I don't think (hard)jhana is needed to attain nibbana

I think the point is the contrast between the ascetic practices - trying to renounce all pleasure - and the pleasure of absorption.

In MN36: SuttaCentral Saccaka asks the Buddha:

“Surely you must have had feelings so pleasant or so painful that they could occupy your mind?”

And the Buddha describes his training with his teachers:

Then it occurred to me, ‘This teaching doesn’t lead to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment. It only leads as far as rebirth in the dimension of nothingness.’ Realizing that this teaching was inadequate, I left disappointed.

And then strict ascetic practices. And finally he realises that he does not have to fear the pleasure of absorption:

Then I thought, ‘Whatever ascetics and brahmins have experienced painful, sharp, severe, acute feelings due to overexertion—whether in the past, future, or present—this is as far as it goes, no-one has done more than this. But I have not achieved any superhuman distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones by this severe, grueling work. Could there be another path to awakening?’

Then it occurred to me, ‘I recall sitting in the cool shade of the rose-apple tree while my father the Sakyan was off working. Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered and remained in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected. Could that be the path to awakening?’

Stemming from that memory came the realization: ‘That is the path to awakening!’

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why am I afraid of that pleasure, for it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures or unskillful qualities?’ Then I thought, ‘I’m not afraid of that pleasure, for it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures or unskillful qualities.’

After eating solid food and gathering my strength, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered and remained in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected. But even such pleasant feeling did not occupy my mind.

Perhaps when practising with his teachers, there was still a somewhat ascetic idea of steering clear of any pleasure, even the pleasure of absorption.

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That makes sense @mikenz66 . Still i do not really understand why the Buddha (remembering that youth experience with jhana), knew…“that is the path to awakening”
While in the time with his teachers he rejected even those most subtle jhana’s as a path to awakening, or Nibbana. So, what had changed?

Or do i make some chronological mistake? Did he met his teachers before this very heavy ascetic practice period?

I’m repeating more-or-less what Bhante @Sujato has said in various places. I might not be expressing it very well, and of course to a certain extend it is speculation. It may have to do with the attitude towards the absorptions he was taught by his teachers - to avoid any rapture or bliss, or it may be how they were using the absorptions - perhaps wanting to simply shut everything down, rather than using the purified mind for insight:

When my mind had immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—I extended it toward recollection of past lives. I recollected my many kinds of past lives, with features and details. … I extended it toward knowledge of the death and rebirth of sentient beings. … I extended it toward knowledge of the ending of defilements. …

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Yes, that makes sense to me. Thank you @mikenz66 .

Maybe he just surrendered to what is, and what is, is the feminine aspect of reality, or pure potentiality. Then he touched the earth with his hand and begged Mother divine, or Mother Earth, to be his witness, and she did so. And with the energy from the life force itself, he was able to have the breakthrough.

So, maybe he finally understood that masculine action could bring him somewhere, but to find the real home, he had to reconnect with the feminine forces within.

I don’t know about having to practice insight when one has the right collectedness of mind. To me, insights come naturally, and of course, one can also direct one’s mind, but I can’t say it is then based upon any effort.

I think great skills in how to develop and purify “energy” are more significant than specific states of absorptions. And I also think that developing a feminine attitude to life force energy is valuable for one’s advance on the path.

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Indeed.

For 84,000 years King Makhādeva played games as a child, for 84,000 years he acted as viceroy, for 84,000 years he ruled the realm, and for 84,000 years he led the spiritual life after going forth here in this mango grove. And having developed the four divine meditations, when his body broke up, after death, he was reborn in a good place, a divine realm of Brahmā.

MN 83

Ānanda, you might think, ‘Surely King Makhādeva, by whom that good practice was founded, must have been someone else at that time?’ But you should not see it like this. I myself was King Makhādeva at that time. I was the one who founded that good practice, which was kept up by those who came after.

But that good practice doesn’t lead to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment. It only leads as far as rebirth in the Brahmā realm. But now I have founded a good practice that does lead to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment.

MN 83

If one develops the Brahmaviharas one eliminates the 5 hinderances.

What’s missing from the four is this fifth - sovereignty.

Without sovereignty one does not overcome restlessness and remorse.

Because that hinderance is overcome by attention to the law of the dhamma (ie. sovereignty - power - authority).

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I feel this is really great. Thanks.

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What’s seldom mentioned is that Lord Buddha became ours after receiving assistance from both Mother Divine, first to clear away the forces of Mara, and after complete awakening, it was a Divine force from above that intervened at the moment he was about to give up teaching.

So, if that was how Gotama did it, why don’t we?

Excuse my “thinglish”

That means heaven is right here together with the divine Earth force, so why meditate oneself away from assistance by placing a certain kind of outer form as a gate to the immediate combined force of The Heavens?

I hear a call from Mother Divine, and it’s been going on for a while. The call is: So, you are a Buddhist, how about some “standing up” because Mother needs you to stand as her witness in these times?

The Jhanas are a fascinating topic of discussion, and it’s natural to be drawn to them.

However, if the Jhanas are conditioned and subject to the characteristics of existence (impermanence, unsatifactoriness, non self).

Then there is the danger they will become another object of conditioned craving (dependent origination) as alluded to in earlier posts.

Would we be better not focusing our concentration upon phenomena that is unconditional?

For the past 2500 years, the discussions have been going on, while the different paths produce what seems to be similar results, and that is minds freed from religions and needs for long drawn out debates.

I’m not sure that there is a lack of Jhana moments for most devoted practitioners, I think it has something to do with a lack of beliefs.

When is the time right to walk the talk, that is to say; I trust myself!

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Jhana is development of the body. The Buddha called the pleasure of jhana that which “should not be feared” (the with all other pleasures having drawbacks).

It is easiest to release the mind (though not necessary for all) by first releasing the body.

The feelings in jhana represent what the highest heavens have to offer. In that respect, we as Buddhists, pursue the pleasure of jhana so that we may then, having experienced the highest of all pleasures, let it go and pursue the mind (which has up until this point been covered up by considerations and obsessions over the body).

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The Satipatthāna sutta is not exhaustive. Remember that.

First, it doesn’t deal with other necessary topics like virtue.

Secondly, it doesn’t give you what you should do about these items. In other words, it just tells you what topics you should have in mind as you go through the day.

It doesn’t tell you:

• to endure pain
• to avoid sensual pleasures
• to develop the factors for awakening
• and so on

But ! If you read other suttas, you will know that jhāna is needed.

Otherwise, let us forget about the noble eightfold path, and let us take a noble sevenfold path.

And because virtue, effort and right intention are not indicated in this sutta, let us take a noble twofold path.

Also, let us abandon all the EBTs and let us just take this only sutta.

What do you think about this ? :slight_smile:

An excerpt from Right Mindfulness of Ajaan Geoff:

"Although the four tetrads constitute the Buddha’s most extensive instructions on what to do when you sit down to meditate, they are still very terse. As one writer has commented, they are more like a telegram than a full text. This should come as no surprise, for—as we noted in the Introduction—these instructions were never meant to stand on their own. They were embedded in a canon of texts memorized by a community of practitioners who would use them simply as memory aids, both for teachers and for students. This means that they had to be long enough to convey the most important points—such as the fact that breath meditation is a proactive process designed to give insight into the processes of fabrication—but short enough to be easily memorized.

They also had to indicate, through inclusion, which aspects of the practice held true across the board; and, through silence and exclusion, which aspects allowed for variations from case to case. If everything were mentioned, the sheer volume of instructions would have been unwieldy, making it difficult to sort out which instructions were meant for everyone, and which for specific cases. So the terseness of the instructions, instead of being a shortcoming, is actually one of their strengths.

As we have seen from the preceding chapters, a great deal of practical, nuts-and-bolts advice can be unpacked from the tetrads when you look at them carefully, but even when unpacked they still leave many gaps. To get the most out of these memory aids, you have to fill these gaps in"

if you look at the first jhana the factors are:

  • seclusion from sensuality
  • initial and sustained attention
  • joy and contentment

these factors are present when one hears the dhamma and focuses on it with a glad and happy mind, happily separated from sensuality.

it’s unlikely that these factors aren’t present when a person hears the dhamma and attained stream entry.

arguably there are even moments where the mind might focus deeply on an aspect of a talk, producing one-pointedness.

thus the buddha says that a person who develops the first jhana even for the time it takes to click one’s is not without jhana.

Jhanas are just provisional concepts used in mapping stages of mental absorption. If you can easily define and convey them on a whim which shows evidence of your own insight: then one is close.

Namo Buddhaya!

My take on this id that hardjhana are generally not required.

If one contemplates the drawbacks dilligently then eventually hindrances become supressed and at this point this is an opening.

If one’s mind then inclines to hardjhana then that is that but otherwise jhana factors will arise regardless or one will have formless percipience.

If one welcomes & relishes those perceptions then it will keep happening. But if one develops disinterestedness then one will progress further according to one’s inclinations.

But it’s not like a menu that one can order from, it is not easy to know when there will be an opening & what will be the effective resolve at that time.

The way i understand it is that the difference between hard & soft jhana is as rather trivial and neither is more difficult or more elite. There are relative advantages to both methods and wht one’s attainment will be depends more so on one’s general composition of mind rather than acquiring more ‘power of samadhi’ as if wanting to lift a heavier thing.

And so to treat samadhi attainments as if there is a progressive difficulty like in olympic weight lifting is not warranted.

What matters is that one can’t attain anything lest there is an opening & appropriate inclination.

If a person has little to no interest in it then there is little to no chance of attaining it.

I think these things confuse many meditators because many people don’t care for the hardjhana and it’s then frustrating if they try & become disappointed.

Whereas others would focus excessively on the exquisiteness of a hardsamadhi attainment, it could be a hindrance and they would neglect training that one can do in jhanalight.

A stream enterer can attain jhanalight as the four pleasant without difficulty and it’s something worth mastering.

"And which four pleasant mental abidings in the here & now does he obtain at will, without difficulty, without hardship?

"There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with verified confidence in the Awakened One: ‘Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy & rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.’ This is the first pleasant mental abiding in the here & now that he has attained, for the purification of the mind that is impure, for the cleansing of the mind that is unclean.

"Furthermore, he is endowed with verified confidence in the Dhamma: ‘The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One, to be seen here & now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves.’ This is the second pleasant mental abiding in the here & now that he has attained, for the purification of the mind that is impure, for the cleansing of the mind that is unclean.

"Furthermore, he is endowed with verified confidence in the Sangha: ‘The Sangha of the Blessed One’s disciples who have practiced well… who have practiced straight-forwardly… who have practiced methodically… who have practiced masterfully — in other words, the four pairs, the eight individuals [1] — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One’s disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world.’ This is the third pleasant mental abiding in the here & now that he has attained, for the purification of the mind that is impure, for the cleansing of the mind that is unclean.

"Furthermore, he is endowed with virtues that are appealing to the noble ones: untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, leading to concentration. This is the fourth pleasant mental abiding in the here & now that he has attained, for the purification of the mind that is impure, for the cleansing of the mind that is unclean.

"These are the four pleasant mental abidings in the here & now that he obtains at will, without difficulty, without hardship. Gihi Sutta: The Householder

[1] "There is the case where you recollect the Tathagata: ‘Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.’ At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

"Of one who does this, Mahanama, it is said: ‘Among those who are out of tune, the disciple of the noble ones dwells in tune; among those who are malicious, he dwells without malice; having attained the stream of Dhamma, he develops the recollection of the Buddha.’ Mahanama Sutta: To Mahanama (1)