Hearing sounds in samādhi, jhāna


DN 9, which mentions the cessation of kaamasa~nna in the First Jhana.

Going by Dr Chu’s logic, all of the other thorns in the higher attainments must entail that they exist in the attainment, eg zest must exist in the Third Jhana because it’s a thorn therein, even the predication of Third Jhana is the disappearance of zest. I wonder if the good Dr is even familiar with the pericopes on Jhana…

By the way, is Dr Chu published?


I have a question (it has nothing to do with jhana though). Why do you refer to the early portions of Khuddaka Nikaya as super early EBT? I remember that Bhante Sujato said something about this in WHITE BONES RED ROT BLACK SNAKES. I think he said that there are no good reasons to believe that the early sections are earlier than the early prose suttas from the four Nikāyas.

Sorry that this question is off-topic, i’m just curious.


@frankk, @Sylvester,

You’re discussing a lofty state(s) that you will never actually experience if you don’t learn to demonstrate kind speech even when you feel like someone’s pushing your buttons. Might I suggest you edit one or two of your posts…

And perhaps don’t worry so much about keeping records…

…the Jhanas are about letting go…how can you talk of Jhanas on one hand and then hold on to records of conversations held here for the purposes of potential future trouble? You’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of trouble for sure if you carry on like this!

Tell you what, I’ll delete this post, soon as you’ve deleted/edited some of yours. That way I’m not keeping the record either.

Clean slate each time fellas, respond to content - not tone.

Harmony is more important than being right quite often. Remember what Ajahn Brahm said once, if you’re arguing about who’s right or wrong, you’re both wrong…because you’re arguing.

Perhaps walk away when you’re upset. Don’t type until you’re calmer.

You can disagree…that’s allowed. Just do it nicely, yeah?


Thanks. I’ll delete my calling out the ad hominem.


Thankyou, Sylvester.

I’m just waiting on @frankk now…


I’ll edit the tone, but I’m not going to delete the parts where I address the content. Unfair and unethical practices in discussion need to be called out.


It’s not a precise designation, just a relative term for convenience, referring to those bodies of texts I was digging through in reference to the context for jhāna for the sutta in question. Every nikaya has its earlier and later stratas, and even in the Abhidhamma pitaka, there are very early layers that contain valid interpretations that don’t contradict the EBT.


excerpt from AN 5.151 (maybe AN 5.155 on SC)
bodhi trans. excerpt:

151 (1) The Fixed Course of Rightness1149"" (1)

698“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities, while listening to [175] the good Dhamma one is capable of entering upon the fixed course [consisting in] rightness in wholesome qualities. What five? One does not disparage the talk; one does not disparage the speaker; one does not disparage oneself; one listens to the Dhamma with an undistracted and one-pointed mind; one attends to it carefully. Possessing these five qualities, while listening to the good Dhamma one is capable of entering upon the fixed course [consisting in] rightness in wholesome qualities.”

a-vikkhitta-citto dhammaṃ suṇāti, ekagga-citto yoniso ca manasi karoti.

So we already know chanting, and thinking about the sutta that you’re chanting, from AN 5.209, is “samadhi”.

In this sutta, it’s “ekagga” , unified/singular mind.

There is no access concentration in the EBT. The ekagga, ekodi, samadhi that describe the process of reciting suttas, listening to suttas, thinking and evaluating the suttas one is listening to, are the very same jhana factors in the four jhanas.

When you connect the dots, why noble silence is second jhana and not first jhana, why speech ceases in first jhana, how the oral tradition works (listening, reciting, memorizing, and the samadhi for that), why the buddha didn’t talk about access concentration, it eventually becomes very clear what vitakka and vicara are, and what activities are possible in first jhana, and what ceases in the second jhana.

The AN 5.26 passage I audited earlier in this thread is just one of the 5 (in the interest of space and readability). You should carefully examine the entire sutta, it really paints a picture of the different variations on how listening, memorizing (sati), vocalizing, V&V (thinking and evaluation) work in the 4 jhanas, the samadhi-bojjhanga, in a holistic way.

