Mindfulness of Breathing
(Anapanasati)

Buddhist texts from the Pali Canon and Commentaries

Book Publication No: 502S


Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

Part II


Part II

The Commentary on The Sutta

(From the Visuddhimagga and the Papa.tcasuudanii )

Foreword

The commentary that follows is taken from the Visuddhimagga and the Papa.tcasuudanii. The only alterations made in the Visuddhimagga, section on respiration-mindfulness, are as follows: firstly, the Visuddhimagga employs as its text a parallel sutta from the Sa.myutta with a slightly different introduction, and this required the substitution, on p.21, of material drawn from elsewhere in the Papa.tcasuudanii (see n.1 of this section). Secondly, certain long quotations from the Pa.tisambhidaamagga have been replaced by references, since the material quoted is given later, in the rendering of the Pa.tisambhidaamagga itself in Part III. Such abbreviations are indicated in the notes.

The commentary on the sutta in the Papa.tcasuudanii deals only with the introduction and that part of the sutta which follows the “four tetrads”; it refers the reader to the Visuddhimagga for the commentary on the four tetrads. Of this, the commentary to the introduction has been omitted.

 

The Commentary

Introductory

1. Now the Blessed One has extolled respiration-mindfulness as a meditation subject thus: “This respiration-mindfulness concentration, bhikkhus, developed and repeatedly practised, is both peaceful and sublime, unadulterated and of happy life; it causes to vanish at once and suppresses evil, unprofitable thoughts as soon as they arise” (S V 321). And it has been set forth as having sixteen bases in the passage beginning: “And how developed, bhikkhus, how repeatedly practised.”

We now come to the method of its development. But since that method is only complete in all its aspects when stated in accordance with the commentary on the text, the description of its development is here preceded by the word commentary on the text.

And how developed, bhikkhus, how repeatedly practised, is respiration-mindfulness,” etc.: Here, firstly, “How?” is a question showing desire to expound in detail the development of respiration-mindfulness in its various aspects; “developed, bhikkhu … is respiration-mindfulness” is the description of the thing asked about by the question, showing desire to expound in detail as to the various aspects. “How repeatedly practised”: here also the method of construing is the same. Herein, “developed” means aroused, or increased; “respiration-mindfulness” means mindfulness which lays hold of respiration; or mindfulness of respiration is respiration-mindfulness; “repeatedly practised” means done again and again; “is of great fruit, of great benefit”: both these expressions are the same as to meaning, and only different in the letter; or “the fruit thereof is much mundane bliss” is “of great fruit”; and “it is the condition for great supramundane bliss” is “of great benefit.” And this is the meaning in brief: “Bhikkhus, in what manner, in what way, in what sense is respiration-mindfulness developed? In what manner, being repeatedly practised, is it of great fruit, of great benefit?”

Now,[1] expounding that meaning in detail, he said, “Here bhikkhus” and so on. Herein, “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu” means a bhikkhu in this dispensation. For this word “here” is the indication of the dispensation which is the prerequisite for the person who produces respiration-mindfulness concentration in all its aspects, and the denial of such a state in any other dispensation; for this is said, “Bhikkhus, only here is there a recluse, a second recluse, a third recluse, a fourth recluse; devoid of recluses are the teachings of other sectarians” (M I 63–64).[2] Hence it was said “a bhikkhu in this dispensation.”

Gone to the forest … or to an empty place”: this indicates the acquisition of an abode favourable to the development of respiration-mindfulness concentration. For the mind of this bhikkhu, which has long been pursuing sense objects such as visible forms and so on, has no wish to mount respiration-mindfulness concentration as its object; but it runs off the track like a vehicle yoked to a vicious ox.[3] Therefore, just as a cowherd, wishing to tame a vicious calf that has been nourished by drinking the milk of a vicious cow, might take it away from the cow and tie it up alone by a rope to a strong post driven into the ground, then that calf of his, dashing to and fro, unable to run away, sits down or lies down by that post; so indeed, the bhikkhu, wishing to tame his corrupted mind, which has for long been nourished on the essence arising out of sense objects such as visible forms and so on, and taking it to the forest, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty place, should tie it there by the rope of mindfulness to the post of in-and-out breathing. And so that mind of his, though it may dash to and fro, since it no longer obtains the object it was formerly accustomed to, being unable to break the rope of mindfulness and run away, it sits down, lies down, beside that object, by virtue of access and full absorption.[4] Hence the Ancients said:

Just as the man who tames a calf
Would tie it to a post, so here
Should one’s own mind by mindfulness
Be firmly fastened to the object.

Thus is such a dwelling favourable to his development. Hence it was said above, “this indicates the acquisition of an abode favourable to the development of respiration-mindfulness concentration.”

Or alternatively, because this respiration-mindfulness as a meditation subject—which is foremost among the various meditation subjects for all Buddhas, (some)[5] Paccekabuddhas, and (some) Buddhas’ disciples, as the basis for the attainment of distinction and a happy life here and now—is not easy to develop without avoiding the neighbourhood of a village, which is full of the noise of women, men, elephants, horses, etc., noise being a thorn to jhaana,[6] whereas in the forest away from a village this meditation subject is easily laid hold of by the yogin, who can thence produce the fourfold jhaana in respiration-mindfulness and, making that jhaana the basis for comprehending the formations (with insight), reach the highest fruit, arahatship—that is why, in pointing out an abode favourable to this, the Blessed One said “gone to the forest,” and so on.

For the Blessed One is like a master of the science of building sites.[7] As the master of the science of building sites looks over the site for a town, examines it well, and directs, “Build the town here,” and, when the town is safely finished, receives great honour from the royal family; so he examines an abode as to its suitability for the yogin and directs, “Here you should devote yourself to the subject of meditation,” and later on, when the yogin, by devoting himself to the subject of meditation, reaches arahatship and says, “The Blessed One is, indeed, fully enlightened,” the Blessed One receives great honour.

And this bhikkhu is said to be like a leopard. For as the leopard king lurks in the forest in a grass thicket, or a woodland thicket, or a mountain thicket, and seizes wild beasts—the wild buffalo, wild ox, boar, etc.—so, too, the bhikkhu who devotes himself to the subject of meditation in the forest, etc., in due course seizes the paths of stream-entry, once-return, non-return, or arahatship, and the noble fruitions as well. Thus should it be understood. Hence the Ancients said:

For as the leopard, by his lurking
In the forest seizes wild beasts,
So also will this Buddha’s son
Strenuous, with insight gifted,
By retreating to the forest
Seize the highest fruit of all.

Therefore, in pointing out for him the forest abode as a fitting place for advancement and rapid endeavour, the Blessed One said “gone to the forest,” and so on.

Herein, “gone to the forest” means any kind of forest possessed of the bliss of seclusion among the kinds of forests characterized thus: “Having gone out beyond the boundary post,[8] all that is forest” (Pa.tis I 176; Vibha.nga, 251) and “a forest abode is five hundred bow-lengths distant” (Vin IV 183).

To the root of a tree” (means) gone to the vicinity of a tree.[9]

To an empty place”: to what is an empty, secluded space. And here it is right to say that he has gone to an empty place if, besides the forest and the root of a tree (already mentioned), he goes to (one of) the remaining seven (of the nine kinds of abode).[10]

Thus having indicated an abode suitable to the three seasons,[11] suitable to humour and to temperament, and favourable to the development of respiration-mindfulness, he said, “sits down,” and so on, indicating a posture which is peaceful and partakes neither of idleness nor agitation. Then, showing the firmness of the sitting posture, which has the bliss that proceeds from in-and-out breathing, and is the means for laying hold of the object, he said, “having folded his legs crosswise,” and so on.

Herein “crosswise” means sitting with the thighs fully locked. “Folded” means fixed. “Set his body erect,” placing the upper part of the body erect, the eighteen back-bones each resting end to end. For the skin, flesh, and sinews of one thus seated are not bent (by inclining forward). Then those feelings which would arise in him every moment from their being bent, do not arise, the mind becomes one-pointed, the meditation subject does not collapse, but attains to growth and increase.

Established mindfulness in front of him” (parimukha.m sati.m upa.t.thapetvaa): having placed (.thapayitvaa) mindfulness (sati.m) facing the meditation subject (kamma.t.thaan-abhimukha.m). Or alternatively, pari has the sense of control (pariggahattho), mukha.m has the sense of outlet from obstruction (niyyaanattho), and sati has the sense of establishing (upa.t.thaanattho). Hence parimukha.m sati.m is said (Pa.tis I 176), which is the meaning according to the Pa.tisambhidaa to be understood here, too. Herein, the meaning in brief is “having made mindfulness the outlet (from opposition, forgetfulness being thereby) controlled.”

Ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out”: the bhikkhu having seated himself thus and having established mindfulness thus, not abandoning it, just mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out; he is one who practises mindfulness, is what is said.

First Tetrad-First Base

2. Now in order to show the different ways in which he is one who practises mindfulness, he said, “Breathing in long,” and so on. For in the Pa.tisambhidaa, in the analysis of the passage “mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out,” it is said: “He is one who practises mindfulness in thirty-two ways. (1) For one who knows one-pointedness and non-distraction of mind by means of long breathing-in, mindfulness is established; by means of that mindfulness, by means of that knowledge, he is one who practises mindfulness[12] … (up to: 32) … For one who knows one-pointedness and non-distraction of mind by means of breathing out contemplating relinquishment, mindfulness is established; by means of that mindfulness, by means of that knowledge, he is one who practises mindfulness.” (Pa.tis I 176)

Herein, “Breathing in long” means producing a long in-breath. “Assaasa” is the breath issuing out; “passaasa” is the breath entering in; thus it is stated in the Vinaya commentary. But in the sutta commentaries it is the opposite way round. Herein, at the time when an infant comes forth from the mother’s womb, first the wind from within goes out, and subsequently the wind from without enters in with fine dust, strikes the palate, and is extinguished (with the infant’s sneezing). Thus in the first place should assaasa and passaasa be understood.[13]

But their length and shortness should be understood by way of extent. For, just as water or sand spread over an extent of space is called a long water, a long sand, a short water, a short sand; so in-breaths and out-breaths, taken in minute quantities (i.e. by way of a state of innumerable groups) in the body of an elephant and in the body of a snake, slowly fill the long extent (of space) called their physical structures and slowly go out. Therefore they are called long. They quickly fill the short extent (of space), called the physical structure of a dog, of a hare, and such creatures, and quickly go out. Therefore they are called short. And among mankind, some, like elephant and snakes, etc., breathe in and breathe out long by way of a long extent; others breathe in and out short like dogs and hares, etc. Therefore (the breaths) which travel over a long extent in entering in and going out are to be understood as long in time; and the breaths which travel over a short extent in entering in and going out, as short in time. Here, this bhikkhu breathing in and breathing out long in nine ways knows, “I breathe in, I breathe out, long.” And for him who knows thus, the development of the foundation of mindfulness consisting of the contemplation of the body should be understood to succeed in one aspect, according as it is said in the Pa.tisambhidaa in the passage beginning, “He breathes in a long in-breath reckoned as a long extent,” and ending, “Hence it is called, ‘The development of the foundation of mindfulness consisting of contemplation of the body in the body.’”[14]

Second Base

3. So also in the case of the short breaths. But there is this difference: while in the former case “a long in-breath reckoned as a long extent” is said, here in the same context “a short in-breath reckoned as a short extent” has been handed down. Therefore it should be construed with the word “short” as far as the phrase “Hence it is called, ‘The development of the foundation of mindfulness consisting of contemplation of the body in the body.’” Thus this yogin, when understanding in-breaths and out-breaths in these ways by way of what is reckoned as a long extent and what is reckoned as a short extent, should be understood as “Breathing in long, he knows, I breathe in long; … breathing out short, he knows, I breathe out short.”

