Sunday, July 30, 2023

AN 5.151 Sujato translation errors, ekagga is not 'un-scattered', yoniso is much more than 'rational'


I keep a list of all the errors I've found here, since I don't have an account on suttacentral forum: 

tracking suttacentral english translation errors: B. Sujato translation errors

AN 5.151: Paṭhamasammattaniyāmasutta—Bhikkhu Sujato (

What five?Katamehi pañcahi?They disparage the talk, the speaker, or themselves. They listen with scattered and scattered mind. They apply the mind irrationally.Kathaṁ paribhoti, kathikaṁ paribhoti, attānaṁ paribhoti, vikkhittacitto dhammaṁ suṇāti, anekaggacitto ayoniso ca manasi karoti.

It should read: They listen to the Dhamma with a scattered and un-ekagga mind

My translation of same section

Pañcahi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato suṇanto saddhammaṃ bhabbo niyāmaṃ okkamituṃ kusalesu dhammesu sammattaṃ.
Someone with five dharmas is able to enter the sure path with regards to skillful Dharmas when listening to the true Dharma.
Katamehi pañcahi?
What five?
Na kathaṃ paribhoti,
1. They don’t disparage the talk,
na kathikaṃ paribhoti,
2. They don’t disparage the speaker,
na attānaṃ paribhoti,
3. They don’t disparage themselves.
a-vikkhitta-citto dhammaṃ suṇāti,
4. with an undistracted mind, they listen to The ☸Dharma .
ekagga-citto yoniso ca manasi karoti.
5. with a mind of singular-focus, they wisely pay attention.

By the way, ekagga citta is synonymous with samādhi and first jhāna

In an oral tradition, you listen to Dhamma in a communicable linguistic verbal language.

You think about the Dhamma in verbal mental talk, as vitakka and vicāra.

You can hear some give a Dhamma talk  in first jhāna, you can think in first jhāna, with mental verbal thoughts (AN 5.27).

You can speak in first jhāna (look up the word 'cetana', it means you have free will in all four jhānas, MN 111).

But if you speak, first jhāna ends. SN 36.11.

Vitakka doesn't suddenly change meaning to "placing the mind" in a jhāna context, as it came to be redefined by Vism. 500 years after the Buddha died.

Yoniso = rational?

sure, it's rational, but in the EBT, yoniso has a more technical and specific context of applying the Dharma appropriately.  

I would recommend avoiding the 

TITWOW Syndrome : TITWOW = Translators Irritatingly Translate With One Word Syndrome.

and going with a more specialized phrase instead of a single word. 

Or if you're going to use a single word, use something that's not disconnected from Dhamma.

For example, "wise attention" for "yoniso manasi kāra" retains a connection with pañña indriya, staying connected with the true Dharma (the theme of AN 5.151).

"rational attention" has no wisdom or ethical connotation that Dhamma does.

how would you explain rebirth to a non-Buddhist who believes in an eternal soul

>>how would you answer this question so that it can enlighten/delight/pacify someone from a non-Buddhist tradition (with some inclinations towards an eternal soul).

If you develop samādhi (undistractible lucidity perfected with meditative training) to a high level, you can witness for yourself what happens to a soul at the moment of physical death.

If you don't (develop samādhi), then all you have is just hearsay, beliefs, and views.

Yogis with developed samādhi from all religions, Hinduism, Taoism, Essenes, christian mystics, etc., all witness rebirth of the "soul" as a real observable phenomena.

The difference with the Buddha, was he found that the "soul" is conditioned, impermanent. 
With proper understanding and training, 
one can bring an end to the infinite cycles of rebirth and understand what a "soul" really is.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Steph Curry, "flow state" is a-vitkaka a-vicāra samādhi (mundane version of second jhāna or better)


Steph Curry, considered one of the greatest shooters in NBA (professional basketball) history.

watch about 1 min. of this video, starting at 19m:25sec

He estimates he probably has made over 750,000 three point shots (making a basket from at least 24ft away) in his lifetime.

That much repetition in his shooting motion and buildng of sati into his muscle memory, when he gets into a flow state,

his kāya anupassana and 3rd step of ānāpānasati (sensitivity to the sensations in his entire physical body), 

he knows exactly the subtle body sensations of what a correct made shot feels like,

he knows it's going in the basket or not, right after the ball is released.

