Published on March 6, 2014
INSIGHT IN JAPAN By Venerable Dhammarakkhita Part A INTRODUCTION In April and May 1997, I was invited to Japan by Mr. Suzuki of the Theravada Buddhist Society, Japan. Being a Foreigner and a monk, initially it was hoped that I would inspire and encourage the the Japanese people in the way of Theravada Buddhism. After some time, I was asked to speak about Vipassana or Insight meditation. It was at this time, that they realised that I could actually teach the meditation. The more they learnt, the more they liked it, thus is the way of The Dhamma. Gradually, the longer I stayed, the busier I became. For me, the whole experience was extremely illuminating and at times, challenging. I successfully taught Insight meditation in six cities, including Tokyo and left Japan feeling that I had given many people something that they were looking for. That is, a simple technique and foundation for developing understanding and happiness, yet still within their existing cultural belief of Buddhism. Back to the present; This little "manual" in front of you is a direct transcription of the meditation instructions given to a handful of interested Japanese folk in Osaka city, Japan. They invited me to teach them vipassana meditation. Unfortunately, we only. had a few hours, including translations and questions and answers so the instructions are by no means complete but we believe they are quite useful for the beginner. The dialogue was patiently transcribed by one of the faithful and attentive listeners and practitioners; Mr. Ken Yagi, we thank him for his great effort and work. Largely, it has been left in its original form so as to give it a unique "flavour". However, some repetitions and explanations to the translator have been omitted. Also, I've "sweetened" some of the English of the questioners for the reader's benefit. On occasions, I have added more descriptive words or lines, to assist the reader's understanding, these are in . I never realised that I said "so" so often, I've cut many of them out too. The translator's name was Tanimoto-san, so he is represented by a "T" which is fortunate because it also stands for translator. "Y" is Yagi-san, the transcriber of this text and "H", is (Miss) Hayashi-san. The others spoke only through the translator.
Please remember that the audience are not native English speakers so I had to speak simply and clearly for the translator and the others. All of the instructions were given through a translator. The translator did a great job, regardless of the fact that he had never practised this type of meditation before. Also, he did not know much about Theravada Buddhism because he was a Christian. The Japanese people that I met were really pleased to here about Theravada Buddhism and Insight meditation. Many of those who listened and followed carefully, had very interesting experiences which of course, enhanced my time there all the more. My preceptor and teacher is the Most Venerable, Chanmyay Sayadaw (Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa), the abbot of Chanmyay Yeiktha Monasteries I Meditation Centres, in Myanmar (Burma). Although I have practised under his excellent guidance for about five years, I am merely a tiny seedling from the mighty oak. This text was kindly entered into the computer by Ma Thanda of Durban and edited by me. Technical assistance was given by Dr. Maung Maung San Lin Aye and others of the Myanmar Buddhist Association of South Africa, at the Dhammodaya Myanmar Vihara, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Thanks to one and all. Thanks must also go to our Japanese friends for their kind hospitality in Japan and their continued support to our monastery in South Africa I seek admonition from my peers, accept criticism from those more learned and experienced than myself and I thank the readers for their patience. May we all grow in our knowledge and experience in The Dhamma, relinquishing passed experiences and all expectations, continually opening up freshly to the Truth in ourselves and the universe in which we live. Dhammarakkhita Instructions by Dhammarakkhita April 26th 1997 at Osaka. There are four postures in which we practice meditation. The four postures are sitting, standing, walking and lying down. We will first begin with sitting meditation. I will give some theoretical explanation first and then will deal with practical instructions. The reason for practising vipassana meditation is to get a clear understanding of our own mind and body just as it is. So actually the principle of the meditation is not very difficult but the practice itself can become more complicated and at times it seems difficult. In this meditation practice we use a technique called mental noting. Mental noting means to say the word in your mind of that which you are experiencing in your mind or your body at the present moment. The reason we use mental noting is so that we are assured or confirmed
that our mind is definitely on the present feeling or sensation in the body or the process in the mind. The mental noting itself is not the meditation but is an aid or a tool or a technique for the application of mindfulness. At times when we are using this mental noting technique, we don't know which word to use. The word itself is not as important as your mind knowing that which you are experiencing. In short, the words are not important but mindfulness is important. I use the terms mindfulness., awareness and observation in the same sense. And mental noting is the technique of applying a word to that which you are experiencing. So really, what we are practising is the observation of our mind and our body just as it really is. When we do this we are gaining an understanding of the changing present moment and the ever changing or constantly changing physical processes and mental processes. So the principle of this vipassana meditation or insight meditation is to observe the most predominant mental or physical phenomena that arises in the present moment. It's very important for mediators to understand this basic principle of the meditation because what it really means is that we are just observing our mind and our body as it really is, just now. If you are ever in doubt as to what you are doing, then you can always come back to principle and ask yourself, 'What am I experiencing now?'. In that way, the principle is quite simple [and it should always be remembered and referred back to.] One thing that vipassana meditation is not and that is we are not observing one single object of meditation. But we are observing any object of our mind or our body, as it arises within the present moment. We can say that we are observing the six senses of mind and body. So that means, in the present moment if we are hearing, then we are observing hearing. At that moment [of hearing any sound] we would use a mental note of, "hearing, hearing, hearing, hearing' [as long as it lasts or as long as it is predominant]. That's being aware of the physical and mental processes taking place in the present moment. The same is if we are seeing something, then at the time of seeing, we note, "seeing, seeing, seeing". If we note, "seeing, seeing, seeing", then our mind is with the process of seeing. If we are smelling something or if there is a smell that is being smelt then we must note, "smelling, smelling, smelling". And if there is any taste in the mouth then we note, "tasting, tasting, tasting". As we feel anything in our body, then we may note generally as, "feeling, feeling, feeling". The body is a large field of awareness. There are many things that can be felt in the body. We can note more specifically as, "hot, hot", "cold, cold", "hard", ''light'', ''heavy'', etc. etc. This bring us to the last sense, of mind. We say that the mind is one of the senses. There are five physical senses and one mental sense. The mind has the ability to create anything within the mind. For example, in a dream we may hear someone speaking or we may smell some bad smell or pleasant smell, we may taste something, see something etc. in our dream.
