Samatha: supression and cultivation

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Ben » Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:52 am

Greetings all,

When we develop samatha we do this by"supressing" the hindrances. This description of "supression" is in both ancient and modern literature. What is meant by supression? Do we enter Jhana as a result of actively suppressing the hindrances or does supression occur passively as a result of developing concentration?

Similarly we read samatha is developing by cultivation of the jhana factors. Are the jhana factors actively developed or do they develop naturally as a result of maintaining unbroken attention on the meditation object?

I am interested in ideas that are supported whether its by suttanta, abhidhamma, ancient commentarial literature and the works of later scholars and respected meditation teachers or a combination of sources. While I am very happy to hear of ideas informed by meditative experience for the sake of this discussion they should be balanced by textual support as well.
I am interested in containing the discussion to the development of the first jhana.
I don't care for side discussions about who has the most authoritative approach and whose is deficient.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby cooran » Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:35 am

Hello Ben, and all,

A few references as a basis for discussion:

The Five Mental Hindrances, by Nyanaponika Thera
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh026-p.html

Nīvarana: 'hindrances', are 5 qualities which are obstacles to the mind and blind our mental vision. In the presence of them we cannot reach neighbourhood-concentration upacāra-samādhi and full concentration appanā-samādhi, and are unable to discern clearly the truth. They are:
1. sense-desire kāmacchanda,
2. ill-will vyāpāda,
3. lethargy and Laziness thīna-middha,
4. restlessness and regrets uddhacca-kukkucca and
5. skeptical doubt vicikicchā.
[more .............. ]
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... c3_n.htm#nīvarana

Vikkhambhana-pahāna: 'overcoming by repression' or 'suspension', is one of the 5 kinds of overcoming pahāna.
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... mbhana-pahāna

with metta
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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Brizzy » Sat Jan 14, 2012 7:59 am

Ben wrote:Greetings all,

When we develop samatha we do this by"supressing" the hindrances. This description of "supression" is in both ancient and modern literature. What is meant by supression? Do we enter Jhana as a result of actively suppressing the hindrances or does supression occur passively as a result of developing concentration?

Similarly we read samatha is developing by cultivation of the jhana factors. Are the jhana factors actively developed or do they develop naturally as a result of maintaining unbroken attention on the meditation object?

I am interested in ideas that are supported whether its by suttanta, abhidhamma, ancient commentarial literature and the works of later scholars and respected meditation teachers or a combination of sources. While I am very happy to hear of ideas informed by meditative experience for the sake of this discussion they should be balanced by textual support as well.
I am interested in containing the discussion to the development of the first jhana.
I don't care for side discussions about who has the most authoritative approach and whose is deficient.
kind regards,

Ben


Is it possible for you to cite the instances in which the word 'suppression' regarding the hindrances is used in the sutta texts. I know it is used in other texts, but I have not come across its use within the suttas. 'Abandons' seem's to be the word used (although, no one is suggesting this is a permanent abandonment).

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:32 am

Brizzy wrote: Is it possible for you to cite the instances in which the word 'suppression' regarding the hindrances is used in the sutta texts. I know it is used in other texts, but I have not come across its use within the suttas. 'Abandons' seem's to be the word used (although, no one is suggesting this is a permanent abandonment).
Abandoned suggests a voluntary letting go, as in walking away from a broken down car, which is not quite accurate to the experience of jhana. Suppression, as opposed repression, seems to be accurate to the experience of jhana in regards to the negative stuff, which does, in time, come back, but it is not in the sense of deliberately trying to push this or that down; rather, is is what happens as concentration is cultivated. This seems to be a natural function of a highly collected or unified mind, though, of course, one might try to actively suppress a troublesome negative factor and that might help. The negative factors during and for a time after after the jhana experience are not directly fueled, as it where, and thus they do not readily arise. Accurate words that catch the nuance of this function of jhana are difficult to find. This suppression of negative factors with highly refined meditative concentration can also be a basis for supposing one has attained some degree of awakening.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Brizzy » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:12 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Brizzy wrote: Is it possible for you to cite the instances in which the word 'suppression' regarding the hindrances is used in the sutta texts. I know it is used in other texts, but I have not come across its use within the suttas. 'Abandons' seem's to be the word used (although, no one is suggesting this is a permanent abandonment).
Abandoned suggests a voluntary letting go, as in walking away from a broken down car, which is not quite accurate to the experience of jhana.


