37 Limbs of Enlightenment – 4 bases of miraculous Power
Continuing from previous post.
We are now at the 1st of 4 bases of miraculous power (Jhana / Samadhi). Each of this 4 mental positioning is further guided by 8 guidelines.
4 Bases of Miraculous Power (四如意足)
- Concentration build upon desire (desire for samandhi)
- Concentration based on persistence
- Concentration build upon intention
- Concentration of contemplation
Desire for Jhana / spiritual accomplishment
According to the Iddhipāda-Vibhaṅga sutta, our desire for spiritual accomplishments must be guided by the followings;
thinking, ‘This desire of mine will be (1) neither overly sluggish nor overly active, [Discussed in Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra – Part 4c (part 1)
(2) neither inwardly constricted nor outwardly scattered.’ (3) He keeps perceiving what is in front & behind so that what is in front is the same as what is behind, what is behind is the same as what is in front. (4) What is below is the same as what is above, what is above is the same as what is below. (4) (He dwells) by night as by day, and by day as by night. (5) By means of an awareness thus open & unhampered, he develops a brightened mind.
- It mustn’t be overly sluggish
- It mustn’t be overly active (agitated)
- It mustn’t be inwardly constricted
- It mustn’t be outwardly scattered
- Mindfulness of subject must be equal for the front and back
- Mindfulness of subject must be equal for the top and bottom
- Mindfulness of subject must be equal for day and night.
- Awareness of subject must be open and unhampered
Desire for accomplishment must not be inwardly constricted
“And how is desire inwardly constricted? Whatever desire is accompanied by sloth & drowsiness, conjoined with sloth & drowsiness, that is called inwardly restricted desire.
Our desire for jhana/Samadhi is like a goal. In each meditation session or chanting session, we start off by having this goal in mind. We tell ourselves, “okay, I am going to focus and refrain from discursive thoughts. I will not be distracted by stray thoughts or the surrounding. I will attain Jhana / Samadhi.”
There is this “looking forward” kind of attitude. An expectation for a result. In a way, there is this excitement or energy in our mind. A “male” energy. An intention. A desire for accomplishment.
This desire cannot be slothful and drowsy. Otherwise, our mind will end up “floating” away helplessly and we lull ourselves into a stupor. Like spacing out while driving on a long highway? Therefore, spacing out or lull stupor isn’t good.
When reciting Amitabha, we shouldn’t space out or lull. We have to focus on each and every recitation.
“And how is desire outwardly scattered? Whatever desire is stirred up by the five strands of sensuality, outwardly dispersed & dissipated, that is called outwardly scattered desire.An Analysis of the Bases of Power
Iddhipāda-Vibhaṅga Sutta (SN 51:20) https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/SN/SN51_20.html
The 5 strands of sensuality are
- Forms cognizable by the eye
- sounds cognizable by the ear
- smells cognizable by the nose
- tastes cognizable by the tongue
- tangibles cognizable by the body
In this instance, our mind becomes distracted by the above sensory inputs or senses. It could be an actual physical distraction or a memory. For example, the stench of garbage might waft through our window to distract us. Or the memory of that stench could surface in our memory. In both situations, our mind become distracted from our practice and we forgot about our task at hand (i.e. to focus and attain Jhana) Our desire for accomplishment is distracted and scattered.
When it come to Pureland practice, this scattering can occur when our mind becomes distracted by our imagination about the pureland. Instead of focusing on reciting the Buddha’s name, our mind starts to fantasize about how the pureland looks like or how Amitabha Buddha looks like?
Sometimes, mysterious sensory experience occur during practice too. Like smelling incense when there is non in the room or experiencing light, and etc. They all fall under this category and we should not allow our mind to become scattered.
That is call scattering of mind. We need to be careful about this.
May all be well and happy.
For Reference (37 limbs of enlightenment)
4 mindfulness (四念处) – Being mindful that (1) Our physical body is impure and repulsive (2) All sensations leads to sufferings (3) Mind is impermanent (4) there is no “I”
4 right efforts (四正勤) – (1) cease all unwholesomeness (2) do not create new unwholesomeness (3) preserve and maintain existing wholesomeness (4) Create new wholesomeness
4 bases of miraculous power (四如意足) – (1) Concentration build upon desire (desire for samandhi) (2) Concentration based on persistence (3) Concentration build upon intention (4) Concentration of contemplation (Reference Link)
5 roots ( 五根) – (1) Faith/conviction (2) Energy/persistence (3) Mindfulness (4) Stillness / jhanas (5) Wisdom/understanding
5 powers (that arises from the 5 roots) – (1) Faith/conviction (2) Energy/persistence (3) Mindfulness (4) Stillness / jhanas (5) Wisdom/understanding
7 factors of Enlightenment (七菩提) – (1) Mindfulness (2) Investigation (3) Effort (4) rapture (5) Relaxation (6) Concentration, (7) Equanimity
8 fold path (八正道) – (1) Right Understanding (2) Right Intent (3) Right Speech (4) Right Action (5) Right Livelihood (6) Right Effort (7) Right Mindfulness (8) Right Concentration.