Leigh Brasington and "Jhana-Lite" (Why there is no such thing as "jhāna-lite")

Do everything that you can to finish it, even if you have to work on it 17 hours a day. I once locked myself in a hotel room for two weeks to complete a course. It was tough, but worth it (did the course and graduated in time).

1 Like

Every jhana has a component of evaluation, the fifth factor (AN 5.28). Speeech or thoughts connected with it are coarser perceptions:

“Having first directed one’s thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech. That’s why directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications.”—MN 44

From the insight view this relates to the naming process on which conventional reality is based.

4 Likes

If you haven’t read Bhante’s classic blog post about this topic, here it is:

Why vitakka doesn’t mean ‘thinking’ in jhana | Sujato’s Blog (wordpress.com)

5 Likes

Hi Invo, I don’t think you should underestimate the long-term benefit of spending time wrestling with such a difficult task. May you have a successful thesis defence. :pray:

5 Likes

I’m not au fait with all of the ins and outs of the early Buddhist schools. Seemingly, though many of these “jhana war” type arguments are really early. I can somewhat fuzzily recall previous mention by Ven. Dhammanando of some of the varying positions on jhana of early schools at the third Buddhist council, which mirror some of the modern viewpoints and differences on jhana. I suppose the Theravadan commentaries do represent a certain survivorship bias (built on the particular takes of the school that won out). The suttas do seem rather vague and not always entirely consistent on several points, and disagreements on and a diversity of views about what jhana actually is seem to go back to quite early periods.

4 Likes
7 Likes

The Buddha said there would be fame and ill-fame. It seems, samseva, that you are confirming his teaching on this as being correct. My question to you is why are you making such a big deal of my understand of the jhanas not being the same as yours? Do you think I’m doing something that causes harm? Afterall “jhana” is only a concept (sañña). Are you assuming your concept is the only valid one? Do you teach jhanas using your concept? Are the people you teach benefiting from your conceptualization of “jhana”?

I know for certain that people who manage to learn what I teach do have a more deeply concentrated mind than they have experienced before. And they do report new insights into the nature of reality when they practice some form of insight meditation after after concentrating their minds in this way. I don’t claim that people are experiencing exactly what the Buddha was experiencing - you mentioned that. What I do claim is that what I teach is learnable by lay practitioners and that it is beneficial enough that they feel they did not waste their time learning it. I’m far more interested in actual “results” than squabbling over definitions. Besides, I have identified 38 different states that go by the name of “jhana” - How Many Jhānas Are There? Please do not dis all the people who have a different concept than your.

9 Likes

Hi Leigh, welcome, and I hope you’re going well! this pandemic has got us all rather stuck I’m afraid.

This kind of personal remark is unnecessary and unhelpful. Both Bodhipaksa and myself have already remarked that we felt the original comment was uncharitable; but it does not help to respond in kind.

We regularly deal with people who are suffering from spiritual bypassing and overestimation, who believe that they have attained profound states when they are, in reality, still struggling with basic hindrances and delusions.

This is a forum for discussing the Suttas and their interpretation. That is what the OP was doing; making a post for discussion is not a “big deal” that requires defending.

These two statements lie uneasily together. Clearly you have spent considerable time to discuss and analyze jhanas and categorize how you think different teachers and teachings fit in with your scheme. Other people, including myself, disagree with your categorizations and understanding. And since you have made your opinions very public, it is entirely appropriate to discuss and disagree with these things in a public forum.

He didn’t dis everyone, he criticized your interpretation.

The very link that you give begins by criticizing interpretations that you disagree with as “incorrect”.

Now, the OP made a textual argument to the effect that what you are teaching is not jhanas as taught by the Buddha; namely, that vitakka and vicāra cease in second jhana, yet in whatever it is that you are talking about that’s clearly not the case. He came to the reasonable conclusion that your interpretation is incorrect.

You dismissed this as “concept”. But this is a copout—OP made a valid point, and you avoided addressing it. Instead, you resorted to ad hominem criticism and diverting the topic.

