A Guide to the Progressive Stages of Buddhist Meditation
The Venerable Mahathera Matara Sri Nanarama
Translated from the Sinhala
Buddhist Publication Society Kandy Sri Lanka
Translator's Preface 8
List of Abbreviations 11
The Relay of Chariots 12
Purification of Virtue (Silavisuddhi) 18
Purification of Mind (Cittavisuddhi) 23
1. The Obstructions and
Aids to Concentration 23
2. The Stages of Concentration 36
Purification of View (Ditthivisuddhi) 43
Purification by Overcoming Doubt
Purification by Knowledge and Vision of What is Path and Not-Path (Maggamaggananadassanavisuddhi) 60
1. Knowledge by Comprehension (Sammasananana) 62
2. The Ten Imperfections of Insight
(Dasa vipassan'upakkilesa) 72
Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Way
1. The Three Full Understandings (parinna) 80
2. The Progress of Insight Knowledge 82
Purification by Knowledge and Vision (Nanadassanavisuddhi) 106
1. Insight Leading to Emergence (Vutthanagamini Vipassana) 106
2. Change-of-Lineage Knowledge (Gotrabhunana) 112
3. The Supramundane Paths and Fruits 116
4. Reviewing Knowledge
The Call to the Meditative Life 127
The Eighteen Principal Insights
(From the Visuddhimagga, XX,90) 132
The Cognitive Series in Jhana and the Path 134
About the Author 142
The Buddhist Publication Society 144
If the output of literature on a subject is any indication of the prevailing trends in the reading public, Buddhist meditation is today undoubtedly a subject of wide interest both in the East and in the West. In this field, the West is beginning to look to the venerable traditions of the East to learn more of the techniques and teachings of mind-control. The "supply" of this "know-how" for self-conquest, however, falls far short of the "demand" due to the dearth of meditation masters who can speak with confidence on the subject. It is in this context that the present treatise should prove to be a mine of information for those who cherish higher ideals.
The author of this treatise is our revered teacher, the Venerable Matara Sri Nanarama Maha-thera — the meditation master (kammatthan-acariya) of Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya, at Mitirigala, Sri Lanka. Now in his eightieth year, he is one of the most respected among the meditation masters of Sri Lanka today, both for his all-round knowledge of the techniques of meditation and for his long experience in guiding disciples. Although he himself specialized in the Burmese vipassana methods and is able to speak with authority on the subject, he does not confine himself to the "pure insight" approach. Though presented succinctly, his treatise covers the entire range of the Seven Stages of Purification and the Insight Knowledges, stress ing the value of both samatha (serenity) and vipas-saná (insight).
The treatise grew out of a series of discourses on meditation which our venerable teacher gave to us, his pupils, in 1977. Some of us managed to take down the substance of his talks, which we later put to him and elaborated on with some editorial comments. The final result of these labours appeared as the original Sinhala treatise which bore the title Sapta Visuddhiya-há-Vidarshana-ñána.1
The Sinhala work was then translated into an exact English version, which was further polished and edited until it took shape as the present treatise.
In transforming the spoken discourses into a systematic exposition, to some extent the living spirit of their immediate delivery had to be lost. We have tried to prevent this loss by retaining as many of the inspirational passages as we could in the body of the text. A few such passages from the early talks had to be removed as being out of place in an expository treatise. But to make these available to the reader, we include them in Appendix 1 under the title: "The Call to the Meditative Life."
Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya
October 25, 1981
1. Published for free distribution by Premadasa Kodituvakku, 38, Rosemead Place, Colombo 7 (1978).
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato Sammasambuddhassa
Homage be to the Blessed One, Accomplished and Fully Enlightened
List of Abbreviations
A. Anguttara Nikaya
D. Digha Nikaya
Dhp.A. Dhammapadatthakatha (Comm.)
G.S. Gradual Sayings
K.S. Kindred Sayings
M. Majjhima Nikaya
MA. Majjhima Nikayatthakatha (Papancasudani)
M.L.S. Middle Length Sayings
S. Samyutta Nikaya
References to the Visuddhimagga are to chapter and section number of the translation by r+j
Bhikkhu Nanamoli, The Path of Purification, 4th ed. (BPS, 1979).
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