Unpleasant pain in Jhana?


If you’re talking about the oasis simile where pīti is seeing the oasis from some distance away and getting emotional rapture because you know you will not die of thirst, and sukha is the physical part of actually jumping in and drinking the water when you arrive at the oasis, I don’t think there is a sutta for that.

It appears somewhere in Vism., and maybe the Vimuttimagga.

In the famous 4 jhana similes, AN 5.28, the first three similes, although not explicitly stated, when you match it up with personal experience, the water in all 3 must correspond to the euphoric physical pleasure felt in the body.


MN10 makes a distinction between carnal and spiritual unpleasant feelings. Perhaps the spiritual unpleasant feeling of having not attained arahatta could be present?


Some energies seam to me to require special care and patience, or else they might become unpleasant


This directly contradicts the Buddha’s teachings, right? Seems to totally contradict the teachings on the impurterbable states, which include 4th jhāna, mettā etc., if my memory is servging me correctly. Have I missed something, or is Mahasi blatantly wrong?

I hear a lot of error from Theravadin teachers regarding jhāna. Since they actually have access to the early texts in countries like Burma, is there a lot of awareness among the monastics and lay followers that their teachers teach things that contradict the Buddha? Or do people jut have blind faith in the interpretation of their teacher? Or, how does it work exactly?


“sabbe sankhara anicca, sabbe sankhara dukkha, sabbe dhamma anatta”
What else is unconditioned (asankhata) besides nibbana?

In your view…


I think you can lose stability in Jhanas and if concentration weakens, pain can become evident and then you lose the Jhana (if you’re in a higher one). When entering Jhana, thoughts can still be there (1st Jhana) and can creep into the 2nd or 3rd and bring you back to the 1st or out all together if they are not let go. Jhana has strong concentration, so often the strength of Jhana will be sufficient to let thoughts that arise go and get right back to where you were to close.


This looks very helpful, aside from his book. For me, Metta has been a better way of heading in that direction.

Essence of entering each of the 8 Jhanas:

  1. Follow breath until access concentration is established:

a. Thoughts are wispy and in the background,
b. and/or White light glows in the background,
c. and/or Breath becomes very shallow or disappears.

  1. Switch attention away from the breath to a pleasant physical sensation:

a. Stay focused on the ‘pleasantness’ of the pleasant sensation,
b. Do not do anything else but stay focused on the ‘pleasantness’, it will increase in intensity automatically.
c. When the physical pleasure and emotional joy/happiness rises, focus on that experience.

  1. Focus on the emotional joy/happiness that is accompanying the intense physical sensations of the 1st Jhana:

a. Push the the intense physical sensations into the background - taking a deep breath now will be helpful in doing this,
b. Stay one pointedly focused on the joy/happiness .

  1. Turn down the intensity of the joy/happiness to contentment/satisfaction .

  2. Let go of the pleasure of the contentment/satisfaction and drop down to a quiet, still equanimity .

  3. Sense the “boundaries of your being” and begin expanding them outwards:

a. Expand outwards until you fill the room,
b. Expand outwards until you fill the building,
c. Expand outwards until you fill the neighborhood,
d. Expand outwards further and further, remain focused on expanding outwards,
e. When a boundless space opens up before you, switch your focus to it.

  1. Realizing that it takes a boundless consciousness to be aware of a boundless space, switch your attention to to your consciousness of the boundless space.

  2. Switch your attention from the boundless consciousness to the content of that consciousness - it will be a sense of no thing - no-thing at all anywhere.

  3. Let go of all the previous outward sensing and come to rest in a small spot more or less between the eyes and a few inches from your face. Focus on being in a state that has no characteristics .


It’s just a fact. There are Theravadins who say they are in line with the Buddha’s teachings, and yet they reject jhāna practice. That’s not an equal opinion to the opinion that the Buddha practiced jhāna to attain emlightenment, taught it as the path to enlightenment, and kept practicing himself even up to his death.

The latter view is based on evidence, the former view is simply contradicting all the evidence. I love equality but I also love truth. And not everything is equally true.

