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concentration on the signless

Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:43 am
by ground
There are, monks, three unskilled ways of thought: thoughts of lust, thoughts of ill-will, thoughts of hurting. And these three unskilled states disappear utterly in him whose heart is well established in the four foundations of mindfulness, or who practices concentration on the signless.[4]
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What is this ... the "concentration on the signless"?

Kind regards

Re: concentration on the signless

Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:09 pm
by 2600htz
Hello:

"Signless, being secluded from the sign of the five aggregates, taken as having no graspable entity (aviggaha)." Comm. to VM [Visuddhimagga]

As i understand it, the five aggregates/ the foundations of mindfulness / your object of meditation are only up to the dimension of nothingness ("jhana").
Any attainment beyond that (the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception/ the cessation of feeling & perception/ nirvana) are signless.

Much metta.

Re: concentration on the signless

Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:16 pm
by bodom
SN 40.9 PTS: S iv 268 CDB ii 1308

Animitto Sutta: The Signless

translated from the Pali by
Maurice O'Connell Walshe
© 2007–2011
The Pali title of this sutta is based on the PTS (Feer) edition.

[1] [The Ven. Moggallaana has described how, with the aid of the Buddha, he has passed through all the jhaanas[2] right up to the "sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception."]

"Then, friends, I thought: 'The signless concentration of the heart, the signless concentration of the heart, they say — now what is that?'

"Then I thought: 'In this a monk, paying no attention to any distinguishing signs,[3] enters on and dwells in that concentration of the heart which is without signs. This is called "The signless concentration of heart."'

"Then, friends, paying no attention to any distinguishing signs, I entered on and dwelt in that concentration of the heart which is without signs. But as I dwelt thus,[4] the consciousness-conforming-to-signs arose.[5]

"And then, friends, the Blessed One came to me by his powers[6] and said: 'Moggallaana, Moggallaana, Brahman,[7] do not slacken off in the signless concentration, make your mind steady, make the mind one-pointed, concentrate your mind in the signless concentration!'

"And after that, friends, paying no attention to any distinguishing signs, I entered on and dwelt in the signless concentration of the heart.

"Now, friends, if anyone were to truly declare: 'Through the Teacher's compassion the disciple gained great super-knowledge,'[8] he could rightly declare this of me."
Notes

1.
Animitto: cf. SN 22.80, n. 4. Not, as Woodward translates, "The unconditioned," which would be asankhata-Nibbaana.
2.
There are the four "lower" jhaanas ("absorptions") associated with the World of Form (ruupaloka), and the four "higher" jhaanas associated with the Formless World (aruupaloka). They are referred to in similar terms in the first eight sections of Sa.myutta 40 (not included in this Anthology) thus: 1. "With Thought-Conception" (savitakka); 2. "Without Thought-Conception" (avitakka); 3. "By Happiness" (sukhena); 4. "Balanced" (upekkhako); 5. "[Infinity of] Space" (aakaasa); 6. "[Infinity of] Consciousness" (viññaana); 7. "Nothingness" (akiñcañña); 8. "Neither-perception [nor-non-perception]" (nevasaññii). For further details of these absorptions, which are pre-Buddhist and not essential to the attainment of enlightenment, see BD [Buddhist Dictionary (2nd ed.), by Ven. Nyaa.natiloka, Ven. Nyaa.naponika (ed.), Colombo 1972].
3.
Nimitta. The characteristic features of anything.
4.
Woodward translates: "But when I so abode (and had emerged from trance)." His parenthetic addition, here and in the previous eight suttas (not included in this Anthology) is not justified by the text. Moggallaana had not emerged from the absorption (Woodward's "trance"), but his concentration having momentarily weakened, he was lapsing into the state below (i.e., in this case, "Neither-perception-nor-non-perception").
5.
Nimittaanusaari-viññaa.na.m. Woodward's "consciousness that followed after distinguishing marks" is not quite correct. He himself refers to the Commentary on the Sutta Nipaata: "i.e., consciousness that was still tainted with raaga-dosa-moha [lust, hatred and ignorance]."
6.
Iddhiyaa. Woodward's "by magic power" is inappropriate. The meaning is telepathic power, which is neither "magical" nor confined to Buddhas. See BD s.v. Abhiññaa.
7.
"Brahman" here is clearly used in the second of the two senses (SN 35.187, n. 1).
8.
Mahaa-abhiññataa. Moggallaana has attained to the sixth abhiññaa, the only one that is supramundane: the extinction of the cankers (aasavakkhaya) (cf. SN 12.23, n. 2).
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:namaste:

Re: concentration on the signless

Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:32 pm
by Nyana
TMingyur wrote:What is this ... the "concentration on the signless"?
The Pāḷi is animitto samādhi. There are three samādhis mentioned in the Saṅgīti Sutta and a few other suttas: emptiness samādhi (suññatā samādhi), signless samādhi (animittā samādhi), and undirected samādhi (appaṇihitā samādhi). The status and place of these samādhis isn't clearly spelled out in the suttas, but it's clear that they are fruitional meditations and not to be equated with any of the four formless attainments or the attainment of the cessation of apperception and feeling.

