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Vipassana Fellowship Meditation -6 October - 12 October-Contemplation - Day 8-Day 9-Day 10-Day 11-Day 12-Day 13-Day 14
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Vipassana Fellowship Meditation -6 October - 12 October-Contemplation - Day 8-Day 9-Day 10-Day 11-Day 12-Day 13-Day 14

This week we continue our practice of Mindfulness of Breathing; look at
how to deal constructively with the hindrances that arise; and begin to
explore the ethical precepts.

Saturday - Tension and Tiredness

1. Tension and Tiredness

Day 8

arise for many meditators and particularly when beginning a new
technique. We are so anxious to get it right that we strain to calm any
distractions that occur. In our daily lives we often seek to have
control over every aspect of our activities. When we come to something
as simple as observing the breath there is sometimes a resistance and we
seek also to control this activity - even when we are perfectly well
aware that it’s not about control!

best strategy for dealing with any tension is to note that it is there.
Accept it. Then gently return to the observation of the in- and
out-breath. Difficult as it may seem, don’t spend time trying to will
the tension away. Just accept it as something that has entered your
consciousness. If it were not this particular difficulty it is most
likely that there would be another. It is the nature of the mind that
distractions will occur and we must simply be accepting of this. As we
become more established in the practice then the nature of these
phenomena will change. We will also gradually be able to remain more
fully (and more consistently) with the object of meditation.

is likely that there will be a degree of control of the breath
happening initially no matter how hard we try to just observe. As the
experience becomes less novel the need to control will lessen. The
different sections allow us to refine our concentration by subtly
altering the manner in which we observe. This is particularly useful if
our energies are dissipated and we experience a mind full of
distractions and thoughts.

a tensing of the abdomen can indicate that you are trying to force the
concentration a little too hard. This is very common and often shows
itself in other ways, too, like in a furrowing of the brow. Try to just
observe the breath as it comes and goes. Don’t hold on for grim death
but acknowledge that it is the nature of the mind to wander. When these
distractions occur, be gentle with them. Acknowledge that they are part
of the picture and then choose to return to the observation of the
breath. There is no failure in losing the count or in a momentary loss
of concentration. We fail only if we choose to continue indulging the
thoughts or images that arise - by that stage we have effectively chosen
to cease meditating.

process of tolerance, acceptance, allowance, is necessary because it
takes account of what is. We are not trying to force anything to occur -
we merely observe. Distractions are a part of the landscape; our
relationship to them is determined only by the fact that we choose to
put our attention elsewhere for a while. Don’t allow them to be seen as
enemies - these ‘arisings’ will become our very good friends and
teachers as our meditation practice develops.

new meditators remark that they find it difficult to keep the eyes
closed - that there is some involuntary movement; this usually implies a
sort of resistance to allowing the meditation to take its course. It
seems rather like the twitch that many people experience in social
situations when they become very relaxed and are in danger of nodding
off. They are aware that it’s not what they planned and their mental
warning mechanism comes into play. Even if you feel fully focused at
that point, there is some resistance to simply concentrating on the
breath. Clearly the fluttering of the eyes and their opening are very
distracting. It is important not to get into the habit of anticipating
this phenomenon. Each time you sit down to meditate assume that the
session is a unique experience. In essence it is. We are simply
observing what is there and we should attempt not to colour this by
memory or anticipation. Suppression is not an option. In order to
eliminate possible physical causes try working with different postures
in subsequent sessions. Ensure particularly that you avoid rigidity in
the arms and chest area and that you are not rounding the back and
shoulders. Make sure that you are not tensing the face muscles and that
the brow is relaxed.

physical restlessness is usually mind-made. Sometimes it occurs because
we feel we are not being productive - just sitting on a cushion. Often
there is almost a guilty feeling that arises when we choose to take time
out to do this personal work. Surely we could be of more use, more
help, if we were carrying out other tasks rather than just sitting here
watching the breath? It is important to realise that we will have plenty
of time for those other important things, and will probably perform
them better, if we stay determined in our meditation practice. Doubt may
sometimes arise about the efficacy of what we are doing. Everyone
experiences this. This is one reason why it can be so very useful to
read the texts of the Pāli Canon and be in contact with others working
in a similar way. There is an element of confidence or conviction
(saddhā) that can arise when we have the examples of others as evidence
of the value of this work. As our practice continues we will get
glimpses of insight, times when things appear to go wonderfully
smoothly, and the remembrance of these can give us the confidence we
need to pull us through those other sessions which are restless and
lacking in concentration.

male meditators, particularly, report that they feel sexual tension or
urges during their meditation sittings. As lay people we shouldn’t get
too worried about our sexual impulse; it is a part of life and there is
nothing sinful or wrong about it. We simply choose to use it in ways
which are skilful rather than detrimental to ourselves and those with
whom we share our lives. If we have a conflict between our impulse to
meditate and any other impulse then we make a choice. Meditation does
not have to happen at a set hour and nor does the expression of our
sexuality. In time priorities change and as we become secure in our
practice these decisions seem easier.

first thing to check, if this is a problem, is that you are using
normal everyday breathing. Some people have a tendency to exaggerate the
depth of the breathing and this can lead to relating to the practice as
a physical exercise rather than as an exercise in concentration and
one-pointedness. This may particularly be the case in the third section
of ānāpānasati: occasionally the breath becomes exaggerated in our
attempt to follow its length and depth.

general sexual urges are to be treated like any other phenomena that
arise in samatha meditation. They have no special power or significance;
they are not better or worse than any other phenomena, and we certainly
do not need to feel any sense of shame or guilt that they have arisen.
We accept that they are there but know that they are not what we have
chosen to spend our meditation time dwelling on. We try to gently take
our attention back to the breathing - normal rather than deep breathing.
As the distraction arises again, gently acknowledge and return to the

these urges predominate in particular meditation sessions (e.g. those
early in the morning or late at night) then experiment with meditating
at different times if possible. If you are disturbed by the regularity
of similar urges arising then perhaps you could give some attention to
setting up your meditation session in a more formal way - perhaps by
engaging in some reading from Buddhist texts prior to meditating or by
using some of the simple rituals - such as short chants and pujas -
which can help to balance our mood to make the best of our practice
time. Try to adopt an attitude which says, “Fine, this urge has arisen,
it’s normal. Now back to my meditation.” You will find over time that
different distractions will supplant this one as your bête noir. It is
important not to attach too much significance to them if possible.


is a good idea to choose a time for you sessions when you are not
already tired. Many people like to sit one session in the early morning
before breakfast and another before the evening meal. Certainly it is
not advisable to meditate immediately after eating as the process of
digestion has a tendency to make one sleepy. An upright steady posture
is also useful in staving off sleep. Don’t strain but work on developing
a firm steady posture with a straight back. Unless you have back
problems it is better not to have the back supported by a chair or wall.
If you are very sleepy then it is possible to meditate with your
eyelids slightly open and this can sometimes be useful.

we are meditating we work with the conditions that are there. Often
people ask whether drinking coffee to promote alertness and overcome
tiredness is a good strategy. We should not try to change the conditions
chemically (or by forcing the breath in anyway). If you drift off just
acknowledge it. When you become aware that the mind has wandered then
gently bring it back. I have found the best aids to alertness to be good
ventilation, an upright posture and making sure I get enough sleep.
Meditation conducted when tired but whilst kept edgily alert by several
strong coffees or caffeine pills is unlikely to be of much use. It is
far better to observe the breath (or even the tiredness) to the best of
your unstimulated ability.

key thing is to treat each sitting as a unique experience and to try
not to anticipate what any particular meditation sitting will be like.
When we have been meditating for a while we see that there are peaks and
troughs throughout our meditation ‘career’ but that there is a gradual
development of the qualities of concentration and tranquillity if we
remain committed to the samatha practices.

certain amount of determination is necessary, as without it we will
easily get into habits of missing one session, leading to missing the
next couple of sessions, and so on until it becomes a rare thing for us
to meditate at all. Meditation is not worthwhile unless it is practised
with dedication over a sustained period. Only through regular, steady,
engagement will we acquire the skills in concentration and awareness
that we will need to begin to work at deeper levels. It does not seem
easy to fit meditation into our busy schedules at first, especially if
we are tired from our other duties, but if we persevere for a few weeks
we will come to realise how important it is and some of the more mundane
benefits of meditation will soon begin to impact for the better on the
rest of our day. Most people do find that there is some resistance to
making time for meditation initially, but it is necessary to do so.

always crave the perfect conditions for meditation and they are very
difficult to come by because they depend on us for their creation! It
may sometimes seem that the world conspires against us to fill-up all
the available time so that we no longer have a slot in which to sit on
our cushions - but it doesn’t really happen that way. I spend a lot of
time talking about being aware of our habitual patterns but some habits
are good. If we can get into the habit of meditating at least once per
day, and ensure that the time we have promised ourselves will not be
sacrificed for anything short of a calamity then we have the conditions
that are necessary to begin fruitful work.

Contemplation - Day 8

44. Who
will overcome this world

humans, gods and Death?

shall master the well-taught path of Dhamma

a flower arranger perfects a garland?

45. A
striver on the path overcomes this world

humans, gods and Death.

striver masters the well-taught path of Dhamma

a flower arranger perfects a garland.

46. Seeing
this froth-like body,

no more than a mirage -

out Mara’s florid enticements,

goes beyond the sight of Death.

47. Plucking
flowers, distracted,

as a great flood sweeps

sleeping village -

carries one away.

48. Plucking
flowers, distracted,

in sense desires,

such a one’s mind

Destroyer holds sway.

49. Without
harming its colour or scent,

bee takes nectar from a flower

flies away.

should the sage visit the village.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 10:50 PM

Sunday - Hindrances to Meditation

1. Hindrances to Meditation

The Hindrances to Meditation

we begin to meditate a whole range of things can very easily deter us.
Sometimes everything can appear to conspire against us actually getting
down to practise. It is important, particularly in the early stages,
that we have a strong resolve to keep meditating and that our immediate
expectations of results do not get in the way of the actual experience
of meditation. The period we have set aside is a special time that we
can use to refine our attentiveness to the object of meditation. Very
often the mind will wander and each time we must remember to simply
bring it back to the breath. The nature of these disturbances will vary
depending on a number of conditions. If our lives are currently
relatively calm and stress-free we may easily be able to settle into a
session. If we are hassled and have difficulties in daily life then it
may be more difficult. Some of us will come to meditation in the spirit
of trust. Others will have many doubts about its validity. Wherever we
are coming from, all of us will find that our initial sessions are not
as we expected. Stick with the practice as outlined and simply return to
the breathing each time distractions arise.

are common difficulties in practising meditation of which we will all
become aware (even at an early stage). These are generally referred to
as the Five Hindrances and they are those characteristics that make it
difficult to sustain a regular practice. They are hindrances because
they are apt to divert us from pursuing what is most beneficial. They
sap our strength and ability to work in an optimal way. The Buddha
likened this to a powerful river whose flow is gradually weakened by too
many tributaries or streams draining off the water that gave it its
strength. If we were to stop the water escaping to these secondary
streams then the river would once more flow swiftly. Another analogy
used in the discourses is to impure gold. Until gold is purified to
remove base metal and other impurities it is too brittle and cannot be
fashioned effectively by the goldsmith. Once such impurities are removed
the goldsmith is left with pure gold that is pliant, luminous and
malleable. Our minds can have the strength and speed of a great river
and the radiance, purity and flexibility of the purest gold if we work
steadfastly to vanquish the hindrances.

always, the Buddha does not spend time identifying problems without
giving recommendations on how we may overcome them. If we can identify
these hindrances as they occur then we can apply effective remedies to
ensure that our meditation sessions remain valuable.

The Five Mental Hindrances (or nīvarana) are desire
for sense experience (kāmacchanda), Ill will (vyāpāda), sloth and torpor
(thina-middha), restlessness and worry (uddhacca-kukkucca), and
sceptical doubt (vicikicchā).
We will look at each of the hindrances in turn and at some of the
antidotes to them. Please incorporate any of the solutions that may seem
useful into your daily sessions. When we know how to work with the
hindrances they lose their power, and even at this stage it is very
useful to identify them as they occur. Later, we will be working with
other meditation practices that can also act as useful antidotes.


desire for sensuous experience is said to be like trying to clearly see
your reflection in a bowl of water into which various rich-hued
pigments have been tipped. The colour and richness draw our attention
and obscure the very thing we are trying to see.

Buddha said that not even if it rained gold coins would we have our
fill of sensuous pleasure. When we begin to meditate we find it very
difficult to concentrate on such a simple object as the breath. Almost
anything else seems more interesting. We actively listen for sounds that
will entertain us during our sessions. We may drift off into fantasies
about pleasant experiences we have had or which we crave. We anticipate
the activities of the day and hold on to past experiences. If we allow
these thoughts to hijack our meditation session then we cease to
meditate and, instead, we escape into dreams and fantasy.

than indulging this desire as it arises, it is simpler to acknowledge
it and gently come back to the object of our meditation. These thoughts
will arise for all of us. How we choose to respond to them is the key to
whether our meditation periods will be of value. Sensuous desire is
seen as preventing the attainment of one-pointedness. The classical
antidote is consideration of the repulsive aspects of sense objects. We
will look at an aspect of how this may be incorporated into meditation
practice later.

now, the best strategy is one of acknowledgement, reflection and
suppression. The first tactic when sense desire arises is to acknowledge
it. It is a hindrance to the meditation process because it makes
concentration difficult. Although the thoughts are not wrong in
themselves they are not meditation. Gently resolve to return to your
object of meditation with determination to try to stay with it. If this
is not effective, and the thought or distraction continues, then
contemplate the nature of this desire that has arisen. Why do I desire
this? Is reality constructed only of those things we find attractive?
Would I find lasting satisfaction by giving in to this craving? Can it
wait until this short period of meditation has finished? If the other
antidotes have not facilitated a return to the object of your
meditation, then determine that this period has been set-aside for a
particular purpose and that the sense desire is preventing you from
observing your commitment to the practice. The thoughts that have arisen
are inappropriate at this time and cannot be indulged. Determine to
return to the object of meditation. Outside of this meditation period
you may like to consider simplifying your relationship to sense objects.
Traditionally this is called guarding the sense doors. A good place to
begin is to reduce our reliance on trivia and indulgence.

