AN3.63 walking in 4th jhana?

This is suttacentral, not Visuddhimagga central. I shouldn’t have to defend or justify interpreting EBT passages with an EBT point of view as an agenda.

If you like the upacara, khanika, appana samadhi, and you personally find those concepts helpful, great. But those are not EBT ideas. In the EBT, that’s just called samādhi, or jhāna, or satipatthāna. If the Buddha didn’t find the need to break it up into more detail than that, then neither do I.


Bhante, I wasn’t disputing your point on AN 3.63. The OP title, and sister P’s later post suggested to me she’s incredulous that it’s possible to walk while in fourth jhāna. I was quoting other suttas to support that idea.

I once asked Pa Auk Sayadaw, one of the highest authorities on VRJ, Vism. Redefinition of Jhāna, if it was possible to stand in VRJ. He said not only can you stand, but you can walk, according to Vism. Now when Pa Auk says that, I have assume there’s a high probability he knows that from personal experience.

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In- and out-breathing stop in 4th jhana (SN36.11). Do you think it is possible to walk without in and out-breathing?


It is a good point but Samadhi is not Jhana.
The question is walking in 4th Jhana.
The way I understand you can walk while you are in Samadhi but not in fourth Jhana.
I think you are come out of Jhana when you are in animitta Samadhi.
Isn’t the thinking “I have this and I do not have this” is Vitakka and Vicara?

Thanks and same to you! And also to Ayya @Vimala and anyone else who has just emerged from the vassa.


My mistake, sorry.

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The idea of investigating EBT has to do with clarifying the historical stages of development of dhamma interpretation, focusing on the earliest interpretations (oral versions of what happened in the Buddha’s time). It’s itself a kind of 21st-century commentary, not dissimilar from the generations of commentarial perspectives that began when people who did not themselves witness the Buddha’s teachings formulated new kinds of understanding reflecting the influences of their own time periods. EBT study itself uses 20th-21st century methods of literary and textual criticism, scientific perspective, etc., which are subject to their own biases.

I believe it’s clear that the purpose (of the EBT endeavor) is not so much to disprove or disparage formulations which are not literally found in the EBT, but rather contributing to better understand how they came about, and their value as well as short-comings (from one or another perspective). As one teacher put it, just because a term or interpretation came later doesn’t mean it’s not true and doesn’t pertain to proper dhamma
understanding and practice.

Your researches shared here have proven excellent contributions to surveying the appearance and usage of certain terms and topics across the textual historical layers of interpretation. The framing of your own findings (interpretations), however, also seem to indicate an effort to superimpose negative value judgments, particularly vis-a-vis the Visuddhimagga, and, by extension, on the many generations of practitioners and scholars since that time and continuing in major Theravada traditions to this day. Perhaps better if these judgments were acknowledged and framed as hypotheses than asserted, often polemically, as proven certainties.

I find these terms to be decisively useful for understanding and describing both the variations of meaning among EBT sources, as well as the lived experiencing of the practices evolved across tradition and still taught today in mainline Theravada traditions.

For instance, the common ‘pericope’ in sutta-s where the Buddha teaches (1) to go into seclusion, sit erect and focus the mind forward, put-aside worldly longings (abhijja) and displeasure (domanassa), cultivate gladness (pamujja), rapture (piti), tranquility (passadi), contented bliss (sukha), as preparing the mind for either (among also other further kinds of practice) (2) distinctly “entering” jhāna (absorption in stillness), or (3) proceeding to actively apply the mind to vipassana / satipatthana / insight type investigation of phenomena as they come and go.

These EBT features are well-captured by the notions of upacara-samadhi for (1), and appana-samadhi for (2), or (vipassana-)khanika-samadhi for (3). (Using them in the sense of the Mahasi Sayadaw’s explanations, which I’m most familiar with – there may be others.) Also interesting is that the two ((2) and (3)), maybe one can call them core practices, become virtually identical as they converge on the realization of “path” attainments.

To illustrate that point, (A) the Pa Auk Sayadaw style teaching begins with rather intense jhāna practice as a training basis for then intense vipassana practice (e.g. of the 4 elements / dhatu-s); here advanced mastery of on the jhāna side involves entering and exiting absorption very rapidly, interspersed with insight application.

