Concentration: Questions & Answers

1. How does one go about practicing concentration?

2. What benefits come from practicing it?

3. How many kinds of concentration are there?

4. What is needed for concentration to be maintained?

5. What is the essence of concentration?

1. The first question—”How does one go about practicing concentration?”—can be answered as follows: The first step is to kneel down with your hands palm-to-palm in front of your heart, and sincerely pay respect to the Triple Gem, saying as follows:

Arahaṁ sammā-sambuddho bhagavā

Buddhaṁ bhagavantaṁ abhivādemi (bow down)

Svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo

Dhammaṁ namassāmi (bow down)

Supaṭipanno bhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho

Saṅghaṁ namāmi (bow down)

Then showing respect with your thoughts, words, and deeds, pay homage to the Buddha:

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa (three times)

And then take refuge in the Triple Gem:

Buddhaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

Dhammaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

Saṅghaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

Dutiyampi Buddhaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

Dutiyampi Dhammaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

Dutiyampi Saṅghaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

Tatiyampi Buddhaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

Tatiyampi Dhammaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

Tatiyampi Saṅghaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

Make the following resolution: “I take refuge in the Buddha, the Pure One, completely free from defilement; and in his Dhamma—doctrine, practice, and attainment; and in the Saṅgha, the four levels of his noble disciples, from now until the end of my life.” Then formulate the intention to observe the five, eight, or ten precepts—according to how many you are normally able to observe—expressing them in a single vow. For those observing the five precepts:

Imāni pañca sikkhāpadāni samādiyāmi (three times)

For those observing the eight precepts:

Imāni aṭṭha sikkhāpadāni samādiyāmi (three times)

For those observing the ten precepts:

Imāni dasa sikkhāpadāni samādiyāmi (three times)

For those observing the 227 precepts:

Parisuddho ahaṁ bhante parisuddhoti maṁ

buddho dhammo saṅgho dhāretu

Now that you have professed the purity of your thoughts, words, and deeds toward the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha, bow down three times and sit down. Place your hands palm-to-palm in front of your heart, steady your thoughts, and develop the four sublime attitudes: good will, compassion, appreciation, and equanimity. To spread these thoughts to all living beings without distinction is called the immeasurable sublime attitude. A short preliminary Pali formula for those who have trouble memorizing is:

“Mettā”—thoughts of good will (good will and benevolence for oneself and others, hoping for their welfare),

“Karuṇā”—thoughts of compassion (for oneself and others),

“Muditā”—thoughts of appreciation (taking delight in one’s own goodness and that of others),

“Upekkhā”—thoughts of equanimity (imperturbability with regard to those things that should be let go).

This finished, sit in a half-lotus position, right leg on top of the left, your hands placed palm-up on your lap, right hand on top of the left. Keep your body straight and your mind, firm and unwavering, on the task before you. Raise your hands in respect, palm-to-palm in front of the heart, and think of the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha: buddho me nātho, dhammo me nātho, saṅgho me nātho (The Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha are my mainstay). Then repeat, buddho buddho, dhammo dhammo, saṅgho saṅgho. Return your hands to your lap, and repeat one word—buddho—over and over in your mind, at the same time focusing on your in-and-out breath until your mind settles down into oneness.

These are the beginning steps in practicing concentration. If your persistence doesn’t go slack, the desired results will appear in your heart. For people who are really intent, even just this is enough to start seeing results. Those who don’t see results either aren’t intent on what they’re doing or, if they are intent, aren’t doing it right. If you’re intent and you do it right, you’re sure to reap rewards in proportion to the strength of your persistence.

This ends the discussion of the first topic.

2. To answer the second question—“What benefits come from practicing concentration?”—A person who practices concentration benefits in the following ways:

a. The heart of a person who practices concentration is radiant, steady, and fearless. Whatever projects such a person may contemplate can succeed because the mind has a solid footing for its thinking. Whatever worldly work such a person may undertake will yield results that are substantial, worthwhile, and long lasting.

b. Whoever has trained the mind to be steady and firm in concentration will be solid from the standpoint both of the world and of the Dhamma. A solid heart can be compared to a slab of rock: No matter whether the wind blows, the rain falls or the sun shines, rock doesn’t waver or flinch. To put it briefly: the eight chains, i.e., the eight ways of the world (lokadhamma)—gain and loss, status and loss of status, praise and criticism, pleasure and pain—can’t shackle the heart of a person who has concentration. The five weevils, i.e., the five hindrances (nīvaraṇa)—sensual desires, ill will, drowsiness, restlessness, and uncertainty—can’t bore into such a person’s heart.