Do these things actually bring us lasting happiness? If we simplify can we appreciate things more and crave less?

Contemplation - Day 9

50. Consider
not the faults of others,

committed or undone.

on one’s own actions:

done and left undone.

51. Without
fragrance, a beautiful

colourful flower is fruitless:

fine words spoken

not applied.

52. With
fragrance, a beautiful

colourful flower is fruitful:

fine words spoken


53. A
heap of flowers produces

fine garlands.

may one born mortal produce

good deeds.

54. The
scent of flowers travels not against the wind

nor sandalwood, tagara or jasmine -

the fragrance of virtue travels against the wind:

scent of the virtuous pervades all directions.

55. Of
all the fragrances:


lotus and jasmine,

fragrance of virtue


56. Weak
is the perfume of

tagara and sandalwood:

scent of the virtuous wafts

unto the highest gods.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 10:49 PM

Monday - Ill-will, Sloth & Torpor

1. ll-will, Sloth & Torpor

Day 10 - Continuing our look at the Hindrances


is said to be like trying to clearly see your reflection in a bowl
filled with bubbling, boiling water. There is so much disturbance and
turmoil that we stand little chance of glimpsing the thing we are
straining to see.

in meditation we can become conscious of anger and irritation. It can
be directed at people or things; it may even be directed at the practice
itself at times. On other occasions, it can be unfinished business from
outside our sessions. Maybe our relationships with others are at a
difficult point. We may also be angry with ourselves and even at our
inability to stay with our meditation object.

is seen as preventing the attainment of rapture or bliss. The classical
antidote is consideration of lovingkindness. We will shortly turn to
look at the practice of mettā bhāvanā, the cultivation of this quality.

first that the ill-will, anger or irritation exists and that you are
engaged in a meditation practice and wish to continue with it. Try
gently to return to the object of meditation. If you are unable to
acknowledge the hindrance and return to the object of meditation,
consider: what does the ill-will feel like? Do you think it is
appropriate or justified? In any case, what will be the result of
indulging it? Look at the nature of the object of your ill-will. If it
is a person can you relate instead to his or her good qualities? Can you
empathise with the suffering and stress they may experience in their
lives? Aren’t you suffering now by engaging your energies in negativity?
Reflecting that ill-will is a part of life, and as such it is
impermanent, can you let it go now? Can you simply let it go, and return
to the breath? Outside of this meditation period you may like to look
at the relationships you have with yourself and others. How can they be
improved? Do you offer goodwill to those with whom you have contact? Do
you treat people (including yourself) kindly, fairly and
compassionately? Do you attach too much importance to the opinion of
others? Are you overly self-critical?


and torpor is said to be like trying to clearly see your reflection in a
bowl of water when the surface is covered with algae and slime. No
matter how long we try to peer into the thick sludgy mixture there will
be no opportunity of setting our eyes on the thing we are aiming to see.

is usually defined as laziness and indolence; it can be anything from a
lack of vitality through to actually entering sleep. Torpor is
numbness, sluggishness, dullness, and apathy; it is a dull and sleepy
state of consciousness. Clearly neither is conducive to meditation but
we will all experience them at times. The mind becomes rigid and inert
and meditation becomes a real slog. Sloth and Torpor is seen as
preventing the attainment of applied thought. The classical antidote is
the consideration of effort, exertion and striving.

that sloth and torpor is present and that it is unhelpful to my
meditation practice. Having set aside this time for meditation resolve
to return to the chosen object of meditation. By stimulating energy
through determined effort we can remain alert. Ensure that the physical
conditions for meditation are optimised: check the posture, make sure
the room is well ventilated. A brightly lit room can help. Take a break
if necessary and then come back to the meditation. Reflect on your
motivation. We meditate because we know it to be of value. By bringing
energy to our sessions they will be more productive. Outside of this
meditation period avoid passivity. Engage in energetic and positive
activities; try to emulate the actions of positive people. Study the
Dhamma for inspiration.

the Anguttara Nikāya we read of how the Buddha once noticed Māha
Moggallāna nodding off during his meditation practice. He proceeded to
give the venerable monk some advice on what one should do when such
drowsiness arises. His first recommendation was to try to turn the
attention away from whatever thought is perceived to be making one
drowsy. If that is unsuccessful, then one should bring to mind the
various Dhamma teachings that one knows of and consider their finer
points. If still sleepy, recite aloud some teachings in the form of
chants or passages that have been memorised. If these Dhamma approaches
do not shake you from your tiredness, then it is time to get more
physical: the Buddha’s first suggestion was to pull or pinch both your
earlobes and vigorously rub your limbs with your hands. Still drifting?
Then get up from where you are seated and wash your face and eyes; then
focus for a while on something bright (such as the stars). If drowsiness
persists then try to focus on the perception of light; visualising
brightness and light to lift the mind. If this is ineffective for you,
then try something less static: begin to employ walking meditation, back
and forth along a defined path, trying to keep the attention within the
body rather than allowing it to stray. If all of the previous steps
have proved less than effective then the Buddha suggested - sleep! -
provided there is the intention of waking refreshed rather than just
giving in to indulgence.

Contemplation - Day 10

57. Mara
cannot find the path

the virtuous and mindful ones,

by Insight.

58. Upon
a rubbish heap,

a roadside ditch,

a lotus.

59. Upon
the rubbish heap

blinded mortals,

disciple of the Enlightened One

resplendent in wisdom.

60. Long
is the night for the sleepless.

is a league to the weary.

is samsara for the foolish:

not the true Dhamma.

61. When
not finding your equal

your better on this route,

press on alone:

is no fellowship with fools.

62. “I
have sons, I have wealth”,

the fool.

owning even his own self -

of sons? what of wealth?

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 12:30 PM

Tuesday - Restlessness, Worry & Doubt

1. Restlessness, Worry & Doubt

Day 11


and worry is said to be like trying to clearly see your reflection in a
bowl of water when the surface is ruffled by high winds and heavily
rippled. Even though the water is clean the turbulence and disruption
prevents us from viewing the object we are trying to see.

restlessness and anguish can be a bar to practice. We will all
experience these at times. Worry here is the guilty feeling that arises
in the mind caused by past unskilful action. Restlessness is a sense of
excitement or agitation.

and Worry is seen as preventing the attainment of happiness. The
classical antidote is consideration of tranquillity of mind.
Determination in practising the samatha techniques will allow such
tranquillity to arise.

that the restlessness or worry has arisen and that it is not conducive
to meditation. Having decided to make time for meditation resolve firmly
to return to the object of meditation. Restlessness and worry pull our
attention away from the object of attention so strengthening the effort
to concentrate on the object (in our case, the breath) may help. If you
are mentally restless is there something that you can do physically to
resolve this? Would a better posture help? Observe where the tensions
lie in the body in order that adjustments can be made. In the case of
worry or anxiety, consider is it justified? Can anything be resolved
during this session by staying with it? Is the worry simply a habitual
state of mind with no particular focus? Reflect that restlessness and
worry are impermanent and that they do not have any enduring essence.
They are changeable. We do not own them. They are not us. Reflect that a
problem that causes worry and anxiety is probably best dealt with at
another time. Outside of this meditation period determine to pay
particular attention to regular practice. Often restlessness is a result
of the lack of experience of regular sitting and your mind and body
need to get used to it. Ensure that you take life more slowly - perhaps
avoiding situations that are over stimulating, and which may make for a
restless nature when called upon to sit for meditation. If anxiety and
worry predominate, then you may like to consider looking at the nature
of the problems you face in your daily life. Spend some time attempting
to resolve them. Investigate the way that you behave with others. Are
your relationships as wholesome as they could be? Attention to ethics in
daily life may allow the mind to settle more easily into meditation.


doubt is said to be like trying to clearly see our reflection in a bowl
of water that is muddy, stirred-up and in the dark. Hard as we try, the
gloomy confused mess prevents us from catching the faintest glimpse of
the thing we are trying to see.

doubt refers specifically to uncertainty about the validity of the
teachings, the efficacy of the training and the merits of the Buddha,
Dhamma and Sangha. Sceptical doubt is seen as preventing the attainment
of sustained thought. The classical antidote is consideration of the
real qualities of things. We may begin by closely examining the Buddha’s
teachings and gradually introduce vipassanā practices that allow us to
move beyond our reliance on third party understanding.

Acknowledge that doubt or scepticism has arisen and that it is unhelpful in the practice.

decided to commit to this period of meditation with gentle
determination return to the meditation object. Reflect that as you are
new to this practice doubts and concerns are bound to arise. We know
that others have benefited from this form of meditation and it is
probable that we will too. We have seen that the technique is
straightforward and non-harming and we are aware that it will take work
and determined effort for progress to be seen. Outside of this
meditation period gain inspiration from the texts of this tradition. If
possible, engage with like-minded people or others pursuing this Path.

Contemplation - Day 11

63. A
fool who knows his foolishness

least is wise to that extent,

a fool who thinks himself wise,

a fool indeed.

64. Accompanying
the wise all his life,

fool no more knows the Dhamma,

a spoon knows the flavour of soup.

65. Accompanying
the wise for a mere moment,

discerning know the Dhamma,

a tongue knows the flavour of soup.

66. Fools,
weak in wisdom,

through life

their own enemies:

evil deeds

bring bitter fruit.

67. Badly
done is the deed

causes regret;

fruit one reaps

tears streaming.

68. Well
done is the deed

cause for regret;

fruit one reaps

delight and joy.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 12:32 PM

Wednesday - Precepts in Meditation Training

1. Precepts in Meditation Training


“Of all the fragrances - sandal, tagara, blue lotus, and jasmine -

the fragrance of virtue is by far the sweetest.”

-The Dhammapada, 55

Buddhist path from which our meditation practices are derived places great
emphasis on living a life that is based on integrity of conduct. Without
paying attention to how our lives are conducted off the meditation
cushion, we are unlikely to be able to derive much benefit from our
practice. In terms of the practices we are currently undertaking, we
will be able to settle more quickly into a concentrated state if we have
behaved ethically during our daily interactions.

the Buddhist path has been divided into sila, virtue or morality;
samādhi, concentration or one-pointedness; and pañña, wisdom or
understanding. These factors are completely interdependent. Without
virtue, concentration will not be possible; and without this
one-pointedness, it will be difficult to progress to the stage at which
insight can arise. If we wish to be free from suffering, and to reduce
the suffering of others, then we cannot see our formal meditation
practice as being somehow separate from the way we conduct the rest of
our lives. With this in mind, we will begin to look at the layperson’s
ethical code known as the Five Precepts.


I undertake the precept to abstain from destroying sentient beings.

(pānātipātā veramani sikkhā padam samādiyāmi)

I undertake the precept to abstain from taking things not given.

(adinnādānā veramani sikkhā padam samādiyāmi)

I undertake the precept to abstain from sexual misconduct.

(kāmesu micchācārā veramani sikkhā padam samādiyāmi)

I undertake the precept to abstain from false speech.

(musāvādā veramani sikkhā padam samādiyāmi)

I undertake the precept to abstain from intoxicants.

(surā meraya majjapamādatthānā veramani sikkhā padam samādiyāmi)

precepts are usually phrased in this negative form but, as we shall
see, each has a positive aspect. Sincere adherence to the precepts can
be seen as a deep practice in itself; and as we gradually refine our
understanding of each precept our observation of it will become deeper
and more particular. We may not all feel ready at this stage to commit
ourselves to these rules of training. They are, however, of great
benefit and are worthy of examination. Take a look at them.
Superficially some of them seem easy; others more difficult. Begin to
integrate those to which you can assent into your daily life. Approach
the others with an open and enquiring mind. Consider why they might be
deemed necessary and examine the extent of their applicability to your
life and practice. A crucial point to be aware of is that the precepts
refer to actions that are intentionally carried out. The intention
behind the action is what is significant. In performing an action do we
consider if it is conducive to the good of others and ourselves? Does it
aim at bringing happiness, wisdom, harmony, generosity, kindness,
compassion, etc.?


Five Precepts are the main ethical guidelines for dedicated lay
followers of Buddhism. They provide enormous support for our meditation
practice but are themselves challenging spiritual work. It is important
to see them not as commandments or something imposed upon us, but as a
series of rules of training to which we voluntarily assent (gradually,
if need be). The system is entirely self-policing; there is no one ‘out
there’ waiting to catch us out or see if we mess up. We subscribe to the
precepts because we feel they may be helpful and because we aspire to
gradually deepen our practice of each of them.

precepts will present us all with difficulties; we may even feel that
some are completely impractical at first. Gradually, though, we will see
that there is a common thrust behind each of them - the will to act
with utmost skill and care; inflicting the least harm and extending the
hand of kindness to all sentient beings. We must always remember in this
that we, too, are sentient. Too often we neglect our own well-being:
and this includes harming and debilitating ourselves through guilt and
excessive self-reproach. Part of respecting ourselves is to realize that
we are on a path of development rather than assuming that we can fully
take to everything immediately. Effective change is an organic process
and comes gradually through gently determined engagement and the fruits
of our meditation practice. If we exert too much force, or set our
standards unrealistically high, it is likely that we will become
despondent and give up the practice altogether.

precepts can be observed at a number of different levels and are very
deep practices in themselves. When we are starting out it is less
important that we commit to the entire set than that we bring integrity
to our observance of those to which we can already assent. If that is a
single precept only, then it is a start.

too that the relationship to guilt is quite different from what most of
us are used to. Guilt is pretty pointless when we have the choice to
begin again in this moment and behave ethically. It is valuable to
express regret or remorse for previous unskilful acts, of course, but it
is also important that we commit to behaving skilfully from this moment
on. In terms of Buddhist philosophy we cannot avoid the repercussions
of our past volitional actions so guilt is a bit of a waste of time.
Expressing remorse for past wrong action is a positive step and can
influence our future because it is itself a wholesome volitional action
of the mind (but it cannot neutralise the effects of earlier misdeeds).
One should not feel guilty at being unable to commit at this time to all
five precepts. You either commit to them or you don’t; it is your own
choice. The choice that you make should be conscious and be informed by
its likely outcome. Is your life more skilful because of this decision?
Does your behaviour conduce to the good of yourself and others?

we approach the precepts we must try to be aware of our motivation. Are
we causing more or less suffering by our observance of them? Are we
hindering or helping our fellow beings? Are we following the precepts
from a sense of love or a sense of duty? Is outward show more important
to us than purity of intent?

application of the precepts needs constant vigilance because the
parameters with which we work are always in flux. Technological
progress, for example, provides us with a feast of new moral dilemmas
with which to grapple. Advances in technology are rarely wholly positive
or wholly negative. There is often a trade-off between, for example,
the greater yield from food crops and the damage to the environment. In
each instance a sort of mini cost-benefit analysis must inform our
decisions and actions. On balance, is the activity harming or helping?
What other activities can we undertake to maximise the benefit to all
sentient beings and minimise the pain and suffering? On what basis are
we choosing to make the distinctions between beings of worth and beings
whose needs we ignore? Are these judgements informed by love, kindness,
and compassion or by self-interest? Is an absolute position - no
intentional killing - really impractical or the only way that is
consistent with our practice? The Five Precepts give us guidance on the
wisest course of action in all these dilemmas.

each of us there will be a deepening of practice. Our periods of
meditation will not leave us unchanged and this will produce a greater
observance of the precepts. As we work at the cultivation of kindness
and compassion in our meditation sessions we will notice the
contradictions between the qualities we ascribe to in our formal
practice and our behaviour in the wider world. Some of us will choose to
work to arrive at a consistent approach both on and off the cushion.

is important when starting out on this path to walk before running. Try
always to look at your motivation for doing something. Observe the
precepts that make sense to you now at a level consistent with your
current understanding. If something feels wrong don’t do it. As we learn
more about the Dhamma, and as our meditation practice develops, we will
reassess our position and find it necessary to regularly adjust and
deepen our relationship to individual precepts. This will come naturally
and need not be forced. Observance of the precepts should always be
because we want to - not because we have been told that we must. It is
the greater understanding of the relationship between happiness and
suffering - through our practice - which will fuel our adherence to the
precepts in the long term and this awakening will be a gradual process.

dilemmas are always very difficult and there are no easy answers that
can be supplied by anyone else. Every person treading this path will
find situations in his or her daily life that present ethical
difficulties; and part of the path is for us to work out our own
position on the right course of action and integrate that into our
practice. We have a set of guidelines in the Precepts and the teachings
on Right Livelihood but they are not exhaustive and as humans we have
free will, which allows us to choose to act skilfully in each given

they come new to them many people have one of two reactions: they can
get very uptight and think that they are impractical but well meaning,
or they feel that they are straightforward, absolute and easy to apply.
Both of these views are wrong. The precepts are very practical; they are
also very difficult. One approach leads to a sense of hopelessness - “I
can’t possibly do all of them, so I’ll just ignore them”, the other
approach leads to a self-satisfied superiority - “Oh, dear, you still
eat meat?”.

is one of those issues with which we will all struggle at one time or
another. We can take a hard line attitude and commit to the precepts
fully… and swiftly realise that we are not yet ready for that, or we
can decide that our practice of the precepts will deepen in its own good
time … which rather lets us off the hook (or so we may fool

important thing for us to consider is why the precepts are recommended
and what they mean to us and for our meditation practice. We are also
aware that any commitment to individual precepts can be at the level of
simple observance (a minimal approach, if you like) or as a deep
spiritual practice in its own right (where we explore the logical
extension of the precepts to each of our daily activities, working at
subtler and subtler levels).

and again we come back to intention and commitment. If we choose to
accept certain precepts, but not others, then we should consider why
this might be. If we simply feel unready to subscribe to them at this
point we should face up to that. If we can’t see the relevance of a
particular precept in our lives then consider carefully why others may
have found it useful. If we still can’t see the point of it then maybe
we can accept it on trust - perhaps on the basis that it is deemed to
form a core part of the path we are treading. If such trust does not
come easily then perhaps one can put the precept to one side for a
period and re-examine it regularly to see if the view of it changes with
practice. The games that we play are fascinating. Often the precepts
that we find hardest to relate to are those that for other people would
prove easiest. Like all other areas of practice watching the pull of
preference and how we reject that we perceive to be difficult can be a
useful exercise in itself. The tradition does not see hedonism or laxity
as oppositional to the precepts, but rather as the opposite of
austerity and rigidity. The precepts are in effect working in the Middle
Way; not something to be further watered down or worked with in a
half-hearted fashion.

aware of the decisions made and the motivation for making them. The
base for working with the precepts is always integrity: the precepts
that one subscribes to should be followed with commitment and energy;
those to which we cannot yet subscribe can still be seen as something to
which we aspire. It would be very unusual if deepening understandings
of the necessity for the precepts were not to arise in anyone who
consistently practised meditation but sometimes a little determination
can also prove useful. Making a special effort on uposatha days - one
each week or each month - can be worthwhile in this regard.

seems that there are two dangers with the precepts: one is that we
apply them rigidly and unthinkingly and treat them as if they are
commandments. This takes away personal responsibility and any idea that
it is the volition that is the important factor. The other is that we
observe them so loosely that they fail to provide any sustenance and
support for our spiritual and social development.

Contemplation - Day 12

69. Until
the evil deed ripens

fool thinks it sweet as honey.

it ripens,

he comes to grief.

70. Even
if eating from the tip

a blade of grass,

month after month,

fool would not be worth a sixteenth

those who comprehend the Dhamma.

71. An
evil deed does not bear immediate fruit;

milk takes time to sour.

it follows the fool

fire hidden beneath ashes.

72. A
fool gains knowledge

his disadvantage:

cleaves his head,

any goodness.

73. The
fool seeks reputation,

among monks,

over monasteries,

honour from householders.

74. “Let
both laity and monks

all this was done by me;

my authority

matters great and small.”

is the ambition of the fool,

desire and pride increasing.

75. The
worldly path goes one way,

Path to Nibbana, another.


bhikkhu who follows the Buddha,

no pleasure in acclaim,

cultivates detachment.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 12:33 PM

Contemplation - Day 13

76. Finding
a wise man who points

one’s faults and reproves,

with him -

one who guides to treasure.

is always better, never worse,

cultivate such association.

77. Let
him admonish, let him teach,

him guard one from wrong.

is dear to the good,

disliked by the bad.

78. Do
not associate with wrongdoers;

not with the base.

with virtuous friends;

fellowship with the noble.

79. Drinking
deep the Dhamma,

lives happily, with tranquil mind.

wise ever delight in the Dhamma,

by the noble ones.

80. Irrigators
channel water,

straighten arrows,

shape wood.

wise control themselves.

81. A
solid rock is not

by wind.

wise are not

by praise or blame.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 12:36 PM

Contemplation - Day 13

76. Finding
a wise man who points

one’s faults and reproves,

with him -

one who guides to treasure.

is always better, never worse,

cultivate such association.

77. Let
him admonish, let him teach,

him guard one from wrong.

is dear to the good,

disliked by the bad.

78. Do
not associate with wrongdoers;

not with the base.

with virtuous friends;

fellowship with the noble.

79. Drinking
deep the Dhamma,

lives happily, with tranquil mind.

wise ever delight in the Dhamma,

by the noble ones.

80. Irrigators
channel water,

straighten arrows,

shape wood.

wise control themselves.

81. A
solid rock is not

by wind.

wise are not

by praise or blame.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 12:36 PM

Friday - Second Precept

1. The Second Precept


adinnādānā veramani sikkhā padam samādiyāmi

I take the precept to abstain from taking things not given

a fundamental level this precept is a voluntary acceptance of the
principle that stealing is unskilful behaviour that brings suffering. It
is wider than that, however, and involves a pledge to only take those
things that are explicitly given to us. There are no grey areas here.
Most of us would not consider ourselves thieves; but can we truly say
that we take only those things that we have been given? Do we ask
permission before we assume we can take or borrow someone else’s
property? Do we respect entirely the property of our employer… our
friends… the state… Do we take more than the giver intended? Are we
honest about our needs in order that those who extend generosity to us
can meet them appropriately? Do we dissemble to fool the giver into
offering more than they intend? What changes would be required in our
daily activities if we chose to observe this particular precept at its
deepest: Not taking anything unless it is explicitly given to us. We
would have to reorder our assumptions about our everyday transactions
with others. How common is common property? Have we assumed the right to
share in what rightfully belongs to another? Our deception (including
self-deception) may be very subtle at times. Watch it carefully. Don’t
wallow in feelings of guilt. Resolve instead to behave ethically from
this point. If we transgress, acknowledge it - and begin again.

Aware of the suffering caused for others by stealing - I choose to abstain.

Aware of the guilt caused to myself by stealing - I choose to abstain.

Aware that there is plenty for all without greed - I choose to take only my share.

Aware that we live supported by other people - I choose to practise generosity.

(We will continue exploring the other precepts in a few days.)

Contemplation - Day 14

82. On
hearing the Dhamma,

wise become tranquil;

a lake -

clear, still.

83. The
good renounce everything.

virtuous prattle not of sense desires.

touched by pleasure or by pain,

elated nor dejected are the wise.

84. Virtuous,
wise and righteous

one who, for himself or others,

not sons, fortune, kingdom,

any advantage by unjust means.

85. Few
are those who

the far shore;

rest merely

about on this bank.

86. Those
who practice

well-taught Dhamma

the realm of Death,

difficult to cross.

87-88. Abandoning
the dark states,

wise cultivate the bright.

forth, from home into homelessness,

delight in detachment,

difficult to enjoy.

sense pleasures,

from attachment,

wise man cleanses

mind of impurity.

89. Developed
in the factors of Enlightenment,

attachment, delighting in non-clinging,

and resplendent in wisdom,

attain Nibbana in this very life.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 12:38 PM

Chant Workshop 2 (optional)

1. Chant Workshop 2

meditation practices we are using are drawn from the Theravāda
tradition which bases its teachings on the words of the Buddha and his
early followers as recorded in the Pāli Canon. Pāli is a written
liturgical language and is often also used for traditional chants that
many meditators find helpful as part of their spiritual practice.

the course we will introduce a small number of these chants in Pāli or
in translated English form. Over the weeks the individual chants build
to form the text for a puja, or dedication ceremony, that some
practitioners may wish to use as a way of periodically rededicating
their meditation practice. Please use the chants if you find them
helpful; please ignore them if you prefer.

CHANT 2: Panca Sila

Panca Sila

pānātipātā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

adinnādānā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

kāmesu micchācārā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

musāvādā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

sura meraya majja pamādatthānā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

Five Precepts

I take the precept to abstain from killing sentient beings

I take the precept to abstain from taking the not given

I take the precept to abstain from sensual misconduct

I take the precept to abstain from false speech

I take the precept to abstain from intoxicating liquor

1. Chant Workshop 2

meditation practices we are using are drawn from the Theravāda
tradition which bases its teachings on the words of the Buddha and his
early followers as recorded in the Pāli Canon. Pāli is a written
liturgical language and is often also used for traditional chants that
many meditators find helpful as part of their spiritual practice.

the course we will introduce a small number of these chants in Pāli or
in translated English form. Over the weeks the individual chants build
to form the text for a puja, or dedication ceremony, that some
practitioners may wish to use as a way of periodically rededicating
their meditation practice. Please use the chants if you find them
helpful; please ignore them if you prefer.

CHANT 2: Panca Sila

Panca Sila

pānātipātā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

adinnādānā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

kāmesu micchācārā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

musāvādā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

sura meraya majja pamādatthānā veramani sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi

Five Precepts

I take the precept to abstain from killing sentient beings

I take the precept to abstain from taking the not given

I take the precept to abstain from sensual misconduct

I take the precept to abstain from false speech

I take the precept to abstain from intoxicating liquor

Play audio:



Download link:

Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 4:33 PM
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Vipassana Fellowship Meditation - Day 1-7 -Sunday - The Breath and the Sections Book-Day 2- Monday - No Need For Knots Book-On Mindfulness of Breathing (Video) Page-Contemplation - Day 3-Tuesday - Preferences and Habits Book-Contemplation - Day 4-Wednesday - Ordinary Breath, Closely Felt Book- Thursday - Results and Time Book-ContemplationContemplation - Day 5 Page– Day 6 Page-Friday - Distractions and Development Book-Contemplation - Day 7 PageChant Workshop 1 (optional)
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Vipassana Fellowship Meditation - Day 1-7 -Sunday - The Breath and the Sections Book-Day 2-

Monday - No Need For Knots Book-On Mindfulness of Breathing (Video) Page-Contemplation - Day 3-Tuesday - Preferences and Habits Book-Contemplation - Day 4-Wednesday - Ordinary Breath, Closely Felt Book-
Thursday - Results and Time Book-ContemplationContemplation - Day 5 Page– Day 6 Page-Friday - Distractions and Development Book-Contemplation - Day 7 PageChant Workshop 1 (optional)
-Audio Player - Mindfulness of Breathing

Guided meditation files are intended to illustrate how to structure your own sittings. Once you are familiar with the format you should try to meditate without listening to these audio files.

Anapanasati - Mindfulness of Breathing



Audio Download - Mindfulness of Breathing
Using the Daily Contemplation

Using the Daily Contemplation

Every day of the course includes a daily contemplation passage taken from the verses of The Dhammapada. The Dhammapada is a collection of the Buddha’s sayings, collected from various incidents in his life, and was originally compiled for the use of monks and nuns who had renounced conventional lives in society to become full-time contemplatives. Their lives were very different to our own.

These verses are not included as readings to study but rather to examine how they affect us.

We are practising Affective Reading: noticing how we are impacted by what we read, being aware of any feelings that arise, allowing ourselves to be surprised by some of those reactions.

I suggest that you read each passage a few times each day and see how you respond to it - physically, emotionally, rationally. There will be some sections that seem to have direct resonance for you and others which seem controversial or which directly contradict your own views.

Watch your feelings as you read each verse. Do you warm to what is being said or do you feel alienated by it? The sections are thematically linked, so begin to watch how they unfold in subsequent days. Some of the vocabulary is of its time - particularly in relation to the genders - and some seems quite harsh by modern standards. Rather than dismissing verses which seem ‘old fashioned’ try to look at the intention behind them.

Over the days you will get a feel for how these verses fit together and contemplate a fair amount of Dhamma or traditional teaching in this way. The daily contemplation is a supplementary activity - it is not part of your main meditation practice at this stage - but watching your feelings and reactions to each reading may prove a good initial training in self-observation that may prove helpful later in the course when we come to the vipassanā section.

(A full copy of this version of the Dhammapada text will be available as a PDF document later in the course for anyone who wants one.)

With metta


Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 7:35 PM
Contemplation - Day 1

1.    All mental states are preceded by mind.

Mind is their ruler, mind fashions them.

If one speaks or acts with an impure mind,

suffering follows like a cartwheel follows the ox’s hoof.

2.    All mental states are preceded by mind.

Mind is their ruler, mind fashions them.

If one speaks or acts with a pure mind,

happiness follows like an inseparable shadow.

3.    He abused me, he hurt me,

he defeated me, he robbed me!

Those who brood on such thoughts

will never be free from anger.

4.    He abused me, he hurt me,

he defeated me, he robbed me!

Those who relinquish such thoughts

will be freed from anger.

5.    Hatred is never settled by hatred.

It is settled only by non-hatred.

This is an eternal law.

6.    Some do not accept that we all must die.

Those who do know it settle their quarrels.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 7:20 PM

Sunday - The Breath and the Sections Book
Contemplation - Day 2
1. Day 2

Day 2

In ānāpānasati our sole concern is with being mindful of the in-breath and out-breath. Anything else that arises is simply to be acknowledged before returning to the observation of the breathing. In essence we stop meditating on the breath when we start interpreting the thoughts, feelings and the objects that may arise. Acceptance of this is the single most important factor in determining our ability to progress with this technique. We must recognise that there are different forms of meditation and that they work in various ways. Mindfulness of Breathing aims at one-pointedness. It improves concentration and brings tranquillity when practised in a sustained manner. We will come to other techniques later that work with our emotions and feelings or provide insight into the nature of the phenomena that arise. For now we simply return to the breath.

There is nothing special about the breath per se: we have not chosen it because it is the life-force (or any other concept from alternative traditions) and, except in a purely biological sense, we are not breathing in purity and expelling impurities. We focus on the breathing as the object of our meditation because it is convenient, free and portable. It also has the advantage, for some, of being religiously neutral. In the way that we are using it there is no special significance to how the breath occurs - whether it is short or long, shallow or deep. The breath is also supremely ordinary - we are not seduced by flashy images or symbolism. The importance of developing the ability to totally focus on a single object cannot be underestimated. For those people drawn to the more heart-based, or emotionally engaged, forms of practice ānāpānasati may seem abstract, mechanical and perhaps even unattractive but such resistance needs to be met head on. We cannot always allow ourselves to be swayed by what seems attractive. If we permit this to happen then our development will be uneven and difficulties will arise later. A degree of proficiency in the samatha techniques - including ānāpānasati - really is a prerequisite for vipassanā. These techniques have other specific benefits too particularly for those who decide to work to attain the jhānas.

The general idea is that in the first three sections we focus on the flow of the breath as it enters and leaves the body. There is quite an awareness of the movement involved - the process or mechanics of the action of breathing in and out. The final section represents a narrowing of our attention to the precise spot where the breath first touches. If breathing through the nose, the point of contact will normally be at the entrance to the nostrils. If instead we chose to breathe through the mouth (perhaps because we have a cold) then the air would probably first be felt at a place on the lip - the entrance to the mouth. As regards timing: it is more important that there is the intention to allocate an equal amount of time (and effort!) to each section than that the timing is spot on. You will find quite soon that you are able to judge the length of sessions and roughly when it is time to move forward to the next.

In the first section we observe the breath as we breathe in normally through the nostrils and then exhale (again through the nostrils), and then we count. Ten is an arbitrary but manageable number. There is no mystery about why it has been chosen; it simply provides enough of a sequence to aid concentration and keep us aware of the distractions. When you lose the count simply begin again at one. Ensure that you are counting in the gap between the breaths and not counting for the duration of the in- and out-breaths. There should be a single number from 1-10 in each gap.

The second stage is similar but with the counting immediately before the inhalation. It is not important if during the counting stages you get to 10 or 6 or 3 every time without a distraction arising. Simply notice that something else has arisen and return your attention to the breath. The counting sections can feel a bit clunky and mechanical - and particularly if you are an experienced meditator used to working with something less structured - but please try to work with them as outlined for the present. From my own practice I have seen how valuable this structure can be and I return to it again and again. It can enhance our capacity to concentrate if it is practised conscientiously. There is also something valuable about the lesson of acceptance - we soon see how strong our likes and dislikes are and how we exercise preference even over something so simple as the breathing: liking this section, disliking that.

The counting in the first two sections should take place in the gap between the inhalation and the exhalation. This is a very brief moment and shouldn’t be given disproportionate attention. We are not mentally saying to ourselves ‘breathe in, breathe out’ but simply observing the action. The only mental noting is of the count itself in those first two sections. Beyond that it is observation only. In the first section the count is after the out-breath and in the second it is before the in-breath. Don’t worry if your breath seems to be altering naturally because of the counting - the only thing to watch for is controlling its rhythm and depth intentionally. If that is happening then be aware of it. We are not trying to change the breathing. We can often seem to be preconditioned to think that deeper and slower breaths are better but this not necessarily what we are aiming for here. Remember that we are practising Mindfulness of Breathing rather than Mindfulness of Counting. The counting in the first two sections acts mainly as an aid to concentration. It has other uses too - when it forms part of a regime like the one we are following - it alerts us to some of the habitual patterns we normally unthinkingly accept.

Interesting, isn’t it, how accustomed we are to thinking of the breathing as cyclical? Once we break it down and choose a start and stop point for each consecutive in- and out-breath we suddenly find that greater effort is required to process the information. It is very common for people to find the second section more difficult than the first. It is likely that had they been taught in reverse they would have found the first section more difficult to grasp. Habitual patterns get fixed very quickly. In the two sections the breath is the same; the gap is the same. The only difference is our starting point (either a count or an inhalation as we start the cycle). We are simply reordering the way in which we are choosing to observe the sequence. It is the process of observation that changes between the two stages. It is rather like us choosing to read a page of text from right to left rather than the more usual left to right - it takes great concentration to achieve this and for it to seem natural. The page, however, remains the same. It is this intensifying of the need for concentration which provides much of the value of the exercise and why this four-section approach can prove so effective.

In the third stage we are following the movement of the breath as it enters the body through the nose, into the respiratory system and is expelled. There is no counting here; by now the mind will usually have settled somewhat and maintaining contact with the object for longer periods should be more practicable. Observe the process of inhalation and exhalation very closely; be aware of the nature of the breath as it moves on its journey into and out of the body. Notice its depth; be aware of its speed.

In the fourth section we narrow the focus of our attention to a precise point. This point of contact will vary slightly for different people, but it remains pretty constant for any one person. Don’t read anything into the significance of the point of contact - it’s merely physiological. Once you have identified the area, then focus just at the point where the breath first touches. Avoid the temptation, in this fourth section, to follow the movement of the breath any further as it enters the nose and is expelled. We are not interested here in the journey that the breath takes - rather in just refining our awareness of the breath at the instant we first notice it and knowing it: is it short, long, shallow or deep? The awareness of that first touch of air is very subtle, and will be refined further as we continue to meditate.

The precision that we can develop in this fourth section will be of great importance when we later move on to insight meditation practices. We mustn’t run before we can walk, however, so we use the three preceding stages to refine our awareness of the breath. The counting is a simple tool that can initially aid concentration and bring awareness to the subtleties of the in- and out-breath. Hence the move from counting after the out-breath to counting before the in-breath. Many people find it a great help in settling thoughts and distractions, and in becoming more aware of the action of breathing.

Many people have difficulty initially identifying the point of contact but this will become easier as you continue to work up to it. If you cannot feel the touch of the breath at present it is fine to extend the third section to double its usual length and omit this fourth stage. As your concentration improves and the technique becomes more familiar then you will automatically begin to notice where the breath first touches as it enters. Initially you will see this as part of the cycle of breathing within that third stage, but soon you will be able to isolate that moment of first contact. At that point reintroduce observation of the fourth section in a formal manner.

It might be helpful to try to become more aware of the actual passage of the breath in stages 1 to 3. Follow it on its journey a short way into the respiratory system and out again. Not too deep, but aware of the movement and whether it is long or short. This awareness of the breath’s journey is the essential difference between the fourth section and the preceding ones. Until the fourth section we have an awareness of the fullness of the inhalation and exhalation process. In the fourth section our attention is focused only on the solitary spot where the touch of air is first felt. We are unconcerned by where it moves onto beyond the instant at which it makes contact. Our observation is of the characteristics of the breath at that one place; short, long, deep, shallow, etc.

In every instance we are working with natural, normal, breathing. Not changing the rhythm, not trying to deepen the breath. Don’t fret about the depth or pace of your breathing. Just take it as it comes and observe it. We sometimes have a tendency to try to make this basic activity a little more diverting and can become very caught up in looking for the reasons for any change of pace. Always the advice is simply to observe. It is as it is. If there are irregularities in rhythm or pace then, as far as the practice goes, this in itself is unimportant. Each meditation session will be different. They are never predictable. No sooner do we firm up our ideas of what our sessions are generally like than we will hit a patch that upsets our preconceptions. Keep it simple. Learn to treasure the simplicity. We operate in a world of great complexity. Allow yourself this short time to observe a simple process completely and not to analyse it.

Try to just observe what is happening rather than keeping a mental commentary as this then becomes something akin to mantra meditation rather than meditation on the in- and out-breath. I know this habit can be difficult to shake but it will be easier if you don’t feel you have to force thoughts out. Accept that they will occur - there is nothing wrong with them arising in the mind. Acknowledge them when they do, and then gently turn back to following the breathing. It will take time to get used to the simplicity of the technique but observation alone is what we are practising. We are not trying to make the mind a blank or to deny that images, thoughts and sensations quite naturally occur. Give them a polite nod of welcome and then pass by as you continue on the journey of watching the breath.

Don’t worry if your breath naturally deepens or becomes shallower during the sessions. The point is that we are not consciously trying to alter it. Many people have the impression that you have to breathe in a special way to meditate. It is true that there are methods from other traditions that work in such a way, but that is not the path that we are taking. Just observe the breath as it is. If it is shallow that is fine. If it is deeper that too is fine. Interesting how complex something so straightforward can seem, isn’t it?

Contemplation - Day 2

7.    One who looks only for pleasure,

with senses and appetite unrestrained,

- indolent and dissipated -

will surely be overpowered by Mara

- for the wind easily fells a rotten tree.

8.    One who contemplates impurities,

with senses and appetite restrained,

- faithful and energetic -

will never be overpowered by Mara

- for the wind cannot move a rocky mountain.

9.    Wearing the yellow robe

though stained oneself,

devoid of restraint and integrity,

one is unworthy of it.

10.    Wearing the yellow robe

cleansed of stain oneself,

with restraint and integrity,

then one is worth of it.

11.    Viewing the inessential as essential,

and the essential as inessential;

dwelling in Wrong Thought,

one never arrives at the essence.

12.    Viewing the essential as essential,

and the inessential as inessential;

dwelling in Right Thought,

one arrives at the essence.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 7:37 PM

Contemplation - Day 2

7.    One who looks only for pleasure,

with senses and appetite unrestrained,

- indolent and dissipated -

will surely be overpowered by Mara

- for the wind easily fells a rotten tree.

8.    One who contemplates impurities,

with senses and appetite restrained,

- faithful and energetic -

will never be overpowered by Mara

- for the wind cannot move a rocky mountain.

9.    Wearing the yellow robe

though stained oneself,

devoid of restraint and integrity,

one is unworthy of it.

10.    Wearing the yellow robe

cleansed of stain oneself,

with restraint and integrity,

then one is worth of it.

11.    Viewing the inessential as essential,

and the essential as inessential;

dwelling in Wrong Thought,

one never arrives at the essence.

12.    Viewing the essential as essential,

and the inessential as inessential;

dwelling in Right Thought,

one arrives at the essence.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 7:37 PM

Monday - No Need For Knots Book
On Mindfulness of Breathing (Video) Page
Contemplation - Day 3

Monday - No Need For Knots

1. No Need For Knots

No Need for Knots

Many newcomers spend more time trying to look like meditators than actually meditating. They contort themselves into postures for which they are not yet supple enough and face insurmountable pain with little hope of concentration on any meditation object. This is nothing but a waste of time. It is far better to ease oneself gradually into meditation and make postural adjustments, using cushions and supports where necessary, alongside the mental adjustments demanded by the practices.

When we are established in our meditation practice then most techniques can be followed in any of the four postures given by the Buddha. These comprise sitting, standing, walking, and lying down.

For beginners, the last of these is not recommended because it has a tendency to promote drowsiness. It is very important that we are as alert as possible during meditation. Any sitting posture may be used, and support from a wall or chair back is acceptable if needed. It is worth persevering to find a sitting posture that can be maintained for long periods of time: as you continue to work with meditation you will find that your session length will increase and a stable upright position is usually the most sustainable over extended periods.

Do not worry that this necessitates you assuming any fancy postures; we are more interested in the attitude the mind strikes than in a particular physical pose. There are very good reasons for using the traditional postures if you have the flexibility, or are prepared to work at acquiring it, but it is perfectly possible to meditate well in a chair. In sitting meditation we are primarily concerned that the back is relatively erect, preferably self-supported, and that the body is free from physical tension. Most of us, as we begin to practice should simply choose the sitting position that we are most likely to be able to maintain without strain for a substantial proportion of the session. Our aim is to remain as alert as possible so sleep-inducing positions should be avoided. Most people gradually get used to sitting cross-legged on a cushion or kneeling using a meditation bench. Aches and pains will inevitably arise as we adapt to any new posture and we need to be sensible here: a small amount of discomfort is to be expected, but at this stage anything stronger or more persistent necessitates a modification of the posture. If you find that you have to move during a session then make sure that you do it with awareness rather than just as a reflex action. Avoid constant fidgeting and adjustments by trying first to treat the discomfort just like any other distraction: when you notice it initially, recognise that it is not the object of your meditation and ease the mind back to focusing on the breathing (the object we are committed to observe). If the discomfort continues or becomes painful then choose to move into a different posture. Acknowledge that this has broken your concentration and keep in mind that such movement will not be required as frequently once we have made meditation a regular activity.

Please be anything but a macho meditator. So many meditators (and not all of them beginners) build up intolerable levels of physical stress through  trying to adopt that “perfect posture”. Their sessions are joyless and unproductive - but they look like they have achieved samādhi! There is no single posture that is appropriate to everyone. Our chosen sitting posture should be the one that we can hold most comfortably for extended periods, does not constrict our breathing and promotes alertness. The traditional postures have the advantage of providing a very stable triangular base (buttocks, and both knees on the floor) and thrust the pelvis forward slightly, which aids the alignment of the back. For most adults who are unused to sitting for long periods on the floor the traditional postures will initially be very uncomfortable for anything more than a few moments and one has to consider whether the possible long term advantages are outweighed by the distraction of pain in the short term. My inclination is to suggest that those people who wish to use one of the cross-legged styles, but find them uncomfortable, should work with plenty of physical supports including firm cushions and well-padded mats.

When adopting a cross-legged posture, one of the commonest beginners’ mistakes is to underestimate the amount of height and firmness that is required from the meditation cushion. Before you begin place the cushion on a mat or folded blanket to help protect the knees. You should sit high enough on the cushion to ensure that both knees are firmly on the mat (if this is not possible, additional small cushions can be placed under each knee). Unless this is the case there will be a tendency to rock from side to side and you may find that you are tensing the muscles of the lower back for your entire session. The main reason that an upright back is recommended is that it aids alertness and you will soon notice movement if you begin to doze off thus allowing you to return to the object of meditation.

Generally speaking, your hands should be gently placed in the lap one on top of the other and perhaps with the thumbs touching. A cushion or a blanket can support the hands if this will prevent the arms dragging the shoulders down and so causing a rounding of the back. Some people who have hot hands may prefer to rest the backs of both hands on the lap with a relaxed interlacing of the fingers. The most important thing is that whatever position we choose it should not be tense or uncomfortable.

Wooden meditation benches can be purchased or fashioned that allow meditators to kneel with a seat supporting the buttocks in order that the circulation of blood is not restricted behind the knees. It’s important to test the height of the seat before purchase, as this is critical and usually not adjustable later. Benches can aid a strong posture allowing the back to be in the correct position that in turn is conducive to alertness. Make sure you have a mat or folded blanket under your knees.

If, whilst sitting, you initially need to use a wall to support your back then ensure that you don’t slump. Try to remain as upright as possible. A small cushion placed in the small of the back can lever you slightly away from the wall and help to maintain an upright posture. As you get more used to sitting still on the floor or on cushions for longer periods your muscles will become stronger and more able to support your back and you may feel confident enough to edge away from the external support little-by-little.

Physical flexibility can be improved over time, in most cases, through stretching exercises, hatha yoga, or by choosing to work at sitting in one of the traditional postures each day for a while outside of the meditation periods (for example, whilst watching TV or reading a book). Meditation, it should be remembered, is about mental rather than physical culture and it is important that we resist any temptation to whittle away the time we have allocated for meditation by physical exercise. It is important not to get too comfy: if you decide to sit in a chair during your meditation sessions it is generally better to use a formal stand chair or dining chair. It may also help to raise the rear two legs of the chair a little (perhaps with wooden blocks or an old telephone directory) to permit the tilting of the pelvis that helps to align the meditator’s back.

Sitting in agony is not meditation. If there is significant pain then a postural adjustment should be made. As newcomers it will take time to find the most suitable posture and we should exercise some discipline in ensuring that we do not fidget about for the whole session. A certain amount of experimentation will be necessary - but any movement within a sitting must be done mindfully. We aim for total mindfulness of the meditation object - this cannot be accomplished if constant postural adjustments need to be made, so it is important that we work hard to find a stable way in which to sit, aided or unaided, for reasonable periods of time.

The approach to physical pain in meditation sessions has to be an individual one. The more familiar we become with meditation the more we will realise just how many of the `physical’ pains we feel so acutely are actually the result of mental processes rather than musculo-skeletal problems. We have to learn to strike a balance between the real need to move when faced with continuous and severe pain and the training process of looking at minor physical discomfort as part of the landscape and dealing with it skilfully.

In daily life it is fairly rare for someone to be totally still for even 10 minutes. We are requiring far more than this during our meditation sessions and it is unsurprising that this causes a minor bodily rebellion. If we just give in to the moans and groans then little progress will be seen. The mind seizes on every opportunity to wallow in distraction whether that comes in the form of a pleasurable daydream or in gravitating towards a physical pain we may have.

When you become conscious of the physical pain acknowledge that it exists rather than getting irritated by it. First try to return to the meditation on the breath. If the pain is still predominant then move your posture. Be aware that you have the intention to move, that you are moving, that you are now seated in a new posture, and that you are now returning to your meditation. Resist the temptation to move frequently and when it becomes necessary only do it with mindfulness so that there is a continuity of awareness throughout your meditation session even if there is a lapse in the Mindfulness of Breathing.

A certain amount of tiredness is usual when we begin to meditate. It is rare for us in the rest of our lives to attempt to sit still for an extended period and until we become used to this the mind will tell us “opportunity for sleep, time to shut down”. We need to get used to the idea that this period of sitting requires all our energy. Meditation is an active rather than a passive process. Normally, in this tradition, the recommendation is that the eyes are closed throughout the sitting. It is permissible, if you are particularly tired, to open the eyes slightly and to allow the unfocused gaze to rest some way in the distance. This can make the difference between being able to meditate during a sitting or dozing off completely. Usually, though, the sittings should take place with gently closed eyelids.

Check that there is no tension in the face: try to adopt a gentle smile when meditating. It really does help. The ‘gaze’ of the eyes behind your closed lids should preferably be focused a few feet ahead and not down towards the nostrils. Make sure, too, that the eyelids are very gently closed - no tightening of the muscles here. Some people find it helpful to rotate the neck a few times before meditation and to pull a few exaggerated facial expressions to ease any residual tension before settling down. There is no wrong place to look during meditation, but if you feel tension in your current position, then try another tack. Make life easy for yourself where possible - a small adjustment here and there can help us to look forward to our sessions with enthusiasm.

On Mindfulness of Breathing (Video)

Andrew speaks about the 4 sections of the Mindfulness of Breathing practice.

Last modified: Sunday, 15 January 2017, 9:02 PM

Contemplation - Day 3

13.    Rain always penetrates a poorly-thatched house;

Passion always penetrates the undeveloped mind.

14.    Rain never penetrates a well-thatched house;

Passion never penetrates the developed mind.

15.    Grieving here and beyond.

The doer of wrong grieves in both.

He grieves and is afflicted,

seeing the impurity of his actions.

16.    Rejoicing here and beyond.

The doer of good rejoices in both.

He rejoices and is jubilant,

seeing the purity of his actions.

17.    Tormented here and beyond.

The doer of wrong is tormented in both.

He knows “Wrong have I done” and it pains him.

Further torment follows when gone to a woeful state.

18.    Delighted here and beyond.

The doer of good delights in both.

He knows “Good have I done” and it pleases him.

Further delight follows when gone to a blissful state.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 10:06 PM

Tuesday - Preferences and Habits Book
Contemplation - Day 4

Tuesday - Preferences and Habits

1. Preferences and Habits

Day 4

Even with a structure as straightforward as this, we soon begin to cherish our favourite sections and resent those we don’t like. We may find one section mechanical whilst another flows beautifully. Try to practice the meditation as it is given: devoting equal attention to the four sections. You will notice that your experience of individual sections and your reactions to them will vary in different sittings and your preference for particular sections will change. That subtle gear-shift between the first and second sections can take a little getting used to. If you have been practising a different method for some time you may find this to be quite a challenge to any patterns you have developed with your usual technique. This is one of the reasons that periodically working in a new way, such as this, can be useful. Each new sitting should be thought of as a fresh start.

Try not to anticipate what your reactions will be. When an opinion or feeling arises see it simply as that, and quietly ease your attention back to following the breath.

Newcomers sometimes wonder whether all this sitting around focusing on an apparently abstract process isn’t just a form of escapism. Are they just evading more pressing matters? It is not really possible to escape through meditation in the way that we are practising it here. The techniques we are using for the first few weeks work to develop a set of mental qualities which, whilst valuable in their own terms, will also bring realisations that there is much work to be done. We will be well equipped to work with this challenge if we practise these techniques with dedication.

Any difficult tasks that lie ahead - whether in meditation or in our everyday lives - are best approached from a position of strength. The samatha techniques with which we are now working are a training in concentration and single-pointedness and will bring us a certain amount of tranquillity. From that calm vantage point we will be better able to gently approach those other areas of life that are a little shakier. Everything is faceable, for each of us, but we need to prepare the way. The beauty of this path is that it ultimately leads beyond all suffering and all fear - but its short-term benefits are worth celebrating too.

Some people express frustration that in this practice they are unable to resolve any issues that arise or emotions that are felt. They feel that temperamentally they may be better suited to another, more personalised or emotionally based, form of meditation. In ānāpānasati we simply acknowledge the feelings and emotions that arise and, if possible, accept that they are not the business we are dealing with at the moment. It is not that we regard such phenomena as unimportant but merely that we have dedicated ourselves to a period of working with ānāpānasati; and the effectiveness of this technique, like any other, relies on being clear about our objectives, faithful to the method and aware of when we stray.

Ānāpānasati, according to the traditional commentaries, is a form of meditation suitable for all character types. If you have recently been practising alternative techniques that employ some special associations with the breathing then it is likely that the new practice will feel a little difficult or strange at first. The associations you habitually make with the breath will need to be overcome, and that will take a little time, but it is worth persevering. All the meditation techniques that we are using are based in reality. They are not coloured by visualizations, adherence to religious concepts, or ideas of specialness. Through training ourselves to wholly observe the simple, the ordinary, the everyday, we will have the tools (and may cultivate the qualities) that are necessary to overcome all suffering and work for complete liberation. Rather than temporarily making ourselves feel better, which is how most visualization techniques work, we will be prepared to face reality without fear and open ourselves to insight through our own experience.

Over the coming weeks we will be working with techniques that also serve our emotional needs - lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and  equanimity. For now we are working in quite a precise, narrow area. My concern for ensuring that we maintain some rigour and clarity when working with any of these forms of meditations is that we all have a tendency to gravitate to practices which we either feel are what we need right now or which we feel more comfortable with. If we are not careful we lose sight of the value of individual disciplines and, as the skills developed are often specific, our work may be impaired later if the ground is not prepared. I advocate working in a balanced and holistic way and that is why we will be working with several different techniques. I am also very aware of the pitfalls of this approach: if we are not careful then our practice can descend into something that is well-meaning but muddled and consequently ineffective. This is why I ask that people always work at least initially with the techniques as given. Not changing them unless they have a very good reason to do so. I accept that a degree of trust is required here - and that can sometimes be difficult in these modern times.

Sometimes new meditators get the wrong idea about why we return to the breathing rather than follow the thoughts that arise. There is no prejudice  against thinking (or acting) in Buddhism - but there is an understanding that some things are better left to a time outside of our meditation sittings, and discursive thought is one of these. It is mainly a question of efficacy: we know from everyday experience that if we try to accomplish a myriad of disparate things all at once we are likely not to do any of them particularly well - and may come dreadfully unstuck! Meditation demands all of our attention, and all of our energy, for the time that we have decided to practice it. It is simply not possible to meditate well and ponder the world’s problems, or solve the odd environmental crisis, at the same time. If we take the approach that our meditation sittings are important and inviolable then we will reap the benefits - both mundane and of a higher order. This attitude will not only prepare us for insight and wisdom, but will allow us to work more efficiently in our time off the cushion. We will see things more clearly, we will bring compassion and kindness to our tasks, and the mind will be equanimous and more able to cope with life’s vicissitudes… We will be more useful and resourceful in terms of what we are able to offer others. We will also have a much clearer perspective on what is important and what is less so.

In my own practice there have been periods where I have felt the need to work with an aspect of my condition right now - usually determined by my  predominant characteristics - rather than taking the long view. I know for certain that in the past I have pandered to and indulged various aspects of my character because I naturally gravitated towards particular techniques and away from others. This can lead to an unbalanced practice and be an impediment to development. Rest assured that we will not neglect any area of our emotional makeup: the work on the brahmavihāra techniques that we will address shortly is very powerful and gloriously effective. Our aptitude for later techniques will be better because of our engagement with ānāpānasati.

Please try for now to acknowledge anything which arises within your meditation, let it go (you may prefer to think of it as ’saving it for later’), and return gently towards the object of the meditation. I know that this is not easy and sometimes it does not feel intuitive but it does work.

One of the things that continues to surprise me is the way that my own practice has changed and continues to change over the years. Initially I often found myself liking one technique and disliking another but soon the poles were reversed. With time and application our ability to approach any valid practice with equanimity will make these choices less of an issue… but in the early days sometimes we have to grit our teeth a little. We must always be careful to guard against the pull of preference and push of avoidance with any technique that is introduced. Concentration is needed in many situations and all forms of meditation and the changing patterns within the four-section method is one approach to developing this faculty. Choice is both an opportunity and a trap and there is much to be learned from acceptance.

Even when meditating we so very quickly get habituated to one way of doing things. Many seasoned meditators are surprised by the amount of resistance they feel to making any alteration to their technique. It is very challenging to acknowledge that we have become so set in our ways when we are participating in an activity that is deemed to be developmental. This is why it is useful to take a disciplined approach to new techniques: we can look on it as an opportunity to re-evaluate the mundane aspects of our practice. Is it working? Is it stagnating? Often we need this change of pattern to awaken us out of our slumber.

Mindfulness of Breathing is a profound practice, the instructions for which can be outlined in very simple language, but its mastery can provide many years of work. As we become established in this technique we will begin to see a gradual development of important qualities within us. We will become more serene and lucid. Even after a few weeks of dedicated practice we will have evidence of an improvement in our concentration through our ability to remain focused on our meditation object. This improved concentration brings practical benefits in our daily lives but, more importantly, it gives us the firm foundation we will need to bring to all of the other spiritual disciplines.

And when, later, we move to practices that are not anchored on an object like the breath? …. maybe pure awareness? … but that will be predicated on the ground we have laid in these concentration practices: we will need to be able to bring that pinpoint accuracy and complete attention to a myriad of arisings and ceasings in every second. Quite a task, quite wonderful… and quite possible!

Contemplation - Day 4

19.    Often reciting the sacred texts, but not applying them,

- like a heedless cowherd who counts only others’ cattle -

one does not share the blessings of the holy life.

20.    Rarely reciting the sacred texts, but following the Dhamma,

forsaking greed, hatred and delusion,

with insight and an emancipated mind,

clinging to nothing of this world or the next,

truly one shares the blessings of the holy life.

21.    Mindfulness is the path to the Deathless.

Inattention is the path to death.

The mindful do not die.

The inattentive are as if already dead.

22.    Knowing the supremacy of mindfulness,

the wise delight therein,

enjoying the resort of the Noble.

23.    Meditative and determined,

the wise alone experience Nibbana,

the incomparable liberation from bondage.

24.    Resolute, mindful, of pure conduct,

discerning and restrained,

living by Dhamma,

their glory grows.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 10:12 PM

Wednesday - Ordinary Breath, Closely Felt Book
Contemplation - Day 5 Page
Wednesday - Ordinary Breath, Closely Felt

1. Ordinary Breath, Closely Felt

Day 5

The Buddha didn’t actually prescribe a certain point at which to watch the breath, but for now we will be observing it as we breathe through the nose. If there is a particular reason why this proves difficult (e.g. a heavy cold) then breathing through the mouth is also fine. The precision of our observation will become increasingly important as we move towards vipassanā techniques. For that reason alone, I would recommend that you continue to locate the point of first contact and observe the breath there. It’s not part of some magic formula or method - there are many valid ways - it simply forms part of a training regime leading to greater precision in mindfulness of our meditation object.

Because we are not involved in heavy physical exercise, and are not obstructing or holding the breath in any way, the body should find no need for the breathing to be any deeper than if it were engaged in other sedentary activities (such as reading a book). If we feel there is a need for gasping on the inhalation then it is likely that we are forcibly expelling the breath from the body on the exhalation rather than just observing it flowing out normally. Remember that the exercise is not about deep breathing. Regardless of the merits of what other traditions or therapies teach, there is no intention here to purify, energize, heal, cleanse, etc., through breathing. Try to put aside anything you may have heard about the breath for a while and choose to observe the process as if for the first time. In ānāpānasati we simply observe a very ordinary occurrence and try to improve our ability to fix our attention on it.

There is sometimes a worry that the breath is becoming too deep or too shallow. Occasionally some meditators may feel slightly dizzy; but this usually indicates that they are controlling or forcing the breathing rather than just allowing it to come and go quite naturally. If you use natural normal breath then you will not hyperventilate. Hyperventilation is common in modern techniques and probably accounts for much of what participants in these practices deem to be mystical experiences. It is very easy, but inadvisable, for anyone to get a mechanical high through forcing the breath in such a way. In ānāpānasati we do not go looking for mystical experiences. The practice is one of concentration upon a simple object. Anything that arises is to be accepted and then we simply return to observation of the breath. There is a great trap in clinging to interesting phenomena that arise and craving them when they do not. Simply accept that it is the nature of the mind to throw up these phenomena and return to the job in hand. When using natural normal breath there is no possibility of doing any damage.

Hatha Yoga practitioners often find that, because they have an awareness of techniques used in pranayama, there is a difficulty in just allowing the normal breath to continue without interference. There is also sometimes a deep-seated idea to overcome that deeper breathing is more calming or cleansing and therefore desirable. The practise we are using will gradually effect change and usually no intervention is necessary. Simply following the procedure conscientiously for a while will allow it to feel more natural for you.

When we practise ānāpānasati we are trying to put the attention firmly upon the breath as it is rather than desiring it to be anything else. The four-section version that we are using will help to bring this about by refining the concentration. If your breath is deep, do not worry about it - just observe it as it is. Naturally deep breathing - for the purpose of ānāpānasati - is neither better nor worse than naturally shallow breathing. Try not to become too hung up on whether you are exerting gentle control - just continue to work with the technique. If you determine to place your whole attention on the exercise in hand in each of the distinct sections you will find that this presents more than enough work for the mind without it needing to regulate the breath. This will be a gradual process that takes time if you are habituated to working in a different way.

During sessions it may be that the breath becomes so shallow that it is difficult to perceive. Sometimes we can be left wondering whether we are imagining the movement of the breath rather than actually observing it. Such wondering is, of course, wandering if it happens during a sitting - so a return to the object of meditation is usually called for. Although in the Mindfulness of Breathing practice we almost always work with the natural breath, just as it comes, there is sometimes a necessity to engage in a few deeper breaths if we are having difficulty locating its physical touch as it enters and leaves the body. This should be thought of as a remedy rather than the norm and should be dispensed with as soon as it is no longer necessary. Many people will never require this step.

The distinction between thoughts about breathing and precise physical awareness is crucial. Our job is to observe the reality of the breathing process: if we are following an idea about the process rather than the process itself then that is straying from the object of meditation. For seasoned meditators, who are usually the ones who experience this problem, then working with the four-sectioned approach may be especially helpful. There is sometimes reluctance by such ‘old hands’ to engage in the counting stages but it is worthwhile to return to this periodically even if you have taken the decision not to continue to use it in daily practice.

Coming back to the breath periodically throughout the day is a valuable exercise. One will not reach the levels of concentration that is achievable in formal sittings, but it still has the potential to aid the long-term development of calm. It is not only the breathing that can be used in this way; mindfulness exercises (where one follows very closely a simple activity, for example) can also bring similar benefits. These can be looked upon as supplementary trainings: they are not a substitute for formal meditation sittings but are worthy companions. Resist the idea that there will be immediate benefits from any meditation activity; progress is more usually seen over an extended period and will be the result of a consistent and disciplined approach rather than somehow `turning on the calm’ when needed.
Contemplation - Day 5

25.    With resolution and mindfulness,

discipline and self-control,

the wise create an island

no flood can submerge.

26.    Fools and the ignorant

indulge in heedlessness.

The wise keep mindfulness

as their best treasure.

27.    Do not give way to heedlessness.

Do not indulge sense pleasures.

Only the attentive and meditative

attain great happiness.

28.    At the summit of a mountain

one observes those below.

Rejecting inattention for mindfulness

the wise ascend the highest tower of wisdom,

sorrowlessly watching the sorrowful beneath.

29.    Mindful among the heedless,

alert among the sleeping,

the wise advance like a race horse

outpacing a weak hack.

30.    Mindfulness crowned Indra ruler of the gods.

Mindfulness is ever praised,

heedlessness always condemned.

31.    Delighting in mindfulness,

fearing inattention,

that bhikkhu advances like fire

burning all obstacles great and small.

32.    Delighting in mindfulness,

fearing inattention,

that bhikkhu cannot fall back -

he approaches Nibbana.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 10:17 PM

Thursday - Results and Time Book
Contemplation - Day 6 Page
Thursday - Results and Time

1. Results and Time

Day 6

Newcomers to meditation are often preoccupied with ideas of achieving the greatest results in the shortest possible time. Who can blame them? Often the question is asked as to how much meditation practice is required for significant results to manifest. How long must I sit? In the Anguttara Nikāya, the Buddha tells the story of a hen who longs earnestly for her eggs to hatch and her chicks to emerge safely. Instead of wishing and longing, she would be more productive if she chose to actually sit on the eggs, keeping them warm until the chicks are sufficiently well developed. If the sitting and nurturing does not take place then the chicks will never emerge from the shells no matter how long she pines for this to happen. We shall be similarly thwarted if we do not apply the required effort and discipline to our meditation practice.

Practically any session is better than none at all, and the aim should be to build up regular sittings on a daily basis. Anything less than 20 minutes is likely to be mainly settling-down time for many newcomers so I would suggest this as a minimum. I am not of the ‘never mind the quality, feel the width’ school. The best length of session is determined only by your ability to remain alert within it. There is little merit in sitting in a beautiful full lotus position for hours on end if your mind is elsewhere. Far better to have a productive 20 or 40 minutes on a regular basis and increase this as you feel able and willing to do so, and as your concentration within sessions improves. Many people do find that they can accommodate longer sessions after some time; and it is fairly common for those established in their practice to choose to dedicate one hour twice each day to meditation. There are no such stipulations in the Pāli Canon or elsewhere; it is our own choice and will necessarily be determined by our circumstances. This is not to let us off the hook: we may find that gradually we will wish to increase the amount of meditation we are doing. During this course my recommendation is that participants try to incorporate two meditation sessions into each day (but if two daily sessions are impossible, the various techniques that we shall explore can be alternated in subsequent sessions instead). When finding the time to meditate seems difficult, and we are working with these sectional forms of meditation, try to ensure that the last section of each practice is not rushed. The intention should be to devote a reasonably equal amount of time to each section.

The amount of time you feel able to comfortably devote to a session will vary. Most people find that they can increase the minutes gradually over a few weeks. If ever it becomes a chore then it is perfectly fine to drop back for a while provided that you do so with awareness of the choice that you have made. If you consistently feel exhausted after meditation then it is likely that you are trying too hard. There is a fine balance between making an effort and straining to achieve! This is a tricky one for most of us at some time or another. Try to take things a little easier for a while. Rely on working with the technique in a way that is gentle and non-competitive.

There is not really one good time to meditate. It is helpful for individuals where they have a choice to pick the time of day when they are at their most alert. In practice most people reach an accommodation between the other demands on their time and the available slots for meditation. Many  find early morning and early evening conducive, but this will vary for different individuals. Do what you can, when you can. It is important to maintain a regular practice and not to allow the countless other things with which we could fill our time to impinge on this vital work.

Contemplation - Day 6

33.    A fletcher straightens an arrow shaft.

The discerning man straightens his mind:

fickle and unsteady, so difficult to guard.

34.    Like a fish pulled from water

to be thrown on dry land,

the mind writhes to and fro.

Hence, Mara’s realm should be shunned.

35.    Wonderful it is, to tame the mind:

so difficult to subdue, so swift,

seizing whatever it desires.

A disciplined mind brings happiness.

36.    The discerning man guards the mind:

so difficult to detect, so subtle,

seizing whatever it desires.

A protected mind brings happiness.

37.    Dwelling in the cave of the heart,

the formless mind wanders far and alone.

Those who subdue the mind,

are freed from Mara’s bonds.

38.    Wisdom is never perfected

in one whose mind is unsteady,

who knows not the Dhamma,

whose conviction wavers.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 10:21 PM

Contemplation - Day 6

33.    A fletcher straightens an arrow shaft.

The discerning man straightens his mind:

fickle and unsteady, so difficult to guard.

34.    Like a fish pulled from water

to be thrown on dry land,

the mind writhes to and fro.

Hence, Mara’s realm should be shunned.

35.    Wonderful it is, to tame the mind:

so difficult to subdue, so swift,

seizing whatever it desires.

A disciplined mind brings happiness.

36.    The discerning man guards the mind:

so difficult to detect, so subtle,

seizing whatever it desires.

A protected mind brings happiness.

