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We have so far studied the first seven factors of the Noble Eightfold Path. Today we study the eighth factor, the last factor, SammÈ SamÈdhi (Right Concentration).


“What, now, is Right Concentration? Having the mind fixed to a single object (cittekaggatÈ lit. ‘one-pointedness of mind’): this is concentration.” I don’t think that I need to talk much about concentration to you. You have been practicing meditation for quite awhile and you have experienced, I hope, concentration during meditation.


This definition was given by a nun, Venerable DhammadinnÈ, in response to the questions put to her by her former husband. She said that ‘cittekaggatÈ’ or ‘samÈdhi’ means one-pointedness of mind. I think that is a good definition. Mind having one object is concentration or samÈdhi.


“Right Concentration (SammÈ SamÈdhi), in its widest sense, is the kind of mental concentration which is present in every wholesome state of consciousness.” Right Concentration accompanies every type of wholesome consciousness. “And hence is accompanied by at least Right Thought (2nd factor), Right Effort (6th factor) and Right Mindfulness (7th factor).” One-pointedness of mind is a mental factor. In what group is it included? The first group, the universals. So, in fact, concentration, or one-pointedness of mind, or unification of mind is concomitant with every type of consciousness. But here we have SammÈ SamÈdhi (right Concentration). Right Concentration is concomitant with every wholesome state of consciousness (kusala citta). What about vipÈka and kiriya cittas? It accompanies them also. So it accompanies not only the wholesome states of consciousness but also it accompanies resultant states of consciousness and functional states of consciousness.


“ ‘Wrong Concentration’ is present in unwholesome states of consciousness, and hence is only possible in the sensuous, not in a higher sphere.” That means it is possible in kÈmÈvacara consciousness only, not in r|pÈvacara, or in ar|pÈvacara, or lokuttara consciousness.” One-pointedness of mind accompanying akusala consciousness is called ‘wrong concentration’. Sometimes you have wrong concentration, especially those people who go fishing. They have good concentration on catching a fish. It is wrong concentration. Wrong concentration is possible in the sensuous sphere only and not in the form sphere, formless sphere, or supramundane sphere.


“SamÈdhi, used alone, always stands in the Sutta, for SammÈ SamÈdhi or right Concentration.” Whenever we find the word ‘samÈdhi’ used in discourses we are to understand that it means Right Concentration.


The word ‘samÈdhi’ is composed of three parts - ‘sam’, ‘a’, ‘dha’. It means mind being on the object, not scattered, not distracted. ‘Not scattered’ means this mental factor or mental state keeps its mental concomitants together, It does not let the mental concomitants scatter and also it is not distracted. So it is firmly on the object. That is called ‘samÈdhi’. What is Right Concentration? It is one-pointedness of mind or the mind fixed to a single object. Actually concentration is a mental factor (cetasika), not really citta. When a citta is accompanied by Right Concentration, we talk about mind as having samÈdhi. Actually samÈdhi is a mental factor.


Now its objects - “The four ‘Foundations of Mindfulness’ - these are the objects of concentration.” The former husband of the nun asked her what are the objects of concentration. The reply was the four foundations of mindfulness. In the Sutta itself the word used for object is ‘nimitta’. That word ‘nimitta’ is commented upon as meaning cause, not object, so cause of concentration. So what is the cause of concentration? The cause of concentration is the four foundations of mindfulness. If we do not practice mindfulness, if we do not apply mindfulness to whatever we observe, we cannot hope to get concentration. The foundations of mindfulness or establishing mindfulness is the cause of concentration.


It is a cause as well as a condition. Mindfulness is one mental factor and concentration is another mental factor. They arise at the same time also. Depending upon the concentration which has arisen before, another concentration arises. That concentration is accompanied by mindfulness or that mindfulness is accompanied by concentration. The object of concentration or the cause of concentration is the four foundations of mindfulness.


“Its requisites: The four ‘Great Efforts’ (6th factor) - these are the requisites for concentration.” The PÈÄi word used here is ‘parikkhÈra’. The four requisites for monks are called ‘parikkhÈra’. That’s why the English word ‘requisites’ is used. In the Commentary it says the word ‘parikkhÈra’ here means something like a retinue, or surroundings, or support. It is those that support concentration, the Great Efforts, the sixth factor of the Noble Eightfold Path.  “Its development: The practicing, developing and cultivating of these things - this is the development (bhÈvanÈ) of concentration.” Practicing, developing and cultivating Four Great Efforts is the development of concentration.