This is not only restricted to when we are sleeping but at anytime our mind can imagine any one of these senses. We can think about anything in the universe, therefore, our mind is extremely complicated. And it is sometimes a rather difficult phenomena to watch or to observe. But it is probably the most important thing or phenomena that we have to observe in this Vipassana Meditation. The mind is the forerunner or is the beginning for any physical action or speech. Before we act or speak there must be a thought that begins that action or speech. In this practice of mental noting, you can see already , just by this brief introduction, there are many objects to be noted. We will now begin with some more practical instructions for the sitting meditation. So first we begin with the sitting posture. The traditional Burmese posture and the best sitting posture is with our feet and legs [crossed] in this position. Yes, that's right, parallel, not touching on top of one another but just one in front of the other. We can sit this way for a longer period of time. Then there are two main postures for the hands, that is, this open handed posture with the hands [palms up] on the knees or this posture with the hands one in the other just in the lap. Not with the thumbs touching but just relaxed. It should be a relaxed and comfortable sitting posture. Actually, I prefer this position [palms up on the knees] for the hands, it's much more open, it keeps your body open and can often keep you sitting up straight. The first object that we teach in this insight meditation is the awareness of the expansion and contraction of the abdomen. It's helpful if you know exactly what is the abdomen. It is this main stomach area of the body with the navel as the central point. As we breathe in, our chest expands, as we breathe out, our chest contracts. So as we breathe in, our abdomen stretches [upward] and as we breathe out, our abdomen contracts [downward]. In the English, we call this "rising and falling". If we breathe in long, then we note, "rising, rising, rising, falling, falling, falling". If we breathe in quickly we note, "rising, falling". If you breathe in long, it's better to note [consecutively], "rising, rising, rising", "falling, falling, falling", rather than noting, rising, falling. This will keep the mind more sharply aware of the movement. So you should note it as you experience it, if it is long, you note it many times, if it is short, you note it only once. The breathing must be natural. We mustn't force our breath in, or force the breath out, but just breathe naturally. [Please don't be greedy for or attached to watching the rising and falling movement, don't push and pull the abdomen. If you do, you will become tense and tired very quickly.] So then as we are in the sitting posture, there are many other physical feelings or sensations that can be noted.
As you sit in this position for some time, your foot loses it's feeling, it becomes numb. This may be the same in both feet, they may become numb. Numbness is a natural feeling, it's not a problem for the meditator and there's no need to worry about numbness. [It is impermanent, changing and may not last very long, be patient.] So as you feel that your feet are numb, you may simply note, "numb, numb, numb" [as long as it is predominant]. If you feel the foot touching the floor, you can note, "touching, touching, touching'. If there is pain under the foot or in the foot, you may note, "pain, pain, pain". If the point of touching the floor is hard or soft then you may note, "hard, hard" or "soft, soft". Also hot or cold, "hot, hot ","cold, cold". As you feel it, you should note it. Everybody has different feelings at any time. So you should note it as you feel it, not as I instruct. I am simply pointing out things that you may be experiencing, it's up to you to feel and experience that which you are feeling or experiencing, for yourself. We may then also be feeling some pressure, or tension, tightness in the knees. In the thighs you may be experiencing tightness or tension or even pain, you can note it as, "tight, tight" or "tension, tension", "pain, pain, pain". If you don't know what to call it, you can just say, "feeling, feeling". Again, it is important that your mind is on the feeling or the object that you are feeling and not just saying words automatically. So as we are sitting, we may feel some pain or tension, tightness in the lower back, in the middle back or the upper back, you note it as you are feeling it. In the front of the body we have the expanding and contracting of the abdomen we note it as, "rising, rising", "falling, falling". In the chest you may be feeling some tension or tightness, you must not note it. You can be aware of it and you can observe it but it's good not to mentally note it because sometimes it becomes worse. You may feel your heart beating, also we don't note the heartbeat but we may be aware of it and we may observe it. The reasons that we don't note the chest pain, tension and heartbeat is, if we note it, we will tend to concentrate on it too much and sometimes the meditator may become worried or panic about their health condition. So with the heart and lungs just relax and let them be, naturally. We may be experiencing some tension in the shoulders or in the neck, we can note it as, "tension, tension You may note the hands touching the knees or touching each other, you can note, "touching, touching". If they are hot or cold, then you note them as, "hot, hot" or 'cold, cold". You may feel some vibrations in the hands, then you may note, "vibrating, vibrating" or "feeling, feeling, feeling". Then on the face, the lips may be wet or dry or they may be stuck together, so we can note, "wet, wet" or "dry, dry" or "sticky, sticky". Also, in our mouth is wet, we may note, "wet, wet, wet" or we may swallow some saliva, at that time we may note, "sucking" and ''swallowing''.
There may be some feeling in the nose, perhaps as the breath comes in, the air is cold so we experience cold, we may experience hot or we may also smell something, all these should be noted. In sitting meditation we sit with our eyes closed. So as you sit with your eyes closed you may be experiencing tension or pain, behind or around the eyes. If we hear any sound, then we should note, "hearing, hearing, hearing". Actually hearing is always present, it never goes away. Very often we are attracted by sound or very often we are hearing sounds. So when you hear anything, you just note it as, "hearing, hearing, hearing". We don't note, "car, car", "dog, dog", "music, music" or "aeroplane, aeroplane" but we note the process that is taking place inside our mind and body, that is, hearing. If you like what you are hearing, then you should note, "liking, liking, liking". Now we are noting mental states. If you dislike that sound, you note, "dislike, dislike" or "aversion, aversion Usually when we hear a sound, we also have a mental picture, a mental image in our mind of the sound that we hear. If you see any mental image in your mind, you should note, "seeing, seeing". If you see the mental image and it doesn't change or disappear, then often it will begin or become a story. That is, we start thinking about that which we have heard and seen in our mind. This thought can lead anywhere. Then we say our mind is "wandering" and we have to note, "wandering, wandering, wandering" or "thinking, thinking, thinking", or "imagining, imagining, imagining". At any time, anything that we feel in our body can make us think about that which we have felt. So for example, if you feel pain in your body, then you start thinking about that pain. You often think about it in one of two ways, that is, this pain as it was in the past or this pain as it might be in the future. If we are thinking about the past then we should note, "reflecting, reflecting" or "remembering, remembering". Then the thought arises in your mind, 'Ah! I've had this pain for one minute or five minutes already', this is thinking, "thinking, thinking, thinking", "worrying, worrying". But also we might think, This morning [when I sat] I had this pain.' Or we might think, 'yesterday I had this pain.' Or we might think, 'last week or last year I had this pain' or 'I had this pain when I was a child, when I was playing sport!' This means we are thinking about the pain from the past. The pain in the present is the cause for us to think about the pain from the past. So as I said, we can note it as, "thinking", "worrying", "reflecting", "remembering Likewise, we think about the pain in the future. We think, 'I will have this pain in another minute', I will have this pain in five minutes', 'this pain will continue for ten minutes' or 'twenty minutes'. We think we will have this pain next time we sit for meditation. We think we will have this pain tomorrow or next week or next month or next year or when we are an old man or an old woman! We think and worry about this pain [as it might be] in the future but the reality is, the pain is just here, now. So if you feel the pain, you just note, "pain, pain, pain". If you are worrying about the pain, you note, "worrying, worrying". if your mind is restless or agitated, then you note, "restless, restless", "agitated, agitated". If you don't like the pain, then you must note, "dislike, dislike" or "aversion, aversion", if you want to be free from the pain, you should note, "wanting,
wanting, wanting" or "desire, desire, desire". These are all mental states that arise out of painful feeling or discomfort in the body. Pain itself can be noted in many different ways. It may be burning, stinging, aching or throbbing. Pain is multi facetted, that means it has many faces. We think that a pain is the same pain continuously but actually, it is also a changing phenomena. We may have had a pain very often in our life or continuously in our life but each time we feel it, each moment we feel it, it is a new feeling, a new pain [in a new moment]. if you see pain in this way then you are beginning to understand the changing nature of our mind and our body. At any time, at any moment, we can feel any sensation in our body. In one moment you may feel pain, in another moment you may feel heat, in another moment you may hear a sound or smell something or think about something. As we observe these changing phenomena our mind also is changing. Our body is constantly changing, our mind is constantly changing. We are always taking in new stimuli or new information. Even though we are old and we have done these things many times, we are still learning about what we are experiencing. So everything is changing, everything is new. This present moment we have never experienced before but we have sat before. We have listened before, we have seen before and these things that we are seeing, hearing and doing, we have experienced before but not precisely in this way. This moment is different and it's changing! So then, I think we will do some practical meditation and what I would like to do is, to try to practice the mental noting technique. For example, as you are sitting for meditation, you may begin with one deep breath, breathing in and breathing out, with your mind on the expansion and contraction of the abdomen. As you feel the abdomen expanding, then note, "rising, rising, rising, rising, rising" and "falling, falling, falling, falling, falling". [Following the movement very closely, with the mind precisely on the abdominal movement. Then the breath takes a few breaths to get back to normal, just keep noting it as it is, long or short.] Then as you are sitting, you may be able to continually note, "rising, falling, rising, falling". But you will probably feel some pain somewhere in the body so you may note, "pain, pain, pain". If you hear any sound, then you note, "hearing, hearing, hearing". If you are hot or cold, then you note, "hot, hot" or "cold, cold". If you are thinking about the meditation, then you should note, "thinking, thinking, thinking". If you are doubting or you are asking yourself, 'Am I doing this right?', then you should note, "doubt, doubt, doubt" or "questioning, questioning". In this way we are noting any physical phenomena or any mental phenomena that predominantly arises within the present moment. [We note each object until it changes, disappears or is replaced by another more predominant object.] We are hoping to have a continuity of mental noting. With the continuity of mental noting, there is a continuity of observation, awareness, mindfulness. Then we are coming to an understanding of the present moment naturally unfolding. Y "Naturally?"
Naturally unfolding, naturally becoming, naturally happening. T "We didn't follow you, naturally happening?" It means whatever is happening in the present moment, we are naturally observing that which is happening in the present moment. Y "Without my own will, as it is, go as it is. Let things go, naturally?" Yes, let it be. Yes, the mental noting is just a tool to help us observe consecutively and so that we are not analysing or thinking about what we are experiencing but just noting it and experiencing it. So, as we experience whatever is in our body and mind, then we're mentally noting and we try to have a continuity of observation. Y "Continuity?" I've already said this a few times. The continuity of observation - observing continuously. Moment after moment after moment. Simply, we are asking the question 'What is here now?' 'What am I experiencing now?' T "You are just simply telling us to note what we are experiencing and what we are doing? May I understand correct?" Yes, that's correct, yes. So I will give an example of what I would note if I was meditating now. Now I have pain in this knee, I will note, "pain,, pain, pain" but then this pain in my hip became more predominant, so I note it, "pain, pain, pain" but also I need to go to the toilet. So I want to note the physical pain, "feeling, feeling", but also, "wanting, wanting", to go and relieve the pain. I want to go to the toilet, there is a pain in my body so I note, "pain, pain" or "feeling, feeling" mental state arises, I want to go to the toilet, "wanting, wanting, wanting" and now I am hearing and pain. The main phenomena that I am experiencing is the knee pain, the hip pain, pain in the thigh and also the hearing of sounds, then also the body is hot. Sometimes I feel this, (pointing) sometimes I feel this, sometimes I feel this, sometimes I think I want to go to the toilet. Sometimes I hear outside, sometimes I hear inside, its just hearing. Sometimes the body is hot, "hot, hot". All changing, changing and thinking, feeling, pain, etc. Just whatever is predominant, I just note it and experience it. So do you think we can try five minutes of sitting meditation? Then I would like you to sit in this posture and if you put your hands on your knees, there's no need to touch the thumb and forefinger together, just open, natural, just natural is better. So then as we sit up, we should straighten the body right up, very straight and then relax in an upright posture. Then, if you take one long, deep breath, you keep your mind on the expansion and contraction of the abdomen. Then breathe naturally with your mind still on the expansion and
