What are khanika, Upacara and Appana Samadhi?

Are these EBT teaching?
Then what is the Sutta reference.
If not where they come from.
How do they relate to Sutta Jhana?

Hope the above helps. :anjal:


appana samādhi is not in the EBT either.
All 3 terms are Abhidhamma inventions. All 3 relate to Abhdhamma’s agenda of redefining jhāna into something very different than it is used in the EBT.

In the EBT, appanā appears in MN 117 as part of an extended definition of samma sankappo, right intention. In Ab Vibhanga I believe the same definition for right intention is used, so this part of MN 117 is very likely early abhidhamma, not EBT.

MN 3, 2. anupadavaggo, 7. mahācattārīsakasuttaṃ (MN 117.1), para. 9 ⇒

“katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo? yo kho, bhikkhave, ariyacittassa anāsavacittassa ariyamaggasamaṅgino ariyamaggaṃ bhāvayato takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā vacīsaṅkhāro — ayaṃ, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo ariyo anāsavo lokuttaro maggaṅgo. so micchāsaṅkappassa pahānāya vāyamati, sammāsaṅkappassa upasampadāya, svāssa hoti sammāvāyāmo. so sato micchāsaṅkappaṃ pajahati, sato sammāsaṅkappaṃ upasampajja viharati; sāssa hoti sammāsati. itiyime tayo dhammā sammāsaṅkappaṃ anuparidhāvanti anuparivattanti, seyyathidaṃ — sammādiṭṭhi, sammāvāyāmo, sammāsati.


Totally different meditation system. Like other non-buddhist samādhi training systems, they are workable systems that have interesting features in their own right, but they can be very problematic if you try to incorporate it as part of an organic holistic EBT noble eightfold path, as Vism. tries to do. Best to completely avoid it.

The only meditators that I’ve seen that thrive in that system are highly skilled meditators that were likely highly skilled meditators in many previous lives, and would likely succeed under any kind of samādhi training system, buddhist or otherwise. For the vast majority of people, an EBT based organic holistic samma samādhi as part of a balanced noble eightfold path will work much better.

This thread has references to extensive detail on the difference between Vism. redefinition of jhāna compared to EBT jhāna.

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So let me add in another aspect to this. This is one thing I really haven’t been able to glean from the EBTs. How difficult is attaining jhana really supposed to be? Like how do you know that you really have each jhana factor as it is supposed to be according to the description in the suttas?

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Thanks, It appears terms in OP are coming from Abhidhamma. It seems these terms related mainly to Samatha practice.

Assume someone says it tastes sweet. Someone says it is cold. Then another says it dissolves. Until you eat the ice-cream, all these are just your imagination. So I would say the EBTs are of little use in actually knowing what a jhana is. However they are of great help in knowing what they are not, once you have had a certain experience of altered consciousness, IMO, but even then…

with metta

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According to Vism.'s redefinition jhāna, one out of billion or one out of a million people who try can do it.

Vism. Chapter 12:

  1. It is not possible for a meditator to begin to accomplish transformation by supernormal powers unless he has previously completed his development by controlling his mind in these fourteen ways. Now, the kasiṇa preliminary work is difficult for a beginner and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The arousing of the sign is difficult for one who has done the preliminary work and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To extend the sign when it has arisen and to reach absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To tame one’s mind in the fourteen ways after reaching absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The transformation by supernormal power after training one’s mind in the fourteen ways is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. Rapid response after attaining transformation is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it.

kasina preliminary work: 1/100 to 1/1000

arousing visual nimitta: 1/100 to 1/1000

To extend the sign when it has arisen and to reach absorption is difficult: 1/100 to 1/1000

doing the math:

to get first jhāna, 1/1,000,000 to 1/1,000,000,000

one out of 1 million or one out of 1 billion.

