this was said, Uddaka declared the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

"I thought: ‘Not only did Rama have conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, & discernment. I, too, have conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, & discernment. What if I were to endeavor to realize for myself the Dhamma that Rama declared he entered & dwelled in, having realized it for himself through direct knowledge.’ So it was not long before I quickly entered & dwelled in that Dhamma, having realized it for myself through direct knowledge. I went to Uddaka and said, ‘Friend Uddaka, is this the extent to which Rama entered & dwelled in this Dhamma, having realized it for himself through direct knowledge?’
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.026.than.html


#3

Hi @sgns and welcome to the Forum :slight_smile:

I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to your question, but I’m sure more knowledgable people will respond :slight_smile:

I have been thinking about the 8th Jhana recently, and was wondering what particular benefits can arise from it?

Given that it

As such, it is a product of mind, and so how reliable can it be? Is it useful to work towards all of the arupa Jhanas?

:anjal: :dharmawheel:


#4

I personally am finding that working on other suttas such as the SN12.23 Vital Conditions chain to be much more helpful in working on relinquishing attachments. Every now and then an odd thought wings into my mind that “perhaps this is that jhana”. I have not found those thoughts about jhana to be particularly useful in relinquishing attachments.

For example, I’ll find my eye or ear caught by something and usually that something reveals a deeper attachment. Working on and relinquishing that attachment usually results in an experience of returning equanimity which is temporarily disturbed by reflections on “what jhana is this?”. This is why I tend to shy away from chasing jhana as a goal on its own.

Clearly, for one who has never meditated, understanding jhana is indeed important. But for those with some experience with meditation, it seems counter-productive to say “I’m dialing in jhana #3.005 and off we go”. I am similarly sloppy with screwdrivers, which come in all different sizes. I simply use the tool at hand that works for the task at hand.


#5

The benefite are that it is a pleasant abiding here and now, and if one sees it as impermanent then…(as the sutta continues to say)

…which is beneficial.

If one can do it, that’s great because it’s better than other states, and it will result in liberation faster than not doing it.

All ‘states’ are determined, so anicca can be understood without jhana. If one has the knowledge of anicca and ability of jhana, you will be doing jhana;
Even if you do not have knowledge of anicca but can do jhana(which is unlikely), you will be doing jhana;
Because for example, if you were sitting in an uncomfortable position, but you know that you could easily shift into a comfortable position…at will, then why wouldn’t you.
Why would you choose to stay in an uncomfortable position, if both positions are of no value to you?

The arahant still eats and urinates, walks, takes shelter from weather etc Ultimately the arahant can just lay down and die, but instead…
" I don’t long for death;
I don’t long for life;
I await my time,
Like a worker waiting for their wages.

I don’t long for death;
I don’t long for life;
I await my time,
Aware and mindful Thag15.1
The Buddha and his arahant disciples would abide in jhana frequently, not because they needed to see anicca, but because one who does jhana can do it as easy as taking shelter from a storm.
Jhanas are not unwholesome either, one cannot get attached to it, as is frequently and conveniently assumed.
Jhanas are extremely beneficial from a puthujjana point of view and an ariyan.

Jhana is not an accident, it is something fully understood and done knowingly. If one enters it, one knows how one entered it. For example, you might not know what a screwdriver is or how to use it, but then you understand what it is and on account of that understanding you will use it, you wouldn’t not use it if you had a job that needed it and the screwdriver is readily available.
You don’t know how to use a tool only when you are using it. The knowledge of how it is used remains after you have used it and becomes perpetually available to you.
A skilled person uses the right tool for the job.

If equanimity is disturbed by thoughts of renunciation, its not equanimity.

Stream entry is not a glimpse its an entry. One cannot exit it, but one can exit a jhana.


#6

Thanks @viveka. I lurk on and off, and sometimes post – it is a great community.

