Buddha’s Meditation and its Variants 8

Buddha’s Samadhi: The Shape of the Flame
First Quarter Moon January 1, 2012
           index to series

In summary of last week, Buddha’s samadhi is at its core concentration, but it is not one-pointed concentration; it is broad. Its breadth is clear in the various descriptions of what factors give rise to Right Samadhi, most particularly Right Mindfulness, and of what factors are alive within Right Samadhi itself. It is also clear from the core function of Right Samadhi in the attainment of knowledge of vision of things as they really are, which would not come to fruition in one-pointed concentration.

Conditions for Right Samadhi. Last week I listeda variety of factors that the Buddha described as conditions for samadhi, by way of demonstrating that one-pointedness, which would be almost sufficient in itself, is not needed. Let’s look at these factors in a bit more detail, mostly because they are really interesting.

Systemically I see two functions for the broad conditioning of Right Samadhi: First, to weave wisdom and virtue into our meditation, and second, to displace one-pointedness. Both serve the larger functions of samadhi in promoting knowledge and view, and in ending the taints. To accomplish the first the entire Eightfold Noble Path prior to Right Samadhi is regarded as prerequisites for Right Samadhi, as stated in DN 18, MN 117, SN 45.28, etc. The mind thus prepared as it enters samadhi already inclines toward wisdom and virtue, toward viewing reality in terms of impermanence, suffering and non-self, toward renunciation, kindness and harmlessness, toward purification of the mind of unwholesome factors and toward wise consideration and mindfulness.

Mindfulness is most generally regarded as the most immediate condition for samadhi.

For one of right mindfulness, right samadhi springs up. – S.V.25-6

It is indeed to be expected … that a noble disciple who has faith, whose energy is aroused, and whose mindfulness is established will gain samadhi … – S.V. 225.23-28.

Seclusion, dispassion, renunciation, wise reflection, and of course good wholesome friends, are often mentioned. Right Effort is an especially critical factor, and in fact it is only with the stilling of the hindrances that samadhi arises.

As he abides thus diligent, ardent and resolute, his memories and intentions based on the household life are abandoned; with their abandoning his mind becomes steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness and concentrated. That is how a monk develops mindfulness of the body.– Kayagatasati Sutta MN 119

Now, the Buddha describes mindfulness in terms of attending to alternative themes. Some of these themes may arouse samadhi more readily than others; this can be determined through personal experience, and I venture to guess there will be considerable variation in personal experience. However, probably no theme is incapable of arousing samadhi. For instance,

a monk guards a favorable basis of samadhi which has arisen: the perception of a worm-infested corpse, the perception of a livid corpse. A II 17.1-6

Notice that perception of a livid corpse is unlikely to be a one-pointed contemplation, another indicator that one-pointedness is not a necessary condition for samadhi.

Elsewhere the transition from mindfulness to samadhi is viewed with finer resolution. The well known seven Factors of Enlightenment (bojjhangas) actually take us through a causal sequence from mindfulness to samadhi and beyond:

  1. mindfulness (sati)
  2. investigation of states (dhammavicaya)
  3. energy (viriya)
  4. delight (piti)
  5. calm (passadhi)
  6. concentration (samadhi)
  7. equanimity (upekkha)

Actually these various factors snowball and are all present in samadhi, equanimity coming to the fore in the higher jhanas as delight recedes. Delight is again particularly noteworthy in this sequence.

Constituents of Samadhi. Last week we considered concentration (ekaggata) as the essence of samadhi. In fact a variety of factors are present to varying degrees and sometimes absent. These need to be tuned in tending the fire of Right Samadhi, basically along two dimensions: jhana level and samatha-vipassana. Jhana in simple terms is the depth of concentration; the mind becomes stiller and more subtle and refined as one moves from first to second to third and finally to fourth jhana. The following are often listed as the factors of jhana used to describe this progression:

discoursive thought (vitakka-vicara)

delight (piti)

happiness (sukha)

singleness (ekaggata)

This progresses from gross factors to more refined factors. It may be surprising to find discoursive thought in this list, since we think of that as the opposite of meditation, but there it is. In fact it is the grossest factor that can be present in samadhi, but is only present in the first jhana. Discoursive thought is actually two factors, applied thought (vitakka) and sustained thought (vicara), having a thought and running with a thought. This is identified as discursive in this passage:

Applied and sustained thought are the verbal formation, one breaks into speech. -MN 44

Also, the second jhana and beyond, in which discursive thought no longer arises, is often referred to as Noble Silence.

