BUDDHIST MEDITATION: A PEACE LIFE 
Thich nu Tinh Van
The Buddha’s ethical teachings, these essential points of the eightfold path aim at promoting as well as perfecting the three heads of Buddhist training and discipline, namely (a) Ethical Conduct (b) Mental Discipline and (c) Wisdom. According to the capacity of each individual harmoniously cultivated, these points are all linked together and each helps the cultivation of the others.
From the Noble Eightfold Path one can turn briefly to see how does samādhi fit in with their constituents, that is, sammāvāyāmo, sammāsati and sammāsamādhi. One detached from sense-desires, unwholesome mental states, enters and remains in the paṭhama jhāna, which is with vitakka and vicāra, born of detachment, filled with pīti and sukha.
With the subsiding of vitakka and vicāra, by gaining upekkhā and Ekaggatā, he enters and remains in the dutiya jhāna which is without vitakka and vicāra, born of concentration, filled with pīti and sukha.
With the fading away of pīti, remaining upekkhā, mindful and clearly aware, he experiences in himself the joy of which the Noble Ones say, ‘Happy is he who dwells with upekkhā and sammāsati’, he enters the tatiya jhāna.
Having given up pleasure and pain, and with the disappearance of former gladness and sadness, he enters and remains in the catuttha jhāna, which is beyond pleasure and pain, purified by upekkhā and sammāsati.
In the suttas, samādhi is defined as mental one-pointedness (cittass’ ekaggatā). The essence of concentration is non-distractedness. In samādhi, the mind is not only directed towards the subject, but also penetrates it, is absorbed in it and becomes one with it. Anything is the object of attention can be the subject for concentrative meditation. Concerning the activities of mind, one should be aware of all movements of mind such as whether one’s mind is lustful, given to hatred and deluded or not. Regarding to the ideas one should know their nature and know how do they appear and disappear, how are they developed, suppressed, destroyed and so on.
The Buddha knew the diversity of character and mental make-up of each individual and the different temperaments as well as inclinations of those who approached him for guidance. Depending on the need of each individual, the Buddha recommended different methods to different persons to suit the special character. The Visuddhimagga enumerates forty meditation subjects (kammaṭṭhāna) for the diversity of them. They are known as :
- Ten kasinas, contemplation devices, are external devices used to compose the mind or focus concentration, namely., paṭhavī (earth), āpo (water), tejo (fire), vāyo (air), nīla (blue), pīta (yellow), lohita (red), odāta (white), āloka (light), ākāsa (bounded space).
- Ten asubhas, corpses at different stages of decay.
- Ten anussati (reflections) or bases of mindfulness on the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Saṅgha and so on.
- Four Brahmavihāra (boundless states of mind/ Excellent Qualities): loving kindness (mettā), compassion (karuṇā), sympathetic joy or joy in the success of others (muditā) and equanimity (upekkhā).
- Four arūpa-jhāna (formless jhāna): 1. the sphere of Infinite Space (ākāsānañcāyatana) 2. the sphere of Infinite Consciousness (viññāṇañcāyatana) 3. the sphere of Nothingness (ākiñcaññāyatana) 4. the sphere of Neither - Perception nor Non - Perception (nevasaññānāsaññāyatana).
- One Āhāre Patikkulasañña (loathsomeness of food).
- One catu-dhātu-vavaṭṭhāna (meditation on the four physical elements/ paṭhavī, āpo, tejo, vāyo ) with no thought of personal distinction. The body is merely a synthesis of physical elements, without entity.
Each of these subjects will reap different results, and can serve as the base for developing concentration to the depth necessary for attaining the nibbānic state.
There are two types of samādhi: Rūpasamādhi and Arūpasamādhi. In Rūpasamādhi it is seen that there are five jhāna-factors namely; Vitakka, Vicāra, Pīti, Sukha and Ekaggatā. When there is the presence of the five jhāna-factors, the paṭhama-jhāna is maintained. When there is the presence of Pīti, Sukha and Ekaggatā, the dutiya-jhāna is maintained. When there is the presence of Sukha and Ekaggatā, the tatiya-jhāna is maintained. When there is the presence of Upekkhā and Ekaggatā, the catuttha-jhāna is maintained. This is according to the fourfold reckoning of jhāna; however he is developing fivefold jhāna by this way: the second in the fourfold reckoning becomes the second and third in the fivefold reckoning by being divided into two. And those which are the third and fourth in the former reckoning become the fourth and fifth in this reckoning. The first remains the first in each case.
