I'd suggest that it's far better to continue practicing and developing samādhi, rather than wondering about these types of questions. If you're able to commit to renunciation and solitude, then the mind will calm and vipassanā will lead to disenchantment and dispassion. When the mind is calm and clear everything else can fall into place. Ajahn Chah, Suffering on the Road:starter wrote:I'm wondering if all distractive thoughts are quietened in one who has attained the 1st absorption -- no pumping up of any undirected thoughts at all from entering such absorption to withdrawing?
- Sitting meditation with a distracted mind is uncertain. When the meditation brings good results and the mind enters a state of calm, that's also uncertain. This is where insight comes. What is there left for you to attach to? Keep following up on what's happening in the mind. As you investigate, keep questioning and prodding, probing deeper and deeper into the nature of impermanence. Sustain your mindfulness right at this point -- you don't have to go anywhere else. In no time at all, the mind will calm down just as you want it to.
The reason practising with the meditation word ''Buddho'' doesn't make the mind peaceful, or practising mindfulness of breathing doesn't make the mind peaceful, is because you are attaching to the distracted mind. When reciting ''Buddho'' or concentrating on the breath and the mind still hasn't calmed down, reflect on uncertainty and don't get too involved with the state of mind whether its peaceful or not. Even if you enter a state of calm, don't get too involved with it, because it can delude you and cause you to attach too much meaning and importance to that state. You have to use some wisdom when dealing with the deluded mind. When it is calm you simply acknowledge the fact and take it as a sign that the meditation is going in the right direction. If the mind isn't calm you simply acknowledge the reality that the mind is confused and distracted, but there's nothing to be gained from refusing to accept the truth and trying to struggle against it. When the mind is peaceful you can be aware that it is peaceful, but remind yourself that any peaceful state is uncertain. When the mind is distracted, you observe the lack of peace and know that it is just that -- the distracted state of mind is equally as prone to change as a peaceful one.
If you have established this kind of insight, the attachment to the sense of self collapses as soon as you begin to confront it and investigate.
- Whatever suits you, whatever you feel comfortable with and helps you fix your mind, focus on that.
It's like this: if we get attached to the ideals and take the guidelines that we are given in the instructions too literally, it can be difficult to understand. When doing a standard meditation such as mindfulness of breathing, first we should make the determination that right now we are going to do this practice, and we are going to make mindfulness of breathing our foundation. We only focus on the breath at three points, as it passes through the nostrils, the chest and the abdomen. When the air enters it first passes the nose, then through the chest, then to the end point of the abdomen. As it leaves the body, the beginning is the abdomen, the middle is the chest, and the end is the nose. We merely note it. This is a way to start controlling the mind, tying awareness to these points at the beginning, middle and end of the inhalations and exhalations.
Before we begin we should first sit and let the mind relax. It's similar to sewing robes on a treadle sewing machine. When we are learning to use the sewing machine, first we just sit in front of the machine to get familiar with it and feel comfortable. Here, we just sit and breathe. Not fixing awareness on anything, we merely take note that we are breathing. We take note of whether the breath is relaxed or not and how long or short it is. Having noticed this, then we begin focusing on the inhalation and exhalation at the three points.
We practice like this until we become skilled in it and it goes smoothly. The next stage is to focus awareness only on the sensation of the breath at the tip of the nose or the upper lip. At this point we aren't concerned with whether the breath is long or short, but only focus on the sensation of entering and exiting.
Different phenomena may contact the senses, or thoughts may arise. This is called initial thought (vitakka). The mind brings up some idea, be it about the nature of compounded phenomena (sankhārā), about the world, or whatever. Once the mind has brought it up, the mind will want to get involved and merge with it. If it's an object that is wholesome then let the mind take it up. If it is something unwholesome, stop it immediately. If it is something wholesome then let the mind contemplate it, and gladness, satisfaction and happiness will come about. The mind will be bright and clear; as the breath goes in and out and as the mind takes up these initial thoughts. Then it becomes discursive thought (vicāra). The mind develops familiarity with the object, exerting itself and merging with it. At this point, there is no sleepiness.
After an appropriate period of this, take your attention back to the breath. Then as you continue on there will be the initial thought and discursive thought, initial thought and discursive thought. If you are contemplating skillfully on an object such as the nature of sankhāra, then the mind will experience deeper tranquility and rapture is born. There is the vitakka and vicāra, and that leads to happiness of mind. At this time there won't be any dullness or drowsiness. The mind won't be dark if we practice like this. It will be gladdened and enraptured.
This rapture will start to diminish and disappear after a while, so you can take up the initial thought again. The mind will become firm and certain with it -- undistracted. Then you go on to discursive thought again, the mind becoming one with it. When you are practicing a meditation that suits your temperament and doing it well, then whenever you take up the object, rapture will come about: the hairs of the body stand on end and the mind is enraptured and satiated.