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V P S A A I A S N (Arousing of Insight)
“There are those with little dust in their eyes” [9th in the New Series] From the Discourses of THE VENERABLE ACARA SUVANNO MAHATHERA collated by jinavamsa Arousing of Insight (Vipassana) Ninth in The Series “There are those with little dust in their eyes”
Reflection - Vipassana brings you face to face with your mind
Insight knowledge arises when purity of mind is attained
CONTENTS FOREWORD 5 An Outline 11 INTRODUCTION 14 Preliminaries 14 A Resolve to Practise 16 Insight Explained 17 Solitary Meditation 19 Seeking a Teacher 20 Teacher/Meditator Relationship 21 Guidelines 24 Caution in Meditation 27 The Danger of Stilted Practice 31 A Suitable Place 34 THE PRACTICE: BASIC EXERCISES 35 1. SITTING MEDITATION 35 Preparing to Sit 35 Beginning Exercise 36 Initial Noting 36 Primary Object of Noting 37 Further Practice Exercise  Contemplating on Breathing 40  Note Touching 41  Note Sitting 41
2. WALKING MEDITATION: Basic Instructions
Stages of Walking Meditation 47 Steps in Walking Meditation (Diagram) Note for Contemplation 51 Benefits of Walking Meditation 53 50
3. MINDFULNESS IN DAILY ACTIVITIES
4. LYING DOWN 70 Aids to Progressive Practice Simulated Behaviour 71 71
As a Sick Person 71 As a Blind Person 71 As a Deaf Person 72 Mindfulness of Sleep 73 Three or Four Hours Sleep 74 Changing Position during Sitting Patience leads to Success 78
PRACTISE NOTES 82 Concentration and Insight Knowledge Development of Insight 86 Seeing, Hearing Etc. 88-90 Mind 92 WORDS FOR CONTEMPLATION 95
FOREWORD …Sight on Unbind, Vipassana discerns the Flighty Mind… not unlike solitary Eagle … Soaring rarefied skies… …it Mindfully eyes Delusion faze not the Heedful Mind Unim passioned…Fully Aware,
Realising… the End is nigh… ***jinavamsa
his book is dedicated to all of you out there who are intending to practise Vipassana but is not sure how to go about it, there being quite a few “authorities” on the subject. This book may be one of those that will further confuse you or help guide you onto the pristine path. If it does, the compiler would be most gratified. If it does not, then the compiler hopes that somewhere somehow you will be successful in your search, because the fruit of your quest is of immense benefit to you. It is not that the compiler is a person of great attainment that he compiles, but that through the years of practise with one of Malaysia’s (in Penang specifically) own home grown Mindfulness Meditation Guru, the Late Venerable Acara Suvanno Mahathera, who himself was a dedicated student of the late Mahasi Sayadaw of Myanmar, where and when the Teachings of the Buddha was still in its pristine state; he sees the confusion in the practice as the days advance to “modern” times and the need to bring things back to its basic weave before they truly get out of hand, which it will, have no fear; for we are already amidst the debris of the Dhamma. This will surely happen as seen by the Buddha. The years spent in learning from the late Venerable Acara Suvanno Mahathera and adopting his method; that being one “authority” for this compilation, the other is that the method outlined in this small booklet is based on the practice adopted by one of the greatest teacher in modern times; the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw,
who practised and taught it successfully after learning it from another great teacher in what was then known as Burma. Thus you will note that the method outlined herein is of a proven noble stock. Amidst the confusion of methods in the practice and the downward trend of the Dhamma, what then should our attitude be in such a foregone situation? Should we ride along and do as everyone is doing and will be doing, after all there is safety in numbers; why go against the stream? It is “in” to be with the crowd. Surely with so many humongous and varied (also large and small ones too) unwholesome deeds being carried out what is my little contribution, good or bad, to the oncoming holocaust that will be ahead of us? THAT will surely be the attitude of the majority. That may not be a good idea, Dear Friends! A little story to explain; once upon a time, I was travelling in my car, in a great hurry to do something (cannot remember now, hopefully this is not a sign of the onset of dementia) and ahead of my little old car was a big sleek luxurious vehicle. I was preparing to stop as coming up was a junction and the lights had just turned red. The car in front of me did not stop and jumped the red light. Being in a great hurry, and seeing the example in front, I too jumped the lights. Just as I did that, the officious arm of the law appeared right in front of the road and held up its hand! I stopped right there and then, confident that I could get away as did the big car. The policeman approached and queried: “Did you not see the lights were red?” Me: “I did, but the car of me also went ahead and so I do likewise.” He looked at me, pen poised on top of his note book ready to give me a ticket for violating a traffic rule but said in stead “Hmm”, he wisely replied: “If he had driven into the huge drain ahead, would you also follow?”
That was a deep insight for me. I smiled and replied contritely: “No, I will not.” He too smiled and to top it all, we both burst out laughing. In his wisdom he did not issue me a ticket! But will we be so lucky if we had followed the wrong lessons in life? That is why Vipassana is unique. By its practice, we realise the real values in life and this guides us along the correct stream into eradicating defilement of the mind. It teaches us to know ourselves. It teaches us to go it alone! It teaches us to mindfully make a wise evaluation of what we see, hear, smell, taste, feel and think and decide for ourselves before we accept those things. It is not necessary that we accept all that comes to us through our sense media. We can choose! That is the uniqueness about humans. We have the innate ability to decide and chose what is good for us, for others and for the general well being of all beings. Why not use this great single character we have within us. Vipassana teaches us how to choose in this way. Thus whether you prefer to follow the crowd or to follow the advice of the Greatest Teacher of all times who said: “Take refuge only in yourself”; you have a choice. With the wisdom of Vipassana as your foundation your choice cannot be wrong. The time spent with Bhante Suvanno (if I believe in an almighty god and a soul I will say: “God bless his soul and may he rest in peace, forever”, which belief, however, I shall leave to others, and I will say with the most profound sincerity: “May my teacher, mentor, friend and ‘the Brahma in my life’ attain Nibbana in this very life”) is The Highpoint of my life in my nearly seventy years in this existence. Never have a person a better friend than I had in the person of this well practised, holy monk, the Venerable Acara Suvanno Mahathera (popularly known as Bhante Suvanno or just plain Bhante). I met him by design in the
early months of 1997. I had just been brought to the Dhamma by a very good friend, Freddie; and it was again he who told me to further my Dhamma practice by seeking out this great teacher, Bhante Suvanno in a faraway place call Lunas, which of course I have never heard of; sounded like a crater on the moon or such lonely place out in space. The words that caught my interest was the fact that according to Freddie, Bhante had said that when a person have practised Vipassana well and have attain to some initial meditational results; the monetary reward of winning the Social Welfare Lottery forty times was not the equivalent of the joy in such a feat as winning the Dhamma once! That struck me to the heart; for at that time the bank balance in my favour was still pretty good and money was still my greatest goal in life. In my shallow concept of life and its goals; how is it that someone can see money, the source of all our endeavours, as second to something so abstract and volatile? Hmm. This I gotta see! That set my sights onto Lunas, a hermitage described in my book “Striving to be a Nobody” and so I will not bore those who have read that book with the same details. I shall concentrate on my thoughts of this kalyana mitta who brought me from the dark abyss of my life to the heights of hope from the first day he taught me Vipassana. I cannot describe him as anything else except as my teacher, though there was no formal ceremony as such; this is a hallmark of Bhante Suvanno; he is never pretentious. He would take things as they come along without fuss or undue ceremony. He did not teach me in the normal form as you would expect a teacher to teach. In replying to my request to seek refuge in the hermitage, he casually asked a few questions; do you meditate? I said yes, I do and he asked again; how? And
I replied; rising and falling and he said; carry on! That was his instructions to me! BUT!! And here is his big exception from a normal teacher; he will be on and off strolling by my kuti (small basic meditation hut for one person) and observed where and for how long I meditated. In the evening when all was quiet and everyone had gone to sleep, we would discuss Dhamma into the early hours of the following day; he would describe to me his stay in the Mahasi Sayadaw meditation centre in Yangon, Myanmar, where he practised for a few months! He would also describe the method taught and practised there. From hindsight, I believe that was his way in giving instructions to practise as his descriptions were very detailed and factual. He would never say “You should do this do that”; he would just give examples of how Vipsassana was practised by the two greatest persons in his life; the Buddha and Mahasi Sayadaw. His respect for Mahasi Sayadaw follows on the respect and love he has for all things of the Buddha. He was a strict follower of the Buddha’s Teachings without deviation! One of the most important lessons he taught me was that there was not an easier way or a short cut way to the realisation of the Buddha’s teachings, especially Vipassana meditation. Whenever news spread that a certain meditation teacher had come up with an easier way or a short cut way to achieve insight in Vipassana, invariably his response would be to quote in Pali: “Ekayano ayam bhikkhave maggo sattanam visuddhiya sokapariddavanam samatikkamaya dukkhadomanassanam atthangamaya nayassa adhigamaya nibbanassa sacchikiriyaya, yadidam cattaro satipatthana. This is the only way, bhikkhus, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation,
for the disappearance of pain and grief, for reaching the Noble Path, for the realisation of Nibbana, namely: The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. “ He had great faith that there if was such a thing as a short cut to realisation of the Dhamma the Buddha would have spelt it out and not leave us in doubt as to whether there was a better way than this. He would further mention that the Buddha taught the Satipatthana Sutta twice in detail in the course of his teachings in exactly the same way. With no other suttas did the Buddha taught twice in detail; this would definitely demonstrate the importance the Buddha deemed Vipassana to be.
An Outline Vipassana Insight Meditation or Mindfulness Meditation has freedom from all suffering as its one and only goal. The very basic nature and universality of its goal puts it into a unique niche where it can be practised by all, regardless of religious beliefs. Its simple practical path to a very profound objective truly appeals to those who are earnestly seeking an end to their pain and sorrows. The Buddha’s teachings is a universal teaching, suitable for all and for all time; for he invited all (not only “buddhist”): …”akaliko, ehipasiko… come and see for yourself, the Dhamma is unconditioned by time or season, it is timeless”. Generally, people identify Thoughts, Feelings, Impulses, Emotions or Sensations that they experience as belonging to them; as their personal properties; that such phenomena are associated with an entity, a person. Each mental phenomenon takes them on a mental trip. “I” am happy, “I” am angry; this is “mine”, “My” wealth and so forth.
By practising mindfulness, they learn to observe: • the rise and fall, the appearance and disappearance of these various thoughts and feelings; • the cause and origin of these thoughts and feelings • and thus understanding their nature, gradually develop a sense of distance and detachment from them. They will then, no longer become caught up by their hang-ups, associated with “self”. This will assuredly enable them to develop peace and calmness within. Through advanced practise, they will develop insight and wisdom that will enable them to see the intrinsic realities that are now clouded by illusion and ignorance. They will realise that the mind is in reality an impersonal process composed of large numbers of elementary psychic events called dhammas. By practising Mindfulness meditation we learn to see clearly into the mind, leading us to understand and realise by direct experience the way things really are, without reliance on opinions or theories. Mindfulness or Vipassana meditation develops calm through mindful awareness, leading to insight through contemplation and reflection. It is mindful awareness on sensations that arise through the six sense bases of the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the skin or body and mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of “mind and body” that eradicates mental impurity, illogical as it may appear. A fundamental technique for developing mindfulness is focusing awareness on the body. Through direct experience, the nature of one’s existence and suffering is realised. Life becomes characterised by
increased awareness, non-greed, non-aggressiveness and non-delusion. This practice, known at the present time as Mindfulness Meditation or thematically as the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, or in its original Pali name Satipatthana was taught by the Buddha for all who seek to grow spiritually and eventually attain enlightenment, freedom from all suffering. This teaching itself is essentially a non-religious path, a system of physical and psychological techniques designed to bring about this realisation. Insight Meditation is a practical practice and even though it is a major foundation of the Buddha’s teaching there is no serious need to be knowledgeable of the Buddha’s Dhamma at this point of the practice. However there is a great need that meditators should conduct their lives with a high degree of morality and in the initial stage of the training to be guided by a competent guide as eventually they will have to continue a solitary practice each by himself. Ykleong firstname.lastname@example.org ooo0ooo
Preliminaries How does one start to meditate? Or rather how does one get to the stage where one realises that one should meditate? In the first instance, you will probably have your interest aroused in meditation by hearing from those who had practised it and who had talked of their experiences in a highly emotional manner; or you may have read about it in some books or features in some magazine. You may have come to know the Dhamma through some personal tragedy or tragedies of others. You may then be attracted to the tenets employed and the benefits reported. These are some ways your interest could have been aroused. There are many other directions from where your exposure to the Dhamma of meditation is
conditioned for you; supportive kamma acts in strange and wonderful ways. You then did some investigations yourself, read up some material regarding meditation and come to the conclusion that meditation has certain areas where you could find some benefits, especially in the form of mental and bodily peace and calm. You may then decide to try some practice yourself. And hence you could have sourced around to find out how and where you can learn the basics of meditation. First of all there are many forms of meditation and you will have to really sit down and decide what your goals are in wanting to meditate. Not all meditation methods have the same goal. Each different discipline has its own form of meditation. Some promise calm and peace, some allow you to develop psychic power, some to have control over the elements and so many other types of meditation. Vipassana or Satipatthana was taught in India nearly 2600 years ago and is not the oldest of all the meditation there is. Before this period many forms of meditation have thrived and survived and even at the present age other new forms of meditation are being introduced. Vipassana leads you, through a graduated practice, to progressive levels of purity of mind, leading further to spiritual knowledge and attainment to a state where all defiling mental effluent are progressive reduced and finally eradicated. To begin your journey to explore and discover Satipatthana or Vipassana that will take you to total freedom from all forms of suffering, you need to make a resolve to put great effort into your practice, for the way is like climbing an extremely high mountain, long and
arduous; the climb is tough have no doubt about it, but the end result is worth all the pain you will encounter. If you will be but determined and persistent in your effort, you will surely be rewarded by results far, far beyond what you think it is all about. This has been guaranteed by the Great Teacher who brought this to us. A Resolve to Practise You should be firm and determined in your resolve. As a boost to your resolve, carry along in your mind the rarefied thought that all those who had attained total freedom from suffering [nibbana], including the Buddha himself, had trodden this very path of practice that you are now about to follow. Among other mental incentives for the practice, you should further energise yourself thus: “The Practice by way of which the Buddha and His disciples have attained total freedom is through this One and Only Way; the Way of Mindfulness which each individual must strive for himself, no others can do it for him”. Having thus determined that Mindfulness or Satipatthana, which you are about to practise, is the One and Only True Way, you should firmly resolve to persevere in this practice. The more earnest effort you put into your practise, the more your concentration becomes dynamic and sharp, enabling insight to develop, so that you will have no difficulty in living up to your resolution. In this you can find no help from anyone, not even from the Buddha. Each step of your practice must be guided by reason, intelligence and never by superstitious beliefs and ignorance. Blind faith and superstition conflict with the development of insight, creating unnecessary hindrances in the practice.
Insight Explained It is timely that a few words on Insight must be put forward so as not to be ambiguous about what is meant. Most dictionaries explain it as a chance to understand something or learn more about it or the ability to notice and understand a lot about people or situations. In the context of Mindfulness Meditation it has the wider indepth connotation of knowing and realising, not by ideas and concepts but through direct experience, the ultimate reality of ourselves and by extension the reality of existence. In a way, Insight is the separation of distorted vision and clarity of mind. This distorted vision brings along delusion of the self; clarity of the mind brings along new mental state that sees things in its ultimate essence. For an example; humans are labelled as man and woman. This is a conceptual view that we need to live by. We are so used to this view, we become attached to it and we lose track of the fact that “man” is just a “name” for us to distinguish it from another type of living being, else we cannot distinguish an animal from a human and we cannot differentiate a female from a male. However, behind this “illusion” of “man” are things that constitute this “man”. “Man” in its essence or to bring “man” to its “make-up” is a combination of matter and a set of consciousness that moves “man”. The matter parts are made up of water (blood and lymph and all that are liquid), earthy material (flesh and the material elements such as the organs), air in the form of the breath we breathe to live, and the heat that is built up by the consumption of food. Thus “man” is but water, material matter, air and heat. These four elements in short is “man”.
Knowing it intellectually is not insight. When we practise Vipassana, we will begin to “see” and realise the truth of the “make-up” of “man”. When our minds are in a dynamic concentration mode, pure and clear, both developed through Vipassana meditation, we see clearly the mind acting to move the material elements. We then realise that it is mind and matter that constitutes “man”. This is elementary insight, beginning of further insights and the start of the eradication of ignorance. One of the greatest Truth, the Buddha taught is that ignorance causes us to see things the way we want to and that is through rose tinted delusions of desire; desire for sensual pleasures, desire to gratify our greed for all and anything that please us and desire to rid ourselves of things that are unpleasant. We are most of the time pickled in ill-will and anger with delusions that others are seemingly better or worse and more fortunate or less fortunate than we are; that we are the victims of others. The fact of the matter is our whole lives are built upon concepts and ideas and these fallacies confuse and delude us daily and totally. It is only through insights developed through the practise of Vipassana, that we begin to realise that all the above are not necessarily true, good or wholesome. For example; all things are impermanent; our very lives are impermanent, our possessions are liable to be stolen, lost or possessed by others. We think of all sorts of ways to protect ourselves from the dangers we think we are in. We also realise that the “self” that we call ourselves is but fleeting and evanescent; without a solid core or any form of powerful ability to help others or ourselves. Through the practise of Vipassana Meditation, we are looking at ourselves through different lens, the lens of reality and absolute truth. The picture is vastly different from what we had thought them to be. Vipassana helps
us settle and clear our dusts and we are seeing things as they really are! This is insight into our existence. At this juncture we share with you some guidelines to help fulfil your aspiration to meditate. Solitary Meditation The first necessary decision to make is to resolve to meditate alone and not in the company of friends or even a friend! There are many valid reasons why you should attempt to learn and meditate by one-self alone. 1. Meditation is all about looking into the mind and seeing reality, moment to moment and for this you need to be totally alone to be solely aware of the mind. That is the reason the Buddha exhorted: “there are roots of trees, empty houses, caves, meditate lest you regret”. 2. Friends and others have their viewpoints and concepts and may seek to impose them on you or even if not, you may be influenced by certain viewpoints which may appear logical. Their good intentions may not be well placed. 3. Groups or companion will place undue pressure on you to be result oriented and be “within the group”. Peer pressure will jeopardise your meditation efforts. 4. Unnecessary discussions will take place and views expounded by others besides your teacher, may lead to confusion. 5. “Good” friends have tendencies to share, talk and take pride in the “good” results of their meditation and this sharing will be wrongly construed, contribute to confusion, anger, jealousy and delusion. There is Only This One Way to Liberation and this unique way can only be traversed by one-self alone; one cannot bring along a passenger, a friend, a parent, an offspring,
etc. etc.; likewise others cannot bring anyone along. It is not a social event; it is lonely and it is difficult. This is a solitary journey and you don’t need any distractions. Your resolve need to be steely firm to complete the journey! Seeking a Teacher Deciding on a teacher will be the most important step in your aspiration to meditate. You should in all fairness to yourself and the teacher go about this seriously with wisdom and consideration. First of all you must keep in view the true goal of the Buddha’s teachings, which is nothing less than achieving enlightenment. Thus the proper teacher, proper instructions, proper practice and proper conditions are imperative for successful progress through all of the various stages of attainment from the first insight knowledge through to the final result. With this in mind, the Proper Teacher is An Essential Factor. If one is striving to be a scholar of the Dhamma, one's teacher should certainly be a scholar of the Dhamma. If one is striving to achieve enlightenment, one's teacher must be a competent, qualified meditation master with real time invested in the practice himself. The criterion is a teacher who has Practised Correctly and Well for a quality period of time. In this it is meant a person who has actually sat and meditated under correct instructions and at the same time well versed in the Dhamma. By this you will notice that “a person” was phrased rather than a figure such as a monk or a nun or one who has gone for meditation for umpteenth years. It is immaterial what category the teacher belongs to; robed or lay; as long as he or she has proven meditation and teaching skills and he or she is able to pass them on.
There are those who can teach and there are those who cannot teach as exemplified by a Buddha and a paccekabuddha. A paccekabuddha is a Buddha, but he is devoid of the skills to pass on the Dhamma and lack the ability to teach meditation. Thus he cannot teach though he is already an enlightened being. A Buddha practises and teaches the Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle and good at the end. Teacher/Meditator Relationship In the days of the Buddha, there was no such institution as a meditation centre; the Teacher was the Buddha Himself and later the arahant teachers. Each had their own students and these were mostly monks. In the old days, a teacher was one who was a good friend; a person who was there to help with things pertaining to meditation and Dhamma. He was someone who had extensive practical experience and knowledge about meditation practice and Dhamma and able to answer questions and help clear difficulties. He gave out instructions and it was up to the students to be diligent to meditate; it was not necessary for the teacher to sit over and supervise every detail of his students. In the time of the Buddha, lay persons as well as monks were students of the Buddha. The instructions in meditation were given freely and no charges were made. In today’s conditions, we have well laid out meditation centres with monks as teachers; in most cases the meditators do not have to pay any fees for the practice as such; however donations are required to maintain the centres and temples. Teachers and meditators relationship must be well spelled out in order to minimise inconvenience and misunderstanding. There are strict rules concerning meditators’ behaviour and attitude. Meditators should render respect and take heed of the instructions of the
meditation teacher seriously and in earnest during the time in training. Meditators should respect and trust the teacher so that they will be able to receive full attention while at a retreat, as after all it was through a series of qualification before they selected the teacher they now have. If they do not have respect for and confidence in the teacher, they will not give much thought to the teacher’s words. Here at the very beginning lies a root cause of failure. So affinity and sincerity is of the utmost importance. What is really needed is a close bond of friendship between meditators and teacher in which the teacher demonstrates a fatherly concern while teaching. If there is a relationship akin to a father-and-son affection the atmosphere for training will be comfortable, pleasant and stress free, conducive to learning.
With an attitude of respect and confidence in the teacher and sincerity in the training, teacher and meditators will be mentally together; success in the practice is assured. For a more meaningful meditation experience, this close bond should be built on confidence in and affection for each other, based on reason, insight and compassion. However, they should not be overly attached to each other. As for the teacher, he observes the behaviour, manners, mentality and disposition of the meditators rather than just taking their words at face value. He should examine the meditators as thoroughly as a doctor would his
patient. In an atmosphere of sincerity, respect and confidence meditators will not be reluctant to talk frankly about their particular disease (mental imperfections); the teacher can then administer his remedy. Patience is recommended as it takes a long time for a teacher to get to know the temperament of the meditators. As valuable time is needed to develop such a state of trust, sincerity and confidentiality between teacher and meditators, it is advisable that meditators be discerning to ensure a wise selection so that time is efficiently used in order to avoid “jumping from teacher to teacher”.
Guidelines: 1. Be prepared to go it alone for the duration of your retreat. Ensure that you leave all mental “baggages” behind and that for this period of your retreat you are going to pay full attention to your practice. Make arrangements that all matters are to be handled by others and that you are left totally alone to meditate. 2. In any training there is theory and practice. Reading by itself cannot lead to true understanding, but theory and practice together will give a profound understanding of the Practice. 3. There are bound to be difficulties initially, as there are in anything new. Only after some practice can results be forthcoming and these “results” may not be
what you have expected. Initially, they are not “earthshattering” and can be so subtle that the immature mind may not see or realise the results as such. Throughout the practice there will be varying experiences, which can have various effects on you and become fruitful only if the practice progresses correctly. The moral is: Do not be result oriented in your practice and have no expectation that you will find answers to all your ills and concepts at the first sitting. Worthwhile “results” will appear as your practice matures. When they do you may not even recognise them as such. Your only responsibility is to sit, follow your teacher’s instructions, watch your mind and note arising mental and physical phenomena. Other matters are not your concern during the period of your retreat. 4. Mindfully stick to the instructions of the teacher. Paying careful attention to the teacher will enable good progress which will in turn develop confidence in yourself and the practice. 5. Sufficient time will be allotted for regular interviews between teacher and meditators. These interview periods are essential for teacher and students and are usually done on a one on one basis, as these interviews are personal and pertaining to the practice of the student. Here is a good opportunity for both to know each other well and put them on a firm togetherness foundation. Be honest and straight forward in reporting to the teacher. In the course of your practice, you will encounter good and bad experiences. Each and every individual will have differing experiences in meditation, no two individuals will have exactly the same experiences and results. Thus you must only discuss your experiences with your teacher. In reporting these to the teacher, do so factually. You may be tempted to report what you consider the good side and fail to report plainly and frankly on other experiences. Though you may think that your sitting is
not good or very good as the case may seem, it may not be so in the view of the teacher and only by knowing the true situation, can the teacher be able to give correct and beneficial guidance. Get clarification personally from your teacher on any point you are not clear, do not seek clarification from fellow meditators. No question is silly in the context of your meditation. It is only silly when you plod on based on faulty understanding. 6. When encountering difficult stages, you are expected to report these and seek your teacher’s support and encouragement. Then only is there any opportunity to give correct advice for the development and progress of the practice. Hence it is very important that you report your experiences to the teacher and only to your teacher very plainly, frankly and factually. 7. Be industrious and diligent in your practice. Be always alert and ready to note with continuous effort as soon as you are awake. It is your main and primary duty to note whatever feelings and sensations arising in body and mind. Even minor physical movements such as moving of the hands, changing of clothes, and such like activities have to be noted with keen awareness. 8. You may, in a hurry, try to do a few things at a time. This is to be discouraged as details in these actions and movements will be missed. In eating, in using toilet facilities too, you should do so with full awareness. Note all movements with awareness without missing anything whatsoever. There is nothing which should not be noted. Every physical and mental occurrence is to be noted mindfully. 9. Refrain from talking, eating and sleeping excessively. Talking is a very major obstacle in the practice of meditation. Avoid talking while practising intensive meditation. Should there be a necessity to talk, note the intention to talk and limit the duration of such talks.
10. Do not over-eat. In eating you are advised that meditators should not eat to a full stomach, but should leave at least about four or five morsels less, and fill the stomach with water, soup, or fluid of any kind. 11. Sleep should be reduced to a minimum. During intensive practice, four hours of sleep will not cause any problem and you should not have any anxiety about having four hours of sleep in the daily schedule. 12. In intensive practice, try very hard and have unshakeable resolution. 13. Practise mindfulness at all times. Keep mindfulness constantly in front of you. Think mindfulness at all times. Make mindfulness your watchword in all thoughts, speech and actions. If you are not mindful, for example, of the sound heard, you may develop either attachment or aversion to the sound. Therefore you should always note sound as such, so that the sound will pass away as merely sound, without any accompanying attachment or aversion. 14. Act as if you are a sick person and not move quickly in whatever action you perform. Walk very slowly, eat very slowly, and even talk very slowly. In so doing, you can note all the mental and physical sensations and will soon develop the habit of mindfulness. 15. Make persistent and continuous effort to note without let up. Note from the moment of waking up in the morning until going to sleep at night, not only in sitting and walking sessions, but also in the daily activities. When the moment to moment concentration is sustained, you will be able to develop progressive insight knowledge successfully within a reasonable time. Caution in Meditation Ignorance about the objective of Vipassana meditation is widespread. There are many who meditate in the hope
of having some unusual experience as they regard such experiences as proof of spiritual attainment. This is lack of right motivation for the practice of meditation. Right motivation is connected with renunciation (non-greed), goodwill (non-hatred), and non violence. If one approaches meditation with neither right understanding regarding suffering and its cessation, nor right motives, then one’s meditation is liable to seriously go astray. There have, for instance, been those who took up meditation as a way to invest themselves with power, and others who have seen it as a quick way to gain both disciples and riches. Fame may also be an unworthy motive. All these, as motives for meditation, may easily lead the unwary into illness, and sometimes mental unbalance. Pride is also a great danger. It comes in several forms. One such is the pride of the person who has seen manifestations of light during meditation, and supposes this to be the sign preceding mental absorption. Then there is the pride of one who touches on some form of concentration, if only for an instant and as a result assumes that he has attained special powers, and this can be a very powerful factor in convincing himself if not others. Quite ordinary people who take up meditation may be aware of the common "superior" attitudes: "I make an effort, whereas you . . .," or, “I meditate every day, whereas you . . .". Pride is a great obstacle to any progress, and while it is only a Buddha or an arahant who is entirely rid of it, everyone should have the mindfulness to check it. Related to this is the danger for the person who always looks for so-called progress. He is sure that he is making "progress" because in meditating he sees lights, hears sounds, or feels strange sensations. He becomes more and more fascinated by these phenomena as time goes
by, and gradually forgets that he started with the aspiration to find the way to Enlightenment. His "meditation" then degenerates into visions and strange happenings, leading him into the realms of occultism and magic. There is no surer way for a meditator to become entangled than this way. Fascinating though all such manifestations may be, they should be mindfully noted by resorting to bare attention, never permitting discursive thought regarding them, and thus avoiding these distractions. Another danger is trying to meditate while one is still too emotionally insecure, unbalanced or immature. An understanding of the value of meritorious deeds or skillfulness will come in useful here. As merit purifies the mind, it will be an excellent basis for mind-development, and both the ease with which concentration are attained and the ease with which insight arises are to some extent dependent upon merit. Meritorious deeds are not difficult to find in life. Obviously it follows that to try to practise meditation while all the time retaining one's old cravings, likes and dislikes is, to say the least, making one's path difficult if not dangerous. Meditation implies renunciation, and no practice will be successful unless one is at least prepared to make efforts to restrain greed and hatred, check lust, and understand when delusion is clouding the mind. How far one carries renunciation and whether this involves outward changes (such as becoming a monk or nun), depends much on a person and his circumstances, but one thing is sure: inward renunciation, an attitude of giving-up with regard to both unskillful mental events and bodily indulgence, is absolutely essential. Often connected with the above dangers is another, to be seen in cases where a man undertakes a longer period of meditation practice, after a long period of nonpractise. He sits down with full energy and firm resolve, "Now I shall meditate," but though his energy is ever so
great and though he sits and sits and walks and walks, still his mind is disturbed and without peace. He does not realise that meditation is not in fits and starts. It has to be continuous in tandem with retreats and daily mindfulness, each dovetailing into the other. Imagine a marathon sprinter after a long period of non-practise goes into a competitive field with others. How do you think he will do? In the case of our meditator, it may well be that his own strong effort has much to do with his distractions. Moreover, he has to learn that it is necessary to meditate knowing the limitations of his character. Just as any other worker who knows the limits of his strength and is careful not to exhaust himself, so is the able meditator careful. The meditator too needs to realise that meditation is not unlike a balancing act; he needs to develop a balance in the faculties he applies in his meditation. When with great faith he applies strenuous energy to his practice, he has not discern the mental strength he will need for his practice; this will not help in developing concentration; without a firm concentration his mindfulness in the practice will be lax and all these budding and yet undeveloped mental and physical faculties will not contribute to insight arising. But once these five faculties are well developed and are balanced in strength, they will be five strong pillars for his practice. Thus the balancing of these five faculties; faith, discernment or wisdom, energy, concentration and mindfulness is of great importance in his progress in meditation. It is through straining or forcing meditation practice that many emotionally disturbed states arise. Sudden bursts of intense anger over insignificant trifles, fierce cravings and lusts, strange delusions and even peculiar fantasies can all be produced from unwise arduous practice.
Those who are without a teacher should proceed with utmost caution, making sure that their development of mindfulness is well advanced indeed. If they are mindful and see that despite their efforts, their meditation practice is making no real difference to their lives in terms of greater internal peace, or externally in relation to others, then it should be apparent that something is wrong. Meditation should then be laid aside for some time while making efforts to contact a genuine source of information to seek some advice, preferably a living meditation master. In the meantime giving due attention to unsolved moral problems, which unless sorted out, will not permit the mind to develop; and making a great effort to live one's life according to the Buddha’s Dhamma. When quite basic matters of this sort are neglected, one cannot hope to make much progress in the practice. Significant and dramatic results will never be apparent in the beginning stages of your practice. What will be apparent is the changes that will begin to show in your own mental state and in your speech and deeds. A growing calm and peace will pervade both your mental and physical being. You will stay in these states even under extreme situations of happiness or sadness. Your mindfulness in thoughts, speech and deeds will be your guide under all circumstances. These are but the beginnings of worthwhile results that will be a part of your life as you progress in your practice, leading to further spiritual growth and the renunciation of basic desires and cravings. The Danger of Stilted Regular Practice Much good can be said about a regular mode of practice; as in regular mindful observing the rising and falling of the abdomen whenever phenomena arise; regular mindful observing daily activities as a continuation of practice after returning from a retreat and such allied regular habits. These will heighten mindfulness to a great degree, which should be developed into a lifelong habit in
Vipassana meditation. Such regular habits are excellent to develop. You need to be aware that certain types of habit are crutches for those seeking an excuse not to meditate. There are those who meditate according to a fixed timetable and at specific places only. Out of these environments they just cannot meditate! The problem is that those who lean on these bad habits does not realise that they are doing it as an excuse. You will be hearing remarks such as: “I always mediate at 4am (or whatever time of the day) in the morning, the rest of the day I do not meditate. My best time is at that time”. There are also those who will say: “I have a quota for meditation; I meditate for x amount of hours a day and after that I have finished meditation for the day”. The trouble with this is that the meditator is grooving into a rut which he believes is a good habit. He or she has found an excuse NOT to meditate at other times. The mind has been conditioned to meditate at a specific time and place only and other times are not suitable. What a meditator should do is to meditate and contemplate when the urge to meditate arises, and that is at anytime and any place. This habit of meditating at any time is a good habit as the mind is geared to meditate anytime it sees the opportunity to do so. Meditation is not only about sitting down with your eyes closed; it is also about mindfully looking into your mind all the time if at all possible and if not at any time when you can remember; mindfully doing all your daily chores; mindfully attending to personal hygiene; practising mindfulness at every possible moment is meditation. Practising at certain fixed hour only is not meditation, as the rest of the time there is no developing of mindfulness. Mindful of daily activities is a good habit to inculcate as when you go for the next long retreat, your mind is already geared to be mindful.
The other danger is the tendency to attend retreats conducted by a certain teacher only, even though the meditator concerned has meditated with the same teacher for many years. A sign of progress in insight wisdom is the need to go solitary for long retreats on ones own time. When meditators undergo a ten-day retreat for many years with one teacher, he or she will not have progressed much. On the other end of the scale is the meditator who never stops going to retreats; everytime there is a retreat he will be there, regardless who the teacher is. This is the meditator who wants to be known as a meditator. He goes and asks questions after questions; at the next retreat he does the same thing. During the days of the Buddha, monks and lay people will arrive in the morning to see him for meditation instructions and it was his habit to look into their minds and see at what stage the particular person was in his spiritual development, and then he would give the specific instructions and send the meditators away to meditate. Meditators usually, monks, go away for a few days or even months and years. They would return to see the Buddha only if they had some problems with their meditation and would seek further instructions. Over a period of time most of them will not return to see the Buddha because they had attained to some achievements and thus did not need any further instructions. They were then on their own. When they have doubts or questions they will return to seek clarification from the Buddha. Otherwise all meditators will proceed to meditate on their own time. Only when they had attained the supreme goal would they return and thank the Buddha in gratitude. The Buddha’s advice was and still is: “…..over there are the roots of trees, over there, empty dwellings, practise meditation, O bhikkhus. Do not be heedless. Do not later fall into regret.” Not a word was said about having
regular time to meditate or to have a fixed time for meditation. Just meditate; there is no need for a teacher to be sitting down in front of you or you in front of the teacher. Seek clarification when you need them otherwise meditate. Do not be heedless; do not fall into regret later. A Suitable Place Another factor in your practice is a suitable place. It is no small measure to say that your progress in your practice has a lot to do with a suitable environment to practise in. A cool, clean, healthy environment will be best as heat is most disturbing for the beginning practitioners. I can hear a lot of people saying; “but then how will they know suffering if they are resorted in a cosy, comfortable environment”? The answer is simple, if serious and sincere meditators have been given the correct tools for their practice, they will most assuredly attain to insights and with the acquisition of insights they will need no prompting to meditate, they will gyrate towards the correct situation that is necessary for further progress. Just as in carefully nurturing a young infant before it is sent out to the world of sorrows, so is the same with new meditators. They will then have a better chance of survival. In due course they will be able to practise in all sorts of environment; in the middle of a highway is not an impossibility. The secret is proper guidance and practise in the initial stages. As much as an infant needs tender loving care for healthy growth in its young days so too do new meditators need such tender loving care to nurture them for their future development and eventual acquisition of insights. Further to a cool, healthy environment is the need for good nutritious food that is easily available. Others are pest free (human pest not excluded), low in noise pollution, good and easy transport system in place,
and all facilities for social services such as medical care and such. ooo0ooo THE PRACTICE: BASIC EXERCISES SITTING MEDITATION
Where it began – under this Bodhi Tree nearly 2600 years ago The correct sitting posture Preparation to sit With the basic preliminaries taken care of, we shall proceed to some simple instructions and the practice of Vipassana meditation. To begin training, pick a quiet and peaceful spot. Then settle down in the most comfortable posture that will enable you to meditate for some time.
Sit with the legs crossed to maintain a good balance. You might be more comfortable if they are not inter-locked but evenly placed on the ground, without pressing one against the other. If you find that sitting on the floor is not comfortable, sit on a cushion or try a more comfortable way of sitting. If this still does not work, sit on a chair, with no back support though. Be alert and aware. Maintain a straight back; back of your head in line with the whole stretch of your backbone in one single line. Look straight ahead. Whatever position you select, it must enable you to sit comfortably for a considerable period.
Beginning Exercise: Initial Noting After deciding on a sitting mode and sitting down comfortably, with eyes closed or half open, or for some with eyes open, mentally see yourself in the sitting position. Let your mental attention stay a while on the sitting posture that you are in and note: “sitting, sitting”. “See” yourself as just sitting, relaxed and comfortable; envisage your whole body, from the head to the feet in a sitting position. Calmly and mindfully note: “relaxing-relaxing”; starting from the forehead slowly, mentally move your attention downwards, section after section of the material body;
the facial muscles, the cheeks, the chin, the neck, the shoulders, the chest…. until you reach the toes. Take a few minutes to perform this while imaging yourself in a relaxed state, mentally and physically. You are just in the moment, the past is no more and the future has not yet arrived; maintain a calm, alert sitting posture (ever seen a tennis player ready to take a service or a goal-keeper preparing to face a penalty shot? He is fixing his attention on the opponent and yet aware of his own alert and balanced body stance ready to move immediately. Those are the type of alert positions you will need); be alert and be aware of the moment without thinking about it. Primary Object of Noting When relaxed and alert, centre your attention on a point where your navel is; calmly and mindfully be aware of the rising and falling movements of your abdomen as you breathe. This rising and falling movement of the abdomen is the primary object of meditation. You are to keep your attention on the abdomen (the primary object) and note the rising and falling movement of the abdomen as you breathe. You will be able to identify the upward movement (expansion) of the abdomen when breathing in, and the downward movement (contraction) when breathing out. Note: “rising-rising” for upward movements and “falling-falling” for downward movements. If these movements are not clearly noticed, it is in order to feel the movements with the hands. You should not alter the natural tempo of your breathing. Neither should you slow down your breathing by the retention of your breath, nor quicken it by deep breathing; by changing the natural flow of your
breathing you will soon tire yourself. Keep to a natural breathing, and proceed with the noting of “rising” and “falling”. On identifying the upward movement note: “risingrising” and on the downward movement, “fallingfalling”. The labelling of these terms or names need not be done verbally, it is more important to know the actual state of the object than to know it by the term or name. It is therefore essential that you make every effort to be mindful of the movement of the rising of the abdomen, from the beginning till the end of the in-breath, and that of the falling of the abdomen, from the start to the finish of the out-breath, as if these movements were actually seen by the eyes. As soon as rising occurs, there should be: the MIND firmly locked onto the MOVEMENTS The Movement of rising as it arises and the Mind knowing it must come together on every occasion, similar to a pebble striking a wall. They must impact at the same point. Similarly; the Movement of falling as it falls and the Mind knowing it must come together on every occasion. The meditator should carry on the exercise of continuously noting these two movements of: “risingrising” “falling-falling”. Only interrupting to note other arising mental and physical activities as they arise. For instance, mental activities such as these; at the moment of thoughts arising: “thinking-thinking” and “reflecting, planning, knowing, attending,
rejoicing, feeling lazy, feeling happy, disgust etc.”, as the case may be, should be noted on the occurrence of such mental activity. Physical sensations such as, pain, itch, cramps and such arising physical activities occurring on the body, should be noted: “pain-pain” “itch-itch”, etc. [Note: Contemplating Mindfulness of Contemplating Mindfulness of and noting mental activities is the Mind. and noting physical activities is the Body.] ooo0ooo
Further Practice Exercise – Contemplating on Breathing  When you have achieved a certain degree of concentration and calm, not before [usually after some period of practise and during a period when noting seems to be slower], mindfully divert your concentration away from the abdomen by contemplating on the process of breathing: • how the air when inhaled sets up pressure that pushes from the inside. You must try to feel and know or realise this pushing up of the air from the inside and not so much on the abdomen, as the abdomen is only a label. This pushing outward of air from inside is the real thing that is happening when you are breathing in; • the out flowing of the air on the out breath and the abdomen contracting as the air gradually falls away. Thus you must be mindful of these two movements that take place: When inhaling, the abdomen extends gradually, note; “rising-rising” When exhaling, the already extended abdomen gradually falls back into place, note: “falling-falling.” At the same time that you are mindful of these two movements, you will concentrate more on: The gradual force of air [extending the abdomen] and The gradual contraction of the abdomen [when breathing out] Further Practice Exercise - Note Touching  If these two points of mindfulness development: “risingrising”, “falling- falling” are not effective in improving
concentration add another and note: “rising-rising, falling-falling, touching-touching” In noting touching, you are not to note the shape of the limbs or objects that are touching each other, but concentrate on the hardness at the point of contact and note “touching-touching, rising- rising, fallingfalling”. The points of touch to note are in a clock-wise or anticlockwise direction: any points with pressure that can be felt such as: weight of clothing on the shoulders, weight of hands on the thighs, hands over each other, pressure of legs on the floor and so forth. Three or four points should be noted as too few points to note may not be sufficient to calm the mind whereas too many may be tiresome and will not bring on calm as well. Further Practice Exercise – Note Sitting  If concentration is still difficult with three notings, you may note the sitting position as well; “rising-rising, falling-falling, sitting-sitting, touching-touching”; either clock-wise or anti-clockwise direction. When you are sitting, you will realise the fact that the upper part of the body is erect and taut. You must not bring up the shape of the head, body, hands or legs, but you must be aware that the body is taut with the force of air that has pushed you up into the sitting position and the hard feeling, at the point of contact that you have when you are sitting. With diligence in noting four mental phenomena: “rising-rising, falling-falling, sitting-sitting, touching-touching”, your mind will gradually become calm. When your mind is calm and peaceful, your concentration will become keener and “insight” will arise. If your noting of; “rising, falling, sitting, touching” is effective in gaining concentration, you may meditate
concentrating on them, however reverting to any noting of two, three or four phenomena is quite in order. From this exercise you learn the actual manner of noting the upward and downward movements of the abdomen. You are not concerned with the form of the abdomen; hence do not dwell on the form of the abdomen. What you actually need to observe is the sensation of pressure on the body caused by the rhythmic movement of the abdomen as you breathe. For the beginner it is a very effective method of developing the faculties of attention, concentration of mind and Insight in meditation. As practice progresses, the manner of the movements will be clearer. The ability to know each successive occurrence of the mental and physical processes at each of the Six Sense Doors is acquired only when Mindfulness Meditation is fully developed. A beginner, whose attentiveness and power of concentration are still weak, may find it difficult to keep the mind on each successive rising and falling movement as it occurs. In view of this difficulty, a thought may arise; “I just don't know how to keep my mind on each of these movements.” In which case, bear in mind that this is a learning process. The rising and falling movements of the abdomen are always present and therefore there is no need to look for them and it is quite easy for a beginner to keep his or her mind on these two simple movements. Continue with this exercise in full awareness of the abdomen's rising and falling movements. ooo0ooo 2. WALKING MEDITATION Walking meditation is a very important part of Vipassana and it is not just a relaxing interlude to sitting as many modern teachers would have you believe.
Walking meditation allows you to observe and realise the phenomena of mind and matter and their interdependence clearly and easily. Another fact to bear in mind is that walking meditation should be practised without shoes or socks on, unless you are in a condition such that you need to wear them for protection, such as extreme cold floors, cutting edges on the path you are walking on or any other conditions that cannot be avoided. As you may have realised by now the sensation of feeling is important in Vipassana [as it is a specific foundation for anchoring your mindfulness] and you need to feel and realise what your feet are “saying”. The path on which you are going to walk should be about twenty to twenty five slow footpaces long and free of obstacles that may cause you discomfort. Basic Instructions The practice of walking meditation should continue without interruption following from your sitting meditation. The rule of thumb for those who are beginning the practice should be the equal period of time in walking as in your sitting meditation. After a scheduled time in your sitting meditation, you should change to a walking meditation. This should be a deliberate change. From your sitting position, note the intention in the mind to change position to a walking meditation. Note: “intention to change position, intention to change position”. Note the intention to intention to stand”. stand: “intention to stand,
Observe the “intention to stand, intention to stand” flashing in your mental message board; spend a few
minutes noting the intention to stand, then slowly make the necessary moves to stand up from a sitting position. Observe slowly and deliberately note and label all the intentions to move the appropriate limbs in the act of standing and the actual movement of the limb involved. Note the movement not so much the limb involved. Do not be concerned about the time this will take. These acts of pulling up the body to the standing position, in preparation for walking meditation, should be carried out slowly and mindfully; noting and labelling them as they occur. Such as: “stretching-stretching” as legs are stretched to stand, “supporting-supporting” as hands are supporting the body, “bending-bending” as body bends to stand, “getting up-getting up” as body stretches to get up, “standing-standing” when in standing position and so forth. On coming to an erect position [your eyes could be open, closed or half closed at this point] note the image of the body in an erect position. Take a few moments to observe and note the standing position mindfully. Observe the mind imaging the standing body and realise that the body is in a standing mode. The Buddha has said: “Know that you are standing when you are standing”. This is the reality of the moment. You are not sitting or walking; you are standing. This should be noted: “standing-standing”; if you happen to look around, this should be noted: “lookingseeing” When walking, each step should be deliberately done and noted; “right step-left step” or “walkingwalking”.
In each step attention should be fixed on the movement from the point of lifting the leg to the point of putting it down. While walking in quick steps or taking a long walk, it should be sufficient that each section of each step should be noted, “right step-left step” or “walking-walking”. However, in the case of taking a slow walk, each step may be divided into three sections of: Lifting, pushing forward, putting down. In the beginning of the exercise a note should be made on two sections in each step “lifting-lifting”, by fixing the attention on the upward movement of the leg from the beginning to the end, and “putting-putting”, on the downward movement from the beginning to the end.
Here it may be mentioned that, at the time of noting “putting- putting”, when the leg is put down in the first step, the other leg happens usually to lift up to begin the next step. This should not be allowed to happen. The next step should begin only after the complete ending of the previous step. After two or three days this exercise would be easy and you should carry out the exercise of noting each step in three movements: “lifting-lifting, pushing-pushing, putting-putting.” For the present you should start the exercise by noting: “right step-left step, right step-left step, or “walking-walking”, while walking quickly, and: “lifting-lifting, putting-putting” while walking slowly.
In the course of your walk, the feeling of wanting to sit down may arise; you should note: The intention (to sit down): “intention-intention ” if you happen to look up: “looking, seeing-looking, seeing ” on walking to the place to sit: “lifting-lifting, puttingputting ” on stopping: “stopping-stopping ” on turning: “turning-turning ” when you feel the desire to sit: “wanting-wanting ”. In the act of sitting there occurs a heaviness in the body and also a downward pull; attention should be fixed on these factors and a note made: “sitting-sitting”. After having sat down there would be movements of bringing the hands and legs into position. These actions as they arise should be appropriately noted: “movingbending-stretching” and so forth. ooo0ooo
Stages of Walking Meditation The following are the stages of Walking Meditation. As mentioned earlier, at each stage, each step is observed closely and carefully as one, two, three or six sequences of movement. Practise the First Stage for a few days (two days will be sufficient) then progress to the next stage. In the beginning of learning walking meditation, each stage should be practised well before going on to the next stage. Subsequently when you have mastered all the stages well you should begin each session of your
walking meditation practice with the First Stage and progress to the Second, Third and so on. The First Stage: Note the step as one sequence of movement; left foot forward-right foot forward left foot forward-right foot forward The Second Stage: Note the steps as two sequences of movement; lifting-lifting, dropping-dropping [of the one foot] lifting-lifting, dropping-dropping [the other foot] The Third Stage: Note the steps as three sequences of movement; lifting-lifting, pushing-pushing, dropping-dropping [of the one foot, and] lifting-lifting, pushing-pushing, dropping-dropping [the other foot].
The Fourth Stage: Observe each step as six sequences of movement; beginning to lift --- LIFTING beginning to push --- PUSHING beginning to drop ---DROPPING When the foot is being lifted, the heel is lifted first. Only after that are the toes raised and lifted when the leg is lifted. When the foot is being pushed forward you must know that the movement of the foot is going forward and not backward. When dropping the foot, the forward movement is checked a bit, and when you begin to put
the foot down it drops downwards slowly and finally the foot touches the ground or floor and the foot is dropped. Another Method: Observe each step as six sequences of movement; intending to lift --- LIFTING, intending to push --- PUSHING, intending to drop --- DROPPING. While meditating you must constantly be mindful of mental and physical phenomena at the instant of their arising.
You can also advance to noting each step as six sequences of movement: L t g if in R is g a in P s in uh g Do p g r p in T uh g o c in Pe s g r s in When lifting the foot, be aware of the heel lifting itself, note; lifting-lifting The toes will raise themselves upwards, note; raising-raising Next push your foot forward, note; pushing-pushing
After pushing the foot forward, gradually drop it and carefully observe the foot coming down slowly to the floor, note; dropping-dropping As it gradually comes down, know and feel the touching of the foot on the floor or ground, note; touching-touching Finally in order to lift the other foot, pressure will be exerted on this foot, note; pressing-pressing ooo0ooo
Steps In Walking Meditation
1st Stage Left Step
Lifting Raising Touching Pressing ooo0ooo Note for Contemplation: In all cases, you should:
Direct the mind to be totally aware and note the forward movement of the step and not on the image of the foot. What must be realised is the awareness of the element of motion that is going up gradually into the air when lifting the foot. Knowing that it goes up and being aware of it is
the real thing that is happening at the moment i.e. MENTAL and BODY process; the mind knowing the physical lifting and dropping. When lifting the foot, attentively note the gradual upward movement of the foot. Then when the foot is being pushed forward, be aware of the foot moving forward slowly and then when dropping the foot, be aware of the foot falling or dropping down slowly lower and lower. All these sequences of movement must be Keenly Observed and Watched Attentively so that when the foot is being lifted slowly inch by inch, you will realise that it gets lighter and lighter as it is being lifted. When the foot is being pushed forward you will notice and observe the gradual forward movement then when dropping or putting down the foot, you will experience the heaviness of the foot descending lower and lower to the floor. This awareness is the beginning of insight knowledge; what you have just noted; the lightness of the lifting foot is an essential element making up the “material body” that you know as “I”, that is the temperature element (heat or cold); motion or movement of the foot lifting up and dropping down is a character of the wind or air element; mass and softness or hardness is a character of the earth element; liquidity, cohesiveness is the characteristic of water element. The Knowledge or Awareness of such Mental and
Physical Phenomena marks the beginning of gaining penetrative knowledge of the intrinsic nature of Mental and Body processes as it really is. ooo0ooo
Benefits of Walking Meditation By Sayadaw U Silananda The practice of Mindfulness Meditation (Vipassana) can be compared to boiling water. If one wants to boil water, one puts the water in a kettle, puts the kettle on a stove, and then turns the heat on. But if the heat is constantly turned on and off, the water will not boil. In the same way, if there are gaps between the moments of mindfulness, one cannot gain momentum, and so one cannot attain concentration. Thus it is important to practise mindfulness continuously from the moment of being awake until falling asleep at night to develop concentration. Consequently, walking
meditation is integral to the continuous development of mindfulness. At first meditators may find it difficult to be mindful, but as they are instructed to pay close attention to all of the movements involved, and as they actually pay closer and closer attention, they will begin to deliberately slow down their actions and thus they will be able to develop mindfulness. To illustrate; when driving on a long stretch of road, one may be driving at high speed. At a high speed one will not be able to read some of the signs on the road. If one wants to read those signs, it is necessary to slow down. Nobody has to say, "Slow down!" but the driver will have to slow down in order to read the signs. In the same way, if meditators need to pay close attention to the movements of lifting, moving forward, putting down, and pressing the ground, they will naturally slow down the movements. Only when they slow down can they be truly mindful and fully aware of these movements. Although meditators pay close attention and slow down, they may not see all of the movements and stages clearly. The stages may not yet be well defined in the mind, and they may seem to constitute only one continuous movement. As Concentration grows stronger, meditators will observe more and more clearly these Different Stages in One Step. The four stages at least will be easier to distinguish. Meditators will know distinctly that the lifting movement is not mixed with the moving forward movement, and they will know that the moving forward movement is not mixed with either the lifting movement or the putting down movement. They will realise all the movements
clearly and distinctly. Whatever they are mindful and aware of will stay clear in their minds. As meditators continue with the practice, they will observe much more; such as: When they lift their foot, they will experience the lightness of the foot. When they push the foot forward, they will notice the movement from one place to another. When they put the foot down, they will feel the heaviness of the foot, because the foot becomes heavier and heavier as it descends. When they put the foot on the ground, they will feel the touch of the heel of the foot on the ground. Therefore, along with observing lifting, moving forward, putting down, and pressing the ground, meditators will also perceive; • the lightness of the rising foot, • the motion of the moving foot, • the heaviness of the descending foot as though being pulled to and adhering to the ground, and • the touch sensation in the foot, which is the hardness or softness felt with the foot touching the ground. When meditators perceive these processes, they are perceiving [an interdependent grouping of] the four essential elements: • • • temperature air water and
By paying close attention to these four stages of walking meditation, the four elements in their intrinsic essence are directly perceived, not merely as concepts, but as actual processes, as ultimate realities. Let us go into a little more detail about the characteristics of the elements in walking meditation. In the first movement, that is, the lifting of the foot, meditators perceive lightness, and when they perceive lightness, they virtually perceive the fire [or temperature] element. One aspect of the fire element is that of making things lighter, and as things become lighter, they rise. In the lifting of the foot there is besides lightness, movement. Movement is one aspect of the air element. But lightness, the fire element, is dominant, so we can say that in the stage of lifting the fire element is primary, and the air element is secondary. These two elements are perceived directly by meditators when they pay close attention to the lifting of the foot. The next stage is moving the foot forward. In moving the foot forward, the dominant element is the air element, because motion is one of the primary characteristics of the air element. So, when they pay close attention to the moving forward of the foot in walking meditation, meditators are virtually perceiving directly the characteristic of the air element. The next stage is the movement of putting the foot down. When meditators put their foot down, there is a heaviness in the foot. Heaviness is a characteristic of the water element, as is trickling and oozing. When liquid is heavy, it oozes. So when meditators perceive
the heaviness of the foot, they virtually perceive directly the water element. In pressing the foot on the ground, meditators will perceive the hardness or softness of the foot on the ground. This pertains to the nature of the earth element. By paying close attention to the pressing of the foot against the ground, meditators virtually perceive directly the nature of the earth element. Thus we see that in just one step, meditators can perceive directly many processes. They can perceive the four elements and the nature of the four elements. Only those who practise walking meditation in Vipassana meditation can ever hope to perceive directly these elements and their characteristics. As meditators continue to practise walking meditation, they will come to realise that: } There is the Noting Mind With Every Movement Movement There is the lifting movement and also the mind that is aware of that lifting. In the next moment, there is the moving forward movement and also the mind that is aware of the movement. Moreover, meditators will realise that both the movement and the awareness arise and disappear in that moment. } and } The Awareness of the
In the next moment, there is the putting down movement and also the awareness of the movement, and both arise and disappear in that moment of putting the foot down on the ground. The same process occurs with the pressing of the foot: there is the pressing and the awareness of pressing. In this way, meditators understand that along with the movement of the foot, there are also the moments of awareness: Moments of Awareness is MIND and Movement of the foot is MATTER. So meditators will perceive mind and matter rising and disappearing at every moment. At one moment there is the lifting of the foot and the awareness of the lifting, and at the next moment there is the movement forward and the awareness of that movement, and so on. These can be understood as a pair, mind and matter, which arise and disappear at every moment. Thus meditators advance to the perception of the pairwise occurrence of mind and matter at every moment of observation, that is, if they pay close attention. Another thing that meditators will discover is the role of intention in effecting each movement. They will realise that they: • lift their foot because they want to, • move the foot forward because they want to, • put it down because they want to, • press the foot against the ground because they want to. They Realise that AN INTENTION Precedes Each and Every Movement
After the intention to lift, lifting occurs. They come to understand the conditionality of all of these occurrences; these movements never occur by themselves, without conditions. These movements are not created by any deity or any authority; these movements never happen without a cause. There is a cause or condition for every movement, and that condition is the intention preceding each movement. This is another discovery meditators make when they pay close attention. When meditators understand the conditionality of all movements, and that these movements are not created by any authority or god, then they will understand that they are created by intention. They will understand that intention is the condition for the movement to occur. Thus the relationship of conditioning and conditioned, of cause and effect, is understood. On the basis of this understanding, meditators can remove doubt about mind and matter by understanding that: mind and matter do not arise without conditions. When meditators comprehend mind and matter arising and disappearing at every moment, then they will come to comprehend the impermanence of the processes of lifting the foot, and they will also comprehend the impermanence of the awareness of that lifting.
The occurrence of disappearing after arising is a mark or characteristic by which we understand that something is impermanent. If we want to determine whether something is impermanent or permanent, we must try to see, through the power of Insight Meditation, whether or not that thing is subject to the process of coming into being and then disappearing. If our meditation is sufficiently mature to enable us to see the arising and disappearing of phenomena, then we can decide that the phenomena observed are impermanent. In this way, meditators observe that there is the lifting movement and awareness of that movement, and then that sequence disappears, giving way to the pushing forward movement and the awareness of pushing forward. These movements simply arise and disappear, arise and disappear; meditators are able to comprehend this process directly by themselves. They do not have to accept this based on trust from any external authority, nor do they have to believe in the report of another person. When meditators comprehend that mind and matter arise and disappear, they understand that mind and matter are impermanent. When they see that they are impermanent they next understand that they are unsatisfactory because they are always oppressed by constant arising and disappearing. After comprehending impermanence and the unsatisfactory nature of things, they observe that there can be no mastery over these things; that is, meditators realise that there is not “a self” or “a soul” within that can order them to be permanent. Things just arise and disappear conditioned by natural laws (Dhamma). By comprehending this, meditators comprehend the third
characteristic of conditioned phenomena; that things do not have an inner core or “a self”. Thus, by this time, meditators have comprehended the three characteristics of all conditioned phenomena: impermanence, suffering, and the non-self nature of all things. Meditators can comprehend directly these three characteristics by observing closely the mere lifting of the foot and the awareness of the lifting of the foot. By paying close attention to the movements, they see things arising and disappearing; and consequently they see for themselves the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and non-self nature of all conditioned phenomena. Let us examine in more detail the movements of walking meditation. Suppose we were to take a moving picture of the lifting of the foot. Suppose that the lifting of the foot takes one second, and let us say that the camera can take thirty-six frames per second. After taking the picture, if we were to look at the separate frames, we would realise that within what we thought was one lifting movement, there are actually thirty-six movements. The image in each frame is slightly different from images in the other frames, though the difference usually be so slight that we can barely notice it. what if the camera could take one thousand frames second? the will But per
Then there would be one thousand movements in just one lifting movement, although the movements would be almost impossible to differentiate. If the camera could take one million frames per second; which may be impossible now, but someday may happen; then there
would be one million movements in what we thought to be only one movement. Our effort in walking meditation is to observe our movements as closely as the camera sees them frame by frame. We also want to observe the awareness and intention preceding each movement. We can also appreciate the power of the Buddha's wisdom and insight, by which he actually saw all of the movements. When we use the word "see" or "observe" to refer to our own situation, we mean that we see directly and also by inference; we may not be able to see directly all of the millions of movement as did the Buddha. Before meditators begin practising walking meditation, they may have thought that a step is just one movement. After meditation on that movement, they observe that there are at least four movements, and if they go deeper, they will understand that even one of these four movements consists of millions of tiny movements. They see Directly Mind and Matter Arising and Disappearing, as impermanent. By our ordinary perception, we are not able to see the Impermanence of things because Impermanence is hidden by the Illusion of Continuity. We think that we see only one continuous movement, but if we look closely we will see that the illusion of continuity can be broken. It can be broken by the direct observation of physical phenomena bit-by-bit, segment by segment, as they originate and disintegrate.
