by Sujin Boriharnwanaket | 129,875 words
A Survey of Paramattha Dhammas is a guide to the development of the Buddha's path of wisdom, covering all aspects of human life and human behaviour, good and bad. This study explains that right understanding is indispensable for mental development, the development of calm as well as the development of insight The author describes in detail all ment...
Samatha or tranquil meditation is not developed merely by concentration, samādhi. Samadhi is the Dhamma which focuses on an object, it is ekaggatā cetasika accompanying each citta. When the citta is absorbed in an object for a long time, the characteristic of ekaggatā cetasika manifests itself as samādhi, concentration. It is firmly fixed on only one object. Ekaggatā cetasika which accompanies akusala citta is wrong concentration, micchā-samādhi, and ekaggatā cetasika which accompanies kusala citta is right concentration, sammā-samādhi.
If one tries to concentrate by focusing the citta for a long time on one object, and the citta is not accompanied by paññā, there is wrong concentration, micchā-samādhi. At such moments one is attached to having the citta firmly fixed on one object. If there is no paññā one cannot know the difference between lobha-mūla-citta, citta rooted in attachment, and kusala citta. Lobha-mūla-citta and kāmāvacara kusala citta (of the sense sphere) can be accompanied by the same types of feeling. Of the eight types of lobha-mūla-citta, four are accompanied by indifferent feeling and four by pleasant feeling. As to kāmāvacara kusala citta, four types are accompanied by indifferent feeling and four by pleasant feeling. In the case of indifferent feeling the citta is neither happy nor unhappy, it is undisturbed, and in the case of pleasant feeling the citta is happy and delighted. When indifferent feeling or pleasant feeling arises, it is difficult to know whether there is lobha-mūla-citta or kusala citta.Lobha-mūla-citta and maha-kusala citta are entirely different types of citta: the eight types of lobha-mūla-citta are accompanied by
akusala cetasikas whereas the eight types of maha-kusala citta (kāmāvacara kusala citta) are accompanied by sobhana cetasikas. The akusala cetasika which is wrong view, micchā-diṭṭhi, can accompany lobha-mūla-citta; it accompanies four of the eight types of lobha-mūla-citta. The sobhana cetasika which is right view, sammā-diṭṭhi or paññā, can accompany maha-kusala citta; it accompanies four of the eight types of maha-kusala citta. When the characteristic of wrong view appears, it is evident that there is lobha-mūla-citta, not maha-kusala citta, and when the characteristic of paññā appears, it is evident that there is maha-kusala citta, not lobha-mūla-citta. Thus, the characteristic of wrong view and the characteristic of paññā show the distinction between lobha-mūla-citta and maha-kusala citta. Someone who wants to develop samatha should know the difference between lobha-mūla-citta and kusala citta, otherwise he could be attached to having concentration. In that case there would be micchā-samādhi, wrong concentration, which is without paññā.
Generally, people who try to concentrate on an object want the citta to be without disturbance, anxiety or worry about different matters and events in their daily life. They are satisfied if the citta can be firmly fixed on an object and they do not realize that at the moments they wish to concentrate on a specific subject there is no maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā.
The development of samatha is actually the development of maha-kusala accompanied by paññā. Someone who wants to develop samatha must have paññā which sees the danger of akusala, of lobha and dosa, aversion. He should not merely see the disadvantage of dosa, arising when there is worry or anxiety. If one does not know one’s defilements and one does not see the danger of lobha, one will not be able to develop samatha. The person who develops samatha should be truthful, he should have paññā which sees the danger of lobha; he should have sati-sampajaññā  : he should know the difference between lobha-mūla-citta and maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā. Then he can develop maha-kusala accompanied by paññā, so that there are no longer akusala cittas arising in between the moments of developing calm, and he can reach the degree of samādhi which is access concentration, upacāra samādhi, and attainment concentration, appanā samādhi, arising at the moment of jhāna, absorption. The kusala jhānacitta of the first stage of jhāna is accompanied by the five jhānafactors of vitakka, applied thinking, vicāra, sustained thinking, pīti, rapture, sukha, happy feeling and ekaggatā, concentration.
It is not easy to develop maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā to such degree that it can be the foundation of kusala jhānacitta of the first stage, which is rūpāvacara kusala citta. Someone who wants to attain jhāna should not have the impediments which cause him to be unable to do so  . Such a person cannot attain jhāna nor enlightenment, even if he cultivates samatha or vipassanā. For the person who can develop samatha and attain jhāna or develop vipassanā and attain enlightenment there are the following requirements  :
- He should not have vipāka which is an impediment, that is, he should be born with a rebirth-consciousness accompanied by paññā, thus, tihetuka, accompanied by three sobhana hetus.
