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Devices in Meditation

In 'kammattana', it is permissible to use certain devices, such as the earth or colour 'kasina', as focal points for the attention. A candle flame, a hole in the wall, or some metal object can also be used, and the method of using them is found in the Pali texts and the 'Visuddhi-magga'.

It is to be noted that the Buddha gave objects of meditation to disciples in accordance with their individual characteristics, and his knowledge of the right technique for each came from his insight into their previous births.

Similarly with recursive meditation, a subject would be given which was easily comprehensible to the pupil, or which served to counteract some strong, unwholesome tendency in his nature.

Here the object is to counterbalance attraction by repulsion, but it is only a "skillful means" to reach the final state, in which attraction and repulsion both cease to exist. In the Arahant there is neither liking nor disliking: he regards all things with perfect equanimity, as did Thera Maha Moggallana when he accepted a handful of rice from a leper.

One of the best ways of employing it, because it calls for undivided attention, is to repeat the Pali formula of the qualities of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, beginning "'Iti'pi so Bhagava -- '" with the first bead, starting again with the second and continuing to the next quality: "'Iti'pi so Bhagava, Arahan -- '" and so on until with the last bead the entire formula is repeated from beginning to end. This cannot be carried out successfully unless the mind is entirely concentrated on what is being done.

At the same time the recalling of the noble qualities of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha lifts the mind to a lofty plane, since the words carry with them a meaning the impresses itself on the pattern of the thought-moments as they arise and pass away. The value of this in terms of Abhidhamma psychology lies in the wholesome nature of the 'cittakkhana', or "consciousness-moment" in its 'uppada' (arising), 'thiti' (static) and 'bhanga' (disappearing) phases.

Each of these wholesome 'cittakkhana' contributes to the improvement of the 'sankhara'; or aggregate of tendencies; in other words, it directs the subsequent thought-moments into a higher realm and tends to establish the character on that level.

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