If the practice of Lord Buddha's vipassanā dhamma spreads all over the world, many people will become free from craving, hatred, ignorance, conceit and other defilements and so there will be universal peace and harmony among mankind. Motivated by this hope and conviction, the members of Buddhasāsananuggaha Association headed by Thadothirithudhamma Sir U Thwin invited the Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw, the pre-eminent teacher of vipassanā meditation to Sāsana Yeiktha in Yangon in 1949 just after Myanmar's attainment of independence.
Since then the Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw has been residing at Sāsana Yeiktha and teaching the Satipaṭṭhāna vipassanā practice to both monks and lay yogīs who come from all over Myanmar. With implicit faith in the Ven. Sayādaw's spiritual virtues and wisdom many bhikkhus and lay disciples practised vipassanā correctly under his guidance and returned to their native places where they became instructors in the Mahāsī technique of vipassanā meditation. So according to the report read on the recent anniversary of the Mahāsī pūjā and admonition day, there are now 321 meditation centers in all parts of Myanmar and over eight hundred thousand yogīs who have practised vipassanā meditation.
Since 1952 the Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw has occasionally gone abroad for the propagation of the Buddha-dhamma and there are now Mahāsī Satipaṭṭ¬āna meditation centers in Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, Indonesia and other Asian countries. Some foreigners too have visited Sāsana Yeiktha and practised vipassanā under the guidance of the Ven. Sayādaw. Among them the German bhikkhu Ñāṇaponika and Rear-Admiral Shattock practised to their entire satisfaction and after their return to their countries they wrote books describing their spiritual experience and attainment of inner peace at Sāsana Yeiktha.
The Mahāsī way of meditational practice has now become well known all over the world. Many people of various nationalities have come to Myanmar, practised vipassanā at Sāsana Yeiktha and some foreigners have even become bhikkhus and nuns. The Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw's missionary work has made much progress since 1970. His books which are now over eighty in number have been published and distributed by the Buddhasāsananuggaha Association and some books have now come out in English translations.
At the invitation of Dr. U Revatadhamma (London), Mr. Joseph Goldstein and Mr. Jack Kornfield (America) and others, the Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw and some disciples left Myanmar on world missionary tour. He spent altogether 118 days abroad, visiting nine countries, viz., Thailand, Japan, U.S.A., England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Holland and Germany.
The Ven. Sayādaw prepared the following five talks for foreigners before he went abroad on missionary tour.
(1) The Noble Teaching of the Buddha
(2) The Teaching of the Buddha-sāsanā
(3) Satipaṭṭ¬āna Insight Meditation(1)
(4) Satipaṭṭ¬āna Insight Meditation (2)
(5) The Way to Happiness
There are English translations of these talks. The Ven. Sayādaw read them in English in all the countries he visited.
The Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw went to England on 29-5-80 for the second time at the invitation of Dr. U Revatadhamma, U Myat Saw and others. The Ven. Sayādaw formally opened the Mahāsī Meditation Center at U Myat Saw's residence in Oaken Holt, Oxford and gave instructions for long-term vipassanā practice. He returned to Yangon on 23-7-80 after spending 56 days in England.
Now the lay yogīs of Nepal where the birthplace of Lord Buddha lies have invited the Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw to visit their country for the dissemination of the Dhamma.
In 1960 the Nepalese nun Daw Sudhammavatī came to Myanmar and practised vipassanā at Sāsana Yeiktha. When she was back in Nepal she and a Myanmar nun Daw Gunavatī started Theravāda Buddhist missionary work and gave instructions in Satipaṭṭ¬āna vipassanā as taught by the Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw. Moreover bhikkhu Sumaṅgala, bhikkhu Ñāṇaponika and other Nepalese bhikkhus came to Myanmar and practised vipassanā under the guidance of the Ven. Sayādaw. Therefore Mahāsī vipassanā practice is now fairly well established at the capital Kathmandu, Lumbini and other place in Nepal.
The Nepalese bhikkhus and lay devotees have often come to Myanmar on pilgrimage and practised vipassanā at Sāsana Yeiktha. The largest group was led by the nun Daw Sudhammavatī and including a bhikkhu. They practised vipassanā at Sāsana Yeiktha for a month. They told the Buddha Sāsananuggaha Association that they would like to invite the Ven. Sayādaw to Nepal in summer. Moreover, the President of the Lumbini Development while on a visit to Yangon requested the Ven. Sayādaw for the favour of visiting Nepal on the occasion of the foundation-stone laying at Lumbini.
The Ven, Mahāsī Sayādaw has kindly accepted the invitation of the Nepalese Buddhists and the following are the talks prepared by him for the people of Nepal.
(1) The Teaching of the Buddha
(2) The Method of the Buddha's practice of Meditation
(3) The Four Noble Truths
These talks were translated into English by U Nyi Nyi, E.C. member of Buddha-sāsananuggaha Association and bhikkhu U Agga Dhamma. The talks will be translated into Nepalese and published in Nepal by the Nepalese bhikkhu Ñāṇaponika who is doing missionary work in England.
In response to the wishes of the Nepalese Buddhists the Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw will open a meditation center in Nepal and teach vipassanā practice for about twenty days.
May the light of the Buddha's vipassanā meditation spread all over the world!
