PRACTICING INSIGHT ON YOUR OWN
BY ACHARN THAWEE BALADHAMMO
Nowadays the condition of Thai society has changed very much and for many reasons. One of the results is that people part from the homes of their parents to settle down on their own. The economic situation in the new households is not well-balanced. They spend more than they earn, so they must try to increase their income. From the past of an agricultural society we have come to an industrial society with all its competition and the hasty hurry of going to school and attending to the duties of building up a business. The present society is materialistic. The need for material things is increasing; there is never the word 'enough'. Powerful desires force people to work relentlessly for the sake of satisfying all their needs. This is the state of affairs of society and everybody in the present time. This development keeps people away from the Wat, which is the public center for the cultivation of dana, sila, bhavana (giving, virtue, meditation) that can lead everybody into good and virtuous ways.
People today are just like birds. Early in the morning they fly out of the nest to find food in order to fill the hungry mouths and empty stomachs left at home. In the evening they return tired and exhausted to the nest. Out in the morning, back at night, this is the duty in daily life. Especially for the people who live in flats and many-storeyd buildings having rooms like bird's nests. Then this is even more obvious.
For this reason, the minds of the people become rigid and tense and the people become selfish, lacking reason in whatever they do. They follow their whims and fancies, lacking sati to keep them from creating situations which would otherwise be impossible. Although our country embraces the Buddhist religion, such things can happen and it is likely to grow even worse, because the society is turned upside down. Even the five precepts are losing influence and will soon be forgotten.
At present the people suffer from mental derangement and neuroses. No matter whether they are highly educated having a university degree, or industrialists, bankers, businessmen, politicians, or practicing any other profession, they are all more or less neurotic. We may not be neurological specialists, but if we consider the reasons in the present, that will be enough to know why more and more people become neurotic. Especially for people in the big cities it is very obvious. They no sooner wake up in the morning than the mind is already tense and rigid. Children as well as grown-up people, they all must hurry up to catch a bus and get on in pursuing education, business, duties or buying breakfast. When they get stress, they are not open-minded and lose their temper easily. When they arrive at the office, they encounter problems with unsatisfactory colleagues or the work itself. This makes the mind even tenser. When they return home, they face the household- and family problems again, and the neurotic strain still increases. When they lie down to sleep, again they think about problems, think about the occupation, about money and the many other things of tomorrow. The mind, the nerves and the brain, which want to relax naturally by sleeping, have to go on working. These are precisely the problems of the sort that make us more neurotic day in, day out. Therefore:
A handbook for practicing VIPASSANAKAMMATTHANA ON YOUR OWN would be useful for those people who have no opportunity to go to a Wat or meditation center where they could practice with a teacher. And also for those who have too many duties at home, whose daily life is restricted to the house, or for sick and old people who are still attached to their children and grand-children or take care of the house. They can use this book as a handbook in the practice, beginning with 10 minutes, 20 or 30 minutes, alternating sitting and walking as long as they feel able. They should not compel themselves too much. Do it with faith, with a joyful mind; and relax, so that the tense and rigid mind will be abated and relieved, and the mind becomes calm and content. Then happiness will arise out of that peace and you will understand how to put aside the many problems of life. You will become happy in body and mind and gain the strength to fight the problems of life effectively, business affairs as well as the confused, troublesome circumstances, the poisonous pollutionís of the environment. Progress in life will be the result, and this will be the strength of the nation in the future.
Phra Acharn Thawee Baladhammo
The situation described in the foreword is very
well known in the West, whereas in
The Lord Buddha used to warn people not to believe what he said without making sure whether it was true or not. He was not eager to persuade people to change their confession and accept his religion; but he was anxious for people to comprehend his pointing to a reality that cannot be found in books or sermons, because it is already there before a word is spoken. It can only be known by personal realization.
You should not look at this book as another Buddhist reader. If you come across things or statements that you don't understand, it shows that you must practice. When you follow the instructions contained herein, you will develop natural wisdom, and you will understand without having need of more books. If you practice honestly, you will understand by yourself, understand in a way that makes you free. This was the purpose of writing it.
I would like to acknowledge the people who have
brought this piece of Dhamma within reach of English-speaking readers. The
translators, a Thai monk and a German monk, have co-operated well and produced
a satisfactory result according to my purpose. Nai Thanong, a disciple of long
standing, gave a helping hand where it was needed. Phra George of Wat Mahadhat,
Phra Acharn Thawee
Q: What is the meaning of the word kammatthana?
A: The word kamma literally means action
or practice, and the word
Q: What is the meaning of vipassanakammatthana?
A: The word vi- means superb, clear, divers; passana means seeing, direct perception and right view of reality. Vipassanakammatthana is the practice of the correct view of reality or mental development for clear knowledge to see the truth of all realities.
Q: Why are there only two duties in Buddhism, the duty of study (ganthadhura) and the duty of practicing insight (vipassanadhura), but the practice of samatha is not mentioned?
A: The Lord Buddha tried with utmost patience, perseverance and effort to discover that highest Dhamma which leads out of the suffering of the rounds of rebirth, samsaravatta, the process of birth, old age, sickness and death; the Dhamma which has the function to completely eradicate the asavakilesa (worldly bias and defilementís) which are the cause of attachment to remain in the samsaravatta.
At first, the Lord studied with two renowned teachers, one of them named Alara Kalama who taught samathakammatthana to reach the highest rupa-jhana (absorption of the fine-material sphere). The second one, Uddaka Ramaputta, taught samatha kammatthana to reach the highest arupa-jhana (absorption of the immaterial sphere). The Lord Buddha experimented with this meditation in every way realizing that this is not the way to sammasambodhinana, the Full Enlightenment of a Buddha. Therefore he departed and searched for himself until he became enlightened to the four Noble Truths which can destroy the asavakilesa completely. Thus he became the supreme arahat Sammasambuddha.
Then the Lord declared that he was the One
rightfully enlightened by himself. In the preaching of
the Dhammacakkappavattanasutta, the first sermon, delivered to the group
of five ascetics at Isipatana deer-park near
As for ganthadhura (duty of study), it amounts to studying the guidelines of vipassanakammatthana in order to understand the way of practice. The Supreme Teacher for most of his life preached that rupanama (body and mind) are impermanent, suffering, and not self. This is an example of what he taught his disciples who did not yet understand the method of practice until they could understand it by themselves. Then those disciples paid homage to the Supreme Teacher, went to the forest separately, and practiced the Dhamma putting forth energy until they attained to the highest qualities of the Dhamma becoming Noble Ones (ariyapuggala) in the time of the Buddha.
But samathakammatthana existed before the appearance of the Lord Buddha in this world. Every religion had kinds of this meditation, for example there were sages, ascetics, hermits, or monks of other religions. When the Lord had studied thoroughly he realized that this was not the way to eradicate asavakilesa.
Vipassanakammatthana however is what the Lord researched and practiced by himself; it exists exclusively in the Dispensation of the Buddha. Thus there are only two kinds of dhura (duty) in the field of Buddhism, that is ganthadhura and vipassanadhura.
Q: What is the difference between samathakammatthana and vipassanakammatthana?
A: They differ in the sense-objects and have different goals and means. To explain the difference: samathakammatthana is based on conceptualized objects, or objects which are created, such as kasina. The practice of samathakammatthana is the means to pacify the mind, and the method depends essentially on the nimitta, (sign) so as to intensify concentration beginning from parikamma nimitta (preparatory sign) to uggaha nimitta (acquired sign) and the patibhaga nimitta (conceptualized sign). When the jhana-factors vitakka, vicara, pitit, sukha, ekaggata (examining, adjusting, zest, bliss, and one-pointed-ness) arise and are fully developed, then the first absorption is attained (pathumajjhana).
The objects of vipassanakammatthana, on the other hand, are the five groups of rupanama (body and mind). The result of vipassana practice is to attain to the highest quality of Dhamma and to the four Noble Persons, viz. Stream-entrees, Once-returnee, Never-returnee and the Fully Enlightened One, thus destroying asavakilesa according to the respective level until it is completed, destroying the need to come back and repeat death and birth again and again. But the guidelines for the practice will be explained later.
Q: Do we have to know the principles of insight meditation before taking up the practice?
A: We should know the essentials or the heart of the practice first, such as the four Noble Truths, or the two ways of truth, the way of suffering and the way to the end of suffering.
The way to suffering is tanha, craving for objects of the world such as sight, sound smell, taste, touch, or subtle body and mind, giving rise to clinging attachment (upadana) to the objects of the world which involve birth, old age, sickness and death, whirling round in a cycle (vatta) of uninterrupted succession without ever breaking the chain.
The way of the cessation of suffering is the
Eight-fold Path, the
Q: Is there any danger to the meditator who practices this Dhamma?
A: The practice can be dangerous because the meditators do not yet understand the guidelines of the practice correctly. Or, they practice after book-study and then make up their own understanding of it. Or, in a case where they practice without a meditation teacher guiding and pointing the correct way, when in the course of practicing, phenomena (sabhavadhamma) happen to arise, they may hold them to be true and real and believe that they have already reached the final Dhamma. Some meditators become attached to various nimitta, for instance light, images or pictures; some may even become insane. This is more likely to happen in samathakammatthana, because one dwells on conceptualized objects, pictures, or kasina nimitta, with delusion. If the image or the kasina changes suddenly, or a terrible image appears instead, one may lose awareness and become obsessed.
But the practice of vipassanakammatthana consists of developing mindfulness at every moment of breathing in and out. There are wisdom or clear comprehension (panna, sampajanna) and exertion working together to note the present object at every moment. Whenever an object arises just be aware of that object as it really is; then release that object at every moment, because the arisen object is bound to fall away naturally. Whatever special characteristics that object may have, it arises and then falls away; it is Dukkha Ariyasacca (Noble Truth of Suffering) arising and falling away. These phenomenon being Dukkha it is hard to bear. If the meditators can only understand this matter, then the practice of vipassanakammatthana is not likely to be dangerous at all. On the contrary, it will turn us into people possessing increased lucidity of satipanna (awareness and wisdom).
Q: Some people say that those who practice meditation will become backward people, not progressing in the way of the world; they are stubborn and old-fashioned, not up-to-date. What is your opinion concerning this....?
A: Everybody who is born into this world has got to have an aim in life or he should know what life is all about. In order to develop one's life, to be a man of highest virtue, what does one have to do? A man is good or bad depending on his own mind. We can prove this by ourselves. This is something which is always up-to-date.
Today is the time of science. We use technology, computers and nuclear power for proving, testing and for material purposes. In fact we use our mind to search for knowledge, competing in the construction of material things. Simply speaking, we are being materialists. This is what we call progressive; but it is only worldly knowledge. If we use it correctly, use it in a peaceful way, it will benefit all human beings. But if we use it with lobha, dosa, moha (greed, hatred, delusion) the result in form of the destruction of mankind is sure to follow in the future, undoubtedly. It will destroy everything in this world. There is no exception and no excuse for anybody who claims: 'I am a pioneer, I am a scientist' or ' I am an up-to-date-person'. Now, is this cleverness or is this foolishness, there, in the heart of him who is misled by materialism until he forgets the truth that the most important thing is Dhamma! Dhamma is the Nature which is always up-to-date.
Whoever studies and practices Dhamma, proves Dhamma and realizes the truth of it, analyses Dhamma and makes use of it in daily life, such a one uses it to control desire and extravagance, anger, envy, and delusion which delude him into taking poisonous stuff like alcohol, intoxicants, and drugs of all kinds. When our mind has no pollutionís to defile the heart then this mind is pure and calm and knows the reality of Nature as it really is. His life will be full of true happiness. He will know the principles of worldly affairs and the principles of Dhamma correctly and he can put them into practice in studying and in the conduct of his business for progress and prosperity in the future better than anyone who is not interested in the Dhamma and in the ways of his own mind, knowing nothing about kilesa, kamma, vipaka (defilement, action and result), not understanding that the four Noble Truths, the Eight-fold Path, the four Foundations of Mindfulness are the Dhamma for solving problems, the Dhamma for the extinction of mental suffering, the Dhamma for the development of the mind to change from the low state of worldliness (puthujjana) to the lofty mind of a Noble One (ariyapuggala).
Even in this present life it is a challenge for everyone to come to know and see without the limitations of endless time, and one who proves through practice will know by him/herself. Such a one is better than the person who doesn't know Dhamma and doesn't practice Dhamma, who actually deserves to be called fossilized and retrogressive, a million-year-old tortoise.
Q: What is the meaning of the four sappaya (favorable conditions) for meditatorís?
A: At the time of the Buddha the meditatorís should have the four sappaya, that is
1. Suitable dwelling conducive to calmness, undisturbed by noise, such as a forest, the foot of a tree, an empty house.
2. Healthy food, easily obtained. For Bhikkhus it means going for alms-round in villages not far away and to get sufficient food.
good person, a spiritual friend, a meditation teacher who
instructs the meditator always according to the
4. Comfortable dhamma, that is a meditation exercise (kammatthana) suitable for the disposition of the practitioner, tending neither to develop tenseness nor laxity too much. It is the dhamma that, when practiced, can give quick results for the meditator, as it should.
At this present time, we should look for a temple or a center where vipassana is taught and the four sappaya, as stated above, are provided, that means comfortable dwelling, food is not difficult to obtain and appropriate for the meditator, there is a vipassana teacher who is experienced in this field, and there is kammatthana suitable for the meditator. At present, the most important point is only the meditation teacher. He should analyze and instruct carefully because it is difficult for us to find such good teachings as in the Buddha's time.
Q: What is the procedure for someone who has never before practiced meditation?
A: The first step is that one should study the subject of vipassanakammatthana to have right understanding before beginning the Practice. But if one has no ability to do so or he has already studied but doesn't understand properly, he should go to learn from a vipassana teacher in a temple or meditation center and ask to stay there for the purpose of practicing. Even if someone has already studied pariyatti (the scriptures) well it is still necessary to have a meditation teacher who gives instructions and points out the correct practice, because from studying the scriptures (pariayatti) we only know the written words, whereas the practice means to get acquainted with natural phenomena (sabhavadhamma) as they really are; and there are differences in the sabhava (realities) between people, for instance mind, emotions, moods, and the accumulations of kamma they have are not the same. Then there are phenomena arising from Dhamma, through practice of insight, such as samadhi, piti, passaddhi, upekkha etc. (concentration, rapture, tranquility, equanimity). Some phenomena are not mentioned in the scriptures; therefore it is most important to have a meditation teacher with experience in both pariyatti and patipatti (scriptural knowledge and practice).