37.    Dwelling in the cave of the heart,

the formless mind wanders far and alone.

Those who subdue the mind,

are freed from Mara’s bonds.

38.    Wisdom is never perfected

in one whose mind is unsteady,

who knows not the Dhamma,

whose conviction wavers.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 10:21 PM

Friday - Distractions and Development Book

Friday - Distractions and Development

1. Distractions and Development

Day 7

There is often a great sense of satisfaction when we manage to stay with the breath for more than a few minutes. This is a common feeling when starting out. The mind is generally so very busy, hopping about everywhere that a moment of sustained concentration can even come as a shock. The thing to realise about the process we are undergoing is that it is a very gradual path and its pace will be different for every one of us dependent on the conditions we bring to it. As soon as we notice a feeling like satisfaction or frustration arising we must simply accept it - even this, after all, is a straying from our object - before turning our attention gently back to the breathing. We should guard against trying to change anything. Try not to cling to the feelings that you like or push away those you do not. Just accept them as part of the experience and return to following the breath. We are not trying to keep anything away nor, within this meditation session, are we specifically trying to encourage positive states.

Your concentration will definitely improve with practice. Remember that this is bhāvanā - cultivation, development. We are not expected to be perfect from day one. Work with gentle determination and you will surely feel that the attention to the in- and out- breath becomes more sustained. It is the nature of the mind to wander and we should try not to become tense and irritable when it seems particularly active in this regard. Just acknowledge that you have been drawn away from the object of your meditation - allow yourself a knowing smile, ‘There it goes again!’ - and return to focusing on the breath.

The term ‘monkey mind’ is often used to describe the continual distractions and mental chatter that takes place during our meditation sessions. There will be more stillness and the distractions, when they arise, will be more acceptable to us as we begin to practise regularly. Relative newcomers to meditation often feel that their minds are just too busy to meditate but, of course, that misses the point somewhat. Often there is some residual idea that meditation is about blocking things out or making the mind go blank, but samatha meditation is more about acceptance of what is there, whilst working with gentleness and determination to stay with the object we have chosen - even amidst the cacophony of sounds, thoughts and sensations.

Until it is trained, we have to accept that it is the nature of the mind to wander. Once we have adjusted to the idea of how natural this is it becomes easier to give a mental shrug when it happens and to return to the object of our meditation. The mind is conditioned to crave stimulation and a small rebellion happens when we intentionally pull back from feeding it the stimuli it is used to. Concentration is a quality that can only be developed over time and trying to stick with such a simple process can initially seem very difficult. It will fall into place for you quite soon - the mind will still wander, but the moments of concentration will be more extensive, little by little. Don’t worry if you can’t currently make the count to 10, or 5, or 3… No one is checking but you, and meditation is not a competitive sport. There will be moments of boredom, moments of fatigue, moments of irritation and frustration. There will also be moments of pure concentration and one-pointedness, the like of which you have probably not experienced elsewhere, but for most people these will take a while to develop.

This meditation technique is from the samatha category and the general rule with any phenomenon or distraction that arises during such practices is to note it and return to the meditation object. It is not possible to be fully aware of two separate objects at one time so we must be disciplined. The awareness of thoughts or external things, such as sounds and physical objects, takes place in momentary lapses of attention from the breath. We can only fully be aware of a single object at one time; as we refine our awareness we will begin to see that, rather than being simultaneous, these occurrences actually happen subsequently to each other. The approach is to notice the straying, rather than trying to forcibly ignore the distraction, and resolve to return to the object of meditation. In our case this is currently the breath, but this rule applies also to the other samatha techniques we will introduce. It is important that we do not spend time analysing the nature of the phenomena that arise. Our job is to wholly concentrate on the meditation object we have chosen. There is also a danger in attaching too much significance to images that occur: they distract us from the task we are undertaking. It is easy, and tempting, to stay with images which seem far more interesting than the breath. Our resolve must be, however, to acknowledge their presence and simply return to the work we are doing. Some days anything can seem more interesting than focusing on the breath!

Different images of colour, people or places occur frequently for most people in meditation. As with our dreams, they can be rooted in many sources - memory, fantasy, and imagination. They are undoubtedly interesting, but we must be resistant to their attractions. Samatha meditation is only concerned with one-pointedness upon the object we have chosen. Here we are working toward total concentration on the breath. This is a whole-time activity that cannot profitably be shared with other pursuits. The images that arise, whether they are colours or people, have no intrinsic essence. They are transient and we cannot control them. If we like them we will be let down when they don’t appear. If we dislike them we will try to push them away. If we spend time engaging in colour analysis or in examining scenarios for the characters, however entertaining this may seem, we are wasting time that would be better spent on the object of our meditation. Liberation does not lie in the interpretation of signs: often the signs are simply the mind up to its old tricks trying to find us something more interesting to do.

This may seem very harsh and unintuitive, but it is actually rooted in kindness. Our objective is to overcome suffering for all beings and ourselves. This necessitates that we work effectively to build the skills that are required: one of which is single-pointed concentration. We must guard against anything that distracts us during the short periods that we have set aside for meditation. Try not to attach significance to them and avoid getting involved in working out scenarios. There is no need to get annoyed or frustrated when they arise: simply see them as they are, acknowledge them, note they are not the object of the meditation, and return to the meditation object.

Try to put aside the concepts and teachings of other traditions for a while. Often we can try to replicate the experiences that others have described rather than appreciate that the set of parameters that we work within are unique to us. It is not that there is anything necessarily wrong or incompatible about theories and explanations from different spiritual paths; but it is better if we can simply experience for ourselves what arises during our practice rather than trying to make them fit what we have read or has been described to us by others. It’s difficult, I know! Within this tradition of meditation there are signs (known as nimitta) that may arise during our practice but these occur only when we are well established in concentration. If we are still processing thoughts, or looking for explanations during a sitting, then this should be taken as evidence that the required degree of concentration for such nimitta to arise has not yet been achieved.

The important thing is to gently bring the mind back each time it strays rather than trying to push the thoughts and distractions away. Acknowledge that it is the nature of the mind to stray and don’t get annoyed when it happens. Over time, as practice continues, we will stray less and less; but often if we try to suppress the thoughts at this early stage they will come bouncing back more prominent than ever. Note that they are there; don’t see them as some great barrier. The inevitability of the wandering until we are well established in these concentration practices should be remembered in order that we don’t attach feelings of failure or despondency to this very ordinary tendency.

The wanderings may currently be occurring for you more frequently in some sections than in others, but this is not important - there will be other meditators who find that they are less focused in the sections that you currently find easier. As our practice deepens the ability to remain with the object of meditation will improve, and any irritation or animosity we have towards distraction will lessen. We do not need to fight off the distracting thoughts. If we acknowledge their existence but are gently determined that they are not the focus of our session their presence will be less prominent.

Sometimes people become frustrated at how fragmented particular sections are for them and rationalise that it would be better to get up from the cushion and take a break. I would not recommend that you take breaks between sections unless you really have to. The old monkey mind will soon catch on to the idea that this is an easy way of regularly interrupting your sessions. Work steadily but gently through the sections - don’t try too hard. So much energy can be expended in fighting off that of which we do not approve. Accept that our development will be gradual and that it will be a certainty if we balance dedication to the practices with a gentleness of approach.

You may find that you are noticing the subtle ways in which the breath changes. It is always amazing to me that even such a simple action - inhaling and exhaling - can be so interesting if we take care to fully observe it. It is relatively common at first to find that there is some subtle attempt to control the breathing. If this applies to you, then each time you become aware of control taking place simply acknowledge it and return to the observation of the breath. This control is very much like any other distraction: we acknowledge that it exists but, determining that it is not the focus of the technique we are using, we must return to the sequence of observing the breath rather than the control mechanism.

When we later work with vipassanā techniques in essence the ‘distractions’ - whatever arises - become the ‘object’ of our meditation and are ripe for further attention. The discipline of coping with the narrowness of ānāpānasati should pay dividends even though it may seem frustrating to you at present.

As we become more used to the practice we notice links between mental states and the breath, but it is better, for now, not to attach too much importance to them. In Mindfulness of Breathing as we become aware of the arising thought, we should resist the temptation to analyse it unnecessarily, instead we simply begin again watching the breath. Only if the thought is overwhelming and we are unable to settle should we spend much time with it. There is a danger that if we habitually seek the motivation or meaning behind particular thoughts we will be practising something else entirely. This sort of contemplation has its merits, but it is not ānāpānasati.

As our concentration grows stronger - and particularly if this is combined with ethical behaviour outside of our meditation periods - we will find that the distractions quite naturally occur less, and those that do arise will have much less significance for us. It will be far easier to simply get back to the practise each time. With this level of familiarity we will find no need to anticipate possible distractions, but rather take them as they come (which in any case will be less frequent) and deal with them by gently letting them go and returning to the breath. So, in time, the process will be something like: you glimpse the start of a ‘wander’ sooner and sooner, realise that it’s a natural part of the way things are, note that it’s not important in itself, remember that you have resolved to focus on the breath, gently let the thought go, and return to the job in hand - Mindfulness of Breathing. Of course, this will all happen in a split second.

Contemplation - Day 7

39.    Neither soaked by lust,

nor affected by hatred,

the mind of an Awakened one

transcends both good and evil

and is fearless.

40.    Knowing the body is fragile like a clay jar,

secure the mind as a strong fortress, and

defeat Mara with the sword of wisdom.

Guarding what you have won,

remain free from attachment.

41.    This body soon will lie on the earth,

discarded and unconscious:

like a useless rotten log.

42.    An enemy may harm an enemy,

a hater may harm the hated,

but the ill-directed mind inflicts

on oneself far greater harm.

43.    Mother, father or kinsman

may come to your aid,

but the well-directed mind provides

for oneself far greater good.

Last modified: Wednesday, 11 January 2017, 10:24 PM

Chant Workshop 1 (optional)

Chant Workshop 1 (optional)

1. Chant Workshop 1

The meditation practices we are using are drawn from the Theravāda tradition which bases its teachings on the words of the Buddha and his early followers as recorded in the Pāli Canon. Pāli is a written liturgical language and is often also used for traditional chants that many meditators find helpful as part of their spiritual practice.

During the course we will introduce a small number of these chants in Pāli or in translated English form. Over the weeks the individual chants build to form the text for a puja, or dedication ceremony, that some practitioners may wish to use as a way of periodically rededicating their meditation practice. Please use the chants if you find them helpful; please ignore them if you prefer.

CHANT 1: Vandana & Tisarana


namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā sambuddhassa

namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā sambuddhassa

namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā sambuddhassa


Homage to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the Fully-Enlightened One

Homage to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the Fully-Enlightened One

Homage to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the Fully-Enlightened One


buddham saranam gacchāmi

dhammam saranam gacchāmi

sangham saranam gacchāmi

dutiyam pi buddham saranam gacchāmi

dutiyam pi dhammam saranam gacchāmi

dutiyam pi sangham saranam gacchāmi

tatiyam pi buddham saranam gacchāmi

tatiyam pi dhammam saranam gacchāmi

tatiyam pi sangham saranam gacchāmi

The Three Refuges

I go to the Buddha as my Refuge

I go to the Dhamma as my Refuge

I go to the Sangha as my Refuge

For the second time…

For the third time…

Play audio:



Download link:

Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 4:33 PMContact Andrew
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Assignment - Diploma in Buddhist Studies (DTBS) Attention : Mr Sharath to take out print of the Assignment submitted: Dear Students of Mahabodhi Research Center, This is to inform that the last date of submission of Diploma and Certificate Assignment on 15-12-18. You are requested to submit your assignment at the earliest. Thank you. - Buddha Datta Most Venerable Buddha Datta Ji, Following Assignment is submitted for your kind favorable action:
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Posted by: site admin @ 7:59 pm
Assignment - Diploma in Buddhist Studies (DTBS)

Attention : Mr Sharath to take out print of the Assignment submitted:

Dear Students of Mahabodhi Research Center,

This is to inform that the last date of submission of Diploma and
Certificate Assignment on 15-12-18. You are requested to submit your
assignment at the earliest. Thank you.
- Buddha Datta

Most Venerable Buddha Datta Ji,

Following Assignment is submitted for your kind favorable action:

No 14 Kalidasa Road, Gandhinagar, Bengaluru -560009

1st Assignment [20 Marks]
Paper V -Life of Buddha

Diploma in Buddhist Studies (DTBS)

Digha Nikaya
The Long Discourses
© 2005

The Tipitaka (Pali ti, “three,” + pitaka, “baskets”), or Pali canon,
is the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the
doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. The Tipitaka and the
paracanonical Pali texts (commentaries, chronicles, etc.) together
constitute the complete body of classical Theravada texts.

The Pali canon is a vast body of literature: in English translation
the texts add up to thousands of printed pages. Most (but not all) of
the Canon has already been published in English over the years. Although
only a small fraction of these texts are available on this website,
this collection can be a good place to start.

