Separatingout Ones Elements

It is quite normal for each one of us to be attached to his or her body, thinking of it as myself. Now we must examine it in terms of elements, separating all the hard parts out as earth element, the fluid parts as water element, the warm parts as the fire element, the airy parts as the wind element and the empty spaces as the space element. That which we adhered to as me and mine will then be seen as elements. Analyse your body and take out each element, one at a time. Take out all the hard...

The Foundations of Mindfulness Satipatthana

The Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipatthana Sutta) directly takes up and explains the training of the mind. In fact the Lord Buddha even said that it is the only way to transcend sorrow, to see the Dhamma that needs to be seen and to come to the end of suffering with the realization of Nibbana. This, therefore, includes the perfection both of calm and insight. However, one initially needs to know about the basis of practice, the kammatthana. This, as I have mentioned...

The Noble Truth of Suffering

The truth of nama-rupa is, conventionally speaking, one of birth as beginning, ageing as middle and death at the end. Consider the origin of the physical body and the mind joining it as the mental group to form this living body which all of us possess. This period of origination is known as birth (jati). There is then the process of change and development the body grows and matures through the various ages and reaches the present one, of old age (jara). This is a process which will continue...

Suffering Through Nonfulfilment of Ones Hopes and Desires

I will now present Dhamma on the Noble Truth of Suffering (Dukkha Sacca) in the section 'the non-fulfilment of one's wishes is suffering.' First of all, gather your mind together within yourself for this is where the Lord Buddha directed his teaching. Other people, following him, have similarly explained his teaching as pointing within. In listening to Dhamma you must therefore turn to see inside yourself. You will need to search out the five aggregates or the n ma-r pa. When one encounters...

Ordinary Suffering and Mindmade Suffering

I will now present some Dhamma which comes from the section on the Truth of Suffering (Dukkha-Sacca). May all of you focus and centre your minds on your own nama-rupa. This fathom-long and span-wide body sitting here now is the rupa or bodily group (rupa-kaya). Nama is the condition of the mind as it inclines-out to know sights and sounds (for example), which is called consciousness to feel pleasure, pain or intermediate feeling to perceive and to think and process, which is mental-formations....

Precepts and Moral Virtue STLa

Now the ground or foundation for the mind's support can be laid. This is moral virtue (slla) which is actually the natural (pakati) state of the mind undisturbed by the defilements. These defilements will incite and force the mind into intending (cetana) and setting into motion wrong actions through body and mind. Sometimes you may find yourself unable to maintain this natural state of mind because of business or work affairs, etc. However, once you enter the place of Dhamma practice, you must...

Feeling Vedana

Sitting here in practice you may experience some discomfort or pain. You may ache or feel stiff or you are being bitten by mosquitos, or else you may feel restless and fidgety. Even though you may have physical pain and mental pain, just be aware of whatever is painful. Bodily discomfort, mental discomfort why is there distress One can find the cause in the material or carnal things, the baited hooks or misa. Realize that these are the things which cause the various forms of suffering. If you...

Two Types of Samadhi

Briefly speaking, there are two types of concentration threshold or neighbourhood concentration (upacara samadhi) and absorption concentration (appana samadhi). The type of samadhi where the mind explores and examines brings one only to the threshold because the mind is not yet one-pointed, whereas the type that centres in one-point-edness as absorption samadhi is firm and unwavering. Concentrating on the in-and-out breathing, even the establishing of mindfulness on one specific part in the...

Concerning the Sense Bases yatana

The normal state of affairs is for the mind to be supported in the rupa aggregate, while for the mental aggregates (nama-khandha) to arise firstly requires consciousness, that knowing of the sense-experi-ence. The condition of contact together with consciousness then leads to the arising of feeling, perception and mental formations (or thinking). One thinks about something and the knowing about that is con sciousness. Then, in circular fashion, feeling (for example) arises. Therefore the...

