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Breath Meditation: Notes on Ekottara Agama

DISCLAIMER: These notes refer to texts which Buddhist monks use for meditation and instruction. Unless you are under the guidance of an accredited Buddhist master within his study group, I do not endorse any form of meditation or other spiritual practice using the following material. I provide it for information only.


http://sites.google.com/site/ekottara/

This site contains sutras consisting of instruction on Breath Meditation, and topics of meditation to free the mind from ritual (Brahmin), hatred (Elephant), inequality (Broad-minded), slander (Authentic), by choosing the authentic teachings of the Buddha, and praise (Praise).

It's this last sutra (Praise) which needs to be carefully studied, as it is related to the previous sutra (Authentic).

Then comes the chapter about the Wheel of Dhamma, with sutras about the fearlessness through the metaphor of the Lion, how to be wise (Energy), generosity (Generous) and the story of Āmrapāli the courtesan as seen through ancient Chinese cultural lens.

Regarding Āmrapāli the royal courtesan, she was a well respected Indian woman of high standing because she was well educated and wealthy. The youths she encountered on the way home to prepare a meal for the Buddha and his fellow monks were from well respected clans and respected Āmrapāli, as they went on their way to listen to the Buddha give a dharma talk on being of service to others.

Later, after Āmrapāli spent all night preparing the meal for the Buddha and his monks, she served them when they arrived. Then she donated her park to the Buddha, and later become a Buddhist patroness.

Next comes the chapter on the spiritual friend with sutras describing a good friend, confession (that one is not relying on a good friend) and forgiveness (Forgiveness), the story of Dhammaruci, using the metaphor of lions and sheep to teach proper conduct of monks, appreciation, effort and determination to achieve Buddha-hood (Maitreya's effort), the development of tranquility and penetrating insight to help realize the Four Noble Truths (Calm and insight), contentment (Forest), and instructions on ideal teaching (Teaching).

Finally, the chapter on the Triple Gem is about the Three Treasures of the Buddha, Dharma (the Buddhist Teaching) and Sangha (Buddhist community). It is also about the three qualities of generosity, evenness and meditation; the three conditions a consciousness can receive a womb (Conception) in which the Buddha tells of all the ways conception does not happen except for one way; the three bases of unwavering delight in the Buddha, learning His Dharma, and taking care of the Sangha; virtuous conduct by deed, word and thought to prevent suffering by use of evil words; moderation both in his six senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and mind (cogitation) and eating, and regularly does his walking-exercises; the three severe afflictions of the mind (covetousness and attachment, hatred and aversion, and ignorance and delusion) and their cures (reflecting on repulsiveness, cultivating friendliness in one's heart, and insight into dependent origination); and the good practice of body, mind and speech to achieve the state of the Unconditioned.

References:

Wikipedia entry on the Ekottara Agama: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekottara_Agama

Āmrapāli is also known as Ambapali: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambapali

Royal courtesan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagarvadhu

Dhamma means the same as Dharma: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma

Dhammaruci Thera: http://www.vipassana.info/d/dhammaruci.htm
An arahant. In the time of Dipankara Buddha he was a young man named Megha (Rain), who heard the Buddha's declaration regarding Sumedha (wisdom), and entered the Order under the latter. Due to wrong association, he left the Order and murdered his mother. Because of matricide, he suffered in Avīci and was later born as a fish.

One day he heard some shipwrecked sailors calling on the name of Gotama Buddha for protection, and, remembering Dipankara's prophecy, the fish died. He was then born in Sāvatthi, and hearing the Buddha preach at Jetavana, he entered the Order and became an arahant. Ap.ii.429f.

Reflections on repulsiveness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asubha

Friendliness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metta

Dependent origination: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dependent_origination

Four Noble Truths: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_noble_truths
  1. unsatisfactoriness (suffering)
  2. the origin of unsatisfactoriness
  3. the final ending of unsatisfactoriness, and
  4. what needs to be done to overcome unsatisfactoriness (the Eightfold Path)
The Four Nobles Truths is what is meant in these sutras by the terms "the subtle Teaching". Eightfold Path: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_Eightfold_Path It consists of the ideals of:
  1. right view
  2. right intention
  3. right speech
  4. right action
  5. right livelihood
  6. right effort
  7. right mindfulness
  8. right concentration
"Right" in this sense means "perfect", "ideal", and "complete". Six senses: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_senses_%28Buddhism%29 The state of the Unconditioned: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana Triple Gem, Three Treasures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tripitaka

2 comments:

Steve said...

The Agamas influenced the Yogacara school, which in turn inspired much of the East Asian forms of Buddhism.

It is in the Nikaya known as Anguttara Nikaya, an earlier Pali text that the mind is called luminous.

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements." *The defilements refer to mental hindrances.

In Yogacara, the concept of luminous mind may have evolved into the concept of the store consciousness or eighth consciousness.

Reference:
Agamas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agamas
Luminous mind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminous_mind
Store consciousness traced to luminous mind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yog%C4%81c%C4%81ra#The_eight_consciousnesses
Six sense pairs (Ayatana): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayatana
Defilements as mental hindrances: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleśā_(Buddhism)

Steve said...

Buddhist psychology as No-Self psychology.

http://www.buddhistpsychology.info/non-self.htm