The long kind and the short as well,
The in-breath and the out-breath, too—
Such are the four kinds that happen
At the nose-tip of the bhikkhu who knows thus.

Third Base

4. “Experiencing the whole body I shall breathe in … shall breathe out, thus he trains himself” means, “Making known, making plain, the beginning, middle, and end of the entire in-breath body, I shall breathe in,” he trains himself; “making known, making plain, the beginning, middle, and end of the entire out-breath body, I shall breathe out,” he trains himself. Thus making them known, making them plain, he both breathes in and breathes out with consciousness associated with knowledge, therefore, “I shall breathe in, I shall breathe out, thus he trains himself,” is said. For to one bhikkhu, the beginning of the in-breath body or the out-breath body, diffused in minute particles,[15] is plain, but not the middle nor the end; he is able only to lay hold of the beginning and is troubled by the middle and the end. To another the middle is plain, not the beginning nor the end; he is able only to lay hold of the middle and is troubled by the beginning and the end. To another the end is plain, not the beginning nor the middle; he is able only to lay hold of the end and is troubled by the beginning and the middle. To another all stages are plain; he is able to lay hold of them all and is nowhere troubled. Pointing out that one should be like the last (mentioned), (the Blessed One) said, “Experiencing the whole body, I shall breathe in … shall breathe out, thus he trains himself.”

Herein, “he trains himself” (means) he strives, endeavours thus. The restraint of one so become is here the training of higher virtuous conduct; the concentration of one so become is the training of higher consciousness; the understanding of one so become is the training of higher understanding. So he trains in, cultivates, develops, repeatedly practises these three courses of training in that object, by means of that mindfulness, by means of that bringing to mind. Thus should the meaning be understood here. Herein, because in the early (stage of the) method,[16] he should only breathe in and breathe out and should not do anything else at all, and afterwards effort is to be made for the arousing of understanding, etc., consequently the present tense is used in the passage, “He knows, ‘I breathe in’; he knows, ‘I breathe out.’” But the future tense is used in the passages that follow, beginning with “Experiencing the whole body, I shall breathe in,” in order to show how thereafter to bring about the arising of knowledge, etc. Thus it should be understood.

Fourth Base

5. “Calming the bodily formation I shall breathe in … shall breathe out, thus he trains himself.” “Calming, tranquillizing, suppressing, allaying, the gross bodily formation, I shall breathe in, shall breathe out,” he trains himself. And here, the grossness and subtlety, and the calming are to be understood thus. For previously, at the time when he has still not discerned (the meditation subject), the body and the mind of the bhikkhu are disturbed and gross. And when the grossness of the body and mind does not subside, the in-and-out breaths, too, are gross, becoming very strong (so that) the nostrils cannot contain them and he takes to breathing through the mouth. But when his body and mind have been discerned, then they become peaceful and at rest. When they are at rest, the in-breaths and out-breaths become (so) subtle that, having reached a state of doubt (as to their existence, he asks), “Do they exist, or do they not?”

Just as the breaths of a man standing (still) after running or descending from a hill, or after putting down a heavy load from his head, are gross, and the nostrils cannot contain them and he stands breathing in and breathing out through the mouth; but when, having got rid of his fatigue and bathed and drunk and put a piece of wet-cloth on his heart, he lies in the cool shade, then his in-and-out breaths become (so) subtle that, having reached a state of doubt (as to their existence, he might ask), “Do they exist, or do they not?”—so, indeed, previously, at the time when he has still not discerned … (and so on as above) … having reached a state of doubt (as to their existence, he asks), “Do they exist, or do they not?” Why is this so? Because, previously, at the time when he has not discerned them, he does not think, nor lay it to heart, nor reflect, nor consider: “I am calming the grosser bodily formation,” which, however, he does at the time when he has discerned them. Hence his bodily formation is subtler at the time when he has discerned them than at the time when he has not. Hence the Ancients said:

When mind and body are disturbed,
Then in excess it occurs;
When the body is undisturbed,
Then with subtlety it occurs.

In discerning[17] the formation is gross, and it is subtle in the first jhaana access; also it is gross in that (and) subtle in the first jhaana; in the first jhaana and second jhaana access it is gross, (and) in the second jhaana subtle; in the second jhaana and third jhaana access it is gross, (and) in the third jhaana subtle; in the third jhaana and fourth jhaana access it is gross, and in the fourth jhaana it is exceedingly subtle and even reaches suspension. This is the opinion of the Diigha and Sa.myutta Reciters. But the Majjhima Reciters would have it that it is more subtle in the access than in the jhaana immediately below, (saying) “in the first jhaana it is gross, in the second jhaana access it is subtle” (and so on). It is however, the opinion of all that the occurrence of the bodily formation at the time of not discerning is tranquillized at the time of discerning; the bodily formation that arose at the time of discerning is tranquillized in the first jhaana access … the bodily formation that arose in the fourth jhaana access is tranquillized in the fourth jhaana. This is the method in so far as concerns tranquillity.

But in so far as concerns insight, the bodily formation occurring at the time of not discerning is gross, and in discerning the great primaries[18] it is subtle; that also is gross and in discerning derived materiality[19] it is subtle; that also is gross and in discerning all materiality it is subtle; that also is gross and in discerning the immaterial it is subtle; that also is gross and in discerning the material and the immaterial it is subtle; that also is gross and in discerning conditions it is subtle; that also is gross and in seeing mentality-materiality with its conditions it is subtle; that also is gross and in insight which has the (three) characteristics[20] as object it is subtle; that also is gross in weak insight, and in strong insight it is subtle.

Here, the tranquillizing of the preceding by way of (i.e., as compared with) the subsequent is to be understood according to the method stated above.[21] Thus should grossness and subtlety, as well as calming, be understood here. But the meaning is stated in the Pa.tisambhidaa together with objection and reply (and the simile of the gong).[22] This in the first place is the consecutive commentary on the first tetrad which is stated by way of contemplation of the body.

Method of Practice

Learning

6. The first tetrad is stated as a meditation subject for a beginner; but the other three tetrads are (respectively) stated by way of contemplation of the feelings, the mind, and mental objects for one who has attained the first jhaana. So if a clansman who is a beginner desires, by developing the meditation subject, to reach arahatship together with analysis[23] by means of insight which has as its basis fourfold jhaana due to respiration-mindfulness, he should first perform all the functions of purifying virtue,[24] etc., in the way described in the Visuddhimagga, and he should then set about learning the meditation subject in five stages from a teacher of the kind described in the Visuddhimagga (III 61–65).

These are the five stages herein: learning, questioning, establishing, absorption, and characteristic. Herein, “learning” is the learning of the meditation subject; “questioning” is the questioning about the meditation subject; “establishing” is the establishing of the meditation subject; “absorption” is the absorption in the meditation subject; “characteristic” is the characteristic of the meditation subject—“the recognition of the nature of the meditation subject (by knowing) ‘this meditation subject has such a characteristic,’” is what is meant. Learning in this way in five stages he does not tire himself or worry the teacher. Therefore, he should learn a little at a time and take a long time reciting it. While learning the meditation subject in the five stages thus, he may live either with the teacher or in an abode of the sort already described in the Visuddhimagga (IV 19).

The Start of Practice

So, after he has got rid of the minor impediments,[25] done all his duties, and dispelled drowsiness due to eating,[26] he should seat himself comfortably. He should then gladden the mind by reflecting on the qualities of the Three Jewels,[27] and then set himself to bring to his mind this respiration-mindfulness as his meditation subject, after he has assured himself that he is not in doubt about any part of the lesson learnt from the teacher.[28]

The Stages of Practice

Herein, these are the stages in giving attention to it: (1) counting, (2) connection, (3) contact, (4) fixing, (5) observing, (6) turning away, (7) purification, and (8) the looking back on these. Herein, “counting” is just counting; “connection” is carrying on; “contact” is the place touched (by the breaths); “fixing” is absorption; “observing” is insight; “turning away” is the path; “purification” is fruition; “the looking back on these” is reviewing.[29]

Counting[30]

Herein, the clansman who is a beginner should first give attention to this meditation subject by counting. And when counting he should not stop short of five nor go beyond ten, neither should he make any break in the series (such as counting “one, three, five”[31]). In one who stops short of five, consciousness, being arisen in a confined space, is restless like a herd of cattle shut in a pen. In one who goes beyond ten, consciousness comes to depend on the number (instead of the breath). The mind of one who breaks the series vacillates, and he wonders, “Has the subject of meditation reached completion or not?” Therefore he should count, avoiding these faults. At first he should count slowly (that is, late) after the manner of a grain-measurer. For a grain-measurer, having filled his basket and said “one,” empties it. And, refilling it, he says, “One, one,” while removing any rubbish he may have noticed. And the same with “Two, two,” and so forth. So, seizing that breath which becomes manifest thus from among the in-breaths and out-breaths,[32] he should begin counting, “One, one,” and go on till he has counted “Ten, ten,” noting the occurrence all the time (of the uninterrupted in-and-out breathing).[33] By thus counting, his in-and-out breaths entering in and issuing out become evident (to him, because of the absence of external distraction).[34]

