SELECTION FROM THE MAJJHIMA-NIKAYA
Chapter 111: Anupadasutta - Discourse on the
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:
- 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
- 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
- The third meditation
At this stage, Sariputta lets go of joy, equanimity and
mindfulness, realizing their impermanence. He then
comprehends a further stage.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
RETURN TO FOLDER FIVE