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- specific meditative or devotional practices, such as recollecting the sublime qualities of the Buddha, which lead to mental tranquillity and abiding joy; or,
- meditative attainment, such as the ability to recollect past lives.
Sets of recollections
The Three Recollections:
- Recollection of the Buddha (Pali Buddhānussaṭi, Skt. Buddhanusmrti, Tib. Sans- rgyas -rjes-su dran pa)
- Recollection of the Dhamma (Pali Dhammānussati, Skt. Dharmanusmrti, Tib. Chos- rjes- su dran pa)
- Recollection of the Sangha (Pali Saṅghānussati, Skt. Sanghanusmrti: Tib. dge -hdun- rjes- su dran pa)
The Dhammapada declares that the Buddha's disciples who constantly practice recollection of the Three Jewels "ever awaken happily." According to the Theragatha, such a practice will lead to "the height of continual joy."
Unlike other subjects of meditative recollection mentioned in this article, the Three Jewels are considered "devotional contemplations." The Three Jewels are listed as the first three subjects of recollection for each of the following lists as well.
According to the Buddha, for one who practices such recollections: "'his mind is calmed, and joy arises; the defilements of his mind are abandoned.'"
The Six Recollections are:
The Buddha tells a disciple that the mind of one who practices these recollections "is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, ... gains joy connected with the Dhamma..., rapture arises..., the body grows calm ... experiences ease..., the mind becomes concentrated."
In Mahayana practice, the first six recollections were commonly taught and the Buddha anusmriti was particularly emphasized in many popular sutras such as the Medicine Buddha sutra.
As Ten Recollections, the following are added to the Six Recollections:
- Recollection of death (maraṇānussati)
- Recollection of the body (kāyagatāsati)
- Recollection of the breath (ānāpānassati)
- Recollection of peace (upasamānussati)
In terms of the development of meditative absorption, mindfulness of the breath can lead to all four jhanas, mindfulness of the body can lead only to the first jhana, while the eight other recollections culminate in pre-jhanic "access concentration" (upacara samadhi).
Specific subjects of recollection
As indicated in the above sets, the following are recollected subjects of either meditation or devotion.
Recollection of the Buddha
The standard formula when recollecting the Buddha is:
- Iti pi so bhagavā arahaṃ sammā-saṃbuddho vijjācaraṇasaṃpanno sugato lokavidū anuttaro purisadammasārathī satthā devamanussānaṃ buddho bhagavā ti
- 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.'
It has been suggested that the Recollection of the Buddha identified in the Theravada canon might have been the basis for the more elaborately visual contemplations typical of Tibetan Buddhism. Another way of saying worthy is that the Tathagata is the pure one. Well-gone can also be interpreted as the accomplished one, or the well-farer. Blessed could be replaced by the word holy, but he was also often referred to as "The Blessed One".
Recollection of the Dhamma
The standard formula when recollecting the Dhamma is:
- 'The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One, to be seen here & now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves.'
Recollection of the Sangha
The standard formula when recollecting the Sangha is:
- 'The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well... who have practiced straight-forwardly... who have practiced methodically... who have practiced masterfully — in other words, the four types [of noble disciples] when taken as pairs, the eight when taken as individual types — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world.'
Practicing masterfully, or practicing with integrity, means sharing what they have learned with others.
Recollection of actual past lives
For one accomplished in meditative concentration, there is the possibility of attaining the recollection of one's own past lives (pubbenivāsānussati). In this case, anussati is not a meditative subject to achieve jhanic absorption or devotional bliss; it is the actual fruit of practice.
An example of one who has achieved such a power is described in the following manner by the Buddha in the "Lohicca Sutta" (DN 12):
- "With his mind thus concentrated, purified, & bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, he directs & inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives (lit: previous homes). He recollects his manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction & expansion, [recollecting], 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus he recollects his manifold past lives in their modes & details...."
