The Development of Samatha
Samatha or tranquil meditation is not developed merely by concentration, samådhi. Samådhi is the dhamma which focusses on an object, it is ekaggatå cetasika accompanying each citta. When the citta is absorbed in an object for a long time, the characteristic of ekaggatå cetasika manifests itself as samådhi, concentration. It is firmly fixed on only one object. Ekaggatå cetasika which accompanies akusala citta is wrong concentration, micchå-samådhi, and ekaggatå cetasika which accompanies kusala citta is right concentration, sammå-samådhi.
If one tries to concentrate by focussing the citta for a long time on one object, and the citta is not accompanied by paññå, there is wrong concentration, micchå-samådhi. At such moments one is attached to having the citta firmly fixed on one object. If there is no paññå one cannot know the difference between lobha-múla-citta, citta rooted in attachment, and kusala citta. Lobha-múla-citta and kåmåvacara kusala citta (of the sense sphere) can be accompanied by the same types of feeling. Of the eight types of lobha-múla-citta, four are accompanied by indifferent feeling and four by pleasant feeling. As to kåmåvacara kusala citta, four types are accompanied by indifferent feeling and four by pleasant feeling. In the case of indifferent feeling the citta is neither happy nor unhappy, it is undisturbed, and in the case of pleasant feeling the citta is happy and delighted. When indifferent feeling or pleasant feeling arises, it is difficult to know whether there is lobha-múla-citta or kusala citta.
Lobha-múla-citta and mahå-kusala citta are entirely different types of citta: the eight types of lobha-múla-citta are accompanied by akusala cetasikas whereas the eight types of mahå-kusala citta (kåmåvacara kusala citta) are accompanied by sobhana cetasikas. The akusala cetasika which is wrong view, micchå-diììhi, can accompany lobha-múla-citta; it accompanies four of the eight types of lobha-múla-citta. The sobhana cetasika which is right view, sammå-diììhi or paññå, can accompany mahå-kusala citta; it accompanies four of the eight types of mahå-kusala citta. When the characteristic of wrong view appears, it is evident that there is lobha-múla-citta, not mahå-kusala citta, and when the characteristic of paññå appears, it is evident that there is mahå-kusala citta, not lobha-múla-citta. Thus, the characteristic of wrong view and the characteristic of paññå show the distinction between lobha-múla-citta and mahå-kusala citta. Someone who wants to develop samatha should know the difference between lobha-múla-citta and kusala citta, otherwise he could be attached to having concentration. In that case there would be micchå-samådhi, wrong concentration, which is without paññå.
Generally, people who try to concentrate on an object want the citta to be without disturbance, anxiety or worry about different matters and events in their daily life. They are satisfied if the citta can be firmly fixed on an object and they do not realize that at the moments they wish to concentrate on a specific subject there is no mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå.
The development of samatha is actually the development of mahå-kusala accompanied by paññå. Someone who wants to develop samatha must have paññå which sees the danger of akusala, of lobha and dosa, aversion. He should not merely see the disadvantage of dosa, arising when there is worry or anxiety. If one does not know ones defilements and one does not see the danger of lobha, one will not be able to develop samatha. The person who develops samatha should be truthful, he should have paññå which sees the danger of lobha; he should have sati-sampajaññå 1: he should know the difference between lobha-múla-citta and mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå. Then he can develop mahå-kusala accompanied by paññå, so that there are no longer akusala cittas arising in between the moments of developing calm, and he can reach the degree of samådhi which is access concentration, upacåra samådhi, and attainment concentration, appanå samådhi, arising at the moment of jhåna, absorption. The kusala jhånacitta of the first stage of jhåna is accompanied by the five jhånafactors of vitakka, applied thinking, vicåra, sustained thinking, píti, rapture, sukha, happy feeling and ekaggatå, concentration.
It is not easy to develop mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå to such degree that it can be the foundation of kusala jhånacitta of the first stage, which is rúpåvacara kusala citta. Someone who wants to attain jhåna should not have the impediments which cause him to be unable to do so 2. Such a person cannot attain jhåna nor enlightenment, even if he cultivates samatha or vipassanå. For the person who can develop samatha and attain jhåna or develop vipassanå and attain enlightenment there are the following requirements 3:
1. He should not have vipåka which is an impediment, that is, he should be born with a rebirth-consciousness accompanied by paññå, thus, tihetuka, accompanied by three sobhana hetus.
2. He should be without the impediment of kamma, that is, he should not have committed one of the five ånantariya kammas, weighty kammas. These kammas prevent rebirth in heaven and the arising of magga-citta and phala-citta. These five kinds of kamma are: parricide, matricide, killing of an arahat, wounding a Buddha and creating a schism in the Order of monks, by not living in harmony with the Order.
