Namo tassa Bhagvato arahato Samma sambuddhassa
Eighteen Days in Solitude
Day 1: 17th October, 2002; By Venerable U Ñāṇaransi ; The translator: Ven. Uttamo
This is the first time of international vippassana retreat in Rangoon. In the beginning of the practice, the point you should know is can’t do things as you like to. There’re programmes. The first thing to do is satipatthana practice. It’s based on mindfulness (sati). Sati is important for attaining Path and Fruit. Why we’re doing satipatthana? Human beings are alive without knowing. People have been listened Paticcasamupada (Dependent Arising) before knowing this point. What is not knowing? Not knowing is avijja (ignorance). Human beings are alive without knowing themselves. They don’t know what will happen tomorrow. They don’t know where to die. During sleeping, eating and moving around anytime even don’t know they are alive with their breathings. Don’t know breathing with the right or left nose. If we think about it and know that living without knowing anything. If we do vipassana and have to know exactly. We have to know it with the practice. The Buddha reflected as why people were doing things without knowing? They’re doing things without any sure for tomorrow. Don’t say for tomorrow, even don’t know what will happen in next hour. Living the whole life without knowing and also die without knowing. The Buddha reflected with his perfect wisdom (sabbannuta nyan); “Why people don’t know?” “No mindfulness (sati) that they don’t know it.” His last words before passing away was ; “Monks! Don’t be in heedlessness. Always stay with sati.” After satipatthana, it change to vipassana and arrive to the stage of satipatthana bhavana. So the whole practice has three parts. (In all these talks, sometimes he mentioned about Mogok Sayadaw’s talks. Because in the retreat he used some of Sayadaw’s teaching.)
For the first part, start from the satipatthana. At the time of breathing practice with sustained mindfulness to know them. With the sustained sati to do the going, eating, bathing and at the toilet, etc. What are the benefits you’ll get from it? The mind becomes purified. First, giving you the eight precepts and must have the purification of the precepts (sila). Second, with only purified sila is not enough yet, and also make the mind to be purified (sila only control verbal and bodily actions, so it needs to control the mind). In the mind there are lobha (greed), dosa (hatred), kilesa (defilement) exist. Making them reduced and purified have to use satipatthana. With the polluted mind can’t do vipassana. Before have to do the four stages of sila, citta, ditthi and kankhavitavana visudhis respectively (these are the purification of precept, mind, view and doubt). For the purification of the mind have to do the satipatthana to purify the kilesa of lobha, dosa, mana and ditthi. With it must know the breathing. With practice the yogi finds out that his mind is in a random state. And beginning to know about oneself. Human mind is like a monkey mind. Before we took it as could control the mind. With the practice and knowing that we can’t. It wants to go anywhere out of control. Have to overcome and make it calm down. For example, stabilized a glass of water with the sediments in it, and the water slowly becomes clear. It’s like binding the mind at a post and making it calming down is satipatthana. In Burma there are two ways of practice. A yogi after arriving to the centre and teach him vipassana method. This is not wrong and also right. Ledi Sayadaw called it sukkha vipassana method (i.e., not practice samatha seperately). It’s good for people who have the strength of sharp knowledge and strength of effort (viriya). For ordinary neyya people, this method is not very good. (A neyya person has born with three wholesome roots, i.e. non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion can attain realization in this life, if practice properly with right effort.) Ledi Sayadaw was the first person made vipassana well known in Burma. With follow his system. This is vipassana based on samatha.
