The Jhanas

  • Created by: mariam26
  • Created on: 25-12-20 16:50

The Jhanas (Great Concentration)

The Jhanas are stages of the development of Right Concentration (one part of the Eightfold Path).

JHANA: means "absorption" - refers to a mind completely absorbed in concentration

The Buddha taught 4 basic levels of Jhana - in time 8 levels emerged:

  • The Lower Level/RUPAJHANA - form meditations
  • The Higher Level/ARUPAJHANAformless meditation
  • The Even Higher Level/SURAMUNDANE - taught in some schools
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The First Jhana: to master the first jhana the student must release the 5 hindrances - 1) Sensory desire, 2) Ill-will, 3) Sloth, 4) Restlessness, 5) DoubtIn order to overcome these hindrances, the student concentrates on an assigned object till they can see the object as clearly when eyes are closed as when they are open. First jhana marked by rapture, happiness and one-pointedness of mind. 

The Second Jhana: the directed thought and evaluation are stilled. The student enters a pure awareness free of conceptualisations. Rapture continues to permeate the student's body.

The Third Jhana: the rapture subsides and is replaced by a sense of pleasure in the body. The student is mindful and alert.

The Fourth Jhana: the student is infused with a pure, bright awareness and all sensations of pleasure or pain drop away.    

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The 4 higher Jhanas are called "peaceful immaterial liberations transcending material form".

These 4 immaterial jhanas are known by their objective spheres:

  • Boundless Space
  • Boundless Consciousness
  • Nothingness
  • Neither-perception-nor-not-perception

Get increasingly subtle

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  • The supramundane jhanas are described as apprehensions of Nirvana
  • Written descriptions fail to do them justice
  • Basic point - through 4 supramundane stages the student becomes truly liberated from the world and the cycle of samsara
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Robert Aitken:

"It is essential at the beginning of practice to acknowledge that the path is personal and intimate. It is no good to examine it from a distance as if it were someone else's; you must walk it for yourself."

Piyadassi Maha Thera:

"By gradual stages, the Buddha entered upon and dwelt in the second, third and fourth jhanas. Thus cleansing his mind from impurities." 

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