Samadhi as unified awareness or specific awareness


So I was at a small show last night after doing some meditation and I had nothing to talk about with all the people there. For the meditation I use ajahn Brahms method of relaxing the body, then turning the attention to the breath when the body is sufficiently relaxed and dissolving the external essentially. It wasn’t the most wholesome meditation because I kept becoming foggy, but at the end at least I was relaxed. The relaxation stayed throughout the evening and I couldn’t have conversations with people as I normally would. If I can’t function on all aspects of reality, then I feel as if I’ve blocked out aspects of truth. Therefore I feel Metta and whole body awareness (all the khandas) could be more beneficial for development. How could it be beneficial to stay in levels of specific awareness without recognition of externals? I feel this is the goal of retreats developing samadhi, but shouldn’t that also encompass wisdom and metta equally too? My observation is that shouldnt the result of an all encompassing practice be very similar to our normal awareness? If I can’t have normal conversation, it doesn’t seem wholesome. Is there a conclusion in the suttas that meditation development is dissolving externals and going internally or opening up to experience and becoming more sensitive to externals?


Practising Theravada for insight involves a progressive withdrawal from conventional reality, both mentally and in lifestyle. In terms of wisdom a certain amount of input from CR is necessary as raw material, but only what can be converted and understood as dhamma, otherwise the practitioner will be living in an overwhelmed state, which is not a practice, it is just going with the current of samsara. Samadhi is a tool of wisdom and it also demands withdrawal from CR. Once concentration has been attained then the sign must be protected, the practitioner goes about with eyes downcast and avoids unnecessary contact. Overall there has to be an untangling of the ties with human society and a focus on higher meditation subjects.

“a monk — not attending to the perception of village, not attending to the perception of human being — attends to the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.”—MN 121


What is this?


Conventional reality.


It’s often said that there must be a balance between samadhi, ethics and wisdom, all mediated with metta. Perhaps we all need to work out the best balance at this point in time for ourselves? Like you I have looked down both the gradual and the fast track paths.


Samadhi is supposed to include a unification of the mind, and lead to one-pointedness. This state is helpful in not only generating bliss but also preparing the mind by removing the hindrances and making it more malleable for insight practices. Samadhi isn’t practiced on its own, but with the rest of the N8FP which means Right intention of the intention to renounce the sensual world. This means sustained samadhi is rather incompatible with busy or talkative lifestyles. So how do lay people or busy monastics practice and progress? They can do so by doing a bit of ‘tidying up’ after their samadhi meditation. It’s possible to develop a degree of control. It’s possible to ‘bring down one’s samadhi’ so that you return to your functioning state of mind without being drowsy and be able to carry out work/conversations and so on.


That’s exactly what I’m looking for. At times I just want to be rebellious and keep up the “you look stoned, look as if you’re in a trance, cultish” mindset, but I feel deep down that’s not compassionate. Instances happen all the time like meditating at a nearby school at night by the track and a cop comes by on surveillance, or they just sit in their cars and watch me for a while. After doing these practices, I really just want to spend my non meditative hours promoting PRIVACY PLEASE!!! Also I have that innate, polite anxiety of people in my environment being comfortable and in harmony. Some days I feel like an alien. Also I know those are the perspective of the 3 conceits. I should be like the unmovable earth, water, wind, fire as Rahula was taught, but man it feels so against the world


Agreed. I look forward to further discussion in this thread.

@Mat, can you be a bit more specific, give some suggestions/examples of how this can be done please?


If I may ask, why do you meditate at a school at night?


You don’t have the time to make everyone understand why you do what you do. Growth of your insight and being pleasing in nature perpetually is incompatible. Eventually praise and blame is received equally.

This is within your power?

Well to begin with drowsiness + bliss after meditation is a sign of drowsiness (one of the five hindrances) not being completely removed. It’s difficult to do living a lay life as the mental and physical seclusion required to give rise to samadhi free from the five hindrances isn’t readily available. I usually take about 5 days in a retreat setting to be adequately rested and to overcome the five hindrances.

When alert bliss and nimittas arise samadhi is becoming free of the five hindrances (as I understand it, the last to go is philosophical doubt; some Hindu sects like the Brahmakumari’s consider the bliss+light as their true self or Atman). However samadhi slows everything down as the mind becomes inwardly focused. It’s possible to make adhithana or a fervent wish or determination like ‘let the samadhi dissipate or come down’ and ‘bring’ your mind back to its original distracted state. However the mental ability to get into a deeper samadhi still remains and those grooves now made can be quickly used again, in the future. This method of making wishes is useful for mastery of jhana as well!


It’s important to respect social norms in our practice. I’ve had my own interactions with police as I walk meditation barefoot in the neighborhood. The biggest factor that improved relations with the neighborhood was wearing a bright yellow work vest. This singles one out as “here is a person wishing to be visible and unindisturbed in their work”.

I’m not sure the neighborhood would ever be comfortable with my meditating on the school track at night, however… :laughing:

I do see the attraction however–it’s a vast quiet empty space similar to a forest clearing. In western society, public spaces are only frequented at night by “shady characters”, so it will always generate fear and uncertainty in your neighbors. Oddly, walking meditation in such spaces at night with a yellow work vest would be acceptable, if eccentric.


I used to meditate on my own in a crowded temple! I was possibly drawing too much attention. stopped! :stop_sign: :raised_hand:


Omigosh! Was it a buddhist temple? :thinking:


Yup! :broken_heart:


It’s just a quiet place across from my house


Maybe I’m overly sensitive. I don’t know where you are from, but here in the US there has been an epidemic of school shootings, and so I imagine police are likely to get a little nervous about people skulking around school grounds.


Where would you say we as meditators should go to practice then? It doesn’t seem very conducive to only wait for the next retreat to come around or to go to a temple at specific times of the week. If my energy is aroused, that’s be the best time to start practice. I can meditate at home, but there’s definitely many distractions going on there as opposed to just walking outside my house to be in nature for meditation. My front yard, a nearby field, a bench, trees, or woods would be most conducive. My point would be that in our modern age that’s regarded as something taboo to sit and walk cankama in our own front yard or any space which normal folk can spot us. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


Agreed. I am right now going out in the morning sun to walk meditation in the US listening to DN33 in my bright yellow vest. :walking_man: :meditation: :pray:


(my wife passed me once in her car and later said “you looked weird”) :laughing:


I guess it depends on personal circumstances. My house is very quiet, but not everyone’s is.


Unfortunately I got a dad whose addicted to TV and only has half his hearing in one ear so the TV is always on full blast, a niece who runs around the house all times of the day and her mother who loves to rant all day long. Oh the good life. I do find it’s it’s immensely helpful when there is the opportunity for quiet because of the distractions that I make peace with during the times of turbulence. Very much looking forward to the rains! Thanks for your input my friend