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Nyana vs Sylvester Jhana

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Text of Nyana vs Sylvester Jhana

Nevertheless, the basic points that (1) sensory consciousness is necessarily stopped in jhna, and (2) that jhna requires a vision of a light or form nimitta, are simply never stated or implied in the sutta-s.Of course jhna requires a nimitta, both in terms of cause and in terms of mental sign. One of the four satipahna-s is the nimitta which serves as the cause for the eventual elimination of the five hindrances and, beyond that, the arising of the five concomitant mental factors (pacagika) of the first jhna. And the mental sign of the first jhna, according to the sutta-s, is the presence of these five mental factors: non-sensual (nirmis) pti and sukha, as well as vitakka, vicra, and cittekaggat. This is not only the content of the standard jhna formula (except cittekaggat), it is mentioned in the context of the nimitta of the first jhna in the discourses (e.g. A iv 418: ...idhekacco bhikkhu paito byatto khetta kusalo vivicceva kmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakka savicra vivekaja ptisukha pahama jhna upasampajja viharati. So ta nimitta sevati bhveti bahulkaroti svdhihita adhihti.). The presence of these concomitant mental factors is the sign of having attained jhna.Analayo (Grasping): In fact, at a later point the Upakkilesa-sutta speaks of directing attention to the meditative experience of forms or to that of light in terms of the rpanimitta and the obhsanimitta (MN III 161). This passage explicitly uses the term nimitta to refer to the vision of light and forms that Anuruddha and his companions had been unable to stabilize, a usage where nimitta unequivocally stands for something that is perceived. From this it seems that the Upakkilesa-sutta could indeed be describing the development of the mental nimitta required in order to enter the first absorption. A: Not even the Visuddhimagga limits counterpart signs to visions of light or forms. According to the Visuddhimagga analysis, of the 30 meditations which lead to jhna, 22 have counterpart signs as object. And of these, only 19 require any sort of counterpart sign which is apprehended based solely on sight, and can therefore give rise to a mental image resulting from that nimitta (the 10 stages of corpse decomposition and 9 kasia-s, excluding the air kasia which is apprehended by way of both sight and tactile sensation).As for the Upakkilesa Sutta, nowhere in this sutta does it say that either the obhsanimitta or the rpanimitta are essential prerequisites for attaining the first jhna. Nor does this sutta maintain that the stopping of all sensory consciousness whatsoever is essential for the arising of either of these two signs. Therefore, while these apperceptions and visions can occur during the course of of meditational development, there is no explicit statement here, or elsewhere in the suttas, that such apperceptions and/or visions must arise for one to enter jhna. Indeed, even the commentarial tradition doesnt maintain that either of these types of nimitta-s are essential. Also, the Vimuttimagga understands the teaching in the Upakkilesa Sutta to refer to the development of the divine eye. This is understandable as Anuruddh was designated as the foremost disciple endowed with the divine eye.Analayo (Grasping): Elsewhere the discourses also refer to the "sign of tranquillity", samathanimitta (DN III 213; SN V 66; SN V 105), to the "sign of concentration", samdhinimitta (DN III 226; DN III 242; DN III 279; MN I 249; MN I 301; MN III 112; AN I 115; AN I 256; AN II 17; AN III 23; AN III 321), and to the "sign of the mind", cittanimitta (SN V 151; AN III 423; Th 85). The unique contribution made by the Upakkilesa-sutta is that it offers a report of actual practice that involves the nimitta in a context geared towards absorption attainment.A: None of these references refer to any of these nimitta-s being an obhsanimitta or rpanimitta related to the context of the Upakkilesa Sutta. The Upakkilesa Sutta is the only discourse where nimitta is used in that context.Analayo (Grasping): Elsewhere the discourses in fact indicate that during the firstabsorption it is impossible to speak (SN IV 217), and the hearing of sounds is an obstruction to its attainment (AN V 135).With the first absorption one has gone beyond Mra's vision(MN I 159), having reached the end of the world of the senses(AN IV 430). These passages confirm that the first absorptionis indeed a state during which the mind is "absorbed" in deepconcentration.A: According to Ven. Anlayos interpretation of S iv 217 it would be impossible to breathe in the fourth jhna or any of the formless attainments. Although this interpretation has also been put forward over the centuries, IMO its not a correct interpretation of the discourse. One doesnt speak in the first jhna because there is no volitional intention to do so. And while breathing can slow to the point of being imperceptible in the fourth jhna, this doesnt mean that one