Showing posts with label vipassana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vipassana. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Satipatthana Vipassana II

 Satipatthana Vipassana
      Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw

Outline of Basic Exercises
When contemplating rising and falling, the disciple should keep his mind on the
abdomen. He will then come to know the upward movement or expansion of the
abdomen on breathing in, and the downward movement or contraction on breathing
out. A mental note should be made as "rising" for the upward movement and
"falling" for the downward movement. If these movements are not clearly noticed
by simply fixing the mind on them, one or both hands should be placed on the
The disciple should not try to change the manner of his natural breathing. He
should neither attempt slow breathing by the retention of his breath, nor quick
breathing or deep breathing. If he does change the natural flow of his
breathing, he will soon tire himself. He must therefore keep to the natural rate
of his breathing and proceed with the contemplation of rising and falling.
On the occurrence of the upward movement of the abdomen, the mental note of
"rising" should be made, and on the downward movement of the abdomen, the mental
note of "falling" should be made. The mental notation of these terms should not
be vocalized. In vipassana meditation, it is more important to know the object
than to know it by a term or name. It is therefore necessary for the disciple to
make every effort to be mindful of the movement of rising from its beginning to
its end and that of falling from its beginning to its end, as if these movements
are actually seen with the eyes. As soon as rising occurs, there should be the
knowing mind close to the movement, as in the case of a stone hitting a wall.
The movement of rising as it occurs and the mind knowing it must come together
on every occasion. Similarly, the movement of falling as it occurs and the mind
knowing it must come together on every occasion.
When there is no other conspicuous object, the disciple should carry on the
exercise of noting these two movements as "rising, falling, rising, falling,
rising, falling." While thus being occupied with this exercise, there may be
occasions when the mind wanders about. When concentration is weak, it is very
difficult to control the mind. Though it is directed to the movements of rising
and falling, the mind will not stay with them but will wander to other places.
This wandering mind should not be let alone. It should be noted as "wandering,
wandering, wandering" as soon as it is noticed that it is wandering. On noting
once or twice the mind usually stops wandering, then the exercise of noting
"rising, falling" should be continued. When it is again found that the mind has
reached a place, it should be noted as "reaching, reaching, reaching." Then the
exercise of noting "rising, falling" should be reverted to as soon as these
movements are clear.
On meeting with a person in the imagination, it should be noted as "meeting,
meeting," after which the usual exercise should be reverted to. Sometimes the
fact that it is mere imagination is discovered when one speaks with that
imaginary person, and it should then be noted as "speaking,speaking." The real
purport is to note every mental activity as it occurs. For instance, it should
be noted as "thinking" at the moment of thinking, and as "reflecting,"
"planning," "knowing," "attending," rejoicing," "feeling lazy," "feeling happy,"
"disgusted," etc., as the case may be, on the occurrence of each activity. The
contemplation of mental activities and noticing them is called cittanupassana,
contemplation of mind.
Because people have no practical knowledge in vipassana meditation, they are
generally not in a position to know the real state of the mind. This naturally
leads them to the wrong view of holding mind to be "person," "self," "living
entity." They usually believe that "imagination is I," "I am thinking, " "I am
planning," "I am knowing," and so forth. They hold that there exists a living
entity or self which grows up from childhood to adulthood. In reality, such a
living entity does not exist, but there does exist a continuous process of
elements of mind which occur singly, one at a time, in succession. The practice
of contemplation is therefore being carried out with the aim of discovering the
true nature of this mind-body complex.
As regards the mind and the manner of its arising, the Buddha stated in the
Dhammapada (v.37):
  Durangamam ekacaram
  asariram guhasayam
  ye cittam saññamessanti
  mokkhanti marabandhana.
  Faring far, wandering alone,
  Formless and lying in a cave.
  Those who do restrain the mind
  Are sure released from Mara's bonds.
Faring far. Mind usually wanders far and wide. While the yogi is trying to carry
on with the practice of contemplation in his meditation room, he often finds
that his mind has wandered to many far-off places, towns, etc. He also finds
that his mind can wander to any of the far-off places which he has previously
known at the very moment of thinking or imagining. This fact is discovered with
the help of contemplation.
Alone. Mind occurs singly, moment to moment in succession. Those who do not
perceive the reality of this believe that one mind exists in the course of life
or existence. They do not know that new minds are always arising at every
moment. They think that the seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and
thinking of the past and of the present belong to one and the same mind, and
that three or four acts of seeing, hearing, touching, knowing usually occur
These are wrong views. In reality, single moments of mind arise and pass away
continuously, one after another. This can be perceived on gaining considerable
practice. The cases of imagination and planning are clearly perceptible.
Imagination passes away as soon as it is noted as "imagining, imagining," and
planning also passes away as soon as it is noted as "planning, planning." These
instances of arising, noting and passing away appear like a string of beads. The
preceding mind is not the following mind. Each is separate. These
characteristics of reality are personally perceptible, and for this purpose one
must proceed with the practice of contemplation.
Formless. Mind has no substance, no form. It is not easy to distinguish as is
the case with materiality. In the case of materiality, the body, head, hands and
legs are very prominent and are easily noticed. If it is asked what matter is,
matter can be handled and shown. Mind, however, is not easy to describe because
it has no substance or form. For this reason, it is not possible to carry out
analytical laboratory experiments on the mind.
One can, however, fully understand the mind if it is explained as that which
knows an object. To understand the mind, it is necessary to contemplate the mind
at every moment of its occurrence. When contemplation is fairly advanced, the
mind's approach to its object is clearly comprehended. It appears as if each
moment of mind is making a direct leap towards it object. In order to know the
true nature of the mind, contemplation is thus prescribed.
Lying in a cave. Because the mind comes into being depending on the mind-base
and the other sense doors situated in the body, it is said that it rests in a
Those who do restrain the mind are sure released from Mara's bonds. It is said
that the mind should be contemplated at each moment of its occurrence. The mind
can thus be controlled by means of contemplation. On his successful controlling
of the mind, the yogi will win freedom from the bondage of Mara, the King of
Death. It will now be seen that it is important to note the mind at every moment
of its occurrence. As soon as it is noted, the mind passes away. For instance,
by noting once or twice as "intending, intending," it is found that intention
passes away at once. Then the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling,
rising, falling" should be reverted to.
While one is proceeding with the usual exercise, one may feel that one wants to
swallow saliva. It should be noted as "wanting," and on gathering saliva as
"gathering," and on swallowing as "swallowing," in the serial order of
occurrence. The reason for contemplation in this case is because there may be a
persisting personal view as "wanting to swallow is I," "swallowing is also I."
In reality, "wanting to swallow" is mentality and not "I," and "swallowing" is
materiality and not "I." There exist only mentality and materiality at that
moment. By means of contemplating in this manner, one will understand clearly
the process of reality. So too, in the case of spitting, it should be noted as
"wanting" when one wants to spit, as "bending" on bending the neck (which should
be done slowly), as "looking, seeing" on looking and as "spitting" on spitting.
Afterwards, the usual exercise of noting "rising, falling" should be continued.
Because of sitting for a long time, there will arise in the body unpleasant
feeling of being stiff, being hot and so forth. These sensations should be noted
as they occur. The mind should be fixed on that spot and a note made as "stiff,
stiff" on feeling stiff, as "hot, hot" on feeling hot, as "painful, painful" on
feeling painful, as "prickly, prickly" on feeling prickly sensations, and as
"tired, tired" on feeling tired. These unpleasant feelings are dukkha-vedana and
the contemplation of these feeling is vedananupassana, contemplation of feeling.
Owing to the absence of knowledge in respect of these feelings, there persists
the wrong view of holding them as one's own personality or self, that is to say,
"I am feeling stiff," "I am feeling painful," "I was feeling well formerly but I
now feel uncomfortable," in the manner of a single self. In reality, unpleasant
feelings arise owing to disagreeable impressions in the body. Like the light of
an electric bulb which can continue to burn on a continuous supply of energy, so
it is in the case of feelings, which arise anew on every occasion of coming in
contact with disagreeable impressions.
It is essential to understand these feelings clearly. At the beginning of noting
as "stiff, stiff," "hot, hot," "painful, painful," one may feel that such
disagreeable feelings grow stronger, and then one will notice that a mind
wanting to change the posture arises. This mind should be noted as "wanting,
wanting." Then a return should be made to the feeling and it should be noted as
"stiff, stiff" or "hot, hot," and so forth. If one proceeds in this manner of
contemplation with great patience, unpleasant feelings will pass away.
There is a saying that patience leads to Nibbana. Evidently this saying is more
applicable in the case of contemplation than in any other. Plenty of patience is
needed in contemplation. If a yogi cannot bear unpleasant feelings with
patience, but frequently changes his posture during contemplation, he cannot
expect to gain concentration. Without concentration there is no chance of
acquiring insight knowledge (vipassana-ñana) and without insight knowledge the
attainment of the path, fruition and Nibbana cannot be won.
Patience is of great importance in contemplation. Patience is needed mostly to
bear unpleasant bodily feelings. There is hardly any case of outside
disturbances where it is necessary to exercise patience. This means the
observance of khantisamvara, restraint by patience. The posture should not be
immediately changed when unpleasant sensations arise, but contemplation should
be continued by noting them as "stiff, stiff," "hot, hot," and so on. Such
painful sensations are normal and will pass away. In the case of strong
concentration, it will be found that great pains will pass away when they are
noted with patience. On the fading away of suffering or pain, the usual exercise
of noting "rising, falling" should be continued.
