THE VENERABLE MAHĀSĪ SAYĀDAW
The Venerable U Sobhana Mahāthera, better known as Mahāsī Sayādaw, was born on 29 July 1904 to the peasant proprietors, U Kan Htaw and Daw Shwe Ok at Seikkhun Village, which is about seven miles to the west of the town of Shwebo in Upper Myanmar, once the capital of the founder of the last Myanmar dynasty.
At the age of six he began his studies at a monastic school in his village, and at the age of twelve he was ordained a Sāmanera, (Novice) receiving the name of Sobhana. On reaching the age of twenty, he was ordained a Bhikkhu on 26 November 1923. He passed the Government Pāḷi Examinations in all the three classes (lower, middle and highest) in the following three successive years.
In the fourth year of his Bhikkhu Ordination, he proceeded to Mandalay, noted for its pre-eminence in Buddhist studies, where he continued his further education under various monks of high scholastic fame. In the fifth year he went to Mawlamyaing where he took up the work of teaching the Buddhist scriptures at a monastery known as 'Taung-waing-galay Taik Kyaung'.
In the eighth year after his Bhikkhu ordination, he and another monk left Mawlamyaing equipped with the bare necessities of a Bhikkhu (i.e. alms bowl, a set of three robes, etc.), and went in search of a clear and effective method in the practice of meditation. At Thaton he met the well-known Meditation Teacher, the Venerable U Nārada, who is also known as 'Mingun Jetawun Sayādaw the First'. He then placed himself under the guidance of the Sayādaw and at once proceeded with an intensive course of meditation.
He had progressed so well in his practice that he was able to teach the method effectively to his first three disciples in Seikkhun while he was on a visit there in 1938. These three lay disciples, too, made remarkable progress. Inspired by the example of these three, gradually as many as fifty villagers joined the courses of intensive practice.
The Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw could not stay with the Venerable Mingun Sayādaw as long as he wanted as he was urgently asked to return to the Mawlamyaing monastery. Its aged head monk was gravely ill and passed away not long after the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw's return. The Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw was then asked to take charge of the monastery and to resume teaching the resident monks. During this time he sat for the Pāḷi Lectureship Examination on its first introduction on the first attempt, in 1941 he was awarded the title of 'Sasanadhaja Sri Pavara Dhammacariya'.
On the event of the Japanese invasion, the authorities gave an evacuation order to those living near Mawlamyaing at the Taung-waing-galay Monastery and its neighbourhood. These places were close to an airfield and hence exposed to air attacks. For the Sayādaw this was a welcome opportunity to return to his native Seikkhun and to devote himself whole-heartedly to his own practice of Vipassanā meditation and to the teaching of it to others.
He took residence at a monastery known as Mahā-Si Kyaung, which was thus called because a drum (Myanmar si) of an unusually large (mahā) size was housed there. From that monastery, the Sayādaw's popular name, Mahāsī Sayādaw, is derived.
It was during this period, in 1945, that the Sayādaw wrote his great work, Manual of Vipassanā Meditation, a comprehensive and authoritative treatise expounding both the doctrinal and the practical aspects of the Satipaṭṭhāna method of meditation. This work of two volumes, comprising 858 pages in print, was written by him in just seven months, while the neighbouring town of Shwebo was at times subjected to almost daily air attacks. So far, only one chapter of this work, the fifth, has been translated into English and is published under the title "Practical Insight Meditation: Basic and Progressive Stages" (Buddhist Publication Society)
It did not take long before the reputation of Mahāsī-Sayādaw as an able teacher of Insight Meditation (vipassanā) had spread throughout the Shwebo-Sagaing region and attracted the attention of a prominent and very devout Buddhist layman, Sir U Thwin, who was regarded as Myanmar's 'Elder Statesman'. It was his wish to promote the inner strength of Buddhism in Myanmar by setting up a meditation centre to be guided by a meditation teacher of proven virtue and ability. After meeting Mahāsī Sayādaw and listening to a discourse given by him and to the meditation instructions given to nuns in Sagaing, Sir U Thwin was in no doubt that he had found the ideal person he was looking for.
In 1947 the Buddha Sāsana Nuggaha Organization was founded in Yangon with Sir U Thwin as its first President and with its object the furthering of the study (pariyatti) and practice (patipatti) of Buddhism. In 1948 Sir U Thwin donated five acres of land at Kokkine, Rangoon, to the organization for the erection of a meditation centre. It is on this site that the present Thathana (or Sāsana) Yeiktha, i.e. "Buddhist Retreat", is situated, which now, however, covers an area of twenty acres, with a large number of buildings.
In 1949, the then Prime Minister of Myanmar, U Nu and Sir U Thwin requested that the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw come to Yangon and give training in meditational practice. On 4 December 1949, the Sayādaw introduced the first group of 25 meditators into the methodical practice of Vipassanā meditation. Within a few years of the Sayādaw's arrival in Yangon, similar meditation centres sprang up all over Myanmar, until they numbered over one hundred. In neighbouring Theravada countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka, such centres were also established in which the same method was taught and practised. According to a 1972 census, the total number of meditators trained at all these centres (both in Myanmar and abroad) had passed the figure of seven hundred thousand: In the East and in several Western countries as well, Vipassanā courses continue to be conducted.
At the historic Sixth Buddhist Council (Chaṭṭha Sangāyanā) held at Yangon for two years, culminating in the year 2500 Buddhist Era (1956), the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw had an important role. He was one of the Final Editors of the canonical texts, which were recited and thereby approved, in the sessions of the Council. Further, he was the Questioner (Pucchaka), that is, he had to ask the questions concerning the respective canonical texts that were to be recited. They were then answered by an erudite monk with a phenomenal power of memory, by the name of Venerable Vicittasārābhivamsa. To appreciate fully the importance of these roles, it may be mentioned that at the First Council held one hundred days after the passing away of the Buddha, it was the Venerable Mahā Kassapa who put forth those introductory questions which were then answered by the Venerable Upāli and the Venerable Ānanda.
After the recital of the canonical scriptures, the Tipitaka, had been completed at the Sixth Council, it was decided to continue with a rehearsal of the ancient commentaries and sub commentaries, preceded by critical editing and scrutiny. In the large task, too, the Mahāsī Sayādaw took a prominent part.
In the midst of all of these tasks, he was also a prolific and scholarly writer. He authored more than 70 writings and translations, mostly in Myanmar, with a few in the Pāḷi language. One of these deserves to be singled out: his Myanmar translation of the Commentary to the Visuddhi Magga (Visuddhimagga Mahā-Ṭīkā), which in two large volumes of the Pāḷi original, is even more voluminous than the work commented upon, and presents many difficulties, linguistically and in its contents. In 1957 Mahāsī Sayādaw was awarded the title of 'Agga-Mahā-Pandita'.
Yet even all of this did not exhaust the Mahāsī Sayādaw's remarkable capacity for work in the cause of the Buddha-Dhamma. He undertook several travels abroad. The first two of his tours were in preparation for the Sixth Council, but were likewise used for preaching and teaching.
Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam (1952); India and Sri Lanka (1953, 1959), Japan (1957); Indonesia (1959); America, Hawaii, England, Continental Europe (1979); England, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia. Thailand (1980); Nepal, India (1981)
In the midst of all these manifold and strenuous activities, he never neglected his own meditative life which had enabled him to give wise guidance to those instructed by him. His outstanding vigour of body and mind and his deep dedication to the Dhamma sustained him through a life of 78 years.
On 14 August 1982, the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw succumbed to a sudden and severe heart attack which he had suffered the night before. Yet on the evening of the 13th, he had still given an introductory explanation to a group of new meditators.
The Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw was one of the very rare personalities in whom there was a balanced and high development of both profound erudition linked with a keen intellect, and deep and advanced meditative experience. He was also able to teach effectively both Buddhist thought and Buddhist practice.
His long career of teaching through the spoken and printed word had a beneficial impact on many hundreds of thousands in the East and the West. His personal stature and his life's work rank him among the great figures of contemporary Buddhism.
WRITINGS OF THE VENERABLE MAHĀSĪ SAYĀDAW IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION
The Progress of Insight through the Stages of Purification. With the Pāḷi text. (1)
Practical Insight Meditation. Basic and Progressive Stages. (1)
Practical Vipassanā Meditational Exercises. (2)
Purpose of Practising Kammaṭṭhāna Meditation. (2)
The Wheel of Dhamma (Dhammacakappavattana Sutta). (2)
(1) Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
(2) Buddha Sāsana Nuggaha Organization, 16 Sāsana Yeiktha Road, Yangon, Myanmar.
The President of the Buddha Sāsana Nuggaha Organization has recently requested me to translate into English, if time permits, the Myanmar version of the book of dhamma entitled "Purpose of Practising Kammaṭṭhāna Meditation" written by the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw.
We have in mind that much benefit could be derived especially by foreign yogīs and those ardent Buddhists in other countries who are not acquainted with Myanmar.
The practice of Buddhist meditation in accordance with the actual teachings of the Buddha is one that is not yet generally and fully appreciated. The publication of the English version of this treatise will, it is hoped, contribute to improving the present unfortunate situation. It will also fall in with the primary intention of the authority concerned to enhance and add Luster to the Theravāda Buddhasāsanā.
In my endeavour to translate this important treatise as requested and as permitted by the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw, references have to be made to other relevant books of dhamma written by the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw, and in particular to Robert C. Childers "Dictionary of the Pāḷi Language", which throws a beam of torch-light, as it were, to the correct usage and spelling of Pāḷi words, written in English. While this translation work was in process, my close friend U Thein Han, a devoted Mahāsī disciple and an executive member of this Organization came to the rescue and gave me a copy of "The Light of the Dhamma" (Volume V: No. 3), published by the Union of Myanmar Buddha Sāsana Council in July 1958, wherein an article in English under the title "Buddhist Meditation and Its Forty Subjects" translated by U Pe Thin, a Mahāsī Yogī, in December 1957, was found. This short treatise which gives concise information of the fundamentals of Kammaṭṭhāna meditation is found to be really fine and helpful and its original Myanmar version written by the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw is the same book which I have undertaken to translate. This, in fact, has speeded up my task in translating this dhamma, which I am afraid, will become more or less a duplication of the same subject except the renderings in the first portion of the treatise and in a few other place. Nevertheless, the new translation piece will now appear in a separate book form under a name different from that of U Pe Thin's translated treatise, bearing the original title of the book in Myanmar version.
It must be admitted that I have in my translation work copied are reproduced a number of phrases and writings of U Pe Thin's translated piece, though in some places the reproduction is not facsimile. Certain parts of that treatise have been either re-written mutatis mutandis with a view to fall in line with the original style of expression of the Ven: Mahāsī Sayādaw contained in the Myanmar version or inserted to make the translation more truthfully comprehensive.
I do hereby acknowledge with thanks to the Buddha Sāsana Council for its general permission to quote, copy or reproduce its articles published in "The Light of the Dhamma."
Buddha Sāsanā Nuggaha Organization
PURPOSE OF PRACTISING KAMMAṬṬHĀNA MEDITATION
Question: Why should kammaṭṭhāna meditation be practised?
Answer: Kammaṭṭhāna meditation should be practised so as to reach Nibbāna, thereby escaping from all kinds of misery, such as old age, death, etc.
To amplify this statement, it may be explained that undoubtedly all beings wish to live always in happiness without getting old and sick and suffering death, and also without suffering from other kinds of dukkha (such as pain, grief and misery). Nevertheless it does not happen that way, much as we may wish to be so. In any life existence old age is inevitable. Sickness is unavoidable. And because of all sorts of dangers and tribulations which one is bound to come across in his life-time, anxiety, sorrow and lamentation would take place. And weep we must. So also, physical sufferings and discomforts, mental pains and sufferings are sure to be met with often. Finally one of the worst sufferings that can cause death takes place and after becoming unbearable, death will follow. Death is, however, not an end. Persons who are not yet free from craving for life existence will again be reborn in the next existence. Then, the new existence will similarly bring about old age disease and death. In this way, all beings will invariably meet with the same undesirable fate, misery and sufferings in one life existence after another.
Such being the case, if the root cause of this state of affairs is analysed, it is because of the continuum of life existences, sufferings such as old age and death do take place. Otherwise, these kinds of misery and sufferings will not surely be confronted with. Therefore if old age, death and other sufferings are to be completely avoided or overcome, practical meditation exercise must be done. This will prevent the new existence from coming into being.
The new existence is the result of taṇhā or cravings for the present existence. The particular mood or bent of mind which manifests and clings on in one's last conscious moment before death in his previous life existence, brings forth new mind consciousness (viññāṇa) thereby conditioning a fresh one in another birth. If it does not so happen, there will be no rebirth. Hence, if new existence is undesirable, one should practise meditation diligently with a view to extinguishing bhava taṇhā, attachment to life existence.
This bhava taṇhā is merely caused by ignorance or lack of apprehension of the faults or imperfections of rūpa and nāma concerning life existence and also of the fact that Nibbāna far surpasses this very life existence composed of matter and mind. If Nibbāna is really appreciated through clear perception of the fault of rūpa and nāma, the bhava taṇhā cannot possibly arise. For example: it is like a poor man who is blindly attached to his original native place which he holds in high estimation being ignorant of the hazardous and poverty-stricken condition of his original place and of the fact that if he shifts to a prosperous and danger-free place he would have been well-off and happy. It should, therefore, be borne in mind that he would otherwise have shifted his residence to another place where prosperity reigns without any attachment to his original place. As such, if complete emancipation from taṇhā which clings to bhava is desirable, it is essential to presently achieve Nibbāna after realizing the faults rūpa-nāma concerning existence. Such realization can be fully accomplished only by practising kammaṭṭhāna meditation.
Hence, if it is desired to get rid of the miseries of old age, sickness and death through Nibbāna, kammaṭṭhāna meditation should be practised for the attainment of Nibbāna.
Various Kinds of Kammaṭṭhāna
Kammaṭṭhāna is consisted of two divisions, namely:
(1) Samatha Kammaṭṭhāna
(2) Vipassanā Kammaṭṭhāna
1. Of these two, by practising samatha, four stages of Rūpa-Jhānas and four of Arūpa-Jhānas can be attained. Repeated exercise and development of these jhānas can lead one to further attainment of Abhiññā, supernatural knowledge or faculty. These miraculous or supernatural powers are:
(i) Though there is one single individual, many can be created.
(ii) Many individuals can be converted or transformed into a single individual.
(iii) Ability to travel through the air space.
(iv) Ability to dive into or go underneath the earth, etc.
These together with many other kinds of supernatural powers, such as knowledge of taking any form, of creating, or causing to appear anything that is required is called Iddhividha Abhiññā.
2. Dibbasota Abhiññā: It is Divine ear, the faculty of hearing every sound, far and near, loud and feeble, in all the Universe.
3. Cetopariya Abhiññā: Knowledge of the thoughts of others- i.e. power to know other people's mind, thoughts or imaginations.
4. Pubbenivāsa Abhiññā: Possessing knowledge of former existences. In other words, power to recollect the incidents of the past existences.
5. Dibbacakkhu Abhiññā: Divine eye or supernatural vision, i.e. supernatural faculty or the power of seeing all that is taking place in the whole Universe, for example, power to see all physical forms of different beings and of their death and rebirth in the different worlds or heavens.
Nevertheless, despite the possession of such powers as Jhānas and abhiññās, those possessing these attributes will not be free from the miseries and sufferings of old age, death, etc. On death even with the jhānic states remaining in tact without their being neither diminished nor destroyed, they will be reborn in one of the Brahma Loka or heavens to which the stage of the jhāna they have respectively attained would correspond, the particular abode or heaven being determined by the degree of jhāna attained. Then, they will remain in the relative plane of Brahma World or Abode for one world-cycle, two, four, eight and so on, according to the life-span of the Brahma World to which they belong. When that life-span comes to an end, they will die and will be reverted to the world of human beings or devas, where they will have their new existence. In such an event, they will again face the miseries of old age, death, etc. just as the human beings and devas have to face. If favourable circumstances do not permit by force of his kamma, they can go down to one of the four nether worlds (Lower World of Existences), viz: Niriya (Hell), Tiracchāna (Animal world), Peta (World of Petas or Ghosts), or Asurakāya (World of Demons), and suffer miseries related to the World concerned. Therefore, it should be realized that by merely practising samatha kammaṭṭhāna, one will not be liberated from suffering and misery.
