Jhanas at the time of the Buddha death - SN 6.15

Anuruddha describes the way the Buddha went thru the 4 Jhanas, the 4 spheres, the cessation, back down to Jhana 1 and exit at Jhana 4. The Buddha is said to abandon/emerge from each jhana and each sphere and then enter , I would say “jump” into the next one up and then down.

Two remarks:

  1. Can really someone reads the mind of someone else to that extend? My opinion is that Anuruddha presents his own interpretation of the practice and what he considers should happen to an Arahat leaving this world;

  2. The mention of emerging form each Jhana in order to enter the next one is the proof that the two types of Jhanas that we have been arguing about a lot on this forum, were already existing at the time of the Buddha.


I guess this is what the ‘divine eye’ is all about. Take e.g. AN 3.40

But the abode of the world is vast. In the vast abode of the world there are ascetics and brahmins with psychic potency and the divine eye who know the minds of others. They see things from a distance but they are not themselves seen even when they’re close; they know the minds [of others] with their own mind.

But normally the divine eye is used for the ability to see where someone went after death

With the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, he sees beings passing away and being reborn…

I guess there is no big difference between these, you’d see ‘in which mind-space someone is at’.


What is the reason he passed away from fourth Jhana, not any other Jhana?

The reason is that as per the awakening process model found in suttas like AN9.34, AN9.38, AN9.39, AN9.40, AN9.44, and AN9.47 the non-provisory nibbana (nippariyāyenā nibbānaṃ) is to be understood as something that comes with the attainment and transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception (neva­saññā­nā­sañ­ñāyata­naṃ).

I have tried to investigate this subject further in the topic:

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Thank you, Gabriel.
I still could not work our why Buddha attains Parinibbana in fourth Jhana.
Why could he not do it in say second Jhana or any of Arupavacara Jhana?

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You are welcome. I am afraid I cannot answer the question why it is recorded in the Sutta the way it is. But I am interested in confirming if at least this is the case in all alternative EBT versions of the same account of events.

What are you saying is that all Arahants pass away (Parinibbana) the same way?

Are there other descriptions for the Buddha than in DN 16 and SN 6.15? If not then the Buddha’s departure from the 4th Jhana is just what we know. Sariputta’s death in SN 47.13 for example doesn’t mention any details, nor does any other description of an arahant attaining parinibbana (afaik)…

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No, I am curious whether all accounts of Buddha’s parinibbana (i.e. Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan parallels of DN16 or SN6.15) describe it the same way.

DA 2 describes it in exactly the same way. It is located at almost right at the end of the sutra.

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I ask this question in DW and SE.


You have that also in DN 2 -

於時,世尊從滅想定起,入有想無想定; 從有想無想定起,入不用定;從不用定起, 入識處定;從識處定起,入空處定;從空 處定起,入第四禪;從第四禪起,入第三 禪;從三禪起,入第二禪;從二禪起,入第一 禪;從第一禪起,入第二禪;從二禪起,入第 三禪;從三禪起,入第四禪;從四禪起,佛般 涅槃

T 7 has the Buddha passing away whilst in the 4th Jhana.

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Do you mean DA 2? It’s marked as the parallel to DN 16 - is that correct?

Thanks. Yes. It’s DA 2.

Interesting question. Perhaps related to this question is, “why did the Buddha attain enlightenment after the fourth jhana and not 7th, 8th or another jhana?”

This question could have significant ramifications. Some argue that jhana is not that important because they argue that the Buddha knew how to practice jhanas from his earlier teachers, yet he did not awaken from those teachings. However, those earlier teachers only taught the 7th and 8th jhanas I seem to recall. Also, I don’t recall any mention in the EBTs of the Buddha practicing the 1, 2, 3, or 4th jhana with his earlier teachers.

Thus, the fourth jhana may have special significance as it seems to be the last jhana the Buddha practiced leading up to his enlightenment and also the last jhana leading to his parinibbana.

Another question arises: “Is fourth jhana necessary for complete enlightenment?”

with metta,

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i post a question in DW in relation to a similar question.

When practice Satipathana you can’t go beyond the first Jhana?