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In the oldest scriptures of Theravada Buddhism much attention is given to the jhanas high levels of meditative attainment distinguished by poweful concentration and purity of mind. Ven. Dr. Gunaratana examines these jhanas within the context of Buddhist t
In the oldest scriptures of Theravada Buddhism much attention is given to the jhanas, high levels of meditative attainment distinguished by powerful concentration and purity of mind. Ven. Dr. Gunaratana examines these jhanas within the context of Buddhist teaching as a whole and particularly within the meditation disciplines taught by the Buddha. Beginning with the ethical foundation for meditation, the role of the teacher, the classical subjects of meditation, and the appropriateness of these subjects to individual practitioners, the author traces the practice of meditation to the higher reaches of realization. The eight stages of jhana are individually analyzed and explained in terms of their relation to one another and to the ultimate goal of the teaching. The author makes the critical distinction between the mundane jhanas and supermundane jhanas, pointing out that the lower four, while leading to various mental powers and psychic attainments, are not necessary to full enlightenment and may be developed or bypassed as the medita-tor wishes. The author goes on to explain the place of the jhanas among the accomplishments of an arahat and elucidate their usefulness for a dedicated meditator.
This book offers a new interpretation of the relationship between 'insight practice' (satipatthana) and the attainment of the four jhànas (i.e., right samàdhi), a key problem in the study of Buddhist meditation. The author challenges the traditional Buddhist understanding of the four jhànas as states of absorption, and shows how these states are the actualization and embodiment of insight (vipassanà). It proposes that the four jhànas and what we call 'vipassanà' are integral dimensions of a single process that leads to awakening. Current literature on the phenomenology of the four jhànas and their relationship with the 'practice of insight' has mostly repeated traditional Theravàda interpretations. No one to date has offered a comprehensive analysis of the fourfold jhàna model independently from traditional interpretations. This book offers such an analysis. It presents a model which speaks in the Nikàyas' distinct voice. It demonstrates that the distinction between the 'practice of serenity' (samatha-bhàvanà) and the 'practice of insight' (vipassanà-bhàvanà) – a fundamental distinction in Buddhist meditation theory – is not applicable to early Buddhist understanding of the meditative path. It seeks to show that the common interpretation of the jhànas as 'altered states of consciousness', absorptions that do not reveal anything about the nature of phenomena, is incompatible with the teachings of the Pàli Nikàyas. By carefully analyzing the descriptions of the four jhànas in the early Buddhist texts in Pàli, their contexts, associations and meanings within the conceptual framework of early Buddhism, the relationship between this central element in the Buddhist path and 'insight meditation' becomes revealed in all its power. Early Buddhist Meditation will be of interest to scholars of Buddhist studies, Asian philosophies and religions, as well as Buddhist practitioners with a serious interest in the process of insight meditation.
Every meditation tradition explains that there are two aspects to any effective meditation practice: insight and concentration. In Mindfulness in Plain English, author Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, a monk from Sri Lanka and venerated teacher of Buddhism, offered basic instruction on the meaning of insight (or vipassana) meditation through concepts that could be applied to any tradition. In Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English, he presents the levels of concentration with the same simplicity and humor that made the previous book so successful. The focus here is on the Jhanas, those meditative states of profound stillness and concentration in which the mind becomes fully immersed and absorbed in the chosen object of attention. Using the Jhanas to guide readers along the path to joy, happiness, equanimity, and one-pointedness, the author provides all of the instruction necessary to utilize meditation as a tool for building a more fulfilling life.
The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (Tib. Lam rim chen mo) is one of the brightest jewels in the world’s treasury of sacred literature. The author, Tsong-kha-pa, completed it in 1402, and it soon became one of the most renowned works of spiritual practice and philosophy in the world of Tibetan Buddhism. Because it condenses all the exoteric sūtra scriptures into a meditation manual that is easy to understand, scholars and practitioners rely on its authoritative presentation as a gateway that leads to a full understanding of the Buddha’s teachings. Tsong-kha-pa took great pains to base his insights on classical Indian Buddhist literature, illustrating his points with classical citations as well as with sayings of the masters of the earlier Kadampa tradition. In this way the text demonstrates clearly how Tibetan Buddhism carefully preserved and developed the Indian Buddhist traditions. This second of three volumes covers the deeds of the bodhisattvas, as well as how to train in the six perfections.
The Visuddhimagga is the "great treatise" of Theravada Buddhism, an encyclopedic manual of doctrine and meditation written in the fifth century by the great Buddhist commentator, Buddhaghosa. The most esteemed commentary in all of Pali literature, The Path of Purification, or Visuddhimagga, is a systematic examination and condensation of Buddhist doctrine and meditation technique. The various teachings of the Buddha, found throughout the Pali Canon, are organized in a clear, comprehensive manner. In the course of his treatise Buddhaghosa gives full and detailed instructions on the forty subjects of meditation aimed at concentration, an elaborate account of the Buddhist Abhidhamma philosophy, and explicit descriptions of the stages of insight culminating in final liberation. The author, Bhadantacaryia Buddhaghosa, composed the Visuddhimagga in the early part of the 5th century A.D. The India-born monk-scholar traveled to Sri Lanka to translate into Pali the extensive Sinhalese commentaries preserved there. His crystallization of the entire Pali Canon reinvigorated Theravada Buddhism in India and Sri Lanka. It still shines as clearly today, in this brilliant 1956 translation by the British-born monk, Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, that in itself is considered an outstanding achievement of Pali scholarship of the 20th century. This book is from BPS Pariyatti Editions, which co-publishes classic and contemporary titles from the Buddhist Publication Society of Kandy, Sri Lanka.
This landmark collection is the definitive introduction to the Buddha's teachings - in his own words. The American scholar-monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, whose voluminous translations have won widespread acclaim, here presents selected discourses of the Buddha from the Pali Canon, the earliest record of what the Buddha taught. Divided into ten thematic chapters, In the Buddha's Words reveals the full scope of the Buddha's discourses, from family life and marriage to renunciation and the path of insight. A concise, informative introduction precedes each chapter, guiding the reader toward a deeper understanding of the texts that follow. In the Buddha's Words allows even readers unacquainted with Buddhism to grasp the significance of the Buddha's contributions to our world heritage. Taken as a whole, these texts bear eloquent testimony to the breadth and intelligence of the Buddha's teachings, and point the way to an ancient yet ever-vital path. Students and seekers alike will find this systematic presentation indispensable.
Like the River Ganges flowing down from the Himalayas, the entire Buddhist tradition flows down to us from the teachings and deeds of the historical Buddha, who lived and taught in India during the fifth century B.C.E. To ensure that his legacy would survive the ravages of time, his direct disciples compiled records of the Buddha's teachings soon after his passing. In the Theravada Buddhist tradition, which prevails in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, these records are regarded as the definitive "word of the Buddha." Preserved in Pali, an ancient Indian language closely related to the language that the Buddha spoke, this full compilation of texts is known as the Pali Canon. At the heart of the Buddha's teaching were the suttas (Sanskrit sutras), his discourses and dialogues. If we want to find out what the Buddha himself actually said, these are the most ancient sources available to us. The suttas were compiled into collections called "Nikayas," of which there are four, each organized according to a different principle. The Digha Nikaya consists of longer discourses; the Majjhima Nikaya of middle-length discourses; the Samyutta Nikaya of thematically connected discourses; and the Anguttara Nikaya of numerically patterned discourses. The present volume, which continues Wisdom's famous Teachings of the Buddha series, contains a full translation of the Anguttara Nikaya. The Anguttara arranges the Buddha's discourses in accordance with a numerical scheme intended to promote retention and easy comprehension. In an age when writing was still in its infancy, this proved to be the most effective way to ensure that the disciples could grasp and replicate the structure of a teaching.
A richly complex study of the Yogacara tradition of Buddhism, divided into five parts: the first on Buddhism and phenomenology, the second on the four basic models of Indian Buddhist thought, the third on karma, meditation and epistemology, the fourth on the Trimsika and its translations, and finally the fifth on the Ch'eng Wei-shih Lun and Yogacara in China.