On the path to Nibbana, the most significant aspect is meditation. “Samadhi” (concentration) is the final element found in the Noble Eightfold Path is which derives from meditation. In this path to nibbana, Dana (generosity) ranks first, and Sila (morality) ranks in the middle, and culminates in the practice of meditation.
“Mindfulness on in-and-out breathing (anapasathi bhavana) enables one to identify the nature of the frame of mind within the Noble Eightfold Path. ‘Ana’ refers to the in-breath and ‘apana’ refers to the out-breath. Being conscious of the process of in-breath and out-breath is known as “anapana sathi”. Mind which arises based on the object of breath is devoid of greed (lobha) and hatred (dosa) as one has unlimited access to air for breathing. Similarly, hatred (dosa) does not arise as one cannot do without air. Thus, consciousness without greed, hatred and delusion arises during the anapana-sathi meditation. This is a state of wholesome consciousness (kusala citta).
When one contemplates on one’s in-out breathing and observes the mind that is devoid of greed and hatred, one gets accustomed to apply the same wholesome mindset in respect of the objects perceived from the sense faculties such as eye, nose, ear, tongue and body. When this practice becomes intense one can deal with all objects with a happy, wholesome mind. This practice would ultimately lead to mundane nibbana. One who is adept at dealing with all sense objects with a happy, wholesome mind and is imbued with mundane nibbana would ultimately come to the final realization of supra-mundane nibbana (lokuttara nibbana). Afterlife would become a happy existence for one who leads a happy course of existence (sugati) in this life.
We need meditation to lead a life with happiness. Meditation enables us to deal with all sense objects with happiness. Meditation helps us deal with all worldly sense objects without experiencing any suffering while enjoying nibbanic bliss in the presence of these objects.
Subjecting one’s mind to suffering is an unwholesome deed. Getting rid of mind of suffering is a wholesome deed. One of the mental factors known as “thought” (savitakka) in meditation refers to the process of mind getting rid of these unwholesome mental states. “Sustained thought” (savicara) is to maintain these wholesome mental states in the mind. Piti (rapture) is the pleasure derived from maintaining these wholesome mental states in the mind. Sukha (joy) is pervading of the pleasure throughout the mind and body. Ekaggata (one-pointedness) is the culmination of the development of mind based on the convergence of mental factors savitakka, savicara, piti and sukha.
Success of meditation depends on the capability of mind to maintain the wholesome state developed through meditation in the face of worldly objects such as visual forms, sounds, odours, tastes, and tactile sensations. When one is at this juncture, Nibbana is attainable in this lifetime; present life itself becomes a happy course of existence.