Along the Path
Ajaan Thate Desaransi
from the Thai by
© 1994 The Abbot, Metta Forest Monastery
free distribution only.
You may reprint this work for free distribution.
You may re-format and redistribute this work for use on computers
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provided that you charge no fees for its distribution or use.
Otherwise, all rights reserved.
electronic edition was transcribed from the print edition
in 1994 by Eileen Santer under the auspices of the DharmaNet
Dharma Book Transcription Project, with the kind permission
of the translator.
The little book you are now holding
in your hand grew from the faith and conviction of a Westerner
of Jewish extraction, named Dr. Philip, who came to study
Buddhism in Thailand in 1963, when I was staying on Phuket
Island. He practiced meditation with me for a full six months
and seemed to develop not only peace of mind but also a great
appreciation for Buddhism's worth. Before returning to Hawaii,
he asked me to jot down a few short, simple points for him
to take and continue practicing, so I wrote down ten points.
Afterwards, I learned that he had had them printed abroad
in a periodical whose name slips my mind at the moment.
The thought has occurred to me that
this little book might be of use to those who are interested
in practicing meditation, as it is small, easy to carry and
read through quickly without taxing the brain. So I have edited
it, polishing the style and adding more points -- in particular,
point 11 and onwards (i.e., how to deal
with visions and signs in meditation) -- in order to make
the book more complete, fit to be a guide to the practice
of meditation: showing the worth of meditation, the way to
meditate, which ways of meditation are right, which are wrong,
and in detail how to correct those things that should be corrected
in the practice. I hope this little book will be of use to
those who are interested.
A basic tenet of the Buddha's teachings
is that the mind and body work together, but that the body
lies under the control of the mind. The mind is what orders
the body to do this or that activity, but when the body wears
down, the mind is of necessity put to some hardship as well.
It doesn't lie under the control of the nervous system, although
the brain can be regarded as a central office. When the body
dies, disintegrating in line with the nature of its various
elements, the mind -- if the necessary conditions of unawareness,
craving, attachment, and kamma are still present -- will have
to reappear in this or that plane of existence and to continue
experiencing suffering and stress.
order to do away with unawareness, craving, attachment, and
kamma -- which are the chief instigators -- we must first
of all practice abandoning the elementary evils of word and
deed by observing the principles of morality corresponding
to our station in life. In other words, lay people should
observe the five precepts and, periodically, the eight precepts;
novices should observe the ten or the twenty precepts; and
monks, all 227 precepts of the basic monastic code, together
with the principles of pure livelihood, restraint of the senses,
and proper use of the requisites of life as formulated by
As long as your precepts aren't being kept pure, your mind
isn't yet ready for training. Even if it is trained, its training
won't lead to progress and development in the Dhamma, for
its foundations aren't yet firm enough to advance along the
Noble Path -- and we can say that it hasn't yet reached the
refuge of the Triple Gem (ti-ratana). A true Buddhist must
before all else be firmly based in the Triple Gem and the
principles of morality.
The Noble Eightfold Path and the three teachings at the heart
of Buddhism -- the avoidance of all evil, the perfection of
skillfulness, and the purification the heart -- have to be
established first on the principles of morality. This is why,
for the Buddha's teachings, morality forms the beginning of
the religious life.
The next step is to train the mind to develop concentration
(samadhi) and absorption (jhana) through the practice of tranquillity
meditation. Once the mind is adept at maintaining a steady
focus, we can then develop clear insight (vipassana) based
on an understanding of the Three Characteristics of inconstancy,
stress, and not-self. This will lead us to pure knowledge
and vision of things as they actually are, and thus to release
from all things detrimental and defiling.
For Buddhism, the true aim in developing
concentration and absorption is to gather one's mental energies
and make them steady and strong in a single point. This then
forms the basis for the knowledge and discernment capable
of gaining true insight into all conditions of nature and
eliminating all that is detrimental and defiling from the
heart. Thus, stillness of mind is developed not simply for
other, external purposes, such as the various fields of science.
Instead, it's meant specifically for use in cleansing the
heart of such defilements as the five Hindrances (nivarana).
