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Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator’s Handbook by Ajahn Brahm. Jack Kornfield Goodreads Author Foreword.
Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator’s Handbook by Ajahn Brahm
Done correctly, it can be a way to radically encounter bliss and to begin – and sustain – real transformation in ourselves. In Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyondself-described meditation junkie Ajahn Brahm shares his knowledge and experience of the jhanas – a core part of the Buddha’s original meditati Meditation: In Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyondself-described meditation junkie Ajahn Brahm shares his knowledge and experience of the jhanas – a core part of the Buddha’s original meditation teaching.
Never before has this material been approached in such an empowering way, by a teacher of such authority and popularity. Full of surprises, delightfully goofy humor, and entertaining stories that inspire, instruct, and illuminate, Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond will encourage those new to meditation, and give a shot in the arm to more experienced practitioners as well.
Paperbackpages. Published August 11th by Wisdom Publications first published August 10th To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyondplease sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond. Lists with This Book. Initially I read these many books to learn from experienced meditators what to do and then, after I had accumulated quite a store of them, I re-read them to reconcile their different and sometimes conflicting messages.
Some books hold that this is no longer possible maybe one in a million, if that, can truly attain these deep absorptions, they say ; other books skirt the issue altogether; while Ajahn Brahm courageously holds that: Ajahn Brahm is an intelligent man, and he reasons very clearly. His analysis of the applicable Pali Canon references and his reconciliation of apparently conflicting passages deserve applause. Mar 18, Bobby rated it really liked it.
Recommended – though I would pair this book with others to offer a more balanced view – try Shaila Catherine ‘s Focused and Fearless – Catherine offers an excellent guide to cultivating the jhana factors. Aug 19, Wt rated it really liked it. In this book, Ajahn Brahm reveals a blissful path to Nibaana through the development of the jhanas.
Using language and instructions that are down-to-earth. To see this magnificent and profound path revealed in all its radiance, and revealed to be attainable, virtually does away with speech and commentary for quite a while. Ajahn Brahm plays up the blissful aspect of this path through the jhanas, citing many instances in the sutta pitaka where the Buddha explicitly stresses and praises the pleasant and happy nature of jhanas and their cultivation. This makes it seem as if the Buddha really valued jhana and the bliss of jhana above all else.
However, these citations should ideally be placed in their proper context – in these suttas, the Buddha was directly addressing Jain ascetics and ascetism which he stresses is painful, unnecessary and unprofitable.
Even so, that mindfulnese – that there exists a blissful path to enlightenment through the jhanas – is equally important for our times, when science, materialism, skepticism and the guilt complex has made us all a little wary and pessimistic of spiritual bliss, fearful and forgetful of spiritual happiness.
Ajahn Brahm interprets and presents the Anapanasati Sutta in a way that will be new and challenging for many people who are used to nindfulness interpretations of the sutta like Buddhadasa Bhikku’s. Ajahn Brahm’s application of Anapanasati relies more on the deliverance of mind ceto-vimmutti. Both seem ans of delivering the supramundane fruits if practiced correctly. If Ajahn Brahm had just taught the path blixs deliverance through the jhanas, I would have given this book 5 stars and the review ends here.
Unfortunately, Ajahn Brahm felt so strongly that enlightenment – including mkndfulness first two stages of enlightenment – could braahm happen with and through the jhanas that he categorically denied any validity to other paths that do not rely on jhana. The ignoring of non-jhanic paths results in some gross inconsistencies in his mindfklness of enlightenment esp. For example, on pg. Actually, the relevant passage of the sutta states: This passage can just as equally be interpreted as an acknowledgement that jhana mastery is not the only path to deliverance, and that there can also be a path of dry insight.
Ajahn Brahm then goes on to equate “samatha”, one of the five conditions listed as supporting the two triggers to right view, as “jhana”. He tops it off by saying “The second of Ven. Even if samadhi refers to jhana, one cannot therefore say that the path IS jhana, because there are factors other than samadhi involved. I am bfahm to say this, but this is worst case of bad translation, blatant conflation and loose juggling of Pali terms and logic that I have ever come across, and it should not have happened.
With such over-simplification, we really mindfuless to wonder: Is this what can happen when the one-pointedness of jhana is not matched by the power of dissection conferred by Insight?!! Yet, there are some stories in the Tipitaka that suggest it might be possible.
Ajahn Brahm’s blind-spot becomes very visible to readers here. For example, the story of Susima in the Samyutta Nikaya S II, recounts the declaration of final liberation by a number of bhikkus in the presence of the Buddha at Rajagaha.
