According to Pa-Auk, when someone is in jhana, are they still aware of breathing?


I know that during the fourth jhana, there is no more inhalation/exhalation. So I suppose that during the other rupajhana, there is still inspiration/expiration.
But according to Pa-Auk, the jhanas are without the 5 senses. In my opinion, this implies that we cannot be conscious of breathing.

So does the Pa-Auk position consist in saying that during the first 3 rupajhana, the breath exists but we are not aware of it? Thank you in advance.

May all beings reach the state where there is nothing left to do.


Theoretically speaking, no, even for first Jhana. The patibhaga nimitta is the object. Nothing else should be known. Not even the breath. Practically, they might know as they slip in and out of Jhana momentarily and only remember the time they came out. Like sleeping through a rain storm, you think you heard it the whole night but you were sleeping most of the time.

To attain 4th Jhana you have to totally forget about whether you are breathing or not too. You cannot have that as a test that you attained. However when you emerge you will know you were not breathing. If you have weak concentration (judged by high standards) and cannot attain 4th Jhana , you might not be comfortable in this attainment.


Dear venerable bhante,
So, if the patibhaga is the object, it implies that the meditator has to switch from meditation on breath to meditation on the patibhaga. If patibhaga is light, it would imply the meditator actually switches to meditation on light (ākāsakasina).

  1. At what moment should the meditator switch from breath to patibhaga?
  2. If the patibhaga is light, does that mean that the jhana is jhana of akasakasina and not anapanassati jhana?
  3. Or otherwise, is there any difference between anapana jhana and akasakasina jhana?
  4. In jhana there should be five factors of jhana, including ekaggata (i.e., full concentration on the object). Or, if there is no concentration on breath in jhana, do you also mean that there should be no jhana factors in jhana?

Is my understanding correct? Or how should I understand it? :sun_with_face:


The object even when focusing on the breath is the paññatti of the breath. The yogi does not really “switch” because the object is the paññatti. The yogi should not switch until the breath and the patibhāga nimitta are the same. If they are different or two different objects… then one should continue to focus on the breath as paññatti. When they are the same, the object is said to be unified according to pa-auk method.

no… it is different from light kasina. Ajahn Brahm thinks there is not difference in jhāna but that is his opinion. He has a dark jhāna method even though he mentions nimittas. I wrote about that on my website. “dark jhāna ajahn brahm” will give a direct google hit.

See previous answer. There is a difference. There should be a strong knowing of what your object is. It is a triple rooted citta.

5 jhāna factors should be present as well as 34 cetasika (I hope i got the number correct) The 19 sobhana cetasikas should be present as well as knowledge/wisdom. So many people don’t understand the 19 sobhana cetasikas and ajahn brahm seems to have trademarked “Beautiful” as if it were his own invention.

I hope this helps. Furthermore, as far as your previous opinion categorizing upakilesa as light (has that changed?), it is only in terms of thinking that the light is the attainment of enlightenment.

In summary, the paññatti object with paññā is the object. It should be a strong knowing as a representation of whatever object you are focusing on. Knowledge and light are synonymous with the mulaa and commentary texts as well as cross cultural modern languages.

Trust it.

The jhāna process is a mind-door-only series of cittas that is continuous. There is no room or time for other processes to occur, unless one has an impure jhāna (which is common). it is mentioned in mula Pārājika 4 text and story which you memorized in pāḷi. The commentary explains further about ven Mahamoggalāna and his attainments.


You say: “when they are the same, the object is said to be unified according to pa-auk method.”

  1. Does that mean that the ekaggatā of jhāna is the one-pointedness of the paṭibhāga nimitta?

  2. If ekaggatā in jhāna is the paṭibhāga nimitta, then what is the ekaggatā in the fourth jhāna? If it is the paṭibhāga nimitta, then, as paṭibhāga nimitta is unified with the breath (i.e., they are the same thing), then even in the fourth jhāna the paṭibhāga nimitta should include breath and hence there should be breath in the fourth jhāna. Am I correct? And if not, how should we understand it?

Thank you very much for directly addressing these questions. In loving-kindness, we know that there is no fourth jhāna on loving-kindness simply because there is no sukha in the fourth jhāna, so it would not be possible to concentrate on loving-kindness in the fourth jhāna because fourth jhāna simply does not include the main object of loving-kindness: peace. If so, it also should not be possible to attain fourth jhāna on breath, because fourth jhāna does not include breath.

Let me know whether I have understood correctly or what is the correct understanding.

Thank you so much for your kindness and patience in getting the answers. I am sure this is one of the most important practical discussions here in classicaltheravada. :sun_with_face:


yes… there is only one object… we both know that is the meaning of ekaggatā . The patibhaga paññatti of breath.

The concept of the breath become most pure and bright in fourth jhāna. Ekaggata on the paññatti is most powerful then.

More on paññatti:
Suppose I had a white car, a white flower and a white cloth.
When I look at these objects, when should I change my focus on white?
The answer is that whiteness should be focused on at all times. The beginning middle and end.
What if the physical object is taken away? There is no problem. It is in the mind.

Regarding objects being the same… white , light, anapana etc.
On the opposite end, you are asserting that all 3 objects are the same just because of the color.
An anapana nimitta is different from white kasina. They can indeed appear as similar objects… but the knowing is different.

Perhaps that is why ven Buddhaghosa chose the write the example of Earth Kasina. It is often a mystery why he did that … but it is not really a mystery. He explains the difficulties in anapana very clearly. Furthermore, Earth Kasina is for all temperaments.


