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Jhana translation in context of samma samadhi

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  • Dieter
    Dear Dhamma friends, I like to ask for you help to clarify a point of discussion which developed out of following: X:The literal meaning is burning, not
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 24, 2011
      Dear Dhamma friends,
      I like to ask for you help to clarify a point of discussion which developed out of following:

      X:The literal meaning is "burning," not "absorption". (I presume the "burning" pertains to attacking the hindrances.)

      D:Ven. Henepola Gunaratana , Nyanatiloka, Nyanaponika , P.A.Payutto chose ' absorption '
      Curious to learn about your evidence..
      -------------------------------------------------------
      X: Look up 'jhana' and 'jhayati' on PTS dictionary, for example. In particular, there is the following:
      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      Jhāna1 (nt.) [from jhāyati,1 BSk. dhyāna. The (popular etym--) expln of jhāna is given by Bdhgh at Vism 150 as follows:
      "ārammaṇ'ûpanijjhānato paccanīka--jhāpanato vā jhānaŋ," i.e. called jh. from meditation on objects & from burning up
      anything adverse] literally meditation. But it never means vaguely meditation. It is the technical term for a special religious
      experience, reached in a certain order of mental states.
      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      You might also consider on http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Jhayati_to_jhayitva, the following:
      jhāyati : [jhā + ya] burns; to be on fire. || jhāyati (jhe + a), meditates or contemplates.
      jhāyana : [nt.] 1. burning; 2. meditation.
      jhāyanta : [pr.p. of jhāyati] meditating or contemplating.
      jhāyi : [aor. of jhāyati] meditated or contemplated. || jhāyī (m.) one who meditates.
      jhāyitvā : [abs. of jhāyati] having meditated or contemplated.
      Also, please consider http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/CrossIndexed/Published/Meditations2/040717%20M2%20Go,%20Do%20Jhana.pdf, where Ven Thanissaro writes the following:
      The word he uses for going to meditate is "to go do jhana"—jhayati is the verb in Pali. It's a homonym with a verb for burning, as when a flame burns steadily. They have lots of different words for burning in Pali—words for raging fires, words for smoldering fires—but the verb for a steady burn, as in the flame of an oil lamp, is jhayati. And the same verb is used for doing jhana. As you practice concentration, you try to make the mind burn steadily, with a clean, clear flame. Flames that flicker up and down are hard to read by, but a steady flame is one you can read by clearly. That's the quality you're trying to develop so that you can read the mind.
      unquote
      I am aware that any (English) translation can only be an approach,
      but still believe ,' burning' does not fit and 'absorption' is fitting
      best.
      Thanks for your comment.

      With Metta Dieter
    • Piya Tan
      Dear Dieter, Your remarks are right. Most teachers today would use absorption or mental absorption. Personally, I have used dhyana whichis an accepted
      Message 2 of 9 , Apr 24, 2011
        Dear Dieter,

        Your remarks are right. Most teachers today would use "absorption" or
        "mental absorption."

        Personally, I have used "dhyana" whichis an accepted anglicized term (found
        in major dictionaries).

        I have also discussed Gunaratana's views about dhyana as against
        Brahmavamso's views. Basically the former thinks we still "think" during
        dhyana, while the latter does not. Personally I am more comfortable with the
        latter's view.

        If anyone wants the paper (SD 33.2, "The Buddha Discovers Dhyana"), please
        contact me off line.

        With metta,

        Piya



        On Sun, Apr 24, 2011 at 4:30 PM, Dieter <moellerdieter@...> wrote:

