What did the Buddha mean by 'music'?

Wow, you are quite the sleuth, Media! Yes, the West Riding “My Wyoming Within” album is my release. If you check the detailed liner notes, you can see I actually recorded part of it “at the roots of trees” post-meditation, and used a sample of my local Thai Forest teachers (LP Pasanno, Viradhammo, and Ajahn Sudanto) leading the PFOD sangha in the Morning Chanting from the Amaravati/Abayaghiri book. Thanks for the link.

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Abhsamayalamkara outlines the correspondences between the 4 people of the path and the 10 bodhisattva stages. A bodhisattva stream-entrant with cultivated bodhicitta is on the first bhūmi. So I think we are dealing with different Mahāyāna Buddhisms here. Even so, if the stream-entrant experienced a break up in his bodhicitta, he would enter into the Lotus Vault samādhi and receive instruction from the Buddha outside of the threefold world (Mahāprajñāpāramitopadeśaḥ T1509.714a9) to perfect his Buddhahood.

So we are coming from very different Mahāyānika angles.

Also, I am using a descriptive definition of dhyāna, and you a prescriptive one. The act of “practising dhyāna” in my view is not synonymous with “achieving dhyāna”. That is to say, regardless of efficacy, the act of " practising dhyāna", to me, is the act of “trying to access dhyāna”. In light of that my earlier statements concerning dhyāna in the dispensation of Venerable Nichiren can be taken as, they practice dhyāna, but do they achieve it with those methods?

The Mahāyānika redefining of dhyāna IMO finds itself rooted in texts like the apocryphal Platform Sūtra (and when Mahāyāna calls something apocryphal that means it’s really, really, really apocryphal). I can’t remember the exact quote but it goes something like “The unified heart is the mother of all dhyānāni.” This unified heart being a translation of one-pointed mind. The quote can be interpreted in two ways, one in-line with earlier descriptions of dhyāna and one that is supersessionist and replaces older models with an abbreviated model focused on strictly observation and questing for single-pointedness rather than any other element of dhyāna.

I will get back to you later via PM or a new thread concerning other things brought up.


Venerable @Thaniyo_Bhikkhu ,

Regarding your use of AN3.63, although some people seem to think this sutta is clear proof that jhana can be experienced in walking meditation, it should be pointed out, however, that this is hardly a universally accepted view. Firstly and most importantly, it would make this the only sutta in the canon that mentions a walking jhana, and as sutta scholars always point out, it is much safer to look at the overwhelming general trend in all the suttas than rely on a single sutta that stands out to prove a doctrinal point.

Certainly, the commentaries disagreed about whether this sutta describes a walking jhana, and attempted to make sense of it, as Bhikkhu Bodhi, whose translation is used above, points out in his notes on this sutta:

Mp says that his walking back and forth is celestial when, having entered the four jhānas, he walks back and forth; and his walking back and forth is celestial when, after emerging from the four jhānas, he walks back and forth. This seems to imply that walking can occur even with the mind in jhāna. This, however, is contradicted by the dominant understanding that jhāna is a state of uninterrupted absorption in an object, in which case intentional movements like walking would not be possible. Mp-ṭ explains the first case of Mp (walking after entering the jhānas) to mean that he walks back and forth immediately after emerging from the jhāna, while the second case (walking after emerging) to mean that he walks back and forth after having emerged some time earlier .

There is a variety of activities mentioned in the Sutta and the sequence of events is not explictly made clear, but we can use our common sense to see that it refers to different activities not simultaneous activities. As you said in response to @Media point about this being clearly part of a retreat, it’s an indication of “a lifestyle” not activities done in meditation… When we look at this sutta as a whole, it is given to a community of lay people who were brahmins (i.e. not practicing bhikkhus). Using the metaphor of a comfortable bed, the Buddha describes jhana meditation states through allegorical imagery:

There are, brahmin, these three high and luxurious beds that I get these days when I want, without trouble or difficulty…

The Buddha is not literally resting in a luxurious bed during meditation. It is a metaphor. Similarly when describing the four postures, he uses an image than the Brahmins would understand and find appealing:

When I’m practicing like this, if I walk meditation, at that time I walk like Brahmā…

He is not literally saying that he is Brahma, (or ‘celestial’ as BBodhi has it) instead it is an image used for the purpose of illustrating a point in a conversation that has already had several allegories. Given this, it would seem unwise to interpret the description of four postures as literally describing jhana states. We should not neglect the allegorical context here when selectively quoting from this sutta in a very literal way.

