...Buddhism for Urban America
Urban Dharma Newsletter... January 7, 2003
UrbanDharma Stats ...for the
Month of December
2. Samma Samadhi, Samatha and Vipassana ...by Ven. Dhammavuddho
3. Tipitaka, The Pali Canon
4. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: Access
5. Book Review: The Life of the Buddha : According
to the Pali Canon ...by Bhikkhu
UrbanDharma Stats ...for the Month of December
of Visits- 9,984
2. Samma Samadhi, Samatha and Vipassana
...by Ven. Dhammavuddho Thero
dictionaries translate samma samadhi as right concentration,
meditation, one-pointedness of mind etc. Concentration is a
factor of the Five Faculties (indriya), the Five Powers (bala),
the Seven Factors of Enlightenment (bojjhanga) and the Noble
Eightfold Path. Throughout the suttas, there is a consistent
definition of concentration and right concentration as either
one-pointedness of mind or the Four Jhanas. When the definition
is given as the Four Jhanas (states of mental brightness), there
is a long description of the jhanas. Noble right concentration
is stated in Majjhima Nikaya 117 to be one-pointedness
of mind, supported by the other seven factors of the Noble Eightfold
one-pointedness of mind and the Four Jhanas refer to two different
levels of right concentration, then there is inconsistency in
the Dhamma, which is impossible. When we investigate the suttas
in greater detail, we find that they both refer to the jhanas.
of mind is the shortened version; it refers to any jhana, as
can be seen from the definition of concentration given in Samyutta
Nikaya 48.1.10: And what, monks, is the concentration faculty?
Herein, monks, the ariyan disciple, having made relinquishment
his basis, attains concentration, attains one-pointedness of
from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, he
enters and abides in the first jhana, which is accompanied by
applied and sustained thought, with delight (piti) and pleasure
(sukha) born of seclusion.
the stilling of applied and sustained thought, he enters and
abides in the second jhana, which has self-confidence and singleness
of mind, without applied and sustained thought, with delight
and pleasure born of concentration.
the calming down of delight, he enters and abides in the third
jhana, dwelling equanimous, collected and mindful, feeling pleasure
with the body, on account of which ariyans say: ŒHe has
a pleasant abiding who is equanimous and collected.∂
the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and the previous fading
away of joy and grief, he enters and abides in the fourth jhana,
which has neither pain nor pleasure, with complete purity of
equanimity and recollection (sati). This, monks, is called the
this sutta we find that one-pointedness of mind undoubtedly
refers to the Four Jhanas. Even in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta,
right concentration is defined as the Four Jhanas.
is the precondition for wisdom to arise. One reason concentration
and right concentration are defined as the jhanas in the suttas
can be understood from Anguttara Nikaya 4.41. In this
sutta, the development of concentration, which conduces to gaining
knowledge and insight (nanadassana), is said to be the mind
that is cultivated to brilliance, i.e. a state of mental brightness
- which is none other than jhana.
is a prevalent view nowadays that one-pointedness of mind (cittassa
ekaggata) need not refer to the jhanas. The interpretation is
that it means keeping the mind on one thing at a time - the
so-called momentary concentration - which was not mentioned
by the Buddha. The parable of the hunter and the six animals
(see below) found in Samyutta Nikaya 35.206 makes it
quite clear that the mind which moves from object to object
is just the ordinary mind. This parable is elaborated later
under ŒPractice∂. Anguttara Nikaya 3.100 teaches
the way to develop the higher mind, to attain one-pointedness
of mind. First, one has to get rid of faulty bodily conduct,
faulty verbal conduct and faulty mental conduct. Second, one
has to rid oneself of sensual thoughts, malicious thoughts and
cruel thoughts. Then, one has to rid oneself of thoughts about
relatives, thoughts about the country and thoughts about one∂s
reputation. Finally, only after doing away even with thoughts
about mind objects, does one∂s mind settle down and attain
one-pointedness. From this, one can see that one-pointedness
of mind certainly is not so shallow as keeping the mind on one
thing at a time.
is the State of Jhana?
literally means fire, or brightness. So jhana can be translated
as a state of mental brightness.
a person attains jhana, the mind is absorbed in one object only,
not scattered as it normally is, and is intensely aware and
collected. For example, from the description of the fourth jhana
above we see that recollection is completely pure here. As the
mind is not scattered but collected, it is in its pure bright
state, and great bliss wells up.
beings who attain jhana can be reborn into the form realm (rupaloka)
heavens with shining bodies and experience intense happiness
for a long time. For most people, this state is not easily attainable
because it involves letting go of attachments. For this reason,
it is considered a superhuman state (uttari manussa dhamma)
in the suttas.
four jhanas are defined in the various suttas as follows:
of sensual pleasures cease (DN 9)
but true perception of delight and pleasure born of seclusion.