The later Theravada VRJ (vism. redefinition of jhana) is a complete different way of doings things. Samatha and Vipassana are divorced in the process, and the 4 jhanas become just a samatha kung fu. This is not to denigrate samatha kung fu, that’s an important skill, but in the EBT it’s 2 sides of the same coin, not a divorced isolated stage. This has serious ramifications in practicing the path in a balanced way, so one needs to consider this carefully. Perhaps later Theravada improved on the Buddha’s EBT teaching, that’s a personal decision each must make, but one should not have the delusion that later Theravada is teaching the same thing as EBT.


The 4 jhānas are sammā-samādhi. Samādhi is concentration, of any sort, including micchā-samādhi. Your conclusion is not right.


are you kidding me, lol
the buddha mentions 4 jhānas over and over and over and over… are you trying to be contrarian? apologies if this is rude


Hmm, I thought this proposition has already been addressed in several places. Perhaps it would be good to canvass those strands here.

Ekagga is certainly a predicate of jhāna, but it seems pretty obvious that this predicate is also found in states other than the jhānas.

The most famous example I can think of is the Buddha’s account of His pre-awakening meditation in MN 19 (= MN 4) as follows -

Āraddhaṃ kho pana me, bhikkhave, vīriyaṃ ahosi asallīnaṃ, upaṭṭhitā sati asammuṭṭhā, passaddho kāyo asāraddho, samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ. So kho ahaṃ, bhikkhave, vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja vihāsiṃ.

Tireless energy was aroused in me and unremitting mindfulness was established, my body was tranquil and untroubled, my mind concentrated and unified. Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna…

This appears to be a pre-jhanic quality that lends one to attaining the jhānas.

One could also look fruitfully to the satipaṭṭhānas (the cause of concentration : MN 44) which are said to be ekaggacitta : SN 47.4.

An important narrative that might solve the mystery of this ekaggata is AN 5.167, where ekaggacitta is contrasted against its foil vibbhantacitta (the scattered mind). This seems to suggest a connection to the Hindrance of uddhac­ca­kukkuc­ca (agitation).

For an example of a post-jhanic manifestation of this state where the mind is ekagga, look at AN 3.130 which employs the very same pericope in MN 19. This is said to be the state of Ven Anuruddha’s mind when he exercised the Divine Vision. As every supernormal power pericope and AN 9.35 present it, all such powers are exercised after the jhānas. A further point to note is the account of the Buddha’s exercise of the supernormal powers in MN 36, which was marked by pleasant feelings. This clearly indicates that He was no longer in the Fourth Jhāna, which is predicated upon neutral feeling -

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births…as Sutta 4, §27…Thus with their aspects and particulars I recollected my manifold past lives.

“This was the first true knowledge attained by me in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute. But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.

As for ekodi, one needs look no further than the very same MN 19 -

Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, evaṃ appamattassa ātāpino pahitattassa viharato uppajjati nekkham­ma­vitakko. So evaṃ pajānāmi: ‘uppanno kho me ayaṃ nekkham­ma­vitakko. So ca kho nevattab­yābādhāya saṃvattati, na parabyābādhāya saṃvattati, na ubhayab­yābādhāya saṃvattati, paññāvuddhiko avighā­ta­pak­khiko nib­bā­na­saṃ­vatta­niko’. Rattiñcepi naṃ, bhikkhave, anuvitakkeyyaṃ anuvicāreyyaṃ, neva tatonidānaṃ bhayaṃ samanupassāmi. Divasañcepi naṃ, bhikkhave, anuvitakkeyyaṃ anuvicāreyyaṃ, neva tatonidānaṃ bhayaṃ samanupassāmi. Rattin­divañ­cepi naṃ, bhikkhave, anuvitakkeyyaṃ anuvicāreyyaṃ, neva tatonidānaṃ bhayaṃ samanupassāmi. Api ca kho me aticiraṃ anuvitakkayato anuvicārayato kāyo kilameyya. Kāye kilante cittaṃ ūhaññeyya. Ūhate citte ārā cittaṃ samādhimhāti. So kho ahaṃ, bhikkhave, ajjhattameva cittaṃ saṇṭhapemi sannisādemi ekodiṃ karomi samādahāmi. Taṃ kissa hetu? ‘Mā me cittaṃ ūhaññī’ti.

