AN3.63 walking in 4th jhana?

Dear friends and Venerables,
Can you please help me understand the following from AN3.63

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

Currently in Bhikkhu Bhodhi’s translation it reads like while in 4th Jhana the Buddha is doing walking meditation. This doesn’t seem possible in a worldly sense.

Thank you


The whole passage is a bit longer. Bhante Sujato’s translation is this:

When I’m practicing like this, if I walk meditation, at that time I walk like the gods.
When I’m practicing like this, if I stand, at that time I stand like the gods.
When I’m practicing like this, if I sit, at that time I sit like the gods.
When I’m practicing like this, if I lie down, at that time I lie down like the gods.

It seems indeed a little strange, as you say so maybe Bhante @Sujato or Ajahn @Brahmali, could you please clarify.


Thank you Ayya.
It’s the ‘When I’m practicing like this’ I was wondering about. I thought maybe the ‘this’ might mean sati rather than jhāna.

I look forward to hearing what Venerables Brahmali and Sujato can add.


Theruwan Saranayi,

Meditators, when they do not develop the fourth jhana, can not walk while in it. The five indriyas+balas and four iddhipadas have to be further strengthened to walk, while in fourth jhana, or attain fourth jhana while walking.

I think famous Thai Upāsikā, Mae Chee Kaew, attained her fourth jhana during her walking meditations.

I always trust EBT; I always trust the Teaching.

A lot of metta for your early success!

Well, this is a slightly difficult passage, and I’ll just try to draw it out a little here.

The operative word is evaṃbhūta. This is a compound of two of the most widely used and flexible words in Pali, evaṃ meaning “thus, such, in that sort of way”, and bhūta, the past participle of “to be”, i.e., “become”. Obviously it’s a somewhat idiomatic usage. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be a lot of other uses of this term, so it’s a little difficult to tease out the exact implications. Let me first begin by mentioning a few possibly relevant contexts.

The closest related term is in the contemplation of corpses, where one reflects that I, too, “will become like that” (evaṃbhāvī). Here there is a future orientation.

In Sanskrit, the dictionaries give the sense of “of such a quality or nature, such”.

The commentary to AN 3.63 defines it thus:

Evaṃbhūtoti evaṃ paṭhamajjhānādīsu aññatarasamaṅgī hutvā
Evaṃbhūta means: having thus been in possession of one or other of the absorptions, starting with the first, etc.

I think the main point of this is to explain that not all four jhanas are necessary, but any one is enough to count. Note, too, that the commentary affirms the past aspect of the term, rendering the past participle with an absolutive indicating a past perfect.

In the Pali, evaṃbhūta only seems to occur in one other passage. This is closely related to AN 3.63, except not in the context of jhana. This passage occurs at AN 4.11 and in a few variations elsewhere.

“Carato cepi, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno uppajjati kāmavitakko vā byāpādavitakko vā vihiṃsāvitakko vā.
“Mendicants, suppose a mendicant has a sensual, malicious, or cruel thought while walking.
Tañce bhikkhu adhivāseti, nappajahati na vinodeti na byantīkaroti na anabhāvaṃ gameti, carampi, bhikkhave, bhikkhu evaṃbhūto ‘anātāpī anottāpī satataṃ samitaṃ kusīto hīnavīriyo’ti vuccati.
They tolerate it and don’t give it up, get rid of it, eliminate it, and exterminate it. Such a mendicant is said to be ‘not keen or prudent, always lazy, and lacking energy’ when walking.

Here the usage is more straightforward, and we can render it more easily as “such a mendicant” or “a mendicant of such a kind”, etc.

Note that the grammatical form of the word inflects the meaning subtly, in ways that may or may not be easy to capture in translation. In the corpse contemplation, with its future orientation, we could say “I will come to be of such a kind”. In the past tense, “I have been of such a kind” or perhaps “I have come to be of such a kind”. Whether this aspect should be rendered in translation is a subjective point.

Anyway, so that’s a bit of background on the term, although it doesn’t directly solve the problem. Given that the term is vague and rarely used elsewhere, we shouldn’t overburden it with meaning. Following my usual “principle of least meaning” we should avoid creating dramatic or difficult meanings out of simple or ambiguous terms.

I think the overall sense of the passage is something like, “At a time when I have been practicing these meditations, when I walk, stand, sit, or lie down, it is just heavenly!”

It reminds me of something one of the lay people in Perth said to me one time. He’d been on a meditation course with a visiting teacher. This wasn’t a residential retreat; not even a retreat really, they just gathered to practice each evening. Many of the students were telling the teacher that they’d been attaining this jhana or that jhana. But the teacher never confirmed any of this, just taught meditation.

The lay student couldn’t help being skeptical, seeing how the yogis were going to work each day, chatting about this and that, talking about food, and generally being normal people.

Previously he had been on a long retreat in Burma. Even though he was a long term meditator, he remembered one time that just blew him away. He had such a profound sense of peace and stillness, a deep absorption, that his mind was completely changed after. For days, it was as if he was walking around on a cloud, everything bright and still and pure. Such is the power of deep meditation.

And that, in my view, is what this sutta is talking about.


I think I agree with this view. Post-jhanic bliss is wonderful. I remember being on retreat in Sri Lanka and where people were practicing jhana- it is a great state to be in- absolute contentment- no need for sense cravings. In the sutta itself the change from one paragraph to another is confusing, and could be misinterpreted for continuation of the fourth jhana, but actually it is outside of the actual absorption. Practice of insight after the jhana absorption, in other suttas, is similarly confused, I feel.

with metta


The comparison to walking around on a cloud makes it much clearer. Like the phrase ‘on cloud-9’.

Walking around like a god seems too constrained. Heaven on earth or a heavenly-state seems to to capture that bright, expansive feeling clearer in my mind.

I had this sutta brought to my attention by someonewho believes the body doesn’t ‘disappear’ in jhāna. :banana: Which made no sense to me.

Thank you Bhante

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IN AN 4.12, samādhi / jhāna happens in all four postures

for walking:

:diamonds: “carato cepi, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno abhijjhābyāpādo vigato hoti, thinamiddhaṃ… uddhaccakukkuccaṃ… vicikicchā pahīnā hoti, āraddhaṃ hoti vīriyaṃ asallīnaṃ, upaṭṭhitā sati asammuṭṭhā, passaddho kāyo asāraddho, samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ, carampi, bhikkhave, bhikkhu evaṃbhūto ‘ātāpī ottāpī satataṃ samitaṃ āraddhavīriyo pahitatto’ti vuccati.
english bodhi

81(1) “Bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu has gotten rid of longing and ill will while walking; if he has abandoned dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and remorse, and doubt;640"" if his energy is aroused without slackening; if his mindfulness is established and unmuddled; if his body is tranquil and undisturbed; if his mind is concentrated and one-pointed, then that bhikkhu is said to be ardent and to dread wrongdoing; he is constantly and continuously energetic and resolute while walking.

you got 5 hindrances removed, kaya passadhi, samadhi, and ekaggata citta explicitly stated, that’s 2nd through fourth jhāna implied, the passadhi and samadhi bojjhanga requirements satisfied. Four jhanas are part of samadhi bojjhanga. If you see that ekaggata is there, samadhi is there, kaya passadhi is there, but it’s not jhana, it’s like saying it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck, but it’s not a duck.

If they feel like gods walking around, as in AN 3.63, that would cover the bliss factors.

Here jhana is explicitly said for lying down posture

AN 4.246 jhana lying down

1382“Bhikkhus, there are these four postures for lying down. What four? The corpse’s posture, the sensualist’s posture, the lion’s posture, and the Tathāgata’s posture.

1383(1) “And what is the corpse’s posture? Corpses usually lie flat on their backs. This is called the corpse’s posture.

1384(2) “And what is the sensualist’s posture? The sensualist usually lies on his left side. This is called the sensualist’s posture.

1385(3) “And what is the lion’s posture? [245] The lion, the king of beasts, lies down on his right side, having covered one foot with the other and tucked his tail in between his thighs. When he awakens, he raises his front quarters and looks back at his hind quarters. If the lion sees any disorderliness or distension of his body, he is displeased. If he does not see any disorderliness or distension of his body, he is pleased. This is called the lion’s posture.

1386(4) “And what is the Tathāgata’s posture? Here, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, the Tathāgata enters and dwells in the first jhāna … the fourth jhāna. This is called the Tathāgata’s posture.

In practice, lying down and sitting is easiest for jhana and the bliss factors are felt most intensely for the four jhanas. But standing works, and walking slowly on a short walking meditation path where one doesn’t have to worry about looking around, etc, is still on the jhana continuum. You can try out yourself.


Fourth jhāna, if you’re looking at the point of view of doing arupa samadhi with 4th jhana, can straddle both rupa samadhi and arupa samadhi.

But by default, when unqualified like that you have to assume all four jhanas, the meditator is sensitive to rupa. See AN 5.28 for explicit example of flesh and blood body being pervaded with light/bright awareness like a white cloth covering the body.

Even Theravada orthodox commentary explicitly says the 4 jhana similes are talking about ‘flesh and blood’ body.

Theravada aṭṭhakathā (commentaries)

AN 5.28, DN 2, MN 39, jhāna simile commentary – physical!

