Reply To: Discourses by Waharaka Thero Subtitled in English


In this speech, Venerable Waharaka Thero also mentioned the dangers of Jhanas if one is inexperienced.

  • One can achieve jhanas by using the 4 elements as objects of meditation. The fire element (Tejo) can be dangerous and you could end up self-immolated if you don’t control it. Some arahants used Tejo Kasina to enter parinibbãna. They rose into the air and were instantly consumed by fire. Venerable Arahant Ananda and Lay Arahant Santati are examples. Others have difficulty coming out of jhanas and no longer feel their body. He had told the story of a novice who could not feel his legs even long after coming out of Jhana. Anariya yogis had developed Sassatta Dithi (belief in eternity) because of their distorted sanna about jhanas. If one developed jhanas with pathavi kasina (earth) he thought that the soul is hard like rock. If one developed apo (water) he thought that the soul is like a vast expanse of water. Those of fire (tejo) thought that the soul is like a flame. Those of air (vayo) thought that the soul extended.
  • In my conclusion, it would be wise to have a bhikkhu or lay meditation master who is well versed in the suttas and has the correct teachings, before engaging in intensive jhana practice. This applies if one is not yet sotāpanna or if one is not someone of a calm and fearless temperament. A sotāpanna can never fall into false views like these anariyas yogis. On the other hand, he could perhaps put himself in danger and become afraid in the jhanas, depending on his gati (character). Someone with a calm and fearless temperament is very unlikely to put themselves in situations where they lose control of the jhanas. However, he could fall into false views of the self (sakkaya ditthi) if he is not sotāpanna of course. This is why anariyas yogis of calm temperament like Alara Kalama and Udakka Ramputta mastered all the jhanas but were under the influence of Sakkaya ditthi. Just like sotāpannas like Venerable Ananda probably had to master the jhanas without losing control. Lord Buddha even helped Arahant Maha Mogallana when he was sotāpanna not to get lost in the immensity of infinite space. It could have put his life in danger. Of course, these situations apply to anyone who wishes to embark on the path of jhanas to attain Nibbāna.