Jhānas and Jhānas

Buddhist meditation is the jhānas.

There is a huge confusion between the different terms when talking about meditation, mainly because it was never practiced correctly and therefore the different commentators what they have done are ideations based on concepts of other commentators.

Thus there are misconceptions that are used when speaking of “meditation”. For example, the word “samadhi” means meditation. However, there are sects that associate it with terms like “tranquility” since, for some reason, they identify “samadhi” to “samatha”, perhaps because both have the root “Sam” as “holy”, that is, peaceful. But “samatha” meaning “tranquility” is the tool used to achieve intuition or “vipassana” or “introspective knowledge.”

They have even used the word “vipassana” out of every context and have associated it with “pañña” or wisdom and even invented a “meditation” that supposedly generates “pañña” or wisdom based on dispersing thoughts and feelings, something not only absurd, but, in addition, it is counterproductive since it trains the mind to the dispersion what prevents the concentration that is the basics in samadhi.

As always the problem is the same: if no one practices, if everyone is blind and lost, any definition is acceptable or not, not depending on their truthfulness but on the faith in which it teaches you. Therefore, an important confusion regarding the terms of meditation is expected.

The texts are quite clear in this, as long as you know what is being read, and do not use any kind of distorter of suttas such as the Comments or the teachings of such or such “master”.

It is also true that to understand the suttas one must have some mastery of the jhānas, which, without them, what you read may seem simple and attractive to you, but you do not know what they are talking about and what they are referring to. The usual: communication is only possible if the sender and receiver share the same qualias. If not, they will speak in the same words, but as if in another language. If we add to this the stupid tendency to wind up in concepts by looking for improbable etymologies as if words were esoteric beings capable of revealing the mysteries of nature, the formula of disaster is complete.

It is even hilarious to listen to Buddhist “sages” by pontificating about the ineffectiveness of the jhānas based on the suttas in which the Buddha comes when he was still a bodhisatt, the first thing he did was to look for teachers, the mistake that is normally made, and that they taught him to enter the sphere of nothingness, Alara Kalama and to the sphere of perception and non-perception, Uddaka Ramaputta, and that in them he did not find the end of dissatisfaction.

Obvious. It is that way, alone, they are not worth anything.

The jhānas serve what they serve, each for something. And although all are called jhānas, they have nothing to do with the “material” jhānas with the “immaterial” jhānas.

In short, we can say that the material jhānas are accessed through a set of endogenous drugs and their mission is to change the way the brain works so that it is accessible and can take complete control over it.

It is more than absurd, it is imbecile to imagine purifying the mind if you can not even think when you want to think, when your brain does what it wants to do. How can you say that you want to be a racing driver if you do not even dominate your vehicle and are seeing what you do?

How do you feel if you are placed in front of a computer and ordered to do your work if it is plagued with viruses? Does it turn off, turn on, the files disappear, the letters fall … even run emojis on the screen …?

I think I used the word imbecile … I fell short.

First, before beginning anything at all, is to remove all unwanted thoughts and never to reappear. And for that are the material jhānas. Specifically the first.By eliminating self-thinking thoughts, we will immediately be able to focus on the present (the past and the future come from the hand of these mental “viruses”), and the spurious ideologies that generate aversion and attachment also disappear.And with them, a good part of the suffering. Not everything, but a good part. Thus it is said that the jhānas suppress attachment, but do not eradicate it, which is true. But it is the base to start working.

Successive material jhānas serve to take full control of the mind when decrees are applied to specific physical and mental processes. They also serve to know how the mind works that is not a Cartesian theater where someone looks and decides. There is no “someone,” and since there is no “nobody” it is self-evident that behavior change is done on the basis of reprogramming of mental processes because unconditioned “will” does not exist.

The four material jhānas open the gate of the entrance into the stream which is also accessed by concentration.

Then the work consists in applying the noble eightfold path so that within 66 to 90 days of continuous training attachment and aversion end up eradicating.

Then immaterial jhānas enter the scene.

In essence all they have to do is that they are ecstatic trance states and someone who sees it externally may seem to do the same. Untill there.

The immaterial jhānas which, being four, are actually five. Using the classical translation they are divided into: sphere of infinite space, sphere of infinite consciousness, sphere of nothing, sphere of neither perception nor non-perception and cessation.

In the previous chapter we saw what they consist of and what their best translation is.

The immaterial jhānas are spaces of experimentation totally different to the human sphere. To penetrate in these states is fundamental to be able to eradicate all attachment in each of them and of that way to end the existence and never to be reborn again.