But when you have practiced to the point of proficiency, you
can use your stillness of mind in any way you like, as long
as that use isn't detrimental to yourself or to others.
training the mind -- which is a mental phenomenon -- material
objects such as chains and leashes are of no use. The mind
has to be trained by tutoring it, first by listening to the
explanations of those who are already skilled, and then by
being determined to practice in line with those explanations,
basing your initial efforts on a sense of trust and conviction
if your own independent explorations into cause and effect
By and large, people who start out by exploring cause and
effect on their own don't reach their desired goal because
they lack the proper approach. They miss the true path, tending
instead to be biased in favor of their own opinions. To develop
first a sense of trust in the individual giving the training
and in the practices in which one is being trained until the
mind is firm and unwavering, and then to begin exploring and
figuring things out, in line with the way they really are:
This is what will give satisfactory results.
This is because any beginning exploration of cause and effect
is usually a matter of looking at things from the outside,
following external influences -- i.e., "This person says that...
That person says this." But to investigate and explore cause
and effect exclusively within the bounds of the body -- i.e.,
"What is this body of mine made of? How does it come about
so that its parts are complete and able to perform their functions
well? What is it to be used for? What keeps it going? Is its
fate to develop or to deteriorate? Is it really mine?" --
and then, going on to mental phenomena -- "Do greed, anger,
delusion, love, hatred, and so forth, arise at the body or
at the mind? What do they come from? When they arise, are
they pleasant or stressful?" -- to reason and explore things
strictly internally in this way is, in and of itself, training
But if your stillness of mind isn't yet strong enough, don't
go reasoning in line with the books you may have read or the
things you may have heard other people say, because even though
you may think things through, it won't lead you to the truth.
In other words, it won't lead you to a sense of dispassion
and detachment. So instead, explore and investigate things
in line with the causes and effects that actually arise from
the mind in the present.
mind investigating and figuring things out in line with its
own personal reasonings in this way will tend to focus exclusively
on examining a single spot in a single object. This is called
one-pointed concentration. This is a gathering of the mind's
energies so that they have great strength, able to uproot
attachments -- mistaken assumptions -- and to cleanse the
mind so that it is, for the moment, bright and clear. At the
very least, you will experience peace -- an extreme sense
of well-being in body and mind -- and perhaps knowledge of
one sort or another: knowledge of a strange and striking sort,
for it arises, not from mental imaginings, but from the causes
and effects of the truth acting in the present, in a way that
has never happened before. Even if it is knowledge of something
you may have suspected all along, only now is it your own,
making your mind bright, driving away all doubt and uncertainty
about matters that may have been occupying your thoughts.
You will say to yourself with a sense of deep satisfaction
and relief, "So that's how it is!"
Those whose sensitivities are dull, though, won't be convinced
and delighted with their knowledge until someone else confirms
it or they see teachings of the Buddha in books bearing witness
to what they have learned. This is in line with the fact that
the Buddha's followers are of various sorts.
This type of knowledge -- no matter how much or how wide-ranging
it is -- won't weigh on your nerves. On the contrary, it's
a form of calm and true well-being that will greatly brighten
and refresh your nerves. At the same time, it will refine
your mind and manners in a way that will be very inspiring
to others. Whatever you say or do, you will do mindfully,
with hardly any careless lapses. Once this happens to you,
you should then try to maintain all these traits and not grow
careless or complacent.
These are all individual matters and won't occur in every
case. But at any rate, when you have trained the mind as explained
above, even if you don't gain the results in full measure,
you will still experience a striking sense of peace and well-being
in proportion to the extent of your own individual practice.
You should then try to maintain this mental state. Don't let
feelings of greed or desire, disappointment or dejection arise.
Keep the mind neutral and continue practicing as I have explained
from the beginning, with a sense of trust and conviction.
Be mindful, careful, and observant at every stage of your
practice, and you will then meet with the results you hope
training the mind in line with points 4 and
5 doesn't produce results, then gather your
awareness and focus it firmly with a single object or mental
image as its target. For example, focus on an aspect of the
body -- the bones or one of its internal organs -- so as to
see its objectionable nature. Or you may simply focus the
mind on bare awareness itself -- for the mind is something
that can't be seen with the physical eyes. If it isn't focused
on a single spot, you won't know whether or not it's present.
The mind is like the wind: If the wind doesn't come into contact
with anything, you won't know whether or not it's there.
So it is with the mind. If a new trainee doesn't have a target
for the mind, he or she won't really be able to catch hold
of the mind. But please don't choose anything outside of the
body as your target. Make your target -- i.e., the object
of the mind -- an aspect of the body, as already mentioned.
And when you take aim, focus on a single object which seems
right for you. Don't be greedy, first taking some of this
and then a little of that.
In focusing, examine the object in line with the principles
of the foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana). In other
words, sort out the body's various aspects until you can see,
"This isn't me. This isn't myself."
There are two ways of doing the focused examination that prompts
When focused exclusively on the target, don't give any thought
to what the target is or who is focusing. Let there simply
be awareness and the act of focusing. Don't let there be any
naming or labeling of anything at all. There will simply be
the single sensation that makes you feel that you are sticking
with the target, but don't think about what the target is.
When focused exclusively on the target, at the same time
keep yourself aware that, "This is the target of the mind.
This is the mind examining. This is mindfulness, i.e., the
act of remembering to keep the target in mind. This is discernment,
which sees into the truth of the object under consideration."
Both methods work, although method (a) is suited for beginners
and those whose sensitivities are not yet developed, while
method (b) is suited for those who are sensitive and experienced.
Both methods, though, if you practice them diligently, give
rise to the same results, namely concentration and discernment.
training the mind as explained above, no matter which method
you choose, please don't let yourself wonder about whether
or not you're going to attain concentration and discernment.
And put aside all desires based on the various rumors and
reports that get passed around by word of mouth. Just follow
correctly the method mentioned in point 6,
and you'll be doing fine.
At the same time, observe the approach you've taken to see
how you brought the mind to the object, how you maintained
mindfulness, and what happened to the mind as a result. If
acting in that particular manner made the mind open and bright,
keep at it until you're adept and able to do it all the time.
But if the results weren't like that, i.e., just the opposite,
then without delay use your powers of observation, in the
way already mentioned, to make adjustments and corrections.
In observing how the mind behaves under training, some people
will be able to observe their state of mind while the mind
is still in that state; others, only after the mind has withdrawn
from that state and stopped still for a moment. Both ways
work. They are simply a matter of individual temperament.
But if you don't use your powers of observation at all, progress
in mental training will be hard to achieve and -- even if
you do happen to achieve it -- hard to maintain.
you are training the mind, one thing -- strange and striking
-- may occur without your intending it. That is, the mind
will withdraw from its external objects and gather into a
single whole, letting go of all labels and attachments dealing
with past or future. There will be just bare awareness paired
with its preoccupation in the present. This is something with
no sense of "inside" or "outside" -- a condition whose features
are peculiar to the mind itself. It is as if everything has
undergone a revolution.
This is the mind coming to its own level: the bhavanga. In
this moment, everything has reference only to the mind. Even
though life may still be going on, the mind when it reaches
this level lets go of all attachments to the body, and goes
inward to experience nothing but its own object, all by itself.
This is termed bhava-citta, the mind on its own level. The
mind on its own level still has a refined version of the five
khandhas complete within it, and so can still experience birth
and states of becoming, and give rise to continued births
in the future.
Reaching this state is somewhat like dozing off and dreaming.
The difference depends on how much alertness there is. Those
who are collected and perceptive will -- when the event first
occurs -- be aware of what is happening and what they are
experiencing, and so won't get excited or upset. Those who
are gullible and not very mindful, though, will be just like
a person who dozes off and dreams. When they come to, they
will tend to be startled or get misled by the visions they
may happen to see. But when they have trained themselves until
they are skilled at giving rise to this state often, their
sense of mindfulness will improve and their various visions
will go away. Gradually they will gain insight until they
see into natural conditions as they actually are.
phenomenon discussed in point 8 -- even though
it doesn't give rise to discernment capable of exploring into
the patterns of cause and effect in a wide-ranging way --
is still a preliminary stage in training the mind. It can
suppress the five Hindrances and at the same time give rise
to a sense of peace and well-being in the present. If it is
properly developed so that it doesn't deteriorate, it will
lead to a good rebirth in the future, in line with one's karmic
Incidentally, when visions and signs of various sorts appear,
it's usually in the mental moment we are discussing here.
But this doesn't mean that when the mind reaches this stage
there will have to be visions or signs in every case. With
some people and at some times, they will occur. With others
and at other times, they won't. This is another matter of
individual temperament -- and of other factors as well.
To be perfectly truthful, when it comes to the question of
visions and signs that arise in the course of meditation,
you can say that they're good only in the case of meditators
who are quick-witted and astute enough to see through them;
who -- when they see visions -- don't fall for them or latch
onto them as being the self or as really belonging to themselves.
They see the visions simply as visions, enough to use them
as tools or a temporary dwelling place for the mind, and then
let them go.
As for people who aren't especially mindful or alert -- and
who are gullible to boot -- when a vision arises they will
get extremely excited and may even become so deluded as to
lose touch with reality because they believe the vision to
something real and true. (I will discuss how to deal with
visions and signs in point 11, below.)
In addition, people who have trained their minds to this stage
are usually stubborn and bull-headed in their opinions, due
to their strength of mind. When they think about something,
they tend to see it from one side only. They won't easily
give any heed to the opinions of others, because they believe
that their own opinions are perfectly reasonable and trustworthy
-- even though their opinions are actually self-serving and
very much lacking in reason, and can easily pervert the way
they see things.
But at any rate, whether or not visions and signs arise, they're
not really what you want here, because aside from being defilements,
clouding your discernment, they are also obstacles to the
development of clear insight. The aim of training the mind
is to let go of the five Hindrances and then to examine the
khandhas so that they become clear, to see them as they actually
are to the point where you grow disenchanted with them, loosen
your passion and fascination with them, and let them go, never
to enter into and take hold of them again.
you have trained the mind to be firmly enough established
in absorption and concentration to suppress the five Hindrances,
then you should work at developing clear insight. Actually,
clear insight may arise at the same time you are working on
tranquillity. In other words, discernment may brighten so
as to know and see clearly the truth that all conditioned
things (sankhara) that arise are bound to disintegrate and
pass away. They can't last. They aren't "me" or "myself,"
but are simply natural conditions acting on their own.
When this sort of knowledge arises, it will make the mind
become disenchanted and dispassionate towards to all conditioned
things. The mind will dwell entirely in a state of matured
and chastened dispassion, no matter what it sees or hears,
and no matter where. This is called clear insight occurring
together with tranquillity.
If, however, insight doesn't arise in this way, then when
you have practiced tranquillity meditation until the mind
is firmly established, then you can select either a part of
the body -- such as the bones or the intestines -- or else
a topic that's occupying your thoughts at the moment, and
examine it so as to see that all the things which the mind
fastens onto as stable and real, as leading to true happiness,
actually fall under the sway of the Three Characteristics.
The way we assume things, saying, "This is this, and that
is that," in line with our imaginings, is not in any way true.
All conditioned things simply arise from their causes: unawareness,
craving, attachment, and kamma. When their causes are exhausted,
they disband of their own accord. No one forces them to disband.
Even the body we are living in is able to survive only in
dependence on causes, such as breath and food. When these
things are exhausted, the body has no meaning at all.
you examine things in this way, using the power of a fully
concentrated mind, you will reach the goal of the mind's training.
The light of discernment will arise, complete with the insight
into cause and effect you have discovered totally on your
own. This is something that arises not from appropriating
labels or theories remembered from other people, but from
realizing the causes and effects entirely within your own
heart. The mind will never again be deluded into becoming
attached, passionate, pleased, or displeased with any conditioned
thing at all.
Incidentally, we can say that if the mind hasn't truly and
clearly seen into the object of its meditation, then it hasn't
really yet gathered itself together and settled down. But
the reason why the training of the mind isn't called insight
meditation before this point is because discernment is still
weak in terms of cause and effect, and lacks circumspection.
To summarize: The purification of our words and deeds has
to begin with training in moral virtue. The purification of
the mind has to begin with training in tranquillity -- concentration
and absorption -- until the mind has enough strength to suppress
the five Hindrances. When the mind is adept at concentration
and absorption, able to enter, withdraw, and stay in place
at will, then discernment -- the light of knowledge seeing
into the truth of all natural conditions (sabhava dhamma),
together with the causes for their arising and passing away
-- will arise in a remarkable way.
This sort of knowledge may arise only to certain individuals
in certain circumstances. But in any case, those who have
trained their minds to this level should realize that a mind
that has reached this point is fit to be trained to give rise
to clear insight. They should thus take any aspect of the
body or any mental phenomenon that occupies their thoughts,
and examine it from the standpoint of the Three Characteristics,
as explained above. Then they too will develop the light of
insight, seeing clearly into all conditioned things -- and
be able to uproot attachments to physical and mental phenomena
of every sort.
though the mind is intangible, it has influence over the body
and all things in the world. It is capable of bringing everything
in the world under its power. Still, it isn't so vicious or
savage as to lack all sense of good and evil. When a person
of good intentions trains the mind to enter correctly into
the path of the Buddha's teachings as explained above, it
will be tractable and quick to learn, developing the wisdom
to bring the body, which may be behaving without any principles,
back into line. In addition, it can cleanse itself to be bright
and clean, free from defilements, able to realize by itself
truths that are subtle and profound, and to bring dazzling
light into this world so dark with blindness.
This is because the true substance of the mind has been, from
the very beginning, something bright and clear. But because
of the preoccupations that have seeped into it and clouded
it, the brightness of the mind has been temporarily darkened,
making the world dark as well. If the mind were originally
dark, there probably wouldn't be anyone able to cleanse it
to the point where it could give rise to the light of discernment
whether the world is to be dark or bright, whether it is to
experience well-being or suffering, depends on the mind of
each individual. We as individuals should thus first train
our own minds well, and then train the minds of others. The
world will then be free from turmoil.
visions and signs that arise from the practice of meditation
are a strange and uncanny affair. They may delude a gullible
person of weak judgment into being so convinced of their truth
as to lose touch with reality. For this reason, those who
practice meditation should be cautious, examining and reflecting
on them carefully, as I will now explain.
The signs arising from meditation are of two sorts: visions
Visions: Sometimes, when the mind gathers itself into its
own level while we are considering our own body to see its
unattractiveness, we will see the body as completely foul
and decomposing, or as nothing more than a skeleton or a pile
of ashes, etc. There are cases where this has caused people
to become so repelled that they commit suicide.
In other cases, visions of divine beings or of hell and
hungry shades may sometimes appear.
As for signs: When the mind gathers, as already mentioned,
a whispering voice may appear. It may be the voice of a
person we respect, telling us to examine a particular truth,
or to beware of a coming event; or else it may be the voice
of an enemy who means to harm us, appearing to us just before
he/she will come to do us harm -- which shows how the mental
currents of different individuals impinge on one another.
On the other hand, the same sort of thing may occur involving
a person who means us well. Sometimes an unidentified voice
may come to tell a truth that's thought-provoking and worthy
of consideration, which meditators in general call the teachings
and warnings of the Dhamma, or abhiñña.
not the case that visions and signs will occur to all meditators.
With some people, no matter how refined a level their minds
attain, visions and signs won't appear. With others, the mind
may gather in a flash for a brief moment, and all sorts of
visions and signs will appear. (Be careful not to concoct
too many, though.) This depends on the individual's temperament.
With people who are gullible and don't give much thought to
what is reasonable, visions and signs tend to occur quickly
and grow all out of bounds, to the point where they can lose
their bearings. So treat them with caution.
Are visions and signs true?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no, because they arise exclusively
from jhana, and jhana is a mundane phenomenon -- and thus
undependable. That is to say, they arise to a person practicing
meditation whose mind gathers into the bhavanga without knowing
what level it has reached or how it focused on, examined,
and put down its object. Visions and signs, whether or not
they arise intentionally, are composed of a great deal of
mental concocting and attachment, and are therefore unreliable
-- because the visions and signs arising when the mind is
in the bhavanga are like the dreams of a person who lies down
to sleep or simply dozes off. By and large, when they first
occur, there tends to be some truth to them, but not much.
Is jhana mundane or transcendent?
Jhana has only twelve or thirteen component factors, and they
are entirely mundane. But if the person entering jhana is
a Noble One using it as a tool or a dwelling place for the
mind, then he or she will be able to use this mundane jhana
at will, and dependably as well -- like an expert sharpshooter
as opposed to a person just learning how to shoot; or like
a king, whose sword is part of his regalia, as opposed to
a commoner, whose sword is just a sword.
Are visions and signs a good thing?
Only for a person who knows how to make use of them in the
proper way, without being taken in by them or attached to
them. They aren't good for a person who doesn't know how to
use them properly, who gets taken in by them, believing them
to be true. Once attachment latches on, the act of mental
concoction can make these visions and signs proliferate to
the point where a meditator may lose control over his or her
sense of reality. So they should be treated with caution and
care, as I will now explain.