Further, many people unfortunately get caught up on the various english translations of this passage (rendered as ‘celestial’; ‘like gods’; ‘like brahma’, to mention a few) but getting stuck on a translated word is a dangerously erroneous way to go about interpretation, as translation is far from an exact science. We need to rely on other contexts for more certainty. There is also much uncertainty of the original textual terms and how the meaning should be constructed. You can see the types of complexity in some of the more exasperated posts in forums like this one:


This Sutta has also been discussed here previously.
this thread
I think I recall some wit there pointed out the difficulty of walking in 4th jhana when breathing has ceased. It seems a fair point! :joy:

AN8.30 is really about contentment. Jhana is samadhi, immersion, stillness etc . Resilience is the capacity to quickly recover from difficulties, so I’m not sure how you came to the create this sloganistic:

But for this to be true, resilience would also have to equal jhana… so I think to define it like that is an unusual oversimplification that might mislead readers here.

(Edited for clarity)


Sure. The majority do not accept it but I do not see that as a reason to reject it.

If there was a single sutta which stated that the Buddha said sensuality was wholesome ( or similar), then since it would be contradicting all other suttas, I would certainly reject it because it’s obviously very strange.
However this sutta which indicates that walking is possible in jhana does not seem to be strange or DANGEROUS and in fact, extends the jhana practice to include all postures( within reason of course).
Why would accepting the possibility of walking within a state of jhana be a problem?
Why is that idea, that one can move from a seated position into a walking position and still maintain 'withdrawal from sensual pleasures and unwholesome states, so controversial?

So the sutta contradicts the dominant understanding, which again is not a good enough reason to reject it.
Is the majority always right?
What is more likely, a few people understanding what jhana is or many people?
Just because an idea is popular doesn’t make it right.

As you say above, Bhante Bodhi attempts to make sense of it in accordance with the popular belief which is also his belief, so instead of attempting to upgrade his view of jhana to include this sutta he attempts to explain it in way which fits into the view that pleases him.

Again, why not just accept that it is possible to change postures in jhana? It doesn’t take away the SEATED position, it only upgrades ones knowledge of the extent of possibilities of jhana.
It’s an upgrade.

The majority say jhana is only possible while seated;
The minority say that jhana is possible in all postures.
The minority view describes a state of mind which is more formidable, more resilient, more immovable than the majorities view.
What can one lose in upgrading ones view to include this sutta? If you can do jhana seated…great, now try it standing etc.

He is comparing his actual literal state of mind (jhanas)to the idea of brahma and then saying that he literally walks meditation while his mind is like Brahma.

The same with the second, he compares his actual mind state (of brahmaviharas) to the idea of ‘heavens’ and says that he can be in any posture while that mind state is present.( would his state of brahmaviharas, fall apart when meeting other people? Or is brahmaviharas only possible while seated?)

The same with the third, he compares his state of mind (which is free from greed, hatred and delusion) with the idea of The NOBLE, and again says he can abide in that state in all postures. (Does he lose his nobility if he changes his postures?)

The uncertainty should leave one open to the possibility that ones or the majorities interpretation is wrong.

Also, for example, the word ‘viharati’, found in the jhana description and many other places/contexts, which is usually translated as ‘dwells , abides or remains’ can also be translated as ‘lives’. One could interpret ‘viharati’ as a mystical absorption that one gets immersed into and is incompatible with other mundane bodily postures or it can be interpreted as a state of mind that one lives with while one lives ones life.

