How to reconcile these 2 suttas with absorption Jhāna?

Take a read at SN48.36, which defines the 5 types of feelings.

And SN48.40 where the first 2 Jhānas still has feelings of pleasure from the physical body.

If the 5 senses shut down in 1st Jhāna onwards how can it be possible to experience pleasant feelings from the body in the first 2 Jhānas?

These 2 suttas taken together are strong arguments for Jhāna lite is sutta Jhāna at least for the first 2 Jhānas. Is there anyone who defended the absorption Jhānas and address these 2 suttas? I haven’t read much of B. Analayo.

Dear Venerable,

Nina Van Gorkom helped on this point many years ago. Someone asked her about this.

AN V.28

There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from
sensuality, …He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.


Nina van Gorkom: I can understand the confusion. When in jhana he does not feel the body, but the jhanacitta conditions such bodily phenomena.

Vis. IV, 175
> > Now, as to the clause he feels bliss [sukha, pleasant feeling] with the body: here although in one actually possessed of the third jhana there is no concern about feeling bliss, nevertheless he would feel the bliss associated with his mental body [namkayena] and after emerging from the jhana he would also feel bliss since his material body would have been affected by the exceedingly superior matter originated by that bliss associated with the mental body.


Robert: I add the pali alongside

Idāni sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṃvedetīti ettha kiñcāpi tatiyajjhānasamaṅgino sukhapaṭisaṃvedanābhogo
175. Now, as to the clause he feels bliss with his body: here, although in one actually possessed of the third jhāna there is no concern about feeling bliss,
Evaṃ santepi yasmā tassa nāmakāyena sampayuttaṃ sukhaṃ.
nevertheless he would feel the bliss associated with his mental body,
Yaṃ vā taṃ nāmakāyasampayuttaṃ sukhaṃ, taṃsamuṭṭhānenassa yasmā atipaṇītena rūpena rūpakāyo phuṭo, yassa phuṭattā jhānā vuṭṭhitopi sukhaṃ paṭisaṃvedeyya.
and after emerging from the jhāna he would also feel bliss since his material body would have been affected by the exceedingly superior matter originated by that bliss associated with the mental body.

and it carries on:

Tasmā etamatthaṃ dassento sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṃvedetīti āha.
It is in order to point to this meaning that the words “he feels bliss with his body” are said.


I just noticed that unplesant mental feelings in SN48.40 seems to be implied in 1st Jhāna due to the presence of initial and sustained application to keep the object in mind. It’s more relief in 2nd Jhāna when the object effortlessly just stay there.

However, according to Abhidhamma, unplesant mental feelings is always with dosa, which is one of the 5 hindrances which should be overcome before entering the Jhānas.

So how to understand this?

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The sutta:

And where does that faculty of pain that’s arisen cease without anything left over?
Kattha cuppannaṁ dukkhindriyaṁ aparisesaṁ nirujjhati?
It’s when a mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.

thus the sutta expressly states that pain has ceased once entering first jhana.
As you say there can be no dosa and thus no painful mental feeling in first jhana . Also in first jhana the body sense is not experienced so no painful bodily feeling.

The factors of initial and sustained application - do you mean vitakka And vicara? Also translated as applied thinking and sustained thinking. They are particulars (pakinnaka) that can arise with kusala or akusala (or kiriya or vipaka) and so when they arise in jhana citta they cannot arise in association with unpleasant feeling.

And where does that faculty of sadness that’s arisen cease without anything left over?
Kattha cuppannaṁ domanassindriyaṁ aparisesaṁ nirujjhati?
It’s when, as the placing of the mind and keeping it connected are stilled, a mendicant enters and remains in the second absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of immersion, with internal clarity and mind at one, without placing the mind and keeping it connected.
Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu vitakkavicārānaṁ vūpasamā ajjhattaṁ sampasādanaṁ cetaso ekodibhāvaṁ avitakkaṁ avicāraṁ samādhijaṁ pītisukhaṁ dutiyaṁ jhānaṁ upasampajja viharati,

I am talking about this. According to the sutta, it seems that only in 2nd Jhāna does domanassa cease. So it implies 1st Jhāna has domanassa, but Abhidhamma says domanassa is always with dosa.

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I would imagine it is the “dukkha” when one knows the higher jhānas or it is the time for the monk to desire to move to the next jhāna when he considers the faults. Then they realize that this is not satisfactory and desire to go to the other jhānas. On the other hand, dukkhindriya does refer to the faculty of pain which is in the context of sukha & dukkha rather than mental disturbance domanassa.

I can see the commentary to it and get a general notion of what it means.
The meaning is much different than I “guess” above. Generally speaking it is a suppressed pain, but that pain can arise… it is not just the first jhāna but also the 2nd and so forth.