- He should be without the impediment of kamma, that is, he should not have committed one of the five ānantariya kammas, weighty kammas. These kammas prevent rebirth in heaven and the arising of magga-citta and phala-citta. These five kinds of kamma are: parricide, matricide, killing of an arahat, wounding a Buddha and creating a schism in the Order of monks, by not living in harmony with the Order.
- He should be without the impediment of the kinds of wrong view classified as "wrong views with fixed destiny" (niyata micchādiṭṭhi). These are the wrong views of natthika-diṭṭhi (denial of the result of kamma), of ahetuka-diṭṭhi (denial of both kamma and result) and of akiriya-diṭṭhi (denial of the efficacy of kamma)  .
Someone may be born with a paṭisandhi-citta, rebirth-consciousness, which is tihetuka, thus, accompanied by paññā, but he may be attached to visible object, sound, odor, flavor and tangible object and he may not see the danger of these sense objects. Then he will not be inclined to eliminate his infatuation with sense objects by observing sīla and developing samatha. Thus, the development of samatha to the degree of access concentration, upacāra samādhi, and attainment concentration, appanā samādhi, is not at all easy. If someone takes lobha-mūla-citta for maha-kusala citta, he may erroneously believe, when the citta conditions visions of hell, heaven, different places and events, that he has attained upacāra samādhi, and appanā samādhi of the different stages of jhāna.
The development of samatha is a most intricate matter which should be studied carefully, so that there can be right understanding of it.
When we in our daily life are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, experiencing tangible objects or thinking, we should realize that akusala cittas are likely to arise more often than kusala cittas. In a day or in a month there are only very few moments of kusala cittas which have as objective dāna or sīla. Someone who sees the danger of akusala will be inclined to develop kusala citta. When there is no opportunity for dāna or sīla, one can develop calm, freedom from akusala, in one’s daily life, and that is kusala of the degree of samatha. It is beneficial to develop calm in daily life, even if one cannot attain access concentration or attainment concentration. However, if one wants to subdue defilements, so that the citta is calm, free from akusala, one needs to have paññā which knows how the citta can become calm, free from defilements, when one experiences sense objects or thinks. If that is not the case, kusala citta cannot arise.
For the development of samatha, the development of kusala citta with calm which is freedom from akusala, there are forty specific subjects which can condition calm. These subjects are: ten kasinas, ten meditations on foulness (asubha), ten recollections (anussati), the meditation on the repulsiveness of food (āhare paṭikkūla saññā), defining of the four elements (catudhatu vavaṭṭhāna), the four divine abidings (brahmavihāras) and the four subjects of arupa-jhāna.
The Ten Kasinas
The ten kasinas are the following  :
- Earth kasina (paṭhavī kasiṇa), by means of which one meditates only on earth,
- Water kasina (āpo kasiṇa), by means of which one meditates only on water,
- Fire kasina (tejo kasiṇa), by means of which one meditates only on fire,
- Air kasina (vāyo kasiṇa), by means of which one meditates only on air or wind,
- Blue kasina (nīla kasiṇa), by means of which one meditates only on blue color,
- Yellow kasina (pīta kasiṇa), by means of which one meditates only on yellow color,
- Red kasina (lohita kasiṇa), by means of which one meditates only on red color,
- White kasina (odāta kasiṇa), by means of which one meditates only on white color,
- Light kasina (āloka kasiṇa), by means of which one meditates only on light,
- Space kasina (ākāsa kasiṇa), by means of which one meditates only on space.
Is the citta which pays attention to only earth kusala or akusala? If paññā does not arise while paying attention to earth, there is akusala citta which desires to think of earth or to focus on earth.
When paññā arises, the citta which meditates on earth is kusala. It can be realized that all material phenomena which appear cannot be without the element of earth  and that all the things one is attached to or desires are only earth. When one realizes that all the things in the world one used to be attached to are in essence only earth, it is a condition for subduing attachment to them.
It is difficult to have kusala citta which meditates on only earth, because when an object impinges on one of the senses or the mind-door, one is immediately taken in by that object. Therefore, if someone wants to develop samatha so that kusala citta becomes more and more established in calm, in freedom from akusala, he needs to be in a quiet place, where he is not disturbed by the noise of people. One should make the earth kasina of smooth clay in the form of a circle, without flaws and imperfections, so that it is suitable for meditation. Otherwise the citta would be inclined to delight in and have attachment to the outward appearance of it  . When the person who develops the earth kasina looks at it and contemplates it with right understanding, there is kusala citta accompanied by paññā, and there is true calm. He should look at the earth kasina in order to remind himself to pay attention to only earth, all the time, and not to other objects.
