Rupa Jhana

Definition - What does Rupa Jhana mean?

Rupa jhana is a Buddhist term that refers to four successive levels of meditation. These meditations are all “meditations of form," or meditations on material or mental objects; as such, they are considered less challenging to attain than the non-material meditations, the arupa jhanas. The arupa jhanas are higher levels of meditation that can only be attained once the rupa jhanas have been mastered.

Rupa jhana can be directly translated as “form meditations." One of the root words, jhana, is a Pali term that means "meditation." Jhana is often considered synonymous with the Sanskrit term, dhyana, which is commonly used in the yogic texts, whereas jhana is more often used in Buddhism; as such, rupa dhyana is sometimes considered a synonym for rupa jhana.

Yogapedia explains Rupa Jhana

The four successive rupa jhanas are:

  1. Pathama jhana - Directed thought and evaluation, rapture and pleasure in the unification of the mind.
  2. Dutiya jhana - Internal assurance, rapture and pleasure in the unification of the mind.
  3. Tatiya jhana - Equanimity-pleasure in the unification of the mind.
  4. Catuttha jhana - Complete equanimity with neither pleasure or pain and utter serenity of awareness in the unification of the mind.

Each level is considered more challenging to obtain than the last because it necessitates relinquishing attachment to a positive experience from the preceding state. The yogi is helped along this process when he/she realizes that, in fact, each aspect that they let go of is simply a form of agitation of the mind, although it may appear positive at first.

The rupa jhanas are said to bring about a pleasant and abiding freedom from suffering. When the mind is in these meditative states, it is free from aversion, craving, agitation and doubt. They are believed to empower the mind of the yogi, allowing it to understand the deep truths of existence.

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