Stillness and Jhana


(started new thread from…)

@Senryu, I have started a new thread on stillness and jhāna. My understanding of first jhana is this:

Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered and remained in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.

Do you have a different EBT definition of first jhana?


Not different, but perhaps more extensive, I would like to think. I’m expecting guests so I don’t have time to dig for sources but perhaps I can explain my process -

I prefer to rely on the meaning of the Pāli rather than the meaning of the English translation. This is a rather important point, and is not to say that I disagree with the translation, but rather that each Pāli term refers to concepts not completely described by the Pāli words.

I use mutiple sources. This is one. There are many others, including the story of the Buddha being unable to hear in jhāna, as I mentioned above. (I think, unless that was another thread? - oh yes, I see now this is a new thread, anyway see the old one.)

I find it very importan to have a broad view - to build ones view of Buddhist doctrine from a wealth of teachings, and never to base my view on a single quote. For example, the extremely narrow focus of the vipassana traditions which reject jhāna, ends them up in comprehensive ignorance of much of the suttapitaka’s teachings. A holistic view is rather essential, in my opinion.

I would recommend some articles on accesstoinght website on jhāna, and I seem to remember there being an article by someone about ‘two wings…’ which might give some detailed discussion of jhāna, perhaps.


I should have added - to properly understand each term, you need to understand the context. And we do that by digesting a wealth of texts, how the term is used throughout the canon, whether it has specific technical meanings in certain contexts, what teachings or practices or formulae is it referring to or connecting to, and so on. So basically each text has many ‘hyperlinks’ to many many other texts. If you have studied enough texts, or even better memorised them as the monastics used to do and some still do, then these ‘hyperlinks’ are connections in your mind - the teachings exist as a rather large web, mentally.

In this way, a single text can be very useful. Or even a single Dhammapada verse! However, without that web, those single texts have an extraordinarily diminished value.


Yes. This is exactly the way I read the EBTs. As a web of subtle meaning.

And the Access to Insight Jhana link reveals no new information: Jhana: jhana

This link yields the following text which is also in the EBT’s of my web of understanding:

"Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman’s apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal…

And for me this equates to my mention of stillness in sitting or in motion (although it takes much longer to get to this state of stillness in motion).

I remain puzzled at our different conclusions about the possibility of first jhana in motion.

One almost wishes for a “jhana-meter”!


I too struggle to produce EBT sources, but would like to add that Ajahn Brahm (who doesn’t give sources in his talks, but does base his substantive content on them) describes stages of stillness before jhana, and says of jhana that in it the sense doors close so that one doesn’t hear sounds, doesn’t feel physical sensation etc, so that it is possible to sit crosslegged for much longer than usual experiencing extraordinary bliss, and on coming out to find that one’s legs haven’t even gone stiff.

The stages of stillness before jhāna can be pretty cool, but that doesn’t make them jhāna.


From DN33:

For someone who has attained the first absorption, sensual perceptions have ceased.
Paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ samāpannassa kāmasaññā niruddhā hoti.

kāma: 1. (m.) wish, desire; love; longing; 2. (m.n.) pleasure of the senses; sensual enjoyment; esp. sexual pleasure; the objects of pleasure, what gives pleasure to the senses. + saññā: sense; perception; mark; name; recognition; gesture. (f.)

The key word here is kāmasaññā. I understand this definition to imply withdrawal from contact and/or feeling in the six sense fields (i.e., objects of pleasure). Contact is a vital condition for feeling (SN12.23), which is one of the five grasping aggregates that are identity (MN44).

Therefore my understanding would be that first absorption would definitely require stillness absent of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feelings. Whether it requires withdrawal from contact I could not infer.


Is awareness aware of contact when there is no feeling present?
I don’t know.


I don’t know either. :slight_smile:

But here’s what AN6.61 In the Middle says:

‘The sage has known both ends,
and is not stuck in the middle.
He is a great man, I declare,
he has escaped the seamstress here.’

Which the Buddha explains as:

The Buddha said this: “Contact, mendicants, is one end. The origin of contact is the second end. The cessation of contact is the middle. And craving is the seamstress, for craving weaves one to rebirth in this or that state of existence. That’s how a mendicant directly knows what should be directly known and completely understands what should be completely understood. Knowing and understanding thus they make an end of suffering in this very life.”