Only if vipassanā insight-meditation is practised, one will be able to realize nibbāna and be completely free from all kinds of misery and sufferings, such as old age, disease and death.
There are two modes of practising vipassanā meditation. They are:
(1) practising samatha using it as a vehicle for the attainment of vipassanā ñāṇa;
(2) practising kammaṭṭhāna vipassanā pure and directly without the basic exercise of samatha.
A person who practises meditation for realization of nibbāna making use of samatha as a frame-work is known as samathayānika which means a person who 'makes his way' to nibbāna using samatha as a vehicle.
A person who practises kammaṭṭhāna vipassanā meditation without using samatha as a ground work, is known as suddha-vipassanāyānika.
If, therefore, a person wishes to practise meditation following the path of samathayānika, he should first and foremost practise samatha.
This samatha-kammaṭṭhāna comprises (40) sorts. They are as enumerated below:
1. Kasina (10)
2. Asubha (10)
3. Anussati (10)
4. Brahmavihāra (4)
5. Āruppa (4)
6. Āhāre Patikkulasannā (1)
7. Catu-dhātu-vavatthāna (1)
These (40) samatha-kammaṭṭhānas are listed in groups as follows:
The ten sorts of Kasina are:
1. Earth kasina (pathavīkasinam)
2. Water kasina (āpokasinam)
3. Fire kasina (tejokasinam)
4. Wind kasina (Vāyokasinam)
5. Brownish or deep purplish blue kasina (nilakasinam)
6. Yellow kasina (pitakasinam)
7. Red kasina (lohitakasinam)
8. White kasina (odātakasinam)
9. Light kasina (ālokakasinam)
10. Open air-space, sky kasina (ākāsakasinam)
The ten Asubhas are as follows:
1. Swollen or bloated corpse. (uddhumātakam)
2. A corpse brownish black or purplish blue with decay (vinilakam)
3. A festering or suppurated corpse (vipubbakam)
4. A corpse splattered half or fissured from decay. (vicchiddakam)
5. A corpse gnawed by animals such as wild dogs and foxes: (vikkhāyittakam)
6. A corpse scattered in parts, hands, legs,
head and body being dispersed (vikkhitakam)
7. A corpse cut and thrown away in parts after killing. (hatavikkhittakam)
8. A bleeding corpse, i.e. with red blood oozing out. (lohitakam)
9. A corpse infested with and eaten by worms. (puluvakam)
10. Remains of a corpse in a heap of bones, i.e. skeleton. (atthikam)
The ten Anussatis are:
1. Fixing the mind with attentiveness and reflecting repeatedly
on the glorious virtues and attributes of Buddha. (Buddhānussati)
2. Reflecting with serious attentiveness repeatedly on the virtues
and qualities of Buddha's teachings and his doctrine. (Dhammānussati)
3. Fixing the mind strongly and repeatedly upon the rare attributes
and sanctity of the Sanghās (Sanghānussati)
4. Reflecting seriously and repeatedly on the purification of one's
own morality or sīla. (Sīlānussati)
5. Repeatedly reflecting on the mind's purity in the noble act of
one's own dāna, charitableness and liberality. (Cāgānussati)
6. Reflecting with serious and repeated attention on one's own
complete possession of the qualities of saddhā. absolute faith,
sīla, morality, suta; knowledge, cāga, liberality and pannā,
wisdom or knowledge just as the devas have, to enable one
to be reborn in the World of devas. (Devatānussati)
7. Reflecting repeatedly with serious attentiveness on the supreme
spiritual blissful state of Nirvana. (Upasamānussati)
8. Recollection of death or reflecting repeatedly on the inevitability
of death. (Maraṇānussati)
9. Reflecting earnestly and repeatedly on the impurity of the body
which is composed of the detestable 32 constituents such as hair,
body hair, nails, teeth, skin, etc. (Kāyagatā-sati)
10. Repeated reflection on the inhaled and exhaled breath. (Ānāpāna-sati)
The four brahmavihāras are:
1. Contemplation of loving kindness and goodwill or universal
benevolence towards all sentient beings, praying "may all
beings be happy." (Mettā)
2. Contemplation, of compassion, i.e. pity for and sympathy
with those who are suffering praying in mind that "may all
beings be free from misery and suffering." (Karuṇā)
3. Contemplation of feeling rejoicing with others in their happiness
or prosperity praying in mind that they "may continue to be
happy and prosperous as at present with out diminution. (Muditā)
4. To remain indifferent with a feeling of equanimity to the state
of condition of all beings, bearing an impartial attitude that
things happen according to one's own kamma that has been
The four Āruppas are:
1. Meditation or fixing the mind intently on the realm of
infinity of space, sky pannata. (Ākāsānañcāyatanam)
2. Meditation or fixing the mind intently on the realm of
infinity of consciousness, pathamā ruppavinnāna. (Viññānañcāyatanam)
3. Meditation or dwelling the mind intently on Nothingness,
i.e. nothingness, that remains or exists from
4. Meditation on the realm of Neither-perception nor
Non-perception, i.e. semi-conscious state Jhāna's
perception Tatiya (third) ruppavinnāna as "so calm,
tranquil and gentle." (Nevasaññā-nāsaññāyatanam)
Āhāre patikulasaññā: means the consciousness or perception of the impurity of material food derived from fixing the mind intently on the food and eatables as being detestable.
Catudhātuvavatthānam: means contemplation on the existence or composition of the main four elements of dhātu in the body, namely, vāyo (air or wind) and their differences in nature.
The Method of Samatha-Kammaṭṭhāna Meditation in Brief
A person who, of the forty sorts of samatha meditation, chooses the pathavī kasina as his subject of contemplation, should fix his eyes upon a spot of earth on the ground or a circle of earth-device and contemplate mentally noting 'pathavī, pathavī', or 'earth, earth, earth.' After repeated contemplation for a considerable time, the vivid image or nimitta of the earth-device will appear in the mind when the eyes are closed as clearly as when they are open. This appearance of mental image is called "Uggaha, nimitta" (acquired image). If this "nimitta" becomes fixed and steady in the mind, he can go to any place and take up a posture of either sitting, walking, standing or lying. He should then continue to contemplate on the "Uggahanimitta" by saying mentally 'pathavī, pathavī', or 'earth, earth'.
While thus contemplating, it may happen that the mind does not remain fixed on its object and is likely to wander to other objects in the following manner.
1. The mind may think of desirable or agreeable objects according to its own inclination. This is called "Kāmacchanda. nīvaraṇa" (sensuous lust).
2. The mind may also dwell on thoughts of despair and anger. This is called "Vyāpādanīvaraṇa" (ill-will).
3. Slackness in contemplation may take place and the mind becomes dull and foggy. This is "Thina-middha-nīvaraṇa" (sloth and torpor).
4. The mind may become unstable and fleeting or restless, and then recollecting the past misdeeds in speech and bodily action, is likely to become worried. These are known as "Uddhaccakukkucca-nīvaraṇa" (restlessness and worry).
5. Thoughts may arise 'whether the contemplation which is being undertaken is a right method, or whether it is capable of bringing beneficial results, or whether there is any chance to achieve any good result's. This is "Vicikicchā-nīvaraṇa" (sceptical doubt).
When these five "Nīvaraṇas" (Hindrances) appear, they should be discarded and rejected as they occur, and the mind should be immediately brought back to the original object of "Uggaha-nimitta" letting it dwell constantly on it, noting mentally as 'pathavī, pathavī'. If the kasina object of "Uggaha-nimitta" disappears from the mind, one should go back to the place where the earth-device is kept and contemplate again: 'pathavī, pathavī' by fixing the eyes on the device till "Uggaha-nimitta" is formed again in the mind's eye. Thereafter, one should return to the desired place and proceed with the contemplation as before in any posture of sitting, standing, lying and walking.
