|BuddhaSasana Home Page||English Section|
A Manual of Abhidhamma
Edited in the original Pali
Text with English Translation and Explanatory Notes
Narada Maha Thera
CHAPTER IX -
Subjects for Mental Culture (1)
Compendium of Calm
Suitability of Subjects
for Different Temperaments
Stages of Mental Culture
Signs of Mental Culture
1. Kammatthana - Here this term is used in a technical sense. Kamma means the act of meditation or contemplation. Thana, literally, station, ground, or occasion, implies subjects or exercises. Kammatthana, therefore, means 'subjects of meditation' or 'meditation exercises'. There are forty such subjects of meditation.
2. Samatha derived from Ö sam, to lull, to subdue, denotes 'tranquillity' 'quietude', gained by subduing the Hindrances. It is synonymous with concentration (samadhi) which leads to the development of jhanas. By concentration passions are only temporarily inhibited.
3. Vipassana, derived from vi + Ö dis, to see, literally means perceiving in diverse ways, that is in the light of transiency, sorrowfulness, and soullessness. It is rendered by 'insight', 'contemplation', 'intuition', 'introspection'. The sole object see things as they truly are, in Emancipation.
4. Carita signifies the intrinsic nature of a person, which is revealed when one is in a normal state without being preoccupied with anything. The temperaments of people differ owing to the diversity of their actions or Kammas. Habitual actions tend to form particular temperaments.
Raga (lust) is predominant in some, while dosa (anger, hatred or ill will), in others. Most people belong to these two categories. There are a few others who lack intelligence and are more or less ignorant (moha-carita). Akin to the ignorant are those whose minds oscillate, unable to focus their attention deliberately on one thing (vitakka-carita). By nature some are exceptionally devout (saddha-carita), while others are exceptionally intelligent (buddhi-carita).
Thus, in brief, there are six kinds of temperaments.
By combining them with one another, we get 63 types. With the inclusion of ditthi-carita (speculative temperament) there are 64.
5. The preliminary stages of mental development are termed parikamma-bhavana. Mental culture, from the moment one develops the conceptualized image and temporarily inhibits the Hindrances, until the gotrabhu thought-moment in the jhana javana process, is termed upacara-bhavana.
The thought-moment that immediately follows the gotrabhu thought-moment is called appana, ecstatic concentration, because vitakka (initial application), the foremost jhana constituent, persists as if firmly fixed upon the object of concentration.
Jhana Thought-Process: manodvaravajjana / parikamma, upacara, anuloma, gotrabhu, appana / bhavanga.
6. Any object, such as a kasina, used for preliminary mental culture is termed 'parikamma-nimitta'.
The same object, when mentally perceived with closed eyes, is termed 'uggaha-nimitta'.
The identical visualized image, freed from all kasina defects, is termed 'patibhaganimitta' when it serves as an object of upacara and appana bhavana.
7. Kasina means 'whole, 'all, 'complete'. It is so called because the light issuing from the conceptualized image is extended everywhere without any limitation.
In the case of pathavi-kasina one makes a circle of about one span and four fingers in diameter and, covering it with dawn-coloured clay, smoothes it well. If there be not enough clay of dawn-coloured, he may put in some other kind of clay beneath. This prepared circle is known as kasina-mandala and is also called parikamma-nimitta. Now he places this object two and half cubits away from him and concentrates on it, saying mentally or inaudibly - pathavi, pathavi or earth, earth. The purpose is to gain one-pointedness of mind. When he does this for some time, perhaps weeks, or months, or years, he will be able to close his eyes and visualize the object. This visualized object is called 'uggaha-nimitta'. Then he concentrates on this visualized image until it develops into a conceptualized or counter-image free from original kasina faults. This is known as the 'patibhaganimitta'. As he continually concentrates on this abstract concept he is said to be in possession of proximate or neighborhood concentration (upacara-samadhi). At this stage the innate five Hindrances are temporarily inhibited. Eventually he gains 'ecstatic concentration' (appana samadhi).
For the water-kasina one may take a vessel full of colourless water, preferably rain water, and concentrate on it, saying - apo, apo, (water, water) until he gains one-pointedness of mind.
To develop the fire-kasina one may kindle a fire before him and concentrate on it through a hole, a span and four fingers in diameter, in a rush-mat, a piece of leather, or a piece of cloth, saying tejo, tejo, (fire, fire).
One who develops the air-kasina concentrates on the wind that enters through window space or a hole in the wall, saying, vayo, vayo (air, air).
To develop the colour-kasinas one may take a mandala of the prescribed size, and colour it blue, yellow, red, or white and concentrate on it, repeating the name of the colour as in the case of the other kasinas.
