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Buddhas first jhana as a child

Before the Buddha’s enlightenment he recalled a memory of being a child sitting or laying underneath the shade of a tree and entering into the 1st jhana. My question(s) is:

Didn’t the Buddha practice the jhanas under 2 teachers before this recollection?

If so, why wouldn’t of he recalled the 1st jhana then?

If not, why or how was the jhana he experienced as a child different than that which he experienced with his two other teachers?

What would’ve been different about his childhood experience from his practice with his then meditation teachers?

Also, when I read the text, it didn’t seem like the then bodhisattva was meditating under the shade of the tree but merely watching what was going on. Is there any texts that state why he was able to enter into the 1st jhana without meditation when he was a youngster?

Sorry for the long winded question. Its just a bit confusing to me.

Any help would be much appreciated…
Maha metta…

Bill

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In which text did you read that?

See here in MN 100:

MN100:28.1: Then it occurred to me,
MN100:28.2: ‘I recall sitting in the cool shade of the rose-apple tree while my father the Sakyan was off working. Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered and remained in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.
MN100:28.3: Could that be the path to awakening?’
MN100:28.4: Stemming from that memory came the realization:
MN100:28.5: ‘That is the path to awakening!’

The same description occurs in MN 36 and MN 85.

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I guess when i read that he was just sitting while his father was working that that’s all he was doing… is it implied that he was meditating?

If so, what was so different between that meditation and the ones he practiced with his 2 prior teachers?

Thanks for responding… :slightly_smiling_face:

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The description “Quite secluded from sensual pleasures …” is exactly the stock formula for the first jhana as used everywhere in the Suttas. I haven’t studied the training under the first teachers in detail, so can’t really answer that part at the moment.

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MN 26 says that Samana Gotama learned formless meditative attainment (arupayatana) from his 2 teachers. It doesn’t say anything about jhanas.

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The achievement of enlightenment is preceded by the period of austerities, and the experience under the rose-apple tree is not essential to enlightenment because of jhana, but because of feeling— the experience of pleasure had by an innocent child not yet exposed to unskillful mental qualities.

“In this way, the recollection of his absorption experience appears to have corroborated the bodhisattva’s dawning insight that the path to freedom does not require just engaging in pain and avoiding all forms of pleasure and happiness, which the fruitlessness of his asceticism had already made plain to him”—-Analayo

"I thought: ‘I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?’ Then following on that memory came the realization: ‘That is the path to Awakening.’ I thought: ‘So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?’ I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities’ —-MN 36

The Brahmajala sutta (DN 1) indicates that wrong views arise from jhana practised by recluses and Brahmins without the guidance of sila, that’s why the discourse begins with a section on morality. Right concentration is called so for that reason.

Throughout the suttas the Buddha frequently instructs meditation should begin at the foot of a tree. This is because the presence of nature has a necessary influence on establishing a peaceful mind. The rose-apple tree experience illustrates how this influence can invoke absorption.

Just as that experience of feeling was important to enlightenment, it also becomes key in personal practice with the investigation of joy and pleasure in the second tetrad of Anapanasati, followed by the discrimination of feelings of the flesh and not-of-the-flesh in the second foundation of mindfulness.

In practice overall, both intellectual insight and feeling are necessary, and feeling apart from sensuality is a necessary substitution:

“I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened bodhisatta, saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, but as long as I had not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, I did not claim that I could not be tempted by sensuality. But when I saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and I had attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, that was when I claimed that I could not be tempted by sensuality.”—MN 14

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I wonder if all past Buddhas would have gone across that same immersion experience when young and still on the path to awakening and rediscovery of the four Noble truths. :thinking:

I recall that the Sutta in DN describing the awakening of previous Buddhas seems to suggest that for some all it took was inference from active investigation of the process of dependent origination. It seems to me a bit of a stretch … :man_shrugging:

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IMHO, its the realization that relaxing the body and mind while being completely free from the pressures of the world, (like the innocent Bodhisattava child, completely at ease, feeling safe and secure watching his father work, not wanting anything more in this world or beyond this moment) leads to an effortless ‘letting go’ - which is the first step to the recognition and ending of craving.

In contrast the meditation methods taught by the previous two teachers were active, involving the doing of something (meditation) in order to get somewhere (the formless zones) and become something (enlightened)… thus not conducive to the identification or end of craving.

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I think it is more subtle than that.
Possibly, it is because the sort of samadhi they were preaching and attaining was not caused according to the process and causal linkages found in suttas like AN10.2 and SN12.23:

:anjal:

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Yes, indeed … these two suttas describe perfectly what I was most imperfectly trying to convey… the sense of letting go of the ‘doer’, being the ‘watcher’, wherein the mind moves effortlessly and naturally to being at rest, free of the hindrances, clear…where the 7 enlightenment factors arise and the dependent origination of all phenomena and the suffering consequent to craving becomes evident.
:slightly_smiling_face:

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As far as I’m aware, the formless attainments, which the Buddha would have learned under his first teachers, are never actually described as jhana in the suttas. It’s possible one can get to them without needing jhana. That’s a line of thought nicely explored in the article here:
https://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/the-buddhas-radical-path-of-jhana
The Brahmavihara and some of the formless attainments seem to have been meditation practices already known in the Buddha’s time. The Brahmavihara may have been used as a launching pad to the formless attainments, though the original intention was something like union with Brahma, and the Buddha later repurposed these practices. In this theory, the Buddha would not have needed to learn jhana from his first teachers.

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Here are some excerpts from MN 100. I hope it helps!

And that is how my teacher Āḷāra Kālāma placed me, his student, on the same position as him, and honored me with lofty praise.

Then it occurred to me, ‘This teaching doesn’t lead to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment. It only leads as far as rebirth in the dimension of nothingness.’ Realizing that this teaching was inadequate, I left disappointed.
*
And that is how my spiritual companion Uddaka, son of Rāma, placed me in the position of a teacher, and honored me with lofty praise.

Then it occurred to me, ‘This teaching doesn’t lead to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment. It only leads as far as rebirth in dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.’ Realizing that this teaching was inadequate, I left disappointed.
*
Then it occurred to me, ‘I recall sitting in the cool shade of the rose-apple tree while my father the Sakyan was off working. Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered and remained in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected . Could that be the path to awakening?’ Stemming from that memory came the realization: ‘That is the path to awakening!’

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why am I afraid of that pleasure, for it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures or unskillful qualities?’ I thought, ‘I’m not afraid of that pleasure, for it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures or unskillful qualities.’

After eating solid food and gathering my strength, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities , I entered and remained in the first absorption … As the placing of the mind and keeping it connected were stilled , I entered and remained in the second absorption … third absorption … fourth absorption.

When my mind had immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—I extended it toward recollection of past lives.

Thank you. So this is to be read that the buddha was meditating under the rose tree as a child when he first experienced jhana. Would this be the correct interpretation?
Much appreciated