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SELECTION FROM THE MAJJHIMA-NIKAYA

Chapter 111: Anupadasutta - Discourse on the Uninterrupted.



SUMMARY:

Shakyamuni Buddha addresses a group of monks and tells them of Sariputta's high level of proficiency. He tells the monks of Sariputta's wide, bright, swift, acute, and piercing wisdom and how this level of insight came about.

The Buddha explains that Sariputta's realization of enlightenment occurred in nine stages, which include:

  1. The first meditation In this state, Sariputta feels joy and bliss, but the state includes "initial thought and discursive thought." After realizing a heightened state of awareness and feeling, Sariputta understands that these thoughts are all transitory and lets them pass. He says: "`Thus indeed things have not been in me come to be; having been they pass away.'" He then realizes there is a further "escape". (111.25)

  2. The second meditation This state of mindfulness, joy and equanimity is a letting go of initial and discursive thought as well as the deepening realization that all feelings are impermanent. Again he realizes there is another level of insight.

  3. The third meditation At this stage, Sariputta lets go of joy, equanimity and mindfulness, realizing their impermanence. He then comprehends a further stage.

  4. The fourth meditation This stage is a level refined by mindfulness and insight. Sariputta realizes that all the other stages and events that occurred while he was in them are illusory. This includes one pointedness of mind, mindfulness, and all his practices of meditation as well as sensory input. As before he sense a further level and goes beyond the fourth meditation.

  5. The plane of infinite ether This stage appears to be a reality beyond the material world, in which sensory perception of the regular world is gone and mindfulness and insight of this new world come into being. Sariputta then realizes that his perception and insight into this world is also illusory, and that a further plane is reachable.

  6. The plane of infinite consciousness Like the plane of infinite ether, Sariputta realizes that his mindfulness and insight of this world is illusory and goes on to the next stage.

  7. The plane of no-thing Like the last two planes, Sariputta realizes that his mindfulness and insight of this world is illusory and goes on to the next stage.

  8. The plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception Sariputta has a true realization in this stage that all things that have been, including things that have appeared inside himself, such as feelings, are truly illusory, and thus they fall away. The Buddha explains this as "...not feeling attracted by these things, not feeling repelled, independent, not infatuated, freed, released, dwells with a mind that is unconfined." (111.28) Sariputta then realizes there is a further strata.

  9. The stopping of perception and feeling Through intuitive wisdom, all of Sariputtas karma is completely destroyed. Again, he realizes that all things that have been, including things that have appeared within himself, are truly illusory. He then realizes there is no "further escape" and there are no more practices to perform.

The Buddha then sums up the four methods that lead to enlightenment: concentration, wisdom, freedom and moral habits. He tells the monks that Sariputta is an example of the correct way to practice and they all rejoice.


Compare the above Nine Stages with the Jhana States as listed in "The Jhanas in Theravadan Buddhist Meditation" in the Additional Comments Regarding Meditation folder in the next folder, Folder 6, MEDITATION.


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