AN 3.64: walking while in jhanas?

What to make of this quote?

AN 3.64
so vivicceva kāmehi… (whole 4 jhanas pericope) … catutthaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharāmi. so ce ahaṃ, brāhmaṇa, evaṃbhūto caṅkamāmi, dibbo me eso tasmiṃ samaye caṅkamo hoti.
secluded from sensual pleasures … fourth jhāna… Then, brahmin, when I am in such a state, if I walk back and forth, on that occasion my walking back and forth is celestial.

Bhikkhu Bodhi notes:

Mp says that his walking back and forth is celestial when, having entered the four jhānas, he walks back and forth; and his walking back and forth is celestial when, after emerging from the four jhānas, he walks back and forth. This seems to imply that walking can occur even with the mind in jhāna. This, however, is contradicted by the dominant understanding that jhāna is a state of uninterrupted absorption in an object, in which case intentional movements like walking would not be possible. Mp-ṭ explains the first case of Mp (walking after entering the jhānas) to mean that he walks back and forth immediately after emerging from the jhāna, while the second case (walking after emerging) to mean that he walks back and forth after having emerged some time earlier.


I think it’s a pretty theoretical question because most people couldn’t even develop jhana in an isolation tank :slight_smile: But here is a story often told about Dipa Ma which suggests it is possible:
“As she sat in meditation through the day, her concentration rapidly deepened. Later, on her way to the meditation hall, she suddenly found herself unable to move. For several minutes, she couldn’t even lift a foot, which puzzled her. Finally she realized that a dog had clamped its teeth around her leg and wouldn’t let go. Amazingly, her concentration had become so deep even in those first few hours of practice that she had felt no pain. Eventually, the dog was pulled away by some monks.”

samadhi in a standing position transfixed isn’t unknown within Hindu tradition either, walking up and down would be a different phenomenon


I believe it is possible to walk while you are in Vipassana Samadhi or Arahattapala Samadhi.
The way I understand, walking or driving a car is not Vitakka and Vicara. So it may be possible to walk or dive a car while in Jhana.

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Referring to Mahāvīra (Nigaṇṭha Nataputta) of the Jains? He’s often depicted in a standing meditation.

In modern Buddhist practice, I think standing meditation is one of the most neglected of the 4 postures.

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I read in a thai forest biography somewhere that a bhikkhu was in samadhi standing - not because he wanted to… he was surrounded by tigers and the closeness of death triggered the samadhi it seems :blush: I remember something like ‘he got out of samadhi, was still standing, and the tigers were gone’

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this story is recounted in ‘Forest Recollections. Wandering monks in 20th century Thailand’ by Kamala Tiyavanich

There was at least one case like this described in Ajahn Mun’s biography by Ajahn Maha Bua.

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Ah yes, in my pdf it’s p. 434: ‘The Adventures of Acariya Chob’
“All awareness of the external world, including his physical presence, had utterly disappeared. Which meant that awareness of the tigers had also disappeared. His citta had ‘converged’ completely, dropping to the very base of samãdhi, and many hours passed before it withdrew from that state. When his citta finally withdrew, he found that he was still standing in the same position as before. His umbrella and alms bowl were still slung over his shoulder, and in one hand he still carried a candle lantern, which had long since gone out.”

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I think is possible, if you read the Anapanasati Sutta, nowhere the Buddha mentions focus strongly on you nostrils or in anywhere, he uses terms like discerns and sensitive.


Incidentally it’s AN 3.63 on SC.

This issue was discussed on DW a while back -

The member called pulga helpfully called attention to the possibility that the Commentarial and Bhikkhu Bodhi explanation may have been prompted by the understanding that the phrase “evaṃbhūto caṅkamāmi” is a periphrastic construction that gives “while I walk in that state”. This on the basis of Warder’s listing of “tuṇhībhūto nisinno hoti” as a double-periphrastic (p.239).