        >
        >
        > Dear Dhamma friends,
        > I like to ask for you help to clarify a point of discussion which developed
        > out of following:
        >
        > X:The literal meaning is "burning," not "absorption". (I presume the
        > "burning" pertains to attacking the hindrances.)
        >
        > D:Ven. Henepola Gunaratana , Nyanatiloka, Nyanaponika , P.A.Payutto chose '
        > absorption '
        > Curious to learn about your evidence..
        > -------------------------------------------------------
        > X: Look up 'jhana' and 'jhayati' on PTS dictionary, for example. In
        > particular, there is the following:
        > - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
        > Jhāna1 (nt.) [from jhāyati,1 BSk. dhyāna. The (popular
        > etym--) expln of jhāna is given by Bdhgh at Vism 150 as follows:
        > "ārammaṇ'�panijjhānato paccanīka--jhāpanato
        > vā jhānaŋ," i.e. called jh. from meditation on objects & from
        > burning up
        > anything adverse] literally meditation. But it never means vaguely
        > meditation. It is the technical term for a special religious
        > experience, reached in a certain order of mental states.
        > - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
        > You might also consider on
        > http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Jhayati_to_jhayitva, the
        > following:
        > jhāyati : [jhā + ya] burns; to be on fire. || jhāyati (jhe +
        > a), meditates or contemplates.
        > jhāyana : [nt.] 1. burning; 2. meditation.
        > jhāyanta : [pr.p. of jhāyati] meditating or contemplating.
        > jhāyi : [aor. of jhāyati] meditated or contemplated. ||
        > jhāyī (m.) one who meditates.
        > jhāyitvā : [abs. of jhāyati] having meditated or
        > contemplated.
        > Also, please consider
        > http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/CrossIndexed/Published/Meditations2/040717%20M2%20Go,%20Do%20Jhana.pdf,where Ven Thanissaro writes the following:
        > The word he uses for going to meditate is "to go do jhana"�jhayati is the
        > verb in Pali. It's a homonym with a verb for burning, as when a flame burns
        > steadily. They have lots of different words for burning in Pali�words for
        > raging fires, words for smoldering fires�but the verb for a steady burn, as
        > in the flame of an oil lamp, is jhayati. And the same verb is used for doing
        > jhana. As you practice concentration, you try to make the mind burn
        > steadily, with a clean, clear flame. Flames that flicker up and down are
        > hard to read by, but a steady flame is one you can read by clearly. That's
        > the quality you're trying to develop so that you can read the mind.
        > unquote
        > I am aware that any (English) translation can only be an approach,
        > but still believe ,' burning' does not fit and 'absorption' is fitting
        > best.
        > Thanks for your comment.
        >
        > With Metta Dieter
        >
        >
        >



        --
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        Blk 644 Bukit Batok Central #01-68 (2nd flr)
        Singapore 650644
        hpl: 8211 0879
        Meditation courses & therapy: http://themindingcentre.org
        Sutta translation: https://dharmafarer.org


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Nina van Gorkom
        Dear Dieter, ... N: There are two stems. The word jhåna has been explained as being derived from jhåyati , to contemplate, or to think closely of an object.
        Message 3 of 9 , Apr 24, 2011
          Dear Dieter,
          -------

          Op 24-apr-2011, om 10:30 heeft Dieter het volgende geschreven:
          > Dear Dhamma friends,
          > I like to ask for you help to clarify a point of discussion which
          > developed out of following:
          >
          > X:The literal meaning is "burning," not "absorption". (I presume
          > the "burning" pertains to attacking the hindrances.)
          >
          > D:Ven. Henepola Gunaratana , Nyanatiloka, Nyanaponika , P.A.Payutto
          > chose ' absorption '
          >
          --------

          N: There are two stems.
          The word jh�na has been explained as being derived from "jh�yati", to
          contemplate, or to think closely of an object. Or else "jh�yati" can
          mean to burn (from another stem, jh�pana, Vis. IV, 119), since the
          jh�na-factors which are developed burn the "hindrances" (akusala
          cetasikas) away.

          In order to understand the meaning of jhaana we can use both of the
          above meanings. As you know word associations were used by the
          commentaries to explain meanings and linguistics was not the aim. It
          does not matter that there are two stems and that these are used to
          explain meanings.
          Also, jhaana can be seen as samatha but also as vipassanaa by which
          the three characteristics of realities are understood. The
          Atthas�lin� (Expositor, Part V, Ch I, 167), with regard to
          contemplation of the object, uses the term upanijjh�na, and explains
          this as twofold: as closely examining the object, which are the
          meditation subjects of samatha; and as examining closely the
          characteristics of impermanence, dukkha and anatt�. Insight, the Path
          and Fruition are called �characteristic examining jh�na� (lakkha.na
          upanijjhaana).