AN-a 5, 1. paṭhamapaṇṇāsakaṃ, 3. pañcaṅgikavaggo, 8. pañcaṅgikasuttavaṇṇanā, para. 1 ⇒
(geoff shatz trans.)
imameva kāyan-ti imaṃ karajakāyaṃ.
“This very body:” this body born of action [i.e. born of kamma].
Abhisandetī-ti temeti sneheti,
“He drenches:” he moistens,
sabbattha pavatta-pīti-sukhaṃ karoti.
he extends joy and pleasure everywhere.
Parisandetī-ti samantato sandeti.
“Steeps:” to flow all over.
Paripūretī-ti vāyunā bhastaṃ viya pūreti.
“Fills:” like filling a bellows with air.
Parippharatī-ti samantato phusati.
“Permeates:” to touch all over.
sabbāvato kāyassāti assa bhikkhuno
“His whole body:” in this monk’s body,
sabbakoṭṭhāsavato kāyassa kiñci upādinnakasantatipavattiṭṭhāne
with all its parts, in the place where acquired [material] continuity occurs there is not even the smallest part consisting of
skin, flesh, and blood
aṇumattampi ṭhānaṃ paṭhamaj-jhāna-sukhena a-phuṭaṃ nāma na hoti.
that is not-permeated with the pleasure of the first-jhāna.

If you look in Vism., they conspicuously decide not to talk about the 4 jhana similes at all. The subcommentary to the jhana similes, contradicts the commentary(!), showing a later development in Theravada that redefines kaya in the jhanas as a “body of mental aggregates”.

But in the EBT, rūpa samadhi is not arūpa samadhi.

If you understand the later Abhidhamma Theravada agenda, they’re redefining jhana, and by necessity, kāya, vedana, rupa and arupa, vitakka, vicara, all get muddled in the process. The reason is because they’re trying to fit jhana under their ideas of momentariness, and what happens in the mind moments when one attains stream entry, etc.

The EBT does not have that agenda. Jhāna, like other special terms, are context sensitive and don’t automatically mean sitting meditation.

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A few years back I had a discussion with a monk that teaches jhana and he told me that it was possible to walk in 4th jhana once you get quite skilled at it. He described the experience as something like walking on two big fluffy pillows (in that your legs became like big pillows).


No-one was debating whether the text was talking about jhana. The question was the relation between the passage on jhana and the passage on walking. That is what my analysis was about.

tl;dr: The text does not specify that the monk is walking while in jhana. Evaṃbhūta does not mean “a monk who is in that state”, it means “a monk who is of such a kind as to have attained such a state.”


I don’t have much to add to Bhante Sujāto’s comments, except to say that this sort of idiom is quite common. A similar idiom is used in MN 122: Tassa ce, ānanda, bhikkhuno iminā vihārena viharato, “Ānanda, while a monk dwells in such an attainment,” here apparently referring to immaterial attainments. The sutta then goes on to say that he does various things, including speaking. I disregard the possibility that someone might speak while in an immaterial attainment, and so the passage needs to be interpreted differently. From elsewhere in the suttas (unfortunately I don’t have the references to hand) it seems clear that the idiom “while dwelling” refers to the general time one is attaining such attainments, not actually while one is in it. The situation is very similar to the one in AN3.63. And so I think this is the most reasonable interpretation.


And happy end of vassa, venerable!


In AN 4.12 there’s no explicit mention of jhāna, or even samādhi.

…samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ…

describes rather generally a “settled/composed, one-pointed mind”.

If anything, given explicit mention of subdued hindrances, what’s described here resembles more the idea of access concentration (upacāra-samādhi ), at least as a beginning point, or when steadfastly applied to observing arising/passing phenomena, momentary concentration (khaṇika samādhi). The latter fits the context of the four postures quite well.

The assertion that every mention of concentration in EBT means jhāna appears to be itself a rigid interpretative agenda, an idee fixe.


It is said the long lasting samadhi is developed in walking meditation, but not jhana. People have told me that when they go into a jhana (the first jhana) when doing walking meditation, they cannot walk anymore ie the walking stops.

with metta

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Bhante, can you point to the part where that’s happening? When I read through MN 122 looking for about the talking, it’s animitta samadhi, which is not arūpa, as far as I know.

MN 121

A bhikkhu - not attending to the perception of the base of nothingness, not attending to the perception of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception - attends to the animitta dependent on the animitta concentration of mind… He understand thus: ‘Whatever disturbances there might be dependent on the perception of the base of nothingness, those are not present here; whatever disturbances there might be dependent on the perception of the base of neither-perceptionnor-non-perception, those are not present here. There is present only this amount of disturbance, namely, that connected with the six bases that are dependent on this body and conditioned by life (kāyaṃ paṭicca saḷāyatanikaṃ jīvitapaccayā).’ (MN 121)

Etymologically, maybe, samāhita and samādhi are slightly different. B.Bodhi always translates both of those the same: concentation, concentrated, etc. In all the contexts I’ve come across, it seems to be synonymous.

In MN 43, (or 44), samadhi is defined as ekaggata.

I’d be interested in Bhante @Sujato 's opinion on this, since he’s studied and translated most of the pali suttas comprehensively, whereas I’ve only looked carefully at the pali for jhana/samadhi related passages.

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?