3. He should be without the impediment of the kinds of wrong view classified as wrong views with fixed destiny (niyata micchådiììhi). These are the wrong views of natthika-diììhi (denial of the result of kamma), of ahetuka-diììhi (denial of both kamma and result) and of akiriya-diììhi (denial of the efficacy of kamma) 4.
Someone may be born with a paìisandhi-citta, rebirth-consciousness, which is tihetuka, thus, accompanied by paññå, but he may be attached to visible object, sound, odour, flavour and tangible object and he may not see the danger of these sense objects. Then he will not be inclined to eliminate his infatuation with sense objects by observing síla and developing samatha.Thus, the development of samatha to the degree of access concentration, upacåra samådhi, and attainment concentration, appanå samådhi, is not at all easy. If someone takes lobha-múla-citta for mahå-kusala citta, he may erroneously believe, when the citta conditions visions of hell, heaven, different places and events, that he has attained upacåra samådhi, and appanå samådhi of the different stages of jhåna.
The development of samatha is a most intricate matter which should be studied carefully, so that there can be right understanding of it.
When we in our daily life are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, experiencing tangible objects or thinking, we should realize that akusala cittas are likely to arise more often than kusala cittas. In a day or in a month there are only very few moments of kusala cittas which have as objective dåna or síla. Someone who sees the danger of akusala will be inclined to develop kusala citta. When there is no opportunity for dåna or síla, one can develop calm, freedom from akusala, in ones daily life, and that is kusala of the degree of samatha. It is beneficial to develop calm in daily life, even if one cannot attain access concentration or attainment concentration. However, if one wants to subdue defilements, so that the citta is calm, free from akusala, one needs to have paññå which knows how the citta can become calm, free from defilements, when one experiences sense objects or thinks. If that is not the case, kusala citta cannot arise.
For the development of samatha, the development of kusala citta with calm which is freedom from akusala, there are forty specific subjects which can condition calm. These subjects are: ten kasinas, ten meditations on foulness (asubha), ten recollections (anussati), the meditation on the repulsiveness of food (åhare paìikkúla saññå), defining of the four elements (catudhåtu vavaììhåna), the four divine abidings (brahmavihåras) and the four subjects of arúpa-jhåna
The Ten Kasinas
The ten kasinas are the following 5 :
1. Earth kasina (paìhaví kasiùa), by means of which one meditates
only on earth,
2. Water kasina (åpo kasiùa), by means of which one meditates
only on water,
3. Fire kasina (tejo kasiùa), by means of which one meditates only on
4. Air kasina (våyo kasiùa), by means of which one meditates only
on air or wind,
5. Blue kasina (níla kasiùa), by means of which one meditates
only on blue colour,
6. Yellow kasina (píta kasiùa), by means of which one meditates
only on yellow colour,
7. Red kasina (lohita kasiùa), by means of which one meditates
only on red colour,
8. White kasina (odåta kasiùa), by means of which one meditates
only on white colour,
9. Light kasina (åloka kasiùa), by means of which one meditates
only on light,
10. Space kasina (åkåsa kasiùa), by means of which one meditates
only on space.
Is the citta which pays attention to only earth kusala or akusala? If paññå does not arise while paying attention to earth, there is akusala citta which desires to think of earth or to focus on earth.
When paññå arises, the citta which meditates on earth is kusala. It can be realized that all material phenomena which appear cannot be without the element of earth 6 and that all the things one is attached to or desires are only earth. When one realizes that all the things in the world one used to be attached to are in essence only earth, it is a condition for subduing attachment to them.
It is difficult to have kusala citta which meditates on only earth, because when an object impinges on one of the senses or the mind-door, one is immediately taken in by that object. Therefore, if someone wants to develop samatha so that kusala citta becomes more and more established in calm, in freedom from akusala, he needs to be in a quiet place, where he is not disturbed by the noise of people. One should make the earth kasina of smooth clay in the form of a circle, without flaws and imperfections, so that it is suitable for meditation. Otherwise the citta would be inclined to delight in and have attachment to the outward appearance of it 7. When the person who develops the earth kasina looks at it and contemplates it with right understanding, there is kusala citta accompanied by paññå, and there is true calm. He should look at the earth kasina in order to remind himself to pay attention to only earth, all the time, and not to other objects.
