Notable Books

Notable Books 57


The Seven Stages of Purification and The Insight Knowledges – A Guide to the Progressive Stages of Buddhist Meditation. Author: The Venerable Mahāthera, Matara Sri Ñānārāma. Publisher: Buddhist Publication Society; Kandy, Sri Lanka. For more info click HERE.Notable Books 57 2

This work is a short, concise, clarifying expression of the compendium of Insight – Vipassanāsangaha -  which is a subsection of the Abhidhamma, section IX, entitled a Compendium of Meditation Subjects.  It focuses on the purification and practices related to the seven basic categories in Buddhist thought, that once thoroughly purified, leads one unerringly on the path to Nibanna. These seven categories include, Purification of virtue; Purification of mind; Purification of view and Purification by overcoming doubt. The next three embrace Purification by knowledge and Vision of What is Path and Not Path; Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Way; and Purification by Knowledge and Vision.

Notable Books 57 3 Most ven Mathara sri Gnanarama Maha Thero

The Venerable Mahāthera, Matara Sri Ñānārāma.(1901 -- 1992)

After introducing these categories and how they should be understood in Buddhist Thought, particulars of the practice aspect of such purification stages, as well as their behavioral pursuit are identified. As example, during the section on purification of Mind, the mental hindrances, obstructions, obstacles are discussed, as are the supports, and subsequent development of the powers inclusive of faith, wisdom, energy, effort. These in turn are necessary for moving to the stages of concentration relating to deep calm or serenity, the access and absorption meditations, and their eight meditative achievements. These include the four absorptions or Jhāna’s, and four immaterial Arupic states of attainment, all of which must be subsequently examined and reflected upon and mastered. The beginning of insight meditation starts with the subsequent concentration on the momentariness of all things, as in beginning, peak, and fall.

In general, these purifications involve the spectrum of meditation involving calm abiding and insight meditations, what hinders and prevents, and what strengthens one’s practice and approach to Nibanna.

The sections on purification of view and overcoming doubt are essential for further purification of Mind, its perceptions and understandings. These sections include thoughts on mind, matter, aggregates, formations and the idea of Self, as well as addressing and eradicating the doubts that hinder a thorough understanding and insight concerning existence, both subjective and objective.

This comprehensive work continues on by helping one understand the fields of knowledge by, comprehension and the fullness of knowing a thing, knowledge of the arising and passing away of all things,  and learning to recognize and overcome the “ten imperfections of insight”, all as they relate to What is the Path and Not Path in this Buddhist framework of liberation.

Categories VI and VII, knowledge and vision of the way, and Purification by Knowledge and Vision, are short yet extensive. Purification by knowledge and vision of the way involve clarifications of three understandings pertaining to investigating the nature of phenomenon, its further arising and passing, and third, that of abandoning of all defilements and replacement by their opposites. This is followed by insight knowledges concerning deep purification of arising and passing, dissolution, appearance as terror, phenomenon as danger, disenchantment, desire for deliverance, contemplation of reflection and Equanimity towards formations. All along the understanding and application of impermanence, suffering, and not self, are applied to all formations. Category VII brings us to insight leading to Emergence, change of Lineage, and finally the Supramundane Paths and Fruits.

Although our brief summary of this work does not do its contents justice, we can highly recommend it as a work that defines a path and approach to Nibanna. For those theosophists that adhere to the second object of our Society, This work, and the Abhidhamma from which it is drawn, can only enrich one’s understanding and practice in the preliminaries of the path towards an enlightened and freed state of mind.

This edition of Notable Books was compiled by Eugene Jennings

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