Hearing sounds in samādhi, jhāna


Hi suaimheas

Here you go -

vivicceva kāmehi
vivicca+eva kāmehi
vivicca = absolutive of viviccati = having separated oneself
eva is emphatic, to emphasise this seclusion over the other seclusion from unwholesome qualities
kāmehi is the ablative plural of kāma, meaning “from the kāmas/kāmā” .

Just to clarify, I don’t think anyone teaches sense exclusion, but more along the lines of exclusion of the 5 sense objects.

For myself, I don’t think the body formation needs awareness to persist; Lord! I’d be in Fourth Jhana many times over in my sleep. But I think you’re probably suggesting “how would a meditator know that breathing has stopped, if consciousness of tactility has been ablated?” Am I correct?

Perhaps we can find the answer in the confluence between the thorns series with the standard jhana pericopes. Notice that the body formation is not mentioned in the standard jhana pericopes. What is mentioned there is -

  1. the absolutive “having separated” in the First Jhana pericope. The absolutive functions to indicate that the separating happens first.
  2. you have the ablative vūpasamā in the Second Jhana pericope, indicating the cause for the Second Jhana to arise.
  3. ditto for the ablative virāgā in the 3rd Jhana pericope.

You’ll notice that these predicates are pre-requisites for attaining the respective Jhana. Now, if you map this precondition series to the thorns series, does it now become apparent that the thorns are also alluding to pre-conditions that must be abandoned? In my view, the thorns series is describing obstructions that need to be allayed first. If the body formation is a thorn to the Fourth Jhana, its abandoning must happen outside of a Jhana, assuming that the Critical philological approach is correct in identifying kāmā in this pericope as the 5 sense objects.

That is how I understand it.


If your argument lies in this -

You’ve assumed that samā­dhi­sam­boj­jhaṅga can refer only to the Jhanas on the basis of the reference to passaddho kāyo. But isn’t it standard satipaṭṭhāna when one contemplates dhammas that all of the Awakening Factors are contemplated, eg -

When they have the the awakening factor of tranquility they clearly know ‘I have the awakening factor of tranquility’; when they don’t have the awakening factor of tranquility they clearly know ‘I don’t have the awakening factor of tranquility’; they clearly know how the unarisen awakening factor of tranquility comes to arise; and they clearly know how the arisen awakening factor of tranquility becomes perfected through development. (5)

When they have the the awakening factor of samādhi they clearly know ‘I have the awakening factor of samādhi’; when they don’t have the awakening factor of samādhi they clearly know ‘I don’t have the awakening factor of samādhi’; they clearly know how the unarisen awakening factor of samādhi comes to arise; and they clearly know how the arisen awakening factor of samādhi becomes perfected through development. (6) : MN 10

The formula used in AN 3.130 -

Āraddhaṃ kho pana me vīriyaṃ asallīnaṃ, upaṭṭhitā sati asammuṭṭhā, passaddho kāyo asāraddho, samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ

is in fact found in so many other suttas discussing sense restraint, establishment of mindfulness, compassion etc. I would point out that the very same formula appears in MN 19 as the precursor to the First Jhana. There, another instance of Access Concentration in an EBT, although not named as such.

Again, would you care to present evidence from the texts for this? Inference from a valid argument is also acceptable, if there is no explicit declaration of this in the texts. I have given 2 arguments against this, one grammatical, one doctrinal. The grammatical point was the reference to the form of the locative absolute used in all of the abhiññā pericopes. The doctrinal point was the reference to AN 9.35. It would be good to address these 2 points, and not ignore them. No reader of the abhiññā pericope who is fluent in Pali would miss the import of that pericope pointing to the abhiññā being exercised after the Jhanas. No reader of BB’s translation of AN 9.35 would miss the same import, unless he/she has relied in the ATI translation for too long.

Ditto as above regarding the locative absolute and AN 9.35. In addition, DN 9 and its parallel are quite explicit that if one thinks or intends in any of the attainment, one falls out of that attainment. Which brings us to -

If one were inclined to disregard its obvious late provenance as ventilated in Anupada Sutta (MN 111) - Its status as an EBT

one could still try to make sense of the activities going on under the verb vavattheti as being limited to only the saññāsamāpattis. In case it’s overlooked, there is the obvious problem of Awakening happening in Cessation as presented in MN 111, when all other suttas employing the -

sabbaso neva­saññā­nā­sañ­ñāyata­naṃ samatikkamma saññā­ve­dayi­ta­nirodhaṃ upasampajja viharati. Paññāya cassa disvā āsavā parikkhīṇā honti.

pericope, do not envisage Awakening occurring without consciousness.

