Buddhism by the Numbers
The practice of Right Concentration is to cultivate a mind that is one-pointed. There are two kinds of concentration, active and selective. In active concentration, the mind dwells on whatever is happening in the present moment, even as it changes. The following poem by a Buddhist monk, Huong Hai illustrates active concentration.
The wind whistles in the bamboo
And the bamboo dances.
When the wind stops,
The bamboo grows still.
A silver bird
flies over the autumn lake.
When it has passed,
The lake’s surface does not try
To hold onto the image of the bird.
When we practice active concentration, we welcome whatever comes along. We don’t think about it or long for anything else. We just dwell in the present moment with our whole being. Whatever comes, comes. When the object of our concentration passed our mind remains clear.
When we practice selective concentration, we choose one object and hold onto it. During sitting or walking mediation our attention is focused on our object.
- We concentrate to make ourselves deeply present
- Right concentration leads to happiness, and it also leads to Right Action
- Samadhi means concentration. To practice samadhi is to live deeply in each moment.
- Mindfulness brings about concentration
- Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration lift us above he realms of sensual pleasure and craving, and we find ourselves lighter and happier.
- There are nine levels of meditative concentration. The first four are the Four Dhyanas. They are on the form realm. The next five levels belong to the formless realm.
- After the fourth dhyana the meditator enters into a deeper experience of concentration.
- The object of the fifth level of concentration is limitless space. According the Buddha’s teaching, nothing has a separate self.
- The object of the sixth level of concentration is limitless consciousness.
- The object of the seventh level of concentration is nothingness.
- Level eight is neither perception nor non perception
- Level nine is cessation. Cessation from ignorance in our feelings. From this level is born insight. When someone practices well, the ninth level of concentration shines a light on the reality of things and transforms ignorance.
The Buddha taught many concentration practices. To practice the Concentration on Impermanence, every time you see your beloved see her as impermanent and do your best to make her happy today. The insight into impermanence keeps you from getting caught up in the suffering and craving, attachment, and despair. See and listen to everything with this insight.
According to the Lotus Sutra, we have to live in the historical and ultimate dimensions of reality at the same time. We have to live deeply our life as a wave so we can touch the substance of water in us. We walk, look, breathe, and eat in a way that we touch the absolute dimension of reality. We transcend birth and death and the fears of being and nonbeing, one and many.
Live every moment of your life deeply, and while walking, eating, drinking, and looking at the morning star, you touch the ultimate dimension.
Based on the Teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh
Photo: Benn Bell