During this talk, the exploration of the 52 cetasikas, categories that condition how the mind creates a self continues. The focus is the Universal Cetasikas, that is mind conditioning categories that occasionally coordinate with the Universal Cetasikas. These occasional cetasikas are vitakka, (aiming attention at a mind object), vicara, (sustained attention regarding a mind object), adhimokkha, (conviction or determination regarding a mind object’s formation), viriya (energy or persistence regarding the emerging mind object formation), piti, (enthusiasm regarding the emerging mind object formation) and chanda, (will to do, that is, the activating of the emerging mind object formation).
These mind conditioners co-operate with the Universal Cetasikas; these combinations are then aligned either with unwholesome cetasikas (producing dukkha, that is, confusion and distress) or wholesome cetasikas (producing liberation from dukkha).
Peter talked about how the simple practice of mindfulness of breathing supports liberation because mindfulness (a wholesome mind conditioner), when combined with vitakka, vicara and viriya supports deeper insights into how self-state organization is manifested, in the moment of becoming a self.
This was followed by discussion by the other meditators regarding how this understanding of self-organization processes is of benefit for dedicated meditators.
Here are the relevant passages from the Anapanasati Sutta for this week’s consideration:
“He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.’ Translated by Thanissaro, downloaded from Access To Insight.
As the result of applied (vitakka) and sustained (vicara) attention to the breath sensations, a great deal of the available energy in the body/mind process is freed up because the energy isn’t channeled through the obsessive thinking and impulsive feelings represented by the hindrances. These thoughts and emotions generate metabolic stresses such as high blood pressure, muscle tension (headaches, backaches, stomach cramps, etc.). Prolonged focus on breath sensations reorganize the energy flows, reducing the physical stress, promoting mental tranquility and clarity. The resulting increases in energy flow manifest as piti, translated as rapture or bliss, accompanied by sukha, translated as happiness or pleasure.
This week’s discussion focused on the stanzas in the Anapanasati Sutta related to the cultivation of piti and sukha, Pali words often translated as rapture and pleasure. During the talk, Peter related the commentaries that describe piti dramatically, associated with so-called “Visuddhimagga jhanas”, then suggesting an alternative view regarding “sutta jhanas”, which are more accessible and workable in regards to the process of awakening. Peter then reinforced the passage in the Anapanasati Sutta that describes the culmination of practice as being the maturing of the seven awakening factors, and that piti is one of those factors, generated by the skillful and persistent focus on the mind/body process set forth in previous stanzas of the sutta.
This talk is accompanied by Peter’s notes, posted after this posting.
Next week’s discussion will focus on the next stanza of the sutta, regarding the calming of mental fabrications.
During this dialogue, Peter reviewed how certain of the cetasikas (mind conditioning factors) can be associated with the word “commitment”. The purpose of these comparisons is to set the stage for revisiting the Buddhist precepts in order to understand the core virtues they represent and develop a contemporary usage. The cetasikas reviewed are cetana (volition), vitakka (applied attention), vicara (investigative attention), adhimokkha (determination), viriya (energy), piti (enthusiasm), and chanda (zeal).
During this talk, Peter describes controversies and agreements about the role jhana practice has is cultivating vipassana practice. He explains the progression from “acquiring the nimitta” (a noticeable sensation of touch or light arising from one-pointed concentration on the touch sensation at the nostrils) to the extraordinary state of mind called jhana. The value of the increased mental acuity from jhana practice to the onset of vipassana practice was explained, compared to the advantages of beginning vipassana practice without first entering jhana (called “dry vipassana).
This dialogue describes piti (joy) and sukkha (happiness) as the result of increasing concentration, due to the setting aside of the hindrances. Once the energy of consciousness isn’t “dumped” into the hindrances, the mind naturally becomes buoyant, resilient and interested in investigating what has arisen in awareness. Rapture, a potent manifestation of joy, develops in […]