Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Breath of Love - Glossary of Study Terminology

The Breath of Love
Most Venerable Bhante Vimalaramsi Mahàthera

Glossary of Study Terminology

Appearing in the order of training
This glossary offers assistance with a working terminology for
the TWIM practices.
This chapter has been put in the back of the book to assist the
beginner  and  for  solving  any  mix-up  in  understanding  for  the
experienced  practitioner.  The  definitions  for  terminology  used
in  this  book  for  training  appear  more  or  less  in  the  order  that
you  will  have  to  deal  with  them  as  you  learn  the  practice  of
Buddhist  Meditation  shows  us  how  mind’s  movements
actually work. It reveals the true nature of things by uncovering
the  impersonal  moment-to-moment  process  of  Dependent
Origination and the  Four Noble Truths. The Buddha-Dhamma
specifically shows us where we get caught by suffering, how this
manifests first, the exact cause of it and the way out.
This journey can sometimes be difficult but it also can be magical
and fun as the changes become apparent in your life and people
begin to notice the change for the good in you.
As we study this, we need to understand clearly some working
definitions of certain training terminology. From the beginning
one  learns  to  do  this  practice  ALL  THE  TIME.  So  the  precise
definitions  of  terminology  are  very  important  if  we  are  going
to use this practice as our key to opening this doorway to Peace.
Some  of  these  definitions  may  be  slightly  different  from  what
you have heard in other places. As you read further in this book,

make  sure  the  author  and  you  are  on  the  same  page  with  key
words, because this training is pretty important.
Meditation (bhàvanà)  –  observing  the  movements  of  mind’s
attention moment-to-moment, object-to-object for the purpose of
seeing clearly the impersonal process of Dependent Origination
and the Four Noble Truths.
Mindfulness (Sati) – ‘Remembering’ to observe the movements
of mind’s attention all the time.
Awareness (sampaja¤¤a)  –  Understanding  what  mind  is  doing;
meaning whether its releasing what is arising, or getting involved
with it? Is it Recognizing the movements of mind’s attention, or
is it moving into craving and clinging? Is it Releasing, Relaxing,
Re-smiling  and  then  Returning  to  the  object  of  meditation  to
continue mindfulness?
Object  of  Meditation  –  Any  object  of  meditation  we  choose
is  to  become  the  home-base  for  re-centering  during  our
meditation.  The  information  we  seek  will  not  be  found  in  the
object of meditation we observe but rather it is our recognition
of the impersonal Process of Dependent Origination that leads
to our knowledge and vision. This occurs around the object of
Hindrances (nivarana)  –  unwholesome  tendencies  that  begin
with  an  arising  feeling  that  is  the  same  as  any  other  feeling
and therefore, it should be treated in the same way during the
meditation by Releasing them and not placing mind’s attention
on them in any way. By denying them mind’s attention they will
become weak and fade away.
Jhàna – The definition here for ‘Jhàna’ in Buddhist terms is a “stage

of meditation through understanding” (the interconnectedness of
the ‘Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination’) and seeing
how mind actually works”. A Jhàna is a level of understanding;
stage of the meditation path.
Craving (tanhà)  –  the  weak  link  in  the  process  of  Dependent
Origination  which  manifests  as  tension  and  tightness  in  mind
and body as it is first appearing.
The  common  definition  for  the  word  “Craving”  is  ‘to  want  or
desire’,  but  there  is  much  more  to  this  word.  According  to  the
Buddha there is a definite pattern with everything that arises.
For instance, in order “to see” there is a set way things happen.
First, there must be a functioning sense door such as the eye. Next
there must be color and form. When the eye hits color and form
then eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of these three things
is  called  eye-contact.  With  eye-contact  as  condition  eye-feeling
arises.  (Feeling  [Vedanà]  is  pleasant,  painful  or  neither  painful
nor pleasant and this is either physical or mental feeling.) With
eye feeling as condition, then eye-craving arises.
Now ‘Craving’ (tanhà), in all of its many different forms of seeing,
hearing,  tasting,  smelling,  bodily  sensations,  and  thoughts,
always arises as being a tension and tightness in both mind and
body. ‘Craving’ (tanhà) always manifests as the “I like it or I don’t
like  it”  mind  and  can  be  recognized  as  tension  or  tightness  in
both one’s mind and body. This is where we come to understand
the importance of the Buddha’s instructions about consciously
tranquilizing one’s mind and body.
When  the  meditator  has  any  kind  of  distraction  arising,  that
pulls their attention away from their object of meditation, then
a  feeling  immediately  arises,  and  next,  right  after  that  the  “I

like  it....  I  don’t  like  it”  [craving-tanhà]  mind  arising.  This  is
sometimes seen as a big gross tightness and sometimes as a very
subtle tightness or tension in mind and body.
As  ‘Craving’  (tanhà)  is  the  cause  of  suffering  (the  Second
Noble  Truth)  what  the  meditator  must  do  is  softly  let  go  of
that  tension  or  tightness  (i.e.  relax)  and  this  must  consciously
be done. It doesn’t happen automatically as is demonstrated in
the meditation instruction given to us by the Buddha. We then
gently redirect mind’s attention back to the object of meditation
(this step is the Third Noble Truth or the cessation of craving or
suffering). In practical terms this relaxing is the most important
and major step that the Buddha discovered, revealing clearly the
Fourth Noble Truth- that is ‘the way’ leading to the Cessation of
The Buddha saw that when ‘Craving’ (tanhà) was let go of; mind
became clear, open, and very observant. He saw that the thinking
mind  did  not  arise.  The  thinking  mind  in  Buddhism  is  called
‘Clinging’ (Upàdàna).
So,  when  a  teacher  says  something  like  “Cling  to  Nothing”
they are actually saying to ‘stop thinking about things and just
observe’. This is good advice as far as it goes. Actually it would be
better to say “Crave Nothing” but that would be misunderstood
because the question would arise of ‘how are we supposed to do
“Crave Nothing” means ‘to notice and let go of the tightness or
tension in one’s mind and body before it arises’.
How does one do this? When one sees a ‘Feeling’ arise, if they
relax  at  that  very  moment,  then  the  ‘Craving’  (tanhà)  won’t
arise. ‘Craving’ (tanhà) is the weak link in the cycle or process of

Dependent Origination. It CAN be recognized and let go of, and
when it is released then the ‘Clinging’ (Upàdàna) won’t arise.
One thing that has become popular today is the putting together
of  these  two  words,  ‘Craving/Clinging’  and  I  think  it  helps  to
cause even more confusion. Craving’ is the “I like it ... I don’t like
it”  mind  and  ‘Clinging’  is  all  of  the  thoughts,  ideas,  opinions,
and concepts why mind likes or dislikes a feeling when it arises.
These  are  two  very  different  and  separate  parts  to  the  process
of  how  things  work.  Putting  them  together  just  makes  one’s
understanding of this process, even cloudier.
Some teachers today define ‘Craving and Clinging’ as ‘Grasping’.
And as I just explained that moves away from the more precise
definitions  that  the  Buddha  showed  us  within  his  teaching.  To
eliminate clinging is not to eliminate suffering if craving is the
root cause.
No-self (anattà)  –  Impersonal  Nature;  Impersonal  perspective.
An absence of taking anything personally which occurs during
life. Seeing things purely as they are.
To do this in life, you don’t have to stop using the pronouns in your
language! And you don’t have to try to disappear. Promise!
Delusion (moha)  –  In  some  Buddhist  traditions  the  word
“delusion” (Moha) is linked up with two other words which are
‘Lust’  (lobha)  and  ‘Hatred’  (dosa).  Together  these  three  words
are sometimes called “the three poisons” and this actually is a
reasonable way to look at them.
But there can be some confusion about what “delusion” (Moha)
actually means. The Buddha meant something a little bit different
every time he used this word.

