The sixth-century Buddhist monk Fuxi wrote:
The empty hand grasps the hoe handle
Walking along, I ride the ox
The ox crosses the wooden bridge
The bridge is flowing, the water is still
("Zen’s Chinese Heritage", translation by Andy Ferguson)
The phenomena that Fuxi described in his poem are all phenomena of trance; that is to say, they require the induction of a state in which volition in activity is surrendered, to a greater or lesser extent, before they can be observed.
The psychotherapist Milton Erickson held that trance is an everyday occurrence for everyone. Getting lost in a train of thought, or absorbed in an athletic endeavor, he described as examples of trance (1).
In his practice, Erickson regularly invited his clients to enter into trance, out of regard for the benefit of the client. That a client entered into trance in response to such an invitation, Erickson viewed as a result of the unconscious decision of the client, quite outside of Erikson’s control.
Erickson was famous for what came to be called "the confusion technique" in the induction of hypnosis, and in particular for his "handshake induction". By subtly interrupting someone in the middle of the expected course of an habitual activity, like shaking hands, Erickson enabled them to enter a state of trance. For Erickson, the confusion technique could also be applied through engaging the patient’s mind with a sentence whose meaning could not be found through the normal interpretation of the words and syntax (engaging the patient’s mind in a transderivational search (2)).
Mention of the induction of trance, which was explicitly recognized and described in the teachings of Gautama the Buddha (3) and was obliquely referenced in the remarks of Bodhidharma, the first Zen teacher in China (entering "the Way" in Denkoroku (4)), is largely absent in the Chinese and Japanese literature of Zen. At the same time, instances of sentences whose meaning cannot be found through the normal interpretation of the words and whose utterance may therefore enable the induction of trance in the listener are ubiquitous in the literature.
The induction of trance serves to heighten the experience of the senses (a fact that Erickson noted), and thereby to allow a person under the right circumstances to discover activity in the senses that underlie the experience of self. Neuroscientists Olaf Blanke and Christine Mohr hypothesized that the tactile/proprioceptive/kinesthetic and vestibular senses in combination with the ocular sense are principally responsible for what is regarded as the experience of self. Particularly important to their conclusion was the observation that persons who experience themselves as being simultaneously in two places at once (a particular kind of out-of-body experience) appear to have a dysfunction in one or another of these senses (5).
For those who are already familiar with Gautama the Buddha’s teaching regarding the lack of any actual abiding self, the conclusion that the experience of self is a function of activity in the senses should come as no surprise.
Gautama’s most widely acknowledged sermons concern mindfulness and the eight-fold path. Less widely appreciated is Gautama’s teaching that knowing and seeing experience of the senses "as it really is" can develop and bring to fruition, not only mindfulness and the elements of the eight-fold path, but each of the factors of enlightenment as well (6).
The tight connection between the sense of vision and the sense of location in three-dimensional space is demonstrated by the common feeling that awareness is located in the head, somewhere behind the eyes. If the sense of location in space is exercised through the distinction of motion in each of the three planes, that is to say through the distinction of the motions of pitch, roll, and yaw, the connection between the sense of vision and the sense of location may relax sufficiently to allow the location of awareness to shift somewhat from behind the eyes. If the eyes are closed, the location of awareness may even seem to shift spontaneously from one location in the body to another, as may sometimes be observed in the moments just before sleep.
Blanke and Mohr proposed that the sense of self is a normal function of the vestibular, proprioceptive (7), and visual senses. The "Blue Cliff Record", a collection of the sayings of various Zen masters that was assembled in 12th century China, contains a saying that points to these three senses in particular:
"To unfurl the red flag of victory over your head, whirl the twin swords behind your ears—if not for a discriminating eye and a familiar hand, how could anyone be able to succeed?"("The Blue Cliff Record", translation by T. and J.C. Cleary, case 37 pg 274)
"Whirl the twin swords behind your ears" is an admonition to exercise the vestibular organs, which cut motion in space into motion in the three planes. "The discriminating eye" is a reference to the distinction of the role the eyes play in the experience of spatial location from the role the eyes play in otherwise perceiving objects of vision. The "familiar hand" is a recognition of the ongoing role of proprioception in the experience of location.
The significance of the phrase "the red flag of victory" and what it means to "succeed" in such a context will become more apparent in the examination of Fuxi’s poem.
"The empty hand grasps the hoe handle"
The "handle" Fuxi referred to is the sacrum, a set of five vertebrae that move as a unit at the bottom of the spine. He implied that extension of the spine (the "hoe") depends on activity at the sacrum, yet the activity takes place through relaxation rather than conscious exertion ("the empty hand").
Relaxed extension from the tailbone through the sacrum to the head-top is a part of the practice of T’ai-Chi. T’ai-Chi master Cheng Man-Ch’ing advises that to begin T’ai-Chi, an individual should relax the entire body, first from the shoulders to the fingertips, then from the hips to the balls of the feet, and lastly from the tailbone to the top of the head. The aim, he says, is "to throw every bone and muscle of the entire body wide open" (8).
Support for the bottom-most vertebrae of the spine in relaxed extension is partly a function of the ilio-lumbar ligaments; these are the ligaments that stretch horizontally from the pelvis to the lowest lumbar vertebrae, and vertically from the pelvis to the second-lowest lumbar vertebrae (a).
Support in the ilio-lumbar ligaments in conjunction with placement and movement in the arms, legs, and upper body is familiar to everyone as the support engaged in swinging on a swing in a public playground. The fascia associated with the quadratus lumborum muscles (on the sides of the torso between the bottom-most ribs and the rim of the pelvis (b)) and with the ilio-tibial bands (between the rim of the pelvis and the lower legs (c)) can stretch and resile much like the ropes of a swing as support from the ilio-lumbar ligaments is realized.
The placement and weight of the arms and hands can provide for stretch and resile in the fascia behind the lower spine as well, through reciprocal activity in the latissimus dorsi muscles that connect the humerus bone of the upper arm to the fascia of the lower back (d). With a natural stretch and resile of fascia around the lower back in the movement of inhalation and exhalation, the alignment of vertebrae in the lower spine finds support, and the flexors and extensors of the spine can relax to their natural length.
The ligaments and fascia of the body can generate nerve messages to cause muscles to contract, without any conscious involvement (9). A normal upright posture is actually the result of a back and forth between the stretch of ligaments (or fascia) on one side of the body and the stretch of ligaments on the other side: as the ligaments on one side stretch to their limit, they generate nerve impulses to contract muscles that will relieve their stretch, but the contraction of these muscles stretches ligaments on the other side of the body. The back-and-forth contraction and relaxation is referred to as reciprocal activity.
In an upright posture, the constant, involuntary reciprocation of the psoas and extensor muscles (erector spinae) tends to "rock" the pelvis, to tip and tilt the pelvis where the psoas major ligaments slide across bursa on the pubic symphysis (e). Relaxed extension gives a length to the psoas that allows the rock of the pelvis to stretch the ligaments between the sacrum and pelvis. In turn, the resile of the ligaments and fascia that hold the sacrum and pelvis together can impart movement that supports relaxed extension.
Reciprocal activity generated by the stretch of the ilio-lumber and ilio-sacral ligaments that enters into the location of awareness "grasps the hoe handle", yet Fuxi places the emphasis on the experience of relaxation in the resile of the same ligaments with the words "the empty hand".
"Walking along, I ride the ox"
In addition to the ilio-sacral ligaments that hold the sacrum to the pelvis, there are two other major sets of ligaments between the sacrum and the pelvis: these are the sacro-spinous ligaments that connect the sacrum and the sit-bones on either side, and the sacro-tuberous ligaments that connect the sacrum and the lower front corners of the pelvis on either side (f).
Because the psoas major’s ligaments attach to the hip bones, reciprocal activity between the two sides of the psoas generates a roll and sway in the pelvis that stretches the sacro-spinous, sacro-tuberous, and ilio-femoral (hip) ligaments as well as ilio-sacral ligaments. In turn, relaxation in the resile of these ligaments can sustain the roll and sway in support of a relaxed extension.
The obturators connect from the inside and outside of the pelvis to the rear of the hips, and when they reciprocate in response to stretch in the sacro-spinous ligaments and in the fascia of the hip joints, they tend to open the joint between the pelvis and the hips and tilt the front of the pelvis downward (g). Flexibility side-to-side at the hip joints stretches the sacro-spinous ligaments and the ilio-tibial fascial bands, and initiates reciprocal activity in the quadricep and ham string muscles. The quadricep muscles have fascial connections with the ilio-tibial bands just above the knee, and activity in the quadriceps can add stretch to the ilio-tibial bands through these connections (h). Stretch in the ilio-tibial bands can also initiate reciprocal activity in the sartorius muscles (from the lower leg to the wings of the pelvis along the inside of each leg) to rotate the pelvis slightly around the vertical axis of the spine (j).
