Tag Archives: jhana

The Nattering Nabobs of Nibbāna

Footprint of the Buddha. 1st century, Gandhara...

In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4 H Clubs – the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history. – Spiro T. Agnew, 1970

I’ve noticed something interesting about the Secular Buddhist movement. Many Secular Buddhist practitioners don’t seem to be comfortable with the idea of Nibbāna. Fascinating, but I find this makes me very sad. It seems in their attempt to make Buddhism more palatable to themselves some Secular Buddhist are willing to throw out the most extraordinary and life changing event that the Buddha has to offer to us – the experience of Nibbāna and for some, the complete ending of suffering and stress.

This isn’t surprising, really. Those of us that have grown up in mainstream U.S. society pride ourselves in a “realistic,” “hard-nosed,”  “down to earth” attitude. You can’t build a continent spanning railroad by reading tarot cards nor can you decide which mountain pass to cross by reading tea leaves. But this attitude has two downsides, both of which are present in a conversation I recently had with another Western Buddhist. I’ve edited our conversation to make it easier to read and to remove names. Emphasis is mine:

Them: [1] I for one can’t accept anything that is based on mystic beliefs…the Buddha said not to believe anybody, including himself, and to be a light onto yourself. If I can’t verify an experience for myself it really holds no value to me. My religion is Kindness and my faith is forgiveness…

Me: Do you think the experience of Nirvana is a mystical experience? It is an experience outside time and space. It is an experience is completely outside the normal experiences of the six senses. Is that mystical?

Them: [1] I don’t believe in Nirvana or Enlightenment as my goal in practice. I believe in chipping away delusion and developing compassion and forgiveness. [2] Maybe I go against the stream of the traditional Buddhists, but I like to see myself as an American Buddhist.

First, many mainstream Westerners hold onto a rigid view that the current orthodox views of science offers a complete picture of the world and of the human experience. I don’t think this is true. My first two academic degrees were in Mathematics and Physics and one of the best parts of my scientific training was that I learned the strengths and limitations of the scientific method. I don’t believe science explains everything. Perhaps someday science will advance to the stage where it can explain and predict the aspects of our lives that currently are considered spiritual, but it isn’t there yet.

The second issue is more subtle and, I hate to say it, something I missed. When I showed this paper to a friend of mine who has studied Orientalism, the first thing she said was that the statement “Maybe I go against the stream of the traditional Buddhists [e.g., Asian], but I like to see myself as an American Buddhist” was on the edge of being racist and at the very least showed a dismissive attitude towards Asian culture. I have to agree. At some level (probably unconscious) a belief in the superiority of mainstream Western culture helped form that statement. “Americans are too advanced to believe in the nonsense of mysticism, unlike the Asian practitioners.”  I realize it is impossible to know the intent of the speaker. I doubt this person meant harm, but from my multicultural studies here at the University of the West, and from my training in Buddhist Chaplaincy, I have learned this doesn’t matter. If we want to follow the Buddha’s ethics of non-harming we must be extremely mindful of the often unexamined biases we have about our own cultural superiority.

We also need to remember a very powerful philosophy, something mainstream Westerners call pragmatism (e.g., William James). “If it works, use it.” Westerners, of course, don’t own this concept. Before humanity discovered germs, we found that pouring alcohol into a wound reduced the number of people who died, so we kept pouring alcohol into wounds. Humanity found (using primitive statistics) that keeping sewage away from wells kept people from getting sick, so we kept sewage away from wells even though we didn’t know why this worked. If it worked, humanity used it, though often we didn’t have a scientific explanation.

The same holds true for the practice of Buddhism. If, as Dr. Grzegorz Polak says in his book, “Reexamining the Jhānas: Towards a Critical Reconstruction of Early Buddhist Soteriology”

It seems very possible that if one started reading the suttas without any previous knowledge on Buddhism, he would see the jhānas as the most important element of the Buddhist doctrine.

Then perhaps we should find someone who uses the jhānas and ask them how this practice helps them on the path. If we know people we trust who we believe have experienced Nibbāna, then maybe we should open our minds to the possibility that we can awaken, either partially or fully and do so in this very lifetime.

Because I believe so strongly that awakening is possible in this very life, when a respected teacher such as Stephen Batchelor says this, I’m deeply saddened:

I am a secular Buddhist. It has taken me years to fully “come out,” and I still feel a nagging tug of insecurity, a faint aura of betrayal in declaring myself in these terms. As a secular Buddhist my practice is concerned with responding as sincerely and urgently as possible to the suffering of life in this world, in this century (our saeculum) where we find ourselves now and future generations will find themselves later. Rather than attaining nirvana, I see the aim of Buddhist practice to be the moment-to-moment flourishing of human life within the ethical framework of the eightfold path here on earth. – Stephen Batchelor, “A Secular Buddhist,” Tricycle Magazine, Fall 2012, emphasis mine.

Because of firmly held cultural views about what types of human experience are acceptable (and because of the mistaken belief that striving for Nibbāna is incompatible with Engaged Buddhism and the path of the bodhisatta), Secular Buddhists such as Mr. Batchelor downplay Nibbāna. Since Batchelor is a widely respected teacher there will be those who will follow his teachings and believe they represent the total possibility of Buddhist practice. When I started practicing, one of the aspects of Western Buddhism that so excited me was the teaching that lay people as well as monks could awaken. This is not a teaching that has existed throughout the history of Buddhism. Using Theravāda Buddhism as an example, there appears to be a period in time, which lasted as long as perhaps a thousand years, when many Theravāda practitioners believed the world was so corrupt that no one, lay or monastic could awaken. For most of Buddhist history lay people were expected to work toward a better rebirth by collecting merit. It was not expected that they could or should try to awaken. It was the people of Burma, oppressed by colonialism, who realized that Theravāda Buddhism was dying in their country and something needed to change. They started teaching that people could awake, yes, even lay people. And thus begin the revival of Buddhist meditation and the revival of the belief in Nibbāna within the Theravāda tradition, a revival that arose independently in many other Buddhist traditions during that same era. It is my deepest hope that Convert Western Buddhism will not throw away the great gift given to us by those who practiced Buddhism before it came to the West, the gift of Nibbāna in this very life.

My thanks to my reviewers for their help improving this post. All opinions expressed and mistakes made in this post are my own.

On 4/19/13 I edited the post slightly to clarify a couple of points.

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Sensitivity, Samvega, Buddhism and Alcoholism

Roger Ebert, american film critic.

Roger Ebert, american film critic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness t...

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness techniques can help alleviate anxiety , stress , and depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m taking a course at University of the West called “Buddhism and Addiction Recovery.”  The class is taught by Tom Moritz.  Great class (my teachers and fellow students at UWest are absolutely wonderful) and I’m learning a great deal about Western Buddhist approaches to alcohol and addiction recovery.  Present practice mostly consists of using the mindfulness practices made famous by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn to break addictive and counterproductive patterns of behavior.   This mindfulness practice has its basis in a modern Theravada Buddhist practice called vipassanā.[1]

Tom has frequently brought up how often alcoholism is found in creative people.  In popular culture this link has long been made, but now science seems to agree.[2]  Recently we lost the wonderful Roger Ebert to cancer.  Ebert was a well-known and extremely influential film critic.  What is less well known is Ebert struggled with alcoholism, finally, in desperation, turning to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in his thirties.[3]

Why this link between alcoholism and creativity?  I’m not sure science really knows.  Two theories have long been put forward to explain the link; first, drinking alcohol helps the creative process.  Second, alcohol is a form of self-medication for some underlying pain that tends to associate itself with creativity.   For example, depression has long been linked to both alcoholism and creativity.  Recently creativity and high environmental sensitivity[4]  have also been found together.  For some alcoholics, high environmental sensitivity may also be a form of pain:

[A]lcoholics are more sensitive. This sensitivity relates especially to nuances of interpersonal relationships. Alcoholics have a “low rejection threshold.” They feel more apart or left out. Incidentally, a drink or two “works wonderfully” to deal with this feeling. Yet, it is known that sensitive people are often especially creative. Alcoholism seems to selectively strike gifted people. Most American Nobel Prize winners in literature suffered from alcoholism.  – Betty Ford Center website[5]

The sensitivity of the alcoholic and how this sensitivity can be used in Buddhist practice as part of the recovery process will be the focus of this blog entry.