contraction, naturally. So please take one deep breath and observe the abdomen and then for the next five minutes keep observing anything you feel in your mind, in your body. So begin now. << Five minutes Meditation>> That's five minutes, you can relax. So, during that five minutes, I will tell you what I was experiencing and then you can tell me what you were experiencing. At first, I followed the rising and falling of the abdomen and I noted, "rising, rising", "falling, falling" but, then I heard sounds and noted it, "hearing, hearing, hearing". Then I felt pain in my back, I noted it, "pain, pain, pain". Also, there were many things heard outside. There was an aeroplane went past, I heard it, I noted it as, "hearing" but I also thought about that aeroplane or I had a mental image about that aeroplane, so I noted it, "hearing" but I also noted, "thinking". Also, quite often, I heard the women outside, so I noted it, "hearing, hearing". But at one time I was also thinking about, 'What is this building? What are those women doing? And what is this room used for?' Then I remembered I was thinking, so I noted it, "thinking, thinking, thinking". Also, I thought about what I will say at the end of five minutes. So I noted, "thinking, thinking". Also, as I was breathing in, I could feel a cold sensation at my nose so I noted it. Actually, it's not cold, it's more like stinging. Not really painful but not really cold, I don't know how to explain it in English. A strong sensation like breathing in cold air so actually, I mainly noted it as, "feeling". Then it was near the end of the five minutes, so I was thinking, 'Is five minutes finished yet?' And I was wondering, 'Will I look at the clock?' So I noted, "thinking, wondering". Also sometimes pain and noting, "pain" and "hearing". So now I would like to hear what your experiences were and how you could use the mental noting to follow that which you were experiencing. So please, what did you experience and could you do the mental noting? T "At first he breathed a very deep breath and then the stomach was expanding and falling and then after that, he started to be a little bit sleepy." Did he note, "sleepy"?
T "Yes, he did. And then the voices of those ladies came into his ears and then, "listening", sorry, "hearing". The expansion and falling and then their voices came to his ears one more time. Five minutes too short for him to meditate." [he said]. What about any pain or hot or cold? T "Not so much." What about thinking? T "Only the stomach, sleepiness and noise or voices. Those are the three, only the three." Did he think to himself that five minutes must be up or did he think about the time? T "No, but since you said "OK. finished", he thought, "only two minutes!". He didn't think of the five minutes." So he didn't think about the time? OK fine, that's good. H 'I'll try it in English." OK. That's fine. H "First of all, I did a deep breath and I feel the abdomen is expanding and contracting and I noted and after that, I hear the women's voices so I noted, "hearing, hearing". And I felt some vibration here on my palms so I noted, "vibration" and then, I felt cold here so "cold, cold". And I was also aware here [abdomen], this movement. Soon, I thought about one thing, so I noted, "thinking". My thinking is that, usually this moving [abdomen] is the main point for me, so usually I feel body's sensation but I try to go back to this movement. So I thought it is different from what you said. I was confused a little bit so I noted, "thinking". I wanted to ask what this question and sometimes thinking and go back at this point. And five minutes is short for me." That's alright because five minutes of mindfulness is just as important as one hour of thinking or sleepiness. Actually, it's more important to be fully aware for five minutes, than it is to be sitting for one hour or two hours but only having a little bit of awareness and mindfulness. It's just for us to get used to this type of consecutive or continuous mental noting. So as we are beginning, five minutes is enough. The answer to your problem is that we must observe continuously, anything that arises and not keep bringing the mind back to the abdomen. The abdomen is one object of meditation, it is a good object of meditation but it is not the only object of meditation. Just one point here, we note thoughts as long as we are thinking. So you note, "thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking", if thinking has finished, naturally we might observe the rising and falling. If your mind is wandering, "wandering, wandering, wandering, wandering, wandering, wandering, wandering" then, rising, falling. Not "wandering, wandering", then, rising, falling.
We don't snatch the mind and the attention back to this but we note, "wandering, wandering, wandering, wandering, wandering, wandering, wandering, wandering, rising, falling". When we see wandering has finished, then naturally we see rising and falling or pain or hearing or vibration, feeling, hot, cold, pain or pressure. The noting of mental states is to see them in their true nature. That is, to see them arising, existing and passing away, finishing. When we see the mental state has finished, then we may observe any other physical or mental phenomena. Can someone translate that? Y "We are usually instructed, if our mind is wandering you must come back to the stomach rising and falling but you are saying, that we should not forcibly make mind come back to our stomach?" That's right, because thinking is a natural phenomena. So we observe it, as long as we see thinking in our mind, then we observe it as an object of meditation. Y "We've learned to practice samatha meditation and concentration until it becomes strong and then practice vipassana meditation, that's a way?" Yes, but I am teaching only vipassana meditation, not samatha meditation. We should not take the rising and falling as a samatha object. If you are watching, "rising, falling, rising, falling" and thinking arises and you shut out thinking and come back to this rising falling, pain arises "rising, falling", hearing arises "rising, falling", this is samatha. Vipassana is, "rising, falling, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, pain, pain, hearing, hearing, hearing, pain, pain, rising, falling, rising, falling, thinking, thinking, thinking, hearing, hearing, hearing Y "We are talking about, we shouldn't make our mind come back to the stomach or not, and by your explanation we understand the principle of vipassana meditation very well." You see the principle is to observe any predominant mental or physical phenomena as it arises in the present moment. Therefore, we come to an understanding of all or any mental and physical phenomena as they interchange, as they interrelate and we see the cause and effect of our mind and our body. Because we are sitting, then pain arises, because pain arises, we experience discomfort in our mind, because we are uncomfortable in our mind, then we want to change our posture, because we want to change, then we change. This is a natural process of cause and effect, physicality and mentality. Because you don't like something, then you put it aside, you avert it or divert it. Y "We should not advert or cannot avert what we dislike, we should not No, I'm not saying that we should not. I am saying that we do, we do avert, we do push. Naturally, if something is unpleasant then we avert it and put it aside.
