Catuttha Jhana

Definition - What does Catuttha Jhana mean?

Catuttha jhana is the highest of the four levels of meditation on "form," or rupa jhanas, in Buddhism. The term comes from two of the languages that developed in India: Pali and Sanskrit. Catuttha means “fourth” or “empty” in Sanskrit, while jhana means “concentration of mind” or “meditation” in Pali. Dhyana, one of The Eight Limbs of Yoga listed in the Yoga Sutras, is often used as the Sanskrit synonym for jhana.

This fourth level is described as neither pleasant nor unpleasant, and it is categorized as mindfulness purified by equanimity.

Yogapedia explains Catuttha Jhana

By the time he/she reaches the level of catuttha jhana, the yogi has cast off the factors associated with the earlier levels of jhana:

  • Vitarka (conceiving and noticing the object of meditation)
  • Vichara (experiencing and sustaining the mental focus on the object)
  • Priti (meditative joy and rapture)
  • Sukha (bliss and meditative happiness)

What remains is ekagrata, which is single-minded concentration, and upekkha, which is equanimity. To move forward to the advanced levels of meditation without form, the yogi must release his/her attachment to ekagrata.

Because the rupa jhanas are levels of meditation in which the mind focuses on a material or mental object, the yogi cannot advance until he/she lets go of attachment to all factors. Then, he/she is free to move his/her meditative practice forward to the arupa (“formless”) jhanas, which lead to enlightenment.

The first three rupa jhanas are:

  • Pathama jhana (directed thought)
  • Dutiya jhana (internal assurance)
  • Tatiya jhana (equanimity with pleasure)
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