Then there are some notes. “Right Concentration (SammÈ SamÈdhi) has two degrees of development: 1. ‘Neighborhood Concentration’ (upacÈrasamÈdhi), which approaches the first absorption without, however, attaining it.” You have heard many times about neighborhood concentration and attainment or absorption concentration. What is neighborhood concentration? Neighborhood of what? Neighborhood of jhÈna because it is close to jhÈna. That is what is called ‘upacÈra’ in PÈÄi. ‘Which approaches the first absorption without, however, attaining it’ - before attaining the first jhÈna or before the first jhÈna arises, there is this neighborhood concentration. When jhÈna consciousness arises, then there is absorption or attainment concentration. At that moment it is not neighborhood concentration but it is called ‘attainment concentration’.


Can there be neighborhood concentration with respect to second jhÈna, third jhÈna, fourth jhÈna? You get first jhÈna. Then you want to get second jhÈna. You practice meditation again. Then you have to go through this neighborhood concentration again, neighborhood concentration for the second jhÈna.


Student: But you first have to go through the first jhÈna?


Teacher: First jhÈna first and then when you want to go to the second jhÈna, you practice meditation again. Then after attaining second jhÈna, you want to get third jhÈna. Again you practice meditation. So again there is neighborhood concentration.


Student: There is neighborhood concentration for the third jhÈna?


Teacher: Yes. Neighborhood concentration precedes every jhÈna - the first, second, third, fourth. We should say here ‘which approaches the first absorption etc., without, however, attaining it.’


“2. ‘Attainment concentration’ (appanÈsamÈdhi), which is the concentration present in the four Absorptions (jhÈna)). These Absorptions are mental states beyond the reach of the fivefold sense activity.” That is because jhÈna consciousnesses belong to what? What door, five sense door or mind door? Mind door. That is why it is said here that they are beyond the reach of the fivefold sense activity.


“-(They are) 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’ (vipassanÈ) into the Impermanency (aniccatÈ), Miserable Nature (dukkhatÈ) and Impersonality (anattatÈ) of this whole phenomenal process of existence. This Insight, again, is attainable only during Neighborhood Concentration, not during Attainment Concentration.”


In fact, with regard to vipassanÈ we do not call it ‘neighborhood concentration. It is like neighborhood concentration. It is called what? You have heard this many times. What concentration is needed in vipassanÈ meditation? Momentary concentration. The PÈÄi word is ‘khaÓika’. Instead of neighborhood concentration what we need is momentary concentration. This momentary concentration is similar to neighborhood concentration. When you get neighborhood concentration, you are able to ward off the mental hindrances. Similarly when you get momentary concentration in vipassanÈ meditation, you are able to suppress the mental hindrances. You are able to keep them away from you. So these two kinds of concentration are similar in being able to keep mental hindrances away. So actually this insight is attainable only during momentary concentration which is similar to neighborhood concentration, but it is not attainable during attainment concentration. That is because when there is jhÈna, at the moment when there is jhÈna, there can be no Path consciousness, no Fruition consciousness. That is why it cannot be obtained during attainment concentration. When you get jhÈna, you get jhÈna, not Magga or Phala.


“He who has realized one or other of the Four Supermundane Paths without ever having attained the Absorptions, is called Sukkha Vipassaka.” ‘Vipassaka’ means one who practices vipassanÈ. ‘Sukkha’ means dry. So we get dry vipassanÈ practitioner. Here ‘dry’ means without jhÈna. “Or SuddhavipassanÈ -yÈnika” - here ‘suddha’ means pure, pure vipassanÈ, not mixed with samatha.


“That is one who has taken merely Insight (vipassanÈ) as his vehicle.” You know there are two kinds of meditation - samathayÈna and vipassanÈyÈna. ‘SamathayÈna’ means that you practice samatha meditation first and try to get attainment concentration or at least neighborhood concentration. Then after that you take that attainment concentration, or neighborhood concentration, or other mental factors concomitant with attainment concentration as object of vipassanÈ meditation. So to be brief, you practice vipassanÈ on the jhÈna you have attained or on the neighborhood samÈdhi you have attained. Such a person is called ‘samatha-yÈnika’ (one whose vehicle is samatha). That means he practices samatha first and then later he practices vipassanÈ meditation.


The other one does not practice absorption or samatha meditation. That person practices vipassanÈ meditation only. He does not get absorptions or jhÈnas. He gets momentary concentration. Through momentary concentration he reaches the different stages of vipassanÈ knowledge.


Student; They use the word ‘merely’ here. It makes it sound like one is better than the other. Is that implied? A samatha-yÈnika is better than a suddhavipassanÈ-yÈnika?


Teacher: No. I don’t think we can say one is better than the other, neither the one who has samatha as vehicle, nor the one who has vipassanÈ as vehicle.