Would you like to retract this strawman? As far as I can tell, all those who teach about the disappearance of the 5 sense objects in First Jhana insist that one if fully conscious and percipient of the qualia of pleasure at the mind.

Here are the EBT passages referring to the Jhanas being void of the 5 sense objects -

  1. every vivicceva kāmehi pericope
  2. AN 9.37
  3. SA 557

If you use the strawman of the “frozen state”, then it is a non-sequitur, since you are putting into our mouth what we have not uttered. Which explains why -

Ven Analayo does not defend the utility of the frozen state which you attribute to the Absorbed camp.

In fact, he did. He was puzzled by the Abhidhamma explanation of the vivicceva kāmehi pericope and gave a rather feeble defense of it.

I agree. It means separated from the 5 sense objects.

And this is the damage caused by Ven Thanissaro’s interpretation of kāmā in the said pericope. Despite the CPD pointing out that -

  1. kāmā as sensual desires is a Abhidhammic thing; and
  2. kāmā in the suttas means the 5 sense objects,

he has opted for his interpretation that does violence to MN 13. Would you need me to ventilate again the ridiculous outcome of reading kāmā as sensual desires in MN 13?

In fact, I wonder if you did not notice this little sleight of hand in this translation in AN 6.63 on ATI -

Saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo,
Nete kāmā yāni citrāni loke;
Saṅkapparāgo purisassa kāmo,
Tiṭṭhanti citrāni tatheva loke;
Athettha dhīrā vinayanti chandanti.

The passion for his resolves is a man’s sensuality,
not the beautiful sensual pleasures found in the world.
The passion for his resolves is a man’s sensuality.
The beauties remain as they are in the world,
while the wise, in this regard, subdue their desire.

If he were consistent in his translation, he would have translated the kāmā above as “sensual desires” but that would contradict the verse insisting that “sensual desire” is only in the singular kāmo.

We can discuss this in a separate thread if you wish, but as Sue Hamilton’s research has shown, this hinges on what rūpa means as an Aggregate, and how your reading above is actually an Abhidhamma position limiting form to being contactable by only the 5 senses. I’m sure you will realise that this position contradicts the suttas on 2 counts.


SN 47.4 quoted above has vipassanacitta translated as ‘with limpid mind’, in the sentence: ekodibhūtā vippa­sanna­cittā samāhitā ekaggacittā.

I wonder if ekaggacitta is the EBT’s khanika samadhi, ie not absorption states, but have overcome the hindrances, and is unified and focused to carry out a certain task, in this case of uncovering and observing the aggregates (ie the process of perception).

Sorry this is slightly off topic, but I though it was important, especially as SN47.4 is discussing satipatthana and brings in additional relevant information that that satipatthana sutta doesn’t contain.

But in the real world, practically speaking -there is a pre- and post- jhanic samadhi, as well as a non-samadhi ‘just sat down to meditate’ mind- the latter would be subject to hindrances, defilements, sub-defilements etc. The exclusion of a description of pre- and post- jhanic samadhi from the EBTs would be unusual, and its inclusion would be an expected finding.

with metta,

Isn’t this sensuality based on sense objects? Sensuality can recede while the sense object remains (in the first jhana), as it is rupa (sight, sound, sensations, taste, and smell are all rupa) jhana. All these can be experienced, but wont give rise to sensual perceptions (kaama sanna) though they may be pleasant feelings (sukha vedana). Pleasant feelings, sensual perception can give rise to sensual craving, the latter which is abandoned as one of the 5 hindrances, before getting into the first jhana.

In lower quality 4th jhana, this effect wont be observed (as in where Ven Moggallana had to unify his mind a bit more, following instructions by the Buddha). It does happen not only, temporarily, in the fourth jhana but also after the first ananapansati tetrad.

