MN 111 Anupada Sutta by Bhante Vimalaramsi

MN 111 Anupada Sutta
This is the main sutta in explaining the nature of Jhanas. Now these are tranquil aware Jhanas -not the one pointed jhanas most other teaches practice. This description is ONLY based on what the Sutta says. Nothing added or changed from the Buddha’s original words.


Bhante’s talk on MN 111, Anupada sutta, is wonderful. “One by one as they occured” is an apt description of our meditation, which is to let go of whatever mental states arise due to craving, one by one as they occur. If we continue to let go of whatever we cling to, we will find freedom.


What are one pointed jhanas and what teachers teach them?

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From what I’ve heard him say in the past in person it seems he has a very loose definition of samādhi/jhāna, i.e if you smile you’ve attained jhāna…?

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He’s probably referring to highly-absorbed jhana, as described, for example, in the Visuddhimagga, and taught by teachers such as Pa Auk Sayadaw. Sometimes these are referred to as “visudhimagga jhana” as opposed to “sutta jhana” for the less-absorbed versions. However, teachers such as Vens Brahm, @Sujato, and others also teach highly-absorbed jhanas, basing their interpretation on the suttas, and, as @Bhante_Darma notes, Ven Vimalaramsi seems to be at the ultra-light end of the “sutta jhana” spectrum.

See also:


Thank you bhante

Thanks mike

One-pointed jhana is “controling”. Staying with the object strongly while suppressing the hindrances. It’s the common thing for Samatha Practitioners even since before the buddha. That is why the buddha introduced a vipassana to them.

“I thought: ‘Suppose, with my teeth clenched and my tongue pressed against the roof of my mouth, I beat down, constrain, and crush mind with mind.’ So, with my teeth clenched and my tongue pressed against the roof of my mouth, I beat down, constrained, and crushed mind with mind. While I did so, sweat ran from my armpits. Just as a strong man might seize a weaker man by the head or shoulders and beat him down, constrain him, and crush him, so too, with my teeth clenched and my tongue pressed against the roof of my mouth, I beat down, constrained, and crushed mind with mind, and sweat ran from my armpits. But although tireless energy was aroused in me and unremitting mindfulness was established, my body was overwrought and uncalm because I was exhausted by the painful striving. But such painful feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.”

Aware Jhana is “let it be the way it is” without controlling and just observe how everything arises and falls. This is samathavipassana practice, samatha and vipassana yoked together just like what the buddha said in MN149.

“The view of a person such as this is right view. His intention is right intention, his effort is right effort, his mindfulness is right mindfulness, his concentration is right concentration. But his bodily action, his verbal action, and his livelihood have already been well purified earlier. Thus this Noble Eightfold Path comes to fulfilment in him by development. When he develops this Noble Eightfold Path, the four foundations of mindfulness also come to fulfilment in him by development; the four right kinds of striving also come to fulfilment in him by development; the four bases for spiritual power also come to fulfilment in him by development; the five faculties also come to fulfilment in him by development; the five powers also come to fulfilment in him by development; the seven enlightenment factors also come to fulfilment in him by development. These two things—serenity and insight—occur in him yoked evenly together. He fully understands by direct knowledge those things that should be fully understood by direct knowledge. He abandons by direct knowledge those things that should be abandoned by direct knowledge. He develops by direct knowledge those things that should be developed by direct knowledge. He realises by direct knowledge those things that should be realised by direct knowledge.”

The differences between each jhana is that one-pointed still has “self” in it who wants to control things, such as hindrances while the aware jhana let go of the “self” and just let everything be, by watching how everything arises and falls, they aware the origination, the disappearance of everything as it actually is because there is no “self” who control what to arises and falls.

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I have studied with Bhante Vimalaramsi, and although best not to speak on his behalf, I would not say that by smiling one attains jhana, and have never heard him promote that idea. Smiling comes naturally after some practice in the TWIM method, and my experience is that it soon comes from the inside out rather than being forced in any way. But at the beginning, the meditator may need to consciously remember to smile. Smiling will assist with mindfulness/sati and thus becomes a very helpful factor for entering and abiding in jhana. In addition, after some practice, the relaxed, open, alert jhana becomes quite natural, and 'feels right" whereas with the arising of any attraction or aversion which captures the mind, the unwholesome (tense, tight, contacted) mind becomes immediately and easily apparent, thus facilitating recognizing it and letting it go. Tranquil wisdom jhana is not to be gained through an ‘I’ defining a desired mental state and then working towards attaining that state. The original method of the Buddha was very simple. People wish for complexity in theory and practice. The result is complex meditations, methods, and mental states. It is my understanding. Wishing you all the best, Bhante. Metta and smiles.


