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  • The Dhamma Spheres

    As the mind components of Vision, Memory, Thought and Cognition are drawn into oneness, they come to rest at the same center of the body. The meditator will notice a gradual decrease in response to external sensations. With proper concentration, the mind will then fall back to the sixth position. Then, a bright, clear sphere will emerge at the seventh position. The sphere may be the size of an egg yolk.

    Smaller ones may look like a star in the sky. Large spheres may be as big as the sun or the moon. This is the sphere of Pathama-magga, the preliminary sign of concentration. It is the first step towards the Path (Magga), the Fruit (Phala), and Nibbฑna. This is also known as the Dhamma Sphere, which makes the human body possible.

    Pathamagga Sphere

    When this luminous and clear sphere appears, do not be overjoyed or overreact. If you do, the concentration (samadhi) could loosen and the sphere might disappear. Keep your mind evenly calm in equanimity (upekkha). Hold the mind still, without repeating the words “Samma Arahang”. Once the sphere of Pathama-magga is perceived, there is no need to continue this mental recitation.

    Concentrate the mind at the small, luminous, clear center of the Pathama-magga sphere. Five smaller spheres will appear within this sphere. One is concentric at the center. The others are in front, at the right, left, and behind, respectively.

    four element sphere

    These small spheres are the refined centers of the basic elements. In front is the Water Element, controlling fluids in bodily functions. To the right is the Earth Element, controlling solid parts. To the back lies the Fire Element dealing with the body’s temperature and heat. To the left is the Wind Element, controlling internal movements of gases. At the center is the Space Element, controlling the various gaps within the body. In the center of the Space Element is the Cognitive Element which controls consciousness. Four thin bright, clear lines connect each of the circumferential spheres to the central sphere.

    The Pathama-magga Sphere will appear as reflecting the physical, verbal and mental purification of the meditator. When the mind is at rest, concentrated at the seventh position, it allows all six refined elements to come into unison at this seventh position, the center, where the original Dhatu-dhamma was generated.

    successive spheres

    Spheres of Sila (Morality)

    Once this Pathama-magga sphere can be observed, concentrate further at the center of the clear, luminous sphere. When the mind is still and in the right mode, the center will expand, giving rise in its place to a new, more luminous, clear and refined sphere of moral conduct (Sila). Through this sphere, we can refine physical, verbal and mental deeds more efficiently and on a deeper level than through common morality. This is the pure Sila of meditation and can be regarded as Adhisila or higher (purer) morality. When the mind can remain permanently in the center of this Sila Sphere, the physical, verbal and mental activities and their intentions will always be clean and pure. Higher Morality goes together with Higher Mind, and can lead to Higher Wisdom, Emancipation (Vimutti), and Insight or the vision of truth from Emancipation.

    Spheres of Samadhi (Concentration)

    As the mind stays at rest, still and concentrated further into the center of the sphere of Sila, and in the right mode, the center of the sphere will keep on expanding and in its place will appear a new, more luminous, clear and refined sphere of Samadhi. This further refines physical, verbal and mental activities. When the mind rests still and deep in Samadhi at this stage, it will overcome the Five Hindrances to clear comprehension: (1) sleepiness or laziness (Thina-middha), (2) doubt or anxiety about the practice (Vicikiccha), (3) ill will or malice (Byapada), (4) restlessness of mind, day dreaming or distraction (Uddhacca-kukkucca), and (5) sensual desire, enchantment or lust for life (Kamachanda). This is the commencement of the first state of absorption or the first Jhana. The mind is now gentle enough for insight practice (Vipassana) to develop the wisdom to know correctly and clearly the Truth of Dhamma (Reality). Hence, it is called the Adhicitta or higher mind.

    Spheres of Pañña (Wisdom)

    Concentrate further and rest still at the center of the center of the Sphere of Samadhi (Concentration). With the mind at rest, still, and in the right mode, the previous center will expand and a new, more luminous, clear Sphere of Pañña (Wisdom) will appear in its place.

    Spheres of Vimutti (Emancipation)

    Similarly, with the mind resting still and concentrated at the center of the Panna Sphere, the Sphere of Vimutti (Transcendence or Emancipation) emerges. Let the mind adhere to the center of the Vimutti Sphere, keeping it always luminous and clear. This will destroy the crude desires belonging to human beings such as greed, vengeance and wrong point-of-view.

    Spheres of Vimutti-ñanadassana (Insight)

    Hold your mind at rest in the center of the center of the Vimutti Sphere. When the mind is in the right mode, the Sphere of Vimutti-nanadassana (the view from transcendence or “Insight”) will appear.

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  • Basic Dhammakaya Meditation Practice

    Dhammakaya Meditation is based on four principles: three methods of concentration and the Principle of the Center. The three concentration techniques are:

    crystal ball

    1. Meditating on an object of visualization (Kasina),
    2. Recollection of Lord Buddha’s virtues (Buddhanussati), and
    3. Mindfulness of breathing (Anapanasati). And (4) the Principle of the Center which is position 7, as shown in the picture below, specifies that these three methods of concentration are all applied simultaneously at the center of the body.

     

    dhamma

    Thereafter, meditation proceeds to successively higher levels by always focusing at the center of the center. This combination of techniques is effective for meditators of all different types.

    Dhammakaya Meditation is Both Samatha and Vipassana

    The effectiveness of the Dhammakaya Meditation derives from focusing attention at the center of the body and combining three meditation techniques simultaneously. Meditators often debate the efficacy of concentration (Samatha) versus insight (Vipassana). Dhammakaya Meditation employs elements of both. Higher and higher levels of concentration enable personal insight to progress from a more worldly view to Right Understanding and ultimately to Supra-mundane Right Wisdom.

    Dhammakaya Meditation Is Not a New Practice

    Dhammakaya Meditation is not a new practice as many believe. It is the original Buddha-Teaching. Dhammakaya meditation is the exact path that the Buddha practiced. It directly follows the Noble Eightfold Path which is classified into the three categories of Sila or morality, Samatha or Right Concentration, and Vipassana or Right Wisdom. In combination with the four Satipatthana or Foundations of Mindfulness, the Samatha (concentration) and Vipassana will advance to Right Wisdom pertaining to the compounds (Sankhara) and non-compounds (Visankhara). The Right Wisdom of the Four Noble Truths will be unfolded. Nirvana or freedom from all conditioning and suffering will, thus, be attained.

    The Principle of Dhammakaya Meditation Practice

    Dhammakaya Meditation is based on four principles: three methods of concentration and the Principle of the Center. The three concentration techniques are: Meditating on an object of visualization (Kasina), Recollection of Lord Buddha’s virtues (Buddhanussati), and Mindfulness of breathing (Anapanasati).

    And the Principle of the Center specifies that these three methods of concentration are all applied simultaneously at the center of the body as follows:

    • Position 1: The Nostril Aperture
    • Position 2: The Eye Socket
    • Position 3: The Center of the Head
    • Position 4: The Palate Terminus
    • Position 5: The Throat Aperture
    • Position 6: The Center of the Body (Navel Level)
    • Position 7: The Center of the Body and the Proper Position for Meditation (Two Inches above Navel Level).

    Please sit in a regular meditation posture, cross-legged as seen in some images of the Buddha, with the right leg resting upon the left [see the picture on the right]. The right hand rests on the left, palms turned upwards, right index finger just touching the left thumb. The body is upright and the mind fully alert. Take a deep breath and relax the body until you feel comfortable. Close your eyelids lightly, do not press them.

    In Samatha Vipassana Meditation pracitce, two aids are used: (1) The repetitive word and (2) The object of visualization.

    The repetitive word is “Samma Arahang” and the object of visualization is a bright, clear, luminous sphere. Using these aids, we shall draw the mind inward along the path to the center of the body. Such concentration allows the mind components of vision, memory, thought and awareness to come together into one-pointedness. The following are step-by-step Dhammakaya Meditation Practice.