A mind that develops restraint, and then abandons hindrances can be said to be quite strong and resilient, let alone a mind which has developed jhana, which can stand the pressure from the pull of the senses and unwholesome states, a mind which does not give into unwholesomeness can easily be described as resilient i.e no matter the pressure exerted from the senses, one remains withdrawn from them.
So thus the slogan , ‘jhana equals resilience’, but it is indeed not only resilient…DN2

When their mind has become composed (on acccont of development of restraint, abandoning of hindrances and development of jhana) like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable/RESILIENT, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it and project it toward knowledge and vision.
So evaṃ samāhite citte parisuddhe pariyodāte anaṅgaṇe vigatūpakkilese mudubhūte kammaniye ṭhite āneñjappatte ñāṇadassanāya cittaṃ abhinīharati abhininnāmeti. "

I might have oversimplified the description of jhana by using only the one-word ‘resilience’, but it came from my interpretation of being able to LIVE in jhana, which is an upgrade to the popular view that ‘jhana equals only sitting’ i.e not resilient.

Someone who thinks they have a steady jhanic mind when sitting, but loses that steady jhanic mind when they move around, should upgrade their understanding of what jhana is because its not that simple, and as you say…


Venerable, Your talk of “upgrading” jhana seems to me to be actually diminishing jhana. But I think we won’t make any progress in discussing it further.
Best wishes for your practice.


I know. It’s amazing right? I’m afraid I don’t know the answer - I’m not sure that anyone understands the mechanism in detail, but as a first stab, in brief, it may be something like:

hearing -> listening -> understanding

It seems quite improbable right? And yet two and a half thousand years ago a lion roared near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana.

And in response: the earth gods raised the cry: “Near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana, the Buddha has rolled forth the supreme Wheel of Dhamma. And that wheel cannot be rolled back by any ascetic or brahmin or god or Māra or Brahmā or by anyone in the world.” Hearing the cry of the Earth Gods, the Gods of the Four Great Kings … the Gods of the Thirty-Three … the Yāma Gods … the Joyful Gods … the Gods Who Love to Create … the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others … the Gods of Brahmā’s Host raised the cry: “Near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana, the Buddha has rolled forth the supreme Wheel of Dhamma. And that wheel cannot be rolled back by any ascetic or brahmin or god or Māra or Brahmā or by anyone in the world.”

And so at that moment, in that instant, the cry soared up to the Brahmā realm. And this galaxy shook and rocked and trembled. And an immeasurable, magnificent light appeared in the world, surpassing the glory of the gods.

Then the Buddha was inspired to exclaim: “Koṇḍañña has really understood! Koṇḍañña has really understood!” And that’s how Venerable Koṇḍañña came to be known as “Koṇḍañña Who Understood”.

And that lion’s roar and the sounds that emanated from the Buddha for the next 45 years have echoed down the ages to us today. The sāvaka tradition is truly wonderful.

I guess what I’ve been exploring recently is what sonic environment is helpful and what sonic environment is a hindrance to the practice. We have greater opportunities to influence our sonic environment these days than the Buddha had. We now have ubiquitous recording and playback machines and other sonic manipulation technologies. Given this there is possibly some opportunities (to engage people and enhance their abilities in the practices ) that were unmentioned by the Buddha, but can possibly be informed by by the utterances of the Buddha.

For me personally, I have a history of setting up little (christian) meditation groups. Often these are situated in cities, and sometimes they are within residential buildings owned by the church. Now when we set these up we try to locate them somewhere quiet rather than say next to a flat where the tenants are often play ‘banging techno’ during our planned meditation times.

I think you might be suggesting that it doesn’t matter what the sonic environment one is in with regard to the practice? Whether one is in an anechoic chamber, a forest or a side room in a nightclub makes no difference. Is that right? Is this what you are suggesting?

If this is the case then I think that maybe you have a point. Another person (in real life, not in this thread) directed me to this dhamma talk by Ajahn Chah which is very neat:

Here is a simple comparison: suppose you go and sit in the middle of a freeway with the cars and trucks charging down at you. You can’t get angry at the cars, shouting, ‘‘Don’t drive over here! Don’t drive over here!’’ It’s a freeway, you can’t tell them that. So what can you do? You get off the road! The road is the place where cars run, if you don’t want the cars to be there, you suffer.

