Dhamma Topics and their Analysis
(Dhammatthavinicchayo)



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Meditation Topics

8. The Four Absorptions

Cattāro Jhānā

from Jhānavibhaṅgo (Vibh. 12)

There are four absorptions (jhāna): The standard pericope for the four absorptions can be found in section 12, where they are said to lead to a pleasant abiding here and now; and in the definition of sammā samādhi in section 21 below; this though is a variation explaining the factors that are present also.

1. First absorption,
2. second absorption,
3. third absorption,
4. fourth absorption.

1. Herein what is the first absorption?

Here at whatever time a monastic cultivates the path to rebirth in the form (worlds), quite secluded from sense desires (kāma), secluded from unwholesome things, having thinking (vitakka), reflection (vicāra), and the joy (pīti) and happiness (sukha) born of seclusion (viveka), dwells having attained the first absorption based on the earth-object. This is one of the meditation objects known to be helpful for producing absorption. At that time there is absorption with five factors:

1. Thinking,
2. reflection
3. joy,
4. happiness,
5. one-pointedness of thought (cittassekaggatā).

This is said to be the first absorption.

(Also) the rest of the thoughts associated with the absorptions.

2. Herein what is the second absorption?

Here at whatever time a monastic cultivates the path to rebirth in the form (worlds), with the calming down of thinking and reflection, with internal clarity, and one-pointedness of mind, being without thinking, without reflection, having the happiness and joy born of concentration (samādhi), he dwells having attained the second absorption based on the earth-object. At that time there is absorption with three factors:

1. Joy,
2. happiness,
3. one-pointedness of thought.

This is said to be the second absorption.

(Also) the rest of the thoughts associated with the absorptions.

3. Herein what is the third absorption?

Here at whatever time a monastic cultivates the path to rebirth in the form (worlds), with the fading away of joy he dwells equanimous, mindful, fully aware, experiencing happiness through the body, about which the Noble Ones declare: He dwells pleasantly, mindful, and equanimous, he dwells having attained the third absorption based on the earth-object. At that time there is absorption with two factors:

1. Happiness,
2. one-pointedness of thought.

This is said to be the third absorption.

(Also) the rest of the thoughts associated with the absorptions.

4. Herein what is the fourth absorption?

Here at whatever time a monastic cultivates the path to rebirth in the form (worlds), having abandoned pleasure (sukha), abandoned pain (dukkha), and with the previous passing away of mental happiness and sorrow, without pain, without pleasure, and with complete purity of mindfulness (sati) owing to equanimity (upekkhā), he dwells having attained the fourth absorption based on the earth-object. At that time there is absorption with two factors:

1. Equanimity,
2. one-pointedness of thought.

This is said to be the fourth absorption.

(Also) the rest of the thoughts associated with the absorptions.

9. The Four Formless Attainments

Cattāro Āruppasamāpattī

from Uposathasuttaṁ, An 4.190

1. Here, monastics, a monastic having completely transcended perceptions of form, These four are sometimes referred to as the 5th-8th jhānas, or meditations, and so continue from the last section. with the disappearance of perceptions of (sensory) impact, not attending to perceptions of variety, (understanding): This is endless space, abides in the sphere of endless space (ākāsānañcāyatana),
2. having completely transcended the sphere of endless space, (understanding): This is endless consciousness, he abides in the sphere of endless consciousness (viññāṇañcāyatana),
3. having completely transcended the sphere of endless consciousness, (understanding): This is nothing, he abides in the sphere of nothingness (ākiñcaññāyatana),
4. having completely transcended the sphere of nothingness, he abides in the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception (nevasaññānāsaññāyatana).

10. The Four Spiritual States These are also known as the four immeasureables (appamañña).

Cattāro Brāhmavihārā

from Vatthasuttaṁ, MN 7

1. He dwells suffusing one direction with a mind full of friendliness (mettā), likewise the second (direction), third (direction) and fourth (direction). So up and down and across (the middle), everywhere, in every place, he dwells suffusing the entire world with a mind full of friendliness, that is extensive, grown great, immeasurable, without hatred, without ill-will,
2. furthermore, he dwells suffusing one direction with a mind full of kindness (karuṇā), likewise the second (direction), third (direction) and fourth (direction). So up and down and across (the middle), everywhere, in every place, he dwells suffusing the entire world with a mind full of kindness, that is extensive, grown great, immeasurable, without hatred, without ill-will,
3. furthermore, he dwells suffusing one direction with a mind full of gladness (muditā), likewise the second (direction), third (direction) and fourth (direction). So up and down and across (the middle), everywhere, in every place, he dwells suffusing the entire world with a mind full of gladness, that is extensive, grown great, immeasurable, without hatred, without ill-will,
4. furthermore, he dwells suffusing one direction with a mind full of equanimity (upekkhā), likewise the second (direction), third (direction) and fourth (direction). So up and down and across (the middle), everywhere, in every place, he dwells suffusing the entire world with a mind full of equanimity, that is extensive, grown great, immeasurable, without hatred, without ill-will.

