JHANA FACTORS


TRADITIONAL FACTORS OF THE EIGHT JHANA STATES


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RUPA JHANA: Access Concentration (upacara samadhi)

Suttas
1st Jhana
Abidhamma
1st Jhana
Visudimagga
1st Jhana
sense desires
unwholesome states of mind
vitakkavitakkavitakka
vicaravicaravicara
pitipitipiti
sukkhasukkhasukkha
 ekaggataekaggata
Suttas
2nd Jhana
Abidhamma
2nd Jhana
Visudimagga
2nd Jhana
vitakkavitakkavitakka
vicaravicaravicara
inner tranquillity  
unifying of mind    
pitipitipiti
sukkhasukkhasukkha
 ekaggataekaggata

Suttas
3rd Jhana
Abidhamma
3rd Jhana
Visudimagga
3rd Jhana
piti  
sukkha  
clearly aware  
equanimitypitipiti
mindfulnesssukkhasukkha
 ekaggataekaggata
Suttas
4th Jhana
Abidhamma
4th Jhana
Visudimagga
4th Jhana
 
pleasurepleasurepleasure
 
equanimityequanimityequanimity
mindfulnessupekkhaupekkha
 ekaggataekaggata


The First Absorption (Pathama-jhana) has five factors (vitakka, vicara, piti, sukkha, and ekaggata), which when used properly, disperse the Five Hindrances.

The Second Absorption (Dutiya-jhana) consists of three factors (piti, sukkha, and ekaggata), which suppress vitakka and vicara.

The Third Absorption (Tatiya-jhana) has two factors (sukkha and ekaggata), which eliminate piti.

The Fourth Absorption (Catuttha-jhana), which dispenses with sukkha, has two factors (ekaggata and upekkha—indifferent feeling).


ARUPA JHANA: Absorption Concentration (appana samadhi)

5th JHANA: SPHERE OF INFINITE SPACE
  Suttas    Abidhamma    Visudimagga  
bodily sensations
sense of resistance
perceptions of diversity
Sphere of Infinite Space
 ekaggataekaggata
6th JHANA: SPHERE OF INFINITE CONSCIOUSNESS
SuttasAbidhammaVisudimagga
 
 
Sphere of Infinite Space
Sphere of Infinite Consciousness
 ekaggataekaggata

7th JHANA: SPHERE OF NO-THINGNESS
SuttasAbidhammaVisudimagga
Sphere of Infinite Consciousness
Sphere of No-thingness
 ekaggataekaggata
8th JHANA: NEITHER PERCEPTION NOR NON-PERCEPTION
SuttasAbidhammaVisudimagga
Sphere of No-thingness
Sphere of Neither Perception nor Non-perception
 ekaggataekaggata




"The renowned meditation master, Achaan Chah, was asked during a Questions and Answers Session: 'Is it necessary to be able to enter Absorption in our practice?'

"The Master replied: 'No, Absorption is not necessary. You must establish a modicum of tranquillity and one pointedness of mind. Then use this to examine yourself. Nothing special is needed. If Absorption comes in your practice this is OK. Just don't hold onto it. Some people get hung up with Absorption. It can be great fun to play with. You must know proper limits. If you are wise then you will know the uses and limitations of Absorption, just as you know the limitations of children versus grown men.'"

VENERABLE VISUDDHACARA: Vipassana & Jhana, What the Masters Say


ENLIGHTENMENT? For some it just comes suddenly out of nowhere. For others it transpires after lengthy study and meditation practice. For still others, in all their attempts, it never comes. There is even word for such individuals: Padaparama. A Padaparama is a person whose highest attainment is the text. An individual who, though he encounters the Buddha-teaching or Buddha-doctrine and puts forth the utmost possible effort in both the study and practice of the Dharma, cannot attain the Paths and the Fruition states within this lifetime. All that he can do is accumulate habits and potential. Such a person cannot obtain release from Samsara. However, for those that do, whether it is seemingly all of a sudden or after years of practice, the recipient of whatever the trigger mechanism is, at that exact moment has to be in a fully unhindered, receptive mode.

Although there is no specific one-and-only single way to Englightenment, there are several traditional ways of study and meditation that are layed out in such a fashion that a stronger possibility for a fully unhindered and receptive mode can come to pass. Most follow in some manner the way of the Buddha. The objective of training the mind in Buddhism to reach the level of tranquillity, which is traditionaly done through Samadhi and the Jhana states, just as the Buddha did.

There are typically two levels of concentration associated with the Jhana states: Samprajana Samadhi [Access Concentration (upacara samadhi)] and Asamprajata Samadhi [Absorption Concentration (appana samadhi)] Cultivation of Samadhi to reach Absorption means to exercise the deepest concentration until the mind reaches the state of one-pointedness (ekaggata). Traditionally, when The Five Hindrances are overcome it is called Upacara Samadhi, also known as neighborhood concentration or neighborhood samadhi, where you are right NEXT to jhanas but not fully in them.

