What did the Buddha mean when he spoke about samma samadhi? Did he mean access concentration (upacara samadhi) or full absorption (appana samadhi) or momentary concentration (khanika samadhi)?

2 Answers 2


The Suttas usually define Samma-Samadhi as the four jhanas, but in some Suttas it gives a different explanation. For example, in the Mahacattarisa Sutta the Buddha said:

The Blessed One said: "Now what, monks, is noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions? Any singleness of mind equipped with these seven factors — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, & right mindfulness — is called noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions.

(Source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.117.than.html )

In the interpretation of the commentaries, any of the three levels of concentration can be sufficient, but in the case of momentary concentration, it would at least need to have the intensity of access concentration although it wouldn't have the duration of access concentration.

  • Hi Bakmoon,The explanation in the Mahacattarisa Sutta is "still" talking about the Jhanas.Remember the Jhanas is a state free from the five hindrances.When developing the Noble Path you are freeing yourself from the hindrances.All you need is the factor of One pointedness(Any singleness of mind) and your practicing the Jhanas.When the Buddha said Samma Samadhi he meant The Jhanas.
    – Orion
    Jan 29, 2015 at 5:28
  • Hi Orion. The exact nature of the jhanas is subject to a great deal of debate and I just wanted to give a brief answer to the questioner without delving into the details. They framed their question using commentarial terminology, so I answered them from the commentarial tradition, and in the commentaries, Aramanupanijhana is more than just the five hindrances. Lakkhanupanijhana doesn't need to be fixed concentration, but usually when people just use the word jhana they are talking about Aramanupanijhana.
    – Bakmoon
    Jan 29, 2015 at 6:03

Different linages may interpret this differently. This is Samadhi developed with awareness of the reality of the present moment rather than a perceptional or external element. E.g. the breath, sensation can be considered Samma Samadhi where as Samadhi based perception, greed or hatred is not Samma. The Samadhi developed outside Vippassana generally is not Samma, but can later be covered to Samma by turning to Vippassana (realising the 3 Characteristics and arising and passing away.)

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