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Thread: Anapanasati Sutta The Four Frames of References

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    Forums Member Trilaksana's Avatar
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    Anapanasati Sutta The Four Frames of References

    I have a lot of questions. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    "And how is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing developed & pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination?

    "[1] On whatever occasion a monk breathing in long discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, discerns, 'I am breathing out long'; or breathing in short, discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, discerns, 'I am breathing out short'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&... out sensitive to the entire body'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out calming bodily fabrication': On that occasion the monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this — the in-&-out breath — is classed as a body among bodies, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

    "[2] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out sensitive to rapture'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out sensitive to pleasure'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out sensitive to mental fabrication'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out calming mental fabrication': On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this — careful attention to in-&-out breaths — is classed as a feeling among feelings,[6] which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

    "[3] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out sensitive to the mind'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out satisfying the mind'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out steadying the mind'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out releasing the mind': On that occasion the monk remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I don't say that there is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing in one of lapsed mindfulness and no alertness, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

    "[4] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out focusing on inconstancy'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out focusing on dispassion'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out focusing on cessation'; trains himself, 'I will breathe in...&...out focusing on relinquishment': On that occasion the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He who sees with discernment the abandoning of greed & distress is one who watches carefully with equanimity, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

    "This is how mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is developed & pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....118.than.html

    How does one "bring the four frames of reference to their culmination?"

    The first frame of reference you are meant to focus on the body in and of it self I think it's obvious what is meant by body. Second is feelings. What exactly is meant by feelings..... emotions? And for the third and fourth what did the Buddha mean by the mind (3) and mental qualities (4), how do they differ?

    Are we meant to reach each Jhana in order? Must they be reached in order to attain arahantship? Is there a sutta or commentary in which the experience of reaching each Jhana is described?

    Thank you very much for your time.
    May all beings be released from suffering.

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    Forums Member Trilaksana's Avatar
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    Ok so I just read the Nibbana Sutta as well which sort of clears things up but I'd still appreciate interpretations from forum members and maybe commentary recommendations.

    Thanks again.

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    How does one "bring the four frames of reference to their culmination?"
    By being an expert in being aware of thoughts, feelings, perceptions etc as they arise and fall in the present moment

    The first frame of reference you are meant to focus on the body in and of it self I think it's obvious what is meant by body.
    When the body breathes, when it moves etc


    Second is feelings. What exactly is meant by feelings..... emotions?
    No feelings mean pleasant feeling, neutral feeling and painful feelings.

    So for example If I have cramp, that is painful feeling, the moving is the pleasant feeling. If we can just be aware of pain, pleasure and neutral feelings, without grasping, averting, or being fooled by them, then we would be free from dukkha

    And for the third and fourth what did the Buddha mean by the mind (3) and mental qualities (4), how do they differ?
    Mind = thoughts etc as they arise, mental qualities = how they are dhammas subject to rise and fall

    Are we meant to reach each Jhana in order? Must they be reached in order to attain arahantship?
    One follows from the other, naturally

    However I wouldnt get bogged down in stages, trying to get jhana will be the very thing that cuts you off from it (and nibbana for that matter)

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    Forums Member Trilaksana's Avatar
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    Thank you for your response clw_uk.

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    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trilaksana View Post
    Second is feelings. What exactly is meant by feelings..... emotions?
    hi Trilaksana

    in the Anapanasati Sutta, feelings refer to rapture (piti) & happiness (sukkha), only, as in the factors of jhana, although, on the level of lower (neighbourhood) concentration, not necessarily jhana.

    the translation 'mental fabrication' is incorrect. the correct translation is 'mental fabricators', since feelings fabricate the mind to generate love, lust, hate, anger, confusion, fear, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trilaksana View Post
    for the third, what did the Buddha mean by the mind (3)
    mind here = 'citta' or 'mind heart', that aspect of mind that generates love, lust, hate, anger, confusion, fear, etc.

