Title: A Critical Analysis of the Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation
Author: Henepola Gunaratana
Publisher: The American University
Length: 252 pages
2.The Preliminaries to Practice
3.The Conquest of the Hindrances
4.The First Jhana and its Factors
5.The Highter Jhanas
6.Beyond the Four Jhanas
7.The Way of Wisdom
8.Jhana and the Noble Attainments
This work, by Ven. Henepola Gunaratana, provides an analytical study of the Jhanas, as they are an important set of meditative attainments in the contemplative discipline of Theravada Buddhism.
Despite their frequent appearance in the texts, the exact role of the Jhanas in the Buddhist path has not been settled with unanimity by Theravada scholars, who are still divided over the question as to whether they are necessary for attaining Nibbana. The primary purpose of this dissertation is to determine the precise role of the Jhanas in the Theravada Buddhist presentation of the way to liberation.
For source material the work relies upon the three principal classes of authoritative Theravada texts: the Pali Tipitaka, its commentaries, and its sub-commentaries. To traditional canonical investigations modern methods of philosophical and psychological analysis are applied in order to clarify the meanings implicit in the original sources.
The examination covers two major areas: first the dynamics of Jhana attainment, and second, the function of the Jhanas in realizing the ultimate goal of Buddhism, Nibbana or final liberation from suffering.
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