THERAVADA BUDDHIST MEDITATION
AS TAUGHT BY THE BUDDHA AND AS UNDERSTOOD BY VENERABLE DR. ASHIN PANNADIPA, PH.D
Blog Site: "Buddhism, Buddhist Meditation And Abhidhamma"
By Venerable Dr. Ashin Pannadipa, B.A, M.A, Ph.D, D.A.S ( Honorary Professor of World University of Advance Studies, California, U.S.A) ( Former Abbot of Ratana Parami International Temple, Washington State, U.S.A) ( Vipassana Meditation Master of Vipassanapanna University, Yangon, Myanmar) (The Proposed Abbot of Kyeik Thi Mon Temple, Ye Town, Mon State, Myanmar)
Many different kinds of meditation for physical and mental development, as taught by the Religious Masters, have been practicing by the religious communities through out the world, but unlike Theravada Buddhist Meditation known as part of the path toward "Supreme Enlightenment and Nibbana" which were found in Buddhism only. Theoretically, it goes beyond our knowledge and understanding to exactly describe how our mental functions will gradually transform to transcendental consciousness through simple consciousness or self-consciousness. Practically, all levels of mundane and supramundane mental concentration and development as well as our character and behaviour will be not only established but also the true nature of psycho-physical phenomena begins to be penetrated step by step. Spiritually and Traditionally, Theravada Buddhist Meditation has been worldwide known as "Samatha and Vipassana" for the gradual change of our mind and matter.
In fact, Theravada Buddhist Meditation can be described as a practical technique or as a spiritual discovery found in India by the historical Buddha, also known as Gotama Buddha for about more than 2500 years ago. To go beyond our negative mental state, we should practice this meditation until it illuminates all the talented qualities which were recently covered by doubtful emotions and attitudes. As mindfulness develops, all the negative hindrances to our liberation and emancipation will disappear gradually. Doubts will begin to be taken the place by clarification, to be replaced by the positive emotion through the negative emotion and to be substituted by wisdom through ignorance or delusion. Our ever-changing mind will spiritually be experienced the gradual new change to directly its positive state from its negative state. As result with step by step practice, our mind will be developed well, gradually be concentrated through its scattering, be unified on a single object as its advancement, be absorbed in meditation object as jhanic ecstasy, be transformed from normal consciousness to transcendental consciousness and finally be enlightened as escaping in 31 planes of existence.
Theravada Buddhist Meditation, as taught by the Buddha, known as "Samatha Meditation and Vipassana Meditation, also called "Tranquility Meditation and Insight Meditation." The five mental hindrances such as Sensuous Desire, Ill-Will, Sloth and Torpor, Restlessness and Scruples and Sceptical Doubts can be removed by samatha meditation practice. The Ignorant Hindrance and the Ten Mental Defilements such as Greed, Hate, Delusion, Conceit, False View, Doubt, Torpor, Restlessness, Shamlessness and Moral Dread can be eliminated by insight meditation practice.
As taught by the Buddha, there are 40 Subjects of Samatha Meditation which were senvenfold as below:
1. The Ten Complete Objects such as Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Light, Red, Blue, Yellow, White and Space.
2. The Ten Impurities such as Swollen Corpse, Discoloured Corpse, Dismembered or Festering Corpse, Dissected Corpse, Eaten or Gnawed Corpse, Scattering Corpse, Hecked and Scattered Corpse, Bloody Corpse, Worm-Infested Corpse and Skeleton.
3. The Ten Recollections such as the Virtues of the Buddha, the Virtues of the Dhamma, the Virtues of the Sangha, Morality, Generosity, Deities, Peace, Death, Mindfulness of the Body and Mindfulness or Awareness of Breathing or Respiration.
4. The Four Illimitables or the Four Sublime States such as Loving-Kindness or the Universal Love, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity or Indifference.
5. One Perception of the loathsomeness of Food.
6. One Analysis of the Four Elements.
7. The Four Formless Spheres.
Vipassana Meditation was sixfold.
1. There are seven stages of purification as below:
1. Purification of Morality.
2. Purification of Mind.
3. Purification of View.
4. Purification of Transcending Doubts.
5. Purification by Knowledge and Vision of What is Path and Not-Path.
6. Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Path-Progress.
7. Purification of Knowledge and Vision.
2. There are Three Universal Characteristics of Existence as below:
1. The Universal Characteristic Mark of Impermanence.
2. The Universal Characteristic Mark of Suffering.
3. The Universal Characteristic Mark of Non-Self or Non-Egoism.
3. There are three Mental Contemplations or Developments as below:
1. The Mental Contemplation On Impermenance.
2. The Mental Contemplation On Suffering.
3. The Mental Contemplation On Non-Self.
4. There are Ten Insight Knowledges as below:
1. Knowledge by Comprehension of the Universal Three Characteristics of Existence.
2. Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away of Mind and Matter.
3. Knowledge of Dissolution.
4. Knowledge of Fearfulness.
5. Knowledge of Misery.
6. Knowledge of Disgust.
7. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance from Mind and Body.
