Showing posts with label Jhana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jhana. Show all posts

Monday, August 1, 2011

Travelogue to the four jhanas

  Travelogue to the four jhanas
  Ajahn Brahmavamso

  This morning the talk is going to be on Right Concentration, Right Samadhi, on
  the four jhanas which I promised to talk about earlier this week and about
  exactly what they are, how to get into them, so one can recognise them after
  they've arisen and also to understand their place in the scheme of things. If
  one ever looks at the Buddha's teachings - the Suttas - one finds that the
  word 'jhana' is mentioned very, very often. There is a common theme, which
  occurs in almost every teaching of the Buddha and is part of the eightfold
  path - Samma Samadhi - Right Concentration, which is always defined as
  'cultivating the four jhanas.' In this meditation retreat, if we are really
  talking about meditation and we want to cultivate meditation, there is no
  reason why we shouldn't aim to cultivate the jhana states, because they give a
  depth to one's meditation which one can experience as something quite special
  and one could also experience the power of these states as well as the bliss
  of these states. It is that quality of bliss and that quality of power which
  you will later be able to use to really develop the powerful insights into the
  nature of your mind and the nature of all phenomena. I shall begin by talking
  about the Buddha's own story which is related in the Suttas. He attained jhana
  almost by chance as a young boy sitting under a rose-apple tree, just watching
  while his father was doing some ceremony. It was a very pleasurable experience
  and what the Buddha, or the Buddha-to-be, remembered was just the pleasure of
  that experience and a little bit about its power. But like many people, like
  may meditators, many practitioners, he formed the wrong view that anything so
  pleasurable can have nothing at all to do with ending suffering and
  enlightenment, that something so pleasurable must be a cause for more
  attachment in this world. It was because of thoughts like these that for six
  years the Buddha just wandered around the forests of India doing all sorts of
  ascetic practices. In other words almost looking for suffering, as if through
  suffering you could find an end of suffering. It was only after six years of
  futility that the Buddha decided, having had a meal, and this is how it is
  actually said in the Suttas, that he recalled this pleasurable experience of
  the first jhana as a young boy, maybe he said "this might be the path to
  enlightenment." and the insight knowledge arose in him, "This is the path to
  enlightenment, to Bodhi." Because of that insight, the Buddha, as everyone
  knows, sat under the Bodhi tree, developed the jhanas and based on the power
  of that jhana, the clarity of that jhana, developed all of these wisdoms,
  first of all recollecting past lives, recollecting the action of kamma, the
  depth of kamma, how it sends beings to various parts of rebirth, and then
  lastly the Four Noble Truths.
  It was only because of the power of that sort of mind that he could penetrate
  to such a degree of subtlety and uncover things which had been clouded
  completely from him. Since then he always tried to teach and encourage the
  practice of jhana as an essential ingredient of the Eightfold Path, an
  essential part of becoming enlightened. If one wishes to use Buddhism not as
  only a half-hearted path but to take it to its fullness, and aim for
  enlightenment, then sooner or later one will have to come across these jhanas,
  cultivate them, get to know them and use their power and do exactly the same
  as the Buddha did and become fully enlightened.
  Many of the other talks which monks give tell you about the problem of
  suffering in existence, they tell you about the difficulties of life and the
  problems of rebirth and more death, but I think its also our responsibility,
  if we are going to tell you the problem, then we must tell you the solution as
  well and tell you the solution in all its detail, not holding anything back.
  Part of that solution, an essential part of that solution is developing these
  things which we call jhana.
  Now what these jhanas actually are - I'll just talk about the four jhanas this
  morning and I'm going to carry on from what I might call the launching pad of
  that second stage of meditation which I've been talking about a lot while I've
  been teaching meditation during this retreat. The second stage of meditation
  in my scheme of things is where you have full continuous awareness of the
  breath. So the mind is not distracted at all, every moment it has the breath
  in mind and that state has been stabilised with continual attention until the
  breath is continually in mind, no distraction for many minutes on end. That's
  the second stage in this meditation. It coincides with the third stage in the
  Buddha's Anapanasati Sutta, where the meditator experiences whole body of
  breath, where the body here is just a word for the accumulation of all the
  parts of an inbreath, all the parts of an outbreath and the sequential
  awareness of these physical feelings. The next stage, the third stage in my
  scheme, the fourth stage in the Buddha's Anapanasati Sutta, is where, having
  attained that second stage and not letting it go, not letting go of the
  awareness of the breath one moment, one calms that object down, calms the
  object of the breath down.
  There are several ways of doing that. Perhaps the most effective is just
  developing an attitude of letting go, because the object of the breath will
  calm down naturally if you leave it alone. However, sometimes some meditators
  have difficulty letting go to that degree and so another method which can be
  very effective is just suggesting calm, calm, calm. Or suggesting letting go.
  There is a great difference between the attitude of letting go and suggesting
  letting go. With suggesting letting go, you are still actually controlling
  things, you are getting involved in it but at least you are getting involved
  by sending it in the right direction, sending it towards the place where the
  attitude of letting go is occurring, without the need to put it into words or
  to give it as orders or commands. You are programming the mind in the right
  direction. But I use both, either just letting go as an attitude of mind or
  subconscious suggesting, just calm, calm, calm, and to feel the object of your
  attention, being here the feeling of the breath, get more and more refined,
  more subtle. The difficulty or the problem here will be that you have to
  always maintain your attention clearly on the breath. In other words, not
  letting go of the second stage when you develop the third stage. Keep full
  awareness of the breath, but just make that breath softer and softer and
  softer, more and more subtle, more and more refined, but never letting go of
  it. As the breath gets more and more refined, the only way of not letting go
  of it is by treating it very, very gently. You're going towards an effortless
  awareness on the breath, an effortless attention where the breath is just
  A bit of a problem here with many meditators is that they are not quite sure
  of the correct way of knowing the breath in this state. There is a type of
  knowing which is just knowing, being mindful of, without naming, without
  thinking, without analysing, a sub-verbal type of knowing. You have to be
  confident that you are actually watching the breath. Sometimes you may not
  have the width of mind to know exactly what type of breath you are watching,
  but you know you are watching the breath. The point is, it's a type of knowing
  which is getting much more refined. Our usual knowing is very wide and full of
  many details. Here, the details are narrowing down until a point comes where
  sometimes we have so few details that we don't know if we truly know, a
  different type of knowing, a much more refined knowing. So the wisdom has to
  be very strong here and confidence has to be strong, to understand that one
  still knows the breath. The breath hasn't disappeared at all and you do not
  need, as it were, to widen the width of knowing through effort of will, this
  will just disturb the mind. Just allow everything to calm down. The object
  will calm down and so will the knowing start to calm down. It's at this stage
  where you start to get a samadhi nimitta arising. I call this part of the
  third stage.
  If you calm the physical feeling of breath down, the mental feeling of breath
  starts to arise -- the samadhi nimitta -- usually a light which appears in the
  mind. However, it can sometimes just appear to be a physical feeling. It can
  be a deep peacefulness; it can even be like a blackness. The actual
  description of it is very wide simply because the description is that which
  everyone adds on to a core experience, which is a mental experience. When it
  starts to arise you just haven't got the words to describe it. So what we add
  to it is usually how we understand it to ourselves. Darkness, peacefulness,
  profound stillness, emptiness, a beautiful light or whatever. Don't
  particularly worry about what type of nimitta it actually is.
  If you want to know the way to develop that nimitta, then this fourth stage of
  developing the four jhanas is to pay attention to that aspect of the nimitta
  which is beautiful, which is attractive, which is joyful, the pleasant part of
  it. And again, it is at this stage where you have to be comfortable with
  pleasure and not be afraid of it, not fear that it is going to lead to some
  sort of attachment, because the pleasure of these stages can be very intense
  at times, literally overpowering: overpowering your sense of self,
  overpowering your control, overpowering your sensitivity to your physical
  body. So you have to look for that pleasure and happiness which is in the
  nimitta, and this becomes the fourth stage because once the mind has noticed
  the pleasure and happiness in the nimitta, that will act like what I call the
  magnet or the glue. It is that which will draw one's attention onto it, and
  it's not the will or the choice or the decision which takes the attention and
  puts it onto the samadhi nimitta. In fact once the choice, the intention, the
  orders inside yourself arise, they'll actually push you away. You have to let
  the whole process work because the samadhi nimitta at this stage is very
  pleasurable; it literally pulls the mind into it. Many meditators when the
  possibly experience their first taste of a jhana, experience the mind falling
  into a beautiful hole. And that's exactly what's happening. It's the joy, the
  bliss, the beauty of that nimitta which is before the mind that actually pulls
  the mind into it. So you don't need to do the pushing, you don't need to do
  the work. At this stage it becomes a natural process of the mind. Your job is
  just to get to that second stage, calm that breath down, allow the samadhi
  nimitta to arise. Once the samadhi nimitta arises strongly, then the jhana
  happens in and of itself.
