Translated by Greg Kleiman. It is based on the explanation of meditation found in the Visuddhimagga commentary. Because of that the method involves several stages of practice which are complex, and involved.
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These stages include a detailed analysis of both mentality and matter, according to all the categories enumerated in the Abhidhamma, and the further use of this understanding to discern the process of Dependent Origination as it occurs in the Past, Present, and Future. Therefore people who are unfamiliar with the Visuddhimagga and the Abhidhamma will have difficulty in understanding and developing a clear picture of the practice of meditation at Pa Auk Tawya. For foreigners who cannot speak Burmese this problem is made even more difficult. Easterners generally sit cross-legged, with the body erect.
The Most Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw Bhaddanta Āciṇṇa | ศูนย์ปฏิบัติธรรมนานาชาติอ่างทอง
They sit placing the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh. This is the full position. If this posture is difficult, as it certainly is to many, the half position may be adopted, that is, simply placing the right foot on the left thigh or the left foot on the right thigh. When this triangular position is assumed, the whole body is well balanced. The right hand should be placed on the left hand, the neck straightened so that the nose is in a perpendicular line with the navel.
The tongue should rest on the upper palate. The belt should be loosened, and clothes neatly adjusted. Some prefer closed eyes so as to shut out all unnecessary light and external sights. Although there are certain advantages in closing the eyes, it is not always recommended as it tends to drowsiness. Then the mind gets out of control and wanders aimlessly, vagrant thoughts arise, the body loses its erectness, quite unconsciously the mouth opens itself, saliva drivels, and the head nods.
The Buddhas usually sit with half closed eyes looking through the tip of the nose not more than a distance of four feet away. Those who find the cross-legged posture too difficult may sit comfortably in a chair or any other support, sufficiently high to rest the feet on the ground. It is of no great importance what posture one adopts provided it is easy and relaxed. The aspirant who is striving to gain one-pointedness of the mind should endeavour to control any unwholesome thoughts at their very inception.
They are: i. On such occasions the following practical suggestions given by the Buddha will be beneficial to all. Just as a strong man overpowers a weak person, so one should overcome evil thoughts by bodily strength. Having attended to all these necessary preliminaries, the qualified aspirant retires to a solitary place, and summoning up confidence as to the certainty of achieving his goal, he makes a persistent effort to develop concentration.
But a virtue like loving kindness has the specific advantage of building up that particular virtue in the character of the person.
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While meditating one may intelligently repeat the words of any special formula, since they serve as an aid to evoke the ideas they represent. However intent the aspirant may be on the object of his meditation he will not be exempt from the initial difficulties that inevitably confront a beginner. The surface of a circle of about one foot in diameter is covered with clay and smoothed well. This concentrative circle is known as the preliminary object parikamma nimitta. When he does this for some time—perhaps weeks or months or years—he would be able to visualise the object with closed eyes.
The conceptualised image neither possesses colour nor form. It is just a mode of appearance and is born of perception. This one-pointedness of the mind, achieved by inhibiting the hindrances, is termed 'purity of mind' cittavisuddhi , the second stage on the path of purity.
The ten kinds of corpses were found in ancient Indian cemeteries where dead bodies were not buried or cremated and where flesh-eating animals frequent.
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In modern days finding them is more difficult. These four pairs of persons constitute eight individuals. This order of the disciples of the Blessed One is worthy of offerings, is worthy of hospitality, is worthy of gifts, is worthy of reverential salutation, is an incomparable field of merit to the world. Contemplation on death enables one to comprehend the fleeting nature of life. When one understands that death is certain and life is uncertain, one endeavours to make the best use of one's life by working for self-development and for the development of others instead of wholly indulging in sensual pleasures.
Constant meditation on death does not make one pessimistic and lethargic, but, on the contrary, it makes one more active and energetic. Besides, one can face death, with serenity. While contemplating death one may think that life is like a flame, or that all so-called beings are the outward temporary manifestations of the invisible kammic energy just as an electric light is the outward manifestation of the invisible electric energy. Using various similes as one likes, one may meditate on the uncertainty of life and on the certainty of death.
This meditation on the loathsomeness of the body leads to dispassion. Many bhikkhus in the time of the Buddha attained arahantship by meditating on these impurities. If one is not conversant with all the thirty-two parts, one may meditate on one part such as bones, flesh, or skin.
Inside this body is found a skeleton. It is filled with flesh which is covered with a skin. Beauty is nothing but skin deep. When one reflects on the impure parts of the body in this manner, passionate attachment to this body gradually disappears. This meditation may not appeal to those who are not sensual. They may meditate on the innate creative possibilities of this complex machinery of man. Concentration on the breathing process leads to one-pointedness of the mind and ultimately to insight which leads to arahantship. This is one of the best subjects of meditation which appeals equally to all.
Adopt a convenient posture, breathe out and close the mouth.
Then breathe through the nostrils naturally and not forcefully. Inhale first and mentally count one. Exhale and count two, concentrating on the breathing process.
In this manner one may count up to ten constantly focussing one's attention on respiration. It is possible for the mind to wander before one counts up to ten. But one need not be discouraged. Let one try till one succeeds. Gradually one may increase the number of series—say five series of ten.
Later one may concentrate on respiration without counting. Some prefer counting as it aids concentration, while some others prefer not to count. What is essential is concentration and not counting which is secondary. When one does this concentration, one feels light in body and mind and very peaceful too.