It is most difficult to pay attention all the time to only earth with kusala citta which is calm, free from akusala. As the Visuddhimagga states, the kasina should not be too small, nor too large, it should not be too far away nor too near, it should not be placed too high nor too low. Vitakka cetasika, applied thinking, is one of the jhånafactors 8 one cannot do without. Vitakka cetasika arising with mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå should touch or strike at the earth kasina. The citta should be free from akusala when ones eyes are closed as well as when they are open, so that a visualized image (uggaha-nimitta or acquired image) of the earth kasina can appear through the mind-door. This mental image is just as clear as when the person who develops the earth kasina was looking at it with his eyes open. Even if people are born with three hetus, thus, with paññå, they may not be able to acquire this mental image. It can appear when mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå has firmly established calm with the earth kasina. When this mental image appears one has not yet attained access concentration, upacåra samådhi.
It is not at all easy to guard this mental image and thereby have calm increased, while developing mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå. According to the Visuddhimagga (IV, 31), when the hindrances( nívaraùa dhammas, akusala dhammas which disturb and oppress the citta) have been successively suppressed, the citta is more established in calm and then a counter-image (paìibhåga-nimitta) of the earth kasina appears. This image is clearer and more purified than the acquired image which appeared before. At that moment the mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå has become more established in calm so that access concentration, upacåra samådhi, is reached. This kind of concentration is called access concentration, because it is close to attainment-concentration, which is firmly fixed on the object, at the moment the jhånacitta of the first stage arises.
The meditator should guard the counter-image by developing the mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå which has attained the degree of access concentration, so that calm increases all the time. In that way calm to the degree of attainment-concentration, appanå samådhi, can be reached, and the jhånacitta of the first stage can arise, which is of the level of rúpåvacara citta. However, in order to reach this stage he should guard the counter-image as if it were the unborn child of a Wheel-turning Monarch 9. He should avoid conditions not beneficial for the development of calm 10 and these are the following:
1. He should avoid a dwelling where the mental image which has not yet arisen does not arise, and the mental image which has arisen is lost.
2. He should not be too far from an alms-resort nor too near, and he should not be in a place where it is difficult to obtain almsfood or where almsfood is not plentiful.
3. He should avoid unsuitable speech, speech included in the kinds of animal talk. Such speech is not beneficial for the development of paññå, and it leads to the disappearance of the mental image which has arisen.
4. He should avoid people who are full of defilements, who are engaged with what is unwholesome, because that causes him to be disturbed by impure cittas.
5. He should avoid unsuitable food, because that would make him ill.
6. He should avoid an unsuitable climate, because that would make him ill.
7. He should avoid postures which are unsuitable for his concentration.
If he avoids what is unsuitable and cultivate what is suitable, but appanå samådhi does not yet arise, he should have recourse to ten kinds of skill in absorption, dhammas beneficial for the arising of jhånacitta 11 :
1. He should make the basis (vatthu) clean, that is the internal basis which is his body, and the external basis which are his clothing and his dwelling. Otherwise the citta will not be purified.
2. He should balance the faculties, indriyas 12. For example, confidence and understanding should be balanced, energy and concentration should be balanced. They are balanced through mindfulness.
3. He needs to have skill in protecting the mental image.
4. He should exert the citta when it should be exerted.
5. He should restrain the citta when it should be restrained.
6. He should encourage the citta when it should be encouraged.
7. He should regard the citta with equanimity when it should be regarded with equanimity.
8. He should avoid unconcentrated persons.
9. He should cultivate concentrated persons.
10. He should be inclined to and resolute upon those things which lead to concentration.
If he does not have those ten skills in absorption, mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå cannot become more established in calm to the degree of being the foundation for appanå-samådhi, for the arising of rúpåvacara citta which is the jhånacitta of the first stage. But if he is equipped with these skills, jhånacitta can arise.
The jhånacitta is of a higher level of citta, it is of a plane of citta which is free from the sense sphere (kåmåvacara citta). In the mind-door process during which jhåna is attained, there are the following cittas arising in succession:
bhavanga-citta, which is mahå-vipåka ñåùa-sampayutta 13
bhavanga calana (vibrating bhavanga), which is mahå-vipåka, ñåùa-
bhavangupaccheda (arrest bhavanga), which is mahå-vipåka, ñåùa-
manodvåråvajjana-citta, which is ahetuka kiriyacitta
parikamma (preparatory citta) which is mahå-kusala citta, ñåùa-
upacåra (access) which is mahå-kusala citta, ñåùa-sampayutta (of the
same type as parikamma)
anuloma (adaptation) which is mahå-kusala citta, ñåùa-sampayutta
(of the same type as parikamma)
gotrabhú (change of lineage) which is mahå-kusala citta, ñåùa-
sampayutta (of the same type as parikamma)
kusala citta of the first stage of jhåna, which is rúpåvacara kusala
bhavanga-citta, which is mahå-vipåkacitta, ñåùa-sampayutta
When jhåna is attained for the first time, there is only one moment of rúpåvacara kusala citta, whereas, later on, when ones skill has increased, there can be more jhånacittas arising in succession without the arising of bhavanga-cittas in between. Such a process of jhånacittas is called jhåna samåpatti, jhåna attainment. It is the attainment to the citta which is calm and firmly concentrated on the object of jhåna. Then jhånacittas arise successively during the length of time determined upon by the meditator.
