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Meditation
Introduction

            Students and other participants in meditation practice will notice that meditation has helped them to do better with peace of mind often succeed more in life than people without peace of mind just like the way healthy people are usually happier and more successful than the sick.

            One's body will be strong if the owner of the body knows how to take care of it, e.g., to eat good foods,and get enough rest and fresh air. In the same way our mind will be healthy if the owners of the mind train the mind with the correct methods.

            Some people are physically healthy, but their minds are weak. They may feel tense or depressed, or they may even suffer from mental illness, no matter how much money they have or how famous they are.

            Hence, Buddhism teaches people to train their mind, because the trained mind has a high quality which can create peacefulness for its owner ( the trainer) and also benefit society as a whole.

 
Caring About Mind Training In the Present World

            In the present World, we have new technologies that make us materialistic. We tend to focus on outside things rather than our minds. People who lived before us were less materialistic, but at present, more people are mentally sick than at the time of their ancestors. People tend to, in a sense, lose their minds, aspecially those who live in the big cities of the World. These people see modernization and become dependent on it. As a result, society becomes handicapped and develops complicated problems e.g. drug addiction, broken families, economic problems, etc. So, many people in the present time find the way out by being attracted to Buddhism, that is, mind development. In Thailand, there are more people who become interested in meditation than there were before.

            Buddhist teaching on meditation, which is called"Mind Development", is very popular around the World. In the Western World, especially in the United States, there are many young people who are becoming interested in meditation. People have intensified their training to a new level called " Transcendental Meditation" or T.M. This T.M. was brought into the U.S.A. by Maharishi Mahesh from India. He is a Hindu Guru (Teacher of Hindu Religion) who introduced T.M. to the Westerners about 30 years ago. People who are interested have to pay for their training. Currently, there are many T.M. training centers around the World. There are 3 in Thailand. If we compare Buddhist meditation with T.M. , it is in the same level of calm meditation which is the beginning of the Buddhist meditation. Why do practitioners of T.M. succeed? It is because they practise twice daily and keep on doing so year after year. They are consistent. If we would practise Buddhist meditaion often and consistently, we would have an even greater degree of success because we have Insight Meditation, which is deeper than any kind of meditation taught in the modern world.

 
Benefits of Training the Mind
            Buddhist mental training is useful for our life. Because it will improve our qualities as human beings. So one with the right training in meditation even with tranquility or calm meditataion will gain the following benefites:
            1. As a student, one will study better and get higher grades because of the peace of one's mind. One's memory should get better as a result of training.
            2. One will have more concentration and will not make clumsy mistakes because of one's better awareness.
            3. One can do more work and effort will be more effective.
            4. Meditation can cure some kind of disease and sickness.
            5. One with peaceful mind will have beautiful skin clear complexion and a long life.
            6. One can stay in society peacefully. At school, friends and teachers will be happy too. At home, everyone in the family will be happy and if in the office, supervisor and co-workers will be happy.
            7. One can face an immediate crisis with a clear mind and solve problems and dilemmas with correct solutions.
            8. One can get rid of the five mental hindrances that prevent one from doing good or at least can alleviate them.
            9. If one practises in the advanced level, one will receive even greater peacefulness of mind and will get supernatural power, such as, reading the minds of others.
            10. This mental training is the basic fundamental of Vipassana, Insight Meditation.
 
The Two Forms of Happiness

            Everyone in the World loves happiness and dislikes suffering. There are two forms of happiness that people look forward to. They are:-
            1. Physical happiness.
            2. Mental happiness.

            Both of these forms of happiness depend on each other, that is to say, if the body is happy , this can bring mental happiness too. This also happens when one suffers; that is to say, if your body suffers, your mind will also suffers. If your mind suffers, your body will suffer also.

            Those who believe in Buddhism accept the two forms of happiness. Out of these two, mind is the leader. Mental happiness is better than any kind of happiness.

            The Buddha said that there is no kind of happiness better than the happiness from the peaceful mind. Real happiness can't come from being rich or famous. We can see there are many millionaires and famous people in high positions who should be happy with all the things they have; but we can't find the real happiness from material things, power or being in a high position, they are not happy with all the things they have, because these things are not the source of real happiness. In fact, suffering many result from having these things. This is because real happiness comes from inside our mind. People who want to receive this happiness should practise mind development that the Buddha had discovered and already proved.

 
Meditation

            The way to train the mind in the Buddhist teaching is called Bhavana. Another name is Kammatthana. This is to raise the mind to a high level. You shouldn't let your mind wander about freely. A mind without Kammattahana is like a person being unemployed. It is wasteful. If your mind wanders, it creates problems. It will be susceptible to the mental hindrances (Nivarana). So you must train your mind with Kammatthana (Bhavana). By practising meditation your mind will go in the right direction.

            There are two kinds of Kammatthana (Meditation) in Buddhism:-
            1. Samatha-Kammatthana ---- Calm Meditation. This is to calm your mind mental hindrances.
            2. Vipassana-Kammatthana --- Insight Meditation. This is to see all things as they really are in order to get rid of all kinds of mental defilement. Insight Meditation is found only in Buddhism.

 
Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati)

            In this booklet I will explain how to train in the first type of meditation in Buddhism. Concerning this type of meditaion, there are 40 ways or methods of calm meditation. There are so many ways because different people have different preferences. People can choose what is right for them. This can be compared to many kinds of medicine that heal different diseases.

            In this book I will explain about mind development of calm meditation by using Anapanasati, mindfulness of breathing, which is one of 40 ways of calm meditatiion in Buddhism. This method is good for everyone because all you need is the breath and everyone has this. It is not difficult. One does not need to have anything extra. This is the most popular method in the World today.

 
The Way for Practising Anapanasati

            Trainnees who will follow the Buddhist meditation need to do as follows:-
            1. Observe at least five precepts: You should ask a Buddhist monk, if available, to give you the precepts to be observed. If no monk is available, just be determined that you should follow the five precepts that you decide to observe; that is to say: no killing, stealing, committing adultery, telling a lie, and taking intoxicants. If you break one or more precepts, you take them again, because five precepts are a very important foundation of meditation in Buddhism.

            2. Pay respect to the Triple Gem: Put your hands in a lotus shape, and take refuge in the Triple Gem: the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism; the Dhamma, His teaching; and the Sangha, His noble disciples. This should give you a sense of trust and it will give you a temporary peace of mind.

            3. Spread your loving-kindness: By wishing all beings well. You should extend your loving-kindness that all beings be free from enmity, hurtfulness, troubles of body and mind, and that they have power to protect their own happiness.

            4. Stop your mind from wandering around and worrying: These worries many come from your work, studies, families, etc. Stop thinking about these things during your meditation practice. The main things you should stop thinking about are the past and the future. The past is gone and the future is not yet to be. Only think about the present moment which is your breathing in and breathing out. You have to set how much time you want to meditate e.g. 10 minutes, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes.Give yourself commitment to get rid of all worries and meditate during the period of time. During the time you sit, do not worry about any of things mentioned above. Only think about your breathing in and out. If you can just think about these two things, your mind will not wander outside.

            5. Limit your time for training: It is best to set the time after your evening chanting is over, or when you wake up in the morning. Try to practise about 20-30 minutes.

            It is a very good thing if you can meditate twice daily in the morning and evening. In Thailand pupils and students should practise in the classroom for 10-15 minutes each time. It is enough for them because of the limited time.

 
Process of Meditation Practice

            In meditation practice the trainees should commence the practice as follows:-
            A. Sitting Stage: One can sit on the floor or on a chair, whichever is more convenient or comfortable. Students or pupils who meditate in the classroom should sit on chairs. Beginners should not lean against the back of the chair because they will feel sleepy.

