Wise Concentration

Mark Epstein, “Although Right Concentration follows mindfulness on the eightfold path, it is generally taught before mindfulness, when one is learning to meditate. It is such an essential introduction to Buddhist practice that its closing place on the eightfold path does not make sense at first glance. But concentration needs to be understood in the context of the entire path if it is not to become a distraction in itself. Concentration is “right” when it connects with the other branches of the whole. It is “right” when it demonstrates the feasibility of training the mind, when it supports the investigation of impermanence, when it erodes selfish preoccupation, and when it reveals the benefits of surrender.”

In Pali right or wise concentration is called Samma Samadhi. We remember that the word samma means correct, proper, appropriate, wise… right.  Samadhi means “meditative absorption.” So, wise concentration means concentration on wholesome thoughts and actions, which is developed through our meditation practice. The meditating mind focuses its attention on an object, and then practices sustained concentration on the object. Through this practice it becomes natural to apply elevated levels concentration during each meditation and in everyday life.

Generally, the unconcentrated mind doesn’t know that it’s unconcentrated or that there’s another way to think. Maybe we notice that our thoughts are scattered, tell ourselves to slow down, take it easy. But, the mind doesn’t become concentrated just because we tell it to. It takes practice, effort, and mindfulness. The patient practice of calm abiding.

Wise Concentration helps us see how we react to sensations and feelings and the stories that consume our thoughts. We start to understand not only what our experience is in the world, but we have the potential to see things as they are… to experience the ever changing process of life just as it is.

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