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A possible explanation for the jhana war

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A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/12/15 1:02 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Chuck Kasmire 1/12/15 1:38 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/12/15 2:56 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Chuck Kasmire 1/13/15 6:07 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Conner Patrick Joyce 1/21/15 7:12 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/21/15 11:00 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Chuck Kasmire 1/22/15 1:46 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/22/15 3:12 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/22/15 4:51 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Pål 1/23/15 2:13 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Chuck Kasmire 1/23/15 2:26 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/24/15 12:26 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Chuck Kasmire 1/25/15 7:22 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war CJMacie 1/27/15 4:52 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/27/15 11:21 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Nicky 1/28/15 5:11 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/28/15 12:49 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Chuck Kasmire 1/28/15 2:12 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Psi 1/28/15 4:56 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/28/15 6:29 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Psi 1/28/15 7:20 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Nicky 1/28/15 5:09 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Nicky 1/28/15 4:19 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Nicky 1/28/15 4:17 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Pål 1/23/15 2:19 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war CJMacie 1/23/15 7:39 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Pål 1/24/15 6:24 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/24/15 4:35 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Pål 1/25/15 7:48 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/25/15 1:42 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Chuck Kasmire 1/25/15 7:19 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Pål 1/31/15 12:21 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Pål 1/12/15 2:24 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/12/15 2:57 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war L R A 1/12/15 4:34 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Bailey . 1/27/15 5:50 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/27/15 11:29 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Bailey . 1/27/15 11:48 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Not Tao 1/28/15 12:02 AM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Dada Kind 7/15/15 11:16 PM
RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war Pål 7/16/15 2:20 AM
I was reading some articles about early Buddhism, and the writers made the point that the traditional ordering of the jhanas and formless realms wasn't a part of the original teachings. Rather, the formless realms are different states of consciousness whereas the jhanas are two ways of approaching mental and sensory objects. The first two jhanas are the development of mental rapture - based on an object, then based on the rapure itself without support - and then the last two jhanas are the application of this mental framework to worldly objects - first by using the quality learned in the first two jhanas to create equanimity, then taking that equanimity itself as the main object. These writers argue that the eight fold path was a series of steps to lead a person to jhana, rather than something to be developed in an equal way.

The formless realms, by comparison, were altered states that created a different sensory sphere to abide in during the meditation. The same pali word is used to describe the six sense spheres of normal consciousness as is used to describe the formless realms. When the Buddha learned the formless realms from his two teachers, their methods did not involve moving through the jhanas to reach equanimity, but rather used mental visualizations, like expanding the body, or imagining different forms of space, to alter the senses and abide in the formless realms. There were two approaches to dealing with karma at that time. Karma essentially translates to "action," and the jains believed that to become an arahant you needed to do as little as possible. The formless realms were the perfect place to practice this philosophy. The Buddha didn't accept this philosophy, though, and eventually moved on to rediscover the jhanas. He ended up adopting the opposing philosophy that a person could detach from their karma through meditation and right effort - that there was an unborn, undying part of existance that did not generate karma, but rather attached to it through ignorance.

So perhaps the debate comes from the fact that the formless realms are not jhana 5-8, but rather a set of experiences that exist independantly of jhana. Jhana can be attained from within the formless realms or while outide of them. The teachers who insist that jhana is a completely extra-sensory state probably learned the formless realms first - through extreme concentration - and found the jhanas from within the formless realms. Other teachers that insist jhana can arise within a normal sensory experience would have learned it the other way around.

Perhaps the Buddha's main teaching is actually that we should develop jhana to equanimity, then traverse the formless realms while remaining equanimous to gain insight into the nature of our perceptions and eventually master the cessation of consciousness - which can only be done from within the last formless realm if a purely equanimous awareness is present and able to let go completely. This seems to match with his comments about his former teachers after his enlightenment. When he was debating if he should teach at all, he thought of his two former teachers and realized they were very close to his realization.

So, if we consider all of this in a less scholarly, more practiced based way, it would mean that the formless realms should be available to people who have not mastered the four jhanas. I'm going to verify this is true in my own experience - there are many times when a formless eperience has shown up in meditation even though I was far from equanimity and hadn't stabilized any of the jhana factors. It's possible to go very deep into a formless experience and still have mental agitation of some kind. The key factor for formless meditation seems to be concentrating on the nature of space and physical sensation. For contrast, jhana factors often arise at suprising times and seem to be more related to how clear-minded I am, or how free I am from preoccupation. Doing jhana is more about clearing out the five hinderances and balancing the mind than anything else.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/12/15 1:38 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
What articles were you reading? If you can solve the jhana wars then you should consider becoming a diplomat - perhaps you could bring us world peace.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/12/15 2:24 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
This is awesome. Where is the article? 
But hey - I don't remeber which sutta but there's one telling about monks who have attained arahantship and jhanas but no formless realms. 

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/12/15 2:57 PM as a reply to Pål.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-sectarian_Buddhism

Here's where I started, and then the various footnotes and googling led me on a rampage through the internet. emoticon

Pal, if the Buddha's original teachings were based on the ten fetters as the qualification for attainment rather than a "liberating insight" as is pointed out in the article, then the jhanas would have been enough for that. Since this whole field of study is based on comparitive scriptures and historical detective work, though, it's likely they are disqualifying parts or whole suttas as later developments or alterations to the original teachings. It's a lot like studying the bible - both books (tipitaka and bible) were constructed by councils hundreds of years after the oiginal teachers lived. They are both compiled of stories passed down by memory and tradition, and come from various sects and groups that fractured after the death of said teacher. The councils were formed to unify the teachings and help resolve conflicts that arose. For example, did you know that ethiopean christians use a whole extra gosple - the book of Enoch - in their bibles; or that in various early christian writings Jesus had a wife, a brother, and children? There was a lot of conflict to be put to rest, and the Catholic Church was created to deal with these problems (catholic meaning "universal"). The same was true of the Tipitaka. There are also arguments that pieces of Mahayana, like the dharmakaya, were stripped out of early Buddhist teachings when the Tipitaka was formed.

