Points of Controversy

5.3. Of Perverted Perception or Hallucination (in jhāna)

Controverted Point: That in one who has attained jhāna through the earth-artifice, etc., knowledge of what is seen is perverted.

Theravādin: If your proposition is right, then do you imply that this “perversion” is the same as that involved in seeing the permanent in the impermanent, happiness in Suffering, a soul in what is not soul, the beautiful in the ugly? Of course you deny.

Again, you imply that such a person’s knowledge during jhāna is not proficient. But you do not wish to imply this, but the opposite.

You admit that the reversal of judgment which sees permanence in impermanence is a bad judgment, and those other judgments above-stated also. Yet you will not admit that cognition during jhāna is badly accomplished.

You hold on the contrary that it is well accomplished. Yet a similar perversion in the case of those other four judgments you consider bad.

If it were an Arahant who so accomplished jhāna, would you claim a perverted cognition for him? You could not. Or, if you could, you would have to make him liable to reversals of perception, consciousness, and views in general.

Andhaka: But if my proposition is wrong, do you hold that, when any one attains jhāna by earth-cognition, everything becomes earth to him? No, you reply. Then surely his judgment is upset.

Theravādin: But you will admit that the earth is there, and that the subject enters jhāna by regarding earth as earth? Where then is the perversion of cognition?

You say that the earth is actually there, and that in entering jhāna by the consciousness of earth as earth, perception is perverted. Substitute for earth Nibbāna: would you still say that perception was perverted?…