[Buddha-l] Jhana

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Mon Jan 28 09:27:01 MST 2008

On Monday 28 January 2008 08:16, Jackhat1 at aol.com wrote:

> Does jhana refer to general meditation in some places in the canon?

I don't know, but I hope someone answers this.

> For  instance, the Buddha was feeling tired so he entered a
> jhana state for a  few minutes to rest.

The Sanskrit dhyaana is derived from dhyai, which can mean, among other 
things, to think. Dhyaana in general Sanskrit usage covers such activities as 
working out algebra problems, thinking about metaphysics, contemplating 
beauty and so forth, and I think it has this same sense in Pali. When one is 
working on a differential equation, then one is in first jhaana.

Aristotle argues in various places that God's only activity is to contemplate 
the Good, and since God is the greatest good, God's only activity is to think 
about God. Human beings are closest to being like God when they are 
contemplating for the pure sake of contemplating, and that happens when one 
is thinking about metaphysical issues. I think he was right. I have always 
held that either Aristotle was a Buddhist without knowing it or that Gautama 
was an Aristotelian without knowing it.

Richard P. Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

More information about the buddha-l mailing list