EBTs which indicate the experience of the body disappears while meditating?

@frankk, isn’t that sutta you quoted in your first post also saying that only one who has known the escape from sensual desire (jhāna) and the escape from forms (arūpa samāpatti) is one who is truly accomplished?

Having known the escape from sensual desires
And the overcoming of forms,

Such a bhikkhu who sees rightly
Is thereby well released.
Accomplished in knowledge, at peace,
That sage has overcome all bonds.

PS — I’m sorry, I respect your viewpoint, I’m not a delicate flower, I’m not an Ajahn Brahm fanboi, in fact, I lean more towards your interpretation but this is just unnecessarily nasty:


First jhana is essential and therefore it is essential to correctly identify it. Lower samadhi states won’t be adequate.

Mendicants, I say that the first absorption is a basis for ending the defilements. The second absorption is also a basis for ending… SuttaCentral

I doubt formless attainments use the term body (kaaya) as it says the first formless attainment is attained ‘having transcended form…’

But you are just asserting this and then providing (what I presume is) your own translation as evidence.

Furthermore, by saying that ‘the sutta clearly explains’ your position, you are presenting your own interpretation as self-evident, like it is the sutta that is saying it, rather than the truth which is that this is your interpretation, one of several possible interpretations.

Again you just assert that others are mistaken without providing a detailed argument, invoking ‘every single occurrence of the first jhana in the suttas’ (have you actually checked this? how long did it take? what method did you use?) and that you made the argument in another text.

Here you also don’t provide a detailed argument, you essentially say “if you studied very carefully, you would see it my way”.

The problem is that there are people who have studied very carefully, and reached a different conclusion than you.

This is a very peculiar position to take. There are whole academic fields devoted to translating ancient languages precisely because things aren’t plainly stated and unambiguous.

Do you have any academic qualifications within the field of literature or translation?


It seems awareness of the body is absent at the very least during the formless attainments, for reasons that should be self-evident. Whether it is absent during some or all of the jhanas seems to be the crux of the discussion and some contention in recent threads.

To add further info, this common pericope of the sequence of events leading up to jhana specifically and found many times in the suttas seems like it could support either interpretation.

When a mendicant has discarded, eliminated, released, given up, and relinquished to this extent, thinking, ‘I have experiential confidence in the Buddha … the teaching … the Saṅgha,’ they find joy in the meaning and the teaching, and find joy connected with the teaching. Thinking: ‘I have discarded, eliminated, released, given up, and relinquished to this extent,’ they find joy in the meaning and the teaching, and find joy connected with the teaching. When they’re joyful, rapture springs up. When the mind is full of rapture, the body becomes tranquil. When the body is tranquil, they feel bliss. And when they’re blissful, the mind becomes immersed in samādhi.

So I think we can all agree that the body is involved in the process leading up to samadhi: it becomes tranquil. But whether awareness of it disappears when samadhi is entered is unanswered by this passage.


The passage that @musiko quotes in post 13 above about the Buddha being unaware of a massive thunderstorm during a meditation definitely shows that awareness of the five senses and thus the body is absent during that meditation. But the particular meditation is not given so we can’t say if it was jhana or something else.


As has been noted many times, This is a site where civilised discussion about EBT’s and their interpretations can take place.

In the above posts, it is not appropriate to make definitive statements about right and wrong interpretations. This is the job of individual users. This is discussion. Even the Buddha insisted that he just pointed the way, that each person had to experience it for themselves to “Know”.

It is fine to say, for example, ‘Ajahn Brahms interpretation, which I disagree with…’. or ‘Ajahn Analayo’s position, which I agree with…’ but not to take on the role of arbiter of truth.

As Erik says below.

There are many interesting and stimulating aspects to this topic, but PLEASE, discuss this from a respectful and mindful position.



This article on the right way to criticise may be of value :slight_smile:


I just want to say that we shouldn’t conflate the idea that there is bodily experience in jhana with the ideas that you can hear sounds, see forms, or even feel mosquito bites or feel hunger, thirst, or the need to urinate. It could be possible to enter such a state of concentration whereby one is immersed internally in the body filled with bliss such that one does not hear, see, feel external bodily contacts, nor feel internally hunger, thirst or other interoceptive feelings. Instead one just feels bliss in the body within.

