One should pursue pleasure,
a pleasure that is not of the senses (jhana)
April 13, 2004
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Often it is heard that one should avoid the ecstasies of the absorption states, because one might become "addicted" or "side tracked." And those who do not revere noble ones even say they are "bliss bunnies" for seeking the ecstasies. However, I do not seem to have become "addicted" to bliss and ecstasy. Every day I am just more happy, more content and fulfilled than I can ever recall being. If that is an addiction to being a "bliss bunny," I'll take it over an anxiety disorder, depression or dependence on stimulants and depressants.
The historic Buddha said, bliss and ecstasy "should be pursued ... it should be developed ... should be cultivated, and ... should not be feared."
Aranavibhanga Sutta, MN 1393. "One should not pursue sensual pleasure...and one should not pursue self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, and unbeneficial. The Middle Way discovered by the Tathagata avoids both extremes; giving vision, giving knowledge, it leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana...9. ..."One should know how to define pleasure, and knowing that, one should pursue pleasure within oneself"..."Here bhikkhus, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enter upon and resides in the first (absorption) jhana"... (through 4th jhana). "This is called the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment. I say of this kind of pleasure that it should be pursued, that it should be developed, that it should be cultivated, and that it should not be feared.""So it was in reference to this that I said, 'One should know how to define pleasure, and knowing that, one should pursue pleasure within oneself."13. Here, bhikkhus, the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment, is a state without suffering (dukkha)... and it is the right way. Therefore this is a state without conflict."(Majjhima Nikaya trans. Bhikkhus Nanamoli & Bodhi, Wisdom, 1995)Jhanasamyutta, SN 34"Therein, bhikkhus, the meditator who is skilled both in meditation regarding absorption (jhana) and in attainment regarding absorption (jhana) is the chief, the best the foremost, the highest, the most excellent of these four kinds of meditators."(Samyutta Nikaya tans. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wisdom, 2000)Jhanasamyutta, SN 9.53"Bhikkhus, just as the River Ganges slants, slopes and inclines toward the East, so too a bhikkhu who develops and cultivates the four absorptions (jhanas) slants, slopes, and inclines toward nibbana."(Samyutta Nikaya tans. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wisdom, 2000)
In conclusion it appears that the historic Buddha taught an 8 fold practice path, that included right or noble mindfulness (samma-sati). Based upon the Satipatthana Sutta, MN 10, we can conclude he called the cultivation of mindfulness (sati) "satipatthana" (DN 22), not "vipassana." And, the conclusion, or successful execution, of satipatthana was specifically for giving rise to right or correct meditation (samma-samadhi) (DN 22.21); which he defined in terms of the four material, or rupa jhanas, (DN 22.21); which he called "Di.t.thadhammasukhavihaaraa;" which is often translated as a "pleasant abiding in the here and now" (MN 8); which he considered to be supramundane (Lokuttara) (NM 31.10-18).
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