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Variations in Strength of Jhana in the Abhidharmasamuccaya

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I was going through Asanga's Abhidharmasamuccaya and found something in relation to the whole 'Jhana Wars' thing that was interesting.

In the section describing the cultivation of the Jhanas, they are clearly described as having varying degrees of strength/weakness:

"What is definition by their grade (mdtrdvyavasthdna)? The first absorption (dhyana) can be cultivated weakly (mrduparibbavita), cultivated in a middling way (madhyaparibbavita) and cultivated strongly (adhimatraparibbavita). As it is for the first absorption, so it is for the other absorptions and formless states (arupya). The result of the first absorption cultivated in a weak, middling or strong way consists of three places of birth pertaining to the first absorption. As it is for the first absorption, so it is for the other absorptions..."

http://lirs.ru/lib/Abhidharmasamuccaya,Asanga,Rahula,1971,Boin-Webb,2001.pdf
- page 152

Apart from this, Jhana is primarily defined by the presence/absence of Jhana factors (vitarka, vicara, piti, sukha, cittaikagrata, upekkha, sampajanna...etc).


So for anyone who is interested in or values the perspective of Asanga and his school of Indian Buddhism, especially in comparison to others, there ya go.
It seems that achieving a precise and specific degree of intensity was not seen as a necessary qualifier for what "Jhana" is, and that there was room for weaker vs stronger Jhanas, defined mainly by the Jhana factors themselves.

Not sure how helpful this is since it is just textual theory, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

RE: Variations in Strength of Jhana in the Abhidharmasamuccaya
Answer
6/19/20 5:27 PM as a reply to WPCK.
WOW - great find!  I'd like to call myself an amatuer buddhist scholar, having an interest in it beyond the scope of what might be considered pragmatic.  I love finding little things like this in the ancient texts that actually back up modern interpretations of things.  Asanga, interestingly, is the originator (or at least textual organizer) of the so-called 'elephant path' featured in TMI.  His brother Vasabandhu wrote extensively on proving karma & rebirth.  They were both at Nalanda in India & were participants in cross-lineage discourse between Mahayana & Theravada & others.

RE: Variations in Strength of Jhana in the Abhidharmasamuccaya
Answer
6/19/20 6:38 PM as a reply to WPCK.
Very cool!

RE: Variations in Strength of Jhana in the Abhidharmasamuccaya
Answer
6/29/20 10:24 AM as a reply to WPCK.
Awesome find!  It made me haul off the shelf Jewels from the Treasury, which contains Vasubandhu's Verses on the Tresury of Abhidharma and the Ninth Karmapa's commentary on it, Youthful Play (translated by David Karma Choephel, 2012 KTD Publications).
Here's what I found frrom the verses and comentary on page 217:

ii. Specific Classification

(1) The classification of the first three

       2c    Each of the dhyanas has three levels

In that Form realm, of the four dhyanas, each of the first three dhyanas has three levels: the first has Brahma's abode and so forth [123]. Each dhyana is divided into three levels because it can be caused by lesser, medium, or greater absorption.

(2) the classification of the fourth

       2d    But the fourth dhyana has eight levels

On the fourth dhyana, there are three levels of Cloudless and so forth [124] for ordinary individuals who have meditated on it. Nobles can have five levels of the absorption of alternation, such as the lesser, medium, and so forth absorption of alternation [125]. Corresponding to these, there are five pure abodes [126]. Thus the level of the fourth dhyana has eight levels.

Footnotes:
[123] The three levels of the first dhyana Brahma's Abode, Brahma's Ministers, and Great Brahma. The three levels of the second dhyana are Lesser Light, Immeasurable Light, and Radiant Light. The three levels of the third dhyana are Lesser Virtue, V Virtue and Full Virtue.
[124]The threee impure levels of the fourth dhyana are Cloudless, Merit Born, and Great Result.
[125]The alternation of dhyanas is where nobles switch rapidly back and forth between defiled and undefiled dhyanas. There are five different levels of alternation See VI.42-43.
[126]The five pure abodes are Not Great, Without Pain, Excellent Appearance, Great Vision and Below None.