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The Importance of Forms in Motion

Updated: Mar 18, 2023


Copyright © 2023 Tomás Morales Duran. All Rights Reserved.


The key of the jhānas is the directing of the mind in the forms in movement. Without directing the mind in the forms in movement, the four instructions of the practice cannot be developed:



MN 119: The Instructions of the Practice in the Body

Also, a bhikkhu, totally cut off from sense pleasures, cut off from vices, enters and merges into the first jhāna, having the pleasure, happiness and joy that arise from recollection, while directing the mind and keeping it concentrated. He soaks, waters, fills and fills his body with pleasure and happiness born of retirement. There is no part of the body that is not extended by the pleasure and happiness that comes from retirement.

It is like when a skilled bath attendant or her apprentice pours bath powder into a brass dish, sprinkling it little by little with water. He kneads it until the ball of bath powder is soaked and saturated with moisture, spread inside and out. However, no moisture comes out. In the same way, he soaks, waters, fills, and fills his body with pleasure and happiness born of retirement. There is no part of the body that is not extended by the pleasure and happiness that comes from retirement.

As he trains like this, diligently, enthusiastically and determinedly, he abandons the memories and thoughts of home life. His mind subjectively quiets, settles, concentrates, and plunges into contemplation. This is also how a bhikkhu develops the instructions of the practice in the body.

Furthermore, as the directing of the mind on the moving forms disappears, it enters and merges into the second jhāna, which has the pleasure, happiness and joy that arise from concentration, with inner clarity and confidence, and with the concentrated mind, the directing of the mind on the forms in movement disappears. He soaks, waters, fills and fills his body with pleasure and happiness born of contemplation. There is no part of the body that is not extended by the pleasure and happiness born of contemplation.

It is like a deep lake fed by spring water. There is no inlet to the east, west, north, or south, and no rain to replenish it from time to time. But the stream of cold water that gushes out of the lake soaks, droops, fills, and spreads across the entire lake. There is no part of the lake that is not filled with cold water. Similarly, a bhikkhu soaks, fills, fills, and extends his body with pleasure and happiness born of contemplation. There is no part of the body that is not extended by the pleasure and happiness born of contemplation. This is also how a bhikkhu develops the instructions of the practice in the body.

Furthermore, with the waning of pleasure, he enters and submerges in the third jhāna, where he contemplates impassively, diligently and resolutely and feels the bodily well-being of which the nobles declare: "impassive and resolute, one abides in happiness." He drenches, showers, fills and fills his body with pleasure-free bliss. There is no part of the body that does not spread with happiness without pleasure.

It is like a pond with blue water lilies or pink or white lotuses. Some of them sprout and grow in the water without rising above it, thriving underwater. From the tip to the root, they are soaked, watered, full and overflowing with cold water. There is no part of them that is not drenched with cold water. In the same way, a bhikkhu soaks, waters, fills and fills his body with pleasure-free happiness. There is no part of the body that does not spread with happiness without pleasure. This is also how a bhikkhu develops the instructions of the practice in the body.

Furthermore, a bhikkhu, giving up pleasure and pain, and putting an end to previous happiness and sadness, enters and merges into the fourth jhāna, without pleasure or pain, with pure impassivity and gnosis. He sits stretching out his body with a bright and pure mind. There is no part of the body that is not filled with a pure and brilliant mind.

It is like someone sitting wrapped from head to foot in a white cloth. There is no part of the body that is not covered with a white cloth. In the same way, he sits stretching out his body with a pure and brilliant mind. There is no part of the body that is not filled with a pure and brilliant mind. As he trains like this, diligently, enthusiastically and determinedly, he abandons the memories and thoughts of home life. His mind subjectively quiets, settles, concentrates, and plunges into contemplation.

Anyone who has developed and cultivated the instructions of the practice in the body includes all the good qualities that play a role in realisation. Anyone who remembers the great ocean includes all the streams that flow into it. In the same way, anyone who has developed and cultivated the instructions of the practice in the body includes all the good qualities that play a role in realisation.


Without developing the four instructions of practice, the true Teaching is lost:



SN 47.22: Enduring

The same scenario.

—What is the cause, venerable Ānanda, what is the reason why the true Teaching will not last long after the parinibbāna of the Tathāgata? What is the cause, what is the reason why the true Teaching will endure long after the parinibbāna of the Tathāgata?

"Well, well, venerable Bhadda!" Your focus and articulation are excellent and it's a good question. Because you asked: “What is the cause, venerable Ānanda, why the true Teaching will not last long after the Tathāgata's parinibbāna? What is the cause, what is the reason why the true Teaching will endure long after the parinibbāna of the Tathāgata?"

"Yes, venerable.

—It is by not developing and cultivating the four instructions of practice that the true Teaching will not last long after the Tathagata's parinibbāna. Due to the development and cultivation of the four instructions of practice, the true Teaching will endure long after the Tathagata's parinibbāna.

"What four?"

—It is when a bhikkhu trains hard by applying the instructions of the body practice to the body, putting out the fire in the mind by being aware of the underlying tendencies and suppressing, through Discipline, the urge that leads consciousness to submission.

Train diligently by applying the instructions of the practice of emotions in emotions... of mind in mind... of phenomena, in the sense of clinging factors to existence, in phenomena, putting out the fire in the mind by being aware of the underlying tendencies and suppressing, through Discipline, the urge that leads consciousness to submission.

It is by not developing and cultivating these four instructions of practice that the true Teaching will not last long after the Tathagata's parinibbāna.

Due to the development and cultivation of these four instructions of practice, the true Teaching will endure long after the Tathagata's parinibbāna.


And the true Teaching loses by misplacing syllables and words and misinterpreting their meaning:



AN 2.20

—These two things, bhikkhus, lead to the decline and disappearance of the true Teaching.

"What two things?"

—When words and syllables are misplaced and the meaning is misinterpreted. When words and syllables are misplaced, the meaning is also misinterpreted. These two things lead to the decline and disappearance of the true Teaching.


We observe that the true Teaching declined until it disappeared. The four instructions of the practice were lost due to misinterpretation as Buddhist sects multiplied, just as a rotten log becomes the ideal environment for the proliferation and growth of fungi.

On 237 occasions, no less, "forms in motion" appear in the texts. It might seem surprising that they have been historically ignored, but it is not so surprising if we consider that it is impossible to orally transmit a shape, a graphic.

Without being able to transmit it, the true Teaching ends up being lost. And a lost Teaching loses those who follow it.

But the Teaching has other, more skilful forms of transmission, which happen from time to time, but they do happen.



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