Friday - Noble Path: Effort, Mindfulness, Concentration
1. Noble Path: Effort, Mindfulness, Concentration
“The effort of Avoiding, Overcoming,
Of Developing and Maintaining:
These four great efforts have been shown
By him, the scion of the sun.
And he who firmly clings to them,
May put an end to suffering.”
- Anguttara Nikāya
The Four Great Efforts:
1. The Effort to Avoid
we avoid the arising of unwholesome things that have not yet arisen.
This would include guarding the sense doors in order that we are not
drawn to craving.
2. The Effort to Overcome
we overcome the unwholesome things that have arisen. If sense desire
has arisen strong effort is required to abandon it. We would also work
to overcome thoughts of ill will and harm.
3. The Effort to Develop
we encourage the development of wholesome things that have not yet
arisen: one “develops the Factors of Enlightenment based on seclusion,
on dispassion, on cessation that ends in deliverance, namely: Mindfulness, Investigation of the Dhamma, Energy, Rapturous Joy, Calm,
Concentration and Equanimity.”
4. The Effort to Maintain
we maintain the wholesome things that have arisen and allow them to
grow and mature. It particularly refers to the ability to keep in the
mind a favourable object of concentration in order that it can grow in
stability and strength until we gain realisation.
only way that leads to the attainment of purity, to the overcoming of
sorrow and lamentation, to the end of pain and grief, to the entering
upon the right path and the realization of Nibbāna, is by the ‘Four
Foundations of Mindfulness’. And which are these four?
disciple dwells in contemplation of the Body, in contemplation of
Feeling, in contemplation of the Mind, in contemplation of the
Mind-Objects; ardent, clearly comprehending them and mindful, after
putting away worldly greed and grief.” - Digha Nikāya 22
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness:
1. Contemplation of the Body
can take many forms. We have already begun to practise ànàpànasati, the
Mindfulness of Breathing, which falls into this category.
It would also
include: Mindfulness of the Four Postures (”I go, I stand, I sit, I lie
down”); Clear Comprehension of Actions (In everything we do we are
aware of our intention, of our advantage, of our duty and of the true
nature of our action.);
Contemplation of the Four Elements (Seeing the
body and its actions as consisting of the Solid Element, the Liquid
Element, the Heat Element, the Vibrating Element.); and Meditation on
Death (Traditionally known as cemetery meditations, where we observe the
decay of the body.).
2. Contemplation of the Feelings
we are wholly conscious of feelings as they arise, whether they are
agreeable, disagreeable or neutral.
We see them for what they are
without attaching to them, merely watching them arise, change and pass.
We begin to realize they are simply feelings and that there is
ultimately no fixed experiencer of them - no Ego. They arise and pass
because that is their nature.
3. Contemplation of the Mind
the disciple knows the greedy mind as greedy, and the not greedy mind
as not greedy; knows the hating mind as deluded and the undeluded mind
as undeluded. He knows the cramped mind as cramped,
and the scattered
mind as scattered; knows the developed mind as developed, and the
underdeveloped mind as undeveloped… Thus he dwells in contemplation of
the mind, either with regard to his own person, or to other persons, or
He beholds how consciousness arises; beholds how it passes
away; beholds the arising and passing away of consciousness.
there’; this clear awareness is present in him, to the extent necessary
for knowledge and mindfulness; and he lives independent, unattached to
anything in the world. Thus does the disciple dwell in contemplation of
the mind.” - Digha Nikāya 22
4. Contemplation of the Mind-Objects
this form of meditation we choose to systematically contemplate a
number of different concepts in relation to the way things are:
The Five Hindrances ( nivarana )
Sense desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, sceptical doubt
The Five Aggregates ( khandha )
Material form, feeling, perception, mental formations, consciousness
The Six Sense Bases ( āyatana )
Eye and visible form, ear and sounds, nose and smells, tongue and flavour, body and touch, mind and mind-objects
The Seven Factors of Enlightenment ( bojjhanga )
Mindfulness, investigation of dhammas, energy, rapture, calm, concentration, equanimity
The Four Noble Truths ( ariya sacca )
Suffering, the arising of suffering, the cessation of suffering, the path leading to the cessation of suffering
Concentration means the development of wholesome one-pointedness. We
centre our minds upon an object and develop our ability to focus
entirely upon it.
The Buddha listed forty subjects for such meditation
and we have begun to work with several of these. Both ānāpānasati and
the brahmavihāra meditations are included within this category.
is usually seen as aiming at the jhānas - the absorptions. It develops
first through the jhānas factor of (1) initial application of mind, then
(2) sustained application, (3) rapture, (4) happiness, and finally (5)
These factors counteract the Five Hindrances that we
discussed earlier. The practice of Right Concentration is a gradual
purification, moving from coarser sensations and objects to ever more
subtle ones until we attain the fourth jhāna and then the four
immaterial states (which are further refinements):
This is made up of the five absorption factors listed above.
consists of rapture, happiness and one-pointedness (the cruder elements
of initial and sustained application having subsided).
Only happiness and one-pointedness remain because rapture, a less-refined state given to excitement, has been overcome.
the comparatively coarse nature of happiness (when compared with
neutrality), the fourth jhāna consists only of one-pointedness and