Detailed Notes for Session Two of “The Role of Jhāna in
Buddhist Meditation”, by Bhante Henepola unaratana!
Buddhist "ibrary, Sin#apore! No$ %&, '(%&!
There are two ways of o$er*o+in# fetters,
%! Burnin# the+ ) -f we awa.en the awareness of
i+per+anen*e, unsatisfa*toriness and not)self, we *an destroy
fetters! /etters are li.e roots of weeds! 0ou need to uproot
the+ to be rid of weeds!
'! Suppressin# the+ ) o$er*o+in# hindran*es te+porarily!
-n +editation, 1hāna fa*tors wor. as a tea+, hindran*es wor. as
another tea+! These two tea+s *ountera*t one another!
The hindran*es are powerful defile+ents whi*h a*t as fetters!
0ou need the supra)+undane 1hānas 2i!e! path and fruition of the
strea+)enterer, on*e)returner, non)returner and arhat3 to destroy
How to #et there4
Mindfulness is an i+portant fa*tor for ri#ht *on*entration!
Mindfulness and *on*entration are two sides of the sa+e *oin!
They +ust both be pra*ti*ed to a*hie$e our #oal!
-n the third 1hāna, the 1hāna fa*tors are bliss, e5uani+ity and
+indfulness! Mindfulness e+er#es in the third 1hāna!
Mindfulness is also the 6th fa*tor of the Noble 7i#htfold 8ath!
To#ether with +indfulness, *lear *o+prehension also e+er#es in
the third 1hāna!
-n 1hāna pra*ti*e, we need to ha$e *lear *o+prehension of
+editati$e purpose, suitability, do+ain, and non)delusion!
8urpose +eans we need to .now why we want to pra*ti*e 1hāna!
The purpose is to see thin#s as they are, the sa+e purpose as for
Suitability +eans +editation sub1e*t should be suitable for our
Do+ain +eans our body, feelin#, per*eptions, and
*ons*iousness, whi*h for+ the 9 do+ains for +indfulness
The Buddha did not tea*h +editation usin# .asinas! The Buddha
in$ariably used the breath for +indfulness pra*ti*e to #ain
insi#ht as well as to #ain 1hānas! The breath is suitable for our
purpose be*ause when we use the breath, the +ind unites with
the breath! :s the +ind unites with the breath, the +ind ta.es on
the *hara*teristi*s of breath! Sin*e the breath is pure, *lean,
without ha$in# any #eo#raphi*al, national, ethni* or pro$in*ial
differen*es, it is uni$ersal! Therefore the +ind also be*o+es
pure, *lean, without any of these dis*ri+inations of pla*e, ti+e,
situations, ethni* ori#ins and so on! :nd therefore breath is 5uite
suitable for usin# to #ain *on*entration! :nd also, breath is non
deluded, be*ause it is so si+ple, and we personally without any
doubt *an e;perien*e what the breath does, how we #ain
*on*entration 2usin# it3! So, *lear *o+prehension is also $ery
i+portant for #ainin# 1hāna!
Then what are the benefits of 1hānas4 -n the suttas, the Buddha
*alled 1hānas “indul#in# in pleasures”! -ndul#in# in pleasures is
not a part of our wholeso+e pra*ti*e! But in $arious pla*es 2in
the Suttas3, four .inds of indul#en*es are hi#hly re*o++ended!
<hat are the four .inds of indul#en*e4 -t is attainin# the four
1hānas! <hen you attain 1hāna, your +ind is te+porarily *al+,
pea*eful, rela;ed and free fro+ idiosyn*rasies! So firstly, to
+a.e the +ind pea*eful and *al+, 1hāna is ne*essary!
