On Ānāpāna Samādhi [Dhamma Talks by Sayadaw U Candima (Sandima)]


Raining is the same for all, if you fill the rain water with a barrel, and you’ll get a barrel of water. If with a bucket, then you’ll get a bucket of rain water, etc. You will get nothing if you overturn them all. If you fill it for drinking and become drinking water; for washing only, then it becomes washing. But rain is the same for all. In practicing Dhamma the teacher’s wisdom must be right. The students follow him with their saddha, viriya, sati, ….the five spiritual strengths also must be strong. In clapping two hands together if one hand is soft or light and the other strong then the sound is not louder. In the same way, teachers and students are two sides of two hands. If the teacher is wrong, he has to correct himself and vice versa.

We need to be open about it. The Buddha taught us to be careful in making inquiry on teachers. We could take someone as a teacher if he had the quality. If you find a good teacher, even if he drives you out with a beating, do not leave him.

Now, you find a good teacher even though I am not beating you yet, but you want to run away from me. You want to run away because it’s painful, and I can't stand it. You become not a good student of a good teacher.

(I am sure U Candima is a tough teacher and this is his character. So those who want to train with him should also have tenacity, patience and endurance. For those who are young and strong, they should find such a teacher.)

In ānāpāna breathing some breathe slowly, some breathe strongly and others breathe a bit stronger. Even though they are mentioned as slow and strong breathings one has to choose one’s preference with basic and main methods. Breathing with acceleration was mentioned in commentary as the kakacūpama method—the simile of sawing wood method. A man was cutting wood with a saw. Could it be cut off if sawed very slowly? The wood will not cut off and not go very far. If sawing the wood is like battling by force, and you can’t do it longer. You become overtired. The man cut the wood in a way not slow and not with very strong force, but had acceleration by sawing it back and forth. He was paying attention to the sawing. If he pushed the saw forward 7″ and pulled backward also 7″. The length of the saw pushed forward and the length of the saw pulled backward, whether short or long, must be equal going in and coming out.

The first cutting was 7″ forward and 7″ backward, and the second cutting was also the same (not changing the rate). He sawed the wood regularly in this way. He listened to the “shel!” cutting sound on the one hand, and observed the cuts by pushing and pulling the saw back and forth at regular intervals. (Here Sayadaw gave a very good example of how to use the ānāpāna breathing according to their system. With the machine, it’s clearer).

With the slow breathing when the afflicted dukkha vedanā is strong and one’s samādhi also low, all these make the mind fall toward vedanā. With forced breathings become very tired and jhāna does not arise. Because the mind is tired and can’t breathe for a longer period. Therefore, slow and strong breathings are not good. This is at a basic level.

It’s like the saw man is not strong and has soft strength. The in going breath and the outgoing breath—their breathing rate and acceleration have to be equal. The long and short air passages have to be the same. It’s not too strong and too soft. You must breathe like this. It was like the saw man looking at the place of contact with the saw teeth touching the wood. You must breathe and pay attention at the place where the breath and nostril are touching. During the breathing, it must not be too strong and too soft.

The acceleration, short and long breaths of in and out breaths must be the same.

The first in and out breaths and later in and out breaths must be the same.

This way of breathing is like the saw man with the strength of not strong and soft sawing the wood regularly so that he could saw it longer and finish the job. He is also not tired of it. With this kind of breathing rate, you have to do the basic kammaṭṭhāna. In this way of breathing you need the strength of sending the mind at the point of contact and within an hour (or two hrs) not correcting or adjusting the body. With this kind of strength, you let go of the desire to change and correct the body. For a saw man, he doesn’t have this. For the yogis, they have it.

