Where in the EBT is sammā samādhi defined as 4 jhānas?

Searching for “sammā samād” and sammāsamād" (no space between two words) in DPR, I came across around 400 reference. By far most of them are just enumerating the list of the 8aam (noble eightfold path).

The only references I could find that actually define right concentration with the STED 4j (standard EBT definition of 4 jhanas), are:
mn 10, dn 22, mn 141, sn 45.8

It was a long search list, and I spent many hours looking through it, but I can’t guarantee I made no mistakes or misses.

The overall goal of the search, was to try to find an answer to the interesting discussion thread recently, to which I’ve not responded yet, on what samma samadhi actually is. I’ll share my findings after I research more, but for now I want to know if anyone knows any other references besides the 4 above that define samma samadhi = 4j.

And when you look at the 4 references carefully, I’d really only say one of them is legitimate. SN 45.8.

MN 141 is spoken by sariputta in an early abhidhamma style, and this whole sutta is added into DN 22 (maha satipatthana sutta). In other words, DN 22 is pretty much just MN 10 (satipatthana sutta) with MN 141 jammed in there under dhamma anupassana.

And since DPR is using the burmese canon, the burmese in the 6th council changed MN 10, and replace it with DN 22! (I learned that in B.Sujato’s history of mindfulness).

So really only SN 45.8 defines samma samadhi as the STED 4j formula.

By this I’m not trying to show that samma samādhi is not 4j, or does not include 4j, but what I suspect is the Buddha never explicitly defined it like SN 45.8, he left it up to people to infer what it means from the collection of teachings.


From the Agamas, this is a post I saved from a while back in SCDD. SA 784 resembles early theravada abhidhamma , the other one resembles MN 117

SA 784 unified, tranquil, not scattered

(from SC forum)
What is Right Samādhi?
That is to say, abiding with the mind not scattered,
firm and collected,
with tranquility, samādhi,
and unity of mind.

SA 785 mundane and supramundane

(from SC forum)
What is Right Samādhi? Right Samādhi has two types: there is Right Samādhi that is worldly, with outflows, with grasping, oriented towards a good destiny, and there is Right Samādhi that is noble, supramundane, without outflows, not grasping, correctly extinguishing suffering, oriented towards the end of suffering.
What is Right Samādhi that is worldly, with outflows, with grasping, oriented towards a good destiny? If the mind abides without disorder, without movement, and collected, with tranquility, samādhi, and unity of mind, then this is called Right Samādhi that is worldly, with outflows, with grasping, oriented towards a good destiny.
What is Right Samādhi that is noble, supramundane, without outflows, correctly extinguishing suffering, oriented towards the end of suffering? That is to say, a noble disciple contemplates suffering, accumulation, cessation, and the path, contemplating the path, contemplating without outflows associated with mental dharmas, abiding without disorder and without scattering, collected, with tranquility, samādhi, and unity of mind, then this is called Right Samādhi that is noble, supramundane, without outflows, without grasping, correctly extinguishing suffering, and oriented towards the end of suffering.

AN 5.28

In many Suttas, concentration (samādhi) is discussed, which then continues with the stock passage of the jhānas, however, there is no mention of ‘right’ (sammā)—being implied due to not having to differentiate between sammā and micchā, or the Eightfold Path not being the topic. If you were to calculate the number of times that jhāna is mentioned when samādhi is talked about, compared to when sāmadhi is mentioned, but another explanation of it is given, this would give you a better picture.

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Such a good question to research! And again how blinded I’ve been by tradition…

I would just add AN 5.28 that has five stages, the last one being " a bhikkhu has grasped well the object of reviewing (paccavekkhaṇānimittaṃ)"

I completely agree (adding AN 5.28), I also can’t take MN 10 and DN 22 as original, rather as collections themselves, the same with MN 141 which is in matika-style (wether the narrative gives Sariputta or not).

To get a little bit more into detail, usually sammasamadhi doesn’t come with qualifications and is just named as a path factor, so (especially since the definition as the jhanas is so rare suddenly) it’s good to look at ‘variants’:

a noble disciple with right concentration sees all form (feelings…) as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’
The noble disciple with right view understands as it really is: ‘This is suffering.’ (origin, cessation, path)
The noble disciple with right liberation has split the great mass of ignorance. AN 4.196

…a bhikkhu can patiently endure forms, sounds, odors, tastes, and tactile objects. Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu is capable of entering and dwelling in right concentration. AN 5.113

Bhikkhus, for a virtuous person, for one whose behavior is virtuous, right concentration possesses its proximate cause. AN 5.24, AN 6.50, AN 7.65, AN 8.81

(sila… non-regret… pamojja… piti… passaddhi… sukha…) When there is pleasure, (sukha) for one possessing pleasure, right concentration possesses its proximate cause. AN 10.3, AN 11.3

The SN is much simpler in that it just gives samma-samadhi in the context of the path, and in the MN or DN I couldn’t find other variations.

