Friday, January 1, 2016


Ven. Sayadaw U Pandita, edited by Kate Wheeler with a foreword by Joseph Goldstein, Wisdom Publications (; Dhr. Seven and Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
A Buddhist meditation master shows that freedom is as immediate as breathing, as fundamental as a footstep. The path of the Buddha calls us to a heroic journey toward liberation. Case histories, anecdotes, a matchless guide to the inner territory.
Everything falls away, something else rearises. Nirvana is bliss (imperishableconsciousness).
Within these pages, Burmese Buddhist meditation master Sayadaw U Pandita draws on over 40 years of meditation experience.

He shows that freedom is as immediate as breathing and as fundamental as a footstep. He describes the path of the Buddha, sounding a clarion call to each of us to take that same heroic journey of liberation.
Sayadaw U Pandita is the abbot of Panditarama Monastery and Meditation Center in Rangoon, Burma. He is a treasured teacher to many students around the world.
In This Very Life: Liberation Teachings of the Buddha
“Vital teachings from one of the greatest living meditation masters”
—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence.
“This book is an amazing map for traversing the wilderness of the mind, the clearest, most concise and complete meditation manual I know of. It offers guidance and support for beginning, intermediate, and advanced practitioners, and can become an invaluable sourcebook for those who teach. Its wise, clear exposition also sheds light on many of the mental and emotional patterns encountered in ordinary life. It includes basic meditation instruction, ways of recognizing and avoiding pitfalls, remedies for problems, as well as techniques to energize and clarify meditation practice at any level. Sayadaw U Pandita draws not only on the texts of the Theravadin tradition but also on decades of his experience leading thousands of meditators toward freedom.If you have no teacher, this book can be your teacher.”
—Kate Wheeler, author of Not Where I Started From and When Mountains Walked

“Essential Buddha [Dharma] from one of the great meditation masters of our time.”
— Sharon Salzberg, author of Loving Kindness and Co-Founder, Insight Meditation Society

“An exquisitely precise and profound analysis of mind states and meditation practice written in a remarkably clear, readable style.”
— Roger Walsh, Professor of Psychiatry and Philosophy, University of California

Mindfulness maintain continuous mindfulness throughout your waking hours. Actually this is not a heavy task; it is just sitting and walking and simply observing whatever occurs.
Alternate sitting and walking meditation.
During a retreat it is usual to alternate periods of sitting meditation with periods of formal walking meditation of about the same duration, one after another throughout the day.

One hour is a standard period, but 45 minutes can also be used. For formal walking, retreatants choose a lane of about 20 steps in length and walk slowly back and forth along it.

In daily life, walking meditation can also be very helpful. A short period -- say ten minutes -- of formal walking meditation before sitting serves to focus the mind. Beyond this advantage, the awareness developed in walking meditation is useful to all of us as we move our bodies from place to place in the course of a normal day.
Walking meditation develops balance and accuracy of awareness as well as durability of concentration. One can observe very profound aspects of the Dharma (Pali, Dhamma) while walking, and even get enlightened!

In fact, a yogi who does not do walking meditation before sitting is like a car with a rundown battery. He or she will have a difficult time starting the engine of mindfulness when sitting.
What is "the Path"? (
Walking meditation consists of paying attention to the walking process. If you are moving fairly rapidly, make a mental note of the movement of the legs, “Left, right, left, right” and use your awareness to follow the actual sensations throughout the leg area. If you are moving more slowly, note the lifting, moving, and placing of each foot. In each case you must try to keep your mind on just the sensations of walking.
Notice what processes occur when you stop at the end of the lane, when you stand still, when you turn and begin walking again. Do not watch your feet unless this becomes necessary due to some obstacle on the ground; it is unhelpful to hold the image of a foot in your mind while you are trying to be aware of sensations. You want to focus on the sensations themselves, and these are not visual. For many people it is a fascinating discovery when they are able to have a pure, bare perception of physical objects such as lightness, tingling, cold, and warmth.
Usually we divide walking into three distinct movements: lifting, moving, and placing the foot. To support a precise awareness, we separate the movements clearly, making a soft mental label at the beginning of each movement, and making sure that our awareness follows it clearly and powerfully until it ends. One minor but important point is to begin noting the placing movement at the instant that the foot begins to move downward.
A New World in Sensations