It is most difficult to pay attention all the time to only earth with kusala citta which is calm, free from akusala. As the "Visuddhimagga" states, the kasina should not be too small, nor too large, it should not be too far away nor too near, it should not be placed too high nor too low. Vitakka cetasika, applied thinking, is one of the jhānafactors  one cannot do without. Vitakka cetasika arising with maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā should "touch" or "strike at" the earth kasina. The citta should be free from akusala when one’s eyes are closed as well as when they are open, so that a visualized image (uggaha-nimitta or acquired image) of the earth kasina can appear through the mind-door. This mental image is just as clear as when the person who develops the earth kasina was looking at it with his eyes open. Even if people are born with three hetus, thus, with paññā, they may not be able to acquire this mental image. It can appear when maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā has firmly established calm with the earth kasina. When this mental image appears one has not yet attained access concentration, upacāra samādhi.
It is not at all easy to guard this mental image and thereby have calm increased, while developing maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā. According to the "Visuddhimagga" (IV, 31), when the "hindrances"( nīvaraṇa Dhammas, akusala Dhammas which disturb and oppress the citta) have been successively suppressed, the citta is more established in calm and then a counter-image (paṭibhāga-nimitta) of the earth kasina appears. This image is clearer and more purified than the "acquired image" which appeared before. At that moment the maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā has become more established in calm so that access concentration, upacāra samādhi, is reached. This kind of concentration is called access concentration, because it is close to attainment-concentration, which is firmly fixed on the object, at the moment the jhānacitta of the first stage arises.
The meditator should guard the counter-image by developing the maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā which has attained the degree of access concentration, so that calm increases all the time. In that way calm to the degree of attainment-concentration, appanā samādhi, can be reached, and the jhānacitta of the first stage can arise, which is of the level of rūpāvacara citta. However, in order to reach this stage he should guard the counter-image as if it were the unborn child of a "Wheel-turning Monarch"  . He should avoid conditions not beneficial for the development of calm  and these are the following:
- He should avoid a dwelling where the mental image which has not yet arisen does not arise, and the mental image which has arisen is lost.
- He should not be too far from an alms-resort nor too near, and he should not be in a place where it is difficult to obtain alms food or where alms food is not plentiful.
- He should avoid unsuitable speech, speech included in the kinds of "animal talk". Such speech is not beneficial for the development of paññā, and it leads to the disappearance of the mental image which has arisen.
- He should avoid people who are full of defilements, who are engaged with what is unwholesome, because that causes him to be disturbed by impure cittas.
- He should avoid unsuitable food, because that would make him ill.
- He should avoid an unsuitable climate, because that would make him ill.
- He should avoid postures which are unsuitable for his concentration.
If he avoids what is unsuitable and cultivate what is suitable, but appanā samādhi does not yet arise, he should have recourse to ten kinds of skill in absorption, Dhammas beneficial for the arising of jhānacitta  :
- He should make the basis (vatthu) clean, that is the internal basis which is his body, and the external basis which are his clothing and his dwelling. Otherwise the citta will not be purified.
- He should balance the faculties, indriyas  . For example, confidence and understanding should be balanced, energy and concentration should be balanced. They are balanced through mindfulness.
- He needs to have skill in protecting the mental image.
- He should exert the citta when it should be exerted.
- He should restrain the citta when it should be restrained.
- He should encourage the citta when it should be encouraged.
- He should regard the citta with equanimity when it should be regarded with equanimity.
- He should avoid un-concentrated persons.
- He should cultivate concentrated persons.
- He should be inclined to and resolute upon those things which lead to concentration.
If he does not have those ten skills in absorption, maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā cannot become more established in calm to the degree of being the foundation for appanā-samādhi, for the arising of rūpāvacara citta which is the jhānacitta of the first stage. But if he is equipped with these skills, jhānacitta can arise.
The jhānacitta is of a higher level of citta, it is of a plane of citta which is free from the sense sphere (kāmāvacara citta). In the mind-door process during which jhāna is attained, there are the following cittas arising in succession:
- bhavanga-citta, which is maha-vipāka ñāṇa-sampayutta 
- bhavanga calana (vibrating bhavanga), which is maha-vipāka, ñāṇa-sampayutta
- bhavangupaccheda (arrest bhavanga), which is maha-vipāka, ñāṇa-sampayutta
- manodvārāvajjana-citta, which is ahetuka kiriyacitta
- parikamma (preparatory citta) which is maha-kusala citta, ñāṇa-sampayutta
- upacāra (access) which is maha-kusala citta, ñāṇa-sampayutta (of the same type as parikamma)
- anuloma (adaptation) which is maha-kusala citta, ñāṇa-sampayutta (of the same type as parikamma)
- gotrabhū (change of lineage) which is maha-kusala citta, ñāṇa-sampayutta (of the same type as parikamma)
- kusala citta of the first stage of jhāna, which is rūpāvacara kusala citta
- bhavanga-citta, which is maha-vipākacitta, ñāṇa-sampayutta
When jhāna is attained for the first time, there is only one moment of rūpāvacara kusala citta, whereas, later on, when one’s skill has increased, there can be more jhānacittas arising in succession without the arising of bhavanga-cittas in between. Such a process of jhānacittas is called "jhāna samāpatti", jhāna attainment. It is the attainment to the citta which is calm and firmly concentrated on the object of jhāna. Then jhānacittas arise successively during the length of time determined upon by the meditator.