So the idea that you can’t see hear etc says nothing about experiencing the body internally, it only suggests that those who think you can see or hear in jhana may be mistaken on those counts.


A critical word here is kāmasaññā and its translation. Consider AN9.31.

Paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ samāpannassa kāmasaññā niruddhā hoti

If we translate kāmasaññā as “sensuality” the body need not disappear. What disappears is the delight of the senses, the :heart_eyes: part of the senses.

When one has attained the first jhāna, the perception of sensuality has been stopped

If, however, we translate kāmasaññā as “sensual perception”, the sensory body may need to disappear. I.e., the bodily sensations disappear.

For someone who has attained the first absorption, sensual perceptions have ceased

These translations therefore provide a spectrum of interpretation. The pivotal word here is Kāma

masculine neuter to desire.

  1. Objective : pleasantness, pleasure-giving, an object of sensual enjoyment.
  2. Subjective : (a) enjoyment, pleasure on occasion of sense, (b) sense-desire.

Buddhist commentators express 1 and 2 by kāmiyatī ti kāmo, and kametī ti kāmo Cpd. 81, n.2. Kāma as sense-desire and enjoyment plus objects of the same is a collective name for all but the very higher or refined conditions of life. The kāma-bhava or-loka (worlds of sensedesire) includes 4 of the 5 modes (gatis) of existence and part of the fifth or deva-loka. See Bhava. The term is not found analyzed till the later books of the Canon are consulted, thus, Mnd.1 distinguishes:

  1. vatthukāmā : desires relating to a base, i.e. physical organ or external object, and
  2. kilesakāmā : desire considered subjective….

Notably, we all have had personal experiences for both of these interpretations with regard to the five senses:

  1. When we are dreaming, our immediate sensual perception diminishes quite a lot.
  2. When we experience a new object, we have neither a pleasant or unpleasant feeling (yes, I know we have a neutral feeling, but it isn’t sensual in the :heart_eyes: sense).

The absorptions are tools for chipping away at the defilements. What’s important is doing the work. Some tools are more efficient than others, but they do no good on their own sitting on the shelf in bliss.


Are you clear on the matter now?
The passages you’re asking for don’t exist. If they did, Vism., Ajahn Brahm would have pointed them out already, without having to resort to a convoluted and completely unconvincing interpretation of “vivicceva kamehi”, and Vism. would not need to redefine kaya by force. The EBT parallels in the Chinese Agama are even more clear about kaya being physical body, see the agama first jhana quote in my post that got censored/hidden.

There’s also the standard third jhana formula, containing the statement “sukham ca kayena patsam-vedeti”, which every published english translation I’ve ever seen except B. Sujato and Ajahn Brahms followers translates as “pleasure with the body he experiences.”

So the Buddha with the 3rd jhana formula is reminding everyone the physical body is still there in your awareness.


Even where translators render kāya as ‘body’ it doesn’t settle the question as to whether it is the material body or the body of mental factors that is referred to. The latter understanding is explicitly stated as early as the Abhidhamma Piṭaka’s Vibhaṅga:

‘Sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṃvedetī’ ti: tattha katamaṃ sukhaṃ? Yaṃ cetasikaṃ sātaṃ cetasikaṃ sukhaṃ cetosamphassajaṃ sātaṃ sukhaṃ vedayitaṃ cetosamphassajā sātā sukhā vedanā: idaṃ vuccati ‘sukhaṃ’.

Tattha katamo kāyo? Saññākkhandho, saṅkhārakkhandho, viññāṇakkhandho: ayaṃ vuccati ‘kāyo’. Idaṃ sukhaṃ iminā kāyena paṭisaṃvedeti. Tena vuccati ‘sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṃvedetī’ ti.

“Experiences pleasure by way of the body” means: Therein what is pleasure? That which is mental ease, mental pleasure, easeful pleasant experience born of mental contact, easeful pleasant feeling born of mental contact. This is called pleasure.

Therein what is the body? The aggregate of perception, aggregate of volitional activities, aggregate of consciousness. This is called the body. This pleasure he experiences by way of this body. Therefore this is called “experiences pleasure by way of the body”.