But both are needed: the tool: the noble eightfold path and access to these spheres. It is therefore logical for the Buddha to see that access does not serve to eradicate dissatisfaction since it is not sufficient. It is a necessary condition to root out ignorance, thus avoiding to return to the eternal samsaric wandering.

After eradicating suffering on the human plane, the next thing is to do it in the immaterial planes.

Another consequence of the absence of a correct practice is to deny everything that has to do with strange “devas” and “spiritual things”. But when your day-to-day work has long focused on plucking the weeds of ignorance from the ground up on these planes, hearing those things teaches you that ignorance is the root and queen of Samsara.

That if they are here is for something.

And they will continue to be.

Majjhima Nikaya 85 
Bodhirajakumara Sutta 
Prince Bodhi

“Having given up, prince, in search of what is healthy, seeking the supreme state of the sublime peace, I went along with Alara Kalama and said to him: ‘Friend Kalama, I want to lead the holy life in this Dhamma-and-Discipline’ . Alara Kalama replied: ‘The venerable lord can stay here. This Dhamma is such that a wise man may enter soon and dwell in him, reaching for himself through direct knowledge the doctrine of his teacher. ‘ And so, I soon learned that Dhamma. As for the mere recitation and enumeration [of the points] of his teaching, he could speak with knowledge and assurance; then, I said: ‘I know and I see’. And there were others who did the same.

“Then I considered this: ‘It is not only through mere faith that Alara Kalama declares:’ Reaching for myself with direct knowledge, I enter and remain in this Dhamma ‘. Certainly, Alara Kalama remains knowing and seeing this Dhamma ‘. Then I went to Alara Kalama and asked him: ‘Friend Kalama, how do you declare that by reaching it by yourself with direct knowledge you enter and remain in this Dhamma?’ And answering, he declared me the base of nothingness.

“Then, I considered this: ‘Not only does Alara Kalama have faith, energy, conscious attention, concentration, and wisdom. I also have faith, energy, conscious attention, concentration and wisdom. What if I strive to attain the Dhamma in which Alara Kalama declares that he enters and abides, reaching for himself with direct knowledge? ‘

“And so I soon entered and dwelt in that Dhamma, attaining it by myself with direct knowledge. Then I went to Alara Kalama and asked him: ‘Friend Kalama, is it in this way that you declare that you enter and dwell in this Dhamma having reached it by yourself with direct knowledge?’ ‘That’s the way, buddy.’ ‘It is in this way, my friend, that I also enter and reside in this Dhamma, having attained it by myself with direct knowledge.’ ‘It is a profit for us, my friend, a great gain for us, that we have such a venerable lord as companion in the holy life. So the Dhamma in which I declare that I enter and remain, having attained it by myself, with direct knowledge, is the Dhamma in which you also enter and remain, having attained it by yourself with direct knowledge. And the Dhamma in which you enter and remain, having attained it by yourself with direct knowledge, is the same Dhamma in which I declare that I also enter and remain, having attained it by myself with direct knowledge. So you know the Dhamma I know and I know the Dhamma you know. Just as I am, you are; and how you are, it’s me.Come, friend, let’s run this community together. ‘

“In this way, Alara Kalama, my teacher, put me, his pupil, on the same level as him and granted me the highest honor. But this occurred to me: ‘This Dhamma does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, peace, direct knowledge, Awakening, Nibbana, but only to reappearance at the base of nothingness.’ Not being satisfied with that Dhamma, disappointed, I left.

“Following the search for that which is healthy, seeking the supreme state of the sublime peace, I went along with Uddaka Ramaputta and said to him: ‘Friend, I want to lead the holy life in this Dhamma-and-Discipline’. Uddaka Ramaputta replied: ‘The venerable lord can stay here. This Dhamma is such that a wise man can enter soon and abide in him, reaching for himself through direct knowledge the doctrine of his master ‘. So I soon learned that Dhamma. As for the mere recitation and enumeration [of the points] of his teaching, he could speak with knowledge and assurance; then, I affirm this: ‘I know and I see’. And there were others who did the same.

“Then I considered this: ‘It was not only through mere faith that Rama declared:’ Reached by myself with direct knowledge, I enter and remain in this Dhamma. ‘ Certainly Rama remains knowing and seeing this Dhamma ‘. Then I went to Uddaka Ramaputta and asked him: ‘Friend, how did Rama declare that, achieved by himself with direct knowledge, he entered and remained in this Dhamma?’ And in reply, Uddaka Ramaputta stated the basis of ni-perception-ni-no-perception.