If you are in a state which is characterized by sukha, how can it be dukkha? They are each others opposites. And that it is temporary, does not make it emotional suffering while it is lasting - hence a temporary nibbāna. A temporary cessation of dukkha. Absorbed in sukha or mettā, there is no dukkha, right?


It’s dukkha or ‘not perfection :ok_hand:’ because of impermanence. All pleasant feeling isn’t unpleasant; all pleasantness is dukkha.


I have the sense that dukkha means specifically negative emotoinal affect, and sukha as happiness is a positive emotional affect. The Noble Eightfold Path overcomes dukkha. It doesn’t overcome all suffering - still can have negative homeostatic and sensory affects, which is clear from the Buddha’s later life. But, he attained nibbāna, cessation of dukkha.

If you insist that there’s no nibbāna so long as there is impermanence, then that disqualifies even the Buddha from having atyained nibbāna! Which would seem to dispove such an idea.


Mahasi Sayadaw is correct that even jhana should be seen as dukkha.

‘The first absorption is a basis for ending the defilements.’ That’s what I said, but why did I say it? Take a mendicant who, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption. They contemplate the phenomena there—included in form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness—as impermanent, as suffering, as diseased, as an abscess, as a dart, as misery, as an affliction, as alien, as falling apart, as empty, as not-self. They turn their mind away from those things, and apply it to the deathless: ‘This is peaceful; this is sublime—that is, the stilling of all activities, the letting go of all attachments, the ending of craving, fading away, cessation, extinguishment.’ Abiding in that they attain the ending of defilements. If they don’t attain the ending of defilements, with the ending of the five lower fetters they’re reborn spontaneously, because of their passion and love for that meditation. They are extinguished there, and are not liable to return from that world. - AN9.36


Back aches would. He never said he pulled out the first arrow and besides what is ehipassiko is suffering caused by cravings. According to the DO suffering is caused by Ignorance via Birth. Insight stops being born, and it’s few decades before all the suffering ceases and that period of time is only a finger-snap on the bigger scale of time.


But to say backaches would, is to say that the Buddha had not attained nibbāna! Which of course he did. So I take nibbāna to be the end of dukkha, and dukkha to be emotional suffering. Which the Buddha did indeed totally overcome.

And so also, if you are in an absorbed state of sukha or mettā for example, then there is no dukkha. Saying that the experience is temporary is not to say that it is dukkha! Because even the Buddha could experience temporary negative affect (backache, painful abdonem while dying, desperate thirst) while still being in a state free from dukkha.


All things that are impermanent are sukha or dukkha acccording to SN22.59? If it is then is it reasonable to impose our idea how enlightenment :bulb: should pan out, insisting all suffering should end right away.?


But by definition an arahant has no dukkha, no?

It doesn’t sound like dukkha to me:

There’s no fire like passion, no loss like anger, no pain like the aggregates, no ease other than peace. Hunger: the foremost illness. Fabrications: the foremost pain. For one knowing this truth as it actually is, Unbinding is the foremost ease. Freedom from illness: the foremost good fortune. Contentment: the foremost wealth. Trust: the foremost kinship. Unbinding: the foremost ease.
Dhp 202-205

The enlightened, constantly absorbed in jhana, persevering, firm in their effort: they touch Unbinding, the unexcelled safety from bondage.
Dhp 23


Arahants have aggregates. Do they generate emotional pain from it? No. Are they dukkha, yes. In one situation an Arahant enters the fire kasina and burns himself up in mid-air, and the Buddha praises him saying even the five aggregates have been disbanded. This shows that even fabricated phenomena are ultimately dukkha.


Do you have a citation for this? I thought the Buddha was careful never to praise suicide…


He made an ‘exalted utterance’ at the ending of the arahanths aggregates. Suicide doesn’t carry the same connotations of an eternal afterlife, in the dhamma. SuttaCentral


So are you saying:

  • it is impossible to attain nibbāna while alive, or
  • nibbāna is a state of dukkha

Or both?

I see no other options from what you have said.


Arahant experience unplesant pain (feeling).
But I would not call it Dukkha.
What is Dukkha is the five clinging aggregate which Arahants have eradicated.