Experientially sounds can be heard but if it is too disturbing, the samadhi will be disrupted and the meditator will fall out of the first jhana; thereby making it a ‘thorn’ in the sense of an annoyance, and possibly thinking about it, also in the way of bursting a (the) bubble.

with metta


But what do you understand by “sensuality”? Is it in the nature of cognitive content or the affective response? This is important, as generations of translators have portrayed kāmaloka/kāmabhava as if it is dominated by sensual desire, with nary a place for aversion (paṭigha). This is the outcome of following the Abhidhamma’s lead.

If one looks at the loka/bhava series, which makes more sense -

  1. a series of 3, bound by a common thread of cognitive content; or
  2. a series of 3, with the Form and Formless being the only members bound by cognitive content, while kāma is predicated by being affective.


Kāma lokaya has the its characteristic feature in its ability to give rise to the affect of kāma; as a response to sense objects. The objects (cognitions) aren’t in themselves sensual, as otherwise the arahanth would never escape sensuality! As samadhi increases, sense objects can’t give rise to craving and sensual feelings, anymore. It’s suppressed and I find that in a Rupa sphere those same objects are tinted with rapture (piti) and bliss (sukha). There is however a no-man’s land between kāma sphere after the hindrances have been suppressed but before the first jhana. This is this pre-jhanic samadhi discussed above.

I think the kāma loka (and other two) have received designations based on their distinctive feature (as opposed to what is phenomenologically possible within them).

With metta


Very nice reasoning … I’ll bookmark this thread because of it :sunny:


Thanks, that reply looks very interesting! I’ll probably get back to you on it after I get some time to chew its contents over a bit.


I did not follow the whole discussion (it almost takes on book length :slight_smile: ) – sorry if I come up then with something irrelevant or redundant – but anyway I just wanted to throw in this passage from the vinayapitaka, it is perhaps of further interest since it is often not the focus of attention, especially when it comes to doctrinal issues.

(We) listen properly means: having applied ourselves, having attended, we concentrate with all our mind.
(We) pay attention means: we listen, minds one-pointed, minds not distracted, minds not perturbed. (Mhv. 2, Allowance to recite the Pātimokkha)

Here is the Pāli equivalent:

Sādhukaṃ suṇomāti aṭṭhiṃ katvā manasi katvā sabbacetasā [sabbaṃ cetasā (syā. ka.)] samannāharāma.
Manasi karomāti ekaggacittā avikkhittacittā avisāhaṭacittā nisāmema. (Mhv. 2, Pātimokkhuddesānujānanā)

Note: The first Pāli word of the compound avikkhittacittā (avikkhitta) is given as a meaning for samatha, and the samādhi of the powers, faculties and the path (if my memory serves me well) in the Paṭisambhidāmagga.



Hi @Sylvester,

don’t you think that AN 9.37 referrs only to formless attainments?


We may have reached the “agree to disagree” stage already. From my perspective, it looks like eel wriggling and sophistry. You know very well what I mean by the frozen state, and how the key differences between [a straightforward reading of] EBT Jhana and Vism. differ. . We can still discuss specific points independently, for example you asked for my take on AN 9.35. But otherwise I don’t think the cost/benefit ratio of thoroughly examining every point you raise is a good use of our time. I will post my take on MN 19 and 20 in the next few days.

AN 9.35 gāvī-upamā: cow-simile
    (1. 1st jhāna)
    (2. 2nd jhāna)
    (3. 3rd jhāna)
    (4. 4th jhāna)
    (5. Infinite space)
    (6. Infinite consciousness)
    (7. Nothingness)
    (8. Neither perpception nor nonperception)
    (9. cessation)
    (emerging from attainment)
    (1. Supranormal powers)
    (2. Divine ear)
    (3. Mind reading)
    (4. Recollect past lives)
    (5. Divine eye)
    (6. Āsava destruction – arahantship)

I see your point comparing Bodhi’s translation. If we can get some other Pali expert opinions, I’d like to know whether Thanissaro’s version is grammatically correct but not the best fit among the ways to translate that phrase, or is just wrong.