With all due respect, Leigh, words have meanings that arise from a communal understanding. You’re a teacher, you should be accountable in how you use language. Especially when you have shown yourself so apt at telling everyone your opinions about what is correct and what is incorrect.

Jhanas are profound states of superhuman realization, for which the sages of old left everything behind and dedicated their lives. They are deep and subtle experiences of purified consciousness, the result of letting go, and the gateway to Nibbana.

If you’re so disinterested in “definitions”, great, then you won’t mind using a word other than jhana to describe what it is that you’re teaching.

26 Likes

I believe that jhana is hard based on commentaries but we base ourselves on sutta and vinaya then light jhana is what is described there for example in vinaya even in imperturbable arupa jhana ven mahamogallana claimed hearing sound of elephant and Buddha confirmed this too

Even if we base on hard jhana taught in commentaries then there’s no problem because according to commentaries jhana and Even access is not needed for arahantship what’s needed is momentary concentration

Hi Leigh,

Why do you think this has anything to do with me? As outlined in the OP—and presented with the stock passage of jhāna from the Suttas—the point I made was that your statements contradict the Suttas.

Jhāna is categorically not “a concept.” Jhāna is a physiological and mental, meditative state.

I think that, intentionally or not, you attract students with the promise of achieving jhāna (although, not a valid version of it). Those students, having “reached jhāna” according to what you teach—and particularly those who have an affinity for labels, such as “jhāna”—are then more likely to not go any further with their meditation practice (due to them thinking they’ve “attained jhāna”).

I do believe that you’ve introduced meditation to some who possibly wouldn’t have been interested in meditation—however, for those who would progress, or would have progressed further, you in a way have robbed or rob such individuals of actually achieving jhāna, or at the least, of progressing further with their meditation past the “jhāna” that you teach.

If a student falsely believes that they’ve “attained jhāna,” that belief is a false attainment—and therefore, a delusion (as well as a conceit). And due to that, this can be the cause of a number of things. However, most importantly, and among other things, the delusion/conceit—being defilements (kilesa) themselves—likely affect the subsiding of the defilements (kilesa) and hindrances (nīvaraṇa) during meditation—preventing the meditator from actually reaching jhāna in the first place (even before sitting down to meditate).

That’s the thing: whether you intend to or not, you do exactly that. You tell students—and write in your book/articles, and say in your presentations—that they will be able to, or actually have reached jhāna. At least, for most of them, jhāna is not synonymous with “Leigh’s jhānas”—instead, your students/readers, whether intended or not, likely believe that what they will achieve is jhāna as taught by the Buddha.

And if not, then why even call what you are teaching jhāna in the first place?

Fine, but again: if “jhāna” that you teach is not what the Buddha taught, then why do you call what you teach jhāna—and why do you teach it in the context of the Buddha’s teachings/the Suttas?

6 Likes

Thank you Bhante, for wading into this craziness once again, and for defending the Buddha’s teaching. I know it’s often a thankless and tiring task, especially when you have to admonish others and enter into these seemingly endless debates. I can only speak for myself, but I am so thankful that you’re still doing this work.

16 Likes

Thanks for your response here, and I agree with all you say, but just one small clarification:

Leigh used “quote marks” to indicate that he meant the word jhana is only a concept, not that the meditative state was only a concept.

I hinted at this above, but let me be more explicit.

Buddhism, especially Buddhism in non-traditional contexts, attracts an extremely high percentage of people with psychological disorders, or tendencies to such disorders. Among them is a large number of people with narcissistic or delusional tendencies. There is a strong positive filter that maximizes the number of such people in the room.

These are people who suffer and who believe the establishment has let them down. They are lonely, isolated, and looking for a community, for help and support. And what they get in spiritual circles is, all too often, people who indulge and encourage their delusions and narcissism. It happens all the time. This is, of course, not limited to jhana-lite communities, but it certainly includes them.

In the next generation, those very same people graduate and become the teachers. This is how spiritual bypassing becomes normalized.

