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 talk, the awakening factor of joy was described as the consequence of combining the factors of mindfulness, investigation of mental phenomena, energy/effort and concentration. As these factors operate to set aside the “energy dumps” of the five hindrances, the resultant freed-up flow of energy is, by nature, joyfully engaged in life experience. Piti, the Pali word for joy, is identified as one of the jhana factors and as one of the four divine abidings associated with lovingkindness. After the explanation, Peter led a brief guided meditation, during which the participants were invited to practice noting the different sorts of energy present when mindfulness wasn’t totally engaged, compared to the improved quality of experience when mindfulness was fully engaged.
Here are the notes prepared for this evening’s exploration: The Joy Of Awakening
Next week’s discussion will explore the awakening factor of tranquility.
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).