With the athletic freaks in the NBA  who defend the shooter, flying at them with their world class sprinter speed and their 7 foot wingspan arms swatting at the ball,  

there is no time for the shooter to  think (vitakka and vicāra).

you just issue a volition (cetana) to "shoot", which uses sati to recall the physical memory of the motion. with sub verbal perceptions lucidly discerning the whole process moment by moment (sati & sampajāno, upekkha).

The reason they are successful is because of kāya passaddhi (bodily pacification).

They're super relaxed, smooth, consistent in their shooting motion so they're accurate again and again.

They call that the "flow state"

It's just a second jhāna or higher harnessed for mundane purposes.

People have the misunderstanding that the four jhānas are something so mystical and beyond ordinary comprehension, and they can be at much higher stages, but the first three jhānas are very accessible to everyone who puts in the time and the work. 

samādhi and jhāna are very ordinary and super accessible states, it's just that most people don't train and develop them to be sammā samādhi four jhāna level of quality.

warm fuzzy feelings: demystifying Pīti & sukha from jhāna and 7 awakening factors

Weekend at Buddhaghosa's: Buddha's Jhāna Vs. VRJ👻🥶 (Vism. Re-definition of Jhāna)

 I've reworked the VRJ article, adding many permalinks.

Here's the table of contents, and an excerpt from the introduction and conclusion

4👑☸ → 👑8☸ → 8🌄 → Buddha's Jhāna Vs. VRJ👻🥶 (Vism. Re-definition of Jhāna)

 VRJ👻🥶 1 – EBT Jhāna Vs. Vism. Redefinition
    VRJ👻🥶 1.1 – The Buddha’s agenda
    VRJ👻🥶 1.2 – THOX agenda
    VRJ👻🥶 1.3 – The fallout from the different agendas
        VRJ👻🥶 1.3.1 – An uncomfortable truth
        VRJ👻🥶 1.3.2 – 'It depends upon what your definition of "is" is.'
VRJ👻🥶 2 – How EBT defines Jhānas
    VRJ👻🥶 2.1 – Difference between rūpa and a-rūpa
    VRJ👻🥶 2.2 – How sukha is defined in EBT jhānas: physical pleasure
        VRJ👻🥶 2.2.1 – If the Buddha wanted sukha to be mental in 3rd jhāna...
        VRJ👻🥶 2.2.2 – Pounding in the final nail on the coffin of the Jhāna controversy
VRJ👻🥶 3 – How THOX & Vism. Redefined Jhāna
    VRJ👻🥶 3.1 – Difference between rūpa and a-rūpa
        VRJ👻🥶 3.1.1 – Vism chap. 10 arūpa
        VRJ👻🥶 3.1.2 – next paragraph is the key
        VRJ👻🥶 3.1.3 – But this part seems to agree with EBT that sound can knock you out of first jhāna
    VRJ👻🥶 3.2 – Conclusion on difference between THOX rūpa and a-rūpa
    VRJ👻🥶 3.3 – THOX Ab Vb 12 redefines kāya as body of mental aggregates
    VRJ👻🥶 3.4 – THOX redefines kāya in 16 APS
    VRJ👻🥶 3.5 – THOX redefines kāya in tranquility awakening factor as body of mental aggregates
            VRJ👻🥶 10.2. Analysis According To Abhidhamma
    VRJ👻🥶 3.6 – THOX redefines sukha as all mental factors
    VRJ👻🥶 3.7 – THOX tries to explain why anatomical body feels so good in jhāna
VRJ👻🥶 4 – Vimt. in practice is mostly consistent with EBT jhāna
    VRJ👻🥶 4.1 – Vimt. matches EBT in rūpa vs. arūpa, space-infinitude-dimension
        VRJ👻🥶 4.1.2 – This is saying the mind is divorced from 5 sense faculties
        VRJ👻🥶 4.1.3 – here he explicitly says four jhānas, the mind is still sensitive to 5 faculties
VRJ👻🥶 5 – Evolution of Bhante Gunaratana's Interpretation of Jhāna
    VRJ👻🥶 5.1 – Bhante G. Bio.
    VRJ👻🥶 5.2 – book 1: Critical Analysis of the Jhānas (conforms to Vism. And contradicts EBT)
    VRJ👻🥶 5.3 – book 2: Beyond Mindfulnes (changed views on jhāna now conforms to EBT)
            VRJ👻🥶 5.3.5 – Highlights from the second book
            VRJ👻🥶 – brief key points of four jhānas
            VRJ👻🥶 – jhāna in depth
            VRJ👻🥶 – First jhāna
            VRJ👻🥶 –Second jhāna
            VRJ👻🥶 –Third jhāna
            VRJ👻🥶 –Fourth jhāna
            VRJ👻🥶 –can you hear sound and feel body pain in jhana?
    VRJ👻🥶 5.4 – Conclusion on Bhante G.
VRJ👻🥶 6 – Thanissaro Bhikkhu
VRJ👻🥶 7 – Final conclusion
    VRJ👻🥶 7.1 – THOX redefinition of Jhāna, kāya, sukha
    VRJ👻🥶 7.2 – THOX has a weekend at Bernie’s
        VRJ👻🥶 7.2.1 – Was the Buddha negligent in defining critical key terms like Jhāna, kāya, sukha, rūpa?
            VRJ👻🥶 – We need prophets 500 years after the Buddha to explain his error
        VRJ👻🥶 7.2.2 – The Buddha knew what he was doing
VRJ👻🥶 10 – Miscellaneous
VRJ👻🥶 100 – commentary
VRJ👻🥶 999 – Bookmarks of interest
    VRJ👻🥶 999.9 – TOC permalinks