So, in short, it's all actually quite messy, haha.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/12/15 2:56 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck, I make no claim to solve anything, ha!  This thread is "a possible explanation" for why the jhana war exists - as well as why the insight vs. tranquility war exists.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/12/15 4:34 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hello, I read some of your post.

1) In general, the formless realms (ayatanas, dhatus) are considered separately from the jhanas. There are, according to the Pali Canon, only four jhanas. The arupa dhatus, are referred to as "realms", "spheres", or "bases".

Doing jhana is more about clearing out the five hinderances and balancing the mind than anything else.


I agree with this.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/13/15 6:07 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Chuck, I make no claim to solve anything, ha!  This thread is "a possible explanation" for why the jhana war exists - as well as why the insight vs. tranquility war exists.

I find the pre-sectarian/early buddhism movement very interesting and a real breath of fresh air. Rather than focusing on claims of authenticity as all the modern traditions do in one way or another - it sets that aside and just asks ‘what are the authentic teachings? - to what extent can we determine this?

If you haven’t taken a look at Sujato’s A History of Mindfulness yet I highly recommend it. Also the Richard Gombrich book What the Buddha Thought which places the suttas in the cultural context of his time.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/21/15 7:12 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Interesting thread for sure!

The question that's raised for me then is this:

If Pre-Sectarian Buddhism claims that the Jhanas are enough to release the 10 fetters and therefore attain Arahatship than how does Buddhism differ from the Vedic Teachings of the time?  Weren't the Jhanas being taught at that time period?

What factor am I missing here?

I apologize if this is super obvious and someone has to answer a silly question.  emoticon

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/21/15 11:00 AM as a reply to Conner Patrick Joyce.
I think it's that the formless realms were being taught, but not the jhanas. The Buddha's innovation may have been that it wasn't an attainment of some kind that mattered, but rather the application of wisdom to everyday life in order to bring about a cessation of clinging - and thus suffering.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/22/15 1:46 PM as a reply to Conner Patrick Joyce.
Conner Patrick Joyce:
Interesting thread for sure!

The question that's raised for me then is this:

If Pre-Sectarian Buddhism claims that the Jhanas are enough to release the 10 fetters and therefore attain Arahatship than how does Buddhism differ from the Vedic Teachings of the time?  Weren't the Jhanas being taught at that time period?

What factor am I missing here?

I apologize if this is super obvious and someone has to answer a silly question.  emoticon

It is obvious only if you can set aside a couple thousand years of commentary and dust off some suttas :-)

What Buddha did was he found a way to tweak the existing jhana practice such that it would lead to release - to awakening. His innovation was to not hold to the subtle phenomena encountered in jhana but rather to see that these were subject to change and to be seen as not-self - as alien and to cultivate dispassion for them.  These phenomena then gradually subside and eventually awareness is completely released - stream entry.

The basic method, via the practice of anapanasati, is that when you get to the 4th jhana you then apply the not-self teaching to these very subtle phenomena ( at this level, there is no body sensation and the mind is very still).

How did we get to where we are now with the two practice Theravadan method?

One theory is that the Theravada sect was a predominantly urban tradition. These communities became settled in large monasteries (sometimes thousands of monks) and the forest practices (the ‘go to the root of a tree or an abandoned dwelling and do jhana’) became much more difficult while at the same time the large communities were more conducive to analysis and study. So the vipassana quality (the not-self approach in jhana) eventually emerges as a separate practice aside from jhana which is then applied to all aspects of experience. This broader interpretation of vipassana is no longer possible to practice within jhana (it’s too coarse) and so jhana becomes a separate practice  that no longer leads to awakening. This shift happens very early on - within a few hundred years of Buddhas passing - so even very ancient commentaries already reflect this change in practice.

Another way to look at this is forest monks off in the jungle practicing by themselves don’t write pithy tomes where as big monasteries do - history belongs to the writers.

The original practice is not lost. If you look at Ajahn Lee’s description of jhana you find this practice described. It is in 4 sections - each section relating to one of the 4 satipatthanas - which was one of the ways Buddha described his jhana innovation. As you see from this description, the first three stages of the satipatthana are samatha (tranquility) based while the 4th stage brings in the vipassana (clear-seeing) quality of mind to investigate what is left. Once you see this pattern then it will stand out in virtually hundreds of suttas. Though some suttas have been altered by later influences, the original meaning survives all over the place.

Discussions of this type invariably bring-up conflict but really there is no need for any. It does not denigrate the two practice system nor deny its usefulness and in fact it can make a broader range of techniques available to people based on their nature and situation.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/22/15 3:12 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
This is an interesting idea Chuck.  Something to consider, though, is that it isn't considered a "two practice system" in Theravada, but rather a one practice system with optional support (jhana).  I've been wondering if, because of this, the attainment is then divided into two parts - attainment of a stable awareness through concentration, and a release from clinging through vipassana - that most vipassana practitioners are missing out on.

If we consider this sutta - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.085.than.html - it seems that a mastery of concentration combined with an ethical view is what wipes out craving and aversion for good, and then from this level the last five fetters (essentially the fetter of relying on concentration for balance) are transcended.

This line, in particular, goes against the idea that the goal is a perception of all phenomena rather than a state of being:

With the ending of effluents, he dwells in the effluent-free awareness-release and discernment-release, having directly known and realized them for himself right in the here-and-now.


It is saying that the attainment is "dwelling in the effluent-free awareness-release" - which seems to point directly to a state of mind to me. The awareness-release is mentioned in countless other suttas and the "heartwood" of the practice and the main goal.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/22/15 4:51 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
The same word - "ceto-vimutti" - is used to describe jhana and enlightenment.  Jhana meditation, as well as meditation on the brahma-viharas, is concidered "temporary (samayika) ceto-vimutti" whereas the final attainment is "an-asava ceto-vimutti" - which is "awareness release without lingering taints."

So complete enlightenment is not simply seeing anger, aversion, passions, and delusions as not-self - it's the complete eradication of these things at the root and thus abiding in a jhana-style equanimous mindstate.  Judging by the conversations about non-duality and its results in people's lives on here, these two concepts are not the same thing.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/23/15 2:19 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
"...at this level [fourth jhana], there is no body sensation..."