“Then, I considered this: ‘Not only does Rama have faith, energy, conscious attention, concentration, and wisdom. I also have faith, energy, conscious attention, concentration and wisdom. What if I strive to reach the Dhamma in which Rama declared that he entered and remained, reaching for himself with direct knowledge? ‘

“And so I soon entered and remained in that Dhamma, reaching it by myself with direct knowledge. Then I went to Uddaka Ramaputta and asked him: ‘Friend, is it in this way that Rama declared that he entered and remained in this Dhamma reaching for himself with direct knowledge?’ ‘That’s the way, buddy.’ ‘It is in this way, my friend, that I also enter and remain in this Dhamma, reaching it by myself with direct knowledge.’ ‘It is a profit for us, my friend, a great gain for us, that we have such a venerable lord as a companion in the holy life. So the Dhamma in which Rama declared that he entered and remained, attaining it by himself with direct knowledge, is the same Dhamma in which you enter and remain, having attained it by yourself with direct knowledge. And the Dhamma in which you enter and remain, reaching it for yourself with direct knowledge, is the Dhamma in which Rama declared that he entered and remained reaching for himself with direct knowledge. So you know the Dhamma who knew Rama and Rama knew the Dhamma that you know. As it was Rama, it is you;how you are, it was Rama. Come, my friend, now lead this community. ‘

“In this way, Uddaka Ramaputta, my companion in the holy life put me in the position of a teacher and granted me the highest honor. But this occurred to me: ‘This Dhamma does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, peace, direct knowledge, Awakening, Nibbana, but only to the reappearance at the base of ni-perception-ni- non-perception ‘. Not being satisfied with that Dhamma, disappointed, I left.

In this same sutta, later, the Buddha discovers for himself the material jhānas, after having tried and failed many times with all kinds of experiences that occurred to him:

Majjhima Nikaya 85 
Bodhirajakumara Sutta 
Prince Bodhi

“Then, prince, I remembered: ‘One day, when my father, from the clan of the Sakyans, was working, I found myself sitting there taking the cool in the shade of a tree. There, separated from the desires of the senses, apart from what is harmful, I reached and remained in the first meditative abstraction, in which there is joy and happiness born of isolation and accompanied by ideation and reflection. Could not that be the path to enlightenment? ‘

“And in the light of that memory I understood: ‘This is the way to enlightenment.’

“Then I thought, ‘Why fear a happiness that has nothing to do with the pleasures of the senses or what is harmful?’

“And I said to myself: ‘I am not afraid of that happiness that has nothing to do with the pleasures of the senses nor with the harmful’.

“Then, prince, I thought: ‘It is not easy to achieve happiness with a body that is so exhausted, and if I eat something solid, boiled and curdled rice?’

“So I had some solid, boiled and curdled rice. At that time I was accompanied by five monks who thought, ‘If the ascetic Gotama attains the Teaching, he will tell us.’ But, by taking something solid, rice and curd, they were disappointed with me and went thinking: ‘Ascetic Gotama sticks the good life, has put aside the effort giving to the good life.’

“So, after eating solid food and regaining strength, set aside from the desires of the senses, apart from what is harmful, I reached and remained in the first meditative abstraction, in which there is joy and happiness born of the apartment, and accompanied by ideation and reflection.

“Then, upon ceasing the ideation and reflection, I reached and remained in the second meditative abstraction, in which there is joy and happiness born of concentration, is free from ideation and reflection, and is accompanied by unification of mind and inner serenity .

“Then, as joy faded away, I remained even, attentive and lucid, experiencing with the body that state of happiness that the Nobles call” Live happy, attentive and equanimous, “with what I achieved and remained in the third meditative abstraction.

“Then, by renouncing pleasure, renouncing pain, and after disappearance of joy and affliction, I reached and remained in the fourth meditative abstraction, without pain or pleasure, completely purified by attention and equanimity.

“Then, with the mind thus concentrated, fully purified, clear, unblemished, free from impurities, malleable, ready for action, balanced, unchanging, I directed it towards the knowledge and memory of my previous lives. I remembered my many previous lives, that is, one birth, two, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand births, many cosmic cycles of contraction, many cosmic cycles of expansion, many cosmic cycles of contraction and expansion: ‘There, that’s what my family called me, such was my appearance, such was my food, so I experienced pleasure and pain, so long my life lasted, I died there and elsewhere I reappeared;there was my name, my family, my appearance, my food, so I experienced pleasure and pain, so long my life lasted, I died there and I reappeared here.

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