– No real differences in various classifications of JHANAS

I. Fourfold and Fivefold JHANAS

The Buddha classifies the jhanas in two ways: as the fourfold jhana (catukkajjhana) and the fivefold jhana (pancaka·jjhana).Inthe suttas, The Buddha usually speaks of the fourfold jhana. For example, in the ‘Maha·Sati·Pathana’ sutta, He describes Right Concentration (Samma·Samadhi) as the fourfold jhana.

1)The first jhana………………………………………………(pathamajhana)

2)The second jhana…………………………………………..(dutiyajhana)

3)The third jhana………………………………………………(tatiyajhana)

4)The fourth jhana……………………………………………(catutthajhana)

In the Abhidhamma, The Buddha refers only to the fivefold jhana. What is the difference between the fourfold jhana and fivefold? The difference lies in the jhana factors (jhan·anga). The first jhana has five jhana factors:

1) application…………………………………………………….(vitakka)

2) sustainment……………………………………………………(vicara)

3) joy………………………………………………………………..(Piti)

4) happiness………………………………………………………(sukha)

5) one-pointedness……………………………………………..(ekaggata)

To attain the second fourfold-jhana, one needs to overcome the first two factors: application and sustainment. That way the second fourfold jhana has only three factors: joy, happiness and one-pointedness. But some meditators are unable to overcome both application and sustainment at once. First they overcome application, and have only four factors: sustainment, joy, happiness, and one-pointedness. That is the second fivefold jhana. Then they overcome sustainment, and have only three factors: joy, happiness, and one-pointedness.That is the third fivefold jhana: the third fivefold jhana is the same as the second fourfold jhana. The rest of the jhanas are accordingly (please see the chart).

Please be aware that in the charts we have made of the mental formations,and the resultant dhammas, we use the fivefold classification, as in the Abhidhamma. When there is access-concentration or jhana, the mind is full of bright, brilliant and radiant light: that is what The Buddha calls the light of wisdom (pannaloka). The brightest, most brilliant, and most radiant light is achievedwith the fourth jhana.[1]

Two systems of Jhanas

II. SUTTA Jhanas and VISUDDHIMAGGA Jhanas

Presently, some still use the words “Sutta Jhanas” to name the “light absorption jhanas” and using the words “Visuddhimagga Jhanas” to name the “very deep absorption Jhanas” [2]. This classification may cause puzzle to many Theravadin readers.

In many Buddhist Suttas, when talking about the Jhanas, Buddha often points out the five Jhana “factors” and the “light of wisdom” in Jhana.So, the concentration state that composes of jhana factors and the wisdom light is the only exact definition of Jhana. Buddhaghosa, the author of Visuddhimagga, didn’t describe the jhanas by exaggerated  qualities but he described the jhanas as they truly are. The tendency which divides the Jhana quality into “Sutta-jhana” and “Visuddhimagga-jhana” is obviously a subjective viewpoint.

 III. MUNDANE Jhanas and SUPRAMUNDANE Jhanas

Samadhi consists of eight Jhanas (four rupa and four arupa).The Jhanas do not release adequate wisdom for supreme enlightenment. Jhana is just a tool (through Vipassana) to realize wisdom. When a practitioner accesses a Jhana, he hasn’t wisdom yet.So his Jhana is called Mundane Jhana. “Mundane” means “still in the Triloka”. When a Saint gets into a Jhana, this Jhana is then called”supramundane”.  Supramundane means “out of the Triloka”.

Two cases just mentioned above show that the truly needed Jhana for Buddhist practitioners is “Mundane Jhana”. All practitioners need mundane jhana as a tool to practice Vipassana in order to get wisdom. When wisdom is enough for man to become a saint, then Supramundane jhana is practiced as he like. This brief disscussion is the answer to the ones who criticize the role of the mundane jhanas [3] in the Right Buddha Dhamma.

 IV. Mental Formations of Exalted Consciousness  

                                                    (mahaggata citta)

All the mental factors which exist in the five Jhanas were described in detail by the Abhidhamma as following:

Mental formations of Exalted consciousness

Note for the chart: the Green color is YES and the dark Brown color is NO

For more easy reading

CONSCIOUSNESS………………………………………..(citta)

MENTAL FACTORS…………………………………………(cetasika )

Universals……………………………………………(sabba·citta·sadhara)

1. contact…………………………………………………   (phassa)

2. feeling……………………………………………………….(vedana)

3. perception……………………………………………………(sañña)

4. volition…………………………………………………………..(cetana)

5. one-pointedness     ……………………………………….(ekaggata)

6. life faculty……………………………………………….(jivit·indriya)

7. attention…………………………………………………..(manasikara)

Occasionals..………………………………………..(pakika)

1. application………………………………………………….(vitakka)

2. sustainment……………………………………………………(vicara)

3. decision…………………………………………………..(adhimokkha)

4. energy………………………………………………………………..(viriya)

5. joy……………………………………………………………..      (piti)

6. desire…………………………………………………………..(chanda)

Beautiful Universals.………………….. (sobhana·sadhara)

1. faith……………………………………………………(saddha)

2. mindfulness………………………………………………..(sati)

3. conscience…………………………………………………

4. shame…………………………………………………….           (ottapa)

5. non-greed………………………………………………………(a·lobha)

6. non-hatred……………………………………………………..(a·dosa)

7. ever-evenness……………………………… (tatra·majjhattata)

8. tranquillity of [mental] body……………….(kaya·passaddhi)

9. tranquillity of consciousness………………(citta·passaddhi)

10. lightness of [mental] body………………………(kaya·lahuta)

11. lightness of consciousness………………………   (citta·lahuta)

12. flexibility of [mental] body…………………….(kaya·muduta)

13. flexibility of consciousness……………………..(citta·muduta)

14. wieldiness of [mental] body…………….(kaya·kammaññata)

15. wieldiness of consciousness……………  .(citta·kammañña)

16. proficiency of [mental] body…………….(kaya·paguññata)

17. proficiency of consciousness………………(citta paguññata)

18. rectitude of [mental] body………………………(kayujukata)

19. rectitude of consciousness………………………(citta ujukata)

Immeasurables….………………………………….(appamañña)

1. compassion………………………………………………..(karu)

2. sympathetic joy……………………………………….(mudita)

Non-Delusion………………………………………(amoha)

WISDOM FACULTY     …………………………..(pañña indriya)

.

By Pham Doan

Notes:

[1] The workings of kamma by Pa Auk Sayadaw, pp 95-96.

[2] Interpretations of jhanas by Leigh Brasington

http://www.leighb.com/jhanantp.htm

[3] The Workings of Kamma by Pa Auk Sayadaw, p. 97.



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