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(Arousing of Insight)

“There are those with little dust in their eyes”

[9th in the New Series]

From the Discourses of


collated by jinavamsa
Arousing of Insight

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



An Outline 11

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


Preparing to Sit 35
Beginning Exercise 36
Initial Noting 36
Primary Object of Noting 37
Further Practice Exercise
[1] Contemplating on Breathing 40
[2] Note Touching 41
[3] Note Sitting 41

2. WALKING MEDITATION: Basic Instructions 43

Stages of Walking Meditation 47
Steps in Walking Meditation (Diagram) 50
Note for Contemplation 51
Benefits of Walking Meditation 53


Aids to Progressive Practice 71
Simulated Behaviour 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 77
Patience leads to Success 78

Concentration and Insight Knowledge 82- 85
Development of Insight 86
Seeing, Hearing Etc. 88-90
Mind 92



…Sight on Unbind,
Vipassana discerns the Flighty Mind…
not unlike solitary Eagle …
Soaring rarefied skies…

…it Mindfully eyes

Delusion faze not the Heedful
passioned…Fully Aware,

Realising… the
End is nigh…


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

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

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

This is the only way, bhikkhus, for the purification of

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
• the cause and origin of these thoughts and
• and thus understanding their nature, gradually
develop a sense of distance and detachment from

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.




How does one start to meditate? Or rather how does one
get to the stage where one realises that one should

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

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 in-
depth 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patience is recommended as it takes a long time for a

teacher to get to know the temperament of the

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”.

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 “earth-

shattering” 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

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

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

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
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 non-
practise. 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

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

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


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 time-
table 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

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.




Where it began – under this Bodhi Tree nearly 2600 years

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.

“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

On identifying the upward movement note: “rising-

rising” and on the downward movement, “falling-

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

The meditator should carry on the exercise of

continuously noting these two movements of: “rising-
rising” “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.

Contemplating and noting mental activities is
Mindfulness of the Mind.
Contemplating and noting physical activities is
Mindfulness of the Body.]


Further Practice Exercise – Contemplating on

Breathing [1]
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]
The gradual contraction of the abdomen
[when breathing out]
Further Practice Exercise - Note Touching [2]
If these two points of mindfulness development: “rising-
rising”, “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, falling-

The points of touch to note are in a clock-wise or anti-

clockwise 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 [3]

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.

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

Note the intention to stand: “intention to 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
“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

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: “looking-

When walking, each step should be deliberately done

and noted; “right step-left step” or “walking-

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

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,

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

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, putting-
putting ”
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: “moving-
bending-stretching” and so forth.


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;
dropping-dropping [of the one foot,
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

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


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:

When lifting the foot, be aware of the heel lifting itself,


The toes will raise themselves upwards, note;


Next push your foot forward, note;


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;

Finally in order to lift the other foot, pressure will be

exerted on this foot, note;


Steps In Walking Meditation

1st Stage Right Step

Left Step

2nd Lifting

3rd Lifting Pushing


4th Lifting Raising Pushing


5th Lifting Raising Pushing

Dropping Placing

6th Lifting Raising Pushing

Dropping Touching Pressing

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


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

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.


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


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

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

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

• earth.

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

With Every Movement } and
} The Awareness of the

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

Moreover, meditators will realise that both the

movement and the awareness arise and disappear
in that moment.

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

Moments of Awareness is MIND

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 pair-

wise 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

These movements are not created by any deity or any

these movements never happen without a cause.

There is a cause or condition for every movement,

and that condition is the intention preceding each

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

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

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
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

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 the

images in the other frames, though the difference will
usually be so slight that we can barely notice it. But
what if the camera could take one thousand frames 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

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

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

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.



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

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,
drinking and
other regular daily activities should be mindfully

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,



if bending the head is more prominent, note,


if chewing is more prominent, note,


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;

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”, “supporting-

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 light and that is a

combination of:
temperature and air.

Sitting makes the body heavy and that is: earth

and water.
Physical actions or movements (matter) are
the knowledge of mindfulness (mind) is

thus physical (matter) and mental (mind)

are impermanent. Whatever arises is subject to
passing away; this is

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.



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;

“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, falling-
falling”, 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.

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

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

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.


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; “sleepy-

sleepy”, when the eyelids are drooping; “drooping-
drooping”, 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

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 sub-

consciousness 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

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,

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

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: “intending-

intending”, 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: “sitting-

sitting”, 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, falling-
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”, “supporting-

“Swaying-swaying” when the body sways, “stretching-

stretching” 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


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.

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” am feeling stiff,

“I” am feeling hot,
“I” am feeling painful,
“I” was feeling well formerly but now
“I” 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

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; “wanting-
wanting,” after which continue to note “lifting-
lifting” 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:
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


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

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: “rising-
rising, 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
“rubbing-rubbing”, or
“scratching-scratching”, when rubbing or scratching,
“withdrawing-withdrawing”, on withdrawing the

“touching-touching”, when the hand touches the

body, and then afterwards meditation should be
reverted to the usual exercise of noting; “rising-rising,

In every case of changing sitting positions during

meditation, such actions should be carried out
slowly and carefully, noting each action as it


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

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.


Insight Knowledge (Wisdom)

From the Discourses of the Venerable Mahasi

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, body-
consciousness (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 mind-
consciousness — 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.

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

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

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 sakkaya-
ditthi 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 body-
consciousness, 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

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 move, there arises a series of outward

movements or movements to and fro. They fall away
soon after they occur and at the very point of
occurrence, 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.

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

New things arise each time. Each of them is noted as it


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



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

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

Nine Causes Leading to the Growth of the Five

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

2. The Second is an attitude of care and

respect in meditation practice.
3. The Third is maintaining continuity of
4. The Fourth is an environment that supports

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 and physical

(b) meticulously, respectfully and
(c) with persistent continuity.

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

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

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

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

meditation; just time enough to apply this bare


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

The First is that of place; it should be well furnished and


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

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

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

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

The Sixth way of sharpening the five faculties is
cultivating the factors of enlightenment namely:

Rapture or Joy,
Concentration and

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

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

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

1. Impermanence (anicca);
2. Unsatisfactoriness or Suffering (dukkha); and
3. Non-ego or Non-self, absence of an abiding self

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

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
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

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;

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


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


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

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
• to introduce new wholesome ways of
thinking and behaving;
• to develop what wholesomeness we already

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

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

Thus Vipassana Insights into the Three Characteristics of
Existence, Impermanence, Unsatisfactoriness and Non-
Self; 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


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 non-


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

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.


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
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.