Friday, December 30, 2011

Before Meditation

Before Meditation

By  Supawan


   One of my students in Singapore forwarded me a report talking about meditation is playing an important role in modern medicine. I must confess first of all that this is the kind of material that I would just browse through and wouldn't come back to it again. As this student asked me to comment about it, I thought I would give it a go. 

             This whole article indicates clear signs of doubts and uncertainty as far as using meditation as an alternative treatment to some mental ailments is concerned. Although there was some distinctive evidence of what meditation could do to help certain physical and mental maladjusted conditions as they did in the researches, some medical scientists are still not satisfied. According to the report, they still came out with their patronizing view like: " more conventional approaches to reducing stress come out looking equally effective", "the scientific evidence (until now) doesn't support the idea that meditation is anything better than a placebo effect..." "Current evidence for the therapeutic effectiveness of any type of meditation is weak".
The Buddhists stand no chance to win the argument with medical science as far as using meditation as a means of treating illness is concerned. It is because we are thinking on the different grounds altogether. While conventional medicine is based on the understanding that the mind has every connection with the brain, the Buddha does not think so. The way the Buddha views the human body and mind is totally different from our conventional approach. The Buddha places the mind (thought, memory, feelings and consciousness) as the separate entities from the body and the brain. Among the four formless entities, the Buddha separates them even further and tells us that the consciousness (Tom) is our sixth sense while thought; memory and feelings (Jerry) are our sixth sense objects.  It is a very precise and clear-cut presentation. Can you see that these two ways of thinking can neither mix nor compromise? The gap is too wide because the conventional knowledge sees humans with five senses, whereas the Buddha regards humans with six senses. The sixth sense has unfortunately gone missing from our mainstream global education. I can't help find it rather amusing when experts came out to talk about the sixth sense in term of being psychic, telepathy and the like and made it sound like they have just discovered this mystery of a human's mind. In fact, there is no mystery about it at all and the Buddha had talked about the use of our sixth sense for over 2546 years ago. Where have you been?! I often asked whenever I heard people talking about it.
When we talk on the different ground, the Buddhists cannot win the argument that easily even though the proof is there. And also the might of today science overshadows the wisdom of the Buddha regarding making use of our sixth sense in which meditation plays a main part. Before understanding why meditation is so important in all avenues of our lives, we must understand the great loss in not using our sixth sense properly. When we could understand our loss, we would appreciate our meditation practice because meditation is only the means to the end result. So let's talk about our sixth sense in relation to the ultimate truth first. Then we can see the whole perspective of life as well as realize that Buddhist meditation (the four foundations of awareness) is indeed the only means for mankind's survival.  
Missing just one sense is an enormous loss to an individual. Now we are talking about the loss of one sense of the collective humanity. Can you imagine the enormity of what humanity has lost so far?  I am telling you as well that in not using this crucial sense in a proper way, has been responsible for all the havoc, mayhem and suffering in the world. The Buddha's teaching is aimed to end all suffering in mankind, this is what he claims all along. It means that if we can all use our sixth sense properly, we can live in harmony with just the necessary suffering of aging, illness and death.      
            As long as medical scientists view human with five senses and place the mind in the brain, medical problems will never be truly solved; the puzzles will never click. We often have experts in the same field of knowledge come out to contradict one another's views and leave the public in dismay. Parents are in great concern for sometime about the MMR vaccination. There is no conclusive evidence whether it has any link with autism or not. So far, no medical experts can put the parents' minds at rest.  1.7 million women in Britain are using a type of the Hormone replacement therapy or HRT. Experts are fighting at the moment about the high risk of HRT with breast cancer. Once again, experts (doctors and drugs companies) are contradicting one another. What is the truth, we don't really know? 
In fact, there are no illnesses that medical science can truly claim they have defeated, from a simple cold to cancer, Aids, let alone defeating mental illnesses which is a much more complex matter. Although medical research has no conclusive evidence so far that the state of human's mind is the result of the function in the brain. It does seem to me that they draw up such conclusion anyway because this is all we hear of. When doctors are confronted by different symptoms of mental illnesses from mild to severe states, the most common explanation we hear of is the imbalance of the chemical in the brain. If not it is because of the hormone or the vitamin deficiency, which somehow still relates to the malfunction of the body. This conventional approach makes a very strong impact on people when it comes down to receiving treatment. Most doctors will automatically prescribe different types of drugs to their patients, which would help to balance out the chemical in their brain as a way to calm their minds down. This is a very common way to treat patients with related mental problems from mild symptoms like headache, migraines, worry, anxiety to severe symptoms like depression, breakdown and being suicidal.  As a result, patients or "all of us" have no saying whatsoever. In other words, our lives are in the hands of the doctors and drugs companies. What can we, patients, do to adjust the so-called chemical imbalance in the brain, hormone or vitamin deficiency? Absolutely nothing but solely depend on our doctors and chemists.
