This has been revised due to a minor error. The mistake occurred to me during a conversation at an on line forum. Discussing ideas without attachment to conclusions is just very helpful. I had confused Khanika Samadhi; or moment to moment concentration with Parikamma Samadhi; or preliminary concentration. It appears that Khanika Samadhi is actually the same as what I was calling mindful concentration.
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As we previously discussed, the Buddha divided the Training of Meditation into three categories; Proper Exertion, Proper Concentration-Absorption, and Proper Mindfulness. In the previous post, I discussed Proper Exertion; Samma Vayama / Samyag Vyayama 正精進 {zheng jingjin / sho shojin}; which consists of four efforts. The four efforts can be summarized as keeping our minds away from mental states that harm our practice; and cultivating mental states that help our practice. As I mentioned, the term used to describe the unwholesome states, those we wish to avoid, depends on the exact context.

In the general context of meditation, the negative mental states we wish to overcome are the Five Hindrances; something I have already discussed in some detail. To review, these are, in one word each; sensuality, enmity, apathy, angst, and cynicism. In this initial stage of right exertion, we are not looking to eradicate them, our goal is to suspend them; to get past them for a while. As I noted, the term that is translated as hindrance can also mean veil. In this case, hindrance is the better word, as they hinder our effort to concentrate. That would apply to Calming and Concentration Meditations in general. When applied to Mindfulness and Insight Meditations, veils becomes the more descriptive translation. We shall come to back to that in future entries.

The initial goal, the reason to get past the five hindrances, is to achieve samadhi. That is a word that has been given lots of different and sometimes exotic. mystical, or romantic meanings. In Buddhism, it usually simply means concentration. The Pali and Sanskrit words are the same; samadhi. The most accepted etymology breaks that down into three; sam = with, together, or integrate + a = toward + dhi. Most sources I find give dhi as meaning intellect; but some give it as to place, put, impart, or hold. For now, I am going with the latter; though, from context, ‘mind’ can be inferred. So samadhi means something like hold [the mind] together, with [mental] integration, or put [the mind] together. The hindrances need to be suspended precisely because they do the opposite of holding the mind together; they make one scatter brained.

Finally, there is the concept of levels and kinds of concentration. This evidently appears only in the Pali Commentaries; not the Discourses {Suttas} themselves. Despite that, I think it is a useful concept.

  • Parikamma Samadhi; Preliminary or Preparation Concentration: This is the entry level of Absorption Meditation. At this level, the object of concentration is an external sign or symbol. Also, the 5 hindrances are not yet overcome.
  • Upacara Samadhi; Neighborhood or Access Concentration:
  • At this level, the material symbol for the object is replaced by a mental image. Also, the Five Hindrances are subdued.
  • Appana Samadhi; Fixed or Absorption Conentration: At this level, the five factors of Absorption displace the five hindrances.
  • Khanika Samadhi;  Moment-to-Moment or Mindful Concentration: Instead of ‘fixing’ on an object. the mind moves from object to object. Generally, the objects are the four frameworks of mindfulness. This is the kind of concentration associated with Vipassana. Right now, I think the first two levels can apply here.

Originally Posted by rbeck at January 5, 2010 03:29 PM