On the other hand, it may be found that pains or unpleasant feelings do not
immediately pass away even when one notes them with great patience. In such a
case, one has no alternative but to change posture. One must, of course, submit
to superior forces. When concentration is not strong enough, strong pains will
not pass away quickly. In these circumstances there will often arise a mind
wanting to change posture, and this mind should be noted as "wanting, wanting."
After this, one should note "lifting, lifting" on moving it forward.
These bodily actions should be carried out slowly, and these slow movements
should be followed up and noted as "lifting, lifting," "moving, moving,"
"touching, touching," in the successive order of the process. Again, on moving
one should note "moving, moving," and on putting down, note "putting, putting."
If, when this process of changing posture has been completed, there is nothing
more to be noted, the usual exercise of noting "rising, falling" should be
There should be no stop or break in between. The preceding act of noting and the
one which follows should be contiguous. Similarly, the preceding concentration
and the one which follows should be contiguous, and the preceding act of knowing
and the one which follows should be contiguous. In this way, the gradual
development by stages of mindfulness, concentration and knowledge takes place,
and depending on their full development, the final stage of path-knowledge is
In the practice of vipassana meditation, it is important to follow the example
of a person who tries to make fire. To make a fire in the days before matches, a
person had to constantly rub two sticks together without the slightest break in
motion. As the sticks became hotter and hotter, more effort was needed, and the
rubbing had to be carried out incessantly. Only when the fire had been produced
was the person at liberty to take a rest. Similarly, a yogi should work hard so
that there is no break between the preceding noting and the one which follows,
and the preceding concentration and the one which follows. He should revert to
his usual exercise of noting "rising, falling" after he has noted painful
While being thus occupied with his usual exercise, he may again feel itching
sensations somewhere in the body. He should then fix his mind on the spot and
make a note as "itching, itching." Itching is an unpleasant sensation. As soon
as it is felt, there arises a mind which wants to rub or scratch. This mind
should be noted as "wanting, wanting," after which no rubbing or scratching must
be done as yet, but a return should be made to the itching and a note made as
"itching, itching." While one is occupied with contemplation in this manner,
itching in most cases passes away and the usual exercise of noting "rising,
falling" should then be reverted to.
If, on the other hand, it is found that itching does not pass away, but that it
is necessary to rub or scratch, the contemplation of the successive stages
should be carried out by noting the mind as "wanting, wanting." It should then
be continued by noting "raising, raising" on raising the hand, "touching,
touching" when the hand touches the spot, "rubbing, rubbing" or "scratching,
scratching" when the hand rubs or scratches, "withdrawing, withdrawing" on
withdrawing the hand, "touching, touching" when the hand touches the body, and
then the usual contemplation of "rising, falling" should be continued. In every
case of changing postures, contemplation of the successive stages should be
carried out similarly and carefully.
While thus carefully proceeding with the contemplation, one may find that
painful feelings or unpleasant sensations arise in the body of their own accord.
Ordinarily, people change their posture as soon as they feel even the slightest
unpleasant sensation of tiredness or heat without taking heed of these
incidents. The change of posture is carried out quite heedlessly just while the
seed of pain is beginning to grow. Thus painful feelings fail to take place in a
distinctive manner. For this reason it is said that, as a rule, the postures
hide painful feelings from view. People generally think that they are feeling
well for days and nights on end. They think that painful feelings occur only at
the time of an attack of a dangerous disease.
Reality is just the opposite of what people think. Let anyone try to see how
long he can keep himself in a sitting posture without moving or changing it. One
will find it uncomfortable after a short while, say five or ten minutes, and
then one will begin to find it unbearable after fifteen or twenty minutes. One
will then be compelled to move or change one's posture by either raising or
lowering the head, moving the hands or legs, or by swaying the body either
forward or backward. Many movements usually take place during a short time, and
the number would be very large if they were to be counted for the length of just
one day. However, no one appears to be aware of this fact because no one takes
any heed.
Such is the order in every case, while in the case of a yogi who is always
mindful of his actions and who is proceeding with contemplation, body
impressions in their own respective nature are therefore distinctly noticed.
They cannot help but reveal themselves fully in their own nature because he is
watching until they come to full view.
Though a painful sensation arises, he keeps on noting it. He does not ordinarily
attempt to change his posture or move. Then on the arising of mind wanting to
change, he at once makes a note of it as "wanting, wanting," and afterwards he
returns again to the painful sensation and continues his noting of it. He
changes his posture or moves only when he finds the painful feeling unbearable.
In this case he also begins by noting the wanting mind and proceeds with noting
carefully each stage in the process of moving. This is why the postures can no
longer hide painful sensations. Often a yogi finds painful sensations creeping
from here and there or he may feel hot sensations, aching sensations, itching,
or the whole body as a mass of painful sensations. That is how painful
sensations are found to be predominant because the postures cannot cover them.
If he intends to change his posture from sitting to standing, he should first
make a note of the intending mind as "intending, intending," and proceed with
the arranging of the hands and legs in the successive stages by noting as
"raising," "moving," "stretching," "touching," "pressing," and so forth. When
the body sways forward, it should be noted as "swaying, swaying." While in the
course of standing up, there occurs in the body a feeling of lightness as well
as the act of rising. Attention should be fixed on these factors and a note made
as "rising, rising." The act of rising should be carried out slowly.
During the course of practice it is most appropriate if a yogi acts feebly and
slowly in all activities just like a weak, sick person. Perhaps the case of a
person suffering from lumbago would be a more fitting example here. The patient
must always be cautious and move slowly just to avoid pains. In the same manner
a yogi should always try to keep to slow movements in all actions. Slow motion
is necessary to enable mindfulness, concentration and knowledge to catch up. One
has lived all the time in a careless manner and one just begins seriously to
train oneself in keeping the mind within the body. It is only the beginning, and
one's mindfulness, concentration and knowledge have not yet been properly geared
up while the physical and mental processes are moving at top speed. It is thus
imperative to bring the top-level speed of these processes to the lowest gear so
as to make it possible for mindfulness and knowledge to keep pace with them. It
is therefore desirable that slow motion exercises be carried out at all times.
Further, it is advisable for a yogi to behave like a blind person throughout the
course of training. A person without any restraint will not look dignified
because he usually looks at things and persons wantonly. He also cannot obtain a
steady and calm state of mind. The blind person, on the other hand, behaves in a
composed manner by sitting sedately with downcast eyes. He never turns in any
direction to look at things or persons because he is blind and cannot see them.
Even if a person comes near him and speaks to him, he never turns around and
looks at that person. This composed manner is worthy of imitation. A yogi should
act in the same manner while carrying out the practice of contemplation. He
should not look anywhere. His mind should be solely intent on the object of
contemplation. While in the sitting posture he must be intently noting "rising,
falling." Even if strange things occur nearby, he should not look at them. He
must simply make a note as "seeing, seeing" and then continue with the usual
exercise of noting "rising, falling." A yogi should have a high regard for this
exercise and carry it out with due respect, so much so as to be mistaken for a
blind person.
In this respect certain girl-yogis were found to be in perfect form. They
carefully carried out the exercise with all due respect in accordance with the
instructions. Their manner was very composed and they were always intent on
their objects of contemplation. They never looked round. When they walked, they
were always intent on the steps. Their steps were light, smooth and slow. Every
yogi should follow their example.
It is necessary for a yogi to behave like a deaf person also. Ordinarily, as
soon as a person hears a sound, he turns around and looks in the direction from
which the sound came, or he turns towards the person who spoke to him and makes
a reply. He does not behave in a sedate manner. A deaf person, on the other
hand, behaves in a composed manner. He does not take heed of any sound or talk
because he never hears them. Similarly, a yogi should conduct himself in like
manner without taking heed of any unimportant talk, nor should he deliberately
listen to any talk or speech. If he happens to hear any sound or speech, he
should at once make a note as "hearing, hearing," and then return to the usual
practice of noting "rising, falling." He should proceed with his contemplation
intently, so much so as to be mistaken for a deaf person.
It should be remembered that the only concern of a yogi is the carrying out
intently of contemplation. Other things seen or heard are not his concern. Even
though they may appear to be strange or interesting, he should not take heed of
them. When he sees any sights, he must ignore them as if he does not see. So
too, he must ignore voices or sounds as if he does not hear. In the case of
bodily actions, he must act slowly and feebly as if he were sick and very weak.
Other Exercises
It is therefore to be emphasized that the act of pulling up the body to the
standing posture should be carried out slowly. On coming to an erect position, a
note should be made as "standing, standing." If one happens to look around, a
note should be made as "looking, seeing," and on walking each step should be
noted as "right step, left step" or "walking, walking." At each step, attention
should be fixed on the sole of the foot as it moves from the point of lifting
the leg to the point of placing it down.
While walking in quick steps or taking a long walk, a note on one section of
each step as "right step, left step" or "walking, walking" will do. In the case
of walking slowly, each step may be divided into three sections — lifting,
moving forward and placing down. In the beginning of the exercise, a note should
be made of the two parts of each step: as "lifting" by fixing the attention on
the upward movement of the foot from the beginning to the end, and as "placing"
by fixing on the downward movement from the beginning to the end. Thus the
exercise which starts with the first step by noting as "lifting, placing" now
Normally, when the foot is put down and is being noted as "placing," the other
leg begins lifting to begin the next step. This should not be allowed to happen.
The next step should begin only after the first step has been completed, such as
"lifting, placing" for the first step and "lifting, placing" for the second
step. After two or three days this exercise will be easy, and then the yogi
should carry out the exercise of noting each step in three sections as "lifting,
moving, placing." For the present a yogi should start the exercise by noting as
"right step, left step," or "walking, walking" while walking quickly, and by
noting as "lifting, placing" while walking slowly.
While one is walking, one may feel the desire to sit down. One should then make
a note as "wanting." If one then happens to look up, note it as "looking,
seeing, looking, seeing"; on going to the seat as "lifting, placing"; on
stopping as "stopping, stopping"; on turning as "turning, turning." When one
feels a desire to sit, note it as "wanting, wanting." In the act of sitting
there occur in the body heaviness and also a downward pull. Attention should be
fixed on these factors and a note made as "sitting, sitting, sitting." After
having sat down there will be movements of bringing the hands and legs into
position. They should be noted as "moving," "bending," "stretching," and so
forth. If there is nothing to do and if one is sitting quietly, one should then
revert to the usual exercise of noting as "rising, falling."
Lying Down
If in the course of contemplation one feels painful or tired or hot, one should
make a note of these and then revert to the usual exercise of noting "rising,
falling." If one feels sleepy, one should make a note of it as "sleepy, sleepy"
and proceed with the noting of all acts in preparation to lie down: note the
bringing into position of the hands and legs as "raising," "pressing," "moving,"
"supporting"; when the body sways as "swaying, swaying"; when the legs stretch
as "stretching, stretching"; and when the body drops and lies flat as "lying,
lying, lying."
These trifling acts in lying down are also important and they should not be
neglected. There is every possibility of attaining enlightenment during this
short time. On the full development of concentration and knowledge,
enlightenment is attainable during the present moment of bending or stretching.
In this way the Venerable Ananda attained Arahatship at the very moment of lying
About the beginning of the fourth month after the Buddha's complete passing
away, arrangements were made to hold the first council of bhikkhus to
collectively classify, examine, confirm and recite all the teachings of the
Buddha. At that time five hundred bhikkhus were chosen for this work. Of these
bhikkhus, four hundred and ninety-nine were Arahats, while the Venerable Ananda
was a sotapanna, a stream-enterer.
In order to attend the council as an Arahant on the same level with the others,
he made his utmost effort to carry on with his meditation on the day prior to
the opening of the council. That was on the fourth of the waning moon of the
month of Savana (August). He proceeded with mindfulness of the body and
continued his walking meditation throughout the night. It might have been in the
same manner as noting "right step, left step" or "walking, walking." He was thus
occupied with intense contemplation of the processes of mentality and
materiality in each step until dawn of the following day, but he still had not
yet attained to Arahatship.
Then the Venerable Ananda thought: "I have done my utmost. Lord Buddha has said:
'Ananda, you possess full perfections (paramis). Do proceed with the practice of
meditation. You will surely attain Arahatship one day.' I have tried my best, so
much so that I can be counted as one of those who have done their best in
meditation. What maybe the reason for my failure?"
Then he remembered: "Ah! I have been overzealous in keeping solely to the
practice of walking throughout the night. There is an excess of energy and not
enough concentration, which indeed is responsible for this state of
restlessness. It is now necessary to stop walking practice so as to bring energy
in balance with concentration and to proceed with the contemplation in a lying
position." The Venerable Ananda then entered his room, sat down on his bed, and
began to lie down. It is said that he attained Arahatship at the very moment of
lying down, or rather at the moment of contemplating as "lying, lying."
This manner of attaining Arahatship has been recorded as a strange event in the
Commentaries, because it is outside the four regular postures of standing,
sitting, lying and walking. At the moment of his enlightenment, the Venerable
Ananda could not be regarded as strictly in a standing posture because his feet
were off the floor, nor could he be regarded as sitting because his body was
already at an angle, being quite close to the pillow, nor could he be regarded
as lying down since his head had not yet touched the pillow and his body was not
yet flat.
The Venerable Ananda was a stream-enterer and he thus had to develop the three
other higher stages — the path and fruit of once-returning, the path and fruit
of non-returning, and the path and fruit of Arahatship in his final attainment.
This took only a moment. Extreme care is therefore needed to carry on the
practice of contemplation without relaxation or omission.
In the act of lying down, contemplation should therefore be carried out with due
care. When a yogi feels sleepy and wants to lie down, a note should be made as
"sleepy, sleepy," "wanting, wanting"; on raising the hand as "raising, raising";
on stretching as "stretching, stretching"; on touching as "touching, touching";
on pressing as "pressing, pressing"; after swaying the body and dropping it down
as "lying, lying." The act of lying down itself should be carried out very
slowly. On touching the pillow it should be noted as "touching, touching." There
are many places of touch all over the body but each spot need be noted only one
at a time.
In the lying posture there are also many movements of the body in bringing one's
arms and legs into position. These actions should be noted carefully as
"raising," "stretching," "bending," "moving," and so forth. On turning the body
a note should be made as "turning, turning," and when there is nothing in
particular to be noted, the yogi should proceed with the usual practice of
noting "rising, falling." While one is lying on one's back or side, there is
usually nothing in particular to be noted and the usual exercise of "rising,
falling" should be carried out.
There may be many times when the mind wanders while one is in the lying posture.
This wandering mind should be noted as "going, going" when it goes out, as
"arriving, arriving" when it reaches a place, as "planning," "reflecting," and
so forth for each state in the same manner as in the contemplation while in the
sitting posture. Mental states pass away on being noted once or twice. The usual
exercise of noting "rising, falling" should be continued. There may also be
instances of swallowing or spitting saliva, painful sensations, hot sensations,
itching sensations, etc., or of bodily actions in changing positions or in
moving the limbs. They should be contemplated as each occurs. (When sufficient
strength in concentration is gained, it will be possible to carry on with the
contemplation of each act of opening and closing the eyelids and blinking.)
Afterwards, one should then return to the usual exercise when there is nothing
else to be noted.
Though it is late at night and time for sleep, it is not advisable to give up
the contemplation and go to sleep. Anyone who has a keen interest in
contemplation must be prepared to face the risk of spending many nights without
The scriptures are emphatic on the necessity of developing the qualities of
four-factored energy (caturanga-viriya) in the practice of meditation: "In the
hard struggle, one may be reduced to a mere skeleton of skin, bones and sinews
when one's flesh and blood wither and dry up, but one should not give up one's
efforts so long as one has not attained whatever is attainable by manly
perseverance, energy and endeavor." These instructions should be followed with a
strong determination. It may be possible to keep awake if there is strong enough
concentration to beat off sleep, but one will fall asleep if sleep gets the
upper hand.
When one feels sleepy, one should make a note of it as "sleepy, sleepy"; when
the eyelids are heavy as "heavy, heavy"; when the eyes are felt to be dazzled as
"dazzled, dazzled." After contemplating in the manner indicated, one may be able
to shake off sleepiness and feel fresh again. This feeling should be noted as
"feeling fresh, feeling fresh," after which the usual exercise of noting
"rising, falling" should be continued. However, in spite of this determination,
one may feel unable to keep awake if one is very sleepy. In a lying posture, it
is easier to fall asleep. A beginner should therefore try to keep mostly to the
postures of sitting and walking.
When the night is advanced, however, a yogi may be compelled to lie down and
proceed with the contemplation of rising and falling. In this position he may
perhaps fall asleep. While one is asleep, it is not possible to carry on with
the work of contemplation. It is an interval for a yogi to relax. An hour's
sleep will give him an hour's relaxation, and if he continues to sleep for two,
three or four hours, he will be relaxed for that much longer, but it is not
advisable for a yogi to sleep for more than four hours, which is ample enough
for a normal sleep.
A yogi should begin his contemplation from the moment of awakening. To be fully
occupied with intense contemplation throughout his waking hours is the routine
of a yogi who works hard with true aspiration for the attainment of the path and
fruit. If it is not possible to catch the moment of awakening, he should begin
with the usual exercise of noting "rising, falling." If he first becomes aware
of the fact of reflecting, he should begin his contemplation by noting
"reflecting, reflecting" and then revert to the usual exercise of noting
"rising, falling." If he first becomes aware of hearing a voice or some other
sound, he should begin by noting "hearing, hearing" and then revert to the usual
exercise. On awakening there may be bodily movement in turning to this side or
that, moving the hands or legs and so forth. These actions should be
contemplated in successive order.
If he first becomes aware of the mental states leading to the various actions of
body, he should begin his contemplation by noting the mind. If he first becomes
aware of painful sensations, he should begin with the noting of these painful
sensations and then proceed with the noting of bodily actions. If he remains
quiet without moving, the usual exercise of noting "rising, falling" should be
continued. If he intends to get up, he should note this as "intending,
intending" and then proceed with the noting of all actions in serial order in
bringing the hands and legs into position. One should note "raising, raising" on
raising the body, "sitting, sitting" when the body is erect and in a sitting
posture, and one should also note any other actions of bringing the legs and
hands into position. If there is then nothing in particular to be noted, the
usual exercise of noting "rising,falling" should be reverted to.
Thus far we have mentioned things relating to the objects of contemplation in
connection with the four postures and changing from one posture to another. This
is merely a description of the general outline of major objects of contemplation
to be carried out in the course of practice. Yet in the beginning of the
practice, it is difficult to follow up on all of them in the course of
contemplation. Many things will be omitted, but on gaining sufficient strength
in concentration, it is easy to follow up in the course of contemplation not
only those objects already enumerated, but may many more. With the gradual
development of mindfulness and concentration, the pace of knowledge quickens,
and thus many more objects can be perceived. It is necessary to work up to this
high level.
Washing and Eating
Contemplation should be carried out in washing the face in the morning or when
taking a bath. As it is necessary to act quickly in such instances due to the
nature of the action itself, contemplation should be carried out as far as these
circumstances will allow. On stretching the hand to catch hold of the dipper, it
should be noted as "stretching, stretching"; on catching hold of the dipper as
"holding, holding"; on immersing the dipper as "dipping,dipping"; on bringing
the dipper towards the body as "bringing, bringing"; on pouring the water over
the body or on the face as "pouring, pouring"; on feeling cold as "cold, cold";
on rubbing as "rubbing, rubbing," and so forth.
There are also many different bodily actions in changing or arranging one's
clothing, in arranging the bed or bed-sheets, in opening the door, and so on.
These actions should be contemplated in detail serially as much as possible.
At the time of taking a meal, contemplation should begin from the moment of
looking at the table and noted as "looking, seeing, looking, seeing"; when
stretching the hand to the plate as "stretching, stretching"; when the hand
touches the food as "touching, hot, hot"; when gathering the food as "gathering,
gathering"; when catching hold of the food as "catching, catching"; after
lifting when the hand is being brought up as "bringing, bringing"; when the neck
is being bent down as "bending, bending"; when the food is being placed in the
mouth as "placing, placing"; when withdrawing the hand as "withdrawing,
withdrawing"; when the hand touches the plate as "touching, touching"; when the
neck is being straightened as "straightening, straightening"; when chewing the
food as "chewing, chewing"; while tasting the food as "tasting, tasting," when
one likes the taste as "liking, liking"; when one finds it pleasant as
"pleasant, pleasant"; when swallowing as "swallowing, swallowing."
This is an illustration of the routine of contemplation on partaking of each
morsel of food till the meal is finished. In this case too it is difficult to
follow up on all actions at the beginning of the practice. There will be many
omissions. Yogis should not hesitate, however, but must try to follow up as much
as they can. With the gradual advancement of the practice, it will be easier to
note many more objects than are mentioned here.
The instructions for the practical exercise of contemplation are now almost
complete. As they have been explained in detail and at some length, it will not
be easy to remember all of them. For the sake of easy remembrance, a short
summary of the important and essential points will be given.
Summary of Essential Points
In walking, a yogi should contemplate the movements of each step. While one is
walking briskly, each step should be noted as "right step, left step"
respectively. The mind should be fixed intently on the sole of the foot in the
movements of each step. While one is in the course of walking slowly, each step
should be noted in two parts as "lifting, placing." While one is in a sitting
posture, the usual exercise of contemplation should be carried out by noting the
movements of the abdomen as "rising, falling, rising, falling." The same manner
of contemplation by noting the movements as "rising, falling, rising, falling"
should be carried out while one is also in the lying posture.
If it is found that the mind wanders during the course of noting "rising,
falling," it should not be allowed to continue to wander but should be noted
immediately. On imagining, it should be noted as "imagining, imagining"; on
thinking as "thinking, thinking"; on the mind going out as "going, going"; on
the mind arriving at a place as "arriving, arriving," and so forth at every
occurrence, and then the usual exercise of noting "rising, falling" should be
When there occur feelings of tiredness in the hands, legs or other limbs, or
hot, prickly, aching or itching sensations, they should be immediately followed
up and noted as "tired," "hot," "prickly," "aching," "itching," and so on as the
case may be. A return should then be made to the usual exercise of noting
"rising, falling."
When there are acts of bending or stretching the hands or legs, or moving the
neck or limbs or swaying the body to and fro, they should be followed up and
noted in serial order as they occur. The usual exercise of noting as "rising,
falling" should then be reverted to.
This is only a summary. Any other objects to be contemplated in the course of
training will be mentioned by the meditation teachers when giving instructions
during the daily interview with the disciples.
If one proceeds with the practice in the manner indicated, the number of objects
will gradually increase in the course of time. At first there will be many
omissions because the mind is used to wandering without any restraint
whatsoever. However, a yogi should not lose heart on this account. This
difficulty is usually encountered in the beginning of practice. After some time,
the mind can no longer play truant because it is always found out every time it
wanders. It therefore remains fixed on the object to which it is directed.
As rising occurs the mind makes a note of it, and thus the object and the mind
coincide. As falling occurs the mind makes a note of it, and thus the object and
the mind coincide. There is always a pair, the object and the mind which knows
the object, at each time of noting. These two elements of the material object
and the knowing mind always arise in pairs, and apart from these two there does
not exist any other thing in the form of a person or self. This reality will be
personally realized in due course.
The fact that materiality and mentality are two distinct, separate things will
be clearly perceived during the time of noting "rising, falling." The two
elements of materiality and mentality are linked up in pairs and their arising
coincides, that is, the process of materiality in rising arises with the process
of mentality which knows it. The process of materiality in falling falls away
together with the process of mentality which knows it. It is the same for
lifting, moving and placing: these are processes of materiality arising and
falling away together with the processes of mentality which know them. This
knowledge in respect of matter and mind rising separately is known as
nama-rupa-pariccheda-ñana, the discriminating knowledge of
mentality-materiality. It is the preliminary stage in the whole course of
insight knowledge. It is important to have this preliminary stage developed in a
proper manner.
On continuing the practice of contemplation for some time, there will be
considerable progress in mindfulness and concentration. At this high level it
will be perceptible that on every occasion of noting, each process arises and
passes away at that very moment. But, on the other hand, uninstructed people
generally consider that the body and mind remain in a permanent state throughout
life, that the same body of childhood has grown up into adulthood, that the same
young mind has grown up into maturity, and that both body and mind are one and
the same person. In reality, this is not so. Nothing is permanent. Everything
comes into existence for a moment and then passes away. Nothing can remain even
for the blink of an eye. Changes are taking place very swiftly and they will be
perceived in due course.
While carrying on the contemplation by noting "rising, falling" and so forth,
one will perceive that these processes arise and pass away one after another in
quick succession. On perceiving that everything passes away at the very point of
noting, a yogi knows that nothing is permanent. This knowledge regarding the
impermanent nature of things is aniccanupassana-ñana, the contemplative
knowledge of impermanence.
A yogi then knows that this ever-changing state of things is distressing and is
not to be desired. This is dukkhanupassana-ñana, the contemplative knowledge of
suffering. On suffering many painful feelings, this body and mind complex is
regarded as a mere heap of suffering. This is also contemplative knowledge of
It is then perceived that the elements of materiality and mentality never follow
one's wish, but arise according to their own nature and conditioning. While
being engaged in the act of noting these processes, a yogi understands that
these processes are not controllable and that they are neither a person nor a
living entity nor self. This is anattanupassana-ñana, the contemplative
knowledge of non-self.
When a yogi has fully developed the knowledge of impermanence, suffering and
non-self, he will realize Nibbana. From time immemorial, Buddhas, Arahats and
Ariyas (noble ones) have realized Nibbana by this method of vipassana. It is the
highway leading to Nibbana. Vipassana consists of the four satipatthana,
applications of mindfulness, and it is satipatthana which is really the highway
to Nibbana.
Yogis who take up this course of training should bear in mind that they are on
the highway which has been taken by Buddhas, Arahats and Ariyas. This
opportunity is afforded them apparently because of their parami, that is, their
previous endeavors in seeking and wishing for it, and also because of their
present mature conditions. They should rejoice at heart for having this
opportunity. They should also feel assured that by walking on this highway
without wavering they will gain personal experience of highly developed
concentration and wisdom, as has already been known by Buddhas, Arahats and
Ariyas. They will develop such a pure state of concentration as has never been
known before in the course of their lives and thus enjoy many innocent pleasures
as a result of advanced concentration.
Impermanence, suffering and non-self will be realized through direct personal
experience, and with the full development of these knowledges, Nibbana will be
realized. It will not take long to achieve the objective, possibly one month, or
twenty days, or fifteen days, or, on rare occasions, even in seven days for
those select few with extraordinary parami.
Yogis should therefore proceed with the practice of contemplation in great
earnestness and with full confidence, trusting that it will surely lead to the
development of the noble path and fruit and to the realization of Nibbana. They
will then be free from the wrong view of self and from spiritual doubt, and they
will no longer be subject to the round of rebirth in the miserable realms of the
hells, the animal world, and the sphere of petas.
May yogis meet with every success in their noble endeavor.

About the Author
The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, U Sobhana Mahathera, was one of the most eminent
meditation masters of modern times and a leader in the contemporary resurgence
of Vipassana meditation. Born near Shwebo town in Burma in 1904, he was ordained
a novice monk at the age of twelve and received full ordination as a bhikkhu at
the age of twenty. He quickly distinguished himself as a scholar of the Buddhist
scriptures and by his fifth year after full ordination was himself teaching the
scriptures at a monastery in Moulmein.
In the eighth year after ordination he left Moulmein seeking a clear and
effective method in the practice of meditation. At Thaton he met the well-known
meditation instructor, the Venerable U Narada, also known as the Mingun Jetawun
Sayadaw. He then placed himself under the guidance of the Sayadaw and underwent
intensive training in Vipassana meditation.
In 1941 he returned to his native village and introduced the systematic practice
of Vipassana meditation to the area. Many people, monks as well as laymen, took
up the practice and greatly benefited by his careful instructions.
In 1949 the then Prime Minister of Burma, U Nu, and Sir U Thwin, executive
members of the Buddha Sasananuggaha Association, invited Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw to
come to Rangoon to give training in meditation practice. He acceded to their
request and took up residence at the Thathana Yeiktha Meditation Centre, where
he continued to conduct intensive courses in Vipassana meditation until his
death in 1982.
Under his guidance thousands of people have been trained at his Centre and many
more have benefited from his clear-cut approach to meditation practice through
his writings and the teachings of his disciples. More than a hundred branch
centers of the Thathana Yeiktha Centre have been established in Burma and his
method has spread widely to other countries, East and West.
Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw also holds Burma's highest scholastic honor, the title of
Agga Mahapandita, awarded to him in 1952. During the Sixth Buddhist Council,
held in Rangoon from 1954 to 1956, he performed the duties of Questioner
(pucchaka), a role performed at the First Buddhist Council by the Venerable
Mahakassapa. Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw was also a member of the executive committee
that was responsible, as the final authority, for the codification of all the
texts edited at the Council.
Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw is the author of numerous works on both meditation and the
Buddhist scriptures in his native Burmese. His discourses on Buddhist suttas
have been translated into English and are published by the Buddha Sasananuggaha
Association (16 Hermitage Road, Kokine, Rangoon, Burma.)

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Satipatthana Vipassana

Satipatthana Vipassana
      Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw

Source: The Wheel Publication No. 370/371 (Kandy:
      Buddhist Publication Society, 1990). Transcribed from the print edition in
      1995 by Philip L. Jones under the auspices of the DharmaNet Dharma Book
      Transcription Project, with the kind permission of the Buddhist
      Publication Society.

      Copyright © 1990 Buddhist Publication Society
      Access to Insight edition © 1995
      For free distribution. This work may be republished, reformatted,
      reprinted, and redistributed in any medium. It is the author's wish,
      however, that any such republication and redistribution be made available
      to the public on a free and unrestricted basis and that translations and
      other derivative works be clearly marked as such.

On the personal request of the Honorable U Nu, Prime Minister, and Thado Thiri
Thudhamma Sir U Thwin, President of the Buddha Sasananuggaha Association, the
Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, Bhadanta Sobhana Mahathera, came down from Shwebo to
Rangoon on 10th November 1949. The Meditation Centre at the Thathana Yeiktha,
Hermitage Road, Rangoon, was formally opened on 4th December 1949, when the
Mahasi Sayadaw began to give to fifteen devotees a methodical training in the
right system of Satipatthana Vipassana.
From the first day of the opening of the Centre a discourse on the exposition of
Satipatthana Vipassana, its purpose, the method of practice, the benefits
derived therefrom, etc., has been given daily to each batch of devotees arriving
at the Centre almost everyday to undertake the intensive course of training. The
discourse lasts usually for one hour and thirty minutes, and the task of talking
almost daily in this manner inevitably caused a strain. Fortunately, the Buddha
Sasananuggaha Association came forward to relieve the situation with an offer of
the donation of a tape-recorder, and the discourse given on 27th July 1951 to a
group of fifteen devotees undertaking the training was taped. Thereafter this
taped discourse has been in constant daily use preceded by a few preliminary
remarks spoken by the Mahasi Sayadaw.
Then, owing to the great demand of many branch meditation centers of the Mahasi
Satipatthana Vipassana, as well as of the public, this discourse was published
in book form in 1954. The book has now run into its sixth edition. As there is
also a keen interest and eager demand among many devotees of other nationalities
who are unacquainted with Burmese, the discourse is now translated into English.
U Pe Thin (translator)
Mahasi Yogi
December, 1957

Satipatthana Vipassana
Namo Buddhassa
Honor to the Fully Enlightened One
On coming across the Teaching of the Buddha, it is most important for everyone
to cultivate the virtues of moral conduct (sila), concentration (samadhi), and
wisdom (pañña). One should undoubtedly possess these three virtues.
For laypeople the minimal measure of moral conduct is the observance of the Five
Precepts. For bhikkhus it is the observance of the Patimokkha, the code of
monastic discipline. Anyone who is well-disciplined in moral conduct will be
reborn in a happy realm of existence as a human being or a deva (god).
However, this ordinary form of mundane morality (lokiya-sila) will not be a
safeguard against relapse into the lower states of miserable existence, such as
hell, the animal realm, or the realm of petas (ghosts). It is therefore
desirable to cultivate the higher form of supramundane morality
(lokuttara-sila). When one has fully acquired the virtue of this morality, one
will be secure from relapse into the lower states and will always lead a happy
life by being reborn as a human being or a deva. Everyone should therefore make
it his duty to work for supramundane morality.
There is every hope of success for anyone who strives sincerely and in real
earnestness. It would indeed be a pity if anyone were to fail to take advantage
of this fine opportunity of being endowed with higher qualities, for such a
person will undoubtedly be a victim sooner or later of his own bad karma, which
will pull him down to the lower states of miserable existence in hell, the
animal realm, or the sphere of petas, where the span of life lasts for many
hundreds, thousands or millions of years. It is therefore emphasized here that
coming across the Teaching of the Buddha is the unique opportunity to work for
path morality (magga-sila) and fruition morality (phala-sila).
It is not, however, advisable to work for moral conduct alone. It is also
necessary to practice samadhi or concentration. Samadhi is the fixed or tranquil
state of mind. The ordinary or undisciplined mind is in the habit of wandering
to other places. It cannot be kept under control, but follows any idea, thought
or imagination, etc. In order to prevent this wandering, the mind should be made
to attend repeatedly to a selected object of concentration. On gaining practice,
the mind gradually abandons its distractions and remains fixed on the object to
which it is directed. This is samadhi.
There are two kinds of concentration: mundane concentration (lokiya-samadhi) and
supramundane concentration (lokuttara-samadhi). Of these two, the former
consists in the mundane absorptions, such as the four rupa-jhanas — the
absorptions pertaining to the world of form — and the four arupa-jhanas — the
absorptions pertaining to the formless world. These can be attained by the
practice of tranquillity meditation (samatha-bhavana) with such methods as
mindfulness of breathing, loving-kindness (metta), kasina meditation, etc. By
virtue of these attainments one will be reborn in the plane of the brahmas. The
life-span of a brahma is very long and lasts for one world cycle, two, four, or
eight world cycles, up to a limit of 84,000 world cycles, as the case may be.
But at the end of his lifespan, a brahma will die and be reborn as a human being
or a deva.
If one leads a virtuous life all the time, one may lead a happy life in a higher
existence, but as one is not free from the defilements of attachment, aversion
and delusion, one may commit demeritorious deeds on many occasions. One will
then be a victim of his bad karma and be reborn in hell or in other lower states
of miserable existence. Thus mundane concentration also is not a definite
security. It is desirable to work for supramundane concentration, the
concentration of the path (magga) and the fruit (phala). To acquire this
concentration it is essential to cultivate wisdom (pañña).
There are two forms of wisdom: mundane and supramundane. Nowadays, knowledge of
literature, art, science, or other worldly affairs is usually regarded as a kind
of wisdom, but this form of wisdom has nothing to do with any kind of mental
development (bhavana). Nor can it be regarded as of real merit, because many
weapons of destruction are invented through these kinds of knowledge, which are
always under the influence of attachment, aversion, and other evil motives. The
real spirit of mundane wisdom, on the other hand, has only merits and no
demerits of any kind. True mundane wisdom includes the knowledge used in welfare
and relief work, which causes no harm; learning to acquire the knowledge of the
true meaning or sense of the scriptures; and the three classes of knowledge of
development for insight (vipassana-bhavana), such as knowledge born of learning
(sutamaya-pañña), knowledge born of reflection (cintamaya-pañña), and wisdom
born of meditative development (bhavanamaya-pañña). The virtue of possessing
mundane wisdom will lead to a happy life in higher states of existence, but it
still cannot prevent the risk of being reborn in hell or in other states of
miserable existence. Only the development of supramundane wisdom
(lokuttara-pañña) can decidedly remove this risk.
Supramundane wisdom is the wisdom of the path and fruit. To develop this wisdom
it is necessary to carry on the practice of insight meditation
(vipassana-bhavana) out of the three disciplines of morality, concentration, and
wisdom. When the virtue of wisdom is duly developed, the necessary qualities of
morality and concentration will also be acquired.
The Development of Wisdom
The method of developing this wisdom is to observe materiality (rupa) and
mentality (nama) — the two sole elements existing in a living being — with a
view to knowing them in their true nature. At present, experiments in the
analytical observation of materiality are usually carried out in laboratories
with the aid of various kinds of instruments, yet these methods cannot deal with
the mind. The method of the Buddha does not require any kind of instruments or
outside aid. It can successfully deal with both materiality and mentality. It
makes use of one's own mind for analytical purposes by fixing bare attention on
the activities of materiality and mentality as they occur within oneself. By
continually repeating this form of exercise, the necessary concentration can be
gained, and when concentration is keen enough, the ceaseless course of arising
and passing away of materiality and mentality will be vividly perceptible.
The living being consists solely of the two distinct groups of materiality and
mentality. The solid substance of body as it is now found belongs to the group
of materiality. According to the usual enumeration of material phenomena, there
are altogether twenty-eight kinds in this group, but in short it may be noted
that body is a mass of materiality. For example, it is the same as a doll made
of clay or wheat, which is nothing but a collection of particles of clay or
flour. Materiality changes its form (ruppati) under physical conditions of heat,
cold, etc., and because of this changeableness under contrary physical
conditions, it is called rupa in Pali. It does not possess any faculty of
knowing an object.
In the Abhidhamma, the elements of mentality and materiality are classified as
"states with object" (sarammana-dhamma) and "states without object"
(anarammana-dhamma), respectively. The element of mentality has an object, holds
an object, knows an object, while that of materiality does not have an object,
does not hold an object, and does not know an object. It will thus be seen that
the Abhidhamma has directly stated that materiality has no faculty of knowing an
object. A yogi also perceives in like manner that "materiality has no faculty of
Logs and pillars, bricks and stones and lumps of earth are a mass of
materiality. They do not possess any faculty of knowing. It is the same with the
materiality which makes up a living body — it has no faculty of knowing. The
materiality in a dead body is the same as that of a living body — it does not
possess any faculty of knowing. People, however, have a common idea that the
materiality of a living body possesses the faculty of knowing an object and that
it loses this faculty only at death. This is not really so. In actual fact,
materiality does not possess the faculty of knowing an object in either a dead
or a living body.