In terms of the usefulness of 8th jhana: in MN106, the Buddha says that the 8th jhana is very close to Nibbana. If the practitioner is able to attain the 8th jhana without any clinging, they will become enlightened. If the practitioner clings, they will not become enlightened. But even that’s not so bad, for the Buddha says “the best thing to grasp is the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.”

The way I read M121, rather than the Buddha saying, “Oh yeah, you think you’re doing really good, but look sucker, you’re still clinging!” he is saying, “Hey you are really, really close. You just have one small iota of clinging to abandon now.”

In the passage you re-quoted, @Viveka – about choices and intentions from M121 – note that the Buddha isn’t talking there about the 8th jhana, but rather about the “signless immersion of the heart,” which is different.

The “signless immersion” is one of two attainments sometimes listed after 8th jhana, with the other being “the cessation of perception and feeling.” In Pali, I believe the latter state is, nirodha samapatti, often referred to simply as nirodha.

It seems very clear, to me anyway, that all of these attainments are very useful in the path. I just don’t understand how, if at all, they fit in with the typology of stream-entry and/or path glimpse.


#7

Stream entry arises as morality training is completed, a degree of samadhi is attained and wisdom into aggregates are penetrated from listening, contemplation and experiential insight at which point there is arising of the Dhamma eye :eye:, which is called a glimpse of nibbana (sotapatti magga/path). Now the stream entrants who can also attain jhana can further develop sotapatti phala/fruit of stream entry and dwell in cessation for much longer - and it’s not after attaining the jhana one by one but rather a ceasing ‘nirodha’ of the sense bases, which is different AFAIK to nirodha in the sutta above, which is said to be possible if the five lower fetters have been abandoned and one is a non-returner (anagamin) or for arahanths who are ‘liberated both ways’ who are capable of immaterial jhana.


#8

Thanks @Mat, this is very helpful!

So you are saying the sotapatti magga is the arising of the Dhamma eye - how does one experience the Dhamma eye? is that a moment of dwelling in cessation?

And one who has developed the sotapatti phala, they can always or at least repeatedly dwell in cessation? Or is it just a single instance that bears fruit in this way?

And then the anagamin and arahants can dwell in a more refined state of nirodha samapatti


#9

This is my deduction. I can’t find anything else that fits the bill.

…followed by a lot of rapture and bliss. A moment of enlightenment (entering the stream).

Sotapatti phala or fruit is complex and I cannot come to a deduction about this but such states are mentioned in the suttas, and are called nibbanic bliss. The ‘fruits’ seems to be another name for this bliss, for any lesser form of bliss wouldn’t be ‘good enough’, for someone who has penetrated samsaric suffering, broken the fetters for stream entry and realised nibbanic bliss. Errors were made when (later) Abhidhamma analysts analysed away practicalities of ‘path & fruit’, IMO.


#10

Thanks @Mat. Can you cite any suttas that talk about the arising Dhamma eye, nibbanic bliss, and/or path glimpse? I mainly just encounter the factors leading to and its results, but not much about the moment of attainment…


#11

I’ve found MN44 quite intriguingly suggestive.


#12

Then Ven. Assaji gave this Dhamma exposition to Sariputta the wanderer:

“Whatever phenomena arise from a cause:
Their cause
& their cessation.
Such is the teaching of the Tathagata,
the Great Contemplative.”

Then to Sariputta the wanderer, as he heard this exposition of Dhamma, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.
— Mv I.23.5

This standard formula — it is repeated throughout the Canon — may not seem that remarkable an insight. However, the texts make clear that this insight is not a matter of belief or contemplation, but of direct seeing. As the following passages show, belief and contemplation may be conducive to the seeing — and an undefined level of belief and discernment may actually guarantee that someday in this lifetime the seeing will occur — but only with the actual seeing does there come a dramatic shift in the course of one’s life and one’s relationship to the Dhamma -Thanissaro Bhikkhu