Every meditator, I assume, is aware of the persistence discursive thought in meditation, but will notice that once the hindrances are removed, such as restlessness, it is a much more refined kind of discursive thought than our normal babbling. In fact it often represents some of the most creative and insightful forms of discursive thinking you will ever do, and commonly turns to the Dharma. It also plays a role in reviewing what we are doing on the cushion, adjusting our postures, clarifying our intentions for the sitting period, and of course following the contemplations of mindfulness. The Buddha could well have said that this is not yet samadhi and started counting the three jhanas after discursive thought has disappeared, yet he did not. This would seem to indicate that he thought of this factor as valuable and worth sitting with in itself.

Be that as it may, progressing through the jhanas is simply a matter of progressively losing the currently most disturbing factor at each stage. Losing discursive thought puts you in the second jhana, where the elation of delight becomes the dominant factor. Now delight is a crucial factor in developing the stillness of concentration in the first place. However at this subtle stage is becomes an impediment to yet deeper samadhi; it is the most disturbing of the remaining jhana factors.

Losing delight puts you in the third jhana, where the lift of happiness is the most disturbing factor. Losing happiness puts you in the fourth and highest jhana, in which singleness of mind remains. As jhana factors are lost is progressively higher jhanas they are replaced with inner composure, keener mindfulness and pure equanimity. Delight and happiness might not seem so disturbing prior to jhana, but when the mind becomes very subtle and refined these can be like acid rock or “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” blaring from a neighbor’s house.

One way I generally think of depth of samadhi — maybe this will help — is as different parts of the mind progressively shutting or slowing down. The more active parts have to do with formations, that is, intentions and complex thoughts. Then feelings and perceptions might begin to stop. However, you discover that the mind has many very subtle layers of intentionality, of thinking, of feeling, so it is very difficult to pin down what happens at what point. But that’s OK: you don’t need to. The Buddha’s description of the jhanas is actually a very brief and coarse outline; the Buddha certainly understood he did not have to devote a whole a basket of leaves to describing the ineffable realm we will each explore for ourselves in our own meditative experience.

Now, it is important to recognize that at least something we might call “thought” is present in all of the jhanas. For instance, MN 136 admonishes us to continue satipatthana practice in the second, third and fourth jhanas, but “without thought and examination.” So this must involve a non-discursive form of reflection, and intentionality, extending all the way to the deepest jhana. Also relevant here are the practices of suffusing the body with delight, happiness and equanimity discussed in previous weeks. In MN 111 the Buddha takes Sariputta as a model and says of him,

Whatever qualities there are in the first jhāna … he ferrets them out one by one. Known to him they remain, known to him they subside…

He then makes exactly the same statement but with regard to the “second jhana,” the “third jhana” and the “fourth jhana.” In AN 9.36 we have:

A monk in each jhana regards whatever phenomena connected with form, feelings, perceptions, fabrications and consciousness as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an afflection, alian, a disintegration, a void, non-self …

AN 8.63 describes the contemplation of each of the brahmaviharas in each of the jhānas. Why isn’t all of this discursive thinking? I would say, because it is clear of purpose and extremely concentrated. Yet the mind is moving, perhaps subtly.

A question often arises in discussions of samadhi whether at some point the senses shut down, in particular whether there is seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and bodily sensation in the different jhanas. Many meditators report this, but if they are engaged in some kind of one-pointed meditation practice their experiences are not relevant to this discussion. It nonetheless seems to be an individual phenomenon that does occur, but it is not a state to be worthy of development: In the Indriyabhavana Suttathe Buddha explicitly belittles a practice like this taught by the brahmin Parasiri:

[Uttara:] There is the case where one does not see forms with the eye, or hear sounds with the ear [in a trance of non-perception]. That’s how the brahman Parasiri teaches his followers the development of the faculties.”

[Buddha:] “That being the case, Uttara, then a blind person will have developed faculties, and a deaf person will have developed faculties, according to the words of the brahman Parasiri. For a blind person does not see forms with the eye, and a deaf person does not hear sounds with the ear.”– MN 152

On the other hand there is a reference in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta to the Buddha sitting in samadhi and failing to hear a lightning strike that killed two farmers and four oxen. In another passage Mogallana while sitting in meditation hears elephants plunging into the river and crossing it while trumpeting, to which the Buddha remarked that his samadhi was not fully purified. Brockhurst speculates that these are in fact “foreign intrusions,” that is, a non-Buddhist practice attributed to the Buddha, since similar qualities are attributed to the meditation of the Buddha’s two teachers, whose meditation the Buddha clearly rejects. Āḷāra Kālāma, for instance, did not perceive 500 carts going by.

Another account of these cases is available: Hearing a lightning strike or elephants splashing and trumpeting is actually a complex event that involves mental processes at several levels. First, there is impingement on the ear and arising of a sound experience in consciousness. Then there is a process of perception as to the nature of this experience. Then there is an inference as to the external source of the experience. Then there is the arising of interest in, or distraction by, the external source. If any of these processes fails to complete the whole event of hearing as described will not be fulfilled. It is not necessary that the senses themselves have shut down.

Next week we will discuss samatha and vipassana, two remaining and very critical features of Buddha’s samadhi.

18 Responses to “Buddha’s Meditation and its Variants 8”

  1. Michael Says:

    Dear Bhante,

    I still have some problems with your definitions. In your post there are two ways in which you refer to one-pointedness. At the beginning you imply that one-pointedness is not a characteristic of samadhi since you describe it as being “broad”. Further down you say that one-pointedness is not a necessary condition for samadhi. Characteristic and condition are two different things. A condition is what someone does to achieve something. I would agree that practicing “one-pointedness” i.e., applying effort on the mind to keep it at one certain point, is not what the Buddha taught. Later on you mention that ekaggata is the essence of samadhi, but isn’t ekaggata exactly “one-pointedness”? And if ekaggata is the essence of samadhi isn’t that a characteristic? Further down you characterize the 4th jhana as singleness of mind, again ekaggata.

    In relation to vitakka-vicara, in the context of meditation, those terms can be interpreted as an inclination of the mind and keeping the mind in place, like for example with the simile of the bee and the flower which you probably know. But you prefer to interpret those terms as “thinking” which raises another question. One of the key tasks in meditation is to keep the mind in the present since wandering in the past and the future is a waste of time (MN 131 makes a good case against this). The vast majority of thoughts, if not all, are either connected with something that has already happened (even if we think about a sound just heard – it is already gone), or speculating about the future. Taking that into account, is it really possible to consider that a thinking mind is a characteristic of samadhi? I know that you have included some sutta references to confirm that there is some kind of “thinking” in samadhi, but in my understanding, those references are describing what may happen after one emerges from jhanas when thinking is again in place, and the jhana experience is then reviewed. In relation to shutting down the senses, I understand the formula “free from desire and discontent” in the Satipatthana Sutta as exactly the mind free from the senses.

    Thank You,


    • bhikkhucintita Says:


      Thank you for this reply. My post is, of course, part of a series in which many concepts have been defined in previous posts. It is important for me to be careful in anticipating how much the reader will remember from week to week. I probably should keep a running glossary or something.

      I defined two kinds of “one-pointed” in previous posts: one pointed mindfulness and one-pointed concentration or samadhi. So, the first is one-pointedness as a condition and the second is one-pointedness as a consequence or property. I am being a little casual when I say “one-pointed” without qualification. The counterpoint of either one-pointed is broad. I also referred earlier to having a theme of rather than a small object of mindfulness. Both one-pointed concentration/mindfulness and broad/thematic involve a kind of focus or unity of mind. This is also what I meant by singleness, but maybe I should not have so many terms floating around. Ekaggata in an earlier post I explicitly argue is not one-pointedness, it is unification or focus, but has a peak not a point, it can be very broad.

      As to leaving jhana to do thinking: there is no support for this step in the suttas at all. And it’s not needed if samadhi is not one-pointed. Again,my method is to give no authority whatever in my exposition to any works later than the suttas as evidence for what the Buddha said or meant to say. For Theravadins, this particularly excludes the Visuddhimagga and interpretations based on this. Instead I am letting the suttas speak for themselves insofar a a coherent system emerges that is not contradicted by meditation experience. then I am assuming all of these later interpretations that differ from these results are “variants.”

      “Free from desire and discontent” does not seem to mean the senses shut down; that interpretation has always surprised me. Isn’t it achieved, for instance, with equanimity toward whatever arises in the senses?

      Now the thinking of the clunky non-jhanic mind does indeed tend toward past and future. However this is not necessary of all thinking, and in fact mindfulness tends to keep the mind in the present. As you are checking your posture, scanning the body, examining qualities, your thinking may be very focused on the present experiences.

      I will take up many of these questions when I consider the Theravada “variants.”