The point is that if medical research into the function of the mind is still on shaky ground, with no conclusive evidence about the state of mind linking to the function in the brain, how can we know that the conventional treatment really works? How can we trust our doctors and chemists? Most people know that the prescribed drugs like anti-depressants don't work but we have no other option, do we?  This is the area of knowledge that is still full of ambiguity, uncertainty and mystery. Above all, medical experts tend to increase the degree of complexity into the matter and we seem to get nowhere whatsoever as if circling a boat in a gigantic lake.
 Having designer babies, the ability to do all kinds of complex transplantation, plastic surgery to vanity treatment and so on are not the real signs of medical development.  We must not be fooled by all these medical achievements because they serve only a handful of humans "in the affluent society" to live better and a bit longer. That's all. Globally, we still have enormous problems as far as our physical and mental health are concerned.
 This is the reason why I keep on saying that we must listen to the wisdom of the Buddha. His enlightenment means he has found the ultimate entity in nature or the ultimate truth. Why is this ultimate nature so important to humanity that I keep on bringing it up? It is because this has everything to help us getting out from this gigantic roundabout in which we are trapped.
If you want to know your position on this planet, you must find a ruling point where you want to measure from and to, must you not? I can say that I am 6000 miles away from Thailand. My ruling points of both ends are Britain and Thailand. That's why we use GMT as our standard time scale. No matter what we want to measure, we must have an absolute ruling point to begin with, otherwise we cannot measure anything accurately and precisely at all. So far, all these ruling points in the universe are assumed and relevant. Our weights relates to the gravity of planet earth. If we go to the moon, our weights change.  
The ultimate entity, which the Buddha had achieved on the night of his ultimate enlightenment, is indeed an absolute ruling point for absolutely everything in the world and the universe. I call it bluntly as the ultimate truth and my own version as the ‘innocent perception' for sometime now.  We cannot claim that our civilization now is much more advanced than that of our ancestors only because they did not walk around with mobile phones, could not perform complex brain surgery, had no knowledge of genetic engineering and so on. It's true, if we use our modern technology as the ruling point to measure the advance of our civilization, we can say that our ancestors were backward and we are forward. The point is that as long as we do not know the absolute ruling point of the universe, we cannot calculate anything at all and we cannot say that we are better or more advanced than our historic friends. In fact, a lot of things that they could do then, we cannot do now despite our advances in technology. British television ran a series of programs a few years ago showing a number of magnificent constructions of the past that we could not possibly achieve today by using their traditional methods despite our sophisticated knowledge tucked away in our brains. Among them were the pyramids of Giza, the Roman baths, the rainbow bridge, Stonehenge and so on.   
 There was a significant event happening during the Buddha's time till a couple hundred years after he had passed away. It was recorded that in the town called Patalibutta, the people in this town would greet one another by asking what foundation of mindfulness they were doing in their daily life. Most people in the town would have the answer handy whether it was mindfulness with breathing or walking because this was what they were doing. If anyone said they did none of the meditation practice, people would walk away, did not want to associate with as they regard those people with the sign of trouble. To me, this is what I call the real advance in civilization. And this is also one of the things that our historic friends could do then but we cannot do now.
Without knowing the ultimate entity in nature, we don't know where our civilization should aim for. Rationally speaking, it should prepare mankind to aim for the ultimate truth. Then we would know exactly how advanced our civilization is. What the people in Patalibutta in ancient India were doing was classed as the real advance in civilization because they were leading their lives toward the ultimate aim of life. The enlightening culture I talked about in A Handful of Leaves is also a way of life that can prepare people en mass to achieve that ultimate aim. When we have that ultimate aim, we know exactly our standing point whether we are too far or near that aim. Moral conduct will begin to make sense. People will have no problem to understand why they have to do good deeds and not to do bad deeds. That is because good deeds will speed their journey to the ultimate aim and bad deeds will prolong their journey. We are in moral chaos because we have no ultimate aim to focus on. People nowadays cannot understand why they should follow the five moral precepts. Without that ultimate ruling point in nature, we will always be trapped in this gigantic roundabout, not knowing we are leaning more to the left, right, center, up or down. This is exactly the nature of our world, bewilderment, confusion, chaos, mayhem and suffering.