The tensor and gluteous muscles connect from the ilio-tibial bands to the pelvis, and the gluteous muscles also connect to the rear of the sacrum and to the fascia behind the sacrum and the lower back. Stretch in the ilio-tibial bands and rotation of the pelvis by the sartorius muscles can initiate reciprocal activity in the tensor and gluteous muscles, and as these muscles reciprocate, the gluteous muscles can rotate the sacrum and stretch the fascia of the lower back on the diagonals (this is the same fascia that the latissimus dorsi muscles stretch on the diagonals from above).
The piriformis muscles connect from the leg bones near the hips to the front of the sacrum on either side, and reciprocate with the gluteous muscles in the rotation of the sacrum. The action of these muscles stretches fascia between the pelvis and the sacrum on the diagonal axis of the sacrum, along with the sacro-tuberous ligaments.
Reciprocal activity in the pelvis and legs that stretches the ilio-tibial, ilio-femoral, and ilio-sacral ligaments can be generated as the placement and weight of the legs enters into the location of awareness, and this is the "walking along" of the second line of Fuxi’s poem; the reciprocal activity generated by the stretch of these ligaments constitutes "the ox", and relaxation in the resile of these ligaments makes for a "ride".
"The ox crosses the wooden bridge"
A relaxed upright posture depends on reciprocation between the psoas muscles, along the front of the lower spine, and the extensor muscles, which run upwards from the tailbone to the bones of the skull in three sets. Behind the sacrum, the extensors are enclosed by the bone of the sacrum on three sides; if the fascia behind the sacrum is stretched by activity in the gluteous muscles, the press of the mass of the left and right extensors in contraction against the fascia behind the sacrum can add to the stretch of the fascia of the lower back (k)(10).
Reciprocal activity in the tensor and gluteous muscles carries up into activity of the transversus abdominis muscles that stretch the fascia of the lower back side to side (l). Stretch across the fascia of the lower back from side to side, in addition to stretch from the latissimus dorsi muscles (on the corners from above) and the gluteous muscles (on the corners from below), serves to support relaxed alignment of the vertebrae of the lower spine, especially at the waist (m).
A full description of the relaxation involved in the practice of Tai-Chi is given by Cheng Man-Ching as follows:
"In the first phase the sinews are relaxed from the shoulder to the wrist. …Finally we are able to relax the sinews all the way to the fingertips. The second phase, from the groin to the heel, proceeds in the same manner. …One must not use strength, but completely relax from the groin to the knees to the heels. …The third phase is from the wei-lu point (base of the tailbone) to the crown of the head… Thus we speak of softening the waist, so that it can bend in any direction, as if there were no bones at all."("Master Cheng’s Thirteen Chapters on T’ai-Chi Ch’uan", by Cheng Man-Ch’ing, translated by Douglas Wile, pgs 53-54)
Studies in the 1950’s demonstrated that when weight is lifted, the rectus muscles remain uncontracted while activity in the other abdominals generates pressure in the fluid ball of the abdominal cavity. Pressure in the fluid ball of the abdominal cavity can be sustained through activity in the transversus abdominis muscles together with activity in the muscles of the pelvic floor (11). Pressure in the abdominal cavity does not, however, impede the movement of breath:
"The positon of the lungs outside the fluid ball is an obvious advantage. Breathing can go on even when the abdomen is used as a support and cannot be relaxed."("Role of abdominal pressure in relieving pressure on lumbar intervertebral discs", D.L. Bartilink, "Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery" 39 B number 4 November 1957)
Pressure generated in the fluid ball of the abdomen can also displace the lumbar-dorsal fascia (the sheet of fascia behind the lower spine) slightly to the rear, which suspends and supports the vertebrae of the spine much as the upward displacement of the main cables of a suspension bridge (by the towers) suspends and supports the elements of the roadway below (o)(12).
Pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen depends in part on reciprocal activity in the muscles of the pelvic floor. Relaxed extension of the spine can stretch the ligaments and fascia of the pelvic floor from the pubic bones to the tailbone, and generate reciprocal activity that aligns the tailbone and sacrum with the lower spine (p). As the reciprocal activity in the pelvic floor aligns the tailbone and sacrum, the push of the extensors behind the sacrum orients stretch in the lumbar-dorsal fascia and guides the alignment of the spine by the abdominal and thoracic muscles (q). With an alignment of the spine and pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen, the lumbar-dorsal fascial sheet displaces, and the stretch and reciprocal activity of relaxed extension can reach to the crown of the head (r).
The activity that creates pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen and allows the displacement of the fascia of the lower back has a familiar feeling, yet the feeling is different in inhalation and in exhalation:
Miraculous power and marvelous activity
Drawing water and chopping wood.
(Pangyun, a lay Zen practitioner, eight century C.E.)
Cleave a (piece of) wood, I am there;
lift up the stone and you will find Me there.
(The Gospel According to Thomas, coptic text established and translated by A. Guillaumont, H.-CH. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till and Yassah ‘Abd Al Masih, pg 43 log. 77)
Proprioception of particular fascia or particular muscles that enters into the location of awareness may be accompanied a pleasant or unpleasant sensation, or by a sensation that is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. Relaxation and distinction of the senses as sensation enters into the location of awareness allows the bones of the body to fall into place, and the fascia of the lower back to displace.
Stretch and resile in the ligaments of the pelvis and pelvic floor that enters into the location of awareness with equanimity is the "the ox" in the third line of Fuxi’s poem; the relaxation of reciprocal activity that enters into the location of awareness "crosses the wooden bridge".
"The bridge is flowing, the water is still"
Support for the lower spine generated through the displacement of the lower back fascia allows for a spacing of vertebrae that permits ease at the nerve exits between vertebrae, and so allows for feeling from the networks of these nerves in the body to enter into the location of awareness. Feeling around the surface of the abdomen and chest in particular can inform the activity of the transversus abdominus and transversus thoracic muscles in the development of abdominal pressure and the alignment of lower back fascia.
Ta’i-Chi master Cheng Man-Ching described a pattern of experience in the circulation of an energy he referred to as "ch’i" that culminated in a manifestation in the skin and hair:
"With this method of circulating the ch'i, it overflows into the sinews, reaches the bone marrow, fills the diaphragm, and manifests in the skin and hair."("Master Cheng's Thirteen Chapters on T'ai-Chi Ch'uan", Cheng Man-Ching trans. Douglas Wile, pg. 17)
The stages Cheng outlined could be said to be particular emphases in the proprioception that enters into the location of awareness: first, with regard to stretch and resile in the ligaments ("it overflows into the sinews"); second, with regard to weight and placement ("reaches the bone marrow"); third, with regard to the movement of the diaphragm with pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen ("fills the diaphragm"); and fourth, with regard to an ability to feel around the surface of the skin ("manifests in the skin and hair").
The literal meaning of the word "ch’i" is "breath". Cheng described how, once the entire body is relaxed, a further relaxation of the chest will allow the ch’i to sink to the tan-t’ien (a point below and behind the navel)(13). Relaxation of the chest depends on a relinquishment of volitive activity affecting the movement of inhalation and exhalation; given such a relinquishment, the location of awareness may indeed shift to the lower abdomen and include proprioception there and elsewhere in the body, much as Cheng described.
Cheng mentioned keeping the mind in the vicinity of the ch’i at the tan-t’ien:
"When the beginner starts to learn T’ai Chi Ch’uan, he should secure his mind and ch’i in the tan-t’ien. Do not forget this, but also do not coerce it… After a long time, the ch’i naturally passes through the coccyx, spreads along the backbone, and travels up through the occipital region to the top of the head. Then it descends to the tan-t’ien. … you cannot force it! It must be completely natural."("Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan", Cheng Man Ch’ing, translation by Benjamin Pang, Jeng Lo, and Martin Inn, pg 41)
Cheng described how ch’i "spreads along the backbone" and "travels up through the occiput region to the top of the head", a description that recalls the phrase "to unfurl the red flag of victory over your head" from the "Blue Cliff Record".
