Tranquil Wisdom Meditation

Steps 1-4 are the practice of mindfulness of the body, the first of the four foundations of mindfulness.

1. Present moment awareness, followed by silent present moment awareness.

2. Paying attention to the breath to determine if a breath is long or short.

3. Paying attention to the whole body of each breath from beginning to end of each in-breath and out-breath.

4. Paying attention to the breath in the moment, unaware as to whether the breath is incoming or outgoing.

Steps 5-8 are the practice of mindfulness of feelings, the second of the four foundations of mindfulness.

5. Experiencing an unstable joy that arises from slow, patient practice of steps 1-4.

6. Experiencing the unstable joy and a more stable joy, a serenity.

7. Experiencing the dropping off of the unstable joy and the emergence of a pure, stable serenity.

8. Experiencing the dropping off of the serenity, what Venerable Ajahn Brahm calls “the bliss of no more bliss.”

Steps 9-12 are the practice of mindfulness of the mind, the third of the four foundations of mindfulness.

9. Appearance of the nimitta. The Buddha calls this: “experiencing the mind.”

10. Polishing the nimitta. The Buddha calls this: “gladdening the mind.”

11. Sustaining the nimitta. In the words of the Buddha, this is: “concentrating the mind.”

12. In the Buddha’s words: “liberating the mind.” This may refer to the experience of the four jhanas and the four immaterial attainments or possibly just the four jhanas.

Steps 13-16 are the practice of mindfulness of mind objects, the fourth of the four foundations of mindfulness. These may also be considered the four immaterial attainments unless we experience the four immaterial attainments in step 9.

13. The post-jhana contemplation of impermanence.

14. The post-jhana contemplation of fading away.

15. The post-jhana contemplation of cessation.

16. The post-jhana contemplation of relinquishment.

Nirvana, said the Buddha, lies beyond the jhanas and the immaterial attainments.

 

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