I can only speak personally, but the word 'abandon' actually fits my own experiences. It also seems to be the english word that has been used in translation. The similes that are given regarding the abandoning of the hindrances also point to a 'releasing' or 'freedom from' rather than suppressing.

"Suppose that a man, taking a loan, invests it in his business affairs. His business affairs succeed. He repays his old debts and there is extra left over for maintaining his wife. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, taking a loan, I invested it in my business affairs. Now my business affairs have succeeded. I have repaid my old debts and there is extra left over for maintaining my wife.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man falls sick — in pain and seriously ill. He does not enjoy his meals, and there is no strength in his body. As time passes, he eventually recovers from that sickness. He enjoys his meals and there is strength in his body. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was sick... Now I am recovered from that sickness. I enjoy my meals and there is strength in my body.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is bound in prison. As time passes, he eventually is released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was bound in prison. Now I am released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is a slave, subject to others, not subject to himself, unable to go where he likes. As time passes, he eventually is released from that slavery, subject to himself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where he likes. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was a slave... Now I am released from that slavery, subject to myself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where I like.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man, carrying money and goods, is traveling by a road through desolate country. As time passes, he eventually emerges from that desolate country, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, carrying money and goods, I was traveling by a road through desolate country. Now I have emerged from that desolate country, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"In the same way, when these five hindrances are not abandoned in himself, the monk regards it as a debt, a sickness, a prison, slavery, a road through desolate country. But when these five hindrances are abandoned in himself, he regards it as unindebtedness, good health, release from prison, freedom, a place of security. Seeing that they have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad. Glad, he becomes enraptured. Enraptured, his body grows tranquil. His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.02.0.than.html

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:17 am

Brizzy wrote:I can only speak personally, but the word 'abandon' actually fits my own experiences. It also seems to be the english word that has been used in translation. The similes that are given regarding the abandoning of the hindrances also point to a 'releasing' or 'freedom from' rather than suppressing.
But the reality is that one is only "free" from the negative stuff for awhile until there is actual insight, which is what leads to the real abandoning.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Brizzy » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:40 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Brizzy wrote:I can only speak personally, but the word 'abandon' actually fits my own experiences. It also seems to be the english word that has been used in translation. The similes that are given regarding the abandoning of the hindrances also point to a 'releasing' or 'freedom from' rather than suppressing.
But the reality is that one is only "free" from the negative stuff for awhile until there is actual insight, which is what leads to the real abandoning.


Although the abandoning is temporary, insights are involved. Even if it is merely the insight that there 'IS' something more. I think that if the above similes are carefully read they help shed light on how the hindrances are to be abandoned and especially what the experience of abandoning them is like.

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Brizzy » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:58 am

Ben wrote:
Similarly we read samatha is developing by cultivation of the jhana factors. Are the jhana factors actively developed or do they develop naturally as a result of maintaining unbroken attention on the meditation object?


I think its actually a twofold approach. Actively recollecting the downside of the hindrances and the blessings of being free from them and secondly actively recollecting our own accomplishments in and the positiveness/blessing of virtue, generosity, dis-passion etc. Which are the causes for the jhana factors to arise.

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Otsom » Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:10 am

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Brizzy » Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:49 am

I didn't mean for anything I said to be construed as a forceful/suppressive 'act of will', I meant it to be seen as a recollection - 'a cause'.................