    Position 1:  The Nostril Aperture

    Concentrate with your mind and visualize until there exists a vision of a bright and clear sphere. Let the sphere appear at your nostril, for ladies at the left nostril and for gentlemen at the right nostril. Fix your attention and rest your mind at the center of the sphere. This is a very bright and clear spot, the size of a grain of sand or needle point. Repeat the words “Samma Arahang” mentally three times to sustain the bright and clear sphere at the nostril. This is the first position at which your mind is focused.

    Position 2:  The Eye Socket

    Next, mentally move the bright, clear sphere slowly up to rest at the eye socket – ladies to your left eye socket and gentlemen to your right eye socket. While you are slowly moving the sphere with your mind, fix your attention always at the small bright center of the sphere. As the sphere rests at your eye socket, repeat ment ally the words “Samma Arahang” three times. This is the second position.

    Position 3: The Center of the Head

    Mentally shift the sphere slowly to rest at the center of your head in line with the eyes. Keep the mind constantly fixed at the bright center of the luminous sphere. Repeat to yourself the words “Samma Arahang” three times to keep the sphere as bright and clear as you can, so that it shines and remains in that position. This is the third position.

    Position 4: The Palate Terminus

    Roll your eye-balls upward without lifting your head, so that your vision will turn back and inside. Meanwhile, mentally move the luminous and transparent sphere slowly and directly downward toward the palate. Recite to yourself the words “Samma Arahang” three times, to make the sphere even brighter and clearer, and hold it there. This is the fourth position.

    Position 5: The Throat Aperture

    Mentally move the bright, clear sphere slowly and directly downward to rest at the throat aperture. Repeat the words “Samma Arahang” to yourself three times, to keep the sphere bright and clear and hold it steady. This is the fifth position.

    Position 6: Center of the Physical Body

    Next, slowly move the clear, luminous sphere directly downward, while keeping your attention focused on the bright nucleus at its center. Bring the sphere to rest at the center of the body, where the breath ends, even with the navel. This is the sixth position. Mentally recite the words “Samma Arahang” three times to keep the transparent sphere bright and luminous, and to hold it steady.

    Position 7:  Position of Sphere

    Now, shift the sphere directly upward two “Aguli” or two middle finger joints above the navel. This is the center of the body and the seventh position. This is the mind’s permanent resting place. Whenever a person or any other creature is born, dies, sleeps or wakens, the Dhamma Sphere which governs the body arises from this position. The Dhamma Sphere is composed of the Vision Sphere, the Memory Sphere, the Thought Sphere, and the Cognition Sphere. During meditation, the Dhamma Sphere appears to float from the sixth position up to the seventh position. The seventh position is also considered to be the center of the body.

    Keep the bright, clear sphere resting at the center of the body in the seventh position. Mentally recite the words “Samma Arahang” continuously to keep the sphere still and make it become brighter and clearer. Concentrate so that the sphere shines continuously. Focus your mind at the bright center of the sphere, and at the bright center of each successive sphere that emerges.

    Pay no attention to any external sensation. Let your mind delve deeper and deeper into the successive centers as you recite “Samma Arahang”, the Parikamma-bhavana. Even if ants are climbing all over you or mosquitoes are flying all around, pay no heed. Don’t even pay attention to following the breath.

    Bring your mind to rest at the center of the center, by envisioning a bright sphere. Your mind should rest steadily and continuously at the center of the sphere. Do not force the mind too strongly. Over exerting the mind will cause a shift in your meditation and the mind will not be able to see.

    Do not use your physical eyes to focus on the vision. The practice is only for your mind. Gently train your mind to see a bright, clear, steady sphere. Mentally observe and focus on the bright clear center. Concentrate on the center of each consecutive sphere that emerges from the preceding one. Do not wander to the left, right, front, rear, top or bottom. Always focus on the center of each new sphere which emerges from the bright shining center. Rest the mind there.

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  • The Benefits of Developing Wisdom

    The Benefits of Developing Wisdom

    There are hundreds of benefits gained from developing wisdom through meditation. A brief summary of these benefits is:

    • 1. The Destruction of Defilements,
    • 2. Attaining the Taste of the Noble Fruits,
    • 3. The Ability to Enter the Attainment of Cessation,
    • 4. Attaining Noble Qualities such as Being Worthy of Gifts.

    The Destruction of Defilements

    Destruction of defilements is gained from discerning mind and matter as they really are. Knowledge of mentality and materiality begin with the benefits of developing worldly wisdom, but destruction of deep defilements and fetters such as False Self Concept (sakkayadihi) as well as attainment of the Path are the benefits of developing Supra-mundane wisdom.

    Here are some similes showing how insight wisdom (vipassanapañña) is able to destroy defilements:

    • 1. Like a lightning bolt that strikes a rock breaking it into fragments,
    • 2. Like a fi re that consumes the forest,
    • 3. Like a ray of sunlight that destroys darkness.

    The benefits of insight wisdom can be achieved and enjoyed only by the one who has developed them.

    Attaining the taste of the Noble Fruits

    Attaining the taste of the Noble Fruits is also a benefit of developing insight wisdom. This is gained at two stages: When Noble Path consciousness arises and when Noble Fruit consciousness or cessation occurs. The Noble Fruit is the highest benefit of the Path. It has the eternal dhamma of Nibbana (Nirvana) as its object. It is a benefit of the highest and purest happiness, like tasting honey mixed with elixir.

    The Ability to Enter Attainment of Cessation

    Lord Buddha said:

    Due to the wise causing Noble Wisdom [Noble Path and Fruit] to arise [through concentration and insight meditation], one enters the most refined attainment (samapatti) that the Noble Ones taste. This is considered reaching Nibbana (Nirvana) in this world. Thus, the Lord Buddha states that one who enters ultimate Cessation (nirodhasamapatti), does so as the Fruit of Wisdom [wisdom development] in the Noble Paths.

    Attaining Noble Qualities Such As Being Worthy of Gifts

    The benefits of developing wisdom include not only the ability to attain cessation but also developing the qualities of the Noble Ones such as worthy of gifts. Generally, those who have developed wisdom are worthy of gifts (āhuneyya), hospitality (pahuneyya), offerings (dakkhineyya), reverential salutation (añjalikaraniya) of world beings and angels (deva) and are also an incomparable field of merit and virtue for the world. Specifically, there are four types of Noble Ones who have developed Supra-mundane wisdom.

    THE BENEFITS OF DEVELOPING WISDOM

    There are hundreds of benefits gained from developing wisdom through meditation. A brief summary of these benefits is:
    • 1. The Destruction of Defilements,
    • 2. Attaining the Taste of the Noble Fruits,
    • 3. The Ability to Enter the Attainment of Cessation,
    • 4. Attaining Noble Qualities such as Being Worthy of Gifts.1

    The Destruction of Defilements

    Destruction of defilements is gained from discerning mind and matter as they really are. Knowledge of mentality and materiality begin with the benefits of developing worldly wisdom, but destruction of deep defilements and fetters such as False Self Concept (sakkayadihi) as well as attainment of the Path are the benefits of developing Supra-mundane wisdom.

    Here are some similes showing how insight wisdom (vipassanapañña) is able to destroy defilements:85

    • 1. Like a lightning bolt that strikes a rock breaking it into fragments,
    • 2. Like a fi re that consumes the forest,
    • 3. Like a ray of sunlight that destroys darkness.
     

    The benefits of insight wisdom can be achieved and enjoyed only by the one who has developed them.

     

    Attaining the taste of the Noble Fruits

    Attaining the taste of the Noble Fruits is also a benefit of developing insight wisdom. This is gained at two stages: When Noble Path consciousness arises and when Noble Fruit consciousness or cessation occurs. The Noble Fruit is the highest benefit of the Path. It has the eternal dhamma of Nibbana (Nirvana) as its object. It is a benefit of the highest and purest happiness, like tasting honey mixed with elixir.

     

    The Ability to Enter Attainment of Cessation

    Lord Buddha said:

    Due to the wise causing Noble Wisdom [Noble Path and Fruit] to arise [through concentration and insight meditation], one enters the most refined attainment (samapatti) that the Noble Ones taste. This is considered reaching Nibbana (Nirvana) in this world. Thus, the Lord Buddha states that one who enters ultimate Cessation (nirodhasamapatti), does so as the Fruit of Wisdom [wisdom development] in the Noble Paths.

