Jhana as the path to enlightment?

  • This topic has 10 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated 3 years ago by Lal.
Viewing 9 reply threads
  • Author
    • #20458

      MN36 provides a short description of the Path of the Buddha. He did very painful excercises, so painful that the Buddha was convinced that there is no beyond this pain. But he did not attain any superhuman state, any distinction in knowledge in vision worthy of the noble ones.

      The sutta describes that the Buddha realised that his is not the Path to enlightment. He asked to himself ‘is there another path’. And he remembered his youth experience while he entered and abided in the first jhana at that time in his youth. The sutta lets the Buddha say: “That is the path to enlightment”.

      He knew he had to recover, strenghten to enter and abide in those jhana’s. In short, he recovered and he was able to enter and abide in the first four jhana’s.

      In the 4th jhana he directed his mind to the memories of his past lives and he remember many. This was the first true knowlegde that arose.

      Then he turned his mind to the knowledge of the passing away and reappearing of beings. In short, he saw the workings of kamma. This was the second true knowledge that arose.

      Then, still in fourth jhana, he turned his mind to the destruction of the asava’s. He directly knew the four noble truths.

      When he knew and saw thus his mind was liberated from de three asava’s, of sensual desire, being and ignorance. He knew: ’birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more rebirth’.

      Doesn’t this show that jhana is the path to enlightment? Don’t we have to enter and abide in the fourth jhana to attain those three true knowledges, like the buddha did?


    • #20459

      It is likely that all Buddhas attain the Buddhahood via jhana. There is another sutta that describes how the previous Buddha, Kassapa Buddha, attained Buddhahood the same way.

      However, there is no need to go through jhanas, for those disciples with high level of wisdom (panna). They are called pannavimutti Arahants.
      – Still, no matter how high one’s level of panna is one cannot attain the Buddhahood by one’s own efforts, unless it is a Bodhisattva.

      Furthermore, even at the time of the Buddha (before the Enlightenment of the Buddha), there were yogis who were able to get to the highest jhanas (including possibly the five ascetics).
      – However, they could not attain Nibbana, because only a Buddha can attain Nibbana via his own efforts.
      – One who can get to any jhana, of course can attain Nibbana once he/she comprehends the Four Noble Truths.

      These are discussed in detail at the “Samādhi, Jhāna (Dhyāna), Magga Phala” section.

      • #20462

        Thanks Lal,

        Those pannavimutti Arahants do they really not need jhana? In which sutta is this explained? Until know i understood they do not attain arupa jhana, the immaterial jhana (5-8).


    • #20460

      For the Path of Ariya is to abide by Niveema/Niramisa Sukha, not jhana. Jhana is the results of one practice of getting rid of tanha (or assavas). So jhana is glued to the Path. When I do anapanasati and satipatthana I do not even think of jhana, it comes like a shadow after getting rid of a substantial part of hindrances from one’s mind. So when you focus on the happy feeling of lightness it will develop into jhana I guess but I do not yet reach Ariya jhana as I guess you will need to be Anagami but I got often spontaneous feelings of getting close to jhana. I have been in concentration-types jhanas and they feel almost the same but this got more lightness and it’s more “fluffy” then anariya jhanas which are good but this is like different grade, can’t compare. Like you have regular cheese which is pretty good but once you have high-grade cheese is like day and night. So I would say this is the same, but not really the same once you have some experience on each side.

      So jhana is not Path to Nibbana but glued to Path as you progress. Of course, you can make it up from anariya jhana too but that depends on a person. Once you attain Sotapanna you will easily get inner feelings what is the right method and what is wrong because this is how you saw Nibbana and experience so you can not be cheated again on what and how to do things.

    • #20463


      Basically there are two ways of attaining the jhanas : by focusing on a concept which is considered the arya way.
      Or, by focusing on a – let’s call it so – “material” support as breathing etc, which is considered anarya way.
      In both cases the high degree of absorption obtained, despite based upon intellect (association and integration) is somehow beyond it; i mean the result as jhana is beyond it.
      Now what i just said seems to contradict/exclude the anarya way for what has breathing to do with intellect ?

    • #20464

      Siebe said: “Those pannavimutti Arahants do they really not need jhana? In which sutta is this explained? ”

      Pannāvimutti – Arahanthood without Jhāna

    • #21244

      Of course jhanas are necessary to become an ahrant. It’s in the eightfold path and it is explained so in the suttanta.

    • #21250

      Dhamma123, Welcome to the forum!

      You said: “Of course jhanas are necessary to become an ahrant. It’s in the eightfold path and it is explained so in the suttanta.”

      Please explain. We just don’t make statements here. One needs to provide evidence from the Tipitaka. Where are jhanas mentioned in the Eightfold Path?

    • #34436
      Tobias G

      Please see Dhp 372

      Natthi jhānaṁ apaññassa,
      paññā natthi ajhāyato;
      Yamhi jhānañca paññā ca,
      sa ve nibbānasantike.

      Does this verse say that jhana is needed to gain wisdom?

    • #34437

      Greetings! @Tobias G,

      Natthi jhānaṁ apaññassa,
      paññā natthi ajhāyato;
      Yamhi jhānañca paññā ca,
      sa ve nibbānasantike.

      This is my translation:
      There is no jhāna for (those) without pañña,
      pañña, there is not for (those) without jhāna,
      Which ever indeed have jhāna and paññā,
      that truly is near to Nibbāna.

      Translation from Tipiṭaka.net:
      Verse 372: There can be no concentration in one who lacks wisdom; there can be no wisdom in one who lacks concentration. He who has concentration as well as wisdom is, indeed, close to Nibbana.

      With mettā, Seng Kiat

    • #34438

      jhāna does not necessarily mean transcending the kāma loka and attaining “jhānic states” as commonly interpreted these days.

      Jhāna” means to “cleanse one’s defilements (especially kāma raga“) by making an effort, especially via Anapanasati and Satipatthana Bhavana.
      – When one does that panna grows and one may also attain “jhānic states.”

      This verse basically says that one needs to cultivate both jhāna and panna. The latter, of course, via learning true Dhamma. In fact, they grow together.

      One can get a better idea of the meaning of the verse by looking at other verses in the sequence:
      Dhammapada Verses 368 to 376

      1 user thanked author for this post.
Viewing 9 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.