SuttaCentral

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


#21

Pleasure can also be purely mental, e.g. it’s possible to feel pleasure in a dream.


#22

Part of the path as in essential for Nibbana?

The mind isn’t involved in the five (rupa) sense doors but is active at the mind door.


#23

Even though I personally lean towards one interpretation, I agree that there is no definitive position based on the current evidence, and I see the merits of the arguments for the interpretations I don’t lean against.

Basically, there are several interpretations of EBT concepts that one can have good arguments for, it’s possible to acknowledge several viewpoints and choose one based on personal preference, and even change one’s mind once in a while!


#24

Yes. Some think they are essential; some don’t think they are essential.

I think ekaggata must mean something more in this context than simply the unification of mano, the base of the sixth form of sense consciousness, on one internal mind object. It has to be referring to the unification of all mental activity, something like the unification of citta. For example, if someone is looking at a sunset while listening to music, and tasting a chocolate and petting a dog, and thinking about a math problem, we would not say their mind is unified even though each sense base is occupied with only one object. Similarly, if mano is somehow contemplating in a fixed way the base of infinite space, while a whole bunch of other sensory activity is going on, I don’t think we can regard that as a very unified mental state.


#25

I would say that the suttas actually assert the formless attainments to be a basis for the Path and not Nibbana:

The dimension of infinite consciousness is a basis for ending the defilements AN9.36

For example, abiding in infinite consciousness, we become aware of the roots of suffering here, there and everywhere. From that basis we can relinquish them. Relinquishing infinite consciousness itself, we proceed to the dimension of nothing at all, which I’m hypothesizing is the perception of equanimity. And then we let go of that, etc.

Perhaps the most pertinent consideration on the chasing of jhanas is this cautionary note from MN8:

It’s possible that some mendicant, with the giving up of pleasure and pain, and the ending of former happiness and sadness, might enter and remain in the fourth absorption, without pleasure or pain, with pure equanimity and mindfulness.
They might think they’re practicing self-effacement.
But in the training of the noble one these are not called ‘self-effacement’;
they’re called ‘blissful meditations in the present life’.

In other words the jhanas are the basis for work on ourselves, they are not an end in themselves.


#26

First jhana’s “vivicceva kamehi” (seclusion from sensual pleasures) does not mean mind is divorced from body consciousness, the ability to hear sounds, feel mosquito bites, etc. As this sutta clearly explains.

KN Iti 72: escape from kāma is nekkhamma (right resolve’s renunciation)

:diamonds: “tisso imā, bhikkhave, nissaraṇiyā VAR dhātuyo. “Monks, there are these three properties for escape.
katamā tisso? Which three?
kāmānam-etaṃ nissaraṇaṃ yadidaṃ nekkhammaṃ, This is the escape from sensuality: renunciation.1
rūpānam-etaṃ nissaraṇaṃ yadidaṃ āruppaṃ, This is the escape from form: formlessness.
yaṃ kho pana kiñci bhūtaṃ And as for whatever has come into being,
saṅkhataṃ paṭiccasamuppannaṃ is fabricated & dependently co-arisen,
nirodho tassa nissaraṇaṃ — the escape from that is cessation.
imā kho, bhikkhave, tisso nissaraṇiyā dhātuyo”ti. These are the three properties for escape.”
:diamonds: “kāma-nissaraṇaṃ ñatvā, Knowing the escape from sensuality,
rūpānañca atikkamaṃ. & the overcoming of forms
:diamonds: sabba-saṅkhāra-samathaṃ, –ardent always– touching the stilling
phusaṃ ātāpi sabbadā. of all fabrications:
:diamonds: “sa ve sammaddaso bhikkhu, he is a monk who’s seen rightly.
yato tattha vimuccati. From that he is there released.
:diamonds: abhiññā-vosito santo, A master of direct knowing,
sa ve yogātigo munī”ti. at peace, he is a sage gone beyond bonds.

There are those who mistakenly misinterpret this phrase as meaning the body disappears, that the mind becomes divorced from the 5 sense faculties, one can not move the body, feel pain, hear sounds in first jhāna. They base that on interpreting kāmehi as sensual pleasure objects, and that seclusion from those objects means mind separates from the physical body. This is not the case. If you look at ever single occurrence of the first jhana in the suttas, right before first jhana, it always mentions 5kg or 5niv (5 strands of sensual pleasure and/or 5 hindrances). For the mind to be divorced from the body, the Buddha has a more specific way to make that clear. See the article “rūpa is not a-rūpa, 4 jhānas operate in rūpa”.


