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Anussati (Pāli; Sanskrit: Anusmriti) means "recollection," "contemplation," "remembrance," "meditation" and "mindfulness." It refers to specific meditative or devotional practices, such as recollecting the sublime qualities of the Buddha, which lead to mental tranquillity and abiding joy. In various contexts, the Pali literature and Sanskrit Mahayana sutras emphasize and identify different enumerations of recollections.
The three recollections
The Three Recollections:
- Recollection of the Buddha (Pali Buddhānussati, 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 (Verse 296, 297 & 298) declares that the Buddha's disciples who constantly practice recollection of the Triple Gem "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 Triple Gem are considered "devotional contemplations." The Triple Gem are listed as the first three subjects of recollection for each of the following lists as well.
The five recollections
The six recollections
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 Buddhist practices, the first six recollections were commonly taught and the Buddha anusmriti was particularly emphasized in many popular sutras such as the Medicine Buddha sutra.
The ten recollections
As Ten Recollections, the following are added to the Six Recollections:
In the Pali canon's Anguttara Nikaya, it is stated that the practice of any one of these ten recollections leads to nirvana. The Visuddhimagga identifies the Ten Recollections as useful meditation subjects for developing concentration needed to suppress and destroy the Five Hindrances during ones pursuit of Nibbana. 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).
The recollection of death is connected with the Buddhist concept of not-self: devotees recollect on the inevitability of their own demise, and in that way learn to understand that their physical body is not a permanent self. To often reflect in such a way, is believed to strongly affect the devotee's motivations and priorities in life, and to help the devotee become more realistic.
Recollection of the Buddha (Buddhanussati)
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 (Pali)
ityapi buddho bhagavāṃstathāgato'rhan samyaksaṃbuddho vidyācaraṇasampannaḥ sugato lokavidanuttaraḥ puruṣadamyasārathiḥ śāstā devamanuṣyāṇāṃ buddho bhagavāniti (Sanskrit)
- '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 Theravādin's Pāli 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 (Dhammanusati)
The Teaching of the Buddha has six supreme qualities:
- Svākkhāto (Sanskrit: Svākhyāta "well proclaimed" or "self-announced"). The Buddha's teaching is not a speculative philosophy but an exposition of the Universal Law of Nature based on a causal analysis of natural phenomena. It is taught, therefore, as a science rather than a sectarian belief system. Full comprehension (enlightenment) of the teaching may take varying lengths of time but Buddhists traditionally say that the course of study is 'excellent in the beginning (sīla – Sanskrit śīla – moral principles), excellent in the middle (samādhi – concentration) and excellent in the end' (paññā – Sanskrit prajñā . . . Wisdom).
- Sandiṭṭhiko (Sanskrit: Sāṃdṛṣṭika "able to be examined"). The Dharma is open to scientific and other types of scrutiny and is not based on faith. It can be tested by personal practice and one who follows it will see the result for oneself by means of one's own experience. Sandiṭṭhiko comes from the word sandiṭṭhika which means visible in this world and is derived from the word sandiṭṭhi-. Since Dhamma is visible, it can be "seen": known and be experienced within one's life.
- Akāliko (Sanskrit: Akālika "timeless, immediate"). The Dhamma is able to bestow timeless and immediate results here and now. There is no need to wait for the future or a next existence. The dhamma does not change over time and it is not relative to time.
- Ehipassiko (Sanskrit: Ehipaśyika "which you can come and see" — from the phrase ehi, paśya "come, see!"). The Dhamma invites all beings to put it to the test and come see for themselves.
- Opanayiko (Sanskrit: Avapraṇayika "leading one close to"). Followed as a part of one's life the dhamma leads one to liberation. In the "Vishuddhimagga" this is also referred to as "Upanayanam." Opanayiko means "to be brought inside oneself". This can be understood with an analogy as follows. If one says a ripe mango tastes delicious, and if several people listen and come to believe it, they would imagine the taste of the mango according to their previous experiences of other delicious mangoes. Yet, they will still not really know exactly how this mango tastes. Also, if there is a person who has never tasted a ripe mango before, that person has no way of knowing exactly for himself how it tastes. So, the only way to know the exact taste is to experience it. In the same way, dhamma is said to be Opanayiko which means that a person needs to experience it within to see exactly what it is.
- Paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhi (Sanskrit: Pratyātmaṃ veditavyo vijñaiḥ "To be meant to perceive directly"). The Dhamma can be perfectly realized only by the noble disciples (Pali: ariya-puggala) who have matured in supreme wisdom. No one can "enlighten" another person. Each intelligent person has to attain and experience for themselves. As an analogy, no one can simply make another know how to swim. Each person individually has to learn how to swim. In the same way, dhamma cannot be transferred or bestowed upon someone. Each one has to know for themselves.
Knowing these attributes, Buddhists believe that they will attain the greatest peace and happiness through the practice of the Dhamma. Therefore, each person is fully responsible for his or her self to put it into practice for real.
Here the Buddha is compared to an experienced and skillful doctor, and the Dhamma to proper medicine. However efficient the doctor or wonderful the medicine may be, the patients cannot be cured unless they take the medicine properly. So the practice of the Dhamma is the only way to attain the final deliverance of Nibbāna.
These teachings ranged from understanding karma (Pāli: kamma) (literal meaning 'action')) and developing good impressions in one's mind, to reach full enlightenment by recognizing the nature of mind.
