Introducing Buddhist Abhidhamma

Meditation and Concentration

by Kyaw Min, U | 1899 | 43,258 words

Abhidhamma is the 3rd and last part of the Buddhist Pāli Canon. This book is meant as an introduction to the various concepts presented in the seven books of the Abhidhamma....


To Book Ii

This book deals with Concentration.

The Concentration is of the kind indulged in by the Buddha for the 6 years between his Renunciation and his final Enlightenment under the Bodhi-Tree.

He achieved all the psychic powers that were attainable by concentration, including the 10 miraculous powers, and the super-normal knowledge like the Divine Eye and the Divine Ear, and recollecting the previous existences and the passing away and rebirth of beings, and also the 4 Formless States of the Sphere of Infinite Space, and the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness, and the Sphere of Nothingness and the Sphere of Neither-Perception-nor-Non-Perception. But he was not satisfied that all these psychic powers solved the problem of Birth and Death, for the solution of which he had renounced his kingdom.

He was doing ordinary mundane concentration, and it was only when his mind switched on to meditation on ultimates that he finally achieved Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree.

We must fathom our motive for doing either Concentration or Meditation. Concentration will produce the following psychic powers, and more:

  • Clairvoyance
  • Clairaudience
  • Levitation of your body off the ground
  • Seeing the auras of others
  • Walking on water
  • Flying through the air
  • Experiencing Joy and Bliss and Rapture, which are beyond the ken of ordinary mortals.
  • Attaining the ecstatic state of mental tranquillity
  • Attaining the power of the Celestial Ear, by which you hear Sounds, both human and divine, both far and near
  • Attaining the power of the Celestial Eye, by which you see material things and places regardless of distance, and by which you penetrate into the minds of others and read the nature of their thoughts
  • Attaining the power of recalling your previous existences and the existences of others
  • Attaining the powers of seeing beings pass away and their rebirth.

Meditation is meant for the person who is fed up with the cycle of Samsāra, being reborn again and again for millenniums and aeons, once as a man, next as a deva or all animal, and may be for some time in hell or the upper reaches of the highest heavens. He is fed up with it all and does Vipassanā (Insight) Meditation towards achieving Freedom from Rebirth. At least, if he becomes a Sotāpanna, he can rest on his oars, knowing that he cannot be born again in the realms of woe, including hell, and he has a maximum of only 7 existences before reaching Nirvana, the Highest Goal.

Vipassanā Meditation is on ultimates and the three characteristics of existence, namely,

  1. Anicca (Impermanence),
  2. Dukkha (Sorrow or Misery),
  3. Anattā (No Soul, No Self and No Control)

and will finally lead to Magga Wisdom and to Nirvana.

Buddhism is the only religion that promises its Highest Goal in this existence.

So you have your choice as to what you want to do. This book will show you how. The psychic powers achieved by Concentration are no mean thing, and the achieving of even some of these will take a lifetime, and the fact that you are still an ordinary human being indicates that you are not yet freed.

There are a few expressions that we have to grapple with, namely. Mundane, Supra-mundane, Super-Normal, Super-Conscious, Transcendental and Lokkuttara.

The question is whether the expression, "Transcendental Concentration" is a contradiction in terms. All concentration is mundane, within the 31 planes of existence. Then the word "supra-mundane", which occurs in connection with Meditation, has been reserved for "Lokkuttara", where Nirvana is the object, as in the Noble 8-fold Path.

In which case, where does the word, "Trancendental," come in? It is a question of translation. If the Jhāna factors of Applied Thought (vitakka). Sustained Thought (vicāra), Joy (pīti), Bliss (sukha) and one-pointedness (ekaggatā) are all transcended in turn to arrive at a higher stage of Jhāna, it should not be wrong to call them Transcendental Minds.

Book I deals with Abhidhamma and Book II with Concentration. There is necessarily duplication of material in Book I and Book II, each book being sufficient unto itself, so that there is no need to read Book I if you confine yourself to Concentration.

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