What is it then that knows objects now? It is mentality, which comes into being
depending on materiality. It is called nama in Pali because it inclines (namati)
towards an object. Mentality is also spoken of as thought or consciousness.
Mentality arises depending on materiality: depending on the eye,
eye-consciousness (seeing) arises; depending on the ear, ear-consciousness
(hearing) arises; depending on the nose, nose-consciousness (smelling) arises;
depending on the tongue, tongue-consciousness (tasting) arises; depending on the
body, body-consciousness (sense of touch) arises. There are many kinds of sense
of touch, either good or bad.
While touch has a wide field of action in running throughout the whole length of
the body, inside and outside, the sense of seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting
come into being in their own particular spheres — the eye, ear, nose and tongue
— each of which occupies a very small and limited area of the body. These senses
of touch, sight, etc., are nothing but the elements of mind. There also comes
into being mind-consciousness — thoughts, ideas, imaginings, etc. — depending on
the mind-base. All of these are elements of mind. Mind knows an object, while
materiality does not know an object.
People generally believe that in the case of seeing, it is the eye which
actually sees. They think that seeing and the eye are one and the same thing.
They also think: "Seeing is I," "I see things," "The eye, seeing, and I are one
and the same person." In reality this is not so. The eye is one thing and seeing
is another, and there is no separate entity such as "I" or "ego." There is only
the reality of seeing coming into being depending on the eye.
To give an example, it is like the case of a person who sits in a house. The
house and the person are two separate things: the house is not the person, nor
is the person the house. Similarly, it is so at the time of seeing. The eye and
seeing are two separate things: the eye is not seeing, nor is seeing the eye.
To give another example, it is just like the case of a person in a room who sees
many things when he opens the window and looks through it. If it is asked, "Who
is it that sees? Is it the window or the person that actually sees?" the answer
is, "The window does not possess the ability to see; it is only the person who
sees." If it is again asked, "Will the person be able to see things on the
outside without the window?" the answer will be, "It is not possible to see
things through the wall without the window. One can only see through the
window." Similarly, in the case of seeing, there are two separate realities of
the eye and seeing. The eye is not seeing, nor is seeing the eye, yet there
cannot be an act of seeing without the eye. In reality, seeing comes into being
depending on the eye.
It is now evident that in the body there are only two distinct elements of
materiality (eye) and mentality (seeing) at every moment of seeing. In addition,
there is also a third element of materiality — the visual object. At times the
visual object is noticeable in the body and at times it is noticeable outside
the body. With the addition of the visual object there will then be three
elements, two of which (the eye and the visual object) are materiality and the
third of which (seeing) is mentality. The eye and the visual object, being
materiality, do not possess the ability to know an object, while seeing, being
mentality, can know the visual object and what it looks like. Now it is clear
that there exist only the two separate elements of materiality and mentality at
the moment of seeing, and the arising of this pair of separate elements is known
as seeing.
People who are without the training in and knowledge of insight meditation hold
the view that seeing belongs to or is "self," "ego," "living entity," or
"person." They believe that "seeing is I," or "I am seeing," or "I am knowing."
This kind of view or belief is called sakkaya-ditthi in Pali. Sakkaya means the
group of materiality (rupa) and mentality (nama) as they exist distinctively.
Ditthi means a wrong view or belief. The compound word sakkaya-ditthi means a
wrong view or belief in self with regard to nama and rupa, which exist in
For greater clarity, we will explain further the manner of holding the wrong
view or belief. At the moment of seeing, the things which actually exist are the
eye, the visual object (both materiality), and seeing (mentality). Nama and rupa
are reality, yet people hold the view that this group of elements is self, or
ego, or a living entity. They consider that "seeing is I," or "that which is
seen is I," or "I see my own body." Thus this mistaken view is taking the simple
act of seeing to be self, which is sakkaya-ditthi, the wrong view of self.
As long as one is not free from the wrong view of self, one cannot expect to
escape from the risk of falling into the miserable realms of the hells, the
animals or the petas. Though one may be leading a happy life in the human or
deva world by virtue of one's merits, yet one is liable to fall back into the
miserable states of existence at any time, when one's demerits operate. For this
reason, the Buddha pointed out that it is essential to work for the total
removal of the wrong view of self:
  "Let a monk go forth mindfully to abandon view of self"
  (sakkaya-ditthippahañaya sato bhikkhu paribbaje).
To explain: though it is the wish of everyone to avoid old age, disease and
death, no one can prevent their inevitable arrival. After death, rebirth
follows. Rebirth in any state of existence does not depend on one's own wish. It
is not possible to avoid rebirth in the hell realm, the animal realm or the
realm of the petas by merely wishing for an escape. Rebirth takes place in any
state of existence as the consequence of one's own deeds: there is no choice at
all. For these reasons, the round of birth and death, samsara, is very dreadful.
Every effort should therefore be made to acquaint oneself with the miserable
conditions of samsara, and then to work for an escape from samsara, for the
attainment of Nibbana.
If an escape from samsara as a whole is not possible for the present, an attempt
should be made for an escape at least from the round of rebirth in the hell
realms, the animal realm and the peta realm. In this case it is necessary to
work for the total removal within oneself of sakkaya-ditthi, which is the root
cause of rebirth in the miserable states of existence. Sakkaya-ditthi can only
be destroyed completely by the noble path and fruit: the three supramundane
virtues of morality, concentration and wisdom. It is therefore imperative to
work for the development of these virtues. How should one do the work? By means
of noting or observing one must go out from the jurisdiction of defilements
(kilesa). One should practice by constantly noting or observing every act of
seeing, hearing, etc., which are the constituent physical and mental processes,
till one is freed from sakkaya-ditthi, the wrong view of self.
For these reasons advice is always given here to take up the practice of
vipassana meditation. Now yogis have come here for the purpose of practicing
vipassana meditation who may be able to complete the course of training and
attain the noble path in no long time. The view of self will then be totally
removed and security will be finally gained against the danger of rebirth in the
realms of the hells, animals and petas.
In this respect, the exercise is simply to note or observe the existing elements
in every act of seeing. It should be noted as "seeing, seeing" on every occasion
of seeing. By the terms "note" or "observe" or "contemplate" is meant the act of
keeping the mind fixedly on the object with a view to knowing it clearly.
When this is done, and the act of seeing is noted as "seeing, seeing," at times
the visual object is noticed, at times consciousness of seeing is noticed, at
times the eye-base, the place from which one sees, is noticed. It will serve the
purpose if one can notice distinctly any one of the three. If not, based on this
act of seeing there will arise sakkaya-ditthi, which will view it in the form of
a person or as belonging to a person, and as being permanent, pleasurable, and
self. This will arouse the defilements of craving and attachment, which will in
turn prompt deeds, and the deeds will bring forth rebirth in a new existence.
Thus the process of dependent origination operates and the vicious circle of
samsara revolves incessantly. In order to prevent the revolving of samsara from
this source of seeing, it is necessary to note "seeing, seeing" on every
occasion of seeing.
Hearing, Etc.
Similarly, in the case of hearing, there are only two distinct elements,
materiality and mentality. The sense of hearing arises depending on the ear.
While the ear and sound are two elements of materiality, the sense of hearing is
the element of mentality. In order to know clearly any one of these two kinds of
materiality and mentality, every occasion of hearing should be noted as
"hearing, hearing." So also, "smelling, smelling" should be noted on every
occasion of smelling, and "tasting, tasting" on every occasion of tasting.
The sensation of touch in the body should be noted in the very same way. There
is a kind of material element known as bodily sensitivity throughout the body,
which receives every impression of touch. Every kind of touch, either agreeable
or disagreeable, usually comes in contact with bodily sensitivity, and from this
there arises body-consciousness, which feels or knows the touch on each
occasion. It will now be seen that at every moment of touching there are two
elements of materiality — the bodily sensitivity and the tangible object — and
one element of mentality — knowing of touch.
In order to know these things distinctly at every moment of touching, the
practice of noting as "touching, touching" has to be carried out. This merely
refers to the common form of sensation of touch. There are special forms which
accompany painful or disagreeable sensations, such as feeling stiffness or
tiredness in the body or limbs, feeling hot, pain, numb, aches, etc. Because
feeling (vedana) predominates in these cases, it should be noted as "feeling
hot," "feeling tired," "feeling painful," etc., as the case may be.
