Right Concentration in Buddhism – The Eighth Spoke

Right Concentration in Buddhism – The Eighth Spoke of the Wheel

The last principle of the Eight-fold Path is called Right Concentration or Samma Samadhi in the ancient Pali language and it refers to the practice of concentration, and is sometimes called “Right Meditation” by focusing on something, such as the breath.

right concentration in buddhism

Defining Right Concentration

Right Concentration in Buddhism means focusing all of your mental faculties onto one physical or mental object and practicing the Four Absorptions/Meditations otherwise known as the Four Dhyanas/Jhanas.  Chan and Zen Buddhism emphasize this step of the Eight-fold path. Chan and is the Chinese form of the Pali word Jhana (Dhyana in Sanskrit) and Zen is the Japanese form of Chan.

The Four Dhyanas/Jhanas

The Four Dhyanas/Jhanas are the meditative means to experience the Buddha’s teaching directly, which frees us from the delusion of a separate self with an intrinsic reality.  Together the Four dhyanas/jhanas can be seen as the progression of Buddhist meditation.right concentration in buddhism

  1. The First Dhyana/Jhana (Investigation, Analysis, Joy, Bliss, One-pointedness) 

    “Having given up covetousness/sensual desire with regard to the world, he dwells with a heart free of covetousness; he cleanses his mind from covetousness.
    Having given up the blemish of ill will, he dwells without ill will; friendly and compassionate towards all living beings, he cleanses his mind from the blemishes of ill will.
    Having given up sloth, he dwells free from sloth, in the perception of light; mindful and clearly comprehending, he cleanses his mind from sloth.
    Having given up restlessness and worry, he dwells without restlessness; his mind being calmed within, he cleanses it from restlessness and worry. Having given up doubt, he dwells as one who has passed beyond doubt; being free from uncertainty about wholesome things, he cleanses his mind from doubt…And when he sees himself free of these five hindrances, joy arises; in him who is joyful, rapture arises; in him whose mind is enraptured, the body is stilled; the body being stilled, he feels happiness; and a happy mind finds concentration. Then, quite secluded from sense pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states of mind, he enters and dwells in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied thought and sustained thought, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion.” (Digha Nikaya.i,73-74)

  1. The Second Dhyana/Jhana (Inner clarity)

    “With the subsiding of applied thought and sustained thought he enters and dwells in the second jhana, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without applied thought and sustained thought, and is filled with rapture and happiness born of concentration” (Majjhima Nikayai,181; Vbh. 245)
  2. The Third Dhyana/Jhana (Equanimity, Mindfulness, Insight)right concentration in buddhism

    “With the fading away of rapture, he dwells in equanimity, mindful and discerning; and he experiences in his own person that happiness of which the noble ones say: ‘Happily lives he who is equanimous and mindful’ — thus he enters and dwells in the third jhana.” (Majjhima Nikaya i,182; Vbh.245)
  3. The Fourth Dhyana/Jhana (One-Pointedness, neither pleasure nor pain)

    “With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous disappearance of joy and grief, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhana, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and has purity of mindfulness due to equanimity.” (Majjhima Nikaya.i,182; Vbh.245)

The Buddha also taught an additional four stages of attainment in dhyana/jhana meditative practice:

  1. The Samadhi of Infinite Space (Emptiness)
  2. The Samadhi of Infinite Consciousness
  3. The Samadhi of Infinite Nothingness
  4. The Samadhi of Neither Thought nor No-Thought

Summary

The eight principles of the Eightfold Path are all interconnected and you can’t practice one of the principles without the others.  We need to keep in mind that these are not meant to be sequential steps that will guarantee us enlightenment once followed but rather all of them as a whole when we meditate.

 

Thanks for reading this article on Right Concentration in Buddhism, and to leave a comment below.

May we attain perfect Buddhahood for the sake of all living beings!


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12 Responses to Right Concentration in Buddhism – The Eighth Spoke

  1. Aaron says:

    This is a very interesting website. Personally, I am a bit unfamiliar with this religion. Although, you have a great amount of detail and content so you definitely know what you are writing about. I feel like I actually might want to try some of these meditation ideas. I feel like it could be relaxing and take away some stress I’ve been dealing with lately. Awesome article!

    • Ian H says:

      Thanks for the comment! I definitely encourage you to give meditation a try if you’re dealing with a lot of stress. Just feel the stress leaving your body with every breath.

  2. Tar says:

    First of all, for the additional stages, it looks like the attainment are similar to each other. I mean, isn’t emptiness the same as nothingness?

    About the Fourth Dhyana, is it related to being neutral? I mean, the balance right in the middle between pleasure and pain.

    Having said that, I do see the inter-connection between the principles.

    For instance, the First Dhyana and the Fourth shared the same capacity which is One-Pointedness.

    • Ian H says:

      All of the eight principles aren’t really designed to be done one after the other in any sequence, but all of these should occur simultaneously in the person who sees the world in a different way. One-pointedness is the core of Right Concentration…..one pointed concentration.

  3. Christian says:

    I don’t know much about Buddhism, as I was raised as a Christian, but these are all ideals that I identify with and believe would change the lives of so many. I want to start a lifestyle of meditating and cleansing my mind of negativity, I try and go about it on my own, but I will try this and read more on the subject. Any recommendations on where I should start?

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Christian,

      It seems you were named well! Buddhist meditation need not conflict with your present faith and I think will give you many benefits in terms of concentration in prayer. I would start with a simple “follow the breath” meditation. Inhale through your nose for about 7 seconds and breathe out for a duration of 7 seconds and notice your breath going in and out. If counting is too distracting then just focus on the tip of your nose and breathe comfortably.

  4. Michelle says:

    Hi Ian

    I am not familiar with Buddism, but it sounds just marvellous! What a beautiful way to live your life.

    Can you please direct me to the best resources paid or free where a beginner like me can start. As I mentioned above I am far from familiar on the subject. A good book may be ideal?

    Kind Regards

    Michelle

  5. Shay Shay says:

    Hello, I love the sites layout and color. t I love the way the text flows. I love the use of subheadings to break the information up. There was also sufficient graphics to keep me intrigued. I can tell you’ve worked hard on your site and have a wealth of knowledge to offer. You should do very well. Good so far!

  6. ariefw says:

    This is the aspect of Buddhism that I don’t know. I grew up with Buddhist environment but I later converted to Christianity.

    I found several Buddha teachings that are the same with Christianity. Basically, all things that are good are from God. We also have to be responsible for our own actions. Bless you for spreading the peace!

    • Ian H says:

      Thanks for your comment! Did you grow up in a Buddhist country? Many of the teachings of Christianity are indeed the same as in Buddhism and in Buddhism we consider Jesus to be a spiritual brother to the Buddha.

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