The practice of vipassanakammathana (Insight-meditation) is the development of the four satipatthana (foundations of mindfulness).
1. Kayanupassana: mindfulness contemplates the body in the body as it really is.
2. Vedanupassana: mindfulness contemplates feeling in feeling as it really is.
3. Cittanupassana: mindfulness contemplates the mind in the mind as it really is.
4. Dhammanupassana: mindfulness contemplates mental phenomena in dhamma as they really are.
The four foundations of mindfulness are right
here in ourselves. I would like you to comprehend the
field of the objects or foundations of mindfulness, so as to make it easy to
practice them. Concerning human beings and sentient beings in general the
Supreme Teacher preached that the true state of existence of all beings is the
five groups (khandha). That means, we have five separate aspects of
nature combining and merging into conglomerate shapes and appearances for which
we provide names and say: It is a human being, it is an animal, a woman, a man ...
Here are the five groups in detail:
1. Rupakkhandha comprises the four elements, viz. element of extension or earth, element of cohesion or water, element of temperature or fire, element of motion or air and also derived matter (material phenomena other than the four great elements).
2. Vedanakkhandha has the function to experience objects as pleasant, painful and neither-pleasant-nor-painful.
3. Sannakkhandha (perception) has the function to remember the objects; to remember sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and the mental objects.
4. Sankharakkhandha are the mental factors or qualities arising together with mind. The wholesome group makes the mind meritorious, good; the unwholesome group makes the mind de-meritorious, bad; the exalted group makes the mind firm and unattached. These three groups of mental qualities are mental action. If they are strong they can produce bodily acts or speech.
5. Vinnanakkhandha consciousness has the function to receive and be aware of the objects of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind, and it also operates as re-linking consciousness in the process of rebirth (patisandhi).
In practice the five khandha are summarized to only two categories, body (rupa) and mind (nama).
Concisely speaking, all natural phenomena come to one place which is sati; that means to apply mindfulness for the purpose of knowing the present moment or noting the present object. Sati has been compared with the footprint of an elephant. The footprints of small animals are bound to be covered by the elephant's footprint. If mindfulness does not arise in the present, wholesome forces will not occur. When mindfulness arises it implies that only wholesome forces will arise together with it. Therefore, the Supreme Teacher urged the development of the four foundations of mindfulness.
When the meditator understands what the objects are and who is the one that knows the objects, then he can begin the practice by fixing mindfulness on the four bodily postures of walking, standing, sitting and reclining.
The sitting postures while meditating is sitting cross-legged with upright body, the right leg above the left and the right hand on top of the left. Establish mindfulness to note the object to be contemplated. Then contemplate body in the body. The main object to be noted is the Rising and Falling of the abdomen. When the abdomen rises note 'Rising', when the abdomen falls note 'Falling'. Then keep following continuously: 'Rising' - 'Falling' - 'Rising' - 'Falling'....
Q : How should one establish mindfulness correctly?
A : The meditator should make his mind comfortable, free from worries, not too serious or too eager. For the arising phenomena are sure to fall away again. It is the characteristic of nature that everything that arises naturally is bound to fall away naturally.
The meditator should only fix mindfulness on the
object just in front of him and sees it as it really is, arising and falling
away. One should not cling to any object whatsoever but keep the mind central
or still. This is called the practice of the
Q : How much time should we devote to the establishment of mindfulness in practice?
A : This depends on the ability of the person. If it is a child at the age of 7 to 10 years, it should practice only for 10 minutes; from 10 to 15 years of age 20 minutes; beginners from 15 years onwards, or healthy grown ups, should practice 30 minutes.
When the practitioner has developed effort, mindfulness, and concentration (viriya, sati, samadhi), the time should be increased little by little. It should not be increased too quickly. From 30 one should increase to 40, from 40 to 50, and then to 60 minutes. New meditators should not sit more than one hour. They should have understanding in the matter of balancing the mental faculties before sitting longer than one hour.
Q : Sometimes the mind is not calm, there is thinking and pondering fancifully so that one gets annoyed. What should one do in this case?
A : When thinking, just note mindfully: 'thinking, thinking'. When reflecting, make a note as 'reflecting, reflecting'; when the mind is wandering, note it: 'wandering, wandering'; when the mind is annoyed note 'annoyed, annoyed'...
When thinking, reflecting, wandering about or annoyance arises, one must note it immediately, and if mindfulness is strong then after noting only once those objects will disappear. If mindfulness is feeble, one should note two or three times or note until those objects disappear. Then bring mindfulness back to note the 'Rising' and 'Falling' again.
Q : Sometimes the mind is irritated, worried, discouraged, bored, lazy, drowsy. How should one handle or contemplate this?
A : Make a note of the mental object which appears in the mind: 'irritated, irritated'..., 'worried, worried'.., 'discouraged..', 'bored..', 'lazy..', 'drowsy..', 'dozing..'. When those objects disappear bring mindfulness back to note the 'Rising' and 'Falling' again.
Q : How should one make a note of external objects when they arise?
A : If the object arises through the eye, make a mental note: 'seeing, seeing'; if sound occurs note 'hearing, hearing'; if smell arises note 'smelling, smelling'; if taste arises note 'tasting..'. When the touch of coolness, heat, softness, hardness occurs by way of the body, make a mental note 'cool, cool', 'hot, hot', 'soft', 'hard..'. When an object appears in the mind, make a note "seeing, seeing' or 'knowing..', 'thinking..', etc. as the case may be.
Q : When sitting for a long time, feelings of pain and aches in the knees, in the legs, and in the back may appear. How is one to make a note of this?
A : Be mindful of the feeling of aching right there and note it: 'aching, aching..'. If you feel pain make a mental note 'painful, painful'. If there is numbness, note 'numb, numb'. When that feeling disappears, go back and continue to note the 'Rising' and 'Falling' of the abdomen.
Q : If the feeling, after noting it, does not disappear, what should one do then?
A : In contemplating bodily painful feeling such as aches, pain, weariness, numbness, when concentration is good, you will be able to acknowledge well and easily that there is a feeling of aching, pain, weariness or numbness, and you can see the arising and vanishing of feelings distinctly or, when you keep noting it continuously, it may disappear by itself. But if one notes for some time and the feeling does not disappear, this is because the painful feeling is very powerful. Or sometimes the body and mind demonstrate the mark of suffering so that wisdom can realize the three characteristics impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha ), non Self (anatta). In such case the feeling of pain is stronger than usual. If one cannot bear it, then one should move the body or change position in order to relieve the pain. But don't forget to note mindfully the desire to change as 'desire to changeÖ'. When moving the legs note 'moving, moving', when lifting the legs note 'lifting, lifting', when putting down the leg 'putting, putting'.
When the painful feelings have vanished, go back to the usual 'Rising - Falling' of the abdomen.
Q : In noting painful feeling does one have to note until that feeling disappears, or can one note different objects instead?
A : There are two kinds of bodily painful feeling. One type is forceful, compelling pain. This must be rectified. Then there is bodily pain that is not compelling. We should be aware of the compelling suffering, for instance to empty the bowels or to pass urine. This is suffering that cannot be suppressed. It is impossible to make it disappear by noting. Sometimes violent pain arises in the body; the meditator simply makes a mental note of it, but that pain increases more and more. If the meditator is already experienced in looking at painful feelings, then he can bear it. But in the case of new meditators, they cannot bear it. A sense of weariness will arise. They should note the changing of posture and all bodily movements with mindfulness at every moment.
Dukkhavedana (painful feeling) that is not compelling is only minor suffering, arising and vanishing. If it is not violent, it is unnecessary to change. Just apply mindfulness and note what is really there: Dukkhavedana having the nature of arising and vanishing; even the phenomenon of pain is not permanent, it does not last, it is impermanent, oppressive, insubstantial (anicca, dukkha, anatta) just as material phenomena. It is the same with other phenomena (nama).
Q : Does dukkhavedana still appear even if one has meditated for a long time?
A : This depends on the practice. If the meditator can note the object continuously for a long time, samadhi (concentration) will be developed to a great extent; then piti (rapture) and sukha (happiness, bliss) will arise in the mind. He will feel happy and satisfied. This is sukhavedana (feeling of strong happiness). If under such circumstances dukkhavedana in the body arises, it will not be recognized as pain or ache, because the mental sukhavedana preponderates. He will be able to continue contemplation until the time fixed for sitting is over. Only when noticing is abandoned will he realize that there is pain and ache in the body. With some meditators bodily pain may occur violently, such as pain in the back or another part of the body. This could very well be dukkhavedana originating from kamma, since the meditator explains that in the past he used to hit snakes on the back, or beat dogs and cats or creeping animals. So it is a fruit of kamma, and we should endure the ripening of that kamma.
Q : How should one walk for walking meditation?
A : In Mahasatipatthanasutta (the Sutta explaining the four foundations of mindfulness) it is stated that when walking one should know; that is walking. When standing one should know; that is standing. It is not stated how many parts a step has. But the commentator divided the steps in walking meditation into six parts:
1. Right step - left step.
2. Lifting the foot - placing the foot.
3. Lifting the foot - moving forward - placing the foot.
4. Lifting the heel - raising the foot - moving forward - placing the foot.
5. Lifting the heel - raising the foot - moving forward - lowering the foot - placing the foot.
6. Lifting the heel - raising the foot - moving forward - lowering the foot - touching the floor - placing the foot.
For standing meditation one should stand upright. Hold the left hand with the right either behind or in front of the body, whichever is more convenient. Make a mental note of the standing body: 'standing, standing...' about three times. Then start walking with the initial step no. 1 and note 'right step, left step, right step, left step...'. Keep your eyes looking straight in front of you at a distance of about 5 - 6 meters. Establish mindfulness to be aware of the movement of the foot. The word 'right' means the right foot moves forward; that is the motion of the foot whilst moving, while it is brought to the front. When walking meditation is done slowly one should make a mental note as 'right goes thus, left goes thus...'. The word 'thus' should coincide with the moment the sole of the foot touches the ground. When walking rather quick, it should be noted as 'right step, left step...'. Walking quickly is acknowledged as 'right, left, right, left'.
When you reach the end of the walking path you will have to turn around. Note this as 'turning, turning' while the body turns either to the right or to the left. The right heel will move degree by degree; this should be noted: 'turning, turning'. When you are facing the path again, make a note of the standing posture: 'standing, standing'. When you start walking make mental notes, 'right goes thus, left goes thus...'.
Q : How long should the walking meditation be practiced? How many minutes each time?
A : A new meditator should walk and sit for equal times in any period. This means; when he sits for 30 minutes he should walk for 30 minutes....In general, the longer period of time you can walk the better. It increases energy (viriya). The meditators who have a wandering, discursive mind should practice walking equal in time to sitting or a little bit less in order to increase samadhi so that the mind becomes calmer.
Q : What is the method for the further stages of the practice?
A : According to the procedure of practice it is necessary to have a meditation teacher to give advice on the correct way of practice. He must know about the phenomena that the meditator experiences, by making daily inquiries, and help to solve any problems. He should guide the practitioner to right understanding so that the practice progresses and obstacles can be overcome. The meditation teacher should raise the standard of the practice by changing the steps of the walking meditation successively.
In the sitting posture, if the 'Rising - Falling' is slow, one should make mental notes of the sitting posture in addition: 'Rising - Falling - sitting...'etc.
Q : How does one contemplate the sitting posture?
A : When sitting one should be aware that one is sitting. That means, at the moment of sitting there is the shape of the sitting posture. Note this sitting form: 'sitting, sitting'.
Q : How is one to note walking meditation according to the second step?
A : Walking with the second step is noted as 'lifting the foot - placing the foot...' or 'lifting, placing, lifting, placing..'. The lifting in this place means to raise the foot about 15 cm from the ground, whereas 'placing the foot' is when the sole of the foot touches the ground. The foot must be put down close to the toes of the other one. For example: Lift the right foot first; when the sole is put down, the heel of the right foot will be a little distance ahead of the toes of the left foot which still remains flat on the ground. When the left foot is moved together with the mental note 'lifting, placing', then the heel of the left foot will be placed just past the toes of the right foot.
Q : When noting the sitting and the walking of the second step with ease, what should be noted next?
A : Go on to the third step. For the sitting the next step is noting the body-touch. If noting 'touching', one should note the spot where the right side of the buttocks touches the ground. The spot to be noted is a circle the size of a small coin. Note 'Rising - Falling - sitting - touching..'. If 'Rising - Falling becomes quick so that you cannot note four steps, leave out the 'touching', just note 'Rising, Falling, sitting'. If Rising - Falling is so quick that sitting cannot be noted, leave out the 'sitting', only note 'Rising, Falling'. Rising - Falling is the main object, which must be noted continuously. In case that the Rising - Falling is too subtle, unclear, or too quick, then note as 'knowing, knowing' until the 'Rising - Falling becomes clear again. Then continue to note 'Rising - Falling'.
The addition for walking in the third step is 'lifting the foot - moving forward - placing the foot'. When walking, lift the foot about 15 cm above the ground. 'Moving forward' means the foot moves forward about 20 cm. When 'placing the foot' the entire sole of the foot should be on the floor.
Q : Please explain the 4th, 5th, and 6th steps so that I know how to practice them.
A : The fourth step is noted as 'lifting the heel - raising the foot - moving forward - placing the foot'. The word 'lifting' means that only the heel is lifted, while the ball of the foot still remains on the ground.
The fifth step is noted as 'lifting the heel - raising the foot - moving forward - lowering the foot - placing the foot'. The noting of lifting, raising, moving are like those of the fourth step. As for 'lowering' one should note while the foot is being lowered until it reaches a distance of about 5 cm from the ground. After that make a mental note when touching the floor as 'placing...'.
The sixth step: 'lifting the heel - raising the foot - moving forward - lowering the foot - touching the floor - placing the foot'. While walking with this step the noting of lifting, raising, moving, lowering is the same as with the fifth step. The mental note 'touching' means that the toes and the ball of the foot touch the ground, but the heel is still up. 'Placing' means pressing the heel down to the floor.
Q : Is the contemplation of the sitting, standing, and walking posture always done as already explained or is there any more difference?
A : There is only one stage in standing meditation, noted as 'standing, standing..'. But one may also note standing for a long time. Walking meditation has 6 stages as stated above.