has completely ceased breathing. Breathing even when imperceptible is an involuntary process.As far as sounds are concerned, A iii 137 states that one must be able to tolerate sounds to both enter and remain in sammsamdhi. And sammsamdhi is most commonly defined as the four jhna-s in the discourses, as is the training of heightened mind (adhicittasikkh), as well as the faculty of concentration (samdhindriya) and the strength of concentration (samdhibala) as practiced by a noble disciple (ariyasvaka). There is simply no integrated eightfold path without the inclusion of jhna in the suttantika sense of jhna.And A iv 430 doesnt say what Ven. Anlayo wants it to say. The kmagun (strings of sensuality) metaphor only applies to sensory phenomena that are wished for and desired, agreeable and endearing, associated with sense-desire and tempting to lust. A iii 410 tells us that they are not inherently kma in and of themselves. MN 13: Mahdukkhakkhandha Sutta tells us that they are the allure (or gratification) of kma. It goes on to tell us that its the abandoning of desire-passion (chandarga) for sensuality, which is the escape from kma. Thus external sensory objects are only strings of kma insofar as they are desired and wished for. Returning to A iv 430, it states that it is only with the attainment of the cessation of apperception and feeling that one actually comes to the end of the world (an attainment not necessary for liberation).BTW, Ven. Anlayo goes to significant lengths to suggest that sammsamdhi is actually satipahna, and yet he also maintains that jhna which he acknowledges is necessary at some point on the noble eightfold path is an absorption somehow beyond sammsamdhi.Regarding what else is present or absent in the four jhna-s, S v 214 states that the pleasure faculty (sukhindriya) doesnt cease until the third jhna, and S v 211 defines the pleasure faculty as pleasure born of body contact. S iv 236 further tells us that nirmis pti and sukha are what is experienced in jhna hence the pti and sukha of jhna are non-sensual, yet sukha is still born of body contact.Moreover, M i 293 and A iv 426 both explicitly state that it is only when abiding in the fully purified formless attainments that the mind is isolated from the five sense faculties and doesnt attend to any apperceptions of the five sensory spheres. Its worth quoting both. MN 43 Mahvedalla Sutta:Friend, what can be known with the purified mental-consciousness (manovia) isolated from the five [sense] faculties?Friend, with the purified mental-consciousness isolated from the five faculties the sphere of infinite space can be known as infinite space. The sphere of infinite consciousness can be known as infinite consciousness. The sphere of nothingness can be known as there is nothing.AN 9.37 Ananda Sutta:Q: during first jhana one can still sense the body - but are you all really sure it is the physical body we sense?A: I suspect that we are coming to this discussion from somewhat different perspectives. For myself, it doesn't really matter what you or I or anyone else thinks jhna is; for the purposes of discussion I'm mainly interested in what the discourses have to say on the matter. And from the statements I cited on my previous post from M i 293 and A iv 426, there is no reason to exclude the body, or any other phenomena, from what can be experienced in jhna.Neither of those statements from M i 293 or A iv 426 are of interpretive meaning (neyyattha). They aren't in need of further interpretation. They are of definitive meaning (ntattha). They speak directly in terms of the faculties (indriya-s) and sense spheres (yatana-s). A iv 426 is very explicit. Venerable nanda states that when not experiencing the form, sound, etc., yatana-s, one is percipient of one of the three formless perception attainments, or aphala samdhi.If it were the case that one cannot experience any of these yatana-s while abiding in the four jhna-s, then this discourse would have included the four jhna-s along with the three formless perception attainments and aphala samdhi.The same holds true for S v 214 and S v 211 regarding the pleasure and equanimity faculties (sukhindriya & upekkhindriya).Of course, the abhidhammikas reinterpreted all of this. And if one wants to follow that interpretation, that's fine by me.Q: The rupa body has form (usually takes the form of our physical body but is changeable), one can see with it, hear, touch, etc. How to discern it from the "gross"?A: As DN 11 states, "And what is the gross acquisition of a self? Possessed of form,made up of the four great existents, feeding on physical food: this is the gross acquisition of a self. And what is the mind-made acquisition of a self? Possessed of form,mind-made, complete in all its parts, not inferior in its faculties: this is the mind-made acquisition of a self. And what is the formless acquisition of a self? Formless andmade of perception: this is the formless acquisition of a self."The first type of "form" (rpa) is made of the "four great elements" (ctu-ma

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