Then, when he has finished counting slowly (late) like a grain-measurer, he should count quickly (that is, early) like a cowherd. For a skilled cowherd takes pebbles, etc., in his pocket and goes early to the cowpen, whip in hand, where he sits on the crossbar (of the gate); he taps the cows on the back and counts them as they reach the gate, dropping a stone for each one saying, “one, two.” And the cows of the herd, which have been spending the three watches of the night uncomfortably in the cramped space, come out quickly in groups, jostling each other in going out. So he counts quickly (early), “three, four, five … ten.” Thus the in-breaths and out-breaths, which have become evident to him by counting in the former (slow) way, now come and go quickly and continuously. Then, knowing that they come and go continuously, not seizing them either inside or outside (the body) but seizing them just as they reach the (nostril) door, he can do his counting quickly (early): one, two, three, four, five; one, two, three, four, five, six; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven; … eight; … nine; … ten.[35] For when the meditation subject is connected with counting, it is with the help of that very counting that the mind becomes one-pointed, just as a boat in a swift current is steadied with the help of a rudder. When he counts quickly (early), the meditation subject becomes apparent to him as an uninterrupted process. Then, knowing that it proceeds without interruption, without discerning the breath either inside or outside (the body), he can count quickly in the way already described. For, by bringing his consciousness inside along with the incoming breath, it seems as if it were buffeted by the wind inside or filled with fat.[36] By taking his consciousness outside together with the outgoing breath it gets distracted among the many objects outside. However, his development is successful when he fixes his mindfulness on the place of contact.[37]

But how long is he to go on counting? Until, without counting, mindfulness is thoroughly established in the in-breaths and out-breaths as objects. For counting, by cutting off thoughts which cling to external things, serves the purpose of establishing mindfulness in the in-breaths and out-breaths as object. Having given attention to it by counting, he should now do so by means of connection.[38]

Connection

Connection is the uninterrupted following of the in-breaths and out-breaths with mindfulness, after giving up counting. And that is not by following the beginning, middle, and end.[39] Of the breath issuing out, the navel is the beginning, the heart the middle, the nose-tip the end.[40] Of the breath entering in, the nose-tip is the beginning, the heart the middle, and the navel the end. And the mind of one who follows the breathing (through the three places) is confused by agitation and vacillation, according as is said in the Pa.tisambhidaa: “In one whose consciousness is distracted internally by following with mindfulness the beginning, middle, and end of the in-breath, both body and mind are disturbed, unsettled, and unsteady. In one whose consciousness is distracted externally by following with mindfulness the beginning, middle, and end of the out-breath, both body and mind are disturbed, unsettled, and unsteady.”[41] So when he gives his attention to it by connection he should do so not by the beginning, middle, and end, but rather by contact and by fixing.

Contact and Fixing[42]

There is, in fact, no attention to be given to it by contact separate from fixing, as there is by counting separate from connection.[43] In counting the breath at the point of contact, however, he brings them to mind by way of counting and contact; after giving up counting them just there at the point of contact, when connecting them by means of mindfulness, and fixing consciousness by means of absorption, he is said to be giving his attention to them by connection, contact, and fixing. And the meaning of this is to be understood after the similes of the lame man and the gate-keeper, as stated in the commentaries, and by the simile of the saw in the Pa.tisambhidaa.

The Similes

Of these, this is the simile of the lame man: Just as a lame man, in rocking a swing for the amusement of his family, sits at the foot of the swing post and sees both ends and the middle of the swing plank coming and going, yet does not move from his place to see the two ends and the middle; so, indeed, the bhikkhu, having placed himself by means of mindfulness at the foot of the post of connection, and rocking the swing of the in-breaths and out-breaths; and sitting just there at the sign of mindfulness (i.e. the nose-tip),[44] following with mindfulness the beginning, middle, and end[45] of the in-breaths and out-breaths coming and going successively at the point of contact, fixing his mind there, he then sees them, without moving from his place in order to see them. This is the simile of the lame man.

And this is the simile of the gate-keeper: Just as a gate-keeper does not examine people inside and outside the town, (asking) “Who are you? Where have you come from? Where are you going? What have you got in your hand?”—for these people are not his concern—but he examines each man as he arrives at the gate; so, indeed, the incoming breaths inside and the outgoing breaths outside are not the concern of this bhikkhu but, as they arrive just at the gate (of the nostril), they are his concern.

But the simile of the saw should here be understood from the beginning thus. For this is said:

Sign, in-breath, out-breath, are not object
Of a single consciousness;
By one who knows not these three things,
Development is not obtained.

Sign, in-breath, out-breath, are not object
Of a single consciousness;
By one who does know these three things,
Development will be obtained.

“How is it that these things are not the object of a single consciousness, that they are nevertheless not unknown, that the mind does not become distracted, that he manifests effort, carries out a task, and achieves an effect?

“It is as though a man were to cut with a saw a tree trunk placed on level ground. His mindfulness is established by the teeth of the saw at the point where they come into contact with the tree trunk, without his giving attention to the teeth of the saw as they approach and recede, although he is not unaware of these; and he manifests endeavour, accomplishes the task, and achieves distinction.

“As the tree trunk on the level ground, so the sign for the binding (of mindfulness). As the teeth of the saw, so the in-breaths and out-breaths. As the man’s mindfulness is established by the teeth of the saw at the point where they come into contact with the tree trunk, without his giving attention to the teeth of the saw as they approach and recede, although he is not unaware of these, so he manifests endeavour, accomplishes the task, and achieves distinction—so, indeed, the bhikkhu sits, having established his mindfulness at the nose-tip or on the upper lip, without giving attention to the in-breaths and out-breaths as they approach and recede, although he is not unaware of these, and he manifests endeavour, accomplishes the task, and achieves distinction.

“The body and the mind of one who is energetic become pliable—this is the endeavour. The imperfections of one who is energetic are abandoned and his applied thinking is pacified—this is the task. The fetters of one who is energetic are abandoned and his inherent tendencies are brought to an end—this is the distinction. Thus these three things are not the object of a single consciousness, nor are these three things unknown, nor does consciousness become distracted; he manifests endeavour, accomplishes the task, and achieves distinction.

Whose mindfulness of breathing in
And out is perfect, well developed,
Gradually brought to growth
According as the Buddha taught,
‘Tis he illuminates the world,
Like the full moon freed from cloud.

This is the simile of the saw (Pa.tis I 170). But here its purpose should be understood as the mere non-attending to the coming and going (of breaths).[46]

The Sign[47]

When someone gives his attention to this subject of meditation, sometimes it is not long before the sign[48] arises in him and then the fixing called absorption adorned with the remaining jhaana factors[49] is achieved. But when anyone’s physical disturbance is quieted by the gradual cessation of gross in-and-out breathing since the time of giving attention to it by counting, both body and mind become light as though the body would leap up into the air. Just as, when a body which is disturbed sits down on a bed or chair, the bed or chair sags down and creaks, and the cover becomes rumpled. But when a body which is not disturbed sits down, the bed or chair neither sags down nor creaks, nor does the cover become rumpled, but the bed or chair is as though filled with cotton wool. Why? Because a body which is not disturbed is light. So, when physical disturbance has been stilled by the gradual cessation of the gross in-and-out breathing since attention has been given to counting, both body and mind become light as though the body would spring up into the sky.

When his gross in-and-out breathing has ceased, consciousness occurs with the sign of the subtle in-and-out breathing as object. And when this has ceased, it occurs having the successively more and more subtle sign as object. How? Suppose a man strikes a metal gong with a big iron rod and a loud sound results simultaneously, his consciousness occurs with the gross sound as object; and when afterwards the gross sound has ceased, then consciousness has the sign of the subtle sound as object; and when this has ceased, it occurs having the sign of the more and more subtle sound as object. And this is given in detail in the passage beginning “just as when a metal gong is struck” (Pa.tis I 184).

While other subjects of meditation become clearer at each higher stage, this one does not. But for him who is developing it, it becomes more subtle at each higher stage. Also it comes to the point at which it is not manifested. But, when it is not manifested thus, the bhikkhu should not rise from his seat and go away shaking his leather mat. What should be done? He should not rise with the idea, “Shall I ask the teacher?” or “Is my meditation subject lost?” For, by going away and so disturbing his posture, the meditation subject becomes new again (and has to be begun afresh). Therefore, by just sitting as he was, it should be reinstated from the point (of contact-the nose-tip where it was formerly established).[50]

This is the means by which he brings it back: The bhikkhu, recognizing the state of non-manifestation of the meditation subject, should consider thus: “Where are these in-and-out breaths? Where are they not? Whose are they? Whose are they not?” Then, considering thus (and) recognizing that they are not in one within the mother’s womb, nor in those who are drowned in water, nor similarly in unconscious beings, in the dead, in those who have entered into the fourth jhaana, in those endowed with existence in the fine-material or immaterial states, nor in those who have entered into the attainment of cessation—he should apostrophize himself thus: “You, with all your wisdom, are certainly (none of these). Those in-breaths and out-breaths are, in fact, existent in you but you cannot grasp them owing to the slowness of your perception.” Then, fixing his mind by means of the original point of contact, he should proceed to give his attention to that. For these (in-breaths and out-breaths) for a long-nosed man occur striking the tip of the nose, and for a short-nosed man the upper lip. Therefore, the sign should be fixed, knowing, “They strike this place.”

It was for this reason that the Blessed One said: “I do not say, bhikkhus, that there is development of respiration-mindfulness in one who is forgetful and does not clearly comprehend” (see p.13). For although any meditation subject succeeds only for one who is mindful and clearly comprehending, any subject other than this becomes more evident as he goes on giving it his attention. But this respiration-mindfulness as a subject of meditation is difficult, difficult to develop, and a field in which only the minds of Buddhas, Paccekabuddhas, and Buddhas’ sons are at home. It is no trivial matter, nor can it be cultivated by trivial persons. In proportion as continued attention is given to it, it becomes more peaceful and more subtle; therefore, strong mindfulness and understanding are needed here. For, as in doing needlework on a piece of fine cloth it is necessary that the needle should be fine, too, and the instrument for boring the needle’s eye still finer; so, while developing this subject of meditation, which is like fine cloth, it is necessary that both mindfulness, which is like the needle, and understanding associated therewith, which is like the instrument that bores the needle’s eye, should be strong. And the bhikkhu who is possessed of this mindfulness and understanding should not look for these in-breaths and out-breaths elsewhere than at the original place of contact.

Just as a farmer, who has ploughed his field and has unyoked his oxen and let them go to pasture, might rest himself, sitting in the shade; and his oxen go quickly into the woods. A practical farmer, who wishes to catch them and yoke them again, does not wander in the forest following their tracks, but goes straight with his rope and goad to the drinking place where they meet, and there he sits or lies (and waits). Then, after the oxen have roamed the whole day and come down to the drinking place where they meet and when they have bathed and drunk and come out of the water again, he ties them with his rope and, urging them on with his goad, brings them along and yokes them and resumes his work. Thus, indeed, the bhikkhu should not seek the in-breaths and out-breaths elsewhere than at the original point of contact, and taking the rope of mindfulness and the goad of understanding, he should set the mind on the original place of contact and keep that before his mind. For as he gives his attention in this way, they reappear before long, like the oxen at the drinking place where they meet. And then, fixing them with the rope of mindfulness and yoking them there and urging them on with the goad of understanding, he should repeatedly apply himself to the subject of meditation.