    Attaining Noble Qualities Such As Being Worthy of Gifts

    The benefits of developing wisdom include not only the ability to attain cessation but also developing the qualities of the Noble Ones such as worthy of gifts. Generally, those who have developed wisdom are worthy of gifts

    (ā huneyya), hospitality (pahuneyya), offerings (dakkhineyya), reverential salutation (añjalikaraniya) of world beings and angels (deva) and are also an incomparable field of merit and virtue for the world. Specifically, there are four types of Noble Ones who have developed Supra-mundane wisdom.

    Stream-Enterer (Sotapanna)

    A Stream-Enterer (sotapanna) is one who has developed First Path Wisdom and abandoned the fi rst three Fetters or bondages (sanyojana)

    note. He has entered the stream to Nibbana and is not reborn into the lower realms, he is certain to become enlightened in the future.

     

    Note: The three lower Fetters are personality-view (sakkāyadihi) (the view that clings to mind and matter as self), doubt (vicikiccha) (in the qualities of the Triple Gems or the path leading to the cessation of suffering), and clinging to precepts and vows (silabbataparamasa).

    As Lord Buddha states (Anguttara-nikaya 20/280-283/415-419):

    Here, monks, a monk in this dispensation is one fully accomplished in virtue but only moderately accomplished in concentration and wisdom. He infringes some of the lesser and minor training rules and then rehabilitates himself. Why is that?

    Because, monks, it is not said to be impossible for him to attain Supra-mundane dhamma.

    Regarding training rules that are fundamental to the holy life and in conformity with the holy life, his virtue is stable and steady. He trains himself in the training rules that he has undertaken. With the utter destruction of three Fetters he becomes a Stream-enterer, no longer subject to rebirth in a lower world, fixed in destiny, with enlightenment as his destination.

    Once-Returner (Sakadagami)

    The Once-returner (sakadagami) is one who has developed Second Path Wisdom (dutiya-maggapañña), abandoned the three lower Fetters and permanently weakened greed, hatred and delusion. The Once-returner will be reborn in this world only once before attaining Nibbana. As Lord Buddha states (415-419):

    Here, monks, a monk in this dispensation is one fully accomplished in virtue but only moderately accomplished in concentration and wisdom. He infringes some of the lesser and minor training rules and then rehabilitates himself. Why is that?

    Because, monks, it is not said to be impossible for him to attain Supra-mundane dhamma.

    Regarding training rules that are fundamental to the holy life and in conformity with the holy life, his virtue is stable and steady. He trains himself in the training rules that he has undertaken. With the utter destruction of the fi rst three Fetters and the attenuation of greed, hatred and delusion he becomes a once-returner. He comes back to this world only once more and then makes an end to suffering.

    Non-Returner (Anagami)

    The Non-Returner (anagami) is one who has developed Third Path Wisdom (tatiya-maggapañña) and abandoned two more Fetters: sensual lust [desire] and repulsion [aversion]. The Non-Returner will not be reborn in this world. He will be reborn in the Pure Abodes in the Brahman world until attaining Nibbāna. As Lord Buddha states (415-419):

    Here, monks, a monk in this dispensation is one fully accomplished in virtue, but only moderately accomplished in concentration and wisdom. He infringes some of the lesser and minor training rules and then rehabilitates himself. Why is that?

    Because, monks, it is not said to be impossible for him to attain the Supra-mundane dhamma.

    But regarding training rules that are fundamental to the holy life and in conformity with the holy life, his virtue is stable and steady. He trains himself in the training rules he has undertaken. With the utter destruction of the five lower Fettersnote  he becomes a Non-returner, due to be reborn spontaneously and there attain final Nibbana, without ever returning to this world.

    Note: The five lower fetters are personality-view (sakkayadihi), doubt (vicikiccha), clinging to precept and vows (sīlabbataparamasa), sensual lust (kamaraga), and repulsion (patigha).

    A Worthy One (Arahant)

    A Worthy One is one who has developed Fourth Path Wisdom and abandoned the last fi ve higher Fetters of attachment to Pure Form Realms, attachment to Formless Realms, Conceit, Restlessness and Ignorancenote.

    Note: The five higher fetters are attachment to realms of form (rupa-raga), attachment to formless realms (arupa-raga), conceit (mana), restlessness (uddhacca) and ignorance (avijja).

    The Arahant is far from defilements and has broken kamma (karma) and the cycle of rebirths. He is said to have disentangled all bondages during attainment of the Noble Path and to have completely disentangle them upon attainment of the Noble Fruit. He or she is worthy of veneration and respect of all people and is classed as the highest Noble Person in Buddhism. As Lord Buddha states (415-419):

    Here, monks, a monk in this dispensation is one fully accomplished in virtue but only as yet moderately accomplished in concentration and wisdom.

    He infringes some of the lesser and minor training rules and then rehabilitates himself. Why is that?

    Because, monks, it is not said to be impossible for him to attain Supra-mundane dhamma.

    As to those training rules that are fundamental to the holy life and in conformity with the holy life, his virtue is stable and steady. He trains himself in the training rules that he has undertaken.

    With the utter destruction of mental intoxicants (asava), in this very life, he enters and dwells in the spotlessly pure liberation of mind, liberated by wisdom, having realized it for himself by direct knowledge.

    As has been mentioned, the development of Noble Wisdom has many benefits; therefore, the wise person should strive to develop this Noble Wisdom. As Lord Buddha stated with the Dhamma principles of sila or morality, samadhi or concentration and pañña or wisdom (Samyutta-nikaya 15/61/20):

    A competent monk with the diligence and wisdom to cultivate himself who is firmly established in morality (sila) and development of mind (citta) and insight (pañña) meditation is able to slash through this thick underbrush [of passion].

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  • Vipassana Meditation

    WHAT IS INSIGHT (VIPASSANA) MEDITATION?

    Insight Meditation, also called the Higher Training in Wisdom, aims at developing the insight to see clearly and compare objectively the true nature of conditioned phenomena, such as the Five Aggregates, with the ultimate reality of the unconditioned phenomenon of Nirvana or Nirodha Dhatu. This is Insight Meditation. It can be best achieved when the mind has already been trained to become pure and firmly concentrated through Concentration Meditation.

    HOW MANY LEVELS OF VIPASSANA ARE THERE?

    There are two levels of Vipassana. The first level is called Preliminary Insight Meditation (Anupassana). It is clear comprehension of the three universal characteristics of all compound phenomena – that they are impermanent, suffering, and non-self (that is, empty and meaningless). These characteristics must be understood in comparison with the opposite characteristics of non-compound phenomena which are eternal, supreme happiness, and ultimate reality. This is the first level of Insight Meditation.

    The second level of Insight Meditation (also called Supra-mundane Insight) is detailed contemplation of the Four Noble Truths in three transcendent mental states (ñana): (1) Sacca-ñana (Knowledge of the Truths as they are), (2) Kicca-ñana (Knowledge of the the functions with regard to the respective Four Noble Truths), and (3) Kata-ñana (Knowledge of what has been done with regard to the respective Four Noble Truths).

    In Sacca-ñana, the meditator becomes able to see clearly and really know objectively suffering, the arising of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path leading to the cessation of suffering.

    In Kicca-ñana, he comes to know clearly what he is supposed to do with respect to each of the Four Noble Truths. First, suffering (Dukkha) should be gotten rid of; Second, the cause of suffering (Samudaya) should be abandoned or relinquished; Third, the cessation of suffering (Nirodha) should be clearly realized or penetrated; Fourth, the path (Magga) should be entered upon, practiced, and developed.

    Finally, in Kata-ñana, the meditator sees clearly the progress that he has already achieved. This is Gotrabhu-ñana (Knowledge at the moment of Change-of-lineage). From there, if the meditator can cut at least the first three fetters, which are false self-concept, doubt and reliance on ineffective rituals, he can immediately experience the non-compound nature of Nirvana.

    HOW CAN WE CONDUCT PRELIMINARY INSIGHT MEDITATION TO GET CLEAR COMPREHENSION OF THE ORIGIN AND TRUE NATURE OF COMPOUND PHENOMENA?

