AanaApaanaSati Sutta & 4 Jhaanas?

I know we had some discussion about whether SatiPatthana relates to Jhaanas. I’d like to bring up the question of whether there is a relation to jhaana in the AanaApaanaSati Sutta?

The second (and maybe the third) ‘tetrad’ of the Mindfulness of Breathing instructions use words that usually take place in the jhaana context; piiti and sukkha specifically.

Obviously, piiti is the strongest quality of 1st jhaana (“breathing in/out experiencing rapture”). Sukkha the strongest quality of 2nd (“breathing in/out experiencing pleasure”). These first 2 jhaana would be more vedanaa (feeling) bodily qualities.

The 3rd and 4th then would be mentioned in the 3rd tetrad on citta. Could abhippamodayaṃ “‘gladdening’ the mind” be similar to 3rd jhaana when described as “pleasant abiding” or “contentment” (happiness and equanimity) as a subtler mental quality (citta) as opposed to the coarser bodily (/feeling/vedanaa) quality of jhaana 1 & 2. Samādahaṃ “‘concentrating’ the mind” could then be the imperturbable samaadhi of pure upekkha, stillness, in the 4th jhaana. Vimocayaṃ could be something like one of the awareness-releases?: “Householder, the immeasurable awareness-release, the nothingness awareness-release, the emptiness awareness-release, the themeless awareness-release” SN 41.7

Now, there are some problems with this analysis. Usually jhaana is described as being swept away by the piiti, dropping the object of sati. Here though, in aanaapaanasati, the object of sati (the in and out breath) is never dropped and remains throughout the whole meditation instructions. So if this is jhaana, maybe it is “jhaana-lite” or “jhaana training wheels”. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this subject?

…even if just to say this is an over-analysis haha


1 Like


Dear Sam-Vi,

The best description of the experience of jhana I’ve ever heard of and what made sense to me was by Ajahn Brahm. Jhanās are the the culmination of practicing letting go to the utmost. The suttas are there to guide us and are meant for that, not to completely describe the whole experience. The suttas point to the land marks of getting “into” jhanās, nothing else. They won’t get you into jhanās. They are reference points, nothing else. That is why it is always advisable to talk with advanced meditative monastics to confirm deep absorption experiences. How to do that? Go into retreat with reputable teachers. That’s the only best way to settle the question.

Just my humble opinion.

with añjali and mettā,


1 Like

These are the things you need before performing the SatiPatthana and AnApanaSati.

Samadhi is achieved by a “seven procedure sambojjhaṅga”.

This analysis sounds fine & the questions raised have probably been answered, namely, it sounds like “jhaana-lite” or “jhaana training wheels”. The commentaries mention three levels of concentration, namely, momentary concentration, neighborhood concentration & attainment concentration. Since, in anapanasati, the in and out breath always remains as a meditation object, it appears anapanasati is not about jhana. That said, the ‘unfolding’ or ‘purification’ occurring in anapanasati in respect to rapture subsiding into happiness subsiding into gladness subsiding into concentration & release is obviously the same purification process as jhana however on a coarser or less pure level. I think it is important to discuss this since anapanasati is obviously much more than just ‘jhaana-lite’. Anapanasati is obviously a very profound and enlightening experience (otherwise the Buddha would not have repeatedly taught it and described it as ‘The Tathagata’s Dwelling’ - SN 54.11) and the meditator experiencing it ought to not believe they have finished the whole path but know there is a higher path to be repeated.

4 posts were split to a new topic: New Guide to Practising with the Anapanasati Sutta