  Again, because the quality of knowing is very strong but very narrow in these
  states, while you are in these states, there is no way that you can truly
  assess where you are and what's happening to you. The ability to know through
  thinking, through analysing, is taken away from you in these states. You
  usually have to wait until you emerge from these states, until your ordinary
  thinking returns again, so you can really look back upon and analyse what has
  happened. Any of these jhana states are powerful experiences and as a powerful
  experience, they leave a deep imprint on your mind.
  Unfortunately there is not a word in our English language which corresponds to
  a positive trauma. The word 'trauma' is like a very strong negative, painful
  experience which leaves its imprint in you. This is similar in its strength
  and result to a trauma and you remember it very clearly because it has a
  severe impact on your memory. However, these are just purely pleasant
  experiences, like pleasant traumas, and as such you recall them very easily.
  So after you've emerged from a jhana, it's usually no problem at all just to
  look back with the question, "what was that?" and to be able to see very
  clearly the type of experience, the object, which you were aware of for all
  this time and then you can analyse it. It's at this point that you can find
  out exactly where you were and what was happening, but in the jhana you can't
  do this.
  After the jhana, one can know it by what the Buddha called 'the jhana
  factors'. These are the major signposts which tell you what particular states
  you've been in. It's good to know those signposts but remember, these are just
  signposts to these states, these are the main features of these states and in
  the first jhana there are many subsidiary features. In fact the first jhana is
  quite wide. However, if it's a first jhana experience it has to have the five
  main features, the five main jhana factors. The second jhana is much narrower,
  much easier to find out whether this is where you've been. It's the same with
  the third and the fourth jhana, they get narrower still. The width of
  description for this experience, which you may offer, narrows down as you
  attain more profound depths of letting go.
  But with the first jhana, the Buddha gave it five factors. The main factors
  are the two which is piti-sukka. This is bliss. Sometimes, if you look in
  books about the meaning of these terms, they will try and split them into
  separate factors. They are separate things, but in the first couple of jhanas
  piti and sukka are so closely intertwined that you will not be able to
  distinguish one from the other and it's more helpful not to try, but to look
  at these two factors as just 'bliss'. That's the most accurate description
  which most people can recognise: "This is bliss." The Buddha called it
  vivekaja piti-sukka, that particular type of bliss which is born from
  detachment, born from aloofness, born from seclusion. Viveka is the word for
  'seclusion', 'aloofness', 'separateness' and it means 'separated from the
  world of the five senses'. That's what you've separated yourself from and this
  is the bliss of that separation, which is the cause of that happiness and
  bliss. And that bliss has a particular type of taste which other blisses do
  not share, it is the bliss of seclusion. That is why it is also sometimes
  called the bliss of renunciation. You've renounced those things; therefore you
  are secluded from them.
  There are two other factors which confuse people again and again. They are the
  two terms 'vitakka' and 'vicira' -- which Bikkhu Bodhi in his Majima Nikaya
  translates as 'initial' and 'sustained' application of thought or 'initial'
  and 'applied' thought. However, it should be known and recognised, that
  thinking, as you normally perceive it, is not present in these jhanas at all.
  That which we call thought has completely subsided. What these two terms refer
  to is a last vestige of the movement of the mind which, if it was continued,
  would give rise to thinking. It is almost what you might call sub-verbal
  thought. It is a movement of the mind towards a meditation object. That's
  called vitakka. However it has to appear on a sub-verbal level, just a
  movement, just an intention, without the mind breaking into words and labels.
  The mind moves onto the object, and remember the 'object' here, the thing you
  are aware of, is the piti-sukha. That is why it is the main factor of this
  jhana, because you are aware of bliss. That's the object of your meditation,
  not the breath, not the body, not any words but you are aware of bliss. And
  you will also be aware, and this is one of the characteristics of the first
  jhana, that the mind will still be wobbling a little bit. The bliss which is
  the object of your awareness will appear, as it were, to fade or to recede,
  and as it fades, as it recedes, as it weakens, the mind will go towards it
  again. Attracted as it were, by its power, by its bliss, the mind goes towards
  it; that is called 'vitakka', the movement of the mind onto its object. When
  it reaches the object it will hold onto it, this is called 'vicira', which
  will be an effort of mind, but a very subtle effort of mind. This is an effort
  of mind; this is not an effort of will. It is not an effort coming from you,
  it's the mind doing it by itself. All along you are a passive observer to all
  of this. And as it holds onto it, eventually, as it were, it will lose its
  grip and will recede away from the object of bliss again. In this way, the
  object of bliss will appear to be wobbly, not truly firm. As such, the mind
  will seem to have a little bit of width to it, but not be truly solid.
  However, that width is very small and you never move far away from that bliss
  because as soon as you move a little away from it, it retracts and pulls the
  mind straight back again.
  Because it's only got a little bit of width this is called one-pointedness of
  mind: all of the energy, the focus, of the mind being in one point, both in
  space and one point in time. This experience does not change over many, many,
  many minutes in a full first jhana. This experience is maintained, it's just
  the mind going towards this bliss and this bliss lasting there for a long
  time. Now again, this is only how you'll see it when you emerge from the
  jhana. You will not be able to analyse this experience into five factors
  during that time because the mind will not have that width, that ability to
  think, the ability to analyse, while you are in the state. While in the state
  all you'll be aware of is just the bliss. You are literally blissed out, not
  really quite knowing why or what's happening, but having some sort of feeling
  or confidence that this is worthwhile, this is beautiful, this is profound,
  this is worth doing, so that you can stay in those states.
  It's usual that a person's first experience of jhana will be the first jhana.
  After a while, the strength of the samadhi, what you actually brought into
  that state with you, will begin to decline and the mind will move away from
  the bliss, and the vitakka will not be strong enough to take it back into it
  again, and you emerge from the jhana. The jhana will break up and you will be
  able to think and analyse again. Thoughts will come up into your mind and this
  will probably be one of the first things which arises after the jhana breaks,
  as it were. The mind will still have a lot of happiness and bliss to it but
  will not be as one-pointed. The body will usually not be recognised at the
  beginning and only later will the mind care to look and see what the body has
  been doing all this time.
  The mind will be very powerful at this stage. You've just emerged from a
  jhana, you'll still have a lot of happiness and bliss and in the words of the
  Buddha the mind will be 'malleable', it will be 'workable'. It will be like a
  piece of clay which is not too wet and not too dry, which you can turn into
  any shape you want with ease because of the power which you invested in the
  mind, and that becomes the experience of the first jhana. Once you've
  experienced that once then it's good to find out what caused that jhana to
  arise. What did you do? Or more appropriately, what did you let go of, to give
  rise to that jhana? Rather than what you did, what you let go of becomes a
  much more powerful indicator of the ways into these states. You usually find
  out that you developed that second stage when you started to let go of this
  'controller', let go of the wandering mind, let go of the fear of these states
  and especially when you let go of the controller and just allowed the mind to
  show its face when you're not there, giving all the orders. Once you start to
  get to know this and get to know the ways into these jhanas, then you should
  try and develop them, to repeat them again and again because not only are you
  developing insight, you are developing the skill, the skill of letting go of
  things which are the causes of deep attachment.
  As you develop these jhanas more and more, they are very enjoyable things to
  develop. Sometimes people feel that a holy life, a spiritual practice should
  be harsh and severe. If you want to make it harsh and severe that's up to you,
  but if you want to go on a happy path, a path of bliss which is also going to
  lead to enlightenment at the same time, this is it. Even though these are very
  strong pleasures, mental pleasures, the Buddha said they are not to be feared.
