The Satipatthana Vipassana Meditation
A Basic Buddhist Mindfulness Excercise
The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw
Agga Maha Pandita
DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS
RANGOON, BURMA, 1979.
Satipatthana or the practice of mindfulness was recommended by the Buddha for all who seek to grow spiritually and eventually attain the realization of enlightenment. Buddhism itself is essentially a practical path, a system of physical and psychological techniques designed to bring about this realization. The method here described in this little book by the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, Bhadanta Sobhana Mahathera, Aggamahapandita, the spiritual head of Sasana Yeiktha Meditation Centre, Rangoon, is the foundation of all Buddhist meditation practice. This form of meditation may be practised with benefit by all, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, because its aim is simply to expand the practiser's consciousness and bring him face to face with his mind.
Buddhist psychology or Abhidhamma teaches that you are not your mind. You already know that you are not your body. But you do not yet know that you are not your mind, because normally you identify yourself with each thought, feeling, impulse, emotion or sensation that comes into your mind. Each takes you on a little trip. Through the practice of mindful ness, you come to observe the rise and fall, the appearance and disappearance of these various thoughts and feelings, and gradually develop a sense of distance and detachment from them. Then you will no longer become caught up by your hangups. This leads to a deep inner peaceful calm. Through further practice, you will develop insight and wisdom, which is the power of consciousness to pierce through the veils of illusion and ignorance to the reality that lies beyond.
At the instance of the former Prime Minister of the Union of Burma and of the President of the Buddha Sasana Nuggaha Association of Rangoon, the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw came down from Shwebo to Rangoon on the 10th November 1949. The Meditation Centre at the Thathana Yeiktha, Hermitage road, Rangoon, was formally opened on the 4th December 1949 when the Mahasi Sayadaw began to give to twenty-five devotees a methodical training in the right system of Satipatthana Vipassana (Insight Meditation through Mindfulness).
From the first day of the opening of the Centre, a discourse on the exposition of the Satipatthana Vipassana, its purpose, the method of practice, the benefits derived therefrom, etc., has been given daily to each batch of devotees arriving at the Centre almost every day to undertake the intensive course of training. The discourse lasts normally for one hour and thirty minutes, and the task of talking almost daily in this manner had inevitably caused a strain. Fortunately the Buddha Sasana-nuggaha Association came forward to relieve the situation wit an offer of charity or a tape recorder machine with which the discourse given on the 27th July 1951 to a group of fifteen devotees undertaking the training was taken on tape. Thereafter this tape-recorded discourse has been in constant use daily, preceded by a few preliminary remarks spoken by the Mahasi Sayadaw in person.
Then owing to the great demand of many branch Meditation Centres of the Mahasi Satipatthana Vipassana as well as of the public, this discourse was published in book form in 1954. This book has now run to several editions. As there was also a keen interest and eager demand among many devotees of other nationalities who are unacquainted with Burmese, the discourse was translated into English by the late U Pe Thin, a lay disciple and practised Mahasi yogi, who had acted as interpreter to British Rear Admiral Shattock who went through a course of Vipassana meditation practice at the Centre in its early days.
Explanatory Note on certain technical Buddhist terms
Dhamma (Sanskrit Dharma) may mean (1) the doctrine of the Buddha, (2) the Truth, (3) the Ultimate Reality, (4) the correct conduct of life, (5) the ultimate psychic events which combine to form the content of consciousness.
Nana may mean Gnosis or higher spiritual knowledge and illumination, or could signify an individual cognition of this type.
Samadhi may mean (1) ordinary attention, (2) concentration of mind so it becomes one-pointed, (3) ecstatic trance, (4) a general name for all the various practices of mindfulness and meditation.
The aim of Buddhist psychology (known as Abhidhamma) is to show that the mind is in reality an impersonal process composed of a large number of elementary psychic events called dhammas.
Through mindful observation one comes to realize that there is no permanent abiding entity called a self or ego in the Khandhas(Sanskrit Skandhas) (the five aggregates of human existence). The result of this realization is a detachment from the sensations, feelings, thoughts, ideas, impulses, ete, which are continually arising in the mind. The insight into this and full realization of it, is known as Panna (Sanskrit Prajna) or wisdom.
Honour to the Fully enlightened One
On coming across the Teachings (sasana) of Lord Buddha it is most important for every one to cultivate in oneself the virtues of Morality, Concentration and Wisdom (sila, samadhi, and panna). One should, undoubtedly, possess these three virtues.
Morality (sila) is the observance, by lay-people, of five precepts as a minimum measure. For monks it is the discipline of the Rules of Conduct for Monks (patimokkha sila). Any one who is well-disciplined in Morality would be reborn in the happy existence of human beings or devas. But this ordinary form of Ordinary morality (lokiya sila) would not be a safeguard against the relapse into the lower states of miserable existence, such as hell, or animals or Hungry Ghosts (petas). It is, therefore, desirable to cultivate the higher form of Supramundane Morality (lokuttara sila) as well. This is Path and Fruition Morality (magga andphala sila). When one has fully acquired the virtue of this Morality he is saved from the relapse into the lower states, and he will always lead a happy life by being reborn as human beings or Angels (devas). Everyone should, therefore, make it a point of his duty to work for the Supramundane Morality. There is every hope of success for anyone who works sincerely and in real earnest. It would indeed be a pity if anyone were to fall to take advantage of this fine chance of being endowed with the higher qualities, for he would undoubtedly be a victim sooner or later of his own bad Kamma which would pull him down to lower states of miserable existence of hell, or animals or petas, where the span of life lasts for many hundreds, thousands or millions of million years. It is therefore emphasized here that this coming across the Teachings of Lord Buddha is the very opportunity for working for the Path and Fruition Morality.
It is not feasible to work for the Morality alone. It is also necessary to practice Concentration (samadhi). Concentration is the fixed or tranquil state of mind. The ordinary or undisciplined mind is in the habit f wandering to other places; it cannot be kept under control; it follows any idea, thought or imagination, etc. In order to prevent its wandering, the mind should be made to attend repeatedly to a selected object of Concentration. On gaining practice the mind gradually loosens its traits and remains fixed on the object to which it is directed. This is Concentration. There are two forms of Concentration, viz, Ordinary Concentration and Supramundane Concentration. Of these two, the practice in the Meditational Development of Peaceful Calm (samatha bhavana) viz: Mindful Breathing, Meditation on Friendliness, Meditational Devices (anapana, metta, kasina) will enable the development of the states of Ordinary Absorption (lokiya jhana) such as four Form Absorptions (rupa-jhanas) and four Formlessness Absorptions (arupa-jhanas), by virtue of which one would be reborn in the plane of Brahma. The life span of Brahma is very long and lasts for one world cycle, two, four, eight up to a limit of eighty-four thousands of world-cycles as the case may be. But at the end of the lifespan a Brahma will die and be reborn as human being or angel. If he leads a virtuous life all the time he may lead a happy life in higher existence. But as he is not free from Defilements (kilesas) he may commit demeritorious deeds on many occasions. He will then be a victim of his bad Kamma and will be reborn in hell or other lower states of miserable existence. This Ordinary Absorption also is not a definite security. It is desirable to Work for the Supramundane Concentration, which is nothing but Path and Fruition Concentration (magga samadhi and phala Samadhi). To possess this Concentration is is essential to cultivate Wisdom.
There are two forms of Wisdom, namely, Mundane and Supramundane. Today the knowledge of literature, art, science or worldly affair is usually regarded as a kind of Wisdom. But this form of wisdom has nothing to do with any kind of Meditational Development (bhavana). Nor can it be regarded as of real merit because many weapons of destruction are invented through these knowledges, which are always under the influence of greed, hatred and other evil motives. The real spirit of that which is Ordinary Wisdom (lokiya panna) on the other hand has only merits and no demerits of any kind. The knowledge in welfare organizations and relief workers without causing any harm: learning to acquire the knowledge of the true meaning or sense of the scriptures, and the three classes of knowledge in Insight Meditation (vipassana bhavana), such as, Wisdom Which Consists of Learning (suta-maya-panna)--knowledge based on learning; Wisdom Which Consists of Reflective Thinking (cinta- maya-panna)—knowledge based on thinking; and Wisdom Which Consists of Meditational Development (bhavana-maya- panna)—knowledge based on mental development, are Ordinary Wisdom (lokiya panna). The virtue of possessing Ordinary Wisdom would lead to a happy life in higher states of existence, but it cannot prevent the risk of being reborn in hell or other lower states of miserable existence. Only the development of Supramundane Wisdom can decidedly remove this risk.
