SN 48.40: why domanassa in first jhana?

So here is a passage from SN 48.40:

kattha cuppannaṃ domanassindriyaṃ aparisesaṃ nirujjhati? idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu vitakkavicārānaṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati, ettha cuppannaṃ domanassindriyaṃ aparisesaṃ nirujjhati.

And where does the arisen domanassa faculty cease completely? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu… enters and remains in the second jhana: here the arisen domanassa faculty ceases completely.

So the question is: why is there still domanassa in the first jhana, knowing that there already is piti, which is a mental pleasure, throughout the experience?

Could it have something to do with vitakka-vicara?

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Could the above and the following passage from AN 3.101 shed light on each other?

So hoti samādhi na ceva santo na ca paṇīto nap­pa­ṭippas­sad­dha­laddho na eko­dibhā­vā­dhi­gato sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato. Hoti so, bhikkhave, samayo yaṃ taṃ cittaṃ ajjhattaṃyeva santiṭṭhati sannisīdati ekodi hoti samādhiyati. So hoti samādhi santo paṇīto paṭippas­sad­dhi­laddho eko­dibhā­vā­dhi­gato na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato.

His concentration is neither calm nor refined, it has not yet attained serenity or unity, and is kept in place by the fabrication of forceful restraint. But there comes a time when his mind grows steady inwardly, settles down, grows unified & concentrated. His concentration is calm & refined, has attained serenity & unity, and is no longer kept in place by the fabrication of forceful restraint.

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Perhaps it’s because the piti-sukha of the first jhana is based on seclusion, as opposed to the piti-sukha of the second jhana, which is based on concentration/unification. As you pointed out in your two posts above, it may be the vitakka/vicara that’s necessary to hold the concentration together in the first jhana that’s causing some degree of mental stress and agitation.

I wonder if it would be useful to consider the designation of worldly/unworldly (samisa/niramisa) in regards to this type of domanassa found in the first jhana? Worldly somanassa/domanassa should have been transcended by the first jhana. Unworldly domanassa may remain until the second jhana, while unworldly somanassa remains until entering the third jhana, where it’s replaced by equanimity.

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SN 48.40 is corrupt. If you look at the Agama parallel, it’s completely different, and works much better with a straightforward EBT interpretation of jhāna.

If you google for the pdf of:
Clarification on Feelings in Buddhist Dhyāna/Jhāna Meditation

there’s a good summary and comparison of the differences.

Here is a footnote by b.bodhi , and an excerpt from the “Clarification” paper (with glitches because the text was grabbed from pdf with special font).

b.bodhi comments:

There are some difficulties with what is said in the Uppat .ipat .ika

Sutta:

(1) Commenting on the statement that the domanassa faculty

ceases in the second jhana , Ven. Bodhi (2000: 1935) says,

‘‘This seems difficult to square with the usual jh ana formula,

which indicates that the first jh ana is already free from all

unwholesome states, including domanassa.’’ This remark is in

accordance with the facts that the usual jhana formula says

that one enters the first jhana having been secluded from

unwholesome states (vivicca akusalehi dhammehi … pat .hamam

. jhanam . upasampajja viharati), and that the jhana formula is often preceded by a formula on sense restraint as a

preliminary to the jhanas , which includes domanassa in evil

unwholesome states.8

Clarification on Feelings in Buddhist Dhyāna/Jhāna Meditation

Tse-Fu Kuan

Journal of Indian Philosophy, 33: pp. 285 – 319 © Springer 2005

Theravadins, Sarvastivadins and Sautrantikas

SN 48.40 Uppāṭika sutta: describes how each of the 5-fold vedana ceases in a different jhāna (or formless attainment).

sarvastivadin Abhidharmamr.ta(rasa)-sastra

Yogac arabh umi quotes it from the Avipar itaka Sutra ( Wu dao jing

As to the Sautrantika views, I shall refer to the Abhidharmakos´abhas

.ya by Vasubandhu in the fourth or fifth century A.D

Conclusion:

The foregoing passage of the Aviparitaka Sutra preserved in the

Sanskrit and Chinese literature provides a plausible account of the

order in which specific feelings cease in different jhanas , which fits in

quite well with the usual jhana formula. Its Pali counterpart in the Uppat.ipat.ika Sutta, however, contradicts the usual jhana formula in

three respects and has caused difficulties to Theravada exegesis.