‘Young man, these five things made known by the Brahmins for the accomplishment and accumulation of merit, I declare are the accessories to develop the mind freeing it from ill will and anger. Young man, the bhikkhu becomes truthful. He experiences its meaning knowing I’m truthful, experiences the Teaching and joy, of knowing the Teaching. That joy accompanied with merit, I call the accessory of the mind, to develop the mind freeing it from ill will and anger. The bhikkhu becomes austere, leads a holy life, becomes learned, becomes benevolent He experiences its meaning knowing I’m benevolent, experiences the Teaching and joy, of knowing the Teaching. That joy accompanied with merit, I call the accessory of the mind, to develop the mind freeing it from ill will and anger. Young man, these five things made known by the Brahmins for the accomplishment and accumulation of merit, I declare are the accessories to develop the mind freeing it from ill will and anger.’


http://www.budsas.org/ebud/majjhima/099-subha-e1.htm

In the Bhikkhu Bodhi translation the word 'knowing' is translated as 'thinking' - I think both translations work.

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Otsom » Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:17 am

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Ben » Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:38 am

But what about samatha practices that do not rely on recollections to cause the hindrances to become quiescent or the jhana factors to manifest?
What is going on?
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Brizzy » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:28 pm

Ben wrote:But what about samatha practices that do not rely on recollections to cause the hindrances to become quiescent or the jhana factors to manifest?
What is going on?


It could be the case that such practices are not to be pursued until the hindrances have been abandoned

"Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending (it) and mindful (of it), having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating the feelings in the feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending (them) and mindful (of them), having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating consciousness in consciousness, ardent, clearly comprehending (it) and mindful (of it), having overcome in this world covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating mental objects in mental objects, ardent, clearly comprehending (them) and mindful (of them), having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.010.soma.html

Or it could be that such practices run in tandem with such recollections. It is quite possible to be recollecting such things and also have a background mindfulness of the breath which feed off each other in tranquilising the body & mind. It is also possible to have similar recollections 'about' the breath e.g. 'it is sublime' , 'it is the Noble practice of the Buddha & his disciples' or 'this leads to dispassion' etc. One point about the four foundations sutta and the anapana sutta is the mention of 'mental contents', I prefer to read this as Dhamma with a capital 'D', Dhamma can cover recollections as diverse as 'the Buddha', 'dispassion', 'virtue' etc. It is perhaps an individual's own propensity to determine what aspects of the Dhamma actually help them in drawing towards jhana. I have always disliked the term 'one pointed' it can totally gear one's thinking into how the meditation should proceed or 'what' the experience of jhana will/should be like. For me, any recollection that can lead to gladness in the Dhamma is a good foundation for jhana to develop.

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby gavesako » Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:17 pm

Tadanga-nibbana is mentioned in the Anguttaranikaya. It is a state that comes about momentarily when external conditions happen, fortuitously, to be such that no idea of "I" or "mine" arises. Tadanga-nibbana is momentary cessation of the idea "I," "mine," due to favorable external circumstances. At a higher level than this, if we engage in some form of Dharma practice, in particular if we develop concentration, so that the idea of "I," "mine" cannot arise, that extinction of "I," "mine" is called vikkhambhana-nibbana. And finally, when we succeed in bringing about the complete elimination of all defilements, that is full Nirvana, total Nirvana.

-- Buddhadasa

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Brizzy » Sat Jan 14, 2012 7:33 pm

gavesako wrote:Tadanga-nibbana is mentioned in the Anguttaranikaya. It is a state that comes about momentarily when external conditions happen, fortuitously, to be such that no idea of "I" or "mine" arises. Tadanga-nibbana is momentary cessation of the idea "I," "mine," due to favorable external circumstances. At a higher level than this, if we engage in some form of Dharma practice, in particular if we develop concentration, so that the idea of "I," "mine" cannot arise, that extinction of "I," "mine" is called vikkhambhana-nibbana. And finally, when we succeed in bringing about the complete elimination of all defilements, that is full Nirvana, total Nirvana.

-- Buddhadasa

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhikk ... r_of_I.htm


Hi,

How do we arrive at or what do we recollect for the..... 'external conditions happen, fortuitously', could you please reference the term 'Tadanga-nibbana' and 'vikkhambhana-nibbana' within the Anguttaranikaya.
Thanks.