Concerning the sitting posture there are more additional touching-spots. They should be used when the mind is indolent and drowsy. When noting the touching, refer to the left side of the buttocks also and note both sides, first the right, then the left: 'Rising - Falling - sitting - touching - touching'. When drowsiness and inactivity of the mind still remain, the noting should include the ankles. Add the right one first and, if that is not enough, note the left one also.
Noting the touching-spots should only be done when there is a space between the Falling and the next Rising. When the Rising occurs, it must be noted as 'Rising - Falling - sitting...'. If, however, Rising - Falling cannot be noted at all because it is unclear, one may note 'sitting, touching, sitting, touching...', etc., employing those touching spots in turn until the Rising - Falling becomes evident again.
Sometimes, if mindfulness is keen, it may have the power to clear away drowsiness and inactivity and make the mind more energetic.
Q : When it is time to sleep, how is one to contemplate the lying body?
A : Before lying down one should first note other postures such as 'standing, standing'. Note the moment of lowering the body also: 'lowering, lowering'. When the buttocks touch the bed or floor: 'touching, touching'; when sitting note 'sitting, sitting'; bending the body so that it leans over to lie down note 'leaning, leaning'; when the back touches the ground note 'touching, touching'; when stretching the legs 'stretching, stretching'; when bending the knees 'bending, bending'; when moving the body 'moving, moving'; when arranging the posture 'arranging, arranging'; when supporting the body by pressing with the hand or arm on the floor 'pressing, pressing'. When you are in the lying position note 'lying, lying' until you fall asleep or, if the Rising - Falling of the abdomen is clear, make a note of it mindfully. In this posture you must contemplate in a relaxed way; don't note too strenuously; because then it is difficult to fall asleep.
In the opening phases of the meditation one must assiduously exercise the contemplation of the sitting, standing, walking, and reclining postures, noting continuously with mindfulness at every moment. In order to develop skillfulness one should never be absent-minded and have clear awareness of the presently existing rupanama (body and mind) at each and every moment.
This is the practice of insight meditation in the first phase, which has so far been explained in detail so that the characteristics may be known.
And the Method for Dealing with them
Q : Later, when practicing meditation, there is sometimes a sensation of itching to be felt in the body, for instance in the face or at the back or it arises in any other part of the body. Sometimes there is a feeling as if ants or mosquitoes were biting or insects were climbing on the body, or as if needles were piercing, giving a sharp pain. Sometimes the hairs on the body stand on end, there is a thrill at the back or on the shoulders arising for a moment and then vanishing again. Sometimes tears fall or one perspires; heat is circulating in the body or coolness may spread over the skin.
What are these phenomena? Where do they come from? How does one contemplate them? Are they dangerous for the meditator or not?
A : All these phenomena arising when contemplation is carried on are called sabhava. These sabhava arise when the mind is calm, which is samadhi (concentration). One has piti (rapture) which belongs to the same group as samadhi. They arise together, thus causing a lot of different sabhava to occur.
When they arise one must note them with mindfulness. For example: When experiencing itching note 'itching, itching'; feeling as if ants are biting note 'biting, biting'; when feeling a sting note 'stinging, stinging'; feeling as if insects were crawling over the body or in the face note 'crawling, crawling'. When sensing that tears or sweat is flowing note 'flowing, flowing'; when feeling that the hairs on the body stand on end note 'bristling, bristling'. When feeling cool note 'cool, cool'. Make a mental note according to the phenomena that arise. If you cannot note them properly, then note 'knowing, knowing'.
Most of these phenomena are manifestations of piti. When they arise one should note them every time. If noting is omitted, this is moha (delusion) lying in the object. If these phenomena keep arising often, it is called 'clinging to phenomena'. This must be checked by developing viriya (energy) and sati (mindfulness) making them stronger. Note the phenomena with a view to relinquishing them; don't cling to any object whatsoever.
Q : Sometimes, when sitting, it feels as if the hands were bigger or the feet, the belly, or the body were bigger. At times the body feels light and floating above the ground. Sometimes the hands, the feet, the body disappear altogether. How should one contemplate this?
A : Be mindful and make a note as follows. When the hands, the feet, or the body are bigger note 'big, big'; the body feels light note 'light, light'; the body feels floating note 'floating, floating'; the hands and feet disappear, the body vanishes, note 'vanished, vanished'.
Q : Sometimes during sitting, perception of white light appears, sometimes one sees green and yellow color, one sees many pictures, buildings, people, religious objects or monks. At times one sees skeletons, ugly and horrifying pictures. How shall one note these?
A : These objects arising in the mind are produced by concentration. They arise at a time when the mind is very tranquil. They are mind-created visions, imaginations. Sometimes these objects are very clear, sometimes they are dim; it depends on samadhi. If samadhi is very powerful one will see them very distinctly. When a picture or nimitta appears, note 'seeing, seeing' until that light or color or image vanishes. Then go back again to note the Rising - Falling of the abdomen. If one notes them but they do not vanish, this is because of upadana (attachment) which develops a liking for these things. Then the nimitta, colors, light or various pictures appear again and again. One must increase sati in noting and letting go. If they don't vanish, pay no attention and go back to the Rising - Falling or note other objects; those pictures will disappear by themselves.
Q : Sometimes the body sways or it feels as if turning round, the body shakes, trembles, or glides, or jerks. Sometimes there is a sudden push. What is that? How should one contemplate it?
A : The objects, sabhava and experiences can sometimes arise violently. This depends on the individual, because people are not all the same. Some people have slight experiences; other people have quite overwhelming experiences, because when piti arises together with samadhi they have very powerful sabhava (phenomena) that cannot be controlled by the mind. So these phenomena come out by way of the body and the body starts swaying, shaking or trembling. When it shakes note 'shaking, shaking'; when the body spins note 'spinning, spinning'; when it glides note 'gliding, gliding'; when trembling note 'trembling, trembling', when jerking note 'jerking, jerking'. When feeling as if being pushed note 'pushing, pushing'.
Some people experience this to a great extent; for them the whole house seems to spin; they have the impression that the house sways, the house trembles, the house shakes. In some cases there are people who even vomit.
When such things happen one should not be worried or be afraid. Be always mindful of the objects you experience and make a note many times. When mindfulness increases to a high level they will disappear by themselves.
Some people have such phenomena so much that they do not disappear in spite of noting them. They will have to live with a vipassanacharn (Vipassana-teacher) who has much experience in dealing with these sabhava and helps the meditator to check them by giving instructions on how to note correctly. Those sabhava will little by little disappear of their own accord.
Q : What are the main obstacles for the practice of insight meditation?
A : The obstacles in the practice of vipassanakammatthana (Insight Meditation) have three levels:
1) The obstacles of the inexperienced meditator
Ordinarily, our mind is always inclined to be associated with worldly objects, such as sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and mind objects, through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind. These senses operate all the time and are the cause for the arising of pleasantness, unpleasantness, liking and disliking, gladness and sorrow, happiness and unhappiness, thus giving birth to desire, anger, and delusion. This is what we experience in our daily life all the time. Then upadana (attachment) clings to material things which have the nature of changing. This is maya, illusion, enticing and fooling us, it is deceptive and illusionary, causing us to be attached so that we can't see the reality of our own states of mind.
When we enter into the practice of the Dhamma and develop the four foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana), we begin to see the 5 rupanamakkhandha which are really our body and mind. When we control the mind and apply it to the present object, which is always only one object at a time, the meditator's mind will struggle and fidget. As long as there is no mindfulness, thinking and wandering of the mind arise; it clings to objects of the past or the future continuously. When the mind wanders, annoyance follows, which is the cause of discouragement and drowsiness and many thought. Some people even think they don't have enough parami (accumulation of good deeds) to be able to practice. Some people put the blame on kamma; other people blame the teacher for not teaching well; or they say that practicing insight meditation is of no use.
As a matter of fact the meditator's mind is disturbed too much by kilesanivarana, the obstacles or defilementís.
When mindfulness is developed only a little the mind will not yet be calm because samadhi is lacking. One has no confidence in oneself. Various doubts arise. This is the reason why the practice does not progress as it should. Some people may give up meditation and return home. They advance the reason that they have work to do in their house or that they must look after their children or grandchildren; or they say that they have no parami at all. Some people admit that they cannot fight their kilesa and they will come back to try again later.
The main obstacles for the meditator in the initial phase are simply the five mental hindrances (nivarana).
Q : What are the five nivarana and where do they come from?
A : 1. Kamacchanda means delighting in and being fond of pleasant objects, such as beautiful sights, melodious sounds, fragrant smells, delicious tastes, gentle touch-contacts, and mind-objects which are pleasing and satisfying.
2. Byapada is ill-will and malevolence towards others.
3. Thina-middha is sloth and torpor or drowsiness.
4. Uddhacca-kukkucca means restless thinking, agitation and worry.
5. Vicikiccha is doubt, uncertainty, indecision.
The new meditator will find the five hindrances disturbing the mind persistently. People who have no confidence in themselves will not have the capacity to practice further and usually they will have to give up the practice.
But those practitioners who have firmness of purpose and faith in the wisdom of the Buddha will establish mindfulness to note the object that is arising at present. In other words, they will keep noting the Rising-Falling of the abdomen continuously throughout. When the hindrances appear in the mind they will make a note of those objects. For instance:
Desire arises, note 'desire, desire'; when anger arises note 'anger, anger'; when sleepiness arises note 'sleepy, sleepy'; when a wandering mind appears note 'wandering, wandering'; thinking arises, note 'thinking, thinking'; worry arises, note 'worrying, worrying'; doubt arises, note 'doubt, doubt'; uncertainty arises, note 'uncertain, uncertain'.
If the meditator always keeps noting the mental hindrances whenever they arise, he will have good results from the practice; that is to say, mindfulness will become more powerful. One will know more quickly the thoughts that have arisen. Then thoughts gradually subside. But before that, the meditators have a gloomy mood and they tend to have anger often. This anger will gradually exhaust itself until the practitioner may well be astonished at himself. Earlier there are thoughts of wanting this and that; these objects are not stable, do not remain as they are and change all the time, noting with mindfulness becomes more continuous, delusion will gradually wane.
2. The second stage of obstacles Ė
arises when the practitioner has developed the kammatthana with diligence.
Good samadhi has been built up by and by. This causes manifestations of samadhi; various sabhava (natural phenomena) of piti - passadhi (rapture and tranquility) also arise more frequently. Some meditators may become attached to such phenomena out of misunderstanding; some even believe that they have already achieved a high level of Dhamma. Some people start clinging to nimitta, pictures, color or light, holding them to be serious things; this may eventually make the mind insane.
If the meditator is glad and satisfied with these objects when he has reached this point, it will give rise to upadana (clinging) and he will keep watching for what else is going to happen. This is called 'clinging to phenomena', which is vipassanupakilesa (corruption of insight); it means, these experiences become the kilesa of insight and prevent the practice from progressing. This is called 'going the wrong way', it is not the practice on the lines of the Middle Way which is the one and only way, the way of non-attachment to the groups of rupanama (body and mind), the way of purity, free of asavakilesa (bias and defilement) the machinery of sorrow: the path that leads to the cessation of all Dukkha (suffering) without remainder!
Every meditator will have to encounter the obstacles of this second stage more or less. The meditator must depend on a vipassanacharn who is ready to help him and make him understand that this phenomena arising are the manifestations of rupanama they are nothing special. The target of practicing vipassanakammatthana is to set one's mind on an object which is higher than rupanama, that is to say Nibbana. If we get to cling and think of only the rupanama-objects we shall reach Nibbana not. So the objects which are rupanama must all be relinquished. As long as one still feels glad and satisfied because of rupanama-objects one will not be able to surmount these obstacles. The meditator who has right understanding should acknowledge the objects that arise and let go of them.
3) Obstacles of the third stage.
When the meditator has gradually established mindfulness in noting rupanama, the 5 indriya will gain power by and by. These are:
1. Saddha: Confidence in the wisdom of the Buddha and confidence in oneself.
2. Viriya: Diligence and exertion in preventing kilesanivarana (hindrances) from arising; to abandon kilesanivarana that have arisen; to develop mindfulness which contemplates the present object effortlessly; to maintain sati, samadhi, panna and make them stronger.
3. Sati: To be aware of the objects of body, feeling, mind and dhamma in the present, continuously and constantly.
4. Samadhi: To fix the mind on the object which is in front (confronting), encouraging sati and spurring the development of panna (wisdom).
5. Panna: Thorough knowledge, understanding in relation to sankhara (mind and body), knowledge of the four Saccadhamma (truthful facts) as they really are.
In order to know whether these five dhamma have become indriya or not, one must find out whether the obstacles of the second stage have been overcome. If they are still sticking to the meditator, then he has not yet overcome the obstacles of the second stage. This is not yet indriya (controlling power). If the second stage is overcome, it means that these five dhamma have reached the strength of indriya; in other words, they are present in a large scale in their respective qualities. For example: At first sati cannot note the present. But later it becomes faster until it can see the arising and vanishing of rupanama in the present and thus catches up with reality. Nana and panna are elevated stage by stage until they approach the utmost heights of nana (knowledge).
Going through the real stages of Maggaphala (realization) is not such an easy thing as some people think, those who would believe that they have already reached there. Mostly it is false nana; and it is a matter of boasting too much, because nowadays is the time of neyyapuggala kind of people, that means they must study, train and practice much more, even if in this present existence they might not attain to the qualities of the ultimate Dhamma, it is a support and parami for the existences to come. So, when they reach a high level, the essential obstacle is that the practice will go up and down repeatedly. They will anticipate or desire to attain. Then samadhi will not have the power to overcome the obstacles of this third stage.
Q : Some people say that, if the 5 indriya (mental faculties) are not equal, the practice will not progress. Why is that so?
A : While the four satipatthana are being developed, the five categories of dhamma which are indriya, such as saddha, viriya, sati, samadhi, panna, (faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, wisdom), always arise together in the mind because they are species of dhamma belonging to the Eightfold Path. But in some moments they do not arise simultaneously. These five indriya can be separated into two essential pairs: saddha and panna form one pair, viriya and samadhi make up the second pair. As regards sati, it has the function to co-ordinate the indriya in these two pairs.
This can be compared with a chariot having four horses yoked together and a coachman who has the function to supervise all four horses so that they run evenly. If any horse goes ahead or runs too fast, he must pull the reins to co-ordinate it with the other three horses. If any horse runs slower, the reins will slacken. The coachman will then use the whip to make it run equal with the others. The coachman must work very hard and he must be careful all the time to keep the four horses running evenly all the time. When all four horses run equally the chariot will run straight and speed up the whole team. If the control is not good, it will make the horses as well as the chariot shake or swing to and fro. They will not run the straight way; the chariot will slow down and control is difficult. This waste of energy will make the chariot reach the destination very slowly.