Maṅgalā Aung Myint
(1) The Teaching of the Buddha
'Buddho loke samuppanno hitāya sabbapāninaº'
(Sutta-Nipāta AṬṬ²akathā, II, 293)
The Buddha appeared on Earth for the advancement of the welfare of all humans, devas (celestial beings or shining ones) and brahmās (the pure or chaste ones).
It is rare for a Buddha to appear on Earth.
There are more kappas (world cycles) in which Buddhas do not appear than kappas in which they appear. Among the kappas in which Buddhas appear, there are those in which only one Buddha appears and those in which two, three or four Buddhas appear. The present kappa is one in which a maximum of five Buddhas appear. Of these five Buddhas, the Buddha Arimetteyya will appear only after the lapse of millions of years after the disappearance of the present (Gotama) Buddha's sāsanā (dispensation). The dispensations of the Buddhas, who had formerly appeared on Earth, also disappeared from the world after hundreds of thousands or tens of hundreds of thousands of years after their entry into Parinibbāna (final release from the round of birth and death). The periods of time in which the Buddhas' dispensations lasted are few and far between. According to the commentaries the present sāsanā of Gotama Buddha will last only for five thousand years before its disappearance from the world. It is now already 2524 years after the Buddha's entry into Nibbāna. Even now the number of people in the world who respect and accept the true dispensation (teaching) of the Buddha has already dwindled. The disappearance of this sāssanā in another 2,5000 years is already approaching.
Gotama Buddha appeared on Earth 2,569 years ago. Previously to that, for many millions of years, nobody had a chance to listen to the true teaching of the Buddha, to know it and to practise it. People of those time were generally lacking in good kamma (meritorious deeds) and very few of them attained good, noble and happy abodes of existence.
Listening to and Practising of the Dhamma
With the appearance of the Buddha on Earth, the true Dhamma (Law or Teaching) was preached. Listening to this teaching, many people in the Buddha's time practised it and performed meritorious deeds like dāna (charity) and sīla (morality), prospered and were reborn in the deva-world. Millions also became Arahats and attained Nibbāna. Possibly most of those who prospered thus in good and noble realms of existence or attained Nibbāna were from countries like Nepal and India, the reason being the Bodhisatta prince Siddhattha himself was born in Nepal and practised the true Dhamma and attained Buddhahood in India. Living in Nepal and India for a long time, he preached the true Dhamma. The people in Nepal and India listened to the Buddha's teaching and generally practised it. It was thus that the people in the Buddha's time reached deva-world and prospered or attained Nibbāna and we released from all suffering.
The Dhamma should also be practised now
Even today those who are in a position to listen to the true teaching of the Buddha must consider themselves very fortunate. For that reason they should reverently follow and practise this true Dhamma. The people living in Nepal and India where the true dhamma originated should particularly reverence it. Now, what are these true teaching?
The Buddha's True Teaching
'Sabba pāpassa akaranaṃ, kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacitta pariyodāpanaṃ, etaṃ Buddhāna sāsanaṃ.'
(Dīgha Nikāya, Mahāvagga 42)
(1) Abstain from all evil (unwholesome deeds)
(2) Do all good deeds
(3) Make your mind pure
These three admonitions are the essence of the teaching of the Buddhas.
Bodily Acts (Kāya-kamma)
Evil deeds mean (1) killing and ill-treating of others; (2) unlawfully taking others' belongings by theft or robbery; (3) sexual misconduct. These three are the evil (unwholesome) deeds that should always be avoided.
Verbal Acts (vacī-kamma)
Next, (1) speaking lies to the detriment of another, (2) sowing discord between friendly persons by means of tale-bearing, (3) using harsh and abusive language, (4) speaking of untruths as if they were truths (this concerns the teaching of heretical doctrines). These four kinds of speech are unwholesome verbal acts that should always be avoided.
Unwholesome Livelihood (Micchā-jīva)
Acting or speaking with a view to unlawful gain (acquisition of property) constitutes unwholesome livelihood which should always be avoided.
Respectful observance of the five moral precepts is tantamount to obeying the Buddha's injunction to abstain from all evil deeds and to live the good (holy) life.
Wholesome Acts (Kusala Kamma)
Briefly, kusala (wholesome) acts consist of Dāna (Charity), Sīla (Virtue or Morality) and Bhāvanā (Development of the mind by way of Concentration and Meditation). Of these, Dāna (Charity or Alms-giving) is appreciated by almost every Buddhist. Buddhists are dispensing charity as much as they can earn praise thereby as well as freedom from censure. The recipients of their charity come to respect and like them and to help them as best they can. They will be reborn in the good and noble abodes of existence and prosper there in every respect.
Moral Wholesomeness (Sīla Kusala)
By Sila is meant taking refuge in the three gems of the Buddhist faith (the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha) and observance of such moral rules of conduct as the Five and the Eight Precepts. Buddhists declare their faith in and reliance on the Three Refuges and observe the five and other Precepts. As a result, they are safeguarded against future rebirth in the lower worlds of hell and as animals, hungry ghosts and asurakāyas (titans). Instead they are reborn in the noble human and deva realms where they go on prospering.
(Merit through Mind-Culture or Training)
The Buddhist's mind training or culture is of two kinds: Saṃatha (Tranquility) Concentration and Vipassanā (Insight) Meditation. There is also a third kind of Bhāvanā which is known as Ariya Magga Bhāvanā (Mind training leading to the supramundeane path). Saṃatha Bhāvanā includes ten kinds of kasina (concentration device), ten kinds of asubha (impurity) and ten kinds of anussati (contemplation) and ten others, making a total of forty altogether.