On the Mahasi side (B), despite it’s being s/t pitted against the Pa Auk side, the jhāna path is not rejected (as many modernist secular followers hold), is acknowledged (as per the sutta-s) as sammasamadhi. However, in deference to people living in modern cultural conditioning where seclusion and deep absorption is problematic, the Sayadaw finds evidence (both sutta-s and commentarial) that upacara and khanika samadhi’s can also fulfill the role of sammasamadhi. And he notes that the dedicated practice of insight / khanika-samadhi (without using any specific jhāna practice) intensifies in the advanced stages to a level of intensity equivalent to that of deep jhāna, notably at the point of ultimate concentration immediately prior to magga-phala attainments.

I could make the case (with documentation) that other methods, e.g. © that taught by Thanissaro B., despite significant apparent differences (in part having to do with the legendary Thai-Burmese rivalry converges at the same level of intense and interspersed concentration and insight on the road to liberation attainment.

It could be (in fact is) endlessly argued back and forth that these modern embodiments of Theravada traditional training – (A), (B), (C ), etc. – are perhaps not literally explicit in the EBT texts. I’m solidly convinced, however, that they all trace back, person-to-person by word of mouth and individual apprenticeship / training (i.e. lineage) to the Buddha’s teaching,

This is understandable at the level where advanced practice involves the dialectic of rapid alternation between intense concentration – call it “momentary absorption” – and subsequent intense insight. (In fact, this I take as a feasible interpretation of the classical terms “knowledge and vision” (nyanadassana) – a split-second vivid direct experiencing followed the mind-door comprehension of it.)

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But you are quoting from MN 121. This is what MN 122 has to say:

… He gives attention to imperturbability. While he is giving attention to imperturbability, his mind enters into imperturbability and acquires confidence, steadiness, and decision. When that is so, he understands thus: ‘While I am giving attention to imperturbability, my mind enters into imperturbability and acquires confidence, steadiness, and decision.’ In this way he has full awareness of that.

When a bhikkhu abides thus, if his mind inclines to walking, he walks, thinking: ‘While I am walking thus, no evil unwholesome states of covetousness and grief will beset me.’ In this way he has full awareness of that. And when a bhikkhu abides thus, if his mind inclines to standing, he stands…If his mind inclines to sitting, he sits…If his mind inclines to lying down, he lies down, thinking: ‘While I am lying down thus, no evil unwholesome states will beset me.’ In this way he has full awareness of that.

When a bhikkhu abides thus, if his mind inclines to talking, he resolves: ‘Such talk as is low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble, unbeneficial, and which does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, peace, direct knowledge, enlightenment, and Nibbāna, that is, talk of kings, robbers, ministers, armies, dangers, battles, food, drink, clothing, beds, garlands, perfumes, relatives, vehicles, villages, towns, cities, countries, women, heroes, streets, wells, the dead, trivialities, the origin of the world, the origin of the sea, whether things are so or are not so: such talk I shall not utter.’ In this way he has full awareness of that.

Imperturbability normally refers to the immaterial attainments. It can also refer to the fourth jhāna, but here the four jhānas are the basis on which the other attainment, including imperturbability, are achieved.


I quoted MN 121 to show the explanation where animitta samadhi is sensitive to rupa, not arupa.

In MN 122:

“However, Ānanda, there is this abiding discovered by the Tathāgata: to enter and abide in voidness internally by giving no attention to all signs. 1151 “” If, while the Tathāgata is abiding thus, he is visited by bhikkhus or bhikkhunīs, by men or women lay followers, by kings or kings’ ministers, by other sectarians or their disciples, then with a mind leaning to seclusion, tending and inclining to seclusion, withdrawn, delighting in renunciation, and altogether done away with things that are the basis for taints, he invariably talks to them in a way concerned with dismissing them.

the bolded part in pali

sabbanimittānaṃ amanasikārā ajjhattaṃ suññataṃ upasampajja viharituṃ

The different samadhis (including 4 jhanas) that follow are all different ways to enter the sunnata attainment. By abiding in the sunnata, and not paying attention to all nimittas, that’s the standard definition of animitta samadhi, which the quote from MN 121 shows is rūpa, not arūpa.

Imperturbability is also used to describe the state of mind in the standard pericope that is sandwiched in between four jhanas and the 6 abhinna or sometimes just the tevijja 3 higher abhinna.

Among the 6 abhinna, many definitely require awareness of rupa while performing. Levitating, walking through walls, that one does “with a mind attained to imperturbability”, one has to be sensitive to both internal and external rupa.

from KN Iti 81, Buddha talking about monks in samadhi and jhana while receiving offerings (almsround presumably), which means they’re in a samadhi that can see and hear the person offering, and walking if almsround.

(verse) (thanissaro trans.)
:diamonds: “yassa sakkariyamānassa,
Both when receiving offerings
asakkārena cūbhayaṃ.
& not,
:diamonds: samādhi na vikampati,
his concentration doesn’t waver;
appamāda-vihārino .
he remains heedful:
:diamonds: “taṃ jhāyinaṃ sātatikaṃ,
he–continually absorbed in jhāna,
sukhumaṃ diṭṭhi-vipassakaṃ .
subtle in view & clear-seeing,
:diamonds: upādānak-khay-ārāmaṃ,
enjoying the ending of clinging–
āhu sappuriso itī”ti.
is called a man of integrity.

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When there are contradictions between later Buddhist teachings and EBT, especially on important points like how kāya is to be understood in jhāna, this creates huge problems. How could anyone interested in keeping the sassana alive not superimpose a negative judgement on that? It would be irresponsible.

I’ve gone to great lengths to justify most of my opinions with quotes and often carefully formatted pali and english audits in word for word order so it’s easy for people to look at the pali and decide for themselves whether my opinion makes sense or not. Anything anyone says or writes is just their opinion, we have to be responsible for ourselves to scrutinize and discriminate whether it makes sense or not.

I’ll write more in the near future on the systemic and practical problems that the Vism. approach to jhana development. I spent 10 years in the Vism. system, and have seen hundreds of meditators come through, so I’m not just talking about problems I had with it. I have a natural interest in being a good steward to the Dhamma and trying to leave the world a better place than I found it, in terms of making it easier for future generations to develop jhana.

I feel you have a tendency to focus on the areas of agreement between various buddhist traditions and not really fully appreciate the impact of how differences in important points can and historically has led to a degeneration of dhamma over time. That’s to your credit, but I think ideally everyone needs “good cop and bad cop”, not just “good cop”.


The four jhanas are not an exact science. Doing the jhanas sitting versus walking is going to feel different.

For me, when I stand still, it feels about 80% as good as the same jhana sitting. If I try to maintain the bliss of jhana while walking, it’s less than 50% of sitting, but definitely not an ordinary state of walking. Lying down is easy to fall asleep. Sitting posture takes the least amount of energy to maintain posture for long sits. I can stand still for one to two hours, but the full body weight on two feet versus full body spread out over the butt and legs in a cross leg seated posture is going to require more energy to maintain.

I don’t know if someone can walk in a fourth jhana without breathing. But I know I can walk with a partial jhana that doesn’t feel like a partial first, second, or third jhana.


Doesn’t this and jhayati mean striving, rather than absorbed in jhana?

with metta

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It comes from the same root as jhāna. jhāyati literally is the verb for doing jhana. Thanissaro tends to keep that connection in his translations. Others often translate the different conjugations of jhana as “meditation, meditator, meditate” when it’s not in a sitting still context.

I follow Thanissaro’s lead on this, since I’d rather let readers know that the word is the same word, and let them decide for themselves what jhana means under different contexts.

edit: the reason I think it’s important to retain the “jhana” word in the english translation is it often occurs in a context where it’s no ordinary meditation/contemplation, it’s meditation that is causing or concurrently happening with nibbana attainment.

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The question is not whether someone can walk without breathing.
The question is whether someone can walk without Vitakka, Vicara and Pithy but with equanamity.
In case of lower jhana the question is whether someone can walk in second Jhaha without vitakka and Vicara etc.

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yes, and yes.

Here’s an example that ordinary worldly consciousness can do. You’re someone who has driven for many years, reasonably competent, driving in normal traffic situations.

you see a yield sign, you yield, red light you stop. you’re driving in a lane next to another car, you’re in their blind spot, they change into your lane because they didn’t see you and you have to hit the brakes. A mindless pedestrian texting on his cel phone is crossing the street on a red light (for him) , green light for you, you have to swerve to avoid him.

Just some examples, but in all of those scenarios there was no time for V&V (vitakka and vicara, thinking and evaluation). You didn’t have time to think, “oh, i see this idiot texting and maybe I should just plow into him and teach him a lesson, but that would be inconvenient and time consuming for me so i’ll swerve around him.”

But you had a perception of some pedestrian suddenly in your way, and you issue an intentional sankhara to move your body and car to avoid him.