In the same way, if the five indriya are not balanced, sati must work very hard by noting in order to arrange the five indriya equally.
The inequality of saddha and panna may be known in the following way. When the mind is calm, the manifestations of samadhi, such as light, color or nimitta-images may arise in the mind. But the meditator who doesn't note with mindfulness will turn back to look at them all the same, but he doesn't note them in order to let them go. The more he notes, the clearer become the images; on noting they do not disappear. If this is the case, then saddha is in excess of panna. Clinging to any object or believing that things are real which in fact are not real, this is called SADDHA EXCEEDS PANNA.
When the meditator receives advice from the vipassanacharn that any object which comes up in the mind must be noted immediately, that he should not stick to these objects and the meditator has understanding, he will simply apply mindfulness and note the nimitta, light, color, various pictures as 'seeing, seeing' until these objects disappear; or if they arise again, he will be able to see the arising and vanishing of these objects. This is the balancing of indriya to make SADDHA EQUAL TO PANNA.
Some meditators have panna in excess of saddha, from studying and learning the Pali Abhidhamma. They have listened to learned persons or studied by themselves. When they take up meditation practice, sometimes one or the other objects or sabhava arise. They are given to thinking and reflecting that, 'this is a sabhavadhamma of such and such a name'.
When they go on thinking or reflecting, the mind will become even more restless. There are also people who think so much that they cannot sleep anymore. This makes the nerves overtaxed and the body exhausted. Such intense thinking about Dhamma is cintamayapanna which means panna arising from thinking. Some people have learned a lot, therefore they think even more extensively. Some people have mana (conceit); they think they are better, then they become such people who do not believe anybody, not even their own teacher, this is the cause of EXCESS OF PANNA OVER SADDHA.
The method of treatment for such practitioners is that they must note the thinking as 'thinking, thinking'. If they have the impression to think correctly they should note 'thinking right, thinking right' until the restless, agitated thinking gradually wears away. In this stage the vipassanacharn must admonish and comfort the practitioner, explaining that these sabhava or experiences which arise are only manifestations of rupanama and they are still phenomena merely of the basic stage.
One should not cling at all.
The teacher should give examples like this:
A man is searching for a diamond of unique water. He knows that the diamond is on the top of a mountain. When he reaches the foot of the mountain he sees stones of various shades of color and light. He mistakes them for real diamonds; dazzled and allured he collects the colorful stones at the foot of the mountain. He will not get the real Diamond because of his own misunderstanding.
In the same way the meditator sets his mind on the object of Nibbana but he meets the rupanama-objects. Wrong understanding arises and he clings to his own thinking. When the meditator receives advice that this rupanama is impermanent, oppressive, and not self, that not even his thinking is permanent, then he must establish mindfulness to note only this present object. Practicing by thinking is 'THINKING MEDITATION'; but practicing with mindfulness noting the present object is called VIPASSANA. When the meditator establishes mindfulness to note the thinking as 'thinking, thinking' until that thinking disappears, then PANNA WILL BE EQUAL WITH SADDHA.
The pair of viriya and samadhi are indriya that are most vital in the course of practice. For if these two indriya are not equal they will cause the practice to stagnate. If viriya (energy) outweighs samadhi the mind of the meditator will vacillate, thinking about past and future events or restlessly thinking nonsense and unsubstantial trivial things. Or he has desire to reap the results of practicing the Dhamma; he wishes for something to happen and is desirous to see this and that. The mind having these sabhava is not a tranquil mind, samadhi is lacking. This is called VIRIYA EXCEEDS SAMADHI.
The method for balancing these indriya is that one should make samadhi increase. The method for uplifting samadhi must be practiced correctly, intensifying samadhi in the walking posture by walking very slowly. Out of the 6 stages in the walking meditation the 4th, 5th and 6th steps are applied in order to increase samadhi. Walk very slowly and let sati follow up carefully each and every phase of the steps, from 'lifting the heel' to 'placing the foot'. Momentary concentration which arises at every moment will gain continuous and increasing power. It will make the mind tranquil and remain firmly fixed to that object. Although walking ordinarily is the posture to increase viriya, still one can so walk as to make samadhi arise.
The intensification of samadhi in the sitting posture:
Samadhi being absent in the sitting posture may have a number of specific causes, for instance: The meditator tends to think and reflect restlessly; the meditator cannot note the present object which is not distinct enough to be identified; there is dukkhavedana, such as pain in the knees, the legs, the waist, the shoulders, or the back; he feels tens which makes the mind vacillate. Kilesa-nivarana disturb him a lot. To intensify samadhi one should first of all fix the mind resolutely on the main object (Rising - Falling) so that it is noted well. During 30 minutes one should fix mindfulness on noting continuously with attentiveness. Be at ease and don't force yourself too much. When thinking arises it must be noted right away, regarding it as an obstacle for samadhi that keeps the mind from getting calm. When the mind gets calm the objects will be distinct which makes noting easy. The contemplation will then be in the present. When the mind gets calm and steady in the practice, the pain in the body will also be reduced. When samadhi grows stronger the mind is tranquil and SAMADHI IS EVEN WITH VIRIYA.
When samadhi is stronger than viriya, it will make this calm mind change. The mind can easily drop into the bhavanga state; the mind will become inert and floating. When sati loses power the mind becomes forgetful and will not be able to note the present. Sometimes when the mind is inactive it cannot receive the objects; the mind will little by little change from indolence to be drowsy and dazed and can then easily drop into bhavanga (fully asleep). Sometimes the mind will be half asleep even at the time of walking. When practicing one may sometimes stagger, or stumble, or topple over backwards, etc. Such things are called SAMADHI EXCEEDS VIRIYA.
In order to balance the indriya one must increase viriya by doing more walking than sitting. For instance when usually sitting 30 minutes and walking 30 minutes one should now extend walking to 40 or 50 minutes. Some people may walk one hour and sit 30 minutes. For the walking one should use the earlier steps, such as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd steps; the walking should be done a bit faster than usual. To activate the body so that the mind is more alert, some meditators who walk the 4th, 5th, 6th steps should come back to walk earlier steps first. The more they walk the first step the better.
In regard to the sitting practice they must apply the method as required. For example: The mind is inactive and drifting, then note 'Rising - Falling - sitting - touching' ...or add more touching-spots, from the right buttock go to the left, or add the right ankle and note three spots; and then include the left ankle too; it will depend on the speed of Rising - Falling. You should be noting continuously these objects in turn. This kind of noting will make the mind alert and agile. Viriya in the sitting posture will increase until VIRIYA IS EQUAL TO SAMADHI. Drowsiness and sloth will gradually be relieved and finally disappear.
As regards SATI: The more there is the better! For sati is a quality that brings along the group of kusaladhamma (wholesome mental forces). It is the quality of control which equalizes the indriya in both pairs by noting rupanama right in the present. If sati is developed until it arises together with the mind at each and every moment without fail then the quality of sati will be indriya which possesses this characteristic on a large scale. It will realize the arising and vanishing of any object clearly.
When saddha for instance exceeds panna and the mind starts to grasp at nimitta and various pictures, sati will make a note of these objects at the very first instance as 'seeing, seeing' and the objects arising from samadhi, such as nimitta or images will immediately vanish; they appear again, are noted and vanish again. This is how saddha and panna are made even.
Or, when there is reflecting about the Dhamma, considering and evaluating when sabhava or strange phenomena have arisen, then the mind gets involved and clings to such thinking which in turn causes undue agitation about Dhamma; this is called panna exceeds saddha. Sati must work hard until SATI ARISES AS FAST AS THE THINKING. Then thinking will cease; panna and saddha are equal, relying on sati as the one who supervises ever so closely.
It is the same thing with viriya and samadhi. When viriya outweights samadhi and reflecting or being agitated gets too much, sati will have to note to make that thinking disappear. It will slow down viriya to balance with samadhi.
Or, samadhi is too much, drowsiness and dejection arise; sati must work hard at noting to catch the very moment drowsiness arises, then drowsiness will fall away. This will bring samadhi in proportion to viriya and in return promote further progress of the practice.
In balancing the 5 indriya the meditator must apply the ingenious method and keep observing the result of the practice and check whether the redressed outcome is correct or compatible with oneself or not. Since the minds of people are not the same the individual dispositions are accordingly different. The accumulations of goodness and badness are also not the same. Therefore, one should live up to the motto:
ONESELF IS ONE'S OWN REFUGE!
However, everybody must develop sati to make it gradually more powerful. ANY INCREASE WILL BE THAT MUCH MORE PROFIT FOR SUCH A PERSON. When saddha, viriya, samadhi, panna work impeding each other or they have too little or too much power, then inequality arises. The application of sati which is already well-developed has the ability to control the balance of the indriya in both pairs. Those indriya that used to hamper one another will unite; those being disproportionate will come back to a balance until the 5 indriya combine into one. This will make for expert contemplation of the present; and that is the cause of arising for panna to realize the five rupanamakhandha according to reality as impermanent, oppressive, and not self (anicca, dukkha, anatta).
Rupa and nama arise and vanish naturally. The rupanama-objects display the truth all the time. There is nothing at all that one ought to grasp and cling to. One gains determination to practice without discouragement, bound for the Dhamma which ends Dukkha; this means: Nibbana.
THE MODE OF ACTION TO STAND ABOVE KILESA AND KAMMA
Q: How many kinds of kilesa (defilementís)
The kilesa that arise in the mind, how can they come about?
A: Kilesa are divided into three kinds, namely:
1) Course kilesa; they manifest by way of body and speech, for example: to cut off the life of living beings; to seize things that belong to other people by robbing, stealing, pilfering, or snatching; sexual misconduct; lying, slandering, insulting, and tittle-tattling; to take intoxicants and drugs which are the origin of carelessness. (Abstention from these acts is sila and a basic requirement for the successful practice of meditation.)
2) Medium kilesa; that is to say the nivarana, kilesa that appear in the mind. They season the mind so that it gives rise to desire, dissatisfaction, anger, dejection, drowsiness, agitation, worry, annoyance, indecision, doubt, and delusion. The medium kilesa have authority when they have arisen, they make the mind hot, stuffy, clumsy, troubled, worried, annoyed apprehensive, uncertain and sceptical more and more.
3) Subtle kilesa; they are called anusayakilesa. They are the nature that lies dormant in the 5 rupanamakkhandha. When there is a sufficient cause they are bound to arise. Usually these anusayakilesa remain quiet, they are not at all evident and do not issue forth in any way. But when there are any objects, whether good or bad, that come into contact with the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind then their state changes to the medium and coarse kilesa, and they break forth through body and speech later.
As an analogy, to distinguish between these three kinds of coarse, medium, and subtle kilesa, one may compare them with a match. The subtle kilesa resemble the fire that is hidden in the head of a match. The medium kilesa are like taking the match and striking the side of the matchbox. The fire then becomes evident. The coarse kilesa compare to using the fire that has sprung up and setting it to some material. The fire will then burn that object and can spread into a big blaze later.
Q : What is the relationship between kilesavatta, kammavatta, and vipakavatta (the rounds of defilement, action, and result of action)?
A : We people who are born have life existences different from each other. We are good people, bad people, foolish or wise people, we are unhappy, happy, rich or poor, beautiful and ugly. This is the result of kamma and is called VIPAKAVATTA. It arises from having done Good or Bad in the past and in this present life. Action coming out by way of the body is called kayakamma; action by way of speech is called vacikamma.
KAYAKAMMA and VACIKAMMA are the activity of the coarse defilementís (vitikamakilesa). Killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, telling lies, and taking liquor and intoxicants are examples of this. Kayakamma and vacikamma originate from MANOKAMMA (mental action).
MANOKAMMA is the activity of the medium kilesa (pariyutthanakilesa). If we cannot control the manokamma, which is kilesa arising in the mind, then it will burst out by way of body and speech, which is kayakamma and vacikamma again. As regards manokamma, it originates from anussayakilesa, that is from the subtle defilements which lie dormant in the stream of consciousness belonging to each one of us.
Kilesa are the cause for the arising of kamma; kamma is the cause for the arising of vipaka. This means:
The activity of KAMMA-VIPAKA is nothing but the 5 RUPANAMAKKHANDHA or ourselves, we are the people or rather the minds of people which are the resting-places of kilesa.
Kilesa is the cause of kamma; kamma builds up people again. They keep whirling round like this having no destination.
Q : What will be the way of action for practicing to surmount the three vatta?
A : The Fully Enlightened Buddha had the vision to see that, birth, old age, sickness and death are Dukkha (suffering). He searched for and investigated the cause of it; and he discovered that, birth, old age, sickness and death of us people or the world of living beings everywhere originates from kamma. When he had investigated the cause of kamma he discovered:
This kamma originates from kilesatanha alone (defiled craving). Thus all kinds of Dukkha which arise originate from kilesatanha! The Lord Buddha pointed out the 4 Ariyasacca (Noble Truth), the law of truth that Samudaya (tanha) craving is the cause for the arising of Dukkha. All Dukkha arises owing to a root. To extinguish all this Dukkha one must extinguish the root!
Simply speaking: We people have happened because of tanha (craving) we are born from tanha. If we wish to extinguish birth, we must extinguish that very tanha. What shall we use to arrive at the extinction of tanha?
The Supreme Teacher preached that: "The
action of extinguishing craving (tanha) is to follow the Eightfold Path
or majjhima patipada", the
Q : How should one refine one's efforts in order to square the Eightfold Path with the four satipatthana?
A : Practically the Eightfold Path works as follows:
1. Sammaditthi: Right view; that means, the vision of the arising and vanishing of the 5 rupanamakkhandha, or the realization of the four Noble Truths. This is a part of panna (wisdom).
2. Sammasankappa: Right thinking; that means, the application or the lifting up of the mind to know the present object or the five groups of existence (khandha). This is a part of panna.
3. Sammavaca: Right speech; that means, the mind that correctly identifies the concepts connected with the presently existing phenomena which is real. This is a part of sila (morality).
4. Sammakammanta: Right action; that means, the mental activity that is perfectly right: that is to say, watching the sankharadhamma (conditioned events) arise in present time (vipassanadhura). This is a part of sila.
5. Samma-ajiva: Right living or right occupation, having Dhamma, which is absolutely right; that means, the Eightfold Path the wealth of the Noble Ones, things that are the support of the mind, to have Dhamma for the nutriment of the mind. This is part of sila.