The Supramundane Wisdom is Path and Fruition. To develop this Wisdom it is necessary to carry on the practice of Meditational Development of Insight (vipassana bhavana) out of the three forms of discipline in cultivating Morality, Concentration and Wisdom. When the virtue of Wisdom is duly developed, the necessary qualities of Morality and Concentration are also acquired.
The method of developing this Wisdom is to observe matter and mind which are the two sole elements existing in a body with a view to know them in their true form. At present times experiments in the analytical observation of matter are usually carried out in laboratories with the aid of various kinds of instruments; yet these methods cannot deal with mindstuff. The method of Lord Buddha does not, however, require any kind of instruments or outside aid. It can successfully deal with both matter and mind. It makes use of one's own mind for analytical purpose by fixing bare attention on the activities of matter and mind as they occur in the body. By continually repeating this form of exercise the necessary Concentration can be gained and when the Concentration is keen enough, the ceaseless course of arising and passing away of matter and mind will be vividly perceptible.
The body consists solely of the two distinct groups of matter and mind. The solid substance of body as it is now found belongs to the former group of matter. According to the usual enumeration in the terms of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Eye, Form (pathavi, apo, tejo, vayo, cakkhu, rupa), there are altogether twenty-eight kinds in this group but in short it may be noted that the body is a mass of matter. For instance it is just like a doll made of clay or wheat which is nothing but a collection of clay dust or wheat powder. Matter changes its form under physical conditions of heat, cold, etc., and because of this fact of changeableness under contrary physical conditions it is called Form (rupa). It does not possess any faculty of knowing an object.
In the Abhidhamma, the proper name for the third division of the Buddhist scriptures, dealing with the metaphysical and psychological, the elements of mind and matter are classified differently as Things Which Possess Consciousness and Things Which Lack Consciousness (sarammana dhamma and anarammana dhamma) respectively. The element of mind has an object, or holds an object, or knows an object while that of matter does not have an object, nor holds an object, nor knows an object. It will thus be seen that the Abhidhamma has directly stated that there is no faculty of knowing an object in the element of matter. A Yogi also perceives in like manner, that is, "material element has no faculty of knowing." Logs and pillars, bricks and stones and lumps of earth are a mass of matter; they do not possess any faculty of knowing. It is the same case with material elements consisting in a living body; they have no faculty of knowing. The material elements in a dead body are like those of a living body; they are without the faculty of knowing. But people have a general idea that material elements of a living body possess the faculty of knowing an object irrespective of the fact whether it is in a dead or a living body.
Then what is that which knows the objects now? It is the element of mind which comes into being depending on matter. It is called Mind (nama) because it inclines to an object. Mind is also spoken of as "thought" or "consciousness." Mind arises depending on matter as will be described hereafter. Depending on eye, eye-consciousness (seeing) arises; depending on ear, ear-consciousness (hearing) arises; depending on nose, nose-consciousness (smelling) arises; depending on tongue, tongue-consciousness (taste) arises; depending on body, body-consciousness (sense of touch) arises. There are many kinds, either good or bad, of the sense of touch. While it has a wide field of action by running throughout the whole length of body, inside and outside, the sense of sight, hearing, smell, or taste can on the other hand come into being respectively in its own particular sphere, such as eye, ear, nose, and tongue, which occupies a very small and limited space of the body. These senses of touch, sight, etc. are nothing but the elements of mind. Also there comes into being the mind-consciousness (i.e., thoughts, ideas, imaginations, etc.) depending on mind-base. All of these are elements of mind. Mind as a rule knows an object while matter does not know.
People generally believe that, in the case of seeing, it is the eye which actually sees. They think that seeing and eye are one and the same thing. They also think, "Seeing is I: I see things: eye and seeing and I are one and the same person." In actual fact this is not so. Eye is one thing and seeing is another and there is no separate entity such as "I" or "Ego." There is only the fact of "seeing" coming into being depending on eye.
To quote an example, it is like the case of a person who sits in a house. House and person are two separate things: House is not the person nor is person the house. Similarly it is so at the time of seeing. Eye and seeing are two separate things: eye is not seeing nor is seeing eye.
To quote another example, it is just like the case of a person in a room who sees many things when he opens the window and looks through it. If it be asked, "Who is it that sees? Is it window or person that actuallly sees?" The answer is, "The window has no ability to see; it is only the person who sees." If it be asked again, "Will the person be able to see things on the outside without the window?" then the answer will be, "It will not be possible to see things through the walling without the window; one can only see through the window." Similarly, in the case of seeing there are two separate things of eye and seeing: eye is not seeing nor is seeing the eye. Yet there cannot be an act of seeing without the eye. In fact seeing comes into being depending on eye. It is now evident that in the body there are only two distinctive elements of matter (eye) and mind (seeing) at every moment of seeing. In addition there is also a third element of matter (visual object). At times the visual object is noticeable outside the body. If the last one is added there will be three elements, two of which (eye and visual object) are material and the third of which (seeing) is mental. Eye and visual object being material elements do not possess any ability of knowing an object, while seeing being a mental element can know the visual object and what it looks like. Now it is clear that there exist only two separate elements of matter and mind at the moment, and the arising of this pair of two separate elements is known as "seeing."
People who are without the training and knowledge of the Meditational Development of Insight (vipassana bhavana) hold the view that seeing belongs to or is "self, or ego, or living entity, or person." They believe that "Seeing is I; or I am seeing; or I am knowing." This kind of view or belief is called the Erroneous View That There is a Self (sakkaya-ditthi). Sakkaya means the group of matter (rupa) and mind (nama) as they exist distinctively. Ditthi means to hold a wrong view of belief. The compound word of Sakkaya-ditthi means to hold a wrong view or belief on the dual set of Matter and Mind which are in real existence. For more clarity it will be explained further as to the manner of holding the wrong view or belief. At the moment of seeing, the things that are in actual existence are the eye and visual object of material group, and the seeing which belongs to mental group. These two kinds are in actual existence. Yet people hold the view that this group of elements is "self, or ego, or living entity." They consider that "seeing is I; or what is seen is I; or I see my own body." Thus this mistaken view is taken on the simple act of seeing as "self," which is Sakkaya-ditthi.
As long as one is not free from Sakkaya-ditthi one cannot expect to escape from the risk of falling into miserable existence of hell, or animals, or petas. Though he may be leading a happy life in the human or deva world by virtue of his merits, yet he is liable to fall back into the state of miserable life at any time when his demerits operate. For this reason Lord Buddha pointed out that it was essential to work for the total removal of Sakkaya-ditthi as follows:
Sakkya ditthippahanaya sato bhikkhu paribbaje.
This says: Though it is the wish of everyone to avoid old age, disease and death, yet no one can help it but must inevitably submit to them one day. After death, rebirth follows. Rebirth in any state of existence does not depend on one's own wish. It is not possible to avoid rebirth in the realm of hell, or animals, or petas by merely wishing for an escape. Rebirth takes place in any state of existence as the circumstances of one's own deeds provide, and there is no choice at all. For these reasons, the Wheel of Rebirth (samsara) is very dreadful. Every effort should therefore be made to acquaint oneself with the miserable conditions of Samsara and then to work for an escape from this incessant cycle, and for the attainment of Nibbana. If an escape from Samsara as a whole is not possible for the present, an attempt should be made for an escape at least from the round of rebirth in the realm of hell, or animals, or petas. In this case it is necessary to work for the total removal from oneself of the erroneous view that there is a self, which is the root-cause of rebirth in the miserable states. This erroneous view can only be destroyed completely by the Holy Path and its Fruition (ariya magga and phala), three virtues of Concentration and Wisdom. It is, therefore, imperative to work for the development of these virtues. How to work? That is, Sato: by means of noting or observing; Paribbaje: must go out from the jurisdiction of Defilement (kilesa). One should practise by constantly noting or observing every act of seeing, hearing, etc., which are the constituent physical and mental processes of the body till one is freed from Sakkaya-ditthi.
