The Daily Cushion


“Samādhi Concentration Helps End the Defilements” by Sumith Siriwardana

“In the same way, when their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it and project it toward knowledge of the ending of defilements. This too, great king, is a fruit of the ascetic life that’s apparent in the present life which is better and finer than the former ones. And, great king, there is no other fruit of the ascetic life apparent in the present life which is better and finer than this.”

The Teachings of every Buddha are taught in the same way. This is because the natural principles are the same, and the defilements are always the same. No Buddha will teach differently or diverge from this. The practice is always to remove the defilements — whether great or small — from the heart. This follows from the basic principles of Dhamma, which they all teach. If we deviate from these principles, we’ll be the laughing stock of the defilements. (Ajahn Maha Boowa)

DISENCHANMENT (of Defilements)April 29, 2007 by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

One of the traditional principles of the teaching is that when the mind gains concentration, it’s able to see things as they are. Actually the Pali term means “seeing things as they’ve come to be.” There’s an interesting passage where the Buddha makes a distinction between bhava and bhuta. Bhava means a state of being, becoming, the process of becoming, which is a combination of past karma plus our present karma. But then bhuta means things as they’ve come to be: the raw material that comes in from the past before we’ve added our hype, added our salt-and-pepper and mustard and ketchup to make it what we want.

The trick is in learning how to see things as they’ve come to be before you dress them up, so that you can move on to the next step, which is disenchantment. Because as long as all you see are the things that you’ve dressed up and put all your condiments on, you’re going to want to eat them. But if you see the raw material before it’s been dressed up, before it’s been fixed up, you lose your taste for it. It’s like that Far Side cartoon. A group of cows is out in the pasture. One of them lifts up her head and spits out the grass and says: “Wait a minute. This is grass! We’ve been eating grass!” It’s the same with us human beings. We’ve been eating form, feeling, perception, thought constructs, and consciousness. This is a lot of what clinging means. It means feeding and taking our sustenance off these things. But if you look at the raw materials and you think of what kind of happiness you’re trying to build out of them, you realize you’ve set yourself up for a fall. The raw material simply can’t provide it.

One of the biggest issues in life of course is lust. If you actually look at what’s involved in the sexual act, it’s pretty disgusting. And so people spend a lot of time dressing it up. This last week I heard a group of people complaining when they heard about the whole idea of disenchantment and dispassion: Can’t we still have sex? In other words, if I get to the point where I don’t want it any more, can I still have it? This is the kind of thinking that comes from focusing entirely on how you can dress things up, taking pleasure in the dressing up without really looking at the raw materials that you’re dressing up. If you look carefully at just what’s there, without all the hype, without all the added condiments, you really lose your taste. And it’s very difficult for people to look at what’s already there, because there’s so much involved in the adding on.Look at dependent co-arising. It’s interesting to note that the Buddha doesn’t start everything out with sensory contact, because120contact comes at least one third of the way through all the factors. A lot of other things come even before you’ve had your first contact at the senses. There are all these attitudes, these intentions, ways of paying attention, and all the different forms of fabrication: These already color the way you’re going to approach sensory contact. And these are the factors that make all the difference between whether it’s going to cause stress and suffering or whether it’s not.

So normally we bring this huge parcel of attitudes to apply to the present moment, to shape the present moment. And one of the main purposes of concentration is to learn how to pare that down, so at the very least you know what you’re bringing. You look at fabrication. The bodily fabrication is breath. Verbal fabrication is directed thought and evaluation. Mental fabrication is feeling and perception. These are the basic elements the Buddha has us focus on as we concentrate.