Among these kinds of Bhāvanā, buddhānussati means contemplation and veneration of the Buddha's virtues such as the virtue of arahan (worthiness of reverence by humans, devas and brahmās). How is this bhāvanā practised? By contemplating that as the Buddha was imbued with the lofty and elevated virtues of Sīla, Saṃādhi and Paññā, reverencing him would bring rebirth in the good and noble realms of existence and well being therein. Also by contemplating that the Buddha is worthy of such reverence and veneration by his possession of arahan virtue. Another virtue possessed by the Buddha (that of being a supremely Enlightened Buddha) is his unaided realization of the Four Noble Truths. This virtue also entitles the Buddha to special veneration.
Because of his unaided omniscience and teaching what he knew to all beings with a view to their liberation from Saṃsāric suffering, he was also endowed with the virtue of Buddhahood. This fact should also be contemplated. Buddhānussati bhāvanā may also be practised by thinking of the Buddha's other virtues. For Buddhists, every time they respect and venerate the Buddha, they are practising Buddhānussati.
Next, the Buddha's teachings are the result of his own practice and experience which he faithfully transmitted (to his disciples). If they are reverently and rightly practised, they can lead to extraordinary insights. Every time one reflects on the extraordinary virtues of the Buddha's teaching and reposes one's trust in them, one is cultivating wholesome act of kamma (deed, doing) in the form of Dhammānussati.
Next, respectfully contemplating the good and noble virtues well practise by the disciples of the Buddha is tantamount to cultivating Sanghā-nussati bhāvana.
Cultivation of Metta (Loving kindness)
In the same way as one desire to be free from suffering and to be at ease, all others want to be the same. Cultivating mettā bhāvanā is wishing from the heart happiness to particular individuals or the generality of individuals inclusive of humans and devas.
Cultivating as much as possible such bhāvanās as Buddhānussati and Mettā Bhāvanā amounts to acting in conformity with the Buddha's exhortation to lay by merit.
Vipassanā Kusala (Gaining merit by Meditation)
Vipassanā Kusala means gaining of merit by constantly meditating on the impermanent, unsatisfactory and impersonal nature of the psycho-physical phenomena of one's own person as well as of other people's persons: This kind of meditation accords with the Buddha's own practice directed toward realization of transient (arising and passing away) nature of the body-mind complex that is called upādānakkhandhā (the aggregates that are the object of clinging). The development and maturing of this kusala (merit) will be explained in a later talk.
When this merit ripens, there arises ariyaṃ maggabhāvanā kusala (merit) which enables realization and experience of Nibbāna. This will also be explained later on.
Purifying the Heart
As for the exhortation 'One should purify one's mind; after the realization of Nibbāna through the four Ariya Maggas (the four stages of the Noble Paths), the Buddha enjoined the cultivation of the four Ariya Phalas (the four Noble fruitions). How the mind is purified after the arising of four Ariya Phala Cittas (Noble fruition Consciousness) will also be explained later.
Practice leading to Happiness
What I have said about is a summary of how the Buddha's teaching should be reverently practised. By such practice, one can obtain the happiness that one seeks. This is how the noble planes of human and deva existence may be reached with attendant great happiness and Nibbāna attained with the ending of suffering and with lasting happiness. It will also conduce to the long endurance of the Buddha's sāsanā (dispensation) and to the happiness of those around one similar to one owns happiness.
May you, therefore, be able to practise as stated above and attain the happiness that you seek and as often as fully as you desire, and speedily reach the bliss of Nibbāna.
Practising vipassanā for Three Minutes
I have not spoken much of how vipassanā should be practised. But beginning from today, I will briefly describe its method so that you may begin to practise it.
Vipassanā is the noticing of the arising and passing away of our psychophysical phenomena so that we may come to know them as they really are. Every time we see, hear, touch or know, these phenomena are constantly appearing and disappearing. It is important that we notice them and be aware of them every such time. But in the beginning, it will not be possible to notice all that we see, hear, touch or know. We should, therefore, begin with noticing the few that we can. Every time we breathe in and out, the rising and falling of our abdomen become apparent. This is (the manifestation of) the element of motion called vāyo dhātu. We should being by noticing this. Let us do so for three minutes after assuming a proper sitting posture.
As there is no need to see, the eyes should be closed. Fix your mind on the abdomen. When the abdomen rises, note as 'sing'. When is falls, note as 'falling' It is not necessary to say 'rising' and 'falling' verbally. Only do the noticing mentally, with mental awareness.
If the mind wanders elsewhere while doing so, notice the wandering of the mind. Then go back to noticing the rising and falling of the abdomen. If bodily fatigue or discomfort intervenes, notice it two or three times and then go back to noticing the rising and falling movements. If a sound is heard, note it about twice and then go back to noticing the rising and falling movements of the abdomen. Well, go on noticing thus for about three brief minutes.
