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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
78 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY tRaDitionaL use oF ResoLutions The Pali suttas instruct meditators to deliberately train and “direct the mind” to systematically enter and abide in the eight levels of jhana, or meditative absorption. Jhanas are deeply concentrated, stable states of consciousness that can arise when the mind is fully absorbed in a meditation object. They are luminous states initially filled with light, profound peace, and joy. They are most frequently identified by the jhana factors, qualities that fill the meditator’s con sciousness at each level. In the first jhana, the mind is absorbed in applied and sustained attention, joy, happiness, and onepointedness. In each of the eight levels of jhana that follow, the mind states become more progressively refined. Entering jhana is like dropping below the wave and windfilled surface of the ocean to the silent depths, a steady absorption, untouched by the movements of the world. Training in jhana often requires periods of long, intensive retreat. Once the jhana states are stable, this highly concentrated mind is turned toward vipassana, profound insight. The power of this steadiness is used to deconstruct the self and the world into empti ness, bringing freedom and compassion. The Visuddhimagga and Abidhamma elaborate, highlighting that the wellconcentrated mind becomes “malleable and pliant.” Such a highly concentrated mind will fully abide wherever it is directed, unmoving, focused, steady, and clear, illuminating whatever is present. With this mal leable capacity the meditator can then use resolutions to deliberately incline their mind toward skillful mental states such as jhana factors, jhana states, and insight knowledges. The Visuddhimagga instructs skilled meditators to resolve to abide in each of the jhana states, and to abide in refined dimensions of consciousness such as infinite space, with such resolutions as “May space arise.” In the advanced vipassana training of Mahasi Sayadaw, resolu tions are also used for meditators who have already gone through the profound stages of the progress of insight, a process that opposite | from the series Spectral Evidence (2016)