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I am reading "A Critical Analysis Of The Jhanas"

And it's talking about the way to reach the first jhana. This passage below.

Block quote The Pa:isambhidāmagga explains them as follows: For one developing the first jhāna, the hindrances are abandoned by way of suppression. For one developing concentration partaking of penetration, wrong views are abandoned by way of substitution of opposites. For one developing the supramundane path that leads to their destruction, (defilements) are abandoned by way of cutting off. At the moment of fruition they are abandoned by way of tranquillization. And abandoning by deliverance is nibbāna, cessation.2 (Wr. tr.). `

The question is, isn't the first jhanas all about concentration? So why did it say if you want to reach the first jhana you must partake in abandonment by suppression, and to reach concentration you must abandoned by way of substitution of opposites. Isn't it all dedicated to concentration?

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I think this passage is addressing something that's more explicitly stated elsewhere. In the Jhana Sutta (AN 9.36), for example, we find:

secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, [he] enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation.

The operative word here, of course, is "secluded". Vitaka and vicara (i.e. concentration) only come into the equation once rapture and pleasure are born of that seclusion. Piti and sukkha help to calm, gladden, and focus the mind allowing concentration to strengthen in to full jhana.

So of course, this begs the question of how one finds that seclusion. There are some who are lucky and can just shut the door on their negative and unwholesome states. Other have to win their seclusion through other methods like suppression and substitution of opposites. I think the latter group is who your quoted passage is addressing.

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why did it say if you want to reach the first jhana you must partake in abandonment by suppression?

Because for the First Jhana to arise the Five hindrances must be abandoned.

You abandon it by focusing on one object.

By doing so you blot out the hindrances.

The more you focus on one object the more the hindrances gets blotted out and suppressed.

(So why did it say) to reach concentration you must abandoned by way of substitution of opposites.

For example if a smoker wants to abandon smoking he substitues it with nicotin patches.

If you want to abandon the hindrances you substitute it with the Opposites.(Jhana Factors).

So how do you substitute it with the Jhana factors.You don't have to go looking for the Jhana factors.Just by doing one simple action of focusing on one object. The mind gathers/collects itself.And the Jhana factors (The opposites) arise naturally.On its own.

Each Jhana factor is the opposite of each hindrance.

There are five hindrances and they each have an opposite (Jhana Factor).

1.Sensual pleasures X One pointedness.

2.Ill Will X Rapture.

3.Restlesness X Happiness

4.Sloth and torpor X Vitakka.

5.Doubt X Vicara.

The question is, isn't the first jhanas all about concentration? Isn't it all dedicated to concentration?

Yes Jhana is about developing concentration.But you have to ask yourself What is Concentration? Concentration has many levels,but generally it's the state of mind that isn't obstructed by the hindrances.By practicing the Jhanas you are systematically letting go/abandoning the hindrances by means of suppression and subtituting it with the opposites.We need concentration to see clearly.When you see thing clearly you realise the truth and attain liberation.

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isn't the first jhanas all about concentration?

It is about vitakka and vicāra. This also concentrates the mind by cutting out distractions as you continuously return to your anchor object. To put it in another way it is developing vitakka & vicāra which also results in concentration.

abandonment by suppression

This is a kind of suppression. You periodically bring you mind to the object of concentration thereby not letting other thoughts that arise.

The above description looks more like abandoning Nivarana. [Nīvarana,pahana Vagga] To get into Jhana you have to abandon the hindrances but abandoning hindrances alone will not get you into Jhana. To get into the 1st Jhana what you need is vitakka & vicāra while abandoning the Hindrances also. Also Jhana is a means to abandon the hindrances. Being without hindrances in the absence of vitakka & vicāra, I think, does not always result in Jhana as this is one of the factors in the 1st Jhana. For more on this see The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest Selected Texts from the Pali Canon and the Commentaries compiled and translated by Nyanaponika Thera.

Put it in another way concentration and abandonment are side benefits of developing the Jhana through vitakka & vicāra.

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I think @xxxx got it right. Remember the sequence from Vitakkasanthana Sutta:

"There is the case where evil, unskillful thoughts — imbued with desire, aversion, or delusion — arise in a monk while he is referring to and attending to a particular theme. He should attend to another theme, apart from that one, connected with what is skillful.

...

"If evil, unskillful thoughts — imbued with desire, aversion, or delusion — still arise in the monk while he is attending to this other theme, connected with what is skillful, he should scrutinize the drawbacks of those thoughts: 'Truly, these thoughts of mine are unskillful, these thoughts of mine are blameworthy, these thoughts of mine result in stress.'

...

"If evil, unskillful thoughts — imbued with desire, aversion or delusion — still arise in the monk while he is scrutinizing the drawbacks of those thoughts, he should pay no mind and pay no attention to those thoughts.

...

"If evil, unskillful thoughts — imbued with desire, aversion or delusion — still arise in the monk while he is paying no mind and paying no attention to those thoughts, he should attend to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts.

...

"If evil, unskillful thoughts — imbued with desire, aversion or delusion — still arise in the monk while he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts, then — with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth — he should beat down, constrain, and crush his mind with his awareness. As — with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth — he is beating down, constraining, and crushing his mind with his awareness, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside.

...

"Now when a monk... [using one of these methods] steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it and concentrates it: He is then called a monk with mastery over the ways of thought sequences. He thinks whatever thought he wants to, and doesn't think whatever thought he doesn't. He has severed craving, thrown off the fetters, and — through the right penetration of conceit — has made an end of suffering and stress."

This is part of the large scheme with abandoning negative mind states and developing positive ones:

"There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for:

  • non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.
  • ... abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.
  • ... arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen.
  • ... maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen."

And the way the positive qualities are generated in the first Jhana is with intentional vitakka and vicāra, or deliberate thinking/generation/enjoyment, about how well you mastered the non-arising and abandonment of "evil, unskillful qualities":

Suppose a skilled bath attendant or his apprentice were to pour soap flakes into a metal basin, sprinkle them with water and knead them into a ball, so that the ball of soap flakes would be pervaded by moisture, encompassed by moisture, suffused by moisture inside and out and yet would not trickle. In the same way, one drenches, steeps, saturates, and suffuses one’s body with the rapture and happiness born of seclusion, so that there is no part of one’s body that is not suffused by rapture and happiness.

Makes sense? It's nothing magical. First you learn to abandon negative mind states, either through suppression or through distraction, and eventually through direct control of the emotional center that colors the process of free association -- and then you learn to generate positive mind states, first through deliberate thinking, and then directly. That's Jhanas in a nutshell.

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