Buddha Dhamma explains how three kinds of worldviews lead to three types of samadhi (basically mindset) via three different paths. All these are discussed in detail in other posts, but here we summarize them. You can use the Search box on top right to find relevant posts.
1. Have you ever wondered how some people have any “peace of mind” while engaging in abominable actions day in and day out? It is easier to excuse someone who commits a bad act in a “moment of fury”, i.e, when such action was not pre-planned (and the common law accommodates for that).
- But some people (think Hitler, Pol Pot in Cambodia) plan evil acts for years, and they seem to thrive doing it; they do not feel any remorse; rather they enjoy what they do. This is because just like facilitating a journey towards Nibbāna for someone who embarks on the Noble Eightfold Path, the nature also lets someone go in the opposite direction too. “Dhammo ha ve rakkhati dhammacari” applies to both kinds of “Dhamma”.
- Dhamma is what one “bears”. If one “carries good Dhamma”, one will be guided in the “good direction” by nature. In the same way, one who “carries bad Dhamma” will be guided in the opposite direction. Both can get into “samadhi” doing it.
2. Samadhi (“sama”+”adhi” where “sama” means “same” and “adhi” means “dominance”) means the object becomes the priority and the mind gets focused on it; as we discussed in many posts, when the mind becomes focused on one object (arammana), no matter what the object is, the ekaggata cetasika takes over and make the mind latched “on to it”.
- When the minds gets to samadhi, the mind feels calm because it is stopped from jumping back and forth among many thought objects (arammana).
- This is how one gets to not only samadhi but also anariya jhāna (a jhāna is a deeper state of absorption or samadhi) using breath meditation, just by focusing the mind on the breath.
- Thus, a master thief gets to micchā samadhi when intently focusing on the plan of a grand robbery in minute details. Not only does he get a joy out of it, his mind helps him work out the fine details; but someone with micchā samadhi can never get into a jhāna.
- It does not matter what the focus is, nature helps get it done if one really sets his/her mind to it. This is why “Dhammo ha ve rakkhati dhammacari” can work in any situation. The human mind is very powerful, but it can be used in all three directions.
3. However, that does not change the fact that outcomes of “bad actions” will ALWAYS be bad in the long run. This is a universal law called “bīja niyama” which is one of five natures’ primary laws called “niyama” (“niyama” in Pāli or Sinhala means “fixed”, “unchangeable”); even though most times it is pronounced “niyäma”, the correct pronunciation is “niyama”.
- Bad kamma result in “bad kamma bīja” which will ONLY bear “bad fruits”; also, the consequences will be proportional to the “size” of the kamma bīja (kamma seed). And the same holds true for good kamma seeds.
4. Now, when someone gets on the “wrong track” mostly through bad associates or bad environment, one has the “ten types of micchā diṭṭhi”, and one could get into the “micchā eightfold path”. The ten types of micchā diṭṭhi are:
- giving (dana) has no merits, being grateful and responding in kind (for what others have done for oneself) has no merits, respecting and making offerings to those with higher virtues has no merits, what we enjoy/suffer in this life is not due to kamma vipāka but they “just happen”, this world does not exist, when one dies it is not possible to be born in para loka (netherworld), mother is not a special person, father is not a special person, there are no instantaneous (opapātika) births, there are no samanabrahmana (basically Ariyā or yogis) who have cultivated their minds to be free of defilements and thus can can see other realms and previous births.
- See, “Hidden World of the Gandhabba: Netherworld (Para Lōka)” for a discussion on para loka.
5. When one has unshakeable or niyata micchā diṭṭhi one gets on the micchā eightfold path; now one’s mind is covered by the five hindrances (panca nivarana) to such an extent that one never gets to see the moral aspects. Then one tends to have micchā sankappa (wrong thoughts), micchā vaca (wrong speech, i.e., lying etc), micchā kammaṃta (engages in wrong actions (killing, stealing, etc), micchā vayama (wrong efforts), micchā ajiva (wrong livelihood), micchā sati (focus on bad things), and thus one gets to micchā samadhi (wrong samadhi).
