We’ve had several discussions about the Jhana states in regards to the APS. I think this is a very important topic because both are key meditation practices. A helpful thread is here:
I’ve been thinking more about the comments made by samantha_vipassana in his opening post, and to better understand the relationship between these two, I tried to compare the Pali words used in the APS and Jhana descriptions.
My general conclusion, for which I welcome feedback, is that the APS essentially includes the Jhana states (this is a view shared by many others, such as Ajahn Brahm and Bhikkhu Nanamoli). Thus, with all due respect to samantha_vipassana (for whom I am grateful that they started this discussion), I do not think that the APS is Jhana-lite, but instead includes the actual Jhanas. Thus, regular practice of APS leads to the Jhana states.
More specficially, I think the first three tetrads are a gradual process of seclusion which in essence represents the cultivation of the first Jhana state. We use intentional thought (vitaka and vicara) throughout contemplations 1-10 of APS to “seclude” our mind. Specifically, in the first three tetrads, we intentionally (i.e., using vitaka/vicara) calm our body, our feelings and our mental thoughts. In this process, we experience joy/bliss, another element of the first Jhana. Then, in the 11th contemplation, we immerse and concentrate the mind, which I think is similar to the 2nd Jhana. After that, in the 12th contemplation, we free the mind, which is similar to the 3rd and 4th Jhanas. We can then turn our concentrated mind towards insight in the fourth tetrad. Paul1 made this comment:
Below is a more detailed explanation; I do not know Pali, so there are likely many spelling or other errors below, and I welcome corrections/advice. I used MN 118: Mindfulness of Breathing —Bhikkhu Sujato for APS and for the Jhana descriptions, I used SN 45.8: Analysis —Bhikkhu Sujato
Seclusion (vivekajam): This is the trait that leads to the 1st Jhana
Key elements: 1) Intentional thought (vitaka-vicara): savitakkam, savicaram; 2) joy/bliss (pitisukham). This joy/bliss arises from seclusion
Concentration or immersion (vitakkavicarranam): This is the trait that leads to the 2nd Jhana. However, later it says avitakkam and avicaram which implies that intentional thought is not needed to bring about the concentration. Of note, in MN44, at the 2/3rds point approximately, the sutta mentions that one enters a state of concentration naturally, without intention, which supports this idea.
Key elements: Pitisukham (joy/bliss) which arises from the effortless immersion/concentration (in contrast to the 1st Jhana, in which pitisukham arises from seclusion).
Rapture (piti) fades and one feels bliss (sukha). Dispassion (viraga) and disinterest (upekkhako) are experienced, which seems to align with the concepts of freedom or liberation mentioned in the 12th contemplation.
Sukha fades and there is pure equanimity (upekkha).
In the APS, here are some relevant parallels:
5th contemplation: Joy (piti)
6th contemplation: Bliss (sukha).
Jhana parallel: A key question is whether the piti and sukha of the 5th and 6th contemplation are the same as pitisukham in the 1st and 2nd Jhana. If so, is this the same as the 1st and 2nd Jhana? I think most likely this is not the case for two reasons. 1) From a sutta textual perspective, the 1st Jahna has many elements (vitaka, vicara, piti, and sukha–also ekagatta (one-pointedness) if one wants to include the Abhidhamma formulation), thus it is more than just piti and sukha alone; 2) From a practice perspective, since we go onto the 7th/8th/9th contemplations after the 6th one, these later contemplations can take one away from the concentrated mind to instead examine feelings/clear feelings/experience the mind. If the 5th and 6th contemplations were the 1st and 2nd Jhanas, then the 7th contemplation should be the 3rd Jhana, etc., which does not seem to be the case. In terms of my own practice, I find it hard to transition from the expanded mind that I imagine would occur in the 2nd Jhana to redirect more internally to the 7th contemplation of internal feelings. Thus, it seems that the 1st Jhana cannot occur only in the 5th and 6th contemplations, and most likely extends all the way into the 10th contemplation (see 10th contemplation).
7th contemplation: Experience feeling
8th contemplation: Clear feelings
9th contemplation: Experience mind
10th contemplation: Rejoices in the ability to train the mind.
Jhana parallel: As mentioned earlier, I think perhaps the most compelling argument can be made for the 1st Jhana to be occurring across contemplations 1 through 10, culminating in the 10th contemplation. The first Jhana, after all, has vitaka-vicara (thought) and pitisukham (joy/bliss), and is characterized by seclusion, which is essentially the state we are cultivating in the first 10 contemplations (seclusion from distractions from the body (contemplations 1-4), feelings (contemplations 5-8) and mind (contemplations 7-9), then rejoicing in this state in the 10th contemplation). If one follows Buddhagosa’s visuddhimagga, contemplations 1-10 could be viewed as the path from access to the deeper absorption contemplation. If we accept this formulation, then it is logical that a case can be made that the subsequent contemplations (11 and 12) represent the 2nd/3rd/4th Jhanas, since the 1st Jhana state would need to occur before the 11th contemplation (see 11th contemplation below). Other interpretations: Could this be the first Jhana? However, it uses the term abhippamoday for rejoice, so this does not match the 1st or 2nd Jhana use of the term pitisukham. Could this be the 3rd Jhana instead? However, the mention of “training” implies intentional effort, and in theory this was put aside in the 2nd Jhana (intention or vitaka/vicara occurs only in the 1st Jhana). Thus, this is most likely not the 3rd Jhana.
11th contemplation: Concentrate (samadhi). The term samadhi is mentioned in the 2nd Jhana also. This maybe one of the strongest arguments linking the 11th contemplation to the state attained in the 2nd Jhana.
12th contemplation: Free the mind (vimocayam). One interpretation is that the 12th contemplation is the 3rd and 4th Jhanas. The concept of “freeing the mind” seems to match dispassion (viraya) and disinterest (upekkhaka) which are mentioned in the 2nd Jhana. In addition, if one postulates that the 4th tetrad (contemplations 13-16) are insight stages that should be entered after the Jhana states are attained, then all of the 4 rupa Jhana (and 4 arupa Jhana) states need to be completed before the 13th contemplation. Of note, the term vimocayam used in the 12th contemplation does not seem to match any term used in the rupa Jhana descriptions. In terms of results, though, the ultimate result does seem to match the state one would achieve by the end of the arupa Jhana states (Jhanas 5-8). In this case, the 11th contemplation would match the 2nd Jhana state, and the 12th contemplation would be the 3rd and 4th Jhana (or 3rd to 8th Jhana if you wish to include arupa Jhana states). Correspondingly, if the 2nd Jhana is in the 11th contemplation, the 1st Jhana must occur before the 11th contemplation (i.e., across the 1st to 10th contemplations, culminating in the 10th contemplation).
The next four contemplations are part of the dhamma tetrad, which may reflect the insight stage of meditation during which the concentrated mind attained in the Jhanas is applied to understanding the fundamental nature of reality.
13th contemplation: Impermanence (anicca)
14th contemplation: Fading away (viraga). This Pali word does not appear in the rupa Jhana description in SuttaCentral
15th contemplation: Cessation (nirodanupassi). This Pali word does not appear in the rupa Jhana description in SuttaCentral
16th contemplation: Letting go (patinissagganupassi). This Pali word does not appear in the rupa Jhana descriptions in SuttaCentral
Any feedback or suggested edits are welcome,