Yuganaddha Sutta Tranquility and Insight In Tandem

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In the Yuganaddha Sutta [1] Ananda teaches that those that achieve lasting peace and happiness do so by developing shamatha & vipassana (tranquility & insight) in tandem. Once the monks of the Buddha’s Sangha achieved enlightenment, which most achieved, they themselves began teaching the Dhamma. In this sutta Ananda, the Buddha’s chief attendant known to have a word-perfect memory addressed a gathering:

“Friends whoever achieves the unbound state (enlightenment, free of bondage to sense desires) does so by means of one of four paths:

 “When one has developed insight (vipassana) preceded by tranquility (shamatha) their path is born. They follow that path (the Eightfold Path), develop the path and pursue the path. As they develop the path their shackles are abandoned and their obsessions destroyed. They are unbound, awakened.

“When one has developed tranquility preceded by insight their path is born. They follow that path (the Eightfold Path), develop the path and pursue the path. As they develop the path their shackles are abandoned and their obsessions destroyed. They are unbound, awakened.

“When one has developed tranquility in tandem with insight their path is born. They follow that path (the Eightfold Path), develop the path and pursue the path. As they develop the path their shackles are abandoned and their obsessions destroyed. They are unbound, awakened.

“When one’s mind has its restlessness (doubt and confusion) well under control their mind grows steady inwardly (tranquility) and settles down. Their mind becomes unified and well concentrated (leading to insight). As they develop the path their shackles are abandoned and their obsessions destroyed. They are unbound, awakened.

“Friends whoever achieves the unbound state (enlightenment, free of bondage to sense desires) does so by means of one of four paths.”

The importance of this sutta is the emphasis on developing the foundation of a mind settled and well-concentrated giving rise to insight into the Dhamma and one’s own nature. The qualities that are developed through understanding the Dhamma are grounded in Shamatha-Vipassana. [A]

There are ten Paramitas, or great perfections of an awakened being: Giving, virtue, patience, loving-kindness, (all aspects of compassion) renunciation, wisdom, energy, truthfulness, determination, and equanimity are all qualities developed through the Dhamma. [B]

The Eightfold Path is characterized as a path of Heightened Wisdom, Heightened Virtue and Heightened Concentration incorporating all ten Paramitas.

As the eighth factor of the Eightfold Path, Shamatha-Vipassana meditation is the meditation technique the Buddha taught to develop the qualities of a tranquil and insightful mind. Within the framework of the Eightfold Path no other method is likely to develop the qualities necessary for awakening, and tranquility & insight are meant to be developed in tandem as one practice.

A meditation practice focused solely on quieting the mind or attempting to reach a state of nothingness with the expectation that “Buddha-Mind” will spontaneously arise is not part of the Buddha’s teaching and will likely develop a mind of nothingness with no useful insight. This is simply misusing the Dhamma for further distraction, in most cases.

Using only vipassana as a foundation for practice or using an analytical form of meditation and calling it “vipassana” or “insight” is not the intention of shamatha-vipassana either. The insight gained in shamatha-vipassana meditation is insight to our own clinging and insight into the impermanence of all views, including views of self. This is done with a quiet mind dispassionately recognizing clinging to impermanent objects and views as they arise, and releasing the attachment to them, letting them go.

Analyzing one’s own mental confusion and distractive views will only lead to an over-emphasis on confusion and distraction. This analytical view and intention will create ever-stronger attachments and develop more confusion and distraction.

The result of a practice with an over-emphasis on vipassana will usually lead to a focus on human problems from the view-point of “fixing” the problems through a combination of psychological principles (views) and out-of-context buddhist principles. It is easy to see how an overly analytical view of our own mind will develop an overly analytical and complex “answer” to all perceived problems.

The beauty and power of the Dhamma lies in its simplicity and direct method of application free of distracting views.

Through tranquility & insight meditation, in tandem and within the framework of the Eightfold Path, we are able abandon the shackles that keep us bound to confusion, stress and unhappiness, free of creating and chasing endless views. We are able to develop what the Buddha’s intention for his Dhamma is: Lasting Peace and Happiness.

[1] Yuganaddha Sutta

[A] Shamatha-Vipassana

[B] The Paramitas

My Dhamma articles and talks are based primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali, as well as the works of Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland and Maurice Walsh, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight. (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/)

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.  

Every teaching the Buddha presented during his forty-five-year teaching career was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths. I have made contextual edits to the suttas from the Sutta Pitaka for further clarity, to minimize repetition, and maintain relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths supporting concentration and refined mindfulness developing skillful insight of Three Marks Of Existence.

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