KN Snp 5.15 Here lies B. Sujato's physical body (kāya) from 3rd jhāna.
Disappeared under mysterious circumstances circa 2018 when Sujato's translation of the suttas was published on suttacentral. Namely, he made the physical body disappear from the 4 jhāna formula.
Witnessed alive by 16 brahman jhāna meditators in Snp 5, in 2022, when Sujato publishes his Snp translation.
Here, the Brahman Posala bears witness, in discussing his formless dimension of nothingness meditation, he mentions the sighting of Sujato's 3rd jhāna kāya physical body that was transcended in moving from fourth jhāna to the formless attainments.
Authorities are looking for Sujato to bring him in for questioning in connection with 3rd jhāna physical body disappearance in 2016 under mysterious circumstances.
“To the one who reveals the past,” “Yo atītaṁ ādisati,said Venerable Posala,(iccāyasmā posālo)who is imperturbable, with doubts cut off,Anejo chinnasaṁsayo;and who has gone beyond all things,Pāraguṁ sabbadhammānaṁ,I have come in need with a question.Atthi pañhena āgamaṁ.
Consider one who perceives the disappearance of form, Vibhūtarūpasaññissa,who has entirely given up the body,sabba-kāya-p-pahāyino;and who sees nothing at allAjjhattañca bahiddhā ca,internally and externally.natthi kiñcīti passato;I ask the Sakyan about knowledge for them; Ñāṇaṁ sakkānupucchāmi,how should one like that be guided?”kathaṁ neyyo tathāvidho”.
“The Realized One directly knows,”“Viññāṇaṭṭhitiyo sabbā,said the Buddha,(posālāti bhagavā)“all the planes of consciousness.Abhijānaṁ tathāgato;And he knows this one who remains,Tiṭṭhantamenaṁ jānāti,committed to that as their final goal. Vimuttaṁ tapparāyaṇaṁ.
Understanding that desire for rebirthĀkiñcaññasambhavaṁ ñatvā,in the dimension of nothingness is a fetter,Nandī saṁyojanaṁ iti;and directly knowing what this really means,Evametaṁ abhiññāya,one then sees that matter clearly.Tato tattha vipassati;That is the knowledge of reality for them,Etaṁ ñāṇaṁ tathaṁ tassa, the brahmin who has lived the life.”Brāhmaṇassa vusīmato”ti.
Sujato's third jhana translation makes the 'physical body' dispappear, reinterpreted as a metaphorical "personal experience of pleasure" rather than the physical pleasure that the pāḷi sukham kāyena is traditionally used to designate physical (as opposed to mental) pleasure.
SN 45.8: Vibhaṅgasutta—Bhikkhu Sujato (suttacentral.net)
And with the fading away of rapture, they enter and remain in the third absorption, where they meditate with equanimity, mindful and aware, personally experiencing the bliss of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous and mindful, one meditates in bliss.’Pītiyā ca virāgā upekkhako ca viharati sato ca sampajāno, sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṁvedeti, yaṁ taṁ ariyā ācikkhanti: ‘upekkhako satimā sukhavihārī’ti tatiyaṁ jhānaṁ upasampajja viharati.
Sujato's fallacious justification for making physical body disappear
He claims that since the 8 vimokkhas, which include formless attainments, can not touch nirvana physically, even though the 'body witness' expression is used, therefore, since four jhānas are also part of the 8 vimonkkhas, the 'body' must also be a metaphorical mental body.
In other articles, I break down the fallacy in more detail, but I concisely summarize here:
kāya-sakkhī, kāyena phusitvā = eyewitness, body witness✅ kāya-sakkhī = eyewitness, body witness. 'Body' here can be both literal and figurative, sometimes only figurative.
✅ kāyena phusitvā = eyewitness, literally contacted with the 'body'. 'Body' here can be both literal and figurative, sometimes only figurative.
⛔ 4 jhānas are part of 8 vimokkhas and 8 abhiayatanas. They are not equivalent to them. So you can not say because formless attainments are also part of 8 vimokkhas, and formless has a figuratve mind only 'body', therefore 4 jhānas must have a formless mind only 'kāya'. That's fallacious. It would be like saying, Australia was a British penal colony where they sent their criminals, and since Sujato is Australian, therefore Sujato is a criminal. That's the same type of fallacious reasoning.
Where is the physical body in Snp 5.15? I don't see it
Here, Sujato has forgotten about the physical body he 'made disappear' from 3rd jhāna, and he references the physical body that is abandoned when one enters formless attainments.
Consider one who perceives the disappearance of form, Vibhūta-rūpa-saññissa,who has entirely given up the body,sabba-kāya-p-pahāyino;and who sees nothing at allAjjhattañca bahiddhā ca,internally and externally.natthi kiñcīti passato;
In other words, this contradicts Sujato's erroneous interpretation of the 'body' in third jhāna.
If the physical body had already been abandoned in the four jhānas, there would be no need to mention it here, where one is entering the formless meditations where the mind is divorced from the 5 senses of the body.
It's unclear if Sujato is aware of the contradiction, because he's in a predicament. If he had translated 'kāya' consistently with how he rendered it in 3rd jhāna, he'd have a different but still fatal contradiction here.
Because then Snp 5.15 would read "one who has entirely given up personal [mental] experience", which is obviously absurd. Because in the formless samādhis of the 8 vimokkhas, the mind is still lucid, active, capable of experiencing a myriad of mental states including happiness in the formless attainments.
KN Snp 5.14, the sutta that precedes this, and is specifically about using 4 jhānas to realize nirvana, also makes no mention of "entire physical body being transcended."
This entire collection of 16 suttas, is dedicated to the Buddha instructing 16 jhāna meditators, some who have formless meditation skill as well, of how to use jhāna and samādhi to realize nirvana.
Snp14 is the only one of the 16 that outlines the whole 4 jhāna gradual path clearly, and the next sutta, Snp 15, is the main sutta of the 16 with the most details of how one moves beyond 4th jhāna to get into the formless dimensions.
In other words, if the abandoning of the body is mentioned in Snp 15, and not in Snp 14 it's an airtight environment that one can definitely conclude the physical body is the material form (Rūpa) that one is still percipient of while in the four jhānas that precede the formless dimensions.
The moral of the story is
If you're going to rewrite and reinterpret the Buddha's instruction on jhāna and replace it with your own interpretation of jhāna, you have to do a 'better' job of cooking the books. If the contradictions can not be resolved, then it's time to admit your error and revise your interpretation of jhāna.