Three main types of samādhi (mindset) can result by following three paths with three worldviews.
Pre-2015; revised December 21, 2022
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 an immoral act in a “moment of fury,” i.e. when such action was not pre-planned (and the common law accommodates that).
- But some people make evil plans for years before carrying them out and seem to thrive doing it. They do not feel remorse; instead, they enjoy what they do. This is because, just like facilitating a journey towards Nibbāna for someone who embarks on the Noble Eightfold Path, nature also lets someone go in the opposite direction. “Dhammo ha ve rakkhati dhammacāri” 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 “samādhi” doing it.
- By the way, there are specific terms for “bad Dhamma” and “good Dhamma.” They are “adhamma” and “saddhamma.” The word “saddhamma” comes from “sath” + “dhamma” or “good/beneficial” dhamma, and “adhamma” is the opposite of that.
- This is similar to the word usage in “gandha.” We usually call “good smells” sugandha and “bad smells” gandha. However, “gandha” can be of either type, and “dugandha” is the correct word for “bad smells.”
What Is Samādhi?
2. Samādhi (“sama”+”adhi” where “sama” means “equilibrium” 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 mind gets to samādhi, 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 samādhi but also anariya jhāna (a jhāna is a deeper state of absorption or samādhi) using breath meditation, just by focusing the mind on the breath.
- Thus, a master thief gets to micchā samādhi when intently focusing on the plan of a grand robbery in minute details. Not only does he get joy out of it, his mind helps him work out the fine details, but someone with micchā samādhi can never get into a jhāna.
- It does not matter what the focus is; nature helps get it done if one sets his/her mind to it. This is why “Dhammo ha ve rakkhati dhammacāri” can work in any situation, good or bad. The human mind is powerful but can be used in all three directions.
Outcomes Depend on Actions Based on the Mindset (Samādhi)
3. However, that does not change the fact that outcomes of “bad actions” will ALWAYS be harmful 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,” or “unchangeable”); even though most times it is pronounced “niyāma,” the correct pronunciation is “niyama.”
- A bad kamma results in a “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 for good kamma seeds.
Type of View Comes First
4. Now, when someone gets on the “wrong track” mostly through immoral friends or a 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:
- (i) giving (dana) has no merits, (ii) being grateful and responding in kind (for what others have done for oneself) has no merits, (iii) respecting and making offerings to those with higher virtues has no merits, (iv) what we enjoy/suffer in this life is not due to kamma vipāka but they “just happen,” (v) this world does not exist, (vi) there is no para loka (with gandhabbas), (vii) mother is not a special person, (viii) father is not a special person, (ix) there are no instantaneous (opapātika) births, (x) there are no samana brahmanās (basically Ariyā or yogis) who have cultivated their minds to be free of defilements and thus can see other realms and previous births.
- See “Hidden World of the Gandhabba: Netherworld (Para Lōka)” for a discussion on para loka.
- Those who don’t believe in rebirth have several of those ten wrong views.
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 (pañca nivarana) to such an extent that one never gets to see the moral aspects. Then one tends to have micchā saṅkappa (wrong thoughts), micchā vācā (wrong speech, i.e., lying, etc.), micchā kammanta (engages in wrong actions (killing, stealing, etc.), micchā vāyāma (wrong efforts), micchā ājiva (wrong livelihood), micchā sati (focus on bad things). Thus one gets to micchā samādhi (wrong samādhi).
- Since these factors feed on each other, once one gets into the micchā eightfold path, it is difficult to break out of it. The key is micchā diṭṭhi: “Wrong vision” is hard to break when wrong speech, actions, etc., are continually reinforcing it. Thus, one keeps strengthening one’s “bad gati” or behavior. Then it is increasingly easier to get to “micchā samādhi.”
Sammā Diṭṭhi is Two-Fold
6. The Buddha said that Sammā Diṭṭhi is two-fold: there is a mundane (lokiya) Sammā Diṭṭhi and an Ariya (Lokuttara) 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 wrong actions will lead to birth in the apāyā (lowest four realms).
- Thus one with mundane sammā diṭṭhi will develop mundane versions of sammā saṅkappa (good thoughts), sammā vācā (abstain from lying, gossiping, etc.), sammā kammanta (engages only in moral acts), and so on and then it is easier for one to get to mundane sammā samādhi. This is the mundane sammā eightfold path.
- However, while someone following the micchā eightfold path cannot attain any jhāna, one on the mundane sammā eightfold path can attain anariya jhāna; see, “Power of the Human Mind – Anariya Jhana.”
7. The critical difference between mundane sammā diṭṭhi and Ariya Sammā Diṭṭhi is that while one with mundane sammā 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 sammā 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 sees the futility and danger of such actions. What is the point of having some sensory pleasure if it lasts only a short time AND could lead to much misery in the future for a long time?
Lokuttara Sammā Diṭṭhi at Sotapanna Stage
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 be capable of pre-planning an act that could yield rebirth in the apāyā.
- Scientists 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.”
- Future brain studies on people engaged in the correct Ānāpānasati meditation can be expected to yield profound changes in the brain when a person attains the Sotāpanna stage.
9. Thus, one becomes a Sotāpanna (enter the stream) from the mundane sammā 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 apparent, and one does not need any more help. One will cultivate the following six steps and get to Ariya Sammā Samādhi and the Arahant stage of Nibbāna.
Living a Moral Life Is Not Enough
10. I need to re-emphasize the difference between “living a moral life,” which is promoted by most of the world’s major religions, and the emphasis 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 sammā eightfold path and getting rid of some of the five hindrances. Then one’s mind is purified to “see through the fog of ignorance” and comprehend anicca, dukkha, and anatta.
- Buddha’s message about the “suffering hidden amid apparent sensory pleasures” is a “Dhamma (teaching) 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 sensory pleasures.
- See “What is Unique in Buddha Dhamma?“
Two Types of Micchā Diṭṭhi, Micchā Paths, and Micchā Samādhi
11. Some of those with micchā diṭṭhi can associate with like-minded others and cultivate extreme views. Good examples are Hitler and Pol Pot in Cambodia.
- Thus, it is possible to split micchā diṭṭhi into two, just like sammā diṭṭhi. There are two types of wrong eightfold paths based on two types of micchā diṭṭhi, leading to two types of micchā samādhi.
- That is why the “Mahā Chattarisaka Sutta (MN 117)” briefly states that there are 20 factors to the “skillful side” and 20 to the “unskillful side.”
- The two “skillful sides” (starting with two types of sammā diṭṭhi) are discussed in detail in that sutta; see “Maha Chattarisaka Sutta (Discourse on the Great Forty).”