DhyānaDhyāna is a term in Sanskrit which refers to a type or aspect of meditation. It is a key concept in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Equivalent terms are jhāna in Pāli, chán in Chinese, and zen in Japanese.


Dhyāna in Buddhism

In the Pali Canon the Buddha describes eight progressive states of absorption meditation or Jhana. The first four are connected to the physical realm and the last four only with the mental realm (i.e. there is no experience of the body in the four higher Jhanas). It must be noted that these states are not the final goal that the Buddha taught since they are all still in the field of mind and matter. The final goal of Nibbana (Sanskrit:Nirvana) is the experience beyond mind and matter.

In East Asia, several schools of Buddhism were founded that focused on dhyana, under the names Chan, Zen, and Seon. According to tradition, Bodhidharma brought Dhyana to the Shaolin temple in China, through Tibet, where it came to be known first as chan, and then zen.

Jhanas are normally described by the way of the mental factors which are present in these states

1. Initial application Vitakka
2. Sustained application Vicara
3. Joy Piti
4. Happiness Sukkha
5. One-pointedness Ekaggata

As the meditator reaches this first Jhana, he can meditate without being disturbed by any thought or desire, though thoughts are still there.

  • Second Jhana : Piti, Sukkha,Ekaggata

All intellectual processes cease. There is only rapture, happiness, and the object.

  • Third Jhana : Sukkha, Ekaggata

Joy disappears.

  • Fourth Jhana : Upekkha, Ekaggata

Even happiness disappears, leading to a state with neither pleasure nor suffering. The Buddha described the Jhanas as “the footsteps of the tathagata“.
Traditionally, this fourth Jhana is seen as the beginning of attaining psychic powers.

These four are rupajhanas, material jhanas. An additional four arupajhanas still consist in the two factors of Upekkha and Ekaggata.
Arupajhanas are non-material jhanas and are described by their mental object :

  • Fifth Jhana : infinite space
  • Sixth Jhana : infinite consciousness
  • Seventh Jhana : nothingness
  • Eighth Jhana : neither perception nor non-perception

Usually Jhanas are exposed as part of Samatha‘s practice, as opposed to Vipassana. But Vipassana jhanas are also mentioned. When the awareness of the arising and passing of physical sensations is maintained during the first four Jhanas they are Vipassana Jhanas.

Dhyāna in Hinduism

According to the Hindu Yoga Sutra dhyana is one of the eight methods of Yoga, (the other seven methods are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, and Samadhi).

In the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali, the stage of meditation preceding dhyāna is called dharana. In Dhyana, the meditator is not conscious of the act of meditation (i.e. is not aware that s/he is meditating) but is only aware that s/he exists (consciousness of being), and aware of the object of meditation. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that the meditator becomes one with the object of meditation and is able to maintain this oneness for 144 inhalations and expirations.

The Dhyana Yoga system is specifically described by Sri Krishna in chapter 6 of the famous Bhagavad Gita, wherein He explains the many different Yoga systems to His friend and disciple, Arjuna.

Topics in Yoga

Topics in Yoga

Yogas: Agni Yoga – Anahata Yoga – Anusara Yoga – Arhatic Yoga – Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga) – Bikram Yoga – Hatha yoga – Integral yoga – Iyengar Yoga – Kriya yoga – Kundalini yoga – Natya Yoga – Sahaj Marg – Sahaja Yoga – Siddha Yoga – Six yogas of Naropa (Tumo) – Surat Shabd Yoga – Viniyoga – Yoga in Daily Life – Yoga Nidra
Texts: Hatha Yoga Pradipika – Yoga Sutra – Gherand Samhita
Hinduism paths: Bhakti yoga – Karma Yoga – Jnana Yoga – Raja Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga)
Raja Yoga limbs: Yama – Niyama – Asana – Pranayama – Pratyahara – Dharana – Dhyana – Samadhi
Lists: Yoga schools and their gurus – Hatha yoga postures
Related topics: Ayurveda – Chakra – Tantra – Vedanta – Yoga as exercise

Topics in Hinduism

Shruti (that which is heard): Vedas | Upanishads
Smriti (that which is remembered): Itihasa (Ramayana and Mahabharata including Bhagavad Gita) | Puranas | Sutras | Agama (Tantra & Yantra) | Vedanta
Concepts: Avatar | Brahman | Kosas | Dharma | Karma | Moksha | Maya | Ishta-deva | Murti | Reincarnation | Samsara | Trimurti | Turiya | Guru-shishya tradition
Schools & systems: Schools of Hinduism | Early Hinduism | Hindu philosophy | Samkhya | Nyaya | Vaisheshika | Yoga | Mimamsa | Vedanta | Tantra | Bhakti | Carvakas
Traditional practices: Jyotish | Ayurveda
Rituals: Aarti | Bhajans | Darshan | Diksha | Mantras | Puja | Satsang | Stotras | Wedding | Yajna
Gurus and saints: Shankara | Ramanuja | Madhvacharya | Madhavacharya | Ramakrishna | Vivekananda | Sree Narayana Guru | Aurobindo | Ramana Maharshi | Sivananda | Chinmayananda | Sivaya Subramuniyaswami | Swaminarayan | A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada | Lokenath
Denominations: Vaishnavism | Shaivism | Shaktism | Smartism | Agama Hindu Dharma | Contemporary Hindu movements | Survey of Hindu organisations
Hindu deities: List of Hindu deities | Hindu mythology
Yugas: Satya Yuga | Treta Yuga | Dvapara Yuga | Kali Yuga
Castes: Brahmin | Kshatriya | Vaishya | Shudra

Dhyāna names

Sanskrit Name
Romanization Dhyāna
Devanāgarī ध्यान
Pali 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

See also

Dhyana Dhyana Dhyana Thiền

buddha monk

buddha monk