Visions and signs arise from the power of mundane jhana and
are sustained by attachment and mental concocting. They thus
fall under the Three Characteristics: They're inconstant --
they can't last; they're stressful; and they're not-self --
i.e., they aren't yours or anyone else's. They are conditions
that do nothing but constantly arise and fall away in their
own way at all times. Examine them to see their true nature
in this way and then let them go. Don't be deluded into latching
onto visions and signs, which are the results. Instead, work
at the cause, jhana, so that you become more and more adept
to the point where you can attain it at will. The visions
and signs will then take care of themselves.
Also, learn to see the drawbacks of visions and signs. Once
they arise and we get fooled into latching onto them, they
will cause our jhana to deteriorate, just as sound waves are
an obstacle to a person trying to quiet the mind and explore
phenomena that are subtle and deep, or as waves in clear water
prevent us from seeing our reflection on the water's surface.
visions and signs that appear to a meditator just beginning
to attain jhana tend to be extraordinary and amazing. The
acts of mental grasping and concocting will tend to fasten
tightly to them, and they will be indelibly impressed on one's
inner eye. If the above methods for curing and removing these
visions and signs don't produce results, then try not to have
the mind enter jhana. In other words, don't put your mind
to it, don't let the mind be still, don't take a liking to
the visions or signs. Sleep and eat as much as you like, perform
heavy tasks until the body is very tired, think of objects
that will give rise to defilements, such as beautiful sights
or sounds that will give rise to desire -- and once the mind
withdraws from its absorption, the visions and signs will
disappear of their own accord.
If the student meditator can't solve the problem with these
methods, then the teacher should try to help by using the
same sort of approach. The quickest and most effective way
is to find an issue that will provoke the person attached
to visions and signs to extreme anger. The visions and signs
will immediately disappear.
The basis for giving rise to knowledge into the Dhamma is
threshold concentration (upacara samadhi), which is of two
As a meditator is working with a particular object of meditation,
the mind will gradually withdraw from external preoccupations
and gather into one spot, right at the mind itself, but without
being completely cut off from all objects. It is still sensing,
thinking, and considering, trying to withdraw from its very
refined object, but as yet unable to let go completely. This
is threshold concentration before reaching fixed penetration
Both sorts of threshold concentration can form a good basis
for insight into particular truths and various events, which
is different from the knowledge arising from the visions and
signs mentioned above, because visions and signs arise from
mundane jhana, whereas the knowledge we are discussing
here, even though it arises from mundane concentration, gives
more dependable results. (Scientists use this level in doing
their research.) And if your concentration becomes transcendent,
it will do away, step by step, with all the effluents (asava)
of the mind.
The mind becomes more and more refined until it is able
to let go and withdraw from the object it is considering,
so that the object disappears. This is called fixed penetration.
There is full mindfulness and alertness to a sense of emptiness,
not grasping after or fastening onto anything at all, simply
partaking of its own exclusive object. When the mind comes
out of this state and is again considering the Dhamma --
objects, cause and effect -- this is threshold concentration
coming out of fixed penetration.
In short, the knowledge arising from visions and signs, and
the knowledge arising from threshold concentration, differ
in terms both of origin and of quality.
An item deserving a little more explanation here is the term
fixed penetration (appana samadhi). Fixed penetration is a
superior human attainment. By and large, people who reach
fixed penetration tend to focus on the in-and-out breath (anapana)
as their object of meditation. As they focus on the breath
and come to pay attention to its arising and falling away,
or just to its falling away, the mind gradually becomes more
and more refined until, step by step, it lets go of all its
preoccupations and gathers together to become fixed, as explained
above. The stilling of the in-and-out breath is what indicates
fixed penetration. In some instances it is called fixed jhana
because it comes from the act of becoming absorbed in the
breath. It is called fixed concentration because even though
there is no in-and-out breath when the mind reaches that point,
mindfulness is still absolutely full.
When you're in this state you can't examine anything, because
the mind is totally uninvolved with anything at all. Only
when the mind comes out of this state and enters threshold
concentration can you begin examining things again. You will
then see clearly into all the truths that the Buddha said
are to be known, and into other matters as well. There will
be no visions and signs, as mentioned above, but the knowledge
here will be based on cause and effect, complete with analogies
and similes that will utterly erase all doubt.