Source? This doesn't fit with the kayagatasati and samadhanga suttas as far as I know.

btw Ajahn Lee says:

"Jhana means to be absorbed or focused in a single object or preoccupation..."

I can't find this in any sutta. Please take a look at the Anuruddha sutta where the Buddha gives a method for entering jhana that has little to do with concentration, but a lot to do with samadhi emoticon

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/23/15 2:13 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
As I suspected, MCTB arahant is probably not = Sutta arahant. 

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/23/15 2:26 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
This is an interesting idea Chuck. 

I can’t take credit for it. It is my attempt at reducing part of Sujato’s 400 page book A History of Mindfulness into a short post. It’s a great book that I can’t really do justice here obviously.
 
Something to consider, though, is that it isn't considered a "two practice system" in Theravada, but rather a one practice system with optional support (jhana).  

Or even a one practice system with no support in the case of the dry vipassana schools which was my first introduction to Buddhism - if mentioned at all, jhana was taught as dangerous. But then you have others that teach jhana as essential:

Pa Auk Sayadaw teaches a two practice system with concentration first and then vipassana only after you have sufficient concentration.

Bhante Gunaratna teaches vipassana within the 4th jhana. In Do we have to come out of Jhana in order to practice Vipassana? he writes:
When we read how the Buddha used his own fourth Jhanic concentration, as described in many Suttas, we have no reason to believe that he came out of Jhana to develop the three kinds of knowledge: knowledge of seeing the past, knowledge of seeing beings dying and taking rebirth, and knowledge of the destruction of defilements. The Buddha used the fourth Jhana for Vipassana.

The‭ ‬belief‭ ‬that‭ ‬one‭ ‬must‭ ‬come‭ ‬out‭ ‬of‭ ‬Jhana‭ ‬to‭ ‬... attain enlightenment‭ ‬is‭ ‬based on an assumption that‭ ‬the‭ ‬concentrated mind‭ ‬becomes‭ ‬one‭ ‬with the‭ ‬object‭ ‬of‭ ‬meditation‭ ‬and is‭ ‬absorbed into that‭ ‬object.‭ ‬...‭ ‬If‭ ‬the‭ ‬mind is‭ ‬absorbed into the‭ ‬object‭ ‬then the‭ ‬mind‭ ‬is‭ ‬paralyzed and‭ ‬incapable‭ ‬of‭ ‬doing anything. This‭ ‬may be‭ ‬true‭ ‬when the‭ ‬Jhana‭ ‬is‭ ‬gained without‭ ‬mindfulness.‭ ‬This‭ ‬is‭ ‬what‭ ‬happened to the‭ ‬teachers‭ ‬of‭ ‬the‭ ‬Bodhisatta‭ ‬Gotama.‭ ‬They‭ ‬were‭ ‬stuck in‭ ‬Jhana‭ ‬but‭ ‬they thought‭ ‬that‭ ‬they‭ ‬had attained enlightenment.‭ ‬This‭ ‬cannot‭ ‬happen when you practice‭ ‬Jhana‭ ‬with mindfulness.


I think that is a really good observation - that the earlier form of jhana lacked mindfulness. But this is obviously not a bare awareness definition of mindfulness but rather a mindfulness that can attend to certain aspects of our experience to deepen the jhana and then when one has gotten to the fourth jhana to then attend to impermanence and such.

I've been wondering if, because of this, the attainment is then divided into two parts - attainment of a stable awareness through concentration, and a release from clinging through vipassana - that most vipassana practitioners are missing out on.

Even the cultivation of jhana - the practice of developing it - yields great insight into how we create stress and how to not create it and this changes the way we choose to live and I don’t see vipassana doing this in the same way. Clearly people are benefiting from that practice but it is not the same thing. And once jhana is developed - even lightly - it presents an experience that - at least for myself - I was unaware of even existing or possible. The terms like rapture, happiness, etc for these stages don’t capture it. You just have to do it. In speaking with dry vipassana practitioners - it is clear to me that many are experiencing emerging jhanic qualities - but then not doing anything with them as they are instructed to just let everything go - too bad - but really that is an entrance right there if those qualities are tuned into and developed.

“With the ending of effluents, he dwells in the effluent-free awareness-release and discernment-release, having directly known and realized them for himself right in the here-and-now.’

The awareness-release is mentioned in countless other suttas and the "heartwood" of the practice and the main goal.

Yes - that’s it.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/23/15 7:39 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
"...at this level [fourth jhana], there is no body sensation..."

Source? This doesn't fit with the kayagatasati and samadhanga suttas as far as I know.

btw Ajahn Lee says:

"Jhana means to be absorbed or focused in a single object or preoccupation..."

I can't find this in any sutta. Please take a look at the Anuruddha sutta where the Buddha gives a method for entering jhana that has little to do with concentration, but a lot to do with samadhi emoticon

Which "Anuruddha Sutta" are you referring to here? (There are several with this name.)
.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/24/15 12:26 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Chuck Kasmire:

Even the cultivation of jhana - the practice of developing it - yields great insight into how we create stress and how to not create it and this changes the way we choose to live and I don’t see vipassana doing this in the same way. Clearly people are benefiting from that practice but it is not the same thing. And once jhana is developed - even lightly - it presents an experience that - at least for myself - I was unaware of even existing or possible. The terms like rapture, happiness, etc for these stages don’t capture it. You just have to do it. In speaking with dry vipassana practitioners - it is clear to me that many are experiencing emerging jhanic qualities - but then not doing anything with them as they are instructed to just let everything go - too bad - but really that is an entrance right there if those qualities are tuned into and developed.



It's nice to find a kindred spirit. This is, particularly, how I've felt about the whole thing. I didn't believe in the concept of enlightenment before experiencing Jhana. Now I do. It just seems very obvious to me that this is the real deal right way to go.

EDIT: Found another good sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.119.than.html

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/24/15 6:24 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:
Pål:
"...at this level [fourth jhana], there is no body sensation..."

Source? This doesn't fit with the kayagatasati and samadhanga suttas as far as I know.

btw Ajahn Lee says:

"Jhana means to be absorbed or focused in a single object or preoccupation..."