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Ajahn Mun Biography, and 2 master pieces by Ajahn lee formatted in single file html, EZ Reader massaged line formatting

4👑☸ → EBpedia📚 →  


Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo:
  Craft of the Heart : first book he wrote, like an intro catalog.
  Keeping the Breath in Mind : masterpiece on breath meditation.

Ajahn Mun Biography: Ajahn Mun Biography - Venerable Ācariya Mun Bhūridatta Thera, A Spiritual Biography

ez-reader format: 🔗📚 sensible paragraph formatting standard for digital books
also see: 🔗📚 free Dhamma book makers, please make EPUB versions: PDF's are a horrendous nuisance to read

Saturday, July 22, 2023

MN 139, SN 36.11, MN 137, SN 48.40 Ven. Sunyo wrong about internal (ajjhatta) meaning "one's mind only", wrong about nirāmisa being 'mind only'


sunyo wrote, regarding MN 139:

It can’t be the body that feels the pīti and sukha [In four jhānas], because in the suttas the pīti that is felt in the first two jhānas is repeatedly called mental (pīti-māna). It’s similar with the sukha, which is called non-physical (nirāmisa) and in other ways is indicated to be mental. For example, it is said in MN139 that the sukha that comes from the body (and other physical senses) is not to be developed, and that one should seek sukha “internally”, i.e. in the mind.

frankk response

ajjhatta = adj. inner; internal; personal; in oneself [adhi + atta] ✓
In the context of MN 139, it's one's self (includes both body and mind), not "mind only" self.
Just as in MN 10, one does kāya anupassana (physical body contemplation) "Internally and externally" on one's physical body.
The physical body belongs to oneself.

How would one even do an-atta lakkhana sutta instructions (on 5 aggregates)  thoroughly, if you leave out rūpa and only work on 4 mental aggregates? 
This once again smacks of confirmation bias.
Ven. Sunyo wants sukha to mean mind only, so he starts torturing basic terms to try to support that.

sunyo wrote, regarding SN 48.40 claiming sukha is 'mind only':

That’s how sukha-indriya is defined there, yes. But as discussed before, it is said in SN48.40 that this kind of sukha (bodily sukha) does not exist in the third jhāna! So the sukha that exists in the third jhāna must be a different kind of sukha, which is mental. Therefore, it can’t be felt “with the body” (“kāyena”).

frankk response on SN 48.40

See my research article on the corruption of this sutta.


conclusion on SN 48.40

If you're going to accept Theravada's corrupt SN 48.40 as reliable source in interpreting sukha of 3rd jhāna as "mind only", 
(conveniently Ven. Sunyo and Vism. both have this agenda and believe and rely on SN 48.40),
then you go against at least 4 other EBT schools,
and even in the Theravada pāḷi sutta collection itself, you'll find so many suttas that are now incoherent.
Once you have an incoherent sutta collection, your interpretation is definitely invalid.
Throw out SN 48.40 in favor of AVS parallel, then all the pali suttas are coherent and internally consistent again, which means you likely have a legitimate interpretation of jhāna.

sunyo wrote, regarding SN 36.31 nirāmisa sukha as 'mind only':

Exactly, it’s spiritual (or literally “not of the flesh”), which means, “relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”, synonyms being ‘psychological’, ‘inner’, and ‘non-material’. To avoid confusion, I prefer to translate nirāmisa following Cone and Digital Pali Dictionary as ‘non-physical’. PED and Buddhadatta also have ‘non-material’.

What I’m saying is, pleasure felt “with the body” is not spiritual, not nirāmisa. That’s what SĀmisa means, “of the flesh”, i.e. “of the body”. (As in Matthew 26:41: “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh (body) is weak.”)

We also have to be consistent when possible. If nirāmisa pīti is a mental emotion, as you seem to agree (and which is hard to deny since it’s called pīti-māna), 

then nirāmisa sukha must also be a mental emotion.

Frankk response:

Example to show the fallacious reasoning of "then nirāmisa sukha must also be a mental emotion."

"I like apples and smelling roses.",
therefore since apples are a physical object, then the act of smelling roses must also be a physical object.

Next problem: he says spiritual "not of the flesh"  is being contrasted with non-spiritual "of the flesh", 
therefore, nirāmisa sukha must be a mind only phenomena.

On the surface, it seems like a reasonable assumption, 
but we have to actually test it out.
In any religion, you'll find people, who are not in meditative states of disembodied frozen stupor, have "spiritual" (not of the flesh) insights.
For example, they realize being kind and helping others gives them deeper, more fulfilling happiness (both mental and physical) than selfish pursuits of happiness arising based on desire of the 5 cords of sensual pleasure, such as sex and cocaine and music. 
They're having "spiritual insights" while in an embodied, physical state. 
And they use "not of the flesh" in a metaphorical way, in many religions.
So it's pretty common for nirāmisa, "spiritual", or "not of the flesh" to point to a spiritual insight that happens while one inhabits the physical body.

We can also settle this issue quickly and conclusively looking at a couple of suttas, SN 36.31 and MN 137

      MN 1374 – (rely on something superior to give up something inferior)
            MN 1374.1 – (rely on renunciate mental-joy to give up householder mental-joy)
            MN 1374.2 – (rely on renunciate mental-distress to give up householder mental-distress)
            MN 1374.3 – (rely on renunciate equanimous-observation to give up householder equanimous-observation)
            MN 1374.4 – (rely on renunciate mental-joy to give up renunciate mental-distress: use first two jhānas to give up renunciate mental-distress)
            MN 1374.5 – (rely on renunciate equanimous-observation to give up renunciate mental-joy: use 4th and 3rd jhāna to give up 1st and 2nd jhāna)
        MN 1375 – (two kinds of upekkha equanimous-observation)
            MN 1375.1 - (upekkha based on diversity/nanatta are 3rd and 4th jhāna)
            MN 1375.2 - (upekkha based on unity/ekatta are 4 a-rūpa attainments)
            MN 1374.6 – (rely on upekkha of formless to give up upekkha of fourth jhāna)
            MN 1374.7 – (rely on non-identification to give up upekkha of formless)

SN 36.31, conveniently titled, nirāmisa sutta,  hinting it's going to be useful

nirāmisa sukha is defined as first 3 jhānas:

(2.2 nirāmisaṃ sukhaṃ / not of the flesh pleasure)

♦ “katamañca, bhikkhave,
"And what, *********, (is)
nirāmisaṃ sukhaṃ?
not-of-the-flesh pleasure?
idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu
Here, monks, a-monk
vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.
(... abides in standart first jhana formula ... )
vitakkavicārānaṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.
(... abides in standart second jhana formula ... )
pītiyā ca virāgā upekkhako ca viharati sato ca sampajāno sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṃvedeti,
(... abides in standart third jhana formula ... )
yaṃ taṃ ariyā ācikkhanti — ‘upekkhako satimā sukhavihārī’ti tatiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.
idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave,
This (s) called, *********,
nirāmisaṃ sukhaṃ.
not-of-the-flesh pleasure.

nirāmisa upekkha is defined as fourth jhāna

(3.2 nirāmisaṃ upekkha / not of the flesh equanimity)

♦ “katamā ca, bhikkhave,
"And what, *********, (is)
nir-āmisā upekkhā?
not-of-the-flesh equanimity?
idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu
Here, monks, a-monk
sukhassa ca pahānā,
(... abides in standart fourth jhana formula ... )
dukkhassa ca pahānā,
(... )
pubbeva somanassadomanassānaṃ atthaṅgamā,
(... )
adukkhamasukhaṃ upekkhāsatipārisuddhiṃ catutthaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.
(... )
ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave,
This (s) called, *********,
nir-āmisā upekkhā.
not-of-the-flesh equanimity.