Similarly, whatever topic you take for jhāna, you don’t need V&V, but you have perceptions and sankharas.

Four jhānas is a useful model for someone starting off with no jhanas, but after doing jhanas for a long time, you tend to think of it more in terms of directed and undirected samadhi. Directed has V&V, undirected is (2nd through 4th jhanas). Once you know how to do undirected samadhi, you’ll naturally progress from 2nd to 4th jhana. First jhana, directed samadhi, is qualitatively different in the way you train, that’s why the Buddha goes to great lengths to give us many ways to train V&V (thinking and evaluation), such as MN 20 to bridge into undirected samadhi. The Vism. model of V&V really only fits a marginal case of someone already skilled in higher samadhi, if they try to do first jhana, that’s what it tends to look like for them. In the EBT, the purpose of the V&V for first jhana is to train the mind of beginners holistically and organically with the 8aam (noble eightfold path) and 4 noble truths. For someone with no jhanas yet and trying to learn first jhana using the Vism. model, is like removing the first four methods of the 5 methods of MN 20 and only doing the 5th method (mind crush mind, stuffing your mind into a small thimble on your nostril and gluing it to a nimitta). It’s just plain unskillful for most meditators to do it that way, and not according to EBT philosophy, which is to train the mind to see dukkha as dukkha and not as sukha (method 2 of MN 20). The Vism. 16 APS method, for someone who is already very skilled in 3rd jhana or higher, is a fine technique and has its merits. But for a beginner, it’s a bad idea.

The piti sukha of a second jhana is subject to biological imperative. You only get full body cosmic orgasm if the batteries are really low and need serious charging. Similarly to sukha of third jhana. If you’re skilled in jhanas, it’s as easy as flipping a switch on the jacuzzi and the jets come on right away. 2nd jhana feels like the jacuzzi, 3rd jhana feels like the jets have gone off but the smooth warm water feels even better. 2nd jhana feels very hydraulic/electrical/vibration, 3rd jhana like an air balloon inflating, very little to no vibration but physically pleasurable and smooth and consistent compared to 1st and 2nd jhana. Fourth jhana is just like a balloon that inflates on demand, neutral feeling. Taiji masters can make their hands puff up on command like like it’s been stung by 100 bees.

Those are just general comments on how physical symptoms feel, they shouldn’t be taken as a guide. It’s possible for skilled meditators from previous lives in this life as a beginner to advance very quickly through all four jhanas and feel no special pleasure. Everyone’s health condition and age is going to make their journey feel different. I think most people will feel maybe 75% pleasure and 25% leg/neck/back pain discomfort and still qualify as a jhana.


Yes this is how I understand it too.

What is the Pai word for directed and undirected?

several suttas and relevant pali definitions here

the easiest way is to reference those samadhis in terms you already know. a-vitkakka a-vicara samadhi, without thought without evaluation.

AN 8.63 is an excellent sutta that breaks up directed samadhi into 3 kinds, without V&V, with V&V, without vitakka but with some vicara.

It’s also a great sutta, along with MN 20, that shows why V&V must be thinking and evaluation, and not mind glued to a light nimitta.

In AN 8.63, vitakka, directed thought, is choosing a meditation topic, one fo the 4sp (satipatthana) or 4bv (brahma vihara). BTW the Buddha calls all eight of those topics “samadhi”. Vicara would then be the type of thinking restricted to evaluating the meditation topic.

So for example, Vitakka would choose metta. Vicara would radiate in different directions, maybe select an individual to direct metta at. 5 hindrances interrupt your samadhi, so yoniso manasikara immediately switches the meditation topic (vitakka) to a 4sp topic, maybe guarding the sense doors, or one of the 5 methods of MN 20.

the samadhi with no V&V would represent 2nd jhana or better. The samadhi with only some vicara and no vitakka would represent an intermediate stage where for example you’re mind is trained well to stay with the metta, vicara just has to stick on metta, and no need to “change channels” with vitakka to handle hindrances.

Now ask a Vism. teacher to explain how vitakka and vicara work from the Vism. definition of V&V for MN 20 and AN 8.63 and see which explanation makes more sense.


Samadhi may not be jhana but Right Samadhi is jhana. SN 45.8

I wonder if AN 8.63 could be viewed as an EBT roadmap for meditation, one that could be used instead of the commonly referenced Satipathana sutta, which I believe is probably not an EBT sutta?