At one side the mind does the ānāpāna breathing and on the other side the mind instigates you to change and correct the body because of vedanā. You must totally abandon the desire to change and correct the body, which the mind instigates you to do it. Let the mind stay with sati at the touching point of the nostril at the same rate of acceleration and breathings. In case vedanā becomes stronger or one’s own breathings become soft, or the mind wants to go down there, you have to increase a little bit of your original breathing rate and continue with it. This made the touching point clearer. Beware of the touching point and breathe a little bit stronger. But out of fear you must not breathe blindly without any control like a battle and without any rules. Whatever with strong breathing, if you don’t have sati and viriya (mindfulness and effort) the mind does not arrive at the touching place, and instead it moves down there. It becomes useless even though the nose is doing the breathings and the mind at vedanā. If both of them are strong (i.e., breathings and vedanā) it becomes tired.

The main point is the harmony of long and short, slow and fast, strong and soft breathings which are not tiresome. If you’re not contemplating long and short, slow and fast breathings then the mind has free time, and it goes down there (i.e., to dukkha vedanā). If you are contemplating, the mind has no free time, it is important to be aware of the contact points. The yogi has to make effort at in and out breathings, also contemplate and examine the harmony of long and short breathings as sawing the wood, and also he has to control and adjust the in and out breathings to become harmonious in the long and short, strong and soft breathings. (Here his sentences are very long with repetition.)

Saddha, sati and viriya with these three factors if you are able to stick the mind on the kammaṭṭhāna object with stability, and it can’t incline down there. Without inclining and there is no connection. If there is no connection and there is no good or bad taste about it. Without it and there is no enjoyment. It becomes lobha if taking enjoyment with sukha (sukha vedanā). If experience with dukkha becomes disappointed with dosa. The mind becomes upekkhā-samādhi at the point where the air touching the nostril if abandoning all gladness and sadness.

[ If we reflect the first four tetrads of ānāpānasati sutta—the first and second steps use the word (know or discern the long and short breaths). The third and fourth steps use the word—train himself sensitive to the entire body and calming the bodily formation or fabrication. So it’s not a simple practice and requires intelligence and discernment with experiments. Here we can see this point. ]

Don’t want to feel or experience dukkha when the four great elements are disturbed or changed is dosa. Wanting to change and correct the body is lobha. Free from these two extremes the mind sticks with the touching and knowing at the entrance of the nostril, it becomes upekkhā vedanā of neither pleasant nor unpleasant feeling (i.e., asukha and adukkha).

What the yogi must remember is that one who has not reached upekkhā samādhi cannot contemplate with insight. Still even one does not know himself as not arriving at upekkhā level yet and do the contemplation even for ten aeons can’t attain Dhamma (i.e., Nibbāna).

Without upekkhā samādhi and doing anicca, dukkha and anatta is not Dhamma (i.e., vipassanā Dhamma). The sound seems to be similar, and the causes are different. (It’s only reciting anicca, dukkha, anatta with concepts and not direct discernment.)

This is the reason behind not changing dukkha vedanā when the four elements disturbed or afflicted. Disappointment with anger (dosa) is unwholesome (akusala) and called domanassa—dejection. Lobha is called abhijjhā—covetous (here wanting the pain to go away). The mind does not stick here (at pain) and staying at the tip of the nostril becomes upekkhā. This is the coarse type of momentary upekkhā samādhi.

At the time the mind sticks at the tip of the nostril has no dosa, it frees from the dosa toad (toad represents dosa). It’s not really free yet. When it frees from sati the toad appears again. (Sati is not strong enough on the object and is pulled down by the pain). There are three kinds of freedom—tadaṅga (for short period), vikkhambhana (suppression) and samuccheda (eradication).

If you can collect the mind on the object for tadaṅga will free from dosa. It’ll appear again (i.e., pain) if you can’t do it. Now present ānāpāna is tadaṅga practice. Whatever system or method we use in accordance to the Buddha, at first it was like striking a brass bell after the “Dong” sound the sound becomes louder and slowly becomes smaller and disappears. This is called pasambhayam-kāyasaṅkhāra-calming the bodily formation or fabrication (i.e., the breath). If you breathe with ānāpāna similar to the way of sawing a wood, it must refine slowly. It becomes refined, not by oneself and happening naturally when the mind frees from unwholesomeness.

