INTRODUCTION TO SUCCESSFUL TRANQUILITY MEDITATION


                         THE SAMATHA TRANQUILITY MEDITATION  (Samatha bhavana)

Before we begin with the actual meditations of Samatha it is best if we understand the structure. In that way, instead of dismissing it as inferior, as is generally done, we can begin to appreciate its great value as it stands in partnership with insight meditation.

Often called Samadhi, the meditation is divided into two groups.

                                         The Access concentration (Upacara-samadhi)

                                The Absorption concentration (Appana-samadhi)


The Access concentration (Upacara-samadhi)

In the Visuddhimagga the access is described as touching or enterring the door of absorption, which is the Jahna (level) set. At this point the entry is not steady and firm, but the hindrances have been eliminated. Yet the one-pointedness has not yet been established.

We can say that the meditation still sits within the Becoming of Consciousness.


The Absorption concentration (Appana-samadhi)

Here the meditation becomes one-pointed and concentration is steady upon the selected meditation object, which depends upon the temperament of the meditator.


Objects of Tranquillity Meditation


The  Abhidhammatthasangaha and Visuddhimagga (Path of Purification), mention and explain forty objects of Tranquillity meditation which are divided into seven groups as follows:

 

1) 10 Kasina (objects for concentrated attention),

2) 10 Asubha (stages of unattractiveness of the body),

3) 10 Kinds of recollection (Anussati),

4) 4 Divine Abodes (Brahmavihara),

5) Perception of the Repulsiveness of Food (Aharepatikulasanna),

6) Determination of the Four Great Elements (Catudhatuvavatthana),

7) Formless states (Arupadamma).


Over forty years ago, when I began upon the Dharma path it was the Kasina meditations with which I began. It is certain that I understood well the concept of the signs as being part of a natural after-image, but, the way in which it allowed an understanding of what the Becoming of Consciousness was became important for future advances and led then quite easily into the meditative Breathing states which are essential for all meditations.

Let us then examine the relationship between the actual meditation topics, called the devices, and the temperament of the meditator.


                                          THE TEMPERAMENTS


Buddha recognized that people were indeed quite different and admitted four basic divisions, which we can today classify as:

                                      Persons disposed to Aversion

                                Persons disposed to Acquisition or Faith

                           Persons disposed to Confusion, called Deluded

                           Persons disposed to Restructure apparent Reality


Those with Aversion tend to be critical and dominant

Those with Acquisition tend to act emotionally oftimes upon first impulses

Those with Confusion look to others for direction

Those who Restructure are bound very much with ideas of the future


                                       THE FORTY SUBJECTS OF SAMATHA

                                                    The Ten Kasina

Now these are very appropriate for meditation, because all lead, if performed correctly, to the eighth level of Samatha meditation.

1) Earth-kasina, having earth as the object

2) Water-kasina, having water as the object

3) Fire-kasina, having fire as the object

4) Air-kasina, having air as the object

These four are called the essential-kasina.

5) Green-kasina, having green as the object

6) Yellow-kasina, having yellow as the object

7) Red-kasina, having red as the object

8) White-kasina, having white as the object

There four are called the color-kasina.

9) Light-kasina, having light as the object

10) Space-kasina, having space as the object

 

                                               The Ten Asubha:

These ten subjects are rejected by most people because they are rather gruesome and unpleasant. However, they are essential for those who have great difficulty with access to meditation. They do not, however, allow meditators to proceed beyond that point, so once gaining access and developing that access they can move to another subject.

There are ten stages of the decomposition of the body as follows:

1) A swollen corpse (Uddhumataka)

2) A blue-black corpse (Nilaka)

3) A festering corpse (Vipubbaka)

4) A dismembered corpse (Vicchiddaka)

5) A corpse hewed and scattered by animals (Vikkhayitaka)

6) A cut-up scattered corpse (Vikkhittaka)

7) A cut and dismembered corpse (Hatavikkhittaka)

8) A bleeding corpse (Lohitaka)

9) A worm-infested corpse (Puluvaka)

10) A skeleton (Atthika)

                              The Ten Recollections (Anussati)

These recollections (with one exception) are also excellent for gaining acess to absorption, but cannot also carry one beyond that level.

Note that Mindfulness of Breathing is within this group and it is this practice that becomes essential for all meditations, no matter how advanced they are. It is this mindfulness of breathing that can carry one to the fruition of Tranquility at the eighth jhana.

There are ten subjects to be recollected:

 1) Recollection of the Buddha (Buddhanussati)

 2) Recollection of the Dhamma (Dhammanussati)

 3) Recollection of the Sangha (Sanghanussati)

 4) Recollection of the Virtue (Silanussati)

 5) Recollection of the Generosity (Caganussati)

 6) Recollection of the Deities (Devatanussait)

 7) Recollection of the Death (Maranasati)

 8) Recollection of the Body (Kayagatasati)

 9) Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati) takes one to the eighth jhana

10) Recollection of the Niravana (Upasamanussati)

Perception of the Repulsiveness of Food (Aharepatikulasanna)

The purpose of the contemplation of food is to realize its repulsiveness.

This is also adequate for gaining access but also has that limitation.

   

Determination of the Four Great Elements (Catudhatuvavatthana)

The method of dividing the different parts of the body so as to see them as only these four elements, that is earth, water, fire and air, and just seeing them as unattractive. 

This is also adequate for gaining access but also has that limitation.

                            The Four Divine Abodes (Bramavihara)

The Four Divine Abodes are:

1) Loving-kindness (Metta) takes one as far as the third jhana

2) Compassion (Karunatakes one as far as the third jhana

3) Sympathetic Joy (Muditatakes one as far as the third jhana

4) Equanimity (Upekkha) takes one to the fourth jhana


 

Four Formless States (Arupadhamma)

These are the four formless Jhanas:

1) Infinity of space—attending to space as infinite (Akasanancayatana)

                           Takes one to the Fifth jhana

2) Infinity of consciousness— consciousness as infinite (Vinnanancayatana)

                           Takes one to the sixth jhana

3) Nothingness—attending to formlessness (Akincannayatana)

                          Takes one to the seventh jhana

4) Neither-perception-nor-not-perception— (Nevasannanasannayatana).

                          Takes one to the eighth jhana


Now let us match the Four Temperaments with the Tranquilty meditation subjects


                                    Persons disposed to Aversion

These should use:

     The Four Divine Abodes, called the Sublime states 

     The four colored Kasinas

                                Persons disposed to Acquisition or Faith

These should use:

    The Ten Asubha:

    The Four Great Elements (Catudhatuvavatthana)

    Mindfulness of Breathing  (Anapanasati 


                           Persons disposed to Confusion, called Deluded

These should use:

The following Anussati:

 1) Recollection of the Buddha (Buddhanussati)

 2) Recollection of the Dhamma (Dhammanussati)

 3) Recollection of the Sangha (Sanghanussati)

 4) Recollection of the Virtue (Silanussati)

 5) Recollection of the Generosity (Caganussati)

 6) Recollection of the Deities (Devatanussait)


                           Persons disposed to Restructure apparent Reality


These should use:

        The Four Great Elements (Catudhatuvavatthana)

        Repulsiveness of Food (Aharepatikulasanna)

        The Anussati 

       7) Recollection of the Death (Maranasati)

The following essential Kasinas are suitable for all temperaments,  leading, if performed correctly, to the eighth level of Samatha meditation:

 1) Earth-kasina, having earth as the object

 2) Water-kasina, having water as the object

 3) Fire-kasina, having fire as the object

 4) Air-kasina, having air as the object

... as are the light and space kasinas:

 9) Light-kasina, having light as the object

10) Space-kasina, having space as the object


    The 

Four Formless States (Arupadhamma) are correct for all temperaments.



This explains the structure of Tranquility Samatha Meditation. The actual details of method will be found in the appropriate section.



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