Let us consider lifting. We know its conventional name, but in meditation it is important to penetrate behind that conventional concept and to understand the true nature of the whole process of lifting, beginning with the intention to lift and continuing through the actual process, which involves many sensations.
Our effort to be aware of lifting the foot must neither overshoot the sensation nor weakly fall short of this target. Precise and accurate mental aim helps balance our effort. When our effort is balanced and our aim is precise, mindfulness will firmly establish itself on the object of awareness. It is only in the presence of these three factors -- effort, accuracy, and mindfulness -- that concentration develops.
Concentration, of course, is collectedness of mind, one-pointedness. Its characteristic is to keep consciousness from becoming diffuse or dispersed.
As we get closer and closer to this lifting process, we will see that it is like a line of ants crawling across the road. From afar the line may appear to be static, but from closer up it begins to shimmer and vibrate. And from even closer the line breaks up into individual ants, and we see that our notion of a line was just an illusion.
We now accurately perceive the line of ants as one ant after another ant, after another ant. Exactly like this, when we look accurately at the lifting process from beginning to end, the mental factor or quality of consciousness called “insight” comes nearer to the object of observation. The nearer insight comes, the clearer the true nature of the lifting process can be seen. It is an amazing fact about the human mind that when insight arises and deepens through vipassana (or insight) meditation practice, particular aspects of the truth about existence tend to be revealed in a definite order. This order is known as the progress of insight.
The first insight that meditators commonly experience is to begin to comprehend -- not intellectually or by reasoning, but quite intuitively -- that the lifting process is composed of distinct mental and material phenomena occurring together, as a pair.
The physical sensations, which are material, are linked with, but different from, the awareness, which is mental. We begin to see a whole succession of mental events and physical sensations, and to appreciate the conditionality that relates mind and matter.
We see with the greatest freshness and immediacy that mind causes matter -- as when our intention to lift the foot initiates the physical sensations of movement, and we see that matter causes mind -- as when a physical sensation of strong heat generates a wish to move our walking meditation into a shady spot.
The insight into cause and effect can take a great variety of forms; but when it arises, our life seems far more simple to us than ever before. Our life is no more than a chain of mental and physical causes and effects. This is the second insight in the classical progress of insight.
As we develop concentration we see even more deeply that these phenomena of the lifting process are impermanent, impersonal, appearing, and disappearing one by one at fantastic speed.
This is the next level of insight, the next aspect of existence that concentrated awareness becomes capable of seeing directly.
There is no one behind what is happening; the phenomena arise and pass away as an empty process, according to the law of cause and effect. This illusion of movement and solidity is like a movie. To ordinary perception it seems full of characters and objects, all the semblances of a world. But if we slow the movie down we will see that it is actually composed of separate, static frames of film.
Discovering the Path by Walking
Can one walk with enough attention?
When one is very mindful during a single lifting process -- that is to say, when the mind is with the movement, penetrating with mindfulness into the true nature of what is happening -- at that moment, the path to liberation taught by the Buddha opens up.
The Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path, often known as the Middle Way or Middle Path, consists of the eight factors of
  1. right view or understanding,
  2. right thought or aim [intention],
  3. right speech,
  4. right action,
  5. right livelihood,
  6. right effort,
  7. right mindfulness, and
  8. right concentration.
During any moment of strong mindfulness, five of the eight path factors come alive in consciousness. There is right effort; there is mindfulness; there is one-pointedness or concentration; there is right aim; and as we begin to have insight into the true nature of the phenomena, right view also arises.
And during a moment when these five factors of the Eightfold Path are present, consciousness is completely free from any sort of defilement.
As we make use of that purified consciousness to penetrate into the true nature of what is happening, we become free of the delusion or illusion of self; we see only bare phenomena coming and going. When insight gives us intuitive comprehension of the mechanism of cause and effect, how mind and matter are related to one another, we free ourselves of misconceptions about the nature of phenomena. Seeing that each object lasts only for a moment, we free ourselves of the illusion of permanence, the illusion of continuity. As we understand impermanence and its underlying unsatisfactoriness, we are freed from the illusion that our mind and body are not suffering.