The value of meditation lies in its ability to remove the cloak of continuity in order to discover the real nature of impermanence. Meditators can discover the nature of impermanence directly through their own effort. After realising that things are composed of segments, that they occur in bits, and after observing these segments one by one; meditators will realise that there is really nothing in this world to be attached to, nothing to crave for. If we see that something which we once thought beautiful has holes, that it is decaying and disintegrating, we will lose interest in it. For example, we may see a beautiful painting on a canvas. We think of the paint and canvas conceptually as a whole, solid thing. But if we were to put the painting under a powerful microscope, we would see that the picture is not solid; it has many holes and spaces. After seeing the picture as composed largely of spaces, we would lose interest in it and we would cease being attached to it. Modern physicists know this idea well. They have observed, with powerful instruments, that matter is just a vibration of particles and energy constantly changing; there is nothing substantial to it at all. By the realisation of this endless impermanence, meditators understand that there is really nothing to crave for, nothing to hold on to in the entire world of conditioned phenomena. Now we can understand the reasons for practising meditation. We practise meditation because we want to remove attachment and craving for objects. It is by comprehending the three characteristics of existence; impermanence, suffering, and the non-self nature of things; that we remove craving. We want to
remove craving because we do not want to suffer. As long as there is craving and attachment, there will always be suffering. If we do not want to suffer, we must remove craving and attachment. We must comprehend that all things are just mind and matter arising and disappearing, that things are insubstantial, without an inner core. Once we realise this, we will be able to remove attachment to things. As long as we do not realise this, however much we read books or attend talks or talk about removing attachment, we will not be able to get rid of attachment. It is necessary to have the direct experience that all conditioned things are marked by the three characteristics. Hence we must pay close attention when we are walking, just as we do when we are sitting or lying down. Know that walking meditation is as valid a practice as sitting meditation or any other kind of vipassana (insight) meditation. Walking meditation is conducive to spiritual development. It is as powerful as mindfulness of breathing or mindfulness of the rising and falling of the abdomen. It is an efficient tool to help us remove mental defilement. Walking meditation can help us gain insight into the nature of things, and it should be practised as diligently as we practise sitting meditation. ooo0ooo
3. MINDFULNESS IN DAILY ACTIVITIES or Continuous Mindfulness in Daily Life. Daily, more so after an intensive retreat in a retreat environment, continuous mindfulness should be keyed into your daily activities as an uninterrupted practice of Vipassana Meditation. This is to keep up the practice and also more importantly to factor daily mindfulness as a progressive mental development in a new way of life. You should now take mindfulness as an added character in all your activities and make this the springboard to all your mental and physical activities as a life long commitment to yourself. Mindfulness should not be taken as just another “fad”, or a new regime to add on to your repertoire of “keeping up with the Joneses”. Take it as a re-discovery of yourself which was innate within you but due to defilement gathered “since time immemorial”, you have lost sight of it. You have again re-discovered it, thanks to a Great Teacher. You should embrace it as a new added feature in your life; just as if you have added a new addition to the family, which you now cannot do without. Without fail, many meditators complete a course of
meditation retreat and straight away return home to old habits such as indulging in their favourite food, having their favourite drinks and so forth, thus negating the good they have done at the retreat; failing to maintain the good they have done; failing to take this as a good opportunity to change; failing to maintain the good habits picked up at the retreat; failing to continue to develop them so as to act as a springboard for the next retreat and also failing to keep up the practice and mindfulness developed. What wasted opportunities! And to top it all, many moan and groan that they do not have the time to continue their training. Such irony that they do not see the opportunities in front of their noses and they complain they cannot continue mindfulness training after their retreat! These are classic cases of back to square one! At the next retreat, they struggle again and then repeat the same acts again and again. Sounds familiar does it not? We go through the rounds of samsara again and again, not knowing when to stop, even if given the opportunity! In daily activities there are limited opportunities for formal sitting or walking meditation. However at such busy times, being mindful of the daily tasks or activities will go a long way in the uninterrupted practice of Vipassana meditation. Daily activities such as: • • • • waking and getting up in the morning, performing daily hygiene, getting ready for bed, act of getting into bed and getting to sleep,
opening and closing doors, making beds, folding the sheets, changing clothes and washing them, arranging or preparing meals, eating, drinking and other regular daily activities should be mindfully performed. Note all other activities, such as preparing to eat: seeing food on the table “seeing-seeing” stretching to take the food “stretching- stretching” touching the food “touching-touching” preparing food “preparing-preparing” taking the food “taking-taking” bending the head “bending-bending” opening the mouth “opening-opening” putting the food in “putting-putting” raising the head “raising-raising” chewing “chewing-chewing” knowing the tastes “knowing-knowing” swallowing “swallowing-swallowing”. Those earnest and diligent meditators who are new in the practice will not find it easy to be aware of all movements at the beginning. Some movements may be missed, but you should not be discouraged if this happens. Later when Knowledge or Mindfulness matures and develops further, penetrative Insight Knowledge will enable mindfulness of every phenomena arising. When practising mindfulness on daily activities, you should be keenly aware of the activities that are the most prominent. For example;
if stretching of the hands is the most distinctive, note, “stretching-stretching” if bending the head is more prominent, note, “bending-bending” if chewing is more prominent, note, “chewing-chewing”. You must remember to be mindful of only one prominent movement at any one moment. If the mind which is focused on that one distinctive movement becomes really concentrated then other movements should be noted as they arise, until contemplation becomes deep and advanced leading to insight. Chewing is the most outstanding and distinct movement. It is only the lower jaw that is working when we note “chewing”. If you are aware of this lower jaw movement you will be able to contemplate on the chewing movement easily and well. When the intention to sit appears foremost in the mind you should note: “intending to sit-intending to sit”, when seated, note; “sitting-sitting”. In the act of sitting, slowly and gradually lower the body onto the chair, at the same time realising the heaviness of the body. Reflect on the mental and body processes. When the intention to stand comes to mind, you should note: “intending to stand up-intending to stand up”.
The air element pushes the body up, note: “filling up energy-filling up energy”, “supportingsupporting”. When energy is sufficient, the body will gradually move upward with the hands supporting the body and eventually standing occurs; note “standing-standing”. Realise and reflect on the slow and gradual upward movement. Watch it precisely, closely and well. Know and observe closely and enthusiastically the slow gradual motion involved in standing up, as this is ultimate reality. You should know that: when standing, the body become light and when sitting, the body becomes heavy. Rising makes the body combination of: temperature and air. light and that is a
Sitting makes the body heavy and that is: earth and water. Physical actions or movements (matter) are impermanent; the knowledge of mindfulness (mind) is impermanent; thus physical (matter) and mental (mind) phenomena are impermanent. Whatever arises is subject to passing away; this is impermanence. The arising and passing away or birth and decay of mental and physical phenomena is quick and troublesome; this is suffering.
Nothing within you can protect or stop this suffering from arising or disappearing, this is non-self. ooo0ooo
4. LYING DOWN INSTRUCTIONS In the act of lying down, noting should be carried out with due care. When one feels sleepy and wants to lie down, note: “sleepy-sleepy, “intention to lie down-intention to lie down”, on raising the hand: “raising-raising ” on stretching: “stretching-stretching ” on touching: “touching-touching ” on pressing: “pressing-pressing ” and on lying down: “lying-lying ”. The action of lying down (as in all action) should be carried out mindfully and very slowly.
On touching the pillow note: “touching-touching”. There are many places of touch all over the body but each spot only needs to be noted at one time. In the lying position there are many body movements for bringing the legs and hands into position also. These movements should be noted carefully; “raising-raising” “stretching-stretching” “bending-bending” “moving-moving” and so on. On turning the body, note: “turning- turning”, and at the moment when there is no other phenomenon arising, the usual exercise of noting: “rising-rising, fallingfalling”, be reverted to. When lying on the side or on the back and there is nothing particular to be noted, then revert to the usual exercise. ooo0ooo AIDS TO PROGRESSIVE PRACTICE Simulated Behaviour: As a Sick Person During the course of practice it is most appropriate if meditators act like weak, sickly people with pain in their joints; walking in pain; feeble and slow in all their activities. Similarly, meditators should slow down their actions. As a Blind Person Further, meditators should behave like a blind person throughout the course of training. A mentally unrestrained person will not be dignified as he is usually inattentive. He does not possess a steady and calm manner, unlike a blind person, who due to the loss of one faculty has to be attentive and mindful, calm and composed and though spoken to, seldom whips around unmindfully.
Meditators should act in the same manner while meditating. They should be mindfully practising concentration solely on the object of meditation; mindfully noting: “rising-falling” of the abdomen. They should not react to external occurrences, but instead should note them as “seeing-seeing” or “knowing-knowing”, as they occur and return to noting, “rising-falling”. Meditators should have a high regard for the exercise of slowing down their actions, and carry it out as though they were genuinely blind. When back to a daily life routine, meditators should continue being attentive and mindful as a way of keeping up their training.
As a Deaf Person It is also necessary for meditators to behave like deaf people too. Ordinarily, a person on hearing a sound turns toward the direction of the sound. Or he turns towards the person who speaks to him and makes a reply. In such instances he is just reacting to outside stimuli and may not behave in a mindful manner. While on the other hand, a deaf person behaves in a composed manner and seldom takes heed of any sound or talk because he does not hear them. Similarly meditators’ conduct should be of like manner; neither taking heed nor listening to any talk. If they happen to hear any sound or talk they should at once make a note “hearing-hearing”, and then return to the usual exercise of noting “rising- falling”. They should proceed with their meditation intently just as if deaf. It should be remembered that practising meditation intently is the sole concern of meditators; other things seen or heard are not their concern. They should not take heed of them even though they may
appear to be strange or curious. When they see any sights they must ignore them as also in the case of voices or sounds, they must be ignored. In the case of body actions he must act slowly and feebly as if sickly and weak. ooo0ooo
Mindfulness of Sleep Though it is late continue meditating. A dedicated meditator must be prepared to face the risk of spending many nights without sleep. This will develop and strengthen the qualities of energetic vigour in the practice of meditation. In the hard struggle one may be reduced to a mere skeleton of skin, bone and sinew. Flesh and blood wither and dry up, but one should not give up trying so long as one has not attained whatever is attainable by perseverance, energy and endeavour. These instructions should be adhered to with great determination. It may be possible to keep awake if concentration is strong enough to beat off the sleep but one will fall asleep if sleepiness gets an upper hand. When one feels sleepy one should make a note; “sleepysleepy”, when the eyelids are drooping; “droopingdrooping”, and so on. After meditating in the manner indicated, one may be able to shake off the sleepiness and feel fresh again. This feeling should be noted; “feeling fresh-
feeling fresh”, after which revert to the usual noting; “rising-rising, falling- falling”. However, in spite of such determination one may still be unable to keep awake. A beginner should therefore try to keep himself mostly in the postures of sitting and walking, as in a lying posture it is easier to fall asleep. At the instance of going to bed, a meditator should lie down mindfully and proceed with the contemplation of “rising” and “falling”, before falling asleep. In this position he may perhaps fall into relaxing sleep at which time it is not possible to carry on with meditation. Three or Four Hours Sleep is Sufficient for Meditators. When sleepy, make a note, “sleepy”. After you have gained sufficient concentration, you will be able to overcome drowsiness and you will feel refreshed as a result. Meditate on the basic object again. If you are unable to overcome the drowsy feeling, you must continue noting drowsiness until you fall asleep. The state of sleep is the continuity of sub-consciousness. It is similar to the first state of rebirth consciousness and the last state of consciousness at the moment of death. This state of consciousness is feeble and therefore, unable to be aware of an object. When you are awake, the continuity of subconsciousness arises between moments of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching and thinking. Because these phenomena are of brief duration they are usually not clear and therefore not noticeable. Continuity of sub-consciousness remains during sleep; a fact which becomes obvious when you wake up; for it is in the state of wakefulness that thoughts and sense objects become clear.
Meditation should start the moment you are awake. A beginner may not be able to meditate at the very first moment of wakefulness, but a start should be made once you are ready. For example, if on awakening you are reflecting, you should be aware of this and begin your meditation by noting, “reflecting-reflecting”. Then proceed with the noting of rising and falling; on getting up from the bed, mindfulness should be directed to every detail of the body’s activity. Each movement of the hands, legs and body must be performed in complete awareness. Are you thinking of the time of day when awakening? If so, note: “thinking-thinking”. Do you intend to get out of bed? If so, note: “intending-intending”. If you are preparing to move the body into position for rising note: “preparing-preparing”. As you slowly rise: “rising-rising”. Should you remain sitting for any length of time, revert to noting the abdominal movements: “rising-rising, falling-falling”. As soon as one awakes and prepares to leave the bed, there may be body movements in turning this side or that side, and in moving the hands and legs and so forth. These actions should be noted in their order of occurrence. Or if one becomes aware of the mind leading to various body movements one should start meditation by noting the mind in the first place. Or if one becomes aware firstly of the painful sensations one should start by noting the painful sensations and then proceed with body movements. If one stays quietly without moving, attend to the exercise of noting: “rising-rising, falling-falling”.
If one intends to get up one should note: “intendingintending”, and then proceed with the noting of all actions successively in bringing the legs and hands into position in readiness to getting up. Note: “raising-raising”, on raising the body: “sittingsitting”, when the body is erect and in a sitting position, and if there are any other actions of bringing legs and hands into position these actions should also be noted. If there are no phenomena arising revert to the usual exercise of noting; “rising-rising, fallingfalling”. If there is a lull in noting, and if sitting quietly, revert to the usual exercise of noting: “rising-rising, falling-falling” of the abdominal movements. During meditation, feelings of pain, tiredness or warmth should be noted, and then revert to the usual exercise of noting; “rising-rising, falling-falling”. If feeling sleepy note ; “sleepy-sleepy” and proceed with the noting of all acts in preparation for lying down and bringing into position the hands and legs; “raising-raising”, “pressing-pressing”, “moving-moving”, “supportingsupporting”. “Swaying-swaying” when the body sways, “stretchingstretching” when stretching the legs, “lying-lying” when the body drops and lies flat. These trifling acts in lying down are also important and they should not be neglected. Every care is therefore needed to carry on the practice of meditation without relaxation or omission. ooo0ooo
Observations: Changing Positions during Sitting It may be that after sitting for a considerable time there will arise in the body, unpleasant feelings of stiffness, warmth, pain and so forth. Initially, Without Changing Positions, these sensations should be noted as they arise. Mind should be fixed on the spot and noting, thus: “stiffness-stiffness” on feeling stiff, “warm-warm” on feeling warm, “painful-painful ” on feeling pain, “prickly-prickly ” on feeling a prickly sensation and “tired-tired ” on feeling tired. [Note: Noting and contemplating on these unpleasant feelings is Mindfulness of Feelings] Owing to the lack of Wisdom and Knowledge of Insight into Feeling [for a beginner], there will prevail a wrong view of one's personality or self that these feelings belong to an entity, a body or a self as: “I” “I” “I” “I” “I” am feeling stiff, am feeling hot, am feeling painful, was feeling well formerly but now feel uncomfortable.
In reality, feelings arise owing to impressions on the body. Like the light of an electric bulb which continues to
burn on the continuous supply of energy, so is the case of feelings, which arise anew on every occasion of coming into contact with impressions. It is essential to understand these feelings clearly. When noting “stiff-stiff, hot-hot, painful-painful”, the meditator may feel that such disagreeable feelings appear to grow stronger. In a short while, due to such uncomfortable feelings, the meditator may notice the arising of a desire to change his posture. This mind “desiring to change” should be noted “desiring-desiring”, however in this first instance, refrain from making the change, remain in the same posture; direct your attention to the feeling once more and note: “stiff-stiff “, or “hot-hot ”, and so forth. If noting is continued with great patience in this manner, such unpleasant feelings will eventually pass away. Patience Leads to Success In regards to unpleasant feelings; Patience is a most important virtue to have especially so in meditation than anything else. If a meditator cannot bear unpleasant feelings with patience and frequently changes posture in the course of his meditation, he cannot gain concentration. Without concentration, Spiritual Knowledge of Insight will not be possible. Cultivation of patience is Imperative in meditation and bearing up with unpleasant feelings is essential. Thus, meditators should not change postures straightaway when unpleasant sensations start to rise, but must proceed with patience; labelling and noting them as “pain-pain, stiff-stiff, hot-hot”, and so on. Such normal painful sensations will ordinarily subside, and when concentration is strong and well developed, it
will be found that even great pain will fade away when they are being noted with patience. On the fading away of suffering or pain, the usual exercise should be reverted to and noting carried out; “rising-rising, falling- falling”. Only in the event that pain or unpleasant feelings do not subside in spite of patient and prolonged noting, should meditators change positions. When concentration is not mature pain will remain. In these circumstances there will often arise a mind wanting to change the sitting position, and this mind should be noted; “wantingwanting,” after which continue to note “liftinglifting” lifting the hand; “moving-moving”, on moving it forward. The actions of changing position should be carried out slowly and mindfully, and these movements should be noted: “lifting-lifting moving-moving touching- touching ” in the consecutive order of their movements. If at any time there is no further movement to note, revert to noting the primary object of the abdomen: “rising-rising, falling-falling”. There should be No Stop or Break in between notings. The preceding noting and the one following should be continuous. Similarly, the preceding concentration and the one following should be continuous, the preceding spiritual knowledge and the one following should be continuous. In this way the gradual development by stages, of Mindfulness, Concentration* and Spiritual Knowledge takes place.
The practice of Vipassana Meditation is similar to building a fire by rubbing two dry sticks together. As the sticks become hotter, due to the increasing friction, increasing vigorous efforts will be needed. Only then will fire be produced. The essential ingredient is a sustained vigorous action without break. Similarly, meditators should exert continuous and incessant efforts without any break in between notings, thus ensuring continuity of concentration and gaining progress in his meditation. While thus occupied with his usual exercise, the meditator may feel an itch. He should then fix his mind on the spot and note; “itching-itching”. Itch is an unpleasant sensation. As soon as it is felt there arises a mind wanting to rub or scratch. This should be noted; “wanting-wanting”, after which no rubbing or scratching should be attempted as yet, but a note of “itching-itching”, be made. While occupied with meditation and noting in this manner, itching may disappear in most cases, in which case the meditator should continue to note: “risingrising, falling-falling”. If on the other hand it is found that the itch does not disappear but it is necessary to rub or scratch; the contemplation of the process of rubbing or scratching should be carried out by noting; “wanting- wanting”, continue noting, “raising-raising”, on raising the hand, “moving-moving”, on moving the hand, “touching-touching”, when the hand touches the spot, “rubbing-rubbing”, or “scratching-scratching”, when rubbing or scratching, “withdrawing-withdrawing”, on withdrawing the hand,
“touching-touching”, when the hand touches the body, and then afterwards meditation should be reverted to the usual exercise of noting; “rising-rising, falling-falling”. In every case of changing sitting positions during meditation, such actions should be carried out slowly and carefully, noting each action as it arises. ooo0ooo
PRACTICE NOTES Note on Concentration* [Momentary] During the early part of the methodical practice, as long as the meditator’s mind is not yet fully purified,
wandering thoughts of objects of sense desire, etc., will appear intermittently whilst mindfully noting the primary object of meditation [in this case the abdomen]. Sometimes the beginner will perceive occurrence of these interruptions, and sometimes not. But even if he perceives them, it will be only after a short time has elapsed after their appearance. As the concentration of his mind is still very tender and weak, these wandering thoughts continue to hinder his mind while it is occupied in developing the practice of mindful noting. These are “hindering thoughts.” The Vipassana meditator needs some degree of concentration, but not so deep that it hinders them from gaining insight and realising mental or physical phenomena. This degree of concentration can be developed by being aware of each mental state or physical process as it arises from moment to moment. The mind stays with a mental state for a moment, and when that mental state has disappeared, takes as object another physical phenomenon or mental state arising at that moment, and stays with that object for a moment. In this way, the meditator’s mind stays with an object momentarily, but mindfully takes one object after another, so that concentration develops uninterrupted continuity. By such training of concentration, it develops a tensile dynamism which it is able to overcome and remove all hindrances and defilement. So, by means of this dynamic Momentary Concentration, the Vipassana meditator attains purification of mind. When, however, the Momentary Concentration of his mind has become strong, the thought process of noting becomes well concentrated. Hence, when attending to the objects to be noted, the abdominal movement, sitting, touching,
bending, stretching, seeing, hearing, etc., his noting thoughts now appear as if falling upon these objects, as if striking at them, as if confronting them again and again. Then, as a rule, his mind will no longer go elsewhere. Only occasionally, and in a slight degree, will the mind go elsewhere, and even in these cases he will be able to note any such stray thought at its very arising; or, to be exact, he will note the stray thought immediately at its actual arising. Then that stray thought will subside as soon as it is noted and will not arise again. Immediately afterwards he will also be able to resume continuous noting of any object as it becomes evident to him. At this stage, his mind is “unhindered.” While the meditator is thus practising noting with unhindered mind, the noting mind will close in upon and fix on whatever object is being noted, and the act of noting will proceed without break, and there will arise in him an uninterrupted succession “the strong powerful concentration of mind lasting for a moment,” directed to each object noted. This is Momentary Concentration and this mode of concentration has the ability to purify the mind. Though that concentration has only momentary duration, it has the power of resistance to being overwhelmed by hindrances. Though it may be momentary, it occurs uninterruptedly with the respective object noted. It has uninterrupted continuity of noting one object after another object without any loss in strength of concentration. Though the objects to be noted, as they present themselves, are numerous and varied, yet the force of concentration of the mind uninterruptedly engaged in noting remains virtually on the same deep level; just as the first object was noted with a certain degree of
concentration, so the second, third, and other subsequent objects are noted in each case with the same degree of concentration. And it is not overwhelmed by the mental hindrances. The strength of the momentary concentration is similar to that of deep concentration which has reached full mental absorption. ooo0ooo
Insight Knowledge (Wisdom) From the Discourses of the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw There are two forms of wisdom: mundane and supramundane. Knowledge of literature, art, science, or other worldly affairs is usually regarded as a kind of wisdom, but this form of wisdom has nothing to do with any kind of mental development. Further, it cannot be regarded as something of real merit, because many weapons of destruction are invented through these kinds of knowledge, which are always under the influence of attachment, aversion, and other evil motives.
The spirit of wholesome mundane wisdom, on the other hand, has only merits and no demerits of any kind. True mundane wisdom includes the knowledge used in welfare and relief work, which causes no harm; learning to acquire the knowledge of the true meaning or sense of the scriptures; and the three classes of knowledge of development for insight; knowledge born of learning, knowledge born of reflection, and wisdom born of meditative development. The virtue of possessing mundane wisdom will lead to a happy life in higher states of existence, but it still cannot prevent the risk of being reborn in undesirable states of existence in future rebirths. Only the development of supramundane wisdom can decidedly remove this risk. Supramundane wisdom is the necessary ingredient to purity of mind and freedom from suffering. To develop this wisdom it is necessary to carry on the practice of Insight Meditation (Vipassana Mindfulness Meditation). When the virtue of wisdom is duly developed, the necessary qualities of morality and concentration will also be acquired. The Development of Wisdom The method of developing this wisdom is to observe materiality and mentality [the two sole elements existing in a living being] with a view to knowing them in their true nature. Scientific experiments through the ages down to the present in the analytical observation of materiality with various kinds of sophisticated equipment are yet unable to fully understand and deal with the mind. The method of the Buddha does not require any kind of instruments or outside aid. It can successfully deal with both materiality and mentality. It makes use of one’s own mind for analytical purposes by fixing bare attention
on the activities of materiality and mentality as they occur within one-self. By continuously repeating this form of exercise, the necessary concentration can be gained, and when concentration is sufficiently keen, the ceaseless course of arising and passing away of materiality and mentality will be vividly perceived. Living beings consist solely of the two distinct groups of materiality and mentality. The solid substance of body belongs to the group of materiality; the body is a mass of materiality. It is the same as a doll made of clay or wheat, which is nothing but a collection of particles of clay or flour. Logs and pillars, bricks and stones and lumps of earth are a mass of materiality. They do not possess any faculty of knowing. It is the same with the materiality which makes up a living body; it has no faculty of knowing. Materiality changes its form under physical conditions of heat, cold, etc. It does not possess any faculty of knowing an object The materiality in a dead body is the same as that of a living body; it does not possess any faculty of knowing. People, however, have the concept that the materiality of a living body possesses the faculty of knowing an object and that it loses this faculty only at death. This is not really so. In actual fact, materiality does not possess the faculty of knowing an object in either a dead or a living body. What is it then that knows objects now? It is Mentality, which comes into being depending on materiality. It is also spoken of as thought or consciousness. Mentality arises depending on materiality, thus:
Depending on the eye, eye-consciousness (seeing) arises; depending on the ear, ear-consciousness (hearing) arises; depending on the nose, nose-consciousness (smelling) arises; depending on the tongue, tongue-consciousness (tasting) arises; depending on the body, bodyconsciousness (sense of touch) arises. [Sense of touch, though of many kinds are neither good nor bad]. While touch has a wide field of action in running throughout the whole length of the body, inside and outside, the sense of seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting come into being in their own particular spheres [the eye, ear, nose and tongue] each of which occupies a very small and limited area of the body. These senses of touch, sight, etc., are nothing but the elements of mind. There also comes into being mindconsciousness — thoughts, ideas, imaginings, etc. — depending on the mind-base. All of these are elements of mind. Mind knows an object, while materiality does not know an object. Seeing People generally believe that in the case of seeing, it is the eye which actually sees. They think that seeing and the eye are one and the same thing. They also think: “Seeing is I,” “I see things,” “The eye, seeing, and I are one and the same person.” In reality this is not so. The eye is one thing and seeing is another, and there is no separate entity such as “I” or “ego.” There is only the reality of seeing coming into being depending on the eye. Consider a person sitting in a house. The house and the person are two separate things: the house is not the person, nor is the person the house. Similarly with the eyes and seeing. The eye and seeing are two separate things: the eye is not seeing, nor is seeing the eye.
Further, consider a person in a room who sees many things when he opens the window and looks through it. If it is asked, “Who is it that sees? Is it the window or the person that actually sees?” the answer is, “The window does not possess the ability to see; it is only the person who sees.” If it is again asked, “Will the person be able to see things on the outside without the window?” the answer will be, “It is not possible to see things through the wall without the window. One can only see through the window.” Similarly, in the case of seeing, there are two separate realities of the eye and seeing. The eye is not seeing, nor is seeing the eye, yet there cannot be an act of seeing without the eye. In reality, seeing comes into being depending on the eye. It is now evident in the above examples that there are only two distinct elements: Materiality (eye) and Mentality (seeing) at every moment of seeing. In addition, there is also a third element of materiality: The Visual Object. At times the visual object is noticeable in the body and at times it is noticeable outside the body. With the inclusion of the Visual Object there will then be Three Elements, two of which (the eye and the visual object) are Materiality and the third of which (seeing) is Mentality. The Eye and the Visual Object, being Materiality, do not possess the ability to know an object, while Seeing, being Mentality, can know the visual object and what it looks like. Now it is clear that there exist only The Two Separate Elements of Materiality and Mentality at the moment of
Seeing, and the arising of this pair of separate elements is known as seeing. People who are without the training in and knowledge of Insight Meditation hold the view that seeing belongs to or is “self,” “ego,” “living entity,” or “person.” They believe that “seeing is I,” or “I am seeing,” or “I am knowing.” This kind of view or belief is called sakkayaditthi in Pali. It is only through Vipassana meditation that one experiences the reality of these insights. In this respect, the exercise is simply to note or observe the existing elements in every act of seeing. It should be noted as “seeing, seeing” on every occasion of seeing. By the terms “note” or “observe” or “contemplate” are meant the act of keeping the mind fixedly on the object with a view to knowing it clearly. When this is done, and the act of seeing is noted as “seeing, seeing,” at times the visual object is noticed, at times consciousness of seeing is noticed, at times the eye-base, the place from which one sees, is noticed. [Further explanation: that is to say the act of seeing is a mere conditioned happening and not because a being sees it as an independent occurrence. The act seeing has to have conditions, without which nothing is seen, or heard or smelt, or felt]. Hearing, etc. Similarly, in the case of hearing, there are only two distinct elements, materiality and mentality. The sense of hearing arises depending on the ear. While the ear and sound are two elements of materiality, the sense of hearing is the element of mentality. In order to know clearly any one of these two kinds of materiality and mentality, every occasion of hearing should be noted as “hearing, hearing.” Also with, “smelling, smelling”
should be noted on every occasion of smelling, and “tasting, tasting” on every occasion of tasting. The sensation of touch in the body should be noted in the very same way. Every kind of touch, either agreeable or disagreeable, usually comes in contact with bodily sensitivity, and from this there arises bodyconsciousness, which feels or knows the touch on each occasion. It will now be seen that at every moment of touching there are two elements of materiality: the bodily sensitivity and the tangible object; and one element of mentality; knowing of touch. In order to know these things distinctly at every moment of touching, the practice of noting as “touching, touching” has to be carried out. This merely refers to the common form of sensation of touch. There are special forms which accompany painful or disagreeable sensations, such as feeling stiffness or tiredness in the body or limbs, feeling hot, pain, numb, aches, etc. Because feeling predominates in these cases, it should be noted as “feeling hot,” “feeling tired,” “feeling painful,” etc., as the case may be. It may also be mentioned that there occur many sensations of touch in the hands, the legs, and so on, on each occasion of bending, stretching, or moving. Because of mentality’s intention to move, stretch or bend, the material activities of moving, stretching or bending, etc., occur in series. (It may not be possible to notice these incidents at the outset. They can only be noticed after some time, on gaining experience by practice. It is mentioned here for the sake of general information.) All activities in movements and in changing, etc., are done by mentality [in the sense that the intention originates from mentality due to a cause]. When mentality wills to bend, there arises a series of inward movements of hand or the leg. When mentality wills to
stretch or movements soon after occurrence,
move, there arises a series of outward or movements to and fro. They fall away they occur and at the very point of as one will notice later.
In every case of bending, stretching, or other activities, there arises first a series of intentions [moments of mentality], inducing or causing in the hands and legs a series of material activities, such as stiffening, bending, stretching, or moving to and fro. These activities come up against other material elements, the bodily sensitivity, and on every occasion of contact between material activities and sensitive qualities, there arises body-consciousness, which feels or knows the sensation of touch. It is therefore clear that material activities are predominating factors in these cases. It is necessary to notice the predominating factors. If not, there will surely arise the wrong view which regards these activities as the doings of an “I” [“I am bending,” “I am stretching,” “my hands,” or “my legs”]. This practice of noting as “bending,” “stretching,” “moving,” is carried out for the purpose of removing such conceptual wrong views. Mind Depending on the mind-base there arises a series of mental activities, such as thinking, imagining, etc., or generally speaking, a series of mental activities arises depending on the body. In reality, each case is a composition of mentality and materiality, mind-base being materiality, and thinking, imagining, and so forth being mentality. In order to be able to notice materiality and mentality clearly, “thinking,” “imagining,” and so forth should be noted in each case. After having carried out the practice in the manner indicated above for some time, there may be an
improvement in concentration. One will notice that the mind no longer wanders about but remains fixed on the object to which it is directed. At the same time, the power of noticing has considerably developed. On every occasion of noting, one notices only two processes of materiality and mentality: a dual set of object (materiality) and mental state (mentality), which makes note of the object, arising together. Again, on proceeding further with the practice of contemplation, after some time one notices that nothing remains permanent, but that everything is in a state of flux. New things arise each time. Each of them is noted as it arises. Whatever arises then passes away immediately and immediately another arises, which is again noted and which then passes away. Thus the process of arising and passing away goes on, which clearly shows that nothing is permanent. One therefore realises that “things are not permanent” because one sees that they arise and pass away immediately. This is insight into impermanence [one of three characteristic of existence or of all things]. Then one also realise that “arising and passing are not desirable.” This is insight into suffering [yet another characteristic of existence]. Besides, one usually experiences many painful [or unpleasant] sensations in the body, such as tiredness, heat, aching, and at the time of noting these sensations, one generally feels that this body is a collection of sufferings. This is also insight into suffering.