Before jhāna vīthi-cittas arise there must each time be maha-kusala cittas accompanied by paññā. The first maha-kusala javana-citta is parikamma, preparatory citta; it prepares appanā-samādhi, it is the condition for the attainment of absorption, appanā. If the māha-kusala citta which is parikamma does not arise, the following cittas and appanā-samādhi which accompanies jhānacitta cannot arise.
The second maha-kusala javana-citta is upacāra, access, because it is close to appanā-samādhi.
The third maha-kusala javana-citta is anuloma, adaptation, because it is favorable (anukūla) to appanā-samādhi.
The fourth maha-kusala javana-citta is gotrabhū, change of lineage, because it transcends the sensuous plane (kamāvacara bhūmi) so that the fine-material plane (rupāvacara bhūmi) can be reached.
When the fourth maha-kusala javana-citta has fallen away, the following javana-citta is rūpāvacara kusala citta of the first stage of jhāna.
The development of five cetasikas which are the jhāna-factors condition the arising of rūpāvacara kusala citta of the first stage of jhāna. These factors accompanying the jhānacitta are: applied thinking, vitakka, sustained thinking, vicāra, rapture, pīti, happy feeling, sukha and concentration, ekaggatā. Among the sobhana cetasikas accompanying the jhānacitta these five factors are specifically counteractive to the "hindrances", the nīvaraṇa Dhammas. The five hindrances are akusala Dhammas which disturb the citta and prevent it from the development of calm. They are the following:
- kāmacchanda, sensuous desire, which is attachment to visible object, sound, odor, flavor and tangible object,
- vyāpāda, ill-will or displeasure,
- thīna-middha, sloth and torpor, which are list-less-ness and dejectedness, inertness and drowsiness,
- uddhacca-kukkucca, rest-less-ness and worry,
- vicikicchā, doubt about realities, doubt about cause and result.
The five jhāna-factors are opposed to the five hindrances. Vitakka cetasika applies itself to the object, it "touches" it, so that the citta is calm. Vicāra cetasika continually occupies itself with the object vitakka touches, so that the citta does not become restless and takes another object. Pīti cetasika is satisfied with and takes delight in the meditation subject and sukha vedanā, happy feeling, increases this satisfaction. Ekaggatā cetasika which supports the other jhāna-factors is firmly concentrated on the object of the jhāna-citta of the first stage.
The five jhāna-factors are opposed to, counteractive to the five hindrances in the following way (Visuddhimagga IV, 86):
- Vitakka cetasika is opposed to thīna-middha, sloth and torpor. When vitakka "thinks" only of the meditation subject, touches it time and again, dejectedness, list-less-ness and drowsiness cannot arise.
- Vicāra cetasika is opposed to vicikicchā, doubt. When vicāra cetasika is continually occupied with the object which vitakka touches, doubt about realities and doubt about cause and result cannot arise.
- Pīti cetasika is opposed to vyāpāda, ill-will. When calm with the meditation subject increases there will also be more rapture and delight with the subject of calm and then ill-will and displeasure cannot arise in between.
- Sukha, happy feeling, is opposed to uddhacca-kukkucca, rest-less-ness and worry. When there is happy feeling about the meditation subject, rest-less-ness and worry which could turn to another object cannot arise.
- Ekaggatā cetasika is opposed to kāmacchanda, sensuous desire. When samādhi is firmly concentrated on the meditation subject, there cannot be attachment to sense objects.
When rūpāvacara kusala citta of the first stage of jhāna accompanied by five jhāna-factors arises, attainment-concentration, appanā-samādi, is firmly concentrated on the object. This jhānacitta which arises for the first time is not succeeded by other jhāna-cittas, it arises only once. After several bhavanga-cittas have arisen and fallen away in between there is a mind-door process of cittas. The mind-door adverting-consciousness adverts to the jhānacitta and after it has fallen away it is succeeded by seven maha-kusala cittas accompanied by paññā which considers the jhāna-factors and then there are bhavanga-cittas arising in between, to be followed by other mind-door processes. Only one of the jhāna-factors at a time is considered during one process of cittas. The mind-door processes of cittas which consider the jhāna-factors one at a time are called the processes of reviewing, paccavekkhaṇa vīthi, and these have to arise each time after jhāna has been attained.