It may also be mentioned that there occur many sensations of touch in the hands,
the legs, and so on, on each occasion of bending, stretching, or moving. Because
of mentality wanting to move, stretch or bend, the material activities of
moving, stretching or bending, etc., occur in series. (It may not be possible to
notice these incidents at the outset. They can only be noticed after some time,
on gaining experience by practice. It is mentioned here for the sake of general
information.) All activities in movements and in changing, etc., are done by
mentality. When mentality wills to bend, there arises a series of inward
movements of hand or the leg. When mentality wills to stretch or move, there
arises a series of outward movements or movements to and fro. They fall away
soon after they occur and at the very point of occurrence, as one will notice
In every case of bending, stretching, or other activities, there arises first a
series of intentions, moments of mentality, inducing or causing in the hands and
legs a series of material activities, such as stiffening, bending, stretching,
or moving to and fro. These activities come up against other material elements,
the bodily sensitivity, and on every occasion of contact between material
activities and sensitive qualities, there arises body-consciousness, which feels
or knows the sensation of touch. It is therefore clear that material activities
are predominating factors in these cases. It is necessary to notice the
predominating factors. If not, there will surely arise the wrong view which
regards these activities as the doings of an "I" — "I am bending," "I am
stretching," "my hands," or "my legs." This practice of noting as "bending,"
"stretching," "moving," is carried out for the purpose of removing such wrong
Depending on the mind-base there arises a series of mental activities, such as
thinking, imagining, etc., or generally speaking, a series of mental activities
arises depending on the body. In reality, each case is a composition of
mentality and materiality, mind-base being materiality, and thinking, imagining,
and so forth being mentality. In order to be able to notice materiality and
mentality clearly, "thinking," "imagining," and so forth should be noted in each
After having carried out the practice in the manner indicated above for some
time, there may be an improvement in concentration. One will notice that the
mind no longer wanders about but remains fixed on the object to which it is
directed. At the same time, the power of noticing has considerably developed. On
every occasion of noting, one notices only two processes of materiality and
mentality: a dual set of object (materiality) and mental state (mentality),
which makes note of the object, arising together.
Again, on proceeding further with the practice of contemplation, after some time
one notices that nothing remains permanent, but that everything is in a state of
flux. New things arise each time. Each of them is noted as it arises. Whatever
arises then passes away immediately and immediately another arises, which is
again noted and which then passes away. Thus the process of arising and passing
away goes on, which clearly shows that nothing is permanent. One therefore
realizes that "things are not permanent" because one sees that they arise and
pass away immediately. This is insight into impermanence (aniccanupassana-ñana).
Then one also realizes that "arising and passing are not desirable." This is
insight into suffering (dukkhanupassana-ñana). Besides, one usually experiences
many painful sensations in the body, such as tiredness, heat, aching, and at the
time of noting these sensations, one generally feels that this body is a
collection of sufferings. This is also insight into suffering.
Then at every time of noting it is found that elements of materiality and
mentality occur according to their respective nature and conditioning, and not
according to one's wishes. One therefore realizes that "they are elements; they
are not governable; they are not a person or living entity." This is insight
into non-self (anattanupassana-ñana).
On having fully acquired these insights into impermanence, suffering, and
non-self, the maturity of knowledge of the path (magga-ñana) and knowledge of
fruition (phala-ñana) takes place and realization of Nibbana is won. By winning
the realization of Nibbana in the first stage, one is freed from the round of
rebirth in the realms of miserable existence. Everyone should therefore endeavor
to reach the first stage, the path and fruit of stream-entry, as a minimum
measure of protection against an unfortunate rebirth.
The Beginner's Exercise
It has already been explained that the actual method of practice in vipassana
meditation is to note, or to observe, or to contemplate, the successive
occurrences of seeing, hearing, and so on, at the six sense doors. However, it
will not be possible for a beginner to follow these on all successive incidents
as they occur because his mindfulness (sati), concentration (samadhi), and
knowledge (ñana) are still very weak. The moments of seeing, hearing, smelling,
tasting, touching, and thinking occur very swiftly. It seems that seeing occurs
at the same time as hearing, that hearing occurs at the same time as seeing,
that seeing and hearing occur simultaneously, that seeing, hearing, thinking and
imagining always occur simultaneously. Because they occur so swiftly, it is not
possible to distinguish which occurs first and which second.
In reality, seeing does not occur at the same time as hearing, nor does hearing
occur at the same time as seeing. Such incidents can occur only one at a time. A
yogi who has just begun the practice and who has not sufficiently developed his
mindfulness, concentration and knowledge will not, however, be in a position to
observe all these moments singly as they occur in serial order. A beginner need
not, therefore, follow up on many things. He needs to begin with only a few
Seeing or hearing occurs only when due attention is given to their objects. If
one does not pay heed to any sight or sound, one may pass the time without any
moments of seeing or hearing taking place. Smelling rarely occurs. The
experience of tasting can only occur while one is eating. In the case of seeing,
hearing, smelling and tasting, the yogi can note them when they occur. Body
impressions, however, are ever present. They usually exist distinctly all the
time. During the time that one is sitting, the body impression of stiffness or
the sensation of hardness in this position is distinctly felt. Attention should
therefore be fixed on the sitting posture and a note made as "sitting, sitting,
Sitting is an erect posture of the body consisting of a series of physical
activities, induced by consciousness consisting of a series of mental
activities. It is just like the case of an inflated rubber ball which maintains
its round shape through the resistance of the air inside it. The posture of
sitting is similar in that the body is kept in an erect posture through the
continuous process of physical activities. A good deal of energy is required to
pull up and keep in an erect position such a heavy load as this body. People
generally assume that the body is lifted and kept in an upright position by
means of sinews. This assumption is correct in a sense because sinews, blood,
flesh and bones are nothing but materiality. The element of stiffening which
keeps the body in an erect posture belongs to the group of materiality and
arises in the sinews, flesh, blood, etc., throughout the body, like the air in a
rubber ball.
The element of stiffening is the air element, known as vayo-dhatu. The body is
kept in an erect position by the air element in the form of stiffening, which is
continually coming into existence. At the time of sleepiness or drowsiness, one
may drop flat because the supply of new materials in the form of stiffening is
cut off. The state of mind in heavy drowsiness or sleep is bhavanga, the
"life-continuum" or passive subconscious flow. During the course of bhavanga,
mental activities are absent, and for this reason, the body lies flat during
sleep or heavy drowsiness.
During waking hours, strong and alert mental activities are continually arising,
and because of these the air element arises serially in the form of stiffening.
In order to know these facts, it is essential to note the bodily posture
attentively as "sitting, sitting, sitting." This does not necessarily mean that
the body impression of stiffening should particularly be searched for and noted.
Attention need only be fixed on the whole form of the sitting posture, that is,
the lower portion of the body in a bent circular form and the upper portion held
It may be found that the exercise of observing the mere sitting posture is too
easy and does not require much effort. In these circumstances, energy (viriya)
is less and concentration (samadhi) is in excess. One will generally feel lazy
and will not want to carry on the noting as "sitting, sitting, sitting"
repeatedly for a considerable length of time. Laziness generally occurs when
there is an excess of concentration and not enough energy. It is nothing but a
state of sloth and torpor (thina-middha).
More energy should be developed, and for this purpose, the number of objects for
noting should be increased. After noting as "sitting," the attention should be
directed to a spot in the body where the sense of touch is felt and a note made
as "touching." Any spot in the leg or hand or hip where a sense of touch is
distinctly felt will serve the purpose. For example, after noting the sitting
posture of the body as "sitting," the spot where the sense of touch is felt
should be noted as "touching." The noting should thus be repeated using these
two objects of the sitting posture and the place of touching alternately, as
"sitting, touching, sitting, touching, sitting, touching."
The terms "noting," "observing" and "contemplating" are used here to indicate
the fixing of attention on an object. The exercise is simply to note or observe
or contemplate as "sitting, touching." Those who already have experience in the
practice of meditation may find this exercise easy to begin with, but those
without any previous experience may at first find it rather difficult.
A simpler and easier form of the exercise for a beginner is this: With every
breath there occurs in the abdomen a rising-falling movement. A beginner should
start with the exercise of noting this movement. This rising-falling movement is
easy to observe because it is coarse and therefore more suitable for the
beginner. As in schools where simple lessons are easy to learn, so also is the
practice of vipassana meditation. A beginner will find it easier to develop
concentration and knowledge with a simple and easy exercise.
Again, the purport of vipassana meditation is to begin the exercise by
contemplating prominent factors in the body. Of the two factors of mentality and
materiality, the former is subtle and less prominent, while the latter is coarse
and more prominent. At the outset, therefore, the usual procedure for an insight
meditator is to begin the exercise by contemplating the material elements.
With regard to materiality, it may be mentioned here that derived materiality
(upada-rupa) is subtle and less prominent, while the four primary physical
elements (maha-bhuta-rupa) — earth, water, fire and air — are coarse and more
prominent. The latter should therefore have priority in the order of objects for
contemplation. In the case of rising-falling, the outstanding factor is the air
element, or vayo-dhatu. The process of stiffening and the movements of the
abdomen noticed during the contemplation are nothing but the functions of the
air element. Thus it will be seen that the air element is perceptible at the
According to the instructions of the Satipatthana Sutta, one should be mindful
of the activities of walking while walking, of those of standing, sitting and
lying down while standing, sitting and lying down, respectively. One should also
be mindful of other bodily activities as each of them occurs. In this
connection, it is stated in the commentaries that one should be mindful
primarily of the air element, in preference to the other three elements. As a
matter of fact, all four primary elements are dominant in every action of the
body, and it is essential to perceive any one of them. At the time of sitting,
either of the two movements of rising and falling occurs conspicuously with
every breath, and a beginning should be made by noting these movements.
Some fundamental features in the system of vipassana meditation have been
explained for general information. The general outline of basic exercises will
now be dealt with.

Vipassana - Daily Activities, Postures, Noting Objects, Benefits, Balance

Computer Studies in Buddhism - Meditation
"Vipassana Meditation Course: Series of Eight Talks", by Ven Sayadaw U Janaka
Buddha Dhamma Meditation Association, Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Talk 8
Daily Activities, Postures, Noting Objects, Benefits, Balance

  Today I'll continue that chapter of clear comprehension and discourse on the
  Mahasatipatthana sutra. But I'll summarise it because there are some aspects
  of Dhamma which should be dealt with for your progress in your meditation.
