HeartDhamma

AN IV 163 Four Kinds of Practices – Unattractiveness or Jhāna  

“There are four kinds of practices, monks.

 

What are they?

 

(1) The unpleasant practice with slow realization;[1]

(2) The unpleasant practice with quick realization;

(3) The pleasant practice with slow realization;

(4) The pleasant practice with quick realization. [2]

 

 

 

[1 Unpleasant and Slow]

 

What is the unpleasant practice with slow realization?

 

Here, monks, some monks or nuns live,

(1) contemplating the repulsiveness of the body,

(2) keeping in mind the unattractiveness of food,

(3) non-enjoyment towards the whole world,

(4) the transience in all activities,

and (5) the remembrance of death is firmly rooted in them. [3]

 

They abide, supported by these five strengths

of those in the noble training: [4]

 

The strengths of

(1) confidence,

(2) humility,[5]

(3) shyness in wrongdoing, [6]

(4) motivation,

(5) and discernment.

 

But these five skills of the mind are slow to develop. [7]

The skills of

(1) confidence

(2) motivation

(3) presence of mind

(4) mental collectedness

(5) and discernment.

 

These five skills being dull,

the uninterrupted freedom from distractions

comes to fulfillment very slowly. [8]

 

This is the unpleasant practice with slow realization.

 

 

[2. Unpleasant but Quick]

 

What is the unpleasant practice with quick realization?

 

Here, monks, some monks and nuns live,

(1) contemplating the repulsiveness of the body,

(2) keeping in mind the unattractiveness of food,

(3) non-enjoyment towards the whole world,

(4) the transience in all activities,

and (5) the remembrance of death is firmly rooted in them.

 

They abide, supported by these five strengths

of those in the noble training:

 

The strengths of

(1) confidence,

(2) humility,

(3) shyness in wrongdoing,

(4) motivation,

(5) and discernment.

 

But these five skills are swiftly developed. [9]

 

The skill of

(1) confidence

(2) motivation

(3) presence of mind

(4) mental collectedness

(5) and discernment.

 

These five skills being developed swiftly,

the uninterrupted freedom from distractions

comes to fulfillment very quickly.[10]

 

This is the unpleasant practice with quick realization.

 

 

[3 Pleasant but Slow]

 

What is the pleasant practice with slow realization?

 

Here, monks, some monks and nuns live,

disengaged from the sense faculties

and detached from unwholesome mental states,

accompanied by wholesome thinking and imagining,

with the blissful happiness born of letting go

 

they understand and abide in the first level of meditation

 

As thinking and imagining calm down,

with inner tranquilization,

their minds becoming unified,

without thinking and imagining

with joy and happiness born of mental collectedness

 

 they understand and abide in the second level of meditation.

 

As stronger joy calms down,

abiding in mental steadiness,

present and fully aware,

experiencing happiness within one’s body

a state the awakened ones describe as:

“Steadiness and presence of mind:

This is a pleasant abiding.”

 

they understand and abide in the third level of meditation.

 

Unattached to pleasant sensations,

unstirred by unpleasant ones,

as mental excitement and heaviness settle,

their minds are balanced,

purified by unmoving presence,

 

they understand and abide in the fourth level of meditation.

 

They abide, supported by these five strengths

of those in the noble training:

 

The strengths of

(1) confidence,

(2) humility,

(3) shyness in wrongdoing

(4) motivation

(5) and discernment.

 

But these five skills of the mind are slow to develop.

The skills of

(1) confidence

(2) motivation

(3) presence of mind

(4) mental collectedness

(5) and discernment.

 

These five skills being dull,

the uninterrupted freedom from distractions

comes to fulfillment very slowly.

 

This is the pleasant practice with slow realization.

 

 

[4. Pleasant and Quick]

 

What is the pleasant practice with quick realization?

 

Here, monks, some monks and nuns live,

disengaged from the sense faculties

and detached from unwholesome mental states,

accompanied by wholesome thinking and imagining,

with the blissful happiness born of letting go

 

they understand and abide in the first level of meditation

 

As thinking and imagining calm down,

with inner tranquilization,

their minds becoming unified,

without thinking and imagining

with joy and happiness born of mental collectedness

 

they understand and abide in the second level of meditation.

 

As stronger joy calms down,

abiding in mental steadiness,

present and fully aware,

experiencing happiness within one’s body

a state the awakened ones describe as:

“Steadiness and presence of mind:

This is a pleasant abiding.”

 

they understand and abide in the third level of meditation.

 

 

Unattached to pleasant sensations,

unstirred by unpleasant ones,

as mental excitement and heaviness settle,

their minds are balanced,

purified by unmoving presence,

 

they understand and abide in the fourth level of meditation.

 

They abide, supported by these five strengths

of those in the noble training:

 

The strengths of

(1) confidence,

(2) humility,

(3) shyness in wrongdoing

(4) motivation

(5) and discernment.

 

And these five skills of the mind are swiftly developed.

The skills of

(1) confidence

(2) motivation

(3) presence of mind

(4) mental collectedness

(5) and discernment.

 

 

These five skills being developed swiftly,

the uninterrupted freedom from distractions

comes to fulfillment very quickly.

 

This is the pleasant practice with quick realization.

 

 

 

These are the four kinds of practices, monks.”

[1] Dukkhā paipadā dandhābhiññā,

[2] sukhā paipadā khippābhiññā

[3] asubhānupassī kāye viharati, āhārepaikūlasaññī, sabbaloke anabhiratisaññī, sabbasakhāresu aniccānupassī; maraasaññā kho panassa ajjhattasūpaṭṭhitā hoti. 

[4] So imāni pañca sekhabalāni upanissāya viharati— A Sekha is usually understood to be someone that has reached stream entry at least. But I would say that this is probably good for anyone who is actually intent on the practice. Although, these five strengths are somewhat well established in a stream enterer since they value and possess good virtue, naturally, a good understanding of Dhamma, and the confident motivation to practice according to the Buddha’s teaching.

[5] Hiri fem. sense of shame; modesty; conscience; sense of right and wrong; scruples [√hir + i]

[6] Ottapa pr. feels ashamed or bashful; is afraid (of doingwrong); is scrupulous (to avoid, with instrumental, genitive…)

 

[7] mudūni pātubhavanti

[8] So imesa pañcannaindriyāna muduttā dandha ānantariyapāpuāti āsavāna khayāya. In many translations, the word anantariya is interpreted as ‘immediacy’ which is, to my knowledge, a derivative from later influences on the Buddha’s original teaching, and is found in Abhidhamma literature. This connotation can be problematic in the sense that it is hard to even comprehend what it would even mean. Thus, furthering the gap between analytical knowledge of Buddhist academics and the true, down to earth and simple instructions of the Buddha. Thus word anantariya is also found in the context of anantarika samādhi which is a term for the ‘uninterrupted collectedness of mind’ of the Buddhas and his Arahant disciples. “Samādhimānantarikaññamāhu” Ratana sutta. I prefer a much simpler, practical translation here as ‘uninterrupted freedom from distractions’ for ānantariya āsavāna khayāya. Thus remaining consistent with the idea of ‘uninterruptedness of Samādhi’ which is the final goal of this practice.

[9] Tassimāni pañcindriyāni adhimattāni pātubhavanti—

[10] So imesa pañcanna indriyāna adhimattattā khippa ānantariya pāpuāti āsavānakhayāya. 

This is a gift of Dhamma

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