In addition to the suttas already posted, MN 43 Mahāvedalla Sutta describes the signless liberation of mind (animittā cetovimutti) as follows:
  • What is the signless liberation of mind? There is the case where a monk, through not attending to all signs, enters and remains in the signless concentration of mind. Friend, this is said to be the signless liberation of mind.
MN 43 Mahāvedalla Sutta describes the emptiness liberation of mind (suññatā cetovimutti) as follows:
  • What is the emptiness liberation of mind? Here a monk goes to the forest, to the root of a tree, or to an empty place and reflects: 'This is empty of a self or that which belongs to a self.' Friend, this is said to be the emptiness liberation of mind.
The development of undirected samādhi (appaṇihitā samādhi) is described in SN 47.10 Bhikkhunūpassaya Sutta:
  • And how, Ānanda, is there development without direction (appaṇidhāya bhāvanā)?

    Not directing his mind outwardly, a monk understands: 'My mind is not directed outwardly.' Then he understands: 'It is unconstricted after and before, liberated, undirected.' Then he further understands: 'I dwell contemplating the body in the body, ardent, fully aware, mindful; I am [experiencing] pleasure.'

    Not directing his mind outwardly, a monk understands: 'My mind is not directed outwardly.' Then he understands: 'It is unconstricted after and before, liberated, undirected.' Then he further understands: 'I dwell contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, fully aware, mindful; I am [experiencing] pleasure.'

    Not directing his mind outwardly, a monk understands: 'My mind is not directed outwardly.' Then he understands: 'It is unconstricted after and before, liberated, undirected.' Then he further understands: 'I dwell contemplating mind in mind, ardent, fully aware, mindful; I am [experiencing] pleasure.'

    Not directing his mind outwardly, a monk understands: 'My mind is not directed outwardly.' Then he understands: 'It is unconstricted after and before, liberated, undirected.' Then he further understands: 'I dwell contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, fully aware, mindful; I am [experiencing] pleasure.'

    It is in this way, Ānanda, that there is development without direction.
In the Abhidhammapiṭaka Dhammasaṅgaṇī these three samādhis are equated with supramundane jhāna (lokuttarajjhāna). Also, in the Paṭisambhidāmagga these supramundane jhānas are designated in terms of three contemplations (suññatānupassanā, animittānupassanā, appaṇihitānupassanā), three abidings (suññatā vihāra, animittā vihāra, appaṇihitā vihāra), and three deliverances (suññatā vimokkha, animittā vimokkha, appaṇihitā vimokkha). It's said that the contemplation of impermanence (aniccānupassanā) results in the signless deliverance, the contemplation of unsatisfactoriness (dukkhānupassanā) results in the undirected deliverance, and the contemplation of selflessness (anattānupassanā) results in the emptiness deliverance. For example:
  • When he gives attention as impermanent his mind emerges from the sign; his mind enters into the signless.... Gnosis of contemplation of the signlessness of form... feeling... recognition... fabrications... consciousness... etc., is signless deliverance because it liberates from all signs.
All the best,

Geoff

Re: concentration on the signless

Posted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:10 am
by ground
Thank you!

Re: concentration on the signless

Posted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:42 pm
by Nibbida
Thank you Ñāṇa. That's very helpful.

Could you say anything more about suññatā samādhi? How does one take suññatā as an object? Is this in the Visuddhimagga?

Thanks.

Re: concentration on the signless

Posted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 10:45 pm
by Nyana
Nibbida wrote:Could you say anything more about suññatā samādhi?
Suññatā samādhi is listed a few times in the suttas, along with signless samādhi (animittā samādhi), and undirected samādhi (appaṇihitā samādhi). For example, SN 43.4:
  • And what monks, is the path leading to the not-fabricated? The emptiness samādhi (suññatā samādhi), the signless samādhi (animittā samādhi), the undirected samādhi (appaṇihitā samādhi). This is called the path leading to the not-fabricated.
The development of suññatā samādhi is the same as the development of the emptiness liberation of mind (suññatā cetovimutti). MN 43 Mahāvedalla Sutta:
  • What is the emptiness liberation of mind? Here a monk goes to the forest, to the root of a tree, or to an empty place and reflects: 'This is empty of a self or that which belongs to a self.' Friend, this is said to be the emptiness liberation of mind.
These terms (suññatā, animittā, and appaṇihitā) are presented in more detail in the Abhidhammapiṭaka and the Paṭisambhidāmagga. The Dhammasaṅgaṇī mentions entering and abiding in emptiness as one of the alternate designations of supramundane jhāna (e.g. lokuttaraṃ jhānaṃ ... paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati suññataṃ), where calm (samatha) and liberating clear seeing (vipassanā) are coupled together and balanced within jhāna. And as already mentioned, the Paṭisambhidāmagga makes frequent use of this triad (suññatā, animittā, and appaṇihitā), where the method of development of emptiness deliverance is stated in exactly the same terms as the above excerpt from MN 43 regarding the emptiness liberation of mind.

Stated simply, these various designations related to suññatā samādhi are the supramundane development of the recognition/contemplation of selflessnesss (termed anattasaññā in the suttas and anattānupassanā in the Paṭisambhidāmagga).
Nibbida wrote:How does one take suññatā as an object?
The object-support here is the unification of mind and mental factors which are presently occurring. And what one recognizes is the absence (emptiness) of a self amongst these presently occurring phenomena (dhammas) or apart from these phenomena. First, there is the recognition of impermanence (aniccasaññā); then the recognition of unsatisfactoriness in what is impermanent (anicca dukkhasaññā); then the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory (dukkha anattasaññā). For example, AN 7.49 (ATI 7.46, PTS A iv 46):
  • 'The perception of inconstancy, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end': Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said?

    When a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of inconstancy, his mind shrinks away from gains, offerings, & fame, bends away, pulls back, and is not drawn in, and either equanimity or loathing take a stance. Just as a cock's feather or a piece of tendon, when thrown into a fire, shrinks away, bends away, pulls back, and is not drawn in; in the same way, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of inconstancy, his mind shrinks away from gains, offerings, & fame, bends away, pulls back, and is not drawn in, and either equanimity or loathing take a stance. If, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of inconstancy, his mind inclines to gains, offerings, & fame, or if non-loathing takes a stance, then he should realize, 'I have not developed the perception of inconstancy; there is no step-by-step distinction in me; I have not arrived at the fruit of [mental] development.' In that way he is alert there. But if, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of inconstancy, his mind shrinks away from gains, offerings, & fame, bends away, pulls back, and is not drawn in, and either equanimity or loathing take a stance, then he should realize, 'I have developed the perception of inconstancy; there is a step-by-step distinction in me; I have arrived at the fruit of [mental] development.' In that way he is alert there.

    'The perception of inconstancy, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end': Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

    'The perception of stress in what is inconstant, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end': Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said?

    When a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of stress in what is inconstant, a fierce perception of danger & fear is established in him toward idleness, indolence, laziness, heedlessness, lack of commitment, & lack of reflection, as if toward a murderer with an upraised sword. If, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of stress in what is inconstant, a fierce perception of danger & fear is not established in him toward idleness, indolence, laziness, heedlessness, lack of commitment, & lack of reflection, as if toward a murderer with an upraised sword, then he should realize, 'I have not developed the perception of stress in what is inconstant; there is no step-by-step distinction in me; I have not arrived at the fruit of [mental] development.' In that way he is alert there. But if, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of stress in what is inconstant, a fierce perception of danger & fear is established in him toward idleness, indolence, laziness, heedlessness, lack of commitment, & lack of reflection, as if toward a murderer with an upraised sword, then he should realize, 'I have developed the perception of stress in what is inconstant; there is a step-by-step distinction in me; I have arrived at the fruit of [mental] development.' In that way he is alert there.

    'The perception of stress in what is inconstant, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end': Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

    'The perception of not-self in what is stressful, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end': Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said?

    When a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of not-self in what is stressful, his heart is devoid of I-making & my-making with regard to this conscious body and externally with regard to all themes, has transcended pride, is at peace, and is well-released. If, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of not-self in what is stressful, his heart is not devoid of I-making & my-making with regard to this conscious body and externally with regard to all themes, has not transcended pride, is not at peace, and is not well-released, then he should realize, 'I have not developed the perception of not-self in what is stressful; there is no step-by-step distinction in me; I have not arrived at the fruit of [mental] development.' In that way he is alert there. But if, when a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of not-self in what is stressful, his heart is devoid of I-making & my-making with regard to this conscious body and externally with regard to all themes, has transcended pride, is at peace, and is well-released, then he should realize, 'I have developed the perception of not-self in what is stressful; there is a step-by-step distinction in me; I have arrived at the fruit of [mental] development.' In that way he is alert there.

    'The perception of not-self in what is stressful, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. It gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end': Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.
Nibbida wrote:Is this in the Visuddhimagga?
The Visuddhimagga uses the Paṭisambhidāmagga terminology. In the Paṭisambhidāmagga the triad is referred to as three contemplations (suññatānupassanā, animittānupassanā, appaṇihitānupassanā), three abidings (suññatā vihāra, animittā vihāra, appaṇihitā vihāra), and three deliverances (suññatā vimokkha, animittā vimokkha, appaṇihitā vimokkha). It's said that the contemplation of impermanence (aniccānupassanā) results in the signless deliverance, the contemplation of unsatisfactoriness (dukkhānupassanā) results in the undirected deliverance, and the contemplation of selflessness (anattānupassanā) results in the emptiness deliverance.

All the best,

Geoff