And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by developing? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, develops mindfulness as a factor for Awakening dependent on seclusion... dispassion... cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening... persistence as a factor for Awakening... rapture as a factor for Awakening... serenity as a factor for Awakening... concentration as a factor for Awakening... equanimity as a factor for Awakening dependent on seclusion... dispassion... cessation, resulting in letting go. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to develop these qualities do not arise for him when he develops them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by developing.
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At such times, monks, as the mind is sluggish, that is the wrong time to cultivate the enlightenment-factor of tranquillity, the enlightenment-factor of concentration, the enlightenment-factor of equanimity. What is the reason? A sluggish mind is hard to arouse by these factors.
"But, monks, when the mind is sluggish, that is the right time to cultivate the enlightenment-factor of investigation-of-states, the enlightenment-factor of energy, the enlightenment-factor of rapture. What is the reason? A sluggish mind is easy to arouse by these factors.
"Monks, when the mind is agitated, that is the wrong time to cultivate the enlightenment-factors of investigation-of-states, of energy, of rapture. Why? An agitated mind is hard to calm through these factors.
"When the mind is agitated, that is the right time to cultivate the enlightenment-factors of tranquillity, concentration, equanimity. Why? Because an agitated mind is easy to calm through these factors.
"But as for mindfulness, monks, I declare that it is always useful."
It is surprising to me how often we talk meditation without talking the seven factors. I wonder why that is, as I have found contemplation on the seven factors to be immensely useful to me at all points in my practice.
I'll give an example from my own practice: suppose I sit down and find that I'm restless. The first thing I do is relax a little bit, listen to the sounds of my room, or look at the Buddha rupa. Then I take up my object and really focus on it, without much concern for how comfortable my focus (concentration). I do this in order to drive a little 'wedge' into my run away thought process. So, after a few minutes I back off on that intense concentration and observe that my mind can now relax somewhat with the object without running off to those other thoughts. I notice that my mind is then more peaceful than before (ie, a still mind is better than a busy one), so I focus on the sense of peacefulness connected with my object (tranquility). As I do that for a while the last concerns for my previous line of though falls away. Then I turn my attention to the specific qualities of my object and begin to analyze it in anyway that seems appropriate.. in the case of breath mediation I will sometimes analyze the length, if that property is clear and smooth. Or, if the breath is rough I watch it and observe the bumps and hitches that might occur. This is 'investigation-of-states'. By taking up this analysis I prevent that tranquility from turning into mental dullness and sloth. As I analyze the breaths features this opens a nice little door way into experiencing the larger body, as the breath affects the body quite substantially.
As I analyze my object there becomes a sense of momentum, of energy. True, this energy was also present in my initial concentration, but now it seems qualitatively different. Since my mind is nicely balanced it becomes pretty easy to enjoy the experience and reflect on the change that has occurred in my mind. This usually yields a significant sense of joy and satisfaction to me (rapture).
In order to do all these things I need mindfulness and equanimity. That is, I have to recognize that all things come about by cause and effect, not by hope and craving. Second, I have to recall the purpose of balancing my mind: clarity of vision. The pleasure and such is a part or it, but not the goal. But as the meditation deepens this equanimity becomes more all encompassing, to the point that the bodily experience changes into a sense of singular 'present' and 'calm'.