If you have a pain, you want to get rid of it. In our life, if pain arises then we go to the doctor or we go to our mother or we go to the pharmacy and we take some drug or some medicine, to be free from the pain. Nobody in our life taught us how to just observe pain as it naturally is. Actually, we can overcome pain through observing it just as it is. As we sit in this posture, then we get pains in our legs and feet. Naturally when the pains arise, we move our posture or usually, in our life, we will automatically change our posture. We don't even know that we are changing. Often, when I am teaching meditation for the first time, I point this out to people. I show people that they are always changing their posture. Some people sit like they are sitting on an ant's nest with many ants biting them. So they are moving like this. That is one way we express in English that someone moves a lot. You could imagine if you are sitting on an ants nest you will move a lot. So every time we have even a slight pain in our legs, then we move a little bit just to be free from even a little pain. T "So may we understand that during our meditation, just in case we feel pain, yes, according to your teaching, we should repeat to note, "feeling". But instead of doing that, can we change our posture or can we change the scheduling of meditation time?" No, we say, don't change the posture. So don't move the legs, don't move the hands and don't open the eyes. As natural pains and feelings and mental states arise, then we just observe them but we don't change them or get rid of them. T "By noting that?" By noting it. By noting it and observing it, just as it is, without changing. In the beginning, we can only sit maybe five, ten or twenty minutes without moving but later on, we sit forty five minutes, one hour, two hours, without moving. We have the same feelings, the same pains but we just note them, see them, understand them, we don't have to move. So what we see is, that these little discomforts and little pains are actually impermanent and changing and we don't need to push them aside and get rid of them. We can just observe them, then something else takes our attention [or they simply disappear]. We are observing and noting things as long as they are predominant. When something else becomes predominant, then we observe it. So what did you experience in your five minutes? T "Well, like other people here, he started to note "rising, falling", and then after that he started to pay attention to the environmental noises coming from outside, ladies noises or noise from the car, something like that." Did he note it as "hearing"?
T "Yes, he did. Then after that, what he is very much concerned about, came to his mind. An old tree he has in his garden is going to die and he is very much worried about the tree and the best way for the tree to stay alive." So did he note, "worrying, worrying" or "thinking, thinking"? T 'Thinking." What happened to that thought when he noted it? "He thought this must be delusion" And then? T "Delusion." He noted it? T "He thought this is not real, delusion." Right. T "Not noted." OK. Two things there. First, he should have noted, "analysing". Or you can even note, "delusion" T "Well, before he started to note, "delusion", he started to think about the old tree dying and then he has almost forgotten about delusion. And then he found himself, "Oh! now here we sit!" And then what did he note, when he found himself again? T "It's the time. It passed." He thought about that? Or it happened? T "It happened." OK, so most of the time he was thinking about his tree? T "Honestly, yes." And did he sort out the problem about his tree? T "No." You see, one of the reasons for practicing this vipassana meditation is to understand things like this. We spend so much time thinking and worrying and planning and reflecting and usually what it amounts to, is nothing, just a lot of thinking. So when you know you are thinking and you note, "thinking, thinking, thinking", the knowing that you are thinking is Wisdom, the thinking is delusion.
The wisdom displaces the delusion. So, at the time of knowing that you are thinking, then wisdom is displacing delusion. Anytime that you know what is happening, in your mind, in your body, that is wisdom. Wisdom in the present helps us to develop wisdom about the past and it also helps us to develop wisdom in the future. This practice of meditation is to develop wisdom and compassion. We develop wisdom through the repetition of observation or repeatedly observing the changing present moment. We develop compassion by seeing our own discomfort in our body and seeing our own delusion, confusion, anger and greed. By seeing our own physical suffering and our own mental suffering, then we know that all other beings also have mental and physical suffering, therefore we have compassion. T "Almost same as the teaching of Christianity, isn't it? By knowing other people's pains or discomfort, we can know the same problem of other people." Christianity has no technique for understanding. T "No, No No technique for it but the thinking itself is nearly the same." Oh yes, all religions are to do with wisdom and compassion. But most other religions lack a definite technique for developing the wisdom and compassion. OK - please give us your experience. T 'Well, like other friends here, breathing he did feel the same and after that he started to hear and listen to the noise from the outside." Let me point out a difference in the terminology between listening and hearing. Hearing is uncontrollable. If sound is there, we hear it but we can choose to listen to the sound or not listen to the sound. So, was he listening to the sound or hearing the sound? Y "Hearing." T "During meditation, he noticed and he noted hearing.... And then after that, he started to note his stomach is rising and falling. So then he was wondering whether hearing or feeling was predominated, which is the main object to note? Then this is a point he would like to ask you. On such an occasion, two things come into his mind." To Part B
PART B Sometimes it's not only two things, but it can be many objects at the same time. If we are confused, we must note, "confusion, confusion". But then if you don't know what to note, you can stop mental noting, drop mental noting and just observe. Just don't do anything but just observe and naturally, something will become more predominant. Then you begin mental noting again. So, is that the end? T "Observing is one thing and noting is another thing, different?" But we use the noting as a technique for observing. T "Well in case predominant factors come into his mind, so constant, so many predominant factors, come into his mind at one time, how should we note?" Y "One thing in a second and next thing in a second. So, we cannot note, label the word." Too quick? ? Y "Too quick to label." So again, stop mental noting and just observe. "Not label?" No need to label, no need to note, but you just see. Ah! this pain. Ah, this feeling. Ah, this hearing. Ah, thinking, Ah, this pain, you know what is happening. Sometimes it's too fast, then don't note, just observe. Observing is the main point of the meditation. Mental noting is just to help us to stay more precisely with these objects. So mental noting is an aid or a tool or a technique for observing. Also, if we are busy using mental noting, then it stops us from thinking and analyzing and worrying about the object that we are observing. If you are thinking or analyzing or worrying then you should note, "thinking, thinking, thinking", "analyzing, analyzing", "worrying, worrying ....." OK, I think we will have just another five minute sit and then we'll do something else. << five minutes meditation >> So it's now five minutes, you can relax, open your eyes. So, was that different for you this time? T "At this time a little bit different from previous one.