At the moment, we burn up our entire natural and human resources just to curb the end of all problems. If we use the scale of 1 to 10, everything that we call ‘solving the problems' is between 5 to 10, if not 8 to 10. Putting cameras and alarms to detect and deter crimes can hardly call solving the problems. Hospitals are inundated with patients who abused themselves with alcohol, smoking and drugs. Is this called solving the problem? We barely scratch the root of any problem at all.
The root of the problem is a human's mind. Human's mind is the variable factor that can either make peace or war on earth. Angry people make war on earth, greedy  people rob the world, selfish people make an unfair world. Happy people make a happy world and peaceful people make a peaceful world. Human mind is the number 1 factor on the scale. To create happy people, we must change the concept of our global education. We must introduce the use of the sixth sense to humanity because this is the sense that will enable us to witness the ultimate truth, which is right here in front of us. Witnessing the ultimate truth or having the innocent perception is the crucial factor that will change people's mind from bad to good. Buddhist meditation or the four foundations of awareness is about making use of our sixth sense so that the practitioner can witness the innocent perception at some point. This would result in the practitioners having the intuitive wisdom and subsequently allow them to understand life and live in peace. This is what Buddhist meditation is all about. There is no doubt about it that meditation is vital to humanity in all avenues of our lives. It can serve not only as a cure to mental illnesses and some physical illnesses too but it is also a crucial means for man to just survive the existence of our everyday lives, put us in better moods and make us feel happier. Meditation can also makes us stay clear from trouble. This is the reason why the residence of Patalibutta, in ancient India, did not want to associate with people who were not doing one of the foundations of mindfulness as they regarded those without meditation base as signs of trouble. This is very true. The mind without one of the 4 foundations of mindfulness is self-destructive and troublesome. Although one may think one is a happy person now, it is a matter of time before troubles and suffering attack once again. In fact, the suffering in people's mind is obvious to the wise people but most people are too ignorant to realize and admit.  Besides, there are not enough teachers with real wisdom around to send out the right message about life. Even in a Buddhist country like Thailand, because of the deterioration of the Buddhist institution, the younger generation turn their backs on the traditional way of Buddhist thinking and adopt the western logic and life style. So even those who want to find a refuge, they don't know where to turn to and how to begin that very first step of the long journey to the ultimate goal of life. People's mind is the first domino of all our problems. Simply change people's minds and the rest of the problems will be collapsed accordingly. Happy and peaceful people will not abuse themselves, nor will they go out to cause trouble, havoc and mayhem to others. Consequently, we won't need the whole range of crime deterrents, nor having weapons to prevent war. Our physical and mental health will be better too. The workload of our health service will be reduced by half in not having to treat patients of wars' victims and those who abused themselves. When people are happy, they will be less selfish and we would have enough food for the poor. The world is not short of food if we distribute it fairly and don't waste it too much. Greedy and selfish people's minds can never be pacified because they have unlimited desire. Our natural and human resources will be used with much more rewarding results if only we have quality people - people with good, happy and unselfish minds. 
Once again, I am not imagining things. Some people may think this is a laughable matter, fancy talking about the sixth sense, the ultimate truth and the dream world. I am not dreaming.  This is what we would have if we could tackle the root of the problem, which is the human's mind. Before you want to laugh it off, please look at the consistency and the coherence of my work.  Although I am not supported by any prominent people in the Buddhist world and very much working alone, I always insist on what I said so far. I haven't yet wavered as far as the ultimate truth is concerned. With this perspective, you can either take action on an individual level by quickly pursuing your meditation practice or you can help others along too by doing whatever you can to let them know this message.
Because of this letter, I have unintentionally started writing the second part of The User Guide to Life. In responding to the medical science, it is necessary to go into a great length to explain the five elements, which constitute our human life form. Then I can rationally talk about the sixth sense, Tom and Jerry and all the way to the ultimate truth or the innocent perception.  Only then could science admit the power of Buddhist meditation, which is the means to an end.