The three minutes are now over. Within a minute, we get about 50 or 60 acts of noting. In three minutes, we can get no less than 150 acts of noting. All these acts of noting are cultivation of Vipassanā Kusala in accordance with the Buddha's teaching. As Samādhi (concentrative power) strengthens while going on noting thus, we can come to know mind and matter distinctly and the causal relationship between them. We come to see for ourselves their constant arising and passing away, that is, their anicca (impermanent) characteristic. In the process, we develop progressive vipassanā insights, eventually experiencing Nibbāna with Magga and Phala Ñāṇas (knowledge of the Path and its fruition).
May you, therefore, practise vipassanā meditation with as much vigour as you can and quickly attain Nibbāna.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
(2) The Method of the Buddha's Practice of meditation
The sermon in the Buddha's own words
Buddho so bhagavā bodhāya dhammaṃ deseti
(Extract from Pāthika Vagga, Dīgha-Nikāya)
After practising and realizing the true Dhamma, the Buddha preached it to the people so that they may like himself practise and realize the Dhamma as much as they can.
The Buddha's Dhamma is not mere speculation or theoretical. He practised it himself and on realizing it to be the Truth them preached it. So every being who is capable of thinking should practise it devotedly and seriously.
How did the Buddha practise and teach it? Before his attainment to full Enlightenment, the Bodhisatta (Buddha to be) by his sublime knowledge came to know that all beings including himself were reborn again and again due to commission of deeds with attachment. The Bodhisatta by his divine eye saw that beings after death were reborn in accordance with their deeds. Every time one sees, hears, touches and cognizes there arises desire and attachment on the physical and mental phenomena, On account of this desire and attachment there is rebirth and due to rebirth one has to undergo the suffering of old age, disease, death etc. again and again. Whenever one sees, hears, touches and cognizes, if one can take notice of their nature of arising and passing away, no desire and attachment will arise and consequently there will be no rebirth, old age, disease, death etc. Thus there is the extinction of this whole mass of suffering. The Bodhisatta, on having realized thus, continuously meditated on the nature of the arising and passing away of the five groups of grasping. How he finally gained full Enlightenment is described as follows.
The correct method of Insight Meditation
Bodhisatto aparena samayena pañcasu upādānak-khandhesu udayabbaya nupassi vihasi .... tassa pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu udayabbaya nupassino viharato na cirasseva anupādāya āsavehi cittaṃ vimucci.
(Dīgha-Nikāya Mahāvagga 30)
The Boddhisatta, after reflecting on how the suffering arose and ceased, meditated on the arising and passing away of physical and mental phenomena.+ While thus meditating before long his mind became completely detached and he gained deliverance from all defilements (attained Arahatta Path and Fruition Knowledge and became a Buddha.)
This extract from the Pāḷi Text shows how Buddha from Buddha Vipassi to Buddha Gotama practised to become a Buddha. All Buddhas prior to Buddha Vipassi also practised the same method and became Buddhas.
In this practice one has to take notice of the true nature of the arising and passing away of physical and mental phenomena taking place in one's own body at the time of their occurrence. If no noticing is made at the time of their occurrence, one is likely to mistake them as permanent, happiness and ego-entity. Because no noting was made at the moment of seeing, hearing, smelling and touching and thinking, they were not correctly seen and were mistaken to be happiness and ego and thus clinging to them arose. This clinging in Pāḷi is called Upādāna. The physical and mental phenomena which are subject to clinging are called Upādānakkhandhās in Pāḷi.
Because no proper noticing was made of these physical and mental phenomena at the moment of their occurrence, clinging arises and deeds bad and good are committed. In every existence at the time of the approaching death, the deed (Kamma), and symbol of the deed (Kamma-nimitta) or an indication of one's next birth (Gati-nimitta) becomes an object of his consciousness which influences his next birth. On account of rebirth one has to suffer old age, disease, death, etc. On proper reflection one will find them to be very frightening indeed.
So for the extinction of attachment and clinging, for the cessation of the five groups of grasping (Upādānakkhandhās) and thus to escape from all suffering the Bodhisatta meditated on the arising and passing away of physical and mental phenomena at the time of their occurrence. While thus meditating extraordinary insight knowledge developed in him and after attaining the Arahatta Path and Fruition Knowledge he became a fully Enlightened One (Buddha).
After becoming a fully Enlightened One, the Buddha preached the Dhammacakkappavattana sutta (The first sermon) so that beings may practise meditation on the arising and passing away of the Five Groups of Grasping (Upādānakkhandhās) and after developing the extraordinary Insight knowledge realize Nibbāna through the Path and Fruition Knowledge and thus gain deliverance from all suffering, like himself.
In the Dhammacakkappavattana sutta, it is mentioned that the Middle Way found out by the Buddha causes the Eye of Wisdom and Knowledge to arise. Here the Eye of Wisdom and Knowledge means Insight Knowledge, and Path and Fruition Knowledge. It also clarifies that the Middle Way means the Eightfold Noble Path. The correct awareness of seeing, hearing etc. is also the Eightfold Nobel Path.
The development of the Eightfold Noble path
If the development of the Eightfold Noble Path is to be explained in brief, the effort to take notice of seeing, hearing etc. is Right Effort (Sammā Vāyāma). The awareness of seeing, hearing etc. is Right Mindfulness (Sammā Sati). The continuous keeping of mind on the object of meditation if Right Concentration (Sammā Samādhi). These three belong to the section 'Concentration' and are called Samādhi Maggaṅgas.