Twelfth-century Zen teacher and "Blue Cliff Record" compiler Yuanwu mentioned the crown of the head in a letter to one of his students:
"You should realize that on the crown of the heads of… enlightened adepts there is a wondrous way of 'changing the bones' and transforming your existence."("Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu", translated by Cleary & Cleary, 1st ed pg 83)
Dr. John Upledger, a leading proponent of cranial-sacral osteopathy, pointed to the nerves between bones at the crown of the head as the source of the rhythm of change in the volume of cranial-sacral fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves inside the lower spine and sacrum). According to Upledger, the volume of the cranial-sacral fluid increases and decreases in a natural cycle that occurs about 10 times a minute (11) The cranial-sacral fluid is contained inside a thick tissue envelope known as the dura mater, and the changes in fluid volume change the pressure in the envelope. Any change in pressure in a closed fluid system is instantaneously transmitted everywhere throughout the system (per the laws of hydraulics), and the rhythm of change in the volume of the cranial-sacral fluid instantaneously becomes a rhythm of flexion, extension, and rotation throughout the body as the dura mater (and its connections to the bones) is affected.
Most Western anatomists believe that the sutures between the bones of the skull are completely fused together by very early childhood, but the Italian anatomists of the early 1900’s described the situation differently. Based on his own research, Upledger concluded that the Italian anatomists were right, and that the bones of the skull are capable of independent movement relative to one another in adults (11). If Upledger is correct, action in the extensors may contribute to the movement of bones in the skull and affect the cranial-sacral rhythm; the cranial sacral rhythm, in turn, may contribute to the motion of the spine and sacrum and the stretch of ligaments, and through the stretch of ligaments to reciprocal activity in the extensors.
Dr. Upledger claimed that the addition of 5 grams of pressure (roughly the weight of a nickel) to a place where the cranial-sacral rhythm was moving well could sometimes free places that were not moving well, by means of the distribution of pressure throughout the body by the cranial-sacral system.
The relaxed distinction of sense can cause the placement and weight of any given part of the body to generate activity of posture and carriage. As the proprioception of the part enters into the location of awareness, the impact on the equilibrium of the body registers in the stretch and resile of the fascia and ligaments, and the fascia and ligaments generate activity. Equally, the relaxed distinction of sense can cause an ability to feel with regard to the diaphragm or the surface of the body to generate activity of posture and carriage.
Cheng Man-Ch’ing described a lightness and a freedom of movement in the practice of T’ai-Chi, such that:
"…the addition of a feather will be felt for its weight, and… a fly cannot alight on (the body) without setting it in motion."("Cheng Man-Ch’ing’s T’ai-Chi Ch’uan", Cheng Man-Ch’ing, © Juliana T. Cheng, North Atlantic Books pg 14)
The relinquishment of volitive activity in relaxation is familiar to everyone as a part of falling asleep; such a relinquishment of volitive activity can also take place as a part of waking up. With a relinquishment of volitive activity in waking up, an ability to feel can enter into the location of awareness such that the weight of a fly generates activity of posture and carriage.
One of the difficulties many people have in falling asleep is the notion that they must somehow turn off the activity of their senses in order to do so; although sensory overload can definitely serve to keep a person awake (at least for awhile), calm acceptance of the activity of the senses is actually a necessary part of falling asleep.
The sharpening of the senses that occurs with a relinquishment of volition is a part of falling asleep and waking up (a bout of insomnia may be required to see that this is so in falling asleep). The increased distinction of individual sense, including the sense of mind, frees the location of awareness to shift and move as proprioception enters in while yet remaining one-pointed.
Fuxi referred to a freedom of the location of awareness to move in the fourth line of his poem, with the phrase "the bridge is flowing"; the cessation of any conscious direction of the activity of the body at such time, he metaphorized by "the water is still".
The sense of vision can be experienced separately from the sense of location and from the sense of placement and weight in the parts of the body; given such an experience, the relinquishment of volition can allow the sense of location to shift as proprioception occurs, and anything that enters into the sense of location can be realized as activity of posture and carriage:
"When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point."("Genjo Koan" by Eihei Dogen, translation by by Aitken and Tanahashi)
A relinquishment of volition cannot be made to happen, any more than falling asleep or waking up can be made to happen. Shunryu Suzuki once admonished a student for thinking that they were the source of the activity of zazen (seated Zen meditation):
"Don't ever think that you can sit zazen! That's a big mistake! Zazen sits zazen!"(Shunryu Suzuki (15))
The seated practice of Soto Zen is often referred to as "shikantaza", a Japanese word that Zen teacher Kobun Chino Otogawa said meant "sitting just for the sake of sitting". He spoke about what sitting shikantaza meant to him:
"…Sitting shikantaza is the place itself, and things. …When you sit, the cushion sits with you. If you wear glasses, the glasses sit with you. Clothing sits with you. House sits with you. People who are moving around outside all sit with you. They don't take the sitting posture!"(lecture by Kobun Chino Otogawa (16))
Kobun cautioned that "people who are moving around outside" are a part of the practice of zazen. The notion that the things that enter into the practice of zazen are not limited by walls can be startling, yet Gautama’s descriptions of the further meditative states would indicate that the boundary for the things that enter into practice stretches well beyond what is considered the normal range of the senses (17).