Similarly, some doctrines of the Sarvastivada Abhidharma also contradict the usual jhana formula. The two schools use the same

approaches to iron out their respective contradictions, but by so

doing they get into other inconsistencies and complexities, and

unsurprisingly the two schools sometimes arrive at different conclusions although using the same approaches. In contrast, the

Sautrantika interpretation of sukha appears to be consistent with the

earliest texts. Such a ‘Sautrantika’ approach, i.e. taking sutras as criteria, adopted by this essay shows that the earliest accounts suffice to elucidate each other regarding the issue of feelings in jhana , and

that a plausible and consistent interpretation can be drawn from the

earliest texts rather than from some later literature. In conclusion, we

can accept the Aviparitaka Sutra account that domanassa, dukkha,

somanassa, sukha and upekkha cease successively as one proceeds

from lower to higher meditative attainments, and these five terms in

this account are not different from those in the usual jhana formula. It is not necessary to equate sukha of the first three jhanas to somanassa as the Theravadins do, or to identify sukha of the first two jhanas with prasrabdhi (a volitional formation, not a feeling) as the Sarvastivadins do. Neither is it necessary to interpret upekkha in the jhanas as a volitional formation as the two traditions do. The process of reducing

feelings as prescribed in the scheme of jhana conforms with what is

stated in the Sal.ayatanavibhan.ga Sutta: first developing pleasant

feeling and eliminating unpleasant feeling; then abandoning pleasant

feeling and achieving upekkha .

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Ven. Bodhi’s note citing Comy’s explanation:

This seems difficult to square with the usual jhana formula, which indicates that the first jhana is already free from all unwholesome states, including domanassa. Spk: The faculty of displeasure is abandoned in the access to the second jhana but arises again when there is bodily fatigue and mental strain on account of thought and examination. But in the second jhana, which is devoid of thought and examination, it does not arise at all.

Friends @silence & @Christopher … You can still feel the heaviness of the body. The breath, though pleasant and leading your focus onward, can be quite uncomfortable. And certainly as you mention the willpower involved with vittakavicara to keep the concentration going. If that’s not “domanassa” then how would you categorise it?! :slight_smile: (& @Christopher it is certainly unworldly).

Domanassa here doesn’t mean unwholesome state or anything like that, just discomfort. But apparently it could be strong enough as to cause some to terminate their practice and feel reluctant to return to it later.
Gotta persevere and relax.

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I think bhanthe is on the right track. This is referring to feeling as in vedana, ie. unpleasant mental vedana. It is clear at the second jhana level that vedana is still functioning- indeed sanna and vedana only cease in cessation of perception (nirodhasamapatti).

If someone were to experience nibbida in the second jhana, when doing vipassana, the would experience a type of domanassa. But I think this word as in most of pali may have a broad meaning and may refer just to unpleasant mental defilements in some contexts ie- in the satipatthana introduction to be devoid of domanassa.

I would echo that focus can become unpleasant, like holding on to a fireman’s hose while it is pushing out a strong gush of water, with sensations of pressure etc. I also think that those who might be prone to depression can have unpleasant mental states devoid of negative thoughts which may creep in. I don’t think anyone can be ‘depressed’ in a second jhana, but it might mean they experience less bliss that would otherwise be possible and possibly some unpleasant feelings.

with metta

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This reminds me of the part of the Sattipatthana sutta that talks about painful spiritual/unworldly feelings/vedanā (the adjective “painful” is translated from the root word “dukkha” there I think). The “painful spiritual feeling” reference in this puzzled me previously but Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation has a footnote linking to a later sutta in MN (that I don’t have to hand now) that listed wholesome spiritual painful feelings (like nibbida mentioned above).

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Yeah I don’t think all unpleasant feeling has ceased in the first jhana, just the craving and aversion associated with it, but once you move on to the second jhana, the unpleasant feeling itself dissipates.

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Can you substantiate this opinion (just out of curiosity)?

I don’t see how domanassa has to be unwholesome. I guess it’s Abhidhamma doctrine.

I don’t think it does have to be. It doesn’t seem to be unwholesome in MN 137:

Herein, what are the six kinds of grief based on renunciation? When, by knowing the impermanence, change, fading away, and cessation of forms, one sees as it actually is with proper wisdom that forms both formerly and now are all impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, one generates a longing for the supreme liberations thus: ‘When shall I enter upon and abide in that base that the noble ones now enter upon and abide in?’ In one who generates thus a longing for the supreme liberations, grief arises with that longing as condition. Such grief as this is called grief based on renunciation.

When, by knowing the impermanence, change, fading away, and cessation of sounds…of odours…of flavours…of tangibles…of mind-objects, one sees as it actually is with proper wisdom that mind-objects both formerly and now are all impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, one generates a longing for the supreme liberations thus: ‘When shall I enter upon and abide in that base that the noble ones now enter upon and abide in?’ In one who generates thus a longing for the supreme liberations, grief arises with that longing as condition. Such grief as this is called grief based on renunciation. These are the six kinds of grief based on renunciation.

Later in the same sutta:

Therein, by depending on this, abandon that.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said?

Here, bhikkhus, by depending and relying on the six kinds of joy based on renunciation, abandon and surmount the six kinds of joy based on the household life. It is thus they are abandoned; it is thus they are surmounted. By depending and relying on the six kinds of grief based on renunciation, abandon and surmount the six kinds of grief based on the household life. It is thus they are abandoned; it is thus they are surmounted. By depending and relying on the six kinds of equanimity based on renunciation, abandon and surmount the six kinds of equanimity based on the household life. It is thus they are abandoned; it is thus they are surmounted.

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Hey Mat,

Can you point to where it’s said that nibbida is type of domanassa?

Domanassa is a unpleasant (but not unwholesome) mental state:

See SN15.3 for the contextual backdrop ‘disenchanted’:

’…enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released."

With metta

The right question should be unwholesome according to what level? Notice as one progresses toward the higher jhanas, his mental states progresses toward finer and more subtle levels of tranquility. Domanassa might be ok for 1st jhana, but when progressing into the 2nd, it’ll have to be dropped. Even the wholesome factors of piti and sukha while being considered quite pleasant according to the 1st and 2nd stages, become too coarse and will have to be dropped when reaching 3rd and 4th jhanas.

Right, I know the definition of domanassa. I’m just wondering where it is explicitly said that nibbida falls under domanassa.

MN 137 mentioned above (that’s also, come to think of it, the specific sutta mentioned in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s footnote to non-carnal unpleasant feelings in the Sattipatthana sutta) might perhaps be a place to check. MN 137 in his translation has multiple mentions of “grief”, which seems to be a common rendering of domanassa. Looking at the pali version of MN 137 on this site now, it also seems to contain multiple occurrences of domanassa. I’m guessing it’s likely that “grief” in “grief based on renunciation” is domanassa. However, you’ll have to find someone who actually knows Pali to tell you if that’s the case! :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the sutta. The domanassa based on renunciation is defined in it as:

"And what are the six kinds of renunciation distress? The distress coming from the longing that arises in one who is filled with longing for the unexcelled liberations when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — he sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change and he is filled with this longing: ‘O when will I enter & remain in the dimension that the noble ones now enter & remain in?’ This is called renunciation distress. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

It also describes somanassa based on renunciation:

"And what are the six kinds of renunciation joy? The joy that arises when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — one sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change: That is called renunciation joy. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

I don’t see any mention of nibbida in the sutta.

Here’s what I’m getting at with this line of thinking. The contemplation on and development of the perception of the three characteristics (anicca, dukkha, anatta) is what leads to nibbida (SN 22.59, MN 147, elsewhere). You’ve conveniently provided MN 137 which shows that there can be somanassa based upon experiencing anicca and the domanassa based on it is related to longing for wholesome meditative attainments. So this leads me to think that nibbida is actually much closer to somanassa than domanassa. But I don’t know if it’s explicitly categorized as either or something else entirely.

Nibbida isn’t explicitly mentioned alright. I read this passage in MN 137 as implicitly pointing to the standard sequence of seeing into true nature of the reality/the aggregates, leading to nibbida (revulsion/disenchantment), virago and then nirodha. Nibbida sounds to some degree unpleasant to me, but from the suttas seems a necessary, therefore wholesome, but still somewhat distressing/unpleasant phase of the path (and a quite advanced phase also). Some Pali words potentially have quite a wide range. Putting nibbida under the umbrella of domanassa seems like a not unreasonable classification to me (though would be nice to see some other sutta references on the topic).

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