I can't find this in any sutta. Please take a look at the Anuruddha sutta where the Buddha gives a method for entering jhana that has little to do with concentration, but a lot to do with samadhi emoticon

Which "Anuruddha Sutta" are you referring to here? (There are several with this name.)
.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an08/an08.030.than.html 

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/24/15 4:35 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pal, IMHO, this sutta is much better than the anapanasati sutta in terms of instructions for attaining jhana.  Also, the sutta I liked just above yours - that one might be the closest to my own method.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/25/15 7:48 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
The kayagatasati sutta covers many methods. Which one of them do you practice? 
To me it seems like kayagatasati is like anapanasati but you experience piti before spreading awareness through the entire body and not the other way around. If sabba kaya actually refers to the physical flesh body and the anapana steps are meant to be chronological, that is. 
But do you feel like you have to actively spread awareness (piti spreads along woth awareness, right?) through the body, as in the Lee/Fuang/Thanissaro method or does it widen from the small spot atcthe nose to the whole body automatically when concentration is stable enough?

Edit: btw, how do you interpret the Anuruddha sutta jhana instructions? Should I just sit down and think the eight thoughts, like a mantra, letting them sink in?

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
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1/25/15 1:42 PM as a reply to Pål.
It isn't about a method.  When you abandon self-aggrandizment - when you are still, aware, and relaxed - when you have abandoned both wanting and not-wanting in relation to the body (such as, I want to feel more relaxed, or I want to resist this itch, or I want to get rid of my reslessness) - then you will enter the first jhana, which is like a quickening of concentration. The goal is to separate yourself from craving and aversion. The eight thoughts are a way of being. I don't think repeating them as a mantra will do much for you. Look at how the Buddha defines them all one by one towards the middle-end of the sutta. That's gold, right there.

As for the kayagatasati sutta, as far as I can see it covers one method. Pay attention to your body, the physical sensations that make it up. As you go through your day, keep yourself within the understanding that your body will grow ill, it will grow old, it will be ugly, it will die, it will rot and decay. Watch as your body sends you painful feelings and pleasant feelings and see how these are not something you can change. Watch as you tense against the world by trying to hold on to a pleasant feeling that is fading, or trying to remove a painful feeling, and release these "mental fabrications" - allow the body to be as it is and see it as "not mine." If you do this, you will develop dispassion for the body and the feelings related to the body, and then, being dispassionate, you will be secluded from sensuality and withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities (greed, aversion, ignorance). This is the entrance to jhana. The four jhanas and the formless realms, then, progress as you learn to become dispassionate towards the mind and mental objects - eventually culminating in the cessation of perception. This whole process is a steady move towards complete dispassion and the cessation of all craving - which is nibbana.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/25/15 7:19 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
"...at this level [fourth jhana], there is no body sensation..."

Source? This doesn't fit with the kayagatasati and samadhanga suttas as far as I know.

Those suttas describe it as neither-pleasure-nor-pain. He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. And the corresponding simile: Just as if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend.

neither-pleasure-nor-pain. He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness - This is referring to my description of no body sensation - as is the simile of the white cloth completely covering the body - there is a kind of cloud of mist left at this point (this is my experience anyway and I have seen others describe it similarly). The experience of bodily form disappears. You may have had the experience while sitting for a long time where you were no longer aware of the position of your hands? It is something like that though for the whole body - for example, you can’t tell if your arms are folded or at your side. But keep in mind that all these descriptions are trying to use everyday language to describe something that is not an everyday experience.

btw Ajahn Lee says:

"Jhana means to be absorbed or focused in a single object or preoccupation..."


Above, I wrote the first three stages of the satipatthana are samatha (tranquility) based while the 4th stage brings in the vipassana (clear-seeing) quality of mind to investigate what is left.

During the first three jhanas you are preoccupied with deepening the jhana while at the 4th you are attending to the vipassana side of things - Ajahn Lee describes a host of things you can do in the fourth jhana (as does the Kayagata-sati Sutta )- vipassana being one of them.

I can't find this in any sutta. Please take a look at the Anuruddha sutta where the Buddha gives a method for entering jhana that has little to do with concentration, but a lot to do with samadhi

That’s a nice sutta - can’t recall seeing it before. I think it focuses on the kind of qualities that are most conducive to jhana practice - that is, the kind of person that would be 'a natural’ as well as describing the kind of qualities that should be developed or adopted which would make it easier to do the practice.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/25/15 7:22 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
It's nice to find a kindred spirit. This is, particularly, how I've felt about the whole thing. I didn't believe in the concept of enlightenment before experiencing Jhana. Now I do. It just seems very obvious to me that this is the real deal right way to go.

EDIT: Found another good sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.119.than.html

Indeed. Yes, that's a nice one: “Isn't it amazing, friends! Isn't it astounding!”

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/27/15 4:52 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
re: Chuck Kasmire (1/23/15 2:26 PM as a reply to Not Tao.)

"I can’t take credit for it. It is my attempt at reducing part of Sujato’s 400 page book A History of Mindfulness into a short post. It’s a great book that I can’t really do justice here obviously."

Thanks for the clarification, as your comments reminded me of Sujato's amazing survey of the history of the emergence and transformations of the Canons (Pali and Chinese ones), and revolving around the theme of early samadhi-focus being replaced by vipassana-focus, from at least the 1st century BCE, in Theravadan tradition.

"Bhante Gunaratna.."
"I think that is a really good observation - that the earlier form of jhana lacked mindfulness."


This is one of the interesting points in Alexander Wynne's book ('The Origin of Buddhist Meditation'). After a discussion of the documentation for G.Buddha's education in the 7th and 8th 'formless attainments' from the leading Vedic teachers of the time (Wynne hypothesizes that the sutta documentation of this schooling is so unusual that it could well represent historical fact), Wynne analyzes parts of the Parayanavagga (in the Suttanipata). One is the Upasivamanavapuccha, where Upasiva is one of a group of Brahmans who question G.Buddha. Without going into all the details (and pages of philological analysis), Wynne states (p. 99):

"The dialogue with Upasiva depicts an interaction between a religious teacher with new ideas and an adherent of an existing religion. It is a spectacular example of the Buddha's famed 'skill in means',  showing how the ideas and metaphors of the old religion were revolutionized. For half the dialogue …the Buddha and Upasiva are almost speaking on the same level. Upasiva has difficulty understanding the combination of meditation and mindfulness in the Buddha's teaching [i.e. in line with Guanaratana's observation], but at least recognizes the problem it creates in the context of early Brahminic meditation. But in the latter half of the dialogue Upasiva does not seem to grasp the meaning of the Buddha's words, and continues to speak as a Brahmin conditioned by the Brahminic ideas of his time. The Buddha, we can assume, has a knowledge of Upasiva's ideas and knows exactly what he is doing. In this way, the new teaching is expertly introduced into the framework of the old."