Previous one he was wondering what is the dominating factor of his meditation. But this time not so much. Maybe because he followed your instruction or teaching." So what was the main object that he noted? "Mostly sound and noises." No, we don't note the sound or the noise. We note, "hearing". Hearing happens internally, sound is external. Many sounds but only one hearing. If you think, or if you think about that sound, 'Oh, that's a bird, that's a car', then that is thinking, imagining. Then you note, "thinking, thinking", "imagining, imagining". Y "I see." That is OK, it's alright. Yes, everything that we experience is OK, natural. If you are thinking, it's OK but if you know your thinking, then it's better. If you are hearing and you know you are hearing, then that is good. If there is pain, it's OK to have pain. We all have pain, we all have hearing, we all have thinking. But if you know it's happening then that is wisdom, that is knowing what is happening in your mind, in your body. [Living in the present moment] And so, how about you? Different? T "Well like the first case, he was seeing rising, falling and after that, without knowing, something soft, blue color and sometimes looking dry, very big like a wrapping cloth for the Japanese, Japanese wrapping cloth, we call it "Furo Shiki" wrapping cloth or big umbrella, blue colors, one flying just around him and it's falling down, fell down to his face. And then he thought this must be delusion or this is a .... Oh no! And he found, oh, I'm not dreaming. 'And then I didn't know what it was and what happened to myself. This is what he explained." So, when we see something in the mind we just note, "seeing, seeing". Often we get interested in something. We see it is unusual or interesting or fascinating, so then the mind starts to follow it and play with it and enjoy it, then we get lost in that feeling or in that vision. So in order to not get lost in that vision we must note, "seeing, seeing, seeing". T "In order to get rid of this?" Not to get rid of it, but so as we don't get further involved in it. [To see it, as it is, in its impermanent nature.) T "In order not to get involved further, we keep saying, "feeling, feeling"?" Yes, or "seeing, seeing", [noting it as we experience it). Often in the consciousness, in seeing consciousness or seeing mind, we see a blue object that often becomes large and sometimes small and large and small, changing. T "Is that alright?"
Going in and out or small or disappearing and then becoming big. If we get involved in it and enjoy it and say, "Oh! Wao! Look at this. Oh! This is interesting", then this is not meditation. We just note, "seeing, seeing, interested, interested". T "Because he was not so surprised at seeing something blue he did note, "feeling, feeling", "seeing, seeing". He was not disturbed by the noise from the outside when he was saying, "feeling ..." and "seeing ..." or something blue coming to his mind." At that time, he didn't feel anything? And did he feel anything else in his body? T "He was quite comfortable. He was not scared or anything." This is quite a normal experience. Anything that is unusual in meditation, we shouldn't worry about it and also we shouldn't get involved in it or enjoy it. If that happens then we lose the meditation. We should note, "enjoying, enjoying" or "worrying, worrying". In that way, we always stay calm and in the centre of everything that happens around us. T "At the last stage of the five minutes of the meditation he was wondering, 'Why am I seeing something funny, something blue?' So then he was very worried, he was wondering why he saw something blue coming into his mind." So that's "worrying, worrying" or "analyzing, analyzing" or "thinking, thinking" or "wondering, wondering". OK so we'll move on. Yes, just briefly what objects did you experience or what objects did you note? H "I know the expansion ....." We say rising and falling. H "And heavy, thinking and vibration in my palms." Did you have some new experience? H So different from before, I could follow your instructions. I felt enjoy. Maybe I enjoy but I didn't note enjoy ...." Enjoy .... Yes, often that also happens. You feel happy about your ability to understand the meditation, so then you must note, "happy, happy" or "enjoying, enjoying". Even if you are peaceful and calm, you must note, "peaceful, peaceful .....", "calm, calm ....". Sometimes we feel there is nothing to note, at that time we can note, "nothing, nothing ....". So whatever it is, you just note it and keep noting it and that means the meditation keeps going. Often when we become peaceful we start to enjoy peacefulness then we just do nothing. We just enjoy the peacefulness but we don't know that we are enjoying the peace, you see so we are not meditating. We have lost the meditation, we have lost our mindfulness because we are enjoying the peace, then we don't know that there is peace. So we must note, "peace, peace, peace", "calm, calm, calm", "enjoying, enjoying", "hearing, hearing", "thinking", "pain", "feeling", "touching" ......
Also, another object that we can note, is the sitting posture, we can note it as, "sitting, sitting". That means that the mind is just aware that the body is sitting. Also, we may note the touching points under our buttocks or under our feet or at our hands, we can note, "sitting", "touching, touching". Sometimes when the rising and falling is not predominant or not obvious or not clear, then we can note, "sitting, touching, touching", [sitting posture and] two touching points, "sitting, touching, touching", "sitting, touching, touching", continuously. Y "Consciously?" Yes, must be consciously but I said, continuously. Y "It's not natural, isn't it?" Not as natural as I have been explaining but sometimes, people don't know what to note or they can't feel anything obvious, so then we can note, "sitting, touching, touching". It's not natural observation but [they are] objects of sitting meditation that we can observe. Sometimes the sitting posture becomes very comfortable and we don't have any strong feeling, rising, falling is not strong, no pain, but sitting comfortably, so then sometimes we can use this technique of observing the sitting posture and two touching points. OK. So what did you note in your last sitting? T "Well, like the previous case, rising and falling and then he felt the touching point at the same level and then he was wondering which one of those two, rising and falling, or the touching point should he concentrate on. So then he started to be a little bit confused to concentrate his attention. So then, according to your teaching you said everything should be as it is, as they are, but it's too free to do that. So then instead of confusing with two factors in his case, he was saying that we had better concentrate to one thing and then that is the best way to make a right choice." Well, then he should have noted, "confusing, confusing ..." [until it disappeared] and then after he noted that, his mind would be clear about what to note. If he is thinking about the meditation practice or analyzing the meditation practice, then he should note, "thinking , thinking ...." or "analyzing, analyzing ...". If he really wants to, he can just observe the rising and falling of the abdomen. if you concentrate only on the rise and fall of the abdomen, you will gain wisdom about the rise and fall of the abdomen. if we observe seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling and thinking, then we will gain wisdom about seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling and thinking. So my point is, if you observe one object most of the time then you'll have wisdom about that one object. If you note many objects, all of the time you will have wisdom about many objects. T "Can I ask one question? What is the definition of the wisdom?" What is the definition of the wisdom? "Wisdom is different from knowledge?"
