The Recollections

Recollection | Definition of Recollection by Merriam-Webster

The Recollections and Reflections of J. R. Planch??, (Somerset Herald), Vol. 1 of 2: A Professional Autobiography (Classic Reprint) by J. R. Planch?? (2015-09-27)

Meditation is not simply a matter of bare attention. It is more a matter of appropriate attention, seeing experience in terms of the four noble truths and responding in line with the tasks appropriate to those truths: stress is to be comprehended, its cause abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation developed. These tasks involve processes of thought, analysis, and memory — which means that these processes, instead of being enemies of meditation, are actually the means by which Awakening is attained.

The ten recollections are a set of meditation themes that highlight the positive role that memory and thought play in training the mind. They employ memory to sensitize the mind to the need for training, to induce feelings of confidence and well-being conducive for concentration, to keep the topics of concentration in mind, to produce tranquility and insight, and to incline the mind toward the deathless when tranquility and insight have grown sufficiently strong.

1) Mindfulness of death is meant to evoke a sense of samvega — a sense of dismay over the dangers and futility of human life as it is normally lived, with its ordinary defilements, and a sense of urgency in trying to find a way beyond those limitations. This sense of urgency further induces the quality of heedfulness in approaching the practice, which the Buddha said is basic to all skillful endeavors.

3) Mindfulness of in-and-out breathing and mindfulness immersed in the body are the primary themes for developing tranquility and insight so as to lead to strong concentration in terms of the four jhanas, or absorptions; and they develop jhana in such a way that it gives added power to tranquility and insight in leading the mind to release ( §36 ).

4) Once the mind has been brought to a developed state of tranquility and insight — able to see even the pleasures of jhana as inconstant, stressful, and not-self — recollection of stilling is brought to bear so that the mind does not simply stay focused on the drawbacks of fabricated experiences. It does this by inclining the mind to the exquisite peace of the deathless, experienced through dispassion, cessation, and Unbinding ( §57 ).

When viewed in this way — starting with mindfulness of death and ending with a recollection aimed at Unbinding — the ten recollections illustrate the principle stated in §§42-43 , that mindfulness of death has, as its final end, not death but the deathless.