Alcohol numbs.  And for people overwhelmed by their sensitivity to the world, alcohol can initially appear as a great release.  The reality, of course, is that alcohol and other numbing drugs are a terrible trap.  Many of the steps in the twelve-steps of AA can be thought of as a de-numbing process, bringing the alcoholic back into contact with the world and giving the alcoholic the emotional support and skills necessary to touch the world “raw.”  For AA, spirituality is a key part of the de-numbing process.

Buddhism can also be thought of as a de-numbing process.  In basic Western Buddhist practice de-numbing is achieved through present moment mindfulness.  Present moment mindfulness breaks the practitioner out of the shell of numbness they have built around themselves.  One of the key purposes of this shell is to protect the practitioner from the emotion of samvega which I will discuss later in the article.

In my style of Buddhism[6] de-numbing can be taken to extraordinary levels.  Buddhism[7] is about taking the practitioner’s innate sensitivity and making this sensitivity so trained, so powerful –via the practice of jhāna– that even the most refined, pleasurable conditioned states of human experience (the highest states of jhāna) are seen to be stressful.  This realization allows the practitioner to let go of the conditioned world as seen through and experienced by the human brain (as represented by the five khandhas), thus allowing an experience of Nibbāna, and finally a mind that feeds upon Nibbāna; unborn, unconditioned, undying.

The sensitivity of the person bewildered by the pain in the world, who sometimes is a person susceptible to alcohol, causes emotions to arise.  The Pali term for this complex association of emotion is samvega[8].  Samvega is said to be the emotion the Buddha felt when he first saw the effects of aging, death and illness.  Samvega, as Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu translates it, is a complex mixture of shock, fear, and urgency. Fear that there is no way out of the suffering.  Shock that life, as normally lived, is so hard and meaningless.  Finally an anxious urgency arises causing an effort to discover a way out of this terrible suffering.  Samvega is considered the emotion leading the sensitive person onto the path.  On the path, the sensitive person converts samvega to the joy of pasada, the emotion arising in the heart when a path leading out of suffering and stress is seen.

Why is samvega so important to the sensitive alcoholic, even one not interested in Buddhism?  The experience of samvega is normal for a sensitive human being and is not something that needs to be avoided[9].  Sadly, most people drown the emotion of samvega when it arises in their heart.  Some drown it with distraction.  Some drown it with forms of German Romanticism.  Some drown it with alcohol and end up drowning themselves.  One of the greatest and most destructive delusions is that ageing, death and illness can be dealt with by numbness.  Understanding the normalcy of samvega gives it a constructive place in our lives.  We no longer need to numb this wise emotion.  In addition, for those interested in Buddhism, Buddhism is a powerful path to transform samvega into joy.

Just as important to the sensitive alcoholic is the high esteem Buddhism gives to those of great natural sensitivity.  Without sensitivity samvega does not arise.  Without sensitivity the path is not taken.  Without sensitivity wisdom does not arise, ignorance is not left behind.  Sensitivity is a blessing, not a weakness[10].

Breaking bad behavior patterns is critical when an alcoholic is struggling to live skillfully.   The secularity of mindfulness allows it to reach those not interested in Buddhism.   But for the alcoholic interested in the path Buddhist practice has much more to offer.  At the beginning of recovery, when the human brain has not yet healed from the damage of heavy drinking, fear and confusion are overwhelming.  Buddhist devotional practices can help the alcoholic deal with these powerful emotions.  As the alcoholic’s brain begins to recover, mindfulness practices can help.  Metta meditation can help the alcoholic begin to forgive themselves and construct a complete moral inventory.  The five precepts give gentle, constructive, guidance on how the recovering alcoholic should behave.  The Buddha’s teaching of non-harming give the alcoholic direction on how to act in each moment.

