The Buddhist Path to Enlightenment (study)

by Dr Kala Acharya | 2016 | 118,883 words

This page relates ‘Faculty of Concentration (Samadhindriya or Samadhi)’ of the study on the Buddhist path to enlightenment. The Buddha was born in the Lumbini grove near the present-day border of India and Nepal in the 6th century B.C. He had achieved enlightenment at the age of thirty–five under the ‘Bodhi-tree’ at Buddha-Gaya. This study investigates the teachings after his Enlightenment which the Buddha decided to teach ‘out of compassion for beings’.

4.2.4. Faculty of Concentration (Samādhindriya or Samādhi)

[Full title: The Five Faculties (pañcindriyani; Sanskrit: indriya)—Faculty of Concentration (Samādhindriya or Samādhi)]

The samādhi is explained in the Āpaṇa sutta of Saṃyutta Nikāya under the following:

It is indeed to be expected, Sāriputta, that a faithful noble disciple whose energy is roused, and whose mindfulness is established that, having made relinquishment the support, he will gain samādhi [concentration], he will gain one-pointedness of mind.

That samadhi of his, venerable sir, is his faculty of samadhi.[1]

The Visuddhmagga definition is as follows:

It is concentration in that it places the mind evenly on the object, or it rightly, or it is simply the collecting together of the mind. Its characteristic it absence of wandering or absence of dispersal; it is the binding together of consent (dhammas)–as water does for bath-powder; its manifestation is calming down; its proximate cause is especially happiness. It should be seen as steadiness of mind, like the steadiness of lamp-flames in the absence of wind.[2]

Samādhi is a state of firm concentration where the mind is completely absorbed in and content with its object.

The faculty of concentration dispels the distraction of mind when it is applied in the work of satipaṭṭhāna on such an object as the mindfulness on breathing.

And, bhikkhus, what is concentration?

1. Bhikkhus, the bhikkhu who follows my teaching, being detached from sensual pleasures and unwholesome dhammas, achieves and remains in the first absorption, which has vitakka (initial application of the mind), vicāra (sustained application of the mind), pīti (pleasurable interest) and sukha (agreeable feeling), born of detachment from the hindrances (nīvaraņa).

2. Having got rid of vitakka, and vicāra, the bhikkhu achieves and remains in the second absorption with internal tranquility, with enhancement of one-pointedness of concentration, devoid of vitakka and vicāra, but with pīti and sukha born of concentration.

3. Having been detached from pīti, that bhikkhu dwells in equanimity (towards object of practice, ānāpānapaţibhāga nimitta etc.,) with mindfulness which is capable of remembering (on the object of practice) and clear comprehension (on the object of practice). Bodily agreeable feeling and mentally agreeable feeling are also experienced by mentally constituents (nāmakāya). Due to presence of such third absorption, Noble Ones, the Exalted One etc., praise the person with that absorption in a way that “he has got equanimity (towards object of practice) and mindfulness which is capable of remembering (object of practice), he usually abides in sukha”; he achieves and remains in that third absorption;

4. Due to discarding of bodily agreeable and disagreeable feelings; due to previous cessation of mentally agreeable and disagreeable feelings, that bhikkhu achieves and remains in the fourth absorption which arises through jhānupekkhā (called equanimity) and thorough purified mindfulness, which lacks pain or pleasure.

This kind of concentration, bhikkhus, is concentration.[3]

Kattha samādhindriyaṃ daṭṭhabbaṃ? Catūsu jhānesu ettha samādhindriyaṃ daṭṭhabbaṃ.

Where should one look for the faculty of concentration? One should look for it in the four jhānas.

If in the work of samatha (such as out-breath and in-breath) at least the successful accomplishment of upacāra samādhi bhāvanā (contemplation of access-concentration) is attained, and if thereby the nīvaraṇas (hindrances) such as kāmacchanda (sensual desire), vyāpāda (ill will), which in the past saṃsāra have continuously been running riot in the mind, are removed, the attention of the mind on the objects of samatha becomes specially steady and tranquil. This should be recognised as arising out of the function of the predominant control exercised by samādhi. The unsettledness and disturbances of the mind in the matter of samādhi have disappeared from such an individual. He is one who has obtained mastery over his mind.

Footnotes and references:


SN 48.50/V, p. 225


Vism XIV, p. 139


MN I, p. 89

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