The three divisions of the Tipitaka are:

Vinaya Pitaka
The collection of texts concerning the rules of conduct governing the
daily affairs within the Sangha — the community of bhikkhus (ordained
monks) and bhikkhunis (ordained nuns). Far more than merely a list of
rules, the Vinaya Pitaka also includes the stories behind the origin of
each rule, providing a detailed account of the Buddha’s solution to the
question of how to maintain communal harmony within a large and diverse
spiritual community.
Sutta Pitaka
The collection of suttas, or discourses, attributed to the Buddha and a
few of his closest disciples, containing all the central teachings of
Theravada Buddhism. (More than one thousand sutta translations are
available on this website.) The suttas are divided among five nikayas
Digha Nikaya — the “long collection”
Majjhima Nikaya — the “middle-length collection”
Samyutta Nikaya — the “grouped collection”
Anguttara Nikaya — the “further-factored collection”
Khuddaka Nikaya — the “collection of little texts”:
Sutta Nipata
Nettippakarana (included only in the Burmese edition of the Tipitaka)
Petakopadesa ( ” ” )
Milindapañha ( ” ” )
Abhidhamma Pitaka
The collection of texts in which the underlying doctrinal principles
presented in the Sutta Pitaka are reworked and reorganized into a
systematic framework that can be applied to an investigation into the
nature of mind and matter.
For further reading

Where can I find a copy of the complete Pali canon (Tipitaka)? (Frequently Asked Question)
Beyond the Tipitaka: A Field Guide to Post-canonical Pali Literature
Pali Language Study Aids offers links that may be useful to Pali students of every level.
Handbook of Pali Literature, by Somapala Jayawardhana (Colombo:
Karunaratne & Sons, Ltd., 1994). A guide, in dictionary form,
through the Pali canon, with detailed descriptions of the major
landmarks in the Canon.
An Analysis of the Pali Canon, Russell Webb, ed. (Kandy: Buddhist
Publication Society, 1975). An indispensable “roadmap” and outline of
the Pali canon. Contains an excellent index listing suttas by name.
Guide to Tipitaka, U Ko Lay, ed. (Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications,
1990). Another excellent outline of the Tipitaka, containing summaries
of many important suttas.
Buddhist Dictionary, by Nyanatiloka Mahathera (Kandy: Buddhist
Publication Society, 1980). A classic handbook of important terms and
concepts in Theravada Buddhism.
Digha Nikaya
The Long Discourses
© 2005
The Digha Nikaya, or “Collection of Long Discourses” (Pali digha =
“long”) is the first division of the Sutta Pitaka, and consists of
thirty-four suttas, grouped into three vaggas, or divisions:

Silakkhandha-vagga — The Division Concerning Morality (13 suttas)
Maha-vagga — The Large Division (10 suttas)
Patika-vagga — The Patika Division (11 suttas)
For a complete translation, see Maurice Walshe’s The Long Discourses of
the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya (formerly titled: Thus
Have I Heard) (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1987).

A selected anthology of 12 suttas from the Digha Nikaya, Handful of
Leaves, Volume One, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, is distributed free of charge
by Metta Forest Monastery. It is also available to read online and in
various ebook formats at

The translator appears in the square brackets []. The braces {}
contain the volume and starting page number in the PTS romanized Pali

DN 1: Brahmajāla Sutta — The All-embracing Net of Views {D i 1}
[Bodhi | Thanissaro]. In this important sutta, the first in the
Tipitaka, the Buddha describes sixty-two philosophical and speculative
views concerning the self and the world that were prevalent among
spiritual seekers of his day. In rejecting these teachings — many of
which thrive to this day — he decisively establishes the parameters of
his own.
DN 2: Samaññaphala Sutta — The Fruits of the Contemplative Life {D i 47}
[Thanissaro]. King Ajatasattu asks the Buddha, “What are the fruits of
the contemplative life, visible in the here and now?” The Buddha replies
by painting a comprehensive portrait of the Buddhist path of training,
illustrating each stage of the training with vivid similes.
DN 9: Potthapada Sutta — About Potthapada {D i 178} [Thanissaro]. The
wandering ascetic Potthapada brings to the Buddha a tangle of questions
concerning the nature of perception. The Buddha clears up the matter by
reviewing the fundamentals of concentration meditation and showing how
it can lead to the ultimate cessation of perception.
DN 11: Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta — To Kevatta {D i 211} [Thanissaro].
This discourse explores the role of miracles and conversations with
heavenly beings as a possible basis for faith and belief. The Buddha
does not deny the reality of such experiences, but he points out that —
of all possible miracles — the only reliable one is the miracle of
instruction in the proper training of the mind. As for heavenly beings,
they are subject to greed, anger, and delusion, and so the information
they give — especially with regard to the miracle of instruction — is
not necessarily trustworthy. Thus the only valid basis for faith is the
instruction that, when followed, brings about the end of one’s own
mental defilements. The tale that concludes the discourse is one of the
finest examples of the early Buddhist sense of humor. [TB]
DN 12: Lohicca Sutta — To Lohicca {D i 224} [Thanissaro]. A non-Buddhist
poses some good questions: If Dhamma is something that one must realize
for oneself, then what is the role of a teacher? Are there any teachers
who don’t deserve some sort of criticism? The Buddha’s reply includes a
sweeping summary of the entire path of practice.
DN 15: Maha-nidana Sutta — The Great Causes Discourse {D ii 55}
[Thanissaro]. One of the most profound discourses in the Pali canon,
which gives an extended treatment of the teachings of dependent
co-arising (paticca samuppada) and not-self (anatta) in an outlined
context of how these teachings function in practice. An explanatory
preface is included.
DN 16: Maha-parinibbana Sutta — Last Days of the Buddha/The Great
Discourse on the Total Unbinding {D ii 137; chapters 5-6} [Vajira/Story |
Thanissaro]. This wide-ranging sutta, the longest one in the Pali
canon, describes the events leading up to, during, and immediately
following the death and final release (parinibbana) of the Buddha. This
colorful narrative contains a wealth of Dhamma teachings, including the
Buddha’s final instructions that defined how Buddhism would be lived and
practiced long after the Buddha’s death — even to this day. But this
sutta also depicts, in simple language, the poignant human drama that
unfolds among the Buddha’s many devoted followers around the time of the
death of their beloved teacher.
DN 20: Maha-samaya Sutta — The Great Assembly/The Great Meeting {D ii
253} [Piyadassi | Thanissaro]. A large group of devas pays a visit to
the Buddha. This sutta is the closest thing in the Pali canon to a
“Who’s Who” of the deva worlds, providing useful material for anyone
interested in the cosmology of early Buddhism.
DN 21: Sakka-pañha Sutta — Sakka’s Questions {D ii 276; chapter 2}
[Thanissaro (excerpt)]. Sakka, the deva-king, asks the Buddha about the
sources of conflict, and about the path of practice that can bring it to
an end. This discourse ends with a humorous account about Sakka’s
frustration in trying to learn the Dhamma from other contemplatives.
It’s hard to find a teacher when you’re a king.
DN 22: Maha-satipatthana Sutta — The Great Establishing of Mindfulness
Discourse {D ii 290} [Burma Piṭaka Assn. | Thanissaro]. This sutta sets
out the full formula for the practice of establishing mindfulness, and
then gives an extensive account of one phrase in the formula: what it
means to remain focused on any of the four frames of reference—body,
feelings, mind, and mental qualities—in and of itself. [The text of this
sutta is identical to that of the Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10), except
that the Majjhima version omits the exposition of the Four Noble Truths
(sections 5a,b,c and d in part D of this version).] [TB]
DN 26: Cakkavatti Sutta — The Wheel-turning Emperor {D iii 58}
[Thanissaro (excerpt)]. In this excerpt the Buddha explains how skillful
action can result in the best kind of long life, the best kind of
beauty, the best kind of happiness, and the best kind of strength.
DN 29: Pāsādika Sutta — The Inspiring Discourse {D iii 117}
[Thanissaro]. Toward the end of his life, the Buddha describes his
accomplishment in establishing, through the Dhamma and Vinaya, a
complete holy life that will endure after his passing. Listing some of
the criticisms that might be leveled against him and his Dhamma-Vinaya,
he shows how those criticisms should be refuted. [TB]
DN 31: Sigalovada Sutta — The Buddha’s Advice to Sigalaka/The Discourse
to Sigala {D iii 180} [Kelly/Sawyer/Yareham | Narada]. The householder’s
code of discipline, as described by the Buddha to the layman Sigala.
This sutta offers valuable practical advice for householders on how to
conduct themselves skillfully in their relationships with parents,
spouses, children, pupils, teachers, employers, employees, friends, and
spiritual mentors so as to bring happiness to all concerned.
DN 32: Atanatiya Sutta — Discourse on Atanatiya {D iii 194} [Piyadassi].
One of the “protective verses” (paritta) that are chanted to this day
for ceremonial purposes by Theravada monks and nuns around the world.
See Piyadassi Thera’s The Book of Protection.

Jai Bheem Sukhihothu, visited What Boonyawad Forest Monastery, Thailand, Namo Buddhaya.

Who is Buddha?

Assignment Choice Any Two

Write Answers in 3-5 pages

Q.1. Who is Buddha? Why He is called a Buddha? What are requirements for becoming a Buddha?

The Buddha grew up a prince in India. Until he was a young man, hehad
never encountered aging or death. When he happened to hear astory of a
servant’s death, he became very disillusioned about hisposh life.
Leaving the palace and his princely lifestyle, he beganhis historic
journey towards enlighten…
Buddha means the Fully Enlightened One. He became the Buddha through the
realisation of the intrinsic / true nature of all things in the
universe, including existence / mind & body / life.

Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha and Me 

Q.2. Bodhisatta Ideal

Bodhisattva ideals

The bodhisattva ideal
The teachings of Buddhism are about your life, about being the person
you are. The practices of Buddhism are about being willing to be
intimate with yourself, with your idiosyncrasies. So when we talk about
compassion and the ideal of the bodhisattva, we are talking about how we
as ordinary people—with this body, this mind, this life, these
problems—can find generosity, effort, and wisdom right here and now. We
realize that they are always available.

Bodhisattvas are beings who are dedicated to the universal
awakening, or enlightenment, of everyone. They exist as guides and
providers of relief to suffering beings. We will be learning about the
lives of some bodhisattvas who are well known in the Buddhist tradition.
They are models who exemplify lives dedicated to eradicating suffering
in the world. But as we go along, it is important to remember that as
soon as you are struck with the urge or intention to take on such a
bodhisattva practice, you are included in the ranks of the bodhisattvas.
Bodhisattvas can be awesome in their power, radiance, and wisdom, and
they can be as ordinary as your next-door neighbor. Bodhisattvas appear
wherever they can be most helpful.

A buddha, or awakened one, is a being who has fully realized
liberation from the suffering of delusions and conditioning. This
awakening is realized through deep experiential awareness of the
undefiled nature of all beings and all phenomena, which are seen to be
essentially pristine and clear. Buddhas see that everything is all
right, just as it is. This insight in some sense liberates all beings,
who may not yet realize this truth of openness and freedom themselves
because of their own confusion.

A bodhisattva is a being who carries out the work of the buddhas,
vowing not to personally settle into the salvation of final buddhahood
until she or he can assist all beings throughout the vast reaches of
time and space to fully be free. A bodhisattva is a buddha with her
sleeves rolled up.

On the bodhisattva path, we follow teachings about generosity,
patience, ethical conduct, meditative balance, and insight into what is
essential, so we can come to live in a way that benefits others. At the
same time, we learn compassion for ourselves and see that we are not
separate from the people we have imagined are estranged from us. Self
and other heal together.

The bodhisattva is the ideal of Mahayana (Great Vehicle) Buddhism,
the dominant branch of Buddhism in North Asia: Tibet, China, Mongolia,
Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, as well as Vietnam in Southeast Asia. This
tradition is now spreading and being adapted to Western cultures. The
word bodhisattva comes from the Sanskrit roots bodhi, meaning
“awakening” or “enlightenment,” and sattva, meaning “sentient being.”
Bodhisattvas are radiant beings who exist in innumerable forms,
functioning in helpful ways right in the middle of the busyness of the

How did the Buddha explain the nature of Supremely Awakenewd One to
asectic Upaka? What d you understand from His explanation? Write

what has been saidso far about Budhahoodin Buddha’s own words. Is it
possible to describe te Buddha as a god, an incarnation(avatara) or a
prophet, Messaiahof a god? If so why?If not why not ? Explain.

Q.5 Dhammapada - Any One

Write the First Five Gathas from citta vaggain Pali, with word to word translation and explaining the meaning of each.


Explain the Dhp stanza no38 & 39with its background story and explain ?

Q. Explain the eight cases in Paligrammer withexamples (20 M)

Q. Explain the six Buddhist Councilsin detail (20 M)

Q. The reasonable attitude of taking refuge to the Triple Gems (20 M)


Q. Ways of sacrifice with reference of Kutadanta Sutta.

Q.One topic from Gihi Vinaya { Topic was given by Bhante Ji (20 M)

Pattern of doing this assignment

Name :

1. What is Abhidhamma Pitaka? (5M)
2. List and explainseven books of Abhidhamma(20 M)
3. What is Mind ? Defin2 Mind according to philosophy, scienceand Abhidhamma view (10 M)
4. Explain Lobha ( 5 M)
5.Expliain Dosa (5M)
6. Explain Moha (5M)
7. List and explain kamavacara akusala lobbamula,dosamula, mohamula cittas (10M )
8. List and explain kamavacara ahetuka akusala vipaka cittas (10 M)
9. List and explain kamavacara ahetuka kusala vipaka cittas (10 M)
10. List and explain kamavacara sobnakusala citta (10M)
11. List and explain kamavacara sobana vipaka citta (10 M)
13. List and explain kamavacara sobana kiria citta (10M)
14. List and explain Rupavacara kusala citta (10 M)
15. List and explain Rupavacara vipaka citta (10 M)
List and explain Rupavacara kusala citta (10 M)
16. List and explain Rupavacara kiria citta (10 M)
17. List and explain Arupavacara kusala citta (10 M)
List and explain Rupavacara kiria citta (10 M)
18. List and explain Arupavacara vipaka citta (10 M)
19. List and explain Arupavacara kiria citta (10 M)
20. List and explain Lokutara  magga citta (10 M)
21. List and explain Lokutara  phala citta (10 M)
22. What is Jhana ? List and explain Jhana factors and nivaranaas (10 M)
List and explain Arupavacara kusala citta (10 M)
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