- Since these factors feed on each other, once one gets into micchā eightfold path, it is difficult to break out of it. The key is micchā diṭṭhi: “Wrong vision” is hard to break, when it is continually being reinforced by wrong speech, actions, etc. Thus it is inevitable that one keeps strengthening one’s “bad gati” or behavior. Then it is increasingly easier to get to “micchā samadhi”.
6. The Buddha said that Sammā Diṭṭhi is two-fold: there is a mundane (lokiya) Sammā Diṭṭhi and an Ariya Sammā Diṭṭhi. When one has mundane Sammā Diṭṭhi, one rejects the ten types of micchā diṭṭhi mentioned above, and one strives to be born in human or higher realms. One knows that bad actions will lead to birth in the apāyā (lowest four realms).
- Thus one with mundane samma diṭṭhi will develop mundane versions of samma sankappa (good thoughts), samma vaca (abstain from lying, gossiping, etc), samma kammaṃta (engages only in moral acts), and so on and then it is easier for one to get to mundane samma samadhi. This is the mundane samma eightfold path.
- However, while someone following the micchā eightfold path cannot attain any jhāna, one on the mundane samma eightfold path can attain anariya jhāna; see, “Power of the Human Mind – Anariya Jhana”.
7. The critical difference between mundane samma diṭṭhi and Ariya Sammā Diṭṭhi is that while one with mundane samma diṭṭhi rejects immoral behavior based on one’s fear of rebirth in the apāyā and one’s hope for rebirth in comfort-filled deva or brahma worlds (or even because it makes one feels good about the act), one ATTAINS Ariya Sammā Diṭṭhi when one comprehends anicca, dukkha, anatta at least to a significant extent, i.e., one becomes a Sotāpanna.
- Thus one starts on the Path by following the mundane samma eightfold path, and at some point enters the Ariya Sammā Eightfold Path when attaining the Sotāpanna stage.
- At that stage, one’s mind automatically rejects immoral acts because one’s mind sees the futility as well as the danger of such acts. What is the point of having some sense pleasure if it lasts only a short time AND could lead to much misery in the future for long times?
8. The critical point is that when one becomes a Sotāpanna, one’s mind (and the brain) will be changed so that one will not act even impulsively, let alone capable of pre-planning an act that could yield rebirth in the apāyā.
- Scientists do confirm that there are significant changes in the brain just due to breath meditation alone; see, “Truine Brain: How the Mind Rewires the Brain via Meditation/Habits”.
- Such future brain studies on people engaged in the correct anapana meditation can be expected to yield profound changes in a brain when a person attains the Sotāpanna stage.
9. Thus one becomes a Sotāpanna (enter the stream) from the mundane samma diṭṭhi stage by comprehending the true nature of the world (i.e., it is fruitless to be born ANYWHERE in the 31 realms) by learning the meanings of anicca, dukkha, anatta from a Buddha (who discovers them), or from a true disciple of the Buddha.
- Once one becomes a Sotāpanna, the Path to Nibbāna becomes clear, and one does not need any more help. One will cultivate the next six steps and get to Ariya Sammā Samadhi and to the Arahant stage of Nibbāna.
10. I need to re-emphasize the difference between “living a moral life” which is promoted by most of world’s major religions, and the emphasize on “purifying the mind” and “comprehending the true nature of the wider world of 31 realms” in Buddha Dhamma.
- One needs to approach this extra step first by being “moral”, i.e., by following the mundane samma eightfold path and getting rid of some of the five hindrances. Then one’s mind is purified to an extent to be able to “see through the fog of ignorance” and comprehend anicca, dukkha, anatta.
- Buddha’s message about the “suffering hidden in the midst of apparent sense pleasures” is indeed a “Dhamma that has never been known”. It could be contrary to one’s instincts, because all we have known from the beginningless time is about enjoying the sense pleasures.
Note: The three kinds of eightfold paths, micchā diṭṭhi, and micchā samadhi are described in the Maha Chattareesaka Sutta; see, “Maha Chattarisaka Sutta (Discourse on the Great Forty)“.