Samatha: supression and cultivation

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
User avatar
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:34 pm

Thank you Geoff for mentioning those discourses.
My own experience has been that by practicing anapana-sati to develop samadhi one merely maintains the awareness of the touch of the breath for longer and longer periods until sama-samadhi is achieved. This practice is done in the absence of other contemplations such as the ones you and Brizzy have enumerated. And the experience of many practitioners is that the method is effective.
So, I am interested in the mechanics of the development of jhana within that particular context.

I am also aware of the Nivarana Sutta which says the four satipatthanas should be developed to abandon the hindrances. The four satipatthanas when developed will lead to the permanent abandonment of the nivaranas but my question relates to their temporary abandonment/suspension/suppression.
kind regards,

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR


User avatar
Posts: 2637
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Gallifrey

Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:29 pm

This is a side note to the topic, that I think is noteworthy. Buddhists are afraid of to use the word supression as it could possibly mean repression. They are two different defense mechanisms, the former being a mature defense mechanism and the latter, a neurotic deffense mechanism. About mature deffense mechanisms, wikipedia says:

"These are commonly found among emotionally healthy adults and are considered mature, even though many have their origins in an immature stage of development. They have been adapted through the years in order to optimize success in life and relationships. The use of these defences enhances pleasure and feelings of control. These defences help us to integrate conflicting emotions and thoughts, whilst still remaining effective. Those who use these mechanisms are usually considered virtuous."

For more, read this wiki page:

He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Nyana » Sun Jan 15, 2012 5:05 pm

Ben wrote:My own experience has been that by practicing anapana-sati to develop samadhi one merely maintains the awareness of the touch of the breath for longer and longer periods until sama-samadhi is achieved.... So, I am interested in the mechanics of the development of jhana within that particular context.

The developmental process is similar regardless of one's chosen meditation subject: By attending to the object-support, in this case the breath, the hindrances are starved of their cognitive and affective nutriments, and the jhāna factors are stabilized.

In terms of method, this is taught in brief in the Paṭisambhidāmagga Ānāpānassatikathā and in detail in the Vimuttimagga, the Visuddhimagga, and numerous contemporary texts and dhamma talks pertaining to ānāpānassati.

User avatar
Posts: 1703
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm
Location: England

Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby gavesako » Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:22 pm

Brizzy wrote:
gavesako wrote:Tadanga-nibbana is mentioned in the Anguttaranikaya. It is a state that comes about momentarily when external conditions happen, fortuitously, to be such that no idea of "I" or "mine" arises. Tadanga-nibbana is momentary cessation of the idea "I," "mine," due to favorable external circumstances. At a higher level than this, if we engage in some form of Dharma practice, in particular if we develop concentration, so that the idea of "I," "mine" cannot arise, that extinction of "I," "mine" is called vikkhambhana-nibbana. And finally, when we succeed in bringing about the complete elimination of all defilements, that is full Nirvana, total Nirvana.

-- Buddhadasa ... r_of_I.htm


How do we arrive at or what do we recollect for the..... 'external conditions happen, fortuitously', could you please reference the term 'Tadanga-nibbana' and 'vikkhambhana-nibbana' within the Anguttaranikaya.

There is this Sutta which mentions it:

Khandha Samy. 43: iii,43:
SN 22:43; III 43: “Rūpassa tveva, bhikkhave, aniccataṃ viditvā vipariṇāmaṃ virāgaṃ
nirodhaṃ, pubbe ceva rūpaṃ etarahi ca sabbaṃ rūpaṃ aniccaṃ dukkhaṃ vipariṇāmadhammanti,
evametaṃ yathābhūtaṃ sammappaññāya passato ye sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā te
pahīyanti. Tesaṃ pahānā na paritassati, aparitassaṃ sukhaṃ viharati, sukhavihārī bhikkhu
‘tadaṅganibbuto’ti vuccati.

Having seen, monks, the impermanence, changeability, absence of lust for and ceasing of matter (feeling, perception, determinations, consciousness), and that matter (...consciousness) was formerly as it is now, thus seeing with right understanding as it actually is that all matter (...consciousness) is impermanent, unpleasurable, of a nature to change, then whatever is the arising of sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair, those are eliminated. These being eliminated, there is no anxiety. Not having anxiety he dwells at ease. Dwelling at ease, this monk is called 'extinguished to that extent' (tad-anga-nibbuto).

Commentary Spk II 247: Tadaṅganibbutoti tena vipassanaṅgena kilesānaṃ nibbutattā tadaṅganibbuto ("It is called 'extinguished to that extent' because of the extinguishing of the defilements due to insight")

In the commentaries the 5 types of 'overcoming' are mentioned, and this is where Ajahn Buddhadasa gets his ideas from:

'overcoming', abandoning. There are 5 kinds of overcoming: (1) overcoming by repression (vikkhambhana-pahāna), i.e. the temporary suspension of the 5 hindrances (nīvarana, q.v.) during the absorptions, (2) overcoming by the opposite (tadanga-pahāna), (3) overcoming by destruction (samuccheda-pahāna), (4) overcoming by tranquillization (patipassaddhi-pahāna), (5) overcoming by escape (nissarana-pahāna).