Se*ondly, it is i+portant to #ain deep *on*entration to penetrate
superfi*iality of $arious thin#s, and to see thin#s e;a*tly as they
are! So+eti+es, it +ay not be absolutely ne*essary obtain 1hāna
to see thin#s as they are, but at least we ha$e to ha$e 1hāni*)
5uality *on*entration! 0ou +i#ht ha$e *o+e a*ross in Buddhist
literature stories of people attainin# dha++a tal.s, and at the
end of the tal., they attain strea+)entry! Durin# that ti+e, they
ha$e not obtained 1hāna, but the *on*entration of their +ind at
that ti+e is of 1hāni* 5uality, li.e Sariputta!!!!Their +ind was
free fro+ hindran*es! The +o+ent +ind be*o+es free fro+
hindran*es e$en te+porarily, the +ind is $ery *lear and sharp
and *on*entrated! :ttainin# 1hāna is e$en better, but the
+ini+u+ re5uire+ent to see thin#s e;a*tly as they are is the
attain+ent of a**ess *on*entration at least!
Then, potential pitfalls of 1hāna, So+eti+es you .now, when
your sittin# is $ery *o+fortable, posture is *o+fortable,
at+osphere is *o+fortable ) not hu+id, not too hot, not too *old
) and pla*e is relati$ely pea*eful, not too +u*h noise, e$eryone
is 5uiet, and you *o+e after +eals and so forth, all these are
$ery #ood fa*tors to put you to sleep! <hen you are sittin# on
*ushion for %( +ins, you feel so sleepy, sleepiness is so sweet,
you wel*o+e it, and you #et su*.ed into this drowsiness, and
$ery soon you fall asleep! :fter about an hour, hearin# the bell
you wa.e up, and you say “- ha$e attained the 9th 1hāna”! That
is one pitfall! That is what is *alled a hindran*e! - thin. you +ay
ha$e e;perien*ed this .ind of attainin# 1hāna +any ti+es!
/riends, as - +entioned yesterday, sittin# 5uietly is ne*essary!
Ma.in# the body rela;ed is ne*essary! Re+o$in# $arious
psy*hi* irritants te+porarily is ne*essary! But that alone is not
enou#h to attain 1hāna! <e +ust re+ain alert, +indful and fully
aware of what is #oin# on! -f we lose our awareness, our fo*us,
our steadiness, and si+ply be*o+e totally *ollapsed, rela;ed, it
is not enou#h! To +aintain the body in a steady position, we
+ust ha$e full awareness of our posture! /ull awareness of what
is happenin# in us and around us, so that we *an +aintain our
:nd also when people sit to +editate, they ha$e $arious types of
$isual i+a#es! :nd they thin. these i+a#es are the si#n of
*on*entration be*ause we tal. about si#n of *on*entration,
“ni+itta”! :nd when they see all these $isual i+a#es they thin.
that they are #oin# to #ain *on*entration and ne;t +o+ent they
fall asleep! :nd sin*e they saw this si#n and then they fall
asleep, they thou#ht that they attained 1hāna!
:nd 1oy arises, happiness arises, tran5uility arises, $arious types
of pea*eful +ental states arise, all these so+eti+es *an be
i+pedi+ents, and we +ust be able to o$er*o+e the+!
Then, in order to #ain 1hāna, we need to ha$e *ertain a+ount of
dis*ipline! /riends, we *annot rush into 1hāna! <e ha$e to ha$e a
lot of patien*e, dis*ipline! The Buddha said, they hi#hest austere
pra*ti*e is patien*e! -f you try to attain 1hāna $ery 5ui*.ly, and
be*o+e i+patient thin.in# “- do not ha$e +u*h ti+e and ha$e
to attain 1hāna 5ui*.ly,” you will not attain 1hāna! So patien*e is
absolutely ne*essary! <ith patien*e, we dis*ipline oursel$es in
+orality! Morality is a $ery bi# ter+! This is *alled “sila” in 8ali!
<hen you hear “sila”, you +i#ht thin. it +eans = pre*epts, %(
pre*epts and so on! -t is that too, but there is another +eanin# of
sila, it is *alled .usala sila! >usala sila +eans wholeso+e habits!
