Mastering an Absorption
When one is sure
(e.g. through suitable guidance) to have experienced an absorption
then one can make resolutions (adhitthana) to master it.
There are five aspects of mastery:
1. mastery in
2. mastery in entering
3. mastery in staying on
4. mastery in emerging
5. mastery in reflection
1. MASTERY IN
This is the mastery of being able to bring up (make an object of)
one of the five jhana factors, one after another immediately upon
emerging from jhana. It is brought about by making resolutions.
2. MASTERY IN
"Entering" means the shifting of the sensual sphere concentration
to a form sphere (jhanic consciousness). It involves the
switching off of the normal sense sphere consciousness to that of
the absorption. One has to be familiar as to what the absorption is.
One also has to have the factors of concentration sufficiently developed.
Mastery of resolution is also important. When one knows that preparations
have been well made, and faculties developed to the near access, then
the mind flies off to absorption or sinks into the object by the switching
of the will power to direct the powers and development of previous
practice towards the required direction. It is like jumping off the
diving board into the pool. It is like letting go of everything.
3. MASTERY IN
This is the ability to stay as long as one wishes in that absorption.
One can stay in for as long as seven days at a stretch. Adequate preparations
we are told are very important. When we are not worried e.g. about
lunch or appointments, the mind is at rest to go on. Preparations
may involve making sure no one will disturb us over a period of time
and all important matters are put aside. Having cleaned the body and
made a very thorough practice that will bring about lengthy sitting,
with the making of suitable resolution for a fixed period, one enters
and abides therein. Usually one has to be trained to lengthen the
period of the absorption by making successive resolutions for increasing
4. MASTERY IN
"Emerging" means emerging from the state of absorption.
Its precision can be based on, firstly, the point of time. This depends
firstly whether one is able to hold on that long first (i.e. the mastery
of abiding). But if one is able to, the precision is exactly when.
It is said that it can be done to the accuracy of the required second.
Secondly it is based on the event or occasion. For example, one may
decide to emerge if anyone comes to knock at the door, or as in suttas,
the sangha or Buddha summons! All these abilities will depend on practice
and mastery through resolution.
5. MASTERY IN
"Reflection" here is the reflection of the absorption from
which one has just emerged. Reflection here does not mean thinking
but full awareness of the components that make up what has just occurred.
Therefore the reflection is done only immediately after emergence.
It can occur in two ways.
I. The reflection
of the consciousness that has just passed. From it one can identify
which absorption it is and the factors that constitute it. However
one will have to be familiar first with what all these are through
experience and guidance. Usually for first-timers it is unfamiliar.
by the use of resolution. Here one resolves to witness the factors
of concentration present in the absorption just passed. Through the
power of the resolution, one will witness, one by one, the factors.
It is similar
to the first mastery which involves adverting the mind to the jhana
factors. Immediately following it is the reflection. It is through
this reflection that there is awareness that one knows which absorption
one has entered as well as the unsatisfactoriness of the lower factors.
For example, reflection on initial and sustained application will
form a base for the attainment of the higher jhanas.
has often to be made many times but care must be made not to overdo
it as it will develop a strong dispassion for it as one sees the faults.
Then one will be unable to enter into that absorption even if one
see the factors:
May I see the
1st factor of that absorption.
May I see the 2nd factor of that absorption.
May I see the 3rd factor of that absorption.
May I see the 4th factor of that absorption.
May I see the 5th factor of that absorption.
After having seen
them, e.g. one may know one was within the first absorption and then
one may proceed on again to the process of adverting and work towards
the second. After the next absorption one can again see the factors
of absorption that make it up and then work up to the third and fourth
absorption in the same way.
Once one has gained
the five-fold mastery of the jhanas one to four, then one
may further the mastery by gaining them:
I. in the direct
ascending order i.e.
II. in the reverse
or descending order i.e.
III. in the ascending
and descending order i.e.
IV. in skipping
of absorptions i.e.
V. in weaving
of absorptions i.e.
enables one to be very familiar with these states of mind, to gain
them easily and move about with ease.