            If one sits on the floor, a man should sit cross-legged ( in the half-lotus position). A woman can sit with both legs tucked to one side (sit with both knees bent and feet to one side), or she can sit crossed legged as convenient. If one sits in the half-lotus position, sit with the right leg over the left like the Buddha image sitting in the meditation position. Do one's best to keep the body straight. This is good as it lets the air one breathes cirulate though the body. Concentrate one's mind. This is very important in meditation. Control one's mind, do not let it wander around. Mentally chant (recite) BUDDHO (the formal mantra which is the name of the Lord Buddha who was the founder of Buddhism) to tie the mind to stay still by saving "Bud" when breathing in and "Dho" when breathing out.

            One should close one's eyes when meditating to prevent one's mind from wandering with things one sees. If one closes one's eyes and then feels sleepy, one should open one's eyes and look only at one's nose and see nothing esle. In fact, it does not matter whether one sees things or not. The main purpose is only to look at the nose. If one gets used to open eye technique, the results are better than those from closed eye technique. One goes on practising until one's eyes close.

            B. Concentrating One's Breathing: To control breathing one should follow the following steps:-

             1. The step of following the breath. When starting to control the breath, one inhales three times until the air fills the whole lungs , because this will help one to control the breath easily when one breathes in and out. After that one breathes normally and does not force the breathing. One breathes normally and relaxes. One knows when the air is inside the lungs and when the air is outside. One knows the amount of air one breathes..... long breath and short breath. Like when someone is sawing a piece of wood. He knows when he is pulling a saw, and when he is pushing it back. He also knows whether or not he is using longer strokes or shorter strokes. When one breathes in , say "Bud" and when one breathes out, say "Dho". When one follows one's breath follow it to three places, that is, the first is the tip of the nose, the second is at one's chest, and the third is at the bottom of one's abdomen. If one feels that one is already used to doing this, then he should go on to the next step.

            2. The step of focusing on one point: When controlling inhalation and exhalation by following the air until the mind does not wander, one changes to concentrate at one particular place(or point) in one of the three positions; that is, at the nostril (or the tip of the nose or the upper lip where the air touches), at the middle of the chest; or at the abdomen; as convenient. One does not have to follow the air as in the first step. The most popular position is to concentrate at the nostril which is the door of in-and-out air, it is easier for the beginner at this position. Just like a wise cowboy lets cows out from the corral in the morning.He does not have to ride one of the cows nor go after them to bring them back. He waits at an area where he knows the cows will definitely go; e.g. he goes to a source of water. Then he takes them home and puts them back into the pen. Similarly, in meditation, practitioners who practise meditation. following their breathing concentrate on places that they know the air must go.

            When one's mind no longer wanders about while doing this, one is said to have passed the second step.

            for the first step which is the step of following the air, the breathing is still heavy, not soft, but in this second step, the breathing is light, soft and subtle. Sometimes it may be so soft or light that one may not even feel it. This is getting deeper into meditation. At this step one has to really concentrate, because the breathing is very soft. One will experience happiness and sometimes get some kind of rapture occurring from meditation and will increase the capabilities of one's mind. If one reaches this step, it will be good to keep on with the concentration on the breathing.

            If one wants to go to a higher level of meditation practice, one should learn from a guru or meditation master. Some people study and practise meditation by themselves by reading books on meditation. However, it is better to have a teacher because one can get the benefit of meditation practice more easily than studying by oneself.

 
Concentrating on the Breath by Counting

            If one cannot practise meditation by the previous techiques described, or if one can use the prvious techniques very well but would like to use another technique of meditation practice, one can concentrate on the breathing by counting, which may be good and increase the effectiveness of meditation because people have different personalities or individual differences. Some people may prefer the technique of concentrating by counting which is called Ganana-counting.

            The way to use this is to concentrate the mind on a nostril. There are two ways to do it:-
            1. Slow counting.
            2. Quick counting.

            1. Slow Counting: After one finishes all the necessary preliminaries and is ready to meditate, one should go a suitable place and start counting silently by counting in pairs as follows:
            The first Round
            Breathe in. Count 1. Breathe out. Count 1.
            Breathe in. Count 2. Breathe out. Count 2.
            Breathe in. Count 3. Breathe out. Count 3.
            Breathe in. Count 4. Breathe out. Count 4.
            Breathe in. Count 5. Breathe out. Count 5.
            Now, count backwards from 5-5 until to 1-1 as follows:
            Breathe in. Count 5. Breathe out. Count 5.
            Breathe in. Count 4. Breathe out. Count 4.
            Breathe in. Count 3. Breathe out. Count 3.
            Breathe in. Count 2. Breathe out. Count 2.
            Breathe in. Count 1. Breathe out. Count 1.