    Preliminary Insight consists of insight into the Three Characteristics or Common Charateristics of all conditioned phenomena, which are impermanent, suffering, and non-self.

    Compound phenomena are made up of visible, physical components and invisible factors which influence birth and development. Everything in this world is compound. There are two main types of compound phenomena – living and non-living. We shall focus on living phenomena, which encompass all the characteristics and factors. Specifically, let’s focus on ourselves, understood as the Five Aggregates of Body, Sensation, Memory, Thought and Recognition.

    Like all compound phenomena, we are born, exist for a time, and then die and disintegrate. While in existence, we change, constantly, first growing and then degenerating. We exhibit the three universal characteristics of impermanence (Aniccang), suffering (Dukkhang), and non-self (Anatta). These three qualities are, in fact, only three different perspectives on the same trait – impermanence. With attachment, impermanence is experienced as suffering, because we are inevitably separated from what we love and united with what we detest. Similarly, impermanence implies “Non-self” in the sense of being void of real, permanent essence.

    Our rebirth is fundamentally conditioned by ignorance. We want to be reborn because we love it here. It is nourished by the passions: greed or lust, hatred or anger, and delusion or misconception. These passions stimulate wholesome or unwholesome behaviors which produce either beneficial or harmful karmic consequences through actions, words and motives. Good actions, such as making merit, may result in fortunate births, but as long as ignorance remains, rebirth will continue. Three main factors govern our rebirth. They are Karma, consciousness, and craving.

    Good or bad resultant Karma (Vipaka Kamma), based on past actions, causes us to be reborn into the happy or suffering worlds. The happy worlds are the Human, Celestial, Brahman and Formless Brahman Worlds. They all provide substantial opportunities for further progress. The suffering worlds are the worlds of Animals, Demons, Hungry Ghosts, and Hell Beings. In these worlds, one is essentially cut off from opportunities for advancement, only paying off debts.

    Our consciousness or cognition factor (Viññana) determines what we can see and comprehend. It acts like a seed that flourishes throughout our growth and development. Our craving, whether wholesome or unwholesome, is the life force that propels germination and growth. This presentation has been a brief summary of Conditioned Genesis (Paticcasamupada), which we will study in detail later on.

    When a human being dies, it is the coarse human body that we see cease to function. The four mental aggregates and the refined human body, which are all transparent, along with the karmic accumulation from the last lifetime, constitute the microscopic nucleus for a new psycho-physical organism. They all depart together from the crude body as it passes away.

    If its virtues, such as generosity (Dana) and morality (Sila), fall into the human range, the nucleus prepares for a human rebirth. It enters the body of the potential father, following the seven-step path that we learn in meditation, and comes to rest at the center of the body. Here, the nucleus can wait up to seven days. Its merits influence the father to have sexual desire for the mother. When the mental aggregates of the father, mother, and baby come together, a human force similar to gravity pulls the baby from the father into the mother as the sperm joins the egg. This is why our mental spheres are at the center of the body.

    This is the original microscopic origin of the embryo. The four material essences (Water, Earth, Fire and Wind) develop into the crude meat and bones of the baby’s body, while the four mental elements remain perfectly still and pure, never opening the gate for passion. This is the initial development of the baby’s body and mind.

    After birth, the remaining karma will function at its appropriate time. While growing up, the human mind always wanders outside and attaches to worldly objects, which may be good or bad, causing either wholesome or unwholesome effects. The mind may be stirred up or calm, stupid or wise, depraved or virtuous, leading to suffering or happiness. The physical elements (Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind) will be active in the young, causing growth, but less powerful in the elderly, causing the body to degenerate. The hair falls out, the teeth become loose, the skin becomes wrinkled, etc. Thus, we see that the body is impermanent, suffering, and unsatisfactory. In the end, it disintegrates and becomes non-self. In conclusion, we see that the body is void of any permanent, happy, self-essence.

    HOW CAN WE CONDUCT INSIGHT MEDITATION TO COMPARE COMPOUND AND NON-COMPOUND PHENOMENA?

    We begin with Four Foundations of Mindfulness meditation (Satipatthana) to experience and contemplate the bodies-in-the-body, feelings-in-the-feelings, mind-in-the-mind, and Dhamma-in-the-Dhamma. The meditator develops Jhana (mental absorption) to purify the mind from Hindrances. Once the mind is pure and firmly concentrated, the meditator begins by contemplating the coarse physical human body, observing the five “root” (mula) meditation objects. These are the hair on the head, body hair, finger and toe nails, teeth, and skin.

    Let’s take the hair on the head as an example. The meditator takes a single hair from the top of the head and examines it as though under a microscope at the center of the body. He sees the hair as it really is – impure and subject to change, in accordance with the factors influencing it, such as food and environment. With age, it naturally becomes less healthy and may turn grey or white. He or she notes that hair is impermanent. It may fall out, and will ultimately disintegrate, becoming no longer hair. It is, thus, impermanent (Aniccang) and unsatisfactory (Dukkhang). And, it is void of permanent reality or ultimate significance. It is, thus, “Non-self” or Anatta, not the eternal self of anyone.

    The same thing can be said for the hair on the body. Similarly, the teeth are impure – bathed in bacteria, smelly, subject to cavities, and apt to break and fall out. So, too, our nails need constant care – cleaning and clipping. The skin is always covered with sweat, needing to be bathed and have its stink covered over with perfumes. All of these body parts are impure, subject to change, unsatisfactory and potential sources of suffering. They are impermanent, without ultimate reality or meaning. This is the true nature of the whole body. From our birth as a baby, we develop until the prime of life, and then degenerate, growing old, suffering, becoming sick, and dying. After examining the physical body, the meditator continues with the four mental aggregates: Sensation, Memory, Thought and Cognition. Ultimately, this leads to clear comprehension that this whole psycho-physical organism is Non-self (Anatta).

    Preliminary Insight, thus, leads to comprehending the ultimate reality of the Five Aggregates as suffering and elucidates the cause of suffering as Craving and Attachment. When the meditator can let go, he can experience extinction of suffering, which is Gotarabhu-ñaña. If he meditates further, he may experience Nirvana, which is non-compound and has the characteristics of eternal permanence, supreme peaceful happiness, and ultimate reality. He will, then, be able to compare the characteristics of compound and non-compound phenomena and realize the superiority and accessibility of the latter. This is Right Wisdom (Pañña) which can eventually lead to enlightenment in the Four Noble Truths.

    WHAT IS FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS (SATIPATTHANA)

    Foundations of Mindfulness, also called Satipatthana in Pali, consist of:
    1. 1. Mindfulness of Bodies-In-Bodies
    2. 2. Mindfulness of Feelings-In-Feelings
    3. 3. Mindfulness of Minds-In-Minds
    4. 4. Mindfulness of Dhammas-In-Dhammas
    Lord Buddha said, “Whoever practices these four Satipatthana for seven years can expect either immediate Arahantship or the state of Non-returner (Anagami). ... Forget seven years, whoever practices these four Satipatthana for seven months, can expect either Arahantship or Non-Returner status. ... Forget seven months, whoever practices these four Satipatthana ...for only seven days can expect one of two results: Arahantship in this very existence or the state of Non-Returner (Anagami). Thus, the four Satipatthana are the one-way highway to the purification of the minds of beings, for overcoming sorrow and lamentation, for the cessation of physical and mental pain, for the attainment of the Noble Path, and for the realization of Nirvana.

    THE BENEFITS OF DEVELOPING WISDOM

    There are hundreds of benefits gained from developing wisdom through meditation. A brief summary of these benefits is:
    • 1. The Destruction of Defilements,
    • 2. Attaining the Taste of the Noble Fruits,
    • 3. The Ability to Enter the Attainment of Cessation,
    • 4. Attaining Noble Qualities such as Being Worthy of Gifts.1

    The Destruction of Defilements

    Destruction of defilements is gained from discerning mind and matter as they really are. Knowledge of mentality and materiality begin with the benefits of developing worldly wisdom, but destruction of deep defilements and fetters such as False Self Concept (sakkayadihi) as well as attainment of the Path are the benefits of developing Supra-mundane wisdom.