The EBT paints a very different picture of the difficulty in attaining first jhāna.
step 1: replace all unskillful thoughts with skillful thoughts, such as metta (MN 19). MN 20 offers 5 useful ways to curb thoughts connected to 5 niv (hindrances).
step 2: Even if you can maintain a state of having just kusala thoughts 24/7, that condition alone is not enough for a first jhana experience. To be first jhāna, the frequency and intensity of V&V (thinking and pondering) have to be attenuated to a point that doesn’t hinder passsadhi-bojjhanga (tranquility awakening factor). both kāya (body of flesh and blood) and citta (mind) have to be deeply relaxed/calm/tranquil/passadhi for first jhāna to happen. Depending on health, age, and how charged your batteries are on that day, the bliss and happiness of the first two jhānas can feel anywhere from the spectrum of being “unusually comfortable”, to intense full body cosmic orgasm.

step 3: if that happiness and bliss can saturate most of your body (AN 5.28), for even the time it takes to snap your fingers (AN 1.53), that’s a first jhāna experience. In practice probably most people won’t trust their first jhana experience until they’ve experienced a decent 2nd jhana experience.

As for the lower boundaries of first jhana:

(1) SN 36.11 states speech ceases in first jhana. AN 5.26 shows various cases of how one would be using speech while in a first jhana context. You can hear an inspiring dhamma talk or mentally recite a dhamma passage with V&V (vitakka & vicara, thinking and evaluation), but if you open your mouth and vibrate those vocal cords, the energy flow outwards disrupts the physical bliss. This can be easily tested by one who can do 2nd jhana.

(2) 5 niv (hindrances) have been temporarily supressed, especially kāma chandha, the hindrance of sensual desire for the 5kg (sensual pleasure strings).

AN 9.41 gives a good description of the Buddha struggling to learn first jhana and what condition knocked him out of it:

“Before my enlightenment, while I was just a bodhisatta, not yet fully enlightened, it occurred to me too: ‘Good is renunciation, good is solitude.’ Yet my mind did not launch out upon renunciation and become placid, settled, and liberated in it, though I saw it as peaceful. It occurred to me: ‘Why is it that my mind does not launch out upon renunciation and become placid, settled, and liberated in it, though I see it as peaceful?’ Then it occurred to me: ‘I have not seen the danger in sensual pleasures and have not cultivated that [insight]; I have not achieved the benefit in renunciation and have not [440] pursued it. Therefore my mind does not launch out upon renunciation and become placid, settled, and liberated in it, though I see it as peaceful.’

352“Then, Ānanda, it occurred to me: ‘If, having seen the danger in sensual pleasures, I would cultivate that [insight], and if, having achieved the benefit in renunciation, I would pursue it, it is then possible that my mind would launch out upon renunciation and become placid, settled, and liberated in it, since I see it as peaceful.’ Sometime later, having seen the danger in sensual pleasures, I cultivated that [insight], and having achieved the benefit in renunciation, I pursued it. My mind then launched out upon renunciation and became placid, settled, and liberated in it, since I saw it as peaceful.

353“Sometime later, Ānanda, secluded from sensual pleasures … I entered and dwelled in the first jhāna. While I was dwelling in this state, perception and attention accompanied by sensuality occurred in me and I felt it as an affliction. Just as pain might arise for one feeling pleasure only to afflict him, so too, when perception and attention accompanied by sensuality occurred in me, I felt it as an affliction.

As you can see, the EBT passages on first jhana are vastly different than the VRJ ( Vism. redefined jhana of Vism. and later Abhidhamma).

If you can smile based on a kusala thought, like doing an act of kindness for a stranger, or even just thinking kind thoughts to anyone, to they point where you smile, feel comfortable, maybe your heart/chest area feels warmer and your skin tingles, that’s enough kaya passadhi and citta passadhi to give you a taste of first jhana.

IMO nearly 100% of people are capable of experiencing at least a low quality first jhana.

The remaining 3 jhanas requires an ability to deeply relax and sustain that. But once you know the trick of it it’s really easy. The difficulty of first jhana and 2nd jhana are qualitatively different. 2nd jhana also requires the energy channels to be very open, and that will be dependent on health condition. Even if you’re doing the proper technique, until those channels open, you’ll be stuck in jhana constipation mode for some time.

Someone keeping 5 precepts well should be able to do first jhana. For second jhana, you’ll need 8 precepts and brahmacariya, to build up the internal energy. When the internal energy accumulates enough, you’ll have enough heat and force to melt the blockages in your energy channels.