Yet, I find that Warder is somewhat restrained, and gives only the double-periphrastic example involving tuṇhībhūto and nisinno as the 2 governing verbs (as past participles) with hoti as the auxillary verb. I’ve looked in the texts at nisīdati (the present indicative) and could not find any examples of nisīdati participating as an auxillary verb in a periphrastic construction.

This leads me to conclude that “evaṃbhūto caṅkamāmi” is not a periphrasis. In fact, I am not sure if conditional statements such as the AN 3.63 passage can ever be periphrastic (the passage uses ce/if).

If we disregard the Comy gloss on this passage, I think we can also translate the passage legitimately as such -

So ce ahaṃ, brāhmaṇa, evaṃbhūto caṅkamāmi, dibbo me eso tasmiṃ samaye caṅkamo hoti.

Having become thus, if I pace, , on that occasion my pacing is celestial.

What I have done is follow the CPD in treating evaṃbhūto as an adjective qualifying the Buddha, rather than as an adverb qualifying the action of walking.

Then, the problem goes away.


can you clarify what problem it solves? it’s still about the ability to walk while in jhana, isn’t it? or is it about a post-jhanic state?

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I imagine it solves a contradiction. If jhana is a complete withdrawal of the senses, then walking, hearing, and so on during jhana doesn’t make sense. If the walking is after the jhana, there is no problem.

This has been discussed in a number of places:

There is a similar issue in MN 111. Most translations imply that Sariputta is considering the factors of his jhanas while still in the jhana. The alternative intrepreation is that this contemplation is after each jhana.

I don’t have the detailed Pali knowledge to defend either interpretation, but have found the conversation fascinating.


That is not a theoretical question. Many of the students of my teacher (not me) are experiencing various Jhana levels.

It’s AN 3.63, not 64.

Sure, it’s clear that different teachers have different interpretations of how jhana is defined. On one level it’s theoretical, in that samadhi states that are not necessary jhana are also important. See, for example, AN 4.41. On other levels, it is important to be clear about what the suttas are actually pointing to.

It depends on what numbering you refer yourself to. Sutta Central, I presume, in your case. I use Be because that’s what I have in the DPR.

According to PTSD (definition of bhūtā):

( – ˚) pp. in predicative use:
(a) what has been or happened;
(b) having become such & such, being like, acting as, being quâsi (as it were), consisting of,

A quick contextual analysis reveals the word evaṃbhūto appears only in 3 suttas (AN 3.63/4, AN 4.11 & AN 4.12). In the last two, it may mean “in such a state (i.e. currently)” or perhaps “often in that state”.

“carato cepi, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno uppajjati kāmavitakko vā byāpādavitakko vā vihiṃsāvitakko vā. taṃ ce bhikkhu… nappajahati… carampi, bhikkhave, bhikkhu evaṃbhūto ‘anātāpī anottāpī satataṃ samitaṃ kusīto hīnavīriyo’ti vuccati.

Bhikkhus, if a thought of sensuality, a thought of malevolence, or a thought of harming arises in a bhikkhu while walking, and h… does not abandon it… then a bhikkhu who is in such a state/often in that state is said to be lacking in ardor and fear of wrong-doing; he is constantly and continuously lazy and inferior in energy while walking.

So from this point of view there is a ground to consider that evaṃbhūto does not necessarily refer to the immediate state a person is in, and may well refer at a longer time scale to the state one is often in.

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Dear Silence[quote=“silence, post:17, topic:3368”]
It’s AN 3.63, not 64.

It depends on what numbering you refer yourself to. Sutta Central, I presume, in your case. I use Be because that’s what I have in the DPR.
but doesn’t it make sense to use the SC numbering? Because, no matter which numbering you are using: if one uses the links that pop up when clicking with the mouse on AN 3.64, one is directed to the Sarabhasutta.

Kind Regards

It does. The numberings seem to generally coincide between the two, so I neglected cross-checking. Thank you for this reminder.

Hi Sylvester,

which problem goes away?

Best Wishes,