Does rupa regarding jhana mean material or fine (subtle) material according to Buddhism? According to source it says:

This is the first of the Absorptions belonging to the Fine-Material Sphere (rupavacarajjhana). It is attained when, through the strength of concentration, the fivefold sense activity is temporarily suspended, and the five Hindrances are likewise eliminated. (Dîgha Nikaya, 22)


3 Answers 3


There is no definitive answer to this question.

The jhana evangelists of the Ajahn Brahm sect say 'rupa' or 'form' refers to the mental image (nimitta) in jhana. But I personally do not agree with this.

The Suttas (e.g. SN 36.22) refers to bodily feelings (piti & sukha) & mental feelings (such as domanassa & somanassa). The jhana are based in piti, sukha & equanimity feelings. In other words, the piti & sukha of jhana is generated by the nervous system of physical body or rupa. Even though the rupa cannot be experienced in jhana, the piti & sukha experienced in jhana have their source in the rupa. Similarly, the equanimity of the 4th jhana is the absence of piti & sukha manifesting in the physical body. The suttas also say breathing is the 'thorn' of the 4th jhana, which probably means if/when the 4th jhana starts to weaken, the breathing is the 1st thing experienced. This is probably why jhana is called rupa jhana.

The breathing is physical. When the breathing is calmed by mental absorption into the breathing, this causes piti & sukha to manifest. Thus piti & sukha jhana that (previously) used absorption into breathing as its cause for fruition is probably called 'rupa jhana'.

  • Would u agree breath, piti, sukha, nimitta are all fine material?
    – blue_ego
    Oct 29, 2023 at 3:37
  • There is no word in Pali that means "fine" material. Rupa means "material" Oct 30, 2023 at 2:17

Rupa means any form , organic or inorganic, fine or coarse, biological or technological.


It's same meaning but it's difference in detail.

For example, there are only three senses for Rupa-Bhrhama while human have six senses because of the difference head-Taṇha to rebirth.

See AbhidhammatthaSangaha Chapter 1-6 for more detail.

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