to Mara (MN 25)
hindrances are eliminated and five jhana factors attained (MN
perturbable state (MN 66)
thoughts cease without remainder (MN 78)
ceases (SN 36.11)
pain ceases (SN 48.4.10)
of happy abiding (AN 6.29)
the reach of Mara (AN 9.39)
but true perception of delight and pleasure born of concentration
perturbable state (MN 66)
thoughts cease (MN 78)
of ariyan silence (SN 21.1)
and sustained thoughts cease (SN 36.11)
that is not worldly (SN 36.29)
grief ceases (SN 48.4.10)
but true perception of pleasure and equanimity (DN 9)
perturbable state (MN 66)
ceases (SN 36.11)
that is not worldly (SN 36.29)
pleasure ceases (SN 48.4.10)
but true perception of neither pain nor pleasure (DN 9)
purity of recollection (sati) and equanimity (MN 39)
bright mind pervades the entire body (MN 39)
state (MN 66)
talk to heavenly beings and an entirely pleasant world has been
realized (MN 79)
that is not worldly (SN 36.29)
ceases (SN 36.11)
joy ceases (SN 48.4.10)
emerging therefrom, one walks, stands etc. in bliss (AN 3.63)
to the complete penetration of the countless elements (AN
Majjhima Nikaya 117 and Digha Nikaya 18 and 33,
we find that the seven supports and requisites for the development
of noble right concentration are right view, right thought,
right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort and
is an important principle found in Samyutta Nikaya 35.206.
This is illustrated by the parable of a hunter who caught six
animals: a snake, crocodile, bird, dog, jackal and monkey. He
tied each to a stout rope and then tied the six ropes together
before releasing them. Those six animals would naturally take
off in six different directions - the snake into a hole, the
crocodile into water, the bird to the sky, the dog to the village,
the jackal to the cemetery and the monkey to the forest. As
they pull in their different directions, they would have to
follow whichever is the strongest. This is similar to the ordinary
mind, which is pulled by the six different sense objects. The
Buddha calls that the unrestrained mind.
if the six animals were tied to a stout post, then they can
only go round and round the post until they grow weary. When
this happens, they will stand or lie beside the post. Likewise,
the Buddha said that if a monk practises recollection of the
body - meditating on this one object - he is not pulled in different
directions by the six sense objects, and the mind is restrained.
parable shows that the way to tame the mind is to tie it to
one object of meditation, something it is not accustomed to,
until the mind is able to stay with that one object so that
one-pointedness of mind is achieved.
attain to right concentration or the jhanas is certainly not
easy. In Samyutta Nikaya 48.1.10, mentioned earlier,
one has to make letting go of attachments and the world generally
the basis or foundation before one can attain to right concentration.
However, most meditators are unable to let go of attachments
and the world. It is for this reason that the practice of Samatha
meditation and the subsequent attainment of jhanas is difficult.
Necessity of Jhana for Liberation
Anguttara Nikaya 3.85 and 9.12, the Buddha compares the
threefold training of higher morality, higher mind/concentration
and higher wisdom with the four ariya (noble) fruitions. It
is said that the sotapanna (stream-enterer), the first fruition,
and the sakadagami (once-returner), the second fruition are
accomplished in morality. The anagami (non-returner), the third
fruition, is accomplished in morality and concentration. The
arahant (one who is liberated), the fourth fruition, is accomplished
in morality, concentration and wisdom.
concentration and right concentration refers to the jhanas in
the suttas, jhana is clearly a necessary condition to attain
the anagam† and arahant stages. Again we shall refer to
the suttas for confirmation:
Nikaya 3.88: This sutta is also about the same threefold
training. Here the training in the higher mind is defined as
the Four jhanas. Similarly in Majjhima Nikaya 6, the Buddha
described the Four jhanas as that which constitute the higher
mind and provide a pleasant abiding here and now.
Nikaya 4.61: ŒEndowed with wisdom∂ is described
in this sutta. It is stated that one who has eliminated the
defilements of the Five Hindrances (panca nivarana) is Œof
great wisdom, of widespread wisdom, of clear vision, one endowed
with wisdom∂. From the description of the first jhana
above we find that the hindrances are eliminated when one attains
the jhanas. This means that attainment of the jhanas (with the
other seven factors of the Noble Eightfold Path) results in
Nikaya 6.70: Here the Buddha says: ŒTruly, monks, that
a monk without the peace of concentration in high degree, without
winning one-pointedness of mind shall enter and abide in liberation
by mind or liberation by wisdom - that cannot be.∂
Nikaya 9.36: The Buddha says: ŒTruly, I say, asava-destruction
(arahantship) depends upon the first jhana . . . second jhana
. . . third jhana . . . fourth jhana . . . .∂
Nikaya 24: This sutta talks about the seven purifications
which lead to Nibbana, the final goal. One of these is the purification
of mind, which is not defined here. However, in Anguttara
Nikaya 4.194, it is stated that utter purification of mind
refers to the four jhanas.
Nikaya 36: In this sutta the Buddha talked about his struggle
for enlightenment, how he cultivated various austerities for
several years in vain. Then he sought an alternative way to
liberation and recalled his attainment of jhana when he was
young under the rose-apple tree. Following on that memory came
the realization: ŒThat is the path to enlightenment.∂
Then, using jhana, he finally attained enlightenment. That is
why the jhanas are called the Œfootprints of the Tathagata∂
in Majjhima Nikaya 27.
