Buddha Dharshanaya 10
In the last article I discussed why Samatha Meditation (calming the mind) becomes an obstruction to attaining Nibbana. It allows “vinnana” to be active in the mind and hence there is no “nekkhamma” or leaving behind the trouble maker, the illusive mind. In fact as absorptive states (dhyanas) are reached during meditation it nurtures and develops this illusion to highest degree.
In this article I will explore further how an external stimulus or an image (rupa) becomes firmly entrenched in the mind during this form of meditation.
At the beginning of Samatha Meditation it is customary to acquire an image of an object (rupa), also known as a “kasina” into the mind. As it gets firmly established in the mind (by recollecting its features) the picture that has fallen in the mind becomes developed. That means there will be a stage where the picture appears to be clearer than the original object outside. When this happens the mind clings on to the image formed firmly in the mind. At this stage only this image remains concentrated in the mind without any other thoughts. This is called “one pointedness”, meaning only one thought (of an image) is present at any given time in the mind.
At this stage the mind feels calmer because instead of thousands of thoughts turning rapidly in the mind there will be only one. The blood pressure may drop a little bit and the heart rate slows down. However, the alertness is still maintained via vinnana and this thought clings on to the mind until the meditation is stopped. It is not possible to get rid of the thought completely i.e. to become thoughtless during meditation. Because vinnana is active during this period and there is no Gnana arising out of this attempt, one moves away from Nibbana.
If one stays for a long period in absorptive states (dyanas) of “one-pointedness” the mind will become calmer for a few days as it was forced to hold one thought only, for a period of time. But sooner or later the mind gets back to its normal rapidly turning activity of creating illusions continuously. To prevent this one has to meditate again and again. There is no end to this. The priests like this part of the game as this brings people to the temples over and over again for repeated acts of meditation. This has become a trick to attract people to these institutions endlessly and some temples have even changed their names to Meditation Centres (Bhavana Asapu).
This kind of meditation is good for relieving day to day stresses of life and work but is an obstruction to attain Nibbana because vinnana as the base for alertness still very active.
One subdivision of Samatha Meditation is called “aana-pana sathi” meaning breathing in and out meditation. Here instead of an outside object as an image, the feeling of air brushing pass nostrils at he top of the upper lip in the middle is taken as an object or “kasina”. As the meditation progresses the feeling of air brushing pass nostrils become weaker and weaker and there comes a stage one may not feel breathing at all although it is still present and very shallow. At this stage the meditator feels the mind beginning to show a brightness as if someone has walked to a sunny area from darkness. Although the meditator does not recognise at this stage it as a thought this feeling is also actually a thought. So strictly speaking in “aana paana sathi” the mind does not become thoughtless. During meditation the mind can never be made to be completely empty of thoughts and also alertness is still maintained via vinnana. As vinnana gets well established there is no room for gnana to arise and hence the path to Nibbana is totally blocked.
It is indeed unfortunate that public have been misled by the priests to believe that meditation will lead to Nibbana. The priests know very well that nobody has attained Nibbana this way, but for their personal gains they keep leading public in the wrong direction. In the future once the public get to know that they have been misled and meditation does not lead to Nibbana they will become dissatisfied with the advice given by the priests.
In the next article I will discuss why vipassana meditation has not led anybody to Nibbana.
Dr Gamini Abhaya
To be continued…….
Buddha - Dhamma 06 - Why did Buddha state that Giving, observing precepts and meditation do not lead to Nibbana?
Buddha - Dhamma 07 - Why did Buddha state that Giving, observing precepts and meditation do not lead to Nibbana – Part 2