Essays on Buddhism by Leigh Brasington
The following is a hypertext enhanced version of a paper presented to the
American Academy of Religon/Western Regional meeting on 25 Mar '97.
It contains a bibliography and links to other sites that discuss the Jhanas.
Sharpening Manjushri's Sword - The Jhanas in Theravadan Buddhist Meditation
- I spent the month of May 2006 on retreat at the Forest Refuge with Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw. The following details some extra curricular exploration of the jhanas while more deeply concentrated than described above.
Jhanas at the Forest Refuge
I spent 9 1/2 months in 2011/2012 on retreat at the Forest Refuge. Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw was again teaching jhanas for 4 months of that time and I got to explore more of his teachings, as well as do other practices.
Nine and Half Months at the Forest Refuge
- Next is a reprint of an article that first appeared in Insight Journal,
Fall 2002. It is a transcription of a talk I gave at the
Barre Center for Buddhist Studies
in April of 2002.
Instruction for Entering Jhàna
(also a short essay of Instruction for Generating Access Concentration)
- From that same course at the
Barre Center for Buddhist Studies
comes a transcription of a talk on the The Five Aggregates.
The Five Aggregates
- There is no real agreement among Jhana teachers as to what exactly the Jhanic state are! I have written a paper that outlines the various methods that I have heard about:
Interpretations of the Jhanas
- One of the most profound and deepest teachings of the Buddha is Dependent Origination. Here's a tenative start to addressing some of my understanding of this most important teaching:
Dependent Origination: The 3 Lives Model - NOT!
- As the mind moves from that of an unenlightened worlding to that of enlightenment, it passes thru various stages on the path. These are described in the suttas - and in a more detailed form in the commentaries. The following chart shows the classic teaching on these stages:
The Seven Stages of Purification and The Sixteen Insight Knowledges
- I encountered some interesting research on Devadatta, the Buddha's so called evil cousin. How much do we really know about this person - and how much is myth and legend created for other purposes?
- If you really want an English word to translate dukkha, the best one I know of is "bummer".
Dukkha is A Bummer
- Survival and the Four Noble Truths.
Nobody Gets Outta Here Alive
- The Alayavijnana is the storehouse consciousness of the Yogacara (and Tibetan) schools of Buddhism. It's supposedly where are the "seeds" of unfulfilled kharma are stored. But it ain't what it's popularly thought to be:
The Alayavijnana Is Just Like the Internet
- Buddhism has developed into many forms with many teachings. However a close look at the suttas of the Pali Canon reveals the essential teachings of the Buddha.
The Essence of what the Buddha Discovered
- Just what does Awakening (aka Enlightenment) mean? There are maps of the 4 stages of awakening found in the suttas and other Pali literature. This is a summary of (mostly sutta) descriptions.
The 4 Stages of Awakening - various sources
- How should someone approach the 10,000+ suttas of the Pali Canon, especially from a viewpoint of one engaged in critical thinking?
The Authenticity of the Suttas of the Pali Canon
The first full bhikkhuni ordination of women in the sangha of Thailand’s most famous meditation master, Ajahn Chah, took place on October 22, 2009 - but not without considerable controversy.
The Recent Controversy Regarding the Full Ordination of Women in Theravadan Buddhism
- Was the lower status accorded women in the Pali Canon actually based on the words of the Buddha?
The Questionable Authenticity of AN 8.51/Cv.X.1 - The Founding of the Order of Nuns
- The following essays were written as part of a 1996 class on the
Buddhist Suttas taught by Gil Fronsdal. They are my reactions and responses to
various Suttas from the Digha and Majjhima Nikayas or to scholarly papers
the class read as background for the study of the Suttas.
These are the first papers I'd
written since graduating from college 25 years before. I present them much as
I wrote them, with spelling mistakes, awkward grammar (remember I'm a computer
programmer, not a writer), and sometimes a missing context. Nonetheless
I hope they may be of benefit to you. If you have questions or comments
please feel free to e-mail me at
At times I receive e-mail asking me various questions about Buddhism.
Below are excerpts from some of my replies:
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