14 Likes

The following is from the FAQ (Appendix 1) in my book Right Concentration, pp 179-180:

As mentioned in the chapter on the Fourth Jhana, at the time of the Buddha, after the monks and nuns finished their alms rounds, they would eat their midday meal, which would be around 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning. Then they would “go for the day’s abiding” and meditate until evening. Since they had not grown up with chairs, they had the capacity to sit cross-legged for an extended period of time. So if they were sitting for multiple hours at a time over a 6 or 7 hour period, they were far more likely to experience a very deep level of concentration. By the time they entered the fourth jhana, their concentration was deep enough that the simile with its white cloth indeed captured the pure, bright mind they were experiencing.

So it turns out we do have enough information in the suttas to set minimum and maximum bounds on how much concentration the composers of the suttas were experiencing in their jhana practice. The maximum strength would be limited by the phrase “One drenches, steeps, saturates, and suffuses one’s body…” Clearly in the first four jhanas, there cannot be such a strong a level of concentration that you lose touch with your body. Thus in the suttas, the jhanas cannot be full absorption since in full absorption there is no body awareness at all.

The minimum strength of concentration for the composers of the suttas would be that concentration has to be strong enough concentration to generate the pure bright mind with its bright white visual field in the fourth jhana.

3 Likes

Hello samseva,

The description found in the suttas of J8 is only the name (yes, I know it’s actually IA4, but I figure people will know what “J8” refers to). That’s it. Everything beyond the name is an interpretation. Obviously our interpretations differ. But going only by what’s in the suttas re J8, pretty much anything would be possible as an interpretation - because there is only the name.

However if we assume the qualities of the earlier jhanas persist as the number go up, unless they are explicitly mentioned as having ended, then we can assume some additional qualities for J8 beyond just the name. We know, as was mentioned earlier,

so if you are going to say what is found to have ended with J2 continues to be ended in J3-J8, I think you also have to acknowledge that instability can be a problem is any jhana. That’s all I’m saying. If someone doesn’t have enough concentration, then their jhana will wobble. Surely you have experienced this yourself!

99% of the students I work with are lay, not monastic. They have busy lives and are on retreat only 10 or 20 or 30 days a year for the most part (a few manage longer). But leading a householder life for most people means they simply are not going to get concentrated enough that their jhana never wobbles.

i don’t think you are saying that if someone cannot produce a non-wobbling jhana, they should forget about concentration. The perfect is the enemy of the good enough. What my students experience mostly is not a completely stable experience, but what they experience does match all the factors mentioned in the suttas - for all of J1-J8. And they do find noticeably enhanced insight practice when continuing to practice after the states they learn from me have ended. And insight is where it’s at - everything else is only means to gain insight. See e.g. SN 12.23.

Jhana is a physiological and mental, meditative state. “Jhana” is a concept. All we can do is discuss our concepts of that physiological and mental, meditative state. You say your concept is based on the suttas. I say my concept is based on the suttas. That’s all that’s happening. I explained my reasoning in great detail in my book Right Concentration. (BTW I wanted to name it "Practical Jhanas - the publisher had other ideas, as they always do). It seems you don’t like my reasoning because you want to disallow any wobbling.

Not your version of it, yes. Valid? Well, we disagree on this.

How many of my students have you interviewed to ascertain this “not going any further?” I actually find that students who are proficient in what I teach are quite keen to continue their practice. Statements like “re-energized my practice”, “re-inspired me”, etc abound in their conversations with me.

No, I don’t teach beginners. People have to have attended 2 one week or longer residential retreats before they can attend one of my retreats. They all have more than an introduction by that time.

Again, I ask how many of my students have you interviewed to ascertain this data?

Again have you encountered any of my students who are so defiled? I really want to know - because that’s not my experience.

Also some of my students do go on to study other approaches to jhana.

