Arupa Jhana

Last Updated: October 16, 2016

Definition - What does Arupa Jhana mean?

Arupa jhana is a Buddhist term that refers to four successive levels of meditation. These meditations are all “formless meditations,” or meditations on non-material objects, and, as such, are considered more challenging to attain than the rupa jhanas. They can only be attained once the rupa jhanas have been mastered. Some say that the arupa jhanas lead to rebirth in the realm of the gods, which have the same name.

One of the root words of arupa jhana, jhana, is a Pali term that means "meditation." Jhana is often considered synonymous with the Sanskrit term, dhyana, which is commonly used in yogic teachings, whereas jhana is more often used in Buddhism. As such, arupa dhyana is sometimes considered a synonym for arupa jhana.

Yogapedia explains Arupa Jhana

The four successive arupa jhanas, which can only be achieved in this order, are:

  1. Akasanancayatana jhana - a meditative state where the mind contemplates the infinity of space.
  2. Vinnanancayatana jhana - a meditative state where the mind is absorbed in realizing that consciousness is infinite.
  3. Akincannayatana jhana - a meditative state where the mind contemplates the idea that nothing is there.
  4. Nevasannanasannayatana jhana - a meditative state of neither perception nor non-perception.

The arupa jhanas are said to possess two key qualities:

  • Upekkha - a Pali word for "equanimity," where the opposition between comfort and discomfort disappears.
  • Ekagrata - a word meaning "single-pointedness" or "very deep concentration," excluding all external stimuli.

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