In the last piece I spoke of how Buddha’s teachings can be summed up in three parts: Sila, morality; Samadhi, concentration; and panna, intuitive wisdom and how Sila is the bed rock of spiritual growth.
Let us examine Samadhi, concentration now. It means fullness with which we observe phenomenon. In order to cultivate such concentration and see that it does not get uprooted we need to build five protections or nuggahitas.
The first is Sila Nuggahita- It is morality’s protection against gross and wild behaviour which agitates the mind and prevents concentration and Wisdom from taking root. Sila (morality) will prepare the soil for concentration to sprout.
Then we must water the seed. This means listening to discourses on the Dharma and reading texts, then carefully applying the understanding we have gained. This protection is called Sutta Nuggahita. This should not be overdone as over watering can rot the seed. And a balance between physical, psychological and spiritual pursuits should be maintained.
The third protection is called sakaccha nuggahita. It means discussion with a teacher. The one who is selected to teach should be one who really knows and not a quack. Confucius has said many a time you find that the spiritual advancement of a minister in a parliament is more than that of the minister in the church. A sensitive and wise teacher will give instructions depending on what is needed to keep the student in question on the path.
The fourth protection is samatha nuggahita. This is protection against any kind of unwholesome thoughts arising. Imagine you are practicing in a gathering and are well tuned in. When suddenly your neighbour gets up with a rustling of his clothes and this disturbs you. You feel what an ill mannered fellow he is and are filled with annoyance towards him. This annoyance lasts for longer than the disturbance he created. You need to insulate yourself to such reactions by nipping unwholesome thoughts or reactions in the bud. Samatha Nuggahita is the bulwark against such weedy thoughts.
If these first four protections are present insights have the opportunity to blossom. To continue in these states you need Vipassana Nuggahita. This protection helps you from falling in to psychedelic pleasures which such concentration can bring and continuing your practice till a state of deep knowing is reached. In this state you realize the true nature of things. You witness wisdom.
Western philosophy also talks of similar insights. Schopenhauer refers to it as genius. He says it comes through overpowering of the will (animal instincts) by knowledge- “will-less knowledge” he calls it. The lowest forms of life are entirely made up of will without knowledge, man in general is mostly will and little knowledge; genius is mostly knowledge and little will. This involves some passage of force out of reproduction into intellectual activity. Genius involves entirely renouncing one’s personality for a time so as to remain a pure knowing subject and acquire a clear vision of the world- through fullness of observation.
Two cultures (East & West) using different methods reached similar insights- so there must be something in it.