Jhāna and the senses

In the Visuddhimagga it says that the 5 senses do not occur whilst in Jhāna. What is the basis for this claim be it sutta, Abhidhamma or commentarial?

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This is a general way it is understood not quoting any texts.

Bhavanga mind (life-continuum) is considered a stream of weak minds. It is interrupted when a contact of 5sesnses happens. Then bhavanga terminates and 5sense-minds start to arise. After 5sense-minds arisen, they do their work and by nature cease. Then again bhavanga starts to continue.

When someone attain Jhana, the bhavanga ceases and jhana-minds exists like a continuum. This jhana-mind-stream is very stronger than bhavanga-stream. Therefore the contact of 5senses can’t overpower jhana-mind-stream and arise.

(But if there happens a huge sound, the first jhana may be interrupted, since the sound is powerful.)

The commentaries are based on the tipitaka which includes the vinaya, suttas, and abhidhamma.

  • Vinaya: Pārājika 4 mentions about hearing elephant sounds in jhāna. We have discussed this here
  • Sutta: The Buddha said that sound is thorn of jhāna (just like your alarm clock for sleep, if you hear your alarm clock you have emerged from sleep. You can fall back asleep easily if you want without trying or even remembering. If you turn in your sleep, this is an awakening, but you will unlikely remember this. If you hear sounds, you have emerged from jhāna, and can immediately re-enter… often automatically without trying or knowing/remembering.).
  • Abhidhamma: explains how mind door processes work and how sense door processes do not occur.

It would be good if you read many of the posts here. We already explain many things.
My abhidhamma book also explains hearing or not hearing sounds in jhāna in great detail, but you should read all the chapters before that.

In meditation focusing on the 6 senses other than the sign of the meditation object is the very definition of getting distracted.

When someone is altenating between focusing on the meditation object and the 6 senses it is called parikamma samadhi or beginning meditation.

When someone is able to focus on the meditation object uninterrupted for a long(er) time it is called upacara samadhi.

When someone is able to focus on the meditation object uninterrupted for as long as one plan to it is called jhana.

So it is by definition of jhana itself that the 5 senses should not appear while someone is in jhana.

The first two jhana factors are vitakka and vicara which means focusing on the meditation object. If someone is focusing on other thing then vitakka and vicara to the meditation object automatically disappear which means there is no jhana.

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