- Samādhi in Buddhism
- I. The Correct Way of Practicing Meditation
- — 1. Samādhi for Mental Energy
- — 2. Samādhi for Happiness and Tranquillity
- — 3. Samādhi for Clear Mind and Cultivation of Wisdom
- Attendant Benefits
- II. Techniques to Prevent and Overcome the Potential Misuses of Samādhi
- — 1. Maintaining the Five Controlling Faculties in Equilibrium
- — 2. Attuning the Practice to Conform to the Threefold Training
- The Foundation of Mindfulness
- Appendix — Extract from another Dhamma talk
3. Samādhi for Clear Mind and Cultivation of Wisdom
The Threefold Training system gathers all important Dhammas under one roof. These Dhammas work together to proceed to the ultimate goal—the liberation from suffering. All Dhammas in the system act as factors and connect to each other in such a way that they follow the process of factor and effect. Thus, in Buddhism, every practice of Dhamma is part of the process of the Threefold Training. Each Dhamma serves as a factor to condition, induce, assist, or support the next one. If we practice Dhamma and do not progress, that means something is wrong. This is an important rule that we use for evaluation.
No matter which Dhammas you choose, be they loving-kindness, compassion, mindfulness, or concentration, they are all in the Threefold Training. When they are in the Threefold Training, they are in the process; that is to say, they are progressing toward the same goal. Every factor passes its effects on to the next one in the system in one way or another. If we practice any one Dhamma and we stop without going on to the next one or are left floating in the air without a destination, we are on the wrong path.
If when we practice samādhi, it soothes us, leaves us impaired, we are lost in the calmness, stay there and we are not led to the next step in the process—this is wrong practice. If we practice correctly, we will move forward to accomplish the desired result in the Threefold Training.
Samādhi is a factor for what? As a general rule, samādhi is a factor for wisdom. Samādhi makes the mind serene, clear, and powerful. The characteristic of a serene mind or a clear, powerful mind is that it is ready for work. The Buddha calls a mind that has samādhi kammaniyaṁ. It is this characteristic of the mind that the Buddha wants us to have. As soon as the mind enters samādhi, it attains the state of kammaniyaṁ. Kammaniyaṁ means “ready or appropriate for work.” We have to make use of it. If when our mind attains samādhi, we feel comfortable and become attached to the feeling, that means we have missed the whole point. What the Buddha wants is the state of mind that is kammaniyaṁ and to make use of it, not for you to just sit back and relax. When you have samādhi, if you just sit back and enjoy it, that means you are not doing the right thing. What work should such a mind do then? The Threefold Training consists of morality, concentration, and wisdom. Concentration (samādhi) gives support to wisdom, therefore, it is to be used to cultivate wisdom. This is the second benefit that I mentioned earlier. The most significant characteristic of the mind is here—a clear mind. Without anything to muddle or disturb it, it can be fully used to cultivate wisdom.
When we work on something, the more delicate and profound the subject is, the more solid a mind we need. When the task is not so detailed, we do not need wisdom that much. In whatever we do, even when we listen to the teacher, if we do not have samādhi at all, we will not understand. Wisdom will not be developed. Therefore, wisdom can only work with the support of a concentrated mind. How concentrated a mind we need depends on the task at hand.
We have come to the conclusion that in Buddhism, the benefit of samādhi that we want to attain is the one of making the mind ready for work. The important task of such a mind is to cultivate wisdom—wisdom to know, to understand the truth of everything, to the point of understanding the truth of nature. And what is this truth of nature? It is to know things as they are. It is this ability to know the truth of all things that we want. If we do not know up to this point, we still have defilements. Therefore, samādhi has to be connected with wisdom.
So far, what I would like to point out is that, even on the subject of samādhi, we have to be careful. If we do not understand the principles in Buddhism clearly, we can go off the track. For as we have already seen from above, each of the three kinds of benefits to be acquired from samādhi has its own use. Let us now summarize what has been discussed so far, namely, the three principal qualities or benefits of samādhi:
1. Samādhi makes the mind steadfast and energy is produced as a result. This mental energy can be used to produce miracles and marvels.
2. Samādhi makes the mind clear, enables it to see things with clarity. This is favorable to wisdom.
3. Samādhi makes the mind tranquil and brings forth happiness.
In today’s society, mental problems caused by the menaces of materialism are prevalent. To find an alternative, people resort to samādhi for happiness. This benefit, however, is not the goal in Buddhism.
Please remember the important principle in Buddhism which states that, if the practice of Dhamma leads to carelessness, it is wrong. If the practice of Dhamma does not lead us to the next factor in the process of the Threefold Training until we realize the true nature of reality, it is also wrong. We have to be careful and keep this crucial point constantly in mind.