Reviewing Tranquility and Concentration

This talk provides a review of two of seven Awakening Factors, Tranquility and Concentration, which are so integrated in their functioning that their manifestation is called samatha (syah-mah-tah) in Pali.  Peter Carlson provides a review of each of the two, including skillful means for cultivating them, both while meditating and in the context of lifestyle choices.  Additional emphasis is provided to clarify the characteristics of concentration, as either the highly concentrated experience of jhana or the more inclusive but very stable kind of concentration important for vipassana practice and the full development of the Seven Awakening Factors.

This talk can be supplemented by the “Guided Tranquility and Concentration Contemplation” that preceded this talk and which is posted in the archives of this site.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Tranquility and Concentration


Reviewing The Seven Awakening Factors, Part 3

This talk reviews the remaining two of the Seven Awakening Factors, Concentration/Unification and Equanimity/Balance.  The first three factors, Mindfulness, Investigation of Mental Phenomena and Energy/Effort/Persistence (In the form of Right Effort), monitor and regulate the other factors.  The next two factors, Joy/Enthusiastic Engagement and Tranquility, provide appropriate interactions between emotions–the manifestation of mental energy without emotional turbulence.  Concentration/Unification is reviewed to reflect the traditional cultivation of jhana states, along with more contemporary practices involving developing enough stability of attention to coordinate the Awakening Factors functions.  Equanimity/Balance is reviewed to clarify how the coordinated actions of the factors are balanced and not subject to either desire, aversion or ignorance.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  The Seven Awakening Factors, Part 3

The next talk will review the Progressions of Insight, a conceptual structured description of what can be recognized subjectively as the mind becomes more Awakened, leading ultimately to the experience of Nirvana.


Understanding The Concentration Awakening Factor July 15, 2020

This talk focuses on the sixth of the seven Awakening Factors, the Concentration Awakening Factor.  Peter reviews the cultivation of several stages of concentration ascending from the momentary unification of factors in the mind to the extraordinary levels of concentration associated with jhana practice.  The optimal level of concentration for cultivating vipassana is called “access concentration” and involves the absence of the disturbances that are the result of craving and clinging to the five hindrances.  The contemporary practice of “dry vipassana”, that is, the cultivation of the seven Awakening Factors without the inclusion of mastering jhana, was reviewed.  This was followed by discussion among the participants regarding the topic.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  SAMADHI AWAKENING FACTOR

Next week’s topic will be the Awakening Factor of Equanimity


The Concentration Awakening Factor June 26 2019

The topic for this talk is Samadhi Bojjhanga, the Concentration Awakening Factor.  During the talk, the progressive stages of developing mindfulness of breathing to high levels of concentration were reviewed.  Peter described current debates about the difference between “Sutta Jhanas” and “Visuddhimagga Jhanas”, suggesting that the goal in cultivating jhana states is to heighten the coherence and potency of the Seven Awakening Factors towards Awakening, and that it is not necessary to master jhana practice to perfect the functioning of the Seven Awakening Factors.  The compound word samadhi/passadhi (concentration/tranquility) was presented as a workable parallel to the traditional access concentration as the platform for cultivating vipassana.  The developmental stages of samadhi are illustrated graphically in the accompanying notes prepared for the talk:


Here is another document downloaded from Leigh Brasington’s website providing an overview of the different approaches and understandings of jhana experience:  Interpretations of the Jhanas

Next week’s discussion will address the Equanimity Awakening Factor.


The Concentration Awakening Factor September 5 2018

The Concentration Awakening Factor is also known as Right Concentration, a key element of the Noble Eightfold Path.  Peter described how this Awakening Factor coordinates with the Mindfulness, Investigation Of Mental Phenomena and Effort (Right Effort) Awakening Factors, making the emergence of the Awakening Factors of Joy and Tranquility develop to maturity.  Concentration manifests as Fixed Concentration and alternatively as Momentary Concentration, and the function of each was described. This explanation was followed by general discussion of how to cultivate this Awakening Factor and the benefits derived from that practice in daily life.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  CONCENTRATION AWAKENING FACTOR

Next week’s topic will be the Equanimity Awakening Factor, which functions to foster balance among the different factors.