..Abiding in Jhana

Continuing the discussion from V&V in Sphuṭārthā Abhidharmakośavyākhyā:

I’m just focusing (mind the pun) on the ‘abiding’ part. Is there an alternative reading?

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Not sure what your query is directed at. Geiger, Warder and Perniola agree that forms such as “dwells having entered” are periphrastic constructions, where viharati (dwells) is an auxiliary verb furnishing the durative aspect to the governing verb upasampajja, ie “having entered”.

Hendriksen does not think the periphrasis reading is always necessary. Nevertheless, he agrees that viharati brings out the durative aspect of the gerund (which in this case is “having entered”).


…jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati…
…he enters & remains in the ‘x’ jhana…

The qualities mentioned as jhana factors are found not only in jhana. This is why they have words to describe them which are commonly understood.

However jhana, I propose, is more than just those jhana factors. To decide if someone is in a jhana, they need to ‘enter and remain’ in a state that has the jhana factors.

Do modern jhana teachers teach that being in a different state is an imperative quality of being in a jhana?

  • In first jhana, would the “remain-ing” allow for continuous effort required to maintain the state? For example, I would cheer immensely if I could actually keep my mind on DN33 for the entire walk.
  • I’m a bit unsure how to assess breathlessness in the fourth jhana unless it’s just the space between in/eh-halation. If so, then, yes. I recognize that I can’t remain there for any significant time. Certainly not long enough to have someone express concern over my non-breathing.

Generally, to recognize abiding, we also need to understand the difference between: joy, rapture, bliss. Perhaps that is another thread…

By one definition, vittaka-vicara are a relatively mild sort of “effort” of just holding the mind focused on the object – closer to a letting-go of distraction than strenuous striving.

Could be it just refers to absence of awareness of breath?

That’s another topic, and should really start with the Pali words (pamojja, piti, sukha, passaddhi, etc.), because different translations mix the English terms all up.


It would be useful to have sukha as happiness in daily contexts and bliss in samadhi or jhana.

This is a situation in which the jhana factor might be uncertain to the reader but the ‘abiding’ (viharati) is not fulfilled as could holding the breath.

If we think that jhanas are rare states of consciousness arrived at after much practice and the abiding in would be a phase shift, like a fish going from water into air it’s becomes clearer why they are highly desired rather than something which happens frequently.

Sustained practice is required.

Focus on a meditation object is necessary much like keeping upright on water needs ‘treading’.

samadhi is the product of external object of meditation. There’s no sharp entry or clear exist.

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To clarify this a bit, the phase shift that we experience when we suddenly fall asleep or when water turns into ice. It’s not short-lived or intermittent.

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Thank you Mat for raising this very important question.
Experiencing piti, sukha, vitaka and vicara in and outside meditation, I’m not claiming being in jhana 1 everytime I experience these factors. There is a very specific entering phase into jhana 1. There are also entering phases into jhana 2, 3 and 4 but not as “dramatic” as the 1st entry. When one has entered into jhana, one knows he is in a different state of consciousness than before jhana.

As far as modern teachers, one who describes this jhana entry is Leigh Brassington in his book “Right Concentration” Chapter 3 Entering the Jhanas where he says “… And then eventually, it (i.e. the pleasant sensation) will suddenly take off and take you into what is obviously an altered state of consciousness”.


Please correct this misquotation – I didn’t write that text, but rather had quoted it.


Mat was quoting me. Discourse has a bug. :expressionless:

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Sorry. See above reply from karl_lew.

According to Richard Gombrich, the sequence of the four rupa-jhanas describes two different cognitive states: "I know this is controversial, but it seems to me that the third and fourth jhanas are thus quite unlike the second. Gombrich and Wynne note that, while the second jhana denotes a state of absorption, in the third and fourth jhana one comes out of this absorption, being mindfully awareness of objects while being indifferent to it. According to Gombrich, "the later tradition has falsified the jhana by classifying them as the quintessence of the concentrated, calming kind of meditation, ignoring the other – and indeed higher – element.[27] Dhyāna in Buddhism - Wikipedia

Richard Gombrich says there is a ‘coming out’ of the second jhana. And that the third and fourth jhanas are less intense states of concentration. He has disregarded the gradual loss of jhana factors from first to fourth jhana that suggests otherwise.