As he applies himself the sign[51] is established before long. But this is not the same for all. It appears to some producing a soft touch like a tuft of cotton, or silk, or like a breeze, so some say. But this is the definition in the commentaries: that the sign appears to some like a star, a round gem, or a round pearl; to some it has a harsh touch like cotton seed, or a peg made of heartwood; to some it is like a long string, or a wreath of flowers, or a puff of smoke; to others it is like a stretched out cobweb, a film of cloud, a lotus flower, a cart-wheel, the disc of the moon, or the disc of the sun.

And, indeed, when a number of bhikkhus are seated together reciting a suttanta text, one of them asks, “Like what does the suttanta appear to you?”, and one answers, “To me it appears like a great mountain torrent,” and another, “To me it is like a row of forest trees,” and another, “To me it is like a fruit-tree covered with foliage, giving cool shade.” For one sutta appears differently to them, owing to a difference in perception. Thus the meditation subject appears variously owing to a difference in perception, for it is born of perception, originated by perception, sprung from perception. Therefore it should be understood to appear differently owing to a difference in perception.

And here, consciousness with in-breathing as object is one consciousness, with out-breathing as object is another, consciousness with the sign is a third. For one who has not these three states, the meditation subject reaches neither full absorption nor access. But for one who has these three states, the meditation subject reaches both access and full absorption. For this is said:

Sign, in-breath, out-breath, are not object
Of a single consciousness;
By one who knows not these three things,
Development is not obtained.

Sign, in-breath, out-breath, are not object
Of a single consciousness;
By one who does know these three things,
Development will be obtained.

(Pa.tis I 170)

 

And when the sign has appeared, the bhikkhu should approach the teacher and inform him thus: “To me, venerable sir, such and such has appeared.” The teacher should not say, “It is the sign,” or, “It is not the sign,” but he should say, “Friend, thus it is, go on giving it attention again and again.” Were he to say, “It is the sign,” (the bhikkhu, feeling complacent)[52] might become slack; were he to say, “It is not the sign,” (the bhikkhu) being discouraged, might become dejected. Therefore, without saying either, he should exhort him to keep giving attention to it. So say the Diigha Reciters. But the Majjhima Reciters hold that the teacher should say: “Friend, it is the sign. Well done. Keep giving attention to it again and again.” After this (the bhikkhu) should fix the mind on the sign. Such is the development by way of fixing the mind from the time of the manifestation of the sign. For this has been said by the Ancients:

Fixing his mind upon the sign[53]
And putting away the various aspects,
The clever man his own mind binds
Onto the breathings in and out.
[54]

Thus, on the establishment of the sign, his hindrances are brought to an end, his defilements are got under control, mindfulness is established, and the mind is concentrated by means of access.

Observing, etc.

After this, he should not bring the sign to mind as to colour nor consider it as to characteristic. But as the king’s chief queen guards the embryo of a Wheel-turning Monarch,[55] and the farmer guards the ripening corn and crops, so he should guard the sign carefully, avoiding the kind of abode, etc., which are the seven unsuitable things, and observing the seven suitable things.[56]

Then, guarding it thus carefully, he should make it grow and improve it with repeated attention, and he should accomplish the tenfold skill in full absorption[57] and strive for evenness of energy. For one thus endeavouring, fourfold and fivefold jhaana is produced in the sign.[58] But here the bhikkhu who possesses fourfold and fivefold jhaana, and who wishes, by increasing the subject of meditation through observing and turning away, to attain to purification, practises that same jhaana in the five way[59] until he has familiarized himself with it, and establishes insight by defining mentality-materiality.

How? Rising from his attainment, he sees that the physical body and the mind are the origin of the in-and-out breathing. For, just as when a blacksmith’s bellows are blown, wind is set in motion due to the bellows and the man’s appropriate effort; so, due to the body and the mind, there is in-and-out breathing. Thereupon he defines the in-breaths and out-breaths and the body as materiality, and the mind and mental concomitant states associated therewith as the immaterial (mind).[60] Here this is stated in brief. The definition of mind and matter is given (in the Visuddhimagga, Chap. XVIII).

His doubts[61] being overcome, he attributes the three characteristics[62] (to mentality and materiality), comprehending (them) by groups;[63] he abandons the ten corruptions of insight beginning with illumination,[64] which arise in the first stages of the contemplation of rise and fall; and he defines as “the path” the knowledge of the way that is free from these corruptions. He reaches contemplation of dissolution by abandoning (attention to) arising. When all formations have appeared as terror owing to the contemplation of their incessant dissolution, he becomes dispassionate towards them, the greed for them fades away, and he is liberated from them.

Having thus reached the four noble paths in due course, and being established in the fruition of arahatship, having arrived finally at reviewing knowledge of the nineteen various kinds,[65] he becomes a fit person to receive the highest gifts from the world with its deities.

At this point, the development of respiration-mindfulness concentration, beginning with “counting” and ending with “looking back” (see p.26), is completed. Because there is no separate method of developing the subject of meditation in the other tetrads, the meaning of these is to be understood according to the word-by-word commentary.

Second Tetrad

7. “Experiencing rapture”: “making rapture known, plain, I shall breathe in, I shall breathe out, thus he trains himself.” Herein, rapture is experienced in two ways: as object and as non-delusion. How is rapture experienced as object? He enters into the first two jhaanas in which rapture is present. Owing to his obtaining of jhaana, at the moment of attaining it, rapture is experienced by him as object, because of the experiencing of the object. How as non-delusion? Having entered into the two jhaanas in which rapture is present, and emerged therefrom, he masters the rapture associated with jhaana (by contemplating it) as destructible and perishable. By his penetration of its characteristics at the moment of insight, rapture is experienced by him as non-delusion.[66] For this is said in the Pa.tisambhidaa: “For one who knows one-pointedness and non-distraction of mind through breathing in long, mindfulness is established. By means of that mindfulness and that knowledge that rapture is experienced. For one who knows one-pointedness and non-distraction of mind through breathing out long … breathing in short … breathing out short … breathing in, experiencing the whole body … breathing out, experiencing the whole body … breathing in, calming the bodily formation … breathing out, calming the bodily formation, mindfulness is established. By means of that mindfulness and that knowledge that rapture is experienced. It is experienced by one who adverts, who knows, who sees, who reflects, who mentally decides, who resolves with faith, who exerts energy, who establishes mindfulness, who concentrates the mind, who understands through understanding, who directly knows what is to be directly known, who fully knows what is to be fully known, who abandons what is to be abandoned, who develops what is to be developed, who realizes what is to be realized. Thus is that rapture experienced.” (Pa.tis I 187)

The remaining expressions (in this tetrad) should be understood according to the same method as to meaning. But here this is the difference: “experiencing bliss” should be understood by way of three jhaanas, and “experiencing the mental formation” is by way of four.[67] The mental formation is the two aggregates, feeling and perception. And here, as regards the expression “experiencing bliss,” (when it is said) in the Pa.tisambhidaa (Pa.tis I 188) “`Bliss’: there are two (kinds of) bliss, bodily bliss and mental bliss,” that is said for the purpose of showing the plane of insight.[68]

Calming the mental formation” means calming the gross mental formation, causing it to cease; and this is to be understood in detail in the same way as in (the case of) the bodily formation. Moreover, here, as regards the term “rapture,” feeling is stated under the heading of rapture; in the term, “bliss,” it is stated in its own form.[69] As regards the two phrases where “mental formation” occurs, feeling is stated as being associated with perception from the statement: “perception and feeling … being mental properties, these things are bound up with the mind (and are) mind functions” (M I 301). Thus this tetrad is to be understood as stated by way of contemplation of feeling.

Third Tetrad

8. In the third tetrad, “experiencing the mind” should be understood to be through the four jhaanas.[70]

Gladdening the mind”: “heartening, gladdening, pleasing, delighting the mind, I shall breathe in, I shall breathe out, he trains himself.” Herein, there is gladdening in two ways: through concentration and through insight. How through concentration? He enters into the two jhaanas in which rapture is present. At the moment of entry he pleases, rejoices the mind with the associated rapture. How through insight? He enters into the two jhaanas in which rapture is present and, emerging therefrom, contemplates the rapture associated with them as destructible and perishable. Thus, at the moment of insight, having made rapture associated with jhaana the object, he pleases, rejoices the mind. Of one practising thus it is said: “Gladdening the mind, I shall breathe in … breathe out, thus he trains himself.”

Concentrating the mind” means centring the mind evenly, placing it evenly on the object by means of the first jhaana, and so on. Or, having entered those jhaanas and risen therefrom, in one who sees the mind associated with jhaana as destructible and perishable, there arises, by means of penetration of the characteristics, momentary one-pointedness of mind at the moment of insight. Of one centring the mind evenly, placing it evenly on the object by means of the momentary one-pointedness of mind thus risen, it is said: “Concentrating the mind, I shall breathe in … breathe out, thus he trains himself.”

Liberating the mind”: by means of the first jhaana setting free,[71] releasing, the mind from the hindrances; by means of the second jhaana, from applied and sustained thought; by means of the third, from rapture; by means of the fourth, setting free, releasing, the mind from pleasure and pain. Or, entering into those jhaanas and rising therefrom, he contemplates the consciousness associated with jhaana as destructible and perishable. At the moment of insight he breathes in and breathes out, setting free, releasing the mind from the perception of permanence by means of the contemplation of impermanence, from the perception of pleasure by means of the contemplation of pain, from the perception of self by means of the contemplation of non-self, from delight by means of the contemplation of revulsion, from passion by means of the contemplation of dispassion (fading away), from origination by means of the contemplation of cessation; setting free, releasing the mind from clinging by means of the contemplation of relinquishment. Hence it is said: “Liberating the mind, I shall breathe in … shall breathe out, thus he trains himself.” Thus this tetrad should be understood as stated, by way of contemplation of the mind.