6. Sammavayama: Right effort; that means, effort to guard, effort to abandon, effort to develop, effort to maintain. This is part of samadhi (concentration).
7. Sammasati: Right contemplation; that means, to contemplate the dhamma which is the 5 rupanamakkhandha right in the present; to fulfill the function of the one who is aroused to know. This is a part of samadhi.
8. Sammasamadhi: Right concentration; that means, to fulfill the function of making the mind tranquil, steady, and fixed to a single object. This is a part of samadhi.
Tracing the Eightfold Path
in the Four Satipatthana
For the invention of radio, television and the like, it is necessary to have many electrical circuits and all these systems must be connected to one point, whether it is a switch or a press-button. If one wants to put them to work, one simply presses the button, then all systems will work automatically in an instant. In the same way the Lord Buddha who is the scientist of the mind, searched for the correct Dhamma with a view to making it work. Wishing to reduce and make it convenient and easy in the same manner, the Lord Buddha refined the Eightfold Path to become the Ekayanomaggo, that means the single magga, or translated THE SINGLE WAY.
This way is the four FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS; the four satipatthana are Ekayanomaggo or Sammasati which is nothing else but one of the factors of the Eightfold Path.
Q: What is the significance of sammasati so that it becomes the Ekayanomaggo?
A: The significance and duty of sammasati remains with the practice. Thus:
I - Sati has the function to know the present dhamma; that means, when it arises together with the mind it is obliged to contemplate the presently existing rupanama.
II - Sati is the cause for the arising of sila, samadhi, panna. If sati is missing, the correct sila, samadhi, panna cannot arise.
III - Sati is active in the abandoning of kilesanivarana, which are the akusala group of cetasika and always prevent the mind from achieving the Good.
IV - Sati fulfills the function of
unifying the Eigthfold Path into one, called Ekayanomaggo. If sati
does not arise, the other seven magga will arise together with sati,
V - Sati acts by controlling the five indriya so that they are evenly balanced. When sati has little power, the vipassanakilesa may arise easily.
VI - The development of the Four Satipatthana is the way leading to absolute purity; it is the way to the arising of Lokuttarapanna (transcendent discernment); it is the only way to reach Nibbana.
Practicing for the Extinction of Kilesatanha
Q: What should one do so as to eradicate kilesatanha which is the cause of Dukkha.
A: Kilesatanha can be compared with fire. Fire will flare up when there is a cause; for example, it springs from a Match, from electricity or a cigarette butt. Fire when it appears for the first time is a small extent of fire or a tiny little fire. To stifle it is surely not difficult. You can blow it out with your mouth or stamp on it with your foot, then it will be extinguished. But if that fire has much fuel and burns in our minds. As a tiny little fire when it springs up for the first time, if we know it quickly we can easily stifle it, if we know it slowly it is difficult to extinguish because the fire burning inside has already spread to the outside.
In order to put out the fire one must have the
right equipment to extinguish or a course that is correct and suitable for the
extinction of fire. Water is something one can use to put out fire. Water is
something one can use to put out fire. The Eightfold Path or the four satipatthana
which are the
So we must examine ourselves, whether we have water to put out the fire or not. If we don't have it yet, we must hurry and get it, because the fire of kilesatanha is burning ourselves; we have to put it out this very day; we cannot wait until tomorrow!
Develop sati that has not yet arisen so that it arises!
Try to make more of sati that has already arisen!
Generally, our mind always treats tanha as an intimate friend, because tanha is the stock we have accumulate unknowingly, our old habits which arise automatically and desire beautiful sights, melodious sounds, fragrant aromas, delicious tastes and gentle touch-contacts all the time. Putting out the fire at the very first instant is difficult to do, BECAUSE THERE IS ONLY LITTLE WATER. You must be energetic in developing water, which means sati, lots of it and quickly!
As soon as the water has risen a bit sati will support sila, with the development of indriyasamvarasila (guarding the senses), so that purity does not deteriorate and remains unblemished; this means, carefully keeping watch over the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind by applying mindfulness to the four foundations, not being pleased or displeased as they come into contact with sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch and mental objects. This manner of practicing will at once calm down the coarse kilesa.
When the development of sati becomes more efficient, one will be able to realize that when there is no desire in the mind one knows there is no desire; when there is desire one knows that there is; when desire stays in the mind one knows it stays there; when the desire disappears one knows that it has disappeared. When the strength of sati increases until it is able to contemplate the mind and see that, desire arises, stays, and vanishes in the mind in this way, then the medium kilesa, the nivaranakilesa, will become few and far between; they do not season the mind until they change into the coarse kilesa later on.
The meditator who has unshakable conviction that he must expel kilesa the machinery of sorrow, once and for all, must go on developing sati further without giving up. When Nanapanna of the Path-factors arises, he will as a matter of fact arrive at the truth that, whatever has the nature of arising naturally, as a matter of fact ceases naturally. Penetrating the truth of nature, that is the 5 rupanamakhandha, means knowing this body is not lasting, it arises, stays vanishes. Also the nama element, consisting of citta and cetasika or sankhara (mind and mental forces), arises, stays, and vanishes in the same way.
To make it easier to understand, take a look at people, for example: rich people have to die, poor people have to die, good people have to die, bad people have to die, powerful people have to die, powerless people have to die, beautiful people have to die, ugly people have to die; human beings just the same as animal beings arise, stay, and die away. All things without exception that have arisen as a matter of fact vanish naturally.
When we know truth like this, then the eradication of asavakilesa (worldly bias and defilement) will be easier with the furthering of the development of sati with patience or persistence, so that all kusaladhamma (wholesome forces) arise together with sati increasing their power step by step. The Eightfold Path which is being developed will then change from LOKIYAMAGGA (vipassana practice) to LOKUTTARAMAGGA (transcendent discernment) with cause and result automatically within the essence of Nature itself. For the transcendent Dhamma is akaliko, outside of time; whenever the cause is complete, then the result is bound to arise at the same time.
The four ariyapuggala (Noble Persons) are divided, according to the ability to eradicate defilementís by applying the ten samyojana (fetters) as the means for estimating, as follows:
1) Sotapanna cuts off sakkayaditthi, the opinion to have a self; viccikicca, doubt; silabbataparamasa clinging to virtue and rituals, groping for them in the way of rites.
2) Sakadagami cuts the samyojana of the preceding stage and has weakened kamaraga and byapada.
3) Anagami cuts the five lower samyojana, that is sakkayaditthi, vicikicca, silabbataparamasa, kamaraga, and byapada (anger) completely.
4) Arahant cuts off the whole ten fetters; the five lower samyojana and additionally the fetters of ruparaga, aruparaga, mana, uddhacca, and avijja completely.
To make it easy comprehensible:
According to the law of cause and effect in the eradication of kilesa, developing sati until Nanapanna emerges to see the 5 rupanamakhandha arising and vanishing as they really are one will find that, all kilesatanha resides merely in the 5 rupanamakhandha! Having developed sati in successive stages correctly, one will see the truth according to the 4 Ariyasacca, that when the Path is developed to know Dukkha, it cuts off Samudhaya and then Nirodha is realized, because the idea wins acceptance that whatever rupanamakhandha there are, all of them are Dukkhasacca (the Fact of Suffering). No matter whether these rupanama be kusala (of the good sort) or akusala (of the bad sort), they arise and cease all of them. Develop satipanna for the sake of realizing the truth and then let go! The part of discernment is Magga, the letting go is Nirodha. When Dukkha and samudhaya (the Cause) are contemplated by Sati, then Nanapanna discerns clearly that there is nothing else but Dukkha (rupanamakkhandha) arising and vanishing. Except Dukkha (rupanamakkhandha) you don't find anything arising and vanishing.
Therefore, developing sati for the new meditator amounts to getting acquainted gradually with the stages of the four Mahasatipatthana as follows:
1. Sati contemplates the body in the body; rupa is matter, easy to know, such as Rising - Falling of the abdomen; consequently arising and vanishing is easy to see.
2. Sati contemplates feeling in feeling; bodily feeling (kayavedana) is the matter to be known first. For instance: Bodily sickness arises, this is dukkhavedana. When the meditator keeps following mindfully, he will see the changing in dukkhavedana, the arising and vanishing of bodily painful feeling. Later, when nanapanna of the meditator is stronger, mental feeling will also be contemplated.
3. Sati contemplates the mind in the mind; the meditator as a matter of fact contemplates at the mind-door, that this mind is not permanent, always changing, one moment receiving objects by the eye, the next moment by the ear, the nose, the tongue, or in the body; or it receives mental objects, or there is reflection, agitation, drowsiness, desire, anger, various doubts.
4. Sati contemplates dhamma in dhamma; contemplating phenomena right there in phenomena, with the ability to realize the arising and vanishing of the good side of nature and the bad side of nature (kilesa). The good side of nature makes the mind give rise to satisfaction, happiness, contentment, whereas the bad side or kilesa, when it has arisen, defiles the mind and makes it hot, worried, annoyed, irritated, offended, uncertain, discouraged, confused..., not quite natural - mental suffering arises. When the meditator has gradually developed sati. In contemplating the present object of rupanama until he is experienced in noting rupa, vedana,and citta, then the contemplation of dhamma will be easier.
In the very beginning one cannot note the arising of thinking. Later one applies energy all the time; then, little by little, the noting can follow the thinking. But still one cannot note the first moment of thinking; for instance: thinking has already arisen a minute before one knows. But later on, little by little, one knows increasingly quicker, until one is able to know thinking arises and then ceases.
Sometimes one realizes the mind is about to start thinking; sometimes one knows for instance that a mental image originating from past memories appears first and then thinking arises in succession. Being able to contemplate the present like this discloses the vision of the truth that all kilesa arise together with the mind and cease together with the mind. As it is stated in the Satipatthanasutta: When there is no kamaraga (passion) in the mind one knows that there is not; when kamaraga arises, one knows it arises; when it stays in the mind, one knows that; one knows that kamaraga disappears; when it disappears owing to a cause one will know that cause.
When Sati and Nanapanna have reached this level, one will realize the power of sati, that noting the arising and vanishing of kilesanivarana is something that can be done; and this is a clear indication that the extinction of kilesa is an activity or performance in agreement with the four Ariyasacca (natural truths); that means; to develop the Path, that is to say sati; to distinguish Dukkha, that is to say the 5 rupanamakkhandha; to release Samudaya, that is to say kilesatanha. Nirodha becoming evident means: To see the cessation of kilesanivarana in actual fact.
That means, the meditator need not do anything at all! Do establish sati so well that it knows the present dhamma instantaneously and you will see that all kilesa arise and cease naturally. When you are aware like this, kilesa will be exhausted and go away of their own accord. For kilesa that have strong power on and on will have to arise on and on again for many moments. Just as if we see fire that having flared up vanishes at the same moment; then the fire will not burn anymore. But if that fire goes on igniting continuously because it has fuel, then the fire will build up strong power. It is a hard thing to extinguish that fire.
In conclusion we may sum up:
The development of VIPASSANAKAMMATHANA (insight meditation) is a practicable activity in order to extinguish the cause of suffering (dukkha), that is kilesatanha, entirely; you must not doubt it! And it aims at putting an end to kilesa once and for all, without having to consider the subject any further such as that one must have a particular method, some special knowledge o learning; this is generating more hesitation and doubt.
At the time of the Buddha, sixteen young men the disciples of the Brahmin Bavari were asked by their teacher to put questions to the Buddha. One of the sixteen, Nanda, posed the question: "They say that there are muni (sages) in this world. How is this? By muni do they mean persons of learning or persons working for their existence?"
The Supreme Teacher answered: "Wise men in this world don't say one is a muni because of seeing, because of hearing, or because of learning. I say that anyone who can extricate himself from the heap of kilesa and does not meet kilesa anymore, who has no worry and no desire, such a person is called a muni."
Nanda continued to ask: "there are ascetics and Brahmins who speak of purity by seeing, by hearing, by a prescribed mode of living and ritual, and by many other methods. Has anyone of those ascetics and Brahmins who follow strictly such methods which they believe to be the means of purification, ever gone beyond birth and old age?"
The Supreme Teacher answered: "Those ascetics and Brahmins, even if they keep strictly to their observances, I say, cannot go beyond birth and old age."
Nanda asked further: "Oh, Lord, if you claim that these people cannot cross over and this should be so, then who in the worlds of devas and men has gone beyond birth and old age?"
The Supreme Teacher declared: "I don't say that these ascetics and Brahmins are, all of them, overwhelmed by birth and old age. But I say that any ascetic or Brahmin in this world who abandons objects that he has seen, heard, or known and discards all prescribed modes of living, all rituals and the manifold methods, contemplates tanha as an offence. He cuts it all off to be a person who does not meet the asava (pollutionís) anymore. Such an ascetic or Brahmin has gone beyond birth and old age."
Thus we see, the Supreme Teacher emphasized the abandonment of asava-kilesa-tanha as a most urgent matter to be considered first. So you must practice until you attain to final success.
GAUGING THE RESULTS OF THE PRACTICE
According to the 7 Purities and 16 Nana
This book has been composed especially for the inexperienced meditator. Some meditators may, however, practice very well in the course of time; so it is necessary to have some means for measuring progress according to pariyattidhamma (scriptural teaching). Therefore we outline the 16 nana and 7 visuddhi here:
I. SILAVISUDDHI : In the beginning the meditator is first required to have sila; that means normal behavior of body and speech. Before that nivarana (hindrances) still disturb the mind; the mind is not calm because samadhi is lacking.
II. CITTAVISUDDHI : Momentary concentration of the meditator is more continuos. When the nivarana calm down, the mind will be pure and steady; this will be the condition for the arising of nanapanna later.
III. DITTHIVISUDDHI :
1. Namarupaparicchedanana - Vision is pure and nanapanna distinguishes nama and rupa.
IV. KANKHAVITARANAVISUDDHI :
2. Paccayapariggahanana - Purity to go beyond doubt derived from nanapanna that knows the causal relationships of nama and rupa.
V. MAGGAMAGGANANADASSANAVISUDDHI :
3. Sammasananana -
Purity out of nanapanna that knows from the practice whether it is the
VI. PATIPADANANADASSANAVISUDDHI :
4. Udayabbayanana - Purity of knowledge and vision of the correct way with nanapanna contemplating the arising and vanishing of nama-rupa.
5.Bhanganana - Nana contemplating the dissolution of nama-rupa.