Before jhåna víthi-cittas arise there must each time be mahå-kusala cittas accompanied by paññå. The first mahå-kusala javana-citta is parikamma, preparatory citta; it prepares appanå-samådhi, it is the condition for the attainment of absorption, appanå. If the måha-kusala citta which is parikamma does not arise, the following cittas and appanå-samådhi which accompanies jhånacitta cannot arise.
The second mahå-kusala javana-citta is upacåra, access, because it is close to appanå-samådhi.
The third mahå-kusala javana-citta is anuloma, adaptation, because it is favorable (anukúla) to appanå-samådhi.
The fourth mahå-kusala javana-citta is gotrabhú, change of lineage, because it transcends the sensuous plane (kamåvacara bhúmi) so that the fine-material plane (rupåvacara bhúmi) can be reached.
When the fourth mahå-kusala javana-citta has fallen away, the following javana-citta is rúpåvacara kusala citta of the first stage of jhåna.
The development of five cetasikas which are the jhåna-factors condition the arising of rúpåvacara kusala citta of the first stage of jhåna. These factors accompanying the jhånacitta are: applied thinking, vitakka, sustained thinking, vicåra, rapture, píti, happy feeling, sukha and concentration, ekaggatå. Among the sobhana cetasikas accompanying the jhånacitta these five factors are specifically counteractive to the hindrances, the nívaraùa dhammas. The five hindrances are akusala dhammas which disturb the citta and prevent it from the development of calm. They are the following:
kåmacchanda, sensuous desire, which is attachment to visible object, sound, odour, flavour and tangible object,
vyåpåda, ill-will or displeasure,
thína-middha, sloth and torpor, which are listlessness and dejectedness, inertness and drowsiness,
uddhacca-kukkucca, restlessness and worry,
vicikicchå, doubt about realities, doubt about cause and result.
The five jhåna-factors are opposed to the five hindrances. Vitakka cetasika applies itself to the object, it touches it, so that the citta is calm. Vicåra cetasika continually occupies itself with the object vitakka touches, so that the citta does not become restless and takes another object. Píti cetasika is satisfied with and takes delight in the meditation subject and sukha vedanå, happy feeling, increases this satisfaction. Ekaggatå cetasika which supports the other jhåna-factors is firmly concentrated on the object of the jhåna-citta of the first stage.
The five jhåna-factors are opposed to, counteractive to the five hindrances in the following way (Visuddhimagga IV, 86):
1. Vitakka cetasika is opposed to thína-middha, sloth and torpor. When vitakka thinks only of the meditation subject, touches it time and again, dejectedness, listlessness and drowsiness cannot arise.
2. Vicåra cetasika is opposed to vicikicchå, doubt. When vicåra cetasika is continually occupied with the object which vitakka touches, doubt about realities and doubt about cause and result cannot arise.
3. Píti cetasika is opposed to vyåpåda, ill-will. When calm with the meditation subject increases there will also be more rapture and delight with the subject of calm and then ill-will and displeasure cannot arise in between.
4. Sukha, happy feeling, is opposed to uddhacca-kukkucca, restlessness and worry. When there is happy feeling about the meditation subject, restlessness and worry which could turn to another object cannot arise.
5. Ekaggatå cetasika is opposed to kåmacchanda, sensuous desire. When samådhi is firmly concentrated on the meditation subject, there cannot be attachment to sense objects.
When rúpåvacara kusala citta of the first stage of jhåna accompanied by five jhåna-factors arises, attainment-concentration, appanå-samådi, is firmly concentrated on the object. This jhånacitta which arises for the first time is not succeeded by other jhåna-cittas, it arises only once. After several bhavanga-cittas have arisen and fallen away in between there is a mind-door process of cittas. The mind-door adverting-consciousness adverts to the jhånacitta and after it has fallen away it is succeeded by seven mahå-kusala cittas accompanied by paññå which considers the jhåna-factors and then there are bhavanga-cittas arising in between, to be followed by other mind-door processes. Only one of the jhåna-factors at a time is considered during one process of cittas. The mind-door processes of cittas which consider the jhåna-factors one at a time are called the processes of reviewing, paccavekkhaùa víthi, and these have to arise each time after jhåna has been attained.