“He, however, who, after cultivating the Absorptions, has reached one of the Supermundane Paths is called Samatha-yÈnika, or ‘one who has taken tranquillity (samatha) as his vehicle (yÈna).”


“For samatha and vipassanÈ see Fundamentals of Buddhism and Buddhist Dictionary.” Let us also say see The Path of Purification (Visuddhi Magga).


Now we have the four absorptions. When the Buddha defined SammÈ SamÈdhi in the MahÈ SatipaÔÔhÈna Sutta, it is defined as these four absorptions; Buddha described concentration as the four absorptions.


Here are the four jhÈnas or four absorptions. “Detached from sensual objects, detached from evil things (‘Evil’ means akusala, unwholesome things.), the disciple enters into the first Absorption, which is accompanied by Thought Conception and Discursive Thinking (The first is vitakka and the second is vicÈra.), is born of detachment, and filled with Rapture and Happiness.” That is the description of the first jhÈna. It is detached from sensual objects, detached from unwholesome things. A person who wants to get first jhÈna must detach himself from sensual objects. And he must detach himself from evil things or unwholesome things. ‘Unwholesome things’ means here the mental hindrances.


“The disciple enters into the first Absorption, which is accompanied by vitakka (thought conception which actually is initial application of mind) and vicÈra (discursive thinking which is sustained application of mind), is born of detachment, and filled with Rapture (pÊti) and happiness (sukha).” The first jhÈna is filled with pÊti and sukha.


“This is the first of the Absorptions belonging to the Fine Material Sphere (r|pÈvacarajjhÈna). It is attained when, through the strength of concentration, the fivefold sense activity is temporarily suspended, and the five Hindrances are likewise eliminated.” At that moment of jhÈna there are no mental hindrances. At that moment a citta or type of consciousness arises belonging to the form sphere, the fine material sphere.


“The first Absorption is free from five things, and five things are present.” It is free from five things and it has five things. “When the disciple enters the first Absorption, there have vanished (the five hindrances): Lust, Ill Will, Torpor and Sloth, Restlessness and Worry, Doubts; and there are present: Thought Conception (vitakka)” initial application of mind- “Discursive Thinking (vicÈra)” - sustained application of mind - “Rapture (pÊti), Happiness (sukha), Concentration (citt’ekaggatÈ=samÈdhi).” The first jhÈna is free, let us say, from five blemishes and it is endowed with five qualities. “These five mental factors present in the first Absorption, are called Factors (or Constituents) of Absorption (jhÈnaÓga).”


“Vitakka (initial formation of an abstract thought)” - it is vitakka that takes the mind to the object - “and vicÈra (discursive thinking, rumination) - vicÈra is the one that keeps the mind on the object - actually it is not really discursive thinking - “are called ‘verbal functions’ (vaci-sa~khÈra) of the mind.” In the Sutta where the nun, Venerable DhammadinnÈ, and her husband spoke with each other the word ‘vaci-sa~khÈra’ is used there. Vitakka and vicÈra are called ‘vaci-sa~khÈra’ (verbal formations). ‘Vaci-sa~khÈra’ means those that cause speech. It is said that before you speak, you think of the speech and then you articulate the words. “hence they are something secondary compared with consciousness.”


“In The Visuddhi magga, vitakka is compared with taking hold of a pot, and vicÈra with the wiping of it.” So you take hold of a pot firmly, and with the other hand you rub the pot to, let us say, make it clean. Vitakka is like taking hold of the pot and vicÈra is like wiping it.


“In the first Absorption both are present, but are exclusively focused on the subject of meditation; vicÈra being here not discursive, but of an ‘exploring’ nature. Both are entirely absent in the following Absorptions.” So in the first jhÈna there are five factors.


Now we have the second jhÈna. “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 (samÈdhi), and filled with Rapture (pÊti) and Happiness (Sukha).”


In order to get jhÈna you practice some kinds of meditation, not all forty subjects, but some of the subjects. You can get the different kinds of meditation that lead to jhÈna on page 82. Let us say you practice kasiÓa meditation. You practice kasiÓa meditation and dwell on the kasiÓa object again and again for days, weeks, our months. Then your mind becomes free from mental hindrances. And so it reaches the neighborhood concentration. Then you practice further and get first jhÈna. The first jhÈna is accompanied by five factors. When you want to get second jhÈna, you find fault with first jhÈna. It is not good enough for you since you have got it. It has vitakka and vicÈra which are very prone to distraction. So you want to get rid of vitakka and vicÈra this time. So you practice the meditation again and you wish that vitakka and vicÈra not arise in the second jhÈna.