    the practitioner will reach this stage when rapture & happiness subside and they experience the raw energies (defilements) of greed, hatred & delusion that underlie the rapture & happiness. thought/thinking does not operate here. there is only raw mental defilement

    Quote Originally Posted by Trilaksana View Post
    for the fourth , what did the Buddha mean by mental qualities
    'mental qualities' is a mistranslation of the word 'dhamma'. in some places in the suttas, the word 'dhamma' means 'skilful qualities'. but, in the 4th tetrad of the Anapanasati Sutta, it means 'truths', namely, the truths of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, not-self & the reality of the cessation of suffering (i.e., 4NTs)

    Quote Originally Posted by Trilaksana View Post
    Are we meant to reach each Jhana in order? Must they be reached in order to attain arahantship?
    Yes. Think of it as an 'unfolding', what Ajahn Brahm describes as 'peeling an onion'. the mind is gradually being stripped of/dissolving layers of dukkha formations

    The breath & body calm, which gives rise to rapture & happiness. Rapture & happiness calm, which reveal the underlying mental defilements, which have been aroused by the rapture & happiness. The mental defilements calm, making the mind satisfied (stage 10); which calms, making the mind purely concentrated (stage 11); which calms or releases from one-pointedness, making the mind liberated (stage 12), i.e., open & clear. The open & clear mind then sees clearly impermanence, which makes the mind drop attachment, cease dukkha & relinquish attachment.

    Kind regards

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    Forums Member Trilaksana's Avatar
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    Thank you both for your in-depth responses.

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    This has also helped me with my meditation and I used it as a guide when I started out


    : I'm trying very hard in my practice, but I don't seem to be getting anywhere.

    A: Don't try to get anywhere in practice. The very desire to be free or to be enlightened will be the desire that prevents your freedom. You can try as hard as you wish, practice ardently night and day, but if you still have the desire to achieve, you will never find peace. The energy from this desire will cause doubt and restlessness. No matter how long or how hard you practice, wisdom will not arise from desire. Simply let go. Watch the mind and body mindfully, but don't try to achieve anything. Otherwise, when you are beginning to practice meditation and your heart starts to quiet down, you will immediately think, "Oh, am I near the first stage yet? How much further do I have to go?" In that instant, you will lose everything. It is best just to observe how practice naturally develops.

    You have to pay attention without any concept of levels, simply and directly to what's happening in your heart or mind. The more you watch, the more clearly you'll see. If you learn to pay attention totally, then you don't have to worry about what stage you have attained; just continue in the right direction, and things will unfold for you naturally.

    How can I speak of the essence of practice? To walk forward is not correct, to back up is not correct, and to stand still is not correct. There is no way to measure or categorize liberation.

    Q: But aren't we seeking deeper concentration in practice?

    A: In sitting practice, if your heart becomes quiet and concentrated, that's an important tool to use. But you have to be careful not to be stuck in tranquility. If you're sitting just to get concentrated so you can feel happy and pleasant, you're wasting your time. The practice is to sit and let your heart become still and concentrated and then to use that concentration to examine the nature of the mind and body. Otherwise, if you simply make the heart mind quiet, it will be peaceful and free of defilement only as long as you sit. This is like using a stone to cover a garbage pit; when you take away the stone, the pit is still infested and full of garbage. The question is not how long or short you sit. You must use your concentration not to temporarily get lost in bliss but to deeply examine the nature of the mind and body. This is what actually frees you.

    Examining the mind and body most directly does not involve the use of thought. There are two levels of examination. One is thoughtful and discursive, keeping you trapped in a superficial perception of experience. The other is a silent, concentrated, inner listening. Only when the heart is concentrated and still can real wisdom naturally arise. In the beginning, wisdom is a very soft voice, a tender young plant just beginning to spring up out of the ground. If you don't understand this, you may think too much about it and trample it underfoot. But if you feel it silently, then in that space, you can begin to sense the basic nature of your body and mental process. It is this seeing that leads you to learn about change, about emptiness, and about selflessness of body and mind.

