Ачан Ча о джхане

Автор Ассаджи, 10:15 26 февраля 2013

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It's like this: if we get attached to the ideals and take the guidelines that we are given in the instructions too literally, it can be difficult to understand. When doing a standard meditation such as mindfulness of breathing, first we should make the determination that right now we are going to do this practice, and we are going to make mindfulness of breathing our foundation. We only focus on the breath at three points, as it passes through the nostrils, the chest and the abdomen. When the air enters it first passes the nose, then through the chest, then to the end point of the abdomen. As it leaves the body, the beginning is the abdomen, the middle is the chest, and the end is the nose. We merely note it. This is a way to start controlling the mind, tying awareness to these points at the beginning, middle and end of the inhalations and exhalations.

Before we begin we should first sit and let the mind relax. It's similar to sewing robes on a treadle sewing machine. When we are learning to use the sewing machine, first we just sit in front of the machine to get familiar with it and feel comfortable. Here, we just sit and breathe. Not fixing awareness on anything, we merely take note that we are breathing. We take note of whether the breath is relaxed or not and how long or short it is. Having noticed this, then we begin focusing on the inhalation and exhalation at the three points.

We practice like this until we become skilled in it and it goes smoothly. The next stage is to focus awareness only on the sensation of the breath at the tip of the nose or the upper lip. At this point we aren't concerned with whether the breath is long or short, but only focus on the sensation of entering and exiting.

Different phenomena may contact the senses, or thoughts may arise. This is called initial thought (vitakka). The mind brings up some idea, be it about the nature of compounded phenomena (sankhārā), about the world, or whatever. Once the mind has brought it up, the mind will want to get involved and merge with it. If it's an object that is wholesome then let the mind take it up. If it is something unwholesome, stop it immediately. If it is something wholesome then let the mind contemplate it, and gladness, satisfaction and happiness will come about. The mind will be bright and clear; as the breath goes in and out and as the mind takes up these initial thoughts. Then it becomes discursive thought (vicāra). The mind develops familiarity with the object, exerting itself and merging with it. At this point, there is no sleepiness.

After an appropriate period of this, take your attention back to the breath. Then as you continue on there will be the initial thought and discursive thought, initial thought and discursive thought. If you are contemplating skillfully on an object such as the nature of sankhāra, then the mind will experience deeper tranquility and rapture is born. There is the vitakka and vicāra, and that leads to happiness of mind. At this time there won't be any dullness or drowsiness. The mind won't be dark if we practice like this. It will be gladdened and enraptured.

This rapture will start to diminish and disappear after a while, so you can take up the initial thought again. The mind will become firm and certain with it - undistracted. Then you go on to discursive thought again, the mind becoming one with it. When you are practicing a meditation that suits your temperament and doing it well, then whenever you take up the object, rapture will come about: the hairs of the body stand on end and the mind is enraptured and satiated.

When it's like this there can't be any dullness or drowsiness. You won't have any doubts. Back and forth between initial and discursive thought, initial and discursive thought, over and over again and rapture comes. Then there is sukha (bliss).

This takes place in sitting practice. After sitting for a while, you can get up and do walking meditation. The mind can be the same in the walking. Not sleepy, it has the vitakka and vicāra, vitakka and vicāra, then rapture. There won't be any of the nīvarana, and the mind will be unstained. Whatever takes place, never mind; you don't need to doubt about any experiences you may have, be they of light, of bliss, or whatever. Don't entertain doubts about these conditions of mind. If the mind is dark, if the mind is illumined, don't fixate on these conditions, don't be attached to them. Let go, discard them. Keep walking, keep noting what is taking place without getting bound or infatuated. Don't suffer over these conditions of mind. Don't have doubts about them. They are just what they are, following the way of mental phenomena. Sometimes the mind will be joyful. Sometimes it will be sorrowful. There can be happiness or suffering; there can be obstruction. Rather than doubting, understand that conditions of mind are like this; whatever manifests is coming about due to causes ripening. At this moment this condition is manifesting; that's what you should recognize. Even if the mind is dark you don't need to be upset over that. If it becomes bright, don't be excessively gladdened by that. Don't have doubts about these conditions of mind, or about your reactions to them.

