Jhana-range, unconjecturable & DN16

One of the four unconjecturables is “the jhana-range of a person in jhana” (AN4.77).

Do we know what ‘jhana-range’ means? Is it used in some other sutta?

For now I understand it as simply the impossibility of knowing in what spiritual attainment someone is dwelling… but that interpretation is in conflict with the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta (DN16), where there is a description of the attainments that the Buddha reached before dying, with even a quote by Anuruddha correcting Ānanda and stating that the Buddha attained the cessation of perception and feeling.
In this sutta, it looks like it is possible to know the attainments of other persons…

1 Like

Jhana-range (jhanavisaya) refers not to what jhana someone is in, but rather to full understanding of how jhana work including how it gives rise to psychic powers etc. -Visaya, if I am not mistaken, refers to ‘topic’, ‘range’ or area of knowledge. It is also about a personal confusion following ruminating about the topics mentioned and not about determining what jhana another person might be in, as Ven Anuruddha clearly didn’t go mad after doing it!

With metta


I think the topic question is good & appreciate your answer however I not satisfied your answer answers the question, although it could be correct.

Personally, I do not have an answer to the question.

Possibly there is something missing or faulty in the common translations of this sutta.

Or possibly the sutta revolves around the word ‘conjecture’; the opposite of ‘verified knowing’.

Therefore, Anuruddha did not engage in conjecture because he mastered jhana & also had psychic powers. Where as an ordinary person (puthujjana) or non-jhana person (Ananda) would be engaged in conjecture about jhana (and the other tree matters).

I could only find the term ‘acinteyyāni’ (‘unconjecturable’) in AN 4.77.

For example, Wikipedia seems to equate ‘acinteyyāni’ with the ten ridiculous questions in MN 72, which indicates ‘acinteyyāni’ is probably misunderstood.

…‘the cosmos is eternal

… ‘the cosmos is not eternal’…

“…’the cosmos is finite’…

“…’the cosmos is infinite’…

“…’the soul & the body are the same’…

“…’the soul is one thing and the body another’…

“…’after death a Tathagata exists’…

“…’after death a Tathagata does not exist’…

“…’after death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist’…

“…’after death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist’…

The ten questions in MN 72 are ridiculous because they are totally unreal, which is why each question is not answered by a Buddha.

Where as the four concerns of AN 4.77 are standard Dhamma matters, namely:



Kamma-vipaka (results of action)

Loka (the world).

My personal impression is AN 4.77 is one of those teachings that has been historically misinterpreted.


This word -visaya is best understood in context. Now we know that religions of the time held various views about the thatagata, the world and afterlife etc. When someone thinks on such topics they seem to end up attached to a certain view. It is also correct that the Buddha said all putajjana run-of-the-mill folk are ‘mad’. However, the interpretation that makes most sense contextually is that if someone begins to think about and try to figure out how karma goes from one life to the next for example or how rebirth happens there will just be confusion. Even worse, if they try to figure out how someone can fly through the air, sink into the ground etc.

With most people, as this cannot be resolved through logic, will reject this or leave it in the box of ‘unknowns’. It isn’t then surprising the unthinkable hasn’t been explained in detail by the Buddha. I’m not particularly surprised that there may not be parallels to these rare teachings, IMO. These are things that jhana attainers, who want to develop psychic abilities think about and aren’t integral to the path.

With metta

Thank you for this topic Yasoja. I was pondering this in my meditation yesterday and came to the conclusion the sutta is simply saying jhana (& the other subjects) are not to be thought about but to be realised & known in experience.

At least to me, generally chatsite debates & claims about jhana appear as “madness & vexation” to me.

Metta :seedling:


Thank you both for your thoughts on the topic.
I will add ‘jhana-range’ to my list of concepts to put aside for now :slight_smile:
Regards :deciduous_tree:

1 Like