Is Jhāna some sort of hallucination?

Is Jahana some sort of hallucination?
If not how it different to hallucination?

Who is Jahan @SarathW1?


Jahan (Persian: جهان ‎‎) is a Persian word meaning “world” or “universe”.

According to some Buddhists, the “world” is a kind of illusion - so I guess Jahan could be considered a kind of hallucination. :grinning: lol Sorry couldn’t resist!

But I think you’re asking about Jhana… and I don’t think it’s a hallucination, but then again I don’t really know.


I don’t know about Jahan. Is he the kind of friend that keeps coming around that no one else can see? If so, maybe he is a hallucination!

Hallucination- an experience in which you see, hear, feel, or smell something that does not exist,

Eg: hearing voices when there is no one around.

Note, that it is not experienced as a thought. An abnormal thought, not in line with reality, culturally inappropriate and held in rigid way, is considered a delusion eg: aliens have implanted a chip in my brain and are controlling me (unless they really are…).

Illusions are misperceptions- to explain a bit more, hallucinations don’t have a stimuli originating in the external world- they are internally fabricated. Illusions have a stimuli originating in the external world, but they are misperceived to be something other than the originating object. So seeing a moving bush as a man, in a darkly lit alley-way is an example of an illusion.

All of the above are ‘experienced’ in external space, though wholly or partially internally originated. The person experiencing them has no control over when they arise or in stopping them.

So jhanas are experienced in internal space. They attains them after long practice of meditation (doesn’t arise easily 99.8% of the time). The meditater has no control over them initially, but can gradually gain control. With much expertise he can go in when he wants, stay as long as he wants and come out when he wants, or experience each of the jhana factors in turn. He can of course reach higher jhanas with more practice and after that the immaterial attainments, if they wish to.

I would say jhanas have more in common with a day dream …or more appropriately a lucid day dream - where one has control of the day dream and is fully absorbed into it without experiencing the external world, but is able to control elements within it with some experience.

How it differs from a day dream is that it is experiencing rupa ie the body, breath (see the sutta with breath and seven factors of enlightenment at the same time, which seems to be talking about jhana) and any other rupa it experiences, but from altered state of consciousness (this is devoid of the kama plane overlay and is entirely in the rupa plane) and isn’t entirely a mental construct.

with metta

Ahh… So you are asking about jhāna then… I fixed the title accordingly. :anjal:

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Far from it. In the 1st jhana, the Five Hindrances have been abandoned: desire, ill-will, sloth/torpor, restlessness/worry, and doubt; and Five Factors are present: applied-examination, sustained-examination, joy, happiness, and single-mindedness. It’s the complete opposite of hallucination, where one is full of Five Hindrances and none of the Five Factors.


Thank you, Santa.
You are describing the Buddhist Sutta Jhana.
Meditation is practiced in many levels.
You can learn meditation in fitness centers.
Even some Buddhist who practice meditation is not aware of sutta meditation.
The question is whether it is possible for those to go to a trans like a state.

I reckon we have an issue of terminology here @Sarathw1

Is it right to assume that for you jhāna is a term for a broad spectrum of possible meditative experiences?

Without defining that beforehand we will be probably discussing different interpretations of the same word, jhāna, and not necessarily the possible different hallucinations that may take place when one sits quiet without a proper set of instructions and guideline of how to develop the mind such as the ones found in EBTs and related to the cultivation of right stillness (sammā samadhi).

Could I therefore suggest you take some time to define better what exactly you want to explore in this topic?


P.S.: I shared above links to a number of known phenomena related to what may show up in the mind of someone who just sits quiet or stay for too long with eyes closed.


Depends on whose sense of “jhāna” one considers. As we’ve seen here, again, dhyāna / jhāna has a range of meanings (textual usages), from simply “sitting” or meditating, through to the various interpretations of specific sorts of deep concentration, especially involving “absorption”, fixing”, or “unification” of mind. As V. Sujato recently pointed out elsewhere here (if I correctly understood), the vaguer meaning tends to predominate in pre-Buddha-dhamma times as well as much later historical Buddhist developments, while the more exact meaning pertains more in the EBT context.

I remain s/w bewildered by the fashion of specifying “sutta jhāna” (here and notably by Leigh Brasington et al) jhāna, or “EBT jhāna” (as elsewhere here) to the Theravada sense of jhāna. Particularly when juxtaposed to the descriptions and usage of jhāna as per later tradition, notably from the Visuddhimagga and traditions of training and practice along those lines continuing, among monastics, through the present. What’s the motivation to assert that this latter “redefinition” is radically “different”, or even, as someone put here recently, a “perversion”?

To my mind, the later “additions” merely added more explicit description and expanded on training aspects to cultivate basically what’s described in the sutta-s. From experience (training in the Pa Auk Sayadaw method), there’s no uncertainty involved in the practical experience, and I’ve found that the other sorts and descriptions of jhāna, on the basis of that, become quite intelligible. One can decipher and reproduce; for example, the method Thanissaro B. teaches, which avoids technical specifics and the “jhāna by the numbers” approach; as well as the flavor from Leigh Brasington (largely Ayya Khema) which emphasizes piti-sukha as the entry gateway, as distinct from increasingly steady focus of attention resulting in nimitta formation and absorption therein. That the one or other approach is s/w conditioned by the temperament of the practitioner, both equally valid as means, is not often considered. It’s quite explicit, though, in the writings of the Mahasi Sayadaw, who details the appana (jhāna) samadhi and the vipassana kanikha samadhi as different paths, often relative to individual propensity and/or conditioning by social-cultural environment, or whatever teaching method exposed to, where the two methods converge, are equivalent in intensity and function, namely at the moment of established sammasamadhi concentration immediately prior to “path” moments (attainments).

On the other side (what’s often taught as sutta-jhāna) there’s all too often uncertainty on the part of learners (and even many teachers) as to attainment or not, and often confusion with simple rapturous states that tend to be more spontaneous and less controllable. Even the idea that the 1st jhāna isn’t really that fixed, is s/w fuzzy with “thinking”, processing sensory input, etc. Some of this may hinge on the idea of “absorption”, and the position that the sutta-s don’t use the term, that it was invented by the commentarial tradition and isn’t really applicable (as I once heard asserted by Leigh Brasington in a retreat, whose teacher, Ayya Khema, though, clearly emphasizes jhāna as absorption). On the other hand, advanced monastics commonly speak of jhāna in terms of a “fixing”, a “unification” of mind. (And, notably, they tend not to engage in the ubiquitous internet “jhāna wars” discussions.)

Hence the regular appearance of questions like this, or confusion with the idea of “trance” or “black-out” (as notable in the scholarly tradition of “sutta jhāna” in the writings of Rod Bucknell, Martin Stuart-Fox, and Paul Griffiths), or with those various phenomena which gnlaera brought to our attention.

Apologies for the perhaps slightly off-topic diversion in reaction to yet another topic of this ilk. S/w they strike me as exhibiting a rather lopsided noise-to-signal ratio.


I’m similarly bewildered. Clearly, there is disagreement on how to define jhāna, but it nowhere near as simple “sutta” vs “visuddhimagga”. Different teachers have very different ideas of what depth of absorption is implied in the suttas.


The hallucination(s) (vipallasa) is to regard what is impermanent as permanent, what is painful as pleasant, what is without a self as a self, what is impure as pure or beautiful.


@Mat I think that I read in one of the suttas (I’m sorry but I don’t know which one now), that mind objects are external to the mind. I liked this explanation very much. Should jhana be considered something other than a mind object? If so, how does that fit into the idea that ‘the all’ is the six senses?

The mind is without form. So, it can be defined ‘structurally’ in different ways. Ego, id, conscious, subconscious are newer classifications. Becoming aware of sense door stimuli by Consciousness is one model. Citta (as in the emotions, jhana etc detected in cittanupassana in Satipatthana sutta) is another way of talking about it. So one could say the mind is in jhana (or that we are in a different state of consciousness). Alternatively when one perceives the mind you could say the jhana then becomes the object of reflection of the mind. The mind (being unlike matter) is able to reflect on itself- much unlike a mirror which cannot do this. The jhana as mental object, is sensed at the mind sense door, giving rise to mind-consciousness.

With metta

OK. Thank you @Mat. So just to clarify (sorry for being a bit slow). We have what might be called a ‘state of mind’. Mind in jhana, or mind in anger, for example. And then we have knowledge of that state by consciousness? Does that state of mind exist independently of consciousness knowing it, or does it arise on being examined by consciousness?

I had assumed a stream of consciousness, with a moment of consciousness knowing (a vestige of) a previous moment of consciousness. Is that idea incorrect in terms of the EBTs? Or, is that what you are saying here?

Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition there is feeling. With feeling as a requisite condition there is craving. Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises consciousness at the ear. The meeting of the three is contact… MN148

…and so on. It keeps moving from one sense base to the next and returns again to the eye.

There are no two sort of parallel streams - one of consciousness and the other of objects.

Rather the object gives rise to consciousness, i.e. the object causes the false ‘Self’ to arise. So it is obvious that such a causally arisen experience could not be taken to be the Self that should be a consistently present entity. Also it immediately fades away.

Consciousness does not give rise to another consciousness. Consciousness gives rise to contact phassa (or nama-rupa). But that might be a technicality, in that both events are events we are conscious of.

The processing of perception happens as in the sutta above. You can see there the Pali word for consciousness (vinnana) means something somewhat different to the English use of the word.

We could say ‘units’ of experience (including labelling and feelings) happen in causally arisen strings or pathways. Information is certainly passed down them tainted with ignorance.

With metta

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I don’t have the good karma faculty to present the discussion in such scholarly way like many has, so i’ll just say it in my own words:

To me i find the Jhanas is a similar state to a very relaxed state whereby we put down both mental and physical stresses. It is a even higher state than say going for a spa or a hypnosis session as we literally put down all of our attachment both mental and physically and go inwards, focusing on just one focal point. Until the point where by nothing is carried on the mind, and attachment of to the body and feelings are totally put down for that moment. Our mind has a secure and “safe” home to dwell at.

Metta to all! :slight_smile:


Has anyone ever tried this?

Hahaha yes but it wasn’t that hilarious.

I have done ‘breath of fire’ before. For me it was ‘hyperventilate your way to piti’. A very physical sensation. It wasn’t relaxing enough to let go of the body but maybe if I’d practiced more it would be possible.

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