So for now I would conclude that we have no technical definition of samma-samadhi anymore!
We can say it’s in the path, and that it depends on sila - maybe depends on sukha, maybe on dis-identification from the khandhas, maybe it’s the jhanas.


I thought Samadhi is more than four Jhana’s.
Samadhi includes effort and mindfulness as well.

yes, but this is about the definition of samma-samadhi. Samadhi alone appears of course in many more contexts.

The three elements of viriya, sati and samadhi is the higher training in unification of mind (adhicitta sikkha). :slight_smile:

with metta

Could you elaborate this?

Sila, samadhi, and panna are the thrishiksha (in sanskrit, and borrowed sinhalese). I can only find you MN44, but there are suttas mentioning this. They are called adhisila, adhicitta and adhipanna too.

with metta

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Though not quite sammā samādhi, the faculty of samādhi is described in SN48.8 with the phrase:

And where, bhikkhus, is the faculty of concentration to be seen? The faculty of concentration is to be seen here in the four jhanas.

Kattha ca, bhikkhave, samādhindriyaṃ daṭṭhabbaṃ? Catūsu jhānesu—ettha samādhindriyaṃ daṭṭhabbaṃ.

so again indicative of a connection with the jhanas.

Language, though, is often imprecise. Some level of jhana, accompanied by the seven other eightfold path factors (as in SN45.28 though samādhi, not jhana, is mentioned there) is surely sammā samādhi, but perhaps sammā samādhi is broader than that? Maybe all of the above is sufficient but not necessary?

Jhana may not actually be required for stream-entry (though my reading would be that some level of jhana would be present afterwards). Perhaps sammā samādhi is broad enough to encompass a non-jhanic samādhi (though with all other path factors present in sufficient strength) that may suffice for one to become a sotāpanna? There’s samādhi (though maybe not at least initially with jhana) and it’s wholesome enough (deserving the label sammā) for one to make the breakthrough?

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Smadhi sutta vs Jhana Sutta:



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SN 48.8, 9, 10, 11 are all worthy a careful examination.
That there are so many slightly different definitions of samma samadhi and samadhi indriya, I think it very likely the buddha never made an “official” definition. I think SN 48.10 offers the most concise yet comprehensive definition for what I consider to be samma samadhi. It covers the “what”, “why”, “how”.

  1. why : samadhi aimed at vossaga “release” (nirvana)
  2. what: samadhi = ekagga citta
  3. how: 4 jhanas are how to develop samadhi to be highly quality and sharp enough to penetrate #1 (pierce into nirvana).

AN 5.28 is slightly different in that it’s “noble right samadhi with 5 factors”, and in a way, that 5th factor being shown how the 4j are used to understand all dhatu, and attain the 6ab (#6 is destruction of asavas), is a long winded confirmation of the concise 48.10 definition.

Below I show relevant passage from SN 48.9.
SN 48.10 is the same as 48.9, with 4 jhanas formula added.

Passsages suggesting sammā samādhi = citta ekagga


AN 4.29 samma samadhi not explicitly defined, but see verse

♦ “sammā-samādhi, bhikkhave, dhammapadaṃ
(4) Righteous-undistractable-lucidity is a Dhamma footstep,
aggaññaṃ rattaññaṃ
primal, of long standing,
vaṃsaññaṃ porāṇaṃ
traditional, ancient,
asaṃkiṇṇaṃ asaṃkiṇṇapubbaṃ,
un-mixed and never before mixed [with impurities],
na saṃkīyati na saṃkīyissati,
which are not being mixed and will not be mixed,
appaṭikuṭṭhaṃ samaṇehi brāhmaṇehi viññūhi.
which are not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins.


♦ “an-abhijjhālu vihareyya,
free-(from)-longing (one) should-dwell,
A-byāpannena cetasā.
no-ill-will (in) mind.
♦ sato ekagga-cittassa,
mindful, singular-mind,
ajjhattaṃ su-samāhito”ti.
internally, thoroughly,-undistractably-lucid [samādhi].

