I was hoping my learned friends here could help me with an issue that has bugged me for some time. It relates to mindfulness of breathing. In the Visuddhimagga and commentaries it is taught that the completion of the 1st tetrad results in all 4 Jhāna. Breathing in with rapture and happiness refers to the first three Jhānas, whilst tranquilising perception & feeling is with the 4th Jhāna again. Following this there is experiencing the mind etc through the 4th Jhāna, then there is the stage of concentration and then liberating the mind. This is where I get confused. In the Visuddhimagga it is said that the meditator liberates the mind from the hindrances, but this has already been achieved in the earlier stages. Furthermore, since Buddhas practice mindfulness of breathing how can this stage mean liberation from the hindrances since they do not have them anymore? I’m also confused as to why concentration is here, when the mind has already been going into and leaving concentration since the 1st tetrad. Any explanations would be most welcome.
If you read the passage it is clear that liberation from hindrances is not the only liberation defined in the vism. but also liberation by insight. Also by reading the vism. I think it is also clear that the tetrads is not linear. Rather than focusing on the anapanasati tetrads it is better to follow the seven steps of purification. Use anapanasati to attain jhana then practice the rest 5 visuddhis.
- (xii) Liberating the [manner of] consciousness: he both
breathes in and breathes out delivering, liberating, the mind
from the hindrances by means of the first jhāna, from applied
and sustained thought by means of the second, from happiness
by means of the third, from pleasure and pain by means of the
fourth. Or alternatively, when, having entered upon those jhānas
and emerged from them, he comprehends with insight the con-
sciousness associated with the jhāna as liable to destruction and
to fall, then at the actual time of insight he delivers, liberates,
the mind from the perception of permanence by means of the
contemplation of impermanence, from the perception of pleasure
by means of the contemplation of pain, from the perception of
self by means of the contemplation of not self, from delight by
means of the contemplation of dispassion, from greed by means
of the contemplation of fading away, from arousing by means of
the contemplation of cessation, from grasping by means of the
contemplation of relinquishment. Hence it is said:  “He trains
thus: ’I shall breathe in … shall breathe out liberating the [manner
of] consciousness. ’” So this tetrad should be understood to
deal with contemplation of mind.
After I posted this I re-read Ledi Sayādaw’s Ānāpāna Dīpanī, which suggests that it isn’t linear but more multifaceted.
From vism. 277
- The first tetrad is set forth as a meditation subject for a
beginner; but the other three tetrads are [respectively] set forth
as the contemplations of feeling, of [the manner of] consciousness,
and of mental objects, for one who has already attained jhāna in
- the first tetrad → develop the jhanas
- the second tetrad → mindfulness on piti (jhana 1-2), sukha (jhana 1-3), and ends with upekkha (jhana 4)
- the third tetrad → mindfulness on consciousness, gladdening, concentrating, and liberating seems to be the stages of jhana 1-4
- the fourth tetrad → impermanence, fading away, and relinquishment
From this it seems that the first tetrad estrablish the jhana as foundation. The second and third tetrad is a loop where the meditator repeats the first jhana through the fourth jhana while being mindful to feeling and consciousness. The fourth tetrad is where the meditator practice insight to the impermanence of the aggregates.
Good householder, the reasons for struggle need to be searched always on the base.Good would be to first straighten right view, metta, make virtue equal the Brahma-life, leaving the lower life, consume little, train in higher virtue (not taking on touches, given, on sense), giving by it first gross calming of will of bodily controlling. Then use the breath to go toward Satipatthana. The path wouldn’t develop before leaving home, not even the higher Dhamma heard/understood, when there is no faith in renouncing, therefore no rejoicing in renouncing arising. Going back is nevertheless garanted, when no success, so what else as not seeing Dukkha hinders actually?
Though I’m not sure the following sermon would address you issue, it is from a admirer of Ledi Sayādaw’s books. At least it would give knowledge about many aspects of Anapanasati practiced in a classical way.
Since there are less classical talks on Anapanasati in English, I thought to post it here.