Correct Explanation of Anapanasati Sutta Meditation by Bhante 
Vimalaramsi

Dhamma Greetings Adam,

I just wrote a chat group about the sutta way to practice 
anapanasati and thought I would send it along. Hope you enjoy it and 
if you think it is worth sharing with others please do!

 

Maha-Metta 2U

always

Bhante Vimalaramsi

 

Dhamma Greetings Tep,


By your saying that you don't see how the fourth Noble Truth applies 
to seeing Dependent Origination I am guessing that you would like me 
to go to sutta 141 and remark on some of the things mentioned in 
this wonderful sutta. The First Noble Truth is actually pretty much 
self evident with this suttas explanation. But when we get to the 
Second Noble Truth there are some questions that need to be asked.

 

In section 21 it says: "And what, friends, is the origin of 
suffering? It is craving, which brings renewal of being, is 
accompanied by delight and lust (a quick note here is it can also be 
accompanied by dislike and aversion "I don't like it mind or I don't 
want it mind" - two sides of the same coin so to speak) and delights 
in this and that; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving 
for being ( this is the "I Like it or I want it mind"), and craving 
for non-being (another quick note non-being is talking about 
aversion the "I don't like it or I don't want it mind) . This is 
called the noble truth of the origin of suffering". 

 

Now there are some questions that might be interesting to ask about 
this statement - What is craving, exactly? How does craving 
manifest? How can craving be recognized? What is the way to let go 
of this craving? (which is the 4th Noble Truth).

 

To answer these questions it comes back to the actual practice of 
meditation and how the Buddha instructed us to do this practice. 
Please allow me to explain the meditation instructions given in the 
Satipatthana Sutta (which are the same as the Anapanasati sutta, the 
Kayagati sutta etc.) 

 

The reason that I need to do this is because in order to truly 
understand how the eight-fold Path works in D.O. A person absolutely 
needs to practice meditation in the way that the Buddha taught. All 
things within the Buddha's path are interconnected and are presented 
so one can have direct experience. By practicing the way the Buddha 
taught it takes things out of the realm of philosophy and into the 
realm of realization and true understanding.

 

 If anyone here will actually begin to practice the meditation as 
explained exactly by the Buddha, the meaning and deep understanding 
will become a reality. If some people here don't want to try this 
method because they are happy with the way they do their meditation 
and are happy with their results, please understand that things may 
be a bit different from your way of grasping what is being said. And 
these points of contention can become nothing more than a 
philosophical debate rather than true realization. Philosophy is 
words and ideas with no action so it becomes strictly a mental 
exercise. True realization comes from direct experience and deep 
understanding of exactly how mind's attention occurs.

 

With that said, let us take a quick look at the instructions given 
by the Buddha in How to do the practice of meditation (please 
remember that I am just reporting this, it is not now nor has it 
ever been my meditation method, I am not adding or subtracting 
anything but just giving the Buddha's words) Sutta #10 Section # 4 
of the Satipatthana Sutta: It says: "And how, bhikkhus, does a 
bhikkhu abide contemplating the body as a body? Here a bhikkhu, gone 
to the forest or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut, sits 
down; having folded his legs crosswise, sets his body erect, and 
established mindfulness in front of him, ever mindful he breathes 
in, mindful he breathes out. Breathing in long, he understands: 'I 
breathe in long'; or breathing out long, he understands; 'I breathe 
out long'. Breathing in short, he understands; 'I breathe in short', 
or breathing out short, he understands; 'I breathe out short'.

 

Now for a short comment the exact instructions say that the 
meditator breathes both in and out both long and short. There is no 
mention of nostrils, nostril tips, upper lip, abdomen or any other 
body location. It simply says that one understands (which means he 
knows and recognizes precisely) when ones breath is long or short. 
It does not say to focus only on the breath to the exclusion of 
anything else that may arise. It does not say to know the beginning, 
the middle and the end of each breath (these are commentarial 
instructions and can lead one away from the deep understanding of 
the Buddha's Teachings). It simply says one knows when their breath 
is short and when it is long.

 

Next the true instructions are given. It says: "He trains thus: 'I 
shall breathe in experiencing the whole body', he trains thus: 'I 
shall breathe out experiencing the whole body'. He trains thus: 'I 
shall breathe in tranquilizing the bodily formation', He trains 
thus: 'I shall breathe out tranquilizing the bodily formation'.

 

Here we come to the true instructions of the breathing meditation 
practice! The words "He trains thus" are very important to 
understand, this says that this is the way one practices, whereas 
before it said that one understands. So the actual instructions are 
given here. If you will notice these instructions are not talking 
about the "Breath Body", the Buddha would have said that, he was 
very precise and would have mentioned that if this was the case. But 
here he simply said to experience the entire body, in other words, 
to be aware of what is happening in one's body on both the in breath 
and on the out breath. 

 

Next comes the important part of the instructions because it has the 
action verbs in it that tell us what exactly to do on the in Breath 
and on the out breath. These instruction say to tranquilize the 
bodily formation each time one breathes in and each time one 
breathes out. This is done by the correct translation of the word 
Pas' sambaya. This Pali word can be a noun, a verb, and adverb or an 
adjective it all depends on the words used around it. The words 'He 
trains thus' helps with this translation because it tells us that 
this word 'Pas' sambaya' is an action verb meaning to consciously 
tranquilize or relax the bodily formation on the in breath and on 
the out breath.