  He said this in many places in the Suttas and there was one place, in the
  Digha Nikaya, where he told the monks: if a person develops these jhanas,
  makes much of them, is almost attached to them, attached to their development
  then there are four consequences of that attachment to that development. The
  word I am translating here as attachment is anuyoga. Our word 'yoke' comes
  from this word 'yoga' which means 'tying onto'. Anu means 'along with' or
  'tied along with' so it literally means 'practising frequently', doing it
  again and again and again, what some people would interpret as 'being attached
  So there are four results from practising jhanas in this way, not five
  results, not three results, but four results. And those four results of
  practising jhana again and again and again are stream entry, once returner,
  non-returner and Arahat. The Buddha was unequivocal about this. It does not
  lead to more attachment to the world, it actually leads to the enlightenment
  experiences, to separation from the world. The way to develop them is that as
  you develop the first jhana more and more, you can aim towards the higher
  jhanas. The only way you can aim towards the higher jhanas is to do it before
  you enter this whole area of the mind we call the jhana realm. Because once
  you are in any jhana, you are stuck there and you cannot give any orders or
  any commands, you cannot drive your vehicle once you are in any of these
  absorptions. The aiming, the driving, the putting in of instructions has to be
  done beforehand.
  It is very difficult to find similes for this. A very weak simile, but one
  I've used before is like someone charging into a house with four rooms and the
  fourth room is way down the back, the third room is just a little bit before
  that, the second room a bit before that and the first one is just inside the
  door. The floors are made out of this very, very slippery ice so you cannot
  make any momentum once you have got in the first door. All your momentum has
  to be built up from outside, so you charge the first door and if you are going
  very fast, you may be able to slip right through the first room and into the
  second room. If you are going really fast you may even get into the third room
  and if you are going very, very fast as you charge the front door, you may
  slip all the way into the fourth room. But once you are in any of these rooms
  you cannot add to your momentum. So the only way you can gain these deeper
  jhanas is, before you enter any of these states, making sure that your effort
  to let go, your resolve to abandon, that your desire to settle all
  disturbances is so strong that you settle the disturbance of this doing mind
  and next you settle the vitakka-vicira, this movement of the mind, and you
  settle many other things as well. The mind settles down, one thing after the
  other, as it goes into the deeper jhanas.
  The second jhana is the first true state of samadhi because here you've
  settled down that which was a disturbance of the first jhana, which was a
  wobbling of the mind, the vittaka-vicara has been abandoned. So now the mind
  has the object of bliss firmly unified with it, and this state is one of
  rock-like samadhi, where there is this one object in the mind, of bliss, and
  there is no room in the mind at all. It is completely one-pointed, stuck solid
  as a rock and blissed out, so the object is not moving at all, not changing an
  iota, it is there one moment after another moment after another moment.
  Because of the solidity and stability of that state, the second jhana will
  last much, much longer than the first jhana; the deeper the jhanas, the longer
  they will last and you are usually talking in terms of hours for the second
  jhana, simply because it is a very solid state. Whereas the first jhana can be
  just for a matter of minutes, a good second jhana should be quite long -- and
  it is very solid. Once you are in it there is no way you can get out until the
  energy of that jhana just uses itself up. That's the only way, because you
  cannot form the resolution, "now's the time to come out." If someone calls
  you, you just will not hear them, if someone taps you on the shoulder, you
  will not recognise that, because you are completely separated from the
  external world. You are literally right in the centre of your mind and you
  cannot be contacted. Again, that second jhana, once it starts to break up,
  will break up into what is tantamount to first jhana then it will break out
  into the verbalisation of thought. You come down again.
  For those who want to explore these states a lot, one important thing one can
  do, rather than to leave it to the momentum of your energy to quieten down
  your energy of samadhi, is to make resolutions before you enter these states.
  You just need to say to yourself, "I'll just enter the jhana for half an hour
  or for one hour." Because the mind is very refined in these states it will
  have power, your suggestion will be like programming a computer and once the
  hour is up, the mind will just come out of the jhanas. I can't say exactly how
  it works, but it does. In the same way you can go to sleep and say, "I'll wake
  up at three o'clock" and you do wake up at three o'clock or five minutes
  either side, without the use of an alarm clock. The mind, if you programme it
  with mindfulness, responds. And so that is a very useful way and a very good
  instruction; to use those resolutions so that you do not spend over long in
  those states when you have maybe an appointment or some things you have to do.
  Make a resolution first of all. However, when you are in that state, you
  cannot make a resolution, you cannot think, you cannot analyse. All you know
  is that you are blissed out, you are not quite sure what is happening and only
  afterwards you have the opportunity to emerge and then to analyse and to see
  what has gone on and why.
  If one wishes to go deeper into the jhanas, then at this point one has to
  understand that that bliss, which is in the second jhana born of samadhi, born
  of full unification of mind, a bliss with a different taste, has an aspect to
  it which is still troublesome to the mind and that is this aspect of piti.
  This is almost like a mental excitement and that can be overcome if one aims
  to quieten that bliss down.
   Ajahn Brahmavamso
  Perth, Western Australia, 1998
  (Edited from a talk given by Ajahn Brahmavamso during the 9-day retreat in
  North Perth, Western Australia, December 1997)

Jhana - Jhana and The Noble Disciples

The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation
by Bhikkhu Henepola Gunaratana

  Chapter 6
  Jhana and The Noble Disciples

    All noble persons, as we saw, acquire supramundane jhana along with their
    attainment of the noble paths and fruits. The noble ones at each of the four
    stages of liberation, moreover, have access to the supramundane jhana of
    their respective fruition attainments, from the fruition attainment of
    stream-entry up to the fruition attainments of arahatship. It remains
    problematic, however to what extent they also enjoy the possession of
    mundane jhana. To determine an answer to this question we will consult an
    early typology of seven types of noble disciples, which provides a more
    psychologically oriented way of classifying the eight noble individuals. A
    look at the explanation of these seven types will enable us to see the range
    of jhanic attainment reached by the noble disciples. On this basis we will
    proceed to assess the place of mundane jhana in the early Buddhist picture
    of the arahat, the perfected individual.
    Seven Types of Disciples
    The sevenfold typology is originally found in the Kitagiri Sutta of the
    Majjhima Nikaya (M.i,477-79) and is reformulated in the Puggalapannatti of
    the Abhidhamma Pitaka. This typology classifies the noble persons on the
    paths and fruits into seven types:
      1. the faith-devotee (saddhanusari),
      2. the one liberated by faith (saddhavimutta),
      3. the body-witness (kayasakkhi),
      4. the one liberated in both ways (ubhatobhagavimutta),
      5. the truth-devotee ( dhammanusari),
      6. the one attained to understanding (ditthipatta), and
      7. the one liberated by wisdom (pannavimutta).
    The seven types may be divided into three general groups, each defined by
    the predominance of a particular spiritual faculty, The first two types are
    governed by a predominance of faith, the middle two by a predominance of
    concentration, and the last three by a predominance of wisdom. To this
    division, however, certain qualifications will have to made as we go along.
    1. The faith-devotee is explained the sutta thus:
      Herein, monks, some person has not reached with his own (mental) body
      those peaceful immaterial deliverances transcending material form: nor
      after seeing with wisdom, have his cankers been destroyed. [1] But he has
      a certain degree of faith in the Tathagata, a certain degree of devotion
      to him, and he has these qualities -- the faculties of faith, energy,
      mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. This person, monks, is called a
      faith-devotee. (M.i,479)
    The Puggalapannatti (p 182) defines the faith-devotee from a different angle
    as a disciple practicing for the fruit of stream-entry in whom the faculty
    of faith is predominant and who develops the noble path led by faith. It
    adds that when he is established in the fruit he becomes one liberated by
    faith. Although the sutta excluded the "peaceful immaterial attainments,"
    i.e. the four immaterial jhana, from the faith-devotee's equipment, this
    implies nothing with regard to his achievement of the four lower mundane
    jhanas. It would seem that the faith-devotee can have previously attained
    any of the four fine-material jhanas before reaching the path, and can also
    be a dry-insight worker bereft of mundane jhana.
    2. The one liberated by faith is strictly and literally defined as a noble
    disciple at the six intermediate levels, from the fruit of stream-entry
    through to the path of arahatship, who lacks the immaterial jhanas and has a
    predominance of the faith faculty.
    The Buddha explains the one liberated by faith as follows:
      Herein, monks, some person has not reached with his own (mental) body
      those peaceful immaterial deliverances transcending material form; but
      having seen with wisdom, some of his cankers have been destroyed, and his
      faith in the Tathagata is settled, deeply rooted, well established. This
      person, monks, is called one liberated by faith. (M.i,478)
    As in the case of the faith-devotee, the one liberated by faith, while
    lacking the immaterial jhanas, may still be an obtainer of the four mundane
    jhanas as well as a dry insight worker.
