What was Jhāna, really?

I think jhana can be used atleast to solve drugs addiction, what do you think ?

Jhana…Best served chilled… :joy:


Respectfully, jhana is a means of experiencing impermanence and non self, it is those that help to bring enlightenment and realization. It is not the jhana experience itself but the insight gained from the experience. The same insight can be gained from watching a decomposing corpse. They are one and the same. It is about insight, not jhana which is an experience.

With Metta

In recent times there has been a growing division of sorts between Theravada traditions that emphasize the commentaries and de-emphasize jhana in favour of insight , like the ones you mentioned, and traditions that emphasize the suttas and jhana. Like Ven. NgXinZhao said, that debate is based on interpretations of certain texts, sometimes to the exclusion of others. There is no one universally accepted answer within Theravada to these points.

There have already been threads on this forum where people have argued for weeks over whether you need jhana, or what jhana even means. I recommend you look at those before reproducing all those arguments here.


Yes I have read those but I still am unconvinced

Maybe I should research the suttas and visuddhimagga more

Thanks Gabriel :slight_smile:

LOL This sort of goes right against my ‘non-proliferation’ stance :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: All too much speculating for my taste I’m afraid :smiley:

No matter what hypothesis is constructed, it will alter nothing. Views are just views… and arguments are such a waste of time…

If I had to speculate, I’d say that the answer is of the same nature as the answer to ‘Did the Buddha teach consent’ thread. That what we assume is normal now (in terms of mind hyperstimulation and information overload) was just not an issue then. The extent to which the intellect has risen to such primacy together with this new bombardment of sense and Mind stimulation/agitation/distraction has had an enormous impact, and can even be seen by the fact that the actual structure of the brain is being modified…

But, Life is short, there isn’t even a guarantee that we will live to see tomorrow. I keep the sense of urgency for practice alive by remembering the ‘head on fire’ image from the suttas - I’ll post it below, for those who may not be familiar with it :slight_smile:

So I have to ask… What is most worth focusing on, given that our attention is finite? What helps and what hinders progress on the Path? This stuff (speculation and arguments) is just ‘entertainment’ as far as I’m concerned. - There is absolutely nothing ‘wrong’ with it in itself, as long as one is making an informed choice about where to focus attention and what kind of outcomes to expect as a result :slight_smile:

with metta and best wishes

AN 6.20 extract
…And if I died from that it would stop my practice. ’ That mendicant should reflect: ‘Are there any bad, unskillful qualities that I haven’t given up, which might be an obstacle to me if I die tonight?’

Suppose that, upon checking, a mendicant knows that there are such bad, unskillful qualities. Then in order to give them up they should apply outstanding enthusiasm, effort, zeal, vigor, perseverance, mindfulness, and situational awareness. Suppose your clothes or head were on fire. In order to extinguish it, you’d apply intense enthusiasm, effort, zeal, vigor, perseverance, mindfulness, and situational awareness. In the same way, in order to give up those bad, unskillful qualities, that mendicant should apply outstanding enthusiasm


Sorry for my clumsy invitation to proliferate. Still, views have obviously a place in early Buddhism as well as they inform the following actions. Not sure if overthinking is mainly a modern phenomenon and unfair to exprect the suttas to help. After all, the mindset that pretty soon led to Abhidhamma should have been in its seed observeable already at the Buddha’s time. We also have the caution-sutta where the victim of an arrow wants conceptual knowledge before getting the arrow removed.

So I assume that philosophically-minded monastics struggled with bringing about the right conditions for jhana and that there were creative solutions to this problem which took into account some specific aspects of the thinking-mind. My guess is that most of these specific discussions and instructions didn’t find their way into the suttas - maybe because of the forest-village divide that got out of fashion.

Anyhow, I would love to see more of these specific teaching from jhana teachers

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Ajahn Brahm keeps on mentioning that. Doesn’t matter what’s happening now. What matters is the space between you and the object of meditation. Make peace, be kind, be gentle. Don’t fight, don’t follow, just know. What’s happening is past kamma, what your relationship is with what’s happening that’s your present kamma, generating the results of peace, stillness, contentment.

Let’s have a science analogy. Yes, ultimately insight is seeing the microbes in action and to diagnose what’s causing suffering (sickness). However, without a microscope, one cannot hope to see microbes properly, one can grow microbes in petri dishes, but it’s not the same as seeing it’s entire cell structure. is it a bacteria, a protozoa, or a virus? What type of virus is it? What shape? What’s the vaccine strategy?

The microscope is Jhana. Sure, you can go the slow way of trying every vaccine to see what works, or you can do it the smart way, get a microscope, use science, get the vaccine fast, so that we can end this pandemic fast.

Dunno, I follow the dhamma talks and commentaries as well on that. And also, logic. The Buddha had in some suttas said that it’s impossible to abandon 5 lower fetters without Jhanas, so logic says that those who got enlightened by listening to a talk, their minds had been Jhana trained.

Maybe you’re not familiar with the full Devadatta story? Also, I dunno what basic assumption you’re trying to disprove here.