    Q: But if we are not seeking anything, then what is the Dharma?

    A: Everywhere you look is the Dharma; constructing a building, walking down the road, sitting in the bathroom, or here in the meditation hall, all of this is Dharma. When you understand correctly, there is nothing in the world that is not Dharma.

    But you must understand. Happiness and unhappiness, pleasure and pain are always with us. When you understand their nature, the Buddha and the Dharma are right there. When you can see clearly, each moment of experience is the Dharma. But most people react blindly to anything pleasant, "Oh, I like this, I want more," and to anything unpleasant, "Go away, I don't like this, I don't want any more." If, instead, you can allow yourself to open fully to the nature of each experience in the simplest way, you will become one with the Buddha.

    It's so simple and direct once you understand. When pleasant things arise, understand that they're empty. When unpleasant things arise, understand that they're not you, not yours; they pass away. If you don't relate to phenomena as being you or see yourself as their owner, the mind comes into balance. This balance is the correct path, the correct teaching of the Buddha which leads to liberation. Often people get so excited-"Can I attain this or that level of samadhi?" or 'What powers can I develop?" They completely skip over the Buddha's teaching to some other realm that's not really useful. The Buddha is to be found in the simplest things in front of you, if you're willing to look. And the essence of this balance is the no grasping mind.

    When you begin to practice, it's important to have a proper sense of direction. Instead of just trying to which way to go and wandering around in circles, you must consult a map or someone who's been there before in order to establish a sense of the path. The way to liberation first taught by the Buddha was The Middle Path lying between the extremes
    of indulgence in desire and self-mortification. The mind must be open to all experience without losing its balance and falling into these extremes. This allows you to see things without reacting and grabbing or pushing away.

    http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Aj....htm#Questions for the Teacher



    I tended to reflect on:


    Q: I'm trying very hard in my practice, but I don't seem to be getting anywhere.

    A: Don't try to get anywhere in practice. The very desire to be free or to be enlightened will be the desire that prevents your freedom. You can try as hard as you wish, practice ardently night and day, but if you still have the desire to achieve, you will never find peace. The energy from this desire will cause doubt and restlessness. No matter how long or how hard you practice, wisdom will not arise from desire. Simply let go. Watch the mind and body mindfully, but don't try to achieve anything. Otherwise, when you are beginning to practice meditation and your heart starts to quiet down, you will immediately think, "Oh, am I near the first stage yet? How much further do I have to go?" In that instant, you will lose everything. It is best just to observe how practice naturally develops.

    You have to pay attention without any concept of levels, simply and directly to what's happening in your heart or mind. The more you watch, the more clearly you'll see. If you learn to pay attention totally, then you don't have to worry about what stage you have attained; just continue in the right direction, and things will unfold for you naturally.




    When I followed this advice my practice really began :)

    Hope it helps

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    So in essence, dont try to get something when on the cushion or to become something

    Thats just the shadow of greed, of wanting to become and so its the arising of the ego.


    "Craving to be (bhava-tanha): this is craving to be something, to unite with an experience."


    As Ajahn Sumedho said, the personality doesnt get/become enlightened

    Freedom is found in just observing


    Just watch, then you will see and be free



    The Suttas describe meditation in stages, A then B then C etc however this is mere convention, because language is linear


    In real time it unfolds all at once
    Last edited by clw_uk; 17 Jan 14 at 16:19.

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    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clw_uk View Post
    trying to get jhana will be the very thing that cuts you off from it
    Nice replies and some good advice. I know people talk of jhana in terms of attainment but the truth is, it's more a "relinquishment" than an attainment. You don't 'attain' jhana, you relinquish defilement.

    It's not a semantic difference, it's a difference in practice and approach. If you are out to "attain" jhana then there is an expectation of an outcome. It's front-loaded and will distort the process.

    As clw says, trying to get it will cut you off from it.

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