 

So, the meditation is about using the breath as a reminder to relax, 
in this way there is no over-focusing on just the breath, because 
the instructions say to breathe in and relax then to breathe out and 
relax. This is a major difference between what is being taught today 
and what the Buddha teaches us in the suttas, don't you agree? A 
quick personal note: I have personally found that when tightness or 
tension is not so apparent in one's body below the neck, there is 
always some subtle tightnesses or tensions in one's head (and brain, 
which is a part of one's body!) and this is where it is the easiest 
to recognize. (again please remember that these are not my ideas 
about the meditation but they are coming straight from the Buddha.)

 

Why is it important to go over these instructions, when we are 
talking about craving? Because craving Always arises and can be 
recognized as being a tension or tightness in both ones body and 
mind! (anytime body has tightness in it mind has tightness in it, 
anytime mind has tightness in it body has tightness or tension in 
it, and it is a subtle tightness in one's head that can be seen - 
this is what I have found out through personal examination and 
exploration) 

 

To answer the question above, "What exactly is craving? Craving is a 
subtle and sometimes not so subtle tightness or tension in both 
one's mind and body. How does craving manifest? How can it be seen 
and recognized? Craving can ALWAYS be seen as this tightness or 
tension (at the beginning of the meditation practice it can be seen 
in both body and mind and let go of, but as one's practice deepens 
then the tightness or tension is seen in one's head as the rest of 
the body has become completely relaxed and is only noticed when 
there is direct body contact) and with practice it can be seen and 
identified for what it truly is. Another way of looking at exactly 
how craving begins and is seen by the ardent meditator is this: 
Craving always manifests as the "I like it or I don't like it" mind 
(the being and non-being mind).

 

This is why being able to recognize this tightness or tension is so 
very important, because it is the very start of the false idea in a 
personal self or identity. When craving is let go of and relaxed (as 
per instructions) then mind's attention becomes very clear, bright, 
and alert without any distractions in it, this is called the third 
Noble Truth or the cessation of suffering (or craving). This mind 
that has no craving in it is the mind that is brought back to the 
breath and relaxing! So one's meditation practice deepens fairly 
quickly and the meditator will be able to experience deeper states 
of understanding while they are experiencing a jhana (through the 
practice of Samatha/Vipassana)! The Pali word jhana means a stage of 
understanding or level of understanding. This is in keeping with the 
instructions given in many, many suttas.

 

The craving can be rather difficult for one to see as it arises 
because if mind's understanding and attention are not alert as to 
how this arises it can be overlooked. The instructions of relaxing 
on the in breath and relaxing on the out breath are very brilliant 
because it teaches the meditator how to see and recognize this same 
craving when it arises. By following the precise instructions given 
by the Buddha craving becomes even more apparent by direct 
experience rather than trying to figure it out philosophically.

 

When the meditator's mind becomes distracted by wandering thoughts 
or sensations arising what do these instructions tell us to do? To 
understand this we need to take a look at how exactly things work 
through the eyes of Dependent Origination. Let us take the sense 
door of the eyes for example. In order to see one must have 
functioning eyes in good order, there must be color and form, when 
color and form hits the good working eye, then eye-consciousness 
arises (Vin~n~ana). The meeting of these three things is called eye-
contact (phassa). With eye contact as condition eye-feeling (Vedana) 
arises (feeling is pleasant, painful, or neither-painful-nor-
pleasant) With eye-feeling as condition, eye-craving arises, with 
eye-craving (Tanha) as condition clinging (Upadana) arises and so on.

 

OK, now when eye-feeling arises it is there for a very short period 
of time before the eye-craving arises and in turn this is there for 
just a very short period of time before clinging arises. For now let 
us take a look at clinging (upadana). Clinging (upadana) is where 
all of our thoughts, ideas, opinions, concepts, stories, 
imaginations and "I am That" conceit (papan~ca) are made manifest. 
This false ego identification (atta) actually starts with the 
subtler craving (tanha) when it arises but it becomes very apparent 
when the clinging (upadana) comes up.

 

Every time mind's attention is not on the object of meditation 
(breath and relaxing) the process of dependent origination is taking 
place. This is quick and happens over and over again. When one goes 
deep enough in their meditation they will be able to see this for 
themselves and again, this takes it out of the realm of philosophy.

 

The experiencing of one's whole body is referring to when the sense-
door arises with contact and this process actually takes place in a 
conscious way. When one consciously lets go of any distraction, 
relaxes,  and then re-directs their mind's attention back to the 
breath and relaxing on the in and out breath. They are practicing 
the entire eight-fold Path at that time. As this is rather long and 
you may have some questions to ask I will stop here and explain how 
the 8 fold Path works in a later post.

 

May you all attain Nibbana quickly and easily in this very lifetime! 
Thank You

 

 For more information about meditation retreats and the Buddha's 
Teachings according to the Suttas and Vinaya, please go to our 
website at www.dhammasukha.org or contact Bhante Vimalaramsi at 
Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center, RR1 Box 100, Annapolis, MO. 63620, 
U.S.A. or write an email to [EMAIL PROTECTED] or 
[EMAIL PROTECTED] May all beings always be happy and may you 
attain Nibbana quickly and easily, in this very life! 

 

 

 

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MP3 Dhamma Talks By Ven Dhammavuddho Maha Thera

http://www.vbgnet.org  Vihara Buddha Gotama

 

KUCHING DHAMMA TOUR  

 

-         The recorded Dhamma Talks (and Q & As too) are hereby 
reproduced for both days (27~28 May) .... 
http://friendsofthedhamma.net/Kuching_Dhamma_Tour1.html

 

 

www.Dhammapada.Buddhistnetwork.com 

 

 






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