Zen in China and Japan abandoned the meditative states that Gautama taught, yet the seeming madness of the teachers of Zen had its method. Although Fuxi’s poem predates the arrival of Zen in China, already the use of a metaphor for experience that can invoke a transderivational search in the listener is present. The style of instruction exemplified by Fuxi’s poem became the standard in Zen teaching, and is still very much alive today.
3 see http://www.zenmudra.com/zenmudra-the-practice-of-zazen.html#rupajhanas
4 "Transmission of the Light", translation by Thomas Cleary, #30 Huike pg 111
5 Blanke and Mohr, Out-of-body experience, heautoscopy, and autoscopic hallucination of neurological origin: Implications for neurocognitive mechanisms of corporeal awareness and self consciousness
6 Majjhima-Nikaya III 287-290, Pali Text Society volume 3 pg 337-338
8 "Master Cheng’s Thirteen Chapters on T’ai-Chi Ch’uan", by Cheng Man-Ch’ing, translated by Douglas Wile, pgs 53-54
9 "Applied Kinesiology: A Training Manual and Reference Book of Basic Principles and practices", Robert Frost, pg 22; concerning proprioceptors, "All measure the tensions acting upon body parts (through posture, motion, and acceleration) and produce correcting effects upon the function of the muscles." Reference to the proprioceptors in the ligaments, joints, and skin.
"Fascial Manipulation Practical Part", by Luigi and Carla Stecco, pg 16: "The receptors of the deep fascia are all proprioceptors that are capable of acting as nociceptors whenever they are stretched beyond their normal physiological limit."
10 Mechanical Disorders of the Low Back" by H. F. Farfan (B. S.C., M. D., C.M., F.R.C.S. (C)), published by Lea & Febiger,© 1973, pg 183
11 "Role of abdominal pressure in relieving pressure on lumbar intervertebral discs", D.L. Bartilink, "Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery" 39 B number 4 November 1957; see also http://www.bjj.boneandjoint.org.uk/content/39-B/4/718
12 "A mathematical model of the lumbar spine using an optimized system to control muscles and ligaments", S. Gracovetsky, H.F. Farfan, C.B. Lamay, Orthop. Clin. North Am. 8(1): 135-153, 1977 13 http://www.shareguide.com/Upledger.html
14 "T’ai-Chi Ch’uan", by Cheng Man-Ch’ing, North Atlantic Books, pg 7
15 http://www.cuke.com/Cucumber Project/interviews/hartman b&l.html (Lou and Blanche Hartman, interview by David Chadwick)
16 "Shikantaza", http://www.jikoji.org/intro-aspects/
17 Gautama the Buddha spoke of four initial meditative states, in the fourth of which the exercise of volition in the body with respect to habitual activity of inhalation and exhalation ceases. Gautama also described several further meditative states, and he offered a description of what he said was "the heart’s release" connected with these states:
"[One] dwells, having suffused the first quarter [of the world] with friendliness, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; just so above, below, across; [one] dwells having suffused the whole world everywhere, in every way, with a mind of friendliness that is far-reaching, wide-spread, immeasurable, without enmity, without malevolence. [One] dwells having suffused the first quarter with a mind of compassion… sympathetic joy… equanimity that is far-reaching, wide-spread, immeasurable, without enmity, without malevolence."
(MN I 38, Pali Text Society volume I pg 48)
Gautama described the first of the further meditative states as "the excellence" of the heart’s release through compassion, the second as "the excellence" of the heart’s release through sympathetic joy, and the third as "the excellence" of the heart’s release through equanimity (the "excellence" of the heart’s release through friendliness he described as "the beautiful") (SN V 115-120, Pali Text Society SN volume V pg 99-102).
copyright 2014 Mark A. Foote