44a | CR Book XII, Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Concentration

Concentration is the one-pointedness of a radically
simplified self which dwells undistracted and stable
in serenity and calm. It is prevented by the five hin-
drances. Sense desire disperses attention over a vari-
ety of sense objects, and implies an attachment to them,
which makes us loth to forsake them for the Senseless.
Ill-will makes thoughts go in a staccato movements, and
interrupts perpetually the even flow of concentration.
Sloth and torpor render the mind stiff, sticky, inert,
unwieldy, imprison thoughts and prevent any expansion and
freedom. From excitement and sense of guilt we whirl
around in a circle and cannot repose. Doubt, or perplex-
ity, finally, prevent us from climbing up the steps which
lead to jhana, keep us hesitating at the very bottom.

Concentration is brought about by the arising of the
five jhana-limbs. Overcoming sloth and torpor, thoughts
are adjusted to the chosen object of meditation. Over-
coming doubts, they discourse on it, and keep the mind
bound to it. From the very success in achieving this de-
tachment, pīti (=interest+zest+rapture+bliss) cheers the
mind (inhibiting aversion), and, going through an interme-
diate stage of Tranquillity (or serenity), an expansive
feeling of ease pervaded the whole person, mind and body.
As a result of these motives for non-distraction, one-
pointedness of mind arises, and the world of sense des-
ire is forgotten.

The four jhanas of Buddhist tradition represent four
stages of temporary self-extinction by progressive simplification,
renunciation, and calm. In them the mind is still depen-
dant on an object or concept. The first jhana is born of
detachment, and initiated by abstraction from sense de-
sires, and other unwholesome dispositions. The second, in
its approach to the object, replaces the disturbing and
impeding multiplicity still inherent in the adjusting and
discoursing of thought, by the more unified, peaceful and
assured confidence of a faith which comes from within, or
from Beyond, and which owes little to the object. The mind
is further unified, and mature concentration is the basis
of this state. In the third, one divests oneself of the
attachment to the rapturous delight (pīti) which filled the
person so far. A more depersonalised and indefinite, mind-
ful and self-possessed bodily ease now accompanies the
rise to the level of even-mindedness. In the fourth
jhana, finally, all distinctions between yes-reactions and
no-reactions by which the self sets itself up against
the world, is left behind. One ceases to be conscious of
ease and dis-ease, welfare and ill-fare, elation and dej-