The relevant part of AN 9.35 (thanissaro)

(emerging from attainment)

♦ “yato kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu
“When a monk
taṃ tadeva samāpattiṃ samāpajjatipi vuṭṭhātipi,
enters & emerges from that very attainment,
tassa mudu cittaṃ hoti kammaññaṃ.
his mind is pliant & malleable.
mudunā kammaññena cittena
With his pliant, malleable mind,
appamāṇo samādhi hoti subhāvito.
limitless concentration is well developed.
so appamāṇena samādhinā subhāvitena
With his well-developed, limitless concentration,
yassa yassa abhiññāsacchikaraṇīyassa dhammassa
then whichever of the six higher knowledges
cittaṃ abhininnāmeti abhiññāsacchikiriyāya
he turns his mind to know & realize,
tatra tatreva sakkhibhabbataṃ pāpuṇāti sati sati āyatane.
he can witness them for himself whenever there is an opening.

Regardless of how this case (AN 9.35) is resolved, by far the most common pericope is not this one, but the four jhanas followed by the 3 higher knowledges. It outnumbers AN 9.35 twenty to one (approximately). In that pericope, there is no emerging from fourth jhana before one uses the malleable wieldy mind to exercise those powers. Surely you’re familiar with this pericope, and this is why I’m disinclined to get into a long thorough discussion with you. It feels like you intentionally cherry pick and make the single outlier case the norm, while not addressing the standard case that appears everywhere. AN 9.35 does not have a parallel according to SC.

So this also answers your other question about the concurrency of samadhi, jhana, iddhi pada, exercising the 6 abhinna, and satipatthana. There is no pre/post jhana, and no need to posit such a state.

[edit, addition]
In Anuruddha Samyutta, he says it is because of satipatthana that is is mighty and powerful with the divine eye and abhinna (no mention of jhana).

In SN 51, iddhipada samyutta, Moggallana says it is because of 4ip (iddhipada) that he is mighty and powerful with the 6 abhinna (no mention of 4 jhanas and 4sp).

Elsewhere, the most frequent pericope, it’s because of the 4 jhanas mastered that one can exercise 6ab.

So connecting the dots, those are not 3 independent paths to arrive at 6ab, they’re 3 maps from slightly different perspective of the same terrain.

3rd jhana explicitly contains “sato ca sampajana” , the 4 satipatthana are built right into 3rd jhana.

In two of the EBT traditions from the agamas, two different MN 10 (satipatthana sutta) parallels both contain the 4 jhanas built direclty into the 4 satipatthna. MN 119 is also the Theravada equivalent of having 4 jhanas built right into kaya anupassasna.

Samadhi is built into the definition of each of the 4ip (chanda samadhi padhana sankhara samannagata - iddhi pada bhaveti).

The wrong concetration of forcefully holding ones breath is called “jhana”.
The wrong concentration of being obsessed with the 5niv, is also called “jhana”.

There is a fluidity and dynamic range to these specialized terms related to samadhi. Things get incoherent if you try to nail down a narrow definition for these terms, and create an access concentration state that the Buddha did not.


Hi @Piotr

I’ve explained this so many times here (judging from the number of hits I got from sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata). But for you, anything for you.

There are 2 narratives in AN 9.37. Within the main setting in Kosambi, the formless attainments are indeed discussed as the loci where the 5 sense objects are not contacted. After discussing the formless attainments, Ven Ananda recounts an earlier exposition he had given in Saketa which discusses another attainment where one also does not contact the 5 sense objects. This concentration is described as follows -

na cābhinato na cāpanato na ca sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato

does not lean forward and does not bend back and that is not reined in and checked by forcefully suppressing the defilements
per Bhikkhu Bodhi

The simple way to dispose of this is to refer to 3 texts to get a sense of what’s going on with this “na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata” business.

It pops up in DN 34’s listing of the 5 Knowledges Concerning Right Concentration that are to be made to arise, ie -

Katame pañca dhammā uppādetabbā? Pañca ñāṇiko sammāsamādhi: ‘ayaṃ samādhi ­pac­cup­pan­na­su­kho ceva āyatiñca sukhavipāko’ti paccattaṃyeva ñāṇaṃ uppajjati. ‘Ayaṃ samādhi ariyo nirāmiso’ti paccattaññeva ñāṇaṃ uppajjati. ‘Ayaṃ samādhi akāpuri­sa­sevito’ti paccattaṃyeva ñāṇaṃ uppajjati. ‘Ayaṃ samādhi santo paṇīto paṭippas­sad­dha­laddho eko­dibhā­vā­dhi­gato, na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato’ti paccattaṃyeva ñāṇaṃ uppajjati. ‘So kho panāhaṃ imaṃ samādhiṃ satova samāpajjāmi sato vuṭṭhahāmī’ti paccattaṃyeva ñāṇaṃ uppajjati. Ime pañca dhammā uppādetabbā.

