Ashin Kundalabhivamsa, ( Mahasi Nayaka, Agga Maha Kammatthanacariya)
Individuals who have come to meditate would like to know what Vipassana Meditation is..
This is the first lecture on Basic Exercises or Basic Principles of Mindfulness Meditation by the Most Reverend Sayadaw of Saddhamaransi Yeiktha (Meditation Center) for those yogis who have come to practise Vipassana Meditation at Saddhammaransi Yeiktha (Meditation Center).
Those who have already started meditation would like to observe and attain a higher standard of concentration very quickly. To be able to acquire the highest goal quickly, you must listen and practise according to the 'PRACTICE EXERCISES OF MINDFULNESS MEDITATION'.
There are three kinds of PRACTICE EXERCISES OF MINDFULNESS MEDITATION". They are:
1. MEDITATING WHILE IN THE SITTING POSITION
Firstly meditating while in the SITTING POSITION, will be explained. Pick a quiet and peaceful place. Then choose the most comfortable posture which will enable you to meditate for quite some time.
You may sit on your knees bent under you or you may sit cross-legged but you must choose the position which will enable you to meditate for a long time. When you are satisfied with your sitting position, keep your back and head straight. Then close your eyes and focus your attention on your abdomen and breathing.
When you inhale or breathe in you must note carefully that the abdomen "RISES" as you inhale and thus "EXPANDS" it. In the same way when you exhale or breathe out the abdomen "CONTRACTS" or "FALLS" gradually.
Thus you will note the expansion and contraction of the abdomen when you breathe in and breathe out.
But you should not concentrate on the abdomen only but contemplate your mind on the process of breathing - how the air when inhaled effects some pressure that pushes up from the inside. You must try to feel and know or realize this pushing up of the air from the inside and not on the abdomen, because the abdomen is there for its namesake only (pannat). "VIPASSANA" is not for its namesake.
The pushing up of air from inside is paramat, the real thing that is happening" when you breathe in. You must note as carefully as you can that when you breathe out the air that was being pushed up or forced up now gradually or slowly falls back into place or recedes and the abdomen contracts.
Thus you must be mindful of these two movements that take place when you inhale (breathe in) and exhale (breathe out). You will realize that when you breathe in your abdomen rises gradually and thus you say to yourself, "RISING, RISING, RISING". Then when you exhale the extended abdomen falls back into place gradually and you say to yourself, - "FALLING, FALLING, FALLING."
At the same time that you are mindful of these two movements, you will concentrate more on the gradual force of air that makes the abdomen rise and the gradual contraction of the abdomen when you breathe out.
If you feel that these two points of mindfulness
"RISING and FALLING" are not effective, you may add another and say "RISING, RISING; FALLING, FALLING; TOUCHING, TOUCHING".
When you want to realize the touching part, you should not allow yourself to be carried away with the shape of the limbs or objects that are touching each other, but concentrate on the hardness of the touch and say, ; "TOUCHING, TOUCHING; RISING, RISING; FALLING, FALLING".
If you still cannot concentrate with these three movements, then you can add another and say, "RISING, RISING; FALLING, FALLING; SITTING, SITTING; TOUCHING, TOUCHING"
When you are sitting, you will realize the fact that the upper part of your body is erect and taut. You must not think of the shape of your head, body, hands or legs at all, but you must realize that your body is taut with the force of air that has pushed. you up into the sitting position and the hard feeling that you have when you are sitting, that is TOUCHING.
So now, you have four things to make a mental note of:- RISING, FALLING, SITTINGand TOUCHING, and when you do that, your mind will become calm. When your mind is calm and at peace, your concentration will become stronger and then "INSIGHT" will arise. If you think "RISING, FALLING, SITTING, TOUCHING" seems effective you may meditate concentrating on them. But if your mind is too anxious, you can suit yourself by choosing either way i.e. two or three or four things to make a mental note of.
A beginners's thoughts may wander here and there either to the pagoda, or monastery or to the market or to the house. When this occurs, you must make a note of your wandering thoughts and say to yourself, "WANDERING, WANDERING; IMAGINING, IMAGINING; PLANNING, .PLANNING"; and if your concentration is strong, your wandering thoughts will disappear within a short time if you observe it precisely, closely and well.