Dear venerable sir,
Your answer still does not seem to explain to me why loving-kindness is not possible in the fourth jhana whereas breath is. Couldn’t the loving-kindness become limitless in the fourth jhāna (and even in the fifth jhāna as we learn from Mettāsahagatasuttaṃ (SN and its limitlessness become the most pure and limitless form in the fourth jhāna? Ekaggata of the fourth jhāna would be on the paññatti of peace.

Earth kasina does not require sukha or breath, so it makes sense it can lead up to the fourth jhāna. If there is no breath in the fourth jhāna, then it makes sense that it would not be possible to achieve the fourth jhāna on the object of breath. So, I wonder if the breath is actually removed, and instead, it is substituted by upekkhā, just like in loving-kindness.

Or let me know what I am missing here. :sun_with_face:


But how then? Does this arise in one in whom the third jhána has already arisen on the basis of the earth kasióa, etc.? It does not. Why not? Because of the dissimilarity of the object. It arises only in one in whom the third jhána has arisen on the basis of loving-kindness, etc., because the object is similar.
VSM ñanamoli 311

  1. Equanimity is characterized as promoting the aspect of neutrality towards beings. Its function is to see equality in beings. It is manifested as the quieting of resentment and approval. Its proximate cause is seeing ownership of deeds (kamma) thus: “Beings are owners of their deeds. Whose13 [if not theirs] is the choice by which they will become happy, or will get free from suffering, or will not fall away from the success they have reached?” It succeeds when it makes resentment and approval subside, and it fails when it produces the equanimity of unknowing, which is that [worldly-minded indifference of ignorance] based on the house life.
    vsm page 312

I cannot speak about what is not in the book. I think you have read this in pāḷi and with the tika… so I wonder if you know the answer already?


My subjects of research, practice, and teaching are loving-kindness, repulsiveness of the body, and observing the mind. Therefore, I am confident in anything directly related to these three practices.

Although I practiced anapana for several years about 15 years ago, it is not a subject of my present research, practice, or teaching. I am ready to learn about anapana from you or anyone else who is knowledgeable & experienced.



The objects that most interest me are the khandhas, the ayatanas and the dhatus, the realities appearing every mement, so not objects that are suitable for developing mundane jhana. Thus I am a out of my depth in this topic but I can add something from a layman`s perspective (one who has no experience at all in jhana).

Maranasati and Dhammanusati and metta do feature from time to time as
I think these objects of samatha can and should be reflected on in daily life.

Regarding metta, when we meet people, or even see them in the street are we concerned about them at all, or indifferent.
If my children are playing with other children do I feel metta for all of them - or is it indifference for the other children and attachment for mine.
If the man in the car in front of me is driving too slowly do I have metta or is the mind state one of irritation.
If I read about the wrong doer being sentenced to prison- do I feel indifferent or glad or do I have karuna for him. Or at least do I reflect wisely on kamma and its results.

If irritation with someone does arise an effective way to reduce it is explained in vism. ix 38.

But if he is still unable to stop it in this way, he should try resolution into
elements. How? “Now, you who have gone forth into homelessness, when you
are angry with him, what is it you are angry with? Is it head hairs you are angry
with? Or body hairs? Or nails? … Or is it urine you are angry with? Or
alternatively, is it the earth element in the head hairs, etc., you are angry with? Or
the water element? Or the fire element? Or is it the air element you are angry
with? Or among the five aggregates or the twelve bases or the eighteen elements
with respect to which this venerable one is called by such and such a name,
which then, is it the materiality aggregate you are angry with? Or the feeling
aggregate, the perception aggregate, the formations aggregate, the consciousness
aggregate you are angry with? Or is it the eye base you are angry with? Or the
visible-object base you are angry with? … Or the mind base you are angry with?
Or the mental-object base you are angry with? Or is it the eye element you are
angry with? Or the visible-object element? Or the eye-consciousness element? …
Or the mind element? Or the mental-object element? Or the mind-consciousness
element you are angry with?” For when he tries the resolution into elements, his
anger finds no foothold, like a mustard seed on the point of an awl or a painting
on the air.

I think before developing metta to a higher degree it should become a familiar object in daily life interactions


It is so impressive how the vism. explains the details of the various jhanas and the objects.
One important point is that before gaining second jhana one must have mastered first jhana.

iv 129 When a beginner has reached the first jhána in this sign, he should enter
upon it often without reviewing it much. For the first jhána factors occur crudely
and weakly in one who reviews it much. Then because of that they do not become
conditions for higher endeavour. While he is endeavouring for the unfamiliar
[higher jhána] he falls away from the first jhána and fails to reach the second.

  1. Therefore he should acquire mastery in the five ways first of all with
    respect to the first jhána. Herein, these are the five kinds of mastery: mastery in
    adverting, mastery in attaining, mastery in resolving (steadying the duration),
    mastery in emerging, and mastery in reviewing. “He adverts to the first jhána
    where, when, and for as long as, he wishes; he has no difficulty in adverting;
    thus it is mastery in adverting. He attains the first jhána where … he has no
    difficulty in attaining; thus it is mastery in attaining” (Paþis I 100), and all the
    rest should be quoted in detail (XXIII.27)

  2. When he has once acquired mastery in these five ways, then on emerging
    from the now familiar first jhána he can regard the flaws in it in this way: “This
    attainment is threatened by the nearness of the hindrances, and its factors are
    weakened by the grossness of the applied and sustained thought.” He can
    bring the second jhána to mind as quieter and so end his attachment to the first
    jhána and set about doing what is needed for attaining the second.


Perhaps one day in the near future we will meet in person. I think it will happen soon as we discussed. I’d like to learn about your method during that time as well.