It’s the same with sankhāras . We say they disturb us, like when we sit in meditation and hear a sound. We think, ‘‘Oh, that sound’s bothering me.’’ If we understand that the sound bothers us then we suffer accordingly. If we investigate a little deeper, we will see that it’s we who go out and disturb the sound! The sound is simply sound. If we understand like this then there’s nothing more to it, we leave it be. We see that the sound is one thing, we are another. One who understands that the sound comes to disturb him is one who doesn’t see himself. He really doesn’t! Once you see yourself, then you’re at ease. The sound is just sound, why should you go and grab it? You see that actually it was you who went out and disturbed the sound.

from The Middle Way Within

Having said that, I’m guessing that this talk was given to some fairly experienced yogi’s. We might not get very many newbies to our city meditation sessions if we located it in a club and then gave them this as their first teaching! :wink:

At least we can agree that we can delight in the stilling of thought. :slight_smile: :heart:

Those sounds were from the Buddha speaking, and those words have meanings, which one has to understand through contemplation.
It’s not random sounds imbued with a magic converting power which annihilates greed, hatred, and delusion, for you.
One does not suffer on account of ‘lack of sounds’, but lack of UNDERSTANDING the knowledge from another person such as the Buddha.

No not at all. One needs a conducive environment to develop the mind, such as a suitable secluded area free from distractions, silence in itself will not bring about freedom from suffering, if it could then a deaf person would be automatically free.

The problem of ones suffering is not because of sounds or music.

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Yes, as suggested:

If all one gets is random sounds, then one hasn’t got past hearing. I mentioned way back at post #4 that I consider spoken word as a genre of music. Perhaps you missed that?

Great! Could you expand on that? What in your opinion is the ideal sonic environment which is conducive to developing the mind?

Do you have any quote that uses that term? I’m not so familiar with Mahayana doctrine but I have seen somewhere about the danger of stream entry, so I’m interested if they did develpp a seperate ‘bodhisattva stream entry’ system.

Certainly there are many different and contradictory schools of belief in Mahayana. And some which are self-contradictory, such as the bhumis as some of the lamrim texts (I’m most familiar with Gampopa’s Jewl Ornament of Liberation).

And don’t forget we have to be very specific about what kind of dhyāna, because most Mahayana dhyānas are not jhāna.

If a tradition is filled with people trying to attain jhāna, and failing, with not one person actually attaining jhāna states, then I can’t consider that a tradition which practices jhāna. I could consider it a tradition trying to practice jhāna, or practicing to try to achieve jhāna. Similarly if I met someone who had gone to two Buddhist meetings at his local centre, and sat at both for a few minutes with his head full of distraction, with the intention of acheiving jhāna, I would not say ‘that guy practices jhāna’.

Thanks for the info.

More or less in line with the way I read it. It seems quite natural reading the text, that the walking is separate from the jhāna practice.

My understanding is that ONE INTERPRETATION of this one sutta, contradicts all other suttas on the topic. That should be reason enough to question that interpretation and consider others!

And as I said, for me my first reading of the sutta did not make me think that the walking part was still talking about jhāna. It seemed natural for me that that was a new section. The next stage of the discussion. And, this interpretation also gives the result of this sutta being in line with all the other suttas on this topic, which, is an added reason to consider that his may be the corect interpretation.

At the time of the Buddha, among the compilers of the canon? I would say the latter, quite categorically.

  1. Because it is totally illogical according to the wealth of doctrine on jhāna.
  2. Because people who practice jhāna are unable to walk while in jhāna.

So we have the answer both from theory and from practice. This seems reasonable.

How about if a newer group arose describing an even more formidable, even more resilient state? Would you then stop believing the first two groups and go with this new third instead? That was Nichiren’s pitch and the Jodo Shu guys and all that lot - no need to do meditation, we have an easier way, more effective, just chant some of these words and you’ve got the best deal!

The thing is, it’s easy to talk about things that are better that are simply made up. Just because someone says jhāna can be done walking, even if they say they do it themselves, you should consider that they might either be lying or not know what they’re talking about.


When I’m practicing like this, if I walk meditation, at that time I walk like the gods…

Also have you guys considered what ‘like this’ is referring to? It would seem those believing jhāna is happening while walking, have perhaps taken that to be the last thing refered to, the 4th jhāna. Even if that is so, the commentaries would say it means after having arisen from that jhāna.

However, I propose that ‘like this’ might be referring as far back as:

“Brahmin, when I am living supported by a village or town, I robe up in the morning and, taking my bowl and robe, enter the town or village for alms.
“Idhāhaṃ, brāhmaṇa, yaṃ gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā upanissāya viharāmi, so pubbaṇhasamayaṃ nivāsetvā pattacīvaramādāya tameva gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā piṇḍāya pavisāmi.

So you see this encompasses not only jhāna practice but also daily life. Which includes walking, and even specifically walking on alms round.

So he doesn’t need fancy chariots or fancy rugs to sit on or fancy beds to lie on. Because he’s a jhāna practitioner, he walks divinely, sits divinely etc. Meaning he doesn’t need all the external luxury or displays of wealth, divine things. He is wealthy and ‘divine’(/‘godly’) because of the fruits of his mind training. Because of his inner state, which is transformed because of his jhāna practice (which his lifestyle fascilitates), the tranquility and ease that that gives you throughout your day, walking, sitting or whatever.

[Separate note - anyone know why this is translated as ‘walking meditation’? Bodhi has ‘walking back and forth’, which fits better logically.]


Your understanding of the all other suttas on this topic contradicts this particular interpretation of that particular part of the sutta in question.
Also your understanding is not reason enough for others to reject it, no matter how many people accept your understanding.

Sure, it MAY/MIGHT be, because your reading of and initial interpretation MIGHT be wrong.
Even if you read it a second time, it still might be natural for you to understand it the way you read it the first time.
One’s understanding of what jhana is always wrong from the start.

Also, if you read the whole sutta, I.e the next two points where the Buddha mentions his mind being developed in brahmaviharas or being noble( free from greed, hatred and delusion), he says exactly the same thing, that when he is such a state, he can be in any other four postures.
If you read it the way you interpreted the first point as ‘he stops jhana when he is walking’ then you would have to read the other two points in the same way I.e he stops being noble once he starts walking.

At the time of the Buddha, there was also other interpretations of jhana(and nibbana etc), His understanding was no doubt the one to adopt, but as for modern day interpretations, which is more likely, that many people understand what jhana is or only a few? (I.e how many people actually attain/understand jhana)
Is it the case that as time goes on , that the general understanding of the suttas get clearer or even more obscured?
Will more and more people misinterpret the Buddhas teaching or not?

You do not accept the POSSIBILITY because it’s illogical to your understanding of the doctrine of jhana.
So you cannot accept the possibility of changing postures in jhana(within reason) because you do not understand how that could be possible, therefore it is not possible.

You are using your understanding of what jhana is as evidence, and again it might be wrong. Therefore those people who you think are doing jhana might not be doing jhana.

If the state was better or more formidable sure.
As for nichirens pitch, you mention their technique which is not a state. Whereas this sutta of being able to walk while within jhana is not suggesting a change in technique but suggesting that within jhana, ones mind state encompasses walking etc, or that a ‘jhanic’ mind is higher than a bodily posture.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that your view is that part of the jhana description is sitting or that sitting is integral to its development I.e one needs to sit down, then…quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome phenomena, with thinking-&-pondering, and rapture-&-pleasure born of seclusion, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhana.

As you know the description doesn’t actually include sitting,but in some suttas it does precede the description, but there are other things which are there as well such as going alms-round, then afterwards entering into a empty dwelling or forest, gathering leaves for a seat and then sitting crossed legged.
Maybe this is why you think that sitting is intergral? If so, is crossing ones legs also necessary, what kind of leaves are required for the seat?

Sure, likewise if they say that’s its only possible while sitting.

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Maybe we should ‘upgrade’ our idea of what nibbana is as well…! Just kidding.

As Brexit shows, asking everyone how to define a specialist subject, is fraught with difficulties.

Leigh Brasington surveys the field in his website.

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BREXIT is pure dukkha! :laughing:


So Jhana 2.0 - the “upgrade” encompasses walking, (and I guess looking?). Now that got me wondering what this further “upgraded” Jhana 3.0 state would encompass and then it occurred to me. It could encompass lying, stealing, cheating and killing. Cool! No shame or feelings of guilt. Very resilient. :wink: - I can’t help feeling the psychopaths got there first though.