Upon being queried later by Susima about their jhanic attainments, these same bhikkus told him that they are “liberated through wisdom alone”. Susima then goes and checks with the Ajqhn about how this can be, and the Buddha there and then leads him through a series of questions and answers that shows Sisima using his Susima’s own blisz and understanding how one becomes liberated through wisdom alone, without jhanic attainments.
Really, how much clearer can it get that “liberation by wisdom alone” is not only possible, it has been DONE, verified as DONE, checked and double-checked, stamped and double-stamped, with the Buddha’s own stamp of approval itself? Rather than accept the liberating power of insight, Ajahn Brahm chooses to attribute stream-entry without jhana to the power of Beond alone pg When the Buddha has repeatedly taught people not to rely on faith and belief, but to rely on one’s own discrimination, experience and insight?
Rahula in “What andd Buddha Taught”: The teaching of the Buddha is qualified as Ehi-Passiko, inviting you to come mkndfulness see, but not to come and believe. So, WHY should a learned member of the Sangha deduce that it was faith and not dry insight that delivered the fruit? He says “I don’t know”.
Ajahn Chah then tells him, “If anyone asks you ‘Why? But Ajahn Chah corrects him, saying “No you don’t. Was Ajahn Chah pointing to the nothingness cessation obtained through insight, was he pointing to the nothingness that the jhanas must ultimately culminate in, was he pointing also to the nothingness of jhana? Was he telling Ajahn Brahm not to cling to Jhana, not to make a big deal out of jhana, because it is nothing?
Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond : Ajahn Brahm :
This BTW is the same pointing out a “dry vipassana” instructor would give to a student who starts to get light, rapture, happiness and etc – to disregard them because they are nothing but subtle defilements of the mind. If so, Ajahn Brahm never understood his master fully. Instead, he assumes that he does, and that it is us, the reader, who doesn’t understand see pg.
Make no mistake, much of what Ajahn Brahm says, including about the “dumping down” of Nibhaana, is very true and very important. This book is brave in its critique and vision, but the author becomes a little rash in his assertions, and his dogmatic adherence to his particular view and experience shows a lack of balance and impartiality – shows an imperfection of wisdom therefore.
Could this be due to a failure to fully grasp that “Why? Just because Ajahn Brahm did not or could not attain stream-entry through dry insight, does it mean that nobody attained or can attain stream-entry through dry insight? Does he know the accumulated insight and virtues of everyone else?
Some people just hear the dhamma and they SEE it and they get enlightened. Some people have to suffer greatly in life and then they see the dhamma and get enlightened. Some people have to practice vipassana before they see the dhamma. Some people have to develop jhana and then do vipassana, then they see the dhamma.
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Some people do vipassana first, they see the dhamma, and that seeing gives them the purity and focus of mind to develop the jhanas successfully. The fact is, there are different kinds of people with different capabilities of insight and with different potentials for liberation in the world.
The Buddha taught 40 kinds of meditation with innumerable possibilities for skillful combination and application because he recognized the different propensities, potentialities and needs of different people.
The “one path” does not mean that there is only one path satipathana or jhanait means the path that leads to to one goal of Nibhaana. So there are several “one paths” in the Dispensation of the Buddha, all leading to Nibhaana.
For those still confused over jhana and dry insight, let me just point out that without the power of jhanic absorption up to the 4th jhana at the very least to drive it, Anapanasati or any Satipathana method might only reach up to the first two levels of enlightenment – stream-entry or once-returner. Without crowning insight to finish it, the development of jhanas might only lead to rebirth in the pure abodes in which one can complete the practice to gain liberation.
Don’t you agree, that ANY one of these fruits are supremely rewarding to get, coming as it does with the iron-clad guarantee of final liberation? Why should those who get a fruit insist “my apple is best, only apples can satiate all hunger, and you can only get an apple by picking it up with your left hand,” when there are apples, pears, melons and grapes on the table ready for the eating, and just as many ways to get them as there are hands, mouths and people?
I guess this book is an example of the jhanas’ great ability to expand horizons of understanding, even as they harbor a great ability to create blind-spots. OVER-reliance on jhana is not a good thing, if it can create such subtle attachment to views and blind-spots in understanding.
Jhana by itself really does not guarantee wisdom! So, if your question is “WHY should I read this book, can it lead me to final liberation? View all 6 comments. Feb 07, Natalie rated it liked it. This book is a trip. It argues that jhana is the ONLY path to nibbana–a provocative thesis to say the least. From a less academic standpoint, this book is a great introduction to the path set out in Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga–which can be, to say the l This book is a trip.
From a less academic standpoint, this book is a great introduction to the path set out in Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga–which can be, to say the least, a little challenging to read.
He’s fun to read, though perhaps a little fundamentalist, no? Oct 01, Athanasius rated it it was amazing Shelves: