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  • Breath disappearance

    Dear Bhante (I'm not sure who is available so I posted this on two threads - Ask a Monastic, and Sutta, Vinaya, and Pali)

    Please excuse me if this question has been asked before but I was not able to find "Samyutta Nikaya 36:11 on the thread finder.

    But it's a fairly straightforward question; Ajahn Brahm mentioned in "The Basic Method of Meditation"that the breath ceases just before nimitta and before first Jhana, however, the Buddha indicated that in and out breathing ceases in fourth jhana.

    Samyutta Nikaya 36:11 (Alone) "Then, monk, I have also taught the step-by-step stilling of fabrications. When one has attained the first jhana, speech has been stilled. When one has attained the second jhana, directed thought and evaluation have been stilled. When one has attained the third jhana, rapture has been stilled. When one has attained the fourth jhana, in-and-out breathing has been stilled. When one has attained the dimension of the infinitude of space, the perception of forms has been stilled. When one has attained the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of space has been stilled. When one has attained the dimension of nothingness, the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness has been stilled. When one has attained the dimension of neither-perception nor non-perception, the perception of the dimension of nothingness has been stilled. When one has attained the cessation of perception and feeling, perception and feeling have been stilled. When a monk's effluents have ended, passion has been stilled, aversion has been stilled, delusion has been stilled.

    Could you give me your opinion on this?

    Metta, eddie

  • #2
    Hi dear Ed,

    What Ajahn Brahm intends to say is that the perception of the breath ceases before nimittas. The breath itself is still happening, but you don't notice it. According to the sutta the breath itself stops in the fourth jhana, not just the perception of it.

    With metta too!

    Sunyo

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    • #3
      Dear Ven. Sunyo,
      how can one know that one's breath actually stops in the fourth jhana, since she/he has stopped perceiving the breath way before then? (i.e. when the perception of it disappears before the nimitta as Ed says). As I scientist I had to ask that, since every statement ought to be verifiable... ;-)
      Seems to me that the only possible way to prove this would be to observe the breath of someone else meditating and seeing it stop; apparently there are anecdotes of this happening to Ajahn Chah in hospital; but is there anything in the suttas on this question (of how one can verify that this is actually the case)?
      Thanks
      Stefano

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      • #4
        Hi Stefano,

        There the parinibbana sutta where the monks are standing around the Buddha, thinking he has died while he is only in deep meditation and not breathing. There is nothing in the suttas that tells you how to know for your own breathing, but I'd suppose as you just get out of fourth jhana you can notice your breath isn't moving, or hasn't been moving for a while.

        With metta,
        Sunyo

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