Conditioned Jhana

According to MN52, the Jhanas are conditioned.

I am wondering about certain possible ramifications of this:

a) Will the Arahant therefore stop practicing Samatha?

b) The Sutta seems to describe insight into the conditionedness of Jhana as a direct path to Arahantship. This insight can possibly be arrived at by philosophical contemplation only. Does it therefore follow that dry insight Arahantship is a possibility?

c) The possibility of attaing Arahantship by recognizing meditative absorptions as conditioned extends to several of the meditative states the Buddha went trough during his enlightenment experience. Do we therefore have to conclude that the rest of them are conditioned as well and no longer significanct to the Arahant?

Thank you.

DN16 clearly has the Buddha entering the Jhānas just before he died.

You might be mistaken that arahants are unconditioned and then can’t participate in conditioned things. Then how can arahants eat? The unconditioned is referring to nibbāna without remainder. For the nibbāna with remainder (while arahant still alive), the remainder is 5 aggregates, which is conditioned.

No. MN64 already said no way to non-returner without Jhāna. The sutta is referring to vipassana reflection with the mind purified of hindrances from Jhāna.

I think this is answered by my answer to a) above.


I know that they can, but why should they? Eating is necessary for survival. The Jhanas however, are optional. Wouldn’t they therefore have to be classified as an attachment?

But if the Jhanas are indeed conditioned, this statement would be equal to saying: “No way to non-returner without attachment.”

So the rest of the meditative states in the Buddha’s enlightenment are Vipassana and therefore not conditioned?

The jhanas are conditional and experiencing the conditioned is dukkha, so experiencing the jhanas is dukkha? So why would an arahant choose to participate in jhana? Is that your question? :pray:

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It’s happiness in the here and now. Given that the roots and possibility of attachments are eradicated by arahants, and given the choice between more pleasant abiding or less, there’s no reason why one can’t choose more pleasant abiding.

use conceit to uproot conceit, use craving to uproot craving. Anyway, Jhānas are stages of letting go, so it’s actually less attachments as one get deeper into the Jhānas.

Why do you think vipassana is not conditioned? As I said, the only unconditioned is Nibbāna without remainder. I don’t understand your original question already. You also haven’t internalized that Buddhas, arahants are conditioned beings, for referring to their 5 aggregates.

Refer back to the 3 types of suffering, the suffering of physical pain which the arahant is still prone to, ceases at 1st Jhāna. So the Jhānas are actually happier abiding for the arahants compared to normal state. And Jhānas are suffering in the sense of being impermanent and conditioned.

I would have to think if all experience of the conditioned is Dukkha, but basically yes.
When you have crossed the flood, why go back in it?

SN 54.11:

For those mendicants who are perfected—who have ended the defilements, completed the spiritual journey, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, achieved their own goal, utterly ended the fetters of rebirth, and are rightly freed through enlightenment—the development and cultivation of immersion due to mindfulness of breathing leads to blissful meditation in the present life, and to mindfulness and awareness.

MN 107:

For those mendicants who are perfected—who have ended the defilements, completed the spiritual journey, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, achieved their own goal, utterly ended the fetters of rebirth, and are rightly freed through enlightenment—these things [the gradual training leading to the four jhanas] lead to blissful meditation in the present life, and to mindfulness and awareness.”

SN 22.122 & SN 22.123:

“But Reverend Sāriputta, what things should a perfected one rationally apply the mind to?”

“Reverend Koṭṭhita, a perfected one should also rationally apply the mind to the five grasping aggregates as impermanent, as suffering, as diseased, as a boil, as a dart, as misery, as an affliction, as alien, as falling apart, as empty, as not-self. A perfected one has nothing more to do, and nothing that needs improvement. Still, these things, when developed and cultivated, lead to blissful meditation in the present life, and also to mindfulness and situational awareness.”

Related: MN 4:

Brahmin, you might think: ‘Perhaps the Mister Gotama is not free of greed, hate, and delusion even today, and that is why he still frequents remote lodgings in the wilderness and the forest.’ But you should not see it like this. I see two reasons to frequent remote lodgings in the wilderness and the forest. I see a happy life for myself in the present, and I have compassion for future generations.”

P.S. + SN 16.5:

“You’re old now, Kassapa. Those worn-out hempen rag robes must be a burden for you. So Kassapa, you should wear clothes given by householders, accept invitations for the meal, and stay in my presence.”

“For a long time, sir, I’ve lived in the wilderness, eaten only almsfood, worn rag robes, and owned just three robes; and I’ve praised these things. I’ve been one of few wishes, content, secluded, aloof, and energetic; and I’ve praised these things.”

“But seeing what benefit, Kassapa, have you long practiced these things?”

“Sir, seeing two benefits I have long practiced these things.

I see a happy life for myself in the present. And I have compassion for future generations, thinking: ‘Hopefully those who come after might follow my example.’ For they may think: ‘It seems that the awakened disciples of the Buddha for a long time lived in the wilderness, ate only almsfood, wore rag robes, and owned just three robes; and they praised these things. They were of few wishes, content, secluded, aloof, and energetic; and they praised these things.’ They’ll practice accordingly, which will be for their lasting welfare and happiness.


Like going to brothel or eat beef tenderloin at 9pm?

If they are conditioned, I would argue that they’re not. They could arguably be seen as more of a trap?

But if it is, the Sutta would apply even to rebirth and four noble truth and recognizing them as conditioned would lead to Arahatship !

That’s a gross comparison. There’s no sensual desire or pleasures in the Jhānas. The Jhānas are said by the Buddha to be those joys which not to be feared. There’s nothing trapping arahants anymore. For before arahants, Jhānas are part of the path to help to attain final liberation.

Can you use more words? I cannot clearly discern your assumptions and thinking patterns here. End up I have to guess and use more words myself.

  1. You think only the unconditioned can lead to arahanthood? But the whole noble 8fold path is the developed, and they are conditioned developed to get wisdom high enough to see impermanent, suffering, not self to let go. Thus the whole path is conditionality to end all conditions. Seeing nibbāna, the unconditioned is a condition for stream entry.

  2. Reflecting on the conditionality of rebirth, with rebirth comes old age and death is part of dependent origination and would also constitute a valid vipassana practise. Same as 4 Noble truths in the 4 foundations of mindfulness sutta.

There can be gradual letting go, even for conditioned things. Actually the very fact that we can let go at all mutes your argument as we are all conditioned. Only parinibbāna is not conditioned.

So to Arahant the Jhanas are just the least bad thing to do, to spend their time with, but else have no more point?

So to me it always seemed that the whole purpose of the path/middle way was to escape the conditioned. Now I am wondering why one who has attained this should go back to enjoy the conditioned.

I think the above already answered your questions. Can you tell me again, just to see if you have understood me, what is the unconditioned? Is arahant alive considered as unconditioned?

Parinibbana is the unconditioned and the living Arahant is still conditioned.

Still it seems to me that if he takes pleasure in conditioned things not essential to his survival, he is not acting right. The Jhanas, if conditioned, are to him nothing but personal pleasure and luxury. He is involved in something conditioned that he does not absolutely have to. He could teach Dhamma instead or go for a walk.

So I am asking why does the Buddha say continue with Jhana?

Arahants don’t have a duty anymore for liberation. Why should he torture himself with more physical suffering if he have access to samādhi states that are freed from these physical sufferings?

Buddha did said that fame is also troublesome for arahants for it takes time away from meditation for pleasant abiding in the here and now. So arahant who got famous, do teach, it just takes their time away from Jhāna.

arahants have one arrow right? The physical suffering arrow. Say an arahant is getting old, have chronic back pain or something. While no more mental suffering associated with it, it is still having unpleasant feelings there. Jhānas are the way to get relief from those pains.


Arahants are also conditioned.

Insight is direct seeing. It is not philosophical.

Buddha is conditioned.

Parinibbana does not read it is the unconditioned because parinibanna reads as though it is an event that occurs to the mind of an Arahant or to the aggregates of an Arahant. The Nibbana element is the unconditioned.

Jhanas occur from the practice of non-attachment. Noble Ones are not choosing to abide in jhana.

The Noble Eightfold Path is conditioned (MN 44). All of Buddhism is conditioned.

A Buddha/Arahant is conditioned. The Nibbana a Buddha experiences is not conditioned.

Sitting and walking are not kammic actions.

Enjoying an optional sense pleasure (the Jhanas) however possibly is, since wrong view is on the list of unskillful kammic actions.

If the Jhanas are conditioned, they don’t have any liberating value at all. Their liberating value is akin to an intoxication with alcohol or any other optional sense pleasure.

Therefore, I argue that engaging in them after liberation is wrong view. And since the Arahat can no longer engage in any unskillful actions, he would have to abandon the Jhanas except for special circumstances.

I have not read the term “sense pleasure” in the suttas. Jhana is a “non-sensual pleasure”. AN 2.64

The Noble Eightfold Path is conditioned. MN 44

Wrong view is misunderstanding the meanings of “conditioned” & “unconditioned”.

That an Arahant can no longer engage in any unskillful actions is conditioned.

Jhanas are the result of giving up unskillful actions. Noble Ones cannot avoid jhana.

Attaching to them is wrong view. Experiencing them without attachment is not wrong view.

It’s not my thought ! Read the “…” ! And don’t quote my message without including them !

I’ll remove my post so that people don’t think it’s my thought !

Jhana focuses the mind to be more joyful, at rest, and peaceful. This is both conductive to liberation, and is meditative for a prolonged period of Compassion towards caring for one, and teaching others to care for themselves. With both intrinsic and altruistic motives, Jhana is both very Buddhist and an important part of the Noble Eightfold Path and the Middle-Way, in many factors that contribute to walking the Path in a stronger continuation of practicing the Dhamma.

Why, thank you for your gentle advice.

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