Ebook buddhist meditation - a critical analysis of the jhpnas in theravpda buddhist meditation

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  • 1.e B UDDHANET' S BOOK LIBRARY E-mail: bdea@buddhanet.net Web site: www.buddhanet.net Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc. in Theravada Buddhist Meditation Henepola Gunaratana A Critical Analysis of the Jhanas A Critical Analysis of the Jhanas

2. 2 A Critical Analysis of the JhA Critical Analysis of the JhA Critical Analysis of the JhA Critical Analysis of the Jhnasnasnasnas in Theravin Theravin Theravin Theravda Buddhist Meditationda Buddhist Meditationda Buddhist Meditationda Buddhist Meditation bybybyby Henepola GunaratanaHenepola GunaratanaHenepola GunaratanaHenepola Gunaratana submitted to the Faculty of the College of Arts and Science of the American University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy 1980 The American University Washington, D.C. 20016 THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 3. 3 This book is dedicated to my dear parents and teachers. Bhante Gunaratana was born in 1927 in a small village in Sri Lanka and was ordained at the age of 12 as a Buddhist monk. At the age of 20 he was given higher ordination in Kandy in 1947. At the invitation of the Sasana Sevaka Society, Bhante Gunaratana went to the United States in 1968 to serve as Hon. General Secretary of the Buddhist Vihara Society of Washington, D.C. He has also pursued his scholarly interests by earning a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The American University. He is the author of Come and See, The Path of Serenity and Insight, The Jhanas and Mindfulness In Plain English. Venerable Gunaratana is the abbot and the president of the Bhavana Society, a Forest Monastery and Retreat Centre in West Virginia, U.S.A. 4. 4 A Critical Analysis of the JhA Critical Analysis of the JhA Critical Analysis of the JhA Critical Analysis of the Jhnasnasnasnas in Theravin Theravin Theravin Theravda Buddhist Meditationda Buddhist Meditationda Buddhist Meditationda Buddhist Meditation bybybyby Henepola GunaratanaHenepola GunaratanaHenepola GunaratanaHenepola Gunaratana ABSTRACT This work provides an analytical study of the jhnas, an important set of meditative attainments in the contemplative discipline of Theravda Buddhism. Despite their frequent appearance in the texts, the exact role of the jhnas in the Buddhist path has not been settled with unanimity by Theravda scholars, who are still divided over the question as to whether they are necessary for attaining nibbna. The primary purpose of this dissertation is to determine the precise role of the jhnas in the Theravda Buddhist presentation of the way to liberation. For source material the work relies upon the three principal classes of authoritative Theravda texts the Pli Tipi aka, its commentaries, and its sub-commentaries. To traditional canonical investigations modern methods of philosophical and psychological analysis are applied in order to clarify the meanings implicit in the original sources. The examination covers two major areas: first the dynamics of jhna attainment, and second, the function of the jhnas in realizing the ultimate goal of Buddhism, nibbna or final liberation from suffering. Regarding the first issue it is shown that Theravda Buddhism treats the process of jhna attainment from a philosophical perspective which views the mind as a complex of factors alterable by methodical training. The eight attainments of jhna four fine material jhnas and four immaterial jhnas are examined individually in terms of their components and in their progressive scale of development. Also discussed are the supernormal powers of knowledge (abhis) resulting from jhna and the connections between the jhnas and rebirth. Regarding the second issue, the work brings to light several significant findings concerning the soteriological function of the jhnas. Fundamental to the conclusions in this area is the discovery that the Theravda tradition distinguishes two kinds of jhna, one mundane (lokiya), the other supramundane (lokuttara). Mundane jhna, comprising 5. 5 the eight attainments, belongs to the concentration group of the threefold Buddhist discipline morality, concentration, and wisdom. Supramundane jhna is the mental absorption immediately concomitant with the higher realizations called the supramundane paths and fruits, which issue from the full threefold discipline. Theravda Buddhism regards the mundane jhna as neither sufficient nor indispensable for reaching liberation. They are insufficient as they only suppress the defilements and must be supplemented by wisdom. They are optional rather than indispensable since they need not be developed by all practitioners. Meditators belonging to the vehicle of serenity utilize jhna to produce the concentration required as a basis for wisdom, meditators belonging to the vehicle of bare insight can employ a lower degree of concentration without achieving mundane jhna. But supramundane jhna pertains to the experience of all meditators who reach the paths and fruits, since these latter always occur at a level of jhnic absorption. The dissertation also explains the two approaches to meditation and shows how they lead by stages to the higher realisations. The supramundane jhnas are examined analytically both in themselves and in comparison with their mundane counterparts. Also discussed are two additional attainments connected with the jhnas fruition and cessation. Finally, by means of a canonical sevenfold typology, the relation of the various grades of liberated individuals to the accomplishment of mundane jhna is investigated. The conclusion emerges that though liberation from suffering, the ultimate goal of the discipline, is attainable by wisdom with or without mundane jhna, Theravda Buddhism places additional value on liberation when it is accompanied by mastery over the jhnas and skill in the modes of supernormal knowledge. 6. 6 CONTENTS Abstract.......................................................................................................................... 4 Preface ........................................................................................................................... 7 Chapter one..................................................................................................................... 10 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 10 Chapter Two .................................................................................................................... 25 The Preliminaries to Practice....................................................................................... 25 Chapter Three.................................................................................................................. 37 The Conquest of the Hindrances.................................................................................. 37 Chapter Four ................................................................................................................... 68 The First Jhna and its Factors .................................................................................... 68 Chapter Five.................................................................................................................... 99 The Higher Jhnas ....................................................................................................... 99 Chapter Six.................................................................................................................... 129 Beyond the Four Jhnas............................................................................................. 129 Chapter Seven ................................................................................................................161 The Way of Wisdom...................................................................................................161 Chapter Eight .................................................................................................................191 Jhna and the Noble Attainments ...............................................................................191 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 221 Glossary 234 7. 7 PREFACE The teaching of the Buddha is essentially a path leading to the cessation of suffering. Central to this path is the practice of meditation. Meditation may be considered the heart of applied Buddhism, to which all the preliminary stages of the path lead and out of which the higher stages flow. One of the most important aspects of Buddhist meditation is a set of attainments called, in Pli, the jhnas. The jhnas are encountered repeatedly in the scriptural texts of early Buddhism. They were instrumental in the Buddhas own achievement of enlightenment and recurrently enter into the course of training he formulated for his disciples in the stage of the path preparatory to the higher insights, in immediate association with the liberating wisdom, and again in the end as a spiritual endowment of the fully liberated man. It is the purpose of the present work to examine the jhnas in order to determine their role in the Buddhist spiritual discipline. The perspective from which they are viewed is that of Theravda Buddhism, the Buddhist school to which the author belongs as a fully ordained monk. Theravda Buddhism is probably the oldest continuous Buddhist tradition, maintaining the most accurate record of what the Buddha himself actually taught. Theravda Buddhist meditation, inclusive of the jhnas, has been reliably treated by several contemporary writers of scholarly stature. The present work, however, approaches the jhnas from a different angle. Whereas most scholars deal principally with the topics of meditation and only incidentally with the jhnas themselves, in our dissertation we focus primarily upon the jhnas as they are in their own nature, trea