8. Knowledge of Re-Observation.
9. Knowledge of Equanimity About Formations.
10. Knowledge of Adaptation.
5. There are Three Emancipations or Liberations as below:
1. Liberation through Void.
2. Liberation through Signlessness.
3. Liberation through Desirelessness.
6. There are Three Doors of Emancipations or Liberations as below:
1. Meditation on The Void.
2. Meditation on the Signlessness.
3. Meditation on Desirelessness.
As understood by Venerable Dr. Ashin Pannadipa, Ph.D, believed that before the Gotama Buddha was born, Samatha or Tranquility Meditation, just only for the eight mundane jhanic Realm of Neither Perception Nor Non-Perception as the highest jhanic attainment in Brahmanism and also as the highest sphere in 31 planes of existence, was already developed in accordance with Brahmanism, now known as Hinduism, not in accordance with Buddhism. At that time, there had been no Vipassana Meditation and Buddhism yet and also no Ariya persons appeared in 27 planes of existence excluding the four woeful states.
After his great renunciation, Buddha known as Prince Siddhatha, as first teacher in his life, approached the Hermit Alara Kalama who had been achieved the mundane jhanic ecstasy to Realm of Nothingness, learnt and practiced for absorptive concentration until he attained the mundane jhanic Realm of Nothingness by his own intuitive wisdom as ascetic Alara Kalama did. But, the Prince Siddhattha was not satisfied with the practice of his first teacher because he believed that practices taught by his teacher cannot lead him to achieve enlightenment and realize Nibbana. With his great expectation in the future, he left his first teacher Alara Kalama, looked for another spiritual teacher who excelled his first teacher in wisdom and practice and approached a famous Udaka Ramaputta, son of Rama as his second teacher. But, the sage Rama, the late Udaka Ramaputta's father, had been attained the highest mundane jhanic Realm of Neither Perception Nor Non-Perception. He learnt and practiced as taught by his second teacher and within a few days, he was attained the eight mundane level of the highest jhanic Realm of Neither Perception Nor Non-Perception, the highest jhanic achievement in 31 planes of existence as Udaka Ramaputta's father did. But, he was not satisfied with the practice of his second teacher.
With hope in the future, Prince Siddhattha left his second teacher called Udaka Ramaputta in order to search for Supreme Enlightenment and Nibbana. He, diligently and intellectually, continued his great journey lonely and got to Uruvela Grove Forest, the greatest place for him, in a nearby Neranjara River being crystal clear with the sandy beach. He, in order to achieve his goal as final liberation, practiced for six long years austere meditation of asceticism until his body was tortured to a mere skeleton. But, he could not achieve his destination as Buddhahood. After he had had forty-nine morsels of Ghana milk-rice offered by Sujata, daughter of a wealthy man, he, for keeping on practicing his meditation, took a seat under the Bodhi Tree at Buddha-Gaya in India and On Full Moon Day of Vesakha ( In the year of Maha Era 103, 589 B.C), eventually achieved his Buddhahood through removing all mental defilements.
What I believed is that Vipassana Insight Meditation, Ariya Persons in 27 planes of existence and Nibbana were found in Buddhism or Tipitaka only as taught by the Buddha, but no in other religions in the world. Buddha is the only one who firstly realized "Nibbana" as final emancipation through death and rebirth and also the first person who escaped in 31 planes of existence. What I believed is that there was the only 81 mundane consciousness in the world before the Buddha was enlightened and achieved Buddhahood and the 40 supramundane consciousness what was described in Buddhism or Tipitaka was realized only by the Buddha after his supreme enlightenment.
In my conclusion, Theravada Buddhist Meditation has been internationally known as Samatha Meditation and Vipassana Meditation. I believed that the Buddha, in Buddhism or Tipitaka, taught samatha or tranquility meditation again as learnt and practiced through his first and second teachers before his Buddhahood. Vipassana Insight Meditation and the 40 supramundane consciousness as realized and taught by the Buddha only, today we found them in Buddhism or Tipitaka. But, what I believed is that Buddha, in Buddhism or Tipitaka, taught the 81 mundane consciousness again as learnt and realized from his two spiritual teachers called Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta. Mostly, Samatha and Vipassana Meditation can be found in Suttanta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka and Visuddhimagga. But, Anapanassati for developing our Samatha and Vipassana Meditation can be also found in Tipitaka such as Vinaya, Suttanta, Abhidhamma and also in Visuddhimagga.
P.S. Practical Technique for Buddhist meditation "Take a Breath in and Take a Breath out" for beginners, continue "Take a Breath in and Take a Breath out" and place your mind between your upper lip and nose, say "Knowing, Knowing, Knowing" three times in your mind" as taught by my first teacher Venerable Sayadaw U Candima (famous Meditation Master only in Myanmar), Abbot of Aung Thu Kha Dhamma Yeik Tha Buddhist Meditation Centre, Bago, Myanmar, fifty miles from Yangon, Capital City of Myanmar.
Practical technique for Buddhist Meditation "Take a Breath in and When Take a Breath out, together with looking the air on the end of your upper lip" as taught by my second teacher Venerable Sayadaw U Acinna ( Dhammacariya)( internationally famous Meditation Master), Abbot of Pa-Auk Tawya Forest Monastery/ Pa-Auk Tawya Forest Meditation Center located on the whole mountain, Pa-Auk Village, Mon State, Myanmar.