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Jhana and the Noble Disciples

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Jhana and the Noble Disciples
Answer
11/27/11 9:55 AM
This is an excerpt of Bhante G's writing:

http://www.palikanon.com/english/the_jhanas/jhanas06.htm

One thing I realized recently about this typology is that it implies that if a person who has faith or wisdom but has not attained stream entry, they cannot experience the arupa jhanas (the "peaceful immaterial deliverances transcending material form"); or, perhaps in other words, one with faith or wisdom who experiences the immaterial jhanas must be a stream-enterer at the minimum.

Is there something meaningful to be found here?

In my experience, to access the arupa jhanas (not what MCTB calls the arupa jhanas, but something else) requires a very high degree of concentration, which suppresses passion and craving to a great degree...it is possible that one with sufficient faith or wisdom (according to this typology) who experiences that will automatically become a stream-enterer (which may or may not be MCTB 1st path) by observing the relationship between that suppression of passion and craving, the suppression of the sense of self, and the suppression of suffering.

I don't really know what to make of this counterintuitive-to-me implication, but if anyone has some thoughts, they would be welcomed.

RE: Jhana and the Noble Disciples
Answer
12/4/11 10:10 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
Why is that counter-intuitive? Faith and wisdom?

I mean, you somehow swallowed the assumption at some point that meditation gets you enlightened, right? How counter-intuitive is that?

Did you accept that assumption on faith? That's faith right there, one of the factors that seemed counter-intuitive as a condition for stream-entry.

As for wisdom: understanding, seeing, or knowing experience in terms of suffering (the four noble truths) is the definition of stream-entry.

I.e. it doesn't matter one bit how you enter the stream - getting in the water is what counts, not what avoidance tactics you employed on the shore ;)

You have to believe you can get it (faith) and you have to get it (wisdom).

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Jhana and the Noble Disciples
Answer
12/4/11 10:38 AM as a reply to Florian.
The counter-intuitive part is that if you have sufficient faith or wisdom (along with the other faculties), and you attain a formless jhana, that implies you are (or causes you to be) at least a stream enterer...else, you would be excluded from the typology completely.

A logical oversight, or a surprising truth?

Sorry if I was unclear about that. I don't see any reason to think that faith is less important than any other characteristic. In some ways, it's more important.

As for wisdom: understanding, seeing, or knowing experience in terms of suffering (the four noble truths) is the definition of stream-entry.


Only when done at a sufficiently high level. This practice is endorsed as the way to stream entry, i.e. one will have to build one's understanding sufficiently in order to get there.

RE: Jhana and the Noble Disciples
Answer
12/4/11 12:40 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
some more stuff about formless jhana and stream entry from dhammasukha

for some context - breathing in+out contemplating inconstancy = infinite space then infinite consciousness (according to bhante vimalaramsi)

breathing in+out contemplating dispassion = nothingness (according to bhante vimalaramsi)

bhante vimalaramsi:
MN: He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in contemplating cessation'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out contemplating cessation.'

BV: Now this is called the eighth jhāna.

H: "Again, by completely surmounting the base of nothingness, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.

BV: Now, your mind before, got very big. Now your mind starts to get small, and smaller, and smaller, and smaller, and it gets so fine, that it’s difficult to tell whether it’s there or not.
S:~
BV: Not like floating.
S: ~
BV: This is all different perceptions of mind. It’s not blank. Your mindfulness is still there. You have energy. You have joy. You have investigation. You have stillness. You have tranquility. You have equanimity. But it gets very fine, very subtle. That’s why this is called cessation, because you can’t tell, sometimes, whether there’s a mind there or not, or whether there’s a perception of anything or not.
Now -
MN: He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in contemplating relinquishment'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out contemplating relinquishment.'

BV: Now, I was talking about vibration before. Now your mind is vibrating at such a high speed, that you can’t tell whether it’s moving or not, or whether it’s vibrating or not, and eventually, it gets to a place where it turns off, and this is called, the cessation, of perception and feeling. You don’t have any perception; you don’t have any feeling. It’s just like somebody turned off the light. When you’re in this state, you don’t know you’re in this state. There’s no knowing – there’s no perception at all. Now this in Pāli, is called nirodha-samāpatti. Nirodha-samāpatti - cessation of perception and feeling. Now, this is not the state of nibbana, yet. Let me define the word “nibbana”, because there’s some mis-understanding, sometimes. The word “nibbana” means putting out the fire. Ok? That’s literally what it means, putting out the fire. The fire of craving.

Now, there’s two different kinds of nibbana. One is a mundane kind of nibbana – it’s very worldly. Now, every time you have an emotional state, and you finally let that go, that is a state of nibbana. But it’s mundane. The super mundane nibbana, that is other-worldly. That’s the one that we’re working for. Ok? Now the way you attain the super-mundane nibbana, is by having, this nirodha-samāpatti, occur. And then, when you come out of nirodha-samāpatti, what do you see? You see Dependent Origination, forwards and backwards. Dependent Origination has twelve links, and you see it very quickly, and you see, this is the cause of that, that is the cause of this, and you see the cause and effect relationships, but it’s fast. Bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. Bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. While it’s going up, you’re seeing the second noble truth. While it’s coming down, you’re seeing the third noble truth. This is how you experience the super-mundane nibbana.

