Reply To: Discussion on “Cultivating Jhāna and Magga Phala – What Is the Difference?”

  • 1. No, they are not necessary.
  • 2. No, it doesn’t, but it simplifies the process, especially for reaching the Anagami stage by getting rid of Kāma ragā.
  • 3. Jhanas can be cultivated by anariyas and ariyas. Magga phala is obtained with the understanding of Tilakkhana at different levels up to its total understanding at the arahant stage. Obtaining the magga phala marks the beginning of the end of our samsaric wandering. Jhanas can prolong this wandering if they are not combined with an understanding of Tilakkhana. There is no point in being reborn in a Brahma world if it is to then return to this world to fall into the Apayas. Cultivating magga phala guarantees that one will be free in the long term from this cycle of pain.
  • 4. Anariya Jhana can be lost while Ariya Jhana is never lost. One obtains Ariya Jhana when one has truly understood the futility of indulging in sensual pleasure. At that moment one became an anagami. Anariyas Jhānas can be lost if concentration is not sufficiently maintained on one’s object of meditation. This occurs when intense sensual thoughts disrupt one’s concentration.
  • 5. Yes it is a prerequisite. One must be able to go to the 4th or 5th Jhānas where the mind is immersed in equanimity (Upekkha). Then one must be able to enter and exit any Jhānas at will. He must in some way “play with the Jhānas”. For example, he can enter the first Jhanas and directly afterward the third. He must be able to exit and enter in any direction (In ascending, descending, and disordered order.) whenever and wherever he wants. He must then concentrate his mind on the 4 elements Tejo (fire) Vāyo (wind) Apō (water) and Pathavī (earth). Suppose he wants to walk on water as if it were land. He must master the earth element. If he wants to dive into the earth as if it were water, he must master the water element. There are myriads of samādhi and the powers developed by the Jhānas are one of the things that only a Lord Buddha can understand. What I have just said is my understanding of the teachings I received from the Bhikkhus with whom I had the chance to interact. I have never been in Jhanas and I have never developed Iddhis powers. However, I tried to develop them in Thailand without success. Lack of continued effort has been my biggest obstacle. I had spent three days without sleep under the instruction of a master bhikkhu trying to develop Upacara Samadhi. I was close but the concentration factors were weak and unstable. Unfortunately, my stay was coming to an end and I had to return to Canada. If I had stayed a little longer I would have been immersed in Upacara Samadhi and the jhanas would have been within my reach (I believe a few months or a year of intensive practice). Others may come for the first time under the tutelage of a bhikkhu and attain jhanas in a short time. It depends on the gāti and it’s all about continued effort. I believe that attaining magga phala is much more difficult than Jhānas. How many times in this infinite samsara have we been in the Brahma worlds? It’s unimaginable! Have we been free from pain and sadness forever? It is by attaining the magga phala which is so rare to attain that we will forever be delivered.
  • Only a person who has entered the jhanas can truly know. It would be interesting to hear the opinion of a meditator, as Sir Lal suggested.
1 user thanked author for this post.