Tuesday, November 8, 2011

10 Ways to ZEN (jhana)

Wisdom Quarterly, Ven. Buddhaghosa (Path of Purification)
Serenity is beginner's mind, our natural joy and tranquility, free of neurosis -- "monkey mind," distraction, worry, ADHD, believing mere thoughts, etc. (alibaba.com).

Meditation (jhana, zen) Means Merit
Successful meditation is spectacularly profitable karma (merit). Allowing full absorption (into a single object) purifies the heart/mind.

It is redounding with profit leading to the storing up of tremendously beneficial karma (seeds with the capacity to exponentially ripen with pleasant results).

Jhana has the power to lead to rebirth as a divinity, in accordance with the depth and level of mastery if it is held at the time of passing.

Moreover, it can serve as the basis for fruitful insight (vipassana) practice. In this case it becomes supermundane, leading to enlightenment here and now.

What destroys serenity and insight? These Five Hindrances oppose absorption: sensual craving, ill-will, physical sloth and mental torpor, restlessness and remorse, doubt and uncertainty.

What gives rise to successful meditation? These five Factors of Absorption (zen, jhana, dhyana) lead to "right concentration," a component of the Noble Eightfold Path: application of mind, sustained attention, rapture, joy, and concentration.

The ancient commentarial Path of Purification (Vissudhimagga I 128) gives ten ways to improve the likelihood of gaining one of these serene states of stillness:
  1. Purify the basis: clean body, clean surroundings (wearing white), clean conscience.
  2. Balance these five factors: Energy equal to concentration and faith to understanding with no limit on mindfulness.
  3. Skill in the sign: develop a nimitta (internal light or object so intense that the mind creates a counterpart) by balanced persistence.
  4. Exert mind on all occasions: steady persistence is more fruitful than spurts of effort.
  5. Control mind on all occasions: restraint is a blessing, as are mindfulness and clear comprehension.
  6. Encourage mind on occasions when it is advantageous to rouse and cheer it.
  7. Observe the mind with equanimity: when things proceed appropriately.
  8. Avoid distracted, agitated, frantic, unconcentrated, and stressful people.
  9. Cultivates company with well focused, determined, and concentrated people.
  10. Resolutely determine level of absorption (of the eight jhanas) to be practiced. (This is done by emerging from one level of absorption and reflecting on its defects and the peacefulness of being free from those defects. For example, the defect of the first jhana is that it is very close to the ordinary scattered mind because of the Five Hindrances; the second jhana is far from those distressing influences).