What is right concentration?


I’ve often heard that for commentaries, jhânas are not necessary to achieve liberation and that access concentration might be enough if used correctly.
I have the impression that this implies that right concentration is not limited to jhanic concentration.

Yet in DN 22 (Maha Satipatthana Sutta), right concentration is explicitly defined as attaining the 4 jhânas.
This seems to contradict the assumption that right concentration is not limited to the jhânas.

“Monks, what is right concentration?

“Monks, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unwholesome phenomena, a monk attains and remains in the first Jhāna, which has thought, evaluation, and the rapture and happiness produced by seclusion.

“With the abatement of thought and evaluation, one attains and remains in the second Jhāna, which has internal serenity, mental focus, no thought, no evaluation, and has the rapture and happiness produced by concentration.

“With the fading of rapture, one attains and remains in the third Jhāna, and is equanimous, mindful, and completely aware, experiencing happiness through the body – what the noble ones call ‘one who is equanimous, mindful, and happy.’

“With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the prior disappearance of elation and depression, one attains and remains in the fourth Jhāna, which is neither painful nor pleasant and has purity of mindfulness and equanimity.

“Monks, this is called ‘right concentration.’

Where did I go wrong?

Thank you in advance.

May all beings extinguish greed wherever greed can be extinguished.

Yes friend, Jhāna is not necessary to attain Liberation, it is mentioned not only in commentaries, but also in Suttas.

In many Suttas, the Buddha defines Sammā Samādhi as the 4 Jhānas.

In some Suttas, it is defined as the 8 attainments ( culminating in the 8th Arūpa Jhāna, Nevasaññānasaññāyatana).

This is how the Buddha generally explained it to the listeners, according to the suitability.
But please bear in mind, one Sutta alone can give all answers.

You mentioned the Mahā Satipatthāna Sutta.
The Mahā Satipatthāna Sutta does not mention Sīla, the 5, 8, 10 or 227 precepts are not mentioned. What do you think, without Sīla, can you properly practice the Satipatthāna? Without Sīla, it is possible to attain Jhāna, Magga, Phala?
Indeed not possible.
Even if the Buddha didn’t mentioned in the Satipatthāna, Sīla is necessary.
But the audience of the Satipatthāna knew about it.
Also the Satipatthāna Sutta didn’t mentioned the 8 samāpatti. What do you think, 8 samāpatti are not Sammā Samādhi? Is that not even better than 4 Jhāna?

Now what is a Commentary?
Atthakathā explain so many unexplained points in the Suttas who are only general guidelines, suitable for the audience.
For instance, how do you move from the breath into Jhāna? How do you develop Abhiññā?
What object to use to attain Arūpa Jhāna?
What are thr materiality derived from the four elements?
Without Atthakathā it is not possible to know it and to practice it.
Atthakathā were necessary even from the time of the Buddha: that is the words of the Teachers to the Students.

Now we come to the subject of Upacāra Samādhi.
In many Suttas the listeners attain Sotapatti without getting objects like breath, just by listening the Buddha about talk on Dāna Sīla and so on, or by hearing a small Gāthā like the Venerable Sāriputta. They could not attain Jhāna with this objects but they attained Stream entry on the spot.
Also there are some suttas were the Budfha explain Jhāna as not necessary for Attainment (Susima sutta).

Therefore definitely, Jhāna is not always necessary, but it is much better and powerful, that is why the Buddha always mention this level of Samādhi, in order to gladen and encourage the mind of the listeners to this level of Samādhi and also for the Dhamma beauty and the suitability to the listeners and so on.


Thank you very much for your help !!!

However, this is a pity, because it seems that the Susima Sutta shows that arupa jhânas are not necessary, but it does not say that rupa jhânas are not necessary.

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There are many examples of people who attained enlightenment (various stages) without attaining jhāna.

In Susima Sutta, actually, the Buddha made the Venerable Susima to attain Arahantship by guiding him through Vipassanā, without any Jhāna. Then Susima Bhante realised he was wrong to assume that Arahantship was the fruit of Samatha: indeed, he understood Arahantship was the fruit of Vipassanā.
Morever, Abhiññās are mentioned - those Arahants who can not see their former births, who can not see rebirth of beings in various planes after their passing away (Dibba Cakkhu ) it includes no Rūpavacara Jhāna : because Abhiññā are the outcome of the four Jhānas.
Another reason why four Jhāna are mentioned in the Noble Eightfold Path: because it is the level of Samādhi at the time of Attainment, that is why we can say all Ariyas have attained at least the first Jhāna pertaining to the Noble Path ( wich is different from Jhāna attained by Samatha and so on).