Carrying on thus the contemplation of the object of "Uggaha-nimitta" repeatedly for a long time, the object assumes a very brilliant and crystalline appearance quite unlike that of the original. This is called "Patibhāga-nimitta" (counterpart-image). At the time the mind is free from all 'Nīvaraṇas'. It dwells fixedly on the "patibhāga-nimitta". This state of mind is known as "Upacāra-samādhi" (proximate concentration). Now, by continually fixing the mind with this "Upacārasamādhi" on the 'Patibhāga-nimitta', the mind reaches a state as if it were alive and sinks consciously into the object and remains fixed in it. This state of fixedness and stability of mind is known as "Appanā-samādhi" (ecstatic concentration).
The Appanā-samādhi is of four kinds, viz:
(a) the first Jhāna,
(b) the second Jhāna,
(c) the third Jhāna,
(d) the fourth Jhāna,
(a) In the first Jhāna five distinct constituents are present; they are:
(1) Vitakka (initial reflection)
(2) Vicāra (sustained investigation)
(3) Pīti (rapture or ecstasy)
(4) Sukha (happiness or delight)
(5) Ekaggatā (Tranquility of mind on one object with one pointedness.)
(b) One who has already attained the stage of first Jhāna, seeing unsatisfactoriness in the first two constituents of 'Vitakka' and 'Vicāra' again proceeds with the contemplation to overcome them and succeeds in attaining the stage of second Jhāna where the three distinct constituents of 'Pīti', 'Sukha' and 'Ekaggatā' are obvious.
(c) Again seeing unsatisfactoriness 'in Pīti', if he proceeds with the contemplation to overcome it and divests himself of ecstasy, he will attain the third Jhāna which is a state of tranquil serenity and where the two distinct constituents of 'Sukha' and 'Ekaggatā', remains obvious.
(d) Again seeing unsatisfactoriness in 'Sukha' he proceeds with the contemplation to overcome it. By doing so, he attains the stage of fourth Jhāna in which the mind exalted and purified is indifferent to all emotions alike of pleasure and of pain. At this stage the two constituents of 'Upekkhā'-(equanimity) and 'Ekaggatā' become manifested.
This is, in brief, the description of the manner of contemplation of the "Pathavī-kasina" and the development of the stages of four Jhānas. The same applies to the remaining kasinas.
In the case of a person who wishes to practise 'Asubha' kammaṭṭhāna, he should fix his eyes on a bloated corpse, or a livid corpse, etc., and contemplate by saying mentally 'bloated corpse, bloated corpse', livid corpse, livid corpse, etc. This contemplation is similar to that of 'Pathavī-kasina', the fundamental difference being that the contemplation of these 'Asubha' subjects will lead to the stage of First jhāna.
Amongst the ten Anussatis, the contemplation of the impure 32 parts of the body (kāyagatāsati-kammaṭṭhāna) will also lead to the stage of First jhāna. The eight reflections (Anussati) consisting of the subjects from "Buddhānussati" to "Maraṇānussati"; reflection on the loathsomeness of food (Āhāre patikulasaññā) and analysis of the four elements (Catu-dhātu-vavatthāna) will lead only to the achievement of "Upacāra-samādhi" (proximate concentration).
Three Brahma-Vihāras of 'Mettā. Karuṇā and Muditā' may carry one to the attainment of the three stages of lower jhānas, and a person who has attained the third jhāna may, if he strives for the contemplation of "Upehkhā", the fourth of the Brahma vihāra, can achieve the stage of Fourth jhāna.
A person who, by contemplation of kasina subjects, has attained all four jhānas, can achieve four (4) Āruppa-jhānas by carrying out four Āruppa-kammaṭṭhānas in serial order one after another.
The Concise Method of Ānāpāna Meditation
One who wishes to meditate 'Ānāpānassati' kammaṭṭhāna should retire to a quite place and seat himself cross-legged or in any convenient manner so as to enable him to sit for a long time, with his body erect, and then first keep his mind fixed on the tip of the nostrils. He will then come to know distinctly the feeling of touch at the tip of the nostrils or at the edge of the upper lip, caused by the constant flow of his respiration. This flow should be watched at the point of its contact and contemplated by noting 'coming, going, coming, going', on every act of inhaling and exhaling respectively. The mind should not be allowed to follow after the flow of the breath either on its inward or outward journey but should be kept at the point of touch constantly watching.
While contemplating thus, there will be many hindrances 'nīvaraṇas' which make the mind wanders. Such hindrances should be dispelled bringing the mind back to the point of contact where in-breathing and out-breathing pass through, and then continue with the contemplation as 'coming, going, 'coming, going', as before.
By this means of continually watching the point of contact of the incoming and outgoing breath with attentive contemplation:
1. the long in-breathing and out-breathing are clearly noticed when they are long;
2. the short in-breathing and out-breathing are clearly noticed when they are short;
3. each course of gentle and delicate in-breathing and out-breathing with its beginning, middle and end is clearly noticed from the time it touches the tip of nose to the time when it leaves the nose; and
4. the gradual change from the harsh to the gentler form of in-breathing and out-breathing is also clearly noticed. As the respiration become more and more gentle, it would appear as if they have vanished altogether.
When it so happens, one may be searching for the incoming breath and outgoing breath, and may wonder what has happened. He may then remain at rest without carrying on the contemplation. However, it should not be done that way, and the mind should be fixed on the tip of the nose and the edge of the upper lip continuously noting as before. If the mind is so fixed attentively, the gentle form of flow of the in and out breathing will appear again and will be perceptible distinctly.
By thus proceeding with constant contemplation of in and out breathing, the incoming and outgoing breath will appear unusual and peculiar. The following are the peculiarities mentioned in the Visuddhi magga.
In some cases the in-breathing and out-breathing appear like a shining brilliant star or a bead of red (ruby) precious stones or a thread of pearls; To some, it appears with a rough touch like that of a stalk of cotton plant or a peg (bolt) made of inner substance of hard wood; To other like a long braided chain (necklace), or a wreath of flowers, or a tip of a column of smoke; To other like a broad net-work of cobweb or a film of cloud or a wheel of a chariot or a round disc of moon or sun. It is stated in Visuddhi Magga that the variety of forms and objects visualised is due to differences in 'sañña', perception, of the individuals concerned. These peculiar visionary objects are known as "patibhāga-nimitta". Commencing from the time of this nimitta, the samādhi which is then developed is called "Upacāra-samādhi". On continuing the contemplation with the aid of "Upacāra-samādhi", the stage of "Appanā-samādhi" of four (4) Rūpa-jhānas can be reached.
This is the brief description of the preliminary practice for 'Samatha' by a person wishing to meditate by way of Samathayānika as a basis for the realization of Nibbāna.
Vipassanā Practice in Brief
Those who desire to practise Vipassanā should first of all be well equipped with a knowledge, either in brief or in extension, of the fact that living beings are made up of only two constituents of body (rūpa) and mind (nāma), that the body and mind are formed because of relative cause and effect and that as they are undergoing perpetual change, they are impermanent subject to suffering and devoid of any permanent ego substance i.e. "atta".
A person who is thus fully equipped with the knowledge as mentioned above should, first and foremost, induce the jhānic state he has already attained and concentrate on it. He should then proceed by contemplating continuously the sensations, such as 'seeing, hearing, touching, knowing (mind consciousness), etc.,' occurring at the six sense-doors. If tiredness or exhaustion is felt by continuous effort in the contemplation of these varied objects, the jhāna to which he has become an adept may again be induced by making a firm resolve to remain in that jhānic state for 15 or 30 minutes. On expiry of the jhānic state, he should begin with the contemplation of that jhāna and proceed by contemplating continuously on the phenomena that occur at the six sense-doors, as before. This procedure of alternately inducing jhānic state and then proceeding with the contemplation of sensations at the six sense-doors should be carried out repeatedly. When vipassanā samādhi is sufficiently strong he will be able to carry on the contemplation continuously day and night without any physical or mental strain.
At this stage, it will be distinctly perceived, as a matter of course, that at every moment of contemplation body and mind (rūpa and nāma) are blended together and arising in pairs. It will be also clearly perceived that this is but a process of cause and effect. At every moment of contemplation as both the object of sensation and mind-consciousness vanish, it will also be appreciated that all are impermanent, and that they are ills without any pleasantness and dependability; and also that they are merely a natural process of arising and passing away of things which do not consist of 'atta', enduring entity or soul.