:.usala sila +eans unwholeso+e habits! !!!<hen we attain
strea+)entry, one of the fetters we ha$e to destroy is *alled
“*lin#in# to unwholeso+e habits”! So when it *o+es to
+editation and 1hāna, we +ust learn to let #o of these
unwholeso+e habits, and *ulti$ate wholeso+e habits! "yin# for
e;a+ple is an unwholeso+e habit, honesty is a wholeso+e
habits! <hen you lie all the ti+e it be*o+es an obsession, an
addi*tion, and this we ha$e to let #o!
Then, we +ust let #o of all our unne*essary #reed, wishin# to
#ain, to a*hie$e so +any unne*essary thin#s! -f we *an learn
that, we *an learn to be *ontent! ?ontent+ent is +a.in# the
+ind *al+, rela;ed, *os when the +ind is full of needs and
ne*essary thin#s, then +ind is a#itated, e;*ited, and it won@t
:nd then, restrainin# the senses, seein#, hearin# and so on!
7spe*ially durin# the ti+e we +editate! <hen we hear a sound,
how to restrain the ears when we hear a sound4 The sound hits
our ear)dru+s and we *an hear it! But we should not let the +ind
be a#itated be*ause of the sound! -f the sound is pleasin#, it *an
easily tri##er our #reed, our desire, our *ra$in# for the sound!
That ti+e we ha$e to use +indfulness to restrain our +ind fro+
de$elopin# *ra$in# to #o on listenin# to the sound! -nstead, we
use the sound to see how i+per+anent the sound is! :ny sound
arisin# is not per+anent! -t is fadin# away! -f we restrain our ear
and hear the sound, all we noti*e is a fadin# away of the sound!
That way, we won@t +a.e the #reed arise! Si+ilarly, when we
s+ell, when +ental i+a#es arise, we restrain our +ind fro+
#ettin# a#itated, arousin# our #reed, an#er, and so on!
Then se*lusion! :s +entioned, there are ' types of se*lusion,
+ental and physi*al! Mental se*lusion is redu*in# $arious types
of +ental defile+ents!!!!se*lusion fro+ #reed, this is related to
restrainin#, *ontent+ent! 7spe*ially fro+ = hindran*es, we +ust
be se*luded! Then +indful refle*tion! :s +entioned,
+indfulness is a part of 1hāna +editation, therefore when
so+ethin# arises, we ha$e to use +indfulness to refle*t on it, to
see how it arises, how it passes away, so that we will not #et
a#itated, e;*ited with e+otions! Then pra*ti*in# Noble A)fold
8ath, that is bi# sub1e*t, and so+eone who honestly and
sin*erely wants to #ain *on*entration, they +ust follow the
Noble A)fold 8ath $ery +eti*ulously and sin*erely, otherwise,
#ainin# *on*entration will be $ery diffi*ult! These are the
re5uire+ents of #ainin# *on*entration, presented briefly!
Then the ne;t $ery i+portant step of pra*ti*e is wishin# the best
for oneself and others! <hat does that +ean4 That +eans
pra*ti*in# +etta, lo$in#)friendliness! Bne of the benefits of
+etta is helpin# you #ain *on*entration $ery 5ui*.ly! Be*ause
the opposite of +etta is an#er! <hen an#er arises how *an you
*on*entrate4 The +ind be*o+es $ery upset, a#itated, e;*ited,
and it is al+ost i+possible to attain *on*entration! <hen you
pra*ti*e +etta it +a.es you *al+ and pea*eful, and you #ain
*on*entration $ery 5ui*.ly! !!!Metta is i+portant be*os it
o$er*o+es an#er! <e be#in our +editation pra*ti*e with +etta
for this $ery purpose! Durin# the ti+e we +editate, if any an#er
or resent+ent arises, we #o ba*. to our +etta pra*ti*e! So our
+etta pra*ti*e .eeps refreshin# our +ind +a.in# it pea*eful,
*al+, rela;ed!!!and we #ain *on*entration!