He got Jhanas, but didn’t attain to stream winner. So it’s important not to stop, but keep on going until at least stream winner. Devadatta had pride overcome him, so after a while, he lost his Jhanas due to evil states of mind. Having lost the Jhanas and done 2 of the 5 heavy evil kammas, he got into hell. Even if someone has Jhanas, once they commit the 5 heavy evil kammas, the Jhanas are lost and they go to hell. A stream winner cannot commit the 5 heavy evil kammas.

It’s the mind freed from the 5 hinderances, typically after emerging from Jhanas which one uses to do vippassana. Not within Jhanas, which cannot have gross thoughts. Initial and sustained application are more subtle than gross thoughts.

This is because they were not combined with Right View. Without this, there is no Wise Attention, and one proliferates all over the place, interpreting the experiences based on whatever conceptual constructions exist in the observer… These won’t lead to Liberation though… Without the full comprehension of the Dependently Arisen nature of Jhana, the experiences are taken to be some kind of permanent place or thing/essence/universal consciousness etc.

Hence the fundamental importance of the sequence in the N8fP.

Hommage to the Buddha, in breaking through all the way to cessation, and expounding it so clearly to give the rest of us a chance to end the cycle of samsara.

:thaibuddha: :dharmawheel: :thaibuddha:
:anjal: :anjal: :anjal:


That’s convincing bhante so by unification of mind as right concentration can we assume that the 4 factors of jhana exist before unification of mind ?

he lost his physic power not jhana, you know not all jhana attainers attain physic power

Overcome by gain, honor, and fame, Devadatta started desiring to lead the Sangha of monks. But with the appearance of that thought, his supernormal powers disappeared.

But the buddha said sariputta did observation of jhana phenomenas as they arose not minutes or hours after they arose

And he distinguished the phenomena in the first absorption one by one: placing and keeping 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. He understood: ‘So it seems that these phenomena, not having been, come to be; and having come to be, they flit away.’ And he meditated without attraction or repulsion for those phenomena; independent, untied, liberated, detached, his mind free of limits. He understood: ‘There is an escape beyond.’ And by repeated practice he knew for sure that there is.

Even in other sutta there’s no explicit emergence of jhana furthermore if you look at the end of this sutta buddha said while abiding in jhana or deathless element not outside of it they attain arahantship

quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.
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 element: ‘This is peaceful; this is sublime—that is, the stilling of all activities, the letting go of all attachments, the ending of craving, cessation, extinguishment.’ Abiding in that they attain the ending of defilements.

The only explicit emergence of jhana is during buddha’s parinibbana

Then the Buddha emerged from the cessation of perception and feeling and entered the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. Emerging from that, he successively entered into and emerged from the dimension of nothingness, the dimension of infinite consciousness, the dimension of infinite space, the fourth absorption, the third absorption, the second absorption, and the first absorption. Emerging from that, he successively entered into and emerged from the second absorption and the third absorption. Then he entered the fourth absorption. Emerging from that the Buddha immediately became fully extinguished.

Buddhaghosa disagreed with the buddha here he said only after you emerge from jhana you do insight practices but I side with buddhaghosa here just for practical purpose

Vism 4.132
When he has emerged from the first jhána, applied and sustained thought
appear gross to him as he reviews the jhána factors with mindfulness and full
awareness, while happiness and bliss and unification of mind appear peaceful.
Then, as he brings that same sign to mind as “earth, earth” again and again
with the purpose of abandoning the gross factors and obtaining the peaceful
factors, [knowing] “now the second jhána will arise,” there arises in him
mind-door adverting with that same earth kasióa as its object, interrupting the
life-continuum. After that, either four or five impulsions impel on that same
object, the last one of which is an impulsion of the fine-material sphere belonging
to the second jhána. The rest are of the sense sphere of the kinds already stated

I have read not just devadatta stories but all of vinaya chapters but there are 2 chapters that I have not fully read and those are full of repetition and permutation of things I have read

I dunno, maybe a good question to ask Ajahn Brahm if you ever attend his retreats.

Oh, since physic powers depends on Jhanas, and Jhanas depends on virtue, I assume the lost of virtue caused lost of Jhanas, which caused lost of physic powers.

I dunno how to answer for MN 111, ask Ajahn Brahm that too.

Though I’ve no opinion one way or the other about Ledi’s meditative achievements, I would note that the sayadaw’s reported ability to levitate would not in fact be probative of jhānic attainment.

At least not if you’re taking the Visuddhimagga as your authority on such matters. According to Buddhaghosa, although levitation can be an instance of iddhividhā abhiññā (which would require mastery of the fourth jhāna), it can also be an effect of uplifting rapture (ubbenga pīti), the fourth of the four kinds of non-jhānic raptures.