One may even concentrate on blue, yellow, red, or white flowers.
Light kasina may be developed by concentrating on the moon, or on an unflickering lamplight, or on a circle of light cast on the ground, or on the wall by sunlight or moonlight entering through a wall-crevice or hole, saying - aloka, aloka (light, light).
Space-kasina can be developed by concentrating on a hole, a span and four fingers in diameter, in either a well-covered pavilion or a piece of leather, or a mat, saying, okasa, okasa (space, space).
It may be mentioned that light and space kasinas are not mentioned in the Texts.
8. Asubha - Those ten kinds of corpses were found in ancient Indian cemeteries and charnel places where dead bodies were not buried or cremated and where flesh-eating animals frequented. In modern days they are out of the question.
9. Anussati - literally, means repeated reflection or constant mindfulness.
i. Buddhanussati is the reflection on the virtues of the Buddha as, for example: "Such indeed is that Exalted One, Worthy, Fully Enlightened, Endowed with Wisdom and Conduct, Well-farer, Knower of the Worlds, an Incomparable Charioteer for the training of individuals, Teacher of gods and men, Omniscient, and Holy".
ii. Dhammanussati is reflection on the virtues of the Doctrine as, for example: "Well-expounded is the doctrine by the Exalted One, to be realized by oneself, of immediate fruit, inviting investigation, leading to Nibbana, to be understood by the wise, each one for himself".
iii. Sanghanussati is the reflection on the virtues of the pure members of the Noble Celibate Order as follows: "Of good conduct is the Order of the disciples of the Exalted One; of upright conduct is the Order of the disciples of the Exalted One; of wise conduct is the Order of the disciples of the Exalted One; of dutiful conduct is the Order of the disciples of the Exalted One. The four pairs of persons constitute eight individuals. This Order of the disciples of the Exalted One is worthy of offerings, is worthy of hospitality, is worthy of gifts, is worthy of reverential salutation, is an incomparable field of merit for the world".
iv. Silanussati is reflection on the one's own virtuous conduct.
v. Caganussati is reflection on one's own charitable nature.
vi. Devatanussati - "Deities are born in such exalted states on account of their faith and other virtues. I too possess them." Thus when one reflects again and again on one's own faith and others' virtues, placing deities as witnesses, it is called Devatanussati.
vii. Upasamanussati is reflection on the attributive qualities of Nibbana, such as the cessation of suffering, etc.
viii. Marananussati is reflection on the termination of psycho physical life.
Contemplation on death enables one to comprehend the fleeting nature of life. When one understands that death is certain and life is uncertain one endeavors to make the best use of one's life by working for self-development and for the development of others, instead of wholly indulging in sensual pleasures. Constant meditation on death does not make one pessimistic and lethargic but, on the contrary, it makes one more active and energetic. Besides one can face death with serenity.
While contemplating death, one may think that life is like a flame, or that all so-called beings are the outward temporary manifestations of the invisible Karmic energy, just as an electric light is the outward manifestation of the invisible electric energy. Choosing various similes, one may meditate on the uncertainty of life and on the certainty of death.
ix. Kayagatasati is reflection on the 32 impure parts of the body such as hair, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, etc. This meditation on the loathsomeness of the body, leads to dispassion. Many Bhikkhus in the time of the Buddha attained Arahatship by meditating on these impurities. If one is not conversant with all the thirty-two parts, one may meditate on one part such as bones.
Within this body is found a skeleton. It is full of flesh which is covered with a skin. Beauty is nothing but skin deep. When one reflects thus on the impure parts of the body passionate attachment to this body gradually disappears.
This meditation may not appeal to those who are not sensual. They may meditate on the innate creative possibilities of this complex machinery of man.
The thirty-two parts of the body are enumerated as follows:
"Hair, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinew, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, bowels, mesentery, stomach, faeces, brain, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, lymph, tears, grease, saliva, nasal mucus, articular fluid, and urine".
x. Anapanasati is mindfulness on respiration. Ana means inhalation and apana exhalation. In some books these two terms are explained in the reverse way. Concentration on the breathing process leads to one-pointedness of the mind, and ultimately to Insight which leads to Arahatship.
10. This is one of the best subjects of meditation, which appeals equally to all. The Buddha also practiced anapanasati before His Enlightenment.
A detailed exposition of this meditation is found in the Satipatthana Sutta and in the Visuddhi Magga.
A few practical hints are given here for the benefit of the average reader.