!!!!The ne;t i+portant thin# to #ain *on*entration is to use
+indfulness of breathin#! <hen we use the breath as an ob1e*t
of *on*entration, what happens4 Breath and +ind be*o+es one!
The breath is first #ross, slowly it be*o+es subtle! :s the breath
be*o+es subtle, the +ind also be*o+es subtle, *lear and slowly
breath is fadin# away! :s the breath fades away! we +i#ht not
e$en feel the breath! Sin*e the +ind has already be*o+e united
with breath! <hen breath disappears, +ind already is $ery *lean,
*lear, and #ains *on*entration $ery 5ui*.ly! <hen we #ain
*on*entration usin# breath, althou#h breath disappears, +ind@s
5uality in*reases! -t be*o+es *lean and pure! :nd *on*entration
appears $ery 5ui*.ly!
Then, so+eti+es we *an use four ele+ents!!!!for instan*e earth
ele+ent! 7le+ent we *annot see, or tou*h, but we *an .now
ele+ents throu#h their *hara*teristi*s! 7arth ele+ent is $ery
fir+, so, when we try to pra*ti*e usin# earth ele+ent, 2we
refle*t3 “Sin*e earth ele+ent is fir+, let +y deter+ination and
pra*ti*e re+ain fir+!” :lthou#h earth ele+ent is o**upyin#
spa*e, and it is hard, earth ele+ent itself is not per+anent! “-t is
not +e, not +yself, not -, does not belon# to +e”! So we see
2this3 with +indfulness, then +ind settles down without #ettin#
*onfused! -f we see the earth as +ine, then desire arises! <hen
we thin. the earth is +yself, then *onfusion arises! -f we are
atta*hed to earth ele+ent, then #reed arises! ?ra$in#, wron#
$iew of self, *on*eit will fade away, when we see the reality of
earth ele+ent as “not +ine, this is not -, this is not +yself! -t is a
pheno+enon! -t is there, it is i+per+anent, it passes away, and it
is not +yself”! <hen we see this as it is, +ind settles down,
#reed, *on*eit and *onfusion te+porarily fade away, and that
helps us to #ain *on*entration! So ea*h ele+ent should be used
to #ain true understandin#!
Then, in order to #ain 1hānas, without pre$ious pra*ti*e, if we
try to #ain 1hāna we *annot #ain it! <e ha$e to .eep in tou*h
with the pra*ti*e! That +eans, we +ust do the pra*ti*e daily!
8eople who +editate daily, they learn to o$er*o+e *ertain
diffi*ulties ) a*hes and pains and so on ) and are able to sit in
one pla*e for *ertain period of ti+e! -n order to #ain
*on*entration, we ha$e to sit in one pla*e! -n any other posture,
#ainin# *on*entration is al+ost i+possible! <ith +o$e+ent,
#ainin# *on*entration is al+ost i+possible! Therefore, sittin# in
one pla*e, 5uietly, .eepin# the body still, is ne*essary! 0ou
*annot do this all of a sudden, you ha$e to train the body to sit
steadily! Therefore daily pra*ti*e !!!sittin# at least for one hour,
is ne*essary!!!to *ondition the body, and that *onditionin# is
i+portant to #ain 1hāna! This are a few preli+inary thin#s to
Cuestion and :nswer,
%D <hat is *lear *o+prehension4
?lear *o+prehension is understandin# $ery *learly without any
*onfusion the purpose of pra*ti*e and +editation! Then, the
suitability of the sub1e*t of +editation to obtain the #oal, that
purpose! Then the do+ain, the field of +editation! /ourth is
non)delusion! <e +ust *learly understand the purpose! There are
= purposes #i$en in Maha)Satipat Et Ehāna Sutta, at the $ery outset
of the dis*ourse! <hat are they4 8urifi*ation of our bein#,
purifi*ation of our +ind! 8urifi*ation of our bein# +eans
nothin# but the purifi*ation of our +ind! There is this thi*. boo.
