SUBJECT: II. Comprehensive Intro. to Buddhism (from the Buddha and B. Bodhi)
Topic: 5. Meditation
The currently selected QUESTION:
How is Meditation and its results described?
MeditationAdded by Brad on Sun 25th January 2015 2.21PM
Meditator's initial efforts: overcoming the hindrances. Stages:
Removing gross impurities of bodily, verbal, and mental conduct
(via moral discipline and vigilant introspection).
Then removing the mid-level impurities: Thoughts of sensuality, ill-will, and
Next: Eliminate the subtle impurities of meandering thought.
Finally: Eliminate thought about the Dhamma -- the subtlest obstacle
(from a B. Bodhi Intro., ... Anthology ..., 2005 p. 260).
When all distracting thoughts are eliminated this leads to mental unification, the
bases for the 6 direct knowledges.
Aids to meditation and aids to inducing concentration:
Meditation subjects against unwholesome mental states
Unattractive body vs. sensual lust
Loving-kindness vs. ill-will
Mindfulness of breathing vs. restlessness
Perception of impermanence vs. the conceit, “I am”
Also: compassion antidote to harmfulness; altruistic joy to discontentment;
equanimity to partialities
And popular meditation subjects include: the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha (“3 jewels”),
morality, and generosity
Not a single meditation method, but need to establish the mode of contemplation
needed. (See last COMMENT, at bottom of page, for elaboration.)
Appropriate state of mind: “establishment of mindfulness”. This involves:
observation of of objects in the proper state of mind
recollection of the present : sustained awareness of what is happening to us
and within us on each occasion of experience
keep “object” continually present to the mind
Mindfulness is often in close conjunction with “clear comprehension”, that is,
clear knowledge and understanding of what one is experiencing.
While subduing greed and aversion, meditation arouses positive qualities of
mindfulness and clear comprehension AND contemplates 4 objective domains:
state of mind
(4 establishments of mindfulness)
Contemplation of phenomenon: [of]:
hindrances (sensual desire, ill will, dullness/drowsiness, restlessness,
doubt); when not obsessed with any, memory improves ... [and more]
5 aggregates [(to be described soon)]
6 internal and external sense bases
7 factors of enlightenment [(coming up)]
4 Noble Truths
* With regard to the establishments of mindfulness (contemplation) are a progressive
* Establishments of mindfulness includes moving towards states of mind, concentrated
* Progressive contemplation brings enhanced concentration.
* Establishment of mindfulness of phenomenon is: the shift toward insight
After sufficient contemplation of phenomenon, then the 7 Factors of Enlightenment
become manifest and development of these  culminates in the knowledge of
the 4 Noble Truths and this liberates the mind from defilements and leads to
When insight is developed, wisdom is developed.
The Buddha used mindfulness of breathing as his main meditation subject for
attainment of Enlightenment.
* 4 kinds of persons:
Internal serenity but not the higher wisdom of insight (into phenomenon)
Wisdom ... but not serenity
When one has both one should establish themselves in just the wholesome states and
make a further effort for destruction of taints.
* After eliminating bad conduct and bad thoughts (previously mentioned), one must
still eliminate thoughts about relatives, country, and reputation. When he has
abandoned these there still remain thoughts about the teaching. That
concentration is not yet peaceful and sublime; it has not attained to full
tranquility, nor has it achieved mental unification; it is maintained by strenuous
suppression of the defilements.
* And, vice versa to the above note: The steadied, unified, and concentrated mind is
calm and refined.
THEN: “to whatever mental state realized by direct knowledge, he directs his mind,
he achieves the capacity of realizing that state by direct knowledge,
whenever the necessary conditions obtain” (many examples given)
Destruction of taints further liberates the mind and allows more [of this capacity].
Phenomenon in phenomenon, in terms of the 7 factors of Enlightenment:
Mindfulness enlightenment factor (there or not, unarisen or arisen)
Discrimination of Phenomenon enlightenment factor ...
Energy enlightenment factor ...
Rapture enlightenment factor ...
Tranquility enlightenment factor ...
Concentration enlightenment factor ...
Equanimity enlightenment factor ...
Whenever there are signs of unwholesome thoughts (esp. desire, hate, delusion), give
attention to other signs of what is wholesome. Unwholesome will be abandoned and
subside (with abandoning, mind is steadied internally, composed, unified, and
If giving attention to signs of what is wholesome does not work:
try to fight and not attend
give attention to the thought-formation of these [bad] thoughts
crush mind with mind
During meditation, the Venerable Analayo says these processes may need to be
done to some degree: 5 methods for dealing with unwholesome thoughts arising:
(in order of use):
[ Before making use of the suggestions, below, simply returning to the 'object' with
mindfulness can (oftentimes) undo and prevent embellishments, fabrications, and defilements
(such "doings") -- you may simply note them and return to the 'object' of contemplation/concentration.
Often you can just note or watch each occasion of experience as it arises, stands, and passes away.
In the watching there is no room for clinging, no compulsion to saddle things with our desires.
(paraphrasing B. Bodhi from The Noble Eightfold Path (1999)) ] But, if that does not work:
Give attention to some wholesome thought instead, something more congruent with
good, unified mind; naturally directing the flow of thought from something
unwholesome to wholesome.
If this first method does not work reflect on the danger inherent in allowing
unwholesome thought; confront harmful nature of the unwholesome thoughts
(requires little effort, if done skillfully -- this does not imply involvement with the
actual content); this gives strength to redirecting the flow of thought (which can
Third thing to try (if necessary) is to "forget" the thought, actually setting it aside for
for a later time when it is appropriate to deal with it.
Fourth (if necessary), you can give [quick] attention to stilling the thought formations,
through becoming aware of what/how it is taking place, and thus being able to let go
of this. This may be a gradual process (over more than one meditation session, to
direct thoughts from unwholesome to wholesome); here you need, at some level, to
become aware of the why and how of these unwholesome thoughts, i.e. of the
volitional driving force; turn away from manifestation _and_ underlying driving
Fifth (as a last resort only), use force of the mind to dispel unwholesome thoughts,
this will at least insure these thoughts do not "spill over" in to more unwholesome
activity. (This really just another way of dealing with it until another time.)
[ "The hindrances — sensual desire, ill will, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and worry, and
doubt — generally become manifest in an early stage of practice, soon after the initial expectations
and gross disturbances subside and the subtle tendencies find the opportunity to surface. Whenever
one of the hindrances crops up, its presence should be noted; then, when it fades away, a note should
be made of its disappearance. To ensure that the hindrances are kept under control an element of
comprehension is needed ..." "a similar mode of contemplation is to be applied to the seven factors
of enlightenment: mindfulness, investigation, energy, rapture, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity.
When any one of these factors arises, its presence should be noted...."
(from B. Bodhi The Noble Eightfold Path (1999)) ]
Using these methods, the mind is free to "go deeper": The idea is to maintain
concentration on the subject and object of meditation, of course. Note: at some point
even thoughts related to renunciation, non-ill-will and harmlessness need to be left
behind to steady the mind in concentration. And, there is some necessary, good,
appropriate thought connected with meditation, for example: when contemplating
feelings, assess them as pleasant, painful, or neither. This strengthens clarity of
recognition (obviously involved in concentration); in time though, this should be able
to be dispensed with. "Beyond thought", in advanced absorption, though not mindful
of conceptual thought, one will be mindful of the "inclination of the mind". Also,
some kind of discernment and sustained thinking is involved even in jhana;
this is involved in being able to maintain a sense of the inclination of the mind (and in
initial application of the mind). In the second absorption, not only is conceptual thought
long gone, but so is the last vestige of mental activity, in the sense of deliberate mental
application. (Excursions in the Thought World of the Pali Discourses, Analayo, 2012)
Flung off the fetters and with complete penetration of conceit, one has made and end
Mind that is “straight” gains the inspiration of meaning, the inspiration of Dhamma,
rapture arises, calm feels happy, and the mind becomes concentrated.
The Dhamma expounded by the Buddha : directly visible, immediate, inviting one
to come and see, and worthy of application.
moral discipline (virtue)
The 4 Establishments of Mindfulness (again) are:
body in body (arises and vanishes and unattractive and dead)
feelings in feelings (arising and vanishing)
mind in mind (arising and vanishing)
phenomenon in phenomenon, seen contemplating hindrances or the
5 aggregates subject to clinging (form, feeling, perception, volitional
formations, and consciousness ) (arising and vanishing)
Contemplating these to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and repeated
Mindfulness of breathing (4 things lead to 7 Factors of Enlightenment, which
leads to the 2 factors of being enlightened)
Mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated, fulfills the 4 establishments
of mindfulness and those, when developed and cultivated fulfill ([result in) ]
7 Factors of Enlightenment.
Mindfulness of breathing:
(1) experiencing the whole body (body in body) and tranquilizing the body
(2) Tranquilizing the mental formation I breathe in' ... 'experiencing the
mental formation I breathe out' ... 'Tranquilizing the mental formation I breathe in,'
... 'Tranquilizing the mental formation I breathe out'
(3) Experiencing the mind ... breathe in / breathe out ... mind in mind
and concentrating the mind
Contemplating impermanence ... 'I will breathe in' ...
(4) Experiencing rapture, monk contemplates feelings in feelings; experiencing
the mind, ... mind in mind, and contemplating impermanence ...
contemplating phenomenon in phenomenon, ardent, clearly-
comprehending, mindful, having subdued longing and dejection ...
[and] having seen [this] with wisdom, he is one who looks on with
Summary: When concentration of mindfulness of breathing is developed and
cultivated in this way it fulfills the 4 establishments of mindfulness.
This leads to the 7 Factors of Enlightenment:
Contemplating body in body (and feeling in feeling, mind in mind, and
phenomenon in phenomenon) unmuddled mindfulness is established --
the Enlightenment Factor of Mindfulness is aroused and goes to
fulfillment by development.
Dwelling mindfully, one discriminates phenomenon with wisdom, examines it,
investigates it. This arouses the Enlightenment Factor of Discrimination
of Phenomenon [in phenomenon], which goes to fulfillment with
While discriminating phenomenon in phenomenon, energy is aroused,
the Enlightenment Factor of Energy is aroused ...
When energy is aroused you experience spiritual rapture, the Enlightenment Factor
of Rapture is aroused ...
Uplifted by rapture, body and mind become tranquil & the Enlightenment Factor of
Tranquility is aroused ...
For one whose body is tranquil and who is happy, the mind becomes concentrated --
the Enlightenment Factor of Concentration is aroused and goes to fulfillment
Then one who looks closely with equanimity, at the mind thus concentrated:
looking closely, the Enlightenment Factor of Equanimity is aroused and
Having seen with wisdom, abandoning of longing and dejection, he looks on closely
You attain the 2 characteristics of Enlightenment: true knowledge and liberation .
Mindfulness ETC. based on seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release.
In a recent lecture on Meditation, Bhikkhu Bodhi differentiates calming
meditation from insight meditation, noting that calming meditation only
(and eventually) suppresses defilements, but does not eradicate them.
Only with the overcoming of ignorances with knowledge and wisdom and insight, one can
eradicate the defilements; this may very well involve insight meditation.
(Usually, the ability to do good insight meditation follows developing some
notable calming, often through calming meditation.)
Unlike simple calming meditation, insight meditation is characterized by "momentary
concentration", better termed tracking concentration, where concentration follows the
processing of a more complex "mental object".
In this same lecture, Bodhi also now says that NO calming or jhana absorption meditation is
NECESSARILY required for insight and wisdom (even that which results in Enlightenment).
See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLLnxq_MbJM .
(Listen especially to what Bhikkhu Bodhi has to say about insight meditation,
near the end of the video.)
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|Comments about this question/Answer|
|To Learn about Meditation by Brad||To learn more about meditation, I recommend Chapter 9 (IX) of the Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma , the Abhidhammattha Sangaha, which may be downloaded as a pdf via the link below: |
|How to meditate by Brad||For a basic perspective on how to meditate, see:|
"The Basic Method of Meditation" by Ajahn Brahmavamso -- free at:
(It is essential that you read my quotes of the Venerable Walpola Rahula, below, to put this into perspective.)
Direct link to "The Basic Method of Meditation" by Ajahn Brahmavamso:
(It is essential that you read my quotes of the Venerable Walpola Rahula, below, to put this into perspective.)
BUT, my favorite book on meditation so far is Life is Meditation -
Meditation is Life ... Get to it via THIS LINK .
It is a meditation procedure based in the suttas. From the book: it seems to me
that the key way to not do much but 'noticing' NOR spending much time on intrusions
(and yet perhaps eliminating them appropriately), is to realize that all
these phenomenon have (in essence) nothing to do with you (are non-self);
this seems (in my interpretation of this book's procedures) to be key to good attention,
careful attention, and quickly returning to the object of concentration (perhaps providing
for lightening-fast, appropriate processing so intrusions are put in place as things as they
really are -- perhaps [also] clearly seen as an instance of dependent origination --
and will much likely no longer intrude, given they are not the object of concentration).
The author seems to couple this sort of notion of recognizing (or 'noting') (my interpretation,
directly above) with then relaxing mind _and_ body and then smiling, then returning to the
object of concentration. He asserts these step puts the mind in a wholesome state as it returns to
the object of concentration. Link to Paper on : Science of Meditation (and 'intrusions')
Half of the book is on breathing meditation, the other half on loving-kindness (metta) meditation.
Instead of just depending on "blessed intrusions" during meditation, it seems likely that, for at least some,
another technique would help -- and this would help generalize using techniques out in the world. (This could
be particularly good for some, though, perhaps, unnecessary for others.)
Here is the technique described by Gilbert and Choden: (quoting):
"Sit comfortably with both feet flat on the floor about a shoulder width apart and with your back straight. Your posture is comfortable but upright because the idea is to be both relaxed and alert rather than becoming sleepy, which can happen if your head drops forward. Gently, close your eyes or allow your gaze to fall unfocused on the floor. Create a gentle facial expression, an expression of friendliness, as if you are with somebody you like. Try relaxing your facial muscles by letting your jaw drop slightly, and then let your mouth turn up into a slight smile.
Now focus on your breathing, on the air coming in through your nose and down into your diaphragm, staying a short while, and then moving back out through your nose. Notice how your diaphragm moves gently as you breathe in and out. For the development of a soothing breathing rhythm, you will breathe slightly more slowly and slightly more deeply than you would normally. The in-breath is about three to five seconds, and then you pause momentarily and take three to five seconds for the out-breath. You might try to breathe a little faster and then a little slower until you find a breathing pattern that is comfortable for you and has a gentle rhythm to it, giving you the feeling of slowing down. The slow comfortable rhythm of the breath is key. Five to six breaths per minute is ideal but only if comfortable.
Also focus on the out-breath and the air leaving your nose with a steady rhythm. Try to ensure that the in-breath and the out-breath are even, and don’t rush them. As you develop your breathing rhythm, notice the feeling of inner slowing with each out-breath. Notice how your body responds to your breathing, as if you are linking up with a rhythm within your body that is soothing and calming for you. Notice how this links to your friendly facial expression. Notice how you might feel heavier as you sit, more solid, and still in your body."
Gilbert, Paul; Choden. Mindful Compassion: How the Science of Compassion Can Help You Understand Your Emotions, Live in the Present, and Connect Deeply with Others (p. 194). New Harbinger Publications. Kindle Edition.
Such a technique may well take care of my concerns about linking meditation to the outside world (or using
'meditation' more generally).
If you do not bring wholesome techniques of your traditional meditation out into a cultivation in-life also, your practice of Buddhism is not complete.
<-Bringing your Buddhism "out" will more likely reciprocally bring into your quiet contemplative states things worth attending to/being mindful of.
[ (Wouldn't you like to find yourself "falling" into worthy contemplation -- where else could wisdom appear? )
(Eventually one will realize: To know that you know things is simply part of knowing things; to control what you
do is simply part of doing.) ]
|More notes on Meditation by Brad||The following material is quoted from:|
Rahula, Walpola (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts
from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Location 1655). Grove/Atlantic, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
The Buddha’s teaching, particularly his way of ‘meditation’, aims at producing a state of perfect
mental health, equilibrium and tranquility. It is unfortunate that hardly any other section of the
Buddha’s teaching is so much misunderstood as ‘meditation’, both by Buddhists and non-Buddhists. ...
... The word meditation is a very poor substitute for the original term bhavana, which means ‘culture’ or
‘development’, i.e., mental culture or mental development. The Buddhist bhavana, properly speaking,
is mental culture in the full sense of the term. It aims at cleansing the mind of impurities and
disturbances, such as lustful desires, ...
... There are two forms of meditation.
One is the development of mental concentration (samatha or samadhi), of one-pointedness of mind,
by various methods prescribed in the texts, leading up to the highest
mystic states such as ‘the Sphere of Nothingness’ or ‘the Sphere of Neither-Perception-nor-
Non-Perception’. All these mystic states, according to the Buddha, are mind-created, mind-produced,
conditioned (samkhata). They have nothing to do with Reality, Truth, Nirvana. This form of
meditation existed before the Buddha. Hence it is not purely Buddhist, but it is not excluded from the
field of Buddhist meditation. However it is not essential for the realization of Nirvana. ...
... [The Buddha] therefore discovered the other form of ‘meditation’ known as vipassana
(Skt. vipasyana or vidarsana), ‘Insight’ into the nature of things, leading to the complete liberation
of mind, to the realization of the Ultimate Truth, Nirvana. This is essentially Buddhist ‘meditation’,
Buddhist mental culture. It is an analytical method based on mindfulness, awareness, vigilance, observation. ...
... The most important discourse ever given by the Buddha on mental development (‘ meditation’) is
called the Satipatthana-sutta, ‘The Setting-up of Mindfulness’ The discourse is divided into four main
sections: the first section deals with our body (kaya), the second with our feelings and
sensations (vedana), the third with the mind (citta), and the fourth with various moral and intellectual
subjects (dhamma). It should be clearly borne in mind that whatever the form of ‘meditation’ may be,
the essential thing is mindfulness or awareness (sati), attention or observation (anupassana). ...
... [One form (or way) of meditation has to do with the breathing-in and breathing-out (as described
by the Buddha, in the main Topic-section, above).]
Another very important, practical, and useful form of ‘meditation’ (mental development) is to be aware
and mindful of whatever you do, physically or verbally, during the daily routine of work in your life,
private, public or professional. ...
... This mindfulness or awareness with regard to our activities, taught by the Buddha, is to live in the
present moment, to live in the present action. [ This does not mean that you should not think
of the past or the future at all. On the contrary, you think of them in relation
to the present moment, the present action, when and where it is relevant. ]
(This is also the Zen way which is based primarily on this teaching.)
Here in this form of meditation, you haven’t got to perform any particular action in order to develop
mindfulness, but you have only to be mindful and aware of whatever you may do....
... now let us discuss the form of ‘meditation’ with regard to our minds. You should be fully aware of
the fact whenever your mind is passionate or detached, whenever it is overpowered by hatred, ill-will,
jealousy, or is full of love, compassion, whenever it is deluded or has a clear and right understanding,
and so on and so forth. ...
Here is no attitude of criticizing or judging, or discriminating between right and wrong, or good and
bad. It is simply observing, watching, examining.
You are not a judge, but a scientist. When you observe your mind, and see its true nature clearly, you
become dispassionate with regard to its emotions, sentiments and states. Thus you become detached
and free, so that you may see things as they are. ...
... there is a form of ‘meditation’ on ethical, spiritual and intellectual subjects. All our studies, reading,
discussions, conversation and deliberations on such subjects are included in this ‘meditation’. To read
this book, and to think deeply about the subjects discussed in it, is a form of meditation.
... the conversation between Khemaka and the group of monks was a form of meditation which led to the realization of Nirvana. ...
One may also ‘meditate’ on such subjects as the Five Aggregates investigating the question ‘What is a
being?’ or ‘What is it that is called I?’, or on the Four Noble Truths, as we discussed above. Study and
investigation of those subjects constitute this fourth form of meditation, which leads to the
realization of Ultimate Truth. ...
Apart from those we have discussed here, there are many other subjects of meditation, traditionally
forty in number, among which mention should be made particularly of the four Sublime States:
(Brahma-vihara): (1) extending unlimited, universal love and good-will (metta) to all living beings
without any kind of discrimination, ‘just as a mother loves her only child’; (2) compassion (karuna)
for all living beings who are suffering, in trouble and affliction; (3) sympathetic joy (mudita)
in others’ success, welfare and happiness; and (4) equanimity (upekkha) in all vicissitudes of life.
[ My own summaries on/about meditation and on some other matters and on some more general
matters can be viewed by reading my twitter tweets: http://twitter.com/lorlarz2 . ]
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