Fourth Tetrad

9. But as regards the fourth tetrad, here firstly, “Contemplating impermanence” means that the impermanent should be understood, impermanence should be understood, contemplation of impermanence should be understood, and one contemplating impermanence should be understood. Here, “impermanent” are the five aggregates. Why? Because of their rise and fall and change. “Impermanence” is just their rise and fall and change. Or it is their being no more after coming to be. The meaning is that things that are in a process of becoming, by not persisting in that quality, break up in momentary dissolution. “Contemplation of impermanence” is the contemplation of that “materiality, etc., as impermanent by reason of that impermanence.” “One contemplating impermanence” is one possessed of that contemplation. Therefore, such a one breathing in and breathing out should be understood here thus: “Contemplating impermanence, I shall breathe in … shall breathe out, thus he trains himself.”[72]

Contemplating fading away”: here also there are two kinds of fading away: fading away as destruction and absolute fading away. Herein, fading away as destruction is the momentary dissolution of formations; absolute fading away is Nibbaana. Contemplation of fading away is insight and the path which occur as seeing both kinds.[73] And one who breathes in and breathes out possessed of that twofold contemplation should be understood as “Contemplating fading away, I shall breathe in … shall breathe out, thus he trains himself.”[74]

So also as regards the phrase “Contemplating cessation.”[75]

As regards “Contemplating relinquishment,” here relinquishment is of two kinds: relinquishment as giving up, and relinquishment as entering into. Relinquishment itself as contemplation is contemplation of relinquishment;[76] this is a name for insight and the path. For insight gives up defilements together with kamma-accumulations of the aggregates by substituting for them opposite qualities; and through seeing the unsatisfactoriness of what is formed and through inclining towards its opposite, Nibbaana, it enters into it; so it is called both relinquishment as giving up and relinquishment as entering into. The path gives up defilements together with kamma-accumulations of the aggregates by means of cutting them off; by making it the object, it enters into Nibbaana; so it is called both relinquishment as giving up and relinquishment as entering into. And both of these are called contemplation because of successive contemplation of previous knowledge. And one who breathes in and breathes out possessed of that twofold contemplation of relinquishment, should be understood as “Contemplating relinquishment, I shall breathe in … shall breathe out, thus he trains himself.”[77]

This tetrad is stated by way of pure insight only. But the preceding three are by way of tranquillity and insight. So, by way of the four tetrads, should the development of respiration-mindfulness with its sixteen bases be understood.

Four Tetrads—Conclusion

10. Thus by way of the sixteen bases this respiration-mindfulness is “of great fruit, of great benefit.” Herein its great benefit should be understood also by way of the state of peace from the passage beginning, “and this respiration-mindfulness concentration, bhikkhus, developed and repeatedly practised, is peaceful and sublime” (S V 321). And also by way of cutting off applied thought; for this concentration, because it is peaceful, sublime, unadulterated and of happy living, keeps the mind on the respiration as object by cutting off the chasing here and there of the mind with applied thoughts that cause hindrance. Hence it is also said, “Respiration-mindfulness should be developed for the cutting off of applied thought” (A  IV 353).[78]

By its being the root condition in the fulfilment of clear vision and deliverance, it is also greatly beneficial. For it is said by the Blessed One, “Respiration-mindfulness, bhikkhus, developed and repeatedly practised, perfects the four foundations of mindfulness; the four foundations of mindfulness, developed and repeatedly practised, perfect the seven enlightenment factors; the seven enlightenment factors, developed and repeatedly practised, perfect clear vision and deliverance” (see p.9).

Moreover, it is greatly beneficial because it causes the final breathings to be known. For this has been said by the Blessed One: “When, Raahula, respiration-mindfulness is thus developed, thus repeatedly practised, the final in-breaths and out-breaths (are) known (when) they cease, not unknown” (M I 425–26). Herein, there are three (kinds of breathing which are) final because of cessation: final in existence, final in jhaana, final in dying. For, among the (various planes of) existence, in-breaths and out-breaths occurs in the realm of sense-existence, (but) not in the realms of fine-material and immaterial existence; therefore, they are (called) final in existence. In the jhaanas, they occur in the first three (but) not in the fourth; therefore, they are called final in jhaana. Those that arise with the sixteenth consciousness preceding decease-consciousness, cease with the decease-consciousness; they are called final in dying. It is these last that are meant here by “final.” They are clear to the bhikkhu who is devoted to this meditation subject because of his thorough laying hold of respiration as object. At the moment of the arising of the sixteenth consciousness preceding decease-consciousness, to him who adverts to arising, their arising is also clear; to him who adverts to presence, their presence is also clear; and to him who adverts to dissolution, their dissolution is also clear.

A bhikkhu who has attained to arahatship, after developing some other meditation subject than this, may or may not be able to determine his life-term. But after developing respiration-mindfulness with its sixteen bases, he is able to do so. He knows, “for so long and no more will my life now continue.” And, minding all the usual functions such as seeing to the needs of the body, wearing the inner and outer garments, he closes his eyes like the Elder Tissa who lived at Kotapabbata Monastery, like Mahaa-Tissa, the elder of Mahaa-Kara.tjiya Monastery, Pi.n.dapaatika-Tissa, the elder in the kingdom of Devaputta, and the two brothers, elders of Cittalapabbata Monastery.

Herein, to relate one of these stories: it seems that one of the two brothers, after reciting the Paatimokkha on the full-moon assembly day, went to his own dwelling with a number of bhikkhus. As he stood on the terrace walk looking at the moonlight, he considered the span of his life and said to the bhikkhus: “How, hitherto, have you seen bhikkhus attaining complete extinction?” Some answered: “Hitherto, we have seen them attaining complete extinction sitting in their seats”; others answered: “We have seen them seated cross-legged in the sky.” The elder said: “I will now show you an attaining of complete extinction while walking to and fro on the terrace.” He then drew a line across the terrace walk, saying: “I shall go from here to the other end of the terrace and turn back; when I reach this line, I shall attain complete extinction.” So saying, he went down the terrace to the far end and, as he returned, he attained complete extinction at the moment in which he set foot upon the line.[79]

Perfection of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness

11. “A certain body”: I say it is a certain one of the four bodies beginning with the earth body; I say it is the air body,[80] is the meaning. Or alternatively, the twenty-five parts of (derived) materiality, namely, “visible-object base … material nutriment,” are called the materiality body. Among these, breathing, because of being included in the tangible-object base, is a certain body. That is why he spoke thus.

That is why”: because he contemplates a certain air body among the four bodies, or a certain breathing in the materiality body of twenty-five parts, that is why he “abides contemplating the body in the body,” is the meaning. So should the meaning be understood throughout.

A certain feeling”: this is said with reference to pleasant feeling as a certain one among the three feelings.[81]

The giving attention completely”: the full attention arisen through the experiencing of rapture, etc. But how? Is attention pleasant feeling? It is not. But this is a heading of the teaching. Just as, in the phrase, “devoted to the practice of perception of impermanence” (see p.8 above), by the word “perception” understanding is there stated; so here also, by the expression “attention,” feeling should be understood to be stated. For in this tetrad, in the first phrase feeling is stated under the heading of rapture, and in the second phrase it is stated in its own nature as bliss. In the two phrases dealing with the mental formation, because of the passage which says, “Perception and feeling are mental, these states being bound up with the mind are mental formations” (M I 301); and because of the passage which says, “Excepting applied and sustained thought, also all states associated with consciousness are included in the mental formation,” feeling is stated by the word “formation.” Including all that with the phrase “attention,” he here said, “The giving attention completely.”

Then, this being so, because this feeling is not the object, is the expression “contemplating the feelings” therefore incorrect? It is not incorrect. For also in the commentary to the Satipa.t.thaana Sutta it is said, “feeling feels by making this or that basis of pleasure, and so on, the object; but the words ‘I feel’ are merely a conventional expression used with regard to the occurrence of that feeling” (M-a I 275). Furthermore, this method of deduction is given, too, in the commentary, on the meaning of “experiencing rapture,” and so on. For this is said in the Visuddhimagga (see p.36 above), “Herein rapture is experienced in two ways, as object and as non-delusion. How is rapture experienced as object? He enters into the first two jhaanas in which rapture is present. Owing to his obtaining of jhaana, at the moment of attaining it, rapture is experienced by him as object, because of the experiencing of the object. How as non-delusion? Having entered into the two jhaanas in which rapture is present, and emerged therefrom, he masters the rapture associated with jhaana (by contemplating it) as destructible and perishable. By his penetration of its characteristics at the moment of insight, rapture is experienced by him as non-delusion. For this is said in the Pa.tisambhidaa: ‘For one who knows one-pointedness and non-distraction of mind through breathing in long, mindfulness is established. By means of that mindfulness and that knowledge that rapture is experienced …’ (Pa.tis I 187). The remaining expressions (in this tetrad) should be understood according to the same method as to meaning.” Accordingly, just as rapture, bliss, and the mental formation are experienced as object through the obtaining of jhaana, so feeling is experienced as non-delusion through the obtaining of this attention called feeling which is associated with jhaana. Therefore, this passage, “on that occasion … a bhikkhu abides contemplating the feelings in the feelings” is rightly stated.

One who is forgetful and does not clearly comprehend”: here this is the intention: a bhikkhu who proceeds by the method, “Experiencing the mind, I shall breathe in,” etc., although he makes the sign of the in-and-out breathing the object, is nevertheless called “one who experiences the mind,” owing to the proceeding of his mind thus only after establishing mindfulness and clear comprehension in regard to the object. For there is no development of respiration-mindfulness in one who is forgetful and not clearly comprehending. That is why, by experiencing the mind, etc., as object, “on that occasion … a bhikkhu abides contemplating the mind in the mind.”

Having seen with understanding what is the abandoning of covetousness and grief, he becomes one who looks on with complete equanimity”: here “covetousness” is the hindrance of lust. By “grief” the hindrance of ill will is pointed out. For this tetrad is stated by way of insight. And contemplation of mental objects is sixfold in the section beginning with contemplation on the hindrances (see MN 10, Contemplation of Mental Objects). Of that contemplation, the section on the hindrances is the beginning. Accordingly, he said, “covetousness and grief” in order to point out the beginning of contemplation of mental objects. “The abandoning” means it is the knowledge of abandoning, thus, “He abandons the perception of permanence through the contemplation of impermanence,” that is intended. “Having seen with understanding what is,” means having seen by means of further insight-understanding that knowledge of abandoning which is called knowledge of impermanence, fading away, cessation, and relinquishment, and having seen that also by means of further insight-understanding thus he points out successive insight. “He becomes one who looks on with complete equanimity,” means he looks with equanimity on what has arrived at tranquillity,[82] and he looks with equanimity on what is establishment as one—thus he looks on with equanimity in two ways. Herein, there is looking with equanimity on conascent states, and looking with equanimity on the object, that is intended. “That is why … bhikkhus”: because one who proceeds by the method, “contemplating impermanence, I shall breathe in,” etc., is one who looks on with complete equanimity after successively seeing with understanding not only the mental objects beginning with the hindrances,[83] but also the knowledge of the abandoning of the mental objects stated under the heading of covetousness and grief. Therefore, it should be understood that “on that occasion … a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects in mental objects.”

The Seven Enlightenment Factors

12.He investigates”: he investigates by way of impermanence, etc.; the other two phrases are synonyms for this.

Unworldly”: free from defilements.

Tranquillized”: through the tranquillization of bodily and mental disturbance, the body and the mind become tranquillized.

Becomes concentrated”: calm is established; it becomes as though attained to full absorption.

