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The Four Texts
 


 

The Four Certainties

These are characteristic marks of a buddha. The four certainties are:

1.) Certainty that his perfect enlightenment is irreversible
2.) Certainty that all defilements are exhausted
3.) Certainty that all obstacles have been overcome
4.) Certainty of having proclaimed the way of abandoning samsära

Samsära - "journeying" ; "the cycle of existences,"  a succession of rebirths that a
being goes through within the various models of existence until it has attained liberation
and entered nirväna.
 
 


 

The Four Foundations (Awakenings) of Mindfulness   - Satipatthäna

Satipatthäna is one of the fundamental meditation practices of the Hïnayäna, which
consists of (in order):

1.) Mindfulness of body
        This includes mindfulness of inhalation and exhalation as well as of bodily posture, clarity of mind
          during all activites, contemplation of the thirty-two parts of the body, analysis of the bodily elements,
          and charnel ground contemplation.

2.) Mindfulness of feeling
          This is where one recognizes feelings as pleasant, unpleasant, or indifferent, worldly or supramundane,
          and sees clearly their transitory quality.

3.) Mindfulness of mind
        In mindfulness of mind, every state of consciousness that arises is noted and recognized as passionate
          or passionless, agressive or free from aggression, deluded or undeluded.

4.) Mindfulness of mental objects
          In mindfulness of mental objects, one is aware of the conditionedness and inessentiality of things,
          knows whether or not the five hindrances are present, recognizes the personality and the basic elements
          of the mental process as consisting of the five skandhas, and possesses an understanding of the four
          noble truths that corresponds to reality.

          Skhandha - term for the five aggregates, which constitute the enirety of what is gernerally known as "personality".
          They are: (1) corporeality or form  (2) sensation  (3) perception  (4) mental formations  (5) consciousness
 


 

The Four Noble Truths

1.) The truth of suffering
2.) The truth of the origin of suffering
3.) The truth of the cessation of suffering
4.) The truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering

The first truth states that all existence is characterized by sufering and does not bring true
satisfaction. Everything is suffering: birth, sickness, death; coming together with what one does
not like; not obtaining what one desires; and the five aggregates of attatchment that constitute
the personality.

The second truth gives as the cause of suffering craving or desire, the thirst for sensual pleasure,
for becoming and passing away. This craving binds beings to the cycle of existence.

The third truth says that through remainderless elimination of craving, suffering can be brought
to an end.

The fourth truth gives the eightfold path as the means for the ending of suffering.

The eightfold path:
1.) Perfect view
2.) Perfect thought
3.) Perfect speech
4.) Perfect action
5.) Perfect livelihood
6.) Perfect effort
7.) Perfect mindfulness
8.) Perfect concentration

Perfect View - i.e., the view based on the understanding of the four noble truths and the
nonindividuality of existence
Perfect Thought/Resolve - i.e., resolve in favor of renunciation, good will, and non-harming of
sentient beings
Perfect Speech - i.e., avoidance of lying, slander, and gossip
Perfect Action - i.e., avoidance of actions that conflict with moral discipline
Perfect Livelihood - i.e., avoidance of professions that are harmful to sentient beings
Perfect Effort - i.e., cultivation of what is karmically wholesome and avoidance of what is
karmically unwholesome
Perfect Mindfulness - i.e., ongoing mindfulness of body, feelings, thinkings, and objects of thought
Perfect Concentration - i.e., concentration of mind that finds its highpoint in the four absorptions.

The eightfold path does not actually represent a path on which linear progress is made, since in practice the the first to be realized are stages 3-5, then stages 6-8, and then finally 1-2. Perfect view is the immediate condition for entering upon the supramundane path of sacredness and for the attainment of nirvana.
 


 

The Four Perfect Exertions

This is one of the meditation practices recommended by the Buddha. The objective is to
avoid unwholesome factors in the future and eliminate those that are present. The four
perfect exertions are:

1.) The exertion of restraint (i.e., avoiding unwholesome factors)
2.) The exertion of overcoming (unwholesome factors)
3.) The exertion of developing (wholesome factors, especially the factors of enlightenment)
4.) The exertion of maintaining (wholesome factors)

The four perfect exertions are identical with the sixth element of the eightfold path, right
effort or exertion.
 


 

The Four Stages of Absorption (Dhyäna)

Dhyäna - in general, any absorbed state of mind brought about through concentration. Such a state is reached through the entire attention dwelling uninterruptedly on a psychical or mental object of meditation; in this way the mind passes through various stages in which the currents of the passions gradually fade away. Dhyäna designates particularly the four stages of absorption of the world of form, the condition for which is the removal of the five hindrances. These four absorptions make possible the attainment of abhijñä. They prepare the way for the elimination of the defilements or cankers (äsrava.) This is tantamount to liberation.

The first absorption stage is characterized by the relinquishing of desires and unwholesome factors and is reached through conceptualization and discursive thought. In this stage, there is joyful interest and well-being. The second stage is characterized by the coming to rest of conceptualization and discursive thought, the attainment of inner calm, and so-called one-pointedness of mind, which means concentration on an object of meditation. Joyful interest and well-being continue. In the third stage joy disappears, replaced by equanimity; one is alert, aware, and feels well-being. In the fourth stage only equaniminty and wakefulness are present.
 


 

The Four Stages of Formlessness

These are meditation practices from the early phase of Buddhism, the objective of which
was to raise oneself stage by stage into increasingly higher levels of incorporeality. These
are the four stages of formlessness:
    1.) The stage of the limitless space
    2.) The stage of the limitlessness of consciousness
    3.) The stage of nothing whatever
    4.) The stage of beyond awareness and non-awareness
 
 
 
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