Is it me or is it incredibly difficult to find resources on the 4 (or 8, with the arupas) jhānas and how to reach them in the mahāyāna/vajrayāna literature? Apart from vague references to samādhi in general, I can't find anything.

Edit: In addition to the suttas, theravādins also have commentaries and books on jhānas, for example the one by Ajahn Brahm... I was looking for a mahāyāna equivalent, too bad :(

Edit 2: I've found my happiness: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1559393254

Thanks y'all!


Check out part 2 of this book, it goes over exactly what you are looking for: https://www.amazon.com/Meditative-States-Tibetan-Buddhism-Rinpoche/dp/086171119X

Also, this one, although this may be too difficult: https://www.amazon.com/Mahamudra-Moonlight-Quintessence-Mind-Meditation/dp/0861712994

This one I did not read, but it is written by the most respected lineage holder: https://www.amazon.com/Practice-Tranquillity-Insight-Buddhist-Meditation/dp/1559391065

Also, this: https://www.amazon.com/Calm-Abiding-Special-Insight-Transformation/dp/1559391103

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    That's exactly what I was looking for, thank you very much! It reassures me to see that the first book talks about the 8 absorptions. It's less accessible than Ajahn Brahm on the other hand haha, I can't imagine the one you say is difficult! – Kalapa Apr 13 '20 at 20:57
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    I also found this btw amazon.com/… I'm reading it and it's more accessible – Kalapa Apr 13 '20 at 21:37

You're right - jhanas are deemphasized (and for good reason as far as I'm concerned), but don't forget that most Mahayana schools use the Chinese Agamas as a part of their canonical literature. The Agamas do contain, more or less, the original Sutta-pitaka along with the vinaya, abhidhamma, etc. You're not finding anything in the newer Mahayana literature because the Mahayanists are just using a Chinese translation of the same texts a Theravadan might refer to.

  • Yes, but theravādins also have commentaries and books on jhānas, for example the one by Ajahn Brahm... I was looking for a mahāyāna equivalent, too bad :( – Kalapa Apr 13 '20 at 16:53
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    Are you looking for a guide to jhana practice specifically from a Mahayana perspective? If so, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. Even the books Andrei mentioned don't follow the same paradigm as you'd find in the Theravadan tradition. I personally find the Theravadan approach to be a bit too mechanical and the language overly specific and technical. What you find in Vajrayana and Zen just feels more natural to me; but different strokes for different folks. If you are just looking for a guide to meditation, however, there are plenty. My personal favorite is Zen Training by Sekida. – user17190 Apr 13 '20 at 17:31

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