To help the conversation I paste below the translation of the relevant passage, as found in MN36:
“I considered: ‘I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.
Could that be the path to enlightenment?’
Then, following on that memory, came the realisation: ‘That is indeed the path to enlightenment.’
“I thought: ‘Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?’
I thought: ‘I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states.’
“I considered: ‘It is not easy to attain that pleasure with a body so excessively emaciated. Suppose I ate some solid food—some boiled rice and porridge.’
And I ate some solid food—some boiled rice and porridge. Now at that time five bhikkhus were waiting upon me, thinking: ‘If our recluse Gotama achieves some higher state, he will inform us.’
“Now when I had eaten solid food and regained my strength, then quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.
But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.
“With the stilling of applied and sustained thought, I entered upon and abided in the second jhāna…
With the fading away as well of rapture…I entered upon and abided in the third jhāna…
With the abandoning of pleasure and pain…I entered upon and abided in the fourth jhāna…
But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.
“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives.
I recollected my manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births…as Sutta 4, §27…Thus with their aspects and particulars I recollected my manifold past lives.
“This was the first true knowledge attained by me in the first watch of the night. (…)
The Buddha already attained the 1st jhana when he was a child as per MN 36:
I considered: ‘I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion."
In MN 26, the Buddha already mastered both Rupa and ARupa jhanas when studying under the two masters Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. So basically He already had the tranquility components. But the other component vital to enlightenment, insight, was missing and that’s why He left the teachers to go on his own and eventually filled in the missing link by Himself.
That’s the STED (standard EBT definition) for first jhana that appears everywhere. It’s a stock phrase pericope, so however you interpret paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja vihariti , it would have to mean that everywhere, which would rule out “jhana for the first time”.
This is why I recommend people to memorize the standard formula for samma samadhi. It’s a short passsage. Once you know every word very clearly, you’ll never get confused about what factors are in which jhana.
from SN 45.8
STED right concentration
“katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāsamādhi?
What **, *********, is right concentration?
STED 1st Jhāna
withdrawn (from) sensuality,
vivicca akusalehi dhammehi
withdrawn (from) unskillful qualities,
paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.
first jhana (he) enters, dwells.
STED 2nd Jhāna
dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.
second Jhāna (he) enters, dwells.
STED 3rd Jhāna
pītiyā ca virāgā
Rapture ** fading,
upekkhako ca viharati
Equanimous ** (he) dwells,
sato ca sampajāno,
mindful and alert,
sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṃvedeti,
pleasure in-body (he) experiences,
yaṃ taṃ ariyā ācikkhanti —
that those Noble-Ones declare -
‘upekkhako satimā sukhavihārī’ti
“equanimous (and) mindful (he has) pleasant abiding.”
Tranquility (samatha) and insight (vipassanā) together, not separate, form the two sides of the dhamma meditation.
In the suttas the word vipassanā appears very unfrequently (some 30 entries for 400+ for samatha) and when it does vipassanā is always associated with samatha. One cannot “do” or “practice” insight (vipassanā) as a meditation; insight is like having an aha!-eureka moment; these moments happen outside our “doing” when conditions are right for them to happen. Deep insights usually appear unexpectedly in daily life (Archimedes was having a bath. Newton and the apple. Most scientific discoveries are made while the scientist is not thinking about it (of course the scientist has to do the footwork before)). jhānas are the conditions for deep vipassanā (insights) to occur either while meditating or after coming out. In the suttas there is no description of “vipassanā meditation”. Some people today are teaching “vipassanā meditation”; this is not dhamma.
So the Buddha didn’t discover insight (vipassanā) he discovered bhavana, a combination of samatha and vipassanā together not separate. Jhanas and how to use them was the key discovery of the Buddha.
My post is all about how long did it take him once he remembered his first experience with jhana as a boy, to discover, develop and master the four jhanas and progressively got the insights that culminated with his awakening night?
…he (Alara Kalama) taught Him (the Buddha) the seven attainments of serenity meditation ending in the base of nothingness, the third of the four immaterial attainments. Though these attainements are spiritually exalted, they are still mundane and not in themselves directly conducive to Nibbana.
In order to attain the ARupa, one’d need to attain the 4th Rupa jhana as the basis, which is frequently referred to in the suttas as the state of “imperturbable”/aninjita.
I don’t follow your logic here.
Remember that was before the “Dhamma” was discovered by the Buddha. He studied under those 2 teachers BEFORE the “Dhamma” was established.
I don’t think any sutta will answer this question.
What I quoted from MN36 suggests it was not an immediate thing. First the memory occurred to him, then he gained confidence it was a valuable thing to go for. To give it a try he had to revert some of the effects of the extreme austerities he was going through (he resumed eating). Only then, it seems, he was able to go through all four absorptions in a night gaining as result the threefold knowledge.
You gotta remember the full context of the His recalling in MN 36: He wasn’t able to attain enlightenment even after mastering the Rupa and ARupa jhanas under His 2 teachers. That’s why He left and tried another way: the practice of extreme severe austerities. That also didn’t work. But due to its not working, it triggered His memory about childhood. And the memory in turns lead to the realization that He gotta stop emaciating the body and start eating solid food again. Then one thing leads to another and the rest of the story you’d already knew.
Everything we know about what happened to the Buddha-to-be to become an Arahat is found in very few suttas in the MN (can someone please confirm that there is no information of this type in the SN AN DN and other collections). As result we can all have opinions including Bhikkhu Bodhi about for example what he learned from his two teachers. My opinion is that these two guys were of the Yogic tradition and thus where teaching the kind of meditation that Yogic people are still practicing today I.e what in the suttas is called attainments. The Theravada tradition wants you to believe that these attainments can only be reached after Jhana four. This is not true they can be reached directly from scratch. With this opinion of mine it is why I consider the recollection of the boy Jhana experience is key because the Buddha-to-be did not expérience Jhana since when he was a boy. And then back to the original question which of course has no answer in the suttas (as suttas are not dated or timed) which is now how long did he may have taken to discover Jhana 2,3,4 master them and got insights all the way to Nibbāna?
If you take MN36 as a reliable source for the account of the events he went all the way from jhana 1 to 4 and insights / visions in one night.
It remains an unanswerable/unsolvable/unresolvable question nevertheless if, in the period between giving up austerities, getting his body healthy and nourished again, he gradually experimented with jhanas.