The critical term is evaṃbhūto, and it is referring to a state of samadhi:

“If while he is walking, standing, sitting, and lying down a bhikkhu is free from covetousness and ill will, free from sloth and torpor, free from restlessness and worry, and has abandoned doubts, his energy becomes strong and unflagging, his mindfulness is alert and unclouded, his body is calm and undistressed, his mind concentrated and one-pointed. A bhikkhu who in such a manner is ardent and afraid of wrongdoing is called constantly energetic and resolute.”

hoti vīriyaṃ asallīnaṃ, upaṭṭhitā sati asammuṭṭhā appamuṭṭhā, passaddho kāyo asāraddho, samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ. Carampi, bhikkhave, bhikkhu evaṃbhūto ātāpī ottāpī satataṃ samitaṃ āraddhavīriyo pahitattoti vuccati.


Not just mine. Would you consider that Ajahn Sujato has a deep and broad understanding of the EBT’s? Here is an extract from his book:

If there is no perception of sense objects, please do explain to me how walking is possible?

That is correct. What is important here is not my understanding, but rather the overwhelming mass of evidence my understanding (and that of Ajahn Sujato, Bhikkhu Bodhi, etc. etc.) is based upon.

Yes. So, we have two interpretations, one which I find more natural, one which apparently you find more natural. And then we have the a choice of which to take as more likely. So I ask you, is it more logical to choose the interpretation which is in direct conflict with all of the other EBT’s on this topic? Or is it more logical to choose the interpretation which is in line with all of the other EBT’s on this topic?

Perhaps you did not follow my explanation. According to the interpretation I have proposed, in the section on the brahmavihāras, the statement “When I’m practicing like this” would be fererring back to the section starting with:

“Brahmin, when I am living supported by a village or town, I robe up in the morning and, taking my bowl and robe, enter the town or village for alms.
“Idhāhaṃ, brāhmaṇa, yaṃ gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā upanissāya viharāmi, so pubbaṇhasamayaṃ nivāsetvā pattacīvaramādāya tameva gāmaṃ vā nigamaṃ vā piṇḍāya pavisāmi.

Exactly the same logic as I explained above would apply. It’s a lifestyle which includes seated brahmavihāra practice. And also includes walking around begging, eating food, and so on.

Proof please? How do you explain the Buddha being entirely unable to hear sound or feel physical vibrations while in jhāna? How do you explain the specific references in the EBT’s telling us that there is no sense experience in jhāna? How can you explain why there is not one single explicit reference to anyone doing jhāna while in any position other than seated motionless? And that this one example is the nearest you can get to such a reference, yet it is so indirect that most people, including the ancient commentators, do not take it as referring to jhāna while walking, and the section on walking makes no explicit reference to jhāna at all?

Can you not see that your assumption that “One’s understanding of what jhana is always wrong from the start.” is based on only one piece of evidence, which most people do not read as being evidence at all, since they read it as not saying what you claim it to be saying?

Or did I miss something - do you have any other sources to back up your claim that everyone has been wrong for millenia?

Nonsense. Why do you emphasise ‘stopping’? The first item is “Brahmin, when I am living supported by a village or town”. Do you suppose he stops ‘living supported by a village or town’ before proceeding to the next item? I do not. I presume it to be a regular feature of the lifestyle he is describing. Just as I take jhāna practice to be a regular feature of the lifestyle he is describing.

If we are to follow the commentaies I quoted above, we could take it as a literal sequence - I think this is over-literal, but, if you want to try that interpretation, then we have the beggar-monk sitting down to do jhāna practice, after which he is ‘divine’ while walking, sitting etc. even though without divine chariots to carry him or divine rugs to sit on. This is due to his inner qualities and felt experience.

Then we have a beggar-monk who sits to do brahmavihāra practice, after which he is walks like Brahmā, sits like Brahmā etc, even though without divine chariots to carry him…

So where do you get this strange idea:

Since your view disagrees with the apparently clear consensus view given in the EBT’s, as well as the commentaries, we are really talking about the view of the Buddhist community around 100 years after the Buddha’s death, and onwards. And, so far as I have ascertained from talking with Tibetan lamas, this view is held not only by Theravada but also by Tibetan Buddhism, two very different schools, which whos how wisedpread this view has appaently been from 100 years after the Buddha until now.

So when you say “Is it the case that as time goes on , that the general understanding of the suttas get clearer or even more obscured?”, can you confirm that your view is that this mistake was made over 2,300 years ago and the mistaken view managed to entirely eclipse the ‘genuine’ view in all of the schools we have evidence for (unless there is some evidence I’m missing?), and somehow all traces of the ‘genuine’ view managed to entirely dissapear, all that is except for this one text which you claim to mean this original and genuine meaning you have proposed?

Or do you have any evidence of any historical argument within Buddhism that walking is possible in the practice of the 4 jhānas?
I do hope you will not give any arguments from the Chan school!

This is an incorrect statement. I accept the possibility of there being evidence to refute my current view. However I have seen no evidence, and I have seen a vast collection of evidence for the view that I do hold. It would be entirely unscientific of me to change my view of the doctrine without evidence to back up a claim that my view is wrong.

Furthermore, that was only one of two points. Totally contradicting Buddhist doctrine makes the claim doctrinally illogical. That is not why I reject the possiblilty. It is the combination of the doctrinal illogicality; with the lack of evidence in this sutta also (thus not a single piece of conclusive evidence of the presence of any view in the EBT’s which contradict the standard view); and the practical experience of jhāna practitioners.

Ok then, how about Tibetan ‘nature of mind’ practice. They say they can rest in the nature of mind even while walking. That might be considered more formidable. Certainly Tibetans say it’s the highest practice! So then, will you call that the 4 jhānas? Because they very specifically do not! They specifically criticise jhāna practice because the senses are shut down. But, what if they did say that was jhāna - would you believe them, just because it’s ‘more formidable’?

No actually I believe it is possible in other stationary positions, such as lying down. But my belief against walking is founded on the evidence that the senses are very specifically inactive in jhāna. And since there is not a single reference to jhāna practice while being anything but stationary. This evidence seems to be only contradicted by your interpretation of this one passage. I do not see how you find this to therefore be a solid argument.

From the jhāna section of the sutta we are discussing:

I gather up some grass or leaves into a pile, and sit down cross-legged, with my body straight, and establish mindfulness right there.
So yadeva tattha honti tiṇāni vā paṇṇāni vā tāni ekajjhaṃ saṅgharitvā nisīdāmi pallaṅkaṃ ābhujitvā ujuṃ kāyaṃ paṇidhāya parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā.

How is it that you interpret this to not include sitting?

Consider this common instruction the Buddha gave, for example in SN 35.146:

Over there are the roots of trees; over there, empty dwellings. Practice jhana, monks. Don’t be heedless. Don’t later fall into regret. This is our message to you.
Etāni, bhikkhave, rukkhamūlāni, etāni suññāgārāni. Jhāyatha, bhikkhave, mā pamādattha; mā pacchāvippaṭisārino ahuvattha. Ayaṃ vo amhākaṃ anusāsanī”ti.

What do you suppose they were to do at the foot of a tree or in an empty dwelling/huts? From a teacher who keeps telling us about sitting down and doing jhāna practice, and the importance of removing ourselves from sense distractions, do you suppose he was telling us to go to quiet abandoned buildings and the foot of a tree to:

  1. Walk around
  2. Sit down

Also remember that every day they walked to beg for food. If jhāna practice were possible while walking, would this not be a perfect time for everyone to be practicing jhāna, on the way to get alms? So then why is it that we have not a single reference to jhāna practice while walking for alms? But rather, countless reports of jhāna practice happening while seated, after having returned from alms round?

Sure. However, the former claim at least gives the possiblity that they are practicing jhāna. For example, Tibetan Buddhists and Nichiren Buddhists claim to be following and practicing the Noble Eightfold Path. Since they both claim to have renounced jhāna practice, we can conclude that there is no possiblity that they are practicing the Noble Eightfold Path.

If someone is practicing jhāna, then they are not disqualified in that way. They might be practicing the Noble Eightfold Path. Their claim is not automatically proven, they may be failing to qualify in other ways. But you can see, the two cases are not the same. The former is categorically disqualified.

