The BSWA is delighted to present yet another workshop in the series on Early Buddhism. We will continue where we left off with the last workshop. This means we will focus on the eighth factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, right stillness, otherwise known as sammāsamādhi or jhāna. This concerns the deep states of peace that are one of the primary purposes of meditation practice.

The main focus of the workshop will be understanding the true nature of jhāna as presented by the Buddha. We will start off by discussing the place of jhāna on the Buddhist path. We will then look at a number of misconceptions and controversies that surround jhāna. Finally, we will discuss the jhānas in detail, including analysing the standard descriptions of the jhānas as found in the suttas.

This series consists of 3 workshops, conducted in two sessions.

General Reading:

Workshop Series:

  • Workshop 1 (Part 1 – 2 ) | 26 November 2022 | Ajahn Brahmali
  • Workshop 2 (Part 3 – 4) | 03 December 2022 | Ajahn Brahmali and Venerable Sunyo
  • Workshop 3 (Part 5 – 6) | 10 December 2022 | Ajahn Brahmali and Venerable Sunyo
Workshop I (Part 1 – 2) | 26 November 2022 | Ajahn Brahmali

Sammāsamādhi: Context and definition

  • Outline of course
  • Purpose of this course: what sammāsamādhi (right stillness) is and its importance
  • Place of sammāsamādhi on the path (MN 117)
  • The Buddha discovers jhāna (AN 9.42 + MN 36)
  • Importance of samādhi/jhāna
    o “Samādhi is the path” (AN 6.64)
    o Samādhi is a core factor of the Dhamma (DN16)
    o Samādhi is the essence of the spiritual life (AN 4.29)
    o Samādhi = jhāna
    o Samādhi and jhāna in all traditions and suttas
    o The similes used to describe importance of jhāna (MN64)
  • Samādhi: meaning, etymology, and translations
  • Definition of sammāsamādhi
    o Standard jhāna definition (SN 45.8)
    o Alternative definition (MN 8 + MN 117)
    ▪ Wrong stillness vs. right stillness
    o Fourth spiritual faculty (SN 48.9)
    o Jhāna factors (MN 43)
  • How jhāna meditation works
    o Dependent liberation (AN 10.1)
    o Seven factors of awakening (SN 46.3)
    o Samādhi from mindfulness of breathing (SN 54.7 + MN 118)

Part I

Part 2



Workshop II (Part 3 – 4) | 3 December 2022 | Ajahn Brahmali and Venerable Sunyo

Controversies and misconceptions

  • What do we do when there are disagreements of interpretation? (MN 104)
  • Various misconceptions
    o Samatha and samādhi are mystical, whereas vipassanā is rational
    o Sammāsamādhi is only calm without insight (MN 31)
    o Jhāna is not necessary for stream-entry (AN 10.3)
    o You get attached to jhāna (MN 138 + DN 29)
  • Are there any alternative samādhis that can be used in place of jhāna?
    o Momentary stillness (khaṇika samādhi)
    o Access stillness (upācāra samādhi)
    o Vipassanā jhāna
    o Supramundane jhāna
  • Buddha’s recollection of the first jhāna: why did he recall this experience, not those under the two teachers?
  • Descriptions of jhāna (preparing for day 3)

Part I

Part 2



Workshop III (Part 5 – 6) | 10 December 2022 | Ajahn Brahmali and Venerable Sunyo

Understanding the power and profundity of jhāna

  • Detailed analysis of jhāna formulas (SN 45.8)
    o “Secluded from the senses, secluded from unwholesome qualities” (AN 6.73 + MN 38 + AN 9.33 + AN 9.31 + AN 9.38 + AN9.42)
    o The nature of rapture (pīti) and happiness (sukha)
    o “Body”, kāya (MN 39 + MN 119)
    o “Form”, rūpa (MN 28)
    o Sound is a thorn to jhāna (AN 10.72)
    o Jhāna blindfolds Māra (MN 25)
    o Jhāna is at the end of the world (AN 9.38)
  • Can you think in jhāna? (SN 41.8 + AN 3.101 + MN 117 + MN 78)
  • Jhāna “light” or jhāna “heavy”?
  • Sammāsamādhi and the formless attainments
  • Samādhi leading to sammāñāṇa and sammāvimutti: next workshop (MN 117)

Part I

Part 2



Right Samadhi Workshop – Lesson Plan and Reading Materials

To download the audio, click on the audio track’s title to open it up in Podbean.

Audio teachings are available to download from our BSWA Podcast Channel (Dharma talks and guided meditations) and BSWA DeeperDhamma Podbean Channel (retreats and suttas). Videos can be viewed on our BSWA Youtube Channel and YouTube Playlists. Books and articles are available on our website here.

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