Pathama Jhana

Definition - What does Pathama Jhana mean?

Pathama jhana is the first of a series of successive levels of meditation in Buddhism. The term comes from the sister languages of Pali and Sanskrit. Pathama translates as “first” and “foremost” in Sanskrit, while jhana means “meditation” or “concentration of mind” in Pali. In Sanskrit, the term is usually pathama dhyana. Dhyana is one of the eight limbs of yoga as described in The Yoga Sutras.

In pathama jhana, the yogi directs his/her thoughts to focus on a physical or mental object, and goes through stages that include meditative joy in order to reach a single-minded concentration.

Yogapedia explains Pathama Jhana

There are four meditations known as rupa jhanas, or meditations on form, meaning the mind focuses on material or mental forms. Pathama jhana is the first of these. Once these are mastered, the yogi may proceed to the arupa jhanas, which are higher levels of meditation.

Pathama jhana consists of five factors:

  • Vitarka (conceiving mentally/thinking)
  • Vichara (sustaining the mental focus)
  • Priti (meditative joy)
  • Sukha (meditative happiness)
  • Ekagrata (single-minded concentration)

To reach the next stage of meditation, the yogi learns to let go of an aspect of attachment in each of the factors. Even meditative joy and happiness are hindrances that agitate the mind. In The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes similar factors for the first stage of meditation.

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