As I abided thus, diligent, ardent, and resolute, a thought of renunciation arose in me. I understood thus: ‘This thought of renunciation has arisen in me. This does not lead to my own affliction, or to others’ affliction, or to the affliction of both; it aids wisdom, does not cause difficulties, and leads to Nibbāna. If I think and ponder upon this thought even for a night, even for a day, even for a night and day, I see nothing to fear from it. But with excessive thinking and pondering I might tire my body, and when the body is tired, the mind becomes strained, and when the mind is strained, it is far from concentration.’ So I steadied my mind internally, quieted it, brought it to singleness, and concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind should not be strained.

MN 20 is even more radical in its presentation of the mind that is ekodi. Apparently, even when one is ekodi, the Hindrances can still invade that meditation session. This must mean that that meditator is not even close to well-established satipaṭṭhāna, as SN 22.80 proposes -

There are, bhikkhus, these three kinds of unwholesome thoughts: sensual thought, thought of ill will, thought of harming. And where, bhikkhus, do these three unwholesome thoughts cease without remainder? For one who dwells with a mind well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, or for one who develops the signless concentration.

And in MN 119, ekodi pops up in all of the body contemplations, besides the standard Jhāna listing.

Again, ekodi in these instances can be a pre-jhanic quality. What needs to be remembered is that the First Jhāna is predicated upon 2 types of seclusion, namely seclusion from both kāmas and unwholesome mental states. It would appear that “unification” and “singleness” simply allude to the 2nd form of seclusion, ie being secluded from the 5 Hindrances to varying degrees. But without seclusion from the kāmas, it does not constitute Jhāna.


sukha can be relative, it’s not absolutely an indication that one is higher than 3rd jhana. For example, dittha-dhamma-sukha-vihara “pleasant abiding” is an epithet applied sometimes only to first 3 jhanas (AN 6.29) or all 4 jhanas (AN 4.41) even though sukha is not present in 4th jhana.

True, ekagga can apply to a state of samadhi quality lower than the 4 jhanas, but depending on context, such as the super early EBT, often a single word like samadhi in isolation, jhana in isolation, in those isolated context 4th jhana quality is strongly implied. Otherwise you’d have to posit a dry insight path to arahantship with no jhana.

As we know, you’re following a an unusual definition of “kāmas” in the first jhāna that only Ajahn Brahm subscribes to AFAIK in the history of Buddhism. Even late Abhidhamma understands “vivicceva kāmehi” as every other EBT school does (Pali, agamas, Tibetan fragments, sanskrit), “seclusion from sensual pleasures”, not “body divorced from 5 sense faculties”.

This difference in your definition of first jhana is naturally going to affect your understanding of 4 jhanas, and a necessity to posit a “pre” and “post” 4j condition. In EBT however, there is no access concentration. No “pre” and “post” 4j states needs defining. Only the 9th and 8th formless require “attaining and emerging”. MN 19, 20, and MN 119 have a much simpler and natural interpretation without the unnecessary baggage introduced by VRJ (vism. redefinition of jhana). I’ll cover those another time. As well as the 6 abhinna.


Regarding AN 10.72 and the quote

paṭhamassa jhānassa saddo kaṇṭako
To one in the first jhana, sound is a thorn.

I know this passage has already been discussed at great length, but why should saddo necessarily mean ‘sound’? What if it means ‘noise’ and the sentence just means that noise makes one’s practice of the first jhana difficult?


Excellent point.
That sutta does give an explicit description of very loud disturbing noise, not just any sound. Anyone who meditates in the forest knows you’re going to encounter lots of sound.

400 BCE: Pari-nibbāna of the Buddha
200 BCE: Abhidhamma is not EBT
1 CE Vimt. = Vimutti-magga 
500 CE Vism = Visuddhi-magga

What’s fascinating about Vimt. is that it’s early Abhidhamma Theravada, which differs greatly from late Abhidhamma (Vism. appears 500 years later than Vimt), they both have (approximately) 40 meditation subjects, they both use Abhdhamma as their base and framework, but the actual nitty gritty details of how the 4 jhānas are understood, in the important areas, are much closer to EBT than it is in resembling VRJ (vism. re-definition of jhāna).

For example, one hears sounds in the 4 jhānas in early Theravda Abhidhamma period.

