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|Wylie||bsam gtan (pronounced samten)|
Dhyāna in Sanskrit or Jhāna in Pāli refers to a type or aspect of meditation. It is a key concept in Hinduism and Buddhism. Equivalent terms are "Chán" in modern Chinese, "Zen" in Japanese, "Seon" in Korea, and Samten in Tibetan.
Dhyāna in Hinduism[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Dhyana in Hinduism
The Bhagavad Gita, thought to have been written some time between 400 and 100 BCE, talks of four branches of yoga:
- Karma yoga: The yoga of action in the world
- Jnana yoga: The yoga of Wisdom and intellectual endeavor
- Bhakti yoga: The yoga of devotion to God
- Dhyana yoga: The yoga of meditation
Dhyana in Raja Yoga is also found in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Depictions of hindu yogis performing dhyāna are found in ancient texts and in statues and frescoes of ancient India temples. Kshatriya Siddhartha Gautama studied dhyāna during his early years away from his kingdom.
Dhyāna in Buddhism[edit | edit source]
In the Theravada tradition[edit | edit source]
In the Pali Canon the Buddha describes four progressive states of absorption meditation or Jhāna. The Jhānas are said by the Buddha to be conducive to detachment but they must not be mistaken for the final goal of nibbana. The Jhānas are states of meditation where the mind is free from the five hindrances (craving, aversion, sloth, agitation, doubt) and incapable of discursive thinking. The deeper Jhānas can last for many hours. When a meditator emerges from Jhāna, his/her mind is empowered and able to penetrate into the deepest truths of existence.
There are four deeper states of meditative absoption called the immaterial attainments. Sometimes these are also referred to as the "formless" Jhānas, or Arupajhana (distinguished from the first four Jhānas, Rupajhana). In the Buddhist canonical texts, the word Jhāna is never explicitly used to denote them, but they are always mentioned in sequence after the first four Jhānas.
Jhānas are normally described according to the nature of the mental factors which are present in these states
- Movement of the mind onto the object, Vitakka (Sanskrit: Vitarka)
- Retention of the mind on the object, Vicāra
- Joy, Pīti (Sanskrit: Prīti)
- Happiness, Sukha
- One-pointedness, Ekaggatā (Sanskrit: Ekāgratā)
- Equanimity, Upekkhā (Sanskrit: Upekṣā)
- First Jhāna (Vitakka, Vicāra, Pīti, Sukha, Ekaggatā)
- The five hindrances have completely disappeared and intense unified bliss remains. Only the subtlest of mental movement remains - perceiveable in its absence by those who have entered the second Jhāna. The ability to form unwholesome intentions cease.
- Second Jhāna (Pīti, Sukha, Ekaggatā)
- All mental movement utterly ceases. There is only bliss. The ability to form wholesome intentions cease as well.
- Third Jhāna (Sukha, Ekaggatā)
- One half of bliss disappears (joy).
- Fourth Jhāna (Upekkhā, Ekaggatā)
- The other half of bliss (happiness) disappears, leading to a state with neither pleasure nor pain, which the Buddha said is actually a subtle form of happiness (more sublime than pīti and sukha). The Buddha described the Jhānas as "the footsteps of the tathāgata". The breath is said to cease temporarily in this state.
Traditionally, this fourth Jhāna is seen as the beginning of attaining psychic powers.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
These 5 psychic powers are also known as Pancha Abhigna.
The scriptures state that one should not seek to attain ever higher jhanas but master one first, then move on to the next. 'Mastery of jhana' involves being able to enter a jhana at will, stay as long as one likes, leave at will and experience each of the jhana factors as required. They also seem to suggest that lower jhana factors may manifest themselves in higher jhanas, if the jhanas have not been properly developed. The Buddha is seen to advise his disciples to concentrate and steady the jhana further.
In Mahayana traditions[edit | edit source]
In East Asia, several schools of Buddhism were founded that focused on dhyāna, under the names Chan, Zen, and Seon. According to tradition, Bodhidharma brought Dhyāna to the Shaolin temple in China, where it came to be transliterated as "chan" ("seon" in Korea, and then "zen" in Japan).
Dhyāna in Jainism[edit | edit source]
is called Samayika.
See also[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
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- The Jhanas -thesis by Ven.Henepola Gunarathana
- The Jhanas by Ajahn Brahmavamso
- Explanations of jhana by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
- Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (log in with userID "guest")
- The Buddha's descriptions of the first four states of dhyana in the Pali Canon (Anguttara Nikaya V.28)
- Dhammakaya Meditation
-  Dhyan
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