Can I trouble you to look at BB’s English translation for this? You can then decide what exactly sammāsamādhi is referring to here. The reference to “I enter” and “I emerge” ties back to AN 9.35’s reference to the same.

This listing occurs in exactly the same content in AN 5.27, but with a different heading, ie to develop measureless concentration.

Furthermore, in AN 3.101, the meditator first reaches a stage in her meditation that is sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata, before finally attaining a state that is na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata.

It is only when the meditator has attained to the state that is na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata, does the sutta suggest that the supranormal powers are available to the meditator. That implies strongly that the samādhi which is “santa paṇīta paṭippas­sad­dhi­laddha eko­dibhā­vā­dhi­gata na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata” in AN 3.101 is a jhana, given that the same listing in made in DN 34 and AN 5.27.

If you have the time to spare, you should be able to trace the occurrences of these epithets in the other suttas -

pac­cup­pan­na­su­kho ceva āyatiñca sukhavipāko - MN 45;
ariya nirāmisa - too many to cite
akāpuri­sa­sevita - see Thag 649
santo paṇīto - these appear in several contexts, including mindfulness of breathing
paṭippas­sad­dha­laddho - in the context of jhanas
eko­dibhā­vā­dhi­gato - well-known in the 2nd jhana contexts

So, coming now to Ven Ananda’s reply to the matted-hair nun, this concentration is said to be aññāphala. If we follow BB in parsing this (and kiṃphala) as a bahubbīhi compound, this would mean “of what fruit” and “with knowledge as its fruit”. At the end of that sutta, Ven Ananda then tells the monks that this (ie the jhanas) is another way of not being percipient of the 5 sense objects.

Needless to say, I reject Ven Thanissaro’s translation of aññāphala as a genitive tappurisa (=fruit of knowledge), as it would lead to the bizarre result that the Buddha has to undergo non-agitation over and over again, each time He accesses this concentration. Instead, take a look at a very standard sequence of Awakening as a sequel to non-agitation -

Vimuttattā ṭhitaṃ. Ṭhitattā santusitaṃ. Santusitattā na paritassati. Aparitassaṃ paccattaññeva parinibbāyati. ‘Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ, nāparaṃ itthattāyā’ti pajānātī”ti.

By being liberated, it is steady; by being steady, it is content; by being content, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.
SN 22.45

See how this maps into AN 9.37’s sequence, which also depicts this concentration as the cause, not the sequel, to Awakening -

yāyaṃ, bhagini, samādhi na cābhinato na cāpanato na ca sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato, vimuttattā ṭhito, ṭhitattā santusito, santusitattā no paritassati. Ayaṃ, bhagini, samādhi aññāphalo vutto bhagavatā’ti.

Sometimes, I really wonder what the good Venerable is up to with his translations.


His rendering of taṃ tad is just plain wrong. Check out Warder for the distributive effect of this repetitive idiom meaning “this or that”. In idiomatic English, that would be “each of these”, which is BB’s rendering.

It is because I’m familiar with this pericope that I asked you to address the grammatical effect of the particular locative absolute construction used in the pericope. To leave you in doubt about what this pericope means, let’s analyse it -

So evaṃ samāhite citte parisuddhe pariyodāte anaṅgaṇe viga­tū­pak­kilese mudubhūte kammaniye ṭhite āneñjappatte pubbe­nivāsā­nus­sati­ñāṇāya cittaṃ abhinīharati abhininnāmeti.

The locative absolute I was referring to is the subordinate clause in bold.

To make it easier to digest, let’s look at the smallest unit of this absolutus. It consists of one substantive noun and one participle. The noun is of course citta in locative. Pick any participle. I suggest samāhita, also in the locative case.

So, we have “samāhite citte” as the smallest unit in this absolutus. What is samāhita? It is the past participle of samādahati (to concentrate).

And what do the Pali grammars say about locative absolutes formed of past participles?