We don’t need to kill the enemy. If there are enemies; to protect ourselves, we must fight them. Now it’s led by sati and viriya that unwholesome minds or mental states can’t come near. There’s no need to run away from them.

When it arrives at wholesome mind process and jhānic mind process with the breathing it slowly becomes quiet and after that the bhavaṅga—heart base with a sensation in the chest something was fall of and the breathing stops. It doesn’t breathe, and also it can’t breathe. There is pain, aches and numbness down there, but the mind is not suffering.

At first, it was breathing strongly, and later it became slowly refined and disappeared. In and out breathings were also ceased. The breaths at the tip of the nostril also calm down. It calmed down with the completion of jhānic factors (i.e., connecting, sustaining, rapture, pleasure, one-pointedness of mind). This is called—pasambhayam-kāyasaṅkhāra (calming down the breath). Kāyasaṅkhāra from the coarse inhalation and exhalation of breath, it is calming down. Not attaining jhāna yet if you breathe in the comfortable way it will not calm down. If it’s equal to the jhānic factors by itself and it comes to cease. The mind is not suffered by freeing from vedanā. Even though there is vedanā afflicted by the four elements. The mind itself has no suffering. Instead of the fire flare up, it’s extinguished. Even though knowing pain and aches, no unwholesome mind arises to change or correct the body. Saṅkhāra-dhamma (conditioned phenomena) have ceased.

[There was a story about Loong Por Waen who was one of the very senior disciples of Ajahn Mun. In his earlier years he was practicing in a forest. One time he was infested with a serious wound on his leg. It needed a doctor to operate his wound. There was no anesthetic to treat him. So the doctor was operating it only with alcohol. It seemed to be that he went into samādhi. After the operation, he came out from samādhi and told the doctor that his handling of the operation was a bit coarse or rough. He settled down in Northern Thailand, Ching Mai Province, when he was getting old. One day an aircraft was flying over Ching Mai area and suddenly the pilot saw a monk among the clouds. Later he was searching this monk whom he saw in the sky. After some time he found Loong Por Waen and took him as the monk in the cloud. (We don’t know it’s true or not.) From that time onward, Loong Por became well known. Many came and made inquiry about him. Loong Por never admitted the story. One time a western journalist came and interviewed him. He asked Loong Por for confirmation. His response was, “Do you think I am a BIRD?” According to his biography—after becoming a monk, he never met his relatives again (i.e., cut off all attachments).]

These saṅkhāra-dhammas are the causes of falling into the four woeful states (i.e., abaya-bhūmi). In connection with paṭṭhāna—conditional relations, I had collected 17 conditions. Wanting to move and change is taṇhā (here it can be translated as desire). It becomes vedanā paccaya taṇhā—feeling conditions craving. You can’t cut off dependent co-arising with your own desire. Don’t talk about that life and this life—now at this present moment you are in suffering.

You have not arrived at the future yet. Even now when encountering unbearable vedanā you have unpleasant dosa and want to change lobha khandhas. These khandhas are present dependent arising khandhas. From dukkha vedanā it changes into not wanting to feel lobha-taṇhā. If you can keep your mind on the tip of your nose, even if there is dukkha vedanā it will not connect with taṇhā. It’s not going to kill the taṇhā arising mind. The mind goes to associate with the jhānic mental factors that lobha stops without arising. I have to explain the nature of the practice, but if I am only asking you to contemplate and you’re doing it without knowing anything.

(This point also came from his practice without a proper teacher. It created difficulties and wasted time. This is one of the reasons Mogok Dhamma talks are treasures, or a treasure map for yogis.)