c. A heart made firm in concentration is like a tree with solid heartwood—Indian rosewood or teak—which, once it has died, is of use to people of ingenuity. The goodness of people who have trained their hearts in concentration can be of substantial use, even after they’ve died, both to themselves and to those surviving, an example being the Buddha who—even though he has nibbāna-ed—has set an example that people still follow today. A person who practices concentration is like someone with a home and family; a person without concentration is like a vagrant with no place to sleep: Even though he may have belongings, he has nowhere to keep them.

A person with a mind made firm in concentration, though, has a place for his belongings. In other words, all major and minor acts of merit and skillfulness come together in a mind that has concentration. A person without concentration is like a softwood tree with a hollow trunk: Poisonous animals, like cobras or crocodile birds, will come and make their nests in the hollow, laying their eggs and filling the hollow with their urine and dung. When such a tree dies, there’s no use for it as firewood. In the same way, the heart of a person who hasn’t practiced concentration is a nest of defilements—greed, aversion, and delusion—which cause harm and pain for the body. When these people die, they are of no use except as food for worms or fuel for a pyre.

d. A person without concentration is like a boat without a dock or a train without a station: The passengers are put to all sorts of hardships.

Concentration is not something exclusive to Buddhism. Even in mundane activities, people use concentration. No matter what work you do, if you’re not intent on it, you won’t succeed. Even our ordinary everyday expressions teach concentration: “Set your heart on a goal.” “Set your mind on your work.” “Set yourself up in business.” Whoever follows this sort of advice is bound to succeed.

But apart from mundane activities, whoever comes to put the Buddha’s teachings into practice is sure to perceive the great worth of concentration. To be brief: It forms the basis for discernment, which is the central principle in the craft taught by the Buddha, the craft of the heart. “Discernment” here refers to the wisdom and insight that come only from training the heart. People who haven’t practiced concentration—even if they’re ingenious—can’t really be classed as discerning. Their ingenuity is nothing more than restless distraction—an example being the person who thinks to the point where his nerves break down, which goes to show that his thoughts have no place to rest. They run loose, with no concentration.

People with responsibilities on the level of the world or of the Dhamma should train their hearts and minds to be concentrated. Then when the time comes to think, they can put their thinking to work. When the time is past, they can put their thinking away in concentration. In other words, they have a sense of time and place, of when and where to think. People without concentration, who haven’t developed this sense, can wear out their minds; and when their minds are worn out, everything breaks down. Even though they may have the energy to speak and act, yet if their minds are exhausted, they can’t accomplish their purpose. Most of us use our minds without caring for them. Morning, noon, and night; sitting, standing, walking, and lying down, we don’t rest for a moment. We’re like a man who drives a car or a boat: If he doesn’t let it rest, he’s headed for trouble. The boat may rust out or sink, putting all that iron to waste, and when this happens, he’s in for a difficult time. When a person’s mind hasn’t been developed in concentration, it can create difficulties for its owner’s body, as well as for the bodies of others.

Thus the Buddha saw that concentration can be of value on the level of the world and on the level of the Dhamma, which is why he taught it in various ways to the people of the world. But some people are deaf, i.e., they can’t understand what concentration is about; or else they’re blind, i.e., they can’t stand to look at the example of those who practice, and so they become detractors and faultfinders, bearing ill will toward those who practice.

Those of us who hope to secure ourselves—on either the level of the world or the level of the Dhamma—should thus give firm support to the message of the Buddha. We shouldn’t claim to be his followers simply because we’ve been ordained in his order or have studied his teachings, without putting those teachings into practice. If we let ourselves be parasites like this, we’ll do nothing but cause Buddhism to degenerate.

Thus people who train their minds to attain concentration are of use to themselves and to others; people who don’t train their minds to attain concentration will cause harm to themselves and to others. To attain concentration is like having a strategic fortress with a good vantage point: If enemies come from within or without, you’ll be able to see them in time. The discernment that comes from concentration will be the weapon enabling you to wage war and destroy defilement. Whatever is worthwhile, you will keep in your heart. Whatever is harmful, you will throw out. The discernment that comes from concentration will enable you to tell which is which.