  2. Michael Says:

    Dear Bhante,

    I have been following your posts and have to confess that am a bit confused now. One-pointed mindfulness, as far as I know is not a concept found in the suttas. In my perspective the size of the object of mindfulness is also somewhat irrelevant if one takes into account that the main purpose is to generate contentment as stated in the Cetakaraniya Sutta and Upanisa Sutta as a condition for samadhi to arise. The breath for example can be felt just in a small area or as the whole body breathing. Whatever makes the mind happy and quiet will work fine.

    I agree with you that it makes more sense to interpret ekaggata as unification than one-pointedness, but since the latter is used by some authors, it becomes confusing to use one-pointedness giving it another meaning than ekaggata. In one of your previous posts you mentioned the simile of the summit of a mountain for ekaggata. I think this is a very good simile. Ekaggata is the top, the highest, the most refined, one cannot go beyond that. Taking all that into account it also surprises me that you view samadhi/ekaggata as being broad. To me unification is exactly the opposite of being broad (unification=togetherness; broad=wide).

    I can understand giving the nikayas greater authority, but one has to keep in mind that the nikayas also present different strata of teachings. Some suttas have been added over the years and it is difficult to get a clear picture of what was added and when. It is said that the commentaries were not composed by Buddhagosa but compiled from existing material. Assuming that this is correct, how far back did this material go? Nobody knows. “Free from desire and discontent” has a certain meaning to me, which surprises you. I recall reading the suttas over the years and every time getting some kind of different angle on what was read before. What I am trying to say is that perception varies a lot, and one should also not forget the ground breaking studies on the brain by Benjamin Libet showing that we often see just what we want to see. I prefer not to completely disregard the commentaries and even more so the living tradition of the sangha which puts the teachings of the Buddha into practice.

    Thank you,


    • bhikkhucintita Says:


      Oh dear. I think I have been very unclear. It is good that you are raising these questions, because you are clearly very astute and if what I’ve written is unclear to you it will be unclear to many others. I may actually go back and impose a more consistent terminology on earlier posts for latecomers. I hope those who have, like you, been following all along will read our conversation.

      A key point I wanted to make about the suttas is: There is no one-pointed anything. So ekaggata can not mean “one-pointedness,” since that word clearly does occur in the suttas. There is no one-pointed concentration in Right Samadhi. There is no one-pointed mindfulness. (I introduce the term one-pointed mindfulness for whatever technique would be necessary to induce one-pointed concentration, as a straw man.)

      Now, this is a controversial position for many schools and subtraditions of Buddhism, because many variants make use of one-pointed concentration, and accordingly introduce methods of what I call one-pointed mindfulness, like focusing on the breath at the nostrils. The Theravada tradition has a lively debate about this, as, for instance, represented by Shankman’s book on Samadhi, where the one-pointed position is associated with the Visuddimagga and techniques that refer to that.

      Here is the difference in experiential terms:

      One-pointed concentration can be described as absorption into the meditation object. The mind becomes narrowly focused so that taken to its logical conclusion the meditation object eventually becomes all of experience. Often that object itself will lose its dynamic nature, a pure unmoving mental image will stand for it. I agree that experience of perception will vary, and the shutting down of the senses certainly happens to many in deep states of one-pointed concentration.

      The experience of broad concentration, I want more and more to call it “centered concentration” rather than “broad,” the mind seems to be unmoving, but experience comes and goes. There is openness to everything that arises remains a while and falls, perhaps within the bounds of a theme, as in full-body awareness, but what arises does not move the mind off center. The mind is vast but unified in its function; it is vast in its awareness but unified in its undistractedness. “Free from desire and discontent,” is in fact an accurate description of the centered mind; it is the mind that is not grasping after experience, just mindful of it.

      Both one-pointed and centered concentration can be attested in general meditative experience (for instance, I can attest to both and there are others which much deeper experience than mine of each). The point is that when we allow the suttas to speak for themselves they clearly speak of centered concentration. First, the conventional methods found to induce one-pointed concentration are suspiciously absent, broad themes standing in their stead. Second, the various mental factors at play in the descriptions of samadhi are likely to be shut out in one-pointed samadhi, yet are completely consistent with centered concentration. In fact I speculate that this is why advocates of one-pointed samadhi state you have to leave samadhi to have these experiences, which has no support in the suttas. Third, centered concentration satisfies the function most adequately of developing insight, keeping the mind most flexibly aware in its stillness.