He becomes one who looks on with complete equanimity”: he becomes one who looks on with equanimity by means of looking on with equanimity which is conascent. The mindfulness in regard to the body, in the bhikkhu who lays hold of the body in the fourteen ways (of contemplating the body, given in the Satipa.t.thaana Sutta) thus, is the mindfulness enlightenment factor; the knowledge associated with that is the investigation-of-states enlightenment factor; the bodily and mental energy associated with that is the energy enlightenment factor, (and so on in like manner with) rapture and tranquillity; one-pointedness is the concentration enlightenment factor; it is the quality of equipoise called absence of lagging behind or of overrunning on the part of the aforesaid six enlightenment factors, that constitutes the equanimity enlightenment factor. For just as, when the horses are advancing evenly, there is on the charioteer’s part no urging on, (saying), “This one is holding back”; nor holding in, saying, “This one is overrunning”; but only the static quality of one watching thus: so, indeed, it is the quality of equipoise called absence of lagging behind or of overrunning in these six enlightenment factors that constitutes the equanimity enlightenment factor.

Up to this point what has been expounded? What are expounded are the seven enlightenment factors of the insight of a single conscious moment, characterized by various essentials.

Clear Vision and Deliverance

13.Dependent on seclusion,” and so on, having the meaning already explained[84] (in the commentary to MN 2, that is to say:) “seclusion” is secludedness (from defilement); this is fivefold, namely, seclusion through substitution of opposite qualities, seclusion through suppression (in jhaana), cutting off (by the four paths), tranquillization (by the four fruitions), and renunciation (as Nibbaana). The details should be understood as stated in the commentary to MN 1 (M-a I 23f.). Thus as regards the fivefold seclusion, the meaning of “dependent on seclusion” should be understood as “he develops the mindfulness enlightenment factor which is dependent on the seclusion by substitution of opposite qualities, is dependent on the seclusion by cutting off, is dependent on the seclusion by renunciation.” For the yogin who is practising the development of the enlightenment factors accordingly, when he is developing the mindfulness enlightenment factor at the moment of insight, it depends on the seclusion by substitution of opposite qualities as regards function, and on the seclusion by renunciation as regards inclination; but at the moment of the path it depends on the seclusion by cutting off as regards function, and on the seclusion by renunciation as regards object. Some commentators say, “it depends on the fivefold seclusion”; for not only do they infer the enlightenment factors in the moments of strong insight, paths, and fruitions, but they also infer them in jhaana produced in a contemplation device which is made the basis for insight, and in jhaana produced in respiration, the foul, and the divine abodes. Nor are they contradicted by the teachers of the commentaries; therefore, in their opinion it is said that at the moment of occurrence of the jhaanas it depends on the seclusion by suppression, too, as regards function, and, as in the case of the moment of insight, it depends on the seclusion by renunciation as regards inclination; thus it is correct to say that he develops it depending also on the seclusion of tranquillity.

The same method applies in the case of “on fading away, on cessation …,” for these have the same meaning as seclusion. Only that here “relinquishment” is twofold; relinquishment as giving up and relinquishment as entering into. Here, “relinquishment as giving up” is the abandoning of the defilements by substitution of opposite qualities at the moment of insight, and by cutting off at the moment of the path; “relinquishment as entering into” is the entering into Nibbaana by inclination thereto at the moment of insight, and by making it the object at the moment of the path. Both these are appropriate in the mixed mundane and supramundane method of commenting; for this mindfulness enlightenment factor thus gives up the defilements and enters into Nibbaana in the way aforesaid.

Resulting in relinquishment”: but this is what is expressed by this phrase as a whole: “changing, changed, and ripening, ripened for the purpose of relinquishment.” For this bhikkhu, who is practising the development of the enlightenment factors, develops the mindfulness enlightenment factor according as it is ripening for the purpose of relinquishment as giving up of the defilements, and for the purpose of relinquishment as entering into Nibbaana, and according as it has already ripened. The same method applies to the remaining enlightenment factors.

But here the mindfulness which lays hold of breathing in and out is mundane; mundane breathing in and out perfects the mundane foundations of mindfulness; the mundane foundations of mindfulness perfect the supramundane enlightenment factors; the supramundane enlightenment factors perfect Nibbaana as the fruit of clear vision and deliverance. Thus is the mundane expounded in the place where the mundane has been handed down in the texts, and the supramundane expounded in the place where the supramundane has been handed down in the texts. But the Elder (at the Council) said, “Elsewhere it is thus, but in this sutta, as it is handed down, the supramundane is reached later. Mundane mindfulness of breathing in and out perfects mundane foundations of mindfulness; mundane foundations of mindfulness perfect mundane enlightenment factors; mundane enlightenment factors perfect supramundane Nibbaana as the fruit of clear vision and deliverance. For here, by the term `clear vision and deliverance’ it is Nibbaana as the fruit of clear vision that is intended.”

 

Part II: The Commentary on the Sutta

[1]    The material up to here has been adapted from Vism. The passage “is of great fruit” to “supramundane bliss is of great benefit” is taken, for completeness, from M-a I 159. What follows is from Vism without adaptation. Only certain long quotations from Pa.tis have been replaced by references to the Pa.tis passages given in Part III.

[2]   Also, A II 238. M-a II 4, quoting A II 238f. in support, gives the following: “The recluse is a stream-enterer, the second recluse is a once-returner, the third recluse is a non-returner, the fourth recluse is an arahat.” M-a, commenting on MN122, also remarks that the four paths of holiness are not found outside the Buddha’s dispensation. Also Vism-mh.t 257 has the following: “‘For the person who produces respiration-mindfulness concentration in all its aspects’ means the grasping of all aspects with reference to the sixteen bases; these exist only in this dispensation, although those outside the dispensation who are endowed with knowledge know the (first) four bases only.”

[3]       As noted in Vism translation (Path of Purification), the word kuu.ta must here mean “vicious,” “wild,” or some such quality; not given in PTS Dict.

[4]       These are two stages of concentration. “Access concentration” (upacaara-samaadhi) approaches, but does not reach the “full absorption” (appanaa-samaadhi) achieved in jhaana.

[5]       So Vism-mh.t 257.

[6]       A V 135: “For one delighting in seclusion, delight in society is a thorn; for one devoted to contemplation of the foul, the sign of the beautiful is a thorn; for one guarding the doors of the sense faculties, the seeing of shows is a thorn; for one who leads the life of purity, consorting with women is a thorn; for the first jhaana, noise is a thorn; for the second jhaana, applied and sustained thought are a thorn; for the third jhaana, rapture is a thorn; for the fourth jhaana, in-and-out breathing is a thorn; for the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling, perception and feeling are a thorn. Greed is a thorn, hate is a thorn, delusion is a thorn. Dwell thornless, bhikkhus, dwell free from thorns, bhikkhus. Dwell thornless and free from thorns, bhikkhus. Thornless, bhikkhus, are the arahats; free from thorns, bhikkhus, are the arahats; thornless and free from thorns, bhikkhus, are the arahats.”

[7]       Cf. D I 9, 12; II 87.

[8]       Indakhiila: “Indra’s post,” the post, stake, column of Indra at, or before, any city gate; also a large slab of stone let into the ground at the entrance of a house (PTS Dict.).

[9]       The vicinity (of a tree) means “where at midday full shadow is cast, or (within the area) where, when it is calm, leaves (from it) fall, that area is termed ‘the root of a tree’; in this sense it is said ‘the vicinity of a tree’” (Vism-mh.t 258).

[10]     “The remaining seven kinds of abode being a hill, a rock cleft, a mountain cave, a charnel ground, a forest thicket, an open space, and a heap of straw” (Vism-mh.t 258; see M I 181).

[11]     “‘An abode suitable to the three seasons,’ etc.: the three seasons beginning with the hot season; the three humours of the body beginning with the phlegmatic; the three kinds of temperament beginning with the deluded temperament. So, indeed, in the hot season, the forest is favourable; in the cold season, the root of a tree; in the rainy season, an empty place. For one of phlegmatic humour, phlegmatic by nature, the forest is favourable; for one of irritable (bilious) humour, the root of a tree; for one of windy humour, an empty place. For one of deluded temperament, the forest; for one of angry temperament, the root of a tree; for one of sensual temperament, an empty place” (Vism-mh.t 258).

[12]     “For him there is no producing of in- (or out-) breathing unaccompanied by mindfulness—‘he is one who practises mindfulness’: he is so because of doing, by being mindful only, what should be done only with mindfulness; or he has the habit of so doing. Why is it that in the analysis of the passage, ‘mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out,’ instead of saying simply ‘he breathes in, he breathes out,’ ‘one who practises mindfulness’ is stated? It is owing to the wish to make the teaching consistent. For in the beginning of the first tetrad the meaning is expressed in the present tense; in the rest it is in the future tense. That is why the expression ‘one who practises mindfulness’ is used throughout in this paragraph owing to the wish to make the teaching consistent” (Vism-mh.t 259).

[13]     There is uncertainty as to whether aanam and assaaso mean breathing in, and apaanam and passaaso breathing out, or vice versa. Here, the former rendering is adopted throughout. “According to the Vinaya interpretation breath originating within is assaasa: breath originating without is passaaso. According to the Suttanta interpretation, however, assaaso (refers to) breath inside the body having originated outside; passaaso (refers to) breath outside, having originated outside” (Vism-mh.t 259).

[14]     This passage is quoted in full in Vism at this point but is omitted here and will be found in the Pa.tis section under “long” and “short” breaths. (See pp.68–70, paras. 12–13, where the “nine ways” are given.)

[15]     “Diffused on account of the state of being broken up into minute particles of many groups” (Vism-mh.t 262), i.e. regarded as successive arisings.

[16]     ”‘In the early (stage of the) method’ means in the early stage of the method of development; in the first two of the sixteen bases, is what is intended. And it is there, certainly, that knowledge is found to arise owing to the presence of the correct understanding of length and shortness of the in-breaths and out-breaths. And, according as that is not hard to do, that is, the mere taking of the breaths as they occur, it is put in the present tense (in the text). But what follows is as hard as for a man to walk on a razor’s edge; that is why the future tense is used (for the subsequent stages), in order to illustrate the need there for an outstanding store of previously accumulated merit and, so as to point this meaning out, he said, ‘herein because,’ and so on” (Vism-mh.t 263).

[17]     That is, when starting contemplation (see n.16).

[18]     The four elements: earth, water, fire, and air.

[19]     The twenty-four kinds of derived materiality are: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body-sensitivity; visible object, sound, odour, taste; femininity, masculinity, physical base of mind, bodily intimation, verbal intimation, vitality, space; physical agility, elasticity, tractability, growth, continuity, decay, impermanence; nutrition.

[20]     Impermanence, suffering, and non-self (anicca, dukkha, anattaa).

[21]     “By the method stated in the method of tranquility beginning with the words, ‘at the time of not discerning’” (Vism-mh.t 264).

[22]      The simile of the gong with its objection and reply is quoted in Vism at this point, but is omitted here as it is contained in the Pa.tis section (see pp.77–78, para 60).

[23]     Analysis of meaning, of law, of word formation, of clear expression. See A II 160, Vism XIV, 21–26.