An absolute construction expresses an action which is prior to or simultaneous with that of the main verb, but which has a different subject (unlike the gerund or present participle). In Pali, one absolute construction is formed by using a present or past participle in the locative case. If the subject is expressed it will also be in the locative, but objects, instruments, etc will be in their usual cases. The past participle expresses a prior action and the present participle expresses a simultaneous one

A New Course in Reading Pali, p.114

Frank, this pericope has been staring at you in the face, and you simply failed to see the import of the construction. It does not outnumber AN 9.35 twenty to one, but confirms AN 9.35 twenty time over each time the pericope occurs.

And in case you suspect this is some Theravada devilry, please review the fact that the locative absolute is not confined to Pali, but is attested in Vedic Sanskrit (see MacDonell’s Vedic Grammar at section 205). It’s the go-to idiom in Indic languages to indicate time, and if the Buddha or the redactors had wished to indicate that the supernormal powers occurred within the jhanas, they could have easily used present participles in the pericope. But they did not.


Someone recently posted these lists on another topic, and it seems to me even more relevant to this thread. It looks like the discussion could benefit from these observations

Ten Signs of Intellectual dishonesty

  1. Arrogance or “I am the messenger of truth”. Be alert for arguments that send the following messages:
    “What I am telling you ARE the facts and these facts have, and always will, withstand any test.”
    “ Anybody that disagrees with ‘us’ is either stupid or is trying to undermine ‘our’ dedication and hard work.”
    “ They have access to the same evidence, but they either ignore it or deliberately misinterpret it to suit their own agenda or hypothesis.”

  2. Handwaving or “Your views have no merit”. Look for ‘arguments’ that dismiss other views out of hand. Often accompanied by Sign #1 with the opponent, not the specific argument, being dismissed.

  3. Unwavering commitment, or “I know I am right – why bother arguing?” People who refuse to accept that they may not be 100 per cent correct, or might be looking at the evidence through their own preferred colour of glasses, are not being honest with themselves or with their readers/listeners.

  4. Avoiding/Ignoring the question or “ . . . and let’s not forget about . . .” Those who refuse to admit that their argument is weak in an area and, worse still, avoid answering difficult questions in that area, are being intellectually dishonest. If they don’t ignore the question, these people can be easily recognised through their efforts to change the subject.

  5. Never admitting error or “I am/We are right – regardless of your evidence”. These are the people who will never admit that they are wrong – ever – regardless of clear evidence that demonstrates at least the possibility of error. See Sign #1.

  6. Employing double standards or “Your evidence is unacceptable (because it’s your evidence)”. Here the bar is set very high for the acceptance of evidence – at a much higher level indeed for opponents than for the kind of evidence they want to put forward.

  7. Argumentum ad hominem or “You’re a [insert label/stereotype here] . . . and you have a secret agenda” This is a favoured approach of those who might be arguing from a weak position. It is typically employed to avoid answering a difficult question (Sign #4) or used in conjunction with handwaving (Sign #2).

  8. Destroying a straw man or “You might say that, but how do you explain . . . ?” People who do this are shifting the subject, and attacking the opponent’s position on the new area, often an area that is unrelated or remotely related to the original point of disagreement. This technique is usually employed in an effort to avoid a question (Sign #4) or when the speaker/writer doesn’t have the knowledge to address the issue.

  9. Ignoring the principles of critical thinking. Those who rely on one source of information usually without question — are doing this. People who only consider information from a single book, article, paper, video — or any number of these from sources that are known to support that person’s views or opinions — are being intellectually dishonest. Sign #1 usually applies in this case.

  10. Ignoring [partial] defeat Intellectually dishonest speakers and writers will NEVER admit that the other side has found a weakness in their argument. You will never see them congratulate an opponent on finding a flaw in their argument, and they will use all of the other signs if necessary to draw your attention away from the subject.

Ten Signs of Intellectual Honesty

  1. Do not overstate the power of your argument. One’s sense of conviction should be in proportion to the level of clear evidence assessable by most. If someone portrays their opponents as being either stupid or dishonest for disagreeing, intellectual dishonesty is probably in play. Intellectual honesty is most often associated with humility, not arrogance.

  2. Show a willingness to publicly acknowledge that reasonable alternative viewpoints exist. The alternative views do not have to be treated as equally valid or powerful, but rarely is it the case that one and only one viewpoint has a complete monopoly on reason and evidence.

