Dhyānāṅga

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dhyānāṅga (P. jhānaṅga; T. bsam gtan gyi yan lag བསམ་གཏན་གྱི་ཡན་ལག་; C. chanzhi 禪支) is translated as "absorption factors," "dhyāna factors," "limbs of dhyāna," "constituents of meditative absorption," etc. This term refers to five factors that must be present in order to attain the first of the four dhyānas. These factors also counteract the five hindrances to shamatha meditation.

According to the Pali tradition, the five factors are:

  1. Coarse examination (vitakka)
  2. Precise investigation (vicāra)
  3. Well-being (pīti)
  4. Bliss (sukha)
  5. Single-pointed attention (ekaggatā)

According to the Abhidharma-kosa of the Sanskrit tradition, the fifth factor is meditative concentration (samadhi) rather than single-pointed attention.[1]

Within the four dhyanas, each higher dhyana has a decreasing number of factors. (See dhyana.)

Counteracting the five hindrances

According to the Pali tradition, these five factors counteract the five hindrances to shamatha as follows:[2]

  1. Coarse examination (vitakka) counteracts sloth-torpor (lethargy and drowsiness)
  2. Precise investigation (vicāra) counteracts doubt (uncertainty)
  3. Well-being (pīti) counteracts ill-will (malice)
  4. Bliss (sukha) counteracts restlessness-worry (excitation and anxiety)
  5. Single-pointed attention (ekaggatā) counteracts sensory desire

Alternate translations

Notes

  1. Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. dhyānāṅga.
  2. Wallace 2006, pp. 158-159.
Sources