Joseph Goldstein, Insight Meditation Society
When Sayādaw U Pandita first came to teach in the United States in 1984, we knew him only by reputation as the successor to Mahāsi Sayādaw of Burma.
But in ways that we could not have imagined at the time, his teaching and presence helped to open many new doors of understanding.
As a meditation master, he has guided us through the subtleties of practice; as a scholar, he has brought new meaning and life to the timeless words of the Buddha; and as a great spiritual friend, he has inspired us to seek the highest freedom.
Just as the Buddha came from the warrior class of ancient India, so too, is Sayādaw U Pandita a spiritual warrior of our time. His emphasis on heroic effort is joined with a joyous confidence that liberation is possible in this very life . Sayādaw has helped us recognize our own inner capacity to overcome the limitations of the conditioned mind.
This book is a collection of talks from the first three-month retreat that Sayādaw taught at the Insight Meditation Society.
He describes in detail both the practical journey of awakening and a profound theoretical model of understanding. These discourses reward a thoughtful reading, allowing the familiar aspects of the teachings to mature in our minds, and challenging us with new perspectives on some old and cherished viewpoints.
This book is a treasure house of applied Dhamma [Dharma]. May it help to awaken wisdom and compassion in us all.
- A Basic Sense of Humanity
- Meditation Instructions
- Walking Meditation
- The Interview
- One: Attention to Impermanence
- Two: Care and Respect
- Three: Unbroken Continuity
- Four: Supportive Conditions
- Five: Reapplying Helpful Conditions from the Past
- Six: Cultivating the Enlightenment Factors
- Seven: Courageous Effort
- Eight: Patience and Perseverance
- Nine: Unwavering Commitment
- First Army: Sense Pleasure
- Second Army: Dissatisfaction
- Third Army: Hunger and Thirst
- Fourth Army: Craving
- Fifth Army: Sloth and Torpor
- Seventh Army: Doubt
- Sixth Army: Fear
- Eighth Army: Conceit and Ingratitude
- Ninth Army: Gain, Praise, Honor, Undeserved Fame
- Tenth Army: Self-Exaltation and Disparaging Others
|Looking deeply at life as it is in this very moment, meditator dwells in stability and freedom|
- Becoming a Noble One:
- Healing into the Deathless
- Softening the Rigid Mind
- Blowing Out Suffering
- Hindrances and Antidotes
- Comprehending the Nature of this World
- Reaching the Higher Vipassanā Jhānas
- On Nibbāna [Nirvana]
- What is Wrong with a Continuous Party?
- The Noble Eightfold Path
- Stream Entry
- Clearing the Way for Ultimate Insight
- Benefits of Stream Entry
- A Vehicle for Everyone
- Factors of Enlightenment
- Hindrances and Antidotes
- The Progress of Insight
- Numerical Lists
- Definitions [of Buddhist Pali language terms] will be found in the Glossary, pages 280-292.
The Buddha’s teachings can be summed up in three parts: sīla, morality; samādhi, concentration; and paññā, intuitive wisdom.
Sīla is spoken of first because it is the foundation for the other two. Its importance cannot be overstressed. Without sīla, no further practices can be undertaken. For lay people the basic level of sīla consists of five precepts or training rules:
- refraining from taking life,
- refraining from taking what is not given,
- refraining from sexual misconduct,
- refraining from lying, and
- refraining from taking intoxicating substances.
A BASIC SENSE OF HUMANITY
Sīla is not a set of commandments handed down by the Buddha, and it need not be confined to Buddhist teachings. It actually derives from a basic sense of humanity. For example, suppose we have a spurt of anger and want to harm another being. If we put ourselves in that other being’s shoes, and honestly contemplate the action we have been planning, we will quickly answer, “No, I wouldn’t want that done to me. That would be cruel and unjust.” If we feel this way about some action that we plan, we can be quite sure that the action is unwholesome.
In this way, morality can be looked upon as a manifestation of our sense of oneness with other beings. We know what it feels like to be harmed, and out of loving care and consideration we undertake to avoid harming others. We should remain committed to truthful speech and avoid words that abuse, deceive or slander. As we practice refraining from angry actions and angry speech, then this gross and unwholesome mental state may gradually cease to arise, or at least it will become weaker and less frequent.
Of course, anger is not the only reason we harm other beings. Greed might make us try to grab something in an illegal or unethical way. Or our sexual desire can attach itself to another person’s partner. Here again, if we consider how much we could hurt someone, we will try hard to refrain from succumbing to lustful desire.
Even in small amounts, intoxicating substances can make us less sensitive, more easily swayed by gross motivations of anger and greed. Some people defend the use of drugs or alcohol, saying that these substances are not so bad. On the contrary, they are very dangerous; they can lead even a goodhearted person into forgetfulness. Like accomplices to a crime, intoxicants open the door to a host of problems, from just talking nonsense, to inexplicable bursts of rage, to negligence that could be fatal to oneself or others. Indeed, any intoxicated person is unpredictable. Abstaining from intoxicants is therefore a way of protecting all the other precepts.