Nikaya 52: Here venerable Ananda was asked what is the one
thing the Buddha taught that is needed to win liberation. Venerable
Ananda replies: Œfirst jhana . . . second jhana . . . third
jhana . . . fourth jhana . . . .∂
Nikaya 64: The Buddha says here: ŒThere is a path,
Ananda, a way to the elimination of the five lower fetters;
that anyone, without coming to that path, to that way, shall
know or see or eliminate the five lower fetters11 - that is
the Buddha goes on to explain the path, the way - which is the
attainment of the first jhana . . . second jhana . . . third
jhana . . . fourth jhana . . . . Here, it∂s very clear
that it is impossible to attain the state of the anagami or
arahant without jhana.
Nikaya 108: Venerable Ananda is asked what kind of meditation
was praised by the Buddha and what kind of meditation was not
praised by the Buddha. Venerable Ananda replies that the kind
of meditation where the Four jhanas are attained was praised
by the Buddha; the kind of meditation where the Five Hindrances
are not eliminated was not praised by the Buddha.
Nikaya 68: Here the Buddha confirms that jhana is the necessary
condition for the elimination of the Five Hindrances:
he still does not attain to the delight and pleasure that are
secluded from sensual pleasures and secluded from unwholesome
states (i.e. first jhana) or to something more peaceful than
that (i.e. higher jhanas), covetousness . . . ill-will . . .
sloth and torpor . . . restlessness and remorse . . . doubt
. . . discontent . . . weariness invade his mind and remains
. . . . When he attains to the delight and pleasure that are
secluded from sensual pleasures and secluded from unwholesome
states or to something more peaceful than that, covetousness
. . . ill-will . . . sloth and torpor restlessness and remorse
. . . doubt . . . discontent . . . weariness do not invade his
mind and remain . . . .
the type of meditation where there is jhana attainment was praised
by the Buddha; the type of meditation where jhana is not attained
was not praised by the Buddha.
Nikaya 12: . . . A disciple goes forth and practices
the moralities and attains the first jhana . . . And whenever
the pupil of a teacher attains to such excellent distinction,
that is a teacher who is not to be blamed in the world. And
if anyone blames that teacher, his blame is improper, untrue,
not in accordance with reality, and faulty . . . .
Nikaya 76: Ananda points out that the Buddha declared a
wise man certainly would live the holy life, and while living
it would attain the true way, the Dhamma that is wholesome,
if he can eliminate the Five Hindrances and attain the Four
jhanas as well as realize the three true knowledges.
Nikaya 14: Even though a noble disciple has seen clearly
as it actually is with proper wisdom how sensual pleasures provide
little gratification, much suffering . . . , as long as he still
does not attain to the delight and pleasure that are apart from
sensual pleasures, apart from unwholesome states (the first
jhana) or to something more peaceful than that (the higher jhanas),
he may still be attracted to sensual pleasure.
concentration is the Four jhanas, the eighth factor of the Noble
Eightfold Path. When jhana is attained, the Five Hindrances
are eliminated. This is the type of meditation praised by the
Buddha because it is conducive to liberation, Nibbana. In Majjhima
Nikaya 31, Œa superhuman state, a distinction in knowledge
and vision worthy of the noble ones is defined as the first
jhana . . . second jhana . . . third jhana . . . fourth jhana
. . . .∂ To say that jhana is not necessary is the same
as saying that right concentration is not necessary for liberation.
In effect, this means we are only practising a sevenfold path,
which is not the path laid down by the Buddha to win Nibbana.
In Samyutta Nikaya 16.13, this is mentioned as one of the factors
leading to the disappearance of the true Dhamma. Thus in Anguttara
Nikaya 6.64 the Buddha said: ŒConcentration is the path;
no-concentration, the wrong path.∂
are Halfway Stations to Nibbana
reason the jhanas are necessary for arahantship is because they
are halfway stations to Nibbana.
is a completely cooled state where the six types of consciousness
(of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind) have ceased totally.
jhana is a cooled state where perceptions of sensual pleasures
cease. It is also a cooled state because the mind is not agitated
at all but very collected.
suttas say of the jhanas:
Nikaya 9.33: The Buddha says concerning jhana: ŒWhere
sensual pleasures end (the state of jhana) and those who have
ended sensual pleasures so abide - surely those venerable ones
are without craving, cooled (nibbuta), crossed over and gone
beyond with respect to that factor, I say.∂
Nikaya 13: The Buddha says that if a person does not behave
like Brahma in this life, how can he expect to be reborn as
Brahma in the next life? Similarly, let us consider the state
of Nibbana. The Buddha says: ŒNibbana is the highest bliss.∂
Now jhanas are states of great bliss and delight. If a person
cannot attain jhana, a state of great bliss and delight, which
surpasses divine bliss,14 how can he expect to attain the highest
bliss of Nibbana?
Nikaya 53: When a noble disciple has thus become one who
is possessed of virtue, who guards the doors of his sense faculties,
who is moderate in eating, who is devoted to wakefulness, who
possesses seven good qualities, who obtains at will, without
trouble or difficulty, the Four jhanas that constitute the higher
mind and provide a pleasant abiding here and now, he is called
one in higher training who has entered upon the way. . . . He
is capable of breaking out, capable of enlightenment, capable
of attaining the supreme security from bondage.
Nikaya 5.3.28: Monks, I will teach you how to develop the
five factored ariyan right concentration . . . Monks, take the
case of a monk who, aloof from sensual pleasures, enters and
abides in the first jhana . . . second jhana . . . third jhana
. . . fourth jhana . . . . The contemplation (meditation) sign
is rightly attended to by the monk . . . .
when a monk has thus developed and strengthened the five-factored
ariyan right concentration, he can incline his mind to realize
by higher knowledge whatever condition is so realizable, and
become an eyewitness in every case, whatever the range may be.