- Buddhist meditation
- Kammatthana (Forty classic meditation subjects, including the Ten Recollections)
- Rebirth (Buddhism)
- Three Jewels (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha)
- Upajjhatthana Sutta (Five Remembrances)
- Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-5), p. 45; Fischer-Schreiber et al.. (1991), p. 10; and, Nyanatiloka (undated) Archived November 17, 2006, at the Wayback Machine..
- For an example, see reference to this type of recollection in Dhammapada, Ch. XXI, vv. 296-8 (Buddharakkhita, 1996).
- Buddharakkhita (1996).
- Thanissaro (2002).
- Gunaratana (1988).
- AN 3.70 (Thanissaro, 1997b).
- Anālayo (2006), pp. 46-7; and, Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-5), p. 45.
- For more information about the import of passion, aversion and delusion in Buddhism, see kilesa.
- Thanissaro (1997a). As suggested by this quote and discussed further below, Gunaratana (1988) states that meditation on these recollected subjects leads to "access concentration" but not to higher jhanic attainment.
- Bimalendra Kumar, ANUSMRITI IN THERAVADA AND MAHAYANA TEXTS, Buddhist Himalaya VOLUME XI 1999-2005 (COMBINED ISSUE)"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- For canonical material associated with the recollections of death, body and breath Bullitt (2005) refers readers to the mindfulness (sati) practices identified in the Satipatthana Sutta.
- Buddhaghosa & Nanamoli (1999), p. 90; and, Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-5), p. 45.
- AN 126.96.36.199 - 188.8.131.52 (SLTP, retrieved from "BodhGayaNews" at http://www.bodhgayanews.net/tipitaka.php?title=&record=5554).
- See, for instance, Buddhaghosa & Nanamoli (1999), p. 90 ff.
- Vandanā, The Album of Pali Devotional Chanting and Hymns Archived November 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- Thanissaro (1997a).
- Kammalashila (2003), p. 227. For an example of the subject of a typically Tibetan Buddhist visualization, see Tara (Buddhism).
- Anālayo (2006), p. 47.
- Thanissaro (1998).
- Anālayo (2006). Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization. Birmingham, England: Windhorse Publications. ISBN 1-899579-54-0.
- Buddharakkhita, Acharya (1996). Pakinnakavagga: Miscellaneous (Dhp XXI). Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.21.budd.html.
- Buddhaghosa, Bhadantacariya & Bhikkhu Nanamoli (trans.) (1999), The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga. Seattle: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-00-2.
- Bullitt, John T. (2005). General [Sutta] Index: Ten Recollections. Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-subject.html#recollections.
- Fischer-Schreiber, Ingrid, Franz-Karl Ehrhard, Michael S. Diener & Michael H. Kohn (trans.) (1991). The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen. Boston: Shambhala. ISBN 0-87773-520-4.
- Gunaratana, Henepola (1988). The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. ISBN 955-24-0035-X. Available on-line at http://www.budsas.org/ebud/jhanas/jhanas0a.htm.
- Kamalashila (1996, 2003). Meditation: The Buddhist Art of Tranquility and Insight. Birmingham: Windhorse Publications. ISBN 1-899579-05-2. Available on-line at http://kamalashila.co.uk/Meditation_Web/index.htm.
- Nyanatiloka Mahathera (undated). Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines. Available on-line at http://www.yellowrobe.com/dictionary.
- Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921-5). The Pali Text Society’s Pali–English Dictionary. Chipstead: Pali Text Society. A general on-line search engine for the PED is available at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997a). Mahanama Sutta: To Mahanama (1) (AN 11.12). Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an11/an11.012.than.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997b). Muluposatha Sutta: The Roots of the Uposatha (AN 3.70). Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.070.than.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998). Lohicca Sutta: To Lohicca (DN 12). Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.12.0.than.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (2002). Tekicchakani (Thag 6.2). Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thag/thag.06.02.than.html.
- The Ten Recollections: A Study Guide, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1999).