Questions on terms in MN111

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Gerry T, modified 9 Years ago.

Questions on terms in MN111

Posts: 60 Join Date: 4/4/11 Recent Posts
This might seem simple to a lot of folks on this board but I have to go over this to better understand what I am doing and what I am experiencing in my practice as it relates to what the Buddha explains.

In the MN 111 Sariputta identifies certain attributes associated with meditation and the Jhanas. There is the description of how certain attributes are let go as he progresses through the Jhanas, but I think it is important to understand each term of the attributes that he identifies in order to understand what this sutta is talking about.

Please correct me if I am wrong but it seems all the way up to the dimension of nothingness he appears to see all of the following attributes:

..."singleness of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity, & attention --- he ferreted them out one after another. Known to him they arose, known to him they remained, known to him they subsided...."

I think these are technical terms with very specific meanings, but I am not sure that I understand their exact meaning.
Based on what I understand:

Singleness of mind: Is this the point where the mind is able to stay with the object (breath in my case) without losing sight of the object?

Contact: Is this the contact with the sense input before a label is applied? Like “bare attention”, before a "story" or liking or disliking is attached to the sensation?

Feeling: This would be the liking, disliking or neutral feeling towards what is being observed?

Perception: Is this the perception of the sensation before the arising of feeling? Or is it the mental fabrications, labeling or “story telling” that gets attached to the Contact?

Intention: Hard to describe but if I am honest with myself I know when my intention is strong or weak because my mind doesn't fall away so easily from the object when it is strong. I’ve seen sometimes where I fool myself into thinking that I have a strong intention but it is not truly there, instead it is just more of a thought than a feeling.

Consciousness: Is this is the same as awareness? Knowing that you are receiving sensations? Or is this more encompassing and includes perceptions/mental fabrications?

Desire: Is this recognizing the liking, disliking or neutral feeling?

Decision: Not sure how this fits in. Could this be to discernment? Or is this more like the decision to stay with the object or level of Jhana or move on?

Persistence: This seems to be the effort to keep the mind on the object. But it seems to not fit into the second or third Jhana since those seem to describe a point where you stop focusing on the attention and move to more of a “mindfulness”.

Mindfulness: This seems to be the overall awareness of the inner state and maybe even the awareness of what is going on outside of me too.

Equanimity: This seems to be an attitude of still investigating things but not getting attached to them. It seems to me that it is just as important to have this quality present even before 1st Jhana. It seems the equanimity has to feel equanimous even to the points of Contact.

Attention: This seems to be the focus of mind onto the object or what ever quality that is being investigated. For example, I'll be trying to get my mind to stay on the object and suddenly notice that I am not watching the object, then I use persistence to go back to the object. At some point the mind stops moving off the object and I can still see that attention is on the object. But I can also see how I can notice other things with my attention (like relief to be staying on the object) and still include the object in my awareness.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this.
I know this is a long post but I can see that if I am not clear about these terms then it will be difficult to navigate these internal states.

-Namaste
Gerry