Why didn't the buddha know how to attain first jhana when he already attained dimension of neither perception nor non Perception from his previous teacher(rama)?

Why did he need to remember his childhood to attain first jhana ?

Does attainment of dimension of neither perception nor non perception imply attainment of first jhana ?

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I forget where I read it (maybe in one of Johannes Bronkhorst’s books), but one scholar has argued that the formless jhanas aren’t Buddhist and weren’t even accepted by early Buddhists. I can’t remember the argument in detail, but it was partly based on inconsistencies in different suttas.

Their inclusion in Buddhism has always seemed a bit strange to me. I mean, the Buddha mastered them under different teachers before his enlightenment, realized they didn’t lead to Nibbana, realized the form jhanas did, attained enlightenment through the form jhanas, but them ends up teaching the formless jhanas later? It all seems a bit off to me.

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Ajahn @Brahmali touched on that in one of the sessions on the topic of the noble eightfold path currently happening every Saturday in BSWA’s Dhammaloka centre.

In short, a possible answer is that that experience and attainment of samadhi by the Buddha-to-be was not yet properly preceded by a fully developed set of the other seven factors of the path: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort and right mindfulness.

That possibly only occurred on the night in which the Buddha attained to the three superhuman knowledges (tevijja) mentioned across the EBTs such as AN3.59:

"Master Gotama, how is one a master of the three knowledges in the training of the noble one? Master Gotama, please teach me this.”

“Well then, brahmin, listen and pay close attention, I will speak.”

“Yes sir,” Jāṇussoṇi replied. The Buddha said this:

“Brahmin, it’s when a mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures … enters and remains in the fourth absorption.

When their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it toward recollection of past lives. They recollect many kinds of past lives, with features and details. This is the first knowledge that they attain. Ignorance is destroyed and knowledge has arisen; darkness is destroyed and light has arisen, as happens for a meditator who is diligent, keen, and resolute.

When their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it toward knowledge of the death and rebirth of sentient beings. With clairvoyance that is purified and surpasses the human, they understand how sentient beings are reborn according to their deeds. This is the second knowledge that they attain. Ignorance is destroyed and knowledge has arisen; darkness is destroyed and light has arisen, as happens for a meditator who is diligent, keen, and resolute.

When their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it toward knowledge of the ending of defilements. They truly understand: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering’. They truly understand: ‘These are defilements’ … ‘This is the origin of defilements’ … ‘This is the cessation of defilements’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of defilements’. Knowing and seeing like this, their mind is freed from the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. When they’re freed, they know they’re freed.

They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’ This is the third knowledge that they attain. Ignorance is destroyed and knowledge has arisen; darkness is destroyed, and light has arisen, as happens for a meditator who is diligent, keen, and resolute."

I understand that the third knowledge he attained to was exactly the inference that was exactly the convergence of the eight factors of the path which eventuated in that awakening to the four Noble truths and the path they point to and stem from. :slightly_smiling_face:

Additionally, if you see how right stillness / immersion is defined (samma samadhi) in EBTs , its phrasing does not point exactly to the attainment of neither perception nor non-perception.

It is worth referring to AN9.36 in which we see these other absorptions listed as possible basis for awakening and clearly presented in addition to the four jhanas.

:anjal:

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If the sutta is read carefully the focus is not on the attainment of jhana but on the pleasant feeling that accompanied it:

"I thought: ‘So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?’ I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities "—MN 36

This then relates to the second tetrad and second foundation, where pleasant feelings not of the flesh are not to be feared, but developed.

See my post here:

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See this previous thread: Buddhas first jhana as a child - #7 by Gabriel_L

Another interesting point that I’ve heard Ajahn Brahm mention is that when coming out of the 4th formless attainment, you’re either a nonreturner or an arahant.

Does anyone know if this is an EBT statement or one referenced in the commentaries? (I’m assuming it’s the latter.)