"Not Tao:
The awareness-release is mentioned in countless other suttas and the "heartwood" of the practice and the main goal."

"Yes - that’s it."

The word "heartwood" is used in those places? In what sutta-s? I ask because my understanding has been influenced by a different interpretation of 'heartwood' since reading Buddhadasa's 'The Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree'. It begins with the curious note that the Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa) in fact has NO heartwood! Buddhadasa's book makes the perhaps paradoxical point that the core teaching (in some sense 'heartwood') has more to do with sunnata – emptiness.

btw: An interesting passage from a daylong dhamma talk once given by Santikaro, based on Buddhahasa's book (of which Santikaro was the editor):
(talking about how the original Therevada teaching on sunnata differs from later Mahayana versions)
"… the Buddha once said that, to paraphrase, 'eventually the teachers will be doing poetry, and logic, and this and than, and it will no longer be imbued with emptiness, and then it's no longer the Thathagata's Dhamma.' Which is to say any teaching that purports to be Buddhism…, has to have emptiness. And he said a similar thing about dependent co-arising. So if these aren't there, it's not the core, at least, of Buddhism. It's a kind of watered down stuff for kids, and traditional piety, and all that. Or the fire-and-brimstone karma stuff, you know, 'be good or you're gonna be reborn a pig'."

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/27/15 11:21 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris,

I've actually been reading about sunnyata a bit lately in the context of the suttas.  The concept is actually very different from how I've seen it explained.  When the Buddha mentions it in the suttas, he always seems to frame it as a state that is empty of craving, aversion, and ignorance.  I further looked up what he meant by ignorance, and it's defined as ignorance of the four noble truths - which is to say, ignorance of the cause of stress.  Further, the cause of stress is defined as craving.

So, to put this all together, the Buddha defines emptiness as a state where the monk has aprehended all craving and let go of it - it is a state that if empty of stress.

Now there is a set if suttas where he talks about meditation on emptiness, and the instructions are similar to the teaching on anatta - the monk should sit in seclusion and contemplate how the five aggregates are "not-mine."  The way this is presented does not say, "there is no self in the aggregates." It actually says, "remove yourself from the aggregates - don't cling to them or take ownership of them because they will change and this will cause you stress."  This lines up much better with his other teachings saying that taking a view of "I am a self" or "I am not a self" are both distractions and do not lead to the end of stress.  Anatta and sunnyata are not "truths" - they are strategies.

You also mentioned dependant origination.  This is actually a very simple concept that also has been turned into a philosopy, I think.  The Buddha says that ignorance of the four noble truths leads to fabrication, and then fabrication leads to the rest of the 12 links.  Ignorance plays a big part in the teachings, so I did a lot of reading in the suttas to try to figure out exactly what the Buddha meant.  It was, in all the sutas I read, framed as ignorance of the cause of a craving, which then leads a person to attempt to fabricate a new existance to satisfy their craving.

The Buddha's main message is that there is no need to fabricate - there is no need to exercise willpower to change the world - because that very willpower is stress.  When a monk masters jhana, the formless realms, and then cessation - they have control over how much stress they are willing to remain in.  When the Buddha talks about "dwelling in emptiness" he says he dwells in a state that is empty of everything except the singular stress of maintaining the senses for existance.

So my understanding of emptiness is that it has nothing to do with self, and everything to do with stress and craving.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/27/15 5:50 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
The Jhanas are clearly sequential.

It should be obvious to anyone who has gone through them that each Jhana is progressively more peaceful than the prior, including each formless Jhana.

I didn't mess around with Jhana but after attainments (I don't remember each one) I found myself naturally falling through them all a couple times, it happened exactly sequentially.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/27/15 11:29 PM as a reply to Bailey ..
So you've never had a formless experience without any piti or sukha arising beforehand?

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/27/15 11:48 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Unsure, stopped sitting a while ago and never played with it

I don't know the motivation behind your question but if it is: "can you enter at any one of the formless jhanas?" , then I think the answer is yes

I want to stress that each jhana is very precisely and discretely more peaceful than the prior one, almost as if it were created like a video game

Either way this forum is full of jhana junkies who probably know a ton more than me

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/28/15 12:02 AM as a reply to Bailey ..
I'm not saying you can't progress sequentially from the jhanas to the formless realms.  What I'm proposing is that the formless realms - like the experience of losing touch with the body, the expansion of the mind, the lost of a sense of space, etc - can happen without first entering a state of equanimity.

If you had only gone through the formless realms after achieving equanimity by progressing through the four jhanas, then they definately would be progressively more peacefull and still, since you are dropping more objects as you go deeper.  However, in my experience it's possible to enter the formless realms without being equanimous, and this might explain why some jhana teachers believe the only "true" jhana is one that is completely formless.  I'm suggesting these teachers enter the formless realms, and then go through the four jhanas.

Maybe it's more clear this way: The jhanas are a progression of emotional states that ends in equanimity.  The formless realms are a progression of physical/mental states that end in a kind of physical/spacial equanimity. When combined, body, mind, and feelings have all reached stillness.  It might not matter which order you go in between the two practices.  Some people achieve an emotional equanimity, then enter the formless realms.  Other people enter the formless realms first, then achieve emotional stability.  My own experience seems to be the latter - I would usually enter a bodyless experience first, then achieve a mental/emotional stability.

EDIT: The two processes probably happen in tandem, too, which makes things messier.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/28/15 4:19 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:

"Not Tao:
The awareness-release is mentioned in countless other suttas and the "heartwood" of the practice and the main goal."