After the subsiding of Thought Conception and Discursive Thinking”- actually that means vitakka and vicÈra not arising at the moment of second jhÈna. We should not say ‘after’. It should be: “With the subsiding of Thought Conception and Discursive Thinking”, not ‘after’.


Student: Is there a better definition for vicÈra than discursive thinking?


Teacher: If we mean the mental factor, vicÈra, ‘discursive thinking’ is not so good. In ordinary speech ‘vicÈra’ can mean something like discursive thinking. Technically speaking, vicÈra is not discursive thinking. Vitakka takes the mind to the object and vicÈra keeps the mind on the object.


“With the subsiding of Thought conception and Discursive Thinking and by the gaining of inner Tranquillity” - I don’t like the word ‘tranquillity’ here. U Pe Maung Tin in the translation of the AtthasÈlinÊ also uses ‘tranquillity’. The PÈÄi word means that which cleans or that which clears, and that means ‘saddha’. When we say ‘tranquillity’, our mind goes to passaddhi in PÈÄi. But the PÈÄi word is ‘sampasÈdana’. ‘SampasÈdana’ means that which clears. Saddha is compared to the water-clearing gem of the universal monarch. I have told you about that once. So when there is saddha in our minds, our minds are clear, clear of mental defilements. So it is not tranquillity. In The Path of Purification it is translated as internal confidence. It means saddha and ‘saddha’ means confidence. I think it is better than 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 and filled with Rapture and Happiness.” ‘Which is born of concentration’ - if you do not have concentration, you do not get the first jhÈna too. So the first jhÈna is also ‘born of concentration’. But in the first jhÈna it is not so strong because it has vitakka and vicÈra with it. Vitakka and vicÈra tend to be distracting. With the absence of vitakka and vicÈra the samÈdhi is stronger in the second jhÈna. The second jhÈna is described as that which is born of concentration. Only this second jhÈna is described as born of concentration and not the first jhÈna. In the description of first jhÈna we do not find these words.


“It is filled with Rapture and Happiness” as in the first jhÈna. In the second jhÈna there are three factors of absorption - rapture (pÊti), happiness (sukha), and concentration (samÈdhi or ekaggatÈ).


Then you want to get the third jhÈna. “And further: after 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 Absorption.” In order to get to the third absorption you must get rid of pÊti (rapture). So “after fading away of pÊti, he dwells in equanimity.” On this page you will find the word ‘equanimity two or three times. Here ‘equanimity’ means what? It is very important. It is called ‘tatramajjhatatÈ’ in PÈÄi, specific neutrality. It is not the indifferent feeling. The word ‘upekkhÈ’ is ambiguous. Sometimes it means indifferent feeling and sometimes it means neutrality. Here it means neutrality.


“He dwells in equanimity, mindful, with clear awareness.” ‘Mindful’ is sati and ‘clear awareness’ is saÑpajaÒÒa. These two are present in the first and second jhÈnas also, but only here are they mentioned - mindful with clear awareness. That is because their functions become sharp and more evident in this jhÈna. In the first and second jhÈnas they are disturbed by vitakka, vicÈra and pÊti. With vitakka, vicÈra and pÊti they cannot do their functions very well. In this jhÈna vitakka and vicÈra are gone - even in the second jhÈna they are gone - and pÊti is also gone, so sati and saÑpajaÒÒa (mindfulness and clear awareness) are very sharp in this jhÈna. That is why they are mentioned in this jhÈna.


“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 Absorption. In the third absorption there are two factors of absorption: equanimous happiness” - it is a very peculiar term, not found in the Books actually - “(upekkhÈ-sukha) and Concentration (citt’ekaggatÈ).” What do you understand by ‘upekkhÈ-sukha,’ (equanimous happiness)? It is feeling. Right? Here it is not tatramajjhatatÈ (specific neutrality), but sukha. Sukha is what? Feeling and then there is concentration (citt’ekaggatÈ).


Now we have the fourth jhÈna. “And further: after giving up of pleasure and pain (That is bodily pleasure and bodily pain.), and through the disappearance of previous joy and grief (That is mental joy and mental pain.), he enters into a state beyond pleasure and pain (So there is no pleasure and pain.), into the fourth Absorption which is purified by equanimity and mindfulness.” That is a little inaccurate. What is meant is: “That has purity of mindfulness caused by equanimity.” ‘Equanimity’ here means tatramajjhatatÈ (specific neutrality). Venerable ©ÈÓamoli translated it as ‘which has purity of mindfulness due to equanimity’. There is mindfulness and there is equanimity. This equanimity is present in all the jhÈnas. In the first jhÈna it is also present. In the second jhÈna and the third jhÈna it is also present, not only in the fourth jhÈna.  But here it becomes very strong. When it becomes very strong, it makes other concomitants such as mindfulness (sati) strong and purified. So sati is very strong and purified because equanimity is very pure in this jhÈna.


“In the fourth Absorption there are two Factors of Absorption: Concentration and Equanimity (upekkhÈ).” What upekkhÈ is that? VedanÈ (feeling) equanimity, not specific neutrality is in the above paragraphs. So here ‘equanimity’ means feeling, indifferent feeling.


These are the four jhÈnas mostly mentioned in the discourses or Suttas. Five jhÈnas are also mentioned. Four and five are actually are actually the same because a person can get rid of vitakka at the same time, at one stroke. That’s why there are four jhÈnas. But there are some persons who cannot get rid of both of them at one stroke. For them they get rid of vitakka and vicÈra separately. So for them there are five jhÈnas. In the Suttas the four jhÈnas are very frequently mentioned and the five jhÈnas are very infrequently mentioned. In Abhidhamma both the fourfold method and the fivefold method of jhÈna are described.


Student: If one is in the third absorption, let us say, one does not actually turn one’s awareness and concentration toward sukha?


Teacher: No, not at that moment. At that moment the object is the object the meditator took when he practiced meditation. Let us say it was kasiÓa meditation, the disk or color kasiÓa. Actually it is not the disk but the mental image of the disk. That mental image of the disk is the object of the jhÈnas. Taking that mental image, there arises the jhÈna consciousness. Along with that jhÈna consciousness there is concentration, there is mindfulness, there is understanding, there is saddha and so on. They are collectively called ‘jhÈna’. There are three terms to understand - jhÈna, factors of jhÈna, and jhÈna consciousness. ‘JhÈna’ means the mental factors collectively at that time. ‘JhÈna factors’ means the five factors in the first jhÈna, three factors in the second jhÈna and so on. The combination of these is jhÈna. Actually jhÈna and jhÈna factors are pretty much the same. When we say ‘jhÈna’, we mean the combination of jhÈna factors, the combination of vitakka, vicÈra, pÊti, sukha and ekaggatÈ, these five. For second jhÈna there are three. For third jhÈna there are two. For fourth jhÈna there are two. These are called ‘jhÈna’. JhÈna factors are the separate ones, vitakka alone, vicÈra alone and so on. They are called ‘constituents of jhÈna’. It is like a club and members. All the members are called ‘a club’, but the individuals are members. JhÈna consciousness is the consciousness accompanied by jhÈna, arising together at the same time with jhÈna. So there is jhÈna, jhÈna factors and jhÈna consciousness.


So with the fourth jhÈna there are only two factors - concentration and indifferent feeling.


Student: Is one aware that one has sukha or upekkhÈ for example during the jhÈna or after the jhÈna?


Teacher: After the jhÈna because at the moment of jhÈna the mental image is the object. But later on you can take the upekkhÈ or whatever as the object of vipassanÈ meditation. That is the method of first practicing samatha and then vipassanÈ.


“In Visuddhi Magga forty subjects of meditation (kammaÔÔhana) are enumerated and treated in detail. By their successful practice the following Absorptions may be attained:” (This is a very good information.) All four Absorptions: through Mindfulness of Breathing; the ten KasiÓa exercises; the contemplation of Equanimity; being the practice of the fourth Brahma VihÈra.” They produce all four absorptions. They can lead to all four absorptions.


“The first three Absorptions: through the development of Loving-Kindness, Compassion and Sympathetic Joy, being the practice of the first three Brahma VihÈra.” They can lead to only three jhÈnas, not the fourth.


“The first Absorption: through the ten Contemplations of Impurity (asubha bhÈvanÈ; i.e. Cemetery Contemplations)” - that is looking at a corpse, seeing the nature of the corpse, and applying that nature to one’s self. Then there is the contemplation of the body, the 32 parts of the body. These can lead to the first absorption only, not to the second, third and fourth. Do you know why? It is said that the object is too gross. It is so gross that you need vitakka to keep or take your mind there. Without vitakka you cannot do that. That is why only first jhÈna can arise through the practice of these kinds of meditation.


“ ‘Neighborhood Concentration’ (upacÈra samÈdhi): through the Recollections on Buddha, Dhamma and Sa~gha, on Morality (sÊla), Liberality, Heavenly Beings, Peace (NibbÈna) and Death; the Contemplation on the Loathsomeness of Food; the Analysis of the Four Elements.” If you practice these kinds of meditation, you will get to only neighborhood concentration. No jhÈna is attained through the practice of these kinds of meditation. If you practice the recollection of the Buddha meditation, you will get only neighborhood concentration, no attainment concentration, no jhÈna.