Adopting a convenient posture, breathe out and close the mouth. Then breathe in through the nostrils calmly, without strain. Inhale first and count mentally one. Exhale and count two, concentrating on the breathing process. In this manner count up to ten, constantly focusing your attention on respiration. It is possible for the mind to wander before one counts up to ten. But one need not be discouraged. Try again until success is achieved. Gradually one can increase the number of series, say five series of ten. Later one can concentrate on the breathing process without counting. Some prefer counting as it aids concentration; while others prefer not to count. What is essential is concentration, and not counting, which is secondary. When one does this concentration exercise one feels light in body and mind and very peaceful. One might perhaps feel as if one were floating in the air. When one practices this concentration for a certain period, a day may come when one will realize that his so-called body is supported by mere breath, and that the body perishes when breathing ceases. Thus one fully realizes impermanence. Where there is change there cannot be a permanent entity or an immortal soul. Insight might then be developed to gain Arahatship.
It is now clear that the object of this concentration on respiration is not merely to gain one-pointedness but also to cultivate Insight in order to obtain Deliverance.
This simple method may be pursued by all without any harm.
For more details readers are referred to the Visuddhi Magga.
In some Suttas this simple method of respiration is explained as follows:
"Attentively he breathes in, attentively he breathes out.
1. When making a long inhalation he knows, 'I make a long inhalation; when making a long exhalation, he knows, 'I make a long exhalation'.
2. When making a short inhalation he knows, 'I make a short inhalation'; when making a short exhalation he knows, 'I make a short exhalation'.
3. 'Clearly perceiving the entire (breath) body (sabbakayapatisamvedi), I will inhale': thus he trains himself; 'clearly perceiving the entire (breath) body. I will exhale': thus he trains himself.
4. 'Calming this breathing process (passam bhayam kayasankharam), I will inhale' thus he trains himself; 'calming this breathing process, I will exhale': thus he trains himself.
11. Brahmavihara - Here Brahma means sublime, as in brahmacariya (sublime life). Vihara means mode or 'state of conduct' or 'state of living'. They are also termed appamañña (limitless, boundless) because these thoughts are radiated towards all beings, without limit or obstruction.
i. Metta (Sanskrit: Maitri) loving-kindness, benevolence, goodwill - is defined as that which softens one's heart. It is not carnal love or personal affection. The direct enemy of Metta is hatred, ill will or aversion (kodha); its indirect enemy is personal affection (pema). Metta embraces all beings without exception. The culmination of Metta is the identification of oneself with all beings (sabbattata). It is the wish for the good and happiness of all. Benevolent attitude is its chief characteristic. It discards ill will.
ii. Karuna - compassion - is defined as that which makes the hearts of the good quiver when others are subject to suffering, or that which dissipates the sufferings of others. Its chief characteristic is the wish to remove the sufferings of others. Its direct enemy is wickedness (himsa) and its indirect enemy is passionate grief (domanassa) Compassion embraces sorrow-stricken beings, and it eliminates cruelty.
iii. Mudita is not mere sympathy but sympathetic or appreciative joy. Its direct enemy is jealousy, and its indirect enemy is exhilaration (pahasa). Its chief characteristic is happy acquiescence in others' prosperity and success (anumodana). Mudita embraces prosperous beings. It eliminates dislike (arati) and is the congratulatory attitude of a person.
iv. Upekkha literally, means to view impartially, that is, with neither attachment nor aversion. It is not hedonic indifference but perfect equanimity or a well-balanced mind. It is the balanced state of mind amidst all vicissitudes of life such as praise and blame, pain and happiness gain and loss, repute and disrepute. Its direct enemy is attachment (raga) and its indirect enemy is callousness. Upekkha discards clinging and aversion. Impartial attitude is its chief characteristic.
Here Upekkha does not mean mere neutral feeling, but implies a sterling virtue. Equanimity, mental equilibrium, are its closest equivalents. Upekkha embraces the good and the bad, the loved and the unloved, the pleasant and the unpleasant.
See Chapter 2, note 4.
12. Ahare patikkulasañña - i.e., the feeling of loathsomeness of food, in its search, eating, etc.
13. Catudhatuvavatthanam - i.e., the investigation of the four primary elements of extension, cohesion, heat, and motion, with regard to their characteristics, etc. 14.
14. Arupajhanas - See Ch. 1. They are: (i) 'The Realm of the Infinity of Space', (ii) 'The Realm of the Infinity of Consciousness', (iii) 'The Realm of Nothingness', and (iv) The 'Realm of neither Perception nor Non-perception'.
15. Thirty-eight objects when 'light' and 'space' are excluded.
16. Because they tend to create a disgust for the body which fascinates the senses.
17. Because the objects are deep and vast.
18. These objects are too coarse, and vitakka, one of the constituents of jhana, is an indispensable aid to practice concentration on them. As there is no vitakka in the remaining four jhanas, they cannot be developed by concentrating on these two objects.