First, of course, we learn how to dress them up in a new way. In other words, bring the directed thought and evaluation to the breath, to create feelings of comfort. You use your perceptions to maintain that sense of comfort. So these elements—the fabrication and intention that we normally bring out of ignorance: We’re now shaping them with knowledge, with awareness, so at the very least we can be clear about what we’re doing. It’s only when we’re clear about what we’re doing that we can begin to pare away the unskillful things in what we’re doing: the intentions that lie to us, the mental verbalizations that lie to us. We begin to see right through them. “Okay, this is a lie. This is not the way things actually are. This isn’t how the way things work.” We begin dropping those things, dropping those things. We’re looking at the nuts and bolts. We’re looking at the processes that we bring to the present moment, that we bring to sensory contact. And as we look more directly at the processes, we begin to see how false and artificial they are. This is what helps to bring about yatha-bhuta-ñana-dassana—the knowledge and visions of things as they’ve come to be.

So you look at the raw materials and you realize you’ve been eating grass. You thought it was something really special, but it’s just grass or even worse. And when you can let yourself look at that consistently enough, that’s when knowledge leads to disenchantment. The word nibbida sometimes can be translated as disgust: the kind of disgust that comes not because things in and of themselves are disgusting, but simply because we were trying to feed on them. We haven’t really been paying careful attention to what we’ve been feeding on. We begin to see that the things we’ve been drawing nourishment from really don’t have the nourishment we thought they provided.

As Ajaan Lee once said, it’s as if most of the flavor comes from our own saliva, like a dog chewing on a bone. The only flavor the bone has to offer is the dog’s own saliva. That’s what we’ve been bringing to it. You see that it’s a futile process, and seeing that is what leads to dispassion. The reason why dispassion makes such a difference is because we’ve been so involved in the activity of dressing things up and making them into something that they’re not. When you develop dispassion for that process, you don’t want to get involved in that makeup, make-believe dressing up kind of activity. And so your own experience of what’s actually going on really changes. You see things from a totally new light, and the whole thing just stops because you’re no longer keeping it going. It’s not that you’ve been watching a TV show and you decide you don’t like it, and so you turn it off. It’s more like realizing you’ve been in an interactive game and you’ve been playing it really poorly. The game itself doesn’t have that much at all to offer anyhow. So you lose interest in the game. And the game stops.

So the reason we’re concentrating the mind here is to get more sensitive to what we’re bringing into the present moment, seeing all the hype that we add to the raw material that our past kamma has created for us. We realize no matter how great we are in hyping things, the raw material simply cannot provide what we’re looking for. No matter how skillfully we try to make it into something that’s lasting and reliable, the materials are ready to fall apart all the time, all the time.

One of the reasons why we don’t stop it is that we’re afraid that there would be nothing, life would be pabulum, it would be porridge without any condiments. That’s what our fear is. This is why we are so loath to let go. But the Buddha’s great discovery is that when you stop dressing things up you open up to something that doesn’t require any dressing up at all. It’s much better to begin with. And all this effort to make things delicious was getting in the way of the happiness you actually wanted. This is when things open up, this is where dispassion leads to release. And it’s a release that you can know. It’s not like you’re blanking out. If that’s all it was, if we just blanked out totally, what would you know? Nothing. But the happiness of release is something you can know. You can know this freedom. It comes from taking all these processes apart.

So this is why we meditate. This is why we bring the mind to concentration. Not so that we can just hang out here and have a good time, but so we can see the processes of the mind: how they try to create happiness out of raw materials that simply can’t provide it, or at least not in the really lasting reliable way that we want. The Buddha’s advice is to use them in a new way, to create a path. After all, what else are you going to work with? How would you create a path unless you took those aggregates that you were using for one purpose and use them for another? Meditation is a different way of dressing up the present moment using form, feeling, perception, thought constructs, consciousness as tools. You dress them in a different way. But in the process of dressing them in a different way, you get to see processing as it’s happening. You come to realize that this kind of happiness that you create by following the path is much greater than what you had122before. Ultimately it will take you to a point where you even let the path go. As Ajaan Lee said, that’s where it gets really good.