  The Buddha said, 'When you bend your arms and legs you must be aware of it as
  it is.' When you stretch out the arms and legs you must be aware of it as it
  is. When you dress you must all be aware of it. When you take off clothes you
  must be aware of it; when you put on clothes you must be aware of it. That's
  what the Buddha instructed us about daily activities. Then, when you hold the
  plate, you note it. When you hold the cup in the saucer you note it, holding.
  When you touch it, touching. When you decide to keep inside and so on.
  Whatever you are doing, in holding, drinking tea or coffee, you note it. The
  Buddha said when you answer the call of nature these activities you must be
  aware of as they are. When you go to the toilet you should be aware of all the
  activities involved. Then, every day, the Buddha said when you eat food then
  note all the activities in the act of having the food. When you drink water or
  when you drink anything you must be aware of all the activities involved in
  these actions. When you chew something you must note chewing. When you lick
  something you must note the licking. We have a Burmese medicine for clearing
  of the throat, called yessa. That means a lickable salt. There we have to lick
  it. We mustn't take it.
  * Postures
  When you walk you must be aware of all the movements of the foot, slowing down
  your stepping. When you sit you should note the upright posture of the
  sitting. Not the form of the body, but the upright position of your body must
  be noted as sitting. When you focus your mind on your sitting you know that
  you are sitting. Then you note sitting.
  In Burma some meditators when they are instructed to note the sitting posture
  find out the form of the body, the shoulder, the leg, the eyes, the nose, the
  head. Because they are looking for the form of the body they couldn't note it.
  But the Buddha doesn't instruct us to note these forms of the body. What the
  Buddha instructs is to note the upright posture of the body as sitting,
  because he would like us to realise the supporting nature of vayo-dhatu, the
  wind element. When you sit there's an air inside the body, and also air
  outside the body. The two airs support the body so it is sitting in an upright
  position. So to realise the nature of the supporting wind element the Buddha
  teaches us to note sitting. So you should focus your mind on the upright
  posture of the body and note it as sitting. In the same way the upright
  position of standing must be noted: standing standing standing, sitting
  sitting sitting and so on.
  Sometimes some yogis misunderstand this instruction so when they are
  instructed to note the sitting posture what they notice is the contact between
  the body and the floor or the seat. It's wrong. That's contact or touching,
  not sitting. The commentary to the text explains that sitting means the
  bending posture of the lower and the upright posture of the upper body. I
  instructed you to be aware of the upright posture of sitting, the upper body,
  because if you go down and be aware of the bending posture of the lower body
  your mind tends to go to the contact.
  * Noting objects
  So in sitting meditation if you are able to note the rising and fall of the
  abdomen very well and the concentration is somewhat good, then the mind tends
  to go out and wander because it can easily note the two movements of the
  abdomen. Then you need some more objects to note so as to make the mind too
  busy to have any time to go out. So when you are able to note the rise and
  fall of the abdomen very well you should note the sitting posture and the
  touching sensation too, either of the two or one of the two. Say rising
  falling and sitting, or rising falling, touching - any point of the touching
  sensation which is more distinct than the other points. So, rising falling
  sitting touching, rising falling sitting touching. You must be aware of four
  objects successively and continuously, not separately.
  Some meditators misunderstand so they note two objects separately. Sometimes
  they note rising and falling, rising and falling; sometimes sitting, touching,
  sitting, touching. When you are able to note these four objects constitutively
  and successively you must do four, not two separately. But sometimes you may
  be not able to note all the four constitutively. Then you should note their
  rise and fall separately, then sitting touching. If the abdominal movement is
  good for you to note you should stay with it. Unless it's good for some reason
  you can note the sitting and touching sensations alternately: sitting
  touching, sitting touching.
  Sometimes some meditators very easily feel their heartbeat when concentrating
  on the movement of the abdomen, because when they note the rise and fall of
  the abdomen they make too much mental effort breathing. That effort makes the
  heart beat and sometimes they confuse the movement of the abdomen with the
  heartbeat. For such meditators the sitting posture and touching sensation are
  good at the beginning of the practise. Later on you will be able to note all
  these four objects very well, systematically and methodically.
  So if a meditator has no problem with the heartbeat he should continue to note
  the rise and fall of the abdomen. But if he thinks he needs more objects then
  note the sitting posture and touching sensation too. So rising falling,
  sitting touching; rising falling, sitting touching. You have to note the
  sitting posture and touching sensation before the rising movement starts
  again. In other words between the falling movement and the rising movement you
  should insert the two objects, sitting and touching, so that your mind doesn't
  have any time to go out. The point is to make the mind quite occupied with the
  One meditator here reported in his interview that he didn't note the intention
  before lifting. He noted only six objects of movements of the foot. I asked
  why he didn't note anything. He said because he was too busy to note this and
  this before lifting. A bit of time, even a millionth of a second, and the mind
  goes out. So the mind must be occupied with objects. You should note
  intending, lifting, pushing, dropping, touching, pressing, and so on.
  The same with sitting. When you think you have a little bit of time between
  the falling movement and the rising movement of the abdomen, you must fill up
  that gap with the two objects or one of the two, the sitting posture and the
  touching sensation. So after you have noted the falling movement you note
  sitting, touching before you start to note the rising movement. Sometimes you
  may find it difficult to note two objects before rising again. Then you should
  note one object, the sitting or touching sensation, so that you have better
  and deeper concentration.
  So when you sit you must be aware of the sitting posture. When you stand you
  must be aware of the standing posture. When you lie down you must be aware of
  the lying posture: lying lying lying. In Burma one of the old monks about
  ninety years could walk twenty-four hours; he could sit twenty-four hours; lie
  down twenty-four hours by being aware of it without sleeping. Two years back
  he passed away at the age of ninety-two I think. He had been meditating since
  forty years of age. I think you should imitate him. He could sit for
  twenty-four hours without changing position. He walked twenty-four hours. He
  lay down twenty-four hours. If you lie down two minutes then you fall asleep.
  In lying down you see the abdomen movement is very distinct. When lying down
  note, rising falling lying, rising falling lying, rising falling lying. This
  is good medicine for insomnia. When you wake up the first thing of which you
  are conscious most be noted. During any meditation of ten days you are not
  able to do that even though you try it. As the Buddha said, as soon as you are
  awake you should note the consciousness about wakening: wakening wakening
  wakening wakening. After that you want to open your eyes: wanting wanting, or
  wishing wishing. And then when you open the eyes, opening opening. And so on.
  These are the examples you should take for awareness for daily activity. The
  Buddha teaches us these examples. The point is to have continuous and constant
  mindfulness for the whole day. There is not a mental state, emotional state or
  physical process of which you should not be mindful as it is so that you can
  have a continuity of mindfulness which is the cause of deep concentration on
  which insight knowledge is built up. When that insight knowledge is realised,
  or the specific characteristics or general characteristics of mental and
  physical processes, then you go through all thirteen stages of insight
  knowledge one after another, and higher and higher. After you have completed
  all the thirteen stages of insight knowledge you become enlightened. That
  means you attain the first stage of enlightenment. It's called Magga. The
  Path. When you have attained the first stage of enlightenment you totally
  uproot the most important defilement, sakaya-ditthi, the false view of a
  person a being an I or a you, and also doubt about the triple gems. These two
  mental defilements are uprooted, including their potentiality. Then you feel
  happy, you live in peace and happiness.
  There are some who have gone through about four or five stages. There may be
  someone who has gone through about eight or seven. There may be some who have
  gone through ten or eleven. I would like all of you to complete all thirteen
  stages of insight knowledge. Ten days meditation is just training, just the
  learning stage. But you have some deep concentration occasionally and also
  some insight which penetrates into reality of the body- mind processes.
  * Benefits of mindfulness meditation
  So now I would like to explain to you the benefits of this mindfulness
  meditation, because we haven't time enough. I think I should explain to you
  the seven benefits of this mindfulness, vipassana meditation.
  1. Purification
  Saddana vissudi means this mindfulness meditation must be practised for
  purification of beings. This is the first benefit. If you are mindful of any
  mental or physical process, if your concentration is good enough, at the
  moment of deep concentration on this mental or physical process your mind is
  purified. It's free from all kinds of mental defilements, all kinds of
  hindrances. To purify one's mind one has to practise mindfulness meditation.
  Translated literally, the meaning is that to purify your mind and body you
  must practise mindfulness meditation.
  2. Overcoming sorrow
  Then the second benefit is overcoming worry, sorrow and lamentation. The
  second benefit is sorrow and worry. You overcome sorrow and worry even though
  you failed in your business. You don't worry about it; you don't feel sorry.
  3. Overcoming lamentation
  The third benefit is overcoming lamentation. When you have completely realised
  the mental and physical processes and their true nature by means of
  mindfulness meditation, even though your relative dies, or even though your
  sons or parents die you won't cry over it. You have exterminated this
  lamentation for the dead. When you practise this mindfulness meditation to
  attain higher stages of insight knowledge, at least eleven stages should be
  attained through this mindfulness meditation, then you don't feel sorry or
  worry and you don't have lamentation.
  In Burma some of the female meditators practise this meditation in the first
  retreat say about ten or fifteen days, then the second two months or two and a
  half months then later on she may continue every day at home. Then when her
  husband dies she won't feel sorry. She won't lament. Is it good or bad? Good.
  Why doesn't she feel sorrow and find that she laments? Attachment. Attachment
  is destroyed to a certain extent. She can have less attachment to her husband
  by means of mindfulness meditation because she has realised the specific and
  general characteristics of body-mind processes to a large extent. So her
  attachment to her husband becomes less and less, because the less attachment
  doesn't make her weep or cry or lament. That's why I would like you to do it
  at least two or three months intensively and strenuously. In Burma many
  meditators take two or three months. Some meditators