As and when this concentration becomes stronger Insight Knowledge develops as follows. As mentioned in the Satipaṭṭhāna sutta whenever one is mindful of walking, standing, sitting, lying, moving, touching, rising, falling, etc. one can discriminate movement etc., as physical phenomena and awareness of them as mental phenomena, thus distinguishing between mind and matter. This is the knowledge distinguishing between Mind and Matter (Nāmarūpa pariccheda Ñāṇa). This knowledge arises at the beginning of good concentration.
Then one comes to know that because of intention to move, movement arises; because of intention to sit, sitting arises; because of in-breath, there is the rising of the abdomen; because of out breath, there is the falling of the abdomen; because there is object to touch, touching sensation arises; because there is something to take notice of, noting arises; because there is the will to take notice, noticing takes place. This is understanding the relationship between cause and effect. It is the second Insight knowledge called 'The knowledge distinguishing between Cause and Effect' (Paccaya Pariggaha Ñāṇa.)
When concentration becomes stronger in every act of noting, instantaneous arising and passing away of both the object noticed and the awareness of it becomes evident. One seeing thus by direct knowledge there arises the reflection, 'Things are neither permanent nor pleasurable but suffering. Life is simply phenomena and there is no ego or personal entity.' This reflection arises from personal experiences. It is the knowledge of comprehension' (Sammāsana Ñāṇa). It is also Vipassanā Sammādiṭṭ¬i Maggaṅga (Mundane Right Understanding).
After that there arises the knowledge in which instantaneous arising and passing away of whatever object noticed is evident in every act of noting. It is The Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away (Udayabbaya Ñāṇa). When this knowledge arises bright, lights are seen even in the darkness. The body seems to be very light and both the body and mind are at ease. Noticing becomes good and pleasant feeling arises. This is also Vipassanā Sammādiṭṭ¬i Maggaṅga.
Then there arises a knowledge in which only instantaneous dissolution of objects noticed is evident, in every act of noting. It is the extraordinary insight knowledge known as 'The Knowledge of Dissolution' (Bhaṅga Ñāṇa). This also is Vipassanā Sammādiṭṭ¬i Maggaṅga.
Then there follow the knowledge's in which in every act of noting, the objects noticed are seen as fearful, miserable and disgusting. They are the Knowledge of Fearfulness (Bhaya Ñāṇa) the Knowledge of Misery (Ādīnava Ñāṇa) and the Knowledge of Disgust (Nibbidā Ñāṇa). They are also Vipassanā Sammādiṭṭ¬i Maggaṅgas.
Then a distinctive knowledge arises where bodily and mental processes (Saṅkhāra) are perceived without much effort and with equanimity. It is the Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations (Saṅkhārupekkhā Ñāṇa). This also is Vipassanā Sammādiṭṭ¬i Maggaṅga.
From the Knowledge of distinguishing between Mind and Matter up to the Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations the will, which inclined the mind onto the object of meditation so as to develop (mundane) right understanding is mundane Right Thought (Vipassanā Sammāsaṅkappa Maggaṅga) which arises in every act of noting. The mundane Right Understanding and Right Thought belong to the section 'Wisdom' (Paññā Maggaṅga).
The development of the insight knowledge's up to the Saṅkhārupekkhā Ñāṇa are based on the three Samādhi Maggaṅgas and two Paññā Maggaṅgas. This is in conformity with the preaching in the Dhammacakkappavattana sutta which says that the Middle Way causes the Eye of Wisdom to arise.
Right Speech (Sammā Vācā), Right Action (Sammā Kammanta) and Right Livelihood (Sammā Ājīva). belong to the section 'Morality' (Sīla Maggaṅga). By practising meditation these Sīla Maggaṅgas are accomplished.
The three Samādhi Maggaṅgas two Paññā Maggaṅgas and three Sīla Maggaṅgas in other words are called The Middle way (Eightfold Maggaṅga). Continuous noting on every act of seeing, hearing, touching, thinking develops new Eightfold Maggaṅga. This development of new Eightfold Maggaṅga beginning from the Knowledge of distinguishing between Mind and Matter up to the Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations, amounts to the arising of the Eye of wisdom. When this Eye of Wisdom (mundane) is matured, Nibbāna is realized through supramundeane Path and Fruition Knowledge's (Ariyan Magga and Phala Ñāṇa). The Bodhisatta by practising the Middle Way (Eightfold Noble Path) developed the insight knowledge and after attaining the Arahatta Path and Fruition Knowledge became a fully Enlightened One. After becoming a Buddha he preached the Dhammacakkappavattana sutta so that others may, like himself, realize Nibbāna through the Ariyan Magga and Phala Ñāṇa by meditating on the arising and passing away of physical and mental phenomena.
In the Satipaṭṭ¬āna sutta the method how to practise Insight Meditation is explained in detail. It is divided into four main divisions namely (1) Contemplation of Body, i.e. mindfulness of bodily activities such as walking, standing, sitting etc. (2) Contemplation of Feelings, i.e. mindfulness of feelings such as pleasant, unpleasant, neutral etc. (3) Contemplation of Mind, i.e. mindfulness of thoughts such as thinking, reflecting etc. and (4) Contemplation of Mind-objects i.e. mindfulness of seeing, hearing, touching, etc.