Nikaya 66: The Buddha describes the bliss of jhana: ŒThis
is called the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion,
the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment. I say of this
kind of pleasure that it should be pursued, that it should be
developed, that it should be cultivated, that it should not
Nikaya 29: The Buddha further explains: . . . these four
kinds of life devoted to pleasure which are entirely conducive
to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to Nibbana.
What are they? . . . the first jhana . . . second jhana . .
. third jhana . . . fourth jhana . . . .
if wanderers from other sects should say that the followers
of the Sakyan are addicted to these four forms of pleasure-seeking,
they should be told: ŒYes∂, for they would be speaking
correctly about you . . . .
then, those who are given to these four forms of pleasure-seeking
- how many fruits, how many benefits can they expect? . . They
can expect four fruits . . . they become a sotapanna . . . sakadagami
. . . anagami . . . arahant . . . .
the suttas describe, the most important of the six higher knowledges
(abhinnas), which include various types of psychic power, is
asava-destruction - the attainment of arahantship. Asavas, as
explained earlier, mean uncontrolled mental outflows. So an
arahant is one whose uncontrolled mental outflows have ceased
permanently. Jhana is a state where the uncontrolled mental
outflows cease temporarily. For instance, unwholesome thoughts
cease in the first jhana; and all thoughts cease, a state of
Œariyan silence∂, in the second and higher jhanas.
If one cannot attain jhana and cause the asavas to cease temporarily,
how can one possibly make the asavas cease permanently?
the practice of right recollection, one can either recollect
one object or several objects. Recollection of one object, e.g.
recollection of the breath (anapanasati), leads to tranquillity
and concentration of mind - the precondition for wisdom. Recollection
of several objects, e.g. body, feeling, mind and Dhamma, leads
to wisdom - provided there is concentration of mind, and also
the other factors of the Noble Eightfold Path.
speaking, recollection of one object is called Samatha, tranquillity
meditation, and recollection of several objects is called vipassana,
there is a popular belief that Buddhist meditation consists
only of vipassana. However, even a nodding acquaintance with
the suttas should make it clear that Samatha is also an important
and integral part of it. In fact in Samyutta Nikaya 54.1.8
and 54.2.1 the Buddha said that before enlightenment, and
even after that, he would generally spend his time on intent
recollection of breathing (a tranquillity meditation), calling
it ŒThe Ariyan way of life, the best of ways, the Tathagata∂s
way of life∂. Both samatha and vipassana are needed for
final liberation. But the order of practice is not important.
One can either practise Samatha first or vipassana first.
necessity of both Samatha and vipassana is obvious from the
Nikaya 4.170: In this sutta, Venerable Ananda says that
monks and nuns who informed him that they had attained arahantship
all declared that they did so by one of the four categories,
i.e. there are only these four ways to arahantship:
Samatha followed by vipassana - after which the path is born
Vipassana followed by samatha - after which the path is born
Samatha and vipassana together, simultaneously - after which
the path is born in him/her,
The mind stands fixed internally (i.e. on the cognizant consciousness
or Œself∂) until it becomes one-pointed - after which
the path is born in him/her.
Nikaya 43: After right view is attained, five other supporting
conditions are necessary for final liberation, namely:
Listening to the Dhamma (dhammasavana),
Discussion of the Dhamma (dhammasakaccha),
Tranquillity meditation (samatha) and
Contemplation meditation (vipassana).
Nikaya 149: The Buddha says here that when a person develops
the Noble Eightfold Path fully, the 37 requisites of enlightenment
are also developed fully, and samatha and vipassana occur in
him working evenly together.
Nikaya 35.204: Here the Buddha gives the parable of a swift
pair of messengers (samatha and vipassana) who bring the message
of reality (Nibbana).
Nikaya 9.4 and 10.54: These two suttas also say that both
samatha and vipassana are necessary.
(dana) and morality (sila) are the positive and negative aspects
of doing good. Likewise, Samatha and vipassana can be said to
be the positive and negative aspects of meditation. Samatha,
which results in the attainment of jhana, is the positive aspect
which brings one closer to Nibbana, jhanas being halfway stations
to Nibbana. vipassana is the negative aspect, because one sees
everything in the world as it is with proper wisdom thus: ŒThis
is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self∂ - as
a result, one will naturally withdraw from and let go of the
sensory world. In other words, Samatha meditation pulls one
towards Nibbana, in contrast to vipassana meditation, which
pushes one away from the world.