            MN 1375.1 - (upekkha based on diversity/nanatta are 3rd and 4th jhāna)
            MN 1375.2 - (upekkha based on unity/ekatta are 4 a-rūpa attainments)

If you follow that link, you'll see that nanatta means diversity of perceptions of the 5 senses, in contrast with upekkha of formless which is ekatta and is mind only. 

So if SN 36.31 nirāmisa upekkha is fourth jhāna, and fourth jhāna is by definition of MN 137  a state that has upekkha operating on 5 senses, 

then nirāmisa upekkha is operating on all 5 senses in 3rd and 4th jhāna, 

and  nirāmisa sukha operating on all 5 senses as well in the first 3 jhānas, supports a physical based sukha pleasure. 

MN 139 Ven Sunyo and example of pāḷi grammar confirmation bias

MN 139 excerpt, translation here mostly Sujato

‘Sukhavinicchayaṃ jaññā;
‘Know how to distinguish different kinds of pleasure.
sukhavinicchayaṃ ñatvā ajjhattaṃ sukhamanuyuñjeyyā’ti—
Knowing this, pursue inner pleasure.’
iti kho panetaṃ vuttaṃ. Kiñcetaṃ paṭicca vuttaṃ?
That’s what I said, but why did I say it?
Pañcime, bhikkhave, kāmaguṇā.
There are these five kinds of sensual stimulation.
Katame pañca?
What five?
Cakkhuviññeyyā rūpā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṃhitā rajanīyā,
Sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing.
sotaviññeyyā saddā …
Sounds known by the ear …
ghānaviññeyyā gandhā …
Smells known by the nose …
jivhāviññeyyā rasā …
Tastes known by the tongue …
kāyaviññeyyā phoṭṭhabbā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṃhitā rajanīyā—
Touches known by the body that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing.
ime kho, bhikkhave, pañca kāmaguṇā.
These are the five kinds of sensual stimulation.

(5kg sensuality-cords are to feared, don’t fear 4j🌕 four jhanas)

Yaṃ kho, bhikkhave, ime pañca kāmaguṇe paṭicca uppajjati sukhaṃ somanassaṃ idaṃ vuccati kāmasukhaṃ mīḷhasukhaṃ puthujjanasukhaṃ anariyasukhaṃ.
The pleasure and happiness that arise from these five kinds of sensual stimulation is called sensual pleasure—a filthy, common, ignoble pleasure.

B.Bodhi translates that part with sukha and somanassa like this:

Now the pleasure and joy that arise dependent on these five cords of sensual pleasure are called sensual pleasure—a filthy pleasure, a coarse pleasure,

Ven. Sunyo claims that:

No, here the two [sukha and somanassa]  are definitely synonymous. Notice that in uppajjati sukhaṁ somanassaṁ the verb uppajjati is singular, which means that one thing arises, not two separate ones. You can see a peculiarity in Sujato’s translation, where subject and verb don’t agree in number: “pleasure and happiness arises”. The word “and” isn’t there in Pali, that’s the thing. More literally it says: “[there] arises sukha, which is somanassa”. The two words are attributes to one another, not different things.

Frankk comment:

If both Sujato and B. Bodhi agree with the grammar supporting 'sukha' not synonymous with 'somanassa',
why should we doubt them? 
They've been translating far longer than Ven. Sunyo.
So it's pretty surprising Sunyo is so confident here.

He's not even saying, the grammar supports more than one way to interpret this, 
he's saying his interpretation is correct and theirs is wrong.


Until we get some pāḷi experts to settle this, 
my bet is on B. Bodhi and Sujato being right,
and Ven. Sunyo is very likely acting with confirmation bias.
He needs 'sukha' to be mental, not physical, so the grammar conveniently supports his agenda.

Friday, July 21, 2023

AN 3.94 stream entry, first jhāna, non-return if dying in first jhāna

Unresolved questions from this sutta.

1. Does this mean the disciple attained stream entry without even needing at least first jhāna?

2. presumably this line: "Afterwards they get rid of two things: desire and aversion." is happening WHILE doing the first jhāna, otherwise they would be a non-returner whether or not they died while doing first jhāna?