For these reasons advice is always given here to take up the practice of Vipassana Meditation. Now Yogis have come here for the purpose of practising Vipassana Meditation, who may be able to complete the course of training and attain the Holy Path in a short time. Sakkya-ditthi will then, be totally removed and security against the danger of rebirth in the realm of hell, or animals, or petas will be finally gained.
In this respect the exercise is simply to note or observe the existing elements in every act of seeing. It should be noted as "seeing, seeing," on every act of seeing. (By the terms of note or observe or contemplate it means the act of keeping the mind fixedly on the object with a view to knowing clearly.) Because of this fact of keeping the mind fixedly by noting as "seeing, seeing," at times a visual object is noticed, at times consciousness of seeing is noticed, or at times it is noticed as eye-base or as a place from which it sees. It will serve the purpose if one can notice distinctly any one of the three. If not, basing on this act of seeing there will arise the erroneous view of self which will view it in the form of a person or belonging to a person and in the sense of Permanence, Happiness and Selfhood (nicca, sukha and atta), which will arouse attachment and craving. The Defilements will in turn prompt deeds, and the deeds will bring forth rebirth of new existence. Thus the process of dependent origination operates and the vicious circle of Samsara revolves incessantly. In order to prevent this from the source of seeing, it is necessary to note as "seeing, seeing" on every occasion of seeing.
Similarly, in the case of hearing, there are only two distinct elements of matter and mind. The sense of hearing arises depending on ear. While ear and sound are two elements of matter, the sense of hearing is an element of mind. In order to know clearly any one of these two kinds of matter and mind it should be noted as "hearing, hearing" on every occasion of hearing. So also it should be noted as "smelling, smelling" on every occasion of smelling, and as "knowing, knowing" on every occasion of knowing the taste.
Similarly, it should be noted in the case of knowing or feeling the sensation of touch in the. body. There is a kind of material element known as Nerve Tissue (kaya-pasada) throughout the body which receives every impression of touch. Every kind of touch, either agreeable or disagreeable, usually comes in collision with Nerve Tissue and there arises a Touch Consciousness (kaya-vinnana) which feels or knows the touch on each occasion. It will now be seen that at every time of touching there are two elements of matter, viz, sense-organ and impression of touch, and one element of mind, viz, knowing of touch. In order to know these things distinctly at every time of touch the practice of noting as "touching, touching" has to be carried out. This merely refers to the common form of sensation of touch. There are special forms which accompany painful or disagreeable sensations, such as, to feel stiff or tired in the body or limbs, to feel hot, to feel pain, to feel numb, to feel ache, etc. Because Feeling (vedana) predominates in these cases, it should be noted as "feeling hot, feeling tired, painful, etc." as the case may be.
It may also be mentioned that there occur many sensations of touch in hands and legs, etc., on each occasion of bending, stretching, or moving. Because of mind wanting to move, stretch or bend, the material activities of moving, stretching, or bending, etc., occur in series. (It may not be possible to notice these incidents for the present. They can only be noticed after some time on gaining practice. It is mentioned here for the sake of Knowledge.) All activities in movements and in changing, etc., are done by these minds. When the mind wills to bend, there arises a series of inward movements of hand or leg; when the mind wills to stretch or move, there arises a series of outward movements or movements to and fro respectively. They disappear or are lost soon after they occur and at the very point of occurrence. (One will notice these incidents later on.)
In every case of bending, stretching or other activities, there arises in the foremost a series of intending or willing minds, and on account of which there occur in the hands and legs a series of material activities, such as stiffening (or being hard), bending, stretching, or moving to and fro. These activities come up against other material elements, nerve tissue, and on every occasion of collision between material activities and sensitive qualities, there arises Touch Consciousness, which feels or knows the sensation of touch. It is, therefore, clear that material activities are the predominating factors in these cases. It is necessary to notice these predominating factors. If not, there will surely arise the wrong view of holding these activities in the sense of "I or I am bending, or I am stretching, or My hands, or My legs." This practice of noting as "bending. stretching. moving" is being carried out for the purpose of removing such a wrong view.
As regards "thoughts, imaginations, etc." it may be mentioned that depending on mind-base there arise a series of mental activities, such as thinking, imagining, etc., or to speak in a general sense, a series of mental activities arise depending on this body. In reality each case is a composition of matter and mind; mind-base or body is matter, while thinking, imagining, etc. are mind. In order to be able to notice matter and mind clearly, it should be noted as "thinking, imagining, etc." in each case.
After having carried out the practice in the manner indicated above for a time, there may be an improvement in Concentration. One will notice that the mind no longer wanders about but remains fixedly on the object to which it is directed. At the same time the power of noticing has considerably developed. On every occasion of noting he notices only two processes of matter and mind. A dual set of object and mind, which makes note of the object, is thus coming into existence.
Again on proceeding further with the practice of contemplation for some time, one notices that nothing remains permanent but everything is in a state of flux. New things arise each time: each of them is noted every time as it arises; it then vanishes. Immediately another arises, which is again noted and which then vanishes. Thus the process of arising and vanishing goes on, which clearly shows that nothing is permanent. One is therefore convinced that "things are not permanent" because it is noticed that they arise and vanish at every time of noting. This is Insight into impermanency (aniccanupassana-nana).
Then one is also convinced that arising and vanishing are not desirable. This is Insight into Suffering (dukkhanupassana-nana). Besides, one usually experiences many painful sensations in the body, such as tiredness, feeling hot, painful, aching, and at the time of noting these sensations he generally feels that this body is a collection of sufferings. This is also Insight into Suffering.
Then at every time of noting it is found that elements of matter and mind occur according to their respective nature and conditioning, and not according to one's wish. One is therefore convinced that they are elements: they are not governable: they are not person or living entity. This is Insight into the Absence of a Self (anattanupassana-nana).
On having fully acquired these knowledges of Impermanence, Suffering, Absence of Self (anicca, dukkha, anatta), the maturity of Spiritual Knowledge of the Path and Spiritual Knowledge of its Fruition (magga nana and phala nana) takes place and realization of Nibbana is won. By winning the realization of Nibbana in the first stage, one is freed from the round of rebirth in the unhappy life of lower existence. Everyone should, therefore, endeavor to reach the first stage as a minimum measure.
It has already been explained that the actual method of practice in Vipassana Meditation is to note or to observe or to contemplate the successive occurrences of seeing, hearing, etc., at six points or sense doors. However, it will not be possible for a beginner to follow up all successive incidents as they occur because his Mindfulness, Concentration and Spiritual Knowledge (sati, samadhi and nana) are still very weak. The incidents of seeing, hearing, etc. occur very swiftly. Seeing seems to occur at the time of hearing; hearing seems to occur at the time of seeing; it seems that both seeing and heating occur simultaneously. It seems that three or four incidents of seeing, hearing, thinking, and imagining usually occur simultaneously. It is not possible to distinguish which occurs first and which follows next because they occur so swiftly. In actual fact, seeing does not occur at the time of hearing nor does hearing occur at the time of seeing. Such incidents can occur one only at a time. A Yogi who has just begun the practice and who has not sufficiently developed Mindfulness, Concentration and Spiritual Knowledge will not, however, be in a position to observe all these incidents singly as they occur in serial order. A beginner need not therefore follow up many things, but should instead start with a few things. Seeing or hearing occurs only when due attention is given. If one does not pay heed to any sight or sound, one may pass the time mostly without any occasion of seeing or hearing. Smelling occurs rarely. Experience of taste occurs only at the time of eating. In the cases of seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting, the Yogi can note them when they occur.
