Perception of Cessation
Meditation on Perception (pp. 77-79)
“And what, Ananda, is the perception of cessation? Here, having gone to the forest, to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut, a bhikkhu reflects thus: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all activities, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, cessation, nibbana.’ This is called the perception of cessation.” (tr. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
Perception of Cessation
Note that this Perception is worded similarly to the Perception of Dispassion. The Perception of Cessation is going deeper to ending of suffering rather than just changing our relationship to it. In Dispassion we lack interest in the object that arises. In Cessation, we cease to experience the object. Cessation means that there is no more greed, hatred or delusion to deal with. There is no more fascination or attachment with the impermanent phenomena such as thoughts, memories, perceptions and sensations that arise in the mind. Instead there is appreciation for the joys of non-attachment.
The joys of non-attachment can be experienced through deep concentration. Practicing the jhanas strengthens deep concentration. The jhanas are “states of deep mental unification which result from the centering of the mind upon a single object with such power of attention that a total immersion in the object takes place.” (Bhante G, The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation, 1995)
The Buddha described this state beyond suffering as noted above: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all activities, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, cessation, nibbana.’ This is called the perception of cessation.”
The Role of Meditation in the Perception of Cessation
Practicing the jhanas is a great benefit to quiet the mind and facilitate the non-arising of thoughts memories and perceptions.
- Reread this talk and reflect on it.
- When you feel strong attachment to an experience, consider the possibility of cessation. Look to see if greed, hatred or delusion are present. Can you go with the flow of life without becoming attached to one of these?
- Practice meditating on the first jhana:
- First the mind must be cleared of hindrances. Look to see if greed, ill-will, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and worry, and/or doubt is present. Use complete mindfulness to deal with them.
- Next, know that five mental factors must come together: “initial application of thought,” “sustained application of thought,” joy, happiness, and concentration.
- You start with wholesome concentration which includes the initial application of thought (focusing on an object such as the sensation of the breath or the rising and falling of the chest or abdomen) and sustained application (continued focus on the object)
- Joy and happiness will arise. Joy arises from the hopeful anticipation of happiness. This is the joy of non-attachment. Happiness arises out of contentment when the hopeful anticipation has been fulfilled.
- The object of concentration will seem to fade and become a mental image (sign of concentration).
- The sign of concentration fades and the mind concentrates on itself.
- Continue this practice daily for at least a week.
Previous: Perception of Dispassion