Finally, I hope this letter gives you some perspective. If you would like to help me with the publication of my books so that my little voice can be heard and this wisdom can be shared to more people, please either contact me or Khun Patarachai who is helping me with the publication of my books in Thailand. I still need a lot more funding to print my books. Better still, if you could find a publisher who is willing to take me under their wing and take a risk with me on this venture, I will certainly appreciate it very much. It isn't easy for me to not only shoulder this huge concept of life alone but trying to do the propagation as well. It will be good if I have help. It means more people will benefit from my work.  
 I also hope you all are still pursuing your meditation practice. Enjoy your summer holiday. I must admit this is the hottest summer I have experienced in my 23 years of living in Britain. Just like living in Thailand really. Today 10 August 03, Heathrow airport reached 37 degree centigrade! All the best, everyone.  
With metta, (means... loving kindness) 
The best way from



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Practical Vipassana Meditational Exercises

Practical Vipassana
Meditational Exercises 
 By Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

practice of Vipassana or Insight Meditation is the effort made by the meditation to understand correctly the nature of the psycho-physical phenomena taking place in his own body. Physical phenomena are the things or objects which one clearly perceives around one. The whole of one's body that one clearly perceives constitutes a group of material qualities [rupa]. Psychical or mental phenomena are acts of consciousness or awareness [nama]. These [nama-rupas] are clearly perceived to be happening whenever they are seen, heard smelt, tasted, touched, or thought of. We must make ourselves aware of them by observing, hearing, hearing, "smelling, smelling, tasting, tasting" touching, touching, 'or thinking, thinking'.
Every time one sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches, or thinks, one should make a note of the fact. But in the beginning of one's practice one cannot make a note of every one of these happenings. One should, therefore, begin with noting those happening which are conspicuous and easily perceivable.
With every act of breathing, the abdomen rise and fall, which is always evident. This is the material quality known as vayodhatu [the element of motion]. One should begin by noting this movements, which may be done by intently observing the abdomen in mind. You will find the abdomen rising when you breathe in, and falling when you breathe out. The rising should be noted mentally as rising, and the falling as falling. If the movement is not evident by just nothing it mentally, touch the abdomen with the palm of your hand. Do not alter the manner of your breathing, Neither slow it down, nor make it faster. Do not breathing too vigorously, either. You will tire if you change the manner of your breathing, Breathe steadily as usual and note the rising and falling of the abdomen as they occur, Note it mentally, not verbally.
In Vipassana meditation, what's your name or say doesn't matter. What really matters is to know or perceive. While noting the rising of the abdomen, do so from the beginning to the end of the movement just as if you are seeing it with your eyes. Do the same with the falling movement. Note the rising movement in such a way that your awareness of it is concurrent with the movement itself. The movement and the mental awareness of it should coincide in the same way as a stone thrown hitting the same goes for the target. The falling movement.
Your mind may wander else where while you are noting the abdominal movements. This must also be noted by mentally saying wandering, wandering. When this has been noted once or twice, the mind stops wandering, in which case you go back to noting the rising and falling of
the abdomen, if the mind reaches somewhere, note it as 'reaching, reaching'. Then go back to the rising and falling of the abdomen. If you imagine meeting somebody, note it as meeting, meeting'. Then back to the sing and falling. If you imagine meeting and talking to somebody, note it as 'talking, talking'.
In short, whatever thought or reflection occurs should be noted. If you imagine, note it as 'imagine. If you think, 'thinking'. if you plan, 'planning'. If you perceive, 'perceiving'. If you reflect, 'reflecting'. If you feel happy, 'happy'. If you feel bored, bored'. If you feel glad, 'glad'. If you feel disheartened, 'disheartened'. Noting all these acts off consciousness is called Cittanupassana. Because we fail to note these acts of consciousness, we tend to identify whit a person or individual. We tend to think that it is ""I" who is imagining, thinking, planning, knowing (or perceiving). We think that there is a person who from childhood onwards has been living and thinking. Actually, no such person exists. There are instead only these continuing and successive acts of consciousness. That is why we have to note these acts of consciousness and know them for what they are. That is why we have to note each and every act of consciousness as it arises. When so noted, they tends to disappear. We then go back to noting the rising and falling of the abdomen.
