Now it is time for meditation. Sit
in the cross-legged posture. Place your right leg on your left and
your right hand on your left one. Sit up straight. The time of
sitting meditation is a time to stop. Close your eyes: right now
there is nothing to do and nowhere to go, you have no need for
them. Once your eyes are closed, recollect that the Buddha, Dhamma
and Sangha all lie within our minds. Don't conceive of them as
existing outside ourselves. It is just this mind that inwardly
recites 'Buddha' on every inhalation and exhalation. It is
just this mind that is the foundation of the Buddha, Dhamma and
Sangha. It is here that the practice takes place. The
Dhamma-Vinaya, all the vast number of teachings that the Buddha
gave, all share the single purpose of bringing our minds to peace,
the attenuation and abandonment of greed, hatred and delusion.
The teachings of the Buddha were
given over a period of fourty five years, from the time of his
enlightenment until the day of his death (parinibbana). In
the Buddhist scriptures there is a grouping of the teachings into
three sections: the Discourses, the Monastic Regulations and the
Abhidhamma. In all it is said there are 84,000 teachings.
Considered according to the principles of Dhamma, our bodies are
like the carved wooden cupboard in which the scriptures are kept.
The Discourses, the Monastic
Regulations and the Abhidhamma are each persons' action, speech
and mind. We can make this comparison for the reason that every
single teaching was given in order to be actualized by the
disciple who received it. So in our practice let us keep the
precepts--5, 8, 10 or 227 according to our situation. Let us
practise samadhi and cultivate wisdom Spiritual practice was
summarized by the Buddha as the three-fold training of sila,
samadhi and panna. If sila is pure and samadhi is firm
enough to give rise to panna, then the path to liberation from
defilements is manifest.
In sitting meditation do not be
deceived by the thought-demon* (sankhara mara). Those
people who only sit a little or don't sit at all are the ones who
believe the thought-demon.
For instance, we decide to sit
before dawn and the thought-demon tells us it is too early, why
not sit later on. If we believe it then our morning session is
lost; we don't sit. Later on in the morning and perhaps we forget
altogether but if we do remember, just as we are about to rouse
ourselves and do some sitting meditation, the thought-demon pipes
up again "You don't want to sit yet. You've just had your
breakfast, your stomach is still full. Have a rest first. You can
always do some sitting in the afternoon." If we believe
* The word 'demon' is used here
figuratively. It is not meant to refer to any real malignant
entity, but as an image to bring out the disruptive effects of
this mental defilement. (Trans.)
it, that's delusion. Before dawn it
says meditate later on in the morning. Later on in the morning it
says meditate in the afternoon. "If you digest your food first you
will feel much more comfortable." If we believe it we don't sit. In
the afternoon it starts again. We end up just believing the
thought-demon all day and all night and so get nothing from
Before the Buddha's enlightenment it was this belief in the
thought-demon that obstructed him. He just kept continually
procrastinating It took six years from the time of leaving home
until he finally came to his senses and stopped believing the'
thought-demon. Just picture it now. On the day of his enlightenment
the Buddha-to--be sat down with his back to the bodhi tree, facing
slightly north of east. Then he made a solemn vow, an absolutely
firm resolution that his sitting that night would be a life-or-death
affair: under no circumstances would he rise from his seat until he
was enlightened. He would die first. The Buddha-to-be had seen
through the thought-demon's tricks. He had realized that it was
because of falling for the constant lies and deceptions of the
thought-demon that he was still unenlightened
that Visakha Puja night the Lord did not move 'from 'his seat; he
just sat. Even so it says in the scriptures that the daughters of
Mara, all the hosts of temptation, attacked him strongly. But the
Buddha did not give in. They urged him to get up but he would not.
The Buddha focussed his attention on his breathing. If he did get up
he knew that all that awaited him was death, at most he might
postpone it for eighty or a hundred years, and so he just looked
intently at his breathing.
reflected that if after inhalation some obstruction or other
prevented the exhalation, then he would die. If after exhalation
some blockage in the lungs prevented inhalation then also he
would die. The Buddha just stayed with the breath, seeing death in
every inhalation and exhalation. There was still no Buddha, Dhamma
or Sangha. The Buddha was not yet the Buddha, his mind had been
pushed around for so long by the thoughtdemon. So he took up the
subject of death to teach his mind with every inhalation and
exhalation until a strong conviction and clarity of mind arose in
him that death is indeed certain, that with the cutting off of the
breath, death is inevitable.