The paññå of the person who attains rúpa-jhåna has to know the different characteristics of the five jhåna-factors. Thus, paññå must know the difference between vitakka cetasika, applied thinking, and vicåra cetasika, sustained thinking, it must know the difference between píti, rapture, and sukha, happy feeling, and it must also know the characteristic of ekaggatå cetasika which is of the degree of appanå samådhi.
The person who develops samatha should have sati-sampajañña in his daily life, he should have right understanding of the characteristic of kusala citta and of akusala citta which may follow one upon the other very rapidly. If this is not known he may erroneously believe that lobha-múla-citta accompanied by pleasant feeling is calm, that it is kusala.
The person who develops samatha does not have extraordinary experiences. The development of samatha is the development of kusala through the mind-door. When the citta has become calm only the mental image of the meditation subject appears and this is the condition for the citta to become more firmly established in kusala. The person who, for example, develops the meditation subject of the water kasina has the mental image of this kasina as object, and he does not have visions of hell, of heaven or of different happenings. If someone tries to concentrate and believes to have all kinds of visions, he does not develop samatha.
In the development of samatha there must be mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå which attains calm by meditation on one of the forty meditation subjects of samatha. Lobha-múla-citta or mahå-kusala citta which is unaccompanied by paññå may have as object one of these forty meditation subjects, but then there is no development of samatha. A child, or even a grown up, may recite the word Buddha, without pondering on his virtues, but then there is no mahå-kusala citta accompanied by pañña, and thus no development of true calm by means of the recollection of the Buddha. Someone who sees a corpse may be frightened and then there is dosa-múla-citta, not mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå. If a person tries to concentrate on his breathing without knowing in which way there can be true calm, freedom from defilements, there is no mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå. All meditation subjects of samatha should be developed by mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå which has right understanding of the way to become calm. They should be developed in the same way as the earth kasina, as explained above.
The person who has attained the first stage of jhåna may see the disadvantage of vitakka cetasika, the cetasika which touches or strikes at the object. Usually vitakka touches the sense objects which are visible object, sound, odour, flavour and tangible object, and these are still close to being the objects of akusala dhammas. The jhånacitta could become calmer and more refined if it would be without vitakka and only accompanied by vicåra, píti, sukha and ekaggatå. Therefore he makes an effort to meditate on the object of the first stage of jhåna he attained and to develop more calm with that object without vitakka having to touch it. He can accomplish this if he acquires five masteries or skills ,vasí, in jhåna. These are the following:
1. Mastery in adverting (åvajjana vasí), skill in adverting to the first jhåna wherever and whenever he wishes to.
2. Mastery in attaining (samåpacchana vasí), skill in entering into jhåna, that is causing the arising of jhånacitta, wherever and whenever he wishes to.
3. Mastery in resolving (adiììhåna vasí), skill in resolving the duration of the series of jhånacittas which arise and fall away in succession, wherever and whenever he wishes to.
4. Mastery in emerging (vuììhåna vasí), skill in emerging from jhåna, wherever and whenever he wishes to.
5. Mastery in reviewing (pacchavekkhaùa vasí), skill in reviewing each of the jhåna-factors, one at a time, wherever and whenever he wishes to.
If someone wishes to attain higher stages of jhåna he should see the disadvantages of the jhåna-factors of the lower stages and he should abandon those successively. The jhåna-factors are abandoned at different stages in the following way:
When the jhånacitta of the second stage (dutiya jhåna) arises, vitakka has been abandoned, and thus, it is without vitakka and accompanied by the four factors of vicåra, píti, sukha and ekaggatå.
The jhånacitta of the third stage (tatiya jhåna) is without vicåra and accompanied by the three factors of píti, sukha and ekaggatå.
The jhånacitta of the fourth stage (catuta jhåna) is without píti and accompanied by the two factors of sukha and ekaggatå.
The jhånacitta of the fifth stage (pañcama jhåna) is without sukha and accompanied by the two factors of upekkhå and ekaggatå.
As explained above, the jhåna-factors are abandoned in accordance with the fivefold system of jhåna. For some people paññå can abandon both vitakka and vicåra at the same time, and then the second stage of jhåna is without vitakka and vicåra. In that case the stages of jhåna are reckoned according to the fourfold system and that means that the second, third and fourth stage of jhåna of the fourfold system are respectively like the third, fourth and fifth stage of the fivefold system.
If someone lacks the skills which are the masteries, vasís, it is impossible for him to abandon jhåna-factors of a lower stage so that he could attain higher stages of jhåna.
Whenever the jhånacittas have fallen away there have to be processes of cittas which review the jhåna-factors.
By the development of samatha defilements are subdued, they are not eradicated completely. Therefore it may happen that jhånacitta declines, that it does not arise quickly, that one loses the skill one used to have, or even that jhånacitta does not arise again. If one wants to maintain ones skill in jhåna, one should apply oneself to the masteries each time one of the stages of jhåna has been attained.
With regard to the forty meditation subjects of samatha, some objects condition the citta to be calm, but not to the degree of upacåra samådhi, access concentration, and some objects condition calm to the degree of upacåra samådhi. Some objects condition calm only to the degree of the first jhåna, some to the degree of the fourth stage of jhåna according to the fivefold system, and some to the degree of the fifth jhåna. Some meditation subjects can exclusively be the object of the fifth jhåna.
There are six recollections, anussati, which can condition calm, but if one is not an ariyan they cannot condition calm to the degree of upacåra samådhi. These recollections are: recollection of the Buddha, Buddhånussati, recollection of the Dhamma, Dhammånussati, recollection of the Sangha, Saùghånussati, recollection of generosity, cågånussati, recollection of morality, sílånussati, and recollection of devas, devatånussati. For those who are ariyans, these recollections can condition calm to the degree of upacåra samådhi, but not to the degree of appanå samådhi, attainment concentration.
The recollection of death, maraùånussati, can condition calm only to the degree of upacåra samådhi. The recollection of peace, upasamånussati, is the meditation on nibbåna which can be developed exclusively by ariyans, and this subject can condition calm only to the degree of upacåra samådhi.
The perception of repulsiveness in food, åhåre paìikkúla saññå, is a meditation subject which can condition calm to the degree of upacåra samådhi.
The analysis of the four Elements, catu dhåtu vavatthåna, a meditation subject on the Element of Earth, Water, Fire and Wind which are present in the body, can condition calm to the degree of upacåra samådhi.
The ten impurities, asubhå, are ten cemetery contemplations which can condition calm to the degree of the first jhåna.
Mindfulness of the body, kåyagatåsati, is a meditation on the loathsomeness of the body. It is a reflection on each of the thirtytwo parts of the body, such as hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin. This meditation subject can condition calm to the degree of the first jhåna.
Mindfulness of breathing, ånåpåna sati, can condition calm to the degree of the fifth stage of jhåna.
The ten kasinas can condition calm to the degree of the fifth jhåna.
Three divine abidings, brahmavihåras, namely, lovingkindness, mettå, compassion, karuùå, and sympathtetic joy, muditå, can condition calm to the degree of the fourth jhåna of the fivefold system (and the third jhåna of the fourfold system).
The fourth brahmavihåra is equanimity, upekkhå. When someone has attained calm with the other three brahmavihåras to the degree of the fourth stage of jhåna, he can develop the brahmavihåra of upekkhå and this is exclusively the object of the jhåna of the fifth stage.
There are four stages of arúpa-jhåna, immaterial jhåna. The jhånacitta of these stages is of the same type as the jhånacitta of the fifth stage of rúpa-jhåna, but it does not have an object connected with rúpa. Someone who wants to develop arúpa-jhåna should first attain the fifth stage of rúpa-jhåna. Then he may see the disadvantage of this stage. Although it is the highest stage of rúpa-jhåna, the jhånacitta still has an object connected with rúpa, and therefore, he sees the danger of easily becoming infatuated with sense objects. Thus, he withdraws from rúpa as object and inclines to objects which are not rúpa, which are more subtle and more refined. If he abandons rúpa and takes as object arúpa which is boundless until appanå samådhi arises, he attains arúpa-jhåna kusala citta. Then the cittas arise and fall away in succession in a mind-door process, just as in the case of the attainment of rúpa-jhåna. He has to be equipped with the five masteries, vasís, so that he can attain higher stages of arúpa-jhåna.
There are four stages of arúpa-jhåna, and the jhånacitta of all four stages is of the same type as the jhånacitta of the fifth stage of rúpa-jhåna, but the objects are different and they become successively more subtle.
The first stage of arúpa-jhåna is the jhånacitta which has as object infinity of space, it is the åkåsånañcåyatana jhånacitta 14.
The second stage of arúpa-jhåna is the jhånacitta which has as object infinity of consciousness, it is the viññåùañcåyatana jhånacitta 15. This citta has as object the jhånacitta of the first stage of arúpa-jhåna which experiences infinity of space. The person who cultivates this stage of arúpa-jhåna sees that the object of infinity of space is not as subtle as the object which is the jhånacitta experiencing infinity of space. Therefore he transcends the object of infinity of space and takes as object the jhånacitta which experiences infinity of space, until appanå samådhi arises and he attains the second stage of arúpa-jhåna, of the infinity of consciousness.
The third stage of arúpa-jhåna is the jhånacitta which has as object there is nothing, it is the akiñcaññåyatana jhånacitta 16. When the person who cultivates this stage sees that the object of the second stage, the infinity of consciousness, is not as subtle and refined as the object of nothingness, he transcends the object of the second stage and turns to the object of nothingness which conditions more calm. He cultivates the object of nothingness until appanå samådhi arises and he attains the third stage of arúpa jhåna. The jhånacitta of this stage has nothingness as object, because it has no longer as object the jhånacitta experiencing infinity of space, which citta is the object of the second stage.
The fourth stage of arúpa jhåna is neither-perception-nor-non-perception, the nevasaññå-nåsaññåyatana jhånacitta 17. This is the jhånacitta which has as object the jhånacitta of the third stage experiencing nothingness. The person who cultivates this stage sees that the jhånacitta which experiences nothingness is of a most subtle nature and therefore he takes this jhånacitta as object, so that appanå-samådhi arises and he attains the fourth stage of arúpa-jhåna. Saññå and the accompanying dhammas at this stage of jhåna are so subtle that it cannot be said that they are present nor that they are not present; they are present in a residual way and cannot effectively perform their functions 18. The arúpa-jhåna of the fourth stage, the sphere of neither-perception-nor non-perception is so called, because it cannot be said that there is perception, saññå, nor can it be said that there is not.
The development of samatha, the calm which is freedom from defilements, up to the degree of arúpa-jhåna, can only be accomplished by a powerful citta. When someone has achieved this he can train himself to reach the benefit of the special supranatural powers he has set as his goal. These are, for example, recollection of ones former lives, the resolution to have the divine eye by which one sees things that are far off, or that are obstructed, the resolution to have the divine ear by which one hears sounds far or near, the resolution to perform magical powers (iddhi påìihåriya) such as walking on water, diving into the earth, floating through the air, or the creation of different forms. However, if someone wants to train himself to have such special qualities he must have the highest skill in all kasinas and in the eight attainments which are the four stages of rúpa-jhåna and the four stages of arúpa-jhåna.
The Visuddhimagga describes fourteen ways of training to achieve supranatural powers (XII, 3-8). Someone who wishes to train himself to reach this goal should, for example, be able to attain jhåna with the kasinas in conformity with the order of the kasinas, that is, first with the earth kasina, after that with the water kasina, and so on. Or he should be able to attain jhåna with the kasinas in reverse order, or to skip jhånas of the different stages without skipping the successive kasinas, or to skip kasinas without skipping the successive stages of jhåna. Thus, he should know the right conditions for perfect control of his attainments.
It may seem that a person has such perfect control and that he can perform miracles, but, if he has not cultivated the right cause leading to the right effect, he does not really have the special qualities which are supranatural powers. The Visuddhimagga (IV, 8) explains that the development of the different stages of jhåna and the acquirement of supranatural powers is most difficult:
It is not possible for a meditator to begin to accomplish transformation by supernormal powers unless he has previously completed his development by controlling his mind in these fourteen ways. Now the kasina preliminary work is difficult for a beginner and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The arousing of the (acquired) mental image is difficult for one who has done the preliminary work and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To extend the sign when it has arisen 19 and to reach absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To tame ones mind in fourteen ways after reaching absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The transformation by supranatural power after training ones mind in the fourteen ways is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. Rapid response after attaining transformation is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it...
It is the same in the case of remembering ones former lives, it is most difficult. Who could attain upacåra samådhi, access concentration, if the citta is not mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå? Who could claim to have attained appanå samådhi which arises at the moment of the first stage of jhåna? Who could claim to have attained the second, third, fourth and fifth stage of jhåna, or arúpa-jhåna? Who could claim to remember his past lives if he cannot revert in memory from now to this morning? Can he remember each moment? Can he revert to yesterday evening, to yesterday morning, or can he, with a citta firmly established in calm, remember each moment reverting to the rebirth-consciousness, or even to the last moment of the last day of his past life and revert successively to past lives? This can only be achieved if the jhånacitta has become powerful, and if one has trained oneself in all the skills necessary for supranatural powers. If that is the case one can cause mahå-kusala citta accompanied by pañnnå to arise and remembrance of past lives can be accomplished while reverting from a specific moment on to the past.
If one studies in detail and understands the right conditions for the special qualities which are the supranatural powers, one will know whether a certain achievement is truly due to those special qualities or not.
By the development of samatha defilements are not eradicated. In samatha the paññå is not developed which penetrates the characteristics of impermanence, dukkha and anattå, which knows the true nature of realities. Only this kind of paññå can eradicate defilements. If jhåna does not decline and jhånacitta can arise in the process just before the dying-consciousness, the jhånacitta is kamma-condition for the arising of jhåna vipåkacitta which is the rebirth-consciousness in one of the brahma planes. However, when that persons lifespan has come to an end in such a plane, he will again revert to a life in this world with clinging to self, to visible object, sound, odour, flavour and tangible object.