These, then, are the benefits reaped by those who practice concentration, and the drawbacks suffered by those who don’t.

This ends the discussion of the second topic.

3. To answer the third question:

a. There are two kinds of concentration, general (sādharaṇa) and exclusive (asādharaṇa). General concentration refers to the type of mental training found throughout the world and not restricted to any particular religion, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism. All of these religions are based on concentration, which can thus be called “general concentration.” Exclusive concentration is a type of concentration specifically Buddhist and not shared by other religions. When practiced, it gives rise to the transcendent states: the paths, their fruitions, and nibbāna. Thus it can be called “exclusive concentration.”

General and exclusive, though can be understood in still another sense: General concentration means concentration that can be focused on any of your postures—sitting, standing, walking, or lying down. Exclusive concentration has nothing to do with your posture, but is done exclusively in the heart: You focus attention solely on the in-and-out breath, without getting involved in actions or speech; your attention is directed solely to the activities of the mind.

b. With regard to its levels, there are three kinds of concentration: momentary (khaṇika), threshold (upacāra), and fixed (appanā).

Momentary concentration can arise when you’re intent on your work or when you see a visual object, hear a sound, smell an aroma, taste a flavor, when the body comes into contact with a tactile sensation, or a mental notion arises to the mind—as when you become firm in your repetition of buddho. When the mind becomes still for a moment under conditions like these, this is classed as momentary concentration. Momentary concentration is like a person diving down into a pond and then climbing up on to the bank when he resurfaces.

Threshold concentration: When you practice mindfulness immersed in the body (kāyagatāsati), mentally scrutinizing the parts of the body until you are struck by the fact that they are filthy and repulsive, simply compounds of the four physical properties of earth, water, fire, and wind: Thinking in this way is termed vitakka, or directed thought; to know in this way is termed vicāra, or evaluation. The mind will then come to a halt, still and at ease for a short period, and then withdraw, like a person who dives down into a pond, resurfaces, and then swims around for a while before climbing up on to the bank. This is called threshold concentration because it comes on the verge of fixed penetration.

Fixed penetration: The mind is steady and firmly concentrated—paying no attention at all to sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or tactile sensations—being completely absorbed in a single mental notion. It takes shelter in a subtle preoccupation (ārammaṇa), and so is able to hide away from the five hindrances, although it can’t yet kill them off absolutely. Even so, this is still termed fixed penetration because it can be entered for long periods of time, like a person who dives down to the bottom of a pond, resurfaces, and then swims around in all four directions, i.e., the four levels of jhāna.

All three of these levels of concentration are classed as general. They’re practiced all over the world. The only form of concentration particular to Buddhism is transcendent concentration. Viewed from this standpoint, the forms of concentration are only two: mundane and transcendent. Mundane concentration is further divided into two sorts: that which is accompanied by the hindrances, and that which is accompanied by the discernment of liberating insight (vipassanā). Transcendent concentration is also divided into two sorts: that which has abandoned the five lower fetters (saṅyojana) but is still accompanied by a number of the hindrances; and that which is accompanied by the realization of liberating insight, eradicating all the hindrances.

The three levels of concentration (momentary, threshold, and fixed) form the basis of discernment. Both mundane and transcendent discernment have to depend on one or another of these three levels of concentration, but concentration is not what constitutes Awakening. Awakening is accomplished by discernment. If discernment is lacking, no amount of concentration, however great, can lead to Awakening.

Once you have attained concentration, discernment can arise in dependence on one of two factors: an experienced friend makes a suggestion that sparks a realization of the opening leading on to discernment; or external events—sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or tactile sensations—strike the mind, which stirs for a moment and sets out to scrutinize them (this is called vitakka and vicāra) so as to ferret out an understanding in line with their truth. If you see that any of these two kinds of events give beneficial results, then fix your attention on them and keep after them, using the power of your discernment and ingenuity to gain true insight into their nature. But if you see that your discernment is still no match for them, focus back on the original object of your concentration. If you focus back and forth in this manner, you’ll give rise to liberating insight; and once you’ve given rise to liberating insight, you will attain transcendent discernment, the understanding that will enable you to abandon once and for all your self-identity views.