The Buddha looked intently to see the inevitability of death with every
breath. He reflected "there is no one born into this world that
does not die. If people do not die as children then they die as
youths. If they do not die in their youth they die in their old
age. If they die then I must die. I must completely abandon the
defilements of greed, hatred and delusion before death. I must
realize enlightenment." The Buddha-to-be made a firm and
unwavering resolve. He brought to mind all the virtues that he had
developed to perfection: those of giving, morality, renunciation,
wisdom, endurance, truthfulness, resolution, kindness and
equanimity, and he allowed them to converge in the mind, as it
was aware of the breathing. The Lord's mind was as solid as the
earth, more so perhaps because the earth is still subject to
tremors. As for the mind of the Buddha-to-be, as he recollected
the charity, morality and meditation that he had practised and
concentrated them in this firm mind, more solid than Mother Earth,
then he felt ready even to sacrifice
his life. If death had come to him at that moment he would have felt
no fear. The teachers of old described that moment with an image.
They say the earth goddess squeezed waters from the bun of her hair
that swept away the hosts of Mara into the/ jaws of a fabulous
crocodile. This is putting it figuratively The earth goddess is the
earth. When our minds are firm and stable like the earth we can
vanquish the thought-demon, the defilement-demon, overcome all the
myriad forms of craving and clinging. Consider the nature of the
earth. The rain falls in the monsoon season and the earth is
unaffected. The sun blazes in the hot season, hot enough to cause
fires, and in the winter the weather is so cold that frost forms on
the grasstips, and yet the earth remains unmoved. Mankind appears
and divides the world up into countries. It digs and mines and burns
the earth, does all sorts of things, even drops atom bombs on it.
But the earth remains impassive.
If the mind of an ordained or
unordained person has a true and clear conviction in the Buddha's
teachings, then it will not waver in any way. For such a person
tiredness and exhaustion is merely an affair of the aggregates. *
Wherever the body or form aggregate exists there is going to be
hunger, weariness and exhaustion as a matter of course. The body
has to eat, it has
* The Buddha explained human existence in terms of
five aggregates (Khandhas) : those of form, feeling, perception,
formations and consciousness
to sleep, it needs all kinds of
things. That is a matter of aggregates, a matter of elements. We
should not let the mind waver in the face of those conditions.
When you set out to do something, sitting meditation for example,
don't let the demons of thought and defilement fool you. Or if as
a monk you make a resolution to keep the ascetic practice of not
laying down then make your resolution firm. Don't start worrying
about the effects it might have on your health. No illness
transcends death. Death is the worst that can happen. If you miss
your sleep, even if you really suffer you'll just die, that's all.
Let the thought-demon know that you are ready to battle with death
and it won't come to deceive you again.
Sit and cultivate 'Buddho' with
every inhalation and' exhalation. If meditators' minds are firmly
established in this way they will feel a lightness in body and
mind and a brightness and clarity as if a powerful force has
arisen within them. Such a mind is brave and courageous, without
fear of death or fear of tiredness, not frail and timid.
When you have spare time, rush to
meditate. Hurry, it's urgent. If you don't wish to do it urgently
you won't do it at all. You will believe the thought-demon or
believe people not interested in meditation, and they will
discourage you. The Buddha said "turitturitam singhasingham
"-- Rush, hurry, it's urgent! Meditate on every inhalation
and exhalation. Determine to practise right at this moment. If we
don't, then the demons of thought and defilement will lead us away
into old age and death. Even on the day of death we still won't
have the time. The people who have no time to practise are the
people who believe the thought-demon.
All of you who are practising Dhamma,
don't believe the thought-demon. Teach it at every breath "This is
the breath. It may cease at any moment." The Buddha himself used the
breathing process as the subject of calm meditation and the
foundation of insight meditation. It was the ground of his Dhamma
practice. All of us too are inhaling and exhaling, we too all have
body and mind. As the Buddha did, if we overcome the defilements in
our hearts we will clearly perceive Nibbana. This is certain. Why
bother doubting about it? Indecision, unwillingness to commit
oneself to Dhamma practice or to put forth effort at this very
moment: it's just that sort of mental state that the Buddha called
doubt. Get rid of your doubts!