"Yes - that’s it."

The word "heartwood" is used in those places? In what sutta-s? I ask because my understanding has been influenced by a different interpretation of 'heartwood' since reading Buddhadasa's 'The Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree'. It begins with the curious note that the Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa) in fact has NO heartwood! Buddhadasa's book makes the perhaps paradoxical point that the core teaching (in some sense 'heartwood') has more to do with sunnata – emptiness.



'Heartwood' is found in MN 29 & 30 and elsewhere, such as AN 10.58 (below):

All dhammas (path practises) have release as their heartwood.


Just as if a man in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, cutting away just the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, were to go off carrying it, knowing, 'heartwood.' A man with good eyesight, seeing him, would say, 'Ah, how this good man did know heartwood, did know sapwood, did know inner bark, did know outer bark, did know twigs & leaves!

That's why he, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, cutting away just the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, were to go off carrying it, knowing, "heartwood." Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose will be served.



RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/28/15 4:17 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris J Macie:

btw: An interesting passage from a daylong dhamma talk once given by Santikaro, based on Buddhahasa's book (of which Santikaro was the editor):
(talking about how the original Therevada teaching on sunnata differs from later Mahayana versions)
"… the Buddha once said that, to paraphrase, 'eventually the teachers will be doing poetry, and logic, and this and than, and it will no longer be imbued with emptiness, and then it's no longer the Thathagata's Dhamma.' Which is to say any teaching that purports to be Buddhism…, has to have emptiness. And he said a similar thing about dependent co-arising. So if these aren't there, it's not the core, at least, of Buddhism. It's a kind of watered down stuff for kids, and traditional piety, and all that. Or the fire-and-brimstone karma stuff, you know, 'be good or you're gonna be reborn a pig'."

the poetry quote is from the Ani Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn20/sn20.007.than.html

yes, Pali emptiness is different to Mahayana, with Pali meaning 'empty of self':

In what respect is it said that the world is empty?

Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self:

Thus it is said, Ananda, that the world is empty

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.085.than.html

Mahayana emptiness is 'dependent causality', which illogically makes the 'uncaused' Nirvana not emptiness

in Pali, both the caused & uncaused are emptiness yet in Mahayana theory only the dependently caused can be emptiness

as for Dependent Co-Arising, we should have no doubts about this. the Buddha explained it clearly so we should be able to take each link and also it as a whole as an object of direct scrunity & insight

Thanissaro's internet book: "Shape of Suffering" actually explains Dependent Arising very well for the purpose of meditating upon it

emoticon

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/28/15 5:11 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Chris,

Now there is a set if suttas where he talks about meditation on emptiness, and the instructions are similar to the teaching on anatta - the monk should sit in seclusion and contemplate how the five aggregates are "not-mine."  The way this is presented does not say, "there is no self in the aggregates." It actually says, "remove yourself from the aggregates - don't cling to them or take ownership of them because they will change and this will cause you stress."  This lines up much better with his other teachings saying that taking a view of "I am a self" or "I am not a self" are both distractions and do not lead to the end of stress.  Anatta and sunnyata are not "truths" - they are strategies.


Yes. In Pali, sunnata ('state of being empty') is similar to anatta ('not-self'). However, sunnata is more emphatic.

Anatta was originally taught with impermanence, namely, because something is impermanent, it cannot be regarded as 'mine' or a 'self'.

Where as 'sunnata' directly & emphatically states all things are empty of 'self' (regardless of impermanence).

One sutta (MN 121) uses the term 'sunna' literally, when stating empty of sensuality, empty of becoming, empty of ignorance. MN 121 then states what remains, namely, the five aggregates (the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very 'group' with life as its condition) are 'non-emptiness'. This is certainly an interesting sutta yet discordant with the dominant meaning of emptiness.

As for sunnata, I would suggest (regardless of Thanissaro's opinion) it is not a 'strategy' but a 'truth' because the scriptures state 'anatta' is one of three characteristics of all conditioned things and things are anatta regardless of human comprehension of such (quoted below).

Buddhadasa gave a talk on 9 related insights, which included anatta (#3) and sunnata (#7). I haven't listened to it for many years. http://www.liberationpark.org/audio/idap/9010-3.mp3 . Be patient with it. It gets better, as the translator wakes up from 4:30am start. emoticon


Whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All phenomena are not-self.

The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All phenomena are not-self.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.134.than.html

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/28/15 5:09 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
It was, in all the sutas I read, framed as ignorance of the cause of a craving, which then leads a person to attempt to fabricate a new existance to satisfy their craving.

The Buddha's main message is that there is no need to fabricate - there is no need to exercise willpower to change the world - because that very willpower is stress.  When a monk masters jhana, the formless realms, and then cessation - they have control over how much stress they are willing to remain in.  When the Buddha talks about "dwelling in emptiness" he says he dwells in a state that is empty of everything except the singular stress of maintaining the senses for existance.

So my understanding of emptiness is that it has nothing to do with self, and everything to do with stress and craving.

What do you mean by fabricate new 'existence'? What is 'existence' here? Physical existence? Or ego existence?

The craving that makes for new becoming (existence) — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving to be, craving not to be: This, friend Visakha, is the origination of self-identification described by the Blessed One

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.044.than.html

As for 'will power', I have never read it results in stress. The scriptures (SN 12.63) include the will (intention) as one of the 4 nutriments of life (physical food, intention, contact & consciousness), which are things a human being cannot live without but must use wisely.

MN 43 states the unprovoked (unshakeable) awareness-release (liberation of mind) is empty of passion, empty of aversion, empty of delusion. However, it defines sunnata liberation of mind as: "This is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self". When the mind is empty of 'self', it will naturally be also empty of greed, hatred & delusion.

emoticon

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/28/15 12:49 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky,

You're good with the scriptures - where does the Buddha say there are three characteristics of all phenomena, and they are annica, anatta, and dukkha?  I was under the impression that this was an invention in the abhidhamma.

The only time I see anatta mentioned, it's in a series of question and answers that goes something like this:

Are forms permanent or impermanent?
Impermanent.
And are impermanent things stressful of not?
Stressful.
Then is it wise to say you own those impermanent things?
No.