“8ath of 8urifi*ation” 2The Fisuddhi+a##a3 ) the entire boo. is
dealin# with how to purify our +ind! That is one purpose of
+editation ) purifyin# the +ind! Se*ond, to o$er*o+e sorrow
and la+entation arisin# fro+ within oursel$es due to underlyin#
tenden*ies *alled defile+ents! Due to defile+ents we ha$e
sorrow and la+entation! Third purpose, to o$er*o+e pain and
#rief! Not physi*al pain ) physi*al pain we *an o$er*o+e by
ta.in# +editation and e;er*ise and so on ) but real pain is
+ental pain! /or +ental pain also there are re+edies throu#h
psy*holo#y and psy*hotherapy, but the real psy*hotherapy is to
re+o$e the root of +ental pain! <ithout dealin# with the root of
+ental pain we *annot *ure the pain! The root of +ental pain
also are our #reed, hatred and delusion! The fourth purpose, to
follow the Noble 8ath! To thread the path! The ri#ht path! To
fold oursel$es into the ri#ht path we pra*ti*e +editation! The
fifth purpose is to liberate oursel$es fro+ all sufferin#! This is
the first *lear *o+prehension, understandin# this =)fold purpose!
<hy we +editate4 Not to +a.e +u*h +oney, we +i#ht e$en
lose +oney when we +editate! Not to #et popularity, we +i#ht
e$en lose popularity! Farious tri$ial, superfi*ial thin#s, that
people .eep in +ind when they +ediate, these are not the
Then 'nd *lear *o+prehension is suitability! <hat we pra*ti*e,
when we pra*ti*e, does this suitable for attainin# that #oal and
purpose4 Mindfulness pra*ti*e, use *ertain sub1e*t to pra*ti*e
+indfulness pra*ti*e, does this help us to finish to #oal! This we
ha$e to understand $ery *learly no *onfusion, <hy we pra*ti*e4
/or this purpose! -s this pra*ti*e suitable for attainin# that #oal4
That is *lear *o+prehension!
Third *lear *o+prehension is the do+ain, what is our field of
+editation4 Nothin# e;ternal! <e are not +editatin# on outside
people, e*ono+i*s, politi*s, history, te*hnolo#y, *o+puter, *ell)
phone ) No! Bur do+ain is ourself ) our body and +ind! -n our
body and +ind we ha$e all the ne*essary and suffi*ient thin#s to
de$elop our +ind! Be*ause of not .nowin# our own body and
+ind, we are totally *onfused! Nobody *an +a.e us happy, no
+atter what thin# are there outside! But .nowin# oursel$es,
.nowin# our +ind and body *an +a.e us happy! So that is our
do+ain ) +indfulness of body, feelin#s, *ons*iousness, and
+ental states! -n the Buddha@s +editation syste+, dealin# only
with our own body)+ind! Nothin# else! Gnderstand this *learly!
/ourth *lear *o+prehension is non)delusion! <e are not usin#
any of these sub1e*ts of +editation to tea*h that this body is
+ade up of so+e .ind of per+anent substan*e! Mind is not
+ade up of so+e per+anent substan*e, feelin#s and so on, they
are all i+per+anent, +ade up of per+anent substan*e! Body are
+ade up of ele+ents, ele+ents are i+per+anent, if ele+ents are
i+per+anent, how *an body be per+anent4 Body is also
i+per+anent! <e ha$e to ha$e non)deluded +ental state, *lear,
*orre*t, una+bi#uous +ental state! This is *alled *lear
'D <hat are the fi$e Spiritual /a*ulties4
The fi$e spiritual fa*ulties are faith, perse$eran*e or effort,
+indfulness, *on*entration and wisdo+! Saddhā, $iriya, sati,
sa+ādhi and paHHa! :*tually, in e$ery #roup 2e!#! 6 fa*tors of
enli#hten+ent, = spiritual fa*ulties, = powers3 *on*entration is
in*luded! Therefore it plays a *entral part, a *entral role in