When the full knowledge of this phenomenal existence-'anicca, dukkha and anatta' is accomplished, there will arise the insight-knowledge of "magga and phala", which will carry him on to the actual realization of Nibbāna. This is, in short, the practice by way of 'samatha-yānika' for the purpose of realizing Nibbāna.
Practice by way of "Suddha-Vipassanā-Yānika"
If a person, who has acquired the knowledge of the phenomenal nature of rūpa-nāma, anicca dukkha and anatta as stated in the foregoing, desires to practise 'vipassanā', pure and simple, he should retire to a quiet place and seat himself cross-legged or in any convenient manner so as to enable him to sit for a ling time, with body erect, and then contemplate by fixing his attention on the physical and mental phenomena, i.e. 'upādānakkhandhā, or the Five Aggregates. These phenomena should be continuously contemplated and noted on every occasion of their arising in the body.
'Upādānakkhandhās' or the Five Aggregates means the phenomena of existence which are clearly perceived at every moment of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and arising of mind-consciousness.
At the moment of seeing both the visual object and the eye where seeing takes place, are perceived. These two things are of the material group. They are neither pleasurable nor 'atta, the living soul, nor 'self. However, those who fail to contemplate the phenomena on every occasion of their occurrence, do not realize that "they pass away immediately and are not permanent." Nor they realize that these incessantly arise and disappear and are, therefore, mere sufferings; nor do they understand that "they are neither atta nor living entity, and are anatta in the sense that they are subject to the law of cause and effect and are arising and passing away of their own accord. For this lack of knowledge, the object which is seen and the eye, which sees are considered as things pleasurable, and hence, attachment follows. Blinded by illusion, they become attached to life existence as 'living substance or atta', living soul', and 'self'. Because of this wrong mental attitude and attachment, the known visual object and the eye are called "Rūpakkhandhā".
Furthermore, eye-consciousness (cakku-viññāṇa), feeling (vedanā), perception (saññā) of visual object, and exertion to see the visual object, mental volitional energy (saṅkhāra) are also clearly perceived at the moment of seeing. They are merely of the mental group. They are neither pleasant nor 'atta' living entity; nor self, i.e. existence as an individual personality. Yet, those who do not notice each and every arising or occurrence of these phenomena do not understand that they are impermanent, sufferings and 'not-self' (anatta). They, therefore, consider these mental and physical phenomena and the elements in consciousness as being pleasant, and are accordingly attached to them. They also cling to them with ego and with erroneous view that "It is I who sees; it is I who feels; it is I who perceives; it is I who is looking fixedly." It is because of such pleasurable attachment arising out of false views that these mental groups are called "Viññāṇa-upādānakkhandhā", "Vedanā-upādānakkhandhā", "Saññā-upādānakkhandhā", "Saṅkhāra upādānak-khandhā". This is how the five Upādānakkhandhās and the physical and mental phenomena become obvious at the very moment of seeing the visual object through the eye.
Similarly, the five "upādānakkhandhās" are perceived distinctly at the very moment of hearing the sound through the ear, smelling the odour through the nose, knowing the taste through the tongue, feeling the sense of touch (tactile) through the body and knowing the mental objects (consciousness) through the mind-base. In particular, the tendencies, mental and physical, the elements in consciousness are concerned with both mind and matter (nāma and rūpa).
Though the material and mental phenomena are obviously taking place at every moment of seeing, hearing, etc., in the six spheres of senses, it is not possible for a beginner who is meditating, to contemplate or become mindful of all the occurrences in sequence as they arise. In Vipassanā, it is essential that the most out-standing manifestation of the phenomenon in the body shall be contemplated first. It is just like in school where easy lesson to learn is taught at the beginning of the studies.
Summary of suddha-Vipassanā
Therefore, of the two constituents of matter (body) and mind. the more outstanding material phenomena should first be contemplated. Among the physical or material phenomena, the tactile bhuta-rūpa which is more manifest than the objects of sense-doors (upādāna-rūpas) should be chosen as the preliminary and prime object of contemplation at the beginning of the practice.
Hence, with a view to noting the particularly outstanding bodily-contact, concentration should be made on the sitting posture of the entire body and contemplate continuously by making a mental note as sitting, sitting. While thus contemplating, the distinct feeling of bodily contact of the haunch or leg or any part of the body will be noticed. This feeling of bodily contact should be jointly contemplated along with 'sitting', continuously noting as 'contacting', 'sitting', 'contacting', turn by turn fixing attention on the body that is sitting and on the point of bodily contact.
If this manner of contemplation as 'sitting' 'contacting' is, however, found to be difficult at the start, then contemplation can be done by fixing attention on the point of contact of the in-breathing and out-breathing, and by noting as 'contacting' 'contacting'. Or, else, contemplation can be carried out by fixing attention on the rising and falling of the abdomen, which is motivated by respiration.
To illustrate the manner of contemplation: firstly, the mind should be attentively riveted on the abdomen. It will then be noticed that the abdomen is rising and falling and that these movements take place in continual succession. If, at the beginning of practice, the movement is not clearly felt by fixing attention on the abdomen, one or both hands be placed on it. Suspension of breath, and quick or deep breathing should not be done. The natural course of normal breathing should be maintained. As and when abdomen is rising, contemplate noting as 'rising'. The gradual rising of the abdomen from start to finish should be continuously noted without a lapse or without a break in the process of noting. The gradual 'falling' of the abdomen must also be contemplated in the same manner. Every act of 'rising' and 'falling' should be noted continuously and contemplated as 'rising', 'falling', 'rising', 'falling'.
For particular attention, it may be mentioned that the words 'rising' and 'falling' should not be uttered by mouth, but repeated by saying mentally. In fact, words are not of real significance. To know the actual movements of the abdomen and the feeling of sensations that arise in the body is of fundamental importance. If the contemplation is carried on by the simple act of mental observation without the act of mentally repeating the words, the contemplation will be casual and ineffective with many drawbacks such as, failing attention to reach closely enough to the object to which it is directed, failing to clearly distinguish and perceive the phenomena part by part respectively, and the deterioration of the necessary force of energy to contemplate. Therefore, it is directed to contemplate by repeating the words mentally as stated earlier.
While contemplation is going on noting mentally as 'rising', 'falling', the mind may be found wandering to other sense-objects. These wandering mental states should be contemplated and noted as and when they arise.
To cite an example: If it is found that the mind wanders to the objects other then those it is directed, it should be contemplated as 'wandering': if the mind intends to do something it should be contemplated as 'intending'; if it is reflecting, it should be contemplated as 'reflecting'; in the case of wanting something, it should be contemplated as 'wanting'; in the case of being pleased or angry or disappointed, it should be contemplated as 'wanting'; in the case of being pleased or angry or disappointed, it should be contemplated as 'pleased', 'angry', 'disappointed', respectively; and in the case of feeling lazy or happy, it should be contemplated as 'lazy', or 'happy', as the case may be. The contemplation should be carried out repeatedly until the wavering mind ceases to operate. Then, the contemplation should be reverted to the 'rising and falling' movement of the abdomen as before and carried on with the process of noting continually as 'rising', 'falling', 'rising', 'falling'.
If any disagreeable sensations (dukkha-vedanā) such as, tiredness in limbs or feeling of hotness or pain etc., arise in the body, attention should be fixed on the spot where sensation arises and contemplation carried on as 'tired, tired', 'hot, hot', or 'painful, painful', as the case may be. When the disagreeable sensation ceases, "rising and falling" of the abdomen must again be contemplated continuously.
Only when the painful sensations are so acute that they become unbearable, then the posture of the body, and the position of hands and legs have to be changed to get relief. When the act of changing is to be resorted to, attention should be fixed on the behaviour of the bodily movements and contemplation carried on as 'bending', 'stretching', 'swaying', 'moving', 'raising', 'dropping down', etc., in the successive order of the changing process. When the change is completed, then the contemplation on the "rising and falling" of the abdomen should be reverted to.