    The Puggalapnnatti states (pp.184-85) that the person liberated by faith is
    one who understands the Four Noble Truths, has seen and verified by means of
    wisdom the teachings proclaimed by the Tathagata, and having seen with
    wisdom has eliminated some of his cankers. However, he has not done so as
    easily as the ditthipatta, the person attained to understanding, whose
    progress is easier due to his superior wisdom. The fact that the one
    liberated by faith has destroyed only some of this cankers implies that he
    has advanced beyond the first path but not yet reached the final fruit, the
    fruit of arahatship. [2]
    3. The body-witness is a noble disciple at the six intermediate levels, from
    the fruit of stream-entry to the path of arahatship, who has a predominance
    of the faculty of concentration and can obtain the immaterial jhanas. The
    sutta explanation reads:
      And what person, monks is a body-witness? Herein, monks, some person has
      reached with his own (mental) body those peaceful immaterial deliverances
      transcending material form, and having seen with wisdom, some of his
      cankers having been destroyed. This person, monks, is called a
      body-witness. (M.i,478)
    The Puggalapannatti (p. 184) offers a slight variation in this phrasing,
    substituting "the eight deliverances" (atthavimokkha) for the sutta's
    "peaceful immaterial deliverances" (santa vimokkha aruppa). These eight
    deliverances consist of three meditative attainments pertaining to the
    fine-material sphere (inclusive of all four lower jhanas), the four
    immaterial jhanas, and the cessation of perception and feeling
    (sannavedayitanirodha) -- the last a special attainment accessible only to
    those non-returners and arahats who have also mastered the eight jhanas. [3]
    The statement of the Puggalapannatti does not mean either that the
    achievement of all eight deliverances is necessary to become a body-witness
    or that the achievement of the three lower deliverances is sufficient. What
    is both requisite and sufficient to qualify as a body-witness is the partial
    destruction of defilements coupled with the attainment of at least the
    lowest immaterial jhana. Thus the body witness becomes fivefold by way of
    those who obtain any of the four immaterial jhanas and the one who also
    obtains the cessation of perception and feeling.
    4. One who is liberated in both ways is an arahat who has completely
    destroyed the defilements and possesses the immaterial attainments. The
    commentaries explain the name "liberated in both ways" as meaning "through
    the immaterial attainment he is liberated from the material body and through
    the path (of arahatship) he is liberated from the mental body" (MA.ii,131).
    The sutta defines this type of disciple thus:
      And what person, monks, is liberated in both ways? Herein, monks, someone
      has reached with his own (mental) body those peaceful immaterial
      deliverances transcending material form, and having seen with wisdom, his
      cankers are destroyed. This person, monks, is called liberated in both
      ways. (M.i,477)
    The Puggalapannatti (p.184) gives basically the same formula but replaces
    "immaterial deliverances" with "the eight deliverances." The same principle
    of interpretation that applied to the body-witness applies here: the
    attainment of any immaterial jhana, even the lowest, is sufficient to
    qualify a person as both-ways liberated. As the commentary to the
    Visuddhimagga says: "One who has attained arahatship after gaining even one
    [immaterial jhana] is liberated both ways" (Vism.T.ii,466). This type
    becomes fivefold by way of those who attain arahatship after emerging from
    one or another of the four immaterial jhanas and the one who attains
    arahatship after emerging from the attainment of cessation (MA:iii,131).
    5. The truth-devotee is a disciple on the first path in whom the faculty of
    wisdom is predominant. The Buddha explains the truth-devotee as follows:
      Herein, monks, some person has not reached with his own (mental) body
      those peaceful immaterial deliverances transcending material form; nor,
      after seeing with wisdom, have his cankers been destroyed. But the
      teachings proclaimed by the Tathagata are accepted by him through mere
      reflection, and he has these qualities -- the faculties of faith, energy,
      mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. This person, monks, is called a
      truth-devotee. (M.i,479)
    The Puggalapannatti (p.185) defines the truth-devotee as one practicing for
    realization of the fruit of stream-entry in whom the faculty of wisdom is
    predominant, and who develops the path led by wisdom. It adds that when a
    truth-devotee is established in the fruit of stream-entry he becomes one
    attained to understanding, the sixth type. The sutta and Abhidhamma again
    differ as to emphasis, the one stressing lack of the immaterial jhanas, the
    other the ariyan stature. Presumably, he may have any of the four
    fine-material jhanas or be a bare-insight practitioner without any mundane
    6. The one attained to understanding is a noble disciple at the six
    intermediate levels who lacks the immaterial jhanas and has a predominance
    of the wisdom faculty. The Buddha explains:
      And what person, monks, is the one attained to understanding? Herein,
      monks someone has not reached with his own mental body those peaceful
      immaterial deliverances transcending material form, but having seen with
      wisdom some of his cankers are destroyed, and the teachings proclaimed by
      the Tathagata have been seen and verified by him with wisdom. This person,
      monks, is called the one attained to understanding. (M.i,478)
    The Puggalapannatti (p.185) defines the one attained to understanding as a
    person who understands the Four Noble Truths, has seen and verified by means
    of wisdom the teachings proclaimed by the Tathagata, and having seen with
    wisdom has eliminated some of his cankers. He is thus the "wisdom
    counterpart" of the one liberated by faith, but progresses more easily than
    the latter by virtue of his sharper wisdom. Like his counterpart, he may
    possess any of the four mundane jhanas or may be a dry-insight worker.
    7. The one liberated by wisdom is an arahat who does not obtain the
    immaterial attainments. In the words of the sutta:
      And what person, monks, is the one liberated by wisdom? Herein, monks,
      someone has not reached with his own (mental) body those peaceful material
      deliverances transcending material form, but having seen with wisdom his
      cankers are destroyed. This person, monks, is called one liberated by
      wisdom. (M.i,477-78)
    The Puggalapannatti's definition (p.185) merely replaces "immaterial
    deliverance" with "the eight deliverances." Though such arahats do not reach
    the immaterial jhanas it is quite possible for them to attain the lower
    jhanas. The sutta commentary in fact states that the one liberated by wisdom
    is fivefold by way of the dry-insight worker and the four who attain
    arahatship after emerging from the four jhanas.
    It should be noted that the one liberated by wisdom is contrasted not with
    the one liberated by faith, but with the one liberated in both ways. The
    issue that divides the two types of arahat is the lack or possession of the
    four immaterial jhanas and the attainment of cessation. The person liberated
    by faith is found at the six intermediate levels of sanctity, not at the
    level of arahatship. When he obtains arahatship, lacking the immaterial
    jhanas, he becomes one liberated by wisdom even though faith rather that
    wisdom is his predominant faculty. Similarly, a meditator with predominance
    of concentration who possesses the immaterial attainments will still be
    liberated in both ways even if wisdom rather than concentration claims first
    place among his spiritual endowments, as was the case with the venerable
    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 and the truth-devotee, consists of those on the path of
    stream-entry, the first of the eight noble individuals. The second category,
    comprising the one liberated by faith, the body-witness and the one attained
    to understanding, consists of those on the six intermediate levels, from the
    stream-enterer to one on the path of arahatship. The third category,
    comprising the one liberated in both ways and the one liberated by wisdom,
    consists only of arahats. [4]
    The ubhatobhagavimutta, "one liberated in both ways," and the pannavimutta
    "one liberated by wisdom," thus form the terms of a twofold typology of
    arahats distinguished on the basis of their accomplishment in jhana. The
    ubhatobhagavimutta arahat experiences in his own person the "peaceful
    deliverances" of the immaterial sphere, the pannavimutta arahat lacks this
    full experience of the immaterial jhanas. Each of these two types, according
    to the commentaries, again becomes fivefold -- the ubhatobhagavimutta by way
    of those who possess the ascending four immaterial jhanas and the attainment
    of cessation, the pannavimutta by way of those who reach arahatship after
    emerging from on of the four fine-material jhanas and the dry-insight
    mediator whose insight lacks the support of mundane jhana.
    The possibility of attaining the supramundane path without possession of a
    mundane jhana has been questioned by some Theravada scholars, but the
    Visuddhimagga clearly admits this possibility when it distinguishes between
    the path arisen in a dry-insight mediator and the path arisen in one who
    possesses a jhana but does not use it as a basis for insight (Vism.666-67;
    PP.779). Textual evidence that there can be arahats lacking mundane jhana is
    provided by the Susima Sutta (S.ii, 199-23) together with is commentaries.