(1) "Among these, 'overcoming by repression' is the pushing back of adverse things, such as the 5 mental hindrances (nīvarana q.v), etc., through this or that mental concentration (samādhi, q.v.), just as a pot thrown into moss-clad water pushes the moss aside....

(2) " 'Overcoming by the opposite' is the overcoming by opposing this or that thing that is to be overcome, by this or that factor of knowledge belonging to insight (vipassanā q.v.), just as a lighted lamp dispels the darkness of the night. In this way, the personality-belief (sakkāyaditthi, s. ditthi) is overcome by determining the mental and corporeal phenomena ... the view of uncausedness of existence by investigation into the conditions... the idea of eternity by contemplation of impermanency ... the idea of happiness by contemplation of misery....

(3) "If through the knowledge of the noble path (s. ariyapuggala) the fetters and other evil things cannot continue any longer, just like a tree destroyed by lightning, then such an overcoming is called 'overcoming by destruction' " (Vis.M. XXII, 110f.).

(4) When, after the disappearing of the fetters at the entrance into the paths, the fetters, from the moment of fruition (phala) onwards, are forever extinct and stilled, such overcoming is called the 'overcoming by tranquillization'.

(5) "The 'overcoming by escape' is identical with the extinction and Nibbāna" (Pts.M. I. 27). (App.).
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26) - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 17304
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:38 am


Nana wrote:SN 46.3...

Awesome. :thumbsup:

Furthermore, I see no reason why the activity outlined in the sutta need be constrained to formal sitting/walking "meditation" practice either, and why it cannot be integrated with daily activities. Such samatha could (and indeed, should!) be experienced walking down the street for example, so long as the necessary supports and conditions were in place. The only sense in which formal "meditation" need be different in this sense is that it is invariably done to the exclusion of other activities, and as such, can be undertaken with greater precision, impact and attention.

Why do I mention this? Just to bring to attention that calm and tranquility should be a way of life for a Buddhist, rather than just an outcome achieved through the rarified conditions of an occasional retreat sitting. It's commonly acknowledged and recognised that vipassana can be done "off the cushion", but such a recognition in relation to samatha is rarer.

Nana wrote:AN 1.2...

Awesome. :thumbsup:

And in that context...

Ben wrote:Do we enter Jhana as a result of actively suppressing the hindrances or does supression occur passively as a result of developing concentration?

... I would frame the question/answer slightly differently and say it is achieved through cultivation and balancing of...

The Five Spiritual Faculties ... ulties.php

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:In the practice of the Dhamma each of these faculties has simultaneously to perform its own specific function and to harmonize with the other faculties to establish the balance needed for clear comprehension. The five come to fullest maturity in the contemplative development of insight, the direct road to awakening. In this process the faculty of faith provides the element of inspiration and aspiration which steers the mind away from the quagmire of doubt and settles it with serene trust in the Triple Gem as the supreme basis of deliverance. The faculty of energy kindles the fire of sustained endeavor that burns up obstructions and brings to maturity the factors that ripen in awakening. The faculty of mindfulness contributes clear awareness, the antidote to carelessness and the prerequisite of penetration. The faculty of concentration holds the beam of attention steadily focused on the rise and fall of bodily and mental events, calm and composed. And the faculty of wisdom, which the Buddha calls the crowning virtue among all the requisites of enlightenment, drives away the darkness of ignorance and lights up the true characteristics of phenomena.

Just as much as the five faculties, considered individually, each perform their own unique tasks in their respective domains, as a group they accomplish the collective task of establishing inner balance and harmony. To achieve this balanced striving the faculties are divided into two pairs in each of which each member must counter the undesirable tendency inherent in the other, thus enabling it to actualize its fullest potential. The faculties of faith and wisdom form one pair, aimed at balancing the capacities for devotion and comprehension; the faculties of energy and concentration form a second pair aimed at balancing the capacities for active exertion and calm recollection. Above the complementary pairs stands the faculty of mindfulness, which protects the mind from extremes and ensures that the members of each pair hold one another in a mutually restraining, mutually enriching tension.

... and that the hindrances are suppressed (note, not "repressed") by these means.

Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

“One to whom it might occur, ‘I’m a woman’ or ‘I’m a man’. Or ‘I’m anything at all’— Is fit for Mara to address.” (SN 5.2)

Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

Re: Samatha: supression and cultivation

Postby Nyana » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:48 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Furthermore, I see no reason why the activity outlined in the sutta need be constrained to formal sitting/walking "meditation" practice either, and why it cannot be integrated with daily activities.

Yes. Optimally, we can begin to learn to maintain appropriate attention and mental composure in all four postures. AN 4.12 Sīla Sutta:

    If while he is walking, standing, sitting, or reclining, a monk is free from greed and ill will, from sloth and torpor, from restlessness and worry, and has discarded doubt, then his will has become strong and impregnable; his mindfulness is alert and unclouded; his body is calm and unexcited; his mind is concentrated and collected.

Return to “Samatha Bhāvana”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ganegaar and 10 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine