Sukha

The next jhana factor is sukha (happiness). The word sukha is used both as a noun meaning happiness, ease, bliss, or pleasure, and as an adjective meaning blissful or pleasant. The Dhammasangani Attakatha presents a number of canonical uses of the term sukha can mean pleasurable feeling (sukhavedana), the root of happiness (sukhamula), pleasurable object (sukharammana), a cause of happiness (sukhahetu), an objective station occasioning happiness (sukhapaccayatthana), freedom from trouble...

Etymology of Jhana

The great Buddhist commentator Bhadantacariya Buddha-ghosa traces the Pali word jhana (Skt. dhyana) to two verbal forms. One, the etymologically correct derivation, is the verb jhayati, meaning to think or to meditate. Buddhaghosa explains By means of this yogins meditate, thus it is called jhana The meaning is that they cognize a given object.1 (Wr. tr.). The commentator offers in addition a more playful derivation of jhana, intended to illuminate its function rather than its verbal source....

Akusala Vitakka

In itself vitakka is neither unwholesome (akusala) nor wholesome (kusala). It is merely the intrinsically indeterminate function of directing the mind and its concomitants onto the object. Its moral quality is determined by its associated factors, especially its underlying roots. When it is associated with the unwholesome roots - greed (lobha), hatred (dosa), and delusion (moha) - it becomes unwholesome vitakka, When it is associated with the wholesome roots - non-greed (alobha), non-hatred...

Iddhi and Patihariya

The possession of iddhi is regarded as a desirable quality in a bhikkhu which contributes to the completeness of his 1. BMTR, pp. 437-38. Pts. pp. 387-88. 2. PP., pp. 441-43. Vism., pp. 331-32. spiritual perfection.1 However, exhibiting supernormal powers to gain adherents, win offerings, or obtain popularity has been prohibited by the Buddha. In the Vinaya the display of supernormal feats or psychic powers is classified as an offense of wrong doing (apatti-dukkata).2 Nevertheless, while the...

Restlessness and Worry Uddhaccakukkucca

As in the previous case, here too the Buddha divides this compound hindrance into its two components before re-combining them into one Restlessness, monks, is a hindrance worry is a hindrance. Thus the hindrance of restlessness and worry that comes down in the summary by this method becomes twofold.2 The Dhammasangani again picks up on this method and defines the two terms separately What is the hindrance of excitement restlessness and worry What is excitement That excitement of mind which is...

The Benefits of Abandoning the Hindrances

From the perspective of Pali Buddhism, the reduction and elimination of the five hindrances is essential not only to the attainment of jhana, but to all aspects of man's moral 2. Tesam panca nlvarana pahlna ucchinnamula talavatthukata anabhavakata ayatim anuppadadhamma. SN. 5 327. and spiritual development. The hindrances represent an entire spectrum of defiled mental states. Their presence implies the presence as well of the unwholesome roots, the floods, bonds, cankers, clinging, ties and...

The Modes of Direct Knowledge

In the suttas the meditator who has attained and mastered the fourth jhana is sometimes shown as proceeding to attain certain kinds of supernormal knowledge. In a stock passage it is said that when, after emerging from the fourth jhana, the meditator's concentrated mind is thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, and has become malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability,1 he directs it to the achievement of various powers of higher knowledge. These modes of higher...

Seclusion from the Hindrances

The stock passage describing the attainment of the first jhana, with which we began the present chapter, says that the jhana is attained by a bhikkhu who is secluded from sense pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states of mind'.3 Now that we have determined the purport of the phrase unwholesome states of mind to be the five hindrances, we must inquire into the meaning of the word seclusion (viveka). The Visuddhimagga in its gloss of this passage, explains that there are three kinds of...

The Nature of Wisdom

The reason the mundane jhanas cannot by themselves bring final liberation from suffering is because they are incapable of cutting off the causes of suffering. The Buddha teaches that the fundamental source of suffering, the driving power behind the cycle of rebirths, is the defilements (kilesa), principally the three unwholesome roots of greed, hatred, and delusion. Concentration of the absorptive level, no matter how deeply it might be developed, only leads to a suspension of the defilements,...

Supramundane Jhana

The supramundane paths and fruits, as we saw, always arise as states of jhanic consciousness. They occur as states of jhana because they contain within themselves the factors of jhana (jhanahga) elevated to a level of intensity corresponding to that of the factors in the mundane jhanas. Since they possess the jMna-factors endowed with such intensity these states are able to fix upon their object with the force of full absorption. Thence, taking the absorptive force of the jlidna factors as the...

The Subjects of Serenitymeditation

The various meditation subjects that the Buddha prescribed on different occasions for the development of serenity have been systematized in the commentaries into a set called the forty kammatthanas. The word kammatthana means literally a place of work. It is applied to the subjects of meditation since these are the places where the meditator undertakes the work pertaining to his calling, the work of meditation. An equivalent term occurring in the texts in aram-mana, meaning object in general,...

The Elimination of the Hindrances

Once the genetic basis for the rise and growth of the hindrances becomes clear, the way to counteract and eliminate them follows as a matter of course. Since the hindrances occur in dependence on specific causes and conditions, their control and conquest requires simply that their generative causes be removed. Though the actual achievement of such a stoppage may be difficult and require diligent effort, it is the fundamental optimism of Buddhism that the quali 1 Ko ca bhikkhave h ro...

