What, now, is Right Concentration?
Having the mind fixed to a single object (cittekeggataa,
lit. 'One-pointedness of mind'): this is concentration.
'Right Concentration' (sammaa-samaadhi), in its widest
sense, is the kind of mental concentration which is present in every wholesome state of
consciousness (kusala-citta), and hence is accompanied by at least Right Thought (2nd
factor), Right Effort (6th factor) and Right Mindfulness (7th factor). 'Wrong
Concentration' is present in unwholesome states of consciousness, and hence is only
possible in the sensuous, not in a higher sphere. Samaadhi, used alone, always stands in
the Sutta, for sammaa-samaadhi, or Right Concentration.
The four 'Foundations of Mindfulness' (7th factor): these
are the objects of concentration.
The four 'Great Efforts' (6th factor): these are the
requisites for concentration.
The practising, developing and cultivating of these
things: this is the development (bhaavanaa) of concentration.
Right Concentration (sammaa-samaadhi) has two degrees
of development; 1. 'Neighborhood Concentration' (upacaarasamaadhi). which approaches the
first absorption without, however, attaining it; 2. 'Attainment Concentration'
(appanaasamaadhi), which is the concentration present in the four Absorptions (jhaana).
These Absorptions are mental states beyond the reach of the fivefold sense-activity,
attainable only in solitude and by unremitting perseverance in the practice of
concentration. In these states all activity of the five senses is suspended. No visual or
audible impressions arise at such a time, no bodily feeling is felt. But, although all
outer sense-impressions have ceased, yet the mind remains active, perfectly alert, fully
The attainment of these Absorptions, however, is not a
requisite for the realization of the four Supermundane Paths of Holiness; and neither
Neighborhood-Concentration nor Attainment-Concentration, as such, possesses the power of
conferring entry to the four Supermundane Paths: hence they really have no power to free
one permanently from evil things. The realization of the Four Supermundane Paths is
possible only at the moment of deep 'Insight' (vipassanaa) into the Impermanency
(aniccataa), Miserable Nature (dukkhataa) and Impersonality (anattataa) of this whole
phenomenal process of existence. This Insight, again, is attainable only during
Neighborhood-Concentration, not during Attainment Concentration.
He who has realized one or other of the Four
Supermundane Paths without ever having attained the Absorptions, is called
Sukkha-vipassaka, or Suddhavipassanaa-yaanika, i.e. 'one who has taken merely Insight
(vipassanaa) as his vehicle'. He, however, who, after cultivating the Absorptions, has
reached one of the Supermundane Paths is called Saniathayaanika, or 'one who has taken
Tranquillity (samatha) as his vehicle (yaana)'.
For samatha and vipassanaa see Fund IV. and B. Diet.
The Four Absorptions
Detached from sensual objects, detached from evil things,
the disciple enters into the first Absorption, which is accompanied by Thought Conception
and Discursive Thinking, is born of detachment, and filled with Rapture and Happiness.
This is the first of the Absorptions belonging to the
Fine-Material Sphere (rupaavacarajjhaana). It is attained when, through the strength of
concentration, the fivefold sense activity is temporarily suspended, and the five
Hindrances are likewise eliminated.
See B. Dict.: kasina, nimitta, samaadhi.
This first Absorption is free from five things, and five
things are present. When the disciple enters the first Absorption, there have vanished
(the five Hindrances): Lust, Ill-Will, Torpor and Sloth, Restlessness and Mental Worry,
Doubts; and there are present: Thought Conception (vitakka), Discursive Thinking
(vicaara), Rapture (piiti), Happiness (sukha), Concentration (citt'ekaggataa = samaadhi).
These five mental factors present in the first
Absorption, are called Factors (or Constituents) of Absorption (jhaananga). Vitakka
(initial formation of an abstract thought) and vicaara (discursive thinking, rumination)
are called 'verbal functions' (vaci-sankhaara) of the mind; hence they are something
secondary compared with consciousness.
In Visuddhi-Magga, vitakka is compared with the taking
hold of a pot, and vicaara with the wiping of it. In the first Absorption both are
present, but are exclusively focussed on the subject of meditation, vicaara being here not
discursive, but of an 'exploring' nature. Both are entirely absent in the following
And further: after the subsiding of Thought-Conception and
Discursive Thinking, and by the gaining of inner tranquillity and oneness of mind, he
enters into a state free from Thought-Conception and Discursive Thinking, the second
Absorption, which is born of concentration (samaadhi), and filled with Rapture (piti) and
In the second Absorption, there are three Factors of
Absorption: Rapture, Happiness, and Concentration.
And further: after the fading away of Rapture, he dwells
in equanimity, mindful, with clear awareness: and he experiences in his own person that
feeling of which the Noble Ones say: 'Happy lives he who is equanimous and mindful'-thus
he enters the third Absorption.
In the third Absorption there are two Factors of
Absorption: equanimous Happiness (upekkhaa-sukha) and Concentration (citt'ekaggataa).
And further: after the giving up of pleasure and pain, and
through the disappearance of previous joy and grief, he enters into a state beyond
pleasure and pain, into the fourth Absorption, which is purified by equanimity and
In the fourth Absorption there are two Factors of
Absorp-tion: Concentration and Equanimity (upekkhaa).
In Visuddhi-magga forty subjects of meditation
(kamma.t.thaana) are enumerated and treated in detail. By their successful practice the
following Absorptions may be attained:
All four Absorptions. through Mindfulness of Breathing
(see Vis. M. VIII. 3), the ten Kasina-exercises (Vis. M. IV, V. and B. Dict.); the
contemplation of Equanimity (upekkhaa), being the practice of the fourth Brahma-vihaara
(Vis. M. IX. 4).
The first three Absorptions: through the development
of Loving-Kindness (mettaa), Compassion (karunaa) and Sympathetic Joy (muditaa), being the
practice of the first three Brahma-vihaaras (Vis. M. IX. 1-3,).
The first Absorption: through the ten Contemplations
of Impurity (asubha-bhaavanaa; i.e. the Cemetery Contemplations, which are ten according
to the enumeration in Vis. M. VI); the contemplation of the Body (i.e. the 32 parts of the
body; Vis. M. VIII, 2); 'Neighborhood-Concentration' (upacaara-samaadhi): through the
Recollections on Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, on Morality, Liberality, Heavenly Beings,
Peace (=Nibbaana) and death (Vis. M. VI. VII); the Contemplation on the Loathsomeness of
Food (Vis. M. XI. I); the Analysis of the Four Elements (Vis. M. IX. 2).
The four Immaterial Absorptions (aruupa-jjhaana or
aaruppa), which are based on the fourth Absorption, are produced by meditating on their
respective objects from which they derive their names; Sphere of Unbounded Space, of
Unbounded Consciousness, of Nothingness, and of Neither-Perception-Nor-Non-Perception.
The entire object of concentration and meditation is
treated in Vis M. III-XIII; see also Fund. IV.
8. XXII. 5
Develop your concentration: for he who has concentration,
understands things according to their reality. And what are these things? The arising and
passing away of corporeality, of feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness.
Thus, these five Groups of Existence must be wisely
penetrated; Ignorance and Craving must be wisely abandoned; Tranquillity (samatha) and
Insight (vipassanaa) must be wisely developed.
S. LVI. II
This is the Middle Path which the Perfect One has
discovered, which makes one both to see and to know, and which leads to peace, to
discernment, to enlightenment, to Nibbaana.
"And following upon this path, you will put an end to