Wisdom and Samadhi - two way process
A person, who wants to train his heart to become skilful and to know what is behind the deluded tricks of the defilements (kilesas), must not be attached to study and learning in Buddhism to such an extent that it gives rise to the defilements.
But also he must not abandon study and learning, for to do this goes beyond the teaching of the Lord. Both these ways are contrary to the purpose which the Buddha desired that one should aim at.
In other words, when one is practising meditation for the purpose of developing Samadhi, do not let the Citta grasp at what it has learnt by study, for it will be led into thoughts of the past and future.
One must instead make the Citta keep to the present, which means that just that aspect of Dhamma which one is developing must be one’s only concern.
When there is some question or point of doubt in connection with one’s Citta which one is unable to resolve, one may then check it by study and learning after one has finished one’s meditation practice.
But it is wrong to check one’s practice all the time with what one has learnt by study, for this will be mere intellectual knowledge, and not knowledge which comes from development in meditation and it is not the right way.
Summarising the above: If the Citta attains calm with an object of calm (Samatha), that is, with a preparatory repetition that comes from an aspect of Dhamma that one is developing, one should continue with that method.
But if it attains calm only by the use of wisdom, using various expedient methods to overcome difficulties, then one should always use wisdom to help in the attainment of calm.
The results which come from training in both these ways (i.e. Samadhi develops wisdom, and wisdom develops Samadhi), are the development of Calm and Wisdom, which will have a hidden radiance coming from the calm. Samadhi is by name and nature “calmness”.
It is of three kinds as follows:
1. Khanika Samadhi - in which the heart becomes unwaveringly fixed and calm for a short time after which it withdraws.
2. Upacara Samadhi - of which the Buddha said, that it is almost the same, but it lasts longer than Khanika Samadhi. Then the Citta withdraws from this state.
3. Appana Samadhi - is Samadhi that is subtle, firm, and unwavering, and in which one can remain concentrated for a long time. One may also remain concentrated in this state, or withdraw from it as one wishes.
In Upacara Samadhi, when the Citta has dropped into a calm state it does not remaining that state, but partially withdraws from it to follow and get to know about various things which have come into contact with the heart.
Sometimes something arises concerning oneself and one sees a vision (Nimitta) which is sometimes good and sometimes bad, but inthe first stage the nimitta will generally be something about oneself. If one is not careful this can lead to trouble, because Nimittas which arise from this kind of Samadhi are of innumerable varieties.
Sometimes in front of one there appears an image of oneself lying down dead, the body decayed and swollen, or it may be the dead body of someone else. Sometimes it is a skeleton, or bones scattered about, or may be one sees it as a corpse being carried past.
When such a nimitta appears, a clever person will take it as his Uggaha Nimitta; in order that it may become the Patibhaga Nimitta, because this will steadily lead to Samadhi becoming firm and to wisdom becoming penetrating and strong.
For a person, who has a strong ability in maintaining a detached rational attitude, to be successful in gaining value from such a nimitta he will always tend to develop mindfulness and wisdom (Sati-panna) when faced with it.
But there are a lot of people whose natures are timid and easily frightened, and Upacara Samadhi may do harm to the Citta of a person of this type because this class of Samadhi is of many different kinds and many frightening experiences can occur.
For example, the image of a man may appear, whose bodily shape, colour and social position are all frightening, and he may appear as though about to slash at one with a sword, or to eat one.
If however, one has little fear and is not timid, one can suffer no harm in such circumstances and one will learn more and more methods of curing one’s Citta from these kinds of nimittas, or Samadhi.
But with a timid person - who usually tends to look for fearful things - the more he sees a frightening nimitta the larger it becomes, and at such a time he may unfortunately be driven mad.
As for external nimittas which come and go, one may or may not know whether a nimitta is external or whether it arises from oneself. But when one has become skilled with internal nimittas which arise from oneself, one will be able to know which are external nimittas.
External nimittas are associated with many different happenings of people, animals, pretas, bhutas (ghosts of the dead), the son of a Deva, a Devata, Indra, or Brhama, any of which may at that time be associated with one’s Samadhi, even as one talks to a guest who comes on a visit.
When such incidents occur they may last for a long or short time depending on how long the necessary conditions last that are required for such happenings.
Sometimes however, the first set of conditions dies away and another set of conditions arises continuing from the first set, which is not easily brought to a close for the theme may be of short or long duration. When it dies away and the Citta withdraws, it may have spent several hours in this state.
For however long the Citta remains concentrated in this kind of Samadhi, when it withdraws one will find that it has not increased one’s strength of Samadhi, nor made it more firm and durable, nor will it have helped to develop and strengthen one’s wisdom. It is like going to sleep and dreaming, when one wakes one’s mind and body will not have gained their full strength.
But when one withdraws from the type of Samadhi in which one became concentrated and remained in this one state, one will find that the strength of one’s samadhi has increased and it has become more firm and durable. Like someone who sleeps soundly without dreaming, when he wakes his body and mind will feel strong.
In Upacara Samadhi, if one is still not skilled and does not use wisdom to be careful and watchful on all sides, it may cause much trouble and can drive one mad. Those people who practice meditation generally call this state “Broken Dhamma”, and it comes about because of this type of Samadhi. But if it is done with due care it can be of value in connection with some things.
As for the Uggaha Nimitta which arises from the citta, as was explained at the beginning of this chapter, this nimitta is the most suitable basis for the development of the Patibhaga Nimitta, which accords with the principles of mediation of those who want a method which is both skilful and truly wise, because this is the nimitta that is associated with the Ariya Sacca (Noble Truths). One must absorb the impression of the Patibhaga Nimitta into one’s heart, then it may be considered to be the Ariya Sacca.
Both Nimittas which arise from oneself and those which come from external sources may lead to trouble if one is a timid person, and it is important to have wisdom and courage when things happen. But one who has wisdom is not one-sidedly biased against Upacara Samadhi. It is like a poisonous snake, which although dangerous, is sometimes kept by people who can benefit from it.