This direct seeing of impersonality brings freedom from pride and conceit, as well as freedom from the wrong view that we have an abiding self. When we carefully observe the lifting process, we see mind and body as unsatisfactory and so are freed from craving. These three states of mind --conceit, wrong view, and craving -- are called “the perpetuating dhammas [things, phenomena].” They help to perpetuate existence in samsara, the cycle of craving and suffering that is caused by ignorance of ultimate truth. Careful attention in walking meditation shatters the perpetuating dhammas, bringing us closer to freedom.
You can see that noting the lifting of one’s foot has incredible possibilities! These are no less present in moving the foot forward and in placing it on the ground. Naturally, the depth and detail of awareness described in these walking instructions should also be applied to noting the abdominal movement in sitting, and all other physical movements.
Five Benefits of Walking Meditation
The Buddha in walking pose, India, Nagaloka, India (
The Buddha described five additional, specific benefits of walking meditation. The first is that one who does walking meditation will have the stamina to go on long journeys. This was important in the Buddha’s time, when bhikkhus [male monastics] and bhikkhunıs [female monastics], monks and nuns, had no form of transportation other than their feet and legs. You who are meditating today can consider yourselves to be bhikkhus, and can think of this benefit simply as physical strengthening.
The second benefit is that walking meditation brings stamina for the practice of meditation itself. During walking meditation a double effort is needed. In addition to the ordinary, mechanical effort needed to lift the foot, there is also the mental effort to be aware of the movement -- and this is the factor of right effort from the Noble Eightfold Path. If this double effort continues through the movements of lifting, pushing, and placing, it strengthens the capacity for that strong, consistent mental effort all yogis know is crucial to vipassana practice.
Third, according to the Buddha, a balance between sitting and walking contributes to good health, which in turn speeds progress in practice. Obviously it is difficult to meditate when we are sick. Too much sitting can cause many physical ailments.
But the shift of posture and the movements of walking revive the muscles and stimulate circulation, helping prevent illness.
The fourth benefit is that walking meditation assists digestion. Improper digestion produces a lot of discomfort and is thus a hindrance to practice. Walking keeps the bowels clear, minimizing sloth and torpor. After a meal, and before sitting, one should do a good walking meditation to forestall drowsiness.
Walking as soon as one gets up in the morning is also a good way to establish mindfulness and to avoid a nodding head in the first sitting of the day.
Last, but not least, of the benefits of walking is that it builds durable concentration. As the mind works to focus on each section of the movement during a walking session, concentration becomes continuous. Every step builds the foundation for the sitting that follows, helping the mind stay with the object from moment to moment -- eventually to reveal the true nature of reality at the deepest level. This is why I use the simile of a car battery. If a car is never driven, its battery runs down. A yogi who never does walking meditation will have a difficult time getting anywhere when he or she sits down on the cushion. But one who is diligent in walking will automatically carry strong mindfulness and firm concentration into sitting meditation.
I hope that all of you will be successful in completely carrying out this practice. May you be pure in your precepts, cultivating them in speech and action, thus creating the conditions for developing samadhi [profound concentration including absorptions known as jhanas] and wisdom. May you follow these meditation instructions carefully, instantly? Does the mind just keep on wandering? Or do the thoughts reduce in intensity and eventually disappear? Does a new object arise before we have seen the disappearance of the old one? If you cannot note the wandering mind at all, you should tell the teacher about this, too.
If the wandering mind disappears, you come back to the rising and falling. You should make a point to describe whether you are able to come back to it. In your reports it is good, also, to say how long the mind usually remained with the rising and falling movements before a new object arose.
Pains and aches, unpleasant sensations, are sure to arise after sometime of sitting. Say an itch suddenly appears -- a new object.
You label it as “itching.” Does the itch get worse or remain the same? Does it change or disappear? Do new objects arise, such as a wish to scratch? All this should be described as precisely as possible. It is the same with visions and sights, sounds and tastes, heat and cold, tightness, vibrations, tinglings, the unending procession of objects of consciousness. No matter what the object, you only have to apply the same three-step principle to it.
All of this process is done as a silent investigation, coming very close to our experience -- not asking ourselves a lot of questions and getting lost in thought. What is important to the teacher is whether you could be aware of whatever object has arisen, whether you had the accuracy of mind to be mindful of it, and the perseverance to observe it fully. Be honest with your teacher. If you are unable to find the object, or note it, or experience anything at all after making a mental label, it may not always mean that you are practicing poorly! A clear and precise report enables the teacher to assess your practice, then point out mistakes or make corrections to put you back on the right path.
May you benefit from these interview instructions. May a teacher someday help you help yourself....

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