However, body impressions are ever present: they usually exist quite distinctly all the time. During the time that one is sitting, the body impressions of stiffness or the sensation of hardness in this position are distinctly felt. Attention should therefore be fixed on the sitting posture and a note made as "sitting, sitting, sitting."
Sitting is an erect posture of body consisting of a series of physical activities which are induced by the consciousness consisting of a series of mental activities. It is just like the case of an inflated rubber ball which maintains its round shape through the resistance of the air inside it: so is the posture of sitting, in which the body is kept in an erect posture through the continuous process of physical activities. A good deal of energy will be required to pull up and keep in an erect position such a heavy load as this body. People generally assume that the body is lifted and kept in the position by means of sinews. This assumption is correct in a sense because sinews, blood, flesh, bones are nothing but material elements. The element of stiffening which keeps the body in an erect posture belongs to the material group and arises in the sinews, flesh, blood, etc. throughout the body like the air in a rubber ball. The element of stiffening is vayo-dhatu, the air element. The body is kept in the erect position by the presence of the Air Element in the form of stiffening, which is continually coming into existence. At the time of heavy drowsiness one may drop flat, because the supply of new materials in the form of stiffening is cut off. The state of mind in heavy drowsiness or sleep is Unconsciousness (bhavanga). During the course of Unconsciousness mental activities are absent, and for this reason the body lies flat during sleep or heavy drowsiness. During waking hours strong and active mental activities are continually arising, and because of these there arises a series of Air Elements in the form of stiffening. In order to know these facts it is essential to note attentively as "sitting, sitting, sitting." This does not necessarily mean that the body impressions of stiffening should be particularly searched and noted. Attention need only be fixed on the whole form of sitting posture, that is, the lower portion in a bending circular form and the upper portion in an erect posture.
It will be found that the exercise of observing a single object of sitting posture is too easy and does not require much effort. In the circumstances Vigor (viriya) is less and Concentration is in excess, and one would generally feel lazy to carry on the noting as "sitting, sitting, sitting," repeatedly for a considerable time. Laziness generally occurs when there is excess of Concentration and less Vigor. It is nothing but a state of Torpor (thina-midha). More Vigor should be developed, and for this purpose the number of objects for noting should be increased. After noting as "sitting," the attention should be directed to a spot in the body where the sense of touch is felt and a note made as "touching." Any spot in the leg or hand or hip where a sense of touch is distinctly felt will serve the purpose.
For example, after noting the sitting posture of the body as "sitting," the spot where the sense of touch is felt should be noted as "touching." The noting should thus be repeated on these two objects of sitting posture and the place of touching alternately, as "sitting, touching; sitting, touching; sitting, touching."
The terms noting or observing or contemplating are used here to indicate the fixing of attention on an object. The exercise is simply to note or observe or contemplate as "sitting, touching." Those who already have experience in the practice of meditation may perhaps find this exercise easy to begin with, but those without any previous experience may find it rather difficult to begin with.
The more simplified and easy form of exercise for a beginner is this: At every time of breathing there occur movements in the form of rising and falling of one's abdomen. A beginner should start with this exercise of noting or observing these movements. It is easy to observe these movements because they are coarse and prominent and are more suitable for a beginner. As in schools where simple lessons are easy to learn so is the case in the practice of Vipassana Meditation. A beginner will find it easier to develop Concentration and Spiritual Knowledge with a simple and easy exercise.
Again, the purpose of the Vipassana Meditation is to begin the exercise by contemplating prominent factors in the body. Of the two factors of mind and matter, the mental element is subtle and less prominent while the material element is coarse and more prominent.
Therefore the usual procedure for one who practices the Vipassana insight meditation (vipassana-yanika) is to begin the exercise by contemplating the material elements at the outset. As regards material elements it may be mentioned here that Etheric Matter (upada-rupa) is subtle and less prominent while Dense Physical Matter (maha-buta), the four primary physical elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air are coarse and more prominent and should therefore have the priority of being placed first in the order of objects for contemplation. In the case of rising and falling the outstanding factor is the Air Element. The process of stiffening and the movements of abdomen noticed during the contemplation are nothing but the functions of this element. Thus it will be seen that the Air Element is perceptible at the beginning. According to the instructions of Satipatthana Sutta, the discourse of the Buddha, dealing with the practice of mindfulness, one should be mindful of the activities of walking while walking, of those of standing, sitting, and lying down while standing, sitting, and lying down, respectively. One should also be mindful of other bodily activities as each of them occurs. In this connection it is stated in the commentaries that one should be mindful primarily of the Air Element in preference to the other three. As a matter of fact, all four elements of Dense Physical Matter are dominant in every action of the body, and it is essential to perceive any one of these. At the time of sitting, either of the two movements of rising and falling occurs conspicuously at every time of breathing, and a beginning should be made by noting one of these movements.
Some fundamental features in the system of Vipassana Meditation have been explained for general information. The general outline of basic exercises will now be discussed.
When contemplating rising and falling, the disciple should keep his mind on the abdomen. He will then come to know the upward movement (expansion) of the abdomen on inbreathing, and a downward movement (contraction) on outbreathing. A mental note should be made as "rising" for upward movement, and "falling" for downward movement. If these movements are not clearly noticed by merely fixing the mind, one or both hands should be placed on the abdomen. The disciple should not try to change the manner of his natural breathing: he should neither attempt slow breathing by the retention of his breath, nor quick breathing nor deep breathing. If he does change the natural flow of his breathing he will soon tire himself. He must therefore keep to the natural breathing, and proceed with the contemplation of rising and falling.
On the occurring of upward movement, a mental note calling it as "rising" should be made, and on the downward movement, a mental note calling it as "falling" should be made. The calling of these terms or names should not be repeated by mouth. In Vipassana Meditation it is more important to know the actual state of object than to know it by the term or name. It is therefore necessary for the disciple to make every effort to be mindful of the movement of rising from the beginning till the end and that of falling from the start to the finish, as if these movements are actually seen by the eyes. As soon as rising occurs, there should be the knowing mind close to the movement. As in the case of a stone hitting the wall, the movement of rising as it occurs and the mind knowing it must come together on every occasion. Similarly the movement of falling as it occurs and the mind knowing it must come together on every occasion.
When there is no object of special outstanding nature, the disciple should carry on the exercise of noting these two movements as "rising, falling; rising, falling; rising, falling." While thus being occupied with this exercise, there may be occasions when the mind wanders about. When the Concentration is weak it is very difficult to control the mind. Though it is directed to the movements of rising and falling the mind will not stay with them but will wander to other places. This wandering mind should not be let alone: it should be noted as "wandering, wandering" as soon as it goes out. On noting repeatedly once or twice when the mind stops wandering, then the exercise of noting as "rising, falling" should be continued. When it is found again that the mind has reached a place it should be noted as "reaching, reaching." Then the exercise of noting as "rising, falling" should be reverted to as soon as these movements are clear. On meeting with a person in the imagination it should be noted as meeting, meeting," and after which the usual exercise should be reverted to. Some time the fact that it is a mere imagination is found out at the time of speaking with an imaginary person, and it should be noted as "speaking, speaking." The real purpose is to note every mental activity as it occurs. For instance, it. should be noted as "thinking, thinking" at the moment of thinking, and as "reflecting, planning, knowing, attending, rejoicing, feeling lazy, feeling happy, disgusting, etc." as the case may be on the occurrence of each activity. The contemplation of mental activities and noticing them as they occur is called Cittanupassana.
Because they have no practical knowledge in Vipassana Meditation people are generally not in a position to know the real state of the mind. This naturally leads them to the wrong view of holding mind as Person, self or living entity. They usually believe that "Imagination is I: I am imagining: I am thinking: I am planning:
I am knowing, and so forth." They consider that there exists a living entity or self which grows up from childhood to the age of manhood. In reality there does not exist a living entity, but there does exist a continuous process of elements of mind which occurs singly at a time and in succession. The practice of contemplation is therefore being carried out with a view to find out the actual fact.
As regards mind and the manner of its arising, Buddha stated in the Dhammapada the following:
Duran-gamam Eka-caram, A-sariram Guha-sayam.
Ye Cittam Samyamessanti, Mokkhanti Mara-bandhana.