Further in the recovery process, when the brain has more completely healed and more skillful patterns of behavior have been established (through AA or other organizations), the alcoholic can use their sensitivity to deeply understand the world using Buddhist teachings and use jhāna and other more advanced forms of Buddhist meditation.  Through the act of helping other alcoholics, and through overcoming ignorance via the practices of Buddhism, the recovering alcoholic can transform their experience in hell into deep compassion and joy.

I would enjoy hearing your thoughts?  Is sensitivity and alcoholism linked, or is the concept of a sensitive alcoholic just a cop out?  Have I missed some aspect of Buddhism that would be useful to an alcoholic?  Do you have specific practices that would be of use to an alcoholic?  If your understanding and practice of Buddhism is different than mine, does this difference have advantages for an alcoholic?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to use the comment feature of this blog to respond.  May all beings be free from suffering!   May you be happy and safe!


1. Though vipassanā is often claimed to be ancient practice, vipassanā, at least as we know it, is a modern invention that arose in Burma as a response to Western Colonialism.  Vipassanā was created as a “scientific” meditation practice in order to keep Buddhism relevant in the scientific world forced upon the Burmese by Christian missionaries and the colonial government.  In the Pali Canon, the term vipassanā is rarely found and when it is found it is often linked to samatha, perhaps a form of concentration practice.  This compares to the prevalence of the type of meditation called jhāna (which is likely not what the Pali Canon calls samatha and is absolutely NOT the same as the so called vipassanājhāna”).  References to jhāna are found throughout the Pali Canon.  As Polak says, “It seems very possible that if one started reading the suttas without any previous knowledge on Buddhism, he would see the jhānas as the most important element of the Buddhist doctrine.” If you wish to read more on this subject, I suggest reading “Race and Religion in American Buddhism:  White Supremacy and Immigrant Adaption,” by Joseph Cheah. He has two chapters on the origins of vipassanā and how it has moved to the U.S. , “Strong Roots” (http://www.bcbsdharma.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/StrongRoots.pdf) and “Reexamining Jhāna, Towards a Critical Reconstruction of Early Buddhist Soteriology”, by Grzegorz Polak.

2. For example, “Verbal creativity, depression and alcoholism: An investigation of one hundred American and British writers,” in the British Journal of Psychiatry (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8733792).

4. For example, see “Higher sensory processing sensitivity, introversion and ectomorphism”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3409988/

6. And other forms of Buddhism, also.

7. Again, I am speaking about the form of Buddhism I practice.  Buddhism is too rich for this to be the only path of practice.

8. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu has this to say about samvega:  “Samvega was what the young Prince Siddhartha felt on his first exposure to aging, illness, and death. It’s a hard word to translate because it covers such a complex range — at least three clusters of feelings at once: the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it’s normally lived; a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly; and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle. This is a cluster of feelings we’ve all experienced at one time or another in the process of growing up, but I don’t know of a single English term that adequately covers all three. It would be useful to have such a term, and maybe that’s reason enough for simply adopting the word samvega into our language.”  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/affirming.html

9. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu:  “As the early Buddhist teachings freely admit, the predicament is that the cycle of birth, aging, and death is meaningless. They don’t try to deny this fact and so don’t ask us to be dishonest with ourselves or to close our eyes to reality. As one teacher has put it, the Buddhist recognition of the reality of suffering — so important that suffering is honored as the first noble truth — is a gift, in that it confirms our most sensitive and direct experience of things, an experience that many other traditions try to deny.”  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/affirming.html
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Addicted to Jhana, and That’s Okay (Really!)