19. As equanimity (upekkha) is found only in the fifth jhana, the first four jhanas cannot be developed by concentrating on this last 'Illimitable'.
20. Vatthudhammato - i.e., from the defects found in the original kasina-mandala.
21. Avajjana - reflection on the different constituents of jhana.
Samapajjana - the ability to attain to different jhanas quickly.
Adhitthana - the ability to remain in the jhanas as long as one likes.
Vutthana - the ability to emerge from the jhanas as quickly as possible.
Paccavekkhana is similar to avajjana.
22. See Ch. I.
23. Abhiñña - Only one who has gained the fifth jhana can develop the following five kinds of supernormal knowledge or vision:
i. Iddhividha - Flying through the air, walking on water, diving into the earth, creation of forms, etc., belong to this category.
ii. Dibbasota is the Celestial Ear, also called clairaudience, which enables one to hear subtle or coarse sounds far or near.
iii. Paracittavijanana is the power to discern the thoughts of others.
iv. Pubbenivasanussati is the power to remember the past lives of oneself and others. This is the first supernormal vision the Buddha developed during the first watch on the night. He attained Enlightenment. With regard to this knowledge the Buddha's power is limitless, while in the case of others it is limited.
v. Dibbacakkhu is the Celestial or Divine Eye, also called clairvoyance, which enables one to see heavenly or earthly things, far or near, which are imperceptible to the physical eye. This as the second knowledge the Buddha developed during the second watch on the night of His Enlightenment.
Cutupapatañana knowledge with regard to the dying and reappearing of beings, is identical with this Celestial Eye. Anagatamsañana, knowledge with regard to the future, and yathakammupagañana, knowledge with regard to the faring of beings according to their own good and bad actions, are two other kinds of knowledge belonging to the same category. These come within the range of Buddha's Omniscience.
These five kinds of supernormal vision are worldly. To these should be added the sixth supernormal knowledge - asavakkhayañana - knowledge with regard to the extinction of passions which is supramundane.
The first five kinds may be developed at any period; but the last, only during a Buddha-cycle.
Different Kind of Purity
24. Vipassana or Insight is the third and final stage on the Path of Sainthood. The chief object of Insight is to understand things as they truly are.
25. Anicca, i.e., the fleeting nature of both mind and matter. Changeableness is a characteristic of everything that is conditioned. All conditioned things are constantly changing, not remaining static for two consecutive moments. Mind, in fact, changes even faster than matter. Normally matter endures only for seventeen thought-moments. Commentators state that, during the time occupied by a flash of lightning, billions of thought-moments may arise.
26. Dukkha - All conditioned things are subject to suffering. Birth is suffering, decay is suffering, disease is suffering, death is suffering. Union with the unpleasant is suffering. Separation from the pleasant is suffering. Not to get what one desires is suffering. In brief, the five aggregates of attachment are suffering.
27. Anatta - Or Soullessness is the crux of Buddhism. As there is no permanent entity in matter, so also there is no unchanging entity in mind conceived as an 'ego' or soul'. In everything mundane and supramundane conditioned and non-conditioned, there is no permanent soul. Hence the Buddha in the Dhammapada stated 'sabbe dhamma anatta - all dhammas are soulless'. With regard to anicca and dukkha the Buddha said 'sankhara - conditioned things'. With regard to anatta, the Buddha employed the term dhamma to include supramundane unconditioned Nibbana as well.
It may be mentioned that it was after hearing the 'Anattalakkhana Sutta', the discourse on soullessness, that the first five monks attained Arahatship.
The aspirant does not usually meditate on all these three characteristics. Of them, he takes only that which appeals to him most. Deliverance, gained by meditating on one of them, is named accordingly.
28. Sammasanañana - Lit., 'handling-knowledge', is the investigating of aggregates as composite (kalapavasena).
29. Patisankhañana is the recontemplation of conditioned things in order to find out the means to escape the refrom.
30. Sankharupekkha-ñana is perfect equanimity towards all conditioned things, having neither attachment nor aversion, resulting from developing the foregoing different kinds of Insight.
31. Anuloma-ñana is the 'adaptation knowledge' gained by perfecting the foregoing nine kinds of Insight. It is so called because it conforms itself to 37 Factors of Enlightenment and qualifies the aspirant for the higher path.
32. Vimokkha - so called because the deliver one from the ten Fetters, etc.
33. Suññata - devoid of a soul. Emancipation gained by meditating on soullessness (anatta) is called suññata-vimokkha.
34. Animitta - free from the signs of permanence, etc. Emancipation gained by meditating on 'impermanence' (anicca) is called animitta-vimokkha.
