Khanika samadhi

By Dhammanando bhikkhu
Hi Phil,

QUOTE(phil7 @ Mar 29 2008, 07:16 PM)
This is something that I have meant to get around to for awhile – tracking down just what khanika samadhi (momentary concentration) is in the tipitaka.

The term is actually from the commentaries.

Is it the ekagatta cetasika, the split second one-pointedness on each and every object that is cognized, or is it something that, as a post from the Venerable who sends the daily Dhamma message says “a few seconds of one-pointedness” that comes about as the first stage of deepening of concentration. (Before access concentration etc.) I’ve heard other people, including Bhikkhu Bodhi refer to it in this way, as a few seconds of concentration, but some friends who are keen students of Abhidhamma say it is simply ekagatta cetasika, accompanies each and every citta.

The commentaries speak of “threefold concentration” (tividha samādhi), comprising momentary concentration, approach concentration, and arrival concentration. The second and third of these are meditative attainments; the first is the ordinary concentration that is always present, which the Abhidhamma identifies with the ekaggatā cetasika. That being so, the widespread modern practice of exhorting meditators to “develop momentary concentration”, if taken literally, is simply nonsensical. It would be as meaningless as telling someone to develop phassa, or develop vedanā, or develop saññā (which like ekaggatā also arise with every consciousness). It’s meaningless to speak of “developing” something that one is never without.

More charitably construed, the modern usage might be seen as a shorthand for “develop the foundations of mindfulness, but without aiming for upacāra- or appanā-samādhi.” I believe this is in fact what most modern vipassanā teachers mean by the expression. All the same, it’s unfortunate that they have chosen this way of saying it, for it has given rise to an almost universal misapprehension of khaṇika-samādhi as being something that one has to strive to achieve.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu