The Path of Serenity and Insight

How did the jhanas fit into the Buddha's own liberation, and how did they become the backbone of his teachings?

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

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After reaching the first jhana, the ardent meditator can go on to reach the higher jhanas, which is done by eliminating the coarser factors in each jhana while aiming at the superior purity of the next higher jhana. Beyond the four jhanas lies another fourfold set of higher meditative states, which deepen still further the element of serenity. These attainments, known as the formless or immaterial attainments, are the base of boundless space, the base of boundless consciousness, the base of nothingness, and the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. In the Pali commentaries these come to be called the four immaterial jhanas, the four preceding stages being renamed, for the sake of clarity, the four fine-material jhanas. Often the two sets are joined together under the collective title of the eight jhanas or the eight attainments.

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