The paññā of the person who attains rupa-jhāna has to know the different characteristics of the five jhāna-factors. Thus, paññā must know the difference between vitakka cetasika, applied thinking, and vicāra cetasika, sustained thinking, it must know the difference between pīti, rapture, and sukha, happy feeling, and it must also know the characteristic of ekaggatā cetasika which is of the degree of appanā samādhi.
The person who develops samatha should have sati-sampajañña in his daily life, he should have right understanding of the characteristic of kusala citta and of akusala citta which may follow one upon the other very rapidly. If this is not known he may erroneously believe that lobha-mūla-citta accompanied by pleasant feeling is calm, that it is kusala.
The person who develops samatha does not have extraordinary experiences. The development of samatha is the development of kusala through the mind-door. When the citta has become calm only the mental image of the meditation subject appears and this is the condition for the citta to become more firmly established in kusala. The person who, for example, develops the meditation subject of the water kasina has the mental image of this kasina as object, and he does not have visions of hell, of heaven or of different happenings. If someone tries to concentrate and believes to have all kinds of visions, he does not develop samatha.
In the development of samatha there must be maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā which attains calm by meditation on one of the forty meditation subjects of samatha. Lobha-mūla-citta or maha-kusala citta which is unaccompanied by paññā may have as object one of these forty meditation subjects, but then there is no development of samatha. A child, or even a grown up, may recite the word "Buddha", without pondering on his virtues, but then there is no maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā, and thus no development of true calm by means of the recollection of the Buddha. Someone who sees a corpse may be frightened and then there is dosa-mūla-citta, not maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā. If a person tries to concentrate on his breathing without knowing in which way there can be true calm, freedom from defilements, there is no maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā. All meditation subjects of samatha should be developed by maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā which has right understanding of the way to become calm. They should be developed in the same way as the earth kasina, as explained above.
The person who has attained the first stage of jhāna may see the disadvantage of vitakka cetasika, the cetasika which touches or "strikes" at the object. Usually vitakka touches the sense objects which are visible object, sound, odor, flavor and tangible object, and these are still close to being the objects of akusala Dhammas. The jhānacitta could become calmer and more refined if it would be without vitakka and only accompanied by vicāra, pīti, sukha and ekaggatā. Therefore he makes an effort to meditate on the object of the first stage of jhāna he attained and to develop more calm with that object without vitakka having to touch it. He can accomplish this if he acquires five "masteries" or skills ,vasī, in jhāna. These are the following:
- Mastery in adverting (āvajjana vasī), skill in adverting to the first jhāna wherever and whenever he wishes to.
- Mastery in attaining (samāpacchana vasī), skill in entering into jhāna, that is causing the arising of jhānacitta, wherever and whenever he wishes to.
- Mastery in resolving (adiṭṭhāna vasī), skill in resolving the duration of the series of jhānacittas which arise and fall away in succession, wherever and whenever he wishes to.
- Mastery in emerging (vuṭṭhāna vasī), skill in emerging from jhāna, wherever and whenever he wishes to.
- Mastery in reviewing (pacchavekkhaṇa vasī), skill in reviewing each of the jhāna-factors, one at a time, wherever and whenever he wishes to.
If someone wishes to attain higher stages of jhāna he should see the disadvantages of the jhāna-factors of the lower stages and he should abandon those successively. The jhāna-factors are abandoned at different stages in the following way:
- When the jhānacitta of the second stage (dutiya jhāna) arises, vitakka has been abandoned, and thus, it is without vitakka and accompanied by the four factors of vicāra, pīti, sukha and ekaggatā.
- The jhānacitta of the third stage (tatiya jhāna) is without vicāra and accompanied by the three factors of pīti, sukha and ekaggatā.
- The jhānacitta of the fourth stage (catuta jhāna) is without pīti and accompanied by the two factors of sukha and ekaggatā.
- The jhānacitta of the fifth stage (pañcama jhāna) is without sukha and accompanied by the two factors of upekkhā and ekaggatā.
As explained above, the jhāna-factors are abandoned in accordance with the fivefold system of jhāna. For some people paññā can abandon both vitakka and vicāra at the same time, and then the second stage of jhāna is without vitakka and vicāra. In that case the stages of jhāna are reckoned according to the fourfold system and that means that the second, third and fourth stage of jhāna of the fourfold system are respectively like the third, fourth and fifth stage of the fivefold system.
If someone lacks the skills which are the "masteries", vasīs, it is impossible for him to abandon jhāna-factors of a lower stage so that he could attain higher stages of jhāna.