    When the monks in the sutta are asked how they can be arahats without
    possessing supernormal powers of the immaterial attainments, they reply: "We
    are liberated by wisdom" (pannavimutta kho mayam). The commentary glosses
    this reply thus: "We are contemplatives, dry-insight meditators, liberated
    by wisdom alone" (Mayam nijjhanaka sukkhavipassaka pannamatten'eva vimutta
    ti, SA.ii,117). The commentary also states that the Buddha gave his long
    disquisition on insight in the sutta "to show the arising of knowledge even
    without concentration" (vina pi samadhimevam nanuppattidassanattham,
    SA.ii,117). The subcommentary establishes the point by explaining "even
    without concentration" to mean "even without concentration previously
    accomplished reaching the mark of serenity" (samathalakkhanappattam
    purimasiddhamvina pi samadhin ti), adding that this is said in reference to
    one who makes insight his vehicle (ST.ii,125).
    In contrast to the pannavimutta arahats, those arahats who are
    ubhatobhagavimutta enjoy a twofold liberation. Through their mastery over
    the formless attainments they are liberated from the material body
    (rupakaya), capable of dwelling in the very life in the meditations
    corresponding to the immaterial planes of existence; through their
    attainment of arahatship they are liberated from the mental body (namakaya),
    presently free from all defilements and sure of final emancipation from
    future becoming. Pannavimutta arahats only possess the second of these two
    The double liberation of the ubhatobhagavimutta arahat should not be
    confused with another double liberation frequently mentioned in the suttas
    in connection with arahatship. This second pair of liberations, called
    cetovimutti pannavimutti, "liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom," is
    shared by all arahats. It appears in the stock passage descriptive of
    arahatship: "With the destruction of the cankers he here and now enters and
    dwells in the cankerless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, having
    realized it for himself with direct knowledge." That this twofold liberation
    belongs to pannavimutta arahats as well as those who are ubhatobhagavimutta
    is made clear by the Putta Sutta, where the stock passage is used for two
    types of arahats called the "white lotus recluse" and the "red lotus
      How, monks, is a person a white lotus recluse (samanapundarika)? Here,
      monks, with the destruction of the cankers a monk here and now enters and
      dwells in the cankerless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, having
      realized it for himself with direct knowledge. Yet he does not dwell
      experiencing the eight deliverances with his body. Thus, monks, a person
      is a white lotus recluse.
      And how, monks, is a person a red lotus recluse (samanapaduma)? Here,
      monks, with the destruction of the cankers a monk here and now enters and
      dwells in the cankerless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, having
      realized it for himself with direct knowledge. And he dwells experiencing
      the eight deliverances with his body. Thus, monks, a person is a red lotus
      recluse. (A.ii,87)
    Since the description of these two types coincides with that of pannavimutta
    and ubhatobhagavimutta the two pairs may be identified, the white lotus
    recluse with the pannavimutta, the red lotus recluse with the
    ubhatobhagavimutta. Yet the pannavimutta arahat, while lacking the
    experience of the eight deliverances, still has both liberation of mind and
    liberation by wisdom.
    When liberation of mind and liberation by wisdom are joined together and
    described as "cankerless" (anasava), they can be taken to indicate two
    aspects of the arahat's deliverance. Liberation of mind signifies the
    release of his mind from craving and its associated defilements, liberation
    by wisdom the release from ignorance: "With the fading away of lust there is
    liberation of mind, with the fading away of ignorance there is liberation by
    wisdom" (A.i,61). "As he sees and understands thus his mind is liberated
    from the canker of sensual desire, from the canker of existence from the
    canker of ignorance" (M.i,183-84) -- here release from the first two cankers
    can be understood as liberation of mind, release from the canker of
    ignorance as liberation by wisdom. In the commentaries "liberation of mind"
    is identified with the concentration factor in the fruition attainment of
    arahatship, "liberation by wisdom" with the wisdom factor.
    Since every arahat reaches arahatship through the Noble Eightfold Path, he
    must have attained supramundane jhana in the form of right concentration,
    the eighth factor of the path, defined as the four jhanas. This jhana
    remains with him as the concentration of the fruition attainment of
    arahatship, which occurs at the level of supramundane jhana corresponding to
    that of his path. Thus he always stands in possession of at least the
    supramundane jhana of fruition, called the "cankerless liberation of mind."
    However, this consideration does not reflect back on his mundane
    attainments, requiring that every arahat possess mundane jhana.
    Although early Buddhism acknowledges the possibility of a dry-visioned
    arahatship, the attitude prevails that jhanas are still desirable attributes
    in an arahat. They are of value not only prior to final attainment, as a
    foundation for insight, but retain their value even afterwards. The value of
    jhana in the stage of arahatship, when all spiritual training has been
    completed, is twofold. One concern the arahat's inner experience, the other
    his outer significance as a representative of the Buddha's dispensation.
    On the side of inner experience the jhanas are valued as providing the
    arahat with a "blissful dwelling here and now" (ditthadhammasukhavihara).
    The suttas often show arahats attaining to jhana and the Buddha himself
    declares the four jhanas to be figuratively a kind of Nibbana in this
    present life (A.iv.453-54). With respect to levels and factors there is no
    difference between the mundane jhanas of an arahat and those of a
    non-arahat. The difference concerns their function. For non-arahats the
    mundane jhanas constitute wholesome kamma; they are deeds with a potential
    to produce results, to precipitate rebirth in a corresponding realm of
    existence. But in the case of an arahat mundane jhana no longer generates
    kamma. Since he has eradicated ignorance and craving, the roots of kamma,
    his actions leave no residue; they have no capacity to generate results. For
    him the jhanic consciousness is a mere functional consciousness which comes
    and goes and once gone disappears without a trace.
    The value of the jhanas, however, extends beyond the confines of the
    arahat's personal experience to testify to the spiritual efficacy of the
    Buddha's dispensation. The jhanas are regarded as ornamentations of the
    arahat, testimonies to the accomplishment of the spiritually perfect person
    and the effectiveness of the teaching he follows. A worthy monk is able to
    "gain at will without trouble or difficulty, the four jhanas pertaining to
    the higher consciousness, blissful dwellings here and now." This ability to
    gain the jhanas at will is a " quality that makes a monk an elder." When
    accompanied by several other spiritual accomplishments it is an essential
    quality of "a recluse who graces recluses" and of a monk who can move
    unobstructed in the four directions. Having ready access to the four jhanas
    makes an elder dear and agreeable, respected and esteemed by his fellow
    monks. Facility in gaining the jhanas is one of the eight qualities of a
    completely inspiring monk (samantapasadika bhikkhu) perfect in all respects;
    it is also one of the eleven foundations of faith (saddha pada). It is
    significant that in all these lists of qualities the last item is always the
    attainment of arahatship, "the cankerless liberation of mind, liberation by
    wisdom," showing that all desirable qualities in a bhikkhu culminate in
    The higher the degree of his mastery over the meditative attainments, the
    higher the esteem in which an arahat monk is held and the more praiseworthy
    his achievement is considered. Thus the Buddha says of the
    ubhatobhagavimutta arahat: "There is no liberation in both ways higher and
    more excellent than this liberation in both ways"(D.ii,71).
    The highest respect goes to those monks who possess not only liberation in
    both ways but the six abhinnas or "super-knowledges": the exercise of
    psychic powers, the divine ear, the ability to read the minds of others, the
    recollection of past lives, knowledge of the death and rebirth of beings,
    and knowledge of final liberation. The Buddha declares that a monk endowed
    with the six abhinnas, is worthy of gifts and hospitality, worthy of
    offerings and reverential salutations, a supreme field of merit for the
    world (A.iii,280-81). In the period after the Buddha's demise, what
    qualified a monk to give guidance to others was endowment with ten
    qualities: moral virtue, learning, contentment, mastery over the four
    jhanas, the five mundane abhinnas and attainment of the cankerless
    liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom (M.iii,11-12). Perhaps it was
    because he was extolled by the Buddha for his facility in the meditative
    attainments and the abhinnas that the venerable Mahakassapa assumed the
    presidency of the first great Buddhist council held in Rajagaha after the
    Buddha's passing away.
