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Anussati (Pāli; Sanskrit: Anusmṛti; Chinese: 隨念; pinyin: suíniàn; Tibetan: རྗེས་སུ་དྲན་པ, Wylie: rjes su dran pa) means "recollection," "contemplation," "remembrance," "meditation", and "mindfulness". It refers to specific Buddhist meditational 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 emphasise and identify different enumerations of recollections.
Anussati may also refer to meditative attainments, such as the ability to recollect past lives (pubbenivāsānussati), also called causal memory.[a]
Further information: Refuge (Buddhism)
The three recollections:
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.
On uposatha days, in addition to practicing the Eight Precepts, the Buddha enjoined a disciple to engage in one or more of five recollections:
According to the Buddha, for one who practices such recollections: "his mind is calmed, and joy arises; the defilements of his mind are abandoned".
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.[c] His mind heads straight, ... gains joy connected with the Dhamma..., rapture arises..., the body grows calm ... experiences ease..., the mind becomes concentrated".[d]
In Mahayana Buddhist practices, the first six recollections were commonly taught and the Buddha anussati was particularly emphasised in many popular sutras such as the Medicine Buddha sutra.
As ten recollections, the following are added to the previous six recollections:
In the Pali canon's Aṅguttara Nikāya, it is stated that the practice of any one of these ten recollections leads to nibbana (Sanskrit: nirvana). The Ten Recollections are listed among the kammaṭṭhāna, forty classic meditation subjects listed in the Visuddhimagga useful for developing concentration needed to suppress and destroy the five hindrances during ones pursuit of nibbana.[f] Although the Pali canon refers to mindfulness of death (maraṇāsati), the Visuddhimagga refers to the recollection of death (maraṇānussati).
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 non-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.
Main article: Buddhānusmṛti
The Aṅguttara Nikāya provides the following verse (gatha) for the recollection the Buddha:
"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.[g]
The Aṅguttara Nikāya provides the following verse for the recollection of the Dhamma:
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One, to be seen here & now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves."
The Teaching of the Buddha has six supreme qualities:
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 kamma (Sanskrit: karma; lit. 'action') and developing good impressions in one's mind, to reach full enlightenment by recognising the nature of mind.
The Aṅguttara Nikāya provides the following verses for the recollection of the Sangha:
"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."
I'm fortunate, so very fortunate, to have good friends who advise and instruct me out of kindness and compassion.
Practicing masterfully, or practicing with integrity, means sharing what they have learned with others.
The Aṅguttara Nikāya provides the following verse for the recollection of virtues:
"[They are] untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, conducive to concentration."
The Aṅguttara Nikāya provides the following verse for the recollection of generosity:
"It is a gain, a great gain for me, that — among people overcome with the stain of possessiveness — I live at home, my awareness cleansed of the stain of possessiveness, freely generous, openhanded, delighting in being magnanimous, responsive to requests, delighting in the distribution of alms."
The Aṅguttara Nikāya provides the following verses for the recollection of the devas:
"There are the devas of the Four Great Kings, the devas of the Thirty-three, the devas of the Hours, the Contented Devas, the devas who delight in creation, the devas who have power over the creations of others, the devas of Brahma's retinue, the devas beyond them. Whatever conviction they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of conviction is present in me as well. Whatever virtue they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of virtue is present in me as well. Whatever learning they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of learning is present in me as well. Whatever generosity they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of generosity is present in me as well. Whatever discernment they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of discernment is present in me as well."
"There are deities who, surpassing the company of deities that consume solid food, are reborn in a certain host of mind-made deities. They don't see in themselves anything more to do, or anything that needs improvement."