Whenever the jhānacittas have fallen away there have to be processes of cittas which review the jhāna-factors.
By the development of samatha defilements are subdued, they are not eradicated completely. Therefore it may happen that jhānacitta declines, that it does not arise quickly, that one loses the skill one used to have, or even that jhānacitta does not arise again. If one wants to maintain one’s skill in jhāna, one should apply oneself to the "masteries" each time one of the stages of jhāna has been attained.
With regard to the forty meditation subjects of samatha, some objects condition the citta to be calm, but not to the degree of upacāra samādhi, access concentration, and some objects condition calm to the degree of upacāra samādhi. Some objects condition calm only to the degree of the first jhāna, some to the degree of the fourth stage of jhāna according to the fivefold system, and some to the degree of the fifth jhāna. Some meditation subjects can exclusively be the object of the fifth jhāna.
There are six recollections, anussati, which can condition calm, but if one is not an Aryan they cannot condition calm to the degree of upacāra samādhi. These recollections are: recollection of the Buddha, Buddhānussati, recollection of the Dhamma, Dhammānussati, recollection of the Sangha, Saṇghānussati, recollection of generosity, cāgānussati, recollection of morality, sīlānussati, and recollection of devas, devatānussati. For those who are Aryans, these recollections can condition calm to the degree of upacāra samādhi, but not to the degree of appanā samādhi, attainment concentration.
The recollection of death, maraṇānussati, can condition calm only to the degree of upacāra samādhi. The recollection of peace, upasamānussati, is the meditation on nibbāna which can be developed exclusively by Aryans, and this subject can condition calm only to the degree of upacāra samādhi.
The perception of repulsiveness in food, āhāre paṭikkūla saññā, is a meditation subject which can condition calm to the degree of upacāra samādhi.
The analysis of the four Elements, catu dhatu vavatthāna, a meditation subject on the Element of Earth, Water, Fire and Wind which are present in the body, can condition calm to the degree of upacāra samādhi.
The ten impurities, asubhā, are ten cemetery contemplations which can condition calm to the degree of the first jhāna.
Mindfulness of the body, kāyagatāsati, is a meditation on the loathsomeness of the body. It is a reflection on each of the thirty-two parts of the body, such as hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin. This meditation subject can condition calm to the degree of the first jhāna.
Mindfulness of breathing, ānāpāna sati, can condition calm to the degree of the fifth stage of jhāna.
The ten kasinas can condition calm to the degree of the fifth jhāna.
Three divine abidings, brahmavihāras, namely, loving kindness, mettā, compassion, karuṇā, and sympathetic joy, muditā, can condition calm to the degree of the fourth jhāna of the fivefold system (and the third jhāna of the fourfold system).
The fourth brahmavihāra is equanimity, upekkhā. When someone has attained calm with the other three brahmavihāras to the degree of the fourth stage of jhāna, he can develop the brahmavihāra of upekkhā and this is exclusively the object of the jhāna of the fifth stage.
There are four stages of arupa-jhāna, immaterial jhāna. The jhānacitta of these stages is of the same type as the jhānacitta of the fifth stage of rupa-jhāna, but it does not have an object connected with rupa. Someone who wants to develop arupa-jhāna should first attain the fifth stage of rupa-jhāna. Then he may see the disadvantage of this stage. Although it is the highest stage of rupa-jhāna, the jhānacitta still has an object connected with rupa, and therefore, he sees the danger of easily becoming infatuated with sense objects. Thus, he withdraws from rupa as object and inclines to objects which are not rupa, which are more subtle and more refined. If he abandons rupa and takes as object arupa which is boundless until appanā samādhi arises, he attains arupa-jhāna kusala citta. Then the cittas arise and fall away in succession in a mind-door process, just as in the case of the attainment of rupa-jhāna. He has to be equipped with the five "masteries", vasīs, so that he can attain higher stages of arupa-jhāna.
There are four stages of arupa-jhāna, and the jhānacitta of all four stages is of the same type as the jhānacitta of the fifth stage of rupa-jhāna, but the objects are different and they become successively more subtle.
The first stage of arupa-jhāna is the jhānacitta which has as object infinity of space, it is the ākāsānañcāyatana jhānacitta  .
The second stage of arupa-jhāna is the jhānacitta which has as object infinity of consciousness, it is the viññāṇañcāyatana jhānacitta  . This citta has as object the jhānacitta of the first stage of arupa-jhāna which experiences infinity of space. The person who cultivates this stage of arupa-jhāna sees that the object of infinity of space is not as subtle as the object which is the jhānacitta experiencing infinity of space. Therefore he transcends the object of infinity of space and takes as object the jhānacitta which experiences infinity of space, until appanā samādhi arises and he attains the second stage of arupa-jhāna, of the infinity of consciousness.