In some cases, meditators will be considering objects of meditation
other than the in-and-out breath, and yet will still be able
to reach fixed penetration in the same way as those who practice
mindfulness of breathing. When the mind gathers to a point
where there is no more in-and-out breathing, that's fixed
This, at any rate, is my opinion on the matter. Meditators
shouldn't take my opinion as their criterion, because the
thoughts and opinions of people in this world -- even when
we see the same things under the same conditions in the same
place -- can formulate different names for, and reach different
understandings about, those same things, and thus give rise
to endless disputes and arguments. Simply let us all work
with our own objects of meditation so as to reach fixed penetration
as discussed above and then -- with a fair mind free from
bias -- compare what we experience with what has been formulated
in the various texts. Our knowledge will then be paccattam
-- arising exclusively from within ourselves. That is what
I would like to see in this regard.
transcendent phenomena are rooted in mundane phenomena. The
37 Wings to Awakening (bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma), which
are classified entirely as transcendent, have to begin first
with mental and physical phenomena, i.e., this mundane body
Visions, signs, and the knowledge resulting from jhana are
obstacles to the one-eyed -- those who are simply developing
jhana -- but can provoke insight for those with two eyes,
i.e., those who are developing discernment along with concentration.
Every sword and ax is made with both a sharp and a dull edge,
each with its own different uses, but a person who confuses
those uses, aside from getting nowhere with the sword or ax,
may actually harm himself or the work he is doing. Insight
and the defilements of insight come from one and the same
basis. When people without discernment consider things wrongly,
they will give rise to the defilements of insight; but when
they consider things rightly, using the proper approach, the
same things will become true insight.
Mundane phenomena -- when we clearly see and know them and
their causes for what they are, and when seeing their drawbacks
we grow disenchanted with them, not being deluded into latching
onto them -- then turn into Dhamma. But when we get taken
in by them and are unwilling to let them go... It's not the
case that the world will stay the way it is forever. The world
of the Brahmas may degenerate into the world of the Devas;
the world of the Devas, into the human world; the human world,
into the lower realms. Just as liquids tend to seek out low-lying
places, so it is easy for the minds of living beings to seek
out what's low -- namely, evil.
Even though the practice of meditation is a self-revolution,
you must be willing to risk your life. At the very least,
if you don't succeed, you should threaten yourself with self-exile.
Those who don't make such a vow can look forward only to being
a slave to others -- the defilements -- throughout time.
Intuitive powers that come from the practice of concentration.
Mental effluent; fermentation; defilement in its role of giving
rise to the flood of the cycle of rebirth. There are four
sorts: sensuality, becoming, views, and unawareness.
The mind's underlying preoccupation or resting state, which
determines its state of being and to which it reverts in between
its responses to stimuli.
"Wings to Awakening"; principles conducive to enlightenment.
There are 37 in all, and they constitute the Buddha's own
summary of the essential points of his teachings: four foundations
of mindfulness, four right exertions, four bases for achievement,
five strengths, five faculties, seven factors for Awakening,
and the Noble Eightfold Path.
An inhabitant of the heavens of form and formlessness.
An inhabitant of the heavens of sensual bliss.
Phenomenon; event; things as they are in and of themselves;
the right natural order of things. By extension, Dhamma is
used also to refer to any doctrine that teaches such matters.
Meditative absorption in a single sensation or mental notion.
Intentional acts leading to states of becoming and birth.
Heap, aggregate, group; the component factors of the personality,
and of sensory experience in general -- physical phenomena,
feelings, mental labels, thought-formations (see sankhara),
Hindrance to concentration -- sensual desire, ill will, torpor
& lethargy, restlessness & anxiety, and uncertainty.
dhamma: Natural condition; phenomenon; qualities
and events as they are directly experienced in and of themselves.
Concentration; the act of centering the mind in a single object
Conditioned phenomenon; fabrication; fashioning. This term
covers all things, physical or mental, fashioned by causes
or conditions, as well as the forces fashioning them and the
processes by which they are fashioned.
Foundation of mindfulness; frame of reference. The contemplation
of body, feelings, mind, and mental events as they are in
and of themselves.
The triple Gem -- the Buddha, the Dhamma (his teachings, their
practice and the realization of liberation at which they are
aimed), and the Sangha (those of his followers who have gained
at least a glimpse of that liberation). To take refuge in
the Triple Gem means to take them as guide in one's pursuit
of happiness and to give rise to their qualities in one's
life and heart.
Clear insight into things as they actually are, seeing them
in terms of the characteristics of inconstancy, stress and