Some of these jhanas are incredibly powerful but they have an opposite, that being emotional and mental upheaval and the dark nights.

Essentially, I realise that there are valuable insights to learn from both their extremes but I find that delusion can arise as part of the mental upheaval (I thought I was in love with my teacher) now that I'm out of the delusion it seems so silly.

Buddha had mentioned in a few suttas (I can't remember their names) that jhanas are the way to nibana but was this within the context of who he was giving the teaching to?

As an example, the satipathanna sutta was taught to the kuru people because they already possessed a deep wisdom and an advanced ability to learn quickly thus, the teaching he gave was conducive to their ability to attain higher levels of realisation very quickly.

3 Answers 3


Both Theravada and (Tibetan) Mahayana textual sources state that jhanas are not a hard requirement, but insight is.

That said, live teachers in both traditions clearly say that "insight" refers not as much to dry intellectual understanding as to practical real-life mastery of mind based on the first-hand insight into its key mechanisms.

In my understanding, jhanas ARE the stages of that mastery - especially if you interpret them broadly as stages of mastery of Emotional Intelligence - as opposed to concrete states. In this interpretation, nirvana/nibbana is a state of 100% inner harmony without any conflict between "is" and "should" whatsoever. While jhanas are progressive approximations of that state from coarse to finer, to finest, to transcendental.

The coarse stages entail coarser positive mindstates and coarser techniques of generating them - and the finer stages entail finer positive mindstates and finer techniques of generating them. If you look at it this way, you will see that jhanas are the very nature of the gradual path and are therefore required for anyone but the most talented practitioners who can skip to pure suchness right away.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Sep 27, 2018 at 21:59

Jhanas are not emotional, not a mental upheaval and not dark nights. The Pali suttas describe jhana as "seclusion", "composure", "happy" and "equanimous".

"Dark Night" happens in a transitional phase prior to establishing the path and much prior to jhana.

To realise final Nibbana as an Arahant, yes, the four rupa jhana must be moved though.

To "taste" the freedom of Nibbana, as a stream-enterer, jhana is not required however the "Dark Night" of "ego-death" must be experienced.

  • The aftereffects of big jhanas (hours and days) can leave one navigating through emotional and mental upheaval along with dark nights.
    – user14148
    Sep 29, 2018 at 17:27
  • What is in the comment is not jhana. Thanks Sep 30, 2018 at 0:30

in Jhanna Sutta, you dont need to move thru 4 jhanna. Budda went down each Jhanna with

"'I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana.' Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said? There is the case where a monk, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding

And Buddha repeated above all the way with other jhannas ONE by ONE. Interesting fact, quite differently for those in dimension of neither perception nor non-perception & the attainment of the cessation. You have to attain that stage and emerge from in back and forth to gain insight. I remember from one sutta Buddha said he could only teach those with perception, and not a twisted one, such as those with severe mental illness.

The idea that all 4 Jhanna has to be achieved to end the mental fermentations is taught by later teachers. I guarantee you, you will not find sutta saying so. However, one may twist the sutta to match his idea.

  • Buddha counts four jhanas but others count 6 or above. The mind has this propensity towards linear progression which can be an issue. In the Rahogata Sutta Buddha describes moving through all four jhanas to realise the fruit. How does this compare to your answer? I may have an incorrect interpretation of the Rahogata Sutta. accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.011.than.html
    – user14148
    Sep 28, 2018 at 18:17

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