The third stage of arupa-jhāna is the jhānacitta which has as object "there is nothing", it is the akiñcaññāyatana jhānacitta  . When the person who cultivates this stage sees that the object of the second stage, the infinity of consciousness, is not as subtle and refined as the object of nothingness, he transcends the object of the second stage and turns to the object of nothingness which conditions more calm. He cultivates the object of nothingness until appanā samādhi arises and he attains the third stage of arupa jhāna. The jhānacitta of this stage has nothingness as object, because it has no longer as object the jhānacitta experiencing infinity of space, which citta is the object of the second stage.
The fourth stage of arupa jhāna is "neither-perception-nor-non-perception", the n’evasaññā-n’āsaññāyatana jhānacitta  . This is the jhānacitta which has as object the jhānacitta of the third stage experiencing nothingness. The person who cultivates this stage sees that the jhānacitta which experiences nothingness is of a most subtle nature and therefore he takes this jhānacitta as object, so that appanā-samādhi arises and he attains the fourth stage of arupa-jhāna. Saññā and the accompanying Dhammas at this stage of jhāna are so subtle that it cannot be said that they are present nor that they are not present; they are present in a residual way and cannot effectively perform their functions  . The arupa-jhāna of the fourth stage, the "sphere of neither-perception-nor non-perception" is so called, because it cannot be said that there is perception, saññā, nor can it be said that there is not.
The development of samatha, the calm which is freedom from defilements, up to the degree of arupa-jhāna, can only be accomplished by a powerful citta. When someone has achieved this he can train himself to reach the benefit of the special supernatural powers he has set as his goal. These are, for example, recollection of one’s former lives, the resolution to have the "divine eye" by which one sees things that are far off, or that are obstructed, the resolution to have the "divine ear" by which one hears sounds far or near, the resolution to perform magical powers (iddhi pāṭihāriya) such as walking on water, diving into the earth, floating through the air, or the creation of different forms. However, if someone wants to train himself to have such special qualities he must have the highest skill in all kasinas and in the eight attainments which are the four stages of rupa-jhāna and the four stages of arupa-jhāna.
The "Visuddhimagga" describes fourteen ways of training to achieve supernatural powers (XII, 3-8). Someone who wishes to train himself to reach this goal should, for example, be able to attain jhāna with the kasinas in conformity with the order of the kasinas, that is, first with the earth kasina, after that with the water kasina, and so on. Or he should be able to attain jhāna with the kasinas in reverse order, or to skip jhānas of the different stages without skipping the successive kasinas, or to skip kasinas without skipping the successive stages of jhāna. Thus, he should know the right conditions for perfect control of his attainments.
It may seem that a person has such perfect control and that he can perform miracles, but, if he has not cultivated the right cause leading to the right effect, he does not really have the special qualities which are supernatural powers. The "Visuddhimagga" (IV, 8) explains that the development of the different stages of jhāna and the acquirement of supernatural powers is most difficult:
"It is not possible for a meditator to begin to accomplish transformation by supernormal powers unless he has previously completed his development by controlling his mind in these fourteen ways. Now the kasina preliminary work is difficult for a beginner and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The arousing of the (acquired) mental image is difficult for one who has done the preliminary work and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To extend the sign when it has arisen  and to reach absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To tame one’s mind in fourteen ways after reaching absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The transformation by supernatural power after training one’s mind in the fourteen ways is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. Rapid response after attaining transformation is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it..."
It is the same in the case of remembering one’s former lives, it is most difficult. Who could attain upacāra samādhi, access concentration, if the citta is not maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā? Who could claim to have attained appanā samādhi which arises at the moment of the first stage of jhāna? Who could claim to have attained the second, third, fourth and fifth stage of jhāna, or arupa-jhāna? Who could claim to remember his past lives if he cannot revert in memory from now to this morning? Can he remember each moment? Can he revert to yesterday evening, to yesterday morning, or can he, with a citta firmly established in calm, remember each moment reverting to the rebirth-consciousness, or even to the last moment of the last day of his past life and revert successively to past lives? This can only be achieved if the jhānacitta has become powerful, and if one has trained oneself in all the skills necessary for supernatural powers. If that is the case one can cause maha-kusala citta accompanied by pañnnā to arise and remembrance of past lives can be accomplished while reverting from a specific moment on to the past.
If one studies in detail and understands the right conditions for the special qualities which are the supernatural powers, one will know whether a certain achievement is truly due to those special qualities or not.
