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“The Tathagatha… is the originator of the path unarisen before, the producer of the path unproduced before, the declarer of the path undeclared before. He is the knower of the path, the discoverer of the path, the one skilled in the path. And his disciplines now dwell following that path and become possessed of it afterwards.”
~ The Buddha
SN 22:58

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Dhamma Articles

Should We Come Out of Jhana to Practice Vipassana?

Bhante Gunaratana
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Excerpt of the text:

Can Jhanic concentration penetrate things as they really are? Do we have to come out of Jhana in order to practice Vipassana? Is concentration the same as absorption? If Jhanic concentration is the same as being absorbed by our object of focus then yes, we must leave Jhana to practice Vipassana. But, when we become absorbed into our object of focus, what we are practicing is "wrong" Jhana. When we practice "right" Jhana we will be able to see things as they really are.

When we read how the Buddha used his own fourth Jhanic concentration, as described in many Suttas, we have no reason to believe that he came out of Jhana to develop the three kinds of knowledge: knowledge of seeing the past, knowledge of seeing beings dying and taking rebirth, and knowledge of the destruction of defilements. The Buddha used the fourth Jhana for Vipassana.

Using the English word "absorption" to denote the deep concentration in the Jhana is very misleading. There are many mental factors in any Jhana and the meditator is quite aware of them. When you are aware of these mental factors you are not absorbed into them, but conscious of them or mindful of them. If you are absorbed in the subject you will not understand, nor remember anything.

In this paper we will also consider the question of whether it is best to come out of Jhana to reflect upon the impermanence, suffering, and selflessness of Jhanic factors or to continue into higher Jhanas.

Download a PDF of the article. image

When we read how the Buddha used his own fourth Jhanic concentration, as described in many Suttas, we have no reason to believe that he came out of Jhana to develop the three kinds of knowledge…