The Buddha taught us not to reach out
towards the past or future. If we do we get stuck. We don't get
anywhere at all. But if we ground the mind in the present we can
testify to the inner knowing that lies within us all. If that
knowing didn't exist then how could we talk, how could we come and
listen to Dhamma? It exists and it is right in that knowing
that lie virtue and accumulated purity. We meditate in order to
gather the energies of the mind into this inner knowing. We put down
thoughts and sense-consciousness, the defiled mind that goes out in
search of distractions. We give up thinking of friends and families,
forests and streams, everything that lies outside of the present
moment. It's all false and wrong. What is right, what is straight is
that which the Buddha called 'tattha' or 'in that place.'' In
that place refers to the knowing that lies within our mind.
When the energy of the mind is
pacified, unified and grounded on the knowing, a firm faith and
in that knowing arises. There is
sila- and it is the knowing that keeps sila that cares
for actions and speech. There is samadhi- and it is the
knowing that is firm. There is panna- and it is the knowing
that has direct knowledge of the mass of physical and mental
conditions. There is nothing that lies beyond the mind.
This mind can both know truly and
know deludedly. When we just allow it to blindly follow forms,
sounds, odours, flavours, tangible objects and ideas it is
deceived day and night, from birth until old age, from old age
until death. It can be fascinated by those things for innumerable
lifetimes. When we come to meditate, we put effort into burning up
the defilements in our hearts so that they diminish and finally
come to an end. Thus our effort is concentrated on this mind. We
keep reminding ourselves that apart from this knowing that is
established in the present moment. everything be it past or
present. good or bad, is all impermanent. There is nothing lasting
to be found in the world. Everything outside of this knowing is
unsatisfactory and impersonal. Even the knowing itself is still
not sure if the masses of defilement cram and encompass it. We
must put effort into burning up the defilements right here. We
must develop generosity, morality and meditation right here, here
in the mind of present knowing. Be wary of the forms that come
into our line of vision and the sounds that enter the ears --
don't follow them. Odours that enter at the nose, flavours that
pass by the tongue, sensations hot and cold, hard and soft --
don't be deluded by them. Don't be misled by discursive thought.
Don't be fooled by conditions.
Why did the Buddha not want us to
be deluded? Because he wanted us to know. By now all of us in the
course of time have come to know all
sorts of things. But what have we got from it? All we have got is
old age and death. Death and then birth and then death and then
birth over and over again. Can you see this? All human beings are
born and then they die, just like a sound that having arisen
disappears or a form once created comes to an end. Wherever there is
arising there must be passing away. The Buddha taught us to know
this truth. It is the knowledge taught by the Buddha. and all his
noble disciples. They all instruct us to know our minds, to be aware
of ourselves, not to be intoxicated by mental states, thinking or
The Buddha described three kinds of craving: the craving for
sense-pleasures, the craving to become and the craving not to become
i.e. coarse, middling and subtle craving. All of its forms lie
within the mind and their abandonment is dependent on effort and
close attention, burning up the cravings rather than being swept
along by them. Thus practice implies not following the cravings,
desires and wishes that arise. When craving starts to cause distress
and turmoil in the mind we pacify it. know it clearly within.
The Buddha taught us to clearly see
into this mind, and also to see the things outside of it. He wanted
us to see that there is nothing permanent or substantial anywhere at
all and there is nothing that can provide us with lasting happiness.
All there is unsatisfactoriness or dukkha. We sit and there
is dukkha in the sitting posture. We lay down and there is dukkha
in the laying. We stand up and there is dukkha in the standing. We
walk and there is dukkha in the walking. Even when we talk or give a
Dhamma-discourse dukkha is present.
There is no real happiness. All those
things which we assume to be happiness are all false. If they true
happiness why is death followed by birth. There is no real
happiness. What people call happiness is a delusion of the worldly.
The enlightened ones that it's all just stories of dukkha and
unknowing. Thus the Buddha and his disciples, enlightened and
enlightened, practise calm and insight meditation in every posture.
They put energy into their meditation at times, continually
accelerating their efforts. They go without sleep. If in the inner
struggle with defilements just indulge in rest and sleep the
defilements will trample all over us, we will be unable to overcome
them. If we get up and sit in meditation, contemplate
unattractiveness (asubha) or the elements (dhatu) so
as see the unsatisfactoriness inherent in the body and mind, point
out and reveal these things to our intoxicated, indulgent mind; then
we will be able to put forth effort to burn up the defilements of
ignorance and delusion. Whenever we are deluded or intoxicated with
something, then we lose our self-awareness and then there is
pitch-black darkness. There is no path that will take us into such
utter darkness as that of delusion, knowing the nature of the mind
and body, not receiving the three characteristics, not seeing
clearly in present moment. The deluded mind puts no effort into
eradicating defilements in the present moment. It is engrossed in
the pleasures derived from forms, sounds, odours, flavours, physical
sensations and mental states, taking them to be happiness. But that
happiness is bound up with materiality, it is not true happiness.