Transcendent concentration derives its name from the discernment it gives rise to: The discernment itself is what constitutes Awakening. But for discernment to be effective in line with the aims of the Buddha’s teachings, it requires the back-up and support of concentration.

This ends the discussion of the third topic.

4. The fourth question—”What is needed for concentration to be maintained?”—can be answered as follows: Concentration means for the mind to be firmly intent on a single preoccupation, but for the mind to be firm, it needs a footing to hold on to. In general, if your mind lacks a solid footing, nothing you attempt will succeed. Just as the body needs a shelter as a basis for its well-being, and speech needs a listener as a basis for being effective, in a similar way, the mind—if it’s to become trained and firm in concentration—needs a kammaṭṭhāna: an assignment or exercise. A kammaṭṭhāna is like medicine or food. To know the theme of your exercise is enough to start getting results in your practice of concentration.

Here we’ll first divide the exercises into two categories: external and internal. External exercises deal with sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, and ideas; the internal exercises deal with the five aggregates (khandha): physical phenomena (rūpa), feelings (vedanā), labels (saññā), mental fabrications (saṅkhāra), and consciousness (viññāṇa). If you’re alert and discerning, both categories—external as well as internal—are enough to achieve concentration unless you neglect to treat them as exercises. If you attend to them, they are all you need to attain concentration. But beginners, whose powers of discernment are still weak, should start first with the internal exercises. Start out by studying the body—”physiology from the inside”—by scrutinizing the four properties of earth, water, fire, and wind. People whose powers of discernment have been sufficiently developed can then give rise to concentration using any of the themes of meditation, whether internal or external.

The internal exercises should be done as follows: Focus on the properties of earth, water, fire, and wind that appear in the body. Don’t let your thoughts wander outside. Focus exclusively on your own body and mind, fixing your attention first on five examples of the earth property: kesā—hair of the head; lomā—hair of the body; nakhā—nails; dantā—teeth; taco—skin, which wraps up the body and bones. Scrutinize these five parts until you see that they are unattractive, filthy, and repulsive, either with regard to where they come from, where they are, their color, their shape, or their smell.

If, after focusing your thoughts in this way, your mind doesn’t become still, go on to scrutinize five examples of the water property: pittaṁ—gall, bitter and green; semhaṁ—phlegm, which prevents the smell of digesting food from rising to the mouth; pubbo—pus, decayed and decomposing, which comes from wounds; lohitaṁ—blood and lymph, which permeate throughout the body; sedo—sweat, which is exuded whenever the body is heated. Scrutinize these things until you see that—with regard to origin, location, color, smell and the above-mentioned aspects—they are repulsive enough to make your skin crawl. Focus on them until you’re convinced that that’s how they really are, and the mind should settle down and be still.

If it doesn’t, go on to examine four aspects of the fire property: the heat that keeps the body warm; the heat that inflames the body, making it feverish and restless; the heat that digests food, distilling the nutritive essence so as to send it throughout the body (of the food we eat, one part is burned away by the fires of digestion, one part becomes refuse, one part feeds our parasites, and the remaining part nourishes the body); the heat that ages the body and wastes it away. Consider these four aspects of the fire property until you see them in terms of three characteristics, i.e., that they are inconstant (aniccaṁ), stressful (dukkhaṁ), and not-self (anattā).

If the mind doesn’t settle down, go on to consider the six aspects of the wind property: the up-going breath sensations, the down-going breath sensations, the breath sensations in the stomach, the breath sensations in the intestines, the breath sensations flowing throughout the entire body, and the in-and-out breath. Examine the wind property from the viewpoint of any one of the three characteristics, as inconstant, stressful, or not-self. If the mind doesn’t develop a sense of dismay and detachment, gather all four properties together—earth, water, fire and wind—and consider them as a single whole: a physical phenomenon. That’s all they are, just physical phenomena. There’s nothing of any substance or lasting worth to them at all.

If this doesn’t lead to a sense of dismay, go on to consider mental phenomena (nāma), which are formless: vedanā—the experiencing of feelings and moods, likes and dislikes; saññā—labels, names, perceptions; saṅkhāra—mental fabrications; and viññāṇa—consciousness.