[24]     (a) Virtue according to Paatimokkha restraint; (b) virtue as restraint of the controlling faculties by guarding the senses; (c) abstinence from wrong livelihood; (d) the use of the four requisites after proper reflection. See Vism I, 42.

[25]     See Vism III, 29–56.

[26]     See A IV 85–87.

[27]     See M I 37.

[28]     Vim has the following: “Here, ‘he trains himself in breathing in (and out)’ means mindfulness is fixed at the nose-tip or the upper lip. These are the places connected with the breathing in and out. The yogin attends to the incoming (and outgoing) breath there. He considers the contact of the incoming and the outgoing breath through mindfulness which is fixed at the nose-tip or on the upper lip. Mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out. He does not consider the breath when it has gone inside nor when it has gone outside. He considers the contact of the incoming breath and the outgoing breath at the nose-tip or on the upper lip with mindfulness. He breathes in and breathes out with mindfulness. It is as if a man were sawing wood. That man does not attend to the going back and forth of the saw. In the same way, the yogin does not attend to the perception of the (coming and going) of the incoming and outgoing breaths in respiration-mindfulness. He is aware of the contact at the nose-tip or on the upper lip and he breathes in and out with mindfulness. If, when the breath comes in or goes out, the yogin considers it within or without, his mind will be distracted. If his mind is distracted, his body and mind will waver and tremble. These are the disadvantages. He should not purposely breathe very long or very short breaths. If (he does) so, his mind will be distracted (as aforesaid). (Note: This last is a point which does not seem to be made in Vism.) He should not attach himself to diverse perceptions connected with breathing in and breathing out. If (he does) so, his other mental factors will be disturbed. If his mind is disturbed, his body and mind will waver and tremble. Thus, countless impediments arise because the points of contact of the incoming and the outgoing breath (all along their course) are countless. He should be recollected and should not let the mind be distracted. He should not try too strenuously nor too lazily. If he tries too lazily, he will fall into stiffness-and-torpor. If he tries too strenuously, he will become restless.”

[29]     Vim has the following: “Certain of the Ancients taught four ways of practising mindfulness as to respiration. They are counting, connection, contacting (or touching), and fixing.”

[30]     Vim has the following: “A new yogin counts the breaths from one to ten, beginning with the outgoing breath and ending with the incoming breath. He does not count beyond ten. Again, it is taught that he counts from one to five, but does not count beyond five. He does not miss (a breath). If he does, he should count the next or stop that count. Thus he dwells in mindfulness as to in-breathing and out-breathing, attending to the object. Thus should counting be understood. Counting suppresses uncertainty; it causes the abandoning of uncertainty.”

[31]     Vism-mh.t 267.

[32]     “This is said referring to one to whom only one of the two, i.e. in-breath or out-breath, becomes manifest; but one to whom both become manifest should do his counting taking both together. And the meaning expressed by the words, ‘that … manifest’ should be regarded as: of the wind in the two nostrils, that which is manifested more plainly should be taken” (Vism-mh.t 267–68).

[33]     Vism-mh.t 268.

[34]     Vism-mh.t 268.

[35]     Vism-mh.t 268 comments: “`One, two, three, four, five,’ show the manner of counting. Therefore, in saying ‘eight,’ and so on, eight and so on are to be reached separately beginning from one.”

[36]     Passage not clear. Vism-mh.t 268 merely says: “To one who reflects much on breath gone inside, that place seems as though struck by the wind or filled with fat; thus it appears.” The meaning might perhaps be that he feels the impact of the wind of the breath inside his body, which is felt as though his lungs were filled with a solid substance.

[37]     Since there are various interpretations of how the counting should actually be done, it is worthwhile mentioning the following points here (although this matter seems disproportionately overwritten already): (a) the unit, for counting purposes, can be taken as: “one”-in-breath and out-breath; or “one”-out-breath and in-breath; or “one”-in-breath, and “two”-out-breath; or “one”-out-breath, and “two”-in-breath; (b) when a maximum number between five and ten has been decided upon, count from one up to that number and begin again. An alternative method is to count from one to five, then from one to six, one to seven, one to eight, one to nine, one to ten, and begin again. (c) “Counting slowly like a grain-measurer” and “counting quickly like a cowherd” should not be understood as a speeding up of the breaths by deliberately causing a change in their rhythm. This is the stage of bare observation and there is no active control of the breath, but merely the watching and noting of it as it proceeds. If it speeds up or slows down “of itself,” this is merely noted. “Counting slowly,” therefore, means waiting at each count till the breath unit is finished before registering the count, as the grain-measurer goes on saying “one” till the moment comes to empty his second basket. This is the initial stage. When some facility has been reached, and consciousness is less inclined to stray, the “counting quickly” can be done at the beginning of the breath-unit. Thus, consciousness becomes less intent upon the numbers and more so on the breaths themselves.

[38]     “Having caused the arising of air-perception, he dwells attending to the contact of the incoming and the outgoing breath at the nose-tip or the upper lip” (Vim). Does this refer to the “air kasi.na”? At Vism III, 119, it is said: “respiration-mindfulness is to be grasped by touch, the air kasi.na is to be grasped by sight and touch, the remaining nine kasi.nas by sight.” Atthasaalinii, p. 200, has: “Respiration-jhaana is included in the air kasi.na. 

[39]     Vism-mh.t 268 comments: “`Following’ is the proceeding closely after with mindfulness by making each arising of in-breathing and out-breathing the object (of consciousness); therefore, he says, in fact, ‘he should not follow the beginning, middle, and end.’ “

[40]     Vism-mh.t 268 comments: “`The navel is the beginning’ here because of first arising. For the concept of beginning is here in the sense of first (of a series of) arisings, not in the sense of merely (one) arising. For they arise accordingly, (successively) throughout the length from the navel up to the nose-tip. Wherever they arise, there they break up, because of the absence of anything that moves; but the notion of movement is in regard to (successive) arisings within a (given) space according to conditions. ‘The heart (is) the middle’: near the heart; the middle is its upper part. ‘The nose-tip is the end’: the place where the nose is, is its end, because the notion of in-breathing and out-breathing does not extend beyond that, since they are stated as ‘originated by mind’ and there is no producing of anything mind-originated outside (that point).”

[41]     Quotation is given in full here. In the Pa.tis translation which follows it is compressed.

[42]     “Having acquired facility in contacting, he should establish the sign and he should establish rapture, bliss, and the other jhaana factors which arise here” (Vim).

[43]     Vism-mh.t 269 comments: “Without counting and connection there is no giving attention to the meditation subject by way of contact and by way of fixing alone in their due turn. Is it not a fact, then, that there is also no bringing to mind by counting without contact, just as there is no fixing without contact? Even if there is not, counting has still to be taken as the first condition, because of its being the root condition for bringing the meditation subject to mind. So with connection (in relation) to fixing, without that (connection) there is no state of fixing. Therefore, as there exists an uninterrupted state of contact, just because of having taken counting and connection by way of first condition through being the root condition, there is no (separate attention) to the others (i.e. contact and fixing). Pointing this out, he said, ‘There is, in fact, no attention to be given to it by contact separate from fixing, as there is by counting and connection.’ If (this is) so, why are they enumerated separately, saying ‘just there at the point of contact’ and so on? Here, saying ‘counting … at the point of contact,’ he thereby points out that contact is a factor of counting; therefore he says ‘he brings to mind by way of counting and contact.’”

[44]     Vism-mh.t 270.

[45]     Beginning, middle, and end is said here in the sense of not missing any part of the breaths as they pass the nose-tip, thus maintaining continuous mindfulness. There is no conflict, therefore, with the warning (given elsewhere) against following the beginning, middle, and end by leaving the nose-tip to follow after the breaths inside or outside the body.

[46]     “Counting suppresses uncertainty. It causes the abandoning of uncertainty. Connection removes gross applied thought and causes unbroken mindfulness as to in-and-out breathing. Contacting removes distraction and makes for steady perception. He attains to distinction through bliss (in fixing)” (Vim).

[47]     “To the yogin who attends (to the breath) with a mind that is cleansed of the nine lesser defilements, the sign arises with a pleasant feeling similar to that felt while spinning cotton. Also, it is likened to the pleasant feeling produced by a breeze. Thus, in breathing in and out, air touches the nose-tip and causes the establishment of mindfulness of air perception. This does not depend on colour or form. This is called the sign. If the yogin develops the sign and increases it through repeated practice, increases it at the nose-tip, between the eyebrows, on the forehead, or establishes it in several places, he feels as if his head were filled with air. Through increasing it in this way, his whole body is charged with bliss. This is called perfection” (Vim). However, Vism III, 113, speaking of signs which should and should not be increased, says: “He who increases the respiration sign only increases the accumulation of wind and it is limited in locality.”

[48]     “The counterpart sign” (Vism-mh.t 271).

[49]     The jhaana factors are: applied thought, sustained thought, rapture, bliss, equanimity.

[50]     This passage has been translated differently elsewhere, but the sense seems clear; the lesson taught is that given at M III 112: “…He brings to mind the imperturbable (four aruupa jhaanas). (Although) bringing to mind the imperturbable, still his mind does not enter the imperturbable nor does it become settled, steady, and resolute. When that is so, Aananda, the bhikkhu understands (that that is so). Thus he is possessed of clear comprehension therein. By that, Aananda, his mind should (then continue to be) internally settled, steadied, unified, and concentrated in the same sign of concentration as before.” Cf. MN 128.

[51]     Vism-mh.t 273 comments: “The acquired sign (uggahanimitta), and the counterpart sign (pa.tibhaaganimitta), for both are stated here together. For herein, the similes beginning with the ‘tuft of cotton’ apply to the acquired sign; the remainder to both signs.… The similes beginning with ‘like a round gem or a round pearl’ apply to the counterpart sign.” It is not stated on what grounds this division is based. Vim in this connection says: “And again there is a yogin who sees several signs from the beginning such as smoke, dust, gold-dust, or he experiences something like the pricking of a needle or an ant’s bite. If his mind does not become clear regarding these different signs he will be confused; thus he does not gain perception of in-and-out breathing. If his mind becomes clear, the yogin does not experience confusion; he attends to the incoming and outgoing breaths and he does not cause the arising of other perceptions. Meditating thus, he is able to end confusion and acquire the subtle sign. And he attends to the incoming breath and the outgoing breath with a mind that is free. Because that sign is free, virtuous desire arises. Virtuous desire being free, that yogin attends to the incoming breath and the outgoing breath and becomes joyful. Virtuous desire and joy being free, he attends to the incoming breath and the outgoing breath and becomes indifferent. Indifference, virtuous desire, and joy being free, he attends to the incoming breath and the outgoing breath and his mind is not disturbed. If his mind is not disturbed he will destroy the hindrances and arouse the jhaana factors. Thus this yogin will reach the calm and sublime fourth jhaana.”