And which teachers teach this way? I know of no teacher that teaches in the method of “clenching teeth beating down mind with mind…” as for "one pointed"concettation, i still dont know what that means. I have yet to find a meditation that doesnt teach students to be “aware”… this begins to sound like just a play with words at this point!

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What is a “tense, tight, ect” mind? Mind cant be tense, or tight or for that matter relaxed… there can be a calm or settled mind… there can be an agitated or restless mind, but there cant be a tight mind… that doesnt really make sense!

Clenching teeth and crash mind with mind meaning, not letting the hindrances disturb your concentration by controling your attentions. When i did one pointed concentration before, when there is any painful feeling, i would still keep on concentrating on my breathing eventhough it was hurt until i didnt feel anything anymore.

Aware jhana is not concentrating to an object but just know that the object is there and observe. Just like looking outside of the window infront of you with a dispassionate face, you aware with what happens infront of you but you don’t have any attachment.

You can try to sit with a back straight and relax while breathing in and breathing out, don’t concentrate. When you hear a sound, you know that there is a sound but by not paying attention to the sound, the sound will not affect you. After awhile you’ll feel rapture and tranquil, this is aware jhana.

I met a vietnamese theravadin monk before in southern part of vietnam and he said that there are 2 kinds jhana, the first one is concentrating to an object while the other one is just relax and aware of anything. The difference is just there is “i” In one pointed and not much people aware of these 2 kinds of Jhana.

The smiling here is just to make the contracted brain to relax. When there is a tension, our brain by default will expands and the meninges got squished :anjal:

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Oh boy! Your brain does not expand or contract due to thoughts or perceptions! Your brain is not a muscle! When people talk of a stronger brain they are referring to the neural connections, not the actual tissue size! You brain is unable to either tense up or relax…

I would really consider looking into these claims before presenting them to others.

Maha metta

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Sounds like you were trying too hard in your first experience with meditation. Its good that you eased up a bit! I’m pretty sure many people go through that in their practice.

Hello Badscooter,

Good point. Thank you for that, and I will try to clarify my previous posting.

The tension and tightness manifests in the body when unwholesome mind states arise. Tension and tightness may be felt in various places from head to toe, and this tension and tightness can be let go and relaxed. The Buddha’s instructions in Ānāpānasati Sutta are to tranquilize the bodily formation on the in breath and on the out breath, which goes along with the related instructions to experience the whole body on the in breath and on the out breath. (MN 118:18).

Sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmīti sikkhati. Sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmīti sikkhati. Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmīti sikkhati. Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmīti sikkhati.

The body is only reacting to the mind, and not doing this tensing up on its own. The corresponding mind states are based on thinking, conceptualizing, reacting. These are processes of a contracting and grasping mind state. The contracting and grasping are, of course, due to grasping for a self. Because of our heap of conditioning, this is a rather continual process. The process of contraction is initiated by the mind, but we must pay attention to the stress in the body as well, as body and mind are intricately connected. Hence, the Buddha’s instructions in the Ānāpānasati Sutta , above.

I would consider a contracted mind to be a closed, tense, tight mind or mental state. Therefore, I use the words tension and tightness to describe not only what happens in the body but also for related mental states. As the sense of self apart from other is the basis for all unwholesome mind states, whether agitated, restless, irritated, etc., the antidote is to erase the barriers between self and other. A tense, tight mind has barriers up around the psychological self. The radiation of loving kindness (metta) in all directions is an antidote to contracted mind, and is described as such in many places in the suttas, such as Tevijja Sutta (DN 13.76-79,PTS i 252).

Wishing you all the best. With metta.

It is correct that the brain does not expand or contract. But the tension and tightness which accompanies unwholesome mental states can most often be clearly felt inside the head, and can be relaxed. Almost invariably, there is tension and tightness in the body (including the head) when unwholesome mind states arise. Fortunately, these can be tranquilized and the related mind states let go.


I think the brain changing size is an old, discarded theory. But the feeling of the tension and tightness, and ability to let go and relax that tension and tightness is real and can be experienced by any meditator.

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One-pointed is a translation of Pali ekagattā. Eka means one. Literally it would be “gone into one”. Bhikkhu Bodhi renders is as unification of mind, a reasonable translation. But There is no consensus among meditation teachers about how to apply one-pointedness. For most, it means super-strong concentration and accompanying absorption. This is the standard interpretation since the time of Visuddhimagga. I doubt this is what the Buddha was teaching.

I would suggest the difference is between open jhana and absorbed jhana. Open jhana allows phenomena to arise. Absorbed jhana suppresses the arising of phenomena through force of concentration on the object of meditation. The difference in method is primarily due to how the object of meditation is held. In open jhana, the object of meditation is held lightly. In absorbtion jhana, the object of meditation is held very intensely.