35. Appanihita - free from the hankering of craving. Emancipation gained by meditating on 'suffering' (dukkha) is called appanihita-vimokkha.
36. Silavisuddhi - Purity of Morals, is the first of seven 'Purities'. It consists of four kinds, all pertaining to the life of a Bhikkhu.
The first is patimokkhasamvarasila. 'That which saves one who observes it from woeful states' is the commentarial explanation of 'patimokkha'. Pa is also explained as the Buddhas Teaching. Atipamokkha means extremely important. Patimokkha therefore means "Fundamental Teaching" or "Fundamental Precepts". It deals with 220* disciplinary rules which every Bhikkhu is expected to observe. As it restrains one from evil deeds, etc., it is termed 'samvara'. Sila is used in the sense of 'composure' (samadhana) and 'support' (upadharana). It is so called because it tends to discipline thoughts, words, and deeds, and because it acts as a support for other virtues. Indrivasamvarasila the second sila, deals with the control of the six senses. Ajivaparisuddhisila, the third sila, deals with the right livelihood of a Bhikkhu. In obtaining the necessaries of life, a Bhikkhu should not act in an unbecoming way. Paccayasannissitasila the fourth sila, is concerned with the unselfish use of the four requisites - robes, alms, lodging, and medicine.
*227 including seven ways of settling disputes (adhikarana samatha dhamma).
37. Cittavisuddhi - is the second 'Purity. It is the purity of mind, gained by developing the jhanas, temporarily inhibiting the Hindrances. A purified mind is like a polished mirror where everything is reflected in its true perspective. With a purified mind one can see things as they truly are.
38. Ditthivisuddhi - is the third 'Purity'. It is so called because it purifies one from the false theory of a permanent soul. This correct comprehension results from investigating mind and matter as regards their salient characteristics (lakkhana), function or essential properties (rasa), the way of manifestation (paccupatthana), and their immediate cause (padatthana).
39. Kankhavitaranavisuddhi - is the fourth 'Purity' which attempts to transcend skeptical doubts as regards cause and effect, the past, the present, and the future. This is called a purity because it removes the stain of erroneous views of 'chance', causelessness', etc.
To achieve this purity one meditates on the various causes that tend to produce present mind and matter, and on the causes that sustain them in the present. He understands that present mind and matter at conception were conditioned by past ignorance, craving, grasping and Kamma, and, during lifetime, matter is conditioned by kamma, mind, seasonal phenomena, and edible food, while mind is sustained by the senses and their corresponding objects. Thus he realizes the second noble truth of the cause of suffering and rids himself of doubts.
40. Maggamaggañanadassanavisuddhi - This is the fifth 'Purity'.
The aspirant ho has cleared his doubts, meditates again with better understanding on the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha, and anatta. He realizes that life is a mere flowing, a continuous undivided movement. He finds no genuine happiness, for every form of pleasure is only a prelude to pain. What is transient is painful, and where change and sorrow prevail there cannot be a permanent ego or soul. The arising and passing away of conditioned things become very conspicuous to him. As he is thus absorbed in meditation he witnesses an aura (obhaso) emanating from his body as a result of his keen insight. He experiences also an unprecedented joy (piti), happiness (sukha), and quietude (passaddhi). He becomes strenuous (paggaho) and even-minded (upekkha). His religious fervour increases (adhimokkha), mindfulness (sati) strengthens, and wisdom (ñana) ripens. Laboring under the misconception that he has attained Sainthood, chiefly owing to the presence of the aura, he yearns (nikanti) for this state of mind. Soon he realizes that these temptations are only impediments (upakkilesa) to Insight, and that he has not really attained Sainthood. Accordingly he endeavours to distinguish between the right and wrong path (maggamaggañanadassana). It is called a 'purity because it clears up the misconception as regards the actual 'path'. He understands, 'This is the right path, that is the wrong path'.
41. Patipadañanadassanavisuddhi - is the sixth 'Purity'. This term is collectively applied to the nine kinds of Insight beginning with the knowledge as regards the arising and passing away of conditioned things, and ending with the knowledge of adaptation that occurs in the Path thought-moment immediately preceding the gotrabhu moment. (See above footnote )
42. Appana - the supramundane Path (lokuttara-magga).
43. See Chapter IV.
44. Vutthanagaminivipassana - is the name given to both sankharupekkha-ñana and anuloma-ñana of the ten kinds of Insight. It is so called because it leads to the Path emerging from woeful states and signs of conditioned things.