When you have sat meditating for long, sensations of stiffness and heat will arise in your body. These are to be noted carefully too. Similarly with sensations of pain and tiredness. All of these sensations are dukkhavedana (feeling of unsatisfactoriness) and noting them is vedananupassana. Failure or omission to note these sensations makes you think, "I am stiff, I am feeling hot, I am in pain. I was all right a moment ago. Now I am uneasy with these unpleasant sensations." The identification of these sensations with the ego is mistaken. There is really no "I" involved, only a succession of one new unpleasant Sensation after another. It is just like a continuous succession of new electrical impulses that light up electric lamps. Every time unpleasant contacts are encountered in the body, unpleasant sensations arise one after another. These sensations should be carefully and intently noted, whether they are sensations, of heat or of pain. In the beginning of the yogis meditational practice, these sensation may tend to increase and lead to a desire to change his posture. This desire should be noted, after which the yogi should go back to noting the sensations of stiffness, heat, etc. patience leads to Nibbana,' as the saying goes. This saying is most relevant in meditation effort. One must be patient in meditation. If one shifts or changes one's posture too often because one cannot be patient with the sensation of stiffness or heat that arises, samadhi [good concentration] cannot develop. if samadhi cannot develop, Insight cannot result and there can be no attainment of
magga [the path that leads to Nibbana], phala [the fruit of that part] and Nibbana. That is why patience is needed in meditation. It is mostly patience with unpleasant sensations in the body like stiffness, sensations of heat and pain, and other sensations that are hard to bear. One should not immediately give up one's meditation on the appearance of such sensations and change one's meditational posture. One should go on patiently, just noting them as stiffness, stiffness' or 'hot, hot'. Moderate sensations of these kinds will disappear if one goes on nothing them patiently. When concentration is good and strong, even intense sensations tend to disappear. One then reverts to noting the rising and falling of the abdomen.
One will of course have to change one's posture if the sensations do not disappear even
After one has noted them for a long time, and if on the other have they become unbearable. One should then begin noting them as 'wishing to change, wishing to change'. If the arm rises, note it as 'rising, rising'. If it moves, note it as 'moving, moving.' This change should be made gently and noted as 'rising, rising,' 'moving, moving' and 'touching'. If the body sways, 'swaying, swaying'. If the foot rises, 'rising, rising'. If it moves, 'moving, moving' If it drops, 'dropping, dropping'. If there is no change, but only static rest, go back to noting the rising and falling of the abdomen. There must be no intermission in between, only continuity between a preceding act of noting and a succeeding one, between a preceding samasdhi [state of concentration] and a succeeding one, between a preceding act of intelligence and a succeeding one. Only then will there be successive and ascending stages of maturity in the yogi's state of intelligence. Megga and mala nana [knowledge of the path and its fruition] are attained only when there is this kind of gathering momentum. The meditative process is like that of producing fire by energetically and unremittingly rubbing two sticks of wood together so as to attain the necessary intensity of heat [and the flame arises].
In the same way, the noting in Vipassana meditation should be continual and unremitting, without any resting interval between acts of noting whatever phenomena may arise, for instance, if a sensation of itchiness intervenes and the yogi desires to scratch because it is hard to bear, both the sensation and the desire to get rid of it should be noted, without immediately getting rid of the sensation by scratching.
If one goes on perservingly noting thus, the itchiness generally disappears, in which case one reverts to noting the rising and falling of the abdomen. If the itchiness does not in fact disappear, one has to ofcourse eliminate it by scratching. But first, the desire to do so should be noted. All the movements involved in the process of eliminating this sensation should be noted, especially the touching, pulling and pushing,and scratching movements, with and eventual reversion to noting the rising and falling of the abdomen.
Every time you make a change of posture, you begin with noting your intention or desire to make the change, and go onto noting every movement closely, such as rising from the sitting posture, raising the arm moving and stretching it, you should make the change at the same time as noting the movements involved. As your body sways forward, note it. As you rise, the body become light and rises, concentrating your mind on this you should gently note it as 'rising, rising'. The yogi should behave as if he were a weak invalid. People of normal health rise easily and quickly or abruptly, not so with feeble invalids, who do so slowly and gently. The same is the case with people suffering from 'back-ache' who rise gently so their back hurts less ( lest the back hurt and cause pain.)