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Brizzy wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Brizzy wrote:I can only speak personally, but the word 'abandon' actually fits my own experiences. It also seems to be the english word that has been used in translation. The similes that are given regarding the abandoning of the hindrances also point to a 'releasing' or 'freedom from' rather than suppressing.
But the reality is that one is only "free" from the negative stuff for awhile until there is actual insight, which is what leads to the real abandoning.


Although the abandoning is temporary, insights are involved. Even if it is merely the insight that there 'IS' something more. I think that if the above similes are carefully read they help shed light on how the hindrances are to be abandoned and especially what the experience of abandoning them is like.
Short of becoming arahant, there is always something that needs to be done. Also, the attainment of jhana in and of itself is no guarantee of insight.

I certainly have no beef with the text you quote, but like a lot of suttas it also presupposes a great deal having already taken place. As for insight:

    "Here, O bhikkhus, when sensuality is present, a bhikkhu knows with understanding: 'I have sensuality,' or when sensuality is not present, he knows with understanding: 'I have no sensuality.' He understands how the arising of the non-arisen sensuality comes to be; he understands how the abandoning of the arisen sensuality comes to be; and he understands how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned sensuality comes to be. -- MN 10
And here the "abandoning" is not the temporary abandoning of jhana in and of itself, nor of "actively recollecting," which seems to suggests thinking about something already past; rather, it is what unfolds 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized [U 10],' as well as the text quoted above: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=11148&p=168531#p168461
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby sattva » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:31 pm

Dear Ben,
I have to admit that I was very interested in this thread, but find it confusing. I don't know if it is possible to do this, but could i make a suggestion? Is there a way to ask your questions of one or even several teachers and get their replies to the questions raised? I don't know about others, but i would find it very helpful. Thanks.
with metta,
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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Ben » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:34 pm

Hi Louise,

I'll see what I can do to add some clarification from respected teachers.
I apologise for the confusion.
with metta,

Ben
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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Brizzy » Sun Jan 15, 2012 11:01 am

I posted this link on another posting, I personally feel it has a lot to offer with regard to the questions regarding the hindrances, jhana and meditation in general within the Buddha's dispensation.

http://theravadin.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/how-to-really-cleanse-your-mind/

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Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Nyana » Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:09 pm

The discourses offer specific meditation subjects for working with the hindrances. There is also a very ancient tradition where the meditation teacher and student assess the students temperament and disposition, and the student is given a specific meditation subject on this basis. For example, if the student has a predominantly passionate, lustful disposition then the meditation subject of an unattractive object (asubhanimitta) is given as the student's main meditation practice. If the student has a more aggressive, impatient type of personality then loving-kindness (mettā) is given as the students main meditation practice, and so on.

A few sutta passages....

Desire for Sensual Pleasure (Kāmacchanda)

To remedy desire for sensual pleasure we are advised to attend to an unattractive object (asubhanimitta). AN 1.2 Nīvaraṇappahāṇavagga:

    No other phenomenon do I know, monks, on account of which unarisen desire for sensual pleasure does not arise and arisen desire for sensual pleasure is abandoned as much as on account of this: an unattractive object. For one who attends properly to an unattractive object, unarisen desire for sensual pleasure does not arise and arisen desire for sensual pleasure is abandoned.

Aversion (Byāpāda)

In order to abandon aversion we are instructed to develop the liberation of the mind through loving-kindness (mettācetovimutti). AN 1.2 Nīvaraṇappahāṇavagga:

    No other phenomenon do I know, monks, on account of which unarisen aversion does not arise and arisen aversion is abandoned as much as on account of this: the liberation of the mind through loving-kindness. For one who attends properly to the liberation of the mind through loving-kindness, unarisen aversion does not arise and arisen aversion is abandoned.