45. Gotrabhu - lit, means 'overcoming the worldly lineage'. The object of this thought-moment is Nibbana, but the actual realization of Nibbana by the eradication of passions occurs at the Path thought-moment that immediately follows. This particular thought-moment in the three higher stages of Sainthood is termed 'vodana' (pure) as the aspirant is already an Ariya.
46. Immediately after the gotrabhu thought-moment there arises the Path thought-moment of the Sotapanna. It is at this stage that one comprehends the Truth of Suffering, eradicates craving, the cause of suffering, and actually realizes Nibbana for the first time in his life. The eight factors that constitute the Noble Path are also fully developed at this stage. This particular thought-moment is termed 'sotapatti-magga'. Sota here means the stream that leads to Nibbana. It is the Noble Eightfold Path. Apatti means 'entering for the first time'. It is called 'magga' because it arises, destroying the passions. This Path thought-moment arises only once in the course of one's lifetime, and is immediately followed by two or three 'Fruit' (phala) moments before the stream of consciousness lapses into bhavanga. This is the reason why the Dhamma is called 'akalika' (immediately effective).
47. Paccavekkhanañanani - As a rule after each of the four stages of Sainthood one reflects on the Path and Fruit one has attained, on the Nibbana one has realized, on the defilements one has destroyed, and in the case of the first three stages, on the defilements one has yet to destroy. An Arahat who has no more defilements to destroy knows that he is delivered.
There are altogether 19 kinds of such reflective knowledge, 15 pertaining to the first three stages of Sainthood, and 4 to the last stage.
The Pali phrase - n'aparam itthatthaya - No more of this state again - refers to this process of reflection.
48. Nanadassanavisuddhi is the name given to the contemplative knowledge, a mental state of wisdom found in the Path-Consciousness. It is called a 'purity', because it is completely free from all stains or defilements, resulting from the realization of the four Truths. It is the seventh 'purity'.
49. Attabhinivesa - The stronghold of a soul like the doer of action, the reaper of fruit, 'this is my soul'.
50. Vipallasanimittam - Three vipallasas or misconceptions are discarded by meditating on 'impermanence'. They are 'erroneous perception' (sañña-vipallasa), 'erroneous ideas' (citta-vipallasa), and 'erroneous views' (ditthi-vipallasa). On account of these three misconceptions people regard what is impermanent as permanent.
51. Tanhapanidhi - Such hankerings like 'this is mine', 'this is happiness'.
52. Sotapanno - One who has entered the stream that leads to Nibbana for the first time. There are three classes of Sotapannas, namely:
i. Those who will be born seven times at most in heavenly and earthly realms (sattakkhattuparama). Before seeking an eighth birth, they attain Arahatship.
ii. Those who seek birth in noble families two or three times before they attain Arahatship (kolamkola).
iii. Those who are born only once more before they attain Arahatship (ekabiji).
A Sotapanna has unshakable confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma, and the Sangha. He neither violates the five precepts nor commits the heinous crimes. Free from birth in woeful states, he is ever destined for enlightenment.
53. Sakadagami - One who returns to this world of human beings only once. After attaining Sakadagami in this life, he may be born in a heavenly realm and attain Arahatship seeking birth in the human plane.
There are five kinds of Sakadagamis, namely:
i. Those who attain Sakadagami here and attain Parinibbana here itself.
ii. Those who attain Sakadagami in a heavenly realm and attain Parinibbana there.
iii. Those who attain Sakadagami here and attain Parinibbana in a heavenly realm.
iv. Those who attain Sakadagami in a heavenly realm and attain Parinibbana in this human plane.
v. Those who attain Sakadagami here and, having being born in a heavenly realm, seek birth in this human plane and attain Parinibbana.
54. Anagami - one who will not return to this Sense sphere (kamaloka). Such beings are born in the 'Pure Abodes' (suddhavasa), higher Brahma realms where Anagamis abide till they attain Arahatship.
There are five classes of Anagamis:
i. Those who attain Parinibbana within the first half life-span in the Pure Abodes (antaraparinibbayi).
ii. Those who attain Parinibbana having lived more than half a life-span (upahaccaparinibbayi).
iii. Those who attain Parinibbana with exertion (sasankhara parinibbayi).
iv. Those who attain Parinibbana without exertion (asasankhara parinibbayi).
v. Those who, passing beyond one Brahma realm to another higher Brahma realm, attain Parinibbana in the Highest Brahma realm (uddhamsota akanitthagami).
55. Khinasavo - synonymous with an Arahat, a Worthy One, because he has destroyed all the defilements.
The Path of Purification
When the jhanas are developed, the mind is so purified, that it resembles a polished mirror, where everything is clearly reflected in true perspective. Still, there is not complete freedom from unwholesome thoughts, for, by concentration, the evil tendencies are only temporarily inhibited. They may rise to the surface at quite unexpected moments.