So are you saying that when Ven. Moggallana was experiencing instability inJ2 he was not in J2. If so, that certainly contradicts what the sutta says - see SN 21.1

Because it matches the pericope given repeatedly for the jhanas in the suttas. It doesn’t match your demand that there be no wobbling - I’ll grant you that. Also because it produces a mind that is “purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable” (DN2) that serves to enhance the students’ insight practice.

Because it matches the pericope given in the suttas for the jhanas and it produces the result that the jhanas are intended to produce - a mind that is “purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable.”

I go into detail in my book towards the end of the FAQ in discussing the minimum and maximum amount of concentration needed for jhanas as found in the suttas. I will post another reply containing that excerpt. Your mileage may vary :slight_smile:

It seems, samseva, that you have a different approach to teaching jhanas than I do. At least I’m assuming you teach jhanas, even tho I have not seen any of your retreats advertised. I am genuinely interested to hear more about how you teach jhanas. What is the mix of monastic vs lay? What do you use to generate sufficient concentration to enter J1? Do all or many or a few of your students arrive at J1? If all thinking is gone at J2, how do they move on to J3? And particularly, if all thinking is gone in J7, how do they move on to J8? If you are willing to share your approach to teaching your version of the jhanas, then maybe I will be able to learn from you and enable my students to also reach non-wobbling jhanas.

5 Likes

Thank you, Leigh, for the insightful criteria :pray:

1 Like

Dear Leigh,

I think there is a huge misunderstanding on your part, which might be the root of the rest of misunderstandings. The body in the suttas in certain contexts oftentimes does not mean physical body.

SN51.12

And so, with an open and unenveloped heart, they develop a mind that’s full of radiance. When the four bases of psychic power have been developed and cultivated in this way they’re very fruitful and beneficial.

When the four bases of psychic power have been developed and cultivated in this way, a mendicant wields the many kinds of psychic power: multiplying themselves and becoming one again … controlling the body as far as the Brahmā realm. …

If you can “control the body” as far as the Brahma realm, it means clearly transcending physicality. Brahma realm is part of rupa-loka which is outside of kama-loka. Even higher devas don’t have acces to Brahma-loka, and Brahmas are totally beyond sensual and physical realm. And “physical body” is fully kama-loka thing.

So… the body in suttas mean body of experience. You can experience spiritual feelings in your “body” even in rupa and arupa loka… It is more like body of the mind.

MN10

When they feel a material pleasant feeling, they know: ‘I feel a material pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual pleasant feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a material painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a material painful feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual painful feeling.’

When they feel a material neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a material neutral feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual neutral feeling.’

This “body of mind” can feel both material feeligns coming from material body, and spiritual feelings coming from spiritual body (the mind). The “body” in jhanas clearly relates to mind. Abhidhamma also agrees with it, that it is the mind that feels both material and spiritual feelings in the end.

The white cloth simile is simile for whiteness of “energy” fulfilling whole boundless mind.

There are numbers of suttas suggesting that white color is highest, like:

AN8.65

“Mendicants, there are these eight dimensions of mastery. What eight?

Perceiving form internally, someone sees visions externally, limited, both pretty and ugly. Mastering them, they perceive: ‘I know and see.’ This is the first dimension of mastery.

Perceiving form internally, someone sees visions externally, limitless, both pretty and ugly. Mastering them, they perceive: ‘I know and see.’ This is the second dimension of mastery.

Not perceiving form internally, someone sees visions externally, limited, both pretty and ugly. Mastering them, they perceive: ‘I know and see.’ This is the third dimension of mastery.

Not perceiving form internally, someone sees visions externally, limitless, both pretty and ugly. Mastering them, they perceive: ‘I know and see.’ This is the fourth dimension of mastery.

Not perceiving form internally, someone sees visions externally, blue, with blue color, blue hue, and blue tint. Mastering them, they perceive: ‘I know and see.’ This is the fifth dimension of mastery.

Not perceiving form internally, someone sees visions externally, yellow, with yellow color, yellow hue, and yellow tint. Mastering them, they perceive: ‘I know and see.’ This is the sixth dimension of mastery.

