Mapping the jhana controversy

This point is of considerable relevance to an understanding of the nature of absorption. The issue at stake, simply stated, is whether the first absorption is a deep state of concentration, achieved only after a prolonged period of practice and seclusion, or a stage of relaxed happy reflection within easy reach of anyone and without much need for meditative proficiency.

Bhikkhu Anālayo, Satipatthāna: The Direct Path to Realization

The problem*

It is quite alarming that we can’t definitively agree on what jhāna is. The story goes that after leaving the household life, the Buddha-to-be trained with two meditation teachers, Ālāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta, mastering the spheres of no-thingness and neither-perception-nor-non-perception under their respective guidance. Seeing that these states did not lead to freedom from suffering, he sought another path.… Continue reading...