Yes, knowledge we can get from a book or from a teacher or from an external source. Wisdom is something that we experience and feel and learn through our own senses, through our own understanding. Wisdom is understanding. T "So then, shall we proceed to the next session, Q & A?" I was going to also show some standing meditation and walking meditation but it's up to you. T "We have a session in May, so then in the May session we can do walking etc. So then today, time is so limited, we would like to proceed to the Q & A session." Yes, sure. H "I have been studying psychotherapy. Now I am a yoga instructor and a psycho-counsellor. I am interested in integration vipassana meditation and psychotherapy because vipassana meditation helps me a lot to accept myself. So I am thinking, I don't have a concrete idea now but maybe I will create a method. So do you think it is possible and if you do, could you give me some advice?" The practice of vipassana meditation is psychoanalysis. It's self psychoanalysis and it's teaching people to understand themselves. A professor of psychology can lecture and lecture and lecture and tell you all about the mind, and the mind according to great scientists, according to himself, according to his teachers, according to everybody else. But that still doesn't give you a clear understanding about your mind. The professor is not teaching you how to understand your mind, [he's only telling you about it]. We can only understand our mind and other people's minds, through our mind. First we have to understand, 'What is my mind? How does my mind work?' Then you can understand what these professors are really teaching you. Do you understand? So vipassana meditation is a technique for me, us, to understand our own minds. When we understand our own mind, then we can understand when someone talks to us about the mind or about mental states or mental phenomena or mental conditions. T "Like the case of the wisdom and knowledge, right?" Right. So it's about people learning to understand their own mind and it's for everyone, not just for patients or not just for housewives or businessmen, Yoga people or Buddhists but it is for everyone to learn how to understand themselves. We can only understand this world through our own mind. So first we have to understand what is this mind, 'How do I understand? How do I react to that which I experience? When I feel pain, how do I react? When I am hot or cold, how do I react? How do I think?' When we understand this, then we can understand more clearly how everybody else also lives, thinks and experiences life. H "Do you think it is nonsense to integrate vipassana meditation and psychotherapy?"
No, I think that they are same thing. I think vipassana meditation is psychotherapy. It's just that we don't call it psychotherapy. We call it vipassana meditation but it's self-analysis. It's teaching people to analyze themselves, [through close introspection]. So it's a different approach. One thing is that it can't be learned over night, in a short time. It takes a long time to learn how to practice very well and how to observe correctly without going off on different [tangents] and extremes, different ways of observing. They have to be neutral and natural points of observation. But it's difficult because we are always thinking. So, Vipassana Meditation can naturally be used in psychotherapy. Y 'Thank you." No problem. T "How do we make the practice in daily life?" The best way is, at first we have to understand the practice and we have to do some intensive meditation practice, that is, at least for a consecutive ten day period. But preferably for one month, two months or three months of consecutive and continuous meditation. Then we can understand the practice very well. When we understand the practice very well, then we can be more accurately and more precisely aware of our mental and emotional states. When we are aware of our mental states and emotional feelings, then in the daily practice it doesn't matter where you go or what you do, your awareness is on your emotional and mental states. So I'll stop there, I have something to continue. In the beginning, we observe the body and we observe feelings and sensations in the body and also we observe movement and actions, this trains us in our observation of our body. When we become skillful later on, we are able to more closely observe the [more subtle] mental and emotional states. Then in our daily life we can go anywhere and do anything but still be aware of our mental and emotional states, these are the most important, [they are what drive our existence]. Y 'Two months or three months continuous retreat, we need?" At least one month, intensive, non-stop, day and night. Y "Sleep only four hours?" Two or three, four hours, five, maybe six but better three or four. T "Unless he finishes the intensive practice, is it impossible for him to achieve the target of the meditation?" No, not impossible, but it's a lot more difficult! A ten day meditation retreat is just the beginning of really grasping the practice of meditation. One month, we can come to a good
understanding. Three months, brings a better understanding, a more full understanding of really what it is that we are doing [both in the practice and in life in general]. My first retreat in Myanmar was seven months long. T "According to his understanding the ten days or one month or three months of intensive meditation is a very hard job for the ordinary people who are living the normal ordinary lives, so then he wants to know whether it is also impossible for the ordinary people to get the target or goal of your meditation." This is a hypothetical question, a theoretical question. Actually, if you consider, in Osaka City there are how many million people? How many million people in Osaka? The population?...How many people in this room? We can count on one hand. For the people outside, it's not for us really to be concerned whether those people can understand, it's important that if you practice ten days or one month or three months then you will understand, people in the street are not interested in meditation. [But they haven't heard about it, you have. The choice is yours.] Only special people who really want to know, What is my mind? What is my body? What is this life? What is love? What is hatred? What is anger? Anger? Frustration? Confusion? People who really want to know these things, they will practice the meditation. The man in the street can understand this meditation. Children can practice this meditation, old people can practice but not very many people want to really understand their mind and body. They want to go shopping! They want to go to the movies. They want to go on holidays. They want to go to work. They want to go to sleep. T "Well, we sitting here in this room this afternoon, we are not special people. We have our own business. And how do you explain the way to go, where we should go as ordinary people who are living ordinary lives? I say that you, we, are special because it is indeed rare to hear about how to observe your body and mind in this way which can lead to peace and happiness through right understanding. T "In a sense we are one of the people on the street, so then what he meant, I believe is that it is almost impossible for us to continue the practice for such a long time as seven months or something like that. This is my understanding about his question." Well, I was a person on the street. I was nobody, I still am nobody. I am still just a person on the street. I think what he wants to know is how he can use daily practice. We can. Anybody can practice some sitting or walking meditation in the morning, some sitting or walking in the night. And we can be aware of our mental [and emotional] states and our activities during the day. When anger arises, we can note, "anger, anger, anger's and that anger passes away. But what I am saying is, before you can become skillful in the observation of mental states and physical processes you must understand the practice very
