…Then Vassakāra said to Ānanda, “Where are you staying at present?”
“In the Bamboo Grove, brahmin.”
“I hope the Bamboo Grove is delightful, quiet and still, far from the madding crowd, remote from human settlements, and fit for retreat?”
“Indeed it is, brahmin. And it is like that owing to such protectors and guardians as yourself.”
“Surely, Master Ānanda, it is owing to the venerables who meditate, making a habit of meditating. For the venerables do in fact meditate and make a habit of meditating.
This one time, Master Ānanda, Master Gotama was staying near Vesālī, at the Great Wood, in the hall with the peaked roof. So I went there to see him. And there he spoke about meditation in many ways. He meditated, and made a habit of meditating. And he praised all kinds of meditation.”
“No, brahmin, the Buddha did not praise all kinds of meditation, nor did he dispraise all kinds of meditation. And what kind of meditation did he not praise? It’s when someone’s heart is overcome and mired in sensual desire, and they don’t truly understand the escape from sensual desire that has arisen. Hiding sensual desire within, they meditate and concentrate and contemplate and ruminate. Their heart is overcome and mired in ill will … dullness and drowsiness … restlessness and remorse … doubt, and they don’t truly know and see the escape from doubt that has arisen. Hiding doubt within, they meditate and concentrate and contemplate and ruminate. The Buddha didn’t praise this kind of meditation.
And what kind of meditation did he praise? It’s when a mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected. As the placing of the mind and keeping it connected are stilled, they enter and remain in the second absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of immersion, with internal clarity and mind at one, without placing the mind and keeping it connected. And with the fading away of rapture, they enter and remain in the third absorption, where they meditate with equanimity, mindful and aware, personally experiencing the bliss of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous and mindful, one meditates in bliss.’ Giving up pleasure and pain, and ending former happiness and sadness, they enter and remain in the fourth absorption, without pleasure or pain, with pure equanimity and mindfulness. The Buddha praised this kind of meditation.”
“Well, Master Ānanda, it seems that Master Gotama criticized the kind of meditation that deserves criticism and praised that deserving of praise. Well, now, Master Ānanda, I must go. I have many duties, and much to do.…”
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