Lethargy and Drowsiness (Thīnamiddha)

As an antidote to lethargy and drowsiness we are advised to develop the productive mental components of arousal (ārambhadhātu), persistence (nikkāmadhātu), and energetic endeavor (parakkāmadhātu). Other passages advise to practice walking meditation, or the recognition of light. AN 1.2 Nīvaraṇappahāṇavagga:

    No other phenomenon do I know, monks, on account of which unarisen lethargy and drowsiness does not arise and arisen lethargy and drowsiness is abandoned as much as on account of this: the component of arousal, the component of persistence, the component of energetic endeavor. For one who has aroused energy, unarisen lethargy and drowsiness does not arise and arisen lethargy and drowsiness is abandoned.

Restlessness and Anxiety (Uddhaccakukkucca)

The remedy for restlessness and anxiety is the development of a pacified mind (cetaso vūpasama). Other passages suggest taking up mindfulness of breathing. AN 1.2 Nīvaraṇappahāṇavagga:

    No other phenomenon do I know, monks, on account of which unarisen restlessness and anxiety does not arise and arisen restlessness and anxiety is abandoned as much as on account of this: a pacified mind. For one with a pacified mind, unarisen restlessness and anxiety does not arise and arisen restlessness and anxiety is abandoned.

Doubt (Vicikicchā)

Thorough reflection (yoniso manasikāra) is suggested in order to work with any doubts that we may have about the veracity and effectiveness of the dhamma. AN 1.2 Nīvaraṇappahāṇavagga:

    No other phenomenon do I know, monks, on account of which unarisen doubt does not arise and arisen doubt is abandoned as much as on account of this: thorough reflection (yoniso manasikāra). For one who thoroughly reflects, unarisen doubt does not arise and arisen doubt is abandoned.

Generally speaking, the cultivation and development of whichever meditation subject is taken up will lead to the suppression of the hindrances and the appearance and strengthening of the jhāna factors. This developmental process is nicely explained in SN 46.3:

    Dwelling thus withdrawn, one recollects that Dhamma and thinks it over. Whenever, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwelling thus withdrawn recollects that Dhamma and thinks it over, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of mindfulness is aroused by the bhikkhu; on that occasion the bltikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness; on that occasion the enlightenment factor of mindfulness comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.

    Dwelling thus mindfully, he discriminates that Dhamma with wisdom, examines it, makes an investigation of it. Whenever, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwelling thus mindfully discriminates that Dhamma with wisdom, examines It, makes an investigation of it, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of discrimination of states is aroused by the bhikkhu; on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of discrimination of states; on that occasion the enlightenment factor of discrimination of states comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.

    While he discriminates that Dhamma with wisdom, examines it, makes an investigation of it, his energy is aroused without slackening. Whenever, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu's energy is aroused without slackening as he discriminates that Dharnma with wisdom, examines it, makes an investigation of it, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of energy is aroused by the bhikkhu; on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of energy; on that occasion the enlightenment factor of energy comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.

    When his energy is aroused, there arises in him spiritual rapture. Whenever, bhikkhus, spiritual rapture arises in a bhikkhu whose energy is aroused, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of rapture is aroused by the bhikkhu; on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of rapture; on that occasion the enlightenment factor of rapture comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.

    For one whose mind is uplifted by rapture the body becomes tranquil and the mind becomes tranquil. Whenever, bhikkhus, the body becomes tranquil and the mind becomes tranquil in a bhikkhu whose mind is uplilted by rapture, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of tranquillity is aroused by the bhikkhu; on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of tranquillity; on that occasion the enlightenment factor of tranquillity comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.

    For one whose body is tranquil and who is happy the mind becomes concentrated. Whenever, bhikkhus, the mind becomes concentrated in a bhikkhu whose body is tranquil and who is happy, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of concentration is aroused by the bhjkkhu; on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of concentration; on that occasion the enlightenment factor of concentration comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.

    He closely looks on with equanimity at the mind thus concentrated. Whenever, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu closely looks on with equanimity at the mind thus concentrated, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of equanimity is aroused by the bhikkhu; on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of equanimity; on that occasion the enlightenment factor of equanimity comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.

There are a number of other excellent discourses related to this development in the Bojjhaṅgasaṃyutta of the Saṃyuttanikāya. And of course, what these discourses summarize in a few paragraphs can encapsulate years of dedicated practice.
Nyana
 
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