Successful cultivation of the initial stages results in discarding of The Five Hindrances and entering into the sublime meditative states of the Five Jhana-factors as follows:

1. VITAKKA------- Applied thinking,

2. VICARA--------- Sustained thinking,

3. PITI--------------- Rapture,

4. SUKHA---------- Bliss,

5. EKAGGATA--- One-pointedness.


CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FIVE JHANA FACTORS


1. VITAKKA

"Vitakka," which refers to ‘applied thinking’, does not mean uneasiness or worry. Here, the word means applied thought or thinking about some object. The characteristic of vitakka is the placing of consciousness (Citta or mind) on the chosen theme of meditation, such as the breath as the theme of mindfulness of breathing.

Vitakka is a mental factor that happens in the mind, but will only happen to some minds. In practicing meditation, if vitakka lifts consciousness to the meditation theme, the mind will be firmly fixed on the object. But if consciousness is lifted to attach itself to objects other than the meditation theme, then it will be impossible for the mind to be in the state of meditation, since vitakka does not perform its intended function. Or, if consciousness is not placed on any object, then it will fall into a passive state (bhavanga) in which no mental progress can be made.

So Vitakka is very important for the cultivation of Samadhi and is a vital factor for attaining Jhana.

2. VICARA

"Vicara" is ‘sustained thinking’ on the meditation theme. Like vitakka, vicara is also a mental factor that happens only to some minds. Its direct function is to take over after vitakka has lifted consciousness to the meditation theme. At that point, vicara will then be responsible for taking care of the mind and making sure that it stays in that state of meditation. If vitakka does not perform its function first, then vicara can do nothing. Or, if vitakka has successfully lifted consciousness to the meditation theme but vicara does not perform its duty, then the mind will fall into the passive state (bhavanga).

Therefore, these two are complementary to each other, with vitakka lifting consciousness to the state of meditation and vicara maintaining consciousness at that level. They can be compared with the following similes:

 (A) The ringing of a bell. Vitakka is the first moment of the mind achieving focus on the theme, like the striking of a bell. Vicara is the subsequent continuance of consciousness on the meditation object, much like the reverberation of the bell.

 (B) The flying of a big bird. Vitakka is like the flapping of the wings of a big bird, lifting itself up from the ground into the air, whereas vicara is like the subtle adjustments of the bird’s wings as it soars through the air, maintaining flight without the violent flapping of its wings.

 (C) The flying of a plane. Vitakka is like a plane taking off from a runway, which requires much fuel and energy. Whereas vicara is like the flight of the plane high in the sky, which requires less fuel and energy to sustain flight.

 So Vicara is more refined and subtle than Vitakka since it must nurture the mind and prevent it from falling from the state of meditation.

3. PITI

 "Piti" is ‘rapture’ or the feeling of full contentment resulting from the peace of mind achieved in Samadhi. It occurs to everyone who practices meditation properly. Even at the very beginning of one’s meditation practice peace of mind is attained and some manifestation of rapture occurs, for example, feeling as if small ants or insects are creeping over the face or feeling a lightness in the body, etc. Piti can happen in many forms and it can manifest itself in different or similar fashions to various meditators. The different forms of manifestation depend upon each person’s accumulated merit which, of course, is not equal. There are five different forms of Piti:

A) Khuddaka-piti------- Minor rapture

B) Khanika-piti-----------Momentary or instantaneous joy

C) Okkantika-piti--------Showering joy or flow of joy

D) Ubbenga-piti----------Uplifting joy or transporting rapture

E) Pharana-piti-----------Suffusing joy or all-pervading rapture

 A) Khuddaka-piti—Minor rapture includes symptoms such as hairs standing on end (sometimes all over the body, sometimes only on the head) or tears flowing, sometimes in copious amounts. This form of piti occurs often but not for long durations. Some meditators will experience this form of piti only on rare occasions, others will experience it regularly, while some will not experience this form at all.

 B) Khanika-piti—Momentary joy. This form of rapture occurs in a moment, like the flash of a slight shock of electricity, sometimes like the gentle tickle of small insects crawling over the face, or like cobwebs brushing the face. Sometimes the body jerks, or the backbone jolts, or the rapid rushing of the blood through the veins will be felt. This piti is experienced by every meditator, but in different ways.

 C) Okkantika-piti—The showering, or flood of joy. Being more thrilling than khanika-piti, it is stronger than a slight shock of electricity. It is more like waves breaking on the seashore. Sometimes it is like sailing on the ocean, being tossed by the waves, and the body is rocked repeatedly. This kind of piti may annoy the meditator since it feels like the ground or the building is moving. Many people believe that the feeling of rapture must be blissful, but this is not true for all kinds of piti. Only the last form of rapture is obviously blissful.