Do your walking meditation until you are really tired, then sit. When you sit determine your mind to sit; don't just play around. If you get sleepy, open your eyes and focus on some object. Walk until the mind separates itself from thoughts and is still, then sit. If you are clear and awake, you can close your eyes. If you get sleepy again, open your eyes and look at an object.

Don't try to do this all day and all night. When you're in need of sleep let yourself sleep. Just as with our food: once a day we eat. The time comes and we give food to the body. The need for sleep is the same. When the time comes, give yourself some rest. When you've had an appropriate rest, get up. Don't let the mind languish in dullness, but get up and get to work - start practicing. Do a lot of walking meditation. If you walk slowly and the mind becomes dull, then walk fast. Learn to find the right pace for yourself.

Question: Are vitakka and vicāra the same?

Ajahn Chah: You're sitting and suddenly the thought of someone pops into your head - that's vitakka, the initial thought. Then you take that idea of the person and start thinking about them in detail. Vitakka is picking it up, vicāra is investigating it. For example, we pick up the idea of death and then we start considering it: ''I will die, others will die, every living being will die; when they die where will they go?'' Then stop! Stop and bring it back again. When it gets running like that, stop it again; and then go back to mindfulness of the breath. Sometimes the discursive thought will wander off and not come back, so you have to stop it. Keep at it until the mind is bright and clear.

If you practice vicāra with an object that you are suited to, you may experience the hairs of your body standing on end, tears pouring from your eyes, a state of extreme delight, many different things as rapture comes.

Question: Can this happen with any kind of thinking, or is it only in a state of tranquility that it happens?

Ajahn Chah: It's when the mind is tranquil. It's not ordinary mental proliferation. You sit with a calm mind and then the initial thought comes. For example, I think of my brother who just passed away. Or I might think of some other relatives. This is when the mind is tranquil - the tranquility isn't something certain, but for the moment the mind is tranquil. After this initial thought comes then I go into discursive thought. If it's a line of thinking that's skillful and wholesome, it leads to ease of mind and happiness, and there is rapture with its attendant experiences. This rapture came from the initial and discursive thinking that took place in a state of calmness. We don't have to give it names such as first jhāna, second jhāna and so forth. We just call it tranquility.

The next factor is bliss (sukha). Eventually we drop the initial and discursive thinking as tranquility deepens. Why? The state of mind is becoming more refined and subtle. Vitakka and vicāra are relatively coarse, and they will vanish. There will remain just the rapture accompanied by bliss and one-pointedness of mind. When it reaches full measure there won't be anything, the mind is empty. That's absorption concentration.

We don't need to fixate or dwell on any of these experiences. They will naturally progress from one to the next. At first there is initial and discursive thought, rapture, bliss and onepointedness. Then initial and discursive thinking are thrown off, leaving rapture, bliss, and one-pointedness. Rapture is thrown off, then bliss, and finally only one-pointedness and equanimity remain. It means the mind becomes more and more tranquil, and its objects are steadily decreasing until there is nothing but one-pointedness and equanimity.

When the mind is tranquil and focused this can happen. It is the power of mind, the state of the mind that has attained tranquility. When it's like this there won't be any sleepiness. It can't enter the mind; it will disappear. As for the other hindrances of sensual desire, aversion, doubt and restlessness and agitation, they just won't be present. Though they may still exist latent in the mind of the meditator, they won't occur at this time.



So in this practice we must do everything with detachment. How are we to detach? We detach by seeing things clearly. Know the characteristics of the body and mind as they are. We meditate in order to find peace, but in doing so we see that which is not peaceful. This is because movement is the nature of the mind.

When practicing samadhi we fix our attention on the in and out-breaths at the nose tip or the upper lip. This "lifting" the mind to fix it is called vitakka, or "lifting up." When we have thus "lifted" the mind and are fixed on an object, this is called vicara, the contemplation of the breath at the nose tip. This quality of vicara will naturally mingle with other mental sensations, and we may think that our mind is not still, that it won't calm down, but actually this is simply the workings of vicara as it mingles with those sensations. Now if this goes too far in the wrong direction, our mind will lose its collectedness, so then we must set up the mind afresh, lifting it up to the object of concentration with vitakka. As soon as we have thus established our attention vicara takes over, mingling with the various mental sensations.