So, when I talk about the jhanas what the heck am I talking about?  Actually, I could write a blog or two (or twenty) about ‘what is jhana’ and not even scratch the surface.  The short answer is that the jhanas are eight meditative states of increasing concentration.  They aren’t just found in Buddhism but in every major religion.  All of the jhanic states are full of pleasure and this makes them subject to a great deal of mistrust.  In Buddhism, the first four are just labeled one to four but they can be described as Rapture, Joy, Contentment, and Neither Pleasure nor Pain.  The last four are given names, “The Sphere of Infinite Space,” “The Sphere of Infinite Consciousness,” “‘The Void,” and “Neither Perception nor Non-Perception.”  All of them are filled with non-sensual pleasure.  As you go from one to eight, the pleasure becomes more subtle, more peaceful, and counter-intuitively, more appealing.  Experiencing this is actually one of the deep insights that lead to freedom, since if increasing peace is increasingly pleasurable, how pleasurable must be the ultimate peace, Nibbāna?

Given how wonderful the jhanas are, why does it seem that in nearly every discussion I have about the jhanas with Convert Buddhists the  “you can get addicted to the jhanas” meme comes up.   My main (Convert Buddhist) teacher (who practices in the Burmese lineage) constantly warns me not to become addicted to jhana.

Why?  Well, have you heard of Puritanism?  In the U.S. pleasure is only okay if it is illicit.  And the only thing better than illicit pleasure is pleasure that can get you a jail term if you are caught indulging in it.  So when the Buddha says throughout the suttas to “enjoy non-sensual pleasure…bath your body in it,” something deep in the American psyche rebels.  A spiritual path that embraces pleasure…that doesn’t make sense.  We should beat the sin out of ourselves (and everyone else, whether they like or not).  But the Buddha’s embrace of pleasure — non-sensual pleasure, and that ‘non’ in front of ‘sensual’ is so very important — is arguably one of the two key insights of the Buddha (the other being his linking of intention and karma).  But Puritanism isn’t the only reason.  Below I’ll present a short history of Burmese Buddhism and the experience of many U.S. teachers as wounded healers.  But Puritanism is the big one.

Let me explain some of the biases and understandings that inform my position. I believe that, as the Buddha originally taught the path, jhana practice was considered right-concentration, a fundamental part of the path to emancipation. This is backed up by extensive textual analysis of the Pali Canon done by Ajahn Sujato, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Ayya Khema, Leigh Brasington, Bhante G. and others. I do not know if mastery of jhana is a necessary condition for awakening, or that jhana practice is even the best way. It is entirely possible, in the thousands of years since the Buddha’s death, that better methods have been discovered. But I do believe jhana practice is just as valid as the other forms of practice which have arisen and for those inclined to jhana, it greatly enhances the Eightfold path.

Is isn’t just Convert Buddhists who fear pleasure.  The Buddha practiced severe austerities in order to “punish” his body into letting go of the defilements   In the Maha-Saccaka Sutta, MN 36, the Buddha discusses the time just before his awakening.  In this sutta, he remembered entering the first jhana as a child and the great, natural pleasure that arose within him. He said the following (as translated Thanissaro Bhikkhu, emphasis by the author):

I thought: ‘I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered and remained in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening? ‘ Then following on that memory came the realization: ‘That is the path to Awakening.’ I thought: ‘So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?’ I thought: ‘I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities, but that pleasure is not easy to achieve with a body so extremely emaciated. Suppose I were to take some solid food: some rice and porridge.’ So I took some solid food: some rice and porridge. …

So when I had taken solid food and regained strength, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities…I entered and remained in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

Awakening and freedom only arose after the Buddha embraced non-sensual pleasure.  The Buddha said that “they were the path.”  He stopped beating the sin out of himself.

Now, what does it mean to be “addicted” to the jhanas? Jhanas are reached by letting go. Letting go the five hindrances, letting go of the sensual world. Is being attached to this type of pleasure a bad thing?  Is this even addiction, or is it a great help in achieving mental and spiritual health?