Discipline regulates words and deeds; concentration controls the mind; but it is Insight (pañña) the third and the final stage, that enables the aspirant to Sainthood to eradicate wholly the defilements inhibited by samadhi.
At the outset he cultivates 'Purity of Vision' (ditthi visuddhi) (the third member of the Path of Purity) in order to see things as they truly are. With a one-pointed mind he analyses and examines this so-called being. This searching examination shows that what he has called 'I', is merely a complex compound of mind and matter which are in a state of constant flux.
Having thus gained a correct view of the real nature of this so-called being, freed from the false notion of a permanent soul, he searches for the causes of this 'I' personality. He realizes that there is nothing in the world which is not conditioned by some cause or causes, past or present, and that his present existence is due to past ignorance (avijja), craving (tanha), attachment (upadana), Kamma, and physical food of the present life. On account of these five causes this so-called being has arisen, and as past causes have conditioned the present, so the present will condition the future. Meditating thus, he transcends all doubts with regard to past, present and future (kankhavitaranavisuddhi, the fourth member of the Path of Purity).
Thereupon he contemplates the truth that all conditioned things are transient (anicca), subject to suffering (dukkha), and devoid of an immortal soul (anatta). Wherever he turns his eyes he sees naught but these three characteristics standing out in bold relief. He realizes that life is a flux conditioned by internal and external causes. Nowhere does he find any genuine happiness for everything is fleeting.
As he thus contemplates the real nature of life, and is absorbed in meditation a day comes, when, to his surprise, he witnesses an aura (obhasa) emitted by his body. He experiences an unprecedented pleasure happiness and quietude. He becomes even-minded, his religious fervour increases, mindfulness becomes clear and insight keen. Mistaking this advanced state of moral progress for Sainthood, chiefly owing to the presence of the aura, he develops a liking for this mental state. Soon the realization comes that these new developments are impediments to moral progress and he cultivates the purity of knowledge with regard to the Path and Non-Path (maggamaggañanadassanavisuddhi, the fifth member of the Path of Purity).
Perceiving the right path, he resumes his meditation on the arising (udaya ñana) and passing away (vaya ñana) of all conditioned things. Of these two states the latter becomes more impressed on his mind since change is more conspicuous than becoming. Therefore he directs his attention to contemplation of the dissolution of things (bhanga ñana). He perceives that both mind and matter which constitute this so-called being are in a state of constant flux, not remaining the same for two consecutive moments. To him then comes the knowledge that all dissolving things are fearful (bhaya ñana). The whole world appears to him like a pit of burning embers, a source of danger. Subsequently he reflects on the wretchedness and vanity (adinava ñana) of the fearful and deluded world, and develops a feeling of disgust (nibbida ñana), followed by a strong will for deliverance from it (muñcitukamyata ñana).
With this object in view, he resumes his meditation on the three characteristics of transiency, sorrow, and soullessness (patisankha ñana), and thereafter develops complete equanimity towards all conditioned things, having neither attachment nor aversion for any worldly object (upekkha ñana).*
* These nine kinds of Insight - namely, udaya, vaya, bhanga, bhaya, adinava, nibbida, muñcitukamyata, patisankha, upekkha ñanas are collectively termed patipadañanadassanavisuddhi and anuloma - Purity of Vision in discerning the method the sixth number of the Path of Purity.
Reaching this point of spiritual culture, he chooses one of the three characteristics for his object of special endeavour and intently cultivates Insight in that particular direction until the glorious day when he first realizes Nibbana,* his ultimate goal.
* Insight found in this supramundane Path Consciousness is known as nanadassana visuddhi - Purity of Vision regarding intuitive wisdom, the seventh member of the Path of Purity.
"As the traveler by night sees the landscape around him by a flash of lightning, and the picture so obtained swims long thereafter before his dazzled eyes, so the individual seeker, by the flashing light of insight, glimpses Nibbana with such clearness that the after-picture never more fades from his mind". (Dr. Paul Dahlke)
When the spiritual pilgrim realizes Nibbana for the first time he is called a Sotapanna (see Chapter I) - one who has entered the stream that leads to Nibbana for the first time.
The Stream represents the noble Eightfold Path.
A Stream-Winner is no more a worldling (puthujjana), but an Ariya (Noble).