The Buddha said that the Fourfold Fundamental of Mindfulness is the Only Way (Ekāyano) to attain the Path Knowledge and to realize Nibbāna (Ñāyassa adhigamāya nibbānassa sacchikiriyāya). Since the Buddha had claimed that this is the Only Way, it must be remembered that no other way can lead to the attainment of Magga, Phala and Nibbāna. So as to escape from all suffering and to attain the Magga, Phala and Nibbāna one must practise this Mindfulness Meditation to the best of his ability. To be able to practise this meditation I will explain it in brief.
Meditating Vipassanā for about five minutes
Please sit with your legs crossed or in any suitable manner. As looking is not necessary please close your eyes. Focus the mind on the object of meditation. In the beginning it is difficult to take notice of all the arising, hearing etc, and so begin with the noticing of the rising and falling movement of the abdomen. Put your mind on the abdomen and when it rises note as rising and when it falls note as falling. Noting must not be done verbally, just note mentally. Do not think of rising and falling as words but note only the actual process of the movement of the abdomen. Try to follow the rising movement from the beginning to the end and the same with falling movement. The awareness of this movement by mindful noting amounts to knowing of the element of motion in its ultimate reality. According to the Satipāṭṭ¬āna sutta, this is Contemplation of Body. While thus noting the abdominal movement, if thought or reflection arises, take notice of it. This is contemplation of mind. Then continue the noting of the abdominal movement. If pain or ache arises, take notice of it. This is Contemplation of feelings. After noting it two three times go back to the noting of the rising and falling movement of the abdomen. If hearing arises, take notice of it two three times and go back to the noting of the abdominal movement. If seeing arises, take notice of it two three times. This is contemplation of Mind-objects. Then resume noting of the abdominal movement. Now let us practise for about five minutes.
Now five minutes are over. In one minute there can be 50 to 60 nothings. For five minutes there will be not less than 250. This is developing good deed of insight meditation in accordance with the teaching of the Buddha. While thus noting, with the improvement of concentration, knowledge distinguishing between Mind and Matter, knowledge of Cause and Effect, knowledge of Arising and Passing away, knowledge of Impermanency Suffering; and Egolessness may arise and Nibbbāna realized through Path and fruition knowledge.
By practising this Mindfulness Meditation by the method explained above, to the best of your ability, may you all realize Nibbāna in the very near future.
(3) the four Noble Truths
How to meditate to gain as much knowledge as possible
The Truth which ought to be realized is the Fourfold Noble Truth, namely. (1) The Noble Truth of Suffering, (2) The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, (3) The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering, and (4) The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Extinction of Suffering.
The Noble Truth of Suffering means the Five Upādānakkhandhās (Five groups of grasping) previously mentioned. In the Dhammacakkapavattana sutta, it is mentioned that one must discern suffering so as to understand it correctly. Seeing, hearing, smelling, eating, touching and thinking must be taken notice of at the moment of their occurrences so as to understand them correctly. If no noticing is made at the moment of their occurrence, the nature of their arising and passing away may not be seen correctly and the craving to the apparent physical and mental phenomena will arise which is the Origin of Suffering. Because of craving, attachment to these phenomena will arise and volitional deeds are committed. These volitional deeds cause rebirth and thus continuous arising of this whole mass of suffering such as old age, disease, death etc.
If continuous noticing is made at the moment of the occurrence of seeing, hearing etc., these physical and mental phenomena will be correctly seen and there will be lessening of craving to a certain extent. This is getting rid of (Pahātabba) the Origin of Suffering. By noticing continuously seeing, hearing etc., at the moment of their occurrence, the task to get rid of the Origin of Suffering is accomplished, which accords with the teaching in the Dhammacakkappavattana sutta.
Every act of noting in this manner reduces suffering, i.e. having less rebirths to a certain extent. By thus noting, extinction of Suffering is momentarily realized through Vipassanā Magga Saccā (Mundane Path). This accords with the teaching that the Extinction of Suffering is to be realized and the Path that leads to the Extinction of Suffering is to be developed. The supramundeane Extinction of Suffering (Realization of Nibbāna) and the development of the Eightfold Noble Path will be explained later. By practising meditation as briefly above, realization of Nibbāna through Vipassanā Maggaṅga (Mundane Path) is explained in the Mālukyaputta sutta as follows: -
Nibbāna is far when there is no mindfulness
Rūpaṃ disvā sati muṭt¬ā, piyaṃ nimittaṃ manasikāro-to; Sārattacitto vedeti, tañca ajjhosa tiṭṭ¬ati. (Saṃyutta-nikāya II 296 Theragāthā 327.)
At the moment of seeing a visual form if you forget to meditate on the act of seeing, if it is a beautiful one, you enjoy it and craving arises. It is true when you see a desirable object.
Tassa vaddhanti vedanā, anekā rūpasambhavā; abhijjhā ca vihesā ca, citta massupahaññati; evaṃ ācinato dukkhaṃ, ārā nibbāna vuccati;
One, in whom craving has arisen, will have good and bad feelings in connection with the object seen. If the object is desirable, joy will arise and thus craving of it. If the object is undesirable, aversion will arise and thus hatred of it. This craving and hatred make one's mind restless. Unmindfulness amounts to creation of suffering, i.e. by being reborn again and again one has to undergo suffering. Thus one is far from Nibbāna. One, who is mindful of seeing whenever it arises, is said to be near to Nibbāna. This fact is explained as follows: -
Nibbāna is near when there is mindfulness
Na so rajjati rūpesu, rūpaṃ disvā paṭissatto; virattacitto vedeti, tañca najjhosa tiṭt¬ati.