Once you understand what these terms refer to, scrutinize the feelings that appear in your own body and mind. In other words, observe the mental states that experience moods and feelings, to see at which moments there are feelings of pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain. Be aware that, “Right now I’m experiencing pleasure,” “Right now I’m experiencing pain,” “Right now I’m experiencing a feeling that’s neither pleasure nor pain.” Be constantly aware of these three alternatives (the feeling that’s neither pleasure nor pain doesn’t last for very long). If you’re really mindful and observant, you’ll come to see that all three of these feelings are, without exception, inconstant, stressful, and not-self; neither long nor lasting, always shifting and changing out of necessity: sometimes pleasure, sometimes pain, sometimes neutral, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, never satisfying your wants or desires. Once you see this, let go of them. Don’t fasten on to them. Fix your mind on a single preoccupation.

If your mind still isn’t firm, though, scrutinize mental labels next. What, at the moment, are your thoughts alluding to: things past, present, or future? Good or bad? Keep your awareness right with the body and mind. If you happen to be labeling or alluding to a feeling of pleasure, be aware of the pleasure. If pain, be aware of the pain. Focus on whatever you’re labeling in the present, to see which will disappear first: your awareness or the act of labeling. Before long, you’ll see that the act of labeling is inconstant, stressful, and not-self. When you see this, let go of labels and allusions. Don’t fasten on to them. Fix your mind on a single preoccupation.

If your mind still isn’t firm, go on to scrutinize mental fabrications: What issues are your thoughts fabricating at the moment: past or future? Are your thoughts running in a good direction or bad? About issues outside the body and mind, or inside? Leading to peace of mind or to restlessness? Make yourself constantly alert, and once you’re aware of the act of mental fabrication, you’ll see that all thinking is inconstant, stressful, and not-self. Focus your thoughts down on the body and mind, and then let go of all aspects of thinking, fixing your attention on a single preoccupation.

If the mind still doesn’t settle down, though, scrutinize consciousness next: What, at the moment, are you cognizant of—things within or without? Past, present, or future? Good or bad? Worthwhile or worthless? Make yourself constantly self-aware. Once your mindfulness and alertness are constant, you’ll see immediately that all acts of consciousness are fleeting, stressful, and not-self. Then focus on the absolute present, being aware of the body and mind. Whatever appears in the body, focus on it. Whatever appears in the mind, focus on just what appears. Keep your attention fixed until the mind becomes firm, steady, and still in a single preoccupation—either as momentary concentration, threshold concentration, or fixed penetration—so as to form a basis for liberating insight.

Thus for concentration or steadiness of mind to arise in a fully developed form and to be firmly maintained depends on the sort of internal exercises mentioned here, dealing with the body, feelings, labels, mental fabrications, and acts of consciousness. These are the foods of concentration. The four frames of reference (satipaṭṭhāna) are its guardian nurses. Whoever wants his or her concentration to be strong should nourish it well with this food. Once the mind has been properly nourished and put into shape, it can then be put to effective use.

This ends the discussion of the fourth topic.

5. The fifth question—-”What is the essence of concentration?”—can be answered as follows: Concentration means for the mind to be firmly intent. To be firmly intent can mean either (a) intent on a mental prop or preoccupation, which is termed appanā jhāna, fixed absorption; or (b) intent exclusively on the mind itself, which is termed appanā citta, the fixed mind. The mind that’s intent forms the essence of concentration.

If we were to put this another way, we could make a distinction between cetanā samādhi, concentration intent on concentration, and cetanā-virati samādhi, concentration intent on abstinence. In cetanā samādhi, the mind has cut itself off from external preoccupations through the power of concentration. In cetanā-virati samādhi, the mind is set on finding a technique for letting go of all preoccupations, both within and without. Cetanā samādhi means to be focused directly on the mind. In other words, the mind doesn’t think of using any other way to straighten itself out. Simply focusing down is enough to repress the defilements, because we all are bound to have defilements intermixed in our minds, and the very mind that has defilements can cure the mind of its defilements, without having to look for any other means—just like using heat to cure heat, cold to cure cold, or wind to cure wind.