    Here are some similes showing how insight wisdom (vipassanapañña) is able to destroy defilements:85

    • 1. Like a lightning bolt that strikes a rock breaking it into fragments,
    • 2. Like a fi re that consumes the forest,
    • 3. Like a ray of sunlight that destroys darkness.
     

    The benefits of insight wisdom can be achieved and enjoyed only by the one who has developed them.

     

    Attaining the taste of the Noble Fruits

    Attaining the taste of the Noble Fruits is also a benefit of developing insight wisdom. This is gained at two stages: When Noble Path consciousness arises and when Noble Fruit consciousness or cessation occurs. The Noble Fruit is the highest benefit of the Path. It has the eternal dhamma of Nibbana (Nirvana) as its object. It is a benefit of the highest and purest happiness, like tasting honey mixed with elixir.

     

    The Ability to Enter Attainment of Cessation

    Lord Buddha said:

    Due to the wise causing Noble Wisdom [Noble Path and Fruit] to arise [through concentration and insight meditation], one enters the most refined attainment (samapatti) that the Noble Ones taste. This is considered reaching Nibbana (Nirvana) in this world. Thus, the Lord Buddha states that one who enters ultimate Cessation (nirodhasamapatti), does so as the Fruit of Wisdom [wisdom development] in the Noble Paths.

    Attaining Noble Qualities Such As Being Worthy of Gifts

    The benefits of developing wisdom include not only the ability to attain cessation but also developing the qualities of the Noble Ones such as worthy of gifts. Generally, those who have developed wisdom are worthy of gifts

    (ā huneyya), hospitality (pahuneyya), offerings (dakkhineyya), reverential salutation (añjalikaraniya) of world beings and angels (deva) and are also an incomparable field of merit and virtue for the world. Specifically, there are four types of Noble Ones who have developed Supra-mundane wisdom.

    Stream-Enterer (Sotapanna)

    A Stream-Enterer (sotapanna) is one who has developed First Path Wisdom and abandoned the fi rst three Fetters or bondages (sanyojana)

    note. He has entered the stream to Nibbana and is not reborn into the lower realms, he is certain to become enlightened in the future.

     

    Note: The three lower Fetters are personality-view (sakkāyadihi) (the view that clings to mind and matter as self), doubt (vicikiccha) (in the qualities of the Triple Gems or the path leading to the cessation of suffering), and clinging to precepts and vows (silabbataparamasa).

    As Lord Buddha states (Anguttara-nikaya 20/280-283/415-419):

    Here, monks, a monk in this dispensation is one fully accomplished in virtue but only moderately accomplished in concentration and wisdom. He infringes some of the lesser and minor training rules and then rehabilitates himself. Why is that?

    Because, monks, it is not said to be impossible for him to attain Supra-mundane dhamma.

    Regarding training rules that are fundamental to the holy life and in conformity with the holy life, his virtue is stable and steady. He trains himself in the training rules that he has undertaken. With the utter destruction of three Fetters he becomes a Stream-enterer, no longer subject to rebirth in a lower world, fixed in destiny, with enlightenment as his destination.

    Once-Returner (Sakadagami)

    The Once-returner (sakadagami) is one who has developed Second Path Wisdom (dutiya-maggapañña), abandoned the three lower Fetters and permanently weakened greed, hatred and delusion. The Once-returner will be reborn in this world only once before attaining Nibbana. As Lord Buddha states (415-419):

    Here, monks, a monk in this dispensation is one fully accomplished in virtue but only moderately accomplished in concentration and wisdom. He infringes some of the lesser and minor training rules and then rehabilitates himself. Why is that?

    Because, monks, it is not said to be impossible for him to attain Supra-mundane dhamma.

    Regarding training rules that are fundamental to the holy life and in conformity with the holy life, his virtue is stable and steady. He trains himself in the training rules that he has undertaken. With the utter destruction of the fi rst three Fetters and the attenuation of greed, hatred and delusion he becomes a once-returner. He comes back to this world only once more and then makes an end to suffering.

    Non-Returner (Anagami)

    The Non-Returner (anagami) is one who has developed Third Path Wisdom (tatiya-maggapañña) and abandoned two more Fetters: sensual lust [desire] and repulsion [aversion]. The Non-Returner will not be reborn in this world. He will be reborn in the Pure Abodes in the Brahman world until attaining Nibbāna. As Lord Buddha states (415-419):

    Here, monks, a monk in this dispensation is one fully accomplished in virtue, but only moderately accomplished in concentration and wisdom. He infringes some of the lesser and minor training rules and then rehabilitates himself. Why is that?

    Because, monks, it is not said to be impossible for him to attain the Supra-mundane dhamma.

    But regarding training rules that are fundamental to the holy life and in conformity with the holy life, his virtue is stable and steady. He trains himself in the training rules he has undertaken. With the utter destruction of the five lower Fettersnote  he becomes a Non-returner, due to be reborn spontaneously and there attain final Nibbana, without ever returning to this world.

    Note: The five lower fetters are personality-view (sakkayadihi), doubt (vicikiccha), clinging to precept and vows (sīlabbataparamasa), sensual lust (kamaraga), and repulsion (patigha).

    A Worthy One (Arahant)

    A Worthy One is one who has developed Fourth Path Wisdom and abandoned the last fi ve higher Fetters of attachment to Pure Form Realms, attachment to Formless Realms, Conceit, Restlessness and Ignorancenote.

    Note: The five higher fetters are attachment to realms of form (rupa-raga), attachment to formless realms (arupa-raga), conceit (mana), restlessness (uddhacca) and ignorance (avijja).

    The Arahant is far from defilements and has broken kamma (karma) and the cycle of rebirths. He is said to have disentangled all bondages during attainment of the Noble Path and to have completely disentangle them upon attainment of the Noble Fruit. He or she is worthy of veneration and respect of all people and is classed as the highest Noble Person in Buddhism. As Lord Buddha states (415-419):

    Here, monks, a monk in this dispensation is one fully accomplished in virtue but only as yet moderately accomplished in concentration and wisdom.

    He infringes some of the lesser and minor training rules and then rehabilitates himself. Why is that?

    Because, monks, it is not said to be impossible for him to attain Supra-mundane dhamma.

    As to those training rules that are fundamental to the holy life and in conformity with the holy life, his virtue is stable and steady. He trains himself in the training rules that he has undertaken.

    With the utter destruction of mental intoxicants (asava), in this very life, he enters and dwells in the spotlessly pure liberation of mind, liberated by wisdom, having realized it for himself by direct knowledge.

    As has been mentioned, the development of Noble Wisdom has many benefits; therefore, the wise person should strive to develop this Noble Wisdom. As Lord Buddha stated with the Dhamma principles of sila or morality, samadhi or concentration and pañña or wisdom (Samyutta-nikaya 15/61/20):

    A competent monk with the diligence and wisdom to cultivate himself who is firmly established in morality (sila) and development of mind (citta) and insight (pañña) meditation is able to slash through this thick underbrush [of passion].

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  • Samatha Meditation

    WHAT IS SAMATHA MEDITATION?

    Meditation by concentrating the mind is known as Samatha (Serenity) or Concentraion Meditation which removes the Five Hindrances and prepares the mind for Insight or Vipassana Meditation. The Five Hindrances are attachment to sensual desire, ill-will, inactivity or sleepiness, anxiety or restlessness, and doubt.

    WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF CONCENTRATION MEDITATION?

    Concentration Meditation combines developing inner peace and concentration together. For most new meditators in today’s hectic world, the immediate objective is to cope with stress and develop personal serenity. Concentration provides this immediately. But, the Buddhist objective is higher. It is raising consciousness to more refined planes through purifying the mind.

    WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT TO ACHIEVE FROM IT?