Fourfold jhāna Fivefold jhāna
1. Vitakka, Vicāra, Pīti, Vitakka, Vicāra, Pīti,
Sukha, Ekaggatā Sukha, Ekaggatā
2. Pīti, Sukha, Ekaggatā Vicāra, Pīti, Sukha, Ekaggatā
3. Sukha and Ekaggatā Pīti, Sukha, Ekaggatā
4. Upekkhā and Ekaggatā Sukha and Ekaggatā
5. Upekkhā and Ekaggatā
Upekkhā and Ekaggatā in Rūpa-jhāna are also available in Arūpa-jhāna.
One realizes and then removes the five nīvaraṇa (hindrances), namely., (i) kāmachanda (lustful desires) (ii) vyāpāda (ill-will) (iii) thīna-middha (torpor) (iv) uddhacca-kukkucca (restlessness and worry) (v) vicikicchā (sceptical doubts) by the five jhāna factors, it is the beginning of samādhi, which will further develop till it attains one-pointedness of mind.
Each jhāna-factor will remove each hindrance by this way:
Five jhāna- Vitakka Vicāra Pīti Sukha Ekaggatā
hindrances middha vyāpāda uddhacca- kāmachanda
The results ultimately in Ekaggatā when practice the mental cultivation are known as samādhi-bhāvanā (concentrative meditations). This meditation, when developed and expanded, leads to: (a) Happiness here and now (diṭṭhadhamma-sukha), (b) Gaining knowledge and vision (ñāṇa-dassana-paṭilābha), (c) Mindfulness and clear awareness (sati-sampajañña) and (d) The destruction of the corruptions (āsavānaṃ khaya).
The teachings of Lord Buddha, which have been preached for training in higher mentality, are called Adhicittasikkhā. The Buddha indeed teaches how to develop concentration for one who understands things as they really are. From that point of view, concentration provides the foundation for wisdom (paññā).
* To opine the benefits of developing concentration, the Blessed One has described the five kinds of mundane direct-knowledge (abhiññā). They are named (i) the kinds of Supernormal Powers (Iddhi-vidhā) (ii) the knowledge of the Divine Ear Element (Dibba-sota) (iii) the knowledge of Penetration of the Minds of others (Ceto-pariya-ñāṇa) (iv) the knowledge of Recollection of Past Life (Pubbe-nivāsānussati-ñaṇa) (v) the knowledge of the Passing away and Reappearance of Beings (Cutūpapāta- ñaṇa). And one supermundane power is attainable through penetrating insight, i.e., (vi) the knowledge of the Destruction of defiling fetters (Āsavakkhaya-ñaṇa).
In brief, purification from the defilement of misconduct is shown by sīla; purification from the defilement of craving, by samādhi; and purification from the defilement of false views, by paññā.
Paṭhama jhāna (first jhāna)
Dutiya jhāna (second jhāna)
Tatiya jhāna (third jhāna)
Catuttha jhāna (fourth jhāna)
Higher jhāna Higher paññā
Ākāsānañcāyatana Cintāmaya paññā Iddhi-vidha
(sphere of Infinite space) (knowledge based (supernormal power)
Sutamaya paññā (divine ear
(knowledge based element)
Viññāṇañcāyatana on learning
(sphere of Infinite and hearing) Ceto-pariya ñāṇa
Bhāvanāmaya paññā of minds)
(knowledge based on
mental development Pubbe-nivāsānussati meditation) ñāṇa (recollection
Ākiñcaññāyatana of past life)
(sphere of Nothingness)
sphere of Neither
Perception nor Non Perception)
Saññāvedayitanirodha Āsavakkhaya ñāṇa
(cessation of perception (knowledge of the destruction
and feeling) of defiling fetters)
(freedom of thought) Paññāya vimutti
(freedom through insight)
A Peace Life/ Nibbāna