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SN 46.2 - Are there specific "grounds for the awakening factor of rapture"?

The other awakening factors are “fueled by” specific elements. For instance, Energy is fueled by “initiative, persistence, and exertion”. Are there specific elements that fuel Rapture?
Ref SuttaCentral “There are things that are grounds for the awakening factor of rapture.”

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Pīti (rapture, or delight) is usually depicted as growing out of pāmojja (gladness). See SN 12.23, which identifies pāmojja as the proximate cause for pīti. The suttas describe several types of things that generate pāmojja:

  • being established in moral conduct, leading to non-regret (AN 10.1)
  • seeing that the mind is purified from unwholesome states (MN 40 et al)
  • sense restraint, leading to a purified mind (SN 35.97)
  • living in harmony with others, without disputes, seeing each other with “kind eyes” (AN 3.95)
  • being inspired by teaching, reciting, pondering, or hearing the Dhamma (AN 5.26)
  • a gladdening/inspiring theme (pasādaniya nimitta) (SN 47.10)

Pīti is also shown to follow from the preceding awakening factor of energy (SN 46.3, 46.51), which of course follows from mindfulness and investigation of dhammas.

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Hi!

In SN 12.23, it is shown that:

I say that rapture has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Joy.’ I say that joy has a vital condition.

Kind regards!

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With mindfulness as the governing principle, the remaining six awakening factors are divided into two groups, the active and passive (SN 46.53). Investigation, energy and joy (piti) together constitute the energy group, and when investigation of dark and bright states begins to be successful, increasing energy is mustered, finally resulting in the joy of achievement of insight. Joy is then followed by tranquillity and the passive group.

This complete process can be seen where the Bodhisattva discovers the operation of the awakening factors prior to enlightenment, where joy is represented by “lack of vexation,” the sense the practitioner is on the right path. Mindfulness, investigation and energy are evident. It can be seen that tranquillity is a means of relaxing the mind from the pressures of insight investigation:

“And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with renunciation arose in me. I discerned that ‘Thinking imbued with renunciation has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, & leads to Unbinding. If I were to think & ponder in line with that even for a night… even for a day… even for a day & night, I do not envision any danger that would come from it, except that 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.”—MN 19

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I forgot to mention another important one. The six recollections (the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, one’s own moral conduct, one’s own generosity, the qualities one shares with devas) can also lead to the arising of pāmojja, leading to pīti. See AN 6.10 for example.

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Sadhu. I was just getting ready to post that after being inspired from listening to AN 3.70 today (from SuttaCentral Voice). One line that stands out:
"As they recollect the Realized One, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. "

The same teaching and description is given for all of the recollections.

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It is worth understanding the context of suttas like AN 3.70 and 11.13. The six recollections are preliminary exercises for bringing the mindstate to a position of balance. This is evident firstly because they are addressed to laypeople who would not be expected to be undertaking advanced meditation, and secondly because the arising of joy precedes tranquillity and concentration in the progression of the seven factors of awakening.

“the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.”—AN 11.13

They are intended along with other subjects, to fulfill the directions of the Anapanasati sutta to balance the mind by invoking either gladness (joy), or steadiness:

" [9] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.’ [10] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in satisfying the mind.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out satisfying the mind.’ [11] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in steadying the mind.’—MN 118

The recollections are intended primarily to gladden the mind, but also to remove fear as described in SN 11.3. Subjects such as the 31 parts of the body will steady the mind outwardly distracted by desire.

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Friend, do you have sutta references for this assertion that the Recollections are merely preliminary exercises? Perhaps you’re saying they are preliminary practices for jhana?

The Sixes (Numerical Discourses) include a teaching to monastics about the 6 recollections, and SN 11.3 that you reference is a teaching to monastics advising them to practice the Recollections.

Also, most of us here are lay people, so it seems like the Recollections are important. Interestingly, I’ve recently heard several monastics say recently that, in today’s time, the Recollections are often under-utilized, including Ajahn Jayasaro, among others.

Thanks for that sutta reference! I’m currently working with the recollections, and this sutta is helpful. That said, in AN 3.70, the Buddha seems to state additional benefits of the Recollections:

“And because they think of the deities their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up.’ That’s how a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.”

So, it sounds like the Buddha is teaching us that the Recollections also help:

  • the mind become clear

  • joy arise

  • and helps us let go of the defilements

with metta,

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Thanks for mentioning this. It makes me glad to hear people use it. :smiley:

(As we are speaking of joy and gladness … )

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How about a dose of double joy and gladness :slightly_smiling_face: Thanks to inspiration from @karl_lew, almost every Sunday, my wife (hence the double joy) and I go for a walk listening to a sutta downloaded from SuttaCentral Voice. So, thank you for your work on this awesome resource!

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:dolphin: :woman_cartwheeling: :smiley:

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I’d like to offer a counterpoint to this, if you don’t mind. In AN 6.10, which I cited earlier, the Buddha tells his cousin Mahānama that a “noble disciple”, meaning someone who is a stream-enterer or further along, frequently practices the six recollections:

Then Mahānāma the Sakyan went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Sir, when a noble disciple has reached the fruit and understood the instructions, what kind of meditation do they frequently practice?”

“Mahānāma, when a noble disciple has reached the fruit and understood the instructions they frequently practice this kind of meditation.

Firstly, a noble disciple recollects the Realized One: ‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’ When a noble disciple recollects the Realized One their mind is not full of greed, hate, and delusion. At that time their mind is unswerving, based on the Realized One. A noble disciple whose mind is unswerving finds joy in the meaning and the teaching, and finds joy connected with the teaching. When they’re joyful, rapture springs up. When the mind is full of rapture, the body becomes tranquil. When the body is tranquil, they feel bliss. And when they’re blissful, the mind becomes immersed in samādhi. This is called a noble disciple who lives in balance among people who are unbalanced, and lives untroubled among people who are troubled. They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of the Buddha.

Furthermore, a noble disciple recollects the teaching… They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of the teaching.

Furthermore, a noble disciple recollects the Saṅgha… They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of the Saṅgha.

Furthermore, a noble disciple recollects their own ethical conduct… They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of ethics.

Furthermore, a noble disciple recollects their own generosity… They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of generosity.

Furthermore, a noble disciple recollects the deities… They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of the deities.

When a noble disciple has reached the fruit and understood the instructions this is the kind of meditation they frequently practice.”

Also, in AN 5.179, the Buddha describes “four blissful meditations belonging to the higher mind” that a lay stream-enterer experiences. These are the first four of the standard six recollections. (The sutta has to be read carefully to see that it’s referring to a stream-enterer)

I mention these two examples to suggest that these recollections are relevant to serious practitioners too.

And just as a counterpoint to the notion that the recollections are for laypeople, in AN 6.26 Mahākaccāna teaches the six recollections to a group of monks. Not only that, but he explicitly says that they can lead to awakening:

It’s incredible, reverends, it’s amazing! How this Blessed One who knows and sees, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha, has found an opening in a confined space; that is, the six topics for recollection. They are in order to purify sentient beings, to get past sorrow and crying, to make an end of pain and sadness, to end the cycle of suffering, and to realize extinguishment.

*Edited to add sutta links

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The procedure of evaluation of the mind state constitutes the first stage in any meditation, beginner or advanced. According to SN 47.10 when it is ascertained what the mind/body state is, then if necessary remedial action is taken.

“There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself—ardent, alert, & mindful—subduing greed & distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on the body in & of itself, a fever based on the body arises within his body, or there is sluggishness in his awareness, or his mind becomes scattered externally. He should then direct his mind to any inspiring theme. As his mind is directed to any inspiring theme, gladness is born within him. In one who is gladdened, rapture is born. In one whose heart is enraptured, the body grows calm. His body calm, he feels pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind grows concentrated. He reflects, ‘I have attained the aim to which my mind was directed. Let me withdraw (my mind from the inspiring theme).’ He withdraws & engages neither in directed thought nor in evaluation. He discerns that ‘I am not thinking or evaluating. I am inwardly mindful & at ease.’

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I don’t know if this affects the discussion, but Piya Tan translates that sentence as:

Bhante, how does a noble disciple continuosly dwell when he has attained the fruit and understood the teaching?

Does this imply that recollections are not “meditation”?

Kind regards!

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And Venerable Bodhi translates it as:

Bhante, how does a noble disciple who has arrived at the fruit and understood the teaching often dwell?

I think “often” or “frequently” is a better translation of bahula here than “continuously”.

But to answer your question, it depends on what you think of as “meditation”. The word at stake here is vihāra, which means “dwelling” and, in this case, clearly means dwelling for the mind. I think the Pāli literally means something like “…in which dwelling do they often dwell?”

The sense I get from the early discourses is that there wasn’t as clear a line between formal meditation (sitting cross-legged during a set meditation time) and daily life activities as may exist today. For serious practitioners, these practices were undertaken during all activities.

So there are suttas that indicate that the recollections are done during all activities, like AN 11.12:

Mahānāma, you should develop this recollection while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. You should develop it while engaged in work and while living at home in a house full of children.

And there are others that seem to imply (but not necessarily) formal meditation, like AN 6.10:

When a noble disciple recollects [the six recollections], on that occasion his mind is not obsessed by lust, hatred, or delusion; on that occasion his mind is simply straight, based on [the particular recollection]. A noble disciple whose mind is straight gains inspiration in the meaning, gains inspiration in the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. When he is joyful, rapture arises. For one with a rapturous mind, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body feels pleasure. For one feeling pleasure, the mind becomes concentrated.

And other suttas clearly show that the recollections purify and straighten the mind and dispel the five hindrances. Overcoming the hindrances, as we know, opens the door to the first jhāna.

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Thanks for the reference. I’ve added “the recollection of” to the Voice examples. Apparently there are eight of which six are remembered formally.

AN1.485:1.1: They develop the recollection of the Buddha …
AN1.486:1.1: the recollection of the teaching …
AN1.487:1.1: the recollection of the Saṅgha …
AN1.488:1.1: the recollection of ethical conduct …
AN1.489:1.1: the recollection of generosity …
AN1.490:1.1: the recollection of the deities …
AN1.492:1.1: the recollection of death …
AN1.494:1.1: the recollection of peace …

Interestingly, Ananda’s own list of five plus one added by the Buddha is different:

AN6.29:10.3: These are the five topics for recollection.”
AN6.29:11.2: Well then, Ānanda, you should also remember this sixth topic for recollection.

So I also added “topic for recollection” to the examples… :thinking:

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Thank you, I’ve also added the German equivalents of the two new examples. I hope it’s fine with you if I edit “topic for recollection” to “topics for recollection”—it catches the same one Sutta AN6.29, and still a few more.

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:thinking: I do rather like this quote which is lost if we go plural. It’s a case where the Buddha recommends a ninth topic of recollection in the context of Ananda’s own topics. So it is an example of how the Buddha adapts the teaching as needed, an example that there are actually many topics of recollection and that the six advocated by Sariputta work just as well as other groups of six. What matters is that the topics be complete. And that is a subtle thing that involves a deep amount of study.

AN6.29:11.2: Well then, Ānanda, you should also remember this sixth topic for recollection.

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Okay, let me undo my edit! :sweat_smile:

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“Unlike other sets of meditation practices, such as the four frames of reference (satipatthana) or the four sublime abidings (brahmavihara), the ten recollections do not have a single canonical discourse devoted to the entire set…

Each recollection plays a specific role in the practice, and all are needed to provide a complete and effective training for the mind. In this way, they are like the contents of a meditator’s toolbox: a range of approaches that every meditator should master so as to respond skillfully to whatever issue arises in the practice…

Broadly speaking, the roles of these practices are these:

  1. Mindfulness of death is meant to evoke a sense of samvega — a sense of dismay over the dangers and futility of human life as it is normally lived, with its ordinary defilements, and a sense of urgency in trying to find a way beyond those limitations. This sense of urgency further induces the quality of heedfulness in approaching the practice, which the Buddha said is basic to all skillful endeavors.

  2. The first six recollections — of the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, virtue, generosity, and the devas — are meant to induce a sense of joy and confidence (pasada) in the practice. The first two induce a sense of confidence in the practice itself; the last three, a sense of confidence in one’s own worthiness to follow the practice; while the third theme — recollection of the Sangha — can induce both. The texts say that the joy and confidence induced by these practices can bring the mind to concentration and cleanse it of defilement, although they do not describe in any detail as to how far this cleansing goes or how it occurs. Passage §16, however, suggests that these themes can perform this function as adjuncts to mindfulness practice.”—-Thanissaro


§16. "There is the case of a monk who remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on the body in & of itself, a fever based on the body arises within his body, or there is sluggishness in his awareness, or his mind becomes scattered externally. He should then direct his mind to any inspiring theme [Comm: such as recollection of the Buddha]. As his mind is directed to any inspiring theme, delight arises within him. In one who feels delight, rapture arises. In one whose mind is enraptured, the body grows serene. His body serene, he feels pleasure. As he feels pleasure, his mind grows concentrated. He reflects, ‘I have attained the aim to which my mind was directed. Let me withdraw [my mind from the inspiring theme].’ He withdraws & engages neither in directed thought nor in evaluation. He discerns, ‘I am not thinking or evaluating. I am inwardly mindful & at ease.’

“Furthermore, he remains focused on feelings… mind… mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in & of themselves, a fever based on mental qualities arises within his body, or there is sluggishness in his awareness, or his mind becomes scattered externally. He should then direct his mind to any inspiring theme. As his mind is directed to any inspiring theme, delight arises within him. In one who feels delight, rapture arises. In one whose mind is enraptured, the body grows serene. His body serene, he is sensitive to pleasure. As he feels pleasure, his mind grows concentrated. He reflects, ‘I have attained the aim to which my mind was directed. Let me withdraw.’ He withdraws & engages neither in directed thought nor in evaluation. He discerns, ‘I am not thinking or evaluating. I am inwardly mindful & at ease.’”

The practitioner then returns to the four foundations of mindfulness.

“This, Ānanda, is development based on directing. And what is development based on not directing? A monk, when not directing his mind to external things, discerns that ‘My mind is not directed to external things. It is unconstricted [asaṅkhitta] front & back—released & undirected. And then, I remain focused on the body in & of itself. I am ardent, alert, mindful, & at ease.’

“When not directing his mind to external things, he discerns, ‘My mind is not directed to external things. It is unconstricted front & back—released & undirected. And then, I remain focused on feelings… mind… mental qualities in & of themselves. I am ardent, alert, mindful, & at ease.’—-SN 47.10

Undirected meditation refers to the simplest form of mindfulness, of the body, feelings, mind states, or mental qualities, in and of themselves, not the insight meditation of impermanence with the phenomenon of arising and passing away, both described in the refrain of the Satipatthana sutta:

“In this way he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or externally on the body in & of itself, or both internally & externally on the body in & of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to the body.”—MN 10