Samatha - How to develop higher degree of calm

In the 'Visuddhimagga' it is explained how one can develop higher degrees of calm by means of a meditation subject. It is explained (Vis. III, 119) that meditation subjects are learned by sight, by touch and by hearsay (words), depending on the nature of the subject. As  regards the subjects which are learned by sight (such as nine of the kesinas and the 'ten cemetery- meditations'), the 'Visuddhimagga' (IV, 31) states that in the beginning one has to look closely at the meditation subject and later on one acquires a 'mental image' ('sign', in Pāli: nimitta) of it; one no longer needs to look at the original object. At first the mental image is still unsteady and unclear, but later on it appears 'a hundred times, a thousand times more purified...' The original object, for example a coloured disk or a piece of earth, could have flaws, but the perfected mental image which one acquires when one is more advanced, does not have the imperfections of the original object one was looking at in the beginning. This perfected mental image is called the 'counterpart sign' (patibhāga nimitta).


At the moment the 'counterpart sign' arises, there is a higher degree of calm

and concentration is more developed. This stage is called 'access

concentration' (upacāra samādhi). The citta is not jhānacitta, it is still

kāmāvacara citta (of the sense-sphere), but the hindrances do not arise at the

moment of 'access concentration'. However, the jhāna-factors are not

developed enough yet for the attainment of jhāna and now one has to

cultivate the right conditions in order to attain jhāna. 'Access concentration' is

already very difficult to attain, but 'guarding the sign' which has to be done

in order to attain jhana is also very difficult. One has to 'guard the

sign' (nimitta) in order not to lose the perfected mental image one has

developed. The conditions for guarding the sign are, among others, the right

dwelling-place, suitable food, avoidance of aimless talk. One should ' balance'

the 'five faculties' (indriyas) which are the following cetasikas:


         saddha (confidence in wholesomeness)

         viriya (energy)

         sati (mindfulness)

         samādhi (concentration)

         panna (wisdom)

  Confidence should be balanced with wisdom so that one has not confidence uncritically and groundlessly. Concentration should be balanced with energy, because if there is too much energy and not enough concentration, there is a danger of becoming agitated and then one cannot attain jhāna. If there is concentration but not enough energy there will be idleness and jhāna cannot be attained either. All five indriyas should be balanced

Topic 194