This is such a fascinating sutta. My current reading of this is that the sage can function with contact as needed (but without engaging feeling or identity view) and can withdraw from contact altogether but isn’t stuck in that withdrawal (presumably deep jhana).


If I were a sage, I might find this easier to understand. :roll_eyes:


Reminds me of venerable Zhìyǐ in Mahāśamathavipaśyanā when he says that “theory and practice are the two wings of a bird,” one cannot fly without the other.


Aren’t piti and sukha pleasant feelings? Interesting about stillness, I experience it while practising satipatthana - not prejhanic though, perhaps there are different kinds of stillness? I experience a stillness “beneath” the movement of mind and senses.


Simple peace in itself as a goal should not be overlooked. The third tetrad of the elementary Anapanasati sutta directs how the mind state should be prepared by either gladdening it from anger, or steadying it from agitation due to passion. The Buddha recommends the means for achieving such objectives in MN 62, where prior to breath meditation, he lists exercises of recognition of impermanence of the body to steady the mind and those of the brahma viharas to free the mind from various unskillful states.


@karl_lew Reading your posts on this subject and your claims of Jhana experience. I would strongly recommend you make contact with a trustworthy and reliable teacher who can help you understand exactly what Jhana is and would be able to verify any Jhana states. As you’ve been talking about experiencing Jhana during walking meditation, it would be good for you to take a moment to reflect on your knowledge before making claims like this, and also be aware that other people reading on this forum could be misled by your views.

The jhanas are a very high attainment, spoken of in the suttas as the “footprint of the Buddha”. For monks, knowingly making a false claim of a jhana state is a pārājika offense. This shows jhanas were regarded with the highest importance, and that they should not be taken lightly.

There is a difference between ordinary samadhi and Samma Samadhi. It is very easy to overestimate your experience. There are certainly different viewpoints of what actually constitutes Jhana and many words have been wasted in online forums arguing about it. Although you might benefit from some research on these different approaches, you might also end up more confused. This is why nothing can replace the knowledge and wisdom of an experienced teacher. Relying solely on your own interpretation is not likely to be the best approach.

Please accept this in the spirit it is intended, with metta, for the growth of your Dhamma practice and that of others here.


The’ link? Their site gives 366 hits for jhāna.

Sorry I knew it was two of something! It’s Ajahn Sujato’s book, ‘A Swift Pair of Messengers’. I recommend reading it. Here’s a quote:


Unfortunately we cannot rely on a teacher as he/she will not talk about his/her jhana experience because of the vinaya rules.
So we can only rely on our own experience: we are our own refuge first and the dhamma is our second refuge.


Very well. I stand mute and admonished.
I will admit total ignorance and stop posting.
I renounce all claims of jhana.

Without ready access to a teacher I trust I shall simply
have to continue studying the EBTs silently on my own.

Thank you all for your help in my struggle to understand the EBTs.

:heart: :rhinoceros: :pray:


If you think you have developed jhana, then just look up what the results are for one who has developed jhana , in other words, are you now immovable in regard to sensual temptations? Can you handle extreme discomfort with ease? Does your mind overpower things or do things overpower your mind?
Do you get upset by disagreeable,unwelcomed words?
Do you need a soft cushion to be a secluded from unwholesome states?

You MIGHT find that you overestimated yourself or not, if you have then move on and try become immovable once more.
If you are in fact a pillar of jhanic strength, then good for you!!! , but be sure that you are, before you teach or give instructions in regard to being a pillar of jhanic strength…if you intend to do so, of course???

If you are interested,Here is a sutta on how jhana results in resilience :


Thank you for your kind words. As you can see from the post just above yours, I have renounced any claims to any jhana and will refrain from posting. My experiences will remain my own and not shared.

If even first jhana is so contentious a topic then it is not worth discussing at all, since it would be disruptive to the sangha. Thanks for the link.


I am beginning to understand why in many traditions jhana practice has completely died out.


It really can be problematic to have those kinds of conversations on an internet forum, which is why we strongly discourage them here, to the point of making certain varieties of them a part of the Guidelines. I believe you were engaging in the subject in good faith, but it would be best set aside, here.
Don’t let this stop your contributions otherwise, though! Ok?