          The jhaanafacors can also be seen in a wider sense, even akusala
          jhaanafactors are mentioned:
          The jh�na-factors in the sense of jh�na-condition assist the citta
          and the other cetasikas they accompany to be firmly fixed on the
          object that is experienced. Without the assistance of the jh�na-
          factors good or evil deeds cannot be performed.
          We read in the �Pa��h�na� (Faultless Triplet, VII, Investigation
          Chapter, � 431) that akusala jh�na-factors are related to their
          associated aggregates (the other n�ma-kkhandhas) by jh�na-condition.
          There are seven jh�na-factors that are jh�na-condition and these
          include the five types of sobhana cetasikas that are usually
          mentioned, but in this case they are not only sobhana cetasikas
          arising with sobhana citta. Summarizing them, they are:

          applied thinking (vitakka)
          sustained thinking (vic�ra)
          rapture or interest (p�ti)
          pleasant feeling (sukha)
          unpleasant feeling (domanassa)
          indifferent feeling (upekkh�)
          concentration (sam�dhi)
          These cetasikas can also accompany akusala cittas. By understanding
          the function of the jhaanafactors we shall penetrate more deeply into
          the meaning of jhaana.

          ------
          Nina.
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Dieter Moeller
          Dear Piya ( and Nina), nice to hear from you , thanks for your comment. I understand that you -though saying I am right (most teachers would use absorption) -
          Message 4 of 9 , Apr 24, 2011
            Dear Piya ( and Nina),

            nice to hear from you , thanks for your comment.

            I understand that you -though saying I am right (most teachers would use
            absorption) - would accept 'burning ' as a valid translation too (?)

            'Burning' , as my friend X wrote , " pertains to attacking the hindrances
            " , obviously supported by Dhammasangani, Atthakatha and Vism.
            But where is it mentioned in the suttas? And if not , don't we have to
            assume that (at least most of ) the 5 hindrances need to be abolished
            before the first Jhana can be accessed?

            I am not sure whether Ven Thanissaro's comment ( "-jhayati ..And the same
            verb is used for doing jhana. As you practice concentration, you try to
            make the mind burn steadily, with a clean, clear flame..." ) isn't a bit
            construed ..

            Interesting to learn about different interpretations of jhana/dhyana .
            Leigh Brasington provided a list of interpretations , in case you haven' t
            read it , pls see http://www.leighb.com/jhanantp.htm ) ,

            I would appreciate as well to have a look into the paper you mentioned..
            Ven Brahmvamso's view is likely in line with Ajahn Cha, who considered
            vitakka and vicara as nature of the mind , sensations similar to flowing
            water , to which one only should take note.
            Other interpretations seem to understand that directed thought and
            evaluation respectively thought conception and discursive thinking are meant
            for the practise of vipassana .
            I favor the former , especially in the light of the standard similes ( e.g.
            A.N. 5 , 28)


            with Metta Dieter

            P.S: I enyoy your homepage and the Sutta Translation Project
          • Dieter Moeller
            Dear Nina, I am glad to meet you on Pali list again. Thank you for the feedback. you wrote: There are two stems. The word jhåna has been explained as being
            Message 5 of 9 , Apr 24, 2011
              Dear Nina,

              I am glad to meet you on Pali list again. Thank you for the feedback.

              you wrote:

              ' There are two stems.
              The word jhåna has been explained as being derived from "jhåyati", to
              contemplate, or to think closely of an object. Or else "jhåyati" can
              mean to burn (from another stem, jhåpana, Vis. IV, 119), since the
              jhåna-factors which are developed burn the "hindrances" (akusala cetasikas)
              away.
              In order to understand the meaning of jhaana we can use both of the above
              meanings. As you know word associations were used by the commentaries to
              explain meanings and linguistics was not the aim. It does not matter that
              there are two stems and that these are used to explain meanings.

              D: as you may have seen already from my message to Piya , I am looking for
              sutta sources in order to overcome my doubt that the Jhanas 'burn' the
              hindrances' , instead of
              assuming the lack of them as a precondition. 'To think closely of an
              object ' fits to the 'figurative meaning of absorption "to completely grip
              (one's) attention" (On-line Etymoloy), doesn't it? I understand that
              Dhammasangani and VisM . are expanding the meaning in order to provide
              deeper explanation, but this -I suppose - may as well be a source of
              misunderstandings

              Nina: Also, jhaana can be seen as samatha but also as vipassanaa by which
              the three characteristics of realities are understood. The Atthasåliní
              (Expositor, Part V, Ch I, 167), with regard to contemplation of the object,
              uses the term upanijjhåna, and explains this as twofold: as closely
              examining the object, which are the meditation subjects of samatha; and as
              examining closely the characteristics of impermanence, dukkha and anattå.
              Insight, the Path and Fruition are called "characteristic examining jhåna"
              (lakkha.na
              upanijjhaana).

