- 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
What we have discussed today is simply a fundamental overview of samādhi intended to familiarize us with the underlying purposes of samādhi in Buddhism, its benefits and values, both the attendant benefits and the real goal that we want to pursue.
Before the Buddha era, samādhi had been in use for a long time already by yogis, hermits, and ascetics to gain psychic power, to perform miracles and marvels. Even so, they still had defilements because samādhi does not dispel defilements. Samādhi helps the mind to be momentarily free from defilements and gets it ready for work. The mind has to be put to work to eliminate defilements. It is not samādhi that eliminates defilements.
Some people use samādhi as tranquilizer, a means to become comfortable and happy. The ascetics and yogis before the Buddha time isolated themselves from society to dwell alone in the forests. They savored the pleasure acquired from samādhi and enjoyed jhāna games. However, they were not concerned with the real life, with the rest of the society. This way is not really beneficial either.
The Buddha did not accept these practices and went his own way. Buddhism is very different from the sects of ascetics, yogis, or hermits. We have to make a clear distinction. Sometimes we mix up Buddhism with these other practices. This is a delicate issue that has to be well understood for us to make the distinction. Even the Buddhist monks are not ascetics; their rules of conduct are very different. The Buddha set strict rules for the monks not to become ascetics. The Buddha had tried all ascetic practices and concluded they were not the right ways; he therefore left the ascetics to practice on his own. If we are not careful, we may fall into the way of ascetics.
We have seen the benefits that samādhi gives, the correct method of practicing samādhi according to the principles of Buddhism, as well as the attendant benefits that samādhi gives. If we have a right understanding of the attendant benefits, we can make use of them. It does not mean that we cannot use samādhi as tranquilizer or for mental energy. We have to know the limits so that we will not become careless and stop halfway before we reach the goal. We can use samādhi to address our immediate problems on a temporary basis, like the medicine that cures diseases, but not be addicted to it. We can use it also for mental energy. At least our mind is not scattered at that moment. More importantly, we should not forget to move on to take advantage of the real benefit in the long run. The real benefit according to the principles of Buddhism is to end defilements and to know the truth of nature—that all compounded things are impermanent, subject to suffering, and are not-self. With this knowledge, we come to perceive this world and our life as they truly are until we have the right attitude toward them and do not cling to them. Our mind then becomes serene and smooth; no more defilements or happenings in the world can disturb it, for we are able to see the truth through the wisdom we have developed. This is what we want to achieve and which can be realized when we practice according to the integrated progressive process of the Threefold Training.
In brief, there are two main kinds of meditation: tranquillity meditation and insight meditation. We can join these two practices together by bringing forth the result obtained from the tranquillity meditation to support the cultivation of insight. And with the development of insight, we will come to realize the true goal.
We have discussed samādhi enough to provide a guideline. It is now about time to end this talk. Congratulations for coming to the Dhamma talk today, not only for listening to the talk but also for supporting Buddhism. This will benefit not only yourselves but also society as a whole. You have done what the Buddha advises us to do: practice for your own benefit and for the benefit of others. As you practice in the right way, may you have satisfaction and joy in the virtues you develop in generosity (dāna), morality (sīla), and meditation (bhāvanā)—the three areas of practice for lay people. When you have joy and satisfaction in your heart, the state of your mind is conducive to samādhi.
Lastly, I would like to mention that the Buddha recommends the practitioners to always evoke the following five states of mind:
- joyfulness (pāmojja)
- rapture (pīti)
- tranquillity (passaddhi)
- bliss (sukha)
- concentration (samādhi)
We need to become “one” with these five states of mind and to practice them continuously. This will bring us happiness in life and enable us to progress in our Dhamma practice. Let samādhi lead us to wisdom and, with diligence, we will reach the supreme goal of Buddhism.