The development of samatha in past lives can be accumulated in the cycle of birth and death. It can be a condition for some people to have a presentiment of events which may take place. Someone who has developed concentration may be able to see omens and have a presentiment of events in the future. However, it should be remembered that for the accomplishment of supranatural powers samatha must be developed by mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå, so that calm grows and concentration on the meditation subject becomes firmly established, to the degree that the stages of jhåna can successively arise. It should be noted that all this is most difficult. A person who has developed concentration may have visions of future events, and some of his presentiments may come true whereas some may be wrong. His visions may be a result of his development of concentration, but they are not supranatural powers, the special qualities which are the result of the development of samatha.
If one develops samatha it is already most difficult to attain even upacåra samådhi, access concentration. The reason is that when an object impinges on one of the senses or the mind-door, we usually turn to such an object with lobha, dosa or moha. Kusala citta of the level of dåna, síla or mental development arises very rarely in our daily life. The moments of kusala citta are very rare when compared to the moments of akusala cittas which usually arise very rapidly, on account of the objects impinging on the senses and the mind-door. Defilements cannot be eradicated by the development of samatha. When defilements arise and overwhelm the citta, even samatha which has been developed to the degree of miraculous powers can decline.
Before the Buddhas enlightenment there were people who accomplished the development of samatha to the highest degree of arúpa-jhåna, the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, and who could train themselves to attain supranatural powers, such as the divine eye, the divine ear, the remembrance of former lives and miraculous powers. However, inspite of this they could not penetrate the four noble Truths, since they had not cultivated the right cause for this result. The right cause is the development of vipassanå, insight, to the degree that it becomes the right condition for the realization of the four noble Truths. Some people at that time had wrong understanding of the way leading to the realization of the four noble Truths, they followed the wrong practice. After the Buddha had attained enlightenment and taught the Dhamma, some of the ariyan disciples who had realized the four noble Truths had cultivated jhåna and some had not cultivated jhåna. The ariyans who had become enlightened without having attained jhåna were greater in number than those who had attained enlightenment with lokuttara cittas accompanied by jhåna-factors of different stages 20. This shows us again that the development of samatha in the right way is extremely difficult and most intricate.
1 Sampajaññå is often translated as clear comprehension. In this context, the person who develops samatha should not merely have theoretical knowledge of the difference between lobha-múla-citta and mahå-kusala citta, but he should be able to distinguish between their characteristics when they appear.
2 Abhabba puggala, a person who is unable of progress. He is not born with a rebirth-consciousness accompanied by paññå, he has committed ånantariya kamma, very serious akusala kamma which produces an immediate result at rebirth, and he has the kinds of wrong view which are of the degree of akusala kamma patha.
3 He is a bhabba puggala, a person who is able to make progress. See Gradual Sayings, Book of the Sixes, Ch IX, § 2 and 3.
4 See Appendix to Citta, under akusala citta.
5 A kasina is a concrete device, such as a disc of earth or a coloured disc, which can condition calm. If one looks at it with right concentration one can acquire a mental image of it. Kasiùa means whole, entire. If the earth kasina is ones meditation subject, all things can be seen as just earth, and it is the same in the case of the other kasinas. The conceptualized image can be extended without limitation.
6 Earth is one of the four Great Elements present with all materiality.
7 For details, see Visuddhimagga IV, 21-31.
8 The jhåna-factors are specific cetasikas developed in samatha. These will be dealt with further on.
9 World Ruler.
10 See Visuddhimagga IV, 34-42.
11 See Visuddhimagga IV, 42-67.
12 There are five indriyas,spiritual faculties, which should be developed, namely, confidence, energy, mindfulness, concentration and understanding.
13 If one is not born with paññå one cannot attain jhåna. If one is tihetuka, born with paññå, all bhavanga-cittas are accompanied by paññå.
14 Akåsa means space, ananta means: infinite, and åyatana means: sphere.
15 This term includes the words viññåùa and ananta, meaning, consciousness which is infinite.
16 Åkiñcaññå means: there is nothing.
17 Saññå means perception and åsaññå means non-perception. N stands for na, which means not.
18 See Atthasåliní I, Book I, Part VI. 207-209. There is a subtle residuum not only of saññå but also of the citta and the other accompanying dhammas.
19 Extension of the sign means that the the mental image can be extended until it is boundless.
20 See Kindred Sayings I, Ch VIII, The Vangísa Suttas, § 7, Invitation.