11. The Four Ways of Practice

Catasso Paṭipadā

Vitthārasuttaṁ, AN 4.162

There are, monastics, these four ways of practice (paṭipadā).

Which four?

1. Practice which is painful (dukkha) and slow (dandha) in knowledge,
2. practice which is painful (dukkha) and quick (khippa) in knowledge,
3. practice which is pleasant (sukha) and slow (dandha) in knowledge,
4. practice which is pleasant (sukha) and quick (khippa) in knowledge.

1. And what, monastics, is the practice which is painful and slow in knowledge?

{1} Here, monastics, one person constitutionally has great passion (rāga), and constantly he experiences pain and sorrow which is born of passion,
{2} he constitutionally has great hatred (dosa), and constantly he experiences pain and sorrow which is born of hatred,
{3} he constitutionally has great delusion (moha), These three (rāga, dosa, moha) are known as the three roots (mūla) of unwholesome thoughts; rāga here is a synonym of the more usual lobha. and constantly he experiences pain and sorrow which is born of delusion.

And for him these five faculties The five faculties are analysed in section 18. manifest feebly:

{1} The faith faculty (saddhindriya),
{2} the energy faculty (viriyindriya),
{3} the mindfulness faculty (satindriya),
{4} the concentration faculty (samādhindriya),
{5} the wisdom faculty (paññindriya).

Thus these five faculties are feeble and he is slow in achieving the immediate result of the destruction of the pollutants.

This, monastics, is called the practice which is painful and slow in knowledge.

2. And what, monastics, is the practice which is painful and quick in knowledge?

{1} Here, monastics, one person constitutionally has great passion, and constantly he experiences pain and sorrow which is born of passion,
{2} he constitutionally has great hatred, and constantly he experiences pain and sorrow which is born of hatred,
{3} he constitutionally has great delusion, and constantly he experiences pain and sorrow which is born of delusion.

And for him these five faculties manifest in excess:

{1} The faith faculty,
{2} the energy faculty,
{3} the mindfulness faculty,
{4} the concentration faculty,
{5} the wisdom faculty.

Thus these five faculties are in high measure and he is quick in achieving the immediate result of the destruction of the pollutants.

This, monastics, is called the practice which is painful and quick in knowledge.

3. And what, monastics, is the practice which is pleasant and slow in knowledge?

{1} Here, monastics, one person constitutionally does not have great passion, and he does not constantly experience pain and sorrow which is born of passion,
{2} he constitutionally does not have great hatred, and he does not constantly experience pain and sorrow which is born of hatred,
{3} he constitutionally does not have great delusion, and he does not constantly experience pain and sorrow which is born of delusion.

And for him these five faculties manifest feebly:

{1} The faith faculty,
{2} the energy faculty,
{3} the mindfulness faculty,
{4} the concentration faculty,
{5} the wisdom faculty.

Thus these five faculties are feeble and he is slow in achieving the immediate result of the destruction of the pollutants.

This, monastics, is called the practice which is pleasant and slow in knowledge.

4. And what, monastics, is the practice which is pleasant and quick in knowledge?

{1} Here, monastics, one person constitutionally does not have great passion, and he does not constantly experience pain and sorrow which is born of passion,
{2} he constitutionally does not have great hatred, and he does not constantly experience pain and sorrow which is born of hatred,
{3} he constitutionally does not have great delusion, and he does not constantly experience pain and sorrow which is born of delusion.

And for him these five faculties manifest in excess:

{1} The faith faculty,
{2} the energy faculty,
{3} the mindfulness faculty,
{4} the concentration faculty,
{5} the wisdom faculty.

Thus these five faculties are in high measure and he is quick in achieving the immediate result of the destruction of the pollutants.

This, monastics, is called the practice which is pleasant and quick in knowledge.

These, monastics, are the four ways of practice.

12. The Four Cultivations of Meditation

Catasso Samādhibhāvanā

from Samādhibhāvanāsuttaṁ, AN 4.41

There are, monastics, four cultivations of meditation.

Which four?

1. There is, monastics, the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to a pleasant abiding here and now,
2. there is, monastics, the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to the acquisition of knowledge and insight,
3. there is, monastics, the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to mindfulness and full awareness,
4. there is, monastics, the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to the destruction of the pollutants.

1. And what, monastics, is the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to a pleasant abiding here and now? These are the four absorptions.

{1} Here, monastics, a monastic, quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unwholesome things, having thinking, reflection, and the joy and happiness born of seclusion, dwells having attained the first absorption (jhāna),
{2} with the calming down of thinking and reflection, with internal clarity, and one-pointedness of mind, being without thinking, without reflection, having the happiness and joy born of concentration, he dwells having attained the second absorption,
{3} with the fading away of joy he dwells equanimous, mindful, fully aware, experiencing happiness through the body, about which the Noble Ones declare: He dwells pleasantly, mindful, and equanimous, he dwells having attained the third absorption,
{4} having abandoned pleasure, abandoned pain, and with the previous passing away of mental happiness and sorrow, without pain, without pleasure, and with complete purity of mindfulness owing to equanimity, he dwells having attained the fourth absorption.

This, monastics, is the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to a pleasant abiding here and now.

2. And what, monastics, is the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to the acquisition of knowledge and insight?

Here, monastics, a monastic applies his mind to the perception of light (ālokasaññā), he determines the perception by day, as by day, so by night, as by night, so by day. Thus with an open mind, which is receptive, he cultivates his illumined mind.

This, monastics, is the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to the acquisition of knowledge and insight.

3. And what, monastics, is the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to mindfulness and full awareness?

{1} Here, monastics, a monastic knows feelings arising, knows them persisting, knows them vanishing,
{2} he knows perceptions arising, knows them persisting, knows them vanishing,
{3} he knows thoughts arising, knows them persisting, knows them vanishing.

This, monastics, is the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to mindfulness and full awareness.

4. And what, monastics, is the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to the destruction of the pollutants?

Here, monastics, a monastic dwells contemplating the arising and falling away (udayabbaya) of the five components that provide fuel for attachment (thus):

{1} This is bodily-form, this is the arising of bodily-form, this is the disappearance of bodily-form;
{2} this is feelings, this is the arising of feelings, this is the disappearance of feelings;
{3} this is perceptions, this is the arising of perceptions, this is the disappearance of perceptions;
{4} this is volitions, this is the arising of volitions, this is the disappearance of volitions;
{5} this is consciousness, this is the arising of consciousness, this is the disappearance of consciousness.

This, monastics, is the cultivation of meditation, which, when developed and made much of, leads to the destruction of the pollutants.

These, monastics, are the four cultivations of meditation.

13. The Ten Thoughts

Dasa Dhammā

from Dasadhammasuttaṁ, AN 10:48

There are these ten thoughts, monastics, that one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on.

What are the ten?

1. I have become one who has no (distinctive) appearance – one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on this,
2. I am bound to others for my livelihood – one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on this,
3. I should comport myself differently – one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on this,
4. can I myself find no fault with my virtue? – one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on this,
5. will my wise companions in the spiritual life, after testing me, find no fault with my virtue? – one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on this,
6. there is alteration in, and separation from, all that is dear and appealing to me – one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on this,
7. it is deeds that I own, it is deeds that I am heir to, it is deeds that I am born from, deeds are my kinsfolk, deeds are my refuge – whatever deeds I perform, whether good or bad, to that I will be the heir – one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on this,
8. in what way do the nights and days pass for me? – one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on this,
9. do I delight in empty places? – one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on this,
10. has a state beyond ordinary human beings – the distinction of what is truly noble knowledge and insight been attained by me? Will I at the end, when questioned by my companions in the spiritual life, not be embarrassed? – one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on this.

These are the ten thoughts, monastics, that one who has gone forth should frequently reflect on.

14. The Sixteen Modes of Mindfulness while Breathing

Soḷasākārā Ānāpānasatī

from Ānāpānasatisuttaṁ, MN 118

And how, monastics, is mindfulness while breathing developed?

How, when it has been made much of, does it yield great fruit and bring great advantages?

Here, monastics, a monastic who has gone to the wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty place, sits down.

After folding his legs crosswise, setting his body straight, and establishing mindfulness at the front, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out.

1. While breathing in long, he knows: I am breathing in long, while breathing out long, he knows: I am breathing out long,
2. while breathing in short, he knows: I am breathing in short, while breathing out short, he knows: I am breathing out short,
3. he trains like this: Experiencing the whole body I will breathe in, he trains like this: Experiencing the whole body I will breathe out,
4. he trains like this: Making the bodily processes calm I will breathe in, he trains like this: Making the bodily processes calm I will breathe out,
5. he trains like this: Experiencing joy I will breathe in, he trains like this: Experiencing joy I will breathe out,
6. he trains like this: Experiencing pleasure I will breathe in, he trains like this: Experiencing pleasure I will breathe out,
7. he trains like this: Experiencing the mental processes I will breathe in, he trains like this: Experiencing the mental processes I will breathe out,
8. he trains like this: Making the mental processes calm I will breathe in, he trains like this: Making the mental processes calm I will breathe out,
9. he trains like this: Experiencing the mind I will breathe in, he trains like this: Experiencing the mind I will breathe out,
10. he trains like this: Gladdening the mind I will breathe in, he trains like this: Gladdening the mind I will breathe out,
11. he trains like this: Concentrating the mind I will breathe in, he trains like this: Concentrating the mind I will breathe out,
12. he trains like this: Freeing the mind I will breathe in, he trains like this: Freeing the mind I will breathe out.
13. he trains like this: Contemplating impermanence I will breathe in, he trains like this: Contemplating impermanence I will breathe out,
14. he trains like this: Contemplating dispassion I will breathe in, he trains like this: Contemplating dispassion I will breathe out,
15. he trains like this: Contemplating cessation I will breathe in, he trains like this: Contemplating cessation I will breathe out,
16. he trains like this: Contemplating letting go I will breathe in, he trains like this: Contemplating letting go I will breathe out.

Like this, monastics, is mindfulness while breathing developed.
Like this, when it has been made much of, it yields great fruit and brings great advantages.