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In the essay entitled "The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest" by Ven. Nyanaponika, he wrote:

Not only the meditative absorptions but also lesser degrees of mental concentration are impeded by these five hindrances. So is the "neighborhood" (or "access") concentration (upacarasamadhi), being the preliminary stage for the fully absorbed concentration (appana) reached in jhana. Likewise excluded by the presence of the hindrances is the momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi) which has the strength of neighborhood concentration and is required for mature insight (vipassana). But apart from these higher stages of mental development, any earnest attempt at clear thinking and pure living will be seriously affected by the presence of these five hindrances.

This widespread harmful influence of the five hindrances shows the urgent necessity of breaking down their power by constant effort. One should not believe it sufficient to turn one's attention to the hindrances only at the moment when one sits down for meditation. Such last-minute effort in suppressing the hindrances will rarely be successful unless helped by previous endeavor during one's ordinary life.

The above excerpt and this video featuring a talk by Ven. Dhammavuddho, implies that the Five Hindrances (panca nivaranani) not just affect meditation. They could also habitually obsess one's mind and prevent progress even outside meditation. I also see that they are among the ten fetters (samyojana).

Questions:

  1. What is momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi)? Is it the kind of concentration that was found in those listening attentively to the Buddha who attained stream entry at the end of the discourse (although they did not have any meditation experience)?
  2. How does one cultivate momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi)? I guess one also needs to overcome the five hindrances (panca nivaranani) in the process of cultivating momentary concentration.
  3. What is wise reflection (yoniso manasikara)? Is this the kind of reflection that was found in those listening attentively to the Buddha who attained stream entry at the end of the discourse (although they did not have any meditation experience)? This is implied in Ven. Dhammavuddho's talk.
  4. What is the relationship between wise reflection (yoniso manasikara) and momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi)? Is it like applying momentary concentration to wise reflection (outside meditation)?
  5. What is the relationship between mindfulness (sati) and the other two - wise reflection (yoniso manasikara) and momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi)?
  6. Do these factors make it possible for one to understand the Dhamma and attain stream entry without meditation, simply by wisely reflecting on the Dhamma with momentary concentration (which could only occur when the five hindrances are not present)? This is implied in Ven. Dhammavuddho's talk.
  • You ask many questions in one post. Khanika, Upacara and Appana are Abhidhamma teaching. Yoniso manasikara, Sati, panca nivarana are mainly Sutta teachings. discourse.suttacentral.net/t/… – SarathW Oct 1 '17 at 21:16
  • In nutshell, these terms refer to the different stages of concentration. In my experience, you will be better off if you try to understand Sutta Jhana. They are user-friendly and organic. – SarathW Oct 1 '17 at 21:19
  • Sounds like how I practice. – Lowbrow Oct 31 '17 at 13:30
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What is momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi)? Is it the kind of concentration that was found in those listening attentively to the Buddha who attained stream entry at the end of the discourse (although they did not have any meditation experience)?

I have not studied much about khanikasamadhi apart from one book which states it is not a genuine samadhi, which I would agree with.

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My research finds the idea about three kinds of samadhi are those of Buddhaghosa; found in his Visuddhimagga & commentary on the DN (Sumangala-vilasini); rather than of the Buddha. I do not see the point of trying to understand the teachings of the Buddha by taking refuge in questionable teachers, such as Buddhaghosa & his disciples, such as Nyanaponika.

Khanikasamadhi sounds like a worldly concentration, such as when self or ego tries to focus on a meditation object. To experience stream-entry, I think neighbourhood/access concentration is required; which is probably why it is called "access" concentration.

How does one cultivate momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi)? I guess one also needs to overcome the five hindrances (panca nivaranani) in the process of cultivating momentary concentration.

Personally, I would disagree with Nyanaponika's ideas. If the concentration was not impaired by hindrances, why would it be called "momentary" concentration?

What is wise reflection (yoniso manasikara)? Is this the kind of reflection that was found in those listening attentively to the Buddha who attained stream entry at the end of the discourse (although they did not have any meditation experience)? This is implied in Ven. Dhammavuddho's talk.

No. Wise reflection means to think or ponder. It is wisdom faculty rather than concentration faculty. Stream-entry obviously occurs via direct seeing or vipassana rather than via wise refection.

What is the relationship between wise reflection (yoniso manasikara) and momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi)? Is it like applying momentary concentration to wise reflection (outside meditation)?

Imo, there is no relationship. Wise reflection can cut through hindrances and can lead directly to be able to develop access concentration; as is described in MN 19. Where as momentary concentration is the clumsy efforts of the puthujjana that meditates with craving & ego.

*What is the relationship between mindfulness (sati) and the other two - wise reflection (yoniso manasikara) and momentary concentration (khanikasamadhi)?

Mindfulness remembers to engage wise reflection. Where as momentary concentration is generally the result of wrong mindfulness, i.e., meditating with craving & ego.

Do these factors make it possible for one to understand the Dhamma and attain stream entry without meditation, simply by wisely reflecting on the Dhamma with momentary concentration (which could only occur when the five hindrances are not present)? This is implied in Ven. Dhammavuddho's talk.*

Stream-entry must taste liberation, which is why stream-entry extinguishes doubt about the teachings. Therefore, wise reflection alone probably cannot lead to stream-entry because the taste of liberation includes the absence of thinking.


The Buddha taught the five hindrances cannot be removed when hearing the wrong teachings given by unworthy people (AN 10.61). These matters cannot be understood by taking monks seriously who cannot speak one sentence without say "uh", "ha", many times in one sentence. A monk with right mindfulness is at least aware of the quality of his speech when he talks.

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to 1.: yes

2.: "overcome the five hindrances" is prereqisite for samma samadhi. "How does one cultivate momentary concentration", it's a product of the prerequisites, a kammic effect.

3.: attention directed to see the circle of becoming and decay, e.g. includes certain sati

4.+ 5.: attention, the view direction; sati, keeping this and sequence in mind; samadhi the product, effect. If there is the "disturbance" of thinking in between, it will be not "direct perceived" but stays to certain amount a blurred perception.

  1. Yes, and only in that way. Whether one might sit, walk, stand or ly.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, and not meant for trade for worlds possible gainings]

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