Not perceiving form internally, someone sees visions externally, red, with red color, red hue, and red tint. Mastering them, they perceive: ‘I know and see.’ This is the seventh dimension of mastery.

Not perceiving form internally, someone sees visions externally, white, with white color, white hue, and white tint. Mastering them, they perceive: ‘I know and see.’ This is the eighth dimension of mastery.

These are the eight dimensions of mastery.”

It is closery related to

AN4.41

“Mendicants, there are these four ways of developing immersion further. What four? There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to blissful meditation in the present life. There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to gaining knowledge and vision. There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to mindfulness and awareness. There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to the ending of defilements.

And what is the way of developing immersion further that leads to blissful meditation in the present life? It’s when a mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption … second absorption … third absorption … fourth absorption. This is the way of developing immersion further that leads to blissful meditation in the present life.

And what is the way of developing immersion further that leads to gaining knowledge and vision? It’s when a mendicant focuses on the perception of light, concentrating on the perception of day, regardless of whether it’s night or day. And so, with an open and unenveloped heart, they develop a mind that’s full of radiance. This is the way of developing immersion further that leads to gaining knowledge and vision.

And what is the way of developing immersion further that leads to mindfulness and awareness? It’s when a mendicant knows feelings as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. They know perceptions as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. They know thoughts as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. This is the way of developing immersion further that leads to mindfulness and awareness.

And what is the way of developing immersion further that leads to the ending of defilements? It’s when a mendicant meditates observing rise and fall in the five grasping aggregates. ‘Such is form, such is the origin of form, such is the ending of form. Such is feeling, such is the origin of feeling, such is the ending of feeling. Such is perception, such is the origin of perception, such is the ending of perception. Such are choices, such is the origin of choices, such is the ending of choices. Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness, such is the ending of consciousness.’ This is the way of developing immersion further that leads to the ending of defilements.

The first one related probably to jhanas in general… which allows you to get second type which is very deep and pure realisation of limitless radiance of the mind, which relates to realisation of powerful dibbacakkhu (also in other traditions known as third eye).

DN33

Tīṇi cakkhūni - maṁsacakkhu, dibbacakkhu, paññācakkhu.

Three eyes:—the eye of the flesh, the eye of clairvoyance, and the eye of wisdom.

So in general the second type of samadhi (white immesurable light) gives you divine eye which allows you psychic powers and see how things really are (pannacakkhu).

This is also reflected in transcendentral dependent origination:

SN12.23

Faith is a vital condition for joy. Joy is a vital condition for rapture. Rapture is a vital condition for tranquility. Tranquility is a vital condition for bliss. Bliss is a vital condition for immersion. Immersion is a vital condition for truly knowing and seeing. (samādhūpanisaṁ yathābhūtañāṇadassanaṁ) Truly knowing and seeing is a vital condition for disillusionment. Disillusionment is a vital condition for dispassion. Dispassion is a vital condition for freedom. Freedom is a vital condition for the knowledge of ending.

Exactly as in AN4.41, after samadhi comes yathabuthananadassanan - knowledge and vision which are psychic powers, one of which can and should be pannacakkhu which gives rise to liberation.

So… actually this level of samadhi (second in AN4.41 - pure boundless radiant mind - most likely 4th jhana and perhaps higher) is completely transcending sensuality, physical realm etc… at this point, when you emerge out if it to level of upacara samadhi, whole universe, including all khandhas are seen on the background of this vast, radiant purified awareness. At this point I suppose you don’t really feel “human”, but human you “are” on day to day basis is just one more little experience in flow of your exalted radiant consciousness. Just as Ajahn Brahm says, Ajahn Brahm cannot get into jhana. For jhana to happen, Ajahn Brahm must disappear.

I totally agree with Bhante Sujato and Samseva. You’re using word “jhanas” to things that are not exactly jhanas. I think if you wish to use buddhist vocabulary and in a way “promote” yourself on it and to speak to people interested in buddhism, you should do as much as possible to be faithful to buddhist tradition and not just your inner experience.

