Mindfulness of Breathing III

Meditation on Perception (pp. 87-99)

The Seven Factors for Awakening from the Anapanasati Sutta

“And how are the four frames of reference developed & pursued so as to bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination?

[1] On whatever occasion the monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world, on that occasion his mindfulness is steady & without lapse. When his mindfulness is steady & without lapse, then mindfulness as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

[2] Remaining mindful in this way, he examines, analyzes, & comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment. When he remains mindful in this way, examining, analyzing, & coming to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

[3] In one who examines, analyzes, & comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, persistence is aroused unflaggingly. When persistence is aroused unflaggingly in one who examines, analyzes, & comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then persistence as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

[4] In one whose persistence is aroused, a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises. When a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises in one whose persistence is aroused, then rapture as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

[5] For one enraptured at heart, the body grows calm and the mind grows calm. When the body & mind of a monk enraptured at heart grow calm, then serenity as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

[6] For one who is at ease — his body calmed — the mind becomes concentrated. When the mind of one who is at ease — his body calmed — becomes concentrated, then concentration as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

[7] He carefully watches the mind thus concentrated with equanimity. When he carefully watches the mind thus concentrated with equanimity, equanimity as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

(Similarly with the other three frames of reference: feelings, mind, & mental qualities.)

“This is how the four frames of reference are developed & pursued so as to bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination.

Clear Knowing & Release

“And how are the seven factors for awakening developed & pursued so as to bring clear knowing & release to their culmination? There is the case where a monk develops mindfulness as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening… persistence as a factor for awakening… rapture as a factor for awakening… serenity as a factor for awakening… concentration as a factor for awakening… equanimity as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment.

“This is how the seven factors for awakening are developed & pursued so as to bring clear knowing & release to their culmination.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

(Tr. By Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

The Seven Factors of Awakening

“The profitable effect of the awakening factors stands in direct opposition to the detrimental repercussions of the hindrances, a contrast frequently mentioned in the discourses. Both these sets form aspects of Sattipatthana contemplation and are of central importance in cultivating the mental conditions conducive to realization. According to the Buddha, these two aspects from among the contemplations of dhammas (removal of the hindrances and the establishment of the awakening factors) are the necessary conditions not only for realization, but also for develop mundane type of knowledge.” (Satipatthana: The direct path to realization Analayo p. 239).

The Five Hindrances and the Seven Factors of Awakening are considered to be the most important dhammas for contemplation. “Thus, what remains as the unanimously accepted core of contemplation of dhammas in all different versions are the five hindrances and the seven factors of awakening factors, a finding which underlines their importance.” (ibid p. 240).

Developing the awakening factors can be combined with a broad range of meditation exercises as well as directly contemplating on the factors. With the meditation exercises, one can be aware of the factors and “one consciously develops and balances them so that contemplation of one’s primary object can give rise to awakening.” (ibid p. 240)

The Practical Application of the Seven Factors of Awakening

The Seven Factors of Awakening can be applied as meditation exercises to each of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness: body, feelings, mind and mental qualities. The Factors can also be applied when any of the Five Hindrances arise in everyday life and we want to see the truth and end suffering/dissatisfaction.  Here is step by step process to try while meditating or reflecting:

The Practical Application of the Seven Factors of Awakening

Reflection

  • Reread this talk and reflect on it.

Meditation

  • While meditating or off the cushion, if one of the Hindrances arises, try applying the Seven Factors of Awakening as noted above. What do you experience?

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