Duran-gamam—Used to go to far-off objects.
Mind usually wanders far and wide. While the Yogi is trying to carry on with the practice of contemplation in his meditation cell he often finds out that his mind usually wanders to many far-off places, towns, etc. He also finds that the mind can wander to any far-off places which have been known previously at the very moment of thinking or imagining. This fact should be found out with the help of contemplation.
Eka-caram—Usually occurs singly.
Mind usually occurs singly and one after another in succession. Those, who do not perceive this fact, believe that one mind exists in the course of life or existence. They do not know that new minds (thought forms) are always arising at every moment. They think that seeing, hearing, etc. of the past and those of the present belong to one and the same mind, and that three or four acts of seeing, hearing, touching, knowing usually occur simultaneously. These are wrong views. In actual fact, a single new mind arises at every moment. This can be perceived on gaining considerable practice. The cases of imagination and planning are clearly perceptible. Imagination vanishes as soon as it is noted as "imagining, imagining," and planning also vanishes as soon as it is noted as "planning, planning." These instances of arising, noting, and vanishing appear like a string of beads. The preceding mind is not the following mind. Each is separate. These facts are perceivable personally, and for this purpose one must proceed with the contemplation.
Mind has no substance and no form. It is not easy to distinguish it as with matter. In the case of matter the structure of body, head, hands and legs is very prominent and easily noticed. If it is asked what is matter it can be handled and shown. As for mind it is not easy to describe, because it has no substance and no form. For this reason it is not possible to carry out laboratory analytical experiments of mind. However, one could fully understand if it is explained that the knowing of an object is mind. To understand the mind minutely it is essential to contemplate the mind at every time of its occurring. When the contemplation is fairly advanced the mind's approach to its object is clearly comprehended. It appears as if each is making a direct leap towards its object. In order to know the true manner of mind the contemplation is thus prescribed.
Guha-sayam—Stays in the cave.
Because this mind usually comes into existence depending on mindbase and other sense doors situated in the body, it is said that it stays in the cave.
Ye Cittam Samyamessanti, Mokkhanti Mara-bandhana-If the Yogi could restrain this mind he would be freed from the bondage of Death.
It is said that the mind should be contemplated each time as it occurs: mind can thus be controlled by means of contemplation. On his successfully controlling the mind the Yogi would win freedom from the bondage of Death. It will be seen now that it is important to note the mind at every occurrence. As soon as it is noted mind usually vanishes. For instance, by noting once or twice as "intending, intending" it is found that intention disappears at once. Then the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling; rising, falling," should be reverted to.
During the time of proceeding with the usual exercise, one may feel wanting to swallow saliva. It should be noted as "wanting" and on gathering saliva as "gathering," and on swallowing as "swallowing" in the serial order of occurrences. The reason for contemplating in this case is because there may be a persisting personal view as "wanting to swallow is I: swallowing is also I." In actual fact, "wanting to swallow" is mind and not I and "swallowing" is matter and not I. There exists only mind and matter at that time. By means of contemplation in this manner one will understand clearly the process of actual facts. So also in the case of spitting it should be noted as "wanting" when one wants to spit, as "bending" on bending the neck (which should be done slowly), as "looking, seeing" on looking and as "spitting" on spitting. Afterwards, the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling" should be proceeded with.
Because of the fact of sitting for a long time there will arise in the body unpleasant feelings of being stiff, being hot and so forth. These sensations should be noted as they occur. Mind should be fixed on the spot and a note made as "stiff, stiff" on feeling stiff, as "hot, hot" on feeling hot, as "painful, painful" on feeling painful, and "prickly, prickly" on feeling a prickly sensation, and as "tired, tired" on feeling tired. These unpleasant feelings are Feelings of Pain (dukkha vedana) and the contemplation of these feelings is Insight Into Feeling (vedana-nupassana).
Owing to the absence of knowledge in Insight Into Feeling, there used to prevail a wrong view of holding them as one's own personality or self, that is to say, "I am feeling stiff: I am feeling hot: I am feeling painful: I was feeling well formerly but now I feel uncomfortable" in the manner of a single self. In real fact unpleasant feelings arise owing to disagreeable impressions in the body. Like the light of an electric bulb which can continue to burn on the continuous supply of energy so is the case of feelings, which arise anew in series on every occasion of coming in contact with disagreeable impressions.
It is essential to understand these feelings clearly. At the beginning of noting as "stiff, stiff; hot, hot; painful, painful" he may feel that such disagreeable feeling grows stronger, and then he will notice that the mind wanting to change the posture arises. This mind should be noted as "wanting, wanting." Then a return should be made to the feeling and noted as "stiff, stiff," or "hot, hot," and so forth. If the contemplation is continued with great patience in this manner, such unpleasant feelings will pass away.
There is a saying, "Patience leads to Nibbana." Evidently this saying is more applicable in this case of contemplation than in any other case. Plenty of patience is needed in contemplation. If a Yogi cannot bear unpleasant feelings with patience but frequently changes his posture during contemplation, he cannot expect to gain Concentration. Without Concentration there is no chance of acquiring Spiritual Knowledge of Insight (vipassana-nana). Without this, the attainment of Path, Fruition, and Nibbana cannot be won. Patience is of great importance in contemplation. Patience is mostly needed to bear up unpleasant feelings. This means the observance of the Cultivation of Patience (khantisamvara) discipline. He should not therefore change his posture immediately when he feels unpleasant sensations but must proceed with noting them as "stiff, stiff; hot, hot" and so on. Such normal painful sensations will ordinarily pass away. In the case of strong Concentration it will be found that even great pains will pass away when they are being noted with patience. On the fading away of suffering or pain the usual exercise should be reverted to and noting carried out as "rising, falling; rising, falling."
On the other hand it may be found that pains or unpleasant feelings do not pass away in spite of making a note with great patience. In such a case it cannot be helped but to change the posture. One must, of course, submit to superior forces. When concentration is not strong enough pains will not pass away soon. In these circumstances there will often arise a mind wanting to change the posture, and this mind should be noted as "wanting, wanting," after which it should be continued to note as "lifting, lifting" on lifting the hand; as "moving, moving" on moving it forward. These bodily actions should be carried out slowly, and these slow movements should be followed up and noted as "lifting, lifting; moving, moving; touching, touching" in the successive order of processes. Again on swaying the body a note should be made as "swaying, swaying"; on raising the leg as "raising, raising"; on moving as "moving, moving"; and on putting down as "putting, putting." If then there is nothing to do, it should be reverted to the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling; rising, falling." There should be no stop or break in between. The preceding act of noting and the one which follows should be contiguous. Similarly the preceding Concentration and the one which follows should be contiguous, and the preceding Spiritual Knowledge (nana) and the one which follows should be contiguous. In this way the gradual development, by stages, of Mindfulness, Concentration and Spiritual Knowledge takes place, and depending on their full development the final stage of Spiritual Knowledge of the Path (magga-nana) is attained.
In the practice of Vipassana Meditation it is important to follow the example of a person who tries to make a fire. In olden days a person had to work without stopping by rubbing two dry sticks till fire was produced. As the sticks got hotter and hotter, the more effort was needed, and rubbing had to be carried out incessantly. Only when the fire was produced was he then at liberty to take rest. Similarly a Yogi should work hard so that there may not be any break between the preceding noting and the one which follows, and the preceding Concentration and the one which follows. He should revert to his usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling" when he has noted the painful sensations.
While being thus occupied with his usual exercise, he may again feel the itching sensation somewhere in the body. He should then fix his mind on the spot and make a note as "itching, itching." Itching is an unpleasant sensation. As soon as it is felt there arises a mind wanting to rub or scratch. This mind should be noted as "wanting, wanting" after which no rubbing must be done as yet but a return must be made to itching and a note made as "itching, itching." While occupied with contemplation in this manner, itching used to disappear in most cases. Then the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling" should be reverted to. If on the other hand it is found that itching does not disappear but it is necessary to rub or scratch, the contemplation of the successive processes should be carried out by noting the mind as "wanting, wanting." It should then be continued by noting as "raising, raising," on raising the hand; as "moving, moving" on moving the hand; as "touching, touching" when the hand touches the spot; as "rubbing, rubbing" or "scratching, scratching" when the hand rubs or scratches; as "withdrawing, withdrawing" on withdrawing the hand; as "touching, knowing" when the hand touches the body; and then afterwards contemplation should be reverted to the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling." In every case of changing the postures of contemplation of the successive processes should be carried out similarly and carefully.
While thus carefully proceeding with the contemplation it is found that painful feelings or unpleasant sensations arise in the body of their own accord. Ordinarily people used to change the posture as soon as they feel even the slight unpleasant sensation of tiredness or feeling hot without taking heed of these incidents. The change is carried out quite heedlessly just while the seed of pain is beginning to grow. Thus painful feelings fail to take place in a distinctive manner. For this reason it is said that Posture (iriya-patha), as a rule, hides the painful feelings from view. People generally think that they are feeling well for days and nights. They consider that painful feelings occur at the time of an attack of a dangerous disease.
The fact is just the contrast of what people think. Let anyone try and see how long he can keep himself in a sitting posture without moving or changing. He will find it uncomfortable after a short while, say five or ten minutes, and then he will find it unbearable after fifteen or twenty minutes. He will then be compelled to move or change the posture, by either raising or lowering his head, moving the hands or legs by swaying his body either forward or backward. Many movements usually take place during a short time and the number would be very large if they are to be counted for a day. However, no one appears to be aware of these facts because no one takes heed of them. Such is the order in every case. While in the case of a Yogi who is always mindful of his actions and is proceeding with contemplation, body impressions in their own respective nature are therefore distinctly noticed. They cannot help but reveal themselves fully in their own nature because he is watching until they come to the full view. Though a painful sensation arises he keeps on noting it: he does not ordinarily attempt to change or move. 'Then on the arising of mind wanting to change he at once makes a note of it as "wanting, wanting" and afterwards he returns again to the painful sensation and continues his noting of it. He changes or moves only when he finds the pain unbearable. In this case also he begins by noting the wanting mind and proceeds with noting carefully every action in the process of moving. This is why Posture can no longer hide painful sensation. Often a Yogi feels painful sensations creeping from here and there or he may feel a hot sensation, aching sensation, itching, or he may feel that the whole body is a mass of painful sensation. That is how painful sensations are found to be predominating because Posture cannot cover them.
If he intends to change the posture from sitting to standing, he should in the first place make a note of the intending mind as "intending, intending" and proceed with the acts of arranging the hands and legs in the successive order by noting, "raising, moving, stretching, touching, pressing, and so forth." When the body sways forward it should be noted as "swaying, swaying." While in the course or standing up, rising, there occurs lightness in the body. Attention should be fixed on these factors and a note made as "rising, rising." The act of rising up should be carried out slowly. During the course of practice it is most appropriate if a Yogi acts feebly and slowly in all his activities just like a weak sick person. Perhaps the case of a person suffering from lumbago would be a more fitting example here. The patient must be cautious and move slowly to avoid pains. In the same manner a Yogi should always try and keep to slow motions in all the actions. The lowest speed is necessary to enable Mindfulness, Concentration, and Spiritual Knowledge to catch up. One has lived all the time in a light-hearted manner, and he just begins seriously to train himself for keeping his mind in the body. It is the beginning only and Mindfulness and Spiritual Knowledge have not yet been properly geared up while the physical and mental processes are moving at top speed. It is therefore imperative to bring the top-level speed of these processes to the lowest gear so as to make it possible for the Mindfulness and Spiritual Knowledge to keep pace with them. It is therefore instructed that slow motion exercises should be carried out at all times.
Further it may be mentioned that it is advisable for a Yogi to behave like a blind person throughout the course of training. A person without any restrained manner will not look dignified because he usually looks at things and persons wantonly. He cannot obtain a steady and calm state. While on the other hand the blind person behaves in a composed manner by sitting sedately with downcast eyes: he never turns to any direction to look at things or persons because he is blind and cannot see them. Even if a person comes near him and speaks to him he never turns around. This composed manner is worthy of imitation. A Yogi should act in the same manner while carrying out the contemplation: he should not look anywhere his mind must be intent solely on the object of contemplation; while in the sitting posture he must be intently noting as "rising, falling." Even if strange things occur nearby, he must not look at them carefully: he must simply make a note as "seeing, seeing" and then pass on to the usual exercise by noting as "rising, falling." A Yogi should have a high regard for the exercise and carry it out with due respect so much so as to be mistaken for a blind person.
In this respect certain female Yogis were found to be in perfect form. They carefully carried out the exercise with all due respect in accordance with the instructions. Their manner was very composed. and they were always intent on the objects of contemplation. They never looked around. When they walked they were always intent on the steps. Their steps were light, smooth and slow. Every Yogi should follow their example.
It is necessary for a Yogi to behave like a deaf person also. Ordinarily a person, as soon as he hears a sound, turns around and looks at the direction from where the sound comes. Or he turns around towards the person who speaks to him and makes a reply. He will not behave in a sedate manner. While on the other hand, a deaf person behaves in a composed manner: he does not take heed of any sound or talk because. he never hears them. Similarly a Yogi should conduct himself in like manner without taking heed of any unimportant talk nor should he deliberately listen to any talk or speech. If he happens to hear any sound or talk he should at once make a note as "hearing, hearing" and then return to the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling." He should proceed with his contemplation intently so much so as to be mistaken for a deaf person.
It should be remembered that the carrying out intently of contemplation is the only concern of a Yogi; other things seen or heard are not his concern. He should not take heed of them even though they may appear to be strange or curious. When he sees any sights he must ignore them as if he does not see; so also in the case of voices or sounds he must ignore them as if he does not hear. In the case of bodily actions he must act slowly and feebly as if he were sick and very weak.
It is therefore emphasized that the act of pulling up the body to the standing posture should be carried out slowly. On coming to an erect position a note should be made as "standing, standing"; if he happens to look around, a note should be made as "looking, seeing"; and on walking each step should be noted as "right step, left step" or "walking, walking." In each step attention should be fixed on the movement from the point of lifting the leg to the point of putting down. While walking in quick steps or taking a long walk, a-note on one section of each step as "right step, left step" or "walking, walking" will do. In the case of taking a slow walk, each step may be divided into three sections of lifting, pushing forward and putting down respectively. In the beginning of the exercise a note should be made on two sections in each step as "lifting," by fixing the attention on the upward movement of the leg from the beginning to the end, and as "putting" on the downward movement from the beginning to the end. Thus the exercise which starts with the first step by noting as "lifting, putting" now ends. Here it may be mentioned that, at the time of noting as "putting" when the leg is put down in the first step, the other leg happens usually to lift up to begin the next step. This should not be allowed to happen. Next step should begin only after the end of the first step, such as "lifting, putting" for the first one and "lifting, putting" for the next step. After two or three days this exercise would be easy and he should carry out the exercise of noting each step in three sections as "lifting, pushing, putting." For the present a Yogi should start the exercise by noting as "right step, left step," or "walking, walking" while walking quickly, and by noting as "lifting, putting" while walking slowly.
In the course of his walk he may feel wanting to sit down. He should then make a note as "wanting, wanting"; if he then happens to look up as "looking, seeing; looking, seeing"; on going to the place for sitting as "lifting, putting"; on stopping as "stopping, stopping"; on turning as "turning, turning"; when he feels wanting to sit as "wanting, wanting." In the act of sitting there occurs a heaviness in the body and also a downward pull. Attention should be fixed on these factors and a note made as "sitting, sitting, sitting." After having sat down there would be movements of bringing the hands and legs into position. They should be noted as "moving, bending, stretching, and so forth." If there is nothing to do and if he is sitting quietly he should revert to the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling.
If in the course of contemplation he feels painful or tired or hot he should make a note of them and then revert to the usual exercise by noting as "rising, falling." If he feels sleepy he should make a note as "sleepy, sleepy," and proceed with the noting of all acts of preparing for lying down and bringing into position the hands and legs as "raising, pressing, moving, supporting"; when the body sways as "swaying, swaying"; when the legs stretch as "stretching, stretching"; and when the body drops and lies flat as "lying, lying."
These trifling acts in lying down are also important and they should not be neglected. There is every possibility of attaining enlightenment during this short time. On the full development of Concentration and Spiritual Knowledge enlightenment is attainable during the present moment of bending or stretching. In this way Venerable Ananda (nephew and personal attendant of the Buddha) attained Arahatship at the very moment of lying down.
About the beginning of the fourth month after the great final Nibbana after death (maha-parinibbana) of the Lord Buddha it was arranged to hold the first sangayana. By this term is meant the council of monks who collectively made classification, examination, confirmation and recitation of all teachings of Lord Buddha. At that time five hundred monks were chosen for the work. Of them four hundred and ninety-nine were Arahats (Adepts, who have become perfect and have attained enlightenment) while Venerable Ananda alone was a Sotapanna (Stream Winner, i.e., the first stage on the path when one has entered the stream leading to enlightenment). In order to attend the Council as an Arahat on the same level with the others he made his utmost effort to carry on with the meditation until just one day' before the first day of the Council. That was on the fourth waning of the month of August. He proceeded with the contemplation of Mindfulness of the Body (kaya-gata-sati) which is also known as the Application of Mindfulness to Insight into the Functioning of the Body (kaya-nupassana satipatthana) and kept on walking the whole night. It might be in the same manner of. noting as "right step, left step" or "walking, walking." He was thus occupied with the intent contemplation of mental and material processes in each step till the dawn of the next day. But he had not yet attained the Arahatship.
Then the Venerable Ananda thought thus: "I have done my utmost. Lord Buddha used to say, 'Ananda, you possess full Perfections (paramis). Do proceed with 'the practice of meditation. You will surely attain Arahatship one day.' I have tried my level best so much that I can be counted as one of those who ever did their best in meditation. What may be the reason for my failure?" Then he remembered: "Ah! I was overzealous in keeping solely to the exercise of walking throughout the night. There was an excess of Vigor and less Concentration, which indeed was responsible for the state of Restlessness (uddhacca). It is now necessary to stop walking so as to bring Vigor in level with Concentration and to proceed with the contemplation in a lying position." Venerable Ananda accordingly entered his room and sat down on the bench and then began to lie down. It was said that Venerable Ananda attained Arahatship thus at the moment of lying down or rather at the moment of contemplating as "lying, lying."
This manner of attaining Arahatship has been recorded as a strange event in the Commentaries because this manner was outside of the four regular postures of walking, standing, sitting and lying down. At that moment Venerable Ananda could not be regarded strictly to have been in a standing posture because his feet were off the floor, nor could he be regarded as sitting because his body was in a leaning position quite close to a pillow, nor in a laying posture because his head had not touched the pillow and the body did not lay flat as yet. As Venerable Ananda was a Stream Winner he had to develop through three other higher stages: the Path and Fruition of a Once-Returner, second stage on the Path; Path and Fruition of a Never-Returner, third stage on the Path; and Path and Fruition of an Adept, fourth and final stage of the Path (sakadagami magga & phala, anagami magga & phala, arahatta magga & phala) in his final attainment. It took a moment only. Every care is therefore needed to carry on the practice of contemplation without relaxation or omission.
In the act of lying down, contemplation should be carried out with due care. When one feels sleepy and wants to lie down a note should be made as "sleepy, sleepy; wanting, wanting"; on raising the hand as "raising, raising"; on stretching as "stretching, stretching"; on touching as "touching, touching"; on pressing as "pressing, pressing"; after swaying the body and on dropping it down as "lying, lying." The action of lying down should be carried out very slowly. On touching with the pillow it should be noted as "touching, touching"—there are many places of touch all over the body but each spot only need be noted at one time. In the lying position there are many bodily actions for bringing the legs and hands into position also. These actions should be noted carefully as "raising, stretching, bending, moving, and so on." On turning the body a note should be made as "turning, turning" and when there is nothing particular the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling" should be reverted to. When lying on the side or on the back there are usually no particular things to be noted: then the usual exercise must be reverted to.
But there may be times when the mind wanders while one is in the lying posture. This wandering mind should be noted as "going, going" when it goes out, as "arriving, arriving" when it reaches a place, as "planning, reflecting, and so forth" on each state in the same manner as in the case of contemplation in the sitting posture. Mind generally vanishes on being noted once or twice. Then the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling" should be reverted to. There may be also instances of swallowing or spitting saliva, or feeling of painful sensations, hot sensations, itching sensations, etc., or of bodily actions in changing the position and moving the limbs. They should be contemplated as each occurs. (When sufficient strength in Concentration is gained it will be possible even to carry on with the contemplation of each act of opening and closing of the eyelids and winking.) Afterwards one should then return to the usual exercise when there is no other thing to do.
Though it is late in the night and it is time for sleep, it is not advisable to give up the contemplation and go to sleep. Anyone who has a keen interest in contemplation must be prepared to face the risk of spending many nights without sleep.
The scriptures are emphatic on the necessity of developing the very qualities of Energetic Vigor Which Consists of Four Limbs, i.e., varieties (calu-ranga viriya) in the practice of meditation. In the hard struggle one may be reduced to a mere skeleton of skin, bone and sinew when his flesh and blood wither away and dry up but he should not give up his efforts so long as he has not attained whatever is attainable by manly perseverance, energy and endeavor. These instructions should be followed with a strong determination. It may be possible to keep awake if there is strong enough Concentration to beat off the sleep but he will fall asleep if sleep gets an upper hand. When one feels sleepy he should make a note as "sleepy, sleepy"; when the eyelids are drooping as "drooping, drooping"; dazzled as "dazzled, dazzled." After the contemplation in the manner indicated one may be able to shake off the sleepiness and feel fresh again. This feeling should be noted as "feeling fresh, feeling fresh" and after which the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling" should be reverted to. However, in spite of his determination one may feel unable to keep himself awake if he is very sleepy. In a lying posture it is more easy to fall asleep. A beginner should therefore try to keep himself mostly in the postures of sitting and walking.
But when the night is late he will be compelled to lie down and proceed with the contemplation of "rising" and "falling." In this position he may perhaps fall asleep. During the time of sleep it is not possible to carry on with the contemplation. It is an interval for a Yogi to relax. An hour's sleep will give him an hour's relaxation and if he continues to sleep for two, three or four hours he will get relaxation for longer hours. But it would not be advisable for a Yogi to sleep more than four hours, which is pretty long and ample for a normal sleep.
On waking up a Yogi should start his contemplation from the moment of awakening. To be fully occupied with intent contemplation throughout the waking hours is the routine of a Yogi who works hard with true aspiration for the attainment of Path and its Fruition. If it is not possible to catch the waking moment, he should start with the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling." Or if he becomes aware firstly of the fact of reflecting he should begin his contemplation by noting. as "reflecting, reflecting," and then revert to the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling." Or if he becomes aware firstly of hearing a voice or sound he should begin by noting as "hearing, hearing," and then revert to the usual exercise. As soon as one wakes up there may be bodily actions in turning this side or that side, and in moving the hands and legs and so forth. These actions should be contemplated in successive order. Or if he becomes aware of the mind leading to various bodily actions he should start his contemplation by noting the mind in the first place. Or if he becomes aware firstly of the painful sensations he should start by noting the painful sensations and then proceed with bodily actions. If he stays quietly without moving, the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling" should be attended to. If he intends to get up he should note as "intending, intending" and then proceed with the noting of all actions serially in bringing the legs and hands into position. It should be noted as "raising, raising" on raising the body, as "sitting, sitting" when the body is erect and in sitting posture, and. if there are any other actions of bringing legs and hands into position these actions should also be noted. If there are no particular things the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling" should be reverted to.
So far, things relating to the objects of contemplation in connection with the four postures and changing from one posture to another have been mentioned. It is merely a description of the general outline of major objects of contemplation to be carried out in the course of practice. Yet in the beginning of the practice, it is difficult to follow up all of them in contemplation. Many things will be omitted. But on gaining sufficient strength in Concentration it is easy to follow up in contemplation not only those already enumerated but many more. With gradual development of Mindfulness and Concentration the pace of Spiritual Knowledge quickens, and thus many more can be perceived. It is necessary to work up to this high level.
Contemplation should be carried out also in the case of washing the face in the morning or when taking a bath. As it is necessary to act quickly in these cases, contemplation should be carried out to such an extent as far as possible in these circumstances. On stretching the hand to catch hold of the mug as "stretching"; on catching hold of the mug as "holding"; on dipping the mug as "dipping"; on bringing the mug towards the body as "bringing"; on pouring the water as "pouring"; on feeling cold as "cold"; on rubbing as "rubbing" and so on. There are also many actions in changing or arranging the dress, in arranging the bed or bed sheets, and in opening the door and so on. These actions should be contemplated in detail serially as much as possible.
At the time of taking meal contemplation should be started from the time of looking at the meal table as "looking, seeing; looking, seeing"; when stretching the hand to the plate as "stretching, stretching"; when the hand touches the food as "touching, hot, hot"; when gathering the food as "gathering, gathering"; when catching hold of the food as "catching, catching"; after lifting when the hand is being brought up as "bringing, bringing"; when the neck is being bent down as "bending, bending"; when the food is being placed in the mouth as "placing, placing"; when withdrawing the hand as "withdrawing, withdrawing"; when the hand touches the plate as "touching, touching"; when the neck is being straightened as "straightening, straightening"; when chewing the food as "chewing, chewing"; at the time of chewing when the taste of food is known as "knowing, knowing"; when he likes the taste as "liking, liking"; when he finds it pleasant as "pleasant, pleasant"; when swallowing as "swallowing, swallowing." This is an illustration of the routine of contemplation on partaking of each morsel of food till the meal is finished. In this case also it is difficult to follow up all actions at the beginning of the practice. There will be many omissions. He should not, however, hesitate but must try and follow up as much as he can. With the gradual advancement of the practice it will be easy to note many more than those mentioned here.
Now the lessons for the practical exercise of contemplation are almost complete. As they are explained in detail and at some length it is not easy to remember all of them. For the sake of easy memory, a summary of important. and essential points will be mentioned. They are few.
In the case of taking a walk a Yogi should contemplate the movements of the steps. While walking briskly each step should be noted as "right step, left step" respectively. Mind should be fixed intently on the movement of each step. While in the course of walking slowly each step should be noted in two sections as "lifting, putting; lifting, putting." While in a sitting posture the usual exercise of contemplation by noting the movements of the abdomen as "rising, falling, rising, falling" should be carried out. The same manner of contemplation by noting as "rising, falling, rising, falling" should be carried out in the case of lying posture also.
If it is found that the mind wanders during the course of noting as rising, falling," it should not be let off but it should be followed up immediately. On imagining it should be noted as "imagining, imagining"; on thinking as "thinking, thinking"; on the mind going out as "going, going"; on the mind arriving at a place as "arriving, arriving"; and so forth on every occurrence. And the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling" should then be reverted to. When there occur feelings of tiredness in hands, legs or other limbs, or of hot or prickly or aching or itching sensations, they should be immediately followed up and noted as "tired, hot, prickly, aching, itching, and so on" as the case may be. A return should then be made to the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling." When there are acts of bending or stretching the hands and legs, or moving the neck or limbs, or swaying the body to and fro, they should be followed up and noted in the serial order as they occur. The usual exercise of noting as rising, falling" should then be reverted to.
If the practice is proceeded with in the manner indicated, the number of objects will gradually increase in course of time. At first there will be many omissions because mind used to wander without any restraint. However, one should not lose heart on this account. This difficulty is usually encountered in the beginning of the practice. After some time mind cannot play truant any longer because it is always found out every time it roves. It therefore remains fixedly on an object to which it is directed. As rising occurs the mind makes a note of it, and thus the object and the mind coincide. As falling occurs the mind makes a note of it and thus these two coincide. There is always a pair of object and the mind which knows the object at every time of noting. These two elements of material object and knowing mind only arise in pairs, and apart from these two there does not exist any other thing either in the form of a person or self. This fact will be perceptible personally in due course.
The fact that matter and mind are two separate things will be clearly perceived during the time of noting as "rising, falling." The two elements of matter and mind are linked up in a pair and their arising coincides, that is, the material process of rising coincides with the mind knowing it, the material process of falling coincides with the mind knowing it, and the respective processes of lifting, pushing, putting coincide with the respective minds knowing the processes. This knowledge in respect of matter and mind rising separately is called Spiritual Knowledge of Insight (nama-rupa-pariceheda-nana). It is the preliminary stage in the whole course of Spiritual Knowledge of Insight. It is important to have this preliminary stage developed in a proper manner.
On continuing the practice of contemplation for some time, there will be a considerable progress in Mindfulness and Concentration. At this high level it will be perceptible that, on every occasion of noting, each process arises and vanishes at the very moment. But it is, on the other hand, considered generally by uninstructed people that body and mind remain in a permanent state throughout the life or existence, that the same body of childhood has grown up into manhood, that the same young mind has grown up into maturity and that both body and mind are one and the same person. The real fact is not so. Nothing is permanent. Every thing comes into existence for a moment, and then vanishes. Nothing can remain even for a winking moment. Changes are taking place very swiftly and they will be perceived in due course. While carrying on the contemplation by noting as "rising, falling" and so forth one would perceive that these processes generally come up and disappear one after another in succession very swiftly. On thus perceiving that every thing vanishes on the very point of noting, a Yogi is satisfied with the fact that nothing is permanent. This knowledge regarding the impermanent state of things is Spiritual Insight Into Transience (aniccanupassana-nana).
A Yogi then feels that this ever-changing state of things is distressing and not to be desired. This is Insight Into Suffering (dukkanupassana-nana). And on suffering also many painful feelings it is regarded as a mere heap of suffering. This, too, is of the same insight.
Then it is perceived that the elements of matter and mind never follow one's wish but they act according to their own nature and conditioning. While being engaged in the act of noting the processes, a Yogi is convinced that these processes are not controllable and they are neither person nor living entity nor self in the real sense. This is Insight Into the Absence of A Self (anattanupassana-nana).
When a Yogi has fully developed the Insights into Impermanence, Suffering, and Absence of A Self, he will realize Nibbana. From time immemorial Buddhas, Arahats and Holy Ones realized Nibbana by this means of Vipassana. It is the high way leading to Nibbana. As a matter of fact, Vipassana consists of the four Applications of Mindfulness (satipatthanas) and is therefore the high way to Nibbana.
Yogis have now come to take up the course of training in contemplation. It should be borne in mind that they are on the high way which had been taken by Buddhas, Arahats and Holy Ones. This opportunity is afforded to them apparently because of their Perfections of previous endeavors in seeking and wishing for it, and also of their present mature condition. They should rejoice at heart for being availed of this opportunity. They should also feel assured that by walking on this high way without wavering, they will gain the personal experience of the highly developed Concentration and Knowledge as had already been known to Buddhas, Arahats and Holy Ones. They will develop such a pure state of Concentration as has never been known before in the course of their life and thus enjoy many innocent pleasures as a result of the advanced Concentration.
They will also learn the practical knowledge of Impermanence, Suffering, and the Absence of A Self by having a direct personal experience of the actual facts, and then realize Nibbana on the full development of these knowledge. It will not take long to achieve the object, but possibly in a month, or twenty days, or fifteen days; or on rare occasions even in seven days for a selected few with extraordinary Perfection.
Yogis should, therefore, proceed with the practice of contemplation in great earnest and with full confidence trusting that it will surely lead to the development of Spiritual Knowledge of the Path and Its Fruition, and to the Realization of Nibbana. They will then be free from the Erroneous View That There is A Self (sakkaya ditthi) and Doubt (vicikiccha) and will no longer be subject to the round of rebirths in the miserable existence of hell, animals or hungry ghosts.