Does the Buddha himself have anything to say about this issue?  Luckily for us he did.  Here are his words from the Pasadika Sutta (DN 29.24), as translated by Maurice Walshe:

There are, Cunda, these four kinds of life devoted to pleasure which are entirely conducive to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to tranquility, to realization, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. What are they? Firstly, a monk, detached from all sense-desires, detached from unwholesome mental states, enters and remains in the first Jhana…(repeated for all four material Jhanas)

These are the four kinds of life devoted to pleasure which are entirely conducive to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to tranquility, to realization, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. So if the wanderers from the other sects should say that the followers of the Sakyan are addicted to these four forms of pleasure-seeking, they should be told: “Yes”, for they would be speaking correctly about you, they would not be slandering you with false or untrue statements.

To paraphrase the Buddha, he said “Hey, let them call us addicted. We’ll laugh all the way to Nibbāna.”

Distrust of the Jhanas is not restricted to the U.S.  Many schools of Buddhism appear to not teach jhana practice at all.  But in the Convert Buddhist world of the U.S., in addition to I Puritanism, I believe there are two additional reasons.  The first is the history of Burmese Buddhism before the tradition came to the U.S.

The Buddhism we learned from the Burmese, which informs many of the branches of Convert Buddhism (IMSSpirit Rock, my own lineage through Ruth Denison, etc.), is a recent cultural artifact. It arose in response to the colonization of Burma by western powers and the resulting influx of Christian missionaries. This influx threatened the position and very existence of Burmese Buddhism. In response Buddhist practice was “rationalized.” Ritual was removed and science was used to justify the practice. The purpose was to make Buddhism more understandable and sympathetic to the western world.

During this time, within Burmese society the relationship between the laity and and Monastic Sangha started to change. The laity was successful in challenging the convention that they should constrain themselves to “making merit.” Lay practitioners began transforming the goal of their practice from making merit to stream-entry, which in the Pali Canon is the first stage of awakening. They did this by using Vipassana (as they defined it, and definitely not jhana) mediation. Stream-entry is a powerful place to be. Even though not fully awakened, a person who has experienced a path moment is no longer subject to rebirth in a lower plane (including the animal realm) and is guaranteed to achieve full awakening within a handful of lifetimes.

In addition, during this time there was a “cult” of Alchemists in Burma. These Alchemists arose out of pre-Buddhist religions and their practice was centered around achieving physical immortality. As Buddhism became more powerful in Burma, the Alchemists began to identify themselves as Buddhists.  They justified their practices by saying they wanted to extend their lifetimes to be present when the next Buddha arose. This group used the jhanas in their attempt to to make themselves immortal. This cult also instigated a failed rebellion against the occupying western powers. I don’t know for certain, but I would not be surprised if the Alchemists gave jhana practice a bad name within the Burmese tradition. (I recommend Race and Religion in American Buddhism, by Joesph Cheah, chapters 2 and 3 for more information how Burmese Buddhism and Burmese meditation practices came to the U.S.).

The second factor in “jhana fear” is very specific to the U.S.  Many of our convert Buddhist teachers were “wounded” and have used Buddhism to help heal themselves, sometimes from addiction. These teachers are very aware of the power of addiction to sensual pleasure and the harm it causes. Many of these teachers have never experienced the jhanas.  They have heard how powerful the pleasure is, but don’t understand how this pleasure arises out of letting go, out of leaving behind aversion and greed.  Non-sensuality.

So why can’t we just let go of sensual pleasure  and go directly to Nibbāna?  Well, there are probably people who can.  Just not very damn many of them.  Most of us need something healthy to cling to while we slowly work at letting go of sensual pleasure.  Only when we have let go of sensuality (non-returner) do we have to work on letting go of the jhanas.  Embodied minds need pleasure.  And assuming we are reborn, each of us have been seeking it for lifetimes.  If you think people can become addicted to jhana, just how addicted do you think you can get the sensual world, especially if ‘you’ have been feeding this addiction for lifetimes – thousands, millions, maybe even billions of years.  Therefore the Buddha gave us a raft to cross the river to reach Nibbāna.  One of the planks of this raft is called jhana.  But in the end, when the other shore is reached, even the raft must be let go. The Buddha, across 2,500+ years of time is doing his darndest to tell us to stop beating the sin out of ourselves (and others). Perhaps it is time for us to hear his message.

May all beings be safe and free from suffering.

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