By the development of samatha defilements are not eradicated. In samatha the paññā is not developed which penetrates the characteristics of impermanence, dukkha and anattā, which knows the true nature of realities. Only this kind of paññā can eradicate defilements. If jhāna does not decline and jhānacitta can arise in the process just before the dying-consciousness, the jhānacitta is kamma-condition for the arising of jhāna vipākacitta which is the rebirth-consciousness in one of the Brahma planes. However, when that person’s lifespan has come to an end in such a plane, he will again revert to a life in this world with clinging to self, to visible object, sound, odor, flavor and tangible object.
The development of samatha in past lives can be accumulated in the cycle of birth and death. It can be a condition for some people to have a presentiment of events which may take place. Someone who has developed concentration may be able to see omens and have a presentiment of events in the future. However, it should be remembered that for the accomplishment of supernatural powers samatha must be developed by maha-kusala citta accompanied by paññā, so that calm grows and concentration on the meditation subject becomes firmly established, to the degree that the stages of jhāna can successively arise. It should be noted that all this is most difficult. A person who has developed concentration may have visions of future events, and some of his presentiments may come true whereas some may be wrong. His visions may be a result of his development of concentration, but they are not supernatural powers, the special qualities which are the result of the development of samatha.
If one develops samatha it is already most difficult to attain even upacāra samādhi, access concentration. The reason is that when an object impinges on one of the senses or the mind-door, we usually turn to such an object with lobha, dosa or moha. Kusala citta of the level of dāna, sīla or mental development arises very rarely in our daily life. The moments of kusala citta are very rare when compared to the moments of akusala cittas which usually arise very rapidly, on account of the objects impinging on the senses and the mind-door. Defilements cannot be eradicated by the development of samatha. When defilements arise and overwhelm the citta, even samatha which has been developed to the degree of miraculous powers can decline.
Before the Buddha’s enlightenment there were people who accomplished the development of samatha to the highest degree of arupa-jhāna, the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, and who could train themselves to attain supernatural powers, such as the divine eye, the divine ear, the remembrance of former lives and miraculous powers. However, in spite of this they could not penetrate the four noble Truths, since they had not cultivated the right cause for this result. The right cause is the development of vipassanā, insight, to the degree that it becomes the right condition for the realization of the four noble Truths. Some people at that time had wrong understanding of the way leading to the realization of the four noble Truths, they followed the wrong practice. After the Buddha had attained enlightenment and taught the Dhamma, some of the Aryan disciples who had realized the four noble Truths had cultivated jhāna and some had not cultivated jhāna. The Aryans who had become enlightened without having attained jhāna were greater in number than those who had attained enlightenment with lokuttara cittas accompanied by jhāna-factors of different stages  . This shows us again that the development of samatha in the right way is extremely difficult and most intricate.
Footnotes and references:
Sampajaññā is often translated as clear comprehension. In this context, the person who develops samatha should not merely have theoretical knowledge of the difference between lobha-mūla-citta and maha-kusala citta, but he should be able to distinguish between their characteristics when they appear.
Abhabba puggala, a person who is unable of progress. He is not born with a rebirth-consciousness accompanied by paññā, he has committed ānantariya kamma, very serious akusala kamma which produces an immediate result at rebirth, and he has the kinds of wrong view which are of the degree of akusala kamma patha.
He is a bhabba puggala, a person who is able to make progress. See Gradual Sayings, Book of the Sixes, Ch IX, § 2 and 3.
See Appendix to Citta, under akusala citta.
A kasina is a concrete device, such as a disc of earth or a colored disc, which can condition calm. If one looks at it with right concentration one can acquire a mental image of it. Kasiṇa means whole, entire. If the earth kasina is one’s meditation subject, all things can be seen as just "earth", and it is the same in the case of the other kasinas. The conceptualized image can be extended without limitation.
Earth is one of the four Great Elements present with all materiality.
For details, see Visuddhimagga IV, 21-31.
The jhāna-factors are specific cetasikas developed in samatha. These will be dealt with further on.
See Visuddhimagga IV, 34-42.
See Visuddhimagga IV, 42-67.
There are five indriyas, spiritual faculties, which should be developed, namely, confidence, energy, mindfulness, concentration and understanding.
If one is not born with paññā one cannot attain jhāna. If one is tihetuka, born with paññā, all bhavanga-cittas are accompanied by paññā.
Akāsa means space, ananta means: infinite, and āyatana means: sphere.
This term includes the words viññāṇa and ananta, meaning, consciousness which is infinite.
Ākiñcaññā means: there is nothing.
Saññā means perception and āsaññā means non-perception. N’ stands for na, which means not.
See Atthasālinī I, Book I, Part VI. 207-209. There is a subtle residuum not only of saññā but also of the citta and the other accompanying Dhammas.
Extension of the sign means that the the mental image can be extended until it is boundless.
See Kindred Sayings I, Ch VIII, The Vangīsa Suttas, § 7, Invitation.