“The four Immaterial Absorptions (ar|pa-jjhÈna or Èruppa) which are based on the fourth Absorption, are produced by meditation on their respective objects from which they derive their names.” In order to obtain the first ar|pÈvacara jhÈna you take unbounded space, infinite space, as the object of meditation. Then if you want to get the second ar|pÈvacara jhÈna, you take the unbounded consciousness. That means the consciousness of the first ar|pÈvacara jhÈna as object. Then if you want to get to the third ar|pÈvacara jhÈna, you concentrate on the nothingness or non-existence of the first ar|pÈvacara jhÈna. So when you get to the second ar|pÈvacara jhÈna, the first jhÈna has disappeared. You take that disappearance or absence of first ar|pÈvacara jhÈna as object of this meditation. So you say “There is nothing, there is nothing.” The last one is of neither perception nor non-perception. Here the object in fact is the consciousness of the third ar|pÈvacara jhÈna. This fourth ar|pÈvacara consciousness is called ‘neither perception nor non-perception’. Please note this. You can be confused here. The object of the fourth ar|pÈvacara jhÈna is the third ar|pÈvacara consciousness (citta). That third ar|pÈvacara consciousness is not called ‘neither perception nor non-perception’. The fourth ar|pÈvacara consciousness is called ‘neither perception nor non-perception’. The fourth one gets the name ‘neither perception nor non-perception’.


After you get the third ar|pÈvacara jhÈna, you want to attain the fourth ar|pÈvacara jhÈna. Then you dwell on the third ar|pÈvacara jhÈna: “Oh, it is good, it is good, it is subtle.”, something like that. When you get the fourth ar|pÈvacara jhÈna, the object of the fourth ar|pÈvacara jhÈna is the third ar|pÈvacara jhÈna consciousness. The fourth ar|pÈvacara jhÈna is called ‘neither perception nor non-perception’.


Here ‘perception’ does not necessarily mean perception only. Here perception is representative of all mental states. So it means ‘mind, nor non-mind’. Mind has become so subtle that it is almost imperceptible. So if you are asked: Is there mind? You may say: No, there is no mind or you may say there is just a little mind.


It is explained by a simile. A novice and his teacher went on a journey. The novice went in front of the teacher. The novice saw some water on the road. The novice said: “Sir, there is water.” Then the teacher thought there was much water and so he would take a bath. So he said: “Oh, novice give me a bath robe. I want to take a bath.” Then the novice said: “There is no water.” First he said there was water. Next he said there was no water. That is because there was enough water to wet the feet, but not enough to take a bath. In the same way the function of mind so subtle here that there is almost no mind, but still there is very subtle mind. The fourth ar|pÈvacara jhÈna is called ‘neither perception, nor non-perception’ or ‘neither mind, nor non-mind’, ‘neither mental activity, nor non-mental activity’.


“The entire object of concentration and meditation is treated in the Visuddhi Magga, chapters 3-13.” That is the end of the eighth member, the eighth factor, of the Noble Eightfold Path.


“Develop your concentration: for he who has concentration, understands things according to their reality.” This is also a very good quotation. I always say that without concentration you cannot hope to get insight into the nature of things. Whenever I say this, I have this passage in mind. The Buddha said: “Develop concentration, monks: for he who has concentration understands things according to their reality.” If you get concentration, you will see things as they truly are. Without concentration you cannot hope to see it.


“And what are these things? The arising and passing away of corporeality, of feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness (the five aggregates).”


“Thus, these five Groups of Existence must be wisely penetrated. Ignorance and Craving must be wisely abandoned; Tranquillity and Insight 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 NibbÈna.” This passage is taken from the first sermon. “The Middle Path which the Perfect One has discovered” - so the Buddha was not the creator of the Noble Eightfold Path, just the discoverer. There were many Buddhas in the past. Every Buddha taught the Eightfold or the Middle Path. After the death of those Buddhas and the deaths of the immediate disciples the Middle Path became hidden. After a long, long time another Buddha appears and he discovers the Middle Path. Then the Buddha practiced the Middle Path himself and then he taught the Middle Path to others.  “Which makes one both to see and to know” - to see the true nature of things we have to practice the Middle Path - “which leads to peace, to discernment, to enlightenment, to NibbÈna.”


“And following upon this Path, you will put an end to suffering.” This is from the Dhammapada. It is a very good arrangement that the author made, German mind, very good.