From the chapter on the earth kasina:

Uplifting rapture can be powerful enough to levitate the body and make it spring up into the air. For this was what happened to the Elder Mahā-Tissa, resident at Punnavallika. He went to the shrine terrace on the evening of the full-moon day. Seeing the moonlight, he faced in the direction of the Great Shrine [at Anurādhapura], thinking, “At this very hour the four assemblies are worshipping at the Great Shrine!” By means of objects formerly seen [there] he aroused uplifting rapture with the Enlightened One as object, and he rose into the air like a painted ball bounced off a plastered floor and alighted on the terrace of the Great Shrine.

And this was what happened to the daughter of a clan in the village of Vattakālaka near the Girikandaka Monastery when she sprang up into the air owing to strong uplifting rapture with the Enlightened One as object. As her parents were about to go to the monastery in the evening, it seems, in order to hear the Dhamma, they told her: “My dear, you are expecting a child; you cannot go out at an unsuitable time. We shall hear the Dhamma and gain merit for you.” So they went out. And though she wanted to go too, she could not well object to what they said. She stepped out of the house onto a balcony and stood looking at the Ākāsacetiya Shrine at Girikandaka lit by the moon. She saw the offering of lamps at the shrine, and the four communities as they circumambulated it to the right after making their offerings of flowers and perfumes; and she heard the sound of the massed recital by the Community of Bhikkhus. Then she thought: “How lucky they are to be able to go to the monastery and wander round such a shrine terrace and listen to such sweet preaching of Dhamma!” Seeing the shrine as a mound of pearls and arousing uplifting rapture, she sprang up into the air, and before her parents arrived she came down from the air into the shrine terrace, where she paid homage and stood listening to the Dhamma.

When her parents arrived, they asked her, “What road did you come by?” She said, “I came through the air, not by the road,” and when they told her, “My dear, those whose cankers are destroyed come through the air. But how did you come?” she replied: “As I was standing looking at the shrine in the moonlight a strong sense of rapture arose in me with the Enlightened One as its object. Then I knew no more whether I was standing or sitting, but only that I was springing up into the air with the sign that I had grasped, and I came to rest on this shrine terrace.”

So uplifting rapture can be powerful enough to levitate the body, make it spring up into the air.


Thanks bhante just fyi Ven ledi left a note which was founded after his death saying he have mastered all four jhanas and will reborn as disciple of mateyya the next buddha

Equating Ven ledi to ajahn brahm would do injustice to ajahn brahm since Ven ledi were able to memorize the entire 9000 pages of abhidhamma too which conservatives buddhist believe are words of buddha

Ven Ajahn -
Re: - “the four kinds of non-jhānic raptures.”

Is there a way to tell a rapture Jhanic or else?

In the Visuddhimagga’s scheme only what’s called “suffusing (or pervading) rapture” (pharaṇa-pīti) is regarded as jhānic, though the four lesser kinds may be experienced en route to jhāna. The names for these types of rapture aren’t found in the Suttas, though I suspect the concept of suffusing rapture may have it’s origin in one of the Buddha’s jhāna similes:

“Great king, suppose a skilled bath attendant or his apprentice were to pour soap-powder into a metal basin, sprinkle it with water, and knead it into a ball, so that the ball of soap-powder be pervaded by moisture, encompassed by moisture, suffused with moisture inside and out, yet would not trickle. In the same way, great king, the bhikkhu drenches, steeps, saturates, and suffuses his body with the rapture and happiness born of seclusion, so that there is no part of his entire body which is not suffused by this rapture and happiness.
DN 2

And this is the Visuddhimagga’s account of the five pītis (omitting ubbenga as I already quoted that in my earlier post:

Rapture and bliss: it refreshes (pīnayati), thus it is rapture (pīti). It has the characteristic of endearing (sampiyāyanā). Its function is to refresh the body and the mind; or its function is to pervade. It is manifested as elation. But it is of five kinds as minor rapture, momentary rapture, showering rapture, uplifting rapture, and pervading rapture.

Herein, minor rapture is only able to raise the hairs on the body. Momentary rapture is like flashes of lightning at different moments. Showering rapture breaks over the body again and again like waves on the sea shore.

[Skip uplifting rapture]

But when pervading rapture arises, the whole body is completely pervaded, like a filled bladder, like a rock cavern invaded by a huge inundation.


Could you state what you agree and disagree with visuddhimagga bhante ?

Just an interesting sutta about jhānas and ‘eggshell’, given by Ananda with Buddha’s approval:
MN 53

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Just a quick poll

So what’s jhana ?
  • you can still hear sound there
  • you can’t hear sound there
  • you can do vippassana there
  • you can’t do vippassana there
  • It is not needed to attain nibbana
  • It is needed to attain nibbana

0 voters

I found another argument here you said experience about jhana is more important than Pali mastery but ajahn chah said that during jhana you can still hear sound now it’s ajahn chah who taught jhana to ajahn brahm so obviously there’s misunderstanding here between the student and the teacher, what do you think ?

Hi Ratana,

If I recall correctly from his talks, Ajahn Brahm developed his meditation extensively on retreats in the UK before he ordained. Many of Ajahn Chah’s students, including Ajahn Brahm, ordained with other teachers before meeting Ajahn Chah.

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