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Four Cultivations of Samādhi: A Parallel to AN 4.41 Quoted in the Abhidharma Dharmaskandha

In the process of researching parallels to the four similes found in MN 119/MĀ 81 (the Mindfulness of the Body Sutra), I happened upon a quotation in the Sarvâstivāda’s Abhidharma Dharmaskandha that’s a direct parallel to AN 4.41. Below is a translation and comparison of the two texts.

To give some background on the source of this quotation, the Abhidharma Dharmaskandha (English: “A Heap of Teachings”) is one of the seven canonical Abhidharma texts of the Sarvâstivāda, as translated to Chinese by Xuanzang during the 7th c. AD. It covers similar topics as the Theravada’s Vibhaṅga, but its format is sutra commentary. Each chapter opens with a quotation of a sutra that the author considered definitive to the topic to the treated, and then a detailed commentary follows the quotation. This makes it an important source for finding Sarvâstivāda sutra parallels since some of these quotations seem to be drawn from their Ekôttarika Āgama, which has since been lost. Not to mention that Xuanzang’s translations from Sanskrit are much more precise than the earlier Chinese Āgama translations. The Dharmaskandha is also valuable as an alternative source of exegesis given that it focuses on interpreting sutra quotations.

The present quotation (T1537.489b1-c4) opens Chapter 14 of the Dharmaskandha, titled “Cultivating Samādhi.” Not only is it a direct parallel with AN 4.41, but it also contains two parallel passages with MN 119/MĀ 81. As we shall see, the relationship between MN 119 and AN 4.41 is not clear because the Pali version appears to have replaced the passage with the standard formulas for all four jhānas. But the first two items of these four cultivations appear in MĀ 81, and the “steeped and filled” language has been retained in MN 119.

Aside from this, the concluding verses in these two versions are quite different, and I can’t help but feel that AN 4.41’s quoting other suttas by title is an indication of a later redaction of the text. The third obvious difference is that—true to form—the Sanskrit Sarvâstivāda version is more verbose with clarifying synonyms added throughout.