AN4.180

“Mendicants, what are the four great references?

Take a mendicant who says: ‘Reverend, I have heard and learned this in the presence of the Buddha: this is the teaching, this is the training, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’ You should neither approve nor dismiss that mendicant’s statement. Instead, you should carefully memorize those words and phrases, then check if they’re included in the discourses and found in the texts on monastic training. If they’re not included in the discourses and found in the texts on monastic training, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Clearly this is not the word of the Blessed One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha. It has been incorrectly memorized by that mendicant.’ And so you should reject it.
(…)

Take another mendicant who says: ‘In such-and-such monastery there is a single senior mendicant who is very learned and knowledgeable in the scriptures, who has memorized the teachings, the texts on monastic discipline, and the outlines. I’ve heard and learned this in the presence of that senior mendicant: this is the teaching, this is the training, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’ You should neither approve nor dismiss that mendicant’s statement. Instead, you should carefully memorize those words and phrases, then check if they’re included in the discourses and found in the texts on monastic discipline. If they’re not included in the discourses or found in the texts on monastic discipline, you should draw the conclusion: ‘Clearly this is not the word of the Blessed One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha. It has been incorrectly memorized by that senior mendicant.’ And so you should reject it.

I think you should reconsider your views for the benefit of all and to promote harmony between sangha and lay teachers community. I highly recommend reading book of Bhante Sujato called Swift Pair of Messengers. It is a great guide on this difficult subjects that are jhanas and insight.

Btw. the sutta about masteries I think relates to fact that at first two levels you need to get into khanika or upacara samadhi or be post-appana samadhi to get psychic visions about reality and stuff in it. The later two are about fact you can do it at will without getting to any kind of samadhi (because your mind is so deep and purified already). And the next ones are about boundless immersions in certain colours, white being highest. Fourth jhana is also full of white light. And it is also related to “yathabuthananadasanam” - having knowledge and vision, which again relates to dibbacakkhu, eye of clairvoyance.

If what you really taught is fourth jhana and above, at least some of your students should posses these powers, like seeing many of past lives with vivid accuracy, reading minds of others etc. If not, this is yet another argument to reconsider your views and adapt to reality of buddhist tradition. Fourth jhana is really deep stuff. I don’t say there cannot occur any subtle “mental process of knowing” but it clearly it is way beyond physicality.

I don’t know where you got this assumption from. One does not need to be a teacher to understand suttas and have deep practice. And one does not need to be a teacher to protect purity of the dhamma. I would say that there are many practitioners who are not teachers, whose practice and understanding is much deeper and purer than many teachers. And it is duty of us all to try to preserve teachings of the Buddha as they are intended to be understood by our greatest teacher, whether we are teachers or not.

I also know that being a dhamma teacher, lay or ordained is a very difficult, demanding and possibily very meritorious task. And that even when teachers make some mistakes, they probably also do a lot of good by inspiring etc. As Ajahn Brahm says: Good, bad, who knows? But it doesn’t mean we should not improve ourselves and not try to stay as faithful to the suttas and vinaya, as Buddha taught us to do in AN4.180. And for this Sadhu Sadhu to this thread for giving us, and especially you Leigh, this opportunity.

I also remember nice story about sangha going for alms-round and young monk said to Venerable Sariputta that his robe was not worn properly this day. Venerable Sariputta went to the forest, changed his robe accordingly and thanked the young mendicant. I think this is beautiful story saying that no matter how much good we do (even Venerable Sariputta!), if there is some error in our conduct, we should just correct it. :slight_smile:Seeing danger in slightest fault…

I hope this message will bring more light to this difficult issue. I’ll just add that it is normal that we make mistakes and learn from them. I too had very deep misunderstandings about jhanas and still probably have some. But we can get closer and closer to proper understanding, and I hope this thread will bring us one step closer.

With Metta! :yellow_heart:

9 Likes

12 posts were merged into an existing topic: Jhanas & the body

A post was split to a new topic: Jhanas & the body

I agree with you, however, I wasn’t referring to your post, and I wasn’t alluding to people with a psychological disorder (although, I am of the opinion that false attainments are particularly harmful for such people, in some cases prolonging their condition, or worsening it).

I was simply referring to psychologically healthy/normal people, who from following teachings such as “jhāna-lite,” also end up with delusional/false attainments.

1 Like

Leigh, saying something is “only a word/concept,” and that “since a word is only a concept, my interpretation is as valid as yours” is fallacious, and in two ways:

  1. A word is a word, but it isn’t only a word. Words, and in particular nouns, each represent something that actually exists—regardless of one’s interpretation of that word.

  2. It does not follow. To say something like “it’s only a concept, and like you, it’s my interpretation of it” doesn’t in any way support the interpretation as being valid.

Jhāna is a physiological and mental, meditative state. The word “jhāna” is simply what is used in written and verbal discussions of it. However, regardless of the word—whether it even exists or not—it represents something that actually exists, and our understanding of it must be in accordance with actual reality.

(And, in taking a similar relativist stance that “the word ‘jhāna’ is simply a concept” and that somehow anyone can have their own valid interpretation of it, this only further supports my claim that “jhāna-lite” is mostly just a “re-defining” of jhāna.)

I didn’t say “my concept is based on the Suttas.” What I said is: your claims and your understanding of jhāna directly contradict the Suttas.

It has nothing to do with “wobbling.”

Here is your claim regarding thinking in “eighth jhāna” (fourth arūpa-jhāna):

Leigh: “In eight [fourth arūpa-jhāna], you might have time for one simple sentence, that doesn’t contain the words, ‘me,’ ‘my,’ or ‘I’.”
Source (0:27)

There isn’t “my” version of jhāna, Leigh—exactly in the same way that there isn’t “your” version of jhāna.

If your students are taught a “jhāna” that wasn’t taught by the Buddha—which you’ve said yourself…

On long retreats, particularly during the two retreats I’ve done with Pa Auk Sayadaw, I was able to get deeply concentrated and then work with the same jhāna states I initially learned from Ayya Khema. The experiences I had during those retreats more closely matched the way they’re described in the suttas.

So then the question becomes, “If what I’m teaching is at a lesser level of concentration than what the Buddha was teaching, is that of any value, or should I just be teaching what he taught?” I’ve decided that, given that I’m working with lay students who come on retreat for ten or twenty days, it’s much more important to teach something that people can actually learn and use than to hold out for something that most people don’t have the time to properly develop.

Source: https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/article/jhanas-lucid-dreaming-and-letting-there-be-just-seeing-in-the-seeing/

…then, that they haven’t reached jhāna as was taught by the Buddha, is by definition, very likely.

The only case in which one of your students were to actually reach jhāna as taught by the Buddha, would be if they were to accidentally come upon it during their meditation—or if you were to teach them jhāna as taught by the Buddha, rather than “your” jhānas.

Your students/readers are quite vocal, in saying things like, that every single person’s understanding of jhāna—lay or monastic, from modern times, all the way to 2564 years in the past—is wrong. Everyone wrong… except you and Bhante Vimalaramsi (and by extension, them). They have many similarities with conspiracy theorists, in a way. They’re really not that difficult to spot.

(Advertising a bit, there, maybe?)

That’s quite an appeal to authority. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Teaching doesn’t make someone right, Leigh. Sogyal Rinpoch, Chögyam Trungpa, and the Church of Scientology each had/have a much larger following than yours—so based on your logic, their teachings are even more right?

I’m not saying you’re like such people, however, what I am saying is that: like many of the things you say, the logic simply doesn’t hold up (i.e., illogical).

That you say the above clearly indicates how distorted/lacking your understanding of the Suttas and of jhāna is.

According to you, Leigh: “If all thinking is gone in the second jhāna, then how can one move on to the third jhāna”?

1 Like