At the moment of seeing, if one meditates on the act of seeing, craving on the object seen will not arise. This is true. Every time seeing arises, if one notes as 'seeing, seeing' continuously, craving on the object seen will not arise and there will be no reflection on it as well. On discerning the nature of the arising and passing away of seeing and the object seen, neither pleasure nor aversion will arise in connection with it. Therefore, if one is mindful, his mind will be free from craving and there will be only passive sensation meaning sensation without emotion or reaction. The visual form seen does not become an object of attachment in his mind.
Yathassa passato rūpaṃ, sevato cāpi vedanam;
khīyati nopaciyati, evaṃ so caratissato;
evaṃ apacinato dukkhaṃ, santike nibbāna vuccati.
As mentioned above due to mindfulness, if there is only passive sensation, suffering (which can arise when there is no mindfulness) will have no chance to arise and thus its cessation. It means if there is no mindfulness at the moment of seeing, craving and clinging to the visual object seen will arise and suffering of being reborn again and again will ensure. On the other hand, if there is mindfulness, suffering will be got rid of, as it has no chance to arise. So if one wishes to get rid of suffering and realize happiness, he will have to be mindful every time seeing arises. The development of this knowledge through meditation is called preliminary Path (Pubba bhāga Maggaṅga). By developing this preliminary path, one is bound to realize Nibbāna (Extinction of Suffering) through the attainment of the Supramundeane path (Ariyan Magga Saccā).
In the sutta it is mentioned that to escape from suffering if one meditates as mentioned above, and when he comes to know the true nature of the physical and mental phenomena of existence, he is said to be near Nibbāna. How? If one practises, meditation his insight knowledge will progress as mentioned before and he will finally realize Nibbāna through Path and Fruition knowledge (Magga & Phala ñāṇa). If one attains Path and Fruition knowledge for the first time he becomes a Stream-Winner (Sotāpanna) and forever escapes from the four nether worlds. He will be reborn at most seven times in the good existence of humans and or celestial (Deva) worlds and finally attain the Arahatta Path and Fruition and gain deliverance from this whole mass of suffering such as rebirth, old age, disease, death etc.
On attainment of Sakadāgāmi Magga and Phala he will become a Sakadāgāmi (Once- Returner) and within two existence, will attain the Arahatta Path and Fruition and gain deliverance from this whole mass of suffering.
On attainment of Anāgāmi Magga and Phala he will become an Anāgāmi (Never-Returner) and will escape from the suffering connected with the human and celestial worlds and will be reborn in the Brahma worlds. Then he will become an Arahat (final stage of Holiness) through Arahatta Magga and Phala and gain deliverance from this whole mass of suffering.
As stated above if you meditate on seeing at the moment of it's arising and with the progress of insight knowledge you will become an Arahat and after the final passing away (Parinibbāna cuti) there will be complete extinction of all suffering.
So for the sake complete extinction of all suffering after passing away of the present life or any future life, you must practise intensive meditation on seeing every time it arises. Or please practise to become at least a Stream-Winner (Sotāpanna) so as to escape forever from the suffering of lower worlds or try to practise as much as possible.
What I have said above is how to meditate on seeing and like wise you meditate on hearing, smelling, eating, touching and thinking. If there is no mindfulness, one is far from Nibbāna and if there is mindfulness, one is near to Nibbāna. In the way you meditate on every act of seeing, please do so on every act of hearing, smelling, eating, touching and thinking.
Practise of mindfulness in brief
Diṭṭha-suta-muta-viññātesu dhammesu diṭṭhe diṭṭha mattaṃ bhavissati, sute suta mattaṃ bhavissati, mute muta mattaṃ bhavissati, viññāte viññāta mattaṃ bhavissati.
Among seeing, hearing, smelling, eating, touching and thinking, while meditating on seeing there will be only passive consciousness of visual object, on hearing there will be only passive consciousness of sound, on smelling, eating and touching there will be only passive consciousness of odour, taste and touch, on thinking there will be only passive consciousness of thought. To have this kind of passive consciousness one must practise meditation continuously.
If one has only passive consciousness this is the end of all suffering (Nibbāna). This is the Buddha's brief teaching to Bhikkhu Mālukyaputta.
After listening to this teaching, Bhikkhu Mālukyaputta reported to the Buddha how he came to understand that if one is not mindful of seeing at the moment of its arising, he is bound to meet suffering and thus be far from Nibbāna. If there is in mindfulness, he will be free from suffering and thus be near to Nibbāna. The Buddha confirmed him by preaching the sermon Rūpaṃ disvā sati muṭṭ¬ā ... (as mentioned above).
Bhikkhu Mālukyaputta meditated on seeing, hearing etc. at the moment of their arising and before long became an Arahat. So now if you want to be a Stream-Winner etc., practise meditation continuously on seeing, hearing, smelling, eating, touching and thinking whenever they arise. If you practise thus when concentration becomes strong, you will come to know by direct knowledge the difference between matter and mind, cause and effect, impermanency, suffering and egolessness. It is in conformity with the preaching Sāmāhito yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti-concentration leads to right understanding.