According  to  the  suttas  the  word  ‘delusion’  (Moha)  most  often
means ‘to see whatever arises as being a personal self’ (atta). Or
we  can  say  that  ‘Delusion’  (Moha)  is  seeing  things  through  the
false (deluded) idea of a self (atta). In other words, one takes all
feelings or sensations to be a part of the “I”, “Me”, “My”, “Mine”
(atta) identification. In Buddhism, that is delusion.
Serenity (samatha) – Here again is another word to look at. In Pàli
the  word  is  ‘Samatha’.  The  meaning  of  ‘Samatha’  is  tranquility,
serenity, peacefulness, or stillness.
Often the common popular definition is a strongly one-pointed
type  of  concentration,  absorption  concentration,  or  ecstatic
concentration. This specific definition of serenity or tranquility
certainly  implies  a  different  type  of  “collectedness”  than  the
deeper types of absorption or ecstatic ‘concentration’.
The goal of absorption or ecstatic concentration is to have mind
stay on only one thing as if it were glued to it (to the exclusion of
anything else), By comparison, ‘Samatha Collectedness’ implies
to have a mind that is still, serene, and calm, but alert to whatever
the shifting or moving mind does moment-to-moment. Of course
Samatha/Vipassanà (which is the standard way it is described in
the suttas (see MN 149:10 where they are always linked together)
leads to the total liberation of mind by seeing and recognizing
how the Four Noble Truths interact with Dependent Origination.
The Bodhisatta experienced firsthand, Samatha/Vipassanà leads
directly  to  the  end-result  of  Nibbàna  and  absorption  or  ecstatic
concentration does not.
Insight (Vipassanà) – This word has a surface meaning which is
‘seeing things as they truly are’.
According to the Buddha’s the definition goes much deeper than

that. It means ‘Insight’ or understanding. But understanding into
what? Realizing the impersonal nature and deep understanding
of  the  Four  Noble  Truths  and  ‘HOW’  Dependent  Origination
actually  occurs  with  everything  that  arises  and  passes  away
(anicca) in one’s mind and body. This is Buddhist Insight. In other
words,  one  gains  a  deeper  and  deeper  understanding  (in  each
stage  of  Jhàna)  of  the  impersonal  process  of  ‘HOW’  mind  and
body arises through truly seeing and understanding (knowledge
and  vision)  of  the  Four  Noble  Truths  interconnection  with  the
ongoing process of Dependent Origination.
When one can see clearly this process in all of existence, they will
experience an unshakable knowledge that this is the right path
to  follow.  Mind  begins  to  see  clearly  that  whatever  arises  and
passes away (anicca) and that this is a part of a definite process
leading us to a deep understanding that everything going on is a
part of an impersonal pattern (anattà).
These  ‘Insights’  can  occur  at  any  time  whether  one  is  sitting
in  meditation  or  doing  their  daily  activities.  They  are  quite
profound when they occur.
‘Insights’ are like finding a lost part to a puzzle and this is where
the true “aha!” experiences happen.
Wisdom (pa¤¤à) – there are many phrases within the suttas using
the word ‘wisdom’ and they usually turn out to be concerning
in  some  context  ‘the  impersonal  process  of  Dependent
Anytime  the  words  ‘Wise  Attention’  or  ‘Wisdom’  is  seen  in
the  suttas  they  are  referring  to  the  understanding  of  the  Four
Noble Truths and the process of Dependent Origination. Other
such phrases appear as: “He sees with Wisdom”, “Seeing with
Wisdom”, “… and his taints were destroyed by his seeing with