            The Second Round
            Start counting from one-one until six-six and reverse counting from six-six until one-one again.

            The Fourth Round
            Start counting from one-one until eight-eight and reverse counting from eight-eight until one-one again.

            The Fifth Round
            Start counting from one-one until nine-nine and reverse counting from nine-nine until one-one again.

            The Sixth Round
            Start counting from one-one until ten-ten and reverse counting from ten-ten until one-one.

            After finishing counting the sixth round, one starts counting from the first round again sequentially until one does not skip the numbers and process. After one is fluent in counting and breathing until counting the breathing in and out is presented clearly, the mind will be calmer. This is the good result from practising basic meditation.

            One the other hand, one can pracise the slow counting in an easy way as follows:-
            Count 1 (inhale) 2 (exhale)
            Count 3 (inhale) 4 (exhale)
            Count 5 (inhale) 6 (exhale)
            Count 7 (inhale) 8 (exhale)
            Count 9 (inhale) 10 (exhale)

            2. Quick Counting: When one has success in the slow counting, the next step is quick counting, that is to say, when one has practised slow counting until one feels that the breathing is now faster than before. At this piont one does not need to do the slow counting anymore. Just do the quick one. One pays no attention to the air that passes in or out of the nose. Just concentrate only on the breath that touches one's nostril. One does not count one-one anymore, only by regular numerical order. Start at one-five, then go to one-six,\then one-seven, and go on until ten as follows:-
            Count 1,2,3,4,5 (inhale) 1,2,3,4,5 (exhale)
            Count 1 up to 6 (inhale) 1 up to 6 (exhale)
            Count 1 up to 7 (inhale) 1 up to 7 (exhale)
            Count 1 up to 8 (inhale) 1 up to 8 (exhale)
            Count 1 up to 9 (inhale) 1 up to 9 (exhale)
            Count 1 up to 10 (inhale) 1 up to10 (exhale)
            On the other hand, one can practise the quick counting in an easy way as follows:-
            Count 1 up to 5 (inhale) 6 up to10 (exhale)

            After one finishes 10, go back to the first step, counting 1 up to 5 until one does not forget the sequence of numbers and does not skip steps, but is clear and not confused. Thus the mind will be placid and does not ramble.

            Furthermore, if one is skillful enough, one can stop counting and concentrate on the air that is passed in and out at the nostril or upper lip. Then one is said to have completed this step.

            For quick counting there is a rule that one should count not less than five and not more than ten and should not skip the sequence. Because if one counts less than five, he will start to pay attention to the numbers instead, because there are so few numbers. If the number is higher than ten, one will pay attention to the counting more than the breathing because one will get caught up in all the numbers. If one goes out of sequence, one will wander whether one will be able to achieve the true meditation or not, and one's mind will wander. So the practitioners should strictly observe the rules of meditaion above.

            Buddist mental training by the counting method is one of the successful techniques for developing meditation.

            Good meditation training should be done under supervision of a meditation master in oder to avoid practising without the correct method according to the Buddhist rules. In other words, practising without supervision will not give much result or will not be effective at all, or it may give negative results. So the meditation masters are very important for the practitioners. Also the trainees have to take time for their practice. It should be done gradually and should be practised every day just like exercising.

            The teaching of the Lord Buddha has to be proven by experiencing it by oneself. By doing this, one will appreciate it. One should not only think of it, but should follow it sincerely and earnestly. If one correctly practises the

            Timeless Message of the Lord Buddha, The Dhamma. (His Teaching) will certainly protect one who practices. It can and will bring happiness and prosperity to one's life

 
By Ven. Phra Thammavisuddhikavi
 
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