  3. Be willing to publicly acknowledge and question one’s own assumptions and biases. All of us rely on assumptions when applying our world view to make sense of the data about the world. And all of us bring various biases to the table.

  4. Be willing to publicly acknowledge where your argument is weak. Almost all arguments have weak spots, but those who are trying to sell an ideology will have great difficulty with this point and would rather obscure or downplay any weak points.

  5. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when you are wrong. Those selling an ideology likewise have great difficulty admitting to being wrong, as this undercuts the rhetoric and image that is being sold. You get small points for admitting to being wrong on trivial matters and big points for admitting to being wrong on substantive points. You lose big points for failing to admit being wrong on something trivial.

  6. Demonstrate consistency. A clear sign of intellectual dishonesty is when someone extensively relies on double standards. Typically, an excessively high standard is applied to the perceived opponent(s), while a very low standard is applied to the ideologues’ allies.

  7. Address the argument instead of attacking the person making the argument. Ad hominem arguments are a clear sign of intellectual dishonesty. However, often times, the dishonesty is more subtle. For example, someone might make a token effort at debunking an argument and then turn significant attention to the person making the argument, relying on stereotypes, guilt-by-association, and innocent-sounding gotcha questions.

  8. When addressing an argument, do not misrepresent it. A common tactic of the intellectually dishonest is to portray their opponent’s argument in straw man terms. In politics, this is called spin. Typically, such tactics eschew quoting the person in context, but instead rely heavily on out-of-context quotes, paraphrasing and impression. When addressing an argument, one should shows signs of having made a serious effort to first understand the argument and then accurately represent it in its strongest form.

  9. Show a commitment to critical thinking. ‘Nuff said.

  10. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when a point or criticism is good. If someone is unable or unwilling to admit when their opponent raises a good point or makes a good criticism, it demonstrates an unwillingness to participate in the give-and-take that characterizes an honest exchange


Am I summarizing your argument correctly if I say:

  1. Another attainment where one also does not contact the 5 sense objects is described as na ca sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato at AN 9.37
  2. The samādhi which is “santa paṇīta paṭippas­sad­dhi­laddha eko­dibhā­vā­dhi­gata na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata” in AN 3.101 is jhana (1 to 4)
  3. Therefore the attainment also described as na ca sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato in AN 9.37 is also jhana (including 1 to 4).

If my summary above is correct, then does this argument not consist in “Affirming the Consequent”?

If jhanas are na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato and the attainment at the end of AN 9.37 is also na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato, does it necessarily follow that the latter is a particular type of the former?

It rather seems to me that both have the same characteristic, namely na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato. Here is ven. Bodhi’s note on the passage, which confirms some of your observations but seems way short from supporting your conclusion:

Ayaṃ, bhagini, samādhi aññāphalo vutto bhagavatā. The compound aññāphalo could
be interpreted either as a tappurisa (“this concentration is the fruit of final
knowledge”) or as a bāhubbīhi (“this concentration has final knowledge as its
fruit”). In the former case, the samādhi is to be identified with the fruit; in the
latter, with an achievement preceding the fruit. Mp takes it in the former sense, as
the fruit itself: “The nun asks about the concentration of the fruit of arahantship
(arahattaphalasamādhi). Final knowledge is arahantship. The Blessed One has
spoken of this concentration of the fruit of arahantship. [The intention is:] When
one is percipient with the perception of the fruit of arahantship, one does not
experience that base.” However, the question kiṃphalā occurs repeatedly at SN V
118, 22 –120, 19 , where it must mean, “What does it have as its fruit?” And in 5:25 we find pañcahi, bhikkhave, aṅgehi anuggahitā sammādiṭṭhi ca cetovimuttiphalā hoti … paññāvimuttiphalā ca hoti. The sense here is not that right view is the fruit of
liberation of mind and liberation by wisdom, but that right view has liberation of
mind and liberation by wisdom as its fruit. Further, in 3:101, a samādhi described
in exactly the same terms as this one is shown to be the supporting condition for
the six higher knowledges, the last of which is the “the taintless liberation of
mind, liberation by wisdom.” By analogy, it follows that this samādhi is not thefruit of final knowledge, but one that yields final knowledge.
There is a Chinese parallel to this last portion of the sutta, SĀ 557 at T II
146a 12 – 29 . In this version, when the bhikkhunī asks Ānanda the question about
the concentration of mind without characteristics (= animitta cetosamādhi), he replies that the Buddha said this concentration “is the fruit of wisdom, the reward of wisdom” (#chinese characters# , which has the same ambiguity that I mentioned in the preceding note).