              D: I think that the state of (first) Jhana allows to do vipassana , however
              I.M.H.O. , that means to switch to Satipatthana , i.e. leaving the context
              of the last path link.
              However I agree with you that 'By understanding the function of the
              jhaanafactors we shall penetrate more deeply into the meaning of jhaana' ,
              in particular because Satipatthana (of D.N.)
              involves the contemplation of the Jhanas.


              with Metta Dieter
            • Kumara Bhikkhu
              It depends on what kind of jhana we refer to. For the jhana according to orthodox Theravada, as described in Visuddhimagga, absorption is very descriptive of
              Message 6 of 9 , Apr 24, 2011
                It depends on what kind of jhana we refer to.

                For the jhana according to orthodox Theravada, as described in Visuddhimagga, 'absorption' is very descriptive of the experience, thus quite apt. However, the jhana as described in early texts is quite different. Being part of the Noble Eightfold Path, which is said to be "kamma that is... leading to the ending of kamma" (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.235.than.html), 'burning' is extremely apt.

                Earlier, I tried to send a file containing a comparison table of the 2, but it didn't go through. Now I'm sending it again without the attachment. You can ask from me. I've also come up with a list of terms related to samadhi that is based on the descriptions of the early tests and not influenced by Visuddhimagga. I can email to anyone who would like to have them.

                I'm pretty excited by this discovery, as this is how I notice suffering being eradicated permanently.

                kb

                Dieter wrote thus at 16:30 24/04/2011:
                >Dear Dhamma friends,
                >I like to ask for you help to clarify a point of discussion which developed out of following:
                >
                >X:The literal meaning is "burning," not "absorption". (I presume the "burning" pertains to attacking the hindrances.)
                >
                >D:Ven. Henepola Gunaratana , Nyanatiloka, Nyanaponika , P.A.Payutto chose ' absorption '
                >Curious to learn about your evidence

                ....

                >I am aware that any (English) translation can only be an approach,
                >but still believe ,' burning' does not fit and 'absorption' is fitting
                >best.
                >Thanks for your comment.
                >
                >With Metta Dieter
              • Nina van Gorkom
                Dear Dieter, Op 24-apr-2011, om 21:05 heeft Dieter Moeller het volgende geschreven: Burning , as my friend X wrote , pertains to attacking the hindrances
                Message 7 of 9 , Apr 25, 2011
                  Dear Dieter,
                  Op 24-apr-2011, om 21:05 heeft Dieter Moeller het volgende geschreven:


                  'Burning' , as my friend X wrote , " pertains to attacking the
                  hindrances
                  " , obviously supported by Dhammasangani, Atthakatha and Vism.
                  But where is it mentioned in the suttas? And if not , don't we have to
                  assume that (at least most of ) the 5 hindrances need to be abolished
                  before the first Jhana can be accessed?

                  -------

                  N: As I understand, the jhaanafactors have to be developed to
                  overcome the hindrances and at the moment of access concentration
                  (upacara) and the moment of attainment (appana) the hindrances
                  cannot arise, they are temporarily suppressed.

                  ------


                  > D: I think that the state of (first) Jhana allows to do vipassana ,
                  > however
                  > I.M.H.O. , that means to switch to Satipatthana , i.e. leaving the
                  > context
                  > of the last path link.
                  -----
                  N: The concentration factor of the eightfold Path has as function to
                  focus on the naama or ruupa that appears at the present moment. It
                  arises with sammaadi.t.thi and the other factors.
                  Nina.



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Dieter Moeller
                  Dear Nina, you wrote: ( D: But where is it mentioned in the suttas? And if not , don t we have to assume that (at least most of ) the 5 hindrances need to be
                  Message 8 of 9 , Apr 25, 2011
                    Dear Nina,

                    you wrote:

                    ( D: 'But where is it mentioned in the suttas? And if not , don't we have to assume that (at least most of ) the 5 hindrances need to be abolished
                    before the first Jhana can be accessed?)