IMO the abhidhamma is incorrect.
Consider this sutta:

19.1 They practice breathing in experiencing rapture. They practice breathing out experiencing rapture.
‘Pītipaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘pītipaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

19.2 They practice breathing in experiencing bliss. They practice breathing out experiencing bliss.
‘sukhapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘sukhapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati; MN118

There’s little doubt that the breath is actually the breath: yet the piti an sukha is felt with the breath. Anybody who has practiced the jhana similes know that the rapture is felt in the body despite it being nama factor. A jhana without any sensation at all is frankly unworkable and useless to the Path.

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It seems to me that in the West we are coming from Cartesian mind-body dualism; part of the metaphysical worldview we learn through our culture is that the physical and the mental are two different things.

For example, in modern western medicine we have doctors for the physical body and psychologists for the mind, reflecting Cartesian dualism; the mind and body are two different things and we need two different professions/educations to heal and understand them.

However, ancient Ayurvedic medicine (1) does not seem to reflect mind body dualism as far as I can tell, but rather seems to emphasize the interconnected whole, i.e. no mind-body dualism.

Additionally, when I look at the EBT frameworks for human experience, like the five khandas, six sense bases, namarupa or even dependent origination, they don’t grok well with Cartesian dualism in my mind.

To speculate a bit, perhaps we need to look at the EBTs from a different metaphysical worldview than Cartesian dualism if we are to understand them?

Hi Mat, the problem I see with this argument is that you are essentially saying “Anybody who has practiced the jhana similes [with the understanding that the rapture is supposed to be in the body] know that the rapture is felt in the body”.

If the body in the jhana similes does not refer to the physical body, those above-mentioned people are not practicing the jhana similes, but something else. Therefore, the experience of rapture in the body cannot in itself be evidence that jhana-rapture is felt in the body.

Disregarding that, what do we mean when we say ‘rapture in the body’? Are we talking about touch-consciousness, or a mental rapture that has some physical manifestation? Or something else?


But kāyena doesn’t mean “in the body”. The word is not in the locative case but the instrumental, indicating that the body is the agent of the experience, not the container of it. From this it follows that the ‘body’ in question must be of the kind that is capable of mental agency, which would not be true of the rūpakāya.


What’s your translation of the anapanasati sutta I quoted above? Don’t think Pāli beats what’s actually practicable.

Ānāpānassati although anchoring to the bodily breath phenomena, fulfills all four satipaṭṭhāna, so it obviously traverses more than just the body.

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I don’t think that the differences in my own preferred rendering would have any bearing on this thread’s topic. For a technical translation I’d prefer something that more or less replicates the form of the Pali:

‘I shall inhale experiencing pīti’, thus he trains.
‘I shall exhale experiencing pīti’, thus he trains.
‘I shall inhale experiencing sukha’, thus he trains.
‘I shall exhale experiencing sukha’, thus he trains.


And discussions of this sort almost invariably invoke notions of the “physical body”, which, strictly speaking, is not experienced directly. The modern notion ties in with the scientific view, which seeks the objective, that which is observed only externally. The body as “mine” is experienced phenomenologically – as proprioceptive phenomena presented to the mind.

Arguably, the Buddha speaks strictly of what appears in the mind, in the individual’s direct experience, which is where dukkha arises, and where it can be escaped from. In fact notions like the 5 khandha-s and the 4 Mahābhūta as perceptual modes represent what could be called a phenomenological analysis – they can be seen as byproducts of deeply investigating the details of mental processes.


Yes Bhante, as I stated earlier, Vism. and late Abhidhamma redefine jhana and kaya by brute force. The Abhidhamma passage you quoted comes from Abhidhamma pitaka, not the suttas, and not EBT (which is what OP @alaber is presumably looking for).

Ajahn Brahm and B. Sujato are entitled to believe whatever they want as far as what ‘body’ actually means, but as a translator and one of the leading figures of EBT, B. Sujato has a responsibility to translate ‘kaya’ in an unbiased way.

Bhante, could you comment on the appropriateness of B. Sujato’s 3rd jhana translation as “he personally experiences”? It sure looks like he’s trying to hide the body/kaya and make it disappear. Whereas the 4th jhana formula’s usage of

sukha, dukkha, somanassa, domanassa, upekkha, a-dukkham-asukham

makes it exceedingly clear that the Buddha is talking about all 5 types of vedana/feelings, so that when he’s referring to 3rd jhana’s “sukham ca kayena patisamvedeti”, he’s differentiating it from the other type of sukha vedana, somanassa.