Then at every time of noting it is found that elements of materiality and mentality occur according to their respective nature and conditioning, and not according to one’s wishes. One therefore realises that “they are elements; they are not governable; they are not a person or living entity.” This is insight into non-self [the third characteristic of existence, these three insights can only be realsed through Vipassana meditation]. These are the three initial insights [impermanence, suffering, and non-self] in a religious sense which will lead to the maturity of knowledge of the path to Nibbana, freedom from suffering. Such insights can only be gained from maturity practice of Vipassana meditation. ooo0ooo
GREAT TEACHERS’ WORDS FOR CONTEMPLATION The Five Faculties [An edited and abridged excerpt from: In This Very Life by Sayadaw U Pandita] In the practise of Vipassana Meditation there are five positive mental faculties that must be nurtured until they are sufficiently matured. When well developed and matured they are then imbued with great power, enhancing the mind in spiritual progress. These are: Faith, effort or energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. In an intensive retreat environment, proper practice can develop strong and durable faith, powerful effort, dynamic concentration, penetrative mindfulness and the unfolding of profound insight or wisdom. This final product of insight and wisdom is the developed quality of the mind which enables realisation of the deepest truth about reality and thus liberates us from ignorance and its results; suffering, delusion and all forms of unhappiness. Nine Causes Leading to the Growth of the Five Faculties For this development to occur the appropriate causes must be present. These causes accelerate the development of the five faculties and once these are well developed and matured they empower the mind; nine such causes are listed and expounded herein. 1. The First cause is contemplation directed towards impermanence of all objects of consciousness.
2. The Second is an attitude of care and respect in meditation practice. 3. The Third is maintaining continuity of awareness. 4. The Fourth is an environment that supports meditation. 5. The Fifth is remembering circumstances or behaviour that had been helpful in one’s past meditation practices so that one can maintain or recreate those conditions, especially when difficulties arise. 6. The Sixth is cultivating the qualities of mind which lead to insight and wisdom. 7. The Seventh is willingness to work intensely in meditation practice. 8. The Eighth is patience and perseverance in the face of pain and other hindrances. 9. The Ninth is a determination to continue practising until one reaches the goal of freedom from all suffering (nibbana). A meditator’s practice will definitely progress positively if he or she fulfils even just the first three causes for the five faculties to arise; that is, if she or he is aware of; (a) the passing away of mental phenomena (b) meticulously, respectfully and (c) with persistent continuity. and physical
Under these conditions, hindrances to meditation will soon be removed. These five faculties when developed will calm the mind and clear it of mental defilement. If you are such a meditator, you will experience a tranquillity you may never have felt before. You may be filled with awe: “All those talk by teachers about peace and calm is real and
now I’m really experiencing it”. Faith, the first of these five faculties, will have been established from your practice. Thus, your own experience leads you to realise that the further promises of the Dhamma can be actualised. With faith comes a natural inspiration, an upsurge of energy. When energy is present, effort follows. You will say to yourself; “This is just the beginning. If I work a little harder, I’ll have experiences even better than this”. A renewed effort guides the mind to achieve its target of observation in each moment. Thus mindfulness consolidates and deepens. Mindfulness in Vipassana meditation has the ability to bring about moment to moment concentration. When mindfulness is aware of the object of observation moment by moment, the mind gains the capacity to remain stable and undistracted. In this natural fashion, concentration becomes well-established and dynamic. With faith, effort, mindfulness and concentration, four of the five faculties have been assembled. Wisdom, the fifth, needs no special introduction. If the first four factors are present, wisdom or insight unfolds of itself. One begins to see very clearly, intuitively, how mind and matter are separate entities, and begins also to understand in a very special way how mind and matter are connected by cause and effect. Upon gaining each insight, faith deepens. A meditator who has seen materiality and mentality arising and passing away from moment to moment feels fulfilled. “It’s just moment after moment of these phenomena arising and passing away with no self within them” This discovery brings a sense of great relief and ease of mind. Subsequent insights into impermanence, suffering and absence of self have a particularly strong capacity
to stimulate faith. They fill us with a powerful conviction that the Dhamma presented to us is authentic. Vipassana practice can be compared to sharpening a knife against a whetstone. One must hold the blade at just the right angle and apply just the right amount of pressure. Moving the knife blade consistently against the stone, one works with diligent continuity until the edge has been sharpened. Then one flips the knife over to sharpen the other edge, applying the same pressure at the same angle. Precision of angle is like meticulousness in practice and pressure and movement are like the continuity of mindfulness. If meticulousness and continuity are present in your practice, rest assured that in a very short time your mind will be sharp enough to realise the truth about existence. ONE: Attention to Impermanence The first cause in the development of the five faculties is to notice that every phenomena which arises mentally and physically will pass away; one notices that all phenomena that arise through the six sense doors; the eye, the nose, the ears, the tongue, the skin, the mind will pass away. Thus, during meditation one observes mind and matter arising and passing away at all the six sense doors. One should approach this process of observation with the intention to note that everything which appears will, in turn pass away; this insight can only be confirmed by actual observation. This attitude is essential for correct practice. A preliminary acceptance that things are impermanent and transitory prevents negative reactions that might occur when one discovers this fact; sometimes painfully, through our own experience. Without this acceptance, moreover, a student might spend considerable time with the contrary assumption, that the objects of this world might be permanent, an assumption that can take impermanence on faith. As practice deepens, this faith will be verified by personal experience.
TWO: Care and Respect The second basis for strengthening the five faculties is an attitude of great care in pursuing the meditation practice. It is essential to treat the practice with utmost reverence and meticulousness. To develop this attitude it may be helpful to reflect on the benefits one is likely to gain through practise. Properly practised, Mindfulness of Body, Feelings, Mind and Mind Objects leads to the purification of the mind, the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, the complete destruction of physical pain and mental stress and the attainment of Nibbana. Remembering this, we may be inspired to be very careful and attentive towards the objects of awareness that arise at the six sense doors. On a meditation retreat, we should also try to slow down our movements as much as possible, appreciating the fact that our mindfulness is at an infant stage. Slowing down our movements gives mindfulness the chance to keep pace with the movements of the body, noting each one in detail. The teachings illustrate this quality of care and meticulousness with the image of a person crossing a river on a very narrow footbridge. There is no railing, and swift water runs below. Obviously, this person cannot skip and run across the bridge. He or she must go step by step, with care. A meditator can also be compared to a person carrying a bowl brimful of hot oil. We can imagine the degree of care that is required not to spill it. This same degree of mindfulness should be present in our practice. We can verify this result in our own experience on a retreat. Slowing down mentally and physically and moving with great care, we will be able to apply a quality
of reverence in noting our experiences. The more mindful we are of our thoughts and movements, the faster we will progress in our meditation. Of course, away from the retreat environment, one must adapt to the prevailing circumstances. Meditators must comprehend their situation and adapt to it. On retreat, as in any other situation, it is good to be considerate. THREE: Continuity Persevering continuity of mindfulness is the third essential factor in developing the five faculties. One should try to be with the moment as much as possible, moment after moment, without any breaks in between. In this way, mindfulness can be established and its momentum increased. Mindfulness prevents the harmful and painful qualities of greed, hatred and delusion from infiltrating. Defilement cannot arise in the presence of strong mindfulness. When the mind is free of defilement it becomes unburdened, light and blissful. Consciously maintain continuity of mindfulness at all times. Do one action at a time. When we change postures, we should break down the movements into single units and note each unit with the utmost mindfulness. When we arise from sitting, we should note the intention to open the eyelids, and then the sensations that occur when the lids began to move. Note lifting the hand from the knee, shifting the leg and so on. Throughout the day, we should be fully aware of even the tiniest action; not just sitting, standing, walking and lying, but also closing our eyes, turning our heads, turning doorknobs and so forth. Apart from the hours of sleeping, meditators on retreat should be continuously mindful. Continuity should be so strong, in fact, that there is no time at all for reflection, no hesitation, no thinking, no reasoning, no comparing of one’s experiences with the things one has read about
The teachings compare practising the Dhamma to starting a fire. In the days before the invention of matches or magnifying glasses, fire had to be started by means of friction; two sticks were rubbed against each other until friction became hot enough to ignite some accompanying shavings. A continuous effort was necessary to start a fire. In just the same way, a continuous effort is necessary to start the fire of insight. People who are mindful for a stretch and then stop to daydream are like chameleons going after their prey in fits and starts. They rationalise and have many excuses that hinder their practice. FOUR: Supportive Conditions The fourth cause for developing the five faculties is to take positive actions to ensure that suitable conditions are met for insights to unfold. Proper, suitable and appropriate activities can bring about insight knowledge. Seven types of suitability should be met in order to create an environment that is supportive of meditation practice. The First is that of place; it should be well furnished and well-supported. Second is suitability of resort; that is suitable for daily alms round for the bhikkhus and for lay meditators, food must be easily and consistently available and without too much distraction. This means busy, active places where the mind is likely to be distracted from meditation should be avoided. The Third suitability is speech; that is during a retreat suitable speech is of a very limited kind and quantity; mostly listening to Dhamma talks or interviews with the teacher. Meditators on intensive retreat should avoid
any kind of conversation as much as possible. If it is unavoidable, talk should be limited to absolute necessities. The Fourth suitability is that of community relationship. This chiefly relates to the teacher. If the instructions given by one’s teacher help one to progress, developing concentration that has already arisen, or bringing about concentration that has not arisen, then one can say that this teacher is suitable. Two more aspects of suitability of community relationship have to do with the community that supports the meditators’ practice and relationship with the community of other people. In an intensive retreat, meditators require a great deal of support. In order to develop their mindfulness and concentration, they abandon worldly activities. Thus, they need friends who can perform certain tasks that would be distracting for a meditator in intensive retreat, such as shopping for and preparing food, repairing the shelter and so on. For those engaged in group practice, it is important to consider one’s own effect on others. Consideration for other meditators is helpful. Abrupt or noisy movements can be very disruptive to others. Bearing this in mind, one can become a suitable person with respect to other meditators. The Fifth area of suitability is that of food, which means that the diet one finds personally appropriate is also supportive to progress in meditation. However, one must bear in mind that it is not always possible to fill one’s every preference. It is always best to adopt an attitude of accepting whatever is served. If one’s meditation is disturbed by feelings of lack or distaste, it is alright to try and rectify this if convenient. The Sixth type of suitability is that of weather. Human beings have great abilities to adapt to weather. No
matter how hot or cold it may be, they devise methods of making themselves comfortable. When these methods are limited or unsuitable, one’s practice can be disrupted. At such times it may be better to practise in a temperate climate, if possible. The Seventh kind of suitability is that of posture. Posture here refers to the traditional four postures: sitting, standing, walking and lying down. Beginning meditators should avoid the lying and standing postures. The standing posture can bring about pain in a short while; tightness and pressure in the legs, which can disrupt the practice. The lying down posture is unsuitable because it brings on drowsiness. In it there is not much effort being made to maintain the posture, and there is too much comfort. For well practised meditators, once momentum builds, posture does not really matter; any of the four is suitable. It will be advisable to investigate our own situation to ensure that the seven types of suitability are present. If they are not, we should take steps to ensure that they are fulfilled, so that our practice can develop. If this is done with the aim of making progress in our practice, it will not be self-centred. FIVE: Re-applying Helpful Conditions from Past Experiences The Fifth way of sharpening the five faculties is to refer to circumstances in which good practice of meditation; good mindfulness and concentration has occurred in the past. Practice is an up and down affair. At times we are high up in the clouds of good practice; at other times, we're really depressed, assaulted by defilement, not mindful of anything. When mindfulness is strong, we should try to notice what circumstances led to this. How are we working with the mind? What are the specific circumstances in which mindfulness has occurred? The next time we get into a
difficult situation, we may be able to remember the causes of good mindfulness and establish them again. SIX: Cultivating the Factors that Lead To Enlightenment The Sixth way of sharpening the five faculties is cultivating the factors of enlightenment namely: Mindfulness, Investigation, Energy, Rapture or Joy, Tranquillity, Concentration and Equanimity. These qualified states of mind, or mental factors, are actually the causes which bring about enlightenment. When these are present and active in one's mind, the moment of enlightenment is enhanced and can be said to be near at hand. Furthermore, the seven factors of enlightenment belong to what is known as the "noble path and fruition consciousness". In meditation, we speak of "consciousnesses" when we mean specific, momentary types of consciousness, particular mental events, with recognisable characteristics. Path and Fruition consciousness are the linked mental events that constitute an enlightenment experience. They are what is occurring when the mind shifts its attention from the conditioned realm to Nibbana, or unconditioned reality. The result of such a shift is that certain defilement are uprooted, so that the mind is never the same afterwards. While working to create the conditions for Path and Fruition consciousness, a meditator who understands the factors of enlightenment can use them to balance his or her meditation practice.
The Enlightenment Factors of effort, joy, and investigation uplift the mind when it becomes depressed, while the Factors of tranquillity, concentration, and equanimity calm the mind when it becomes hyperactive. A meditator, with mindfulness not well developed, may feel depressed and discouraged often, thinking that his or her practice is not progressing. At such times it is essential for a meditator to pull out of this state by making efforts to brighten the mind. He or she should go in search of encouragement and inspiration. One way to do this is by listening to good Dhamma discourses. A Dhamma discourse can bring about the enlightenment factor of joy or rapture; or it can inspire greater effort, or it can enhance the enlightenment factor of investigation by providing knowledge about the practice. These three factors of enlightenment; rapture, effort and investigation, are most helpful in facing depression and discouragement. Once an inspiring Dhamma discourse has brought up rapture, energy or investigation, meditator should use this opportunity to focus the mind very clearly on objects of observation, so that the objects appear very clearly to the mind's eye. At other times, meditators may have an unusual experience, or for some other reason may find themselves flooded with exhilaration, rapture and joy. The mind becomes active and over-enthusiastic. Due to excess energy, the mind slips; it refuses to concentrate on what is happening in the present moment. When attention touches the target object at all, it immediately goes off on a tangent. If one finds oneself excessively exhilarated, one should restore one’s equilibrium by developing the three enlightenment factors of tranquillity, concentration and equanimity. A good way to start is by realising that one’s energy is indeed excessive; and then reflecting. "There's no point in hurrying. The Dhamma will unfold by itself. I
should just sit back coolly and watch with calm awareness". This stimulates the factor of tranquillity. Then, once the energy is cooled, one can begin to apply concentration. The practical method of doing this is to reduce noting the number of objects of meditation. Instead of noting many objects, concentrate on noting a few. The mind will soon renew its normal, slower pace. Lastly, one can adopt a stance of equanimity, cajoling and soothing the mind with reflections like, "A meditator has no preferences. There's no point in hurrying. The only thing that matters is for me to watch whatever is happening, without judging them as good or bad". If meditators can keep their minds in balance, soothing excitement and lightening depression, they can be sure that wisdom will shortly unfold on its own. Actually, the person best qualified to rectify imbalances in practice is a competent meditation teacher. If he or she keeps track of students through interviews, a teacher can recognise and remedy the many kinds of excesses that meditators are susceptible to. Meditators should not feel discouraged when they think something is wrong with their meditation. Meditators are like babies or young children, they go through various stages of development. When babies are in a transition from one stage of development to another, they tend to go though a lot of psychological and physical upheaval. They seem to get irritated very easily and are difficult to care for. They cry and wail at odd times. An inexperienced mother may worry about her baby during periods like this. But truly, if infants don't go through this suffering they will never mature and grow up. Babies' distresses are often signs of progress. So if you feel your practice is falling apart, do not be overly worried. You may be just like that little child who is in a transition between stages of growth. Contemplating the Nature of Existence
When we can keep our attention on the rising and falling from the very beginning of its occurrence to the very end, developing that penetrative, all encompassing mindfulness from moment to moment in an unbroken and continuous manner, then we may come to notice that we can see clearly with our mind’s eye the entire rising process. From its beginning, through the middle, to the end, there is not a single gap. The experience is utterly clear. We now begin to move through the progression of insights that is only achievable through vipassana meditation, direct observation of mind and body. First we make the subtle distinction between the mental and physical elements constituting the rising and falling processes. Sensations are material objects, distinct from the consciousness that perceives them. As we observe intently, we begin to see how mind and matter are mutually connected, causally linked. An intention in the mind causes the appearance of a series of physical objects constituting a movement. We start to appreciate how mind and matter come into being and disappear. The fact of arising and passing away comes into crystal clear focus. It becomes obvious that all objects in our field of consciousness have the nature to come and go. Sounds begin and then pass away. Sensations in the body arise and then pass away. Nothing lasts. Insight knowledge begins to surface. Vipassana insight knowledge is concerned specifically with the three general characteristics of conditioned phenomena: 1. Impermanence (anicca); 2. Unsatisfactoriness or Suffering (dukkha); and 3. Non-ego or Non-self, absence of an abiding self (anatta).