    Direct benefits that can be anticipated include improved mental and physical health and enhanced concentration. The meditator develops distancing from the passions, cravings and delusional attachments which spin us around in circles. This results in a more peacefully happy life and indirectly fosters harmony in the family, the society, and the world. Beyond these external consequences, Concentration Meditation develops the mental tools for effective, objective observation of nature for use in Vipassana Insight Meditation to develop Right Wisdom. In Vipassana, the meditator becomes able to penetrate the Four Noble Truths to see clearly and compare objectively the compound, impermanent, unsatisfactory suffering, and hollow emptiness of this world with the non-compound, eternal, peacefully happy, and ultimately meaningful essence of Nibbana or Nirvana.

    WHAT SHOULD WE CONTEMPLATE?

    Most broadly, Concentration Meditation is mental training. Lord Buddha listed nine effective subjects for Concentration Meditation. The first four are the key Foundations of Mindfulness – the body, feelings, mind and mental objects. We shall review each of these in detail. The next three are contemplation of old age, sickness, and death. Eighth is meditation that we are all ultimately destined to be separated from what we love, even from our own self. Finally, the ninth theme is that we are all inevitably subject to reap the karmic consequences of our own actions. This is a natural law of cause and effect. There is no way out. Only conscientious good behavior can save us.

    WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

    Concentration covers three of the eight factors of the Noble Eightfold Path: (1) Right Effort, (2) Right Mindfulness, and (3) Right Concentration. 5.1. Right Effort (Samma-vayama) The first factor, Right Effort, is defined as four exertions:
    • 1. The first effort is to prevent the arising of new bad habits, that is, bad actions, speech or thought. Examples of bad actions are intentionally killing living beings,  stealing or cheating, sexual misconduct, wrong livelihood, addiction to intoxicants, gambling, and excessive hedonism. Examples of bad speech are lying, back­biting, coarse language and gossiping. Examples of bad thoughts include evil intentions, greed, lust, hot temperedness, hatred, and deluded thinking or holding erroneous beliefs.
    • 2. The second effort is the exertion to abandon bad habits, such as these, which have already arisen.
    • 3. The third effort is to develop new good habits, that is good actions, speech, and thoughts. Good actions are the opposites of bad actions. For example, treating other beings with sympathy and mercy, generous benevolence, loyalty to one’s spouse, right occupation, clear-headed concentration, and alert awareness of what is good and bad.
    • 4. The fourth effort is to maintain good habits which have already arisen, such as those just mentioned.
    5.2. Right Mindfulness (Samma-sati) The second factor of the Eightfold Path, Right Mindfulness, is defined as the Four Foundations of Mindfulness: successive inner perception (anupassana) and contemplation of body, feelings, mentality, and dhamma. The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness (the Mahasatipatthana Sutta in the Digha Nikaya) is Lord Buddha’s main sermon on meditation. It lists six methods for mindfulness of the body: Mindfulness of breathing, posture, and actions; Contemplation of body parts as repulsive and as just elements – water, earth, fire or wind; and, nine meditations on corpses, considering that this body too, will become like that. The meditator continues contemplating the body-in-the-body both internally and externally along with the arising and vanishing of phenomena in the body. He remains detached, being aware that there is body, without any clinging. Similarly, the meditator perceives and contemplates the feelings-in-the-feelings as pleasant, painful or neutral, without any clinging. Then, the meditator perceives and contemplates the mind-in-the-mind as lustful, hateful, deluded, distracted, developed, unsurpassed, concentrated, liberated, or the opposites of these states, without any clinging. Finally, the meditator perceives and contemplates the dhamma-in-the-dhamma, specifically: (1) the Five Hindrances; (2) the Five Aggregates; (3) the Six Sense Organs and their sense-objects; (4) the Seven Factors of Enlightenment; and (5) the Four Noble Truths. Lord Buddha concludes, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness are the one way street to the purification of beings for overcoming sorrow and distress and gaining the right path for the realization of Nirvana. 5.3. Right Concentration (Samma-samadhi) Finally, Right Concentration or Samma-samadhi is defined as developing the Four Rupa-jhanas or States of Absorption, going deeper and deeper inside to purify the mind from the Five Hindrances, which obscure clear-sightedness, to transform the normal human senses into powerful instruments of observation, enabling the necessary and sufficient, reliable and valid collection of the relevant data required for direct, lucid comprehension of the true nature of reality. Prince Siddhattha intuitively meditated to the First Jhana when he was only seven years old. Later, when he recognized the futility of seeking enlightenment through self-torture, this memory led him onto the correct path.

    WHAT ARE HINDRANCES AND CAUSES?

