What, now, is Right Concentration?
Having the mind fixed to a single object
(cittekeggataa, lit. 'One-pointedness of mind'): this is concentration.
'Right Concentration' (sammaa-samaadhi),
in its widest sense, is the kind of mental concentration which is
present in every wholesome state of consciousness (kusala-citta), and
hence is accompanied by at least Right Thought (2nd factor), Right
Effort (6th factor) and Right Mindfulness (7th factor). 'Wrong
Concentration' is present in unwholesome states of consciousness, and
hence is only possible in the sensuous, not in a higher sphere.
Samaadhi, used alone, always stands in the Sutta, for sammaa-samaadhi,
or Right Concentration.
The four 'Foundations of Mindfulness' (7th
factor): these are the objects of concentration.
The four 'Great Efforts' (6th factor):
these are the requisites for concentration.
The practising, developing and cultivating
of these things: this is the development (bhaavanaa) of concentration.
Right Concentration (sammaa-samaadhi)
has two degrees of development; 1. 'Neighborhood Concentration'
(upacaarasamaadhi). which approaches the first absorption without,
however, attaining it; 2. 'Attainment Concentration' (appanaasamaadhi),
which is the concentration present in the four Absorptions (jhaana).
These Absorptions are mental states beyond the reach of the fivefold
sense-activity, attainable only in solitude and by unremitting
perseverance in the practice of concentration. In these states all
activity of the five senses is suspended. No visual or audible
impressions arise at such a time, no bodily feeling is felt. But,
although all outer sense-impressions have ceased, yet the mind remains
active, perfectly alert, fully awake.
The attainment of these Absorptions,
however, is not a requisite for the realization of the four Supermundane
Paths of Holiness; and neither Neighborhood-Concentration nor
Attainment-Concentration, as such, possesses the power of conferring
entry to the four Supermundane Paths: hence they really have no power to
free one permanently from evil things. The realization of the Four
Supermundane Paths is possible only at the moment of deep 'Insight'
(vipassanaa) into the Impermanency (aniccataa), Miserable Nature
(dukkhataa) and Impersonality (anattataa) of this whole phenomenal
process of existence. This Insight, again, is attainable only during
Neighborhood-Concentration, not during Attainment Concentration.
He who has realized one or other of the
Four Supermundane Paths without ever having attained the Absorptions, is
called Sukkha-vipassaka, or Suddhavipassanaa-yaanika, i.e. 'one who has
taken merely Insight (vipassanaa) as his vehicle'. He, however, who,
after cultivating the Absorptions, has reached one of the Supermundane
Paths is called Saniathayaanika, or 'one who has taken Tranquillity
(samatha) as his vehicle (yaana)'.
For samatha and vipassanaa see Fund IV.
and B. Diet.
Detached from sensual objects, detached
from evil things, the disciple enters into the first Absorption, which is
accompanied by Thought Conception and Discursive Thinking, is born of
detachment, and filled with Rapture and Happiness.
This is the first of the Absorptions
belonging to the Fine-Material Sphere (rupaavacarajjhaana). It is
attained when, through the strength of concentration, the fivefold sense
activity is temporarily suspended, and the five Hindrances are likewise
See B. Dict.: kasina, nimitta, samaadhi.
This first Absorption is free from five
things, and five things are present. When the disciple enters the first
Absorption, there have vanished (the five Hindrances): Lust, Ill-Will,
Torpor and Sloth, Restlessness and Mental Worry, Doubts; and there are
present: Thought Conception (vitakka), Discursive Thinking (vicaara),
Rapture (piiti), Happiness (sukha), Concentration (citt'ekaggataa =
These five mental factors present in the
first Absorption, are called Factors (or Constituents) of Absorption
(jhaananga). Vitakka (initial formation of an abstract thought) and
vicaara (discursive thinking, rumination) are called 'verbal functions'
(vaci-sankhaara) of the mind; hence they are something secondary
compared with consciousness.
In Visuddhi-Magga, vitakka is compared
with the taking hold of a pot, and vicaara with the wiping of it. In the
first Absorption both are present, but are exclusively focussed on the
subject of meditation, vicaara being here not discursive, but of an
'exploring' nature. Both are entirely absent in the following
And further: after the subsiding of
Thought-Conception and Discursive Thinking, and by the gaining of inner
tranquillity and oneness of mind, he enters into a state free from
Thought-Conception and Discursive Thinking, the second Absorption, which
is born of concentration (samaadhi), and filled with Rapture (piti) and
In the second Absorption, there are
three Factors of Absorption: Rapture, Happiness, and Concentration.
And further: after the fading away of
Rapture, he dwells in equanimity, mindful, with clear awareness: and he
experiences in his own person that feeling of which the Noble Ones say:
'Happy lives he who is equanimous and mindful'-thus he enters the third
In the third Absorption there are two
Factors of Absorption: equanimous Happiness (upekkhaa-sukha) and
And further: after the giving up of
pleasure and pain, and through the disappearance of previous joy and
grief, he enters into a state beyond pleasure and pain, into the fourth
Absorption, which is purified by equanimity and mindfulness.
In the fourth Absorption there are two
Factors of Absorp-tion: Concentration and Equanimity (upekkhaa).
In Visuddhi-magga forty subjects of
meditation (kamma.t.thaana) are enumerated and treated in detail. By
their successful practice the following Absorptions may be attained:
All four Absorptions. through
Mindfulness of Breathing (see Vis. M. VIII. 3), the ten Kasina-exercises
(Vis. M. IV, V. and B. Dict.); the contemplation of Equanimity
(upekkhaa), being the practice of the fourth Brahma-vihaara (Vis. M. IX.
The first three Absorptions: through the
development of Loving-Kindness (mettaa), Compassion (karunaa) and
Sympathetic Joy (muditaa), being the practice of the first three
Brahma-vihaaras (Vis. M. IX. 1-3,).
The first Absorption: through the ten
Contemplations of Impurity (asubha-bhaavanaa; i.e. the Cemetery
Contemplations, which are ten according to the enumeration in Vis. M.
VI); the contemplation of the Body (i.e. the 32 parts of the body; Vis.
M. VIII, 2); 'Neighborhood-Concentration' (upacaara-samaadhi): through
the Recollections on Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, on Morality, Liberality,
Heavenly Beings, Peace (=Nibbaana) and death (Vis. M. VI. VII); the
Contemplation on the Loathsomeness of Food (Vis. M. XI. I); the Analysis
of the Four Elements (Vis. M. IX. 2).
The four Immaterial Absorptions
(aruupa-jjhaana or aaruppa), which are based on the fourth Absorption,
are produced by meditating on their respective objects from which they
derive their names; Sphere of Unbounded Space, of Unbounded
Consciousness, of Nothingness, and of
The entire object of concentration and
meditation is treated in Vis M. III-XIII; see also Fund. IV.
Develop your concentration: for he who has
concentration, understands things according to their reality. And what are
these things? The arising and passing away of corporeality, of feeling,
perception, mental formations and consciousness.
Thus, these five Groups of Existence must
be wisely penetrated; Ignorance and Craving must be wisely abandoned;
Tranquillity (samatha) and Insight (vipassanaa) must be wisely developed.
This is the Middle Path which the Perfect
One has discovered, which makes one both to see and to know, and which
leads to peace, to discernment, to enlightenment, to Nibbaana.
"And following upon this path, you will
put an end to suffering.