When sometimes anything is being looked at, it should be contemplated as 'looking', 'seeing'. If anything is seen unintentionally without being looked at, it should be contemplated as 'seeing, seeing'. If it happens to be listening to something, it should be contemplated as 'listening'. 'hearing'. If anything is heard without making any effort to hear, it should be contemplated as 'hearing, hearing'. If a reflecting thought takes place, it should be contemplated as 'reflecting, reflecting'. Then again, contemplation should be reverted to the 'rising and falling' of the abdomen.
In the case of changing from the sitting posture to that of standing or the lying posture, contemplation should be made minutely on all bodily behaviours that occur every time the change takes place. When walking, every movement involved in the process of taking steps should be carefully noted from start to finish and contemplated as 'walking, walking', or 'taking step, taking step', or 'lifting', 'stepping', and 'dropping down' (putting down).
Briefly put, contemplation should be made on all actions of body and limbs, such as bending, stretching, raising, moving, etc., so as to perceive them in their true perspective as they occur. Physical sensations and mental feelings (vedanā) should also be contemplated to know their true nature as they arise. Every mental activity such as thoughts, ideas, reflections, etc., should be contemplated to realize their true nature as they occur. In the absence of any special phenomenon while remaining calmly in the sitting or lying posture, contemplation should be carried out by fixing the attention on any of the bodily contacts. Instructions are, therefore, given here to dwell your mind upon the rising and falling movements of the abdomen, which are easy to explain and contemplate as primary or main objects in contemplation. But, if desirable, either the contemplation of the sitting posture of the body and of bodily contact or the contemplation of the feeling of contact in the flow of respiration (inward and outward breathing) can be carried out as fundamentals in meditation.
When contemplative attention can be easily fixed on any phenomenon as it arises, there is no need to contemplate on the aforesaid fundamentals. In that case, contemplation should be made noting every phenomenon of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling of bodily contact consciousness of thoughts and reflections as and when they arise.
If the yogī (disciple), who is carrying out continuous contemplation in the aforesaid manner and who has thereby developed samādhināna, will personally perceive the arising and dissolution or passing away of the mind for several times within a second. But a yogī who is a beginner in the practice of contemplation cannot possibly perceive the extremely fast phenomena that are taking place. It may be comparable to the case of a person who is a novice in learning how to read and to that of a person who is well-advanced in studies, one of whom can read much faster than the other who is slow. Nevertheless, a person who has just begun the practice of meditation should endeavour to practise contemplation so that the can make note of the arising phenomenon with awareness not less than once in every second.
(Here ends the Vipassanā practice in brief)
Development of Vipassanā-Samādhi-Ñāṇa
In spite of his endeavour to contemplate without a break to be able to note the phenomena not less than once in every second, a novice in the practice of meditation is apt to forget to observe quite a number of bodily behaviours and mental activities. As pointed out in the section on "Samatha Kammaṭṭhāna", there will be many 'nīvaraṇas' which cause the mind to wander to other objects.
What is important is that in practising 'samatha kammaṭṭhāna', there is no need to contemplate on the mind that forgets to observe, and the wandering mind, and that it is only necessary to recapitulate the original 'samatha' contemplation.
However, in the case of "Vipassanā-Kammaṭṭhāna" the mind that forgets to observe and the mind that wanders should be contemplated. Only after such contemplation with awareness, it should be reverted to the contemplation of the rising and falling of the abdomen and the arising of other phenomena. This is one of the points which essentially differs in dispelling nīvaraṇas between the practice of samatha-bhāvanā and that of vipassanā-bhāvana.
In the case of samatha-bhāvanā, one has to contemplate continuously on the object of 'samatha' so that the mind is fixed on one single object only. It is not necessary to observe any other physical or mental phenomenon. Therefore, there is no need to contemplate on hindrances such as thoughts and imagination which arise occasionally. It is only necessary to dispel them as and when they occur.
In Vipassanā-bhāvanā, however, as the contemplation is to be made on all physical and mental phenomena arising at the six sense-doors. the popping up of nīvaraṇas such as desires, greed, pleasurable feelings and wandering thoughts which sometimes escape the meditator's notice, must be observed and contemplated. If not so contemplated, the mind will have its attachment to these nīvaraṇas with a wrong view that they are permanent, pleasurable and 'atta' (Self). So, when such mental formations arise, it is not just enough to merely disregard them as in the case of samatha. More convincingly, it may be stated that the task of vipassanā practice will be accomplished only if contemplation is also made on them so as to know correctly the real nature with their natural and usual characteristics and to get detached from them.
When repeated contemplation is made many times in the manner described above, the wandering mind will almost entirely disappear and with its disappearance, the mind will be free from hindrances. If the mind flits away from the object of contemplation, it can at once be noticed and contemplated, and by doing so the mind will immediately cease to wander. Even at times when the mind tends to leave its contemplated object, it can immediately be observed and contemplated. The mind will then cease to wander making it possible to proceed with the usual contemplation without interruption.
At this level of the contemplation, the contemplating mind always closely fits in fixedly with its object of contemplation. This fixedness of mind (samādhi) is Vipassanā-khanikasamādhi (momentary concentration of insight). The mind now being free from nīvaraṇas such as 'kāmmacchanda' (sensuous lust) is, therefore, on equal footing with "upacāra-samādhi" (proximate concentration) in the path of "Samatha-kammaṭṭhāna". As the mind is no longer mixed up with any hindrances that cause the mind to wander, and being purified forming a continuous chain of identical thoughts deep in one-pointedness of the mind in the act of contemplation, it is called "Citta-Visuddhi" (Purity of mind).
Then the material or physical phenomena such as, rising and falling (of the abdomen) etc., which are being observed and noted, are perceived at every moment of contemplation distinctively without mixing up with the knowing mind (nāma) and other material objects (rūpa). Also, the mental phenomena such as the act of contemplating, consciousness of thoughts, act of seeing, etc., are also perceived at every moment of contemplation as distinguished from material phenomena and other mental phenomena. Even at every moment of breathing, the body that is known and the knowing mind are observed and noted with clear distinction. This knowledge of discernment distinguishing between mind and matter is known as "nāmarūpa-pariccheda ñāṇa".
When this insight-knowledge has been developed many a time, the known material object such as the phenomena of 'rising and falling' and the knowing mind which realizes the act of seeing, knowing, etc., are clearly understood as being only 'rūpa' (matter that has no sensitivity of knowing things) and 'nāma' (mind which has the power or sense of knowing, seeing or feeling the material objects and mental activities) which in fact constitute the two main factors of this bodily existence. Apart from these two constituents of life existence, there is no 'atta', or Self, and knowing this well one becomes elated. This realization of knowledge in the course of contemplation is called "Diṭṭhi-Visuddhi" (Purity of View).
On proceeding further with the contemplation, it will be appreciated for having perceived that the material and mental phenomena that are arising in the body are the results of cause and effect.
For illustration: The disciple is pleased for having perceived the fact that because of the mind intending to bend or stretch or move or change the posture, there arise the action of bending, stretching, moving; or changing; because of the fluctuations of temperature, condition in the physical body changes either by being hot or cold; and because of the partaking of food there arises formations of the physical energy. Again he perceives with satisfaction that because of the presence of the eye and visual object, ear and sound, etc., the act of seeing, hearing etc., has occurred; and because of the volitional attentiveness, the mind reaches its sense-object. Again, he perceives with entire satisfaction that because of 'Avijjā' (ignorance or delusion) things appear as being fine and pleasurable; because of 'taṇhā' (cravings) all kinds of deeds are performed after premeditation, being willing to get better-off and delighted or obtain satisfaction: and because of attachment to such actions, thoughts and performances there arise afresh 'viññāṇa' (consciousness): and that the phenomenon of death is nothing but the eventual passing away or disappearance of such consciousness; and that the new life existence (another birth) is the resurgence of such mental consciousness together with the new corporeal body to be depended upon, and so forth. This distinguishing knowledge of Dependent Origination of cause and effect is known as "paccaya-pariggahañāṇa" (the knowledge that distinguishes between cause and effect).
When it is realized that this process of Dependent Origination is result of the relativity of cause and effect, he becomes aware of the fact that matter and mind (rūpa and nāma) had also arisen in the past and that in future also similar occurrences of matter and mind will again take place. Such realization of knowledge with inner satisfaction is called 'Kaṅkhā-Vitarana-Visuddhi' (purity arising from having overcome doubts).
