Visuddhimagga (the pah of purification)

by Ñāṇamoli Bhikkhu | 1956 | 420,758 words | ISBN-10: 9552400236 | ISBN-13: 9789552400236

This page describes General (conclusin to the immaterial states) of the section The Immaterial States (āruppa-niddesa) of Part 2 Concentration (Samādhi) of the English translation of the Visuddhimagga (‘the path of purification’) which represents a detailled Buddhist meditation manual, covering all the essential teachings of Buddha as taught in the Pali Tipitaka. It was compiled Buddhaghosa around the 5th Century.

General (conclusin to the immaterial states)

56.

Thus has the Peerless Helper told
The fourfold immaterial state;
To know these general matters too
Will not be inappropriate.

57.

For these immaterial states:
While reckoned by the surmounting of
The object they are four, the wise
Do not admit surmounting of
Factors that one can recognize.

58. Of these [four], the first is due to surmounting signs of materiality, the second is due to surmounting space, the third is due to surmounting the consciousness that occurred with that space as its object, and the fourth is due to surmounting the disappearance of the consciousness that occurred with that space as its object. So they should be understood as four in number with the surmounting of the object in each case. [339] But the wise do not admit any surmounting of [jhāna] factors; for there is no surmounting of factors in them as there is in the case of the fine-material-sphere attainments. Each one has just the two factors, namely equanimity and unification of mind.

59. That being so:

They progress in refinement; each
Is finer than the one before.
Two figures help to make them known;
The cloth lengths, and each palace floor.

60. Suppose there were a four-storied palace: on its first floor the five objects of sense pleasure were provided in a very fine form as divine dancing, singing and music, and perfumes, scents, garlands, food, couches, clothing, etc., and on the second they were finer than that, and on the third finer still, and on the fourth they were finest of all; yet they are still only palace floors, and there is no difference between them in the matter of their state (essence) as palace floors; it is with the progressive refinement of the five objects of sense pleasure that each one is finer than the one below;—again suppose there were lengths of cloth of quadruple, triple, double and single thickness, and [made] of thick, thin, thinner, and very thin thread spun by one woman, all the same measure in width and breadth; now although these lengths of cloth are four in number, yet they measure the same in width and breadth, there is no difference in their measurement; but in softness to the touch, fineness, and costliness each is finer than the one before;—so too, although there are only the two factors in all four [immaterial states], that is to say, equanimity and unification of mind, still each one should be understood as finer than the one before with the progressive refinement of factors due to successful development.

61. And for the fact that each one of them is finer than the last [there is this figure:]

One hangs upon a tent that stands
On filth; on him another leans.
Outside a third not leaning stands,
Against the last another leans.
Between the four men and these states
The correspondence then is shown,
And so how each to each relates
Can by a man of wit be known.

62. This is how the meaning should be construed. There was a tent in a dirty place, it seems. Then a man arrived, and being disgusted with the dirt, he rested himself on the tent with his hands and remained as if hung or hanging on to it. Then another man came and leant upon the man hanging on to the tent. Then another man came and thought, “The one who is hanging on to the tent and the one who is leaning upon him are both badly off, and if the tent falls they will certainly fall. I think I shall stand outside.” [340] So instead of leaning upon the one leaning upon the first, he remained outside. Then another arrived, and taking account of the insecurity of the one hanging on to the tent and the one leaning upon him, and fancying that the one standing outside was well placed, he stood leaning upon him.

63. Herein, this is how it should be regarded. The space from which the kasiṇa has been removed is like the tent in the dirty place. The [consciousness of the] base consisting of boundless space, which makes space its object owing to disgust with the sign of the fine-material, is like the man who hangs on to the tent owing to disgust with the dirt. The [consciousness of the] base consisting of boundless consciousness, the occurrence of which is contingent upon [the consciousness of] the base consisting of boundless space whose object is space, is like the man who leans upon the man who hangs on to the tent. The [consciousness of the] base consisting of nothingness, which instead of making [the consciousness of the] base consisting of boundless space its object has the non-existence of that as its object, is like the man who, after considering the insecurity of those two, does not lean upon the one hanging on to the tent, but stands outside. The [consciousness of the] base consisting of neither perception nor non-perception, the occurrence of which is contingent upon [the consciousness of] the base consisting of nothingness, which stands in a place outside, in other words, in the non-existence of [the past] consciousness, is like the man who stands leaning upon the last-named, having considered the insecurity of the one hanging on to the tent and the one leaning upon him, and fancying that the one standing outside is well placed.

64. And while occurring in this way:
It takes this for its object since
There is no other one as good,
As men depend upon a king,
Whose fault they see, for livelihood.

65. For although this [consciousness of the] base consisting of neither perception nor non-perception has seen the flaw in the base consisting of nothingness in this way, “This attainment has the base consisting of boundless consciousness as its near enemy,” notwithstanding that fact it takes it as its object in the absence of any other. Like what? As men for the sake of livelihood depend on kings whose faults they see. For just as, for the sake of livelihood and because they cannot get a livelihood elsewhere, people put up with some king, ruler of all quarters, who is unrestrained, and harsh in bodily, verbal, and mental behaviour, though they see his faults thus, “He is harshly behaved,” so too the [consciousness of the] base consisting of neither perception nor non-perception takes that base consisting of nothingness as its object in spite of seeing its faults in this way, and it does so since it cannot find another [better] object.

66. As one who mounts a lofty stair
Leans on its railings for a prop,
As one who climbs an airy peak
Leans on the mountain’s very top,
As one who stands on a crag’s edge
Leans for support on his own knees—
Each jhāna rests on that below;
For so it is with each of these.

The tenth chapter called “The Description of the Immaterial States” in the treatise on the Development of Concentration in the Path of Purification composed for the purpose of gladdening good people.

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