So also with meditating yogis. They have to make their changes of posture gradually and gently; only then will mindfulness, concentration and insight be good. Begin therefore with gentle and gradual movements. When rising, the yoga must do so gently like an invalid, at the same time noting it as rising, rising. Not only this; though the eye sees, the yogi must act as if he does not see. Similarly when the ear hears. While meditating, the yogi's concern is only to note. What he sees and hears are or his concern. So whatever strange or striking things he may see or hear. He must behave as if he does not see or hear them, merely noting carefully.
When making bodily movements, the yoga should do so gradually as if he were a weak invalid, gently moving his arms and legs, bending or stretching them, bending down the head and bringing it up. All these movements should be made gently. When rising from the sitting posture, he should do so gradually, noting it as "rising, rising" When straightening up and standing, noting it as "standing, standing". When looking here and there, noting as "looking, seeing". When walking noting the steps, whether they are taken with the right or the left foot. You must be aware of all the successive movements involved, from the raising of the foot to the dropping of it. Note each step taken, whether with the right foot or the left foot. This is the manner of noting when one walks fast.
If will be enough if you note thus when walking fast and walking some distance. When walk slowly or doing the cankama walk [waling up and down], three movements should be noted in each step; when the foot is raised, when it is pushed forward, and when it is dropped. Begin with noting the raising and dropping movements. One must be properly aware of the raising of the foot, similarly, when the foot is dropped, one should be properly aware of the 'heavy' falling of the foot.
One must walk, noting it as raising, dropping' with each step. This noting will become easier after above, as 'raising, pushing forward, dropping,. In the beginning, it will suffice to note one or two movements only, thus'right step, left step' when walking fast and 'raising, dropping'when walking slowly. If when walking thus, you want to sit down, note as wanting to sit down, wanting to sit down'. When actually sitting down, concentratedly note the heavy' falling of your body. When you are seated, note the movements involved in arranging your legs and arms. When there are no such movements, but just a stillness (staticrest) of the body, note the rising and falling of the abdomen. While noting thus and if stiffness of your limbs and sensations of heat in any part of your body arise, go on to note them. Then back to "rising, falling". While noting thus and if a desire to lie down arises, note it and the movements of your legs and arms as you lie down. The raising of the arm., the moving of it, the resting of the elbow on the floor, the swaying of the body, the stretching of legs, the listing of the body as one slowly prepares to lie down, all these movements should be noted.
the path and its fruition). When samadhi (concentration) and nana (insight) are strong, the distinctive knowledge can come at any moment. It can come in a single "bend" of the arm or in a single "stretch of the arm. Thus it was that the Venerable Ananda became an arahat.
The Ven.Ananda was trying strenuously to attain Arahatship over night on the eve
Of the first Buddhist council.He was practising the whole night a form of Vipassana meditation
Known as kayagatasati, noting his steps,right and left,raising,pyshing forward and dropping of the feet;noting,happening by happening by happening,the mental desire to walk and the physical movement involved in walking. Although this went on till it was nearly dawn,he had mot yet succeeded in attaining Arahatship. Realizing that he has practiced the walking meditation to excess and that, in order to balance samadhi(concentration)and viriya (effort), He should practice meditation in the lying posture for a while, he entered his chamber. He sat on the couch and then lay himself down. While doing so and noting 'lying, lying' he attained Arahatship in an instant.
The Ven.Ananda was only a sotapanna (that is ,a stream winner or one who has attained the first stage on the path to Nibbana)before he thus lay homself down. From sotapannahood, he continued to meditate and reached sakadagamihood(that is, the condition of the once-retuner or one who has attained the third stage on the path)and arahatship (that is the condition of the noble one who has attained the last stage on the path.) Reaching these three successive stages of the higher path took only a little while. just think of this example of the Ven.ananda's attainment of arahatship. Such attainment can come at any moment and need not take long. That is why the yogi should note with diligenceall the time. He should not relax in his noting, thinking "this little lapse should not matter much." All movements involved in lying down and arranging the arms and legs should be carefully and unremittingly noted. If there is no movement, but only stillness(of the body),go back to noting the rising and falling of the abdomen. Even when it is getting late and time to sleep, the yoga should not go to sleep yet, dropping his noting. A really serious and energetic yogi should practise mindfulness as if he were forgoing his sleep altogether. He should go on meditating till he falls asleep. If the meditation is good and has the upper hand, drowsiness has the upper hand he will not fall asleep. If, on the other hand, he will fall asleep. When he feels sleepy, he should note it as 'sleepy, sleepy'. If his eyelids drop, 'dropping' if they become heavy or leaden 'heavy', if the eyes become smarting, 'smarting' Nothing thus, the drowsiness may pass and the eyes become clear again.
The yoga should then note that as "clear, clear" and go on to note the rising and falling of the abdomen. However perseveringly the yogi may go on meditating, if real drowsiness intervenes, he does fall asleep. It is not difficult to fall asleep; in fact. It is easy if you meditate in the lying posture, you gradually become drowsy and eventually fall asleep. That is why the beginner in meditation should not meditate too much in the lying posture. He should meditate much in the lying posture. He should meditate much more in the sitting posture and walking But as it grows late and becomes time to sleep, he should meditate in the lying position, noting the rising and falling movements of the abdomen He will then a naturally (automatically) fall asleep.
The time he is asleep is the resting time for the yogi. But for the really serious yogi, he should limit his sleeping time to about four hours. This is the midnight time permitted by the Buddha. Four hours sleep is quite enough. If the beginner in meditation thinks that four hours'sleep is not though for his health, he may extend it to five or six hours. Six hours'sleep is clearly enough for one's health. When the yogi awakens, he should at once resume noting. The yoga who is really bent on attaining magga and phala nana, should rest from meditational effort only when he is asleep. At other times, in his waking moments, he should be noting contnuously and without rest, That is why, as soon as he awakens, he should note the awakining state of his mind as'awakening, awakening'. If he cannot yer make himself aware of this, he should begin noting the rising and galling of the abdomen. If he intends to get up from bed, he should note it as 'intending to get up, intending to get up'. He should then go on to note the changing movements he makes as he arrages his arms and legs. When he raises his head and rises, noting it as 'rising, rising'. When he is seated,noting as,sitting,sitting.
If he makes any changing movement as he arranges his arms and legs, all of these movements should also be noted.If there are no such changes, but only a sitting quietly, he should revert to noting the rising and falling movements of the abdomen.
One should also note when one washes one's face and when one takes a bath. As the movements involved in these acts are rather quick, as many of them should be noted as possible. There are then acts of dressing, of tidying up the bed, of opening and closing the door; all these should also be noted as closely as possible. When the yoga has his meal and looks at the meal-table, he should note it as "looking, seeing." When he extends his arm towards the food, touches it, collects and arranges it, handles it and brings it to his mouth, bends his head and puts the morsel of food into his mouth, drops his arm and raises his head again, all these movements should be duly noted. (This way of noting is in accordance with the Burmese way of taking a meal. Those who use fork and spoon or chopsticks should note the movements in an appropriate manner.)
When he chews the food. He should note it as 'chewing, chewing.' When he comes to know the taste of the food. He should note it as 'knowing knowing.' As he relishes the food and swallows it, as the food goes down his throat, he should note all these happenings. This is how the yogi should note as he takes one morsel after another of his food. As he takes his soup, all the movements involved such as extending of the arm, handling of the spoon and scooping with it and so on, all these should be noted. To note thus at meal-time is rather difficult as there are so many things to observe and note. The beginning yoga is likely to miss several things which he should note, but he should resolve to note all. He cannot of course help it if he overlooks and misses some, but as his samadhi (concentration) becomes strong, he will be able to not closely all these happenings. Well, I have mentioned so many things for the yogi to note. But to summarize, there are only a few things to note. When walking fast, note as 'right step,' left step.' And as raising, dropping' When walking slowly. When sitting quietly, just note the rising and falling of the abdomen. Note the same When you are lying , if there is nothing particular to note. While noting thus and if the mind wanders, note the acts of consciousness that arise. Then back to the rising and falling of the abdomen note also the sensations of stiffness pain and ache, and itchiness as they arise. Then back to the rising and falling of the abdomen. Note also, as they arise, the bending and stretching and moving of the limbs, bending and raising of the head, swaying and straightening of the body. Then back to the rising and falling of the abdomen. Beginner in meditation encounters the same difficulty, but as he becomes more practiced, he becomes aware of every act of mind-wandering till eventually the mind does not wander any more. The mind is then riveted on the ofject of its attention, the act of mindfulness becoming almost simulaneous with the object of its attention such as the rising and falling of the abdomen. (In other words the rising of the abdomen becomes concurrent with the act of nothing it, and similarly with the falling of the abdomen. (In other words the rising of the abdomen becomes concurrent with the act of noting it, and similarly with the falling of the abdomen.)