Let’s go to the gradual development of the Eightfold Path in the progress of the disciple. “Suppose a householder, or his son, or someone reborn in a good family, hears the Law (That means ‘hears the Buddha’s preaching’.); and after hearing the law he is filled with confidence in the Perfect One. And filled with this confidence, he thinks: ‘Full of hindrances is household life, a refuse heap; but the homeless life (of a monk) is like the open air. Not easy is it, when one lives at home, to fulfill in all points the rules of the holy life. How if now I were to cut off hair and beard, put on the yellow robe and go forth from home to homeless life? And in a short time, having given up his possessions, great or little, having forsaken a large or small circle of relations, he cuts off hair and beard, puts on the yellow robe, and goes forth from home to the homeless life.” This passage describes the ‘going forth’ or renunciation.


Next we have sÊla (morality). “Having thus left the world, he fulfills the rules of the monks. He avoids the killing of living beings” and so on. He avoids killing living beings, avoids stealing, avoids unchastity, avoids lying, avoids tale-bearing, avoids harsh language, avoids vain talk. And then he takes food at only one time of the day. He abstains from food in the evening. He does not eat at an improper time. He keeps aloof from dancing and so on. This describes sÊla.


On page 85 the last paragraph “He contents himself with the robe that protects his body” and so on. This is also included in sÊla, but it might be under a subheading of contentment. A monk must be content with his robes and with his alms bowl by means of which he keeps himself alive. “Wherever he goes, he is provided with these two things, just as a winged bird in flying carries his wings along with him.” That describes the monks in the time of the Buddha, not in modern times. Monks in modern times have a lot of things. They may need a U-Haul to move. “Wherever he goes he is provided with these two things (That means robes and alms bowl.), just as a winged bird in flying carries his wings along with him. By fulfilling this noble Domain of Morality he feels in his heart an irreproachable happiness.”


Then comes the control of the senses. That means when you see a visible object with the eye, you try not to get akusala. That is the control of the senses. ‘Control of the senses’ does not mean keeping your eyes shut or keeping your ears and so on, but it is not letting akusala arise through the senses.


Next is mindfulness and clear comprehension. You practice mindfulness and you practice clear comprehension. When you go forward, you must be mindful that you are going forward. When you go back, you must be mindful that you are going back and so on.


“Now being equipped with this lofty ‘Morality’, equipped with this noble ‘Control of the Senses’, and filled with this noble ‘Mindfulness and Clear Comprehension’, he chooses a secluded dwelling in the forest, at the foot of a tree, on a mountain, in a cleft, in a rock cave, on a burial ground, on a wooded table-land, in the open air, or on a heap of straw. Having returned from his alms-round, after the meal, he seats himself with legs crossed, body erect, with mindfulness fixed before him (or fixed towards the object of meditation).”


“He has cast away ‘Lust’ (kÈmacchanda) [the first hindrance]; he dwells with a heart free from lust; from lust he cleanses his heart.” He casts away ill will. He casts away sloth and torpor. He casts away restlessness and worry. “He has cast away ‘Doubt’; dwelling free from doubt, full of confidence in the good, he cleanses his heart from doubt.” That is what concentration? Neighborhood. This actually describes neighborhood concentration because here he is free from the five mental hindrances.


“He has put aside these five ‘Hindrances’, the corruptions of the mind which paralyze wisdom. And far from sensual impressions, far from evil things, he enters into the four Absorptions.”


Then he practices vipassanÈ. “But whatsoever there is of corporeality, feeling, perception, mental formations, or consciousness, all these phenomena he regards as ‘impermanent’, ‘subject to pain’, as infirm, as an ulcer, a thorn, a misery, a burden, an enemy, a disturbance, as empty and ‘void of an Ego’; and turning away from these things, he directs his mind towards the Deathless thus: ‘This, truly, is Peace, this is the Highest, namely the end of all Kamma Formations, the forsaking of every substratum of rebirth, the fading away of craving, detachment, extinction, NibbÈna’. And in this state he reaches the ‘cessation of passions’. This paragraph describes the practice of vipassanÈ.


“And his heart becomes free from sensual passion, free from the passion for existence, free from the passion of ignorance.” They are the three Èsavas. In the Suttas mostly three Èsavas are mentioned, not four as in Abhidhamma.


“ ‘Freed am I!’ this knowledge arises in the liberated one; and he knows: ‘Exhausted is rebirth, fulfilled the Holy Life; what was to be done, has been done; naught remains more for this world to do’.” 


Forever am I liberated.” The actual PÈÄi original is: “My liberation is indestructible.”

     Forever am I liberated,

      This is the last time I am Born,

      No new existence waits for me.”


“This is, indeed, the highest, holiest wisdom: to know that all suffering has passed away.”


“This is, indeed, the highest, holiest peace: appeasement of greed, hatred, and delusion.” That means actually the eradication of greed, hatred and delusion.