Arahant Upatissa in Vimt. On sound and speech in jhāna

From Vimutti-magga, this is Arahant Upatissa’s explanation of speech ceasing in first jhāna, and the ability to hear sounds in jhāna:

Q. What are the miscellaneous teachings in the field of concentration?

A. Stoppage of sounds; overturning; rising; transcending; access; initial application of thought; feeling; uncertainty. “Stoppage of sounds”: In the first meditation, jhāna, speech is stopped. On entering the fourth meditation, jhāna, the yogin stops breathing.

Gradual stoppage of sounds: When the yogin enters into concentration, he hears sounds, but he is not able to speak because the faculty of hearing and that of speech are not united. To a man who enters form concentration {four jhānas}, sound is disturbing. Hence the Buddha taught: “To a man who enters meditation, jhāna, sound is a thorn”.

Late Abhidhamma contradicts not only the EBT, but they contradict their own Abhidhamma elders in the Theravada tradition.

It may sound disrespectful and harsh when I refer to the current age of Buddhists being indoctrinated with lies, but how else can you accurately and politely describe contradicting your elder Theravadin Abhidhammikas and the Buddha himself (based on EBT)?

Would you rather be disrespectful to late Theravada or disrespectful to Early Theravada (the earlier uncorrupted core) and EBT? There are times when euphemisms and dancing around uncomfortable truths is the wrong course of action.


Certainly, but that doesn’t dispose of the clear purport of the locative absolute used by every one of the supernormal powers pericope to demonstrate that the powers are exercised after the Jhanas, nor even AN 9.35. Or do you dispute these 2 on how ekagga should be understood as post-jhanic in AN 3.130?

Do elaborate with citations. But how is it relevant to your proposition regarding ekagga?

How does that follow?

Strange. I believe even the CPD defines this as such, following MN 13 and the AN 6.63 verse.

Citations pls. And when you say “late Abhidhamma”, what are you referring to? Ditto for “every other EBT school”. My reading of the SA and MA in Chinese suggests that they interpret kaamaa like the Pali Vibhanga, which does not mention sensual pleasure (kaamasukha).

And yet, I’ve laid out the evidence for such access concentration in the suttas. The pre- examples are obvious from MN 19 and MN 20. The post examples are in AN 3.130 and AN 9.35. All of these coincide with the Comy system where access concentration is laid out as freedom from the Hindrances. I don’t think a phenomenon can be discounted simply on the basis that the EBTs don’t use the term upacara. The EBTs describe the phenomenon amply, without naming it.

Do elaborate on this. If you’re thinking of MN 111, I’ve given my thoughts on why that text in its final form closed after the Abhidhamma, and sometime after the development of the Comy theory of Universals. Ven Analayo has been more charitable and gives a kind apologetic on the 3 vidita of that text, plus the inoperability of perception outside of the sanna attainments. Do check that out.


Possibly because the same text uses uccāsaddā mahāsaddā to describe noise?


Probably best not to insert myself too much into this argument! :slight_smile: However, I have wondered about this whole "vivicceva kāmehi” business for a while. I’ve seem fairly impressive argumentation by one of the Bhantes here that “kāmehi” means something more like “sense objects”, which, if so, lends credence to the interpretation of sense exclusion from the first jhana.

However, to play devil’s advocate, that argument also hinges on what I think is the root verb there: “vivicca”, which seems to connote something along the lines of: to seclude oneself from, to stay aloof from, to separate oneself from etc. IIRC the “eva” is an emphasis? So this means something like “quite secluded” or “staying quite aloof from” and then quite possibly “sensual objects”.

The same basic verb is used for both five hindrances and “kāmehi” (and emphasized for “kāmehi”). That makes for a good argument for sense exclusion.

However, it’s not a completely water-tight argument. Even assuming “sense objects” for “kāmehi”, I suppose it’s possible “vivicca” applied to "“kāmehi” might more connote “staying aloof from” there. These words in English might not necessarily equate to fully cutting off of the senses (more a distancing). Words are vague.

OK, that’s not exactly the strongest of arguments. However, actually a bigger niggle for me about the "vivicceva kāmehi” pericope argument is the whole idea of breathing being a thorn to the fourth jhana. Cessation of the breathing (identified with the body formation) seems a key feature of the fourth jhana. Surely, the simplest reading of that implies the continuance of some kind of body awareness/awareness of breathing up to that point (presumably falling under the fifth sense base)?