For example, suppose a man is slightly singed by a small flame, but then is burned by a glowing ember or lantern flame: The pain from the first burn will disappear. Or suppose you feel a little chilly and have to wrap yourself up in a blanket: If you then get exposed to a bitter cold winter wind, you’ll feel that the slight chill you had earlier didn’t warrant getting wrapped up in a blanket at all. As for an example of wind curing wind: Suppose a person suffers a slight disorder of the internal wind element, causing him to yawn or belch a little bit. If he then suffers a violent disorder of the wind element, causing cramps in a part of his body, his yawning or belching will immediately disappear. In the same way, the mind can use defilement to suppress defilement. This is called cetanā samādhi. In cetanā-virati samādhi, though, the mind has to search for strategies both within and without, using a good preoccupation to cure a bad one, such as making reference to the ten themes for recollection (anussati).

The mind is what is intent; the intent mind forms the essence of concentration. The term “fixed mind” (appanā citta) refers to the mind that is resilient, firm, and uninfluenced by its preoccupations. In fixed penetration or fixed absorption, though, the mind is firmly implanted in its preoccupation, but is still in bad straits because it doesn’t yet know the true nature of that preoccupation. It can’t yet let it go. For the mind to let go of its preoccupations, you have to use discernment to keep after it, safeguarding it so that it doesn’t move in line with them. Only then will the mind be on the verge of purity, in line with the statement, “The mind, when disciplined by discernment, is freed from all mental effluents.”

For the mind to arrive at these two forms of concentration—which we have termed cetanā samādhi and cetanā-virati samādhi—it must first be disciplined by virtue. Concentration then disciplines discernment; discernment disciplines virtue; discernment disciplines concentration; discernment disciplines the mind. Once we are able to follow through with this, we are bound to see the true essence of concentration. Most of us, though, simply use virtue to discipline concentration, and concentration to discipline discernment, without using discernment to discipline the mind, which is why we get attached to our own views and our own way of doing things. This is called self-identity view (sakkāya-diṭṭhi), the way of viewing things that leads us to latch on to them as belonging to us or as being the self. We don’t let go and so get stuck on virtue, or stuck on concentration, or infatuated with our own discernment. We are drowned in a flood of views and opinions (diṭṭhi ogha) simply because we don’t know what lies at the essence of concentration.

To be able to know, we have to vary our practice slightly, by cleansing virtue so as to foster concentration, cleansing concentration so as to foster discernment, cleansing discernment so that our views are right, and then using that discernment to cleanse virtue and concentration once more. Once virtue and concentration have been made pure, we don’t need to use discernment to cleanse them any further. We simply practice them as a matter of course, and use discernment to cleanse directly at the mind. The aspects of virtue and concentration that are connected with groping at habits and practices will disappear, leaving just discernment working at cleansing the mind until it is steady and firm—but not firm in the preoccupations of concentration, though; firm in the preoccupations of discernment.

If we were to classify the mind at this stage, it is appanā citta, the fixed mind. As for concentration, it is momentary concentration. Momentary concentration is the basis for the tempered discernment of liberating insight. The mind can’t stay long with any preoccupations, for it is constantly wiping them out, like the bubbles formed by rain on the surface of a lake: As soon as they appear, they vanish flat away, like a sea without the striking of waves. When discernment is tempered through the power of a fixed mind, the preoccupations of momentary concentration constantly disband and disappear, not letting the heart get caught up on them. This is termed release (vimutti): The mind is freed from all preoccupations, among them the effluents of sensuality, becoming, views, and unawareness. It becomes a mind beyond all effluents. Thus it is said,

khīṇā jāti vusitaṁ brahmacariyaṁ

kataṁ karanīyaṁ

nāparaṁ itthattāyāti pajānātīti

which means, “The noble disciple discerns that birth is ended, the holy life completed, the task done. There is nothing further to be done for the sake of this world.”

So ultimately, when the practice of concentration reaches the true essence of the mind, discernment is attained.

This ends the discussion of the fifth topic.

The issues discussed here

people of wisdom should chew over well.

Chew them up fine

so they don’t stick in your throat.

If they aren’t well chewed, they’ll have no flavor.

If you chew them well, you’ll know their taste.

Like eating:

If you have no teeth, you’ll waste away.

If you don’t crack open the Dhamma,

you’ll end up in doubt

and won’t get out and away from stress.

If you don’t get release,

you’ll only get to heaven.

The worthiness of our own actions

is what counts

both in the Dhamma and in the world.

So inspect this

and yourself,


With this, Training in Virtue is completed.

Phra Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo

The Forest Temple

Shrimp Canal