SN 48.9 samādhi-indriya definition is ekagga citta directed towards nirvana

♦ “katamañ-ca, bhikkhave, samādh-indriyaṃ?
"{And}-what, monks, (is) concentration-faculty?
idha, bhikkhave, ariya-sāvako
Here, monks, (a) disciple-of-the-noble-ones,
vossagg-ārammaṇaṃ karitvā
{having made} release-(as the)-object
labhati samādhiṃ,
(he) obtains concentration,
labhati cittassa ekaggataṃ —
(he) obtains {singleness of} mind -
idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, samādh-indriyaṃ.
this (is) called, *********, concentration-faculty.

SN 48 is indriya samyutta

SN 48.8 Daṭṭhabba: to-be-seen: faith faculty is to be seen here in the four factors of stream-entry. energy faculty is to be seen here in the four right strivings (4pd). mindfulness faculty to be seen in 4sp. concentration faculty to be seen in 4j (jhānas). discernment faculty to be seen in 4NT (noble truths).

SN 48.9 Vibhaṅga 1 [Indriyavibhaṅga 1]: Analysis 1: STED 5ind (faculties), of STED 37b

SN 48.10 Vibhaṅga 2 [Indriyavibhaṅga 2]: same as 48.9, with corresponding factors from 8aam added to 5ind. faith:same, viriya+samma vayamo (4pd), sati + samma sati, samadhi + samma samadhi 4j, panna + slightly different worded version of samma ditthi

SN 48.11 Paṭilābha: slightly different definitions of 5ind than SN 48.9 and SN 48.10


Thanks, interesting. I do rather like that sutta set. SN48.8 to 48.10 work very nicely as concise summaries of the entire path in its indriya form, and SN48 in general gives a slightly different angle on samadhi from the faculty perspective. Samadhi does crop up in other components of the 37 “wings to awakening”. However, IIRC there’s nothing anything near a definition in SN 36 (dealing with the seven enlightenment factors) and SN 50 (the five powers samyutta) is essentially just a mirror of SN48 (so nothing new there either). We’re probably getting about as close as we’re ever going to get to definitions in SN in those three suttas.

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AN 4.123 makes a strong case that 4j on it’s own (without the rest of the 8aam) is not really samma samadhi.

In other words, you need the samadhi-indriya definition from 48.10 to really be a complete definition for samma samadhi.

The samma samadhi definition from SN 45.8 (that it’s 4j only) would mean the non-buddhist from AN 4.123 doing 4j is doing samma samadhi, which he is not

SN 46 is the 7sb (sambojjhanga) samyutta, not SN 36.
SN 46.2 and SN 46.3 actually give some very important information about the 4j + samadhi, but is not a “definition” of samma samadhi.

7sb links: AN 10.3, 11.3, AN 8.81 , AN 7.65, AN 6.50
especially AN 10.3, AN 11.3, uses what I call 7sb+ formula, just a slightly modified sequence of 7sb, and in those suttas, what would occupy the samadhi-sambojjhanga slot is occupied in 7sb+ with “right concentration”.

Cool, thanks. I find section names rather than numbers much easier to remember. I actually looked up the numbers for those samyuttas before I wrote my post, and then promptly got one of them wrong by the time I had finished writing it! :slight_smile:

Those AN references look nice. I’ll check them out.

What is Samadhi-indriya?

When the Buddha discusses samādhi in relation to what should be developed (and he does so a significant number of times), he surely isn’t talking about miccha-samādhi or just the neutral function of samādhi.

You can’t come to conclusions by glossing over all the passages talking about samādhi (simply because sammā isn’t placed before it).

What if the 8fold path was not as defined as we got used to believe?
Meaning, there is not the one authoritative definition of what samma-ditthi is, but all the different views that the Buddha spoke highly of would mean ‘samma-ditthi’ in a non-dogmatic way.

See again for example how MN 9 is a Sariputta-sutta. So maybe the Buddha was kind of a bouquet of flowers, while people would go to Sariputta for an analytical exposition and definitions?

That would mean that if the context would tell us that it’s a ‘good’ samadhi it would fall into the vague samma-samadhi category without anyone really telling us that it is defined that way. And the same with the other path factors as well…


Is there any other place where ignorance has ‘taints’ as a definitive cause ? The explanation in MN 9 is somewhat circular.

With the arising of the taints there is the arising of ignorance.

With the arising of ignorance there is the arising of the taints. With the cessation of ignorance there is the cessation of the taints.