Before the realization of the right knowledge of rūpa and nāma as being taking place within the law of cause and effect, many sceptical doubts could have arisen as to whether there was such a thing as "I" or atta or "Self" in the past falsely viewing rūpa and nāma as 'atta' and a living entity! And that doubts may arise whether "I" come into existence only now and whether "I" in the sense of "Self" will exist hereafter, after death? Now that these sceptical doubts cannot possibly arise. It means that such doubts have been overcome.
On proceeding further with the contemplation it will be observed that all rūpa and nāma arise and pass away at every moment of contemplation. For this reason the phenomenal nature of their impermanence will be known and appreciated. This is "Anicca-sammāsana-ñāṇa." (Insight into the impermanent nature of phenomena).
It will also be observed and perceived that the natural phenomena of rūpa and nāma are constantly taking place and that this arising and passing away of matter and mind have incessantly caused sufferings, and therefore, they are neither pleasant nor reliable, and are terribly miserable and distressing. This is "Dukkha-sammāsana-ñāṇa" (Insight into ill-condition).
Realizing the fact that these conditioned things are happening on their own volition and that their phenomenal occurrences do not follow the dictates of one's own will, they are observed and perceived as neither "atta" nor "Self" but merely "anatta" (Not-self). This is "Anatta-sammāsana-ñāṇa" (Insight into non-atta or non-self).
After having made an analytical observation and reflection on these facts with entire satisfaction, the disciple proceed with his contemplation as usual without further reflection. At this stage, he will clearly perceive the beginning of the arising of sensation towards the sense-object at every moment of his contemplation. He will also perceive the coming to an end of this sensation which is completely severed. At this juncture there may arise many other strange happenings, such as:
(1) mental visions of brilliant or bright light
(2) arising of rapturous feelings
(3) arising of feelings of calmness
(4) strong devotional feelings relating to Buddha and Dhamma
(5) great enthusiasm to carry out the practice of meditation
(6) joyful feelings
(7) extremely rapid, clear and purified perception of sense-objects
(8) the capability of practising mindfulness without missing to note any sensation that needs be contemplated.
(9) the capability to contemplate automatically without making particular effort.
(10) feeling of subtle pleasure in the contemplation.
The yogī (disciple) is so much encouraged and elated that he cannot remain mute and cannot help recounting his experiences. This is just an initial or immature stage of "Udayabbhaya-ñāṇa" and a misconception of "maggañāṇa".
In fact, it is only through the knowledgeable experience of the scriptural texts or the instructions of the meditation teacher that decision should be arrived at with faith whether such vision of brilliant light, etc., are not the true Enlightenment and that spiritual enlightenment can be achieved only by contemplating continuously on all material and mental phenomena that arise, through the practice of Vipassanā. The making of such a decision is known as Maggāmagga-ñāṇa-dassana-visuddhi" (Purity of insight into right and wrong paths).
After having come to this decision if the contemplation is carried on in continuity, those feelings of contentment and satisfaction and mental visions of light will gradually decrease, and the perception of the objects will become clearer and clearer with awareness. The gradual arising and dissolution of numerous phenomena with all their movements taking place at a snail pace will be clearly perceived fragment by fragment, in the course of a single act of bending or stretching the arm or the leg or of taking a step, before it even reaches from one stage of a series of movement to another, that is, without reaching the end of a chain in the consecutive movements of the limb from one position to another. This knowledge is the mature form of "Udayabbhaya-ñāṇa", flawlessly free from 'Upakkilesa' (impurities).
When this 'ñāṇa' has gained more strength, the perception of the phenomenal sense-objects becomes accelerated. Therefore, the end-vanishing of the sense-feelings is more clearly manifested and becomes more noticeable than the beginning of their arising. Then, all sense-objects would appear as if they have already vanished. Forms and shapes of hand, leg, head, body, etc., are no longer perceived and are found to be fading away followed by dissolution every time contemplation is made. It is also perceived with awareness that even the contemplating mind along with its objects of contemplation vanishes one after the other immediately in succession. This knowledge and awareness of the process of vanishing in pairs of the sense-object and the knowing mind at every moment of contemplation is called "Bhanga-ñāṇa" (Insight into the dissolution of things).
Having perceived that both the knowing mind and the phenomenal sense-objects are constantly passing away, there arises the knowledge that they are really frightful. This knowledge is, however, viewed with pleasure. This is "Baya-ñāṇa" (Awareness of frightful condition).
Then there arises the realization of the fact that these psycho-physical phenomena so rapidly dissolving are undesirable being faulty and defective in nature. This is "Ādinava- ñāṇa" (Insight into unsatisfactory condition).
On proceeding with the contemplation, awareness of the unattractive and boring nature of things takes place. This is "Nibbidā- ñāṇa" (Insight into wearisome condition).
Then, knowledge or awareness also occurs looking forward to escape from the misery and sufferings brought about by those phenomena of arising and passing away of rūpas and nāmas, and thinking at the same time that it would be better if these physical and mental phenomena cease to exist altogether. This knowledge is "Muccitu-kamyata- ñāṇa" (Knowledge or insight arising from desire to escape).
At this stage, as contemplation is carried on with most anxiousness for an escape (deliverance), a clear perception of 'anicca', 'dukkha' and 'anatta' would arise. In particular, the nature of dukkha, sufferings, may be perceived very convincingly. This is "Patisaṇkha- ñāṇa" (Insight arising out of further contemplation).
When this 'Patisaṇkha- ñāṇa' is fully strengthened, contemplation and awareness become automatic and proceed on its own like the machine of a clock. It proceeds contemplating on objects with equanimity, i.e., superficially taking notice of them, and avoiding to pursue the arising of good or bad sensations. It is so very delicate and gentle. Such contemplation may go on automatically with awareness as it gains momentum for one hour, two hours or three hours. Even though it may last so long, there will be no tiredness or exhaustion. The realization of the true nature of the objects of contemplation without exertion and without pursuing good or bad sensations in the course of the contemplation which lasts for a long time is "Saṇkhārupekkhā- ñāṇa" (Knowledge or insight arising from viewing things with equanimity).
While such realization is going on automatically, extremely fast and active knowledge reappears and this knowledge which advances with a big rush towards a noble path known as "Vutthāna-magga" is called "Vutthāna-gamini. vipassanā- ñāṇa" (Insight leading to elevation).
That special knowledge appears with the realization that physical and mental phenomena which occur at the six sense-doors momentarily are impermanent, suffering and 'not-self' (anatta). The knowledge that arises at the last moment is "Anuloma- ñāṇa" (Knowledge of adaptation) which consists of three 'javanas', impulse moments, called 'Parikamma' (preparation), 'Upacāra' (approach) and 'Anuloma' (adaptation). This is the "Ñāṇa" that is gained in consonance or in harmony with the preceding eight "Vipassanā- ñāṇa" and subsequent "Magga- ñāṇa" (Knowledge of the Path).
Insights from the mature "Udayabbaya-ñāṇa" to the "Anuloma-ñāṇa" totalling nine in number are collectively known as "Patipadā-ñāṇa-dassana-visuddhi" (Purity of knowledge and insight arising from having followed the course of practice).
After 'Anuloma-ñāṇa', there arises "Gotrabhu-ñāṇa" (Knowledge overmastering kinship) which grasps the sensation towards Nibbāna where the miseries and sufferings connected with rūpa and nāma entirely cease. This is the knowledge which severs the lineage of 'puthujjanas' (worldlings) and enters the lineage of the 'Ariyās' (Noble Ones).
Then, there arise "sotāpatti Magga and Phala Ñāṇa" (Insight wisdom arising from the Noble Path of Stream-winning and its Fruition) which realises Nibbāna. The 'Maggañāṇa' is called "Ñāṇa-dassana-visuddhi" (Purity of insight).
The moment of arising of the 'magga and Phala Ñāṇa' does not last even for a second. Then retrospective reflection of the peculiar experiences of the "Magga, Phala and Nibbāna" takes place. This is "Paccavakkhanā-ñāṇa" (Insight of retrospection).
One who has acquired knowledge up to the stage of 'paccavakkhanā-ñāṇa' seriatim to the procedure outlined above, is a "Sotāpannā" (Stream-Winner).
A Sotāpannā is free from the following three 'Samyo janas' (fetters):
(1) Sakkāya-diṭṭhi-Erroneous view of matter and mind (rūpa and nāma) as a living substance, ego or 'self', i.e., Personality Belief.
(2) Vicikicchā-Doubt or uncertainty of the belief about the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, and the discipline, and about the practice of moralities.
(3) Sīlabbata-parāmāsa-Belief in ritualism; wrong belief that methods other then that of cultivating the equalities of the (Eightfold) Ariya-magga (Noble Path) and developing vipassanā insight will lead to Nibbāna. Eternal Peace; Indulgence in wrongful rites and ceremonies.
Furthermore, in the case of a Sotāpanna, his observance of the five precepts, morality, remains pure and unpolluted as a matter of course. For these reasons, a Sotāpanna is liberated from the four Nether Worlds and after being reborn in the world of human beings and devas for seven existences at the most he will attain Arahatship in his last seventh existence and pass into Nibbāna.
If a Sotāpanna practises vipassanā meditation with a view to getting to the state of phala, which he has once acquired, he will reach 'phala-sammāpatti' and remain in that state for a duration of five or ten minutes or half an hour or one hour as he may predetermine. If he is an adept in his practice of 'phala-sammāpatti', he can easily get himself absorbed in that state for a whole day or a whole night or longer.
If he carries out the contemplation of "Upādānakkhandhās" in the same manner aiming to realize the higher states of magga-phala to which he has not yet reached, vipassanā-ñāṇas will be developed from the stage of Udayabbaya-ñāṇa in the serial order as before, and on full maturity, he will realize Nibbāna with the insight-knowledge of "Sakadāgāmi-magga-phala" (Path and fruition leading to the state of the Once-Returner), and become a Sakadāgāmi. (Once-Returner).
A Sakadāgāmi is free from coarse sensuous cravings (kāmarāga) and coarse byāpāda' (ill-will). Therefore, a Sakadāgāmi will attain arahatship and enter Nibbāna only after two existences at the most, in the world of human beings and devas.
When a Sakadāgāmi carries out the practice of 'vipassanā' with intention to reach the state of 'magga and phala' which he has once accomplished, he will achieve that state and if the practice of vipassanā meditation is proceeded with in the same manner so as to realize the higher state of magga-phala, he will attain Nibbāna with the insight of "Anāgāmi-magga-phala" (Path and fruition leading to the state of 'Never-Returner' and become an "Anāgāmi". An Anāgāmi is absolutely free from 'kāmarāga' and 'byāpāda' and will never be reborn in the world of human beings or of devas, but only in Brahma World of Form or Formless Sphere from which he will attain Nibbāna after becoming an Arahat.
If an Anāgāmi wishes to get to the state of phala-sammāpatti and carries out the practice of vipassanā, he will reach his objective. If he continues vipassanā meditation with a view to attaining higher states of magga-phala, the Vipassanā-ñāṇa' will become developed stage by stage to the extent of achieving the realization of Nibbāna and will attain Arahatship.
An Arahat is absolutely free from the remaining five 'Samyojanas', namely:
(1) Rūpa-rāga (craving for material existence)
(2) Arūpa-rāga (craving for immaterial existence)
(3) Māna (conceit)
(4) Uddhacca (restlessness), and
(5) Avijjā (ignorance or delusion together with all 'kilesās', defilements).
Therefore, an arahat will never be reborn in a new existence. At the end of the life-span in this existence he will enter into "parinibbāna".
As there is no more rebirth for him after the parinibbāna, he will escape from all miseries and sufferings of old age, sickness, death etc., etc. It is with this objective to get the benefit of being liberated from these miseries and sufferings, that the following question has been raised and answer given to it at the very outset of this treatise.
Q. Why should kammaṭṭhāna meditation be practised?
A. Kammaṭṭhāna meditation should be practised so as to reach Nibbāna, thereby escaping from all kinds of misery, such as old age, death, etc.
May all those who earnestly wish to get liberated from old age, death and other kinds of misery through realization of Nibbāna be able to practise meditation as duly instructed herein and speedily attain the Eternal Peace of Nibbāna.
The purpose of this glossary is to explain words used in this treatise for which no explanation has been tendered and also those terms in Sanskrit and commonly used Pāḷi that may be unfamiliar to Western readers.
Abiññā : The five supernormal powers.
Ānāpāna : A method in meditation practice by in and out breathing exercise; inhaled and exhaled breath; respiration.
Anatta : "No soul" (doctrine) of Buddhism; Non-self: not a self; without individuality; unsubstantiality.
Anussati : Recollection: attentiveness by fixing the mind.
Arahat : One who has completed the discipline according to the Buddha's teachings required to attain final liberation; one who has reached the final (highest) stage of insight wisdom and the attainment of Nibbāna.
Āhāra : Food, nourishment, nutriment.
Ariyā : A Noble One; the noble ones who have reached a stage in the practice of vipassanā meditation which will lead to the cessation of all suffering.
Arūpa : Absence of form; incorporeal; belonging to Formless Brahma World.
Asubha : Disagreeable; disgusting; impurity. Hence Asubhabhāvanā means contemplation of the impurity of the body.
Bhava : Existence; being.
Brahmā : A celestial being of the abode of Brahma World; a noble being.
Brahmavihāra : Perfect goodwill towards all beings; general benevolence; Sublimes State of Consciousness.
Buddha : The Enlightened One; the Illumined One; The Omniscient.
Citta : Memory recognition.
Deva (Skt.) : A celestial being; Heavenly being.
Dhamma : Rule of doctrine and discipline taught by Buddha; teachings of the Buddha; the Truth.
Dukkha : Suffering, pain, misery, sorrow, unhappiness, unsatisfactoriness.
Jhāna : Attainment of a mystic state by perfect contemplation (with supernatural ecstasy, serenity and / or powers); abstraction of the mind; plunged in profound trance.
Kammaṭṭhāna : The term is applied to religious exercises or meditations; by means of which samādhi, jhāna and the four paths are attained; one of the modes of Buddhist meditation; analytical meditation.
Kasina : The name for one of the divisions of the kammaṭṭhāna and is a process by means of which mystic meditation may be induced. The word 'kasina' is the Sanskrit and probably named thus because in practising it the mind is wholly absorbed or engrossed in one predominant object on which it is intently fixed.
Magga : The Right Path; path, track.
Mettā (Skt.) : Loving-kindness; goodwill; the first of the four Brahma-vihāras.
Ñāṇa : Knowledge of the true Path; wisdom or insight gained through vipassanā meditation in accordance with the Noble Eightfold Path.
Nāma-rūpa : Mind and body: name and form; the term designates the individual sentient being viewed as an aggregate of mental and physical elements; the five khandhās; the two main constituents of the corporeal body.
Nibbāna (P) : Nirvāna (Skt), final goal of Buddhism reached through arahatship; the term conveys in a vigorous metaphor the fullest idea of the cessation of existence; a state of bliss; eternal peace; extinction of all kinds of cravings.
Nimitta : The first sign or image of mental illumination produced by the successful exercise of Kammaṭṭhāna.
Nīvarana : Obstacle, hindrance; obstacles to a religious life or in the exercise of religious meditation. there are five nīvaraṇas which cause hindrance to the realization of the Truth.
Phala : Fruition attained through attainment of magga-ñāṇa.
Rūpa (Skt.) : Body, form; the material matter.
Sāmādhi : Complete concentration, tranquility, calm, tranquil state of mind acquired through absorbed contemplation or mindfulness.
Samatha : Self-control through meditation to gain tranquility of the mind.
Samathayānika : One who makes quietude his vehicle of samatha.
Taṇhā : Lust, desire, or human passion. It is a technical term of Buddhist philosophy and denotes all kinds of attachment or craving.
Upādāna : Desire or cleaving to existence for the root or actual producing cause of renewed existence.
Vipassanā : Insight meditation spiritual insight; hence, vipassanā-ñāṇa an attribute of arahatship produced by the successful exercise of esctatic meditation.
Visuddhi : Purity; holiness.