Now when we see this happening, our lack of understanding may lead us to wonder: "Why has my mind wandered? I wanted it to be still, why isn't it still?" This is practicing with attachment.

Actually the mind is simply following its nature, but we go and add on to that activity by wanting the mind to be still and thinking "Why isn't it still?" Aversion arises and so we add that on to everything else, increasing our doubts, increasing our suffering and increasing our confusion. So if there is vicara, reflecting on the various happenings within the mind in this way, we should wisely consider..."Ah, the mind is simply like this." There, that's the One Who Knows talking, telling you to see things as they are. The mind is simply like this. We let it go at that and the mind becomes peaceful. When it's no longer centered we bring up vitakka once more, and shortly there is clam again. Vitakka and vicara work together like this. We use vicara to contemplate the various sensations which arise. When vicara becomes gradually more scattered we once again "lift" our attention with vitakka.

The important thing here is that our practice at this point must be done with detachment. Seeing the process of vicara interacting with the mental sensations we may think that the mind is confused and become averse to this process. This is the cause right here. We aren't happy simply because we want the mind to be still. This is the cause -- wrong view. If we correct our view just a little, seeing this activity as simply the nature of mind, just this is enough to subdue the confusion. This is called letting go.

Now, if we don't attach, if we practice with "letting go"... detachment within activity and activity within detachment... if we learn to practice like this, then vicara will naturally tend to have less to work with. If our mind ceases to be disturbed, then vicara will incline to contemplating Dhamma, because if we don't contemplate Dhamma the mind returns to distraction.

So there is vitakka then vicara, vitakka then vicara, vitakka then vicara and so on, until vicara becomes gradually more subtle. At first vicara goes all over the place. When we understand this as simply the natural activity of the mind, it won't bother us unless we attach to it. It's like flowing water. If we get obsessed with it, asking "Why does it flow?" then naturally we suffer. If we understand that the water simply flows because that's its nature then there's no suffering. Vicara is like this. There is vitakka, then vicara, interacting with mental sensations. We can take these sensations as our object of meditation, calming the mind by noting those sensations.

If we know the nature of the mind like this then we let go, just like letting the water flow by. Vicara becomes more and more subtle. Perhaps the mind inclines to contemplating the body, or death for instance, or some other theme of Dhamma. When the theme of contemplation is right there will arise a feeling of well-being. What is that well-being? It is piti (rapture). Piti, well-being, arises. It may manifest as goose-pimples, coolness or lightness. The mind is enrapt. This is called piti. There are also pleasures, sukha, the coming and going of various sensations; and the state of ekaggatarammana, or one-pointedness.

Now if we talk in terms of the first stage of concentration it must be like this: vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha, ekaggata. So what is the second stage like? As the mind becomes progressively more subtle, vitakka and vicara become comparatively coarser, so that they are discarded, leaving only piti, sukha, and ekaggata. This is something that the mind does of itself, we don't have to conjecture about it, just to know things as they are.

As the mind becomes more refined, piti is eventually thrown off, leaving only sukha and ekaggata, and so we take note of that. Where does piti go to? It doesn't go anywhere, it's just that the mind becomes increasingly more subtle so that it throws off those qualities that are too coarse for it. Whatever's too coarse it throws out, and it keeps throwing off like this until it reaches the peak of subtlety, known in the books as the Fourth Jhana, the highest level of absorption. Here the mind has progressively discarded whatever becomes too coarse for it, until there remain only ekaggata and upekkha, equanimity. There's nothing further, this is the limit.

When the mind is developing the stages of samadhi it must proceed in this way, but please let us understand the basics of practice. We want to make the mind still but it won't be still. This is practicing out of desire, but we don't realize it. We have the desire for calm. The mind is already disturbed and then we further disturb things by wanting to make it calm. This very wanting is the cause. We don't see that this wanting to calm the mind is tanha (craving). It's just like increasing the burden. The more we desire calm the more disturbed the mind becomes, until we just give up. We end up fighting all the time, sitting and struggling with ourselves.