This is very different from the Three Characteristics of All Phenomena concept - and it also implies a very different way of meditating from modern Vipassana Meditation styles.

Oop, I saw you did quote a sutta.  Are there any others, or is that the only one to state it like that?  It seems the odd man out to me...  Or is it from the abhidhamma?  I'm not sure how to figure that out.

EDIT: Actually, this sutta has gotten me thinking.  This sutta isn't really out of line from the question/answer deal above.  It's like you said - the mahayana idea of emptiness is what deviates from this.  That idea of non-duality.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/28/15 2:12 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky:


Anatta was originally taught with impermanence, namely, because something is impermanent, it cannot be regarded as 'mine' or a 'self'.

Where as 'sunnata' directly & emphatically states all things are empty of 'self' (regardless of impermanence).
...
As for sunnata, I would suggest (regardless of Thanissaro's opinion) it is not a 'strategy' but a 'truth' because the scriptures state 'anatta' is one of three characteristics of all conditioned things and things are anatta regardless of human comprehension of such (quoted below).
...

Whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All phenomena are not-self.

The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All phenomena are not-self.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.134.than.html

Anatta was originally taught with impermanence, namely, because something is impermanent, it cannot be regarded as 'mine' or a 'self'.

Any sources? The versions that I am aware of (for ex:SN 22.59) put it as:
- form (along with the other aggregates) is impermanent.
- what is impermanent is painful.
- what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change,  is not fit to be regarded as  [this rendering is found in all translations that I find]  'This is mine, this is I, this is my self'


Which implies a strategy.

...all conditioned things and things are anatta regardless of human comprehension of such (quoted below).

The quote - as I understand it - says that there is no self with regard to conditioned phenomena regardless of whether there is an awakened person around to point this out or not. In other words, samsara sucks whether you know it or not. Is it possible to assign some ultimate truth to something that is impermanent and not cognized? How are things conditioned?

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/28/15 4:56 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky:
Not Tao:
Chris,

Now there is a set if suttas where he talks about meditation on emptiness, and the instructions are similar to the teaching on anatta - the monk should sit in seclusion and contemplate how the five aggregates are "not-mine."  The way this is presented does not say, "there is no self in the aggregates." It actually says, "remove yourself from the aggregates - don't cling to them or take ownership of them because they will change and this will cause you stress."  This lines up much better with his other teachings saying that taking a view of "I am a self" or "I am not a self" are both distractions and do not lead to the end of stress.  Anatta and sunnyata are not "truths" - they are strategies.


Yes. In Pali, sunnata ('state of being empty') is similar to anatta ('not-self'). However, sunnata is more emphatic.

Anatta was originally taught with impermanence, namely, because something is impermanent, it cannot be regarded as 'mine' or a 'self'.

Where as 'sunnata' directly & emphatically states all things are empty of 'self' (regardless of impermanence).

One sutta (MN 121) uses the term 'sunna' literally, when stating empty of sensuality, empty of becoming, empty of ignorance. MN 121 then states what remains, namely, the five aggregates (the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very 'group' with life as its condition) are 'non-emptiness'. This is certainly an interesting sutta yet discordant with the dominant meaning of emptiness.

As for sunnata, I would suggest (regardless of Thanissaro's opinion) it is not a 'strategy' but a 'truth' because the scriptures state 'anatta' is one of three characteristics of all conditioned things and things are anatta regardless of human comprehension of such (quoted below).

Buddhadasa gave a talk on 9 related insights, which included anatta (#3) and sunnata (#7). I haven't listened to it for many years. http://www.liberationpark.org/audio/idap/9010-3.mp3 . Be patient with it. It gets better, as the translator wakes up from 4:30am start. emoticon


Whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All phenomena are not-self.

The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, & makes it plain: All phenomena are not-self.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.134.than.html
Perhaps it is a strategy pointing towards truth, but not just a strategy.  Anatta taken only as a strategy seems absurdly wrong.  Though seeing phenomenon as Anatta as a strategy seems correct.  

The path is one that has to be experienced.  The strategy of seeing things a certain way because one has been shown how to proceed, and then the realization of what is true by experience.
In his book "Old Path, White Clouds, Thich Nhat Hanh tells the story of the Buddha. The Buddha says "my teaching is not a dogma or a doctrine, but no doubt some people will take it as such." The Buddha goes on to say "I must state clearly that my teaching is a method to experience reality and not reality itself, just as a finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. A thinking person makes use of the finger to see the moon. A person who only looks at the finger and mistakes it for the moon will never see the real moon."

So, if it is taught to see that in everything it can be seen as not-self, and that indeed one never can find a pemanent thing that one can nail down and label independently as a permanent self, then why think there is a self?  Why think anatta is a strategy and not a truth?

Puzzling

Psi

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/28/15 6:29 PM as a reply to Psi.
The difference being that, to say there is no self is to rely on no-self-ness to escape impermanence.  This is what I see when people say, "There is suffering, but no one there to suffer."  This is relying on no-self as a perception to escape suffering, even though the truth is that there is still suffering present.

The teaching of anatta is, as I see it, a teaching about how to live, how to look at things, not what to think.  Anatta means you cannot rely on anything to end your suffering, because anything you can rely on is impermanent.  In the end, you can only escape suffering by relying on nothing - by dropping all of it completely.  The Buddha said suffering is caused by craving and fabication used to satisfy that craving.  No-self is just as much a fabrication as true-self.  It's a surrender TO something.  The Buddha said not to let the light from the window land anywhere, it should just go on.  If there is a floor, remove the floor.  If there is dirt under the floor, remove the dirt.  If there is water under the dirt, remove the water.  When there is nothing left, there is emptiness.  Emptiness isn't a thing, it's a lack - a lack of anything to create stress.  The Buddha did not say he was emptiness, he said he dwelt in emptiness.  It isn't that there is no you - it's that you aren't anywhere and you don't cling to anything.  You are just free.

Maybe this all sounds like the same thing, but there is a huge difference to me...  The core of the teaching is suffering, not a theory or experience of self.  All of the Buddha's teachings serve the cause of ending stress.  Self, no-self, emptiness, it all is less important than the cause of stress and the cessation of stress.

