This Sunday, Zac guided the discussion on the deep topic of Samadhi, usually translated as concentration or “meditative absorption”. Here are some notes from the talk.

Donald Rothberg 2016-11-29 64:52
The Art of Samadhi Practice
Spirit Rock Meditation Center: From Mindfulness Breath to Radiant Mind
(played the first ~15 minutes)

Concentration – adapted from a talk by Gil Fronsdal, April 1st, 2000

Wisdom Wide and Deep by Shaila Catherine

Samadhi is Pure Enjoyment by Ajahn Sucitto

From the Introduction to Wisdom Wide and Deep:

[This is an] in-depth training that emphasizes the application of concentrated attention to profound and liberating insight. With calm, tranquility, and composure established through practical experience of jhana, or deep concentration, meditators are able to halt the seemingly endless battle against hindrances, eliminate distraction, and facilitate a penetrative insight into the subtle nature of matter in mind. It was for this reason the Buddha frequently exhorted his students, ‘develop concentration; one who is concentrated understands things as they really are.’”

“The reader will learn how to establish jhāna [deep concentration] using a host of objects: breath; body; colors; elements; immaterial perceptions of infinite space, consciousness, nothingness, and the stilling of perception; heartfelt social attitudes of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and
equanimity; as well as recollections of the Buddha, impermanence, and death.”

“Concentration ushers the mind into sublime states of blissful absorption and then serve as an effective foundation for the clear perception of reality.”

“Whether your progress is quick or slow, pleasant or painful, is of little importance—a wise practitioner will strive to develop every aspect of the path, both the factors that come easily and those that require arduous effort. You can know for yourself bliss beyond sensory pleasures, directly experience transformative insight, and learn how to sustain deep joy and clarity
within the complex dynamic of daily life.”

“We do not stop with the development of concentration. We apply this profound stability to the meticulous discernment, analysis, and contemplation of reality as it is actually occurring. You will learn how to sustain an in-depth examination of the nuances of mind and matter to unravel deeply conditioned patterns that perpetuate suffering.”

From Concentration – adapted from a talk by Gil Fronsdal, April 1st, 2000

Concentration brings calm, which can open the possibilities of new relationships toward our concerns. Most of us know that a calm mind allows us to see and think more clearly. But it can also help us to understand our concerns in a completely new way. It allows us to step outside of the maze-like context of the concerns themselves. Such problems as inter-personal relationships, work, health, and personal identity can be seen through our deepest integrity and values rather than through fears, desires, and popular, superficial values.

In a more profound sense, the over-arching perspective of calm awareness may show us that having problems may be completely acceptable. We realize that our ability to be whole and complete is not compromised by the problem. In fact, our wholeness actually includes the problem. This does not mean we become complacent, but that our attempts to fix our problems need not be colored by a sense of preoccupation, inadequacy, or neediness.

The most important function of concentration within mindfulness practice is to help keep our mindfulness steady and stable in the present so that we can see clearly what is actually occurring. Our present lived experience is the door to the deepest insights and awakening. Concentration keeps us in the present so mindfulness can do its work.