      Now, I do not want to say that the schools that make use of one-pointed samadhi are therefore “wrong”; I just want to place them with respect to how the Buddha taught meditation. Once we do that, we can ask “how is one-pointedness being used.” I’m with you: I think if you have a community of meditators practicing a certain method, and at the same time in tune with the broader Dhamma, they are likely to know what they are doing, even if their method, perhaps for historic reasons, has a different logic than what the Buddha taught. For instance, practicing one-pointed concentration and then leaving it might be used to temporarily induce something like centered concentration, which is then can be used as a basis vipassana.

      I don’t intend to challenge the wisdom of the Theravada commentaries, nor of the Taoism-influenced zazen tradition, nor of any of the daunting plethora of meditation techniques. Probably all of these make some claim to being the Buddha’s original intent. To sort these out, I would like to let the suttas speak for themselves without trying to reconcile any of these variants. It is most important for my purposes to put the Theravada commentaries aside at this point because Theravada has been the custodian for many centuries both the suttas and the commentaries and therefore many attempts have been made, both right and wrong, to reconcile the two traditions where they may in fact simply differ. The bias of the Theravada commentaries is thus pre-argued, so it easily ends up as the loudest voice. I am purposefully trying to look at each of the traditions afresh.

      I am aware that there are inconsistencies in the suttas themselves, as I have been quick to point out. But actually having begun this project of laying out what the suttas say in this way, I am surprised at how consistent the suttas are in presenting a coherent view of Buddha’s meditation that holds together in a very unified and integrated way in method (mindfulness), in meditative experience (samadhi) and in function (particularly vipassana, which I will write about next week), and leaves virtually nothing unsaid. A coherent system shines through, and this I see as a product of the Buddha’s genius.


      • Michael Says:

        Dear Bhante,

        Thank you for the detailed explanation. I think I understand better now what you mean by one-pointed concentration and centered concentration. I have recently read a book by B. Allan Wallace – Stilling the Mind, Shamatha Teachings from Düdjom Lingpa’s Vajra Essence. I think the method described in the book is very close to what you are describing as centered concentration. In simple terms the method is to “take the mind as the path”.

        In my perception, samadhi is an experience of deep transformation power, and I am not fully convinced, also based on my personal practice, that centered concentration can produce that. But I understand that paramis and conditions can vary.

        On the other hand, in relation to one-pointed concentration my major problem is with the method. I think there is one method, based on the Visudhimagga, which very much emphasizes what you call one-pointed mindfulness. Although I have never practiced that method, I would also find it hard to reconcile with the suttas. There is another method of achieving one-pointed concentration which is based essentially upon contentment and letting go, not one-pointed mindfulness. The advocates of this method also base their arguments upon the suttas, they also let the suttas speak for themselves. This method leads to a breakthrough experience of one-pointed concentration because in order to experience this, one has to let go of the will, which is the same as letting go of the self. So, a combination of the method (contentment and letting go) with the end result (no self) produces a breakthrough experience.

        Thank you


      • bhikkhucintita Says:


        Can you tell us more about the practice you are describing? Is there someone in particular who teaches it? I would like to know in what way it is one-pointed; where does the mind rest? Is it like the one-pointed samadhi I described, where you are absorbed into the object? Except for the statement that it is one-pointed it sounds to me like it would have to be centered samadhi. Of course we are using spatial metaphors to talk about mental events so there is always some question about when we are talking metaphorically about the same thing or something different.


  3. Matt W Says:

    Thank you for taking such effort to explain this. It is way over my head at this time, but it helps me greatly to hear such a lucid description of what lies ahead. I look forward to coming back to these posts later. Please consider publishing these into a PDF on other sites once the series is finished so that they outlast your blog.


  4. What I’m Reading Tonight | notblog.be Says:

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  5. Michael Says:

    Dear Bhante,

    Thank you for your reply. As I mentioned before, the practice I described is based upon the Cetakaraniya Sutta (AN 10.2) and Upanisa Sutta (SN 12. 23) which state that a condition for samadhi to develop is contentment (pamojja). The practice takes the Anapanasati sutta as the guide. The first two steps of this sutta mention that the practioners “understands” (BB translation) the breath – long, short. This understanding is not one-pointed but just noticing or knowing the breath wherever it can be perceived more clearly. The mind will stay at the present moment although occasionally stray thoughts may interfere, as well as some impact on the senses. (I think this might be close to what you describe as centered on the breath) The third and fourth steps of the sutta are “training” to experience the breath and “training” in tranquilizing the breath. Notice the change from “understanding” to “training”. This training is a process based on experiencing the breath – it involves the heart, it is an “emotional” process which is followed by greater calm, naturally the mind starts to develop contentment towards the experience of the breath. Since the experience of the breath is so satisfying and pleasant the mind will refrain naturally from engaging in stray thoughts or to pay too much attention to the impact on the senses. Gradually the process unfolds, keeping always the breath as the object, until it becomes – naturally – the sole object, all senses are gone. The unfolding of the process follows the suttas I mentioned above: from contentment – piti – pasadhi – sukha – samadhi. The practice does not start with a one-pointed object but becomes one-pointed because that is the path the mind follows naturally if there is contentment and the experience is pleasant. Why would the mind look for anything else, in terms of thoughts or sense stimuli, if the practice is increasingly pleasant and satisfying?