IMO, nearly 100% of people who are willing to commit to the practice 24/7 should be able to at least stumble into a momentary 2nd jhana occasionally, for example when they lie down to rest and finally stop thinking to deeply relax the body and mind.

I wasn’t born with any special samadhi talent, and my jhana came slowly, over years. If I can do it, anyone can do it. The only thing I’m different than most people is that I had this attitude and mindset: I am a son of the Buddha. The noble eightfold path is my inheritance, my refuge, my raft. I’m going to watch over my raft 24/7. Jhana is my birthright. I’m going to get it no matter how long it takes, how much pain I have to go through, I’m going to get it or die trying. Now in hindsight, jhana didn’t require any physical pain. It does require resilience and not giving up though, because jhana constipation can last a long time. Most of the difficulties in the journey came from the misinformation in Visuddhimagga and the doubts and wrong practice that it sidetracked me with.


My idea of the jhanas are somewhat different Frank’s, in that I would require a sudden switch into a higher or different state of consciousness, with a clear step leading into each of the subsequent jhanas. This isn’t a ‘blackout’ jhana though but contains each of the jhana factors as in EBTs. In my experience about 5 out of a class of 20 will attain jhana in months (less than a year). @Brahmali and @sujato would have more knowledge on numbers in the retreats. But then jhanas are aspirational and a lot of use is to be had from lower degrees of unification as well.

With metta


This is my opinion too. I am sure this will comfort increase their confidence to many people.

This is a very good point.

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If you ask Ajahn Brahm he’ll say ‘it’s easy. You’ve just got to get out of the way’. At which point I generally realise how stupidly attached I am! :roll_eyes:

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To answer the question in the thread title itself, a detailed explanation can be found in the the writings of Mahasi Sayadaw, for instance in the “Treatise of Vipassana” :

Chapter II “CITTA VISUDDHI” / “Purification of the mind”, pp. 102-104, and pp. 119-121:

Three Kinds of Samādhi

This Samādhi which is called ‘Citta-Visuddhi’ comprises three sorts, namely, Upacāra-samādhi (neighbourhood concentration), Appanā-samādhi (absorption concentration), and Khaṇika-samādhi (momentary concentration).

Access concentration (Upacāra-samādhi)

Of these three, Upacāra-samādhi means Kāmāvacara-samādhi, which arises either from reflection or reverence in the extremely pure and noble attributes of the Buddha, or the Paṭibhāga-nimitta - the counter sign [-] when there arise no nīvaranas, [in] the course of contemplation and noting by those indulging in the practice of samatha-bhāvanā. It means to say that it is samādhi which happens, just before the occurrence or rather, in the proximity of the absorption which is infinite (appanā-jhāna). Among these forms of samādhi, concentration, only the 'Samādhi ’ that occurs in account of, Kasiṇa. asubha, kāyagatāsati, ānāpāna, Brahmavihāra, arūpa kammaṭṭhāna, is the genuine Upacārasamādhi.

Momentary Concentration (khaṇika-samādhi or Vipassanā-khaṇika-samādhi)

Purification of the mind occurs continuously to a person engaged in the practice of Vipassanā meditation consecutively in combination only with contemplating and noting when his faith (saddhā), effort (Vīriya), mindfulness (Sati), concentration (Samādhi) and insight wisdom (Paññā) become keen and strengthened in a state of equilibrium. Imagination and thought which are Nīvaraṇas will not even occur during the intervening period in the course of contemplation and noting. During that period every time contemplating and noting is carried on, samādhi which sharply concentrates on the arising of rūpa-nāma becomes highly developed, ardent and obvious. This Samādhi is called Khaṇika-samādhi (momentary concentration). It is Samādhi, the fixed concentration occurring only for a brief moment of the arising consciousness that contemplates and notes.

Samathayānika’s Citta-Visuddhi (Appanā/Jhāna samādhi)

A person, who practises Vipassanā after having established either Upacāra-samādhi or Appanā-samādhi out of the said three kinds of Samādhi, is called Samathayānika individual, i.e. one who makes his way to Nibbāna using Samatha as a vehicle. In other words, this practising person is said to one who is bound for the attainment of Magga-Phala-Nibbāna using samatha as a vehicle. Hence, Upacārasamādhi (proximate concentration) and Appanā samādhi (Absorption concentration) are Citta-Visuddhi upon which a Samathayānika individual has to depend.

Vipassanayānika’s Citta-Visuddhi

A person who exclusively contemplates Vipassanā without depending upon Upacāra, Appanā Samādhi is to be named as Suddhavipassanayānika individual. It means a person who treads on the path of Vipassanā exclusively without mingling with Samatha, by means of vipassanā vehicle making his way to Magga-Phala-Nibbāna. Hence, only Khaṇika-samādhi is Cittavisuddhi which is relied upon by Suddha-vipassanāyānika individual.

All statements mentioned above are in accord with Aṭṭhakathās [commentaries], Ṭīkās [sub-commentaries] and Pāḷi scriptures, which may be cited below…

(contrasting khaṇika-samādhi and Samatha-Jhāna)

From the time this khaṇika-samādhi becomes keen and strong, though the sense objects of rūpa-nāma that should be contemplated and noted are changing afresh, the manner of penetration and calmness of the contemplating and noting mind is continuous. Just as the mind that first contemplates and notes is penetrating and tranquil, the second and third contemplating and noting mind are also penetrating and tranquil. At that moment, it might also remain like in absorption (Samatha-Jhānas). In particular, the object of Samatha-Jhāna is single and remaining fixed. No perception has arisen even as mere nāma and rūpa, nor as being transient in nature incessantly arising and dissolving. The object of Vipassanā-samādhi is however constantly changing in a state of flux and that is occurring afresh at every moment. It is perceived and cognized as mere phenomena of nāma-rūpa. When insight knowledge becomes mature, the arising and dissolution of nāmarūpa are clearly obvious. This is the only difference. The manner of penetration and calmness is nevertheless the same. Hence, it has been stated in Mahāṭikā as follows:

Khaṇikacittekaggatāti khaṇamattaṭṭhitiko samādhi, sopi hi ārammaṇe nirantaraṃ ekākārena pavattamāno paṭipakkhena anabhibhūto appito viya cittaṃ niccalaṃ ṭhapeti. (Mahāṭīkā I-342)

Khaṇika cittekaggatāti, khaṇikacittekaggatā” means: khaṇamattaṭṭhitito, i.e. it is the concentration-samādhi which arises and remains for the brief moment of the occurrence of Vipassanā consciousness. Hi saccaṃ - it is indeed true. Sopi - this Vipassanā khaṇika samādhi, ekākārena - also with its single characteristic of calmness, ārammane - in the object or the matter and mind which ought to be contemplated and noted, Pavattamāno - when occurred, nirantaraṃ - continually without any break, paṭipakkhena anabhibhūto - not being subjected to harmful by opposing hindrances (nīvaraṇas), cittam-Vipassanā mind ṭhapeti - can be developed and maintained, niccalam - permanently without any flitting or agitation, appitoviya - just like J_hāna-samādhi_ which is absorbed in the object, or rather, like Appanāsamādhi.

This ṭīkā goes to support the Aṭṭhakathā in which exposition has been made that “The Vipassanā-consciousness can be maintained firmly with stability by means of Khaṇika-samādhi”, as stated in the Ānāpāna Kathā using the expression samādahaṃ cittaṃ. It conveys the meaning: "It is not that only Upacāra, Appanā samādhi are capable of stabilizing the mind but that the mind can also be made tranquil, or stabilised by Vipassanā-khaṇika samādhi.”

If a question arises as to how much strength is required to firmly maintain the mind, the answer would be "Ārammaṇe nirantaram ekākārena pavattamāno.” When the concentration reaches the same level as Upacārasamādhi, hindrances (Nīvaraṇas), will not arise in between the process of contemplation and noting. Only contemplation and noting will continually take place without a break. It means to say that during the said period, it could be firmly maintained. Furthermore, it goes to indicate by the statement-“paṭipakkhena anabhibhūto appitoviya” that khaṇikasamādhi which is accompanied with Udayabbaya-ñāṇa and Bhaṅga-ñāṇa having become keener has the strength just like Appanā-samādhi. It means this kind of Samādhi being capable of deterring the harmful hindrances, can keep the mind stable and firm like appanā samādhi. These are the distinguishing features of the three kinds of Vipassanā-Samādhi.