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The higher arupa jhanas are:

  • fifth jhāna: infinite space (Pāḷi ākāsānañcāyatanaa),
  • sixth jhāna: infinite consciousness (Pāḷi viññāṇañcāyatana),
  • seventh jhāna: infinite nothingness (Pāḷi ākiñcaññāyatana),
  • eighth jhāna: neither perception nor non-perception (Pāḷi nevasaññānāsaññāyatana)

Are these supernatural states?

Does the plane of infinite consciousness of the sixth jhana refer to the Universal Consciousness or Cosmic Consciousness of Advaita Vedanta?

Do the fifth, sixth and seventh jhana takes the meditator beyond his physical body and into infinite space, infinite consciousness and infinite nothingness?

Can the meditator now observe things in other galaxies by entering these states? Can they see what is happening in the deva or brahma worlds by entering these states? Can they sense through the senses of other living beings? Are they supernatural states of being?

Or are they simply different states of mind? That is, not supernatural.

I have also heard that they are related to compassion, loving kindness and other Brahmaviharas - how is this the case? Is there a clear connection?

Why are they described as formless (arupa)?

I would appreciate it, if canonical references (from the Pali Canon) are available to support this. Commentaries or secondary sources (e.g. Visuddhimagga, traditional commentaries, modern commentaries from scholar monks etc.) are also welcomed, in addition.

  • Looks like the only way to know for sure is by getting there. – The White Cloud Sep 2 at 8:25
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Studying SN46.54, one is introduced to the apex of the Brahmaviharas.

With limitless love, one finds beauty everywhere. One might see the lotus in the swamp:

SN46.54:12.8: The apex of the heart’s release by love is the beautiful, I say, for a mendicant who has not penetrated to a higher freedom.

With limitless compassion, one might see the infinite space of possibility and realizes the futility of resentment.

SN46.54:13.6: The apex of the heart’s release by compassion is the dimension of infinite space, I say, for a mendicant who has not penetrated to a higher freedom.

With limitless rejoicing, one becomes conscious of connections. One might see that the lotus and the swamp are inseparably connected.

SN46.54:14.6: The apex of the heart’s release by rejoicing is the dimension of infinite consciousness, I say, for a mendicant who has not penetrated to a higher freedom.

With limitless equanimity, one might see the pointlessness of wishes:

SN46.54:15.9: The apex of the heart’s release by equanimity is the dimension of nothingness, I say, for a mendicant who has not penetrated to a higher freedom.”

Beyond these lies the dimension of perception or non-perception. Like water spilled on the ground, in this dimension, one is aware of perception but cannot swim in it or drink it (apologies, but I could not find the quote).

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The canon does not mention them as Jhana but formless states, good householder Ruben, to mention that.

Are these supernatural states?

Yes, since based on the 4 Jhanas. Detail discussion on Parajika 4 on supernatural states in BMC might be useful.

Does the plane of infinite consciousness of the sixth jhana refer to the Universal Consciousness or Cosmic Consciousness of Advaita Vedanta?

Any answer here would be speculation for the most unless one would have attained also knowledge of what is thought of it in the Advaita Vedanta and Awakened to beyond as well. There is of course much reasonableness behind to compare it.

Do the fifth, sixth and seventh jhana takes the meditator beyond his physical body and into infinite space, infinite consciousness and infinite nothingness?

Yes: formless states

Can the meditator now observe things in other galaxies by entering these states? Can they see what is happening in the deva or brahma worlds by entering these states? Can they sense through the senses of other living beings?

Form, objects of the senses, are absent, so not very reasonable. Not forgetting that Dhamma can't be received as well here.

Or are they simply different states of mind?

The question doesn't make sense in regard of 'or'. Of course they are different states of mind.

I have also heard that they are related to compassion, loving kindness and other Brahmaviharas - how is this the case?

Best sample on it has been already given by Upasaka Karl.

General good advices and explainings on concentration, at least in regard of the aim of the practice *räusper*, can be found in Right Concentration in "Wings of Awakening", generously by Bhante Thanissaro.

[Note that this has not been given for stackes, exchange, other worldbinding trades, but for release from this wheel.]

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Are these supernatural states?

I don’t think it will be right to call them supernatural because these are stations on the journey to Nirvana. You and me can experience it but we will not be able to move forward on the journey because of attachments. We relapse but enlightened beings know sabbe Dhamma Anatta...

Does the plane of infinite consciousness of the sixth jhana refer to the Universal Consciousness or Cosmic Consciousness of Advaita Vedanta?

May be.I am not sure. Hindu Brahmins of the past matched the meditation of Buddha to a great extent but failed to attain Nirvana...because they didn’t believe in sabbe Dhamma Anatta..

Do the fifth, sixth and seventh jhana takes the meditator beyond his physical body and into infinite space, infinite consciousness and infinite nothingness?

Meditator doesn’t think about his physical body.He is absorbed in what is there namely infinite space , infinite consciousness, neither perception nor non perception etc... You give up your senses at some stage. That includes body identification...

Can the meditator now observe things in other galaxies by entering these states?

What is observed is already explained by Buddha. may be infinite space is filled with galaxies... I have not experienced it.

Can they see what is happening in the deva or brahma worlds by entering these states?

Of course. But a Buddhist knows a better Truth and knows how to meditate without getting distracted.

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