Bhante @Sujato ’ s translation removes that important distinction. And what does “he personally experiences” 3rd jhana supposed to tell us? It’s not someone else experiencing the jhana? It’s not the monastery cat that’s experiencing 3rd jhana?


Another ‘kāya’ passage that might have some bearing on this discussion:

And what is the demonstration of psychic power?

It’s a mendicant who wields the many kinds of psychic power: multiplying themselves and becoming one again; going unimpeded through a wall, a rampart, or a mountain as if through space; diving in and out of the earth as if it were water; walking on water as if it were earth; flying cross-legged through the sky like a bird; touching and stroking with the hand the sun and moon, so mighty and powerful; controlling the body as far as the Brahmā realm.

Katamañca, kevaṭṭa, iddhipāṭihāriyaṃ?
Idha, kevaṭṭa, bhikkhu anekavihitaṃ iddhividhaṃ paccanubhoti—ekopi hutvā bahudhā hoti, bahudhāpi hutvā eko hoti; āvibhāvaṃ tirobhāvaṃ tirokuṭṭaṃ tiropākāraṃ tiropabbataṃ asajjamāno gacchati seyyathāpi ākāse; pathaviyāpi ummujjanimujjaṃ karoti seyyathāpi udake; udakepi abhijjamāne gacchati seyyathāpi pathaviyaṃ; ākāsepi pallaṅkena kamati seyyathāpi pakkhī sakuṇo; imepi candimasūriye evaṃ mahiddhike evaṃ mahānubhāve pāṇinā parāmasati parimajjati; yāva brahmalokāpi kāyena vasaṃ vatteti.


Does a mendicant touch the sun and the moon with their physical “flesh-and-blood” body? As they would if kāya always meant the same thing and was so “straightforward”.

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It’s not just about interpretation. It’s also about translating without bias, with integrity.

Bhante Sujato’s hiding kāya in the 3rd jhana formula is not proper. (discussed in other messages)

Here, Bhante Brahmali in the Vinaya parajika #3, is not translating kāya properly, in an unbiased way. First 4 steps of 16APS (anapana).

When he breathes in long, he knows it; and when he breathes out long, he knows that. When he breathes in short, he knows it; and when he breathes out short, he knows that. When breathing in, he trains in having the full experience of the breath; when breathing out, he trains in having the full experience of the breath. When breathing in, he trains in calming the activity of the body; when breathing out, he trains in calming the activity of the body.

Here’s my translation, with pali, in word for word order, so you can see where kaya disappeared:

(1. kāyā-(a)nupassī)

Dīghaṃ vā assasanto ‘dīghaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti, (1) long ** breathing-in, ‘long (I) am-breathing-in’ (he) discerns;
dīghaṃ vā passasanto ‘dīghaṃ passasāmī’ti pajānāti; long ** breathing-out, ‘long (I) am-breathing-out’ (he) discerns;
rassaṃ vā assasanto ‘rassaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti, (2) short ** breathing-in, ‘short (I) am-breathing-in’ (he) discerns;
rassaṃ vā passasanto ‘rassaṃ passasāmī’ti pajānāti; short ** breathing-out, ‘short (I) am-breathing-out’ (he) discerns;
‘sabba-kāya-p-paṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, (3) ‘(the) entire-body: sensitive-to (it), (I) will-breathe-in.’ (Thus he) trains.
‘sabba-kāya-p-paṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati; (the) entire-body: sensitive-to (it), (I) will-breathe-out.’ (Thus he) trains.
‘passambhayaṃ kāya-saṅkhāraṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, (4) ‘pacifying bodily-fabrication, (I) will-breathe-in.’ (Thus he) trains.
‘passambhayaṃ kāya-saṅkhāraṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati. pacifying bodily-fabrication, (I) will-breathe-out.’ (Thus he) trains.

levels of inappropriateness and bias

In an earlier version of the vinaya, B. Brahmali had something like “body [of breath]”. Which is still biased, and inappropriate as a translation, but at least it retained the correct, consistent, coherent meaning of kaya as body. And having “of breath” in parenthesis clues in the reader someone is inserting their opinion in there.

But in the current translation, kaya has completely disappeared. This is orders of magnitude more biased and inappropriate than the last iteration.

See MN 119 to see how ‘kāya’ needs to be translated consistently all the way through all the exercises in kaya-anupassa to remain coherent.