    The graduation in the veneration given to arahats on the basis of their
    mundane spiritual achievements implies something about the value system of
    early Buddhism that is not often recognized. It suggests that while final
    liberation may be the ultimate and most important value, it is not the sole
    value even in the spiritual domain. Alongside it, as embellishments rather
    than alternatives, stand mastery over the range of the mind and mastery over
    the sphere of the knowable. The first is accomplished by the attainment of
    the eight mundane jhanas, the second by the attainment of the abhinnas.
    Together, final liberation adorned with this twofold mastery is esteemed as
    the highest and most desirable way of actualizing the ultimate goal.
    [1] The cankers (asava) are four powerful defilements that sustain samsara;
    sensual desire, desire for existence, wrong views and ignorance.
    [2] The Visuddhimagga, however says that arahats in whom faith is
    predominant can also be called "liberated by faith" (Vism.659; PP.770). Its
    commentary points out that this statement is intended only figuratively, in
    the sense that those arahats reach their goal after having been liberated by
    faith in the intermediate stages. Literally, they would be "liberated by
    wisdom". (Vism.T.ii,468)
    [3] The first three emancipations are: one possessing material form sees
    material forms; one not perceiving material forms internally sees material
    forms externally; and one is released upon the idea of the beautiful. They
    are understood to be variations on the jhanas attained with color kasinas.
    For the attainment of cessation, see PP.824-833.
    [4] It should be noted that the Kitagiri Sutta makes not provision in its
    typology for a disciple on the first path who gains the immaterial jhanas.
    Vism.T.(ii,466) holds that he would have to be considered either a
    faith-devotee or a truth-devotee, and at the final fruition would be one
    liberated in both ways.
    [5] The references are to: A,ii,23;iii,131,135,114;iv,314-15; v,337.

Jhana - Jhana and The Supramundane

The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation
by Bhikkhu Henepola Gunaratana

  Chapter 5
  Jhana and The Supramundane

    The Way of Wisdom
    The goal of the Buddhist path, complete and permanent liberation from
    suffering, is to be achieved by practicing the full threefold discipline of
    morality (sila), concentration (samadhi), and wisdom (panna). The mundane
    jhanas, comprising the four fine-material jhanas and the four immaterial
    jhanas, pertain to the stage of concentration, which they fulfill to an
    eminent degree. However, taken by themselves, these states do not ensure
    complete deliverance, for they are incapable of cutting off the roots of
    suffering. The Buddha teaches that the cause of suffering, the driving power
    behind the cycle of rebirths, is the defilements with their three
    unwholesome roots -- greed, hatred and delusion. Concentration of the
    absorption level, no matter to what heights it is pursued, only suppresses
    the defilements, but cannot destroy their latent seeds. Thence bare mundane
    jhana, even when sustained, cannot by itself terminate the cycle of
    rebirths. To the contrary, it may even perpetuate the round. For if any
    fine-material or immaterial jhana is held to with clinging, it will bring
    about a rebirth in that particular plane of existence corresponding to its
    own kammic potency, which can then be followed by rebirth in some lower
    What is required to achieve complete deliverance from the cycle of rebirths
    is the eradication of the defilements. Since the most basic defilement is
    ignorance (avijja), the key to liberation lies in developing its direct
    opposite, namely wisdom (panna).
    Since wisdom presupposes a certain proficiency in concentration it is
    inevitable that jhana comes to claim a place in its development. This place,
    however, is not fixed and invariable, but as we will see allows for
    differences depending on the individual mediator's disposition.
    Fundamental to the discussion in this chapter is a distinction between two
    terms crucial to Theravada philosophical exposition, "mundane" (lokiya) and
    "supramundane" (lokuttara). The term "mundane" applies to all phenomena
    comprised in the world (loka) -- to subtle states of consciousness as well
    as matter, to virtue as well as evil, to meditative attainments as well as
    sensual engrossments. The term "supramundane," in contrast, applies
    exclusively to that which transcends the world, that is the nine
    supramundane states: Nibbana, the four noble paths (magga) leading to
    Nibbana, and their corresponding fruits (phala) which experience the bliss
    of Nibbana.
    Wisdom has the specific characteristic of penetrating the true nature of
    phenomena. It penetrates the particular and general features of things
    through direct cognition rather than discursive thought. Its function is "to
    abolish the darkness of delusion which conceals the individual essences of
    states" and its manifestation is "non-delusion." Since the Buddha says that
    one whose mind is concentrated knows and sees things as they are, the
    proximate cause of wisdom is concentration (Vism. 438; PP.481).
    The wisdom instrumental in attaining liberation is divided into two
    principal types: insight knowledge (vipassananana) and the knowledge
    pertaining to the supramundane paths (magganana). The first is the direct
    penetration of the three characteristics of conditioned phenomena --
    impermanence, suffering and non-self. [1] It takes as its objective sphere
    the five aggregates (pancakkhandha) -- material form, feeling perception,
    mental formations and consciousness. Because insight knowledge takes the
    world of conditioned formations as its object, it is regarded as a mundane
    form of wisdom. Insight knowledge does not itself directly eradicate the
    defilements, but serves to prepare the way for the second type of wisdom,
    the wisdom of the supramundane paths, which emerges when insight has been
    brought to its climax. The wisdom of the path, occurring in four distinct
    stages ( to be discussed below ), simultaneously realizes Nibbana, fathoms
    the Four Noble Truths, and cuts off the defilements. This wisdom is called
    "supramundane" because it rises up from the world of the five aggregates to
    realize the state transcendent to the world, Nibbana.
    The Buddhist disciple, striving for deliverance, begins the development of
    wisdom by first securely establishing its roots -- purified moral discipline
    and concentration. He then learns and masters the basic material upon which
    wisdom is to work -- the aggregates, elements, sense bases, dependent
    arising, the Four Noble Truths, etc. He commences the actual practice of
    wisdom by cultivating insight into the impermanence, suffering and non-self
    aspect of the five aggregates. When this insight reaches its apex it issues
    in supramundane wisdom, the right view factor of the Noble Eightfold Path,
    which turns from conditioned formations to the unconditioned Nibbana and
    thereby eradicates the defilements.
    The Two Vehicles
    The Theravada tradition recognizes two alternative approaches to the
    development of wisdom, between which practitioners are free to choose
    according to their aptitude and propensity. These two approaches are the
    vehicle of serenity (samathayana) and the vehicle of insight
    (vipassanayana). 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 approaches to developing insight, to prevent
    misunderstanding the latter type of meditator is sometimes called a
    suddhavipassanayanika, "one who makes bare insight his vehicle," or a
    sukkhavipassaka, "a dry-insight worker."
    Though all three terms appear initially in the commentaries rather than in
    the suttas, the recognition of the two vehicles seems implicit in a number
    of canonical passages.
    The samathayanika is a meditator who first attains access concentration or
    one of the eight mundane jhanas, then emerges and uses his attainment as a
    basis for cultivating insight until he arrives at the supramundane path. In
    contrast, the vipassanayanika does not attain mundane jhana prior to
    practicing insight contemplation, or if he does, does not use it as an
    instrument for cultivating insight. Instead, without entering and emerging
    from jhana, he proceeds directly to insight contemplation on mental and
    material phenomena and by means of this bare insight he reaches the noble
    path. For both kinds of meditator the experience of the path in any of its
    four stages always occurs at a level of jhanic intensity and thus
    necessarily includes supramundane jhana under the heading of right
    concentration (samma samadhi), the eighth factor of the Noble Eightfold
    The classical source for the distinction between the two vehicles of
    serenity and insight is the Visuddhimagga where it is explained that when a
    meditator begins the development of wisdom "if firstly, his vehicle is
    serenity, [he] should emerge from any fine-material or immaterial jhana
    except the base consisting of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, and he
    should discern, according to characteristic, function, etc. the jhana
    factors consisting of applied thought, etc. and the states associated with
    them" (Vism. 557; PP679-80). Other commentarial passages allow access
    concentration to suffice for the vehicle of serenity, but the last
    immaterial jhana is excluded because its factors are too subtle to be
    discerned. The meditator whose vehicle is pure insight, on the other hand,
    is advised to start directly by discerning material and mental phenomena,
    beginning with the four elements, without utilizing a jhana for this purpose
    (Vism. 558; PP.680). Thus the samathayanika first attains access
    concentration or mundane jhana and then develops insight knowledge, by means
    of which he reaches the supramundane path containing wisdom under the
    heading of right view, and supramundane jhana under the heading of right
    concentration. The vipassanayanika, in contrast, skips over mundane jhana
    and goes directly into insight contemplation. When he reaches the end of the
    progression of insight knowledge he arrives at the supramundane path which,
    as in the previous case, brings together wisdom with supramundane jhana.
