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Buddhists/Questions on the Jhanas

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Question
Dear Justin Choo,

Another of the experts here invited me to ask a different expert my questions, being that he felt himself not knowledgeable on the topic of jhanas. Would you help with them?

(1) Does the object of meditation remain in the mind when the practitioner is in the third and fourth jhanas? (2) How does ekaggata without vicara differ from ekagatta with it? (3) In the Sama˝˝aphala Sutta, Buddha discusses using the fourth jhana as a means of directing the mind to the ending of the mental fermentations, or āsava. I assume (possibly erroneously) that this refers to beginning vipassana meditation while sustaining the fourth jhana. How does this work?

Answer
Good afternoon Anthony,

Most likely you would have done some researches and asked many Buddhists about your queries above.  It is difficult to find perfect answers when we approach Buddhist teachings along the line of academic or scholastic discipline.  In my profile, I admit that I am not a Buddhist scholar and I answer questions in simple layman's language.   As such you may find my answers inadequate if you have very high expectation of scholastic interpretation of the Buddha's teachings.

(1) Does the object of meditation remain in the mind when the practitioner is in the third and fourth jhanas?

From the text, jhanas are achieved through the attainment of "Full Concentration", during which there is a complete, though temporary, suspension of sense activities.  To me, this would mean that the object of meditation would not be in the mind when one experiences jhana.

(2) How does ekaggata without vicara differ from ekagatta with it?

Ekagatta means "one pointedness" and vicara means "sustained attention".   Again from the text, first jhana contains both experiences.  It is through "sustained attention" that one enters the first jhana.  On reaching the second jhana, vicara slips into the background.

(3) In the Sama˝˝aphala Sutta, .........

As you know, suttas were translated from the original Pali text.  I don't know how correct and exact they are.  I personally find reading the suttas a very tiring mental exercise.  Perhaps one needs to be quite intelligent to able to absorb and understand fully the Buddha's actual discourses.  As such I relied on learning the Buddha's teachings from other learned monks and teachers.  

Regards,
Justin Choo

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Justin Choo

Expertise

All your questions will be answered, and you may not have to agree with the answers. Such is the beauty of Buddhism. I follow the Theravada tradition, and have been studying Buddhism for more than 50 years. As I am not a Buddhist scholar, I answer in simple language, and I prefer answering general questions rather than textual.

Experience

I was brought up in the 50's as a Buddhist. For the past 50 years I have read numerous books on Buddhism and listened to numerous talks on Buddhism by well-respected and learned monks and lay teachers. I have conducted Buddhist classes for parents of Sunday School children in a Theravada Buddhist Temple. My teacher was the late Chief Reverend, The Ven. K Sri Dhammananda of The Brickfields Buddhist Mahavihara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can view the relevant website in memory of my revered late teacher @ http://www.ksridhammananda.com and my blog posting at http://blackandwhite999.blogspot.com/2008/08/my-revered-teacher.html

Organizations
I am a life member of the Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia.

Publications
YOU ARE INVITED TO VISIT MY BLOG @ http://lifeislikethat999.blogspot.com/ Published a book called "The Rainbow And The Treasure". It is a compilation of extracts from various sources to introduce Buddhism to beginners. (Currently out of print)

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Commerce And Administration, Victoria University Of Wellington, NZ.(1974)

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