Arupa Jhanas / How and why to reach them

In suttas It is said immaterial jhanas are not helpful for nibbana.

Theories and texts aside, how one goes into these 4 arupa jhanas? Does this happen after 4th rupa jhana? Or they are reached independent from rupa jhanas?

And do they have any benefit in general? Are they seen beneficial in some ways? Or they are totally rejected?

This sutta clear state that even the formless is a basis for enlightenment.

According to classical Theravada at least, they are indeed after 4th Jhana.

They are beneficial in being liberation of mind.

Also, one can know what form is when one totally transcends forms.

Any rejection you hear is more of some traditions or teachers who just repeat their traditions instead of referring to the suttas.

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This is rather doubtful statement, you should say properly that arupa attainments aren’t neccesery fot nibbana, which is not the same thing.

The greatest adventage from the point of understanding is that such states destroy identification with the body. Otherwise they just like jhanas*, give pleasant abiding now and here, and provide neccesery concentration of mind for arahathood.

*Of course they are more pleasant than jhanas.

Namo Buddhaya!

Making arupasanna is fairly straight forward. The work is mostly in arranging environment, discipline, and all day contemplating the drawbacks & unattractiveness of form & sensuality and the benefits of arupssanna, until you get tired basically

Whether one should or not i don’t know. It’s a matter of whether you want it or not.

It’s a trade-off because as one contenolates the drawbacks of form, one can then also contemplate the drawbacks of arupasanna in the same breath and it’s generally difficult to get excited about arupasanna when developing perception of unattractiveness with all feeling.

I think it is a matter of personal inclination and aspirations.

I think arupasanna are probably good for people who want a very simple meditation & renunciation based progression with little to no theoretical study.

Which suttas?


SN 45.8 and others describe right Concentration in terms of the first four jhanas. The direction of the mind towards the ending of the defilements is explained in the eightfold path to occur after emerging from the fourth jhana. At that point the mind is malleable enough for this to occur.

Advanced practitioners like Sariputta have ended the defilements after rising through all the attainments (MN 111). However, this doesn’t seem like a requisite in the same way that jhanas 1 to 4 are.

There are seven types of liberation
14. "Bhikkhus, there are seven kinds of persons to be found existing in the world.701 What seven? They are: one liberated-inboth ways, one liberated-by-wisdom, a body-witness, one attained-to-view, one liberated-by-faith, a Dhamma-follower, and a faith-follower.

Read the sutta and it shows that there is attainment in the immaterial Jhanas after the 4th jhanas.

There is no need to attain the 4th jhanas to be enlightened. It can be from 1st to 3rd also. See AN4.123

I’m well aware of that. I didn’t say these means of attainment weren’t possible. I stated that, in the context of the eightfold path, samma samadhi is defined in terms of the four jhanas. And the requisite for attainment under the eightfold path is a wieldy mind based on attainment of the fourth jhana. That other people can direct their minds towards the ending of the effluents without any of the jhanas (rupa or arupa), or, indeed, on the basis of any of the jhanas is not an issue for me. What I recognize from the suttas (including the last meditative absorption attained by the Buddha prior to passing) is that the fourth jhana produces an especially pure mind (the requisite for awakening).

Not necessarily so. Because they are higher stages of Jhanas. We cannot assume that. It is just a representative as one can attain enlightenment in any jhanas.

These attainments are taught as part of a sequence that leads to the pacification of the three types of formations in the ninth attainment (i.e., the cessation of perception and feeling). You can read about this in SN 36.11, SN 41.6, and AN 9.36. In AN 9.36, the Buddha states that all nine attainments serve as a basis for ending defilements.

This conflict over what is required for right samadhi is apparent in the earliest layers of the canon. The bright side of this is that I think the explanation for and resolution of the conflict is to be found there as well.

The Atthakavagga, Snp 4.2 says that one must “completely understand sanna”. The Paraayanavagga, Snp 5.2 says that one must do so for vinnana. I believe that at this early stage of Buddhism there was no standard terminology, and that these are referring to the same thing. The Atthakavagga never mentions vinnana or the skandhas. Sanna was the consciousness experienced by the ordinary person. In Snp 4.14 it is referred to as sannasanni or normal consciousness. The Parayanavagga Snp 5.2 uses vinnana in place of sanna.

The key here is that vinnana is a differentiated consciousness(the seen and heard in front, the felt is the skin and body in between, and behind it all is the known). Vinnana ends when the senses are experienced as unified. In MN 119 is says “Their mind becomes stilled internally; it settles, unifies, and becomes immersed in samādhi.” This is the cessation of vinnana, differentiated consciousness and it is the fourth jhana.

The puzzling stanza of Snp 4.11 makes sense when we realize it too is describing the four jhana.

The distorted perception here are the spheres of infinite space and consciousness. These are called spheres for a reason. When you meditate with your eyes open, the scene appears to be painted on a curved canvas. If you go this far, you have gone too far. Unification occurs when the scene is flat, without depth. It is at this point where “there is no you in that” as per Ud 1.10.

In the Parayanavagga the Buddha is dealing with people who believe that they must meditate to the point of nothingness Snp 5.7. The Buddha says, they’ll get to the right place eventually. He’s not endorsing them. In fact, in Snp 4.11 he derides them as claiming to be experts. I believe that the Parayanavagga was written after the core of the Atthakavagga and around the time of Snp 4.11 when the dispute arose.

The noteworthy circumstance is that id generally advice training for cessation rather than arupa.

If then one falls short of the goal but there is an opening then one might well attain the arupa anyway if there are inclinations to it, and so it’s not necessary to train for them specifically.

I think that if one trains correctly whilst being confused then one’s release will be limited but one will get some sort of attainment when there is an opening.

Usually resolves are not clearly defined, one wants to attain this or that but it doesn’t work as expected, one resolves on trying something else, one imagines & tries all kinds of stuff, and it’s not clear what to expect when the opening is made.