Observations in Samatha and Vipassana Meditation - in Samatha and Vipassana Meditation ... paththaaner sutra. ... Buddhist text in English as concentration

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NOVEMBER 2017 PAHANA - Mid Issue26www.pahana.com.au ExtraObservations in Samatha and Vipassana MeditationYears of distorted Buddhist teaching and guidance, thanks to our Sinhala Buddhist priests, who possess wide knowledge on Thripitaker, yet with meager 'Understanding' of Buddha's doctrine, have led our society to engage in devotional practices as Hindus such as poojas, prayers, besieging divine intervention.Buddha denied such practices, which might accumulate merit to qualify for a heavenly birth, rather than leading up to 'Nibbana here & now'.The present Sri Lankan society is immensely corrupt even the presence of a Samma Sambuddha, will fail to guide the so called labelled Buddhists to salvation, who indulge themselves in rampant consumption of liquor, idle chatter, watching corrupt programs on TV, wild partying etc. etc. instead of devoting few minutes a day on meditation, the crux of Buddha's doctrine. The lame excuse being ' we hardly have time for meditation'.When I practiced meditation under the Bodhi tree in Buddha Gaya for an extended period, I observed many Thai Buddhist monks and lay persons in meditation and no Sinhala Buddhist monks practicing bhavanaa were seen in the vicinity. Our monks' main theme was Amisa pooja and delivering talks at times emulating our politicians, using mega and grama phones, disturbing the tranquility and peace, in a noble place.I do not pretend to be an expert on meditation nor on Buddha Damma yet I sincerely wish the content of this article will serve as an 'eye opener' for those, took refuge in the triple gem and who abuse the fi ve precepts and label themselves Buddhists.The word meditation has been loosely used for Samadi or Jhana or Samatha Bhavana. Even before someone begins concentration which is a mechanical process, even non-Buddhist can do, one must practice Mindfulness or Sati, which means to be aware or conscious of all movements and phenomena in day to day activities, indeed a diffi cult practice for a beginner, as explained in the Mahaa sathi paththaaner sutra.The word samadhi has been translated in Buddhist text in English as concentration probably from the beginning f time. but does it refl ect the true meaning? sammaa Samadhi refers to 4 jhanas which means the 4 absorptions (states) of the mind, and thus a consequence, rather than a process. In fact its the eff ect NOT the cause, hence Samadhi should mean absorption and not concentration. Concentration is a process at arriving at 'one pointedness' but Samadhi is a state or damma of the mind. Let us now see why people Meditate.Nowadays meditation has become more of a vogue than a disciplined exercise especially in the west. On the other hand easterners however are more inclined to perform rituals to gain merit rather than engaging themselves in meditation, thanks to the guidance of ignorant Buddhist monks. Some do meditation without knowing why they practice it. Buddha clearly explains in Vijja-bhaagiya Sutta why one needs to meditate. He calls it qualities of clear knowing. Which in other words is seeing things as they really are.First quality is Tranquility or perfect calmness of body and mind. Some practice mindfulness of breathing without actually knowing what it intended for. In the fi rst tetrad, as explained in anaapaaner sutra, the 4th stage is calming the body. While you sit in a comfortable position and keep your body still, without movement, virtually the body is fully relaxed and calm. However the movement of air in and out of the body seem to be in a state of disturbance, relatively to the rest of the body, which is still. So the aim in Aaanaapaaner Sathi is to relax this in breath and out breath to reach a state of perfect stillness, where one doesnt feel the extent of the breath anymore. When Meditator's body is calm, the mind becomes happy and happiness is a condition for the mind to enter Jhana or Absorption. (primararily 4 in all - however here we will not discuss Jhanas) Now Buddha poses the question in the Suttra what purpose does it serve to tranquilise the breath body and go on to state to develop the Mind. This clearly indicates that mind needs to be developed from the state of monkey mind of the ordinary human being, puthajjaner or run-of-mill mind, to reach a higher consciousness level. When the mind is developed, what purpose does it serve? Just as what purpose it serves to practice tranquility Buddha poses the second question. When people see things at the bottom in a crystal clear water pond, the Passion for things gradually disappears, and fi nally is abandoned. So we can safely arrive at the conclusion that the Purpose of Practicing Tranquility or Samatha Bhaavanaa is to abandon Passion. Now if someone asks you why you practice meditation the one simple answer is to abandon passion.Just by abandoning passion do we reached a state where we do see things as clearly as they are? The answer is No. We abandoned passion but we have a whole lot of work to do to reach the ultimate target of Clear Knowing. So we begin the practice of Insight or Vipassanaa Bhavana and what purpose does that serve? Discernment is developed. In the English Dictionary the meaning of discernment is given as The act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment. In Buddhist terms the defi nition goes much further into metaphysics where one sees a being as a mere aggregate of 5 things, namely Feeling, Perception, Mental action, Consciousness consisting of the mind, and the last aggregate, the physical body. It does not stop there. It goes on to fi nd the characteristics