AN 4.41 (Pali/Sujato) T1537 (Xuanzang/Patton)
一時薄伽梵在室羅筏,住逝多林給孤獨園。
One time, the Bhagavān was in Rājagṛha residing in Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park of Jeta’s Grove.
“Catasso imā, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā. Katamā catasso? Atthi, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā diṭṭhadhammasukhavihārāya saṁvattati; atthi, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā ñāṇadassanappaṭilābhāya saṁvattati; atthi, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā satisampajaññāya saṁvattati; atthi, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā āsavānaṁ khayāya saṁvattati. 爾時世尊告苾芻眾:「有四修定。何等為四?謂有修定,若習若修、若多所作,能令證得現法樂住。復有修定,若習若修、若多所作,能令證得殊勝智見。復有修定,若習若修、若多所作,能令證得勝分別慧。復有修定,若習若修、若多所作,能令證得諸漏永盡。
“Mendicants, there are these four ways of developing immersion further. What four? There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to blissful meditation in the present life. There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to gaining knowledge and vision. There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to mindfulness and awareness. There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to the ending of defilements. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the assembly of monks, “There are four cultivations of samādhi. What are the four? (1) There is the cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times. It can lead to realization of an abode of happiness in the present life. (2) There’s another cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times. It can lead to realization of the highest knowledge and vision. (3) There’s another cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times. It can lead to realization of supreme discernment and wisdom. (4) There’s another cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times. It can lead to realization of the eternal ending of the contaminants.
Katamā ca, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā diṭṭhadhammasukhavihārāya saṁvattati? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi …pe… catutthaṁ jhānaṁ upasampajja viharati. Ayaṁ, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā diṭṭhadhammasukhavihārāya saṁvattati. 云何修定,若習若修若多所作,能令證得現法樂住?謂有苾芻,即於自身離生喜樂,滋潤遍滋潤、充滿遍充滿、適悅遍適悅故,離生喜樂於自身中無有少分而不充滿,是名修定若習若修若多所作能令證得現法樂住。
And what is the way of developing immersion further that leads to blissful meditation in the present life? It’s when a mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption … second absorption … third absorption … fourth absorption. This is the way of developing immersion further that leads to blissful meditation in the present life. “What’s the cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times, which can lead to realization of an abode of happiness in the present life? Here, a monk’s seclusion gives rise to joy and happiness that suffuses, thoroughly suffuses, fills up, thoroughly fills up, delights, and thoroughly delights his own body. There isn’t the slightest bit of his own body that isn’t filled with the joy and happiness that arises from seclusion. This is called cultivating samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times. It can lead to realization of an abode of happiness in the present life.
Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ālokasaññaṁ manasi karoti, divāsaññaṁ adhiṭṭhāti—yathā divā tathā rattiṁ, yathā rattiṁ tathā divā. Iti vivaṭena cetasā apariyonaddhena sappabhāsaṁ cittaṁ bhāveti. Ayaṁ, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā ñāṇadassanappaṭilābhāya saṁvattati. 云何修定,若習若修若多所作,能令證得殊勝智見?謂有苾芻,於光明想善攝受、善思惟、善修習、善通達,若晝若夜無有差別、若前若後無有差別、若下若上無有差別,開心離蓋,修照俱心、除闇昧心,修無量定,是名修定若習若修若多所作能令證得殊勝智見。
And what is the way of developing immersion further that leads to gaining knowledge and vision? It’s when a mendicant focuses on the perception of light, concentrating on the perception of day, regardless of whether it’s night or day. And so, with an open and unenveloped heart, they develop a mind that’s full of radiance. This is the way of developing immersion further that leads to gaining knowledge and vision. “What’s the cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times, which can lead to realization of the highest knowledge and vision? Here, a monk well acquires, well considers, well cultivates, and well comprehends a perception of light. It makes no difference whether it’s day or night. It makes no difference if it’s in front or behind him. It makes no difference if its below or above him. With open mind free of the hindrances, he cultivates the thought of illumination and the thought of eliminating darkness. Cultivating this measureless samādhi is called the cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times, which can lead to realization of the highest knowledge and vision.
Katamā ca, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā ñāṇadassanappaṭilābhāya saṁvattati?Katamā ca, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā satisampajaññāya saṁvattati? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno viditā vedanā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṁ gacchanti; viditā saññā …pe… viditā vitakkā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṁ gacchanti. Ayaṁ, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā satisampajaññāya saṁvattati. 云何修定,若習若修若多所作,能令證得勝分別慧?謂有苾芻,善知受生、善知受住、善知受滅盡沒,於此住念非不住念,及善知想、善知尋,於此住念非不住念,是名修定若習若修若多所作能令證得勝分別慧。
And what is the way of developing immersion further that leads to mindfulness and awareness? It’s when a mendicant knows feelings as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. They know perceptions as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. They know thoughts as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. This is the way of developing immersion further that leads to mindfulness and awareness. “What’s the cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times, which can lead to realization of supreme discernment and wisdom? Here, a monk well knows feeling that arises, well knows feeling that remains, well knows feeling that ceases and disappears. He abides mindfully as he does; he doesn’t abide unmindfully. He also well knows perception … well knows thought … He abides mindfully as he does; he doesn’t abide unmindfully. This is called the cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times, which can lead to realization of supreme discernment and wisdom.
Katamā ca, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā āsavānaṁ khayāya saṁvattati? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu udayabbayānupassī viharati: ‘iti rūpaṁ, iti rūpassa samudayo, iti rūpassa atthaṅgamo; iti vedanā, iti vedanāya samudayo, iti vedanāya atthaṅgamo; iti saññā, iti saññāya samudayo, iti saññāya atthaṅgamo; iti saṅkhārā, iti saṅkhārānaṁ samudayo, iti saṅkhārānaṁ atthaṅgamo; iti viññāṇaṁ, iti viññāṇassa samudayo, iti viññāṇassa atthaṅgamo’ti. Ayaṁ, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā āsavānaṁ khayāya saṁvattati. 云何修定,若習若修若多所作,能令證得諸漏永盡?謂有苾芻,於五取蘊數數隨觀生滅而住,謂此是色、此是色集、此是色滅,此是受想行識、此是受想行識集、此是受想行識滅,是名修定若習若修若多所作能令證得諸漏永盡。」
And what is the way of developing immersion further that leads to the ending of defilements? It’s when a mendicant meditates observing rise and fall in the five grasping aggregates. ‘Such is form, such is the origin of form, such is the ending of form. Such is feeling, such is the origin of feeling, such is the ending of feeling. Such is perception, such is the origin of perception, such is the ending of perception. Such are choices, such is the origin of choices, such is the ending of choices. Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness, such is the ending of consciousness.’ This is the way of developing immersion further that leads to the ending of defilements. “What is the cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times, which can lead to realization of the eternal ending of the contaminants? Here, a monk frequently observes the arising, ceasing, and abiding of the five acquired aggregates. That is, ‘This is form,’ ‘This is form’s formation,’ ‘This is form’s cessation,’ ‘This is feeling … perception … volition … consciousness,’ ‘This is feeling … perception … volition … consciousness’s formation,’ ‘This is feeling … perception … volition … consciousness’s cessation.’ This is called the cultivation of samādhi, whether habitual, cultivated, or done many times, which can lead to realization of the eternal ending of the contaminants.”
Imā kho, bhikkhave, catasso samādhibhāvanā. Idañca pana metaṁ, bhikkhave, sandhāya bhāsitaṁ pārāyane puṇṇakapañhe: 爾時世尊為攝前義而說頌言:
These are the four ways of developing immersion further. And it was in this connection that I said in ‘The Way to the Beyond’, in ‘The Questions of Puṇṇaka’: The Bhagavān then summarized his meaning by speaking in verse:
‘Saṅkhāya lokasmiṁ paroparāni, 「斷欲想憂惱,
‘Having assessed the world high and low, “Stopping desirable perceptions and sorrows,
Yassiñjitaṁ natthi kuhiñci loke; 離惛沈惡作,
there is nothing in the world that disturbs them. Free of melancholy and evil doing,
Santo vidhūmo anīgho nirāso, 得清淨捨念,
Peaceful, unclouded, untroubled, with no need for hope, One attains purity, detachment, and mindfulness,
Atāri so jātijaranti brūmī’”ti. 法尋伺前行。
they’ve crossed over rebirth and old age, I declare.’” And Dharma pondering and searching advances.
現法樂為初,
First is the happiness in the present life,
次勝知見慧,
Next is the wisdom of higher knowing and seeing,
破無明等漏,
Destroying the contaminants of ignorance, et al.,
後證解脫果。」
And finally the fruit of liberation is realized.”
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Let me just give you a brief answer.

These are 4 way of describing a forth jhana.

  1. Jhana progression. When you are fully relax (body and mind), these are pleasantly abiding here and now in this life.

2.Aloko here is not light, it is purity or mind that shine brightness 24/7. So you dont just thinking make a light to come into your mind, but when you are pure, you check you dont have the kilesa. Do the kilesa stick in your mind (moha, dosa, lobha)? You know they dont hence the mind is bright like a light 24/7 day and night.

  1. You are fully aware inward on all conducts (think, speak, and act). Whether sit, walk, sleep you are aware on the conducts etc

  2. When you review the pancupadanakhandha, then you reviewing ending of the asava (defilements/outside influences that perceived from senses). You know whether you are free or not.

Hope this help.