Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Buddhist Recollections (anussati)

Devanussati: recollection that devas ("shining ones," angels) were reborn in their superior state due to virtue and wholesome actions (karma).

Anussati (recollection, contemplation, reflection, or prolonged attention) literally means "constant mindfulness." There are eight anussatis. A ninth is kayagatasati and a tenth is mindfulness of respiration (anapasansati).

1. Buddhanussati — reflection on the Buddha as follows: “such indeed is that Exalted One --fully enlightened, endowed with wisdom and conduct, well-farer, knower of the worlds, an incomparable charioteer for the training of individuals, teacher of devas and human beings, omniscient and holy.”

2. Dhammanussati — reflection on the Dharma (doctrine) as follows: “well expounded is the doctrine by the Blessed One to realize by oneself, of immediate fruit, inviting investigation (ehi-passiko: inviting one to come and see) leading to nirvana, to be understood by the wise, each one for oneself.

3. Sanghanussati — reflection on the virtues of the members of the Sangha. It runs as follows: “of good conduct is the Order of the [enlightened] disciples of the Blessed One; of upright conduct is the Order of the disciples of the Blessed One; of wise conduct is the Order of disciples of the Blessed One; of dutiful conduct is the Order of disciples of the Blessed One. Four pairs of persons constitute the eight individuals, the Order of the disciples of the Blessed One. They are worthy of offerings, worthy of hospitality, worthy of gifts, worthy of reverential salutation; the Order is an incomparable field merit for the world.”

4. Silanussati — reflection on the purification of one’s own conduct.

5. Caganussati — reflection on one’s own generous nature.

6. Devanussati — reflection on the fact that deities are born in their exalted states (earthly or celestial) on account of their virtues and skillful karma. I too possess such virtues and undertake such karma this endorsing of one’s faith in ones virtues is devanussati.

7. Upasamanussati — reflection on the attributes of nirvana.

8. Maranussati — reflection on the termination of psycho-physical life. Contemplation on death enables one to comprehend the fleeting nature of life. When one understands that death is certain and life uncertain, one tries to make the best use of it: One works for self-development and for the development of others instead of simply living to indulge in sensual pleasures.

9. Kayagatasati — reflection on impurity, namely, the 32 parts of the body: head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, bowels, mesentery. stomach, feces, brain, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, lymph, tears, grease, saliva, nasal, mucus, articular fluid, and urine.” This meditation on loathsomeness, done correctly without aversion, leads to dispassion.

10. Anapanasati — mindfulness of in-and-out breathing (respiration). Ana means inhalation, apana exhalation. This basic form of meditation may be practiced by anyone. It is what the Buddha was practicing, having already mastered the absorptions (jhanas), when he attained enlightenment.

  • The Satipatthana Sutra ("Discourse on the fourfold Setting up of Mindfulness") and the Visuddhimagga ("Path of Purification") offer more details on each of these practices.

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