Author affiliation: Oriental Faculty and Theology Faculty, Oxford University
This article examines the term kammaṭṭhāna in three contexts. It begins by looking at the rare usage in the Pali canon where it denotes secular work, but is extended to include the work of the ascetic. It then looks at its usage in the commentarial period to denote the meditation subjects for samatha meditation, and where extensions of this to include vipassanā also occur. Finally, the article looks at kammaṭṭhāna in early modern Southeast Asia (primarily Siam) in the context of a variety of pre-modern meditation, boran kammathan, where the number of meditation subjects is increased, the patterns of their usage has changed with a new emphasis on experiencing nimitta, and kammathan is employed as a general term for meditation per se. The article also considers some ancillary features of boran kammathan texts, offering suggestions to enhance the search for new boran kammathan texts in manuscript archives and libraries.