                    -------

                    N: As I understand, the jhaanafactors have to be developed to overcome the hindrances and at the moment of access concentration
                    (upacara) and the moment of attainment (appana) the hindrances cannot arise, they are temporarily suppressed

                    D: yes, the ' jhaanafactors have to be developed to overcome the hindrances' , but this is meant only in respect to their final abolishment ( a condition of ignorance)
                    pls compare ( Nyanatiloka : niravana )

                    'the temporary suspension of the 5 hindrances on entering the first absorption, the stereotype Sutta text (e g. A. IX, 40) runs as follows:
                    "He has cast away sensuous desire; he dwells with a heart free from sensuous desire; from desire he cleanses his heart."He has cast away ill-will; he dwells with a heart free from ill-will, cherishing love and compassion toward all living beings, he cleanses his heart from ill-will."He has cast away sloth and torpor; he dwells free from sloth and torpor; loving the light, with watchful mind, with clear consciousness, he cleanses his mind from sloth and torpor."He has cast away restlessness and scruples; dwelling with mind undisturbed, with heart full of peace, he cleanses his mind from restlessness and scruples."He has cast away skeptical doubt; dwelling free from doubt, full of confidence in the good, he cleanses his heart from doubt."He has put aside these 5 hindrances, and come to know these paralysing defilements of the mind. And far from sensual impressions, far from unwholesome things, he enters into the first absorption, etc."
                    The overcoming of these 5 hindrances by the absorptions is, as already pointed out, a merely temporary suspension, called 'overcoming through repression' (vikkhambhana-pahana). They disappear forever on entering the 4 supermundane paths (s. ariyapuggala), i.e. skeptical doubt on reaching Sotapanship; sensuous desire, ill-will and mental worry on reaching Anagamiship; sloth, torpor and restlessness on reaching Arahatship.'

                    Hence for our practise , we need to cast them away each time before even fopr the first Jhana..



                    N ( D: I think that the state of (first) Jhana allows to do vipassana , however I.M.H.O. , that means to switch to Satipatthana , i.e. leaving the context of the last path link.)
                    -----
                    The concentration factor of the eightfold Path has as function to focus on the naama or ruupa that appears at the present moment. It arises with sammaadi.t.thi and the other factors


                    D: we may agree upon that samma samadhi has- as the other 2 factors of the the samadhi path training sequence- the function to develop panna.
                    Useful to have in mind "the Buddha remained throughout of his career " in heavenly dwelling" (dibbavihara) to where he resorted in order to live a happily here and now. He refered to the 4 jhanas figuratively as a kind of nibbana, called them immidiately visible nibbana." (Henepola Gunaratana )

                    with Metta Dieter



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Dieter Moeller
                    Dear Venerable Kumara, thank you for the response. I hope it could be figured out why your message did not reach the group. you wrote: It depends on what kind
                    Message 9 of 9 , Apr 25, 2011
                      Dear Venerable Kumara,

                      thank you for the response. I hope it could be figured out why your message did not reach the group.

                      you wrote:
                      It depends on what kind of jhana we refer to.
                      >For the jhana according to orthodox Theravada, as described in Visuddhimagga, 'absorption' is very descriptive of the experience, thus quite apt. However, the jhana as described in early texts is quite different. Being part of the Noble Eightfold Path, which is said to be "kamma that is... leading to the ending of kamma" (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.235.than.html), 'burning' is extremely apt.


                      D: interesting here to compare : http://www.leighb.com/jhanantp.htm :
                      " The Jhanas as discussed in the suttas are accessible to many people. The suttas seem to indicate that they were just part of the monastics' training program; thus they were not a big deal and were accessible to many. However, the Visuddhimagga states in section XII.8 that of those who undertake the meditation path, only one in 1,000,000 (at best) can reach absorption 1. We don't have to take this figure literally to begin to understand that the Jhanas as discussed in the Visuddhimagga are of a much deeper level of concentration than those described in the suttas. Basically, the Jhanas as described in the Visuddhimagga seem to be much more developed and systematized than those of the suttas. Even the factors given for the first four Jhanas are not the same: see The Traditional Factors of the 8 Jhanas. snip "



                      I think the diffence of interpretation is depending whether the training is meant or its final aim, i.e. burning may fit in respect to fully abolishment of kamma and the hindrances at Arahantship.
                      However for the former which I think is of major interest for us, the use of 'absorption' seems to me the best


                      VenK.: Earlier, I tried to send a file containing a comparison table of the 2, but it didn't go through. Now I'm sending it again without the attachment. You can ask from me. I've also come up with a list of terms related to samadhi that is based on the descriptions of the early tests and not influenced by Visuddhimagga. I can email to anyone who would like to have them.

                      D: interesting , does your list go with above mentioned link (the traditional factors of the 8 Jhanas)


                      with Metta Dieter






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