Right understanding during meditation
When concentration is strong, in every act of noting the seeing, you can discriminate between the visual object, the eye and the seeing. Out of them visual object and eye are matter which has no consciousness. Eye-consciousness and noting are mind which has consciousness. So in every act of noting the seeing, you discern that there is only matter and mind and no ego or soul. This is the knowledge distinguishing between Mind and Matter (Nāma Rūpa Pariccheda Ñāṇa).
In hearing also you come to know that ear and sound are matter and ear-consciousness and noting are mind. There is only matter and mind.
In smelling also nose and odour are matter and nose-consciousness and noting are mind. There is only matter and mind.
In eating also tongue and taste are matter and tongue-consciousness and noting are mind. There is only matter and mind.
When you note 'walking, standing, sitting, touching, rising, falling' etc., you come to know that body and tangible object are matter and body-consciousness and noting are mind. There is only matter and mind.
When you note reflecting, thinking etc., you come to know that seat of consciousness and object of mind are matter and consciousness and noting are mind. There is only matter and mind. In this case objects of mind can be reflections, thoughts, concepts, forms etc. But objects of mind are mostly tangible matter, that is why object of mind is mentioned as matter.
The knowledge distinguishing between Mind and Matter occurs more in yogīs of good intelligence and less in those of poor intelligence. Even though a yogī has few occurrences of this knowledge, he is said to have accomplished it.
After this knowledge, with the improvement of concentration the yogī comes to know to a certain extent the Cause and Effect in the following manner: -
While noting walking, he discerns that because there arises the intention to walk, there is walking. In sitting and standing also, he discerns that because the intention to sit arises, there is sitting, because the intention to stand arises, there is standing. While noting rising and falling, he discerns that because of in-breath and out-breath there is rising and falling. While noting seeing, he discerns that because there is visual object seeing arises, because there is eye seeing arises. In hearing also he likewise discerns it. Noting thus he comes to realize to a certain extent that these acts are neither caused by ego nor I but are just the results of corresponding cause mentioned above. This is the knowledge distinguishing between Cause and Effect.
Then while noting 'walking, standing, sitting, rising, falling, seeing, hearing, stiffening, paining, disappointment, happiness' etc. in every act of noting he notices that both the object of noting and noting arise anew and then pass away. At first he notices the beginning and ending of a step and likewise in the rising movement of the abdomen. With the improvement of concentration and knowledge he notices them in segments. Thus by direct knowledge he comes to understand clearly that, 'Things are neither permanent nor pleasurable but suffering. Life is just phenomena and there is neither ego nor soul.' This is maturity of the true insight knowledge's viz. Aniccānupassanā Ñāṇa. Dukkhānupassanā Ñāṇa and Anattānupassanā Ñāṇa.
With the maturity of the true Insight knowledge Nibbāna is realized through Ariyan Magga and Phala Ñāṇa (Path & Fruition knowledge). Then one becomes at least a Stream-Winner (Sotāpanna) and forever escapes from the four nether worlds. He will be reborn in the good existence of human and or celestial worlds and within seven existence will again realize Nibbāna through Arahatta Path and Fruition Knowledge. So it is highly essential to practise meditation to become at least a Stream-Winner (Sotāpanna). Now I will tell you how to practise a short-period meditation.
The method is the same as explained in previous days. But now I will tell you in gist. Please adjust the sitting posture to suit you. Please close the eyes. Put you mind on the abdomen and take notice of the rising and falling movement of it. If the movement is not clear place your hands on the abdomen. Note the rising movement from the beginning to the end attentively. Note the falling movement in like manner. Noting is to be made only mentally. While thus noting, if thought arises, take notice of it and then resume noting of the rising and falling. If hearing arises, note as 'hearing, hearing' two three times and resume noting of the abdominal movement. If pain arises, note as paining, paining' two three times and resume noting of the abdominal movement. Please note in this manner for about five minutes.
Now five minutes are over. Within one minute there will be 50 to 60 good deeds of noting. For five minutes there will be not less than 250. In every act of noting the effort to note Sammā Vāyāma Maggaṅga (Right Effort). Mindfulness is Sammā Sati Maggaṅga (Right Mindfulness). Continuous keeping of mind on the object of meditation is Sammā Samādhi Maggaṅga (Right Concentration). These three belong to the section 'Concentration' and are called Samādhi Maggaṅga with the strengthening of them; in every act of noting there arises Sammā Diṭṭhi Maggaṅga (Right Understanding). The will which inclined the mind onto the object of meditation to develop Right Understanding is Sammāsaṅkappa Maggaṅga (Right Thought). These two belong to the section 'Wisdom' and are called Paññā Maggaṅga. Sammāvācā (Right Speech), Sammākammanta (Right Action) and Sammā-ājīva (Right Livelihood) belong to the section 'Morality' and are called Sīla Maggaṅga. By practising meditation they are accomplished. Every time you note the rising and falling movement of the abdomen you are developing the Eightfold Noble Path. This Eightfold noble Path is the middle way first discovered by the Bodhisatta (Buddha to be). This Middle Way can cause distinctive insight knowledge and distinctive Path and Fruition Knowledge to arise. So I would like to advise you to practise this meditation even at home to the best of you ability. By thus practising may you all make progress in the development of concentration and realize Nibbāna in the near future through the Path and fruition Knowledge.