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I was reading over at this post...

https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/26834/13249

...and saw this reply (quoted below) and wondered if I could get some elaboration. How is it a Christian could have jhanic potential? Are we talking about merit, morality, ethics, or spiritual health? Dispassion for material goods and wealth?

Is this a common view held by Buddhist?

"Also, at least in the West, many people with jhanic potential are Christians." ~ Dhammadhatu

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    If you examine the teachings of the early pre-Biblical Church it is easy to interpret them as another expression of Buddhist teachings. Hence the phrase 'Perennial philosophy' to cover Buddha, Plotinus, Eckhart, the pseudo-Dionysius, the Desert Fathers, Nagarjuna and the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas. Christians are people, after all, just like Buddhists. I doubt there is anybody who does not have 'jhanic potential'. It seems to me that to say otherwise would be to suggest that not everybody has Buddha-nature. . – PeterJ Oct 8 '18 at 11:50
  • Thanks. My reason for asking the question was in fact to clarify the position expressed in the quote. There are some Buddhist who, although they believe everyone has the potential to attain jhana, they would be inclined to say it's not very probable. – Hamberfim Oct 8 '18 at 15:46
  • I did not disagree with the statement but rather had expressed similar points in conversations and those comments were met with a little rebuff as their positions were that it was far too difficult to attain a jhana state as a Buddhist and therefore a Christian would even have a greater difficulty. In context it was pointed out during a further conversation that a Western Christian, specifically American, who's Christian identity was intertwined with materialistic tendencies and strong individualist personality was pictured. – Hamberfim Oct 8 '18 at 15:48
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    Ah. If you're talking about probability then I'll modify my comment. It would certainly be more difficult for some than for others and starting out as a stereotypical modern Western Christian might be something of a disadvantage. @Hamerfim defines the kind of Christian that would face a struggle. – PeterJ Oct 8 '18 at 17:06
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    Yes. Let's say it's not about a person's religion but that for any of us the traits you mention will be an obstacle, and while almost everyone has them to some degree there is a modern form of Christianity that seems to foster them. – PeterJ Oct 9 '18 at 12:34
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Yes. We are talking about merit, morality, ethics, spiritual health, dispassion for material goods and wealth, etc.

Jhana occurs naturally when the mind is pure, i.e., without the five hindrances. There are sufficient teachings in the New Testament about "renunciation", "non-judging", " non-hatred", "forgiveness", "unconditional love" and "purity of spirit" for jhana to naturally or spontaneously manifest in a devout Christian. The "Kingdom of Heaven" itself is jhana.

Here, Udayi, the bhikkhu secluded from sensual desires and thoughts of demerit abides in the first jhana: Overcoming thoughts and thought processes and the mind in one point internally appeased, without thoughts and thought processes abides in the second jhana. Again with equanimity to joy and detachment, feeling pleasant with the body too, abides in the third jhana. To this the noble ones say abiding in pleasantness with equanimity. Udayi, this is the course of actions, for realising the world of only pleasant feelings (ekantasukhassa lokassa).

MN 79

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It's wise to say that Buddhism doesn't have any exclusivity on jhana type experiences thus they are naturally occurring events with the name 'jhana' appended to its experience. What I think may be unique about Buddhism is its ability to define the conditions for each jhanic experience. The Buddha describes this in the Jhana sutta

Yes, almost everyone has the potential to experience jhana. The identification with the word 'christian' does not diminish nor enhance that potential. However, the method in which you perceive yourself as 'being something' could hinder that potential. I take the example of 'being Buddhist' alongside 'learning to be a good person' - this doesn't seem to work as you are creating another mind concept to conform to. When you follow mind concepts in this way, misery looms.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Oct 7 '18 at 20:26

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