Tuesday, October 10, 2017

In this Very Life: Liberation Teachings (FREE)

Sayadaw U Pandita (vipassanasangha.free.fr), In This Very Life: The Liberation Teachings of the Buddha; Joseph Goldstein; Sharon Salzberg; Amber Larson, CC Liu (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

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.
Barre, Massachusetts, USA

1. Basic Morality and Meditation Instructions
  • A Basic Sense of Humanity
  • Meditation Instructions
  • Walking Meditation
  • The Interview
2. Cutting Through to Ultimate Reality
  • 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
3. The Ten Armies of Māra
  • 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
4. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment
  • Becoming a Noble One:
1. Mindfulness
2. Investigation
3. Courageous Effort
4. Rapture
5. Tranquility
6. Equanimity

The Factors of Enlightenment developed:
  • Healing into the Deathless
5. The Vipassanā Jhānas
  • Softening the Rigid Mind
  • Blowing Out Suffering
  • Hindrances and Antidotes
  • Comprehending the Nature of this World
  • Reaching the Higher Vipassanā Jhānas
  • On Nibbāna [Nirvana]
6. Chariot to 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
  • Acknowledgments
  • Definitions [of Buddhist Pali language terms] will be found in the Glossary, pages 280-292.
1. Basic Morality and Meditation Instructions
We do not practice meditation to gain admiration from anyone. Rather, we practice to contribute to peace in the world. We try to follow the teachings of the Buddha, and take the instructions of trustworthy teachers, in hopes that we too can reach the Buddha’s state of purity. Having realized this purity within ourselves, we can inspire others and share this Dhamma, this truth.
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:
  1. refraining from taking life,
  2. refraining from taking what is not given,
  3. refraining from sexual misconduct,
  4. refraining from lying, and
  5. refraining from taking intoxicating substances.
These observances foster a basic purity that makes it easy to progress along the path of practice.

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.
For those whose devotion makes them wish to undertake a further discipline, there are also sets of eight and ten precepts for lay people, ten precepts for nuns, and the Vinaya or 227 rules for monks. There is more information about these forms of sīla in the Glossary.

Refinements During a Retreat
During a meditation retreat it becomes useful to change some of our conduct in ways that support the intensification of meditation practice. In a retreat, silence becomes the appropriate form of right speech, and celibacy that of sexual conduct. One eats lightly to prevent drowsiness and to weaken sensual appetite. The Buddha recommended fasting from noon until the following morning; or, if this is difficult, one could eat only a little in the afternoon. During the time one thus gains to practice, one may well discover that the taste of the Dhamma excels all worldly tastes!
Cleanliness is another support for developing insight and wisdom. You should bathe, keep nails and hair trimmed, and take care to regulate the bowels. This is known as internal cleanliness. Externally, your clothing and bedroom should be tidy and neat. Such observance is said to bring clarity and lightness of mind. Obviously, you do not make cleanliness an obsession. In the context of a retreat, adornments, cosmetics, fragrances, and time-consuming practices to beautify and perfect the body are not appropriate. 
In fact, in this world there is no greater adornment than purify of conduct, no greater refuge, and no other basis for the flowering of insight and wisdom. Sīla brings a beauty that is not plastered onto the outside, but instead comes from the heart and is reflected in the entire person. Suitable for everyone, regardless of age, station or circumstance, truly it is the adornment for all seasons. So please be sure to keep your virtue fresh and alive.
Even if we refine our speech and actions to a large extent, however, sīla is not sufficient in itself to tame the mind. A method is needed to bring us to spiritual maturity, to help us realize the real nature of life and to bring the mind to a higher level of understanding. That method is meditation.

The Buddha suggested that either a forest place under a tree or any other very quiet place is best for meditation. He said the meditator should sit quietly and peacefully with legs crossed. If sitting with crossed legs proves to be too difficult other sitting postures may be used. For those with back trouble a chair is quite acceptable. It is true that to achieve peace of mind, we must make sure our body is at peace. So it is important to choose a position that will be comfortable for a long period of time.
Sit with your back erect, at a right angle to the ground, but not too stiff. The reason for sitting straight is not difficult to see. An arched or crooked back will soon bring pain. Furthermore, the physical effort to remain upright without additional support energizes the meditation practice.
Close your eyes. Now place your attention at the belly, at the abdomen. Breathe normally, not forcing your breathing, neither slowing it down nor hastening it, just a natural breath. You will become aware of certain sensations as you breathe in and the abdomen rises, as you breathe out and the abdomen falls. Now sharpen your aim and make sure that the mind is attentive to the entirety of each process. Be aware from the very beginning of all sensations involved in the rising. Maintain a steady attention through the middle and the end of the rising. Then be aware of the sensations of the falling movement of the abdomen from the beginning, through the middle, and to the very end of the falling.
Although we describe the rising and falling as having a beginning, a middle, and an end, this is only in order to show that your awareness should be continuous and thorough. We do not intend you to break these processes into three segments. You should try to be aware of each of these movements from beginning to end as one complete process, as a whole. Do not peer at the sensations with an over-focused mind, specifically looking to discover how the abdominal movement begins or ends.
In this meditation it is very important to have both effort and precise aim, so that the mind meets the sensation directly and powerfully. One helpful aid to precision and accuracy is to make a soft mental note of the object of awareness, naming the sensation by saying the word gently and silently in the mind, like “rising, rising...falling, falling.”
Returning from Wandering
There will be moments when the mind wanders off. You will start to think of something. At this time, watch the mind! Be aware that you are thinking. To clarify this to yourself, note the thought silently with the verbal label “thinking, thinking,” and come back to the rising and falling.
The same practice should be used for objects of awareness that arise at any of what are called the six sense doors: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Despite making an effort to do so, no one can remain perfectly focused on the rising and falling of the abdomen forever. Other objects inevitably arise and become predominant. Thus, the sphere of meditation encompasses all of our experiences: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations in the body, and mental objects such as visions in the imagination or emotions. When any of these objects arise you should focus direct awareness on them, and use a gentle verbal label “spoken” in the mind.
During a sitting meditation, if another object impinges strongly on the awareness so as to draw it away from the rising and falling of the abdomen, this object must be clearly noted. For example, if a loud sound arises during your meditation, consciously direct your attention toward that sound as soon as it arises. Be aware of the sound as a direct experience, and also identify it succinctly with the soft, internal verbal label “hearing, hearing.” When the sound fades and is no longer predominant, come back to the rising and falling. This is the basic principle to follow in sitting meditation.
In making the verbal label, there is no need for complex language. One simple word is best. For the eye, ear, and tongue doors we simply say, “Seeing, seeing... Hearing, hearing... Tasting, tasting.” For sensations in the body we may choose a slightly more descriptive term like warmth, pressure... More (PDF)

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