In the oldest scriptures of Theravada Buddhism much attention is given to the jhanas, high levels of meditative attainment distinguished by powerful concentration and purity of mind. Ven. Dr. Gunaratana examines these jhanas within the context of Buddhist teaching as a whole and particularly within the meditation disciplines taught by the Buddha. Beginning with the ethical foundation for meditation, the role of the teacher, the classical subjects of meditation, and the appropriateness of these subjects to individual practitioners, the author traces the practice of meditation to the higher reaches of realization. The eight stages of jhana are individually analyzed and explained in terms of their relation to one another and to the ultimate goal of the teaching. The author makes the critical distinction between the mundane jhanas and supermundane jhanas, pointing out that the lower four, while leading to various mental powers and psychic attainments, are not necessary to full enlightenment and may be developed or bypassed as the medita-tor wishes. The author goes on to explain the place of the jhanas among the accomplishments of an arahat and elucidate their usefulness for a dedicated meditator.
...This is a work which combines sound scholarship with considerable practical experience.
Buddhist Studies Review, 5.1 (1988)
...This should be a useful book for those interested in well-documented, traditional analysis of the cons
About the Author(s)
VENERABLE HENEPOLA GUNARATANA served as Hon. General Secretary of the Buddhist Vihara Society of Washington,D. C. and later became President of the Society. He has taught courses in Buddhism, conducted meditation retreats, and lectured widely throughout the United States and Canada and pursued his scholarly interests as well. His books and articles have been published in Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka and the U .S.A.
In 1973 Venerable Gunaratana occupied the position of Buddhist Chaplain at the American University.
His basic aim was to diffuse Buddhist teachings throughout North America.