Here is a preposition that will sound strange, and you’re welcome to take it apart (with good arguments I hope)
Basically the idea is that samādhi is complete in the second jhāna and that further on (in jhāna 3 & 4) sammā-samādhi progresses into a higher observation.
I’ll bring some arguments below. But my basic reasoning comes from 1. the fact that the set of four jhānas is so fundamental for the path and sammā-samādhi 2. the meditation masters, especially some in the thai forest tradition stress the experienced reality of samādhi, but not of jhāna. Why would the Buddha make such an elaborated point out of it if there is no experiential reality to it?
First some quotes from Thai teachers:
- Ajahn Chah, Unshakeable Peace: “There aren’t any billboards which announce which level of samadhi we’re experiencing. The reality is completely diefferent.”
- Tan Ajahn Dtun, This is the Path: “‘Is this the first or second jhāna…?’ Believe me, there are no signs that come up and tell you, so don’t look for any.”
(LP Maha Boowa and Ajahn Anan talk about the jhānas more conventionally though)
Text arguments for the absorption to be completed in the second jhāna:
- the only place the word samādhi appears in the standard stock paragraph is in the second jhāna: avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ
- so literally with sampasādanaṃ cetaso (I translate as ‘in complete sunkenness of consciousness’) when the mind stops moving (avicara), where is there room for a further stabilisation of the state?
- in the third jhāna we have upekkha (which is also the order in the bojjhangas) and which does not mean equanimity. upa+iks = close observation
- I don’t know if we can read what we nowadays take as ‘vipassana-practice’ into upekkha, but it might not be very far away. Anyway in the 3rd jhana we have upekkha and sati (upekkhako satimā). Sati related to what? sukhañ-ca kāyena. Of course I would like a clearer text here, but is it too far-fetched to see a kaya & vedana sati here?
To quote again some venerable ajahns here (hopefully I don’t distort the words of the ven. Ajahns…):
- Ajahn Anan, Seeking Buddho: "If samādhi has not reached the level of Third Jhāna, then the investigation will be unable to demolish and destroy the attachment to the elements as one’s self. "
- Ajahn Thate, The Autobiography of a Forest Monk: “When I had the opportunity to ask advice from Ven. Ajahn Singh, he recommended that I concentrate my contemplation much more on the un-beautiful, loathsome aspects of the physical body. He told me to focus there until I could see its rotting away and decay and the final disintegration into the four elements. I broke in with my misgivings: “Surely when the mind has already let go of rupa and only nāmā remains, isn’t going back to bodily form too coarse an object of contemplation?””
- Ajahn Dtun, The Sacred Equation: “Once your mind has been made free of all moods and emotions, turn to investigating your body.” (placing it at the fourth Jhana though)
The fourth jhana finally, pubbeva somanassadomanassānaṁ atthaṅgamā (‘just after the disappearance of the pleasant and unpleasant minds’), what sati is there left for upekkhāsatipārisuddhiṁ? only citta and dhamma sati…
Sorry for the lengthy text, but I guess you get the point: the idea is for the four jhanas to have not just changes in subtlety but very much in quality
- Jhana1 would be with volition, i.e. ‘functional ego’
- Jhana2 complete stillness of mind without volitional mind movements
- Jhana3 emerging out of no.2 and doing the kaya and vedana work (incl. upekkha & the completion of the bojjhangas)
- Jhana4 completing the path with cittupassana
For samādhi I would accordingly propose the translation ‘accomplishment’ or ‘completion’ (supported by Monier-Williams) to highlight its final place in the eightfold path.