Access Concentration

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Beautiful Breath
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Access Concentration

Postby Beautiful Breath » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:02 pm

Hi,

Can some one explain what Access Concentration is?

Also the best method to acheive this and how we know when we're there?

Thanks,

Tony...

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IanAnd
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Re: Access Concention

Postby IanAnd » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:29 pm

"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

lojong1
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Re: Access Concention

Postby lojong1 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:07 pm

You say gently to yourself "holy feck, maybe that was access concentration" or something of the sort, and are convinced that your sitting practice should continue because there is obviously great value in it.
I can't think of anything else it is good for.

Samma
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Re: Access Concention

Postby Samma » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:44 pm

Common synonyms are:
access
neighborhood (because it is near to jhana/absorption)
threshold
momentary (used as access-level moment-to-moment concentration)

Related terms:
access concentration (upacāra samādhi)
absorption concentration (appanā samādhi)
preliminary concentration (Parikamma-samādhi)

Polar views on it:
1. Those more based in suttas tend to ignore it. Above terms not found in suttas. EG Thanissaro
2. Those that are based more in commentaries, consider it a clear stage. Associated with arising of counterpart sign (patibhaga nimitta). EG Pa Auk

The most popular way of resolving these is that access concentration / visuddhimagga style jhanas are produced with a fixed attention, not giving attention to any movement or qualities of breath. Whereas a more open whole awareness of the body does not necessarily produce these nimittas

Relevant topic: viewtopic.php?f=43&t=4451

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Kamran
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Re: Access Concention

Postby Kamran » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:40 am

I would say its the point when it no longer takes much effort to stay with the breath. The Mind is becoming still, and any thoughts that do arise don't distract you from watching your breath.

The mind enjoys the stillness, and is now more interested in watching the breath and the process of thought formation rather than getting enmeshed in the content of the thoughts themselves. Sort of like watching a magic show to try and figure out the tricks instead of being entertained by them :)
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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manas
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Re: Access Concention

Postby manas » Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:16 am

On second thoughts, I've sent this as a PM instead.

metta
Last edited by manas on Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

Digity
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Re: Access Concention

Postby Digity » Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:27 am


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manas
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Re: Access Concention

Postby manas » Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:46 am

Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

Digity
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Re: Access Concentration

Postby Digity » Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:04 am


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Beautiful Breath
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Re: Access Concentration

Postby Beautiful Breath » Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:01 pm

Thanks for you replies!

So a fixed point of concentration is required - the types of practice described in Silent Illumination for example will not bring about this?

I have experienced some really quite sublime states whilst practicing Silent Illumination, extremely calm and quiet with a palpable sense of losing any sense of body and a strong sense of a busy mind 'falling away'.

I am however, erring on the practice of Apapanasati as I understand Silent Illumination will not bring about Jhana?

Tony...

lojong1
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Re: Access Concentration

Postby lojong1 » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:38 pm

Silent Illumination methods can take you where you want to go.

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Re: Access Concentration

Postby Samma » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:59 pm

I don't know enough about silent illumination to comment.

Two more distinctions are probably useful for you to understand.
Some make distinctions between Momentary vs access and types of jhana.
U Pandita:
There are two types of jhāna: samatha jhāna and vipassanā jhāna. Some of you may have read about the samatha jhānas and wonder why I am talking about them in the context of vipassanā. Samatha jhāna is pure concentration, fixed awareness of a single object — a mental image, for example, such as a colored disk or a light. The mind is fixed on this object without wavering or moving elsewhere.

On momentary concentration, book is Practicing the Jhanas, Pa Auk tradition:
Mediators can eventually attain access concentration using either type of momentary concentration practice--samatha or vipassana. However, samatha practices are more likely to lead to access concentration because of their more stable nature. Access concentration is characterized by the significant reduction or complete dropping of the five hindrances. For most people, a period of intensive practice is required to reach access concentration. In access concentration, the meditative experience becomes smoother, easier, and more pleasant because of this lessening of hindrances and the arising of the powerful and blissful sensations of the jhana factors. This allows mediators to meditate longer and progress more easily in the practice. It becomes a positive, self-reinforcing loop.
It is easy to confuse momentary concentration with access concentration. One difference is that with access concentration the mediators continuity with the object is much longer and more stable over time. Another difference is that with access concentration, the object is much more energized and "bright"


The views on what constitutes access concentration seem to vary quite a bit, so depends on who you ask...
For example, patibhaga nimitta marks access.
Or just any level of fixed concentration free from hindrances.
Or perhaps easiest definition, Leigh B writes, "Access Concentration is a state where you are fully with the meditation object (breath) and if there are thoughts, they are wispy and in the background and do not pull you away from the breath"
http://www.leighb.com/accesscon.htm

Because the term seems quite ambiguous and vague, probably best not to place too much emphasis on it. There are other things you can place emphasis on such as increase one-pointedness of mind, not being as distracted. Or if you are focusing more on piti-sukkha. Or if you are making use of nimitta. And so on.

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Beautiful Breath
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Re: Access Concentration

Postby Beautiful Breath » Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:22 am


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manas
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Re: Access Concentration

Postby manas » Sun Mar 31, 2013 3:17 am

Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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Beautiful Breath
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Location: South West England, UK
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Re: Access Concentration

Postby Beautiful Breath » Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:31 pm


Digity
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Re: Access Concentration

Postby Digity » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:01 pm

I think the biggest cause for my lack of concentration lately is my lack of resolve in my sitting. It feels like I'm just trying to get through my meditation rather than really wanting to concentrate the mind. When I had a stronger resolve and was more focused my meditation was better. Now that I've lost some of that my meditation just feels flat-lined. It's interesting to see how all these different causes and effects come into play when you sit. At least I'm noticing this and hope that it'll cause me to be more focused from now on when I sit.

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Spiny Norman
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Re: Access Concentration

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:27 pm

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama


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