Now, as another example of someone who attained Path Fruition without Jhāna : the householder Upāli while listening a Dhamma talk by the Buddha:

“atha kho bhagavā upālissa gahapatissa anupubbiṃ kathaṃ kathesi, seyyathidaṃ – dānakathaṃ sīlakathaṃ saggakathaṃ, kāmānaṃ ādīnavaṃ okāraṃ saṃkilesaṃ, nekkhamme ānisaṃsaṃ pakāsesi. yadā bhagavā aññāsi upāliṃ gahapatiṃ kallacittaṃ atha muducittaṃ vinīvaraṇacittaṃ udaggacittaṃ pasannacittaṃ, atha yā buddhānaṃ sāmukkaṃsikā dhammadesanā taṃ pakāsesi – dukkhaṃ, samudayaṃ, nirodhaṃ, maggaṃ. seyyathāpi nāma suddhaṃ vatthaṃ apagatakāḷakaṃ sammadeva rajanaṃ paṭiggaṇheyya, evameva upālissa gahapatissa tasmiṃyeva āsane virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ udapādi – ‘yaṃ kiñci samudayadhammaṃ sabbaṃ taṃ nirodhadhamma’nti. atha kho upāli gahapati diṭṭhadhammo pattadhammo viditadhammo pariyogāḷhadhammo tiṇṇavicikiccho vigatakathaṃkatho vesārajjappatto aparappaccayo satthusāsane”

“Then the Buddha taught the householder Upāli step by step, with a talk on giving, ethical conduct, and heaven. He explained the drawbacks of sensual pleasures, so sordid and corrupt, and the benefit of renunciation. And when he knew that Upāli’s mind was ready, pliable, rid of hindrances, elated, and confident he explained the special teaching of the Buddhas: suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path. Just as a clean cloth rid of stains would properly absorb dye, in that very seat the stainless, immaculate vision of the Dhamma arose in Upāli: “Everything that has a beginning has an end.” Then Upāli saw, attained, understood, and fathomed the Dhamma, beyond doubt, rid of indecision, and self-assured and independent of others regarding the Teacher’s instructions.”

In this Sutta the standard of progressive Dhamma Talk is given, and the mind of the listener becomes rid of hindrances.
When the mind of the listener is free from hindrances it is suitable for Vipassanā and after that the Buddha expounds the Truth
This friend, is called in other words, Upacāra Samādhi. Not Jhāna, because it is attained through progressive instruction, not by Absoption into a single object.


Thank you so much for these enlightening words!

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According to Theravada the Jhanas are necessary. There are two types of Jhana. Samatha Jhana, or absorption, and insight Jhanas which are momentary absorption. The Expositor also talks about Jhanas in terms of those which take nimittas as their object and those which take the characteristics as object.

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No friend, please we should be aware of the real Teaching of the Buddha and what says the Theravāda Heritage, not personal misinterpretation.

According to the Buddha’ s Teaching, there are three kinds of Jhāna :

Rūpavacara Jhāna : 1st to 4th Jhāna, take as object Ānapānassati, four Brahmavihāra, 10 Kasinas, 10 Asubha, or Kāyagatassati.
They give rebirth in Brahma world.

Arupavacara Jhāna : Ākāsañancāyatana, Viññānanañcāyatana, Akiñcāyatana, Nevasaññāsaññāyatana.
They give rebirth in the Formless Brahma World.

Lokuttara Jhāna : Sotapatti Magga, Sotapatti Phala, Sakadagami Magga , Sakadāgāmi Phala, Anāgāmi Magga, Anāgāmi Phala, Arahatta Magga, Arahatta Phala.
They take Nibbāna as object and are contacted only by Ariya Puggala.

Beside that, there is no Jhāna. It is not possible to attain mundane Jhāna by doing Vipassanā, because of the profundity of the objects (ultimate) and their Characteristics (Generals or Ti Lakkhana.)

Momentary Jhāna is playing with the words or it means misunderstanding.

The real meaning is: no Jhāna. Khanika is momentary or access Concentration while doing Vipassanā. There is no Jhāna in it, it is impossible.


I might be wrong. But I think that knowledge of causes is required and knowledge of past lives is required for dependent origination.

The pa-auk manuals explain that there is a difference between abhinnya and seeing past lives with the 5 khanda in vipassana method.

Knowledge by abhinnya is knowing the clan name, village name etc. Very vivid details about many things. Vipassana knowledge knows quite a few things, but the details on that level are often missing. However, the 5 past khandas can be understood as well as the causes for the next 5 khandas.

Because Enlightenment requires one to do Dependent Origination
Because Dependent Origination requires 3 lives model (at a minimum).


Yes Bhante Paticcasamupāda at the stage of Paccaya Pariggaha Ñāna (Cause Discernment Knowledge) means to discern past and future existence at the Nāma Rūpa level.
And only few.
And that is necessary in order to develop further other Knowledge and attain Path Fruition, as said in Susima Sutta.

Pubbenivasanussati Ñāna Abhiññā means to see many previous lives up to many Eons, with Jhāna Power only.
This Knowledge comes to Jhāna Lābhi persons who have the past supportive conditions to do so.


Most methods called “pure insight” claim this step is not necessary, even though skipping steps is not possible and mentioned in the suttas (rathavinītasuttaṃ). However, the pa-auk method still covers these items but based on pure vipassana knowledge without abhinnya.