6. Bhayanana - Nana contemplating nama-rupa as fearful, terrible things.
7. Adinavanana - Nana contemplating the oppressive and harmful nature of nama and rupa.
8. Nibbidanana - Nana contemplating nama and rupa with weariness.
9. Muncitukamyatanana - Nana, knowledge, wishing to go beyond and get rid of nama-rupa.
10. Patisankhanana - Nana contemplating nama-rupa for the sake of reaching higher nana.
11. Sankharupekkhanana - Nana contemplating nama-rupa with equanimity.
Vutthanagamini Vipassana Ė Nana contemplating one of the three marks Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta.
12. Anulomanana - Nana contemplating according to the Four Noble Truths.
13. Gotrabhunana - Knowledge of changing the lineage from lokiyacitta to lokuttaracitta.
VII. NANADASSANAVISUDDHI :
14. Magganana - Purity of Knowledge and Vision when the Magganana arises.
15. Phalanana - Nana of the Fruit-consciousness arises having Nibbana as object.
16. Paccavekkhananana - Nana that examines, how much kilesa is left. This nana is lokiyanana, it is not included in Nanadassanavisuddhi.
There are many dhamma that may be employed as a means for gauging the results of the Dhamma practice, such as the 37 Bodhipakkhiyadhamma, 7 Visuddhi, 16 Nana, 4 Ariyasacca; on the akusala side there are 4 asava, 4 ogha, 4 yoga, 4 gantha, 4 upadana, 5 nivarana, 7 anusaya, and 10 kilesa.
Those who know these dhamma can apply them all as a gauge for the practice of vipassanakammatthana.
Q: The 7Visuddhi and the 16 Nana have some differing characteristics; for instance: the 16 Nana don't mention Sila but the 7 Visuddhi do. How is this?
A: The 7 Visuddhi have characteristics like the Eightfold Path. That means, they speak of Sila, Samadhi, Panna; this is the practice by way of the three Sikkha (threefold Training). In particular the 7 Visuddhi are spoken of in terms of successive stages. At first one must establish Silavisuddhi; this will be the condition to reach Cittavisuddhi. When Cittavisuddhi has been established, then Pannavisuddhi will arise step by step, beginning from Ditthivisuddhi up to Nanadassanavisuddhi; so there are 5 Visuddhi summarized as the gradual development of Pannavisuddhi, they are all a part of Panna.
However that may be, in the practice of the
Q: If this book is used as a handbook for the practice, how will the meditator know whether the first nana has already appeared?
A: It is difficult to speak about the subject of nanapanna because it is paccatam, that means, the meditator actually knows and sees for himself. Those who have studied much pariyatti (the scriptures) are well-learned. Some of them may be able to know. Those people who don't know will have to depend on the kalayanamitta (spiritual friend) or vipassanacharn to give guidance or inquire frequently about the experiences of the practitioner; that will suffice to tell whether the meditator has developed nana.
Q: What are the characteristics of the 1st nana? Please explain sufficiently for individual comparison.
A: I will answer adequately in outline. In the beginning of the practice, the mind is not yet calm because one is disturbed by reflection and agitation. Only when noting the Rising - Falling of the abdomen becomes more continuous will the Rising rupa (matter) and the Falling rupa gradually appear more distinct. The mind noting the Rising and Falling will recognize that it has the function of knowing the Rising and Falling. Sometimes one will see that even the Rising matter and the Falling matter are not the same material thing. The Rising rupa has one characteristic and the Falling rupa has another characteristic. If the meditator understands and sees this, it is called rupaparicchedanana (discrimination of matter).
Later, when the samadhi of the meditator has more power the mind is calm and notes the Rising - Falling continuously throughout. Then one will understand that the Rising matter and the one who notes it are different from each other; the Falling matter and the one who notes it are not identical. The 'Rising' and 'Falling' are RUPA ; the one who notes is nama. When the meditator understands and sees this as it really is by noting the Rising and Falling of the abdomen when they are present, then he has reached the 1st nana or namarupaparicchedanana (knowledge of the discrimination of mind and matter).
In the interview the meditator teacher will ask the meditator whether the Rising and the noting of the Rising are the same thing or different. If the meditator says that they are identical, it means that he has not yet reached the 1st nana. If the meditator speaks about his experience of his own accord, or when questioned by the vipassanacharn he tells just as he understands and sees for himself: the Rising is rupa and the one who notes is nama, they are different, and when the Rising arises the noting mind runs towards it; or, when noting the Rising it is as if they appear together, but when the Falling is noted, then the Falling rupa is not the same thing as the Rising rupa: this nana is being aware of rupanama, and it also abandons sakkayaditthi, the wrong view which holds that there is a self.
Q: What are the characteristics of the 2nd nana? Please explain this also.
A: This nana is panna (wisdom) being aware of causes. When we have a result arising, which cause does it come from? The meditator who has already gone through the 1st nana will find that, at the moment when he is noting the present object, he sees that there are only rupa and nama; nothing else can be found. Sometimes the Rising, which is rupa, appears first; citta, which is nama, follows to note it. When sound appears first the noting mind follows as 'hearing, hearing'. Or when heat contacts the body the mental note follows: 'hot, hot'.
After a long time practicing like this, the meditator will understand: Rupa arises first, rupa is the cause. When the noting mind follows, then the mind is the effect.
Sometimes he wishes to stand up. When the mind has noted this, the standing rupa appears; the mind desires to walk then the walking rupa, appears; the mind wishes to sit then the sitting posture appears; the mind desires to lie down the lying body appears. Or the mind wishes to bend, to stretch, to take, to lift, to hold, to catch, to touch, and then the bending, stretching, taking, lifting, holding, catching, touching body appears and one realizes, the nama that arises first is the cause, rupa arising afterwards is the result.
If the meditator has right view by reason of contemplating rupanama, it means he has reached the 2nd nana, paccayaparigahanana (knowledge penetrating conditionality).
This nana understands that there is no creator; the occurrence of this life springs from nama as the cause and rupa as the result, or rupa is the cause and nama the effect. There is no being, no person, no self, no WE, or they; there is nothing but rupa and nama mutually conditioned and related to one another. This nana dispels doubts such as: What is this life? Where does it come from? Where is it going to? - When one understands the present then one has the ability to investigate the past and the future as they really are. This nana is the complete abandonment of vicikicca (skeptical doubt).
Q: What are the characteristics of the 3rd nana? Please explain!
A: When sati-samadhi of the meditator are stronger, the contemplation of Rising - Falling is more distinct. The principles for examining the contemplation are:
1st nana: The meditator noting the Rising matter will see the middle portion of the Rising because it is more apparent than the other portions.
2nd nana: The meditator noting the Rising matter will note the beginning of the Rising and the middle portion; that means, sati has become stronger.
3rd nana: The meditator noting the Rising matter will contemplate the beginning, the middle, and the end of the Rising, all three portions; this is so because sati and samadhi are more powerful.
In this nana the phenomena of piti will arise. For instance: At the moment of contemplation the hairs of the body will stand on end, giving a tingling sensation; nimitta and various pictures arise; jerking or dropping backwards occurs, there is itching, the sensation of ants crawling, and sudden pain like mosquito or ant bites. One must always note these; in noting these nimitta and pictures one will find that they momentarily disappear or finally disappear slowly.
Sometimes when sitting and noting there will be heavy dukkhavedana, such as pain in the knees, the legs, the back, the waist, or in any other part of the body. Having strong violent dukkhavedana like this shows the three characteristics, so that panna (wisdom) becomes manifest. It demonstrates the truth that this rupanama is not lasting it is suffering and not self, it is uncontrollable and unmanageable. Because of impermanence dukkhavedana arises; when it has arisen it is Dukkha, unbearable, and Anatta: It is impossible to force it to be anything else. It arises owing to conditions which carry the cause and effect in themselves. This nana understands the three characteristics.
Sometimes, if the meditator has much samadhi
and piti a lot of objects and phenomena will occur, or nanapanna
arises and stimulates thinking about Dhamma. There may be light, effulgence, or
much happiness. One will misunderstand this and think that, one has already
achieved the higher Maggaphala. Clinging and sticking to these phenomena
is vipassanupakilesa, or it is called 'going the wrong way' since one
still clings to the objects of rupanama. The right way is the
In the 7 Visuddhi it is shown that Maggamagganana-dassanavisuddhi is the purity that knows whether it is the Path or not the Path. When receiving the advice of the kalyanamitta that whatever arises one must note that immediately and not cling to anything at all, one must not be deluded and still cling when reaching this stage; if the meditator has right understanding the contemplation will progress further. When the meditator applies energy in noting the mental objects, the various nimitta, and pictures will gradually disappear. The meditator has then reached the 3rd nana, sammasananana (knowledge of comprehension). This nana is knowledge that is aware of the three characteristics (tilakkhana).
Q: When the practice has come to this stage, what are the additional kammatthana (main objects) for the sitting and walking meditation?
A: According to the principles of general practice it is thus:
1st nana: When sitting, note 'Rising - Falling'. When walking, note 'Right goes thus, left goes thus'. Continue for 30 minutes.
2nd nana: When sitting, note 'Rising - Falling - sitting'. When walking, note 'Lifting the foot - placing the foot' (2nd step).
3rd nana: When sitting, note 'Rising - Falling - sitting - touching'. When walking, note 'Lifting the foot - moving forward - placing the foot' (3rd step).
4th nana: When sitting, the noting is the same as for the 3rd nana; but sometimes one may note both buttocks, alternating right and left until the next Rising occurs. When walking, note 4 steps, 'Lifting the heel - raising the foot - moving forward - placing the foot'.
Q: What is the use of noting the intention? When shall we apply mindfulness to it?
A: Noting the intending mind is the practice for vigilance. It implies that when thinking, speaking, and acting, one must be mindful to supervise or constantly be aware of oneself. What are you doing at this moment? This practice should be introduced when the meditator has trained for about seven days; or, when the 2nd nana has come up then note the intending mind as 'intending, intending' when it arises. One will know the cause and see the effect and make sure whether it is a fact that this mind actually commands the body or not.
Q: What are the characteristics of the 4th nana? And is this nana genuine vipassananana?
A: This nana is called udayabayanana (knowledge of arising and vanishing). It is divided into a weak and a strong stage. The weak stage is called taruna udayabbayanana (tender insight-knowledge); the strong stage is called balava udayabbayanana. At the time when the meditator has reached the tender insight-knowledge, the objects of vipassanupakilesa will arise and be quite powerful. These are:
1. Obhasa, that means light or effulgence. It is pale white light, or it may be a beam of streaming light like a flashlight, or a light which fills the whole room.
2. Piti, zest or rapture; there are 5 kinds of piti:
a) Khuddakapiti (minor rapture); sometimes one experiences itching or tingling all over the body like goose-skin.
b) Khanikapiti (momentary rapture); tingling which moves from the feet on to the chest and the windpipe and then vanishes. Sometimes one feels warmth or coolness, which for instance starts at the head.
c) Okkantikapiti (flooding rapture); it may spread throughout the body.
d) Ubbegapiti (transporting rapture); sometimes the meditator may say his body becomes light and floats above the ground 20 or 50 cm; sometimes, at the time of sitting it feels as if someone came to push him or bend him down; sometimes it is as if someone were turning his head back and forth or the like.
e) Pharanapiti (suffusing rapture); perhaps he feels that he doesn't know what his experience in the body is like; comfortable coolness pervades the whole body in a way that is inexpressible; sometimes one does not wish to get up again.
3. Passaddhi (tranquility); some say that they feel comfortably cool and content in the body; perhaps one feels calm and utterly refreshed in the chest; body and mind are very happy and satisfied; some people say this body is light and adroit.
4. Sukha (happiness, bliss); some people say they feel very easy and fresh in the heart, in the mind; now that they have encountered this, they feel that they have never before found such happiness anywhere since their birth. Sometimes only the clear, spotless citta (mind) remains and they note: 'clear, clear..!'
5. Adhimokkha, that means saddha or faith; some people get strong confidence; they adore the teacher very much, wish to see the teacher's face and have high esteem for the teacher; they must note: 'confident..', 'respecting..'; sometimes they start thinking about their parents and relatives, they feel like preaching to them and wish to persuade them to practice meditation; they must note: 'thinking, thinking..'.
6. Paggaha, this is viriya (energy, exertion); some say that in the beginning, although the teacher inspired them to raise energy, it was very difficult for them, they felt very exhausted; they claim they had the determination to get somewhere and that they practiced until they nearly died, the teacher had to encourage them continuously to give it another try. But now, these thoughts have completely disappeared; they have extraordinary diligence; they are astonished at themselves, wondering: 'Is it really me or who? Why is there abundant energy?' They feel they will never tire of practicing.
7. Upatthana, this is sati, some people say that they can note everything, even the minor movements, some say that something compels them to note, or they state that noting is difficult, but they have developed such skillfullness at it that they are astonished at themselves.
8. Nana (knowledge); some people say that, in the past, in order to know anything, they had to concentrate on it many times; but know they feel that they have extraordinary knowledge; especially the 5 rupanamakkhandha they know them very accurately and thoroughly.
9. Upekkha (equanimity); before this, they reflected and pondered over the subject of anicca, dukkha, anatta but they could not understand them clearly. At this time, however, they see very clearly that the beginning, the middle, and the end portions of the occuring phenomena are all of them the three characteristics. Sometimes they will feel uninterested until they have no more kilesa.
Obhasa, piti, passaddhi, viriya, sukha, saddha, sati, nana, and upekkha become vipassanupakilesa because of Nikanti, which is the tenth. It is satisfaction, being engrossed by the objects, enjoying them with gratification and being deluded by them, then these phenomena become obstacles to vipassana.
But when hearing the instruction of the vipassanacharn that they should not cling and become attached to these objects, then they must establish mindfulness in the present, so that they see the arising and vanishing of these objects. At the time when insight is still the taruna udayabbayanana, the nimitta-pictures and phenomena will, after noting them, fade away slowly or disappear moment by moment. But when insight has changed to balava udayabbayanana one notes the phenomena and they disappear immediately. One will realize the arising and vanishing very perspicuously.
The Supreme Teacher said of the people who have truly reached this nana, that they have not wasted their present life, they don't fall into bad destiny. The meaning is: They don't go down to apaya (miserable existence) after death. This nana is genuine vipassananana which will proceed to higher stages afterwards.
Q: What are the characteristics of the 5th nana? Please explain so that one understands.
