Vipassana Meditation Course

by Chanmyay Sayadaw | 28,857 words

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Chapter 4 - Excercises In Mindfulness

Practical Exercises In Mindfulness

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Today we continue the discourses on practical exercises of Mindfulness meditation. Yesterday I explained systematic walking and also the systematic sitting.

Sometimes when you sit for meditation, after you have meditated about fifteen or twenty minutes you have a desire to change your position because of the severity of the painful sensation or any mental distraction. When you know that its not good to change your position and your sitting then you do not change it. But though you do not change your position your hands are moving here and there. Sometimes the hand touches the face or the head. Without any sensation of itching you may rub the face or the hand. While your hand is placed in the lap, when you feel restless or when you feel severe pain, then you do not change the position but the hand lifted itself and then touched the knee, and so on.

So what I mean is that in systematic sitting for meditation you mustnt move even the hands. You should sit like a statue so that your concentration doesnt break but becomes deep and stable. When you move your hand from one place to another then the mind goes with the hand and concentration breaks. So you mustnt move the hand. So when you sit for meditation please be careful. You must remind yourself of this statue. [Say to yourself]: I must sit like a statue of the Buddha, here.

Unconsciously you moved your hand. But even when we say its an unconscious movement, actually your mind goes with the hand. Without intention to move, you don"t move. Because you have intention to move, you do move. That one thing - wishing, intention - is mental process. The concentration of the mind is also mental process. And when you move your hand then your mind goes with the hand and concentration breaks. So please be careful not to move even your hands from one place to another.

Then in walking meditation the most important thing is not to look round here and there. Once you look round, then the mind goes with the eye and concentration breaks. You have to control your eyes not to look round. The best way to control your eyes is noting the desire to look round. Without desire or tendencies you won"t look round here and there. Because of the desire to look round you do it. So that desire or tendency must be noted until it has disappeared. When the desire has disappeared, you wont look round. So please be careful to watch the desire to look round. If the desire is watched and if the desires stopped you won"t look round and your concentration doesnt break.

In walking meditation yesterday I explained to you how you experienced the movement of the foot when your concentration"s good enough. But here what I want to tell you is there are two levels of understanding, right understanding of the physical process and mental process.

First of all, what you should know is that there are five mental faculties a yogi must be possessed of. The first one is saddha. Saddha is Pali; sradha is Sanskrit. It means faith or confidence of belief. Here faith is not blind faith. It is faith through right understanding of the truth. Because you have some knowledge of the truth then you believe in it. That belief is known as saddha, faith.

So faith through right understanding is one of the mental faculties a yogi must possess. Without faith or belief in the Dhamma or the truth you do not follow it, you do not practise it. Because you have some degree of faith or belief in the truth, you follow it, you practise it. So faith or confidence of belief in the Dhamma is a very important mental factor to enable a meditator to practise systematic meditation strenuously. Without firm or strong faith in Dhamma or the truth you wont practise any Dhamma.

The second one is viriya, in Pali. Viriya is effort or energy. When you believe in any Dhamma you make enough effort to practise it or follow it. So faith or belief or confidence is the cause, strenuous effort is the effect. When you put enough effort into your practise you will be able to be mindful of each and every activity of your body and mind for the whole day. When you can be mindful of all mental and physical phenomena in nature, then mindfulness becomes continuous, constant and powerful. Then here viriya, effort or energy, is the cause mindfulness is effect.

Mindfulness is called sati. Because of strenuous effort mindfulness becomes continuous, constant and powerful. When sati, mindfulness, becomes constant and powerful then your mind is well concentrated on any mental process or physical process which is observed. Unless mindfulness is continuous and powerful you wont gain any deep concentration. Only when mindfulness becomes continuous and constant and powerful then your concentration becomes better and better, deeper and deeper.

Then concentration is called samadhi in Pali. The Lord Buddha said, "Oh bikkhus, cultivate concentration of the mind. The mind which is concentrated gives rise to realisation of phenomena." In other words: cultivate the concentration of the mind. One who is well concentrated realises the phenomenon as it really is. Thats what the Buddha said. Here the concentration is the cause and realisation or right understanding is effect. Without deep concentration you are not able to realise any phenomena and their true nature as they really are.

So samadhi, concentration, is the cause, realisation or right understanding, panna, is effect. Panna is Pali. Here panna means right understanding of mental and physical phenomena. Panna is translated into wisdom, insight, enlightenment. So here what we need in this context, panna means penetrating knowledge, right understanding of body mind processes. Without deep concentration you are not able to rightly understand any mental or physical phenomena and their true nature. Only if your mind is concentrated to a larger extent, then you are able to rightly understand body mind processes and their true nature. Here samadhi, concentration, is the cause, panna, right understanding or penetrating insight, is effect.

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