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Right concentration


#1

Hi,
I would like to share a view about right concentration.

7.10. RIGHT CONCENTRATION:

7.10.1. Direct definition of concentration:

Concentration is singleness of mind.

MN 44 (Thanissaro - “Now what is concentration, lady, … pursuit of these qualities is its development.”)

confirms that “Singleness of mind is concentration”.

“The Blessed One said: “Now what, monks, is noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions? Any singleness of mind equipped with these seven factors—right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, & right mindfulness—is called noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions”.

MN 117 - Thanissaro

This, once again, confirms that singleness of mind is concentration.

7.10.2. Why concentration?

MN 19 (Thanissaro): “thinking & pondering a long time would tire the body. When the body is tired, the mind is disturbed; and a disturbed mind is far from concentration.’ So I steadied my mind right within, settled, unified, & concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind would not be disturbed.”.

7.10.3. Content of right concentration:

Right concentration is the four jhanas (absorptions) as stated throughout nikayas, for example DN 22 (Thanissaro - “And what is right concentration? … This is called right concentration.”).

7.10.4. Object of concentration:

The object of concentration is four establishings of mindfulness.

MN 44 (Thanissaro - “Now what is concentration, lady, … pursuit of these qualities is its development.”)

confirms that “Singleness of mind is concentration, friend Visākha; the four establishings of mindfulness are its themes;”.

7.10.5. Object of the first jhana:

The first jhana (absorption) is about the four establishings of mindfulness.

MN 125 and MN 107 (Sujato - “In the same way, Aggivessana, a Realized One arises in the world … there is no return to any state of existence.’”)

presents the path to awakening, just like DN 2. In MN 125 and MN 107 (Sujato), the order is: virtue (monastic code), sense restraint, mindfulness and alertness, contentedness, abandoning the hindrances, continued contemplating on four establishings of mindfulness, the second jhana, the third jhana, the fourth jhana, three insight knowledge, release. While the usual order of the path to awakening, as throughout the nikayas, or for example in DN 2, is basically the same but with a little difference: between abandoning the hindrances and the second jhana is the first jhana. Therefore, by comparing these two orders, object of the first jhana is the four establishings of mindfulness.

In addition, MN 125 (Thanissaro 2012, “Chapter one: Mindfulness the Gatekeeper”, Right Mindfulness, p. 31) states that between abandoning five hindrances and the second jhana, there is this section:

“Having abandoned the five hindrances—imperfections of awareness that weaken discernment—the monk remains focused on the body in & of itself—ardent, alert, & mindful—subduing greed & distress with reference to the world.

He remains focused on feelings… mind… mental qualities in & of themselves—ardent, alert, & mindful—subduing greed & distress with reference to the world.

Just as if an elephant trainer were to plant a large post in the ground and were to bind a forest elephant to it by the neck in order to break it of its forest habits, its forest memories & resolves, its distraction, fatigue, & fever over leaving the forest, to make it delight in the town and to inculcate in it habits congenial to human beings;

in the same way, these four establishings of mindfulness are bindings for the awareness of the disciple of the noble ones, to break him of his household habits, his household memories & resolves, his distraction, fatigue, & fever over leaving the household life, for the attainment of the right method and the realization of unbinding.

Then the Tathāgata trains him further: ‘Come, monk, remain focused on the body in & of itself, but do not think any thoughts connected with the body. Remain focused on feelings in & of themselves, but do not think any thoughts connected with feelings. Remain focused on the mind in & of itself, but do not think any thoughts connected with mind. Remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves, but do not think any thoughts connected with mental qualities.’ With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters the second jhāna.”

“Stilling of directed thoughts and evaluations” means the transition from the first jhana to the second jhana. So before that, it has to be the first jhana. This is further strengthened by the usual order of the path to awakening: the first jhana is between abandoning the five hindrances and the second jhana, as stated above. DN 2 stated: “In the same way, when these five hindrances … When he sees that they have been abandoned within him, gladness is born. In one who is gladdened, rapture is born. Enraptured at heart, his body grows calm. His body calm, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated. Quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhāna”. This means that abandoning five hindrances comes before the first jhana, which is featured with rapture, pleasure born of seclusion and before the second jhana, which is featured by concentration.

7.10.6. Object of the second jhana:

The second jhana (absorption) is about the four establishings of mindfulness. As stated throughout the nikayas, for example DN 22 (Thanissaro - “And what is right concentration? … This is called right concentration.”) stated that “With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance.”.

So, concentration is a factor of the second jhana, this, in addition to the fact that the object of concentration is four establishings of mindfulness, means the second jhana is about four establishings of mindfulness.

7.10.7. Object of the third jhana:

The third jhana (absorption) is about the four establishings of mindfulness.

As stated throughout the nikayas, DN 22 (Thanissaro - “With the fading of rapture he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.’”)

confirms the factor of “mindful” in the third jhana. This could mean right mindfulness (missing “right”). Usually, mindfulness in the nikayas means right mindfulness (four establishings of mindfulness, seven factors for awakening, mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, mindfulness immersed in the body). Since the content of right mindfulness is four establishings of mindfulness, so the third jhana is about four establishings of mindfulness.