Out of curiosity, how do you square these two things? I’ve no doubt that you do (there always seems to be more than one way of reading the same set of words! :slight_smile: ).


AN 3.130 Anuruddha uses divine eye concurrently with 4th jhāna quality of samādhi, no need to emerge from an articifially created post 4th jhāna state. In other words, if you can decondition yourself from the VRJ (vism’s redefined jhana), and read the EBT in a natural plain speaking way, the 4 jhanas are simply describing 4 quality levels of samadhi that are applicable at any time, in any posture.

āraddhaṃ kho pana me vīriyaṃ asallīnaṃ, upaṭṭhitā sati asammuṭṭhā VAR, passaddho kāyo asāraddho, samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ.

which bodhi translates as:

“Here, friend Sāriputta, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I survey a thousandfold world system. Energy is aroused in me without slackening; my mindfulness is established without confusion; my body is tranquil without disturbance; my mind is concentrated and one-pointed.

What unequivocally establishes this as 4 jhāna quality of samādhi, rather than just samadhi with ekaggata, is the presence of body pacification stated there, “passaddho kāyo”. This corresponds to passadhi-bojjhanga, the critical gate in 7sb that can block samadhi-bojjhanga (four jhānas here) from happening.

Just as one can do the 4bv (brahma viharas) concurrently with 4 jhānas (no need to emerge from a frozen state), one can also exercise the divine eye. One can even exercise divine eye, see beings in different realms, energetically suffuse those beings from any of the four jhānas. Doing 4j, 4bv, 4ip (iddhipada) concurrently.

One of the key differences between VRJ (vism. redefinition of jhana) and the 4 jhānas in EBT is the frozen state where one can’t think, can’t do vipassana. The EBT only talks about something similar to this frozen state for 9th attainment and 8th (neither perception nor non). MN 111 is one place, AN 9.36, and there are 2 or 3 other suttas. The frozen state also shares similarities with DN 1’s wrong type samadhi of non-perception that leads to a rebirth in a non-perception realm with a lifespan that’s so long, after one is reborn from the non-perception realm, they can’t even remember a past life (as a human for example), and believe they were just spontaneously created beings.

I’ve read Ven. Analayo’s analysis on MN 111, it’s fatally flawed. This is once again related to the frozen state of VRJ. The EBT doesn’t have a frozen state for the 4 jhānas. His reasoning is all based on the existence of this frozen state. He needs to, but doesn’t ever show the passage where the frozen state is defined for the 4j. It’s kind of similar (or maybe is the same) circular reasoning as this: “the Bible is true because God said it was true, and God wrote the Bible.” There isn’t a passage in the EBT establishing a frozen state in the 4j. If that passage existed, you can be sure Buddhghosa would highlight that in the Vism.

Vism. is late Abhidhamma. I’m referring specifically to first jhāna’s seclusion from sensual pleasure (objects), not kaamaa from any context. Whether you translate that first jhana seclusion passage as “sensual pleasure objects” or “sensual pleasure”, doesn’t matter. Right samadhi is about seeing 4 noble truths, abandoning tanha, destroying the fetter of sensuality, destroying the asava of sensuality (that is all done WHILE one is in jhana). You can milk the “eva” in “vivicceva kamehhi” for all its worth, but it absolutely doesn’t mean “mind divorced from 5 senses.” The Buddha has unambiguous terms for describing a state where the 5 senses are not operating. The most frequently occurring one is in samadhi attainment #5, base of infinite space. For reference, 4th jhana is samadhi attainment #4. And once again, if “vivicceva kamehi” could be interpreted like that, you can bet Buddhaghosa would have used that to support VRJ (vism. redefinition of jhana).

Temporarily hiding from sensual pleasure OBJECTS in a frozen state doesn’t accomplish what the Buddha is talking about for first jhana, and the ultimate purpose of the 4 jhanas, which is ending of dukkha. It’s the seclusion from sensuality that is spiritually relevant.

Vism. earth kasina chapter, section on first jhana, they gloss all the terms in first jhana formula.

I will comment on MN 19 and 20 another time.


@sylvester, here is one prime example of the EEBT, super early EBT I’m talking about. I searched for ‘jhā’ with DPR through the entire KN Iti, and some other EEBT’s, they don’t talk about 4 jhānas, just jhāna.