    This jhana counts as his accomplishment of serenity.
    For a meditator following the vehicle of serenity the attainment of jhana
    fulfills two functions: first, it produces a basis of mental purity and
    inner collectedness needed for undertaking the work of insight
    contemplation; and second, it serves as an object to be examined with
    insight in order to discern the three characteristics of impermanence,
    suffering and non-self. Jhana accomplishes the first function by providing a
    powerful instrument for overcoming the five hindrances. As we have seen, for
    wisdom to arise the mind must first be concentrated well, and to be
    concentrated well it must be freed from the hindrances, a task accomplished
    pre-eminently by the attainment of jhana. Though access concentration will
    keep the hindrances at bay, jhana will ensure that they are removed to a
    much safer distance.
    In their capacity for producing concentration the jhanas are called the
    basis (pada) for insight, and that particular jhana a meditator enters and
    emerges from before commencing his practice of insight is designated his
    padakajjhana, the basic or foundational jhana. Insight cannot be practiced
    while absorbed in jhana, since insight meditation requires investigation and
    observation, which are impossible when the mind is immersed in one-pointed
    absorption. But after emerging form the jhana the mind is cleared of the
    hindrances, and the stillness and clarity that then result conduce to
    precise, penetrating insight.
    The jhanas also enter into the samathayanika's practice in second capacity,
    that is, as objects for scrutinization by insight. The practice of insight
    consists essentially in the examination of mental and physical phenomena to
    discover their marks of impermanence, suffering and non-self. The jhanas a
    meditator attains provide him with a readily available and strikingly clear
    object in which to seek out the three characteristics. After emerging from a
    jhana the meditator will proceed to examine the jhanic consciousness and to
    discern the way it exemplifies the three universal marks. This process is
    called sammasananana, "comprehension knowledge," and the jhana subject to
    such treatment is termed sammasitajjhana, "the comprehended jhana" (Vism.
    607-11; PP.706-10). Though the basic jhana and the comprehended jhana will
    often be the same, the two do not necessarily coincide. A meditator cannot
    practice comprehension on a jhana higher than he is capable of attaining,
    but one who uses a higher jhana as his padakajjhana can still practice
    insight comprehension on a lower jhana which he has previously attained and
    mastered. The admitted difference between the padakajjhana and the
    sammasitajjhana leads to discrepant theories about the supramundane
    concentration of the noble path, as we will see.
    Whereas the sequence of training undertaken by the samathayanika meditator
    is unproblematic, the vipassanayanika's approach presents the difficulty of
    accounting for the concentration he uses to provide a basis for insight.
    Concentration is needed in order to see and know things as they are, but
    without access concentration or jhana, what concentration can he use? The
    solution to this problem is found in a type of concentration distinct from
    the access and absorption concentrations pertaining to the vehicle of
    serenity, called "momentary concentration" (khanika samadhi). Despite its
    name, momentary concentration does not signify a single moment of
    concentration amidst a current of distracted thoughts, but a dynamic
    concentration which flows from object to object in the ever-changing flux of
    phenomena, retaining a constant degree of intensity and collectedness
    sufficient to purify the mind of the hindrances. Momentary concentration
    arises in the samathayanika simultaneously with his post-jhanic attainment
    of insight, but for the vipassanayanika it develops naturally and
    spontaneously in the course of his insight practice without his having to
    fix the mind upon a single exclusive object. Thus the follower of the
    vehicle of insight does not omit concentration altogether from his training,
    but develops it in a different manner from the practitioner of serenity.
    Without gaining jhana he goes directly into contemplation on the five
    aggregates and by observing them constantly from moment to moment acquires
    momentary concentration as an accompaniment of his investigations. This
    momentary concentration fulfills the same function as the basic jhana of the
    serenity vehicle, providing the foundation of mental clarity needed for
    insight to emerge.
    Supramundane Jhana
    The climax in the development of insight is the attainment of the
    supramundane paths and fruits. Each path is a momentary peak experience
    directly apprehending Nibbana and permanently cutting off certain
    defilements. These defilements are generally grouped into a set of ten
    "fetters" (samyojana) which keep beings chained to the round of rebirths.
    The first path, called the path of stream-entry (sota patti) because it
    marks the entry into the stream of the Dhamma, eradicates the first three
    fetters -- The false view of self, doubt, and clinging to rites and rituals.
    The disciple who has reached stream-entry has limited his future births to a
    maximum of seven in the happy realms of the human and heavenly worlds, after
    which he will attain final deliverance. But an ardent disciple may progress
    to still higher stages in the same life in which he reaches stream-entry, by
    making an aspiration for the next higher path and again undertaking the
    development of insight with the aim of reaching that path.
    The next supramundane path is that of the once-returner (sakadagami). This
    path does not eradicate any fetters completely, but it greatly attenuates
    sensual desire and ill will. The once-returner is so called because he is
    bound to make an end of suffering after returning to this world only one
    more time. The third path, that of the non-returner (anagami) utterly
    destroys the sensual desire and ill will weakened by the preceding path. The
    non-returner is assured that he will never again take rebirth in the
    sense-sphere; if he does not penetrate higher he will be reborn
    spontaneously in the Pure Abodes and there reach final Nibbana. The highest
    path, the path of arahatship, eradicate the remaining five fetters -- desire
    for existence in the fine-material and immaterial spheres, conceit,
    restlessness and ignorance. The arahat has completed the development of the
    entire path taught by the Buddha; he has reached the end of rebirths and can
    sound his "lion's roar": "Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived,
    what was to be done has been done, there is nothing further beyond this."
    Each path is followed immediately by the supramundane experience of
    fruition, which results from the path, comes in the same four graded stages,
    and shares the path's world-transcending character. But whereas the path
    performs the active function of cutting off defilements, fruition simply
    enjoys the bliss and peace that result when the path has completed its task.
    Also, where the path is limited to a single moment of consciousness, the
    fruition that follows immediately on the path endures for two or three
    moments. And while each of the four paths occurs only once and can never be
    repeated, fruition remains accessible to the noble disciple at he
    appropriate level. He can resort to it as a special meditative state called
    fruition attainment (phalasamapatti) for the purpose of experiencing
    nibbanic bliss here and now (Vism. 699-702; PP.819-24).
    The supramundane paths and fruits always arise as states of jhanic
    consciousness. They occur as states of jhana because they contain within
    themselves the jhana factors elevated to an intensity corresponding to that
    of the jhana factors in the mundane jhanas. Since they possess the jhana
    factors these states are able to fix upon their object with the force of
    full absorption. Thence, taking the absorptive force of the jhana factors as
    the criterion, the paths and fruits may be reckoned as belonging to either
    the first, second, third or fourth jhana of the fourfold scheme, or to the
    first, second, third, fourth or fifth jhana of the fivefold scheme.
    The basis for the recognition of a supramundane type of jhana goes back to
    the suttas, especially to the section of "The Great Discourse on the
    Foundations of Mindfulness" where the Buddha defines right concentration of
    the Noble Eightfold Path by the standard formula for the four jhanas
    (D.ii,313). However, it is in the Abhidhamma that the connection between the
    jhanas, paths and fruits comes to be worked out with great intricacy of
    detail. The Dhammasangani, in its section on states of consciousness,
    expounds each of the path and fruition states of consciousness as occasions,
    first, of one or another of the four jhanas in the fourfold scheme, and then
    again as occasions of one or another of the five jhanas in the fivefold
    scheme (Dhs.74-86). Standard Abhidhammic exposition, as formalized in the
    synoptical manuals of Abhidhamma, employs the fivefold scheme and brings
    each of the paths and fruits into connection with each of the five jhanas.
    In this way the eight types of supramundane consciousness -- the path and
    fruition consciousness of stream-entry, the once-returner, the non-returner
    and arahatship -- proliferate to forty types of supramundane consciousness,
    since any path or fruit can occur at the level of any of the five jhanas. It
    should be noted, however, that there are no paths and fruits conjoined with
    the immaterial attainments, the reason being that supramundane jhana is
    presented solely from the standpoint of its factorial constitution, which
    for the immaterial attainment and the fifth jhana is identical -- equanimity
    and one-pointedness.