A: When the meditator has found balance in the 5 indriya(mental powers), sati will note the present objects more skillfully; it will perceive the arising and vanishing of rupanama as it really is. What happens next is that the noting of the objects becomes speeded up. Even the Rising and Falling of the abdomen arise and vanish quicker. Later one will see only vanishing, vanishing and the velocity of the objects; sometimes one has to note 'knowing, knowing' so as not to get stuck. Some people feel that the objects noted are not clear, or sometimes it is noted and gone; both the object and the one who notes it disappear. While practicing walking meditation the experience will be like sudden flashes; that means, it is just noted and already vanished. At times, when sitting one feels empty in the body; it happens that one does not know what to note. Sometimes one is discouraged because the objects used to be clear but now they are not clear anymore; they are barely noted and then vanish. One feels it is difficult to contemplate the vanishing objects disappearing at breakneck speed; or one cannot note clearly since what is noted id disappearing, vanishing. This is called: the meditator has reached bhanganana (knowledge of dissolution).
Q: What are the characteristics of the 6th nana?
A: When reaching bhayanana (knowledge of fear), the objects noted and the noting mind stick together; they always vanish together, every time the object and the mind disappear until one feels frightened. This fear is not fear of a ghost, a demon, man or animal, or some weapon; one is frightened but cannot tell of what. Some people note the couplet of rupanama always disappearing together, vanishing together; everytime fear gets stronger. Some people are contemplating and when samadhi gets strong, the body disappears and they are frightened. The characteristic of bhayanana stems from the dissolution seen at first in the stage of bhanganana, which is the condition for bhayanana.
Q: What are the characteristics of the 7th nana?
A: When this nana arises, the meditator will feel that whatever he notes is no good altogether; even the phenomena of Rising and Falling that become apparent are felt to be no good, they are Dukkha, affliction. One feels it would be better, if there were nothing to be noted anymore. The six kinds of objects of the senses, or sankhara, which present themselves are altogether no good, useless. This is adinavanana (knowledge of misery).
Q: What are the characteristics of the 8th nana?
A: Some meditators will say they can note well although they feel desolate and weary, as if lazy, but they still go on contemplating. Some people can note well but their mind is not joyful. Some understand that, all phenomena that they see are altogether disgusting. Some people contemplate and get bored and don't want to speak to anybody; they only want to stay in their rooms. Some may think about the 31 planes of existence and find that even the worlds of men, devas and Brahmaís are not satisfying but they all represent boredom. The emergence of boredom from the contemplation of rupanama develops gradually starting from udayabbayanana until the 8th nana, nibbidanana, arises; that is knowledge contemplation rupanama with boredom or disgust.
Q: What are the characteristics of the 9th nana?
A: When the meditator carries on the contemplation he will experience sensations of mosquito bites or ant bites or as if insects were crawling over the body. Some people cannot remain sitting; they are restless, one moment they wish to sit next moment they wish to stand up, just as if they were about to go away. Some people think that, within the 31 planes of existence, nothing good can be seen whatever. The mind desires to reach cessation, Nibbana; the mind desires to become calm and still.
Some people feel fed up with it all, they don't want to note anymore; some even pack their belongings and wish to run away. The sankhara-objects (conditioned phenomena), every time they are noted, every time they are not enjoyable, not satisfying. The meditators wish to get rid of them to escape from sankhara, and they do not wish to cling to them. Nana that understands and sees like this, is called municitukamyatanana (knowledge of desire for deliverance).
Q: What are the characteristics of the 10th nana?
A: Some meditators will say the objects that are noted can be found but they always disappear, they vanish so swiftly; one cannot find anything firm enduring or substantial; therefore one meets only phenomena of the nature of tilakkhana, which become apparent with ever increasing perspicuity.
When they are contemplating, some people feel that the hands and feet are heavy and vibrating at the same time. Some people have a slight itching sensation; later they feel that the body, the hands and feet are tense and heavy. Some people hear buzzing, soughing sounds in the ears; when hearing this some feel annoyed; they wish to escape from that sound. When noting the Rising and Falling, some feel that both of them arise and vanish moment by moment; maybe they feel oppressed in the chest. This nana is the start to try and aim at higher nana. It is the desire for Nibbana, the Dhamma which can extinguish the flames of Dukkha. The experiences of a meditator mentioned here are the signs of patisankhanana (knowledge of re-observation).
Q: What are the characteristics of the 11th nana?
A: The meditator will say that he cannot tell whether the contemplation is good at all. Contemplating feels lighter and swifter; sitting and lying one can keep on contemplating with ease without having to make a great effort at it. It is like a good road and good car, so that the driver need not be very careful. Some people say they sit an amazing long time but they don't have any dukkhavedana. Whatever sitting posture they assume they feel comfortable in it. The noting is also going well; they don't have to direct the mind but merely establish mindfulness to be aware and that will take care of it, at this time the mind does not reflect about anything, sometimes they want to think but the mind does not do it; it stays only with the Rising-Falling, not going anywhere else. Before that the mind moved about to note touching sensations here and there; now it doesn't go anywhere but stays with the Rising-Falling alone, whilst these phenomena become more subtle and also with other phenomena it is the same thing, they become increasingly smooth and subtle, no matter how fine they are, still the mind can always note them.
1. In regard to any object, there is no fear, no satisfaction, no exultation at all.
2. There is no over-exertion or too much ambition, this is also good.
3. There is no more trouble or difficulty, such as dukkhavedana.
4. The frequent changes of posture cease; one can keep to one posture for a long time.
5. The mind does not hurry to many places it stays with one single object; it does not move over to different objects but remains calm at the original place.
6. The objects and the noting mind become increasingly subtle.
If the meditator has developed these qualities and he has practiced continuously in succession from the arising of namarupaparicchedanana until he had reached the strong udayabbayanana through the process that has now entered sankharupekkhanana (knowledge of equanimity about sankhara, mental and material events).
When sankharupekkhanana first arises, however, its characteristics are not conspicuous. It must be developed until upekkha (equanimity) becomes firmly established. For some meditators this may take time and persistent effort because the strength of the contemplation varies with different people.
That means: Perception of the rise and fall has been building up gradually since the time of udayabbayanana. When the meditator has reached sankharupekkhanana, sati has much power in contemplating rupanama and perceives the rise and fall all the time if sankharupekkhanana has much strength and this strength has been accumulated since the time of udayabbayanana, with less drive. Then the development of samadhi will be slow and the stages of nana will not manifest in a clear-cut way. When they reach sankharupekkha they may loose it again and again, falling back to the 9th or 10th nana several times. This can be illustrated by the following story:
The Direction-Seeing Crow
In former times, when the captain of a big ship was preparing to sail across the deep ocean he would take along a crow in a cage on board, in those days, there were no compasses. To fix the course of a ship one had to use the sun, moon and stars as instruments of navigation when the ship had sailed far into the high seas and shore was out of sight. Picture a heavy thunderstorm rumbling in the bowls of the arching sky, which is covered with clouds and rain, the sea rolling with stirring waves conjured up by the strong wind. There is then no instrument for finding out the directions, so the ship will lose course, the crew not knowing where it will go.
When the weather conditions are like this and the captain wants to determine the direction where the shore is, he will catch hold of the crow which is locked up in the cage and let it fly freely. When the crow is free, it will at first fly up and perch on the end of the mast, the crow's nest, in order to find out where the shore is. If it cannot make out the shore, it will fly up higher and higher so as to find the direction. But if it still cannot discover the shore, it will return and perch on the mast-end again. Later the crow will gather its strength in order to fly even higher. If it still cannot find the direction, it will return again and again. But as soon as the crow has discovered the shore, it will immediately fly towards it.
In the same way, the weak sankharupekkhanana is like the direction-finding crow. When one has put forth effort in contemplation until reaching sankharupekkhanana but the strength is weak and not sufficient for vutthanagamini vipassananana, then the knowledge will go back and forth repeatedly between muncitukamyata-, patisankha-, and the weak sankharupekkhanana. The reason is that the strength handed over from udayabbayanana to sankharupekkhanana is weak; samadhi will linger on, not being firm. Or, the meditator's rebirth-consciousness may be dvihetuka; or he may have some kamma that needs to be settled.
The main difficulties at this stage are the thoughts and moods belonging to the objects of cittanupassana. Unreasonable worries, agitation and apprehension may cause loss of upekkha. Therefore the meditators must take special care to note all the arising objects of the following categories:
1) Dukkhavedana, bodily pain, if there is any; they will find that even sharp stabbing pain, which may arise at some moments, vanishes when it is firmly noted.
2) Mental feeling, such as happiness, causes agitation if it is not contemplated; it must be noted resolutely to see the true nature of feeling. Sometimes one feels very detached and then starts worrying; this is because the meditator is not used to seeing neutral feeling so clearly. Any change in feelings must be immediately recognized and noted.
3) Thoughts may arise in the course of contemplation, judging what is going on or drawing conclusions; these are all mental objects arising and vanishing, they have no substance and don't help us to see reality. If you don't note them, you will think: 'It is I who thinks', and then you will get involved in these ideas and the subsequent moods, thus losing upekkha and samadhi.
But if the meditator applies mindfulness diligently to all mental objects he will achieve a sound basis of upekkha and understand that all thoughts arise from conditions and they are not important and have nothing to do with him. The mind will then cease to react to various thoughts and remain unaffected, simply contemplating the rise and fall of whatever occurs. Thus the 6 qualities of sankharupekkhanana will be manifest.
When sankharupekkhanana becomes strong, it reaches the summit of vipassananana, called vutthanagamini vipassana (insight leading to emergence). At that time, one of the three characteristics of existence becomes the focus of contemplation, is noted repeatedly, and understood with unprecedented clarity. It means that only now one really understands how to escape and get rid of sankhara (conditioned phenomena); one truly comprehends the way preached by the Lord Buddha, and the mind will go that way instantly without hesitation. This is the definite condition for the arising of the Path-process, which encompasses the remaining five nana. When the Path-process follows, it is named after one of the three characteristics, because they serve as the focus of contemplation; thus:
1. When the mind contemplates impermanence, ANICCA, it acquires the idea of no - sign and consequently achieves the Sign-less Liberation (Animitta Vimutti).
2.When the mind contemplates oppression, DUKKHA, it acquires the idea of no-desire and consequently and consequently achieves the Wish-less Liberation (Appanihita Vimutti).
3. When the mind contemplates insubstantiality, ANATTA, it acquires the idea of no-self and consequently achieves the Void Liberation (Sunnata Vimutti).
What are the characteristics of the 12th nana?
A: Anulomanana (knowledge of adaptation) is the last act of noticing belonging to vutthanagamini vipassana and it arises in the Maggajavanacittavithi (mental impulsionís in the consciousness-process of the Path). It is the fully developed access-concentration (upacarasamadhi) with the rise and fall of the 5 rupanamkkhandha as its object.
The function of anuloma begins to develop when the meditator has reached the 6th purification or the strong udayabbayanana. That means: The true object of vipassana is the three characteristics of the rise and fall of rupanama; yet in the beginning one does not know this object, and there is no other way than the practicing of vipassana or contemplating the present moment in order to realize it.
In the first three nana the meditator investigates the reality that he experiences in the aspects of arising, change, and vanishing of the rise and fall. This is the parikamma (preparatory sign) of vipassana; it cannot be perceived through the five senses but only by wisdom arising from contemplation of the present moment. To acquire this parikamma, a good portion of momentary concentration is necessary which is in strength equivalent to access-concentration in the practice of samathakammathana.
From the 4th nana onwards one enters the stages of vipassananana and meditates in order to gain a clear comprehension of the three characteristics anicca, dukkha, anatta. One cannot go searching for the tilakkhana; but if one notes the presently existing rupanama perceiving the arising and vanishing, then the tilakkhana, which are the uggahanimitta (acquired sign) of vipassana, will become more evident. It is the nature of the 5 rupanamakkhandha.
In every consciousness-process, that is in every act of noticing, there arises then: parikamma - upacara - anuloma - patiloma (preparation, access, thrusting forward, receding again), because the strength of anuloma is not sufficient to yield or turn into absorption. In the course of the development of patipadananadassana or vipassananana, understanding and perception of the three characteristics gain power and thus anuloma becomes stronger. It is said that, when the meditator has reached sankharupekkhanana, then saddha (confidence and faith) of the meditator will become intrepid, his energy will be supported well, sati becomes firmly established, the mind is very concentrated, and sankharupekkha becomes unshakable. Then sankharupekkhanana of that meditator will become aware that the Magganana is about to arise now. Therefore it considers all sankhara as either Anicca or Dukkha or Anatta.
At that time, anuloma has gained the power to be the immediate condition for absorption and consequently it arises at the beginning of the Pathprocess, which then has: parikamma - upacara - anuloma - gotrabhu, (preparation, access, adaption, maturity). The first three consciousness-moments in the Path-process are collectively called Anulomanana.
The process described here is the development of anuloma in the practice for pannavimutti (deliverance by wisdom). It is quite a different procedure when practicing for cetovimutti (deliverance by heart).
If the meditator has previously developed samathakammathana and attained lokiya-jhana (worldly absorption), the function of anuloma, that is to collect and sum up the concentration practiced until its strength is sufficient to enter absorption, is already well-developed and powerful. Only that it has been trained in regard to worldly objects. If such practitioners switch over to vipassana, the development is much more rapid. They practice on the basis of jhana, enter absorption and on coming out of it contemplate satipatthana. They have cittavisuddhi from the outset, the nivarana are well subdued, and they have no problem in developing the parikamma of vipassana and reach the 4th nana without being troubled by vipassanupakkilesa because they are acquainted with different uggahanimitta and don't cling to the wrong objects. They can control the mind and keep it focussed on the correct sign, the tilakkhana. Thus, they keep it focussed on the correct sign, the tilakkhana. Thus, they pass quickly through the vipassananana, and anuloma soon builds up the required strength in focussing on the four Noble Truths to enter supramundane absorption.
The Path-process in cetovimutti begins: upacara - anuloma - gotrabhu, where upacara is a single thought-moment of switching over to the object of vipassana with the fully developed force of samadhi. Thus anuloma is very strong and the meditation leaps into extinction with such power that kilesa cannot stand it.
At the time of the Lord Buddha there were many hermits and monks with jhana and psychic powers. As soon as they heard the method of vipassana and understood as it properly, they acquired the uggahanimitta and, by the strength of anuloma, progressed speedily. In the suttas are many accounts of such yogis who heard the preaching of the Lord Buddha and became Arahats (Holy Ones) on the spot, fully fledged with supramundane powers. These accounts are true, they are not fairy-tales. But in our days ordinary people don't have this mental power; so the development takes more time. However, pannavimutti or cetovimutti, - when anuloma has gained the minimal required strength it will become Anulomanana and initiate the Path-process. The result is identical; it is the complete relinquishment of fetter, according to its level, thus achieving incomprehensible relief which can never again be reversed.