    Samatha meditation controls the Five Hindrances by overcoming each with a counteracting jhāna or Absorption Factor developed by focusing inside [internally], meditating into peacefully happy trance states. First, let’s understand the Five Hindrances. The Five Hindrances are the obstacles which block or cut off the mind from transcending to wisdom. As shown below, they are drowsiness, doubt, ill will, restlessness and sensual desire. The following are the Hindrance Definitions:
    1. Drowsiness (thīna-middha): sleepiness, drowsiness, laziness, sloth, torpor, languor, stolidity,
    2. Doubt (vicikicchā): doubt, perplexity, scepticism, indecision, uncertainty,
    3. Ill Will (byāpāda): ill will, hatred, malevolence, aversion.
    4. Restlessness (uddhacca-kukkucca): Agitation, worry, anxiety,
    5. Sensual Desire (kāma-chanda): Sensual desire in fi ve sensual objects which consists of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch.
    Drowsiness can be caused either by sleepiness or laziness. It includes both mental sluggishness (sloth) and physical sluggishness (torpor). Doubt is usually specifi c to the current meditation procedure, “Am I doing the right thing?” Ill Will can vary from active anger or hatred to simply feeling ill at ease, “Do I really belong here?” Restlessness is usually the familiar racing and fl eeting of the mind from one thought to another, but can also include specifi c worries and anxiety. Finally, Sensual Desire is the enveloping sea that encompasses all the others. We are born into this world of sensual desire because of our enchantment with seeking sensual pleasures. In combination, these Five Hindrances do a good job of confusing our normal thinking and obscuring the true nature of our situation. What are the causes of the Five Hindrances?
    1. Drowsiness caused by dislike, discontent or aversion (arati),
    2. Doubt or Uncertainty caused by lack of contemplation (ayonisomanasikāra),
    3. Ill Will caused by annoyance, anger, hatred, enmity, repulsion, or repugnance (patigha),
    4. Restlessness caused by being unable to stop the mind from mental distraction or anxiety, lack of peace (cetasoavūpasama).
    5. Sensual Desire caused by lust or craving for beautiful, pleasing perceptions (subhasaññā).
    As shown, drowsiness stems from dislike or discontentment. Doubt comes from lack of contemplation. Ill Will may be due to superficial annoyance, but often refl ects more deeply instilled feelings of anger or hatred. Restlessness indicates our habitual inability to stop the mind due to failure to be able to tune out distractions. However, it can be overcome with mental training. Sensual Desire is caused by the lust and craving for pleasure which pervades our whole approach to life. It is the most deep-seated hindrance and the ultimate target of mental training. The Five Hindrances can be eliminated by the five Jhāna Factors which mentally control or extinguish them.
    1. Applied thought (vitakka) eliminates drowsiness and laziness (thīna-middha),
    2. Sustained thought (vicāra) eliminates doubt (vicikicchā),
    3. Joy (pīti) eliminates ill Will (byāpāda),
    4. Peaceful Happiness (sukha) eliminates restlessness (uddhacca-kukkucca),
    5. One-pointed Concentration (ekaggatā) eliminates sensual desire(kāmachanda).
    Applied Thought or increased attention overcomes Drowsiness. Sustained Thought or prolonged contemplation overcomes Doubt. Feelings of Joy (pīti) overcome Ill Will and peaceful happiness overcomes restlessness. One-pointed Concentration overcomes sensual desire and gives rise to the neutral Feeling of Equanimity which appears in the deepest jhāna state. Applied Thought (vitakka) is contemplation of feelings or sensations. Its characteristic is directing the mind through attention to be focused on an object. Its function is gathering and maintaining and understanding and analyzing where its result is leading the mind. Sustained Thought (vicāra) means considering the object as its characteristic, its function is keeping the mind and mental concomitants occupied with the object, and its result is keeping the mind anchored on that object. Vitakka and vicāra always go together, but vitakka arises before vicāra. Vitakka is cruder than vicāra. It is like the sound of a bell when struck, while vicāra is like the humming sound afterwards. Joy or Rapture (pīti) has joyfulness as its characteristic. Its function is physically and mentally suffusing, and its result is physical and mental glow. There are fi ve kinds of pīti:
    1. Minor Thrill,
    2. Momentary or Instantaneous Joy,
    3. Showering Joy, like a wave hitting the shore,
    4. Uplifting joy, and
    5. Suffusing joy.
    Peaceful Happiness (sukha) eats or eases away physical and mental discomfort. Its characteristic is gladness, its function is increasing its components and its result is generosity. Pīti is pleasure that arises. Sukha is experiencing the pleasure. When the mind has pīti, it also has sukha, but when the mind has sukha, that does not mean that it also has pīti. For example, pīti arises immediately when a man without food traveling in the desert finds an oasis or water. Only when he reaches the shade of the oasis or drinks the water, does sukha (happiness) arise. In the following quotes, Lord Buddha describes meditating to overcome the Five Hindrances (Majjhima-nikaya 12/469-474/502- 507): Monks, what needs to be done further? A monk in this Norm-discipline will find a quiet shelter which is a forest, the root of a tree, a mountain, a mountain valley, a cave, a cemetery, a thorn forest, an open-air area or a heap of straw. He returns from gathering alms and after his meal he sits crosslegged, upright, maintaining mindfulness. If he eliminates covetousness and develops a mind without covetousness, he will purify the mind from covetousness. If he eliminates violence and ill will, he is without thought of ill will and he has compassion, he will purify the mind from ill will. If he eliminates sloth, he is free of sloth, and contemplates the light of mindfulness and will thus purify the mind from sloth. If he eliminates restlessness, his mind will not be distracted and he will become tranquilized, mindful. He will purify the mind from restlessness. If he eliminates doubt, he will be free from doubt, and fi rm in the foundation of wholesome states, he will have purifi ed the mind from doubt. A monk contemplates and sees these Five Hindrances, which have not yet been eliminated, such as a debt, a disease, a prison, as slavery and then, traveling along a remote path, he contemplates and sees these Five Hindrances which become eliminated and, then, are replaced as being without debt, being without disease, being free from prison, being liberated and being in a secure place. In the following quote, Lord Buddha describes the four rūpajhānas (Majjhima-nikaya 12/469-474/502-507): A monk eliminates the Five Hindrances which are defilements of the mind that weaken wisdom, and he calms his mind, becoming freed from sensedesire and unwholesome states, and, then he attains the First Jhāna. He has Applied Thought (vitakka), Sustained Thought and joy ... Again, a monk attains the second jhāna and his inner mind is purifi ed and becomes one-pointed because Applied Thought (vitakka) and sustained thought (vicāra) are eliminated. There are only joy and happiness of concentration ... Again, a monk who has equanimity and mindfulness moderates happiness with both mind and body. Because joy is eliminated he attains the Third Jhāna. The Ariyas (Noble Ones) praise those who attain this jhāna as living happily, with equanimity and mindfulness… Again, a monk who attains the Fourth Jhāna has no suffering or happiness because happiness and suffering are eliminated and his former sorrow is eliminated. There is only equanimity which purifies mindfulness. The pure mind suffuses every part of his whole body, like a man whose head is covered by a white cloth. There is no part of his body untouched by the white cloth. When the meditator concentrates the mind to stop still firmly, so well that he or she can attain a counterpart sign or patibhāga-nimitta deeply seated in both eye and mind, then all fi ve jhāna factors will appear together to suppress the Five Hindrances. This is the first jhāna. When the meditator trains the mind to stop firmly even more still and deeper, the mind lets go of the coarsest factors of applied thought (vitakka) and sustained thought (vicāra), only rapture or joy (pīti), peaceful happiness (sukha) and one-pointed concentration (ekaggatā) remain. This is the second jhāna. When the meditator trains the mind to stop more fi rmly still, and it becomes more refi ned, the mind refi nes rapture or joy, and only peaceful happiness and one-pointed concentration remain. This is the third jhāna. When the meditator trains the mind to stop still fi rmly even deeper and more refined, the mind drops peaceful happiness, so that only one-pointed concentration remains and the mind becomes still in equanimity (upekkhā). This is samādhi or concentration of the fourth jhāna.

    WHAT ARE THE FOUR JHANAS OR STATES OF ABSORPTION?

    The normal human mind is blurred by Five Hindrances.The Five Hindrances, are Sleepiness or Laziness (Thina-middha), Doubt (Vicikiccha), Ill Will (Byapada), Restlessness or Worry (Uddhacca-kukkucca), and Sensual Desire (Kamachanda). As the meditator approaches absorption, he or she perceives spontaneous Nimitta or signs of progress which are the tools of Jhana. First, the meditator perceives Parikamma-nimitta or preliminary signs, signifying temporary or weak (khanika) concentration. With practice, these develop into an intermediate sign or Uggaha-Nimitta, when the sphere lasts for a short time. This signifies substantial or Upacara Samadhi, which is already getting close to stable concentration. Finally, when the mind is permanently in the Nimitta, the meditator comes to perceive the the Counterpart Sign (Patibhaga-nimitta), signifying permanent concentration. At this stage, the meditator can control the Nimitta (a mental image or meditation sign), moving it and changing its size. At this point, the mind develops the Five Jhana Virtues, each of which purifies the mind of the corresponding Hindrance. The Jhana Virtues are Applied Thought or Attention (Vitakka) which purifies drowsiness or laziness; Sustained Thought or Contemplation (Vicara) which purifies doubt; Joy or Rapture (Piti) which purifies hatred or ill will; Peaceful Happiness (Sukha) which purifies Restlessness or Worry; and One-pointed Concentration (Ekaggata) which purifies Sensual Desire or Enchantment. These five Jhana Virtues all develop together quickly by the First Jhana level. Applied Thought begins with the Learning Sign (Uggaha-nimitta), and the rest follow quickly with the Counterpart Sign (Patibhaga-nimitta). When concentration and absorption or Jhana develop further to the point where the mind no longer pays attention to either Applied or Sustained Thought, the meditator ascends into the Second Jhana, where only Joy, Happiness and One-pointed Concentration remain active. Next, with further concentration and absorption, the mind no longer pays attention to Joy, and the meditator rises into the Third Jhana with only Happiness and One-pointed Concentration. Thereafter, with further concentration and absorption, the mind no longer pays attention to Happiness, and there remains only One-pointed Concentration, which is joined by a new Virtue, Equanimity – neither happiness nor suffering. This is the Fourth Jhana.

    HOW DOES THE MEDITATOR, THEN, CONTINUE TO REALIZE THE FOUR FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS IN SAMATHA-VIPASSANA MEDITATION?