At first it may take some time to observe your wandering thoughts but later, with a determined mindfulness, they will disappear quickly. Not only will your wandering thoughts disappear, but also your mindfulness of those wandering thoughts will disappear too, because nothing is everlasting or permanent. And that is ANICCA. "TRANSIENT indeed are all component things". All component things arise but perish within a twinkling of an eye. It is obvious that they are all subject to ''birth and decay". This coming into being and then perishing or disappearing is nothing but DUKKHA - SUFFERING; and this suffering cannot be warded off in anyway or by anyone and you cannot do anything about it and that is ANATTA- UNCONTROLLABLE by any force or means. There and then you will come to realize the truth that all component things are TRANSIENT, all component things are objects of SUFFERING and all component things are UNCONTROLLABLE.
As you go on concentrating RISING, FALLING, SITTING, TOUCHING for about half an hour or forty-five minutes, you will notice that your limbs will start to ache, pain or become numb. When this occurs, you must try to realize such suffering by changing your concentration from RISING, FALLING, SITTING, TOUCHING onto the pain or by concentrating your mind on the pain.
There are three ways of MINDFULNESS MEDITATION as regards PAIN. The first is to concentrate on the pain so as to make the pain disappear.
The second is to make this pain go away in an aggressive manner.
The third is to contemplate and realize the truth about the pain you are suffering.
The first way is when your mind is concentrated in the pain to pass away with the intention of being relieved of the pain and to attain pleasure. That is done by greed, that is, being greedy for your pleasure. Mindfulness Meditation is not for pleasure but to stop the greed in you and if you cannot kill your greed (Lobha) you will not be able to realize its true nature. So you should not contemplate in this way.
The second way where you determine yourself to get rid of this suffering is not good either because there is anger in the determination. In other words determination is coloured with anger, and Mindfulness Meditation does not allow anger to creep in.
Then the third way is how you should concentrate your mind on the pain itself - how it has come about and what are its qualities.
When pain occurs, yogis would like to pull themselves together. You must let your body and mind relax. You must not be anxious and ask yourself, "Will I have to stay like this for the whole hour?" or "Will I have to go on suffering like this all the time?"
Pain or suffering will come as it will and your duty is to be mindful of that pain. You must keep a calm mind and be patient. You must have patience which is the main thing, because it is only with patience that you can reach NIBBANA. Patience is the most useful thing in Mindfulness Meditation, You must be calm both in mind and body and be relaxed. Don't be too taut. Keep your mind on the pain and think where you can pinpoint it and feel how painful it is - where is the pain most crucial - on the flesh? on the skin? or down to the veins, bones or marrow? You must concentrate very deeply on the particular part of your body where the pain occurs and say to yourself "PAINING, PAINING; ACHING, ACHING; and know exactly where they occur and how painful it is. Superficial Mindfulness Meditation is not allowed. If you are mindful of such pain, numbness and aches, you will notice that those pains and aches will become more severe and unbearable. Just as the pain occurs and becomes unbearable, so also will that pain lessen and subside naturally. But you should not lessen your concentration. You should earnestly and enthusiastically continue being mindful of then and say to yourself, "PAINING, PAINING; ACHING, ACHING; until they disappear one by one or until the painful areas change places.
When you become very energetic and enthusiastic in Mindfulness Meditation, INSIGHT will arise. As your concentration becomes stronger or advance, the pains and aches will disappear as soon as they appear. You will notice that the pain does not go on for long - neither does your MINDFULNESS MEDITATION, nor does the knowledge of the pain. All things are not everlasting or permanent - they are all impermanent or transient. Birth and decay are so quick and painful and protection from such transcience and pain is not possible. So we come to know that,
Pain is ANICCA - IMPERMANENT
Pain is DUKKHA - SUFFERING
Pain is ANATTA - UNCONTROLLABLE
While you are meditating you will hear sounds, see things and get the smell of things that are around you. You will hear especially the sounds of cocks, birds, hammering and beating sounds and of men and cars. When you hear such sounds you will make a mental note and say, "HEARING, HEARING" but your mind must not follow those sounds.
If your concentration power is strong these sounds that you are hearing will become indistinct and they will be carried far away or they may become loud and near or hoarse and not clear. In time you will come to realize that as you say to yourself "HEARING, HEARING", the sounds will disappear slowly - so will the knowledge or awareness of hearing and your MINDFULNESS MEDITATION of hearing.
The sounds you heard at first will vanish one by one or the syllables of a word you heard will not be connected with one another to make sense. For example, the word "gentleman" could become disconnected as ''gen. . .tle. . . man". Just as the sounds disappear, so will the awareness of hearing and the MINDFULNESS MEDITATION vanish naturally. That is ANICCA - not everlasting. It is impermanent.
The occurrence of sounds and their disappearance is so quick and obvious that it is DUKKHA or suffering. Then, as nothing can be done to ward off the occurrence and disappearance of sounds, it is ANATTA - uncontrollable.
There and then you will come to realize that sounds are not everlasting; the knowledge of Mindfulness Meditation is also impermanent and you can do nothing to stop them from happening or disappearing. That is the realization that you will experience from MINDFULNESS MEDITATION OF SOUNDS.
Mindfulness Meditation during the SITTING POSITION "RISING, FALLING, SITTING, TOUCHING" has to do with the body, so it is known as KAYANUPASSANA SATIPATTHANA. Being painful, numb and aching has to do with pain, so it is known as VEDANANUPASSANA SATIPATTHANA. "WANDERING, WANDERING, PLANNING, PLANNING, THINKING, THINKING;" has to do with the mind so it is known as CITTANUPASSANA SATIPATTHANA. "SEEING, SEEING, HEARING, HEARING, SMELLING, SMELLING;" has to do with the law of DHAMMA so it is known as DHAMMANUPASSANA SATIPATTHANA.
So we see that these four SATIPATTHANA are included when a yogi practises MINDFULNESS MEDITATION during the SITTING POSITION.
2. MEDITATING WHILE WALKING
There are four kinds of noting ''WALKING MEDITATION".
Each step is observed closely and carefully as one object of movement or as two objects of movement or as three objects of movement or as six objects of movement.
The first way is to make a note of the step as one object of movement and say to yourself [LEFT FOOT FORWARD, RIGHT FOOT FORWARD]; [LEFT FOOT FORWARD, RIGHT FOOT FOR WARD], keeping your mind close on the forward movement of the step and not on your foot. In other words your mind must not he attached to the shape of the foot. It is very important that it is the gradual moving forward of the foot which you must be interested in and not in the foot itself.
The second way is to observe your step as two objects of movement- [LIFTING, DROPPING]; [LIFTING, DROPPING]. In this case, you must be aware of the gradual upward lifting of your foot itself. You must detach yourself from the shape of your foot because it is there for its namesake (pannat) only. What you must realize is the awareness of the element of motion that is going up gradually into the air when you lift your foot. Knowing that it goes up and being aware of it is (paramat)- the real thing that is happening at the moment i.e. mental and bodily process- [LIFTING, DROPPING].
The third kind is when you are aware of the three objects of movement of your step. [LIFTING, PUSHING, DROPPING]; [LIFTING, PUSHING, DROPPING]. When you are lifting your foot you must attentively note the gradual upward movement of your foot. Then when you push your foot forward you must be aware of your foot moving forward slowly and then when you drop your foot you must be aware of your foot falling or dropping down lower and lower slowly.
All these three objects of movement must be keenly observed and watched very closely and attentively so that you know that when your foot is being lifted slowly inch by inch, you will realize that it gets lighter and lighter as you lift it. When you push your foot forward you will notice and observe the gradual forward movement. Then when you drop or put your foot down you will experience the heavy feeling that you have as your foot descends or gets lower and lower to the ground or floor. When you have this awareness in mind, you are beginning to have some sort of insight or penetrated knowledge.
Lightness is brought upon by TEJO, element of warmth and VAYO element of motion or movement. Heaviness is caused by PATHAVI, element of tough ness or hardness and APO, element of liquidity.
The knowledge or awareness of such mental and physical phenomena is the beginning of having penetrated knowledge of the intrinsic nature of mental and bodily process as it really is.
That is the third way of walking Mindfulness Meditation- [LIFTING, PUSHING, DROPPING].
Now the fourth way is when you observe one step as six objects of movement- [BEGINNING TO LIFT, LIFTING, BEGINNING TO PUSH, PUSHING; BE GINNING TO DROP, DROPPING].
When you begin to lift your foot the heel is lifted first. Only after that are the toes raised and lifted when you lift your leg.
When you begin to push your foot forward you must know that the movement of your foot is going forward and not backward. Then when you are about to drop your foot, your forward movement is checked a bit, later when you begin to put your foot down it drops downwards slowly and finally your foot touches the ground or floor and your foot is dropped. Another way of observing your step as six objects of movement is [INTENDING TO LIFT, LIFTING; INTENDING TO PUSH, PUSHING; INTENDING TO DROP, DROPPING].
Here again, you must realize and be mindful of both mental and physical phenomena.
There is still another way of noting the step as six objects of movement - [LIFTING; RAISING; PUSHING; DROPPING; TOUCHING; PRESSING].
When you are lifting, you must be aware of the heel lifting itself and say [LIFTING; LIFTING]. Then your toes will raise themselves upwards and you will realize it as [RAISING; RAISING]. Next you will push your foot forward and note [PUSHING; PUSHING]. After pushing your foot forward you will drop it and it is important that you must observe carefully your foot coming down slowly to the floor and note [DROPPING; DROPPING]. Then as it comes down you must know and feel the touching of the foot with the floor or ground and say [TOUCHING; TOUCHING]. Finally in order to lift the other foot you must press this foot and note [PRESSING; PRESSING].
This is the last of the realization of one step as six objects of movement
3. MEDITATING WHILE PERFORMING DAILY ACTIVITIES
Yogis will have to practise Mindfulness Meditation also in your DAILY ACTIVITIES during you daily routine.
It is not the time for sitting meditation nor walking meditation. During your daily routine, it is being mindful of the small daily tasks or activities that you do when you return to your hostel i.e. when you open and close the door, make your bed, fold the sheets, change clothes and wash them, arrange or prepare meals, eat, drink and perform other small activities. It isn't only these that you have to be aware of but you also have to note how you eat. When you see your lunch you say [SEEING, SEEING]. When you stretch your hand to eat you say [STRETCHING, STRETCHING]. When you touch it you say [TOUCHING, TOUCHING]. When you prepare your lunch you say [PREPARING, PREPARING]. When you take it you say [TAKING, TAKING]. When you bend your head you say [BENDING, BENDING]. When you open your mouth you say [OPENING, OPENING]. When you put your meal into your mouth you say [PUTTING, PUTTING]. When you raise your head you say [RAISING, RAISING]. When you chew you say [CHEWING, CHEWING]. When you know how it tastes like you say [KNOWING, KNOWING]. When you swallow you say [SWALLOWING, SWALLOWING]. This is what Mahasi Sayadaw himself practised and was mindful of when eating a mouthful of lunch. So you should all be mindful or aware of such movements closely, precisely and enthusiastically.
Those obedient and diligent yogis who wish to practise just a mouthful of lunch will not find it easy to be aware of all movements at the beginning. Sometimes they may forget some movements but you must not be discouraged if this so happens. Later when your knowledge or power of mindfulness becomes stronger and advanced, your penetrated knowledge will enable you to remember every movement.
When you begin practising your mindfulness on daily activities, you should be aware of the daily activity or movement which is the most prominent for you. For example if stretching your hand is the most distinctive activity, then you should say [STRETCHING, STRETCHING]. If bending your head is more prominent, say [BENDING, BENDING). If chewing is more prominent then note [CHEWING, CHEWING].
You must be mindful of only ONE prominent movement. If your mind which is focussed on that ONE distinctive movement becomes really concentrated then you can practise being mindful of the other movements one by one until your contemplation becomes deep and advanced and then later on you will gain insight.
Our benefactor Mahasi Sayadaw has said that CHEWING is the most outstanding and distinct movement.
It is only the lower jaw that is working when we say ''CHEWING". If you are aware of this lower jaw movement you will be able to contemplate on the CHEWING MOVEMENT easily and well.
I think Practice Exercise in Eating Lunch is now quite complete. SITTING, TOUCHING, BENDING, STRETCHING are minute details.
When the idea of wanting to sit becomes distinct you say [INTENDING TO SIT, INTENDING TO SIT]. Then you sit down and when you are in that SITTING POSITION, you say [SITTING, SITTING] and you sit. You must detach yourself from your head and hands and gradually and slowly you will lower yourself down to the floor and at the same time realizing the heaviness you feel when lowering yourself. to the floor and thus contemplating on your mental and bodily process.
Then when you want to stand up or get up you say [INTENDING TO STAND UP, INTENDING TO STAND UP]. Your mind which wants or desires to get up is forced by the element of motion VAYO which pushes you up and you say [FILLING UP MY ENERGY, FILLING UP MY ENERGY), [SUPPORTING MYSELF WITH MY HAND, SUPPORTING MYSELF WITH MY HAND]. When you feel that your energy is up to the mark you will gradually feel yourself moving upward slowly with your hands supporting you and you will find yourself standing and you say [STANDING, STANDING].
Words are for namesake (pannat) only. What you must realize or contemplate is the slow and gradual upward movement step by step. Watch it precisely, closely and well. You must know and observe closely and enthusiastically the slow gradual element of motion involved in the standing up position because this is the real thing (paramat) we want to contemplate.
When getting up, yogis themselves know they become light as they rise. When they sit down they feel somewhat heavy.
A yogi knows that when you stand you become light and when you sit you become heavy. Rising makes your body light and that is TEJO - VAYO; Sitting down makes you heavy and that is PATHAVI - APO.
When a yogi comes to realize the truth about nature i.e. mental and physical phenomena it is said that enlightenment about mental and bodily process is attained.
That which comes into being and that which decays cannot be seen clearly. But the truth that both mental and physical phenomena is not everlasting is true. Nothing at all is permanent.
The action or movement is impermanent; the knowledge of mindfulness is neither permanent nor is mental and physical phenomena.
Whatever arises is subject to disappearance or passing away and that is ANICCA. The arising and passing away or birth and decay of mental and physical phenomena is so quick and so troublesome that it is DUKKHA. How can we protect ourselves from this DUKKHA? We cannot protect ourselves from this DUKKHA nor can we stop it from arising or disappearing, so it is ANATTA.
If you come to know about ANICCA, DUKKHA and ANATTA, you are said to be thorough in SAMANNA LAKKHANA. And if you are THOROUGH or SKILLED in SAMANNA LAKKHANA, then you will attain the PENETRATED KNOWLEDGE or INSIGHT you wish to have or obtain.
Bending and stretching are small daily activities. Wanting to bend and noting attentively the gradual movement of the arm the lightness experienced when one raises the arm. When one wants to stretch again - the action of stretching appearing and the arm stretching slowly and slowly and becoming stretched and getting heavy and falling down heavily and gradually. All these natural physical phenomena will be experienced by the yogi himself or herself.
The BENDING or STRETCHING is not ever lasting. Neither is the mindfulness meditation of these actions or movements permanent.
All these cannot be warded off so it is uncontrollable.
So if you study and practise this MINDFULNESS MEDITATION earnestly and closely you will be able to acquire that precious "PENETRATED KNOWLEDGE" or "INSIGHT" about VIPASSANA MEDITATION. "May you all acquire that strange, noble and valuable insight you have been searching for".
As you have listened to the briefing on these three Basic Principles of Mindfulness Meditation, may you be able to practice accordingly and thereupon soon be able to acquire the extinction of greed, the extinction of anger, the extinction of delusion and thus attain NIBBANA which you have been searching for.
Sadhu - - Sadhu - - Sadhu.
Formula for radiating thoughts of metta (loving-kindness) at the SADDHAMMARANSI MEDITATION CENTRE
MAY ALL BEINGS IN THE TEN DIRECTIONS BE FREE FROM HARM;
MAY THEY BE FREE FROM MENTAL SUFFERING;
MAY THEY BE FREE FROM PHYSICAL SUFFERING; PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY AT EASE,
MAY THEY BE ABLE TO BEAR THE BURDEN OF LIFE.