This is of course assuming that the EBT’s are not wrong in their description of jhāna. They could be wrong! However, one interpretation of one passage in one text, - an interpretation which contradicts the commentaries on the text, and which has been unable to establish itself as defeating the logic of the interpretations held for millenia even in the isolated context of this text - is surely not enough to lead to a valid conclusion that the wealth of teachings on this throughout the EBT’s are wrong on this point.

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One would have this view that one doesn’t perceive anything in first jhana ,if you think jhana is a type of mystical oblivious experience, rather than an experience which involves a steady mindful discernment. *see MN111

"Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, he entered and remained in the first jhana, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while thinking and pondering.

_And he distinguished the phenomena in the first jhana one by one: thinking and pondering and rapture and bliss and unification of mind; contact, feeling, perception, intention, mind, enthusiasm, decision, energy, mindfulness, equanimity, and attention
_He knew those phenomena as they arose, as they remained, and as they went away. "

As you can see from the above, perception is discerned in first jhana and there is a clear awareness of what is occuring.
Also and again, the first jhana description does no have sitting as part of it.
So walking would be possible because ones Discernment is quite established.

Secluded or withdrawn from senses means that one is in a mental position that is not moved by what is perceived , rather than the senses being switched off, they are active but not in unwholesome ways because they are guarded and restrained by a mind which is withdrawn from unwholesome mind states.
If a person ‘emerges’ from seated meditation and believes that they were doing jhana because they cannot recall perceiving anything and feel refreshed, its more likely the case that they just had a good sleep.

Again, just because the majority says so doesn’t make it right,
For example, Ajahn Sujato, the example you have used, might be a great scholar, translator etc etc but he might not have understood the MEANING of the suttas.

Yes,its nice proposal. One can certainly do such things while in jhana,brahmavihara and with a mind liberated,according to the sutta.

I do not claim that everyone is wrong, but certainly most are.
One understanding of jhana is wrong from the start because that’s how the process works First you read about jhana then think about what it means and try it out. Now the chances that one has understood jhana at ones first attempt is pretty much zero.

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I’ve taken a look at some of your references. In AN 4.11 there is not one single reference to jhāna.

Was that written with the sutta number given first, with explanation following? (Clearer punctuation would have helped!) If so, where is the reference to the claim ‘jhāna in all postures’? There is no mention of jhāna at all in AN 3.16.

Regarding AN 4.12 and the claim “jhāna in all 4 postures” - have you read the Pāli? Have you noticed that there is no mention whatsoever of jhāna in that sutta? Have you noticed that there is even no mention of samādhi?

It is totally possible to rather have this view on the basis that it is laid out in the EBT’s. And why you would propose there having to be no mindful discernment is beyond my understanding. Do you suppose that believing that walking is not possible in jhāna, means that mindful discernment is not possible? How have you come to that conclusion?

Please explain how you believe this is in any way connected to the idea of being able to walk or being able to experience sense perception. I can see no connection at all.

It sounds as if you think having no sense perception means having no perception. If that is your belief, then that is worth correcting, for that is not the view of the EBTs or jhāna meditators.

You quoed me referring to evidence, so you must logically be referring to ‘the majority of evidence’. In that case it is definitely interesting that you would not consider the answer the majority of actual evidence points to, as being the correct answer. Most people would go with the majority of evidence. Except here we apparently have a case where there is only one interpretation of one passage making a claim against the rest of the mass of evidence. In this case, saying that that majority might not be right, is an apparently very weak position, from a statistical point of view.

Correct. But my point was that of all the people who are in a position to be best equipped to understand that meaning, he is one of the most likely to be able to discern the meaning, due to his expertise in precisely what the EBT’s say. So I feel safe in saying that he has a far far higher chance than either of us at understanding what it means, and why that is so.

You seem to have not understood what I meant by my words.

I see. So it seems that you neither have evidence that your proposed view was ever held by anyone prior to … let’s say 20th century; nor even one reference to jhāna while moving, in any early EBT, with the exclusive exception of your interpretation of this one passage. It has been an interesting discussion but if that is the case, I do not think it will be beneficial for me to continue this same point in the absence of any argument based on direct evidence from the EBT’s.


This topic, having devolved into bickering, is being closed as having run it’s course.