I hope you do not mind I answer your letter on dsg.
Op 23-jan-2009, om 1:47 heeft sīlānanda het volgende geschreven:
> 1. Are you familiar with nimittas?
> 2. If you are, are you able to guide with the purpose of using them
> to attain the jhanas?
N: The word nimitta has several meanings. I think you mean here the
mental image a person may have in the development of jhaana. I am not
familiar with it, I only know about it by the study of the
The first, most important requirement for the development of samatha
is knowing when the citta is kusala and when akusala. The aim of
jhana is detachment from sense objects and clinging to them. Also,
one shoulkd not underestimate the difficulty of the attainment of
jhana. Many conditions have to be fulfilled like living secluded, in
a suitable place, not being engaged in a busy worldly life. As we
read in the Visuddhimagga only one in a hundred or thousand can reach
access concentration or jhaana.
Do you have a specific purpose as to the attainment of jhaana? For
those in the Buddha's time who were skilled in jhaana there were
benefits in developing both jhaana and vipassanaa and attain
enlightenment with lokuttara jhaanacittas. But for us today the
situation is different. Jhaana should not be seen as a shortcut to
enlightenment. One may mislead oneself and take for jhaana what is
not genuine jhaana.
I requote some of the passages Rob K just quoted, because they
explain about samatha and vipassana:
Deeds of Merit (by Ms. Sujin)
Sujin. : If someone wants to apply himself to the development of kusala
citta with calm to the degree of attainment concentration, which is
jhaana, he must have a detailed knowledge of samatha bhaavanaa. He
must know which meditation subject he should recollect, and how he
should do this with kusala citta accompanied by pa~n~naa, so that
there is true calm and he can reach different levels of samaadhi,
concentration. He should also know that there are different types of
persons who develop kusala citta with calm and that these types of
persons can, accordingly, attain different levels of calm. All this
intricate. Do you wish to develop samatha to the degree of jhaana?
W. : One needs to study this subject in great detail, and, moreover,
jhaana can only temporarily subdue defilements. Therefore, I prefer to
develop insight, vipassanaa. Vipassanaa can eradicate defilements
completely, so that they never arise again.
Sujin. : It is still necessary to discuss samatha bhaavanaa, because we
should know the difference between the level of bhaavanaa which is the
temporary subduing of defilements by calm and the level which is the
complete eradication of defilements.
W. : Even if we do not intend to develop calm to the degree of the
different levels of samaadhi we can still frequently recollect in our
life meditation subjects which condition calm and purity of citta, so
defilements are subdued and do not arise at such moments. We can
make this into a habit so that it becomes our natural inclination.
call this the development of calm?
Sujin.: Certainly. The frequent recollection of subjects which condition
calm of citta is a way to prevent defilements from arising. But the
degree of calm depends on awareness and understanding of the
characteristic of the kusala citta with calm which is different from
akusala citta. One should also know how conditions for higher degrees
of calm can be developed.....
Sujin.: For the development of calm there are forty meditation subjects.
If these subjects are often recollected they can be the condition for
development of calm. In that way calm will become firmly established
so that the level of samaadhi will be reached. These forty subjects are
called samatha kamma~n~nhaana, exercises of meditation in samatha.
Some words of Ms. Sujin: "If one thinks that one should rather have
objects other than the present
one, since these appear to be more wholesome, one will never study
the object which appears now. And how can one know their true nature
when there is no study, no awareness of them? So it must be the
present object, only what appears now. This is more difficult because it
is not the object of desire. If desire can move one away to another
object, that object satisfies one's desire. Desire is there all the
there is no understanding of lobha as lobha, how can it be eradicated?
One has to understand different degrees of realities, also lobha
more subtle, otherwise one does not know when there is lobha. Seeing
things as they are. Lobha is lobha. Usually one does not see the subtle
lobha which moves one away from developing right understanding of
the present object."
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