The Daily Cushion

“Insights Enable Release into Deeper Meditation (Samādhi/Jhana)” by Brad Hunter

“Reverend, they speak of a person called ‘freed by wisdom’ (paññavimutti).

What is the one freed by wisdom (paññavimutti ) that the Buddha spoke of?”

“First, take a mendicant who, quite secluded from sensual pleasures … enters and remains in the first absorption (jhana).

And they understand that with wisdom.

To this extent the Buddha spoke of the one freed by wisdom (paññavimutti) in a qualified sense…

Furthermore, take a mendicant who, going totally beyond the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters and remains in the cessation of perception and feeling. And, having seen with wisdom (pañña), their defilements come to an end.

And they understand that with wisdom (pañña).

To this extent the Buddha spoke of the one freed by wisdom in a definitive sense.”


• As is often the case in the suttas, the ‘meanings’ are hidden in plain sight, and need to be unpacked experientially—through practice. Some perceptions arise through training, and some perceptions vanish through training. And this is that training.{with bows to friend and teacher, Jim Bedard} This sutta points to the gradual release from suffering through the path of jhana.

• I shy away from the term ‘wisdom’, so I will use Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation—discernment. The more we can release the stress caused by our attachments to and identification with the phenomenal world—i.e. annica and dukkha as I-me-mine—to that same extent we are released from suffering ‘in a qualified sense’.

• Fully going beyond all fabrications, we *arrive at* the Unfabricated, ‘freed by wisdom (discernment) in a definitive sense.’ Panna-vimutti.


• Note throughout the day, moment to moment, in meditation or in ‘ordinary life’, how the sense of embodiment is constantly changing, dependent upon both the ‘internal’ and ‘external’ environment. (The arising and pass of the body fabrication.)

• Cultivate a baseline sense of embodied kindness and equanimity, both in and out of meditation. Note what physical or mental phenomena pull you out of that place of refuge and into the world of becoming, selfing and suffering. Cultivate mindful determination to return over and over again to whatever depth of peace, clarity and kindness one has been able to establish. Allow the gradual transformation of the embodied sense of self to open into silence, spaciousness, peace and stability, letting go of contraction, anxiety and clinging. Fabricate a new ‘familiar’. (Ajahn Sucitto) Some perceptions arise through training, and some perceptions vanish through training. And this is that training.

• During the day, drop a seed question into the unconscious. ‘Is there anything that does not change moment to moment? What might that be?’ Allow the question to penetrate deeply into the mind where it can work on its own. Don’t struggle with trying to find an ‘answer’ in an intellectual way. Rather, cultivate a habit of resting in stillness and silence. Be playful and curious in the Mystery. (‘This practice is far too important to take seriously’—Ajahn Sucitto) At the same time, establish faith in the fundamental Knowing Awareness that is always present. Begin noting that whatever you experience, no matter how mundane, or how subtle, or how profound, arises and passes away IN THAT.

Inclining Towards the Unshakable Deliverance of the Heart


(again, I will leave formal jhana work to the jhana masters, and offer this relatively simple meditation and reflection.)

Part 1)—Establishing a Harbor of Safety & Refuge

Soak the body in metta. Open, soften, allow and receive (rather than trying to do). Breathing kindness & goodwill, compassion & empathy, goodness & joy, tranquility & equanimity, throughout the entire body. Breathing into the heart space and radiating throughout the body. Leaving no part of the body untouched. {Try to note the release and relief as metta is pervading the body. Also try to note the passing/vanishing of one perceived sense of the body formation as another perception arise.} Skillfully using directed thought and observation to silently verbalize the language of suffusing and pervading. As the body formation begins to feel full to overflowing, allow the radiance of metta to pervade the space around you. To all beings, in all realms, in all directions: ‘to others as to myself… above, below and all around…’Feel the body firmly grounded on and in the earth, spreading out metta across the entire face of the earth, down into the earth… and beyond. Feel each out breath breathing metta into the infinite space around you. When a relatively stable sense of embodied metta sitting with metta has been establish, turn attention to the breath.

Part 2)—Phenomena are one thing, mind is another. That is all.—Ajahn Chah

As an English variation on the meditation object bud-dho (knowing or knower), take up the word Know-ing, as a verbal fabrication and suffusing it with the inbreath and outbreath: ‘know’ throughout the inhalation and ‘ing’ throughout the exhalation. Or, the reverse (which I prefer), ‘know’ throughout the exhalation and ‘ing’ throughout the inhalation. The important thing is to be completely awake and aware for the whole of the breath while connecting it to the word ‘know-ing’. Think of the word ‘knowing’, conjoined with the breath, as a deep sea diver’s weighted belt, assisting with a gradual and measured journey into the depths. Even while staying with the main focus of ‘know-ing/breath-ing’, encourage the peripheral vision of the mind (so-to-speak) to be cognizant of arising and ceasing perceptions. When this conjoining of the word with the breath feels reliable and constant, try dropping the verbal fabrication and simply stay with the direct experience of the breath arising and passing in Knowing Awareness. Begin to tune into the silence, stillness, timelessness and spacious luminosity of this knowing itself, even as the breath is in constant movement and change. This meditation alone can prove very fruitful in terms of both samadhi and insight.

Alternatively, one can begin to shift attention to other phenomenal objects of meditation. For example: go to sound for several minutes, noting both sound and silence. Noting that the sense base of ear, the faculty of hearing and sound itself, are all known. The sound is one thing; the knowing is another. And then bring attention in the same way to ‘hands’… and then ‘face’… and then ‘heart space’… and then the whole body—trying to note both the annica and dukkha of the phenomena, while abiding in the timelessness and stillness of the Knowing Awareness*. (There are countless ways to fabricate this meditation. Let your imagination and insight inspire you.)“One day, the deathless will manifest in the spaceyou currently sense as *the body*”—Thanissaro Bhikkhu

*bows to Ajahn Viradhammo for inspiring the sound-hands-face-heart-body rotation of meditation objects.

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