Right Concentration

Tranquillity Meditation (continued)

As you keep being mindful of the same thing for a long time, the body will gradually calm down and relax. The preoccupations of the mind will calm down, too, so that the mind can grow still. It grows still because you keep it under control. You weaken its unruliness — as when you pull fuel away from a burning fire. As you keep pulling away the fuel, the fire gradually grows weaker and weaker.

And, what’s the fuel for the mind’s unruliness? Forgetfulness. Inattentiveness. This inattentiveness is the fuel both for restlessness and anxiety and for sloth and torpor. When you keep mindfulness and alertness in charge, you cut away forgetfulness and inattentiveness. As these forms of delusion are subdued, they lose their power. They gradually disband, leaving nothing but awareness of buddho or whatever your meditation object is. As you keep looking after your meditation object firmly, without growing inattentive, restlessness will disappear. Drowsiness will disappear. The mind will get firmly established in Right Concentration.

This is how you enter Right Concentration. You have to depend on both mindfulness and alertness together. Right Concentration can’t simply arise on its own. It needs supporting factors. The first seven factors of the path are the supporters for Right Concentration, or its requisites, the things it needs to depend on. It needs Right View, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, and Right Mindfulness. As you keep developing the beginning factors of the path, concentration becomes more and more refined, step by step. When the mind is trained and suffused with these qualities, it’s able to let go of sensual preoccupations, able to let go of unskillful mental qualities. Vivicceva kamehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi. When it’s secluded from sensual preoccupations, secluded from unskillful qualities, it can enter concentration. It experiences stillness, rapture, pleasure, singleness of preoccupation. Both body and mind feel light.

In the first stage, the mind isn’t totally refined because it still has directed thought and evaluation in the factors of its concentration. If your mindfulness is in good shape and can keep its object in mind without pulling away, if your effort is right and alertness keeps watching over things, the coarser parts of your concentration will drop away and the mind will grow more refined step by step. Directed thought and evaluation — the coarser parts — will drop away because they can’t follow into that more refined stage. All that’s left is rapture, pleasure, and singleness of preoccupation. As you keep on meditating without let-up, things keep growing more refined step by step. Rapture, which is coarser than pleasure, will drop away, leaving the pleasure. Pleasure is coarser than equanimity. As you keep contemplating while the mind grows more refined, the pleasure will disappear, leaving just equanimity. As long as there’s still pleasure, equanimity can’t arise. As long as the mind is still feeding off pleasure, it’s still engaged with something coarse. But as you keep up your persistent effort until you see that this pleasure still comes under the Three Characteristics of inconstancy, stress, and not-self, that it’s part of the aggregate of feeling, the mind will let go of that coarser aspect and settle down with equanimity. Even though equanimity, too, is part of the feeling aggregate, it’s a feeling refined enough to cleanse the mind to the point where it can give rise to knowledge of refined levels of Dhamma.

When the mind reaches this level, it’s firm and unwavering because it’s totally neutral. It doesn’t waver when the eye sees a form, the ear hears a sound, the nose smells an aroma, the tongue tastes a flavor, the body feels a tactile sensation, or an idea comes to the mind. None of these things can make the mind waver when it’s in the factors of jhana. It maintains a high level of purity. This is Right Concentration.>