#27

There’s only two passages I’m aware of where the Buddha gives a very specific detailed description of the state where mind is divorced from 5 sense faculties. And both of those passages EXPLICITLY refer to the formless attainments, and do not mention 4 jhanas. If 4 jhanas were also in this category, they would be listed here. THEY ARE NOT. So do the math.

MN 43 mind divorced from 5 body faculties can know what?

:diamonds: 451. “nissaṭṭhena hāvuso, pañcahi indriyehi [Ven. Mahā Koṭṭhita]: “divorced ****** (from the) five sense-faculties,
parisuddhena mano-viññāṇena (with a) purified mind-consciousness,
kiṃ neyyan”ti? what can-be-known?"
:diamonds: “nissaṭṭhena āvuso, pañcahi indriyehi [Ven. Sāriputta]: “divorced ****** (from the) five sense-faculties,
parisuddhena mano-viññāṇena (with a) purified mind-consciousness,
‘ananto ākāso’ti ākāsān-añc-āyatanaṃ neyyaṃ, ‘infinite space,’ the-space-infinitude-dimension (can be) known,
‘anantaṃ viññāṇan’ti viññāṇ-añc-āyatanaṃ neyyaṃ, ‘infinite consciousness,’ the-consciousness-infinitude-dimension (can be) known,
‘natthi kiñcī’ti ākiñcaññ-āyatanaṃ neyyan”ti. ‘There is nothing.’ the-nothingness-dimension (can be) known."

AN 9.37 mind divorced from 5 body faculties stated different way

(for example one would not be able to hear sounds, feel mosquito bites in this state)

tadeva nāma cakkhuṃ bhavissati te rūpā (1) That very eye will-be-present (with) those forms
Tañc-āyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedissati. [and yet] that-base [one] {will} not experience.
tadeva nāma sotaṃ bhavissati te saddā (2) That very ear will-be-present (with) those sounds,
Tañc-āyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedissati. [and yet] that-base [one] {will} not experience.
tadeva nāma ghānaṃ bhavissati te gandhā (3) That very nose will-be-present (with) those odors,
Tañc-āyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedissati. [and yet] that-base [one] {will} not experience.
sāva nāma jivhā bhavissati te rasā (4) That very tongue will-be-present (with) those tastes,
Tañc-āyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedissati. [and yet] that-base [one] {will} not experience.
sova nāma kāyo bhavissati te phoṭṭhabbā That very body will-be-present (with) those tactile-objects,
Tañc-āyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedissati. [and yet] that-base [one] {will} not experience.
ti.

(What is one percipient of when divorced from 5 sense faculties?)

:diamonds: evaṃ vutte āyasmā udāyī with-that said, Venerable Udāyī
āyasmantaṃ ānandaṃ etadavoca — (to) Venerable Ānanda {said}-this:
“saññīm-eva nu kho, āvuso ānanda, "(Is one) percipient-*** ***, friend Ānanda,
tad-āyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedeti (while) that-base (is) not experienced,
udāhu a-saññī”ti? or (is one) not-percipient?"
“saññīm-eva kho, āvuso, "[One is] Percipient-*** indeed, *****,
tad-āyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedeti, (while) that-base (is) not experienced,
no a-saññī”ti. not un-percipient."
:diamonds: “kiṃ-saññī panāvuso, "What-(is one)-percipient (of), friend,
tad-āyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedetī”ti? (while) that-base (is) not experienced?"

Answer is same 3 formless attainments as MN 43, plus na ca sa-saṅkhāra-niggayha-vārita-gato


#28

And if you study the standard 4th jhana formula and infinite space (samadhi attainment #5) formulas very carefully, word by word, it makes it very clear that kāya and rūpa from the 4 jhanas are referring to the physical body of flesh and blood.

It’s all actually plainly stated, unambiguous in the EBT. That’s why Vism. has to use brute force and redefine kāya.

But since Ajahn Brahm can not use Vism. officially as a supporting reason, he has to mutilate the meaning of “vivicceva kamehi” from the first jhana formula to justify his claim. No one in the EBT world other than Ajahn Brahm and his supporters buy that argument.


#29

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#30

@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:


#31

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…’


#32

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?


#33

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.


#34

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.

:anjal::dharmawheel:


#35

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


#36

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.


#37

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.


#38

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.


#39

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”.

Jhānavibhaṅga


#40

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.