7.10.8. Object of the fourth jhana:

The fourth jhana (absorption) is about four establishings of mindfulness. Usually, the fourth jhana comes before the three insight knowledge (knowledge of recollecting the meditator’s past lives, knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings, knowledge of the ending of effluents.), stated throughout the nikayas, for example:

“With the abandoning of pleasure & pain—as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress—I entered & remained in the fourth jhāna: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain.

When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives”

MN 4 - Thanissaro

In the second jhana, the mind is concentrated and after the fourth jhana, the mind is also concentrated. So is the mind in the third and fourth jhana. As the object of concentration is four establishings of mindfulness, so the fourth jhana is about four establishings of mindfulness. This is strengthened further because of the factor of mindfulness in the fourth jhana, the content of mindfulness is the four establishings of mindfulness.

7.10.9. Conclusion:

So, all four jhanas, which constitute right concentration, are about the four establishings of mindfulness. This is also backed up by the arising order of the noble eightfold path,

stated in MN 117 (Thanissaro - “Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? In one of right view, right resolve comes into being. … Thus the learner is endowed with eight factors, and the arahant with ten.”):

“In one of right mindfulness, right concentration comes into being”.

The seven factors for awakening connects right mindfulness and right concentration.

Thank you for your patience,
Cheers

For more information: https://goo.gl/rBf3i6


#2

I really enjoyed reading all the above … thank you


#3

Does anyone have advice on how one can realistically develop the jhanas/right concentration in real life?


#4

This is probably one of the most frequent questions, and as such, there is a lot of discussion and resources available on this. You will probably need to do a couple of searches to find the best selection to meet your needs, but here is a beginning :slight_smile:

https://discourse.suttacentral.net/search?q=samma%20samadhi%20%20jhanas%20


#5

:pray::pray::pray: Thank you!! :pray::pray::pray:


#6

Follow one of the specialist jhana teachers such as Leigh Brasington or Ajahn Brahm. It should not be overlooked that tranquillity precedes concentration and is a factor of enlightenment. Developing serenity at any level is a necessary quality on the path because mental restlessness is a component in all unwholesome states and the second last fetter to be eradicated, and serenity from tranquillity to jhana is its opposite.


#7

Thank you!

Good point!


#8

Development of tranquillity is the first exercise in the Anapanasati sutta, MN 118:

" [1] Breathing in long, he discerns, ‘I am breathing in long’; or breathing out long, he discerns, ‘I am breathing out long.’ [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, ‘I am breathing in short’; or breathing out short, he discerns, ‘I am breathing out short.’ [3] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.’[2] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.’ [4] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.’[3] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.’

" [5] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.’ [6] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.’ [7] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.’[4] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.’ [8] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.’

Later in the sutta:

" [5] For one enraptured at heart, the body grows calm and the mind grows calm. When the body & mind of a monk enraptured at heart grow calm, then serenity as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.


#9

This is also aligned with the transcendental dependent origination we find in SN12.33:

Faith is a vital condition for joy.
Joy is a vital condition for rapture.
Rapture is a vital condition for tranquility.
Tranquility is a vital condition for bliss.
Bliss is a vital condition for immersion.
Immersion is a vital condition for truly knowing and seeing.

Truly knowing and seeing is a vital condition for disillusionment.
Disillusionment is a vital condition for dispassion.
Dispassion is a vital condition for freedom.
Freedom is a vital condition for the knowledge of ending.


#10

The causal sequence is also seen in the seven factors of awakening where tranquillity leads to concentration, except in this case the insight group (investigation, energy, joy), precedes the serenity group (tranquillity, concentration, equanimity.) This can be understood as insight preceeding serenity in the seven factors of awakening, or serenity preceeding insight in other cases. In fact the sequence in either form is found in all other major structures including the noble eightfold path and the five spiritual faculties (faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, wisdom.) In all cases mindfulness functions centrally to govern both groups:

“Besides providing the foundation for the other factors, sati is moreover the one awakening factor whose development is beneficial at any time and on all occasions.6 The remaining six factors can be split into two groups of three: investigation-of-dhammas (dhammavicaya), energy (viriya), and joy (pîti) are particularly appropriate when the mind is sluggish and deficient in energy, while tranquillity (passaddhi), concentration (samãdhi), and equanimity (upekkhã) are suitable for those occasions when the mind is excited and over-energetic. ” (SN 46.53)

The contrast in dynamics between the active insight factors and the serenity characteristic shows why development of both is necessary for stability, like firing an arrow where both tranquillity/ concentration and decisive energy are required:

“It is at this point, when the inspired momentum of mindful investigation takes place against a background of tranquil composure, that the mental equipoise needed for the breakthrough to awakening comes about.”—-“Satipatthana,” Analayo.