summary, we need to fully cultivate and develop both Samatha
and vipassana, as well as all the other factors in the Noble
Eightfold Path for final liberation. To say that the Buddha∂s
way of meditation is Samatha or vipassana meditation only misrepresents
Importance of Understanding the Suttas
importance of understanding the suttas, the four earliest Nikayas,
cannot be overemphasized. Why? Because they are the authoritative
means for right view. It is said in Majjhima Nikaya 43
that right view arises from listening to the Dhamma and having
thorough consideration. Gaining right view is crucial because
it is synonymous with becoming an ariya. Thus the Buddha put
right view as the first factor of the Noble Eightfold Path,
saying that the cultivation of the Noble Eightfold Path starts
with right view. After right view is attained, five other supporting
conditions are necessary for final liberation - among them,
listening to the Dhamma and discussing the Dhamma. This means
that to practise meditation without studying the discourses
(suttas) is a great mistake if one∂s aim is liberation
fact in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the Buddha, before his demise,
advises the monks to take the Dhamma-Vinaya as their teacher
after he passed away. In Digha Nikaya 26, the Buddha
further emphasizes: ŒMonks, be a lamp unto yourselves,
be a refuge unto yourselves, with no other refuge. Take the
Dhamma as your lamp, take the Dhamma as your refuge, with no
the Dhamma (i.e. the suttas) is very important because it is
the spiritual road map if we ever wish to attain the various
stages of becoming an ariya. In Anguttara Nikaya 4.180
the Buddha teaches the great authorities. He advises that when
any monk says that such and such are the teachings of the Buddha
we should, without scorning or welcoming his words, compare
those words with the suttas and the vinaya. If they are not
in accordance with the suttas and the vinaya, we should reject
the Buddha warns in Samyutta Nikaya 20.7: . . . . in
the future, those suttas uttered by the Tath›gata (Buddha),
deep, profound in meaning, transcending the world, concerning
emptiness (sunyata): to these when uttered they will not listen,
will not give a ready ear, will not want to understand, to recite,
to master them. But those discourses made by poets, mere poetry,
a conglomeration of words and phrases, alien (outside the Buddha∂s
teachings), utterances of disciples: to these when uttered they
will listen, will give a ready ear, will want to understand,
to recite, to master them. Thus it is, monks, that the suttas
uttered by the Tathagata, deep, profound in meaning, transcending
the world, concerning emptiness, will disappear. Therefore,
monks, train yourselves thus: To these very suttas will we listen,
give a ready ear, understand, recite, and master them.
addition, Anguttara Nikaya 5.26 gives the five occasions
when liberation is attained:
Listening to the Dhamma,
Teaching the Dhamma,
Repeating the Dhamma,
Reflecting on the Dhamma and
Some concentration sign (samadhi nimitta) is rightly reflected
upon and understood.
these five occasions, only the last possibly refers to formal
meditation. This shows that understanding the Dhamma is of paramount
importance for liberation. Two synonymous Pali terms frequently
recur in the suttas: bahusacca - much hearing of the Truths
(Dhamma) - and bahussuta - much hearing of Dhamma. And in Majjhima
Nikaya 53, bahussuta is said to be one of the possessions
of a noble one.
find in the suttas that people often attained the various levels
of ariyahood while listening to the Dhamma, especially the sotapanna
stage. Depending on how developed their mind is, i.e. the degree
of concentration they possess, their attainment corresponds
to their concentration level when they heard the Dhamma. Thus
one without jhana could become a sotapanna or sakadagami on
hearing, teaching, repeating or reflecting on the Dhamma; whereas
another possessing jhana would have become an anagami or arahant.
Why? Because they possess the pure and developed mind, owing
to jhana with its supports and requisites, for penetrative insights
to be possible.
One of the Mahavagga (Vinaya-pitaka) makes this quite clear.
After the Buddha converted 1,000 matted-hair ascetics (jatilas)
to become his disciples, he preached to them the Adittapariyaya
Sutta, whereupon all 1,000 of them became arahants.Thereafter
the Buddha brought them to Rajagaha, where King Bimbisara led
12 nahutas of lay people to visit the Buddha. According to Pali
dictionaries, a nahuta is Œa vast number, a myriad∂
- possibly 10,000. The Buddha gave them a graduated discourse
on the Dhamma, basically on the Four Noble Truths, and all 12
nahutas (120,000) of them attained the Dhamma-eye - the first
path of ariya attainment. Some of them may have practised meditation,
but it is highly improbable that everyone in this large number
of people would have done so.
way to the ending of suffering taught by the Buddha is the Noble
Eightfold Path. The practice of this path starts with the first
factor, right view. To attain right view one has to study and
be thoroughly familiar with the original discourses of the Buddha.
Further, one has to practise moral conduct and meditation.
(sampajanna) is the preliminary step in meditation. This has
to be combined with recollection (sati) so that it is directed
towards the goal of Buddhist meditation. However, sati-sampajanna
alone is insufficient to win liberation. We need to get a hold
on the mind - otherwise we may find that Œthe spirit is
willing but the flesh is weak∂. Thus sati-sampajanna needs
to be cultivated and developed into an intense state, until
satipatthana (an intense state of recollection) is attained
and concentration achieved. When concentration (jhana) is achieved,
the Five Hindrances are eliminated - this is the type of meditation
praised by the Buddha.
a primary aim of meditation is to rid the mind of the Five Hindrances
and attain to the jhanas. When the mind is developed in this
manner, it is possible for one to attain insight into the suttas
either when one listens, teaches, repeats or reflects on the
Noble Truths found in the suttas or during formal meditation.
This is why meditation practice must be combined with the study
of the earliest discourses.
is about cultivating a developed mind and developed faculties
so that one can go against the grain of our natural unwholesome
tendencies and attain liberation from greed, hatred and delusion.
