Let's Compare Meditation Instructions from Suttanta Only and Abhidhamma and Commentaries, etc

I think it would be a good exercise to compare the teachings on meditation instruction based on Vinaya mūḷa and Suttanta mūḷa only versus Classical Theravāda Teachings (Vinaya, Sutta, Abhidhamma, plus commentaries).

We should ask our lovely nonCT friends what they can come up with (obviously in other groups and not here) and then copy what was found here… Then compare with what CT has to say (although this could get very extensive on our side). However, I’ve sort lost interest on the other groups. So if you are one who dances with danger on the other side, perhaps you can ask them where the information is.

For instance. Where is the information on light or Earth Kasiṇa. Attainment of the arūpa jhānas? How to attain jhāna and what that really means and how that is compared to momentarily being happy and having 5 factors (which could be any type of happy mental state).

This would by far be the best challenge for the nonCT, since the important thing about Buddhism is Practice. I think both sides agree with this, yet I’m sure they think we don’t practice.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Sense objects during Jhana?

It would be good if there was a summary rather than endless cross links. If you can please try to show what is said, and then also compare with the classical Theravāda explanation.

It is for sure to see that classical theravāda will have a definitive and detailed explanation.

For instance… is there any explanation of jhāna in sutta only besides the 4 jhāna stock phrase which has a small simile for each and a list of the jhāna factors? These items could be stretched into many different interpretations. As one friend joked to me… “I have jhāna factors… vitakka vicāra pīti sukha ekagatta …” these can happen in any wholesome or even unwholesome happy mind, but obviously the monk who was joking did not have jhāna nor was he making any claims.

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Nice post by Ven. Dhammanando!
I moved it to a topic that is about the (wrong) idea that sense objects could be experienced during jhana.


Thanks @RobertK. Bhante @bksubhuti, I’m sorry that I can’t give a detailed essay on this subject - that’s way beyond my pay grade. :pray:

What I personally think is useful about those discussions of the nature of jhāna is that they provide a detailed discussion of what the suttas say about the matter. As Ven Dhammanando says, the Theravada position on the matter was argued at the Third Council pre Visuddhimagga. I do understand that this Forum takes the Commentaries, Visuddhimagga, etc as authoritative, but this material may be helpful in arguing against the idea that the Theravada view on depth of absorption in jhāna contradicts the suttas.

Amongst Non CT tradition, there’s 2 views of Jhānas.

  1. Hard/deep Jhāna, 5 sense doors shut down even in firsr Jhāna. Mainly represented by Ajahn Brahm and the monastics at sutta central. Meditation instructions is found in YouTube, “ajahn brahm meditation retreat”

  2. Jhāna lite, where 5 sense doors do not need to shut down. This is prominent across most other teachers of non-CT, basically almost everyone other than from no. 1. Bhante Kumara came out with a book: What You Might Not Know about Jhāna & Samādhi

I am more into the deep Jhāna camp, so I haven’t read Bhante Kumara’s book.

As for Vipassana part, I think perhaps the main reflection I am using is impermanence, suffering and not self nature, try to see 5 aggregates, 6 sense doors as not self. Not going so much into breaking down mentality and materiality as listed in the abhidhamma.

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The Abhidhamma is all about ‘seeing’ the aggregates (khandhas) 6 sense doors (ayatanas) and dhatus (elements) as not self.

Here are the first 3 chapter headings of the Vibhanga (translated as Book of Analysis).

Analysis of :
1. Aggregates
2. Bases
3. Elements

In the Introduction to the Vibhanga (Pali text society)
Iggelden writes

It is all very well to say ‘I know what needs to be done to break
the continuity of rebirth and death’. In fact very few people know of
even the most elementary reasons for the continuity of process, let
alone of breaking it. It is the detailed description, analysis and
reasons given for this cyclic process that the scriptures spend so
much care in putting before us.
It is all very well to say ‘What do I want to know all these
definitions of terms for, it only clutters the mind?’The question is,
though, how many people when they seriously ask themselves as to the
extent and range of some such apparently simple terms as greed,
hatred and ignorance, can know their full and proper implications and
manifestations within their own thoughts and actions…This the
scriptures are at pains to make clear to even the dullest

He goes on in a similar vein for pages.
I hope you will study it Venerable. Abhidhamma is much more than theory if we grasp that it applies to each moment of life. It is a description of reality by the Blessed One.

So vipassana and Abhidhamma are not different as vipassana confirms directly what has been said in the Abhidhamma.



This article got me kicked out of suttacentral. In short, while Ajhan Brahm talks of nimittas, when one enters “jhāna” with his method, the perception of light disappears according to his teaching. Many might guess it is bhavanga since the nimitta disappears. Dark Jhāna is a little poetic and paints a negative picture, but that is what it is. Furthermore, it is not according to CT.

While people assume that he teaches many how to attain his dark jhāna. That is not true for monstics. While I’m not sure about the current stats. From insider information, he has not taught any monks who to attain his dark jhāna that still follow him. There was one monk, but he does not follow ajahn brahm after the split. According to word in the monk world… this had first jhāna and a little bit of 2nd. There was nobody else… This statistic is maybe since 2011.

When I asked Ajahn Brahm this directly… “How many monks have 4th jhāna that you have taught?” He said, “Not many, I have not counted” … that is technically the truth since there were none to count. I knew the answer, but wanted to confirm it. That was the answer I got. Sayalay Dipankara talks about black jhāna. It is in her book and also in a video.