The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

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The Forty Meditation Themes, Part 2

The Forty Meditation Themes, Part 2

The recollections and foul objects from yesterday were pretty straightforward in their subjects. The other half of the themes are more open-ended and ambiguous. Many of the styles of meditation you hear people discussing fall into the last group. Loving-kindness and compassion meditations, for example, fall under the Four divine Abidings.

Ten Kasinas:
1. Staring at earth.
2. Staring at water.
3. Staring at fire.
4. Staring at wind.
5. Staring at white.
6. Staring at yellow.
7. Staring at red.
8. Staring at blue (or green).
9. Staring at the space in a hole or an opening.
10. Staring at bright light.

Four Divine Abidings:
1. Benevolence, friendliness, good will, love in the true sense.
2. Compassion, sympathy, pity, aspiring to find a way to be truly helpful.
3. Appreciation for the goodness of other people and for our own when we are able to help them.
4. Equanimity. When our efforts to be of help fail, we should become neutral — neither pleased nor upset by whatever it focuses on — so that it can disregard acts of thinking and evaluating, leaving only oneness and equanimity with regard to all objects and preoccupations.

Four Formless Absorptions:
1. Being absorbed in a sense of boundless emptiness and space.
2. Being absorbed in boundless consciousness, with no form or figure acting as focal point of one’s concentration.
3. Focusing exclusively on a fainter or more subtle sense of cognizance that has no limit and in which nothing appears or disappears, to the point where one almost understands it to be Nirvana.
4. Being absorbed in a feeling that occurs in the mind, that isn’t awareness exactly, but neither is it non-awareness; i.e., there is awareness, but with no thinking, no focusing of awareness on what it knows.

One resolution into elements: For example, contemplating each part of the body simply in terms of physical properties or elements.

One perception of the filthiness of food: i.e., viewing food as something repugnant and unclean — with regard to where it comes from, how it’s prepared, how it’s mixed together when it’s chewed, and where it stays in the stomach and intestines.

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