Three Types of Concentration
There are three
types of concentration that come with metta bhavana:
1. parikamma samadhi preliminary concentration
2. upacara samadhi access concentration
3. appana samadhi fixed concentration
1. PARIKAMMA SAMADHI
Parikamma bhavana is the stage of doing the preliminary exercises.
Some degree of one-pointedness or calmness is reached when radiating
metta to the person as one is involved with active recitations.
2. UPACARA SAMADHI
When it comes very close as if about to sink or merge with the object
we may consider it as access concentration. By then one has overcome
the hindrances as it is close to fixed absorption. The mind has reached
a very subtle and sleeplike state. If one is not careful one may fall
asleep. One has to be mindful to maintain the flow of metta and yet
not too energetic that it stirs it up to a restless state. At this
state visions may creep in but one has to be mindful enough to maintain
the flow of metta. The Visuddhimagga describes this state as a state
when the barriers are broken. That is, at that time one's metta is
developed to the state that one is as if one with the person. One
cannot be said to have any less or more metta one has for oneself
than another or a close one from a hostile one.
As concentration develops, the object of mind likewise becomes more
refined and steady. It may be very gross ideas of the person at preliminary
concentration to fine, transparent-like visualisations at access concentration.
However the development of the object is not as obvious as in kasinas.
So in initial stages the states of mind and metta are more obvious
and important criteria for checking one's development. With frequent
meditation one can also be aware of the nature of this fine object.
I remember that the first time I noticed it was as the person outlined
on a crystal-clear surface. It has appeared again in another way.
3. APPANA SAMADHI
When the mind becomes fixed onto the object it sinks and merges into
it to become as if one. The result is the development of a different
form of consciousness called (jhana citta) absorption. Very
often people say this is like falling into a state deeper than sleep.
Yet on emerging one is aware that at that period one is in bliss and
is still having metta for the person. It has been claimed that the
state is so sleep-like that one may not be aware that one has entered
into it, especially when it first occurs in only very short moments.
However with frequency it should become obvious. How long one takes
to reach up to this level is very much of an individual capability.
If we go into intensive meditation, it should not take too long. Those
who have undergone vipassana meditation, whose mind is already flexible
and wholesome, should be even quicker. There are 4 types of these
absorptions (in the 5-fold classification) in metta bhavana. They
are called the 1st jhana, 2nd jhana, 3rd jhana,
and 4th jhana. As for the 5th jhana, it can be attained
only in the development of equanimity upekkha bhavana.