Anulomanana (knowledge of adaptation) Knows according to the four Noble Truths. That means: It sums up the whole course of vipassana and gathers the accumulated force of the contemplation done by the previous eight nana which are otherwise called pubbabhagamagga (precursory path). The objects of vipassana are the rupanamakkhandha, which are nothing but Dukkhasacca and Samudayasacca. Since Anulomanana is the adaption to the previous eight nana it is the absolutely correct contemplation according to Dukkhasacca and Samudayasacca.
When the pubbabhagamagga is developed, it means the 37Bodhipakkhiyadhamma (the Requisites of Enlightenment) are also developed, because they are the means and the application of the correct method in contemplating rupanama.
When the pubbabhagamagga is concluded, then the Bodhipakkhiyadhamma, which are nothing but Maggasacca, come together simultaneously and balanced. When Maggasacca is completed, Nirodhasacca (Cessation) will be realized; since Anulomanana is the adaption to the 37 Bodhipakkhiyadhamma it is the absolutely correct contemplation according to Maggasacca and Nirodhasacca.
If we were to express the characteristics of Anulomanana in words, it contemplates like this:
1. It perceives the rise and fall of all dhamma and sees that it is natural for them to be like this.
2. It perceives that the cessation of all dhamma is a natural thing.
3. The manifestation of rupanama is inducing fear, it is horrible!
4. It perceives that rupanama in themselves are suffering and affliction.
5. It is disenchanted and weary of sankhara beyond all hope.
6. It is wishing to escape from the 5 rupanamakkhandha.
7. It retraces the way of practice once again in order to emerge from the rupanamkkhandha.
8. When being aware of rupanama as they really are, it lets go and doesn't cling or stick to anything whatever.
Comprising these aspects of contemplating rupanama, Anulomanana (knowledge of adaptation) is the final conclusion of vipassana practice and the irrevocable refutation of all sankhara. This is the condition for the 37 Bodhipakkhiyadhamma to arise fully developed and unified; the mind is prepared and adjusted to enter supramundane absorption.
Q: What are the characteristics of the 13th nana?
A: The 13th nana is Gotrabhunana (maturity knowledge). It is the knowledge that changes the lineage; this nana also belongs to the Maggajavanasittavithi and it arises immediately in succession to Anulomanana.
Anulomanana is the link between the course of practice followed and refined since udayabbayanana and the 37 Bodhipakkhiyadhamma which are the final result of the contemplation. Thus it links this life to the seed of Enlightenment and then its duty is fulfilled. But Gotrabhu has the function of bringing this seed to Nibbana which is the utter Cessation of all sankhara. Thus it links the beginning-less past of samsara to the stream of cessation which is Nibbana.
Gotrabhunana changes from lokiyacitta (worldly mind) to Lokuttaracitta (Supramundane Mind). As regards the individual, it is the change from puthujjana (worldliness) to ariyapuggala (Noble One). According to the natural principles, samadhi which in Anulomanana knows that rupanama must come to an end, yet it does not know what will happen after this end because it has the object of rupanama. When Gotrabhu arises the object is Nibbana, and Gotrabhu realizes that, the destruction of rupanama does not mean annihilation of something existing or a blank nothingness. It realizes that the characteristic of Nibbana is Peace.
Gotrabhunana can be compared with moving a foot across the threshold of a door. The other foot still remains outside the door but one foot is already past it. The Door of Nibbana is just like that. Outside the Door of Nibbana there are still rupa and nama as objects; when entering inside Nibbana there is no rupanama, but deliverance from the 5 rupanamakkhandha. So the 13th nana, Gotrabhunana, is like the door of Nibbana because when the Maggavithi (Path-process) has arisen there is nothing in the way anymore.
Q: What are the characteristics of the 14th nana?
A: The teaching about Maggajavanavithicitta (the Mind in the Thought-process of the Path) is pariyatti (comprehensible teaching); it is not the practice, because the practice is paccatam, the meditator as a matter of fact understands by himself and sees for himself. When Gotrabhunana has arisen, the Magganana will follow in succession without interruption. Samadhi at that stage is appanasamadhi (fixed concentration); it is appanavithi (mental process of absorption). The mind is quenched and Nibbana is the object.
The Maggacitta is the Experience of the immutable, unconditioned reality, which is unborn, it does not arise and cannot vanish, therefore it is indestructible (amata). The Magganana cuts off and cools down kilesa, the machinery of sorrow, which are listed as the 10 samyojana (fetters), according to the four levels of Magga. This is the moment of deliverance; it is the identity of cause and effect. The Maggacitta will not return again.
Q: What are the characteristics of the 15th nana?
A: The 15th nana is Palanana (Fruition-knowledge). It arises in consequence of the Maggacitta without interruption for two or three moments, depending on conditions and the rebirth-consciousness. Phalacitta (Fruit-consciousness) has Nibbana as object and it is appanasamadhi.
While Magga is the highest kamma (action) in that it renders kamma inoperative according to its level, Phala is the vipaka (result) of that kamma and is aware of Cessation after the destruction of kilesa; the Phalacitta may return when the practice is continued. Magga and Phala are both Lokuttaracitta (supramundane mind).
Q: What are the characteristics of the 16th nana?
A: The 16th nana is paccavekkhananana (knowledge of reviewing). This knowledge is lokiyacitta (worldly mind). It is the nana which considers the Maggaphala that has just happened, and how much kilesa has been left. This nana has rupanama as object.
In practice, this process of the Path does not last as long as the snap of a finger or a flash of lightening. For the meditator it is a single act of noticing. He will remember the vutthanagamini vipassana and that afterwards all feelings broke off for a moment. The destruction of kilesa, however, is permanent and qualifies for the final Nibbana, if it was the true Cessation in the Magga.
Therefore one should examine carefully, when cessation of some sort has been experienced.
Forgetting and Losing Oneself
(Cessation) is of 5 Kinds
1. Forgetting because of thinhamiddha.
2. Forgetting because of piti.
3. Forgetting because of passaddhi.
4. Forgetting because of upekkha.
5. Forgetting due to Maggaphala.
1. Forgetting because of thinhamiddha: Suppose one notes Rising-Falling for a long time and then loses track, drooping because viriya and samadhi are not balanced; viriya is slack and samadhi is excessive to the point where one loses awareness of oneself. This is the characteristic of thinhamiddha.
2. Forgetting because of piti: It is bound to happen in the weak udayabbayanana and the strong sammasananana. For example: One notes Rising-Falling well and suddenly loses oneself, drooping in a flash. This kind of oblivion is caused by piti.
3. Forgetting because of passaddhi: It can be encountered at the stage of weak udayabbayanana. In the course of contemplation one starts to feel more at ease, very calm, cool and refreshed, as if sitting on top of an ice-block. This very feeling of comfortable coolness makes one uninterested until one loses oneself. Then one returns to take up noting again but drifts away again. This is called: Forgetting because of passaddhi.
4.Forgetting because of upekkha: After contemplating on namarupa for some time one becomes uninterested. One is not really attentive and not really calm but gradually gets calmed down overmuch, and then drooping sets in. This kind of uninterestedness and forgetting oneself like this is called forgetting because of upekkha-tatramajjhattata.
These four ways of forgetting are no good. It is going on a bad way, a dangerous way, because they are false magga. If a well-learned person has heard that these are good may be satisfied. In this way he will meet the counterfeit magga, the artificial magga. When the yogi has encountered this kind of deluded oblivion and his mood gives rise to satisfaction, then he will stop there and cannot gain the real Magga and the real Phala. This is a fault of the teacher who doesn't understand and has no ability to know the really good qualities.
5. Forgetting due to Maggaphala: This must be fully prepared by the qualities of the Path-factors, then it will deserve the name: Cessation owing to Maggaphala.
Characteristics of forgetting
(Cessation) Due to Maggaphala
1) The meditator has practiced gradually from the 3rd nana up to the 11th nana according to the stages of nana as mentioned before. The meditator who practices beginning from udayabbayanana up to sankharupekkhanana may forget as well. However, we must not decide that Maggaphala has happened. We should practice further.
2) When the practice has been done and strange things happen in vutthagamini vipassana, or whether one has already regained sankharupekkhanana or not but almost reached it, one may forget likewise. But the meditator must not decide that it is forgetting because of Maggaphala.
3) There is cessation repeatedly, reaching cessation calmly again and again, after paccavekkhana coming back to udaybbayanana, ascending again and ceasing again. This is entering Phalasamapatti (absorption in Fruit-consciousness).
4) Having practiced one enters the domain of vutthanagamini with much speed, then sudden cessation and paccavekkhana happen, after which it starts again from udayabbayanana, ascending anew and reaching cessation again to enter Phalasamapatti and paccavekkhana follows. Then we may be sure.
5) When determining for quick cessation it happens as willed. In this way one can examine the strength of appanasamadhi so as to enter Phalasamapatti quicker, as desired, even after only 5 minutes it can arise.
6) One wants to determine for it to last long, that means: Determine for Phalasamapatti to last 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 -3 -4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 hours, and it happens as determined.
7) In making up one's mind as to the characteristics of the cessation in the Magga, the meditator must not give rise to desire or want to attain quickly, because then it will be the false magga in most cases. When Cessation has happened, he will decide for himself that he has attained Maggaphala and that he must not cling too much. Because that cessation is very delicate. Some people have very strong samadhi and experience cessation, but it is not cessation in Magga; mostly it is cessation in samadhi. If we think it is Magga, this is a wrong conclusion.
8) The meditator must have no anticipation as to when the Maggaphala will arise. Anticipation is atta (self-delusion), it is craving; so, if magga arises, it will be false magga.
9) By practicing successively with diligence throughout, from sammasananana (3rd nana) according to the stages, the 5 indriya (saddha, viriya, sati, samadhi, panna) get evenly balanced and gradually increase power until entering vutthanagamini vipassana and reaching Cessation together with paccavekkhana, coming back to udayabbayanana, ascending and ceasing again and Phalasamapatti arises. When determining to reach cessation quickly, it will happen as desired; or determining that Phalasamapatti may last long and it happens as determined: In this way the meditator will definitely have certainty and confidence in himself that Cessation due to Magga already happened.
Q: What are the benefits arising out of the practice of insight meditation(vipassanakammatthana)?
A: Practicing insight has so many benefits that it is impossible to describe them all. I will select and mention only those that are valuable for you to know.
1) It dispels the doubt: 'What is this life?' Right understanding of life causes us to develop our own life up to the highest qualities, and it makes our life happy in this world.
2) It enables us to understand how to control the mind when it goes the wrong way. It gives knowledge of the right way and the skilful means to make the mind create calmness. True happiness arises. Then one does not have to look for happiness by spending money, which is happiness mixed with suffering.
3) We shall be unselfish people, who do not only look after themselves but also distribute happiness to others; people full of metta and karuna (goodness and compassion), viewing all living things without exception as fiends in the condition of Dukkha, birth, old age, sickness, death.
4) To be people who don't get drowned, who don't go to the abodes of misery (apaya), because sati-sampajanna (mindfulness and clear comprehension) will act as a shield. When we die, we shall die with mindfulness, die with mahakusalacitta (consciousness leading to good rebirth) and not be people who suffer delusion before they die. We shall be people who appoint their next birth themselves.
5) Those who study will be wise people having good memory and concentration in learning. They have accurate memory when sitting for an examination, and mindfulness will be firm. At the time of examination panna arises and they will gain satisfactory results from it.
6) Vipassana improves mental and physical health. Disease and sickness are reduced, and those arising from kamma may be relieved or heal by themselves because the meditator's mind will be excellent and exalted; this is the condition for the body to change or to overcome the influence of kamma.
7) If the meditator's disposition and perfections (upanissaya-parami) are not yet mature, he will deserve to be called one who has the disposition and the supporting conditions for Maggaphala Nibbana embedded in is life-continuity (santana) in the next existence.
8) The meditators will certainly gain the benefit indicated by the Mahasatipatthanasutta as follows:
"Listen, O Bhikkhus! Whoever should develop these Four Foundations of Mindfulness for seven years, such person can expect one out of the two fruits, either the fruit of Arahatship in this present life or if fetters (upadi-samyojana) are still remaining he will be Anagami".
"Listen, O Bhikkhus, forget the seven years! But listen! Whoever develops these Four Foundations of Mindfulness throughout 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 year, for 7 months, 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 month, for half a month, throughout seven days, such person can expect one out of two fruits, either the fruit of Arahatship in this present life or if fetters are still remaining he will be Anagami."
Listen, O Bhikkhus! There is this Way which is the Only one for the extraordinary purification (disclosure) of all living beings, for taking a giant step beyond sadness and lamentation, for the utter cessation of suffering and despair, for developing higher knowledge, for the realization of Nibbana.
This Way is the Four Satipatthana!"
(Extraordinary purity is a mental condition. It implies giving up, losing, and having no more contact with what we think is ourselves, the being. One who is purified does not come back to the condition of defilement, for him nothing remains but the clear-cut spotless DISCLOSURE of the reality of beings, which is the Five Khandha Purified.)
9) The benefit that should be mentioned in conclusion is that by practicing the Dhamma one deserves the name of one who has genuine confidence in the Buddha's Teaching. This is reverence for the Fully Enlightened Buddha, who should be given the highest devotion. We can't find anything that is of a higher value in this world or to compare with him. We invite readers to test this statement by practicing as outlined in this book! Lord Buddha praised practical worship. He said:
"One who practices the Dhamma is one who venerates me. Whoever sees the Dhamma, that person sees me The TATHAGATA"
Vipassana takes the mind to the bright
to know the margin of life, the Brilliant Mind.
The Path becomes, - know Dukkha, cut the Cause,
this the condition is to realize Nibbana.
Establish Sati, contemplate five groups,
know the body, rupanama, as you can.
Pain and ache, vedana, bring unhappiness;
contemplating rise and fall, suddenly you know.
Know sabhava of all kinds in this body;
seeing nothing is truly real makes for certainty.
Sukha-dukkha springing up, then it falls,
mind and body rise and fall like a Dhamma.
Fix awareness, keep on noting, don't let up;
hope to conquer bad kilesa, make the mind accomplished
meet the Highest Happiness, Amata, Nibbana.