Next is the silent thinker. “ ‘I am’ is a vain thought; ‘This am I’ is a vain thought; ‘I shall be’ is a vain thought; ‘I shall not be’ is a vain thought. Vain thoughts are a sickness, an ulcer, a thorn. But after the overcoming of all vain thoughts, one is called ‘a silent thinker’. And the thinker, the Silent One, does no more arise, no more pass away, no more tremble, no more desire.” The word ‘tremble’ is a little strange here because the PÈÄi word means ‘not troubled’ or ‘not assailed’. Venerable ©ÈÓamoli translated it as ‘assailed, no more assailed’. I think that is better.


“For there is nothing in him whereby he should rise again.” ‘Nothing in him’  means that there are no mental defilements in him. “And arises no more, how should he grow old? And as he grows old no more how should he die again? And as he dies no more, how should he be assailed (not ‘tremble’)? And as he is assailed (not ‘tremble’) no more, how should he have desire?” That is the argument that I use when I say that people are not fair in their wishes. They don’t want to die. They don’t want the end, but they are pleased with the beginning. “He arises no more, so how should he grow old?” So if you don’t want to get old, you must not have arising. If there is arising, there will be getting old. If you don’t want to die, then don’t have arising or don’t have birth, the beginning. “And as he dies no more, how should he be assailed? And as he is assailed no more, how should he have desire?”


“The purpose of the Holy Life does not consist in acquiring alms, honor, or fame, nor in gaining morality.” That means morality only. Do not be content with just morality or keeping precepts. That is because keeping precepts alone cannot lead you to the realization of truth. ‘Nor in gaining morality’ means ‘nor in gaining morality alone’. “ - Nor in gaining concentration (alone), or the eye of knowledge” - now in the Commentary it is explained that ‘the eye of knowledge’ means the five kinds of supernormal knowledge. Actually the best of those supernormal powers is the divine eye. This discourse was given in connection with the Buddha’s cousin Devadatta. First he went forth as a good person. He practiced sÊla. He practiced meditation. He got the jhÈnas and he got the supernormal powers. Later on he became corrupted. ‘The eye of knowledge’ means the best that Devadatta attained. The best that Devadatta attained was the five supernormal powers or the eye of knowledge. “That unshakable deliverance of the heart: that, indeed, is the object of the Holy Life, that is its essence, that is its goal.”


“And those, who in the past were Holy and Enlightened Ones, those Blessed Ones also have pointed out to their disciples this self-same goal as has been pointed out by me to my disciples. And those who in the future will be Holy and Enlightened Ones, those Blessed Ones also will point out to disciples this self-same goal as has been pointed out by me to my disciples.”


“However, disciples, it may be that (after my passing away) you might think: ‘Gone is the doctrine of our Master. We have no Master more’. But thus you should not think; for the ‘Law’ [or teaching] (Dhamma) and the ‘Discipline’ (Vinaya) which I have taught you, will after my death be your Master.” The monks were concerned about whom the Buddha would appoint to succeed him. So Venerable Œnanda said: We are waiting to hear from you with regard to appointing some person. So the Buddha said: I am not appointing any person because I have no attachment to anything at all, to my Sa~gha or whatever. The Buddha said do not think after I am gone that you do not have a teacher. What I have taught you during these 45 years, the Doctrine and the Discipline, will be your Teacher in the future when I am gone. “The Law and the Discipline which I have taught you will be, after my death, your Master.” That is why, although the Buddha is not existent now according to TheravÈda teachings, we can say we are with the Buddha or we have the Buddha as our teacher because all that he taught for 45 years is recorded in the PÈÄi Canon. So we can say that we are with the Buddha.

     “The Law be your isle

      The Law be your refuge!

      Look for no other refuge!”


“Therefore disciples, the doctrine which I taught you after having penetrated them myself, you should well preserve, well guard, so that this Holy Life may take its course and continue for ages, for the weal and welfare of the many, as a consolation to the world, for the happiness, weal and welfare of heavenly beings and men.”

                            SÈdhu!           SÈdhu!          SÈdhu!


We have come to the end of this book and I hope that you have a fairly good knowledge of the Four Noble Truths as expounded by the Buddha himself. We should thank the Venerable ©ÈÓatiloka for compiling this very reliable, systematic exposition of the Four Noble Truths. There are lists of Buddhist books, Buddhist literature at the end. You may choose some books from these lists and read them.

[SayÈdaw talked about the next class. I have omitted those remarks.]


OK. I am very glad we were able to finish this book. It took about a year. There were lapses. Thank you.

                           SÈdhu!              SÈdhu!            SÈdhu!