Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Way to Enlightenment (abbreviated)

Sayadaw Jāneyyācāra; Ananda M., Dhr. Seven, David C., Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly

He's so young to be enlightened already.
We were all gathered at Los Angeles' Buddhist University (, Room AD205, when the Sayadaw and an assistant Buddhist nun entered.

We paid our respects, took the Five Precepts, and got these preliminary instructions:

The Buddha, the Awakened One
The Way to Nirvana is serenity-and-insight. This is because what needs to be discerned to reach complete freedom from all unhappiness and disappointment is "mentality and materiality" (nama-rupa) and their causes.

One does this by directly knowing-and-seeing consciousness (cittas) and the particles of materiality (kalapas).

Let us purify consciousness, the mind and heart. How? First let us do it temporarily then permanently. For temporary suppression of the mental defilements and hindrances, one cultivates meditative absorption. Then emerging in this temporarily purified state (where the obstacles and distorters of reality have for a short time subsided), we take up insight-meditation called vipassana.

Calm, coherence, collectedness, concentration (samadhi) as opposed to the distractedness and diffuseness of our day-to-day wandering is what powers the mind/heart to breakthrough during insight-meditation.

How do I get to space? - Go up, way up.
Otherwise, we would be a rocket with insufficient fuel to reach the stratosphere and space.

To practice vipassana without samadhi (defined by the Buddha as the first four meditative absorptions) is about as likely to work as a strong wind coming along and pushing the rocket to penetrate the sky.

Let us begin

We need a secluded place, a peaceful place because silence is a great help, and noise is the enemy of concentratedness (to use the word "concentration" misleads many into assuming it is being used as a verb when it is actually being used as a adjective, the state of being concentrated/undiluted).

Take your favorite sitting posture, one leg comfortably in front of the other, which is easier than easy pose and much easier than full lotus. The top half of the body is straight, erect, firm but not stiff. Use two cushions, a zabuton and zafu, a mat underneath and a cushion for the buttocks that allows the lumbar region of the back to be in its natural bend.
The Sayadaw explained that it is very useful to start with some preliminary exercises to bring about inner peace such as:
Continue this reflection (such as arahan, "enlightened") for about 10 minutes or until there is an inner sense of calmness and clarity. Now we are ready to begin to meditate in earnest. One excellent meditation to begin with is "mindfulness of in-and-out breathing." The meditation object is "the breath." The breath can be known in four ways:
  1. moving in-and-out around the nostril/upper lip area
  2. as each being long or short in duration
  3. as the whole-body-of-the-breath, meaning that one knows/remains aware of each inhalation for its FULL duration and each following exhalation for its ENTIRE length
  4. and as the subtle breath, the tiny movement by the nostril or the prana (invisible lifeforce energy, chi, spiritus) that accompanies it.
I was so at peace, so close to absorption, seeing light.
Become familiar with all of the, the Sayadaw recommends based on the Great Teacher's advice, just to be sure one is being mindful of "the breath" itself. 

Counting can be used for the first two ways of knowing the breath, just to anchor one in the practice. Breathe in and breathe out naturally (not controlling the breath at all) and count "one." Another cycle of breath, and count "two" up to eight then begin again.

If the mind is wandering -- and it does tend to do that, so don't be surprised or upset when it does -- count 1 1 1 1 1...for the full length of the inhalation, 2 2 2 2 2 2...for the full duration of the exhalation, up to eight and begin again.

This will keep the mind on nothing but the natural breath in real time. We want real time awareness, not memory of the past breath or projection of the future breath, just this breath right NOW.

When this can be done, with the mind fixed (fixated, fastened, stuck, nailed) to the breath, the mind will be absorbed into the breath. This is samadhi, full absorption into one thing. It is accompanied by an effervescent bliss, rapture, joy, a sense of levitating. But it is weak absorption close to normal consciousness.

Continue, and as one factor drops away another is strengthened, and it is a firmer, more fixed, more stable absorption, further from normal distracted/diffuse consciousness. This can continue until one experiences the first four absorptions.
Now we're ready to practice for insight

Knowing and Seeing (Pa Auk)
The goal of this is not just inner peace and bliss, which are nice (very nice). The goal is know thyself. Who am I? Ultimately, the answer is name-and-form, nama-rupa, mentality-and-materiality.

We will search for "self" there. For it is only by searching for it there that one can awaken from the illusion that has been causing all of this suffering life after life.

What is "suffering"? Dukkha (disappointment, pain, grief, boredom, lack of fulfillment, woe, ill, distress, unsatisfactoriness, crying, lamenting, this interminable wandering on lost beset by craving and yearning, ensnared by anger and upset, benighted by confusion and ignorance) is "suffering."

To be permanently free of ALL suffering, let us discern ultimate mentality-and-materiality and their causes. That's what insight-meditation (vipassana) is for. Its foundation is serenity (coherence, samadhi, the absorptions). How do name-and-form arise? They arise, that is, originate dependent on conditions.

What conditions? It is all made clear after serenity is achieved when the meditation on Dependent Origination gets underway.
  • Seeing and sitting with the Sayadaw was made possible by our friends and partners. This all took place on March 3, 2018 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.
PasaDharma - Dharma Meditation Initiative - Dharma Punx - Disclosure Project - MARC
I always knew I'd find out how to awaken!
After sitting for hours, which none of us thought was possible, we were treated to a free lunch then got to talk to the Sayadaw face to face and ASK ANYTHING we wanted to know. What a rare experience to ask an enlightened being anything we have ever wanted to know. Mostly people asked about the meditation and if they were doing it right, difficulties they were having, successes they were experiencing. A short time after the Q&A in one room, the Sayadaw and the nun -- who was translating from English to Chinese -- came into the meditation classroom. There he gave a talk and took more questions. Now the focus was mainly on karma.
  • You, too, can participate FREE on Sunday, March 4th (march forth as in sally forth) beginning at 9:00 am. We cannot promise we will ever offer such an opportunity, free, in Los Angeles, in a university setting. Take advantage; come investigate.

1 comment:

Master Wing Chun said...

Voynich Manuscript MS408 is already decoded: