Sanskrit Name
Romanization Dhyāna
Devanāgarī ध्यान
Pāli Name
Romanization Jhāna
Devanāgarī झान
Sinhala ඣාන
Chinese Name
Hanyu Pinyin Chán
Wade-Giles Ch’an
Cantonese IPA sɪm4
Cantonese Jyutping sim
Korean Name
Revised Romanization Seon
McCune-Reischauer Sŏn
Japanese Name
Romaji Zen
Vietnamese Name
Quốc ngữ Thiền
Tibetan Name
Wylie bsam gtan (pronounced samten)

Dhyāna (from Sanskrit ध्यान dhyāna) or Jhāna in Pāli refers to a stage of meditation, which is a subset of samādhi. It is a key concept in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Equivalent terms are "Chán" in modern Chinese, "Zen" in Japanese, "Seon" in Korean, "Thien" in Vietnamese, and "Samten" in Tibetan.

Dhyāna in Hinduism

In Hinduism, dhyana is considered to be an instrument to gain self knowledge, separating maya from reality to help attain the ultimate goal of Moksha.

The Bhagavad Gita, thought to have been written some time between 400 and 100 BC, talks of four branches of yoga:

Dhyana in Raja Yoga is also found in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Practiced together with Dharana and Samādhi it constitutes the Samyama. Depictions of Hindu yogis performing dhyāna are found in ancient texts and in statues and frescoes of ancient India temples.

The Bhagavad Gita talks of only two main modes , Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga (Not to be confused with physical exercise Yoga (Hatha Yoga) ). Meditation is a subset to attaining Jnana since you realize the one Advaita principle

Dhyāna in Buddhism

In the Theravada tradition

In the Pali Canon the Buddha describes four progressive states of absorption meditation or jhāna. The jhānas are said by the Buddha to be conducive to a pleasant abiding and freedom from suffering (DN-22). The jhānas are states of meditation where the mind is free from the five hindrances (craving, aversion, sloth, agitation, doubt) and (from the second jhāna onwards) incapable of discursive thinking. The deeper jhānas can last for many hours. When a meditator emerges from jhāna, his/her mind is empowered and able to penetrate into the deepest truths of existence.

There are four deeper states of meditative absorption called the immaterial attainments. Sometimes these are also referred to as the "formless" jhānas, or arupajhana (distinguished from the first four jhānas, rupajhana). In the Buddhist canonical texts, the word jhāna is never explicitly used to denote them, but they are always mentioned in sequence after the first four jhānas.

Jhānas are normally described according to the nature of the mental factors which are present in these states

  1. Movement of the mind onto the object, Vitakka (Sanskrit: Vitarka)
  2. Retention of the mind on the object, Vicāra
  3. Joy, Pīti (Sanskrit: Prīti)
  4. Happiness, Sukha
  5. Equanimity, Upekkhā (Sanskrit: )
  6. One-pointedness, Ekaggatā (Sanskrit: Ekāgratā)

Four progressive states of Jhāna:

  1. First Jhāna (Vitakka, Vicāra, Pīti, Sukha, Ekaggatā) - The five hindrances have completely disappeared and intense unified bliss remains. Only the subtlest of mental movement remains - perceivable in its absence by those who have entered the second jhāna. The ability to form unwholesome intentions ceases.
  2. Second Jhāna (Pīti, Sukha, Ekaggatā) - All mental movement utterly ceases. There is only bliss. The ability to form wholesome intentions cease as well.
  3. Third Jhāna (Sukha, Ekaggatā) - One half of bliss disappears (joy).
  4. Fourth Jhāna (Upekkhā, Ekaggatā) - The other half of bliss (happiness) disappears, leading to a state with neither pleasure nor pain, which the Buddha said is actually a subtle form of happiness (more sublime than pīti and sukha). The Buddha described the jhānas as "the footsteps of the tathāgata". The breath is said to cease temporarily in this state.

Traditionally, this fourth jhāna is seen as the beginning of attaining psychic powers (abhigna).

The scriptures state that one should not seek to attain ever higher jhanas but master one first, then move on to the next. 'Mastery of jhana' involves being able to enter a jhana at will, stay as long as one likes, leave at will and experience each of the jhana factors as required. They also seem to suggest that lower jhana factors may manifest themselves in higher jhanas, if the jhanas have not been properly developed. The Buddha is seen to advise his disciples to concentrate and steady the jhana further.

In Mahayana traditions

In the Mahayana tradition, dhyāna is the fifth of six pāramitās (perfections). It is usually translated as "concentration" or "meditative stability".

In East Asia, several schools of Buddhism were founded that focused on dhyāna, under the names Chan, Zen, and Soen. According to tradition, Bodhidharma brought Dhyāna to the Shaolin Temple in China, where it came to be transliterated as "chan" ("soen" in Korea, and then "zen" in Japan).

Dhyāna in Jainism

is called Samayika.

See also



  • Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997). Samadhanga Sutta: The Factors of Concentration (AN 5.28). Retrieved on 2007-06-05 from "Access to Insight" at:

External links



Search another word or see thaughton Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature