Mind-cultivation Techniques and Its Benefits The Methods and Benefits of Bhàvanà
Ven. Sheelaratna Thero Samanacariyo BA,MA,MDh,DDH (Sri Lanka)
DHAMMODAYA VIHARA BILASPUR, CG, INDIA 2009 -0-
Table of Contents SN.
Table of contents
Why one should practice Bhàvanà (Mind-Cultivaation practices)?
The way of the Mind and Types of Bhàvanà
What is the principle of Samatha Bhàvanà?
Direct Methods for Practice
Questions from students
About the Writer
Mind-cultivation Techniques and Its Benefits This book is especially for beginners. This may be also helpful for those, who practice different methods. Those, who are seeking for help, when one counters problems during practice. 1. Why one should practice Bhàvanà (Mind-Cultivaation practices)? Bhàvanà is a mental exercise that can help to relieve the stressful states of life. Our daily life is filled with minor or bigger frustrations, conflicts, disappointments, unsatisfactoriness, unhappiness, worries, and tensions etc.
In this so-called Modern time anxiety, depression, tension, worries, fears, frustrations,
conflicts are increased in lives of human.
And when lots of problems, difficulties arise, life may seem
unbearable. But the practice of Bhàvanà will bring lose of these troublesome circumstances, which upset you and you will be able to face these circumstances and ups and downs of the life with more profound and tolerance. The practice of Bhàvanà will bring lots of relaxation of your mind. Those who are working a steady routine can find relief from boredom or tastelessness. The elderly and those who are burdened with illness will not be so troubled with theirs problems and discomfort or fear. The students can improve the memory and will be able to do their studies well, more profound and better. Daily works and social relationship will become more harmonious and peaceful. As Bhàvanà strengthens the mind, weak physical and mental conditions can be improved. With more peaceful mind, one will able to have very restful sleep too.
While one is in sleep our five sense organs are inactive but the mind is still active. When we sleep we give rest to the body but we can not give rest to the mind. It is working 24 hours nonstop. When one practice Bhàvanà one gives rest to the mind; not only rest to the mind but also one gives food to the mind, in the same way we give food to the body. In short, Bhàvanà can help one to lead a more productive, satisfying, healthy and comfortable peaceful life. The Pa¤¤à (Right wisdom or the wisdom of the path) that develops through Bhàvanà brings a happiness that surpasses all others. 2. The way of the Mind and Types of Bhàvanà Imagine trying to read a book by candlelight in a room that has all of its doors and windows open. If there is a wind, the light will flicker making it difficult for you to continue your activity. But when the wind stops, the light becomes steady and the reading can continue smoothly with having any difficulties. In the same way, the mind flickers here and there. But if the mind becomes steady in onepointedness and calmed, it will bring light to everything you do in your life. 3. Why does the mind flicker? Because the Five sense-doors of the body namely, Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, Body, and Mind the sixth door are open to receiving sensory information. While sleeping the five senses doors of the body are not active why? Because the mind is not connected to the sense doors. For awareness to arise and to have knowledge of something there must be three things- An object, the sense-doors and the mind.
For example when a visible object, Eye and mind comes in contact then one can see a visible object and can have knowledge about that object. Likewise when one’s ear, mind and a sound or auditory object comes into contact then one can here and can know what kind of that sound is. If the sense doors are restrained or closed then the flickering of the mind will be less. The Buddha has explained how to do this by calming the mind in various ways. These exercises begin in a very profound investigation of the mind. There are two types of method used to calm and develop and purify the mind: 1. Samatha Bhàvanà or Tranquility Cultivation Method trains the mind to concentrate on only one object. 2. Vipassanà Bhàvanà or Insight Cultivation Method trains the mind to observe the many objects coming into awareness through the six sense doors in order to develop the pa¤¤à to eradicate the defilement, cankers in the mind and be freed from sufferings, unstisfactorinesses etc. What is the principle of Samatha Bhàvanà? & How is the mind concentrated through Samatha Bhàvanà? As mentioned earlier, three things must come to contact for awareness or knowledge to arise- an object, the sense door and the mind or certain consciousness. By contemplating on a single object repeatedly, for example the breath or visible object, the mind can be tranquilized and brought to onepointedness. Similarly, many other methods of Samatha Bhàvanà can be found just by focusing the mind on any one object. There is many Method of Samatha Bhàvanà. Some important methods are as follows:
1. ânàpànasati Bhàvanà: Contemplating on the in and out Breathing (ânàpànasati Bhàvanà) is very popular and it can easily be cultivated and can be easily practiced. Breathing is an activity, which goes on continuously in the body though people are usually not aware of it; but if one concentrate on the in and out breathing one can begin to feel it. Just be aware of the sensation of the breath as it passes in and out through the nostrils. Some time it passes through left nostril, some time right and some time both nostrils. If one is aware of the breath continuously; then the mind will start to get concentrated, calming down and tranquilizing. The important thing is to keep the mind fixed in one-pointedness. In this way one should train the mind thoroughly investigating oneself. This method is recommended for any type of personality. 2. Kasiõa Bhàvanà: By looking again and again at a visible object such a Color, Clay, Water, Fire, or Wind, which is shaking a leaf, the mind, could also come to one-pointedness. This is known as Kasiõa Bhàvanà. This Method is depending upon personality that one has to practice a certain type of Kasiõa. All Kasiõas are not good for all type of personality. Therefore one has to be careful, when one practice Kasiõa Bhàvanà. This Method has been existed before the Buddha. 3. Metta Bhàvanà: Someone who is irritable, depressed or worried would benefit from concentrating on thoughts of Unlimited Loving-Kindness by thinking, such as “ May all beings be well and happy.” This is called Mettà Bhàvanà. This is also popular. This method is also recommended for all type of personality. But this method is very much beneficial for above-mentioned type of personality. 4. Anussati Bhàvanà: They are only for developing one-pointedness.
Maraõànussati: Here one has to see how the body gets decayed. This is also recommended for one who has much lust. Asubhànussati: Taking a Corpse or a Skeleton, as an object would be good method for a person that who has a lot of lust to develop concentration. This method is called Asubha Bhàvanà; because one takes Asubha object. Buddhànussati: One trains one's mind in the Qualities of the Buddha. Here one has to repeat the qualities of the Buddha again and again until one's mind get concentrated and fully calmed. Dhammànussati: One trains one's mind in the Qualities of the Dhamma. Here one has to repeat the qualities of the Dhamma again and again until one's mind get concentrated and fully calmed. Saïghànussati: One trains one's mind in the Qualities of the Saïgha. Here one has to repeat the qualities of the Saïgha again and again until one’s mind get concentrated and fully calmed. Now we can begin to understand the principle of Samatha Bhàvanà that is to focus the mind on one object again and again. The object could be Your Body and an External Object or even a Wholesome thought. Many objects could be found in nature. The Best method I found is the ânàpànasati (Breathing Method). Because Breath is real and natural process and it is directly connected with mind and body. It is working in our body twenty-four hours continuously without stopping a minute. It is True process. This is simple logic that Truth leads to Truth and False leads to False.
Vipassanà Bhàvanà: This method is completely discovered by the Buddha. This is real path for freedom or emancipation or liberation. This method had never existed before the Buddha. If anyone say so then he or she is foolish and trying to destroy Buddha-Dhamma. The essence of the Buddha’s teaching is to develop the wisdom of the path (Pa¤¤à) to be freed from sufferings (Dukkha). Nothing is permanent everything arises and passes away. Yet when we lose something that we like we feel Sad. But if we can look at life with wisdom we can see that everything does not happen the way we want but according to impersonal natural laws. Realization of the IMPERMANENCE (ANICCA), UNSATISFACTORINESS (DUKKHA), and SOULLESS IMPERSONALITY (ANATTA) of all phenomena comes through awareness of each and everything with Pa¤¤à (wisdom). This is Vipassanà Bhàvanà (Insight Cultivation). Vipassanà Bhàvanà is a completely different thing from Samatha Bhàvanà. Although concentration is a basic necessity, the mind is not kept to onepointedness on a single object as in Samatha Bhàvanà. Anything that comes to awareness through the six sense doors can be an object for Vipassanà. You might think that this method of Vipassanà Bhàvanà is unusual. You may even wonder whether it is really Bhàvanà at all. But that is just because methods of Samatha Bhàvanà are more familiar. Samatha Bhàvanà only develops concentration while the practice of Vipassanà Bhàvanà develops wisdom (Pa¤¤à) to know, understand and realize the Ultimate Truth. To be mindfully aware of the Four Postures (Iriyàpatha)-Sitting, Standing, Walking and lying down is an important part of Vipassanà Bhàvanà. While sitting be aware of sitting posture. While standing be aware of standing. While walking be aware of walking and while lying down be aware of lying down. It may simple to do and some may think that it is not beneficial. But it is not so easy as it seems and is not non-beneficial. When the mind is aware of these postures, cultivation of the mind Bhàvanà goes very well developing.
It is also important that while doing daily activities one has awareness (Sati Sampaja¤¤a) of those activities. Washing, eating, drinking, bathing or showering, dressing, talking, playing etc. such all activities should be done with mindfulness. For example, to drink a cup of tea, which is on the table, be aware of stretching the arm…. Touching the cup…. Lifting to your lips…. Slanting the cup…. Drinking…. Drinking…. Returning the cup to the table…. and finally removing your hand. Another method of mindfulness is to be aware of the mental formations (Dhammànupassanà) which come into your mind. If desire arises, be aware of it. If Anger arises, be aware of it, it there is laziness, be aware (know) that you are feeling lazy. If restlessness is present, know (be ware that) you are restless, while meditating like this if you get a doubt about the practice, be aware that you are having a doubt. Also if thee is no desire, be aware of it. No anger, be aware of it. And likewise be aware of everything whatever comes or arises in the mind. To practice Vipassanà bhàvanà in the sitting posture, bring the attention to the breathing in and out and be aware of in and out breath. While practicing like this a thought may arises, make a mental note “thinking,” “thinking.” after noting in this way for a few times bring the mind back to in and out breathing. If pain come note “Pain, Pain” note the pain until it disappears. Do not try to get rid of the pain or want to go away. If you feel the pain is too uncomfortable note that thought and mindfully change posture noting “Changing, Changing”. Then return the breath in and out. If you feel Sleepy, Lazy, Happy or any other feeling also note it as “Sleepy, Sleepy”, “Lazy, Lazy”, “Happy, Happy’, etc. If you hear a sound or noise note “Hearing, Hearing.” If you smell a anything note “Smelling, smelling.” If you taste a any testiness note “Tasting, Tasting.” If you touch anything through your body note “Touching, Touching.” When you will be familiar with the method you will realize the value of this method and you will be benefited by this method. When you continue with this practice you will begin to understand the process of
life and will be start to live in the present moment that mean you will start live truth life. As the mind becomes clearer and clearer you will not dragged away by difficulties, problems etc. And as mind develops you find less problems and difficulties. And with Pa¤¤à (wisdom) which you gained through Vipassanà Bhàvanà your life will become peaceful and meaningful and you will live real awakened life. May all those who want to live an awakened life learn and practice Vipassanà Bhàvanà. May all beings get the benefit of the Dhamma, realize the Dhamma, realize the ultimate truth and get freedom from all kinds of sufferings! Direct Methods for Practice:Let me precise the Method that I have taught to you. Firstly sit down in lotus posture or half lotus posture or any other postures, which is comfortable to you. Keep your back and knack strait and close your eyes. Then bring your mind to the doors of the nose and watch your breath. As breath comes in and goes out be aware of that. When breath comes in be aware of breathing in and when breath goes out be aware of breathing out. Do not force just be aware as it comes in and as it goes out as its own natural process. While you are aware of breathing in and breathing out, be aware it is short or long. When in breathing is long, you are aware that breathing in is Long and when in breathing is short, you are aware that breathing in is short. When out breathing is long, you are aware that breathing out is Long and when out breathing is short, you are aware that breathing out is short. While you are siting be aware that you are siting; while standing be aware that you are standing; while you are walking be aware that you are walking; and while you are sleeping be aware that you are sleeping. In this four postures be aware of breathing in and out. Be aware
of your body in any postures, in any actions of your body and same time, be aware of your breathing. While moving your hands or legs or any ports of your body, be aware of them for example when you are moving your hand forward be aware that you are moving you hand forward, and when you are putting back your hand, be aware that you are moving back your hand, in the same way other parts of the body and in the same time you are aware of your breathing in and out. In this way one sees the arising, passing, and arising & passing nature of body. One realizes the real nature of body, internal and external, and breathing in and breathing out. And one becomes aware that every phenomenon bears the nature of arising and passing away. Be aware of your feelings, you may start from nostril and then whole body. While feeling pleasant feelings, be aware that you are feeling pleasant feelings and mentally notice it as ‘feeling’ ‘feeling’. While feeling unpleasant feelings be aware that you are feeling unpleasant feelings and mentally notice it as ‘feeling’ ‘feeling’. And while feeling neutral feelings be aware that you are feeling neutral feelings and mentally notice it as ‘feeling’ ‘feeling’. Without having attachment or hate (aversion) towards any kinds of feeling internal or external just be aware as feeling as feeling, hearing as hearing, smelling as smelling, tasting as tasting, thinking as thinking, touching as touching and mentally notice them. Be aware arising of them, passing of them, and arising & passing of them. While you have attachment, hate or any kinds of defilement or good qualities related with any feelings be aware of them internal and external. Then one becomes aware of mental states or one practices mind awareness. Be aware of you mind and mental states or mental thoughts. When attachment arises in the mind one
becomes aware that there is attachment in the mind. When hate arises in the mind one becomes aware that there is hate in the mind. When illusion arises in the mind one becomes aware that there is illusion in the mind. When attachment, hate, illusion is not in the mind one becomes aware that there is no attachment or hate or illusion in the mind. When mind is running here and there be aware that mind is running. When mind is concentrated be aware that mind is concentrated. When mind is not concentrated be aware that mind is not concentrated. When mind is free from defilements or cankers be aware that mind is free from defilements or cankers etc. when mind is very small be aware that mind is very small, when mind is very big be aware that mind is very big. Be aware of Arising, passing and arising & passing of them internal or external both. One becomes aware there is nothing my or mine or I, and those things are not me or mine or I. Then one, when sensual desire is in me, becomes aware (knows) that there is sensual desire in me. When it is not there, becomes aware that there is not sensual desire in me. One becomes aware of Arising of sensual desire, and passing of sensual desire, and arising & passing of sensual desire. Then one, when aversion is in me, becomes aware (knows) that there is aversion in me. When it is not there becomes aware that there is not aversion in me. One becomes aware of Arising of aversion, and passing of aversion, and arising & passing of aversion. Then when sloth & torpor is in me becomes aware (knows) that there is sloth & torpor in me. When it is not there becomes aware that there is not sloth & torpor in me. One becomes aware of Arising of sloth & torpor, and passing of sloth & torpor, and arising & passing of sloth & torpor.
Then when Pride (agitation) & remorse is in me becomes aware (knows) that there is Pride (agitation) & remorse in me. When it is not there becomes aware that there is not pride (agitation) & remorse in me. One becomes aware of Arising of Pride (agitation) & remorse, and passing of Pride (agitation) & remorse, and arising and passing of Pride (agitation) & remorse. Then when Doubt is in me becomes aware (knows) that there is Doubt in me. When it is not there becomes aware that there is not Doubt in me. One becomes aware of Arising of Doubt, and passing of Doubt, and arising & passing of Doubt. (Doubt about what? Doubt about path & practice). Then one becomes aware of Arising, passing, and arising & passing of five aggregates namely Råpa (form), Vedanà (feelings), Sa¤¤à (perception), Saükhàra (mental information or recognition) and Vi¤¤àna (consciousness). Then one becomes aware of clinging (grasping or attachment) towards these five aggregates. Then one knows properly & clearly the six senses i.e. eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, & mind; And six senses objects visible object, sound, smell, taste, tangible object, and thought (mind object); and their consciousness namely, eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, noseconsciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, and mind-consciousness, and their arising, Passing and their arising-passing. Then one knows properly & clearly the seven factors of enlightenment namely, Awareness or Mindfulness, Investigation of Dhamma, Effort, Rapture (happiness of dhamma), Tranquility, Concentration, Equanimity are in me, and their arising, and when they have fulfilled in me. And then their nature arising, passing, and arising & passing.
Then one knows properly & clearly the four noble truths namely, the noble truth of suffering, the noble truth of arising of suffering, the noble truth of cessation of suffering and the noble truth of the path leading to cessation of suffering. ************************ Questions from students Q1.
How can students benefit from Buddhist meditation?
ANS. A student needs to be able understand clearly and to have a good memory.
Brahmin told to the Buddha:“Oh, Venerable Buddha! What should I do, I find difficult to remember now, what are the reason for this?” The Buddha then answered with five reasons for this forgetfulness. (a)As color added to water makes it unclear, so DESIRE for things muddles the mind making it difficult to remember clearly. (b)As it is impossible to see into boiling water likewise a mind seething with RESENTMENT or ANGER cannot see clearly. (c)Just as the bottom of a pond (lake) covered with weeds cannot be seen, a SLEEPY, LAZY mind cannot see to understand clearly. (d)Like the surface of water stirred up by the wind a RESTLESS mind is agitated and won’t be able to think smoothly. (e)As it is impossible to see through water in the dark nothing can be found in the memory when there are DOUBTS about what has been learned.
These states of mind are the FIVE HINDRANCES (PANCA NIVARANA); which obstruct the mind from concentrating and thinking clearly. A strong control is needed to keep them from overtaking the mind. And that control is Buddhist Meditation. Buddhist Meditation frees the mind form these hindrances and also Awakens a vast wisdom. An unobstructed mind can think clearly and remember well. And when the mind it alert you will be able to do your studies well. Q2. Is it possible to get results her and now from Buddhist meditation? ANS.
Ans. Of course (Yes), if you practice properly and correctly, the greatest benefits form
Buddhist meditation can be realized here and now. May all beings be Happy! Be Happy! Be Happy! With Mettà & Mudità! Yours in the Dhamma Ven. Sheelaratna Shramanachary Email: [email protected]
About the Writer
Venerable Sheelaratna Thero Samanacariyo was born at village named Sendri, Bilaspur MP (present Chhattisgarh) INDIA on 4th June 1974 in a Kabirpanthi Farmer Family. He was ordained as a novice under most Ven. Bhadant Rahul Bodhi Mahathera at Sarvoday Mahabuddhavihar in Mumbai on 14th October 1994. He got Upasampada (High Ordination) in Sri Lanka under preceptor-ship of Most Ven. Dr. Dhammasami (Burmese monk) in Theravada Sangha on 27th July 2001. He got Bhikkhu training under Most Ven. Dr. H. Ratanasara Mahanayakthera of Siam Nikaya and Most Ven. B. Chandramani Mahathero at Sri Ratna Vihara International, Iriwetiya Kelaniya in Sri Lanka. He had completed his six years Bhikkhu training at Buddhist Studies International of WFB. He did his Bachelor of Arts Degree in comparative religions Study, Pali, Buddhist Philosophy at Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka, and Post graduation MA in Buddhist Psychotherapy, Pali at Kelaniya University in Sri Lanka with distinction. He did his PHD in Mumbai at Somaiya Collage (Branch of KavikulGuru Kalidass University, Ramtek). He has also studied C&C++ Programming computer Language in Sri Lanka. He had also studied Pali under Pali experts Most Ven. Pallegama Samita Mahathero. Writer has delivered several Dhammatalks for www.dharmavahini.tv channel and conducted several Vipassana camps, has written many books such as Buddhist concept of Rebirth, Cultivation techniques and its benefits, Buddhist concept of Mara: a critical and comparative study, and several articles for website www.dhammaland.info. He had been UK for teaching dhamma and vipassana at Woverhampton Buddha Vihara. He is the chief editor of Dhammaland Magzine. He is the First and only Chhattisgarhi qualified monk. He is currently giving his service to the peoples of Bilaspur, Chhattigarh India and abroad to spread Buddha’s teaching. He is the Founder President of Dhammaland Charitable Trust, Bilaspur, CG, INDIA He has been dwelled (associated) with great scholar monks Professor Dhammaviharai, and practioner monks like Ven. Metttavihari, Analayo, Pajalo and Yogacara Rahul, Anandjoti, Upali so on.