A developed mind is attained when jhana is attained and the
Five Hindrances are eliminated. Developed faculties are explained
quite clearly in the following quotation from the Indriyabhavana
how, Ananda, is one a noble one with developed faculties? Here,
Ananda, when a monk sees a form with the eye . . . hears a sound
with the ear . . . smells an odour with the nose . . . tastes
a flavour with the tongue . . . touches a tangible with the
body . . . cognizes a mind-object with the mind, there arises
what is agreeable, there arises what is disagreeable, there
arises what is both agreeable and disagreeable. If he should
wish: ŒMay I abide perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive∂,
he abides perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive. If he
should wish: ŒMay I abide perceiving the repulsive in the
unrepulsive∂, he abides perceiving the repulsive in the
unrepulsive. If he should wish: ŒMay I abide perceiving
the unrepulsive in the repulsive and the unrepulsive∂,
he abides perceiving the unrepulsive in that. If he should wish:
ŒMay I abide perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive
and the repulsive∂, he abides perceiving the repulsive
in that. If he should wish: ŒMay I, avoiding both the repulsive
and the unrepulsive, abide in equanimity, mindful and collected∂,
he abides in equanimity towards that, mindful and collected.
That is how one is a noble one with developed faculties.
meditation is not just passive mindfulness or observation. It
is to be in full control of our mind so that we can control
our perceptions and feelings and not let them control us.
Middle Way August 2002 p. 67 (volume 77:2)
Tipitaka, The Pali Canon
Tipitaka (Pali ti, "three," + pitaka,
"baskets"), or Pali Canon, is the collection of primary
Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada
Buddhism. Together with the ancient commentaries, they constitute
the complete body of classical Theravada texts.
Pali Canon is a vast body of literature: in English translation
the texts add up to several thousand printed pages. Most --
but not all -- of the Canon has already been published in English
over the years. Although only a small fraction of these texts
are available here at Access to Insight, this collection can
nonetheless be a very good place to start.
three divisions of the Tipitaka are:
collection of texts concerning the rules of conduct governing
the daily affairs within the Sangha -- the community of bhikkhus
(ordained monks) and bhikkhunis (ordained nuns). Far
more than merely a list of rules, the Vinaya Pitaka also includes
the stories behind the origin of each rule, providing a detailed
account of the Buddha's solution to the question of how to maintain
communal harmony within a large and diverse spiritual community.
collection of discourses, attributed to the Buddha and a few
of his closest disciples, containing all the central teachings
of Theravada Buddhism. (Over six hundred sutta translations
are available here.)
collection of texts in which the underlying doctrinal principles
presented in the Sutta Pitaka are reworked and reorganized into
a systematic framework that can be applied to an investigation
into the nature of mind and matter.
| | |
Vinaya Pitaka Abhidhamma Pitaka Sutta Pitaka
| | |
Suttavibhanga Dhammasangani |
Mahavagga Vibhanga |
Cullavagga Dhatukatha |
Parivara Puggalapa˝˝atti |
| | | | |
Digha Nikaya | Samyutta Nikaya | |
Majjhima Nikaya Anguttara Nikaya |
| | | | | | | | | |
Khuddakapatha | | | | | | | | |
Dhammapada | | | | | | | |
Udana | | | | | | |
Itivuttaka | | | | | |
Sutta Nipata | | | | |
Vimanavatthu | | | |
Petavatthu | | |
Theragatha | |
Access to Insight
is Access to Insight?
to Insight is an Internet website dedicated to providing accurate,
reliable, and useful information concerning the practice and
study of Theravada Buddhism, as it has been handed down to us
through both the written word of the Pali Canon and the living
example of the Sangha.
to Insight is not an organization and is not affiliated with
any institution. It is simply one person's website. Although
I have studied the Buddha's teachings for many years as a lay
follower, I have no academic degrees in either the Pali language
or Buddhist Studies. In these pages I have therefore relied
on the translations and interpretations of other respected scholars,
teachers, and practitioners who have far more experience and
wisdom than do I.
readings assembled here represent just a selection of the Buddha's
teachings. These are the ones that, over the years, I've personally
found to be helpful in deepening an understanding of Dhamma
practice. This collection is not meant to be an exhaustive archive
of Theravada Buddhist texts.
tried to avoid injecting my own views and opinions into these
web pages. Some biases, however, inevitably intrude, owing to
the editorial choices I've made and the short introductory essays
and blurbs I've written here and there to give some context
to the material being presented. I sincerely hope that my biases
do not in any way obscure the real meaning of the texts themselves.
available at Access to Insight is offered in full cooperation
with the authors, translators, and publishers concerned, with
the clear understanding that none of it is to be sold. Please
help yourself to whatever you find useful.
did Access to Insight start?
early 1993, with the help of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies,
I set up in my basement a computer bulletin board service (BBS)
to see if networked computers might be genuinely useful as a
support for students and practitioners of Buddhism. Originally
dubbed "BCBS OnLine," the BBS soon joined DharmaNet's
international network of dialup Buddhist BBS's and adopted the
name "Access to Insight". Shortly thereafter, DharmaNet's
Dharma Book Transcription Project began, under whose auspices
about a hundred high-quality books on Buddhism were transcribed
to computer through the dedicated efforts of an international
team of volunteer transcribers and proofreaders. These books
were soon distributed via DharmaNet to scores of BBS's around
the world. In 1994 I installed a dialup Internet e-mail connection
that allowed anyone on the Internet to retrieve these books
via an e-mail file server. This proved to be a popular service.
