Concentration (dhyana)

The meditation practice of focusing the mind uninterruptedly upon an object
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    The Jhanas: Perfect States of Concentration Paid Member

    At the heart of the Buddha's teaching there are doctrines and strategies that dharma students must learn, and internalize, in order to understand his map to liberation. But few strategies are as central to the Buddhist path, and as little known to Westerners, as those called the jhanas. Jhana is the Pali word for mental or meditative absorption, and refers to a set of states of deep and subtle concentration focused on a single object. In the Pali suttas, the Buddha described four jhanas, each a more profound and refined state of consciousness than the preceding one, and each building on the preceding one. The fourth jhana, in turn, can be refined even further into four more states of ever deepening concentration. These latter jhanas are called the nonmaterial jhanas because perception of the material world fades and disappears. More »
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    Mindfulness and Concentration Paid Member

                            Vipassana meditation is something of a mental balancing act. You are going to be cultivating two separate qualities of the mind-mindfulness and concentration. Ideally, these two work together as a team. They pull in tandem, so to speak. Therefore it is important to cultivate them side by side and in a balanced manner. If one of the factors is strengthened at the expense of the other, the balance of the mind is lost and meditation becomes impossible. More »
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    The Problem with Meditation Instructions Paid Member

    BEFORE WE MEDITATE for the first time, we have ideas about what meditation is, what it does, and where it should lead. Then when we get our introductory instructions—either out of a book or magazine, or from a teacher leading a class or a retreat—we’re hopeful that the instructions will fulfill our purpose for meditating and that meditation will do for us what it has reportedly done for others. We look forward to becoming calmer, to our physical pain diminishing, and to our emotional stress and turmoil being eased; we anticipate meditation granting us the peace of mind we so earnestly seek. More »
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    Disconnect the Dots Paid Member

    THE PAINTING WAS GEORGE SEURAT’S Neo-impressionist work A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, his famous scene of Parisians in a waterside park. As my eye scanned the canvas, jumping from boats to people to clouds, it caught on a tree. Here were no seamless bands of color, no blended patches of tint as in so many other paintings. The tree was made up of countless specks—a smattering of separate orange, yellow, and blue dots. The boats on the water, the people on the lawn, their faces and clothes—all were a sprinkling of motes, as if the canvas had been caught out in a rain of paint. More »
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    Bliss is a By-Product Paid Member

    Most of what we are told about awakening sounds like a sales pitch for enlightenment. In a sales pitch, we are told only the most positive aspects; we may even be told things that are not actually true. In the sales pitch for awakening, we are told that enlightenment is all about love and ecstasy, compassion and union, and a host of other positive experiences. It is often shrouded in fantastic stories, so we come to believe that awakening has to do with miracles and mystical powers. One of the most common sales pitches includes describing enlightenment as an experience of bliss. As a result, people think, “When I spiritually awaken, when I have union with God, I will enter into a state of constant ecstasy.” This is, of course, a deep misunderstanding of what awakening is. More »
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    Stepping Towards Enlightenment Paid Member

    THE ESSENCE OF BUDDHISM is the enlightenment of the Buddha. Many centuries ago in India, the wandering monk Gautama remembered a childhood experience of jhana, mental or meditative absorption, and realized that jhana is the way to awakening. He went to a quiet stretch of forest on the banks of a great river, sat on a cushion of grass under a shady fig tree, and meditated. The method of meditation that he used is called anapanasati, mindfulness of the in and out breaths. Through this practice, he entered jhana, emerged, and quickly gained the insights of enlightenment. Henceforth he was called the Buddha, the Awakened One. More »