 D) Ubbenga-piti—Uplifting joy or transporting rapture. This form of rapture makes the mind fluffy; sometimes it causes unintentional acts like exclamations and sometimes it lifts the body off the floor. This still occurs to meditators of current times both in Thailand and in other countries. A strong rapture of this kind is able to lift the body and transport it in the air, like the young daughter of a noble family in the Sri Lankan village of Vattakama. The story, as reported in the Path of Purity, is related here for those not familiar with this event:


"The parents of a young girl, before going to the local monastery in the evening to hear the Doctrine, said to her, “Dear, you are heavily burdened and it is not a good time for you to be walking; you are not able. Therefore, we shall hear the Doctrine and make merit to you.” Though she wanted to go, she could not disregard their wise words, so she remained behind at the house. She stood in the doorway of the house looking by moonlight at the courtyard of the shrine, which shown against the sky. She saw the offering of lamps and the four assemblies (Buddhist monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen) doing honor to the shrine by carrying garlands of flowers and scented perfumes as they walked around the shrine.

The sounds of the Brotherhood (monks) chanting were carried to her on the gentle breezes coming from the shrine. Then she thought, “Blessed indeed must be those who can get to the monastery and walk in the courtyard, hearing the holy discourse!” While looking at the shrine, there arose in her the transporting rapture, rising like a mass of pearls. She soared into the night air and descended into the courtyard, even before her parents’ arrival. She saluted the shrine and stood listening to the doctrine.

When her parents arrived and found her there ahead of them they asked, “Dear daughter, by which path did you come?” She replied, “Honored parents, by the skies, I did not come by any other path.” In surprise they said, “Dear daughter, by the sky, it is only for saints purged of cankers and other impurities. How could you have come?” Thus she explained, “As I stood watching the ceremony from the doorway of our house, there arose in me a strong rapture while I contemplated on the Buddha. Then I knew not whether I stood or sat, but I laid hold of a sign and sprang into the sky. In the next instant, I stood in the courtyard of this holy shrine.

(The Path of Purity, pp.166-167)


This story shows that transporting rapture can make people fly like a bird.(see) Hence, we sometimes hear that someone who cultivates Samadhi can float in the air. This is possible because of the power of ubbenga-piti.

 E) Pharana-piti—suffusing or all-pervading joy. This form of piti radiates all over the body. One has ecstatic feelings while experiencing this kind of rapture. This is truly the rapture in Jhana. However, some who have yet to reach Jhana may also be able to experience this form of piti.

4. SUKKHA

 "Sukkha” or ‘bliss’ means being both physically and mentally blissful. The occurrence of piti results in being physically blissful (kaya-passaddhi) and mentally blissful (citta-passaddhi). Generally, piti and sukkha occur together because piti delights in attaining to the desired object, whereas sukkha (bliss) is the enjoyment of what is attained. So when there is rapture there is always bliss; however, when bliss arises, rapture may not necessarily arise.

Rapture is considered an aggregate of mental formations, whereas bliss is considered an aggregate of feelings. For example, rapture is like the delight enjoyed by a tired traveler who sees or hears about nearby water sources or shady woods, while bliss is like the enjoyment of the traveler who has finally arrived at the source of water or shade and utilized their benefits.

 Bliss in Jhana is of a very high extent and is incomparable to worldly happiness. It is far superior to all forms of worldly happiness. One who experiences it will be enamored and full of contentment for a long time. This bliss, born of solitude, even though not yet having attained to Jhana, is a wonderfully enchanted bliss. This is why meditators love to seek it.

Bliss born of solitude promotes mental health which is not comparable to happiness arising from eating, having sex, or possessing fame. Happiness arising from these worldly causes is mixed with suffering, like eating food mixed with poison which is fatal to the unsuspecting or careless eater. Hence, the wise one aims at finding bliss born of solitude rather than the lesser bliss of sensual desires. Although bliss born of solitude is not easy to attain, there are many people who have already experienced it.

One who has attained to Jhana likes to withdraw into it in order to be bathed in bliss as long as he desires. This is called the game of Jhana which surpasses every other kind of game ever played by mankind.

5. EKAGGATA

 "Ekaggata" is ‘one-pointedness of the mind’. Contemplation resulting in deep concentration or absorption is called Jhana and is Appana-samadhi (established concentration). If during meditation practice the mind remains distracted by many thoughts and does not become fixed on one meditation object, then it cannot reach the state of Jhana. Only when the mind is concentrated on one meditation object, for example, the earth device in earth-kasina or the breathing in Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing), and not until the mind experiences what is called one-pointedness (ekaggata) and is in the state of absorption, the mind can achieve success in Appana-samadhi.

