jhana vs silent illumination or other zen methods

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Re: jhana vs silent illumination or other zen methods

Postby songhill » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:02 pm

robby wrote:
lowlydog wrote:
songhill wrote:The meditation by which the Bodhisattva (Siddhartha) became buddha/awakened was dhyâna (Pali, jhâna).


Jhana meditation existed before the buddha, the buddha realized and mastered the 8th jhana but still had not achieved full awakening.

Using this high level of concentration to observe the mind body phenomenon is what caused wisdom to arise and this experiencial wisdom fully liberated Siddhartha.


There are various views on this. Some would say that the higher jhanas lead to insight. Others might say that the jhanas are supplemental practices, that lead to samatha (calm abiding) and that vipassana (direct insight) is achieved through cattaro satipatthana ; the four establishments of mindfulness.

I tend to think it is either or both and a bit more.

The Samadhi Sutta gives dittha-dhamma-sukha-vihara; blissful abiding in the here and now, as the attainment from rupa jhana; the four fine material absorptions. Then, what appears to be a kind of formless meditation. perception of [inner] light mediation, is mentioned. The attainment from this is called yathabhuta-nana-dassana; knowing and vision of reality as-it-is. Some sources give nirodha samapptti; attainment of cessation, as an ultimate 9th jhana,

The Samadhi Sutta also gives sati-sampajanna ; mindfulness with Complete Discerning Alertness as the attainment from cattaro satipatthana the four establishments of mindfulness. Then, observation of the rising and falling of the Five Clinging Aggregates is mentioned. From this, Asava-khaya; the elimination of inflows and outflows, is attained. In the Satipatthana Suttam the Buddha ends by saying "This is the only way, o bhikkhus, for the purification of the minds of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the cessation of dukkha, for reaching the right path, for the attainment of Unbinding (nirvana), namely the Four Establishments of Mindfulness."

Elsewhere, the Luminosity Sutta seems to say that the mind becomes defiled, thus preventing clear discernment. Citta Bhavana; cultivation of the mind, frees one from defilement. This makes the mind luminous, and one is able to discern correctly. I would say the cultivation of the mind includes Correct Effort, Correct Concentration, and Correct Mindfulness, They all work together.

Given busy lifestyles, it is difficult to do everything. Over the ages, some teachers have tried to come up with simpler, less complicated practices that include all three elements. Others focused on one of them. Still others abandoned contemplative practices in favor of devotional practices. Everyone here is sorting it out in their own way. The important thing is to make a sincere effort to practice something that works for us each day, I'd say strive for a minimum of 20 minutes every morning and 20 minutes evening evening.


Chinese Zennists like Tsung-mi (Zongmi) understood dhyâna (chan) to mean "mental training" as well as "thought calming". It was equivalent to concentration (ding) and wisdom (prajñâ). The fundamental source of dhyâna is the fundamentally awakened True Mind (ben jue shen xin) also called "Buddha Nature" which is primordial mind (xin di).
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