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We find in Thig 3.3 the following verses :

I attain the meditations on emptiness and signlessness whenever I want. I am the Buddha’s rightful daughter, always delighting in quenching.

How, dear friends, would you relate the attainment of the signless to the jhana of neither perception nor non perception ?

Thank you for your most appreciated insightful comments. May you all be well and safe.

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As explained in many suttas, for example in MN121, in the gradual training approach the signless concentration is the next step after "neither perception nor nonperception" and the last step before The Final Liberating Realization.

If you search this site for the words signlessness, signless, nimitta, animitta, and semiotics - you will find many of my detailed answers on these topics.

For a detailed analysis of Pali sources, see this nice article: "Signless" Meditations in Pali Buddhism.

This topic is of the utmost importance because it connects the Early Buddhism and Mahayana into one teaching.

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The 8th Jhana should be "The realm of neither sensation nor no sensation"

"The realm of neither sensation nor no sensation (neva saññā nāsaññāyatana) – the attention is withdrawn even from the awareness of nothing. Therefore, the attention is not focused on any sensation, though not remaining totally unconscious. Th is is being at the threshold of consciousness." Page 47 from here

Then he began to enter the cognitive ecstasies: (5) The realm of infinite space (6) The realm of infinite perception (7) The realm of nothingness (8) The realm of neither sensation nor no sensation (9) The cessation of sensation and feeling.

Page 114 from here

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Here desciple talking of eyes of wisdom. The object that is signless and void, a deliverance for the Arhat. Jhana is litterally mean Dhyana, one pointed awareness, to that of object, in which the 'observer is turn into the observed phenomenon'! Like, one who goes to 'see', but turn into 'seen'. The seer (I) dies. The one got this wisdom eyes, the 'I' died. When 'I' is no more, then birth, becoming, old age and unwanted thing happens to whome?

Here the desciple have followed the Eightfold path and completed the journey, exclaimed the verse in hapiness!

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Signless is not a jhana and is not neither perception nor non perception. For example, both SN 40.9 & MN 121 appear to say the signless can be attained after the sphere of neither perception nor non perception.

However, other suttas, such as SN 41.6, repeated in MN 44, say the signless can be attained after emerging from the cessation of perception & feeling.

Therefore, the impression is the foremost signlessness does not occur directly from a furtherance of "tranquilization" (as described in SN 36.11, MN 111, MN 26, etc) after the sphere of neither perception nor non perception. Instead, it appears the foremost signless occurs after emerging from the sphere of neither perception nor non perception; or otherwise, emerging from the cessation of perception & feeling; when the mind becomes increasing conscious rather than less conscious.

MN 43, AN 6.13, AN 7.56 and particularly MN 121 & AN 6.60 appears to clearly say the signless is not the foremost in liberation; is not emptiness (sunnata); and is not Nibbana.

MN 121 says:

‘Even this signless immersion of the heart is produced by choices and intentions.’

‘ayampi kho animitto cetosamādhi abhisaṅkhato abhisañcetayito’.

They understand: ‘But whatever is produced by choices and intentions is impermanent and liable to cessation.’

‘Yaṃ kho pana kiñci abhisaṅkhataṃ abhisañcetayitaṃ tadaniccaṃ nirodhadhamman’ti pajānāti.

AN 6.60 says:

Take the case of another person who, not focusing on any signs, enters and remains in the signless immersion of the heart.

Idha, panāvuso, ekacco puggalo sabbanimittānaṃ amanasikārā animittaṃ cetosamādhiṃ upasampajja viharati.

Thinking, ‘I get the signless immersion of the heart!’ they mix closely with monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen; with rulers and their ministers, and with teachers of other paths and their followers.

So ‘lābhimhi animittassa cetosamādhissā’ti saṃsaṭṭho viharati bhikkhūhi bhikkhunīhi upāsakehi upāsikāhi raññā rājamahāmattehi titthiyehi titthiyasāvakehi.

As they mix closely, they become intimate and loose, spending time chatting, and so lust infects their mind.

Tassa saṃsaṭṭhassa vissatthassa pākatassa bhassamanuyuttassa viharato rāgo cittaṃ anuddhaṃseti.

They reject the training and return to a lesser life.

So rāgānuddhaṃsitena cittena sikkhaṃ paccakkhāya hīnāyāvattati.

Based on the above, it also appears there are varying degrees of signlessness. In other words, it appears the signless is not always dependent upon emerging from the sphere of perception nor non-perception or emerging from the cessation of perception & feeling.

Therefore, when the Mahayana attempts to say the signless is superior to or transcends Nibbana; that Nibbana is merely a sign or concept; that Nibbana is the same as Samsara; obviously the Mahayana are wrong & lost in concepts about imagined non-concepts or lost in signs about imagined non-signs.

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