It is said that before the attainment of ekaggata, the mind will experience a sudden fall, like going down in an elevator. Then it will reach one-pointedness. Some aspirants are frightened because they have never experienced such a feeling before and do not know what will happen next, so the mind draws back and cannot reach ekaggata. Some even get up from their meditation place for fear of some harm that may come to them. Hence, it is to be regretted that the mind has lost the opportunity to reach one-pointedness.

Therefore, for one who experiences this feeling, it is suggested that one should leave the mind neutral without feeling frightened or overjoyed. One should try to carefully continue the concentration like one who is carrying a container brimful of water without spilling even a drop. Then the mind will automatically reach one-pointedness. When such perfection is attained, the other four factors of Jhana (vitakka, vicara, piti, and sukkha) will be correspondingly developed.

It is apparent how vital ekaggata is since the purpose of cultivation of Samadhi is to develop one-pointedness so that the mind will be brilliant, blissful, powerful, and capable of being fully utilized.


FIRST FOUR JHANAS: UPACARA SAMADHI, rupa jhana (With Form):
Absorption in supporting content (similar to Patanjali's samprajnata samadhi)

Rupa-jhana are of four kinds. They are called rupa-jhana because in developing these jhana, material objects (rupa) are used as the meditation themes:

 1. First Absorption (Pathama-jhana),

2. Second Absorption (Dutiya-jhana),

3. Third Absorption (Tatiya-jhana),

4. Fourth Absorption (Catuttha-jhana).

The First Absorption (Pathama-jhana) has five factors (vitakka, vicara, piti, sukkha, and ekaggata), which when used properly, disperse the Five Hindrances.

The Second Absorption (Dutiya-jhana) consists of three factors (piti, sukkha, and ekaggata), which suppress vitakka and vicara.

The Third Absorption (Tatiya-jhana) has two factors (sukkha and ekaggata), which eliminate piti.

The Fourth Absorption (Catuttha-jhana), which dispenses with sukkha, has two factors (ekaggata and upekkha—indifferent feeling).


The above classification is according to the Sutta, however, according to the Abhidhamma (the Higher Doctrine or Buddhist mataphistic), there are five Jhana factors in the rupa-jhana, as follows:

1. The first Jhana (Pathama-jhana) contains all five Jhana factors.

2. The second Jhana (Dutiya-jhana) contains all Jhana factors except vitakka.

3. The third Jhana (Tatiya-jhana) contains piti, sukkha, and ekaggata while suppressing vicara.

4. The fourth Jhana (Catuttha-jhana) contains sukkha and ekaggata and suppresses piti.

5. The fifth Jhana (Pancama-jhana) contains ekaggata and upekkha, and suppresses sukkha.

To pass through each level of Jhana, the meditator must use Vasi (skillfulness), such as skillfulness to withdraw into and emerge from each of those lofty conditions. They are:

1. Skillfulness in pondering (Avajjanavasi),

2. Skillfulness in entering (Samapajjanavasi),

3. Skillfulness in holding back (Abhitthanavasi),

4. Skillfulness in exit (Vutthanavasi),

5. Skillfulness in reflection (Paccavekkhanavasi).

Skillfulness in pondering: When one who has attained to the state of Jhana is capable, at any time, without sluggishness of pondering upon any of the Jhana factors, then one has succeeded at this Vasi.

Skillfulness in entering: When one who has attained to the state of Jhana is able to enter into Jhana immediately whenever one pleases, then one has succeeded at this Vasi.

Skillfulness in holding back: When one who has attained to the state of Jhana makes a resolution to stay in a specific Jhana as long as he pleases and does so, then one has succeeded at this Vasi.

Skillfulness in exit: When one who has attained to the state of Jhana is able to emerge from any Jhana immediately, then he has succeeded at this Vasi.

Skillfulness in reflection: When one who has attained to the state of Jhana is able to reflect the Jhana without any difficulty, then he has succeeded at this Vasi.


LAST FOUR JHANAS: APPANA SAMADHI, arupa jhana (Without Form):
Absorption without form, leading to increasing rarefaction or incorporeality (similar to Patanjali's asamprajnata samadhi)

One who practices meditation until passing through the first four Jhanas respectively, has reached a very high level of mental practice. However, this is still regarded as achieving to the middle level in Buddhism because there are four additional stages of Jhana: Arupa-jhana. Arupa-jhana is then crested beyond by Insight-meditation Vipassana. See:


PATH OF MINDFULNESS LEADING TO INSIGHT


VIPASSANA MEDITATION




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Jhana Chart inspiration and research via the works of
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Main body of the text researched through BUDDHIST WAY OF MENTAL TRAINING,
Chapter 11 The Elimination of Mental Hindrances