Our method is samatha yanika-vipassana. After making the mind has strength and purified and will do vipassana, we’ll do it with anapana method. There are also other ways of using rosary beads, concentration on discs (kasinas), contemplation on loathsomeness (asubha), etc. Here is no need for outside objects. Only to know the in breaths and out breaths. We do it with all the four postures. There are centres doing with sitting, walking, and with both. But not doing with the standing and lying down postures. We’re doing all these for balancing the postures. With walking, make the body healthy, digest the foods and strong Samadhi (Samadhi lasts longer). First, how to contemplate in sitting? There are postures (asanas). You can sit comfortably as you like. With the posture you can sit longer and comfort. Second point is straightening the back. This is important. If the spinal cord and back bones are bending will become tired and painful (i.e., with ease and relax). If the bones are in the state of like the ice cream cone cups overlap each other systematically and it becomes comfortable. And also can sit longer. After that don’t let the head inclining downwards or upwards. Put one hand on top of the other or both on the knees or on the laps with comfort. Don’t put it on the floor and will destroy the yogi’s posture. Close the eyes and pay attention at the entrance of the nose. You can also open your eyes and pay attention to the tip of the nose. When breathing in knowing the air comes into the nose. With breathing some are short and some are long breathing, each person is not the same. After the coming in air ends and wanting to breathe out arises, breathe naturally. Is it with the right or left nose? One of the noses is usually closed. Breathing with both noses are few. Only with one side is more often. After knowing the touching and again know the knowing mind. The mind wanting to breathe out arises. When breathing out and know it from the beginning to the end. These are touching and knowing with mindfulness (sati). What kind of problem can arise? Sometimes we don’t know about it because the mind is running away. Not staying at where we want to be. The mind is playing around on kilesa objects. It doesn’t like the normal kinds of object and following the objects it prefers. If without sati and the mind will run away. Staying with sati and not let the mind running away. If it runs away, then pull it back on to the object. Mediation is pulling back the running away mind on to the object again and again. This is called applied thought (vitakka). Practicing to know it all the time satipatthana and you don’t need to search for it. With sati and it comes back again. This is practising with one of the jhanic factors vitakka. Bhavita means contemplating again and again (if not happen and make it happens and after happen make it develops). Only doing this and making it staying at the spot. Making the mind calming down is called samatha (in the practice of mind development, there are 2 factors involve. These are bhavita and bahulikata. Bahulikata means make it happens for many times. Both together similar to right effort).
For standing meditation, two feet should be nearly one foot (12 inches) or at least 6 inches apart. Two hands shouldn’t be at the sides. Overlapping your two hands in front of you. Holding your both arms also not good. Close your eyes and knowing the in and out breaths as before.
For lying down with your back on the floor. If you want to lie down to the side also all right (mostly to the right side). But with your back is better. Two big toes must touch each other. If not touching, bind them with rubber ring. This will get it point. Place the hands at both sides or on the stomach with two hands overlap lightly. Don’t use the pillow under your head, instead a folded cloth. With sati, noting the touching of the breath.
During the walking meditation, noticing of the touching and knowing of the breath at the entrance of the nostril is not possible. (In the beginning it may be difficult. Webu Sayadaw’s teaching included all postures with anapana. People can try it out by themselves.) Contemplate it on the feet. It is not just walking. Normal walking is out of mindfulness (not concerning with the practice). The distance should be 20 or 30 paces (similar to the Thai forest tradition). Walking to and fro from this side to the other side. The mind concentrates on the feet. What have to do in the beginning? Every time the feet touching the ground have to know it. Must know the every touching of the right and left feet. Later will separate them and do the contemplation. Now, both together.
Sitting meditation is like climbing the mountain. For someone looking at nearby it seems to be nothing happened to the yogi. Pain and aches will arise. If torment by painful sensations hot the yogi should react? Shouldn’t torture oneself as I don’t care about it. Also shouldn’t change it very often. Shouldn’t follow one’s desire and self-mortification. Have to be in the middle way (majjhima patipada). The Buddha had practiced for 6 years with self-mortification and didn’t realize the Dhamma. This Dhamma is not for self-mortification and must have ease with the body and mind. If following with one’s desire also can’t get Samadhi.
How to be in the balance? For example, sit for half an hour. If the time is not arriving yet, I’ll not change it. After half an hour and the mind wanting to change. When the mind wants to change and it stays away from the tip of the nose. Wanting to change is tanha. For an hour sitting and change two times. By developing the sitting slowly and can bear the pain.
There will be worried in standing posture. Will the body fall off or become trembled. The under feet will not like fire. If they become very hot and lifting it slightly. You do it mindfully. Shouldn’t do it very often, like moving the body this and that side. How long could you stand? Even can’t stand for an hour. If you can’t bear it anymore, sit down and contemplate. Slowly increasing the time for the standing. Even after sometimes, standing is better for some people. With standing not much pain and aches and become more convenient. Lying down also has problem. Don’t think that sleeping posture is easy. Even worse because you can’t move. At normal time we’re changing and moving that not knowing the torture of the body. If become unbearable and want to turn the body, then incline to the right side.
- Content of "Eighteen Days In Solitude"