By late 1994 the BBS -- now independent of BCBS -- spent far
more of its time serving file requests from around the world
via the Internet than in handling the requests of local callers.
Internet users from far and wide were coming to depend on Access
to Insight's now rickety and overworked '386 computer as their
link to information -- both the timely and the timeless -- about
Buddhism. In March 1995 this website was born; six months later
I closed down the BBS for good.
Access to Insight continues to grow: what began in 1993 as a
modest collection of two or three suttas and a handful of articles
has blossomed into a library of over eight hundred suttas and
several hundred articles and books. With the release of the
Handful of Leaves CD-ROM in 1998 and 1999, these texts
are now reaching an even wider audience and being further redistributed
around the world in print and electronic media.
Access to Insight isn't run by an organization, why does its
URL ends in ".org"?
years of piggy-backing the website on my personal Internet account,
in the fall of 1999 I discovered that I could cut the website's
operating expenses in half by registering a domain name and
moving the website to a faster host computer that's better suited
to large websites such as this one. (A rare case of "pay
less and get more.") But how to choose a domain name? A
name ending in .com seemed inappropriate since I'm not
selling anything, while one ending in .net seemed inappropriate
since the website isn't part of any network. This left .org,
which, to most people, suggests a non-commercial entity. I guess
that's me. Maybe someday we'll have more high-level domains
to choose from (.disorg or .notcom would be nice).
But for now, Access to Insight will happily continue muddling
along, a square peg in a web of round holes.
do you decide which texts to include on the website?
overarching principle has guided my choice of what to include
in these pages, and what to leave out: a conviction that the
teachings found in the Pali Canon are just as relevant today
as when they were first put into practice 2,600 years ago. Despite
all the obvious material advances in the human world since the
Buddha's time, the Four Noble Truths appear to be as vital today
as ever: suffering and stress still pervade our lives; the cause
still appears to be craving in all its insidious manifestations;
and there is no reason to suspect that the Noble Eightfold Path
is any less effective today at bringing an end to all that suffering
and stress. Unlike many popular writers on Buddhism today, I
find little in the Canon that cries out for "modernization"
or reform to suit the unique demands of modern times. I believe
that the Buddha's teachings of Awakening are concerned with
fundamental principles of human nature that transcend any social,
cultural, or political agendas. One teacher has summed it up
well: "The West has far more to learn from Theravada, than
does Theravada from the West."
emphasis here is on practice. For the most part I've selected
books, articles, and sutta translations that I've found helpful
to develop a personal understanding of the Buddha's teachings,
rather than texts that tend to fuel intellectual debates on
abstract philosophical concepts.
these basic principles, it all comes down to a matter of personal
taste. For example, I have found the teachings from the Thai
forest traditions invaluable, so they are heavily represented
here. Likewise, you won't find any texts from the Abhidhamma
here, simply because I haven't found the Abhidhamma -- as fascinating
as it certainly is -- to be particularly helpful to meditation
don't you have translations of ALL the suttas from the Pali
website aims to be selective rather than comprehensive. My goal
has never been to publish translations of every single one of
the Tipitaka's 10,000-plus suttas. What you see here is a selection
of suttas that meet three criteria: (1) they are, in my opinion,
good translations; (2) I have personally found them useful;
and (3) their copyright holders have provided them for free
are many other fine translations of important suttas available
in print today, and I encourage you to support their continued
publication by purchasing copies. Someday, perhaps, these publishers
will choose to make those translations available free of charge
in print or on websites such as this one. Until that day comes,
however, we must learn to make do with what we have.
can we thank for making all these texts available?
role in assembling Access to Insight has primarily been that
of facilitator and librarian, helping to bring together under
one virtual roof the fruits of the hard work of many people:
authors, translators, publishers, transcribers, and proofreaders.
The extraordinary generosity and commitment to the Dhamma demonstrated
by these many contributors continues to amaze and inspire me.
If you have found anything of value at Access to Insight please
join me in thanking those who have made this website possible:
Bhikkhu Bodhi, President of the Buddhist Publication
Society in Kandy, Sri Lanka, for allowing many of the BPS's
publications (including its Wheel and Bodhi Leaves
titles, among others) to be transcribed to computer and distributed
on the Internet.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Ajaan Geoff), for kindly making available
all his own books and articles, as well as his translations
of teachings by many of the great Thai forest masters. Ajaan
Geoff has also provided most of Access to Insight's sutta translations
(over six hundred of them are his), and he continues to provide
invaluable advice that helps to keep Access to Insight on-track.
The many volunteer transcribers and proofreaders who gave their
time and energy under the auspices of DharmaNet's Dharma Book
Transcription Project to make available so many fine Dhamma
books: Mark Blackstad, Robert Bussewitz, Joe Crea, Tom Fitton,
George Fowler, Myra I. Fox, Bradford Griffith, Philip L. Jones,
Barry Kapke, Pat Lapensee, Gaston Losier, Jim McLaughlin, Steven
McPeak, Raj Mendis, Sabine Miller, Bill Petrow, Maureen Riordan,
Malcolm Rothman, Heath Row, Eileen Santer, Christopher Sessums,
David Savage, Mahendra Siriwardene, Greg Smith, Chitra Weirich,
and Jane Yudelman.
The hundreds of people who have offered helpful criticisms and
suggestions over the years. A few of these people deserve special
note for their outstanding contributions: Binh Anson, Jamie
Avera, Jakub Bartovsky, Gabriel Bittar, Emily Bullitt, Chun
Hoe Chow, Bhikkhu Kumara (Liew Chin Leag), Trevor Rhodes, Steve
Russell, Andy Shaw, and Chandra Yenco.
Jane Yudelman, for her encouragement in 1992 that got Access
to Insight off the ground in the first place, and for her continued
advice and support that help this project continue to mature.
translated the suttas on this website?
sutta translations were made by many esteemed translators, including:
Venerables Bhikkhu Bodhi, Acharya Buddharakkhita, Bhikkhu Khantipalo,
Ñanamoli Thera, Ñanavara Thera, Narada Thera, Nyanaponika
Thera, Soma Thera, Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Phra Ajaan Geoff), and
Sister Vajira; I.B. Horner, John D. Ireland, K.R. Norman, and
The Life of the Buddha : According to the Pali Canon ...by
unique biography presents the Buddha's revolutionary solution
for humanity that leads to the end of ill will, craving and
delusion. Though born a prince surrounded by luxuries, Gotama
the Buddha was transformed by realizing that no one escapes
unhappiness. He spent the remainer of his life discovering,
then teaching, the answer to the great question: "Is there
a way out of the cycle of suffering?" Drawn from the Pali
Canon, this Life of the Buddha brings us into the presence of
the "Awakened One" to illustrate how to walk on the
path to freedom. At the same time, it offers profound inspiration
for doing so.
Reviewer: Rajith Dissanayake from Harrow Great Britain-
This is an excellent book using only material from the earliest
accounts provided from the time of the Buddha.
can make your own mind up about this enigmatic human being rather
than relying on hearsay. It includes biographical material by
observers, autobiographical accounts from the Buddha and also
includes a section on the teaching. All sections are prefaced
with opening remarks like the acts of a play in more or less
chronological sequence of the Buddha's life.
was one of the best Pali translators and tries to produce as
authentic and as lucid an account based on the Pali sources
Reviewer: Roger H. Fisher from Fairfield, Ohio- One
of the most ancient Buddhist texts, the Digha Nikaya, summarizes
the Buddha's teaching this way:
do no evil deeds, to give effect to good, to purify the heart."
essense of this teaching can be conveyed no more powerfully
than by a carefully told account of the Buddha's life, and no
account of his life can be told more carefully than the one
by Bikkhu Nanamoli.
a scholar-monk, deliberately chooses not to glorify the tale
by weaving it into yet another overly rich, silk-and-gold tapestry
of the sort which the oriental world has loved to make of it.
Instead he patiently pieces together dozens of bits from the
oldest fabrics he can find, and creates from them a simple quilt,
stunning in the geometrical honesty of its design and beautiful
in the precision with which it is crafted.
ancient fabrics from which Nanamoli snips out the elements of
this biography are selected exclusively from works encompassed
by the Pali Tipitika. By imposing this limit on his sources
Nanamoli does not compromise the completeness of the work nor
diminish the elegance of the story; in a remarkable way, he
actually enhances both. Nanamoli brings to life a flesh-and-blood
Buddha, and convinces the reader than anxient India and its
people are more like the world today than different from it.
The evolution of the Buddha's doctrine is allowed to remain
an epic, but on a human scale. Nanamoli preserves the grandeur
of the great Teacher's achievements without aggrandizing him
as a person. By the book's end the reader will surely concede
that fanciful myth and axaggerated exploits about the Buddha
are not needed to enhance our admiration of him. As this stimple
story gains momentum, we are allowed to experience first-hand
how one of the world's most compelling leaders created himself
through the sheer power of his intellect and the wonder of his
the serious student, Nanamoli's book selects, organizes and
reproduces all the basic facts of the Buddha's life and most
of his essential ideas. (One entire chapter uses selections
from the Tipitika just to summarize the major components of
his teaching or dhamma). Through its other footnotes and indices,
the book also equips the reader to turn to and review the original
Tipitika sources any times he wishes. In effect Nanamoli creates
a historical road-map, starting with specific events, ideas
and people, and leading straight back to the original texts
themselves. The index is very complete, and the lengthy list
of sources neatly summarizes each fragment taken from a given
scripture, then locates it by title and page. A real map helps
to find most of the places the Buddha frequented, and documents
the scope of all the world he knew and wandered.
one proposes to confine himself only to a single book about
Buddhism, this would not be a bad choice. However if one is
committed to read all he can about the Buddha, Nanamoli's biography
should be within reach at all times. More than just another
ancient legend retold, this unpretentious book gives great coherence
and meaning to the intricate web of Buddhist teaching and doctrine.
In my view it sheds far more light on this web than do a great
many of the other highly elaborate books written with the ambitious
aim of explaining or expounding upon that doctrine.
work is devoted to the Buddha's life. However the reader may
find that the book has the power to deal with other lives as
well. It will certainly inform and stimulate. But I predict
that it might actually reach into the very lives of all those
who read and study it, and could dramatically change those lives
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