First Jhaana – the Path to Englightenment

The first sutta extract below is a story told by Lord Buddha about a time when he was a 7 year old prince (a bodhisatta) attending a brahmin style royal ploughing ceremony performed by his father, King Suddhodana. He was left alone briefly while most people were engrossed in the spectacle.

Majjhima Nikaya MN36.31 Mahaasaccaka Sutta: The Greater Discourse to Saccaka (มหาสัจจกสูตร)

“I considered: ‘I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhaana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. Could that be the path to enlightenment?’ Then, following on that memory, came the realisation: ‘That is indeed the path to enlightenment.’

32. “I thought: ‘Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?’ I thought: ‘I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states.’

Majjhima Nikaya MN138. Uddesavibhanga Sutta: The Exposition of a Summary (อุทเทสวิภังคสูตร)

3. “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu should examine things in such a way that while he is examining them, his consciousness is not distracted and scattered externally nor stuck internally, and by not clinging he does not become agitated. If his consciousness is not distracted and scattered externally nor stuck internally, and if by not clinging he does not become agitated, then for him these is no origination of suffering–of birth, ageing, and death in the future.”

11. [spoken by Ven. Mahaa Kaccaana] “And how friends, is consciousness called ‘not distracted and scattered externally? Here, when a bhikkhu has seen a form with the eye, if his consciousness does not follow after the sign of form, is not tied and shackled by gratification in the sign of form, then his consciousness is called ‘not distracted and scattered externally…’

12. “And how, friends, is the mind called ‘stuck internally’? Here, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhaana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. If his consciousness follows after the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, is tied and shackled by gratification in the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, then his mind is called ‘stuck internally.’

13. “Again, with the stilling of applied and sustained thought, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the second jhaana, which has self-confidence and singleness of mind without applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of concentration. If his consciousness follows after the rapture and pleasure born of concentration…then his mind is called ‘stuck internally.’

Passages 14 and 15 similarly cover the third and fourth jhaana. Passages 16-19 cover ‘not stuck internally.’ The way to not be stuck internally is when “if his consciousness does not follow after the rapture and pleasure…” I take this as meaning not hankering after the pleasure and gratification of jhaana.

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