Actually, the structure of my syllogism is -

  1. If the concentration is na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata, then one does not contact the 5 sense objects in that concentration. (AN 9.37)

  2. Jhana is a concentration that is na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata. (AN 3.101 and DN 34)

  3. Therefore, one in Jhana does not contact the 5 sense objects.

Looks like a typical Modus Ponens to me.


It is not clear at all to me how AN 9.37 supports this claim. Would you care to elaborate?


I think it’s probably important to also look at the question posed by the nun. She asks 何果? It’s the same syntactic structure as the Pali, capable of being read as either a bahubbīhi or a tappurisa. If the question is deemed to be a bahubbīhi, then the answer will end up being “with knowing as fruit”.


It hinges on the “another way of not contacting the 5 sense data”.

We can infer from the sutta that either the formless attainments or the concentration that is na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata can afford this insulation from the 5 sense objects.

Based on this, you can infer :-
If the concentration is na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata, then one does not contact the 5 sense objects in that concentration.

However, it would be invalid to infer :-
If one does not contact the 5 sense objects in a concentration, then the concentration is na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gata.

This premise would be invalidly derived from the sutta’s 2 loci of concentration where one is insulated from the 5 sense objects.


It rather seems to me that what AN 9.37 states is the following:

samādhi na cābhinato na cāpanato + na ca sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato + vimuttattā ṭhito, ṭhitattā santusito, santusitattā no paritassati >> samādhi aññāphalo >> evaṃsaññīpi tadāyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedeti

So na ca sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato is one item in a list of 5 that collectively end up in tadāyatanaṃ no paṭisaṃvedeti (one does not experience ‘that’ base)

If I look at the three items vimuttattā ṭhito, ṭhitattā santusito, santusitattā no paritassati, they recur, as you pointed out, at SN 22.45, but only after the following:

Rūpadhātuyā ce, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno cittaṃ virattaṃ vimuttaṃ hoti anupādāya āsavehi, vedanādhātuyā … pe … saññādhātuyā … saṅ­khā­ra­dhātuyā … viññāṇadhātuyā ce, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno cittaṃ virattaṃ vimuttaṃ hoti anupādāya āsavehi.

“If, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu’s mind has become dispassionate towards the form element, it is liberated from the taints by nonclinging. If his mind has become dispassionate towards the feeling element … towards the perception element … towards the volitional formations element … towards the consciousness element, it is liberated from the taints by nonclinging.

Vimuttattā ṭhitaṃ. Ṭhitattā santusitaṃ. Santusitattā na paritassati. Aparitassaṃ paccattaññeva parinibbāyati. ‘Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ, nāparaṃ itthattāyā’ti pajānātī”ti.

“By being liberated, it is steady; by being steady, it is content; by being content, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.’”

So it appears from SN 22.45 that 3 out of these 5 items imply that one’s mind is already ‘liberated from the taints by nonclinging’ (vimuttaṃ hoti anupādāya āsavehi). To me, this looks like the concentration of someone who has just become an arahant and is on the verge of attaining Nibbana.

This interpretation according to which the above 3 items refer to a very advanced level equivalent to arahantship is also supported by their other occurences (SN 22.53, SN 22.54, SN 22.55) where it comes right after

rāgassa pahānā vocchijjatārammaṇaṃ patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti. tadappatiṭṭhitaṃ viññāṇaṃ avirūḷhaṃ anabhisaṅkhārañca vimuttaṃ.

with the abandoning of lust the basis is cut off: there is no support for the establishing of consciousness.

Which sounds also a lot like a description of arahantship. Its presence in AN 9.37 after the 4 formless attainment also support the same conclusion (since the cessation of perception and feelings usually follows in that place).

It looks like this concentration, being very deep, shares some properties with lower level concentrations, such as na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato, but to infer from this that all lower level concentrations have properties otherwise described for a state that follows liberation from the taints by nonclinging simply does not add up.