Despair Upayasa

On some occasions one may encounter difficult and needy circumstances feeling stifled and oppressed which will preclude any happiness. Wherever one feels such oppression one will struggle to escape. Thus we have the saying, A confined body is bearable, but not a stifled mind.' All these forms of suffering sorrow, lamentation, bodily-pain, mental suffering and despair are each a condition of painful feeling (dukkha vedana) and arise when the mind inclines-out to see a form, or hear a sound (for...

Focussing and Setting the Mind

After understanding feeling as I have explained, now turn inwards to the mind itself. Look and note its condition, its state and disposition. As you focus there you will experience that the feeling shifts into the mind as well but only if you watch carefully. You will find that any bodily distress runs into the mind, while any mental distress is already directly concerned with the mind. This gives rise to dislike which is also known as hatred or aversion (dosa). However, I feel that this word...

The Four Fundamentals of Practice

You must have energy and determination (atapa) in your practice, and this includes conscientiousness. For example, you determine to practice for a specified time period and so must therefore fulfill that aim without any slackness or cutting short. Even though you may feel frustrated and want to give up, you must carry on to accomplish your objective. With such conscientiousness everything develops smoothly and well. Thus atapa is the first essential in the practice. The second principle is...

The Beginnings of Insight Vipassana

In developing insight it is first necessary to base the mind in samadhi. Otherwise wisdom will arise only with difficulty. One follows the methods of samadhi which the Lord Buddha laid down and which I have already explained, stage by stage. Once the mind is sufficiently concentrated, one turns to investigate within oneself. One examines this myself this one sitting here with such and such a name, as is commonly accepted by the world for each person. Search out 'what is this thing so designated...

Summarizing the Aggregate of Suffering

Will you all please collect your mind together and focus within yourself. Listen to this teaching and bring and examine it within so as to see Dhamma there. You won't realize Dhamma from just the outside sounds, for that would be just memorizing or an intellectual understanding, whereas understanding the truth in oneself is seeing Dhamma with wisdom. Therefore, now centre on yourself. Focus to see from the gross and blatant to the subtle and refined Be aware of your breathing. Everyone of us...

The Benefits of Samadhi

The unquiet, restless mind wastes time and effort with its lack of application and focus. We may wish to study a book but cannot concentrate due to disturbing and proliferating thoughts. However, a mind well trained (as described above) in calm and steadfastness allows us to apply ourselves. For example, we can apply ourselves to that book and can quickly digest and understand it, with a better recall as well. Thus the gains and benefits of the trained, stabilized mind manifest not only in a...

Counting and Buddho

In the beginning of the practice, trying to use only the Pali (textual) instructions may be too difficult to accomplish. Therefore additional devices to engage and hold the mind have been offered. For instance, there is (mental-) counting of the breaths. This can first be done in a slow pattern by counting each succeeding in and out breath as follows Inhale (count) one exhale (count) one Inhale (count) two exhale (count) two Inhale (count) three exhale (count) three Inhale (count) four exhale...

Explaining the Five Aggregates

In this practice of calm and insight, the way of insight begins with an investigation into the five aggregates (panca-khandha). I will recapitulate these for you. Please centre your mind, looking inwards to see these five aggregates in yourself. Focus so as to know about the rupa aggregate or group, which are the great-entities and primary qualities of matter (maha-bhuta-rupa). The hard portion being the earth element, the fluid portion being the water element, the heating portion being the...

Mental Objects dhamma

Examining the mind to a deeper level, one finds that it is always involved and concerned with various affairs, some of these being good, some bad, and some in between. These follow the principle of the Pali Kusala dhamma all mind objects which are wholesome. Akusala dhamma all mind objects which are unwholesome. Abyakata dhamma all mind objects which are indeterminate or neutral. So we can now say that this, these, this and these are together what makes up myself, and right here is where the...

Reflection on a Corpse

Previously, I have been referring to the scrutiny of the living body, but the lifeless body or corpse can also be examined. Compare this body with the corpse abandoned in the cemetery for one, two or three days bloated and festering until only mouldering bones remain. One's contemplation of this will give rise to a weariness, a disenchantment and then bring calm to the mind. With practice one then becomes accustomed to corpses and unafraid of them. This is another method which uses reflection...

For Attainment Concentration Appana Samadhi

At this level of practice one depends on applied and sustained thought or reflection. However, reflection here means applying the mind to the samadhi object to the (long or short) in-and-out breaths for instance. This applied-thought can be compared to the first striking of a bell, whereas sustained-thought is the following reverberation. This sustained-thought is the supporting of the mind close to the object of samadhi without allowing it to fall away. In practice though, the mind often tends...

Suffering because of Association and Separation

Firstly, will you all please centre your mind within yourself. Focus into nama-rupa rupa being this living body with its various functioning senses, while nama is the condition of the mind which also depends on rupa as it inclines out to know sights and sounds (etc.). See the birth of this nama-rupa, its end or death and in between its constant changing which is ageing. See this whole sequence in the present moment and the inevitable condition (dhammata) of nama-rupa will manifest. This is the...

Summarizing the Stages of Practice

This Dhamma Teaching is a training aid in the cultivation of the mind. It is directly concerned with you and therefore in listening to what the Lord Buddha taught, you must aim to bring it into yourself and focus on it there. When you can see the truth in yourself, then you will also be able to see Dhamma. The practice is aimed both at calming the mind and at attaining to clear knowledge and true insight. I have been explaining this practice of calm stage by stage, but have yet to start on the...

Concentrating on a Single Object

I have already explained about stabilizing the mind by way of calm using various techniques mindfulness of breathing, mindfulness of the body and examination of the elements. The choice rests with the practitioner. When one decides to establish the wandering mind in one-pointedness, mindfulness of breathing can be used. Should the mind wish to go roaming, let it explore the body or elements. However, mindfulness should focus and remain with each object until it is clearly discerned. For...

The Truth of the Path Magga

Today we have reached the topic of the Eightfold Path (Magga) and I will therefore take the factors one at a time so you can see them in and for yourself. The Path has eight factors The first factor is right view (samma-ditthi). This is the understanding of suffering, of the origination of suffering, of the extinction of suffering and of the path leading to the extinction of suffering. See this suffering in your own self whenever you encounter it. Understand it then. Realize that these five...

Ordinary Suffering

After clearly seeing the nama-rupa within you, think back into the past to its conception in the very beginning, which is called birth (jati). This is termed 'knowing the past'. There is then the continuing process of growth and change. That development and change up until now is called 'the past part' while that which is currently taking place is called 'the present part'. Future change will carry on until finally this nama-rupa breaks up and disperses. This continuing change is ageing (jara)...

Stillness and Peace or Thinking

The examination of the bodily parts and elements does not bring one-pointedness of mind because it requires an active analysis and investigation. In mindfulness of breathing however, the aim is for one-pointedness, so one does not use investigation. Use whichever method seems most appropriate to you at the time. Sometimes your mind might be content with stillness and at other times it will want to think. When your mind tends to stillness, use mindfulness of breathing. However, if it likes to go...

Endnotes

The Five Precepts (Pahca Sila) are 1) I undertake the training to abstain from the killing of any living being. 2) I undertake the training to abstain from stealing. 3) I undertake the training to abstain from wrong sexual behaviour. 4) I undertake the training to abstain from lying and wrong speech. 5) I undertake the training to abstain from the use of intoxicants (alcohol and drugs etc.). 2. These six external objects and their corresponding sense organs are referred to throughout these...

Body Kaya

Turning one's attention back to oneself, looking from the outside in, one first comes across this body. One notices that, whether awake or asleep, a basic and essential function is breathing. There must also be one or another of such bodily postures as walking, standing, sitting or lying down. There are then the secondary positions such as, when walking, one bends the arms and legs or one turns and glances around. Even as you are sitting here now there is always a certain natural way for...

The Refuges Sarana

Just as the earth receives and supports our footsteps, so it is necessary, right from the beginning in developing these work places, to have a shelter and solid foundation for the mind. The mind's true refuge is the Triple Gem (Ti-Ratana) the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. One must first determine the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha as one's true refuge, and recollect and contemplate their special virtues and qualities. Thus, the Lord Buddha is truly the Awakened One the Dhamma is truly the Way...

On Impurities Patikkula

This section (Patikkula-pabba) deals with the impure or unclean aspect of the body. One examines the body from the soles of the feet below, upwards to the crown of the head. It is surrounded and encased in skin and full of various foul and repulsive impurities. hair of the head (kesa), hair of the body (loma), nails (nakha), teeth (danta), skin (taco), flesh (marhsam), sinews (naharu), bones (atthi), bone-marrow (atthiminjarn), kidneys (vakkarh), heart Qiadayam), liver (yakanam), diaphragm or...

The First Section Concerning the Aggregates

The Lord Buddha taught at this stage to separate out the corporeal aggregate. This comprises the whole of the body made up from the elements of earth, water, fire, wind and space together with the sensory apparatus. These can be put aside and called the physical or rupa aggregate (rupa khandha). We can now go on to inspecting the aggregate of feeling. There are painful or pleasant or intermediate (neither-painful-nor-pleasant) feelings. For example, bodily and mental feelings of contentment,...

With the Truth of the Path

Please will you now centre your mind within yourself. Focus on the mind with its mental-object. This means seeing the mind as it thinks about its present thought, concern or preoccupation. Is your mind calm or not Whilst listening to this Dhamma talk, this means seeing the mind as it is thinking upon that Dhamma which is being heard. The object is now the Dhamma subject that is being heard and thought about. The Discourse explains that suffering originates because of craving, and that craving...

Characteristics of the Mind

I would like to explain a little more about the nature of the mind how difficult it is to tame and control with its habitual jumping and racing about. Even with mindfulness fixed on a single object, it will continually buck and pull away. Where does the mind jump to It strug gles around among mental objects, following after desires, wishes, attractions and the obstacles (palibodha) which are worries and anxieties. These external involvements are those concerns which we think and conceive about....

Review of the Basic Practice

Samatha kammatthana is the place of work to bring calmness and stability to the mind. Vipassana kammatthana is where insight into the truth arises in the mind. One begins practice by taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha because one is following the Lord Buddha's Dhamma rather than any other way. Faith (saddha) and confidence (pasada) in the Buddha He who has opened up the Way for our practice to follow is the going for refuge. You should determine to keep at least the Five Precepts....

Methods of Separating the Elements

One can examine the elements following the Lord Buddha's Way (as above) or one might use a modern scientific analysis reducing eve rything to molecules and atoms. After removing each of the elements, one finally finds that of all that which one had been attached to and thought of as me and mine, the only thing remaining is the space element. Just empty space with no me and mine or self. This analysis of elements is one strategy to use in curbing attachment to this body which manifests as me and...

Inspecting the House

My explanation of the investigation of the body requires the mind to make an inspection tour. This is much like moving to a new house which also needs an initial inspection. One tours the whole house to check out where everything is. However, this does not mean one must always be on the move, continually inspecting as if one did not need to rest. When one really needs to rest, to sit or lie down, then one must stop in one place. The complete inspection of the house finished allows one to...

Posture

Following on from the section on breathing is the section on posture (iriyapatha-pabba). Here the Lord Buddha teaches the use of clear- comprehension. When walking, one is aware of one's walking when standing, one is aware of one's standing, and likewise with sitting or lying down. When changing position, be aware of that movement. Aim to keep up this clear-comprehension and awareness. On close examination one finds intention (cetana) present before any position is taken up, or even before one...

The Elements Dhatukammatthana

Another method is the examination of the elements. 'Element' (dhatu) here refers to having similar characteristics rather than to coming from the same root. Thus those body parts that are hard are referred to as the earth element (pathavl-dhatu) those parts that are fluid are referred to as the water element (apo-dhatu) those that are warming are the fire element (tejo-dhatu) and those that are in motion, the wind element (vayo-dhatu). We previously analysed the body into thirty-one or...