The method or manner of contemplation must be correct (i.e., refer to kakacūpama wood sawing method). The five meditation factors are also correct. Cutting off dependent origination (paṭicca-samuppāda) must also be correct. Seeing the four truths also must be right (i.e., refer to four noble truths. This practice here is only related to samādhi practice, but Sayadaw explained it by using the paṭicca-samuppāda process. For me, it also seems not wrong. This came from his realization of Dhamma. No-one explained samādhi practice before with the D. A. process. Actually, every human life is about the four noble truths—causes and effects relationships. For a worldling or common person, he creates only dukkha and samudaya all the time except in sleep which is wasting time with moha—delusion. But the practicing yogis cut off paṭicca-samuppāda or dukkha and samudaya every time he is mindful and discern the nature of the five khandhas at every moment. These things are also mentioned in Mogok Sayadawji’s talks. )

Isn’t sukha or dukkha when the four elements become afflicted? This khandha is disintegrating with stiffness and tightness. These are the matter of truth of dukkha (dukkha sacca) or the function of truth of dukkha. And then wanting to move and change, lobha arises. Lobha is taṇhā samudaya—at here I should have to do like this or like that, these are doing by taṇhā. This is the function of samudaya. The path factors are not moving and changing the body, and keep mindfulness at the tip of the nostril. The path factors kill the unwholesome dhamma.

Moving and changing the body are micchā-maggin—wrong path factors. The function of path factors is doing its related matter. Knowing about them is knowledge—ñāṇa. No taṇhā is Nibbāna. When you came here with taṇhā which is in your mind. What will you do with this taṇhā? You have to abandon it. There is no taṇhā in Nibbāna. Could you incline toward it with taṇhā mind? Wanting to move and change is taṇhā. If you agree with it and become taṇhā. If you don’t follow it, this abandon taṇhā. This is the function of nirodha sacca—the cessation of taṇhā or dukkha. Do you have any suffering if you abandon it? So suffering has ceased. This is nirodha sacca—the cessation of dukkha (before is kicca ñāṇa—functional knowledge, now is kata ñāṇa—knowledge on the ending of the practice).

The four truths arise at the same time. The happy mind arises in the practicing yogi. Nirodha sacca means the cessation of taṇhā. At first, it was stuck with lobha, dosa minds, including with suffering. Killing and abandoning them with the path mental factors that is there any unwholesome lobha—taṇhā mind still sticking there? Their cessation is nirodha, and suffering also ceased with them. This is nirodha sacca, then the four truths appear to the yogi. The yogi can see Nibbāna in tadaṅga—very short time. With happiness and no suffering is phala—fruition. Fruition mind is the result dhamma. Abandonment of taṇhā with path factors and stay with happiness is path and fruition. The cessation of dukkha is Nibbāna. If you want to get Nibbāna, you must be preceded by "saṅkhārupekkhā"—equanimity to saṅkhāra dhamma (conditioned phenomena). Saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa—knowledge of equanimity is not relating to dukkha vedanā and not sticking with sukha vedanā or let go of conditioned dhamma. After that gotrabhū knowledge (change of lineage) and then path and fruit. samatha-yānika yogi develops his practice in this way.

(Here is talking about samatha practice, but Sayadaw explained it with the four truths. Jhānas only suppress kilesa—vikkhambhana. To eradicate kilesa has to develop insight practice—samuccheda-pahāna. Whether such an explanation is acceptable or not, I don't know. Loong Por Cha had said once before. He said that sīla, samādhi and paññā were inseparable.

He gave an example of lifting a stick with fingers in the middle of the stick and the whole stick came together. To build a bridge across a river is another example by Ajahn Lee Dhammadaro. This side is sīla, the middle of the bridge is samādhi and the other side is paññā.)


revised on 2022-04-22


  • Content of "A Noble Search" (Dhamma Talks by Sayadaw U Candima)
  • Content of Dhamma Talks by Sayadaw U Ukkaṭṭha and Sayadaw U Candima
  • Content of Publications of Bhikkhu Uttamo

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