On attaining this first stage of Sainthood he eradicates the following three Fetters (samyojana) that bind him to existence, namely:
1. Sakkaya-ditthi - sati + kaye + ditthi, literally, view when a group exists. Here kaya refers to the five Aggregates of matter, feeling, perception, mental states, and consciousness, or, in other words, to the complex-compound of mind and matter. The view that there is one unchanging entity, a permanent soul, when there is a complex-compound of psycho physical aggregates is termed sakkaya-ditthi. Dhammasangani enumerates twenty kinds of such soul theories (see Dhammasangani Translation, pp. 257-259). Sakkaya-ditthi is usually rendered by self-illusion, theory of individuality, illusion of individualism.
2. Vicikiccha - Doubts. They are doubts about 1. the Buddha, 2. the Dhamma, 3. the Sangha, 4. the disciplinary rules (sikkha), 5. the past, 6. the future, 7. both the past and the future, and 8. Dependent Arising (paticca-samuppada). (see Dhammasangani Translation p. 239)
3. Silabbataparamasa - Adherence to (wrongful) rites and ceremonies.
Dhammasangani explains it thus: "It is the theory held by ascetics an Brahmins outside this doctrine, that purification is obtained by rules of moral conduct, or by rites, or by both rules of moral conduct and rites".
For the eradication of the remaining seven Fetters a Sotapanna is reborn seven times at most. He gains implicit confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. He would not for any reason violate any of the five precepts. He is not subject to states of woe as he is destined for Enlightenment.
With fresh courage as a result of this distant glimpse of Nibbana, the noble pilgrim makes rapid progress, and perfecting his Insight, becomes a Sakadagami - Once-Returner - reaching the second stage of Sainthood by attenuating two other Fetters, namely, sense-desires (kamaraga) and ill will (patigha).
Now he is called a Once-Returner because he is born in the human realm only once, should he not attain Arahatship in that birth itself. It is interesting to note that the Ariya Saint who has attained the second stage of Sainthood can only weaken these two powerful Fetters with which he is bound from a beginningless past. At times, though to a slight extent, he harbours thoughts of lust and anger.
It is by attaining the third State of Sainthood, that of the Anagami (Never-Returner), that he completely eradicates these two Fetters. Thereafter he neither returns to this world nor is he born in the celestial realms, since he has rooted out the desire for sensual gratification. After death he is reborn in the Pure Abodes (Suddhavasa), an environment exclusively reserved for Anagamis and Arahats.
A layman may become an Anagami, provided he leads a celibate life.
The Anagami Saint now makes his final advance and destroying the remaining five Fetters, namely, attachment to Realms of Form (ruparaga) attachment to Formless Realms (aruparaga), pride (mana), restlessness (uddhacca), and ignorance (avijja), attains Arahatship the final state of Sainthood.
Stream-Winners, Once-Returners, Never-Returners are called Sekhas because they have yet to undergo training. Arahats are called Asekhas because they no longer need any training.
An Arahat, literally, a Worthy One, is not subject to rebirth because he does not accomplish fresh Karmic activities, the seeds of his reproduction in matter have all been destroyed.
The Arahat realizes that what was to be accomplished has been done. A heavy burden of sorrow has finally been relinquished, and all forms of craving and all shades of ignorance are totally annihilated. The happy pilgrim now stands on heights more than celestial, far removed from uncontrolled passions and the defilements of the world.
56. Nirodhasamapatti - Lit., 'attainment to cessation'. It is so called because during this period the stream of consciousness temporarily ceases to flow. Mind is suspended, but vitality persists.
It is only an Anagami or an Arahat who has developed the rupa and arupa jhanas who can attain to this supreme state of ecstasy.
When such a person wishes to attain to nirodhasamapatti, he first attains to the first jhana and, emerging from it, he meditates on the transiency, sorrowfulness, and soullessness of conditioned states found in that particular jhana. Likewise, he attains, in order, to the remaining jhanas and meditates in the same way until the arupaj jhana of 'Nothingness'.
Emerging from this jhana, he makes the following four resolutions:
(i) that his fourfold requisites be not destroyed,
(ii) that he should arise in time when his services are needed by the Sangha,
(iii) that he should arise in time when he is summoned by the Buddha,
(iv) whether he will live for more than seven days from that moment.
He has to think of his age-limit as this ecstatic state normally extends to seven days.
After making these resolutions, he attains to the last arupaj jhana of 'Neither Perception nor Non-Perception', and remains in that state for two javana thought moments. Immediately after, he attains to nirodha-samapatti when his stream of consciousness, is temporarily suspended. After seven days he emerges from this state and experiences for a single moment an Anagami Phala consciousness in the case of an Anagami, or an Arahat Phala consciousness in the case of an Arahat. Thereafter arises the bhavanga citta.
For details see Visuddhi-Magga.
Source: Tipitaka -der Pali Kanon des Theravada-Buddhismus, http://www.palikanon.com
(See also: Vietnamese Translation by Pham Kim Khanh)