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Anguttara Nikaya IX.36

Jhana Sutta

Mental Absorption


"I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana...the second jhana...the third...the fourth...the sphere of the infinitude of space...the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness...the sphere of nothingness. I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception.

"'I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana.' Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said? There is the case where a monk, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perceptions, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, a void, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite -- the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all the acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'

"Suppose that an archer or archer's apprentice were to practice on a straw man or mound of clay, so that after a while he would become able to shoot long distances, to fire accurate shots in rapid succession, and to pierce great masses. In the same way, there is the case where a monk...enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perceptions, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, a void, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite -- the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all the acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'

"Staying right there, he reaches the ending of the mental fermentations. Or, if not, then -- through passion & delight for this very property [the discernment inclining to deathlessness] and from the total wasting away of the first of the five Fetters [self-identity views, grasping at precepts & practices, uncertainty, sensual passion, and irritation] -- he is due to be reborn [in the Pure Abodes], there to be totally unbound, never again to return from that world.

"'I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana.' Thus it was said, and in reference to this was it said.

[Similarly with the other levels of jhana up through the sphere of nothingness.]

"Thus, as far as the perception-attainments go, that is as far as gnosis-penetration goes. As for these two spheres -- the attainment of the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception & the attainment of the cessation of feeling & perception -- I tell you that they are to be rightly explained by those monks who are meditators, skilled in attaining, skilled in attaining & emerging, who have attained & emerged in dependence on them."

Source: ATI - For Free Distribution Only, as a Gift of Dhamma.

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Tolerance and Diversity by Bhikkhu Bodhi


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