The Forty Meditation Themes
Ten recollections; ten foul objects; ten kasinas; four
divine abidings; four formless absorptions; one resolution into elements;
and one perception of the filthiness of food.
1. Buddhanussati: recollection of
the virtues of the Buddha.
2. Dhammanussati: recollection of
the virtues of the Dhamma.
3. Sanghanussati: recollection of
the virtues of the Sangha.
4. Silanussati: recollection of
one's own moral virtue.
5. Caganussati: recollection of
6. Devatanussati: recollection of
the qualities that lead to rebirth as a heavenly being.
7. Kayagatasati: mindfulness immersed
in the body.
8. Maranassati: mindfulness of death.
9. Anapanassati: mindfulness of
10. Upasamanussati: recollection
of the virtues of nibbana -- ultimate pleasure; unexcelled ease, free
from birth, aging, illness and death.
Ten foul objects:
1. Uddhumataka: a rotten, bloated
corpse, its body all swollen and its features distended out of shape.
2. Vinilaka: a livid corpse, with
patchy discoloration -- greenish, reddish, yellowish -- from the decomposition
of the blood.
3. Vipubbaka: a festering corpse,
oozing lymph and pus from its various orifices.
4. Vichiddaka: a corpse falling
apart, the pieces scattered about, radiating their stench.
5. Vikkhayittaka: a corpse that
various animals, such as dogs, are gnawing, or that vultures are picking
at, or that crows are fighting over, pulling it apart in different directions.
6. Vikkhittaka: corpses scattered
about, i.e., unclaimed bodies that have been thrown together in a pile
-- face up, face down, old bones and new scattered all over the place.
7. Hatavikkhittaka: the corpse of
a person violently murdered, slashed and stabbed with various weapons,
covered with wounds -- short, long, shallow, deep -- some parts hacked
so that they're almost detached.
8. Lohitaka: a corpse covered with
blood, like the hands of a butcher, all red and raw-smelling.
9. Puluvaka: a corpse infested with
worms: long worms, short worms, black, green, and yellow worms, squeezed
into the ears, eyes, and mouth; squirming and squiggling about, filling
the various parts of the body like a net full of fish that has fallen
10. Atthika: a skeleton, some of
the joints already separated, others not yet, the bones -- whitish,
yellowish, discolored -- scattered near and far all over the place.
1. Pathavi kasina: staring at earth.
2. Apo kasina: staring at water.
3. Tejo kasina: staring at fire.
4. Vayo kasina: staring at wind.
5. Odata kasina: staring at white.
6. Pita kasina: staring at yellow.
7. Lohita kasina: staring at red.
8. Nila kasina: staring at blue
9. Akasa kasina: staring at the
space in a hole or an opening.
10. Aloka kasina: staring at bright
Four divine abidings:
1. Metta: benevolence, friendliness,
good will, love in the true sense.
2. Karuna: compassion, sympathy,
pity, aspiring to find a way to be truly helpful.
3. Mudita: appreciation for the
goodness of other people and for our own when we are able to help them.
4. Upekkha: equanimity. When our
efforts to be of help don't succeed, we should make the mind neutral
-- neither pleased nor upset by whatever it focuses on -- so that it
enters the emptiness of jhana, centered and tranquil to the point where
it can disregard acts of thinking and evaluating as well as feelings
of rapture and ease, leaving only oneness and equanimity with regard
to all objects and preoccupations.
Four formless absorptions:
1. Akasanancayatana: being absorbed
in a sense of boundless emptiness and space as one's preoccupation.
2. Vi˝˝anancayatana: being absorbed
in boundless consciousness as one's preoccupation, with no form or figure
acting as the sign or focal point of one's concentration.
3. Aki˝ca˝˝ayatana: focusing exclusively
on a fainter or more subtle sense of cognizance that has no limit and
in which nothing appears or disappears, to the point where one almost
understands it to be nibbana.
4. Nevasa˝˝a-nasa˝˝ayatana: being
absorbed in a feeling that occurs in the mind, that isn't awareness
exactly, but neither is it non-awareness; i.e., there is awareness,
but with no thinking, no focusing of awareness on what it knows.
These four formless absorptions are merely resting places for the mind,
because they are states that the mind enters, stays in, and leaves.
They are by nature unstable and inconstant, so we shouldn't rest content
simply at this level. We have to go back and forth through the various
levels many times so as to realize that they're only stages of enforced
One resolution into elements:
i.e., regarding each part of the body simply in terms of physical properties
One perception of the filthiness
of food: i.e., viewing food as something repugnant
and unclean -- with regard to where it comes from, how it's prepared,
how it's mixed together when it's chewed, and where it stays in the
stomach and intestines.