Impermanence: Anicca As we watch objects come and go, we begin to appreciate their momentary nature, their impermanence. This knowledge of impermanence is direct, first hand; we feel its truth anywhere we place our attention. During the moment our mind is in contact with the object, we see clearly how the object passes away. A great sense of satisfaction arises. We feel a deep interest in our meditation, and rejoice at having realised this fact and truth about existence. Even simple and general observation tells us that the whole body is impermanent. Looking closer, we see that all phenomena which occur at the six sense doors are impermanent; they are impermanent things. We can also understand impermanence to mean all the impermanent things comprising mind and matter, mental and physical phenomena. There is no object in this conditioned world that is not impermanent. The fact of rising and passing away is the characteristic of impermanence. It is precisely in the arising and passing away that impermanence can be recognised. This knowledge of impermanence is the intuitive comprehension which realises the fact of impermanence; it occurs in the very moment of noting a particular object and watching it pass away. It is important to make this point, that impermanence only can occur in the precise moment when one sees the passing away of a phenomenon. In the absence of such immediate seeing, then it is impossible to understand impermanence. Would one be justified in saying that one has had an insight into impermanence through reading about impermanent state of things? Can one say an insight has occurred at the moment when one’s teacher says that all
things pass away? Or can one deeply understand impermanence through deductive or inductive reasoning? The answer to these questions is a firm “NO”. True insight only occurs in the presence of a non-thinking, non-analytical bare awareness of the passing away of phenomena in the present moment. In the moment of rising, when watching the rising and falling of the abdomen, one may be aware of tautness, tenseness, expansion and movement. If one follows the rising process from beginning to end, and the ending of these sensations is clear, it is possible for knowledge of impermanence to occur. All sensations that can be felt at the abdomen or anywhere else are impermanent phenomena. Their characteristics, of having appeared at the beginning of the rising process and having passed away at the end, constitute characteristic of impermanence. The realisation that they are impermanent can only occur in a moment when one is observing their passing away. Impermanence is not confined to the abdomen. Everything that occurs in seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, thinking, touching; all the sensations of the body, heat and cold, hardness and pain, and all of one’s miscellaneous activities, bending, turning, reaching out, walking; all these things are impermanent. If one can see the passing away of any of these objects, one will have realised impermanence. One will lose the illusion of permanence. Conceit also will be absent. In fact, during times when one is mindfully aware of impermanence, one’s general level of conceit will progressively diminish. Suffering or Unsatisfactoriness: Dukkha The second characteristic of conditioned reality is suffering or unsatisfactoriness; dukkha.
During our observation of impermanence, very naturally the factor of suffering will also become apparent. As phenomena arise and pass away we will realise that nothing is dependable and there is nothing to cling to. Everything is in a flux and this is unsatisfactory. Phenomena provide no refuge. Suffering itself is a synonym for impermanence, referring to all impermanent things. Whatever is impermanent also is suffering. At this point of development in meditation practice, painful sensations can become very interesting. One can observe them for some time without reacting. One sees that they are not solid at all; they do not actually last more than the briefest instant. The illusion of continuity begins to crumble. A pain in the back: one sees fiery heat transform itself into pressure, and then into throbbing. The throbbing changes its texture, its shape and intensity moment by moment. Finally, a climax occurs. The mind is able to see the break-up and disintegration of that pain. Pain passes away from the field of consciousness. Understanding pain and seeing its cessation, one is filled with joy and exhilaration. The body feels cool, calm, comfortable, yet one is not deluded into thinking that suffering has been eradicated. The satisfying nature of sensations becomes ever clearer. One begins to see this body as a mass of painful and unsatisfactory phenomena, ever changing and evanescent; impermanent. The characteristic of suffering is oppression by impermanence. Precisely because all objects arise and pass away from moment to moment, we live in a highly oppressive situation. Once arising has occurred, there is no way to prevent passing away. The knowledge of suffering, the insight that comprehends suffering, also occurs at the moment when
one is contemplating the passing away of phenomena, but it has a different flavour from the knowledge of impermanence. One is suddenly seized by a great realisation that none of these objects is dependable. There is no refuge in them; they are fearsome things. Again it is important to understand that the appreciation of suffering we gain through reading books, or through our own reasoning and reflection, does not constitute the real thing. Insight Knowledge of suffering only occurs when the mind is present with bare awareness, watching the arising and passing away of phenomena and understanding that their impermanence is fearful, fearsome, undesirable and unwholesome. The true realisation that suffering is inherent in all phenomena can be very empowering. It eliminates the deluded view that these things are pleasurable. When such an illusion passes away, craving cannot arise. The Absence of Self: Anatta Consequentially, one appreciates non-self, that no one, no essence is in these processes. Moment to moment, phenomena occur; this is a natural process with which one is not identified. This wisdom relates to the absence of self or essential core in things. Non-self (Anatta) refers to all impermanent phenomena, every single element of mind and matter which possess no-self or essential core. The only difference from Impermanence and Suffering is that a different aspect is being highlighted. The characteristic of non-selfness is seeing that an object does not arise or pass away according to one’s wishes. All the mental and physical phenomena that occur in us come and go of their own accord, responding
to their own natural laws. Their occurrence is beyond our control. We can see this in a general way by observing the weather. At times it is extremely hot, at other times freezing cold. At times it is wet, at other times dry. Some climates are fickle, such that one does not know what will happen next. Weather is subject to its own natural laws, just like the elements that constitute our minds and bodies. While watching mental and physical phenomena arising and passing away, one may be struck by the fact that no one, no inner essence or entity is in control of the process. Such an insight comes quite naturally. It is not affected or manipulated in any way. Nor does it come from reflection. It simply occurs when one is present, observing the passing away of phenomena. This is Insight Knowledge of Non-self. When one is unable to see the momentary arising and passing away of phenomena, one is easily misled to think that there is a self, an individual unchanging entity, an inner core behind the process of body and mind. With clear awareness, this false view is momentarily eliminated. oooooooooo0oooooooooo
The Buddha’s Advice By Mahasi Sayadaw In the Discourse on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness is a section on Clear Comprehension: “Meditators, when moving forward or backward, should be clearly aware of what they are doing; when looking ahead or behind; when bending, stretching; when carrying things; when eating, drinking, chewing and savouring; when defecating or urinating; when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep or waking up; when speaking or staying silent, they should be clearly aware of what they are doing”. That is, whatever the meditator is doing, that is what they must be mindful of at all times. Sitting meditation is only a part of the practice. The Buddha wanted us to develop a meditative life of fulltime awareness. The danger for meditators is to raise the sitting meditation practice to the position of a magical ritual as
if all we need to do was a little sitting in the morning and in the evening (perhaps) and liberation from suffering is assured. The Middle Path The rules of monastic life show clearly that the Buddha wasn't teaching simply a meditation practice but a way of living day to day. The Middle Path is a description of how life as a whole should be led by someone eager to attain freedom from all suffering. We should be careful not to transgress the basic moral laws for this produces harmful affects for us and for others. We improve ourselves by the practice of Right Effort of the Eightfold Noble Path; • to eradicate existing unwholesome habits and practices; • not to allow any new ones to establish themselves; • to introduce new wholesome ways of thinking and behaving; • to develop what wholesomeness we already have. Beyond the Meditation Cushion We need to bring Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration into our daily lives. The day begins with how we have slept. If we were depressed or angry before we sleep, the same emotions will dominate on waking. Therefore, we need to fall asleep in a meditative way so that any negative frames of mind are weakened and positive ones reinforced. We can gently place our attention on the process of breathing. Alternatively, we may practice Metta, having a loving thought in the mind and repeating it. When we
awake, observe the mind, and start developing that watchful attitude. We then make the next firm resolution not to let a moment of the day pass in mindlessness. All effort will be put into achieving continuity of awareness. Resolute determination plays a significant part in the meditative life. We don't have to become neurotic over breaking them but see such resolutions as attempts to recondition the mind. Deliberately, Purposefully, Intentionally What form does continual awareness take? Firstly it is awareness of all the tasks we normally do, especially the habitual ones usually done on automatic pilot. These range from brushing the teeth, to drinking a cup of tea, to routine tasks at work. Now it is to be done deliberately, purposefully, intentionally. A good technique to bring mindfulness to bear in our mundane tasks is to do them just a little more slowly and with careful deliberation. Another is to mindfully repeat the action that was done mindlessly. This sort of practice brings calmness and equanimity into our lives. The Art of Listening The second area we need to reform is our communication with other people. Again it is especially the ordinary that needs to be de-robotised and made meaningful. We have to observe how we are communicating with our spouse, children, friends, people at work and our neighbours. We need to cultivate the art of listening mindfully. When we listen mindfully, giving our whole attention to what is being said, we become aware of the opinions and conditioned responses in our own minds. Sometimes we can achieve a concentration in our listening so that these are subdued. When we listen mindfully, there will always be a break before a response while the mind assimilates what has been said and thinks of an answer.
Creating Space The next important practice, once we are clear of what it means to be aware in our daily activities and relationships, is to create ‘space’. Our society with its emphasis on productivity and deadlines creates a rush, a race. Everyone’s running. If you can do four jobs at once, that’s good. Five, that's better. Hence there's so much stress. The Buddha taught that only one consciousness arises at any one time. We cannot be conscious of two things at the same time. We seem to be immersed in multiple sensual input all at once. But each consciousness, arising at great speeds, is aware of only one incoming sense data at one time. But such is the speed of consciousness and the power of the mind to integrate, that we believe it is happening all at once. But we have been fooled, just like the celluloid film tricks us into believing that we are seeing one continuous action and not a set of individual frames. So the important practice in the meditative life is to do one deliberate action mindfully at a time. Suppose the day is busy and full of interruptions. If we now view these interruptions not as disturbances and nuisances, but simply accept them as the next thing to be done, we shall free ourselves of a lot of anger, frustration and stress. Suppose we are writing and filling out forms and in the midst of this someone approaches us for information. When they 'interrupt', all we need say is, 'I'll be with you in a moment, please'. In that moment, recollect the work we are doing. To be aware is to remember. Then turn to the questioner and see to that request. Once the request is answered, note the completed task and return to the previous work. No disturbance. No anger. No stress. Just moving from one job to another, creating a small space to recollect.
Missing the alarm, Jina wakes up and realises he's late. Panic. From that moment there's a rush to get to work on time. He washes at top speed, water and soap splashing everywhere. Breakfast is shoveled in. Jina then runs to the bus stop and spends the ride tapping his fingers and biting his lip. Or driving like a madman, swearing at friends and foes alike. Finally, he arrives at work. Is that the end of the panic? Of course not! Whether he's late or early, he has set the pace for the day; a mad onslaught of rushing about, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress and so on. All that has now, of course, stopped. For Jina now meditates. Now when he's late, he notes the sense of panic and anxiety. But he doesn't respond. He does NOT rush, accepting the fact that he's late. He may move faster, but not wilder. When he gets to work late he accepts that and realises that from now on there's no need to keep up the faster pace. He relaxes back into his normal routine. No anxiety, no frustration, no angry outbursts, no rush, no stress. This technique of letting our reactions to events subside is of paramount importance to cultivate a general state of calmness. Inclining towards Nibbana But how does all this lead to spiritual insight, to the experience of the supramundane? This continual effort is all to do with purifying the mind. When the mind is pure, the Spiritual Faculties emerge and Intuitive Knowledge arises. These Faculties are faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. In fact, these Faculties can come together at any time whatsoever. A laywoman became a Sotapanna on intuiting anicca, transience, in the crackling of her baking bread. Ananda, the Buddha's attendant, attained arahatship, while placing his head on the pillow to go to sleep. This moment is beyond our personal control. The
Nibbanic experience arises when the factors conducive to its arising are matured. It happens naturally as a consequence of our endeavors to train and to remain mindful. The Joy of Practice The Buddha asked us to be an island unto ourselves, a refuge unto ourselves. We have within each of us the potential to achieve not simply the joy and peace of a meditative life, but that peace beyond peace; Nibbana. His final advice was: Everything is transient, work diligently for your freedom. Thus Vipassana Insights into the Three Characteristics of Existence, Impermanence, Unsatisfactoriness and NonSelf; Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta lead to the complete freedom from all suffering, the experience of the Unborn, the Unbecome, the Uncreated, the Unconditioned; Refuge, Harbour and Home; Perfect Contentment and Peace.
The Buddha’s Assurance of Attainment
Indeed, whoever is practising these Four Foundation of Mindfulness for Seven years; he can expect one of two results:- Highest knowledge here and now, or if
there still be a remainder of clinging, the state of nonreturner. Let alone seven years, should any person practise these Four Foundations of Mindfulness for: six years, five years, four years, three years, two years or one year, then he may expect one of two results:- Highest knowledge here and now, or if there still be a remainder of clinging, the state of non-returner. Let alone one year, should any person practise these Four Foundations of Mindfulness for: seven months, six months, five month, four months, three months, two months, a month, half-a-month then he may expect one of two results: Highest knowledge here and now, or if there still be a remainder of clinging, the state of non-returner. Let alone half-a-month, should any person practise these Four Foundations of Mindfulness in this manner for seven days; he may expect one of two result: Highest knowledge here and now, or if there still be a remainder of clinging, the state of non-returner.
References A discourse on Paticcasamuppada (Dependent Origination) by the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma Reference: The Buddhist Doctrine of Kamma and Rebirth by Venerable Narada Maha Thera.
Rebirth a Buddhist Concept by Sayadaw U Thittila/Ven.Pandit P.Sri Pemaratana Nayaka Thero). Cases of rebirth: by Ven. Pandit P.Sri Pemaratana Nayaka Thero. Buddhist Reflections on Death by V.F. Gunaratna. Milinda’s Question – Sacred Books of the East Egerton C. Baptist: The Supreme Science of the Buddha. Recommended reading; A Guide To Proper Buddhist Funeral by Koperasi Buddhisme Malaysia Berhad. The Spectrum of Buddhism; Piyadassi: Ch.7 Abhidhamma in Daily Life. Chapter Nine by Ashin Janakabhivamsa translated by U Ko Lay. A Talk of Kamma, Rebirth and Suffering; by the Ven. Sayadaw U Silanandabhivamsa, Rector Sayadaw; The International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University, Yangon at 9:30 a.m. on the 13th March, 1999 Buddhist Dictionary, by Nyanatiloka Mahathera (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1980). The Buddhist Religion: A Historical Introduction (fourth edition), by R.H. Robinson and W.L. Johnson (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1996). The Long Discourses of the Buddha, translated by Maurice Walshe (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1987). A Manual of Abhidhamma, by Ven. Narada Thera The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, translated by Bhikkhu Ñanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995). Teacher of the Devas (Wheel Publication 414/416), by Susan Elbaum Jootla (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1997). The Three Worlds (wall chart), compiled by Ven. Acara Suvanno Mahathera, (printed for free distribution by devotees). Cassette tape of 31 Planes of Existence by Ven.Acara Suvanno Mahathera. Abhidhamma in Daily Life by Ashin Janakabhivamsa; translated and edited by U Ko Lay and revised by Sayadaw U. Silananda.
Atlas of the Universe. Published by Cambridge University Press 1998.
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