    Concentration of the mind at the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th levels of Jhana causes development of a stable, concentrated mind purified from all hindrances. This is the necessary and sufficient preparation for direct comprehension of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. The Pali wording for the Four Foundations of Mindfulness is Anupassana of the body-in-the-body, feelings-in-the-feelings, mind-in-the-mind, and Dhamma-in-the-Dhamma. Anupassana means step-by-step inner perception more than “contemplation.” In step-by-step Meditation, this is carried out by actually seeing, knowing, and becoming successively more and more refined, purer and purer inner bodies, taking on their corresponding feelings, mental states and Dhamma. Dhamma is usually rendered as mental objects or phenomena. As we have already noted, this refers to Lord Buddha’s teachings: the Five Hindrances, Five Aggregates; Six Sense Organs and their sense-objects, the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, and the Four Noble Truths. As the meditator achieves the higher and higher levels of consciousness associated with the purer and more refined inner bodies, he or she attains deeper and deeper understanding of these teachings. These more and more refined inner bodies are reborn or conceived spontaneously in natural accordance with Dependent Origination, as the meditator focuses the purified mind at the center of the center of the crude outer body. For example, in the First Jhana, when one focuses attention at the center of the center of the body, the mind and Dhamma-in-the-Dhamma become purer and purer causing the Refined Human Body to emerge. Ignorance is still present but less active, and the high virtues of Dana (sacrifice), Sila (morality), and Bhavana (meditation) cause more refined and purer bodies to appear, together with their more blissful feelings (Sukha Vedana), elevated mentality, and deeper comprehension of Dhamma. The meditator enters and becomes each body, in turn, using the higher capability of the new, elevated mind to reach the next body. The bodies are just the visible, attainable base supporting the higher virtue – the happier feelings, elevated mind, and deeper Dhamma. The meditator is drawn naturally to leave the crude body behind and become the more blissful, refined body with purer mind and more profound Dhamma. Having become the Refined Human Body, meditation continues, concentrated at the center of the center of the Refined Human Body until the meditator perfects the virtues of this new, refined body and mind. Then, the center of the Refined Body expands itself and the next purer body the Celestial Body emerges with its even higher mental state of celestial virtues. The meditator becomes the Celestial Body, causing his or her mental phenomena to become even purer. In the same way, purer and purer refined bodies continue to pop up along with their more and more elevated feelings, purer and purer minds and more and more profound Dhamma, brought on by the higher and higher Morality or Sila, Concentration or Samadhi and Wisdom or Pañña of the successive bodies, which are all higher than the human level. The meditator continues moving up step-by-step through all eight worldly bodies: Human, Refined Human, Celestial, Refined Celestial, Brahman, Refined Brahman, Formless Brahman, and the Refined Formless Brahman Body, which is the most refined of all the worldly bodies. The meditator becomes each body and uses its purer virtue and higher mentality to meditate up to the next level. When the meditator stops perfectly still at the center of the Refined Formless Brahman Body, the center expands itself and he or she meditates to Dhammakaya. “Dhamma” means Noble Level Virtue and Kaye means body or base of the virtue. Lord Buddha said “Dhammakaya itipi” which means “Dhammakaya is me.” The Dhammakaya Bodies support the supra-mundane virtues of the Noble Disciples, which form the path from the worldly level to Nibbana. The body is what we can see, know and become. Each Dhammakaya is a radiant, crystal clear Buddha statue, sitting in meditation position inside a crystal sphere. Sitting down cross-legged, the statue is roughly the same height and width across the lap. There are a total of ten basic Dhammakaya, in pairs of crude and refined bodies, corresponding to path and fruit. The First pair are the crude and refined Gotrabhu Dhammakaya which are roughly nine meters in diameter. These are called “Noble State Wisdom.” They are not yet at the Noble Disciple level. So long as the meditator cannot cut at least the first three of the Ten Fetters, he will still just stay in the Gotrabhu mentality, not yet to the Noble level. Beyond Gotrabhu, one meditates to the level of the Nine Noble Virtues cited by Lord Buddha as four paths, plus four fruits, and plus one Nibbana. The Dhammakaya are: Sotapanna or Stream Enterer, Refined Sotapanna, Sakadagami or Once Returner, Refined Sakadagami, Anagami or Non-Returner, Refined Anagami, Arahant or Dhammakaya Saint, and Refined Arahant, which is 40 meters in height and width. Finally, following this path, one can meditate to experience Nirvana temporarily.

    HOW DOES THIS CONCENTRATION MEDITATION PRACTICE PREPARE THE MEDITATOR FOR INSIGHT MEDITATION?

    At the Noble Disciple level, Concentration and Insight Meditation already begin to merge. The meditator develops super normal tools for effective and efficient Insight Meditation. These powers or Abhiñña such as the Angel Eye and Angel Ear, enable one to perceive the most refined beings and phenomena of the universe, which are transparent to the human eye and beyond the range of the human ear. One also develops the mental microscope and the mental telescope which enable seeing the whole universe and beyond to Nirvana. These are the tools which facilitate Concentration-Insight Meditation and enable one to follow Lord Buddha’s development of the Three Vijja (Transcendental Knowledge) which he attained on enlightenment night.

    THE BENEFIT OF RIGHT CONCENTRATION

    Right concentration develops Supra-mundane Knowledge (vijjā) and wisdom (paññā). Practicing samatha-bhāvanā, training the mind to stop still firmly concentrated to attain the jhānas, from the first jhāna to the fourth jhāna, suppresses the Five Hindrances. This is the first step towards the transcendental knowledge that eliminates ignorance (avijjā), the root cause underlying all suffering. It makes the mind clear and ready for the task of developing transcendental knowledge and wisdom to penetrate the Four Noble Truths. This is called Right Concentration (sammā-samādhi), one component of the Noble Eightfold Path.

    The Threefold Knowledge

    The following are Lord Buddha’s descriptions of the threefold knowledge (vijjā) for which jhāna attainment provides the foundation. These states permit overcoming ignorance and penetrating the Four Noble Truths (Majjhima-nikaya 12/475-477/414-415).

    [Knowledge of Past Lives]

    Monks, when his mind is concentrated, purified, clear, without defilement, without mental depravity, gentle, workable, fi rm and steady, he will direct his mind to pubbenivāsānussatiñāna [Knowledge of Past Lives]. He is recalling where he used to live in the past, in one birth, two births, ... many lives which used to be including ākāra [such as appearance, manner countenance, cause, reason, purpose] and uddesa [such as name, parents]. Just as a man goes from his own house to another, from that house to others and back to his own house again. He recollects that he went from his own house to that house, in that house, how he stood, sat, spoke, became silent, and went from that house to another. Then, he went from that house to others again. Monks, thus, he recollects his past lives, one birth, two births ... many lives which used to be including ākāra [such as appearance, manner countenance, cause, reason, purpose] and uddesa [such as name, parents

     

    [Knowledge of Decease and Rebirth of Beings]

    Monks, when his mind is concentrated, purified, clear, without defilement, without mental depravity, gentle, workable, fi rm, and steady, he will direct his mind to cutūpapātañāna (Knowledge of Decease and Rebirth of Beings): He sees beings passing away, being reborn, inferior, refined, of good complexion, crude complexion, fortunate, misfortunate with the pure divine eyes which are beyond human eyes ... he understands beings depending on kamma (karma). Just as in a castle at the four-way intersection in the middle of a city. A man with good sight standing upon the castle can see humans going to a house, leaving a house, walking, coming and traveling. Like that a monk sees beings passing away, being reborn, inferior, refi ned, of good complexion, crude complexion, fortunate, misfortunate with the pure divine eyes which are beyond human eyes ... he understands beings depending on kamma.

    [Knowledge of Destruction of Mental Intoxications]

    Monks, when his mind is concentrated, purified, clear, without defilement, without mental depravity, gentle, workable, fi rm, and steady, he will direct his mind to āsavakkhayañāna (Knowledge of Destruction of Mental Intoxications). He penetrates to find that this is Suffering (dukkhya), this is the Cause of Suffering (samudaya), this is the Cessation of Suffering (nirodha), this is the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering (magga). These are mental intoxications (āsava). This is a cause of mental intoxications. This is the cessation of mental intoxications. This is the path leading to the cessation of mental intoxications. When he penetrates this, his mind is emancipated from āsava of sense-desire, āsava of becoming and āsava of ignorance. When his mind has been emancipated, there will be the knowledge that this is emancipation. Birth ends. The chaste life is over. The obligation has been done. There is no more obligation. Just as at mountain pool, with pure and limpidwater, a man with good eyes who stands at the edge of the pool of water can see oyster shells, pebbles, tiles and fi sh which stop or move. He thinks that in the pool of water with pure and limpid-water, there are oyster shells, pebbles, tiles and fi sh which stop or move. This is the same as the monk who penetrates that this is suffering, this is the cause of suffering, ... He will know that rebirth ends. The chaste life is over. The obligation has been done. There is no more obligation. He has done what must be done. With this threefold knowledge, the meditator can overcome ignorance, penetrate the Four Noble Truths completely, and attain transcendental wisdom.

    The Benefits of Right Concentration

    Lord Buddha said the benefits of Right Concentration are (Khuddaka-nikaya 25/35/65): There is no jhāna (absorption factors) for one who is without wisdom and no wisdom for one who is without jhāna. He who has both jhāna and wisdom is, indeed, close to Nibbāna.
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