I will discuss this with one of our teachers here.

So I checked with the teacher. He said that it is true that vitakka vicāra are connected to domanassa. However when it comes to the dukkhindriya, it is directly connected with kāyadukkha vedaṇa. Therefore it is similar to the quote “sound is the thorn of first jhāna.” In both the thorn case and this case mentioned, it is actually upacārasamādhi because appana jhāna cannot have either sound or bodily feeling to arise since it is continuous.
This is from the reference to the commentary and the pāḷi parallels and their commentaries.

Just a little side note: I sent the translation from GPT 4.0 to the teacher. He said the translation had only some minor changes needed and nothing that would lead on astray. He said that free GPT which he uses was terrible and not reliable.

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Abhidhamma says domanassa is due to dosa.

Sutta says should overcome 5 hindrances before Jhāna, so no dosa in Jhāna.

There’s a contradiction here then.

The explanation is what it is. Domanassa is “related” to vitakka vicāra. In abhidhamma… anything disliked that is present can be considered domanassa. Abhidhamma is very subtle.

As I said before, this is related to the upacārasamādhi and it is similar to the “sound as a thorn of first jhāna” Besides the “thorn” comment, this is the explanation of the commentaries and the teacher. The teacher said the thorn explanation fits as well.

Feel free to read this. There are two commentary translations related to this parallel.

I don’t see a resolution to the contradiction.

Let’s spell it more clearly here.

  1. 1st Jhāna has domanassa.

  2. 1st Jhāna has no dosa (at all).

  3. Abhidhamma says: domanassa is always with dosa. There’s no such thing as domanassa without dosa.

Only 2 of out 3 statements above can be true at the same time.

Forget about pain, our issue is domanassa, mental displeasure.

A possible resolution is that there can be domanassa without dosa.

The commentaries explain is it upacara when the pain arises.
The other explanation is the tiredness of vitakka and vicāra and the desire to move to another jhāna.

These are both when jhāna has broken.
You should read about how the attainment of first and 2nd jhāna are attained. You have to reflect on the faults of first jhāna. But obviously this is without jhāna. So you need to look in this way. I think we are going circular in our discussion.

  • This sutta does not make sense on its own.
  • The commentaries explain it well.
  • This is why Classical Theravāda is good.

So your solution is that no.1 is wrong. Domanassa arises only when reflecting that vitakka and vicāra is less blissful compared to without them. And that reflection only happens outside of Jhāna. But it doesn’t it contradict:


Regardless of reflection, if a thing is not unpleasant in Jhāna, it shouldn’t suddenly become unpleasant when reflecting on the past.

How about nekkhamma domanassa? In MN137 it seems that it’s actually needed to be used as a stepping stone on the path of development. If all domanassa is with dosa, then Buddha was encouraging dosa (even temporarily)?

Also, arahants can feel physical pain, but certainly has no dosa. Both physical pain and mental unpleasant feelings are classified as unpleasant feelings.

I don’t recall that the Abhidhamma made an allowance for unpleasant physical feelings without dosa in it’s mapping of citta and cetasikas. Did I miss something in my brief Abhidhamma learning?

If the mapping of citta with cetasikas on dosa with unpleasant feelings is not complete, then it stands to reason that not all domanassa arise with dosa. Although I will still say that arahants do not have domanassa. That’s confirmed in another sutta.

To my understanding , you are right if we refer to the word domanassa specifically with out dosa.
But that combination is in akusala-citta’s .
But your primary concern is with domanassa ending in second jhana and how it even creeped until that level where dosa is not expected .For this you again already rightly found it is not mundane-domanassa but nekkhamma-domanassa.

Now that a right context has been established that it is not mundane domanassa ,we can leave the dosa part and pursue what citta represents nekkhamma-domanassa in jhanas.
For this ,if we check rupavacara citta’s we can find it rightly uses jhana-anga instead of the terminology of kamavacara citta’s .
So what among those jhana-anga’s represents nekkhamma-domanassa .
The answer is found in MN-19 that vitakka-vicara leads to mental stress and in MN-19 both mundane-
domanassa and nekkhamma-domanassa cases are covered .
Hence we can treat that our elders have covered this in Abhidhamma under rupavacara citta.

As you know, domanassa-indriya ends in second jhana when vitakka-vicara are shut and so is the formula avitakka-avicara.

Venerable ,

all replies below in good spirit.

It does makes sense if we have read the sutta’s which provide enough background before we reads this.
As you know ,order is important too. Example if one has not read any sutta related to jhana and comes and reads this sutta they might have challenge and needs additional help like commentary.

The commentaries explain well. (please note ,I removed “it”)

Do you want to settle for this less :slight_smile: . It is good for so many great reasons.


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