EDIT: And to answer your question specifically, to say that a cart is made up of pieces, like a wheel here and an axle there, does not mean that there is no cart.  There's a cart sitting there, what else could it be?  As you pick it apart and disassemble it, eventually it will no longer be a cart, but there is no set, fixed time when it is or isn't a cart - this is true enough.  But the point of the Buddha's teaching isn't to take the cart to pieces and then leave it that way - destroy the cart forever.  It's to take it apart and put it back together enough times so we can understand how it works.  Since we're carts with brains that can understand things, we're in a unique position to do this.  Then we can make outselves into whatever kind of cart we want.

I think the main point of anatta is that we can choose what we take to be our self - including nothing at all.  With this understanding we are free.

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/28/15 7:20 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Perhaps there are aggregates of things, that when put together in a certain pattern it may be called a cart.
What if we took the wood and the wheels and the axles and nails, and out of them fashioned these very same aggregates into a potter's wheel.
What if , again, we disassembeled the aggregates and took the various pieces, wood, nails, etc. and fashioned a small hut.
What if again, we diassembeled the aggregates and took the various pieces and made a chair and a fire ring, then set the rest of the remaining wood on fire.
What if again, we took the ashes and used this as fertilizer and grew a mango tree, then one day we ate some of the mangoes from the very same tree. Cart al a carte...

So, was it ever really a cart, or just a collection of aggregates?


Psi

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
1/31/15 12:21 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
 "He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness "
How can you interpret this as having no sensation of the body? O.o

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
7/15/15 11:16 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/the-buddhas-radical-path-of-jhana
...

First, there’s the assumption that Ālāra and Uddaka taught the Buddha the four jhānas. Now, the Buddha never mentions that he learned or practiced the jhānas with his two teachers. He says that he learned to attain the “sphere of nothingness” (ākiñcañña-āyatana — I prefer “no-thingness” as a translation) from Ālāra Kalama, and the “sphere of neither perception nor non-perception” (nevasaññānāsañña-āyatana) from Uddaka Ramaputta. (Uddaka had apparently not experienced this himself, and was merely passing on Rama’s teaching).

“But,” many Buddhists will object, “if Ālāra and Uddaka taught the Buddha how to attain these spheres, then they must also have taught the Buddha how to attain jhāna, since these spheres are the seventh and eighth jhānas — part of the four ‘formless jhānas’ that follow on from the four ‘jhānas of form.'” (The first two “formless jhānas” are the sphere of infinite space and the sphere of infinite consciousness.) But this is the very error that I am keen to address.

The suttas never refer to any “formless jhānas.” What are nowadays called the “formless jhānas” are in fact never referred to as jhānas in the scriptures, but are referred to consistently as “āyatanas” or “spheres.” It’s only in the later commentarial tradition that the two lists are presented as one continuous list of “eight jhānas.” They should really be known as “formless spheres.”

Now this is important, because the four formless spheres are in fact not jhānas at all. Many meditators have discovered that it’s possible to experience these formless spheres without having first gone through the jhānas. There has been much confusion for some who have had such experiences, because the assumption that the āyatanas can’t be experienced without first having traversed the jhānas is so prevalent. I am in fact one of the many people who has experienced that confusion.

There are suttas in which there is reference to experiencing the āyatanas without first going through the jhānas. Most people would tend to assume that in these suttas the jhānas are assumed, without being mentioned explicitly, but there’s no need to make that assumption, and experience shows it to be false. Certain forms of meditation predispose to direct experience of the āyatanas. Suttas discussing the six element practice and the divine abidings show those meditations leading directly to the formless spheres. I don’t disagree that it’s possible to reach the āyatanas via the jhānas, but there are other ways.

The fact that it’s possible to reach the formless spheres without going through the jhānas helps us make sense of an important episode in the Buddha’s life. In the Maha-Saccaka Sutta the Buddha described how he intuited, prior to his enlightenment, that jhāna was “the way to Awakening”:
I thought: ‘I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered and remained in the first jhāna, with rapture and joy born from seclusion, accompanied by initial thought and sustained thought. Could that be the way to Awakening?’ Then following on that memory came the realization: ‘That is the way to Awakening.’
That’s a strong statement. The Buddha had not just a hunch, or an idea, but an actual realization that jhāna is the way to Awakening.

Now, many people have struggled to make sense of this episode. The Buddha had previously attained the seventh and eighth “jhānas” (in reality the third and fourth āyatanas) under Uddaka and Ālāra’s
instructions, so how could a memory of first jhāna be so significant in pointing the way to Awakening? All sorts of explanations for this apparent contradiction have been made, but the simplest is one that may be least obvious: that the Buddha had not in fact previously explored the jhānas with Ālāra and Uddaka, and that he had explored the āyatanas through means other than by going through the jhānas.

Confusion arises because we’re so conditioned by the commentarial belief that to enter the āyatanas we must first go through the jhānas, that we assume that the Buddha must have had experience of the jhānas.

...


More shocking to me,
Despite the scriptural importance of jhāna, some teachers, like Thich Nhat Hanh, have argued that jhāna was something that the Buddha rejected, and that it was smuggled into the suttas after the Buddha’s death:
The Four Form Jhānas and the Four Formless Jhānas are states of meditational concentration which the Buddha practiced with teachers such as Ālāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta, and he rejected them as not leading to liberation from suffering. These states of concentration probably found their way back into the sutras around two hundred years after the Buddha passed into mahāparinirvāna. The results of these concentrations are to hide reality from the practitioner, so we can assume that they shouldn’t be considered Right Concentration.
(Transformation and Healing: Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, page 29)
Uncertainty intensifies

RE: A possible explanation for the jhana war
Answer
7/16/15 2:20 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Take this with a grain of salt since I'm still both pre-Jhana and pre-A&P but:

Fun facts:
•Many modern vipassana teachers seem to reject the four Jhanas
•The Buddha, according to the suttas, said that the four Jhanas are right concentration and THE way to awakening (the culmination of the eightfold path)
•The suttas never mention dukkha nanas...
•The Asubha sutta says the road to nibbana can be either painful or pleasant, depending on how much Jhana one practices.