“samādhiṃ, bhikkhave, bhāvetha; samāhito, bhikkhave, bhikkhu yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti”

In the above phrase, the Lord Buddha signifies the importance of developing concentration (Samadi) in order to gain an insight knowledge of seeing things as they are. What we understand by seeing things as they are, is the origin and passing away of all the phenomena.What is concentration (Samadi) in fact? according to the Dhammasangani, it says the concentration is “The stability, solidity, absorbed steadfastness of thought which on that occasion is the absence of distraction, balance, imperturbed mental procedure, quiet, the faculty and the power of concentration, right concentration—this is the self-collectedness that there then is”There are three levels of concentration.

1) Parikamma Samadi – Preliminary Concentration – This is the stage of initial concentration on your meditative object.

2) Upacara Samadi – Access concentration – This is the stage of concentration with suppressed hindrances.

3) Appana Samadi – Absorbtion concentration – This is the stage of concentration with a deeper level (Jhana).Why concentration is important in our meditative practice? because we are unable to see things truly when we have a distracted mind. The concentration enables us to keep fully focused on our absorption which allows factors (Nama- Rupa) to arise and you will be able to see when they arise distinctively and see they pass away distinctively. Then, you will discern that everything arises dependent on conditions and passes away when you do not hold them. This makes you discerned that whatever you hold are just Anicca (Impermanet), Dukka (Suffering), and Anatta (Not-self) and gradually you will turn away from giving importance over physical and mental objects. You will be slowly releasing your mental defilements.

What are the prerequisites of the Right concentration? They are the Right view, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right actions, Right livelihood, Right Effort, and Right mindfulness. They should go in hand in hand. If you do not have the right view at the mundane level, you do not believe in the right concentration and if you have a wrong intention, your virtues get defiled. When you have the wrong mental and bodily actions, they stay preoccupied in your mind and they will be appearing in your concentration and distracting you. Right effort and Right mindfulness are the collective factors of the Right concentration. Right Mindfulness is of utmost importance as it is what holds your concentration. Those who do not have the right mindfulness will easily get trapped in fantasies and distorted forms and images.

The concentration is the prerequisite of realizing the Four Noble Truths. The Lord Buddha said (SN 56) that a mendicant who has immersion truly understands. This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering’. Develop immersion. A mendicant who has immersion truly understands”. Therefore, we should keep our focus on developing the right concentration.


* Choose a meditative object.

* Keep focusing on that object.

* Keep doing it more and more to gain a deeper level of absorption.



Find a secluded place. If you are at home, your room is fine but better at a time of less noisy and busy.


After sitting comfortably on a cushion or a pillow or floor, try to sit in a way that your knees are touching on the floor, for suggestions like the lotus position, half-lotus position, or Burmese way. However, if you have an ailment or a body pain, better sit in a comfortable position like a small chair, and just be relaxed.


Take refuge in the Triple Gems.I take refuge in The Lord Buddha

I take refuge in The Dhamma

I take refuge in The Sanga

After taking refuge, place your hands on your lap and keep your right palm on top of your left palm. While looking at three feet in front, close your eyes. Relax and be aware that you are sitting now.


Observe your breath mindfully. Better if you can identify the touching point of your breath near your nostrils. Some might feel at the tip of the nose and some might feel inside of the nose and some might feel on top of the nose. Wherever you feel keep your attention (Sathi Nimittha), and allow your breath in and breath out. In the beginning, you might not feel the types of breath like long or short. But it is fine as long as you are aware of the breath in and breath out. Advanced practitioners can observe the types of breath.


Observe your different types of feelings such as pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings and discern that they just arise, come into being and cease and there is nothing to attach.


Observe your different types of minds such as lustful minds, angry minds, deluded, concentrated minds, uplifted minds, shattered minds, etc. and discern that they just arise, come into being and cease and there is nothing to attach.


Observe five hindrances and aggregates and defilements arose by senses and discern that they just arise, come into being and cease and there is nothing to attach.


* Right noble factors are the paths to gain the insight knowledge of arising and passing.

* Mindfulness of your meditative object is a way for awakening.

* Concentration of your meditative object is a way for awakening.


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