http://www.UrbanDharma.org ...Buddhism for Urban America


The Urban Dharma Newsletter... January 7, 2003


In This Issue:

1. UrbanDharma Stats ...for the Month of December
2. Samma Samadhi, Samatha and Vipassana
...by Ven. Dhammavuddho Thero
3. Tipitaka, The Pali Canon

4. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: Access to Insight
5. Book Review: The Life of the Buddha : According to the Pali Canon
...by Bhikkhu Nanamoli


1. UrbanDharma Stats ...for the Month of December

Unique Visitors- 7,607

Number of Visits- 9,984

Page Views- 22,088

Hits- 108,597

2. Samma Samadhi, Samatha and Vipassana
...by Ven. Dhammavuddho Thero

* http://www.thebuddhistsociety.org.uk/samma_samhadi.htm

Samma Samadhi

Pali 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 Path.

If 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.

One-pointedness 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 mind.

Secluded 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.

With 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.

With 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.∂

With 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 concentration faculty.

From 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.

Concentration 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.

There 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.

What is the State of Jhana?

Jhana literally means fire, or brightness. So jhana can be translated as a state of mental brightness.

When 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.

Thus 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.

The four jhanas are defined in the various suttas as follows:

* First jhana

Perceptions of sensual pleasures cease (DN 9)

Subtle but true perception of delight and pleasure born of seclusion. (DN 9)

Invisible to Mara (MN 25)

Five hindrances are eliminated and five jhana factors attained (MN 43)

Still perturbable state (MN 66)

Unwholesome thoughts cease without remainder (MN 78)

Speech ceases (SN 36.11)

Bodily pain ceases (SN 48.4.10)

State of happy abiding (AN 6.29)

Beyond the reach of Mara (AN 9.39)

* Second jhana

Subtle but true perception of delight and pleasure born of concentration (DN 9)

Still perturbable state (MN 66)

Wholesome thoughts cease (MN 78)

State of ariyan silence (SN 21.1)

Applied and sustained thoughts cease (SN 36.11)

Delight that is not worldly (SN 36.29)

Mental grief ceases (SN 48.4.10)

* Third jhana

Subtle but true perception of pleasure and equanimity (DN 9)

Still perturbable state (MN 66)

Delight ceases (SN 36.11)

Pleasure that is not worldly (SN 36.29)

Bodily pleasure ceases (SN 48.4.10)

* Fourth jhana

Subtle but true perception of neither pain nor pleasure (DN 9)

Complete purity of recollection (sati) and equanimity (MN 39)

Pure bright mind pervades the entire body (MN 39)

Imperturbable state (MN 66)

Can talk to heavenly beings and an entirely pleasant world has been realized (MN 79)

Equanimity that is not worldly (SN 36.29)

Breathing ceases (SN 36.11)

Mental joy ceases (SN 48.4.10)

On emerging therefrom, one walks, stands etc. in bliss (AN 3.63)

Leads to the complete penetration of the countless elements (AN 6.29)


In 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 right recollection.

There 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.

However, 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.

This 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.

To 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.

The Necessity of Jhana for Liberation

In 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.

As 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:

Anguttara 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.

Anguttara 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 great wisdom.

Anguttara 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.∂

Anguttara Nikaya 9.36: The Buddha says: ŒTruly, I say, asava-destruction (arahantship) depends upon the first jhana . . . second jhana . . . third jhana . . . fourth jhana . . . .∂

Majjhima 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.

Majjhima 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.

Majjhima 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 . . . .∂

Majjhima 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 not possible.∂

Then 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.

Majjhima 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.

Majjhima Nikaya 68: Here the Buddha confirms that jhana is the necessary condition for the elimination of the Five Hindrances:

While 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 . . . .

Thus 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.

Digha 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 . . . .

Majjhima 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.

Majjhima 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.

Right 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.∂

Jhanas are Halfway Stations to Nibbana

The reason the jhanas are necessary for arahantship is because they are halfway stations to Nibbana.

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.

The suttas say of the jhanas:

Anguttara 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.∂

Digha 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?

Majjhima 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.

Anguttara 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 . . . .

Monks, 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.