Recollection of the Sangha (Sanghanusati)
The standard formula when recollecting the Sangha is:
‘suppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, ujuppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, ñāyappaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, sāmīcippaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, yadidaṃ cattāri purisayugāni aṭṭha purisapuggalā esa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho āhuneyyo pāhuneyyo dakkhiṇeyyo añjalikaraṇīyo anuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ lokassā’ti (Pali)
supratipanno bhagavata āryasaṃghaḥ, nyāyapratipannaḥ, ṛjupratipannaḥ, sāmīcīpratipannaḥ, añjalīkaraṇīyaḥ, sāmīcīkaraṇīyaḥ, puṇyaśrīkṣetraḥ, mahādakṣiṇāpariśodhakaḥ, prāhavanīyaḥ, āhavanīyaḥ (Sanskrit)
- '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 Devas (Devatanussati)
The standard formula when recollecting the Devas is:
‘santi devā cātumahārājikā, santi devā tāvatiṃsā, santi devā yāmā, santi devā tusitā, santi devā nimmānaratino, santi devā paranimmitavasavattino, santi devā brahmakāyikā, santi devā tatuttari. yathārūpāya saddhāya samannāgatā tā devatā ito cutā tatthupapannā, mayhampi tathārūpā saddhā saṃvijjati. yathārūpena sīlena samannāgatā tā devatā ito cutā tatthupapannā, mayhampi tathārūpaṃ sīlaṃ saṃvijjati. yathārūpena sutena samannāgatā tā devatā ito cutā tatthupapannā, mayhampi tathārūpaṃ sutaṃ saṃvijjati. yathārūpena cāgena samannāgatā tā devatā ito cutā tatthupapannā, mayhampi tathārūpo cāgo saṃvijjati. yathārūpāya paññāya samannāgatā tā devatā ito cutā tatthupapannā, mayhampi tathārūpā paññā saṃvijjatī’ti.
Recollection of Virtues (Silanussati)
The standard formula when recollecting the virtues is:
'akhaṇḍāni acchiddāni asabalāni akammāsāni bhujissāni viññuppasatthāni aparāmaṭṭhāni samādhisaṃvattanikāni'
Recollection of Generosity (Caganussati)
The standard formula when recollecting the Generosity is:
‘lābhā vata me! suladdhaṃ vata me! yohaṃ maccheramalapariyuṭṭhitāya pajāya vigatamalamaccherena cetasā agāraṃ ajjhāvasāmi muttacāgo payatapāṇi vossaggarato yācayogo dānasaṃvibhāgarato’ti.
Recollection of Death (Marananussati)
The standard formula when recollecting the Death is:
‘bahukā kho me paccayā maraṇassa: ahi vā maṃ ḍaṃseyya, vicchiko vā maṃ ḍaṃseyya, satapadī vā maṃ ḍaṃseyya; tena me assa kālakiriyā, so mamassa antarāyo. upakkhalitvā vā papateyyaṃ, bhattaṃ vā me bhuttaṃ byāpajjeyya, pittaṃ vā me kuppeyya, semhaṃ vā me kuppeyya, satthakā vā me vātā kuppeyyuṃ; tena me assa kālakiriyā, so mamassa antarāyo’ti.
- Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha)
- Dhammapada (Verse 296 to 301)
- Kammatthana (Forty classic meditation subjects, including the Ten Recollections)
- Upajjhatthana Sutta (Five Remembrances)
- Ānāpānasati Sutta (Contemplation of the breath)
- Kāyagatāsati Sutta (Contemplation of the body)
- Gradual training (Patipatti)
- Jarāmaraṇa (Aging and death)
- Buddhist meditation
- Rebirth (Buddhism)
- 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...."
- Rhys Davids & stede. sfn error: no target: CITEREFRhys_Davids_&_stede (help)
- Anālayo (2006), p. 47.
- Thanissaro (1998) Archived July 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- 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 Archived July 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine).
- Buddharakkhita (1996) Archived July 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Thanissaro (2002) Archived July 2, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Gunaratana (1988) Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- AN 3.70 (Thanissaro, 1997b) Archived June 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- 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.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- For canonical material associated with the recollections of death, body and breath Bullitt (2005) Archived May 17, 2016, at the Wayback Machine 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 22.214.171.124 – 126.96.36.199 (SLTP, retrieved from "BodhGayaNews" at http://www.bodhgayanews.net/tipitaka.php?title=&record=5554)[permanent dead link].
- See, for instance, Buddhaghosa & Nanamoli (1999), p. 90 ff.
- Harvey, Peter (2013). "Dukkha, non-self, and the "Four Noble Truths"" (PDF). In Emmanuel, Steven M. (ed.). A companion to Buddhist philosophy. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-470-65877-2.
- Goodman, Charles (2013). "Buddhist meditation" (PDF). In Emmanuel, Steven M. (ed.). A companion to Buddhist philosophy. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 569. ISBN 978-0-470-65877-2.
- Vandanā, The Album of Pali Devotional Chanting and Hymns Archived November 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- Thanissaro (1997a) Archived June 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Kammalashila (2003), p. 227 Archived November 1, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. For an example of the subject of a typically Tibetan Buddhist visualization, see Tara (Buddhism).
- "A pure science of mind and matter" S.N. Goenka. cit. 'Meditation Now: Inner Peace through Inner Wisdom', S.N.Goenka; VRP, Pariyatti Publications
- The Buddha had in fact required that his teaching be scrutinized to see for oneself. Thathagathappavedito bhikkave dhamma vinayo vivato virochathi, no patichchanto. (Anguttara Nikayo, Thika Nipatho, Harandu vaggo, Sutta 9) The Dharma vinaya of Thathagata shines when opened for scrutiny, not when kept closed.
- 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 https://web.archive.org/web/20061101181404/http://www.kamalashila.co.uk/Meditation_Web/index.htm.
- Nyanatiloka Mahathera (undated). Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines. Available on-line at https://web.archive.org/web/20070312055853/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).