AN 3.94 Sarada: Springtime

94. Saradasutta
94. Springtime
“Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, saradasamaye viddhe vigatavalāhake deve ādicco nabhaṃ abbhussakkamāno sabbaṃ ākāsagataṃ tamagataṃ abhivihacca bhāsate ca tapate ca virocati ca.
“After the rainy season the sky is clear and cloudless. And when the sun rises, it dispels all the darkness from the sky as it shines and glows and radiates.
Evamevaṃ kho, bhikkhave, yato ariyasāvakassa virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ uppajjati, saha dassanuppādā, bhikkhave, ariyasāvakassa tīṇi saṃyojanāni pahīyanti—
In the same way, when the stainless, immaculate vision of The Dharma arises in a noble-one's-disciple, three fetters are given up:
sakkāyadiṭṭhi, vicikicchā, sīlabbataparāmāso.
identity view, doubt, and misapprehension of precepts and observances.
Athāparaṃ dvīhi dhammehi niyyāti abhijjhāya ca byāpādena ca.
Afterwards they get rid of two things: desire and aversion.
So vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.
Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful Dharmas, they enter and remain in the first jhāna, which has the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, while directing-thought and evaluation.
Tasmiñce, bhikkhave, samaye ariyasāvako kālaṃ kareyya, natthi taṃ saṃyojanaṃ yena saṃyojanena saṃyutto ariyasāvako puna imaṃ lokaṃ āgaccheyyā”ti.
If that noble-one's-disciple passed away at that time, they’re bound by no fetter that might return them to this world.”

(end of sutta⏹️)

b. bodhi footnotes

538 Mp explains the dhammacakkhu with reference to the commentarial conception of momentary path experiences as the

“eye of the path of stream-entry that comprehends the Dhamma of the four noble truths.”

539 This phrase normally denotes the attainment of non-returning.

Mp, however, identifies this disciple as a “jhāna non-returner” (jhānānāgāmī),

that is, a stream-enterer or once-returner who also attains jhāna.

Though such a practitioner has not yet eliminated the two fetters of sensual desire and ill will,

by attaining jhāna he or she is bound to be reborn in the form realm and attain nibbāna there,

without taking another rebirth in the sense sphere.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu Comments, 2023 July

You could interpret this sutta in a way that doesn’t fit in with other descriptions of what’s going on in stream entry and the attainment of non-return, 
or you could interpret it an a way that does fit in with those descriptions.
I prefer to read it in the second way.
Thus: At stream entry, one has reached the at least the first jhana but hasn’t mastered it, 
because the coming together of all eight factors of the noble path equals the stream, 
but stream entry is supposed to mark the point where one has completed the training in virtue, 
but only partially completed the training in concentration and discernment.

Later, at non-return, one has mastered concentration.
At one of the later occasions when one has entered the first jhana, one dies. 
One goes to the form realm of one of the Pure Abodes, 
never to return to any of the sensual realms before unbinding.

Forum discussion

@Lucilius wrote

This is a Sutta I found unclear at first as well.
1. Does a sotapanna gain non-return if (s)he happens to die while in the first jhāna?
2. Is this (i.e. after stream entry) the first time one attains the first jhāna?

Regarding 2: I think we all the evidence in the suttas points towards the opposite—i.e. that one needs jhāna for stream-entry.
One instance is MN 64, where the Buddha says that it is impossible to cut through the five lower fetters without jhāna. Some take this to mean that one cannot attain non-return without jhāna but that one could maybe cut through the three lower fetters and become a stream-enterer without jhāna; I think this notion is mistaken because if this were the case, the Buddha would've specifically said that it is impossible to cut through the fetter of sensual passion and ill-will, and not the five lower fetters, as he does in the sutta. Thus I think it is impossible to cut though any of the lower fetters without jhāna.

Another instance is DN 16, where the Buddha says that

“In any doctrine & discipline where the noble eightfold path is not ascertained, no contemplative of the first… second… third… fourth order [stream-winner, once-returner, non-returner, or arahant] is ascertained. But in any doctrine & discipline where the noble eightfold path is ascertained, contemplatives of the first… second… third… fourth order are ascertained. The noble eightfold path is ascertained in this doctrine & discipline, and right here there are contemplatives of the first… second… third… fourth order. Other teachings are empty of knowledgeable contemplatives. And if the monks dwell rightly, this world will not be empty of arahants.

It doesn't say that you only need the full noble eightfold path—including sammā-samādhi ≈ jhāna—only for non-return and up.