The First Aruppa The Base of Boundless Space

The four formless attainments must be achieved in the order in which they are presented in the texts - that is, beginning with the base of boundless space and culminating in the base of neither perception nor non-perception. The motivation which initially leads a yogin to seek the immaterial states is a clear perception of the dangers posed by gross physical matter. As it is said in the Majjhima Nikaya It is in virtue of matter that wielding of sticks, wielding of knives, quarrels, brawls and...

The Jhanas and Rebirth

According to Buddhist doctrine the influence of the jhanas is not confined merely to this present existence but extends beyond to future lives, determining an individual's destiny in the course of his movement through samsara. The Buddha teaches that all sentient beings in whom ignorance (avijja) and craving (tanha) remain present, even if only dormantly, are subject to rebirth. As long as there is a desire to go on existing in some form the process of existence will continue. The craving for...

The Fourth Jhana

Having achieved the fivefold mastery over the third jhana, the meditator enters it, emerges from it, and reviews its constituting factors. When he reviews the factors the meditator sees that the attainment is threatened by the nearness of rapture (piti) this is the fault of proximate corruption. The inherent defect is the presence of happiness (sukha), which he sees to be a relatively gross factor that weakens the entire attainment. As he reflects equanimous feeling and one-pointedness appear...

Jhna and Samdhi

In the vocabulary of Buddhist meditation the word jh na is closely connected with another word, sam dhi, generally rendered as concentration. Sam dhi derives from the prefixed verbal root sam- -dh , meaning to collect or to bring together, thus suggesting the concentration or unification of the mind. The word sam dhi is almost interchangeable with the word samatha, serenity, though the latter comes from a different root, sam (Skt. sain), meaning to become calm. In the suttas sam dhi is defined...

Jhana and the Arahat

From the standpoint of their spiritual stature the seven types of noble persons can be divided into three categories. The first, which includes the faith-devotee (saddhanusari) and the truth-devotee (dhammanusari), consists of those on the path of stream-entry, the first of the eight ariyan persons. The second category, comprising the one liberated by faith (saddhavimutta), the body-witness (kayasakkhi), and the one attained to understanding (ditthippatta), consists of those on the six...

The Seven Purifications

The path to deliverance, usually expounded in terms of the three trainings in morality, concentration and wisdom, is sometimes divided further into seven stages called the seven purification sattavisuddhi . The canonical basis for this system is the Rathavinlta Sutta MN. No.24 and the Patisambhidamagga. The scheme claims special prominence in the Theravada commentarial tradition since it forms the framework for the Visuddhimagga. As such it comes to the forefront in every discussion of the...

The Entrance to the Jhana

The Buddha describes the attainment of the first jhana with a standard formula recurring throughout the Pali Canon. The formula runs as follows Quite secluded from sense pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states of mind, he enters and dwells in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied thought and sustained thought with rapture and happiness born of seclusion.1 Wr. tr. . Examination of the formula reveals that it divides into two parts, one indicating the states which must be...

The Two Vehicles

The Theravada tradition recognizes two alternative approaches to the development of wisdom, between which yogins are free to choose according to their aptitude and propensity. These two approaches are the vehicle of serenity samathayana and the vehicle of insight vipassana-yana . The meditators who follow them are called, respectively, the samathayanika, one who makes serenity his vehicle, and the vipassanayanika, one who makes insight his vehicle. Since both vehicles, despite their names, are...

Vitakka A General

The word vitakka, derived from the Pali root tak Skt. lark meaning to think, frequently appears in the texts in conjunction with the other word vicara, which derives from the root car P. amp Skt. meaning to move. The two together signify two interconnected but distinct aspects of the thought process. The primary word takka means literally thinking the prefix vi gives it a strengthened sense, so that vitakka means pronounced or decisive thinking.1 The word vitakka is often found in the suttas in...

Sensual Desire kamacchanda

The hindrance of sensual desire is desire for sense pleasures, sense pleasures kama here being equated with the five strands of sense pleasures panca kamaguna .1 The five strands of sense pleasure are visible forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangibles which are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensuous, stimulating lust.2 Wr. tr. . Desire for sense pleasures appears in the suttas under a variety of names. The Dhammasangani, the first book of the Abhidhamma-pitaka, collects together all...

The Seven Types of Noble Persons

All noble persons, as we saw, acquire supramundane jhana along with their attainment of the noble paths and fruits. The noble disciples at each of the four stages of deliverance, moreover, have access to the supramundane jhana of their respective fruition attainments to which they can resort to experience the peace of nibbana. However, it remains problematic to what extent they share in the possession of mundane jhana. To determine an answer to this question it is helpful to consult an early...

The Third Jhana

To attain the third jhana the meditator must apply the same method he used to ascend from the first to the second. He must first master the second jhana in the five ways already described. Then he must enter it, emerge from it and reflect upon its defects. When he does so he sees that this attainment is threatened by the two flaws, the defect of proximate corruption and the inherent defect. The defect of proximate corruption is the nearness of applied and sustained thought. If these should...