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DN 15 includes the utterance of the "seven stations of consciousness", where the later six equate with the six of the eight jhanas, namely:

1. There are sentient beings that are diverse in body (kāyā) and diverse in perception (saññino), such as human beings, some gods (devā) and some beings in the underworld.

2. There are sentient beings that are diverse in body and unified in perception, such as the gods reborn (ābhinibbattā) in Brahmā’s Group (brahmakāyikā) through the first absorption

3. There are sentient beings that are unified in body and diverse in perception, such as the gods of streaming radiance (ābhassarā).

4. There are sentient beings that are unified in body and unified in perception, such as the gods replete with glory (subhakiṇhā).

5. There are sentient beings that have gone totally beyond perceptions of form (rūpa). With the ending of perceptions of impingement, not focusing on perceptions of diversity, aware that ‘space is infinite’, they have been reborn (upagā) in the dimension of infinite space.

6. There are sentient beings that have gone totally beyond the dimension of infinite space. Aware that ‘consciousness is infinite’, they have been reborn (upagā) in the dimension of infinite consciousness.

7. There are sentient beings that have gone totally beyond the dimension of infinite consciousness. Aware that ‘there is nothing at all’, they have been reborn (upagā) in the dimension of nothingness.

The deva (godly) abodes attained with each rupa jhana are listed in AN 4.123, namely, brahmakāyikā, ābhassarā, subhakiṇhā & vehapphalānaṃ.

Now, the above utterance in DN 15 omits the 4th jhana or gods of abundant fruit (vehapphalānaṃ).

My question is what are the "seven stations of consciousness" supposed to mean (for example, why do the permutations of 'diversity' and 'unity' exist in the various jhana & states of being) and why, in particular, does this utterance omit the 4th jhana?

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Piya Tan's analysis of DN 15 (on pages 160 through 163, i.e. page 16 through 19 of the PDF) explains that,

According to Brahma,jāla S (D 1) and Pāṭika S (D 24), this is not a “station for consciousness” because no consciousness is found in the beings there. All cognitive activities are suspended here. As soon consciousness arises in a being there, he vanishes from that world

It cites many references including e.g. DN 1 to begin with ...

There are gods named ‘non-percipient beings’.
Santi, bhikkhave, asaññasattā nāma devā.

When perception arises they pass away from that group of gods.
Saññuppādā ca pana te devā tamhā kāyā cavanti.


A STUDY OF VIÑÑĀṆA IN ABHIDHAMMA (by Ho Thi Lien) includes a description of what is meant by "unified in body" etc. (see pages 30 through 32 i.e. pages 42 through 44 of the PDF). It appears to be paraphrasing the DN commentary, for example:

‘Viññāṇaṭṭhiti’ means ‘abodes or supports of consciousness’, ‘the stages of sentient beings’. In the Dīghanikāya and its commentaries,86 the stations of consciousness are classified into seven kinds as follows:

2) Nānattakāya-ekattasaññī = Beings who have different bodies but the same perception are Brahmās of the first jhāna plane who are born first in the Brahmā abode. Although their bodies and life spans are different, they have the same rebirth linking consciousness, which is the first jhāna. According to the Dīghanikāya Mahāvagga commentary, beings in the four apāyas are also included in this category because they possess different bodies but the same type of rebirth-linking consciousness, which is ahetuka akusalavipāka santīraṇa.

3) Ekattakāya-nānattasaññī = Beings who have similar bodies but different perceptions are those living in the second Brahmā abode. They have similar bodies but different perceptions. While in the first jhāna their minds are associated with both vitakka and vicāra, in the second jhāna, the minds are associated with vicāraonly but not vitakka; and in the third jhāna, both vitakka and vicāraare forsaken (according to the pañcaka method).

The footnote says,

86 D. II, 58, DA. II, 99 -102, DṬī, 114 -116 (CSCD).


I presume the "eight liberations", which immediately follow in DN 15, also refer to these stages.

Piya Tan's analysis quotes the Paṭisambhidāmagga to say that the first few liberations are associated with meditations using internal and external kasinas (perhaps you'll disagree with that -- so far as I remember, perhaps I'm misquoting you however, you associate the jhanas with making "letting go" as the "object").

  • Thanks for your effort Chris. I scored to answer up. But the answer provides no insight.. Particularly, the 4th jhana is not non-percipient . The Buddha taught to practise yoniso manasikara when hearing the teachings rather than rote learning, copy & paste and blind faith. Personally, I will think about my question when i have time, later today. – Dhammadhatu Oct 5 '18 at 22:30
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Taking appropriate time to read the quote, it appears meaningless 'papanca' ('psychobabble') to me however I will attempt to answer the question:

  1. The word 'kaya' does not mean 'physical body' ('rupa'). The word 'kaya' means 'collection' or 'group' of aggregates (as I have posted many times before. For example, when suttas use the phrase "at the ending of the body", this means the ending of a certain collection of aggregates rather than the ending of life).

  2. 1st jhana is more refined than the previous state of being. It is diverse in its collection (kaya) because it includes sankhara aggregate (vitakka & vicara) and feelings (vedana aggregate) as the settling place of consciousness. It is unified in perception only in comparison to the previous state of being (human, etc) because it has one-pointedness (ekkagattacitta). However, this unity is only illusory, i.e., only due to its comparison with the previous diverse state of being.

  3. 2nd jhana is unified in kaya because consciousness settles on only one aggregate, namely, feeling aggregate. However, it is diverse in perception because it knows two feelings, namely, piti (rapture) and sukha (happiness).

  4. 3rd jhana is unified in both kaya and perception because there is only one feeling as the settling place of consciousness, namely, sukha (happiness).

However the above does not explain the 4th jhana, which still has a feeling as the settling place of consciousness; even though the feeling is that of equanimity. I guess the utterance is saying equanimity is so "neutral" that it is not a salient perception.

The above said, the utterance, like the remainder of DN 15, is meaningless ('papanca') and obviously never spoken by the Lord Buddha; the Saviour of those with little dust in the eyes.

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