The Buddha said that true happiness is the happiness of Nibbana.
The happiness of nibbana is
a non-clinging happiness. It does not depend on obtaining or
rejecting anything. It is the complete annihilation of desire,
hatred and delusion, both internally and externally. It is because
there is not a single remnant of defilement that it is called
happiness. It is a true unchanging happiness, not fickle and
deceitful. As for happiness in the world, however intense it may
be, it is still deceitful. Even millionaires, multi-millionaires,
kings and emperors must all still suffer through the power of
defilements. The Buddha called the defilements 'fires'. Fires are
hot and wherever the fire of desire occurs, then that place is
hot. Whenever the fire of aversion and delusion occur then those
places are hot. Where do they occur? In the mind that doesn't know
and see clearly, the mind that does not let goes, the mind that
does not abandon and release.
The mind tends to cling to the idea of self It clings to the body as
being self, but after death the body lies rotting on the ground
and is cremated. Have you ever seen that? If you haven't yet
realized that the same fate awaits you, then look at other people.
Parents and grandparents, where have they all gone? They are dead.
After they died where did their bodies go? They went to earth. In
the end, this body that we cling to as being 'me' ,and 'mine' will
turn to earth, and there's nothing we can do to prevent it. We
can't forbid old age, sickness and death. The Buddha said that
what we can do is to prevent the mind from being deluded by it
Create clear knowing in the mind. Apart from this knowing mind,
everything is aniccam; impermanent. Don't be deceived by
it all at any cost. Apart from this knowing mind everything is
dukkham: it's all
unsatisfactory and unstable. Apart
from this knowing mind, there is no atta, no independent
entity. Self and others is a convention of the world, In truth none
of it is self, there is nothing that is really 'me' or 'mine'.
Experiment with separating out hair of the head, hair of the body,
nails, teeth, skin, flesh and bones, Divide things up into the
elements of earth, water, fire and air. Have a look at what is what
There is nothing substantial there, just agreed conventions. Don't
be misled by those conditions.
Go against the out-flowing stream of
the mind, Enter samadhi and pacify the mind. Establish
yourself in the practice of Dhamma and keep burning up the
defilements of 'desire, aversion and delusion. As long as they still
remain keep trying to gradually eliminate them. This is called not
backsliding 'viriyena dukkhamacenti' said the Buddha.
Dukkha is transcended through effort'. When there is effort in
our minds we can free ourselves of suffering. If those who practise
Dhamma believe this saying with all their hearts, don't slacken but
firmly resolve to practise calm and insight meditation to the best
of their abilities, when their spiritual faculties and accumulated
purity are fully mature, then they will realize enlightenment. Of
this there is no doubt. So having listened to these skillful means
that I have outlined and clearly appreciated the truth of them in
your hearts, then impress them in your memory and take them away and
practise accordingly, for your welfare and happiness.
: The Awakened One; The
fully self enlightened sage who live in Northern India over 2,500
years ago; the 'Buddha-wisdom' present within the human mind.
: The teachings of the historical Buddha; the way things are.
: The Buddha's enlightened disciples; the correct practice of Dhamma.
: Impermanence; transiency
: Suffering; unsatisfactoriness;
discontent; instability; the inability of impermanent phenomena to
provide any true or lasting happiness.
: Not self; impersonality; absence of
a permanent and self-existent ego entity in that which is
impermanent and unsatisfactory.
: Virtue; Morality; Precepts; the
volition to refrain from actions and speech that cause distress to
one-self and/or others.
: Concentration. The peace clarity
and stability of mind resulting from attention to a single object
: Wisdom. Direct non-conceptual
understanding of the impermanent, unsatisfactory and impersonal
nature of conditioned existence.
Meditation on a single object or theme and the peace that results
Meditation on the impermanence unsatisfactoriness and impersonality
of conditioned existence and the insight that results from it
Evam : thus like in
"thus have I heard -
evam me sutam"