of the fi ve aggregates in the bhava of a so called being, a non-entity. The subject of the 5 aggregates to Anichcha, Dhukka, and Anattataa, loosely translated as for convenience Impermanence, Suff ering and Not Self. Now Buddha asks , And when discernment is developed, what purpose does it serve? Ignorance is abandoned, the root cause of all this suff ering in Sansaara.Readers now know why we meditate which has a dual purpose of abandoning Passion and abandoning Ignorance.Samatha Bhavana which again our mislead Sinhala Buddhist monks, with a few exceptions, discourage laypersons to practice, which however Buddha recommended highly, mentioned in many Suttras, such as Brahmajaala sutra, Saamannapala Sutra. The observation of ignorant monks and lay people, is that concentration is the domain of Hindu Rishis, as the end product of Jhanas lead to gaining powers such as walking on water or fl ying through air etc. etc. Buddha clearly advised to refrain indulge in powers and clinging on to them, rather to utilize concentration to reach higher consciousness levels, to engage in insight, through a better understanding, to gain more ground on enter the path to Nibbana.A good Trainer in bhavanaa or a book is mandatory for beginners, and my source was Vissudhimagga, which our pedantic pundits criticise, instead of understanding the absolute brilliant exposition of Buddhist principles on Bhavana, to elevate consciousness from Sensual sphere, Kamavacchara Citta, to Fine material sphere, Rupavacchara Citta, and beyond. To gain a superior understanding of Mind and Matter is one of the greatest challenge for an ordinary worldling, concentrating on forty Kammathanas or objects, the dhammer recommends.The object of concentration when rightly grasped with much practice will produce a SIGN, an image or Nimittha.. At this stage in Samatha Bhavana, a meditator reaches Access Concentration, however not yet Jhana or Absorption and the concentrator will quickly fall back from Fine Material consciousness which he/she reached, to Sensual Sphere consciousness. Some objects of concentration, kammathaaners, such as Buddha's qualities or a dead body will only lead up to Access Concentration. To strive for higher levels one should select a Kasina or practice Anapaana Sati. The image created by the mind comes in various shapes and sizes as one reaches Absorption or Jhana Consciousness. The common sign is a bright light, a conceptual image created by mind.Anaapaaner Sathi practice, the readily available object for concentration, should begin with counting In breath and Out breath oneone, twotwo up to fi ve. With profi ciency, one might drop counting and feel Ana and Pana at the base of nostril or some point in the breath body. Once mastered one can practice the fi rst four bases, out of the 16 bases, as explained in the Anaapaaner Suttra. This practice is the domain of Buddhas and diffi cult, however one can reach Nibbaaner, going through four Jhana, stepping on abhinnaa (6th power) utilizing Anapana Sati Bhavana.Mind by default wonders and attempts to keep it focused often fails. The meditator should not be frustrated and should make every endeavour to re-focus on the object of concentration. One of the easiest times for beginners to practice Bhavana is before going to bed, while in the supine position. If one awakes he/she should do resume Anapana Sati, until he/she falls back to sleep. Noise is one of the thorns for meditation and it is advisable to avoid such places. In fact Bhavanaa according Buddhism is a 24/7 practice, uitilsing clear comprehension and mindfulnessJhanas numerically are one to eight, and the fi rst set of four Jhanas, which is confi ned to Fine Material sphere or consciousness, is quite adequate to contemplate on Mind and Matter (Citta and Rupa kaya) gaining insight to liberate one from Samsara, reaching the ultimate goal Nibbana.At the Absorption or Jhana stage a person is at the fi fth Impulsion of the seven Impulsions in the cognitive series, Citta Vitthi (one need to read about Cognitive Series in a separate Buddhist text) . The fi rst four impulsions belong to Access Concentration, mentioned above, and the fi fth, Absorption consciousness, which is a steady, stable stage. Both Moral and Immoral Vipaaker are created at a future date, through Actions or Kamma, during the seven Impulsion stage. Briefl y, a single consciousness, consists of seventeen Thought Moments and Impulsions occupy numbers from nine to fi fteen, seven in all.A contemplator should at all times, keep the mind relaxed and should never begin a session expecting something to happen or aiming at going after the Sign. The Sign will appear spontaneously at the most unexpected situation. Nowadays some practice 'factory' Bhavana, the current vogue, especially in the west. However Buddha recommended meditation in solitary retreat in a Kuti or room or under a tree or open space etc. etc. One need to lead a moral existence to obtain higher consciousness and disappointments are many yet a person should strive hard as the fruits of concentration will eventually materialize with patience as the key for success.Under Absorption of Jhana meditator will experience happiness, bliss and eventually equanimity and unifi cation of mind. One need to COME OUT of Absorption, to review the Jhana achieved and it's shortcomings or move on to the next stage of contemplating on mind and matter, applying the three characteristics of existence Impermanence, Suff ering and Anatta on fi ve aggregates. This will lead to ponder on Dependant Origination or Patichcha Samupaadaayer, detailed in Mahanidhaaner Suttra. Understanding Dependant Origination, Buddha has proclaimed is the key to EXIT Samsara


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