well. In order to understand the practice very well, then you should try to do an intensive period of meditation. [In order to get it right, then you can do it anywhere, anytime.] T "From your teaching today, I started to wonder that your meditation is a sort of, say, psychology which means a sort of science. So then my question is, your meditation is a science or religion?" We can say it is either, we can say it is both or we can say it is neither. This question is always asked, not only about meditation but about Buddhism. Is Buddhism a religion or is it a science? Or is it a philosophy? We often say, it's a way of life. T "It's, means Buddhism?" It's, Buddhism, is a way of life. It's a way in which you can live and practice in your daily life. It's mindfulness, awareness, that's all. I am not a scientist, I am not an intellectual, I didn't finish senior high school. All I have done and all I do now is experience life, but now I am observing more closely my own experiences. As a child and a young man, I listened to what other people told me. I tried to follow religion, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my teachers, the law, as in the government or police and eventually, I started to just believe in what I thought was right and what I believed in. That's when I ended up practicing meditation and when I found out that there is a meditation, that teaches you what I was already trying to do, then I thought, I must learn this meditation. So after about four years of practice, still my understanding is not perfect, it's somewhat clearer but there is a long way for me to continue in my practice. But in the world today there are very few people who can actually teach this meditation in plain and simple terms. So I didn't come here because I wanted to teach meditation. I came here because I was invited by Mr. Suzuki and I was also sent by my teacher. I am not a tourist, and if they didn't invite me or send me, then I would still be practicing meditation in Myanmar. Also now in Malaysia, I have taught meditation in about five cities and they all have asked me to stay in the city and continue to teach meditation. It's not because of my desire but simply because there are few people in the world who can teach this. And many modern people, particularly in big cities are realizing that the world seems to be going out of control. And there are some people who are seeking to understand this world, through their own mind. Vipassana meditation teaches this. So I end up being a Vipassana meditation teacher but really I am just someone who wants to understand myself. So, can I help you? Y "Yes, very much." What do you want to know? Any more questions? We still have time.
Y "Do you believe that there is life after death?" Death is the end of this life. Shall I continue? That is the end of this life. Because of this life, because of our greed and our desire to live and to continue our life, then that desire is the cause for another existence. So, because of that strong desire and that attachment to life, then when this body dies there is another beginning of another existence. Y "If our greed or desire is too strong or strong, there is life after death. Do you think? What kind of life is it?" We don't know, no-one can know. Y "Not your belief?" If this is a good life, then there will be another good life. If this is a bad life, then there will be a bad life. This is Kamma, cause and effect. T "We understood that you believe the cycle of life." Yes, the cycle of life is a general term. "Well, he said that man is mortal." Not "mind is mortal"? T "No, man. Human being is mortal, we have to die. So then what should we do to our ancestors to make as a descendant from?" Yes, in Theravadan Buddhism we don't worship our ancestors. They are not in existence now and they don't have anything directly to do with our present moment experiences. We can serve our parents if they are alive now. But our ancestors who are dead, What can we do with them? T 'This question is closely related to his personal background. His father has just passed away last year. He believes that there is a teaching of the life of the cycle." Cycle of life? T "So it's the cycle of the life? He is still keeping a small piece of the bone of his father in a special place in his home. And his wife is suggesting to him that we have to do something for our parents. So then according to your teaching, you said that we cannot do anything for the process or personal way according to your understanding, according to your teaching. So then if this is the final conclusion or final point of your teaching as well as a Buddhist, how should he make his father or the spirit of his father happier in the heaven or something like that? This is the question he want to ask."
Well, I don't know. I don't know how you can make a spirit happy. His father's life and life cycle is not his life or his life cycle. T "His means him." His, Yes. So he can make his own life good and his own next life good but how can we make another person's life good or their lives? T "Even his father?" His father, Yes. Because his father's existence is not his existence. They are two different existence's, two different minds, two different bodies. Two different, if you like, life cycles. So I don't know how you can make someone or something happy after it is dead. During this existence we can do good things to promote our own good existence in the future. The only way we can help, is to teach them how to make their lives good now. So their lives in the future will be good. Otherwise, you are talking about burning incense or praying or singing, dancing, chanting or reciting ancient scriptures or something, I don't know if that works. Y "If I am going to die and I am lying down. What I should do is Vipassana Meditation? My heart is beating too strong and there are those things. What should I do in my death time?" Yes, this is what our teacher said; if you are about to die its more important to be aware of what you are feeling physically and mentally, and be aware of it, either by noting it or just knowing how you are feeling'. This is the most important thing at the point of death, is to know what you are really experiencing. To be mindful. Or you can reflect on the good things that you did in this life. Or you can try to chant something like "Buddha, Buddha, Buddha" or something like that if you want to. I don't know, I never died. If I died before, I don't remember it. T "Can I ask one question? Well, I understand that in Australia, you are Australian, at my best knowledge, everything including the constitution or government systems and everything is based on Christianity. So then when you decided to move from Australia to Burma, to practice meditation, how did you make your decision, final decision, psychological decision to change from your psychological background or spiritual background or physical background to a completely new one?" It was a general transition and it took some time of course. As I said, when I first heard about Vipassana meditation, I realized that, that was how I was already thinking anyway. I wasn't a Christian, I was a free thinker and I believed in myself. So vipassana meditation fitted my way of life at that time. Shall I continue? So then after I learned vipassana meditation or I found out about it, then I realized vipassana meditation is Buddhism. And Buddhism was very strong in Myanmar and the people in Myanmar are wonderful people. I had been there as a tourist. So I decided then, that would be where I would go. It all happened by itself, it wasn't so much a decision it unfolded.
H "Negativity arose and it passed away. I know what happened in my experience but I wonder what happened in my body and mind. Could you explain logic?" Logically? H "Logically, yes or scientific view point." So wh
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