Other indications are SN 55.5 where it is said that the stream-enterer is already endowed with all factors of the noble eightfold path—including sammā-samādhi.
The sotapanna also sees the four noble truths (see SN 48.53), which is done by samādhi (see SN 56.1).

So, imo, a sotapanna already has practiced and attained the jhānas.

Regarding 1: I think the question boils down to whether the sensual desire and aversion referred to in this sutta mean the hindrances or the fetters.
If it is the hindrances of sensual desire and aversion that are abandoned, then the sotapanna is only a non-returner if he happens to die while in the first jhāna.
If it is the fetters of sensual desire and aversion, then the sotapanna becomes a non-returner when he abandons them. He then (automatically?) enters the first jhāna when he has abandoned the aforesaid fetters. If he were to die in that instant, he would not return. But this implies, that if he would emerge from that jhāna and dies, he would still not return, since he already is a non-returner.

I think the latter option is more plausible:
Upon abandoning the fetters of sensual desire and aversion, one becomes an anagami and automatically enters the first jhāna (as a side effect?). The Buddha might have said says that one would not return if one dies in this state (the first jhāna) to clarify that he meant the fetters, and attainment of non-return before.

This sutta is also interesting in that it shows the dynamic of how the first three lower fetters are abandoned; they are abandoned as one attains the dhamma-eye. The dhamma-eye (stream-entry, seeing the deathless for the first time) is what cuts through the three lower fetters. This is relevant, because there are people (such as Ven. Nyanamoli from Hillside Hermitage) who think that one has to abandon the three fetters as one practices for stream-entry (i.e. they have to be cut before stream-entry/one has to cut them to be able to reach stream-entry), which is why they afraid of any mediation "method" (apparently even the instructions in the suttas (such as anapanasati)) because following them would just be the fetter of silabbataparamasa or would strengthen it.
But by not following the mediation instructions in the suttas, I find it very questionable whether one can reach any noble attainment at all.

Another interesting thing is, that Ven. Sujato translates Sarada as spring, when the dictionary says that it means autumn (the season after the rains). This is perhaps because he is Australian, and for them it is indeed spring.


frank k wrote: Sat Jul 22, 2023 1:38 am thanks for your thoughts. i added them to the blog page.
b. bodhi wrote an interesting booklet where he questioned whether jhana was necessary for stream entry.
my personal opinion, it wouldn't make sense to define samma samadhi as 4 jhanas and not have that be the minimum standard.
the problem with first jhana though, and all 4 jhanas actually, is that they have quite a range of quality level, it's not something with markers as concrete as either you're pregnant or you're not.
this sutta does seem to be trying to say something very interesting, i just wish it was more clear about it.

@Lucilius replied to frankk

Yes, jhāna seems to have different levels of quality and there is no clear cut sign "now you are entering the first jhāna", it seems to be more of a "spectrum" or "smooth progression" (just from my experience). Even a modicum/finger-snap of jhāna apparently counts as genuine jhāna, and even an "impure" formless attainment apparently counts as that genuine formless attainment (see origin story of parajika 4 with maha-moggallana), which might extend to the four jhāna as well (at least that would be plausible)..

But I don't quite see how this is a problem here?
You mean because it is hard to tell if one has attained jhāna?
I think most Buddhists have had actually had a finger-snap of jhāna at least in one time (while e.g. reading/reflecting about the dhamma, which leads to the mind settling down, growing confident, unified and serene, one doesn't think unskillful thoughts and pīti and sukha appear in the body), even if they don't/didn't identify it as such (perhaps because they believe that jhāna is some super advanced formless attainment or whatever (?)), but it would be hard to say if this already fulfills the requirements of MN 64 etc. for cutting through the lower fetters.
Maybe this was what you were trying to convey?

I think although even a finger-snap of jhāna still counts as genuine jhāna, this doesn't necessarily mean that that finger-snap is enough for liberating discernment (even at stream-entry level)—even though that much may be enough/sufficient for some people (like those who listened to one single dhamma talk by the Buddha and attained stream-entry, and their occupation/background (non-samana/brahmin) makes it not very likely that they were very experienced in jhāna before that). So there probably is a person-to-person difference for how much jhāna is sufficient.

In any case, one shouldn't be afraid to practice jhāna, because if that (perhaps unidentified) finger-snap of jhāna wasn't enough for one to attain stream-entry, then one probably needs more jhāna than that finger-snap of genuine jhāna.