Why is this? Because we don't reflect back on how we have set up the mind. Know that the conditions of mind are simply the way they are. Whatever arises, just observe it. It is simply the nature of the mind, it isn't harmful unless we don't understand its nature. It's not dangerous if we see its activity for what it is. So we practice with vitakka and vicara until the mind begins to settle down and become less forceful. When sensations arise we contemplate them, we mingle with them and come to know them.

However, usually we tend to start fighting with them, because right from the beginning we're determined to calm the mind. As soon as we sit the thoughts come to bother us. As soon as we set up our meditation object our attention wanders, the mind wanders off after all the thoughts, thinking that those thoughts have come to disturb us, but actually the problem arises right here, from the very wanting.

If we see that the mind is simply behaving according to its nature, that it naturally comes and goes like this, and if we don't get over-interested in it, we can understand its ways as much the same as a child. Children don't know any better, they may say all kinds of things. If we understand them we just let them talk, children naturally talk like that. When we let go like this there is no obsession with the child. We can talk to our guests undisturbed, while the child chatters and plays around. The mind is like this. It's not harmful unless we grab on to it and get obsessed over it. That's the real cause of trouble.

When piti arises one feels an indescribable pleasure, which only those who experience can appreciate. Sukha (pleasure) arises, and there is also the quality of one-pointedness. There are vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha and ekaggata. These five qualities all converge at the one place. Even though they are different qualities they are all collected in the one place, and we can see them all there, just like seeing many different kinds of fruit in the one bowl. Vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha and ekaggata -- we can see them all in the one mind, all five qualities. If one were to ask, "How is there vitakka, how is there vicara, how are there piti and sukha?..." it would be difficult to answer, but when they converge in the mind we will see how it is for ourselves.

At this point our practice becomes somewhat special. We must have recollection and self-awareness and not lose ourselves. Know things for what they are. These are stages of meditation, the potential of the mind. Don't doubt anything with regard to the practice. Even if you sink into the earth or fly into the air, or even "die" while sitting, don't doubt it. Whatever the qualities of the mind are, just stay with the knowing. This is our foundation: to have sati, recollection, and sampajañña, self-awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, or reclining. Whatever arises, just leave it be, don't cling to it. Be it like or dislike, happiness or suffering, doubt or certainty, contemplate with vicara and gauge the results of those qualities. Don't try to label everything, just know it. See that all the things that arise in the mind are simply sensations. They are transient. They arise, exist and cease. That's all there is to them, they have no self or being, they are neither "us" nor "them." They are not worthy of clinging to, any of them.



 I'm talking about samādhi that is accompanied by wisdom. In fact, the Buddha didn't wish for a lot of samādhi. He didn't want jhāna and samāpatti. He saw samādhi as one component factor of the path. Sīla, samādhi and paññā are components or ingredients, like ingredients used in cooking. We use spices in cooking to make food tasty. The point isn't the spices themselves, but the food we eat. Practicing samādhi is the same. The Buddha's teachers, Uddaka and Ālāra, put heavy emphasis on practicing the jhāna, and attaining various kinds of powers like clairvoyance. But if you get that far, it's hard to undo. Some places teach this deep tranquility, to sit with delight in quietude. The meditators then get intoxicated by their samādhi. If they have sīla, they get intoxicated by their sıla. If they walk the path, they become intoxicated by the path, dazzled by the beauty and wonders they experience, and they don't reach the real destination.

The Buddha said that this is a subtle error. Still, it's something correct for those on a coarse level. But actually what the Buddha wanted was for us to have an appropriate measure of samādhi, without getting stuck there. After we train in and develop samādhi, then samādhi should develop wisdom.

Samādhi that is on the level of samatha - tranquility - is like a rock covering grass. In samādhi that is sure and stable, even when the eyes are opened, wisdom is there. When wisdom has been born, it encompasses and knows ('rules') all things. So the teacher did not want those refined levels of concentration and cessation, because they become a diversion and the path is forgotten.



On Dangers Of Samādhi

Samadhi is capable of bringing much benefit or much harm to the meditator. For one who has no wisdom it is harmful, but for one who has wisdom it can bring real benefit, for it can lead to insight.

That which can possibly be harmful to the meditator is absorption samadhi (jhana): samadhi with deep sustained calm. Such samadhi brings great peace. Where there is peace, there is happiness. When there is happiness, attachment and clinging to that happiness arise. The meditator doesn't want to contemplate anything else: they just want to indulge in that pleasant feeling. When we have been practicing for a long time we may become adept at entering this samadhi very quickly. As soon as we start to note our meditation object, the mind becomes calm, and we don't want to come out to investigate anything. We just get stuck on that happiness. This is a danger.



 The Dangers of Attachment

Using the tools of practice entails hardship and arduous challenges. We rely on patience, endurance and going without. We have to do it ourselves, experience it for ourselves, realize it ourselves. Scholars, however, tend to get confused a lot. For example, when they sit in meditation, as soon as their minds experience a teeny bit of tranquility they start to think, ''Hey, this must be first jhāna6.'' This is how their minds work. And once those thoughts arise the tranquility they'd experienced is shattered. Soon they start to think that it must have been the second jhâna they'd attained. Don't think and speculate about it. There aren't any billboards which announce which level of samādhi we're experiencing. The reality is completely different. There aren't any signs like the road signs that tell you, ''This way to Wat Nong Pah Pong.'' That's not how I read the mind. It doesn't announce.

Although a number of highly esteemed scholars have written descriptions of the first, second, third, and fourth jhāna, what's written is merely external information. If the mind actually enters these states of profound peace, it doesn't know anything about those written descriptions. It knows, but what it knows isn't the same as the theory we study. If the scholars try to clutch their theory and drag it into their meditation, sitting and pondering, ''Hmmm...what could this be? Is this first jhāna yet?'' There! The peace is shattered, and they don't experience anything of real value. And why is that? Because there is desire, and once there's craving what happens? The mind simultaneously withdraws out of the meditation. So it's necessary for all of us to relinquish thinking and speculation. Abandon them completely. Just take up the body, speech and mind and delve entirely into the practice. Observe the workings of the mind, but don't lug the Dhamma books in there with you. Otherwise everything becomes a big mess, because nothing in those books corresponds precisely to the reality of the way things truly are.

People who study a lot, who are full of theoretical knowledge, usually don't succeed in Dhamma practice. They get bogged down at the information level. The truth is, the heart and mind can't be measured by external standards. If the mind is getting peaceful, just allow it to be peaceful. The most profound levels of deep peace do exist. Personally, I didn't know much about the theory of practice. I'd been a monk for three years and still had a lot of questions about what samādhi actually was. I kept trying to think about it and figure it out as I meditated, but my mind became even more restless and distracted than it had been before! The amount of thinking actually increased. When I wasn't meditating it was more peaceful. Boy, was it difficult, so exasperating! But even though I encountered so many obstacles, I never threw in the towel. I just kept on doing it. When I wasn't trying to do anything in particular, my mind was relatively at ease. But whenever I determined to make the mind unify in samādhi, it went out of control. ''What's going on here,'' I wondered. ''Why is this happening?''

Later on I began to realize that meditation was comparable to the process of breathing. If we're determined to force the breath to be shallow, deep or just right, it's very difficult to do. However, if we go for a stroll and we're not even aware of when we're breathing in or out, it's extremely relaxing. So I reflected, ''Aha! Maybe that's the way it works.'' When a person is normally walking around in the course of the day, not focusing attention on their breath, does their breathing cause them suffering? No, they just feel relaxed. But when I'd sit down and vow with determination that I was going to make my mind peaceful, clinging and attachment set in. When I tried to control the breath to be shallow or deep, it just brought on more stress than I had before. Why? Because the willpower I was using was tainted with clinging and attachment. I didn't know what was going on. All that frustration and hardship was coming up because I was bringing craving into the meditation.