[52]     Vism-mh.t 274.

[53]     “Counterpart sign” (Vism-mh.t 274).

[54]     Vibhaavaya.m”—either “causing to vanish” or “making known.” Vism-mh.t 274 comments: “Vibhaavaya.m: causing to vanish; causing to disappear. Since the arising of the sign these aspects are as though made to vanish for one who does not bring them to mind …. But there are those who say the meaning is: ‘Vibhaavaya.m is causing to be manifest, making known, plain’; the meaning should then be construed as the preliminary stage (of concentration).”

[55]     DN III 59–60.

[56]     M-a IV 162, commenting on MN 122, says: “This bhikkhu’s tranquility and insight are fresh, and for the purpose of guarding them:

‘Abode, resort, and speech, and person,

The food, the climate, and the posture:

(Select and) cultivate of each

The kind that is most suitable.’

         These seven kinds of suitability are desirable.”

[57]     See Vism IV 42–66.

[58]     See Vism IV 198–202. Here the fivefold instead of the fourfold classification of jhaanas is used, dividing the first into two, i.e. with applied and sustained thought; and with sustained thought only.

[59]     Adverting to, entering upon, deciding upon duration, emerging, reviewing; see Vism IV 131–32.

[60]     Vism-mh.t 375 comments: “`With the arising of ignorance there is the arising of materiality (Pa.tis I 55), and so forth; he investigates (and) scrutinizes it as having its beginning in ignorance.”

[61]     See Vism, Chap. XIX. Vism-mh.t 275 comments: “Doubt in its sixteen bases, namely, ‘Was I not in the past,’ etc.” (See M I 8). The three divisions of time are past, future, and present.

[62]     The three characteristics of impermanence, suffering, and non-self. 

[63]     Vism-mh.t comments: “`Whatever my materiality, be it in the past, future, or present,’ etc.” (see Pa.tis, Ñaa.nakathaa, Section 5).

[64]     Illumination, knowledge, rapture, tranquility, bliss, resolve, grasp, indifference, establishing, desire to act. See Vism XX, 105ff.

[65]     Vism-mh.t 275 comments: “`Of the nineteen kinds’: by way of analysis of the path, fruition, nibbaana, called the overcoming of the defilements to be reviewed. Nineteen because of the absence of residual defilements in the arahat.” See Pa.tis, Ñaa.nakathaa, Section 14. The whole paragraph is, in fact, a summary of what is contained in Vism from Chap. XVIII onwards.

[66]     Vism-mh.t comments on this paragraph: “`Experienced as object.’ What is meant? Just as though, when one going in search of a snake discovers (experiences) its abode, (it is as though) he had already discovered (experienced) it, and caught it, too, owing to the facility with which he (knows he) will catch it by means of charms and medicine. Thus, when the object (which is) become the abode of rapture is experienced (discovered), rapture itself is experienced (discovered), too, owing to the facility with which it is grasped as regards its specific and general characteristics.… ‘By his penetration of its characteristics’: by penetration of the specific and general characteristics of rapture. When the specific and general characteristics of anything are experienced, then that thing is experienced according to reality.” (Vism-mh.t 276. This passage occurs in .Tiikaa to M-a commenting on this sutta.)

[67]     “Bliss can be known in two ways: as non-delusion and as object” (Vim).

[68]     “He knows in two ways: as non-delusion and as object” (Vim).

[69]     Bliss is one of the feelings, but rapture belongs to the formations aggregate.

[70]     “The mind is aware of entering into, and going out of, the object in two ways—as non-delusion and as object” (Vim).

[71]     “`Setting free’ means releasing by deliverance consisting of suppressing, separating, abandoning the hindrances. ‘At the moment of insight’: at the moment of contemplation of dissolution (see Vism XXI, 12). For dissolution is called the culmination of insight. Therefore the meditator who contemplates dissolution by its means sees all that is formed by consciousness as impermanent, not as permanent; and because of the suffering in impermanence and the absence of self in suffering, he sees that also as pain, not as pleasure, as non-self, not as self (Pa.tis I 58). But because what is impermanent, suffering, and non-self is not to be delighted in, and what is not to be delighted in is not to be lusted after therefore, when the formations are seen in accordance with contemplation of dissolution as impermanent, suffering, and non-self, he feels revulsion for them, he does not delight in them, he feels dispassionate towards them, he does not feel passion for them. Feeling revulsion and dispassion, at first by means of mundane knowledge he causes cessation: he does not arouse, does not bring about this arising, is the meaning. Or alternatively, being thus dispassionate, by means of his own knowledge he causes the unseen formations as well as the seen to cease, he does not arouse them; he brings to mind only their cessation, not their arising, is the meaning. Practising thus, he relinquishes, does not cling. What is meant? Because of giving up the defilements together with the kamma-accumulations of the aggregates, and because of entering into Nibbaana, which is their opposite, through inclining thereto owing to seeing the unsatisfactoriness of what is formed; this is called relinquishment as giving up and relinquishment as entering into. Therefore the meditator who is possessed of that gives up the defilements in the way aforesaid and enters into Nibbaana. Hence it was said, ‘setting free, releasing the mind from the perception of permanence by means of the contemplation of impermanence at the moment of insight … setting free, releasing the mind from clinging by means of the contemplation of relinquishment, he breathes in and breathes out’ “ (Vism-mh.t 279).

[72]     “Here, what is this impermanence? Or, how is it impermanence? Or, what is contemplation of impermanence? Or, it is contemplation of impermanence of what? Pointing out that this tetrad should be explained in this way, he said: ‘The impermanent should be understood,’ and so forth. Here, ‘permanent’ is what is permanent, eternal—as is Nibbaana. ‘Not permanent’ is impermanent, possessed of rise and fall. (Referring to) formed things as to their meaning, he said: ‘Impermanent are the five aggregates. Why? Because of their rise and fall and change,’ meaning that they have the nature of rise and fall and change. Herein, there having been an arising of formed things through cause and condition, a state of individual existence is produced, is ‘arisen.’ The momentary cessation, annihilation, of these (arisen things) is ‘fall.’ Alteration through decay is ‘change.’ Just as there is no change of basis at the point of arising, nor at the point of breaking up and dissolution, there is likewise no change of basis at the point facing dissolution called presence—in ordinary usage, ‘decay.’ Therefore, the decay of a single thing is meant—that which is called momentary decay; and certainly absence of difference of basis in the points of arising and dissolution is necessary; otherwise one would fall into the fallacy (of holding) that one thing arises and another is broken up. Therefore it was concerning momentary decay that he said ‘change’” (Vism-mh.t 279–80).

[73]     “‘Which occur as seeing both kinds’ should be construed as the occurring of insight in contemplation of fading away as destruction, and the occurring of the path in contemplation of absolute fading away. Or the occurring of insight in contemplation of fading away as destruction should be understood as object, and in contemplation of absolute fading away should be understood as non-delusion in the contemplation of fading away and as object in the contemplation of absolute fading away” (Vism-mh.t 280).

[74]     “Mindfully he breathes in and out (thinking) thus: ‘This is transience, this is dispassion, this is Nibbaana’ “ (Vim).

[75]     “Contemplating the various hindrances according to reality (he thinks), ‘There are the transient things: the destruction of these is Nibbaana.’ Thus with tranquillized vision he trains himself” (Vim).

[76]   “Relinquishment which is the giving up of what should be abandoned either by substituting for them their opposite qualities, or by cutting them off, is ‘relinquishment as giving up’; the relinquishment of self in the cessation of forming kamma which is the relinquishment of the substrata of existence, or the entering into that either through inclination thereto or through having it as object, is ‘relinquishment as entering into.’ ‘By substituting for them their opposite qualities’: herein, firstly, contemplation of impermanence gives up the perception of permanence by abandoning that aspect. Likewise, giving up consists in non-occurrence; all the kamma-formations which are rooted in the defilements owing to the grasping of permanence, and the kamma-resultant aggregates which would arise in the future rooted in both (the kamma-formations and defilements)—these it gives up by causing their non-occurrence. Likewise with the perception of suffering, etc. Hence he said: ‘insight gives up the defilements together with the kamma-accumulations of the aggregates by substituting for them their opposite qualities.’ ‘Through seeing the unsatisfactoriness of what is formed’ means through seeing the fault of impermanence in what is formed consisting of the formations of the three planes of existence. ‘Opposite’ is because of the permanence (of the unformed). ‘The path gives up the defilements together with the kamma-accumulation of aggregates’: when the defilements are given up by the path, the kamma-accumulations are called ‘given up’ because they no longer have any means of effecting result, and the aggregates which are rooted therein are called ‘given up’, because there is no opportunity for their arising. ‘Both’ are insight knowledge and path knowledge, for path knowledge is called a contemplation because of seeing Nibbaana immediately after change-of-lineage (maturity) knowledge” (Vism-mh.t 281).

[77]     “Discerning states of wretchedness according to reality, (he thinks), ‘these are transient,’ and freeing himself from states of wretchedness, he abides in the peace of Nibbaana. Thus he trains himself and attains to bliss. The tranquil and the sublime are to be understood thus: all activities are brought to rest; all defilements are forsaken; craving is destroyed; passion is absent; it is the peace of blowing out” (Vim).

[78]     “All formations are possessed of applied thought and sustained thought. That being so, why is only applied thought suppressed in respiration-mindfulness and not the other? It is used here in a different sense. Discursiveness is a hindrance to jhaana. In this sense it is suppressed” (Vim).

        “Why is air contact pleasant? Because it calms the mind. It is comparable to the soothing of the mind by a minstrel spirit with sweet sounds. By its means applied thinking is suppressed. And again, it is like one walking by the banks of a river. His mind is collected and directed towards one object and does not wander” (Vim).

[79]     This is the end of the section of Vism on respiration mindfulness. What follows is from M-a, commenting on MN 118.

[80]     Kaaya here has its double meaning of “body” and “group.” See also Pa.tis II 232, where “earth, water, fire, and air bodies” and others are listed.

[81]     Pleasant, painful, and neither-pleasant-nor-painful (neutral) feeling.

[82]     “‘Arrived at tranquility’: he looks with equanimity on the mind which has arrived at the central state of equipoise which is the sign of tranquillity. ‘Establishment as one’: establishment by way of a single state through the disappearance of opposition” (.Tiikaa).

[83]     “`Not only the mental objects beginning with the hindrances’: having seen only the mental objects beginning with the hindrances to be abandoned, then having seen correctly through understanding also the knowledge of abandoning of these, he becomes one who looks on with equanimity. For this is said by the Blessed One (at M I 135), ‘(Good) things, bhikkhus, should be abandoned—how much more so bad things’” (.Tiikaa).

[84]     The next three paragraphs are from M-a I 85 (commenting on M I 11), to which the commentary on MN118 refers.
 

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