When you get down to the letting go of ignorance, there is a change, that happens. There is a letting go, that happens in your mind, and this is how you get to become a saint. This is how you become a sotāpanna. Quite nice, actually. And there’s all kind of things that happen after that, but I’m not going to tell you about it. But it is a very, very, wonderful thing to happen. Very good.

MN: 22. "Bhikkhus, that is how mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, so that it is of great fruit and great benefit.

BV: Now, if, you see Dependent Origination, the more clearly you see it, that depends what state you get to. If you see it, very, very quickly, that means that you’re a sotāpanna. If you see it, - more clearly, and not quite so quickly, that means that you get to the state of sakadāgāmi, that’s the second state. Then, if you see it, even more clearly for a longer period of time, that means you become an, anāgāmi, that’s the third stage of sainthood. If you see it very, very clearly, and you can contemplate it for a period of time, that, means that you get to become, an arahat.


http://www.dhammasukha.org/Study/Talks/Transcripts/MN-118-U-TS.htm

btw, don't the suttas state that there is an experience of nibbana that leads to stream entry? i know thanissaro bhikkhu always mentions that there is the opening of the 'dhamma-eye' and the first sight of the deathless with stream entry, and he doesn't ever seem to claim anything unless it is directly stated in the suttas. not that what i just said constitutes proof, but does anyone know of the suttas making that direct statement?

RE: Jhana and the Noble Disciples
Answer
12/4/11 1:17 PM as a reply to josh r s.
btw, don't the suttas state that there is an experience of nibbana that leads to stream entry? i know thanissaro bhikkhu always mentions that there is the opening of the 'dhamma-eye' and the first sight of the deathless with stream entry, and he doesn't ever seem to claim anything unless it is directly stated in the suttas. not that what i just said constitutes proof, but does anyone know of the suttas making that direct statement?


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/vin/mv/mv.01.23.01-10.than.html

Then to Sariputta the wanderer, as he heard this Dhamma exposition, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."

Even if just this is the Dhamma,
you have penetrated
to the Sorrowless (asoka) State
unseen, overlooked (by us)
for many myriads of aeons.

Then Sariputta the wanderer went to Moggallana the wanderer. Moggallana the wanderer saw him coming from afar and, on seeing him, said, "Bright are your faculties, my friend; pure your complexion, and clear. Could it be that you have attained the Deathless?"

"Yes, my friend, I have attained the Deathless. "

RE: Jhana and the Noble Disciples
Answer
12/4/11 1:34 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
For what it's worth, I had a similar (but perhaps not identical) experience to what Bhante V describes; I was able to watch the way emotions arose from vedana, and thought something like: "Oh, so that's how these defilements come into existence!" And then they stopped coming into existence in the same way (leaving "shadow" residue only).

I don't remember how many times I contemplated this, or what order, or whether there was NS immediately before it or not. I don't recall anything about other links of DO, either because I wasn't paying attention to that, or there wasn't anything like that to pay attention to.

RE: Jhana and the Noble Disciples
Answer
12/7/11 5:58 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
The counter-intuitive part is that if you have sufficient faith or wisdom (along with the other faculties), and you attain a formless jhana, that implies you are (or causes you to be) at least a stream enterer...else, you would be excluded from the typology completely.

A logical oversight, or a surprising truth?


So what is "sufficient faith"? Is it the same as attenuating the fetter of doubt in the ten-fetter teaching? Is "sufficient wisdom" the same as attenuating the same fetter? Can "faith" and "wisdom" be applied to the other two fetters similarly? If so, counterintuitive problem solved emoticon

End in Sight:
Sorry if I was unclear about that. I don't see any reason to think that faith is less important than any other characteristic. In some ways, it's more important.


Well, I used to think that some of these typologies were geared towards getting wealthy householders signed up for Dana. You know, as a kind of Dhamma indulgence.

Interesting subject.

End in Sight:
As for wisdom: understanding, seeing, or knowing experience in terms of suffering (the four noble truths) is the definition of stream-entry.


Only when done at a sufficiently high level. This practice is endorsed as the way to stream entry, i.e. one will have to build one's understanding sufficiently in order to get there.


If you mean "very thoroughly and with uncompromising self-honesty" by "at a sufficiently high level", then I wholeheartedly agree.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Jhana and the Noble Disciples
Answer
12/7/11 8:09 AM as a reply to Florian.
I don't have a criterion for what "sufficient" means in any of these contexts...the suttas seem to have something in mind, and I am merely deferring to their criteria (without knowing them in detail).

RE: Jhana and the Noble Disciples
Answer
12/7/11 4:02 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
for an alternate reading of the related suttas (including AN I, 118-120), and thus an alternate interpretation of the typology formulated on their basis, see chapter 4 of richard gombrich's 'how buddhism began: the conditioned genesis of the early teachings', entitled 'retracing an ancient debate: how insight worsted concentration in the pali canon'.

among the topics covered/issues addressed are:
  • insight vs concentration ... vs faith
  • ceto vimutti vs panna vimutti
  • scholastic literalism in exegesis
  • the apparent reworking of the pali canon's version of the susima sutta

tarin

RE: Jhana and the Noble Disciples
Answer
12/9/11 6:37 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Oh nice! My bookseller was only able to track down a used copy. I'm looking forward to reading this, the preview on Amazon certainly looked interesting.

Thanks!

Florian