    Thank you,


    • bhikkhucintita Says:

      Michael, Sorry I did not get around to answering this post last week. Yes, the method you describe seems consistent with the suttas, notably the use of the emotional factors piti and sukha. What surprises me is that you report that in this way, in particular without what I call one-pointed mindfulness, or fixing your mind in one place, the mind settles into one-pointed samadhi and not into centered samadhi. This is worth looking at. Is there a vipassana stage that first requires leaving one-pointedness?


      • Michael Says:

        Dear Bhante,

        Centered samadhi – although the mind is very much settled on a theme ( as you call it) which could be the breath, or the mind itself, as described in the B. Allan Wallace’s book I mentioned before, there are still other phenomena taking place, like sounds, thoughts, which are not strong enough to throw the mind completely off the breath.

        One pointed samadhi is when the experience with the breath becomes so captivating that simply nothing else interferes with that experience, only the breath is present and thus the mind becomes absorbed or one-pointed with the breath. Another way of putting it is a state of complete introspection with the breath.

        The transition from centered to one pointed depends primarily on contentment. On the other hand, contentment is very much linked to wisdom – seeing the shortcomings in sensory experience which will make the mind withdraw from the senses and stay only with the breath.

        With Mettaa,


  6. Michael Says:

    Dear Bhante,

    I would like to add something else to my previous post, if I may. In the night of his enlightenment, the Buddha recalled his experience as a child under the rose-apple tree. I would contend that the experience he recalled followed along the lines I previously described. Prior to that experience the Buddha practiced with his two teachers Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta but left them, and the reasons he left them might be implied from the practices he engaged after he left them. He dedicated himself to the most severe austerities imaginable. In my understanding his pursuit was guided by two principles. First that there is no gain without pain, meaning that if we want something in life, an effort has to be made, and the greater the objective, greater the effort. Second is the practical observation that extreme experiences turn into their opposites, like why are really hot chillies eaten in very hot climates. The same applies to spiritual quest – extreme pain produces extreme bliss and happiness, that is the principle behind self-mortification. But upon recalling his childhood experience he realized that the opposite is true, it is not “doing” but “letting go” which produces ultimate bliss and happiness. This is also illustrated in the simile of his begging bowl flowing upstream – to achieve the ultimate goal instead of doing something one has to not do.

    Thank you,


  7. Kim Mosley Says:

    You might want to correct this: a very brief and course outline…



  8. Mijo Says:

    Getting back to the issue of the “senses shutting down” – if I recall Shankman suggested that what one person calls shutting down another would call non-attending. The senses never actually shut down. Perhaps the mind has just become highly selective to what perceptions/contacts it attends to? The mind is also a sense as defined by the sutta’s. Perhaps it might be better to think of the senses being unified into a single somatic register? Deep abiding contentment seems to be key to allowing this to manifest.


    • bhikkhucintita Says:

      Mijo, I have myself always assumed that “shutting down” was not an interference with the neural pathways or the mechanism of perception but a matter of attention. Focusing attention on one thing attenuates awareness of others and at some point they should pop out of awareness altogether. I am not sure what a single somatic register buys you. Certainly contentment helps in focusing the mind. In any case I don’t think the Buddha ever refers to this phenomenon until the higher stage of neither perception nor non-perception. It is certainly within the realm of many people’s experience of meditation, but does not seem to be something to try to achieve.


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  11. La meditazione del Buddha e le sue varianti (VIII): La Samadhi del Buddha: la forma della fiamma – Cintita Dinsmore « Lokanātha Says:

    […] due caratteristiche molto importanti della samadhi del Buddha ancora da trattare. [Continua] Articolo originale Bhikkhu Cintita Dinsmore (1949, San Francisco), al secolo John David Dinsmore, è un monaco che […]


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