This text from Ven. Ajaan Lee may also be relevant here?: ... n0018.html it talks about the varying speeds one attains nibbāna, and how much "tranquility meditation" they need to develop for that..
(But I don't know where he takes this information from (his own experience/learned from his teacher/or even LBT) because I can't remember reading about it in the suttas)

Buddha glosses important terms covertly sometimes

Unlike the commentaries, the suttas don't always explicitly say "This word means", "this definition."

But if you pay attention, you realize the Buddha glosses many terms in standard formulas which appear as code words. 

Here's a collection of some important terms being glossed covertly

samādhi sambojjhanga = the 4 jhānas: 

DN 2 in the seven awakening factors section, after passadhi, the 4 jhanas are listed where samādhi sambojjhanga would normally appear.

upekkha-sambojjhanga = realizing the 6 (or 8) higher knowledges while in imperturbable 4th jhāna.

DN 2: happens right after samadhi sambojjhanga, where upekkha would normally be specified

Also compare with 16 suttas in Snp 5, where upekkha (in poetic form as 'pekkha') appears frequently doing vipassana to realize nirvana.

Viveka = judicious-seclusion

MN 139 first jhāna viveka and kāmehi 
(Know how to distinguish different kinds of pleasure.) ‘Sukhavinicchayaṃ jaññā;
(5kg sensuality-cords are to feared, don’t fear 4 jhanas)

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

🔗📝VRJ and BRJ notes


What Ajahn Brahm (Brahmavamso) calls “Jhāna” is not Jhāna according to the EBT.

To make that distinction clear, I call his redefined “jhāna” BRJ👻🥶.

His redefinition is actually much closer to (V)isuddhi-magga (Re)-definition of (J)hana, minus the Abhidhamma underlying theory.


Perfect image to capture the emotional and physical feeling of trying to attain Vism. and Ajahn Brahm "real first jhāna"

Perfect image to capture the emotional and physical feeling of trying to attain Vism. and Ajahn Brahm "real first jhāna"


In 128-degree Death Valley, a man dressed as Darth Vader ran a mile

(full story from which the image came from here.)

Note 128 degree F = 53 degree C. 

Vism "jhāna", and Ajahn Brahm’s “jhāna” is not the Buddha’s definition of Jhāna

What Ajahn Brahm (Brahmavamso) calls “Jhāna” is not Jhāna according to the EBT.

To make that distinction clear, I call his redefined “jhāna” BRJ👻🥶.

His redefinition is actually much closer to (V)isuddhi-magga (Re)-definition of (J)hana, minus the Abhidhamma underlying theory.

The problem with Buddha's jhāna vs. Pa Auk's vism. jhāna

excerpt from dhammawheel discussion, I wrote:

The problem with Buddha's jhāna vs. Pa Auk's vism. jhāna, is that they're qualitatively very different practices.
So different, that the amount of samatha need to attain a formless state, requires much more samatha and internal body energy transformation needed to reach that bar, than what's required to have enough samatha to do a competent Buddha's first jhāna.
More importantly, the biggest problem with the pa auk approach, is that many people get a visual nimitta, but then are never able to reach a formless "first jhāna".
They spend years doing that, when they've already had more than sufficient samatha to do the really important part of the buddha's first jhāna, which is see the danger and dukkha in sensual pleasures, clearly enough to become disenchanted with them.

So many people in pa auk waste lots of time energy sharpening the sword of wisdom may more than it needs, and completely neglecting the important work of practicing swinging the sword of wisdom to fight the defilements. ... about.html

from another message in thread I wrote:

I never said Pa Auk system doesnt achieve samatha to the point where one attains disembodied frozen stupor.
What I said was even if the goal is to do that, it's not the best way to get there, because their methods create too much completely unnecessary physical and mental tension.
People getting knee and leg long term damage, people getting cross eyed, headaches from staring at visual nimittas at the anapana spot, all kinds of problems that a sensible objective person realizes is Vism. and Pa Auk's fault for teaching breath meditation incorrectly (different than the Buddha's).
I've seen lots of meditators who gave up, even though they got a strong bright visual nimitta, because they didn't understand the reason they didn't have jhāna yet is not because they weren't "one pointed enough", but is because it takes an undeterminate amount of time for energetic blockages to dissolve, dependent on a person's prior health and age.
I've got lots of horror stories, but just haven't wanted to spend the time yet to write about it.

If you're attempting, doing, or close to the Buddha's Jhāna, it should feel like this


The Buddha's first jhāna instructions