    The fullest treatment of the supramundane jhanas in the authoritative Pali
    literature can be found in the Dhammasangani read in conjunction with its
    commentary, the Atthasalini. The Dhammasangani opens its analysis of the
    first wholesome supramundane consciousness with the words:
      On the occasion when one develops supramundane jhana which is
      emancipating, leading to the demolition (of existence), for the
      abandonment of views, for reaching the first plane, secluded from sense
      pleasures ... one enters and dwells in the first jhana. (Dhs. 72)
    The Atthasalini explains the word lokuttara, which we have been translating
    "supramundane," as meaning "it crosses over the world, it transcends the
    world, it stands having surmounted and overcome the world." It glosses the
    phrase "one develops jhana" thus: "One develops, produces, cultivates
    absorption jhana lasting for a single thought-moment." This gloss shows us
    two things about the consciousness of the path: that it occurs as a jhana at
    the level of full absorption and that this absorption of the path lasts for
    only a single thought-moment. The word "emancipating" (niyyanika) is
    explained to mean that this jhana "goes out" from the world, from the round
    of existence, the phrase "leading to demolition" (apacayagami) that it
    demolishes and dismantles the process of rebirth (Dhs.A.259).
    This last phrase points to a striking difference between mundane and
    supramundane jhana. The Dhammasangani's exposition of the former begins: "On
    the occasion when one develops the path for rebirth in the fine-material
    sphere ... one enters and dwells in the first jhana" [my italics]. Thus,
    with this statement, mundane jhana is shown to sustain the round of
    rebirths; it is a wholesome kamma leading to renewed existence. But the
    supramundane jhana of the path does not promote the continuation of the
    round. To the contrary, it brings about the round's dismantling and
    demolition, as the Atthasalini shows with an illustrative simile:
    The wholesome states of the three planes are said to lead to accumulation
    because they build up and increase death and rebirth in the round. But not
    this. Just as when one man has built up a wall eighteen feet high another
    might take a club and go along demolishing it, so this goes along
    demolishing and dismantling the deaths and rebirths built up by the
    wholesome kammas of the three planes by bringing about a deficiency in their
    conditions. Thus it leads to demolition. [2]
    Supramundane jhana is said to be cultivated "for the abandoning of views."
    This phrase points to the function of the first path, which is to eradicate
    the fetters. The supramundane jhana of the first path cuts off the fetter of
    personality view and all speculative views derived from it. The Atthasalini
    points out that here we should understand that it abandons not only wrong
    views but other unwholesome states as well, namely, doubt, clinging to rites
    and rituals, and greed, hatred and delusion strong enough to lead to the
    plane of misery. The commentary explicates "for reaching the first plane" as
    meaning for attaining the fruit of stream-entry.
    Besides these, several other differences between mundane and supramundane
    jhana may be briefly noted. First, with regard to their object, the mundane
    jhanas have as object a conceptual entity such as the counterpart sign of
    the kasinas or, in the case of the divine abodes, sentient beings. In
    contrast, for the supramundane jhana of the paths and fruits the object is
    exclusively Nibbana. With regard to their predominant tone, in mundane jhana
    the element of serenity prevails, while the supramundane jhana of the paths
    and fruits brings serenity and insight into balance. Wisdom is present as
    right view and serenity as right concentration, both function together in
    perfect harmony, neither one exceeding the other.
    This difference in prevailing tone leads into a difference in function or
    activity between the two kinds of jhana. Both the mundane and supramundane
    are jhanas in the sense of closely attending (upanijjhana), but in the case
    of mundane jhana this close attention issues merely in absorption into the
    object, an absorption that can only suppress the defilement temporarily. In
    the supramundane jhana, particularly of the four paths, the coupling of
    close attention with wisdom brings the exercise of four functions at a
    single moment. These four functions each apply to one of the Four Noble
    Truths. The path penetrates the First Noble Truth by fully understanding
    suffering; it penetrates the Second Noble Truth by abandoning craving, the
    origin of suffering; it penetrates the Third Noble Truth by realizing
    Nibbana, the cessation of suffering; and it penetrates the fourth Noble
    Truth by developing the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to the end of
    suffering. Buddhaghosa illustrates this with the simile of a lamp, which
    also performs four tasks simultaneously: it burns the wick, dispels
    darkness, makes light appear, and consumes oil (Vism.690; PP.808).
    The Jhanic Level of the Path and Fruit
    When the paths and fruits are assigned to the level of the four or five
    jhanas, the question arises as to what factor determines their particular
    level of jhanic intensity. In other words, why do the path and fruit arise
    for one meditator at the level of the first jhana, for another at the level
    of the second jhana, and so forth? The commentaries present three theories
    concerning the determination of the jhanic level of the path, apparently
    deriving from the lineages of ancient teachers (Vism. 666-67; PP.778-80.
    Dhs.A.271-74). The first holds that it is the basic jhana, i.e. the jhana
    used as a basis for the insight leading to emergence in immediate proximity
    to the path, that governs the difference in the jhanic level of the path. A
    second theory says that the difference is governed by the aggregates made
    the objects of insight on the occasion of insight leading to emergence. A
    third theory holds that it is the personal inclination of the meditator that
    governs the difference.
    According to the first theory the path arisen in a dry-insight meditator who
    lacks jhana, and the path arisen in one who possesses a jhana attainment but
    does not use it as a basis for insight, and the path arisen by comprehending
    formations after emerging from the first jhana, are all paths of the first
    jhana only. When the path is produced after emerging from the second, third,
    fourth and fifth jhanas (of the fivefold system) and using these as the
    basis for insight, then the path pertains to the level of the jhana used as
    a basis -- the second, third, fourth of fifth. For a meditator using an
    immaterial jhana as basis the path will be a fifth jhana path. Thus in this
    first theory, when formations are comprehended by insight after emerging
    from a basic jhana, then it is the jhana attainment emerged from at the
    point nearest to the path, i.e. just before insight leading to emergence is
    reached, that makes the path similar in nature to itself.
    According to the second theory the path that arises is similar in nature to
    the states which are being comprehended with insight at the time insight
    leading to emergence occurs. Thus if the meditator, after emerging from a
    meditative attainment, is comprehending with insight sense-sphere phenomena
    or the constituents of the first jhana, then the path produced will occur at
    the level of the first jhana. On this theory, then, it is the comprehended
    jhana (sammasitajjhana) that determines the jhanic quality of the path. The
    one qualification that must be added is that a meditator cannot contemplate
    with insight a jhana higher than he is capable of attaining.
    According to the third theory, the path occurs at the level of whichever
    jhana the meditator wishes -- either at the level of the jhana he has used
    as the basis for insight or at the level of the jhana he has made the object
    of insight comprehension. In other words, the jhanic quality of the path
    accords with his personal inclination. However, mere wish alone is not
    sufficient. For the path to occur at the jhanic level wished for, the
    mundane jhana must have been either made the basis for insight or used as
    the object of insight comprehension.
    The difference between the three theories can be understood through a simple
    example. [3] If a meditator reaches the supramundane path by contemplating
    with insight the first jhana after emerging from the fifth jhana, then
    according to the first theory his path will belong to the fifth jhana, while
    according to the second theory it will belong to the first jhana. Thus these
    two theories are incompatible when a difference obtains between basic jhana
    and comprehended jhana. But according to the third theory, the path becomes
    of whichever jhana the meditator wishes, either the first or the fifth. Thus
    this doctrine does not necessarily clash with the other two.
    Buddhaghosa himself does not make a decision among these three theories. He
    only points out that in all three doctrines, beneath their disagreements,
    there is the recognition that the insight immediately preceding the
    supramundane path determines the jhanic character of the path. For this
    insight is the proximate and the principal cause for the arising of the
    path, so whether it be the insight leading to emergence near the basic jhana
    or that occurring through the contemplated jhana or that fixed by the
    meditator's wish, it is in all cases this final phase of insight that gives
    definition to the supramundane path. Since the fruition that occurs
    immediately after the path has an identical constitution to the path, its
    own supramundane jhana is determined by the path. Thus a first jhana path
    produces a first jhana fruit, and so forth for the remaining jhanas.
    [1] Anicca, dukkha, anatta
    [2] Dhs.A.259.See Expositor, ii.289-90.
    [3] Dhs.A.274. See Expositor, ii.310.