"Monks, the eye is inconstant, changeable, alterable. The ear… The nose… The tongue… The body… The mind is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

Forms… Sounds … Aromas… Flavors… Tactile sensations… Ideas are inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"Eye-consciousness… Ear-consciousness… Nose-consciousness… Tongue-consciousness… Body-consciousness… Intellect-consciousness is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"Eye-contact…Ear-contact…Nose-contact…Tongue-contact…Body-contact… Intellect-contact is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"Feeling born of eye-contact… Feeling born of ear-contact… Feeling born of nose-contact… Feeling born of tongue-contact… Feeling born of body-contact… Feeling born of intellect-contact is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"Perception of forms… Perception of sounds… Perception of smells… Perception of tastes… Perception of tactile sensations…Perception of ideas is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"Intention for forms… Intention for sounds… Intention for smells… Intention for tastes… Intention for tactile sensations… Intention for ideas is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"Craving for forms… Craving for sounds… Craving for smells… Craving for tastes… Craving for tactile sensations… Craving for ideas is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"The earth property… The liquid property… The fire property… The wind property… The space property… The consciousness property is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"Form… Feeling… Perception… Fabrications… Consciousness is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"One who has conviction & belief that these phenomena are this way is called a faith-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry ghosts. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream entry.

"One who, after pondering with a modicum of discernment, has accepted that these phenomena are this way is called a Dhamma-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry ghosts. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream entry.

“One who knows and sees that these phenomena are this way is called a stream-enterer, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening.”
SN 25.1-10

To Upali the householder, as he was sitting right there, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation. Then — having seen the Dhamma, having reached the Dhamma, known the Dhamma, gained a footing in the Dhamma, having crossed over & beyond doubt, having had no more questioning — Upali the householder gained fearlessness and was independent of others with regard to the Teacher’s message.

— MN 56

Part of what makes the arising of the Dhamma eye such a powerful experience is that the realization that “Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation” must follow on a glimpse of what stands in opposition to “all that is subject to origination,” i.e., a glimpse of the Unconditioned — deathlessness.

[Immediately after attaining the stream] Sariputta the wanderer went to Moggallana the wanderer. Moggallana the wanderer saw him coming from afar and, on seeing him, said, “Your faculties are bright, my friend; your complexion pure & clear. Could it be that you have attained the Deathless?”

“Yes, my friend, I have…”

— Mv I.23.5


#13

The connection between Ven. Assaji’s verse above, discussing causation, and the arising of the Dhamma eye in Sariputta suggests that realization conveyed by the Dhamma eye is not just an insight into the fleeting, impermanent nature of ordinary experience. Instead, it extends also to a realization of the conditioned, dependent nature of that experience. Other passages describing in more detail the knowledge of a stream-enterer — one who has entered the stream — show that this is in fact the case. The Dhamma eye sees that things arise and pass away in line with a particular type of causality, in which the effects of causes are felt immediately or over the course of time.

"And which is the noble method that he has rightly seen & rightly ferreted out through discernment?

"There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones notices:

"When this is, that is.

"From the arising of this comes the arising of that.

"When this isn’t, that isn’t.

"From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.

"In other words:

"From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.

"From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.

"From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.

"From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.

"From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.

"From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.

"From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.

"From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.

"From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming.

"From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.

"From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

“This is the noble method that he has rightly seen & rightly ferreted out through discernment.”

— AN 10.92

“When a disciple of the noble ones has seen well with right discernment this dependent co-arising & these dependently co-arisen phenomena as they are actually present, it is not possible that he would run after the past, thinking, ‘Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past?’ or that he would run after the future, thinking, ‘Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?’ or that he would be inwardly perplexed about the immediate present, thinking, ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?’ Such a thing is not possible. Why is that? Because the disciple of the noble ones has seen well with right discernment this dependent co-arising & these dependently co-arisen phenomena as they are actually present.”

— SN 12.20

Into the Stream

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