Wisdom…”, ”Wisdom”, or “He is Wise”.
If we can remember such instances are referring to understanding
the  Four  Noble  Truths  and  the  process  of  D.O.  as  we  read
the  various  suttas,  then  our  minds  will  open  up  to  a  new
understanding  of  how  this  process  and  the  Four  Noble  Truths
are at the core of the teaching of the Buddha.
Concentration (samàdhi)  –  The  Pàli  word  actually  means
the  unification  or  bringing  together  of  mind.  The  word
‘Collectedness’ appears to be more functional for success in the
meditation  rather  than  the  word  ‘Concentration’.  In  the  West
people  take  the  word  ‘Concentration’  to  mean  a  kind  of  deep
one-pointedness  of  mind  or  an  absorbed  mind  and  this  is  not
what the Buddha was trying to get across. Before the time of the
Buddha there were many words that described deep absorption
or  one-pointedness  of  mind.  But  the  Buddha  made  up  a  new
word. “Samàdhi”. Samàdhi describe a completely different way of
seeing  and  experiencing  Jhàna.  After  the  Buddha’s  Parinibbàna,
because this word was very popular, the Brahmins of that time
changed  the  definition  of  ‘samàdhi’  back  to  mean—‘strong
one-pointedness’. But, the Buddha was showing that there is a
difference between a ‘Collected Mind’ and a strongly absorbed
or ‘Concentrated Mind’.
The  words  ‘Collected  Mind’’  (Samàdhi)  give  us  the  idea  of  a
mind that is composed, calm, still, and very alert. This kind of
mind observes whenever mind’s attention shifts from one thing
to  another.  A  ‘Concentrated’  mind,  on  the  other  hand,  means
that  mind  is  stuck  on  one  thing  to  the  exclusion  of  anything
else  that  may  try  to  arise.  So  a  ‘Concentrated’  Mind’  by  this
definition loses full awareness and mindfulness (Sati) of what is
happening in the present moment because it is only seeing the
one thing it is pointing at. This statement also refers to “access or

neighborhood  concentration”  (upacàra  samàdhi)  and  “moment-
to-moment concentration” (khanika samàdhi). Why?
The simple answer is there is no tranquilizing of mind and body
before  the  meditator  brings  their  attention  back  to  the  object
of  meditation.  Because  of  this,  there  is  no  lowering  of  tension
in  mind  or  body  or  seeing  of  how  the  Four  Noble  Truths  and
Dependent Origination actually work. One does not realize how
craving (tightness and tension) is brought back to the meditation
This  is  why  when  the  teachers  of  straight  ‘Vipassanà’  tell  their
students  that  ‘Absorption  Concentration’  won’t  ever  lead  to
Nibbàna,  they  are  100%  correct.  Any  kind  of  practice  which
divides ‘Samatha Meditation’ and ‘Vipassanà Meditation’ into two
different practices, can’t possibly lead one to Nibbàna. Why?
Because mind has the need to be calm, composed, and clear, while
it is in a Jhàna, in order to see clearly the interconnectedness of
the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination. This is why
the practice of straight Vipassanà has some serious students. The
Buddha taught us to practice ‘Samatha/Vipassanà’ together and
this  is  the  difference  between  commentary  based  meditation
practice and the sutta approach to meditation.
The  results  of  these  two  practices  are  different.  One-pointed
‘Concentration’ is not the same kind of mental development that
the Buddha shows us. The Buddha taught us to tranquilize our
mind and body every time mind’s attention shifts from one thing
to another. The ‘Collected Mind’’ is not so deeply one-pointed
that  the  force  of  one’s  ‘Concentration’  causes  mind  to  stay  on
one object of meditation, even if that attention ‘Concentrates’ on
something momentarily.

The  ‘Collected  Mind’  is  able  to  observe  how  mind’s  attention
goes  from  one  thing  to  another,  very  precisely.  There  is  much
more  full  awareness  of  both  mind  and  body  here  than  with  a
deeply  ‘Concentrated’  one-pointed  mind  or  absorbed  mind’.
This  is  why  I  choose  to  use  the  word  ‘Collected’  rather  than
‘Concentrated’’  mind.  By  using  the  word  “Collected”  there  is
less confusion about the kind of meditation that the Buddha is
referring to and it is easier to understand the descriptions given
in the suttas.
The words listed here are a good start for you with which to
work on this approach to the meditation.


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