Glen Svensson, 17 Apr 2020

Session 5: Breath (nostrils)

  1. Review
  2. Actual practice
  3. Meditation - breath (nostrils)
  4. The five obscurations
  5. The acquired sign
  6. Q&A

Today we focus on mindfulness of the breath, focusing on the entrance of the nostrils. This enhances the clarity of your attention. It is imperative to not sacrifice relaxation for clarity.

Meditation begins at 15:20

There are five obscurations towards achieving samadhi: Hedonistic craving, malice, laxity & dullness, excitation & anxiety and afflictive uncertainty. The Buddha compares these obscurations with being in debt, sick, in bonds, enslaved and lost in a desert track, respectively. By abandoning these five obscurations, one can achieve access to the first jhana, which is the attainment of shamatha.

There are five jhana factors which one obtains upon the achieving shamatha, which are: single pointed attention, well-being, coarse examination, bliss and precise investigation. These correlate directly with the five obscurations. Glen then uses a water simile to describe the effects of the five obscurations. Having achieved shamatha, the five obscurations are greatly subdued, even in post-meditative experiences they are largely dormant.

Glen briefly explains the 4 different jhanas and what one is liberated from after achieving each level. There are 8 faults to concentration which are purified in the different levels.

Glen also speaks about the acquired sign, which naturally may arise as one progresses along the path of shamatha. It is a symbol of the air element which arises in your mind’s eye, and as the tactile sensations of the breath grow subtler, the meditator must eventually transfer their attention from the physical sensations to the acquired sign. Upon achieving shamatha, an even subtler counterpart sign will appear, and one must then focus on that to progress along the subsequent jhanas. These signs only appear if one chooses mindfulness of breathing as their chosen practice.

Q & A: Glen states how the achievement of shamatha does not permanently liberate one from our obscurations, one must practice vipashana to cut the root of our obscurations.

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