Majjhima 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 be feared.∂

Digha 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 . . . .

So 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 . . . .

Well 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 . . . .

As 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?

Samatha and Vipassana

In 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.

Generally speaking, recollection of one object is called Samatha, tranquillity meditation, and recollection of several objects is called vipassana, contemplation meditation.

Nowadays 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.

The necessity of both Samatha and vipassana is obvious from the following suttas:

Anguttara 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 in him/her,

* Vipassana followed by samatha - after which the path is born in him/her,

* 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.

Majjhima Nikaya 43: After right view is attained, five other supporting conditions are necessary for final liberation, namely:

* Morality (sila),

* Listening to the Dhamma (dhammasavana),

* Discussion of the Dhamma (dhammasakaccha),

* Tranquillity meditation (samatha) and

* Contemplation meditation (vipassana).

Majjhima 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.

Samyutta 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).

Anguttara Nikaya 9.4 and 10.54: These two suttas also say that both samatha and vipassana are necessary.

Charity (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.

In 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 the Buddha.

The Importance of Understanding the Suttas

The 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 from suffering.

In 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 other refuge.∂

Understanding 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 them.

Also, 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.

In 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.

Of 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.

We 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.

Chapter 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.


The 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.

Mindfulness (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.

Thus 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.

Meditation 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 Sutta:

And 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.

Thus 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.

The Middle Way August 2002 p. 67 (volume 77:2)

3. Tipitaka, The Pali Canon

* http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/index.html

The 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.

The 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.

The three divisions of the Tipitaka are:

* Vinaya Pitaka

The 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.

* Sutta Pitaka

The 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.)

* Abhidhamma Pitaka

The 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.


A Map Showing the
Major Divisions of the Tipitaka

     |                       |                          |
Vinaya Pitaka           Abhidhamma Pitaka          Sutta Pitaka
     |                       |                          |
  Suttavibhanga           Dhammasangani                 |
  Mahavagga               Vibhanga                      |        
  Cullavagga              Dhatukatha                    |
  Parivara                Puggalapa˝˝atti               |
                          Kathavatthu                   |
                          Yamaka                        |
                          Patthana                      |
     |             |              |               |           |
Digha Nikaya       |      Samyutta Nikaya         |           |
           Majjhima Nikaya               Anguttara Nikaya     |
                                                      Khuddaka Nikaya
     |         |    |    |       |    |      |  |     |      |
Khuddakapatha  |    |    |       |    |      |  |     |      |
        Dhammapada  |    |       |    |      |  |     |      |
                  Udana  |       |    |      |  |     |      |
                     Itivuttaka  |    |      |  |     |      |
                         Sutta Nipata |      |  |     |      |
                                Vimanavatthu |  |     |      |
                                    Petavatthu  |     |      |
                                         Theragatha   |      |
                                               Therigatha    |

4. Access to Insight

* http://www.accesstoinsight.org

What is Access to Insight?

Access 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.

Access 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.

The 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.

I've 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.

Everything 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.

How did Access to Insight start?

In 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.

Today 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.

If Access to Insight isn't run by an organization, why does its URL ends in ".org"?

After 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.

How do you decide which texts to include on the website?

One 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."

The 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.

Beyond 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 practice.

Why don't you have translations of ALL the suttas from the Pali Canon?

This 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 distribution.

There 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.

Whom can we thank for making all these texts available?

My 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.

Thank you all.

Who translated the suttas on this website?

The 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 F.L. Woodward.

5. The Life of the Buddha : According to the Pali Canon ...by Bhikkhu Nanamoli

* http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1928706126/wwwkusalaorg-20/

Book Description

This 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.

Amazon.com 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.

You 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.

Nanamoli was one of the best Pali translators and tries to produce as authentic and as lucid an account based on the Pali sources used.

Amazon.com Reviewer: Roger H. Fisher from Fairfield, Ohio- One of the most ancient Buddhist texts, the Digha Nikaya, summarizes the Buddha's teaching this way:

"To do no evil deeds, to give effect to good, to purify the heart."

The 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.

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.

The 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 spiritual perfection.

For 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.

If 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.

Nanamoli's 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 forever.


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