The physical object of attention and the mental act of noting are occurring as a pair. There is in this occurrence no person or individual involved, only this physical object of attention and the mental act of noting occurring as a pair. The yogi will in time actually and personally experience these and falling of the abdomen he will come to distinguish the rising of the abdomen as physical phenomenon and the mental act of noting it as psychological phenomenon; sumultaneous occurrence in pairs of these psycho-physical phenomena.
Thus, with every act of noting, the yogi will come to know for himself clearly that there are only the material quality which is the object of awareness or attention and the mental quality that makes a note of it. This discriminating knowledge is called namarupa-paricheda-nana. It is important to gain this knowledge corredtly. This will be succeeded, as the yogi goes on by the knowledge that distinguishes between the cause and its effect, which knowledge is called paccayapariggaha-nana. As the yogi goes on noting, he will see for himself that wat arises passes away after a short while. Ordinary people assume that both material and mental phenomena go on lasting throughtut life, that is, from youth to adulthood. In fact, that is not so. There is no phenomenon that lasts forever. All phenomena arise and pass away so rapidly that they do not even last the twinkling of an eye. The yogi will come to know this for himself as he goes on nothing. He will then become convinced of the impermanence of all such phenomena. Such conviction is called anicca nupassan-nana.
This knowledge will be succeed by dukkhanupassana-nana which realizes that all this impermanence is suffering. The yogi is also likely to encounter all kinds of hardship in his body, which is just an aggregate of sufferings. This is also dukkhanupassana-nana. Next, the yogi will be come convinced that all these psycho-physical phenomena are occurring on their own accord, following nobody's will and nobody's will and subject to nobody's control. They constitute no individual or ego-entity. This realization is anatta nupassanna nana.
When, as he goes on meditating, the yogi comes to realize firmly that all these phenomena are anicca, dukkha and anatta, he will attain Nibbana. All the former Buddhas, Arahats and Aryas realized Nibbana follwing this very path. All meditating yogis should recognize thatthey themselves are now on this satipatthana path, in fulfilment of their wish for attainment of magga-nana (knowledge of the path), phala-nana (knowledge of the fruition of the path) and Nibbana-dhamma, and following the ripening of their parami perfection of virtue. The should feel glad at this and at the prospect of experiencing the noble kind of samadhi (tranquillity of mind brought abourt by concentration) and nana (supramundane knowledge or wisdom) experienced by the buddhas, Arahats and Aryas and which they themselves have never experience before.
It will bot be long before they will experience for themselves the magga-nana, Phata-nana and Nibbana dhamma experienced by the Buddhas, arahats and Aryas. As a matter of fact, these may be experienced in the space of a month or of twenty or fifteen days of their meditational practice Those whose parami is exceptional may experience these dhammas even within seven days. The yogi should therefore rest content in the faith that he will attain these dhammas in the time specified above, that he will be freed of askka ya-ditthi (ego-belief) and vicikiccha (doubt or uncertainty) and saved from the danger of rebirth in the nether worlds. He should go on with his meditational practice in this faith.
May you all be able to practice meditation well and quickly attain that nibbana wich the Buddhas, Arathats and arayas have experienced.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011



Did you know that there is a flag with many happy colours belonging to all
the Buddhist people of the world? It sends to everybody a message of
peace when it flutters merrily in the wind.
The colours of the flag are the colours of the five rays of light that it is said
surrounded the head of the Buddha at the moment of Enlightenment.
Each means something important to us.
The International Buddhist Flag
                Blue represents Loving Kindness and Compassion.
                Yellow represents the Middle Way.
                Red represents the Blessings that come to those who practise.
                White represents the Dhamma which leads to freedom from suffering.
                Orange represents the development of Wisdom.


Here are two flags; the one on your right hand has the lines of the
Buddhist flag already drawn, it only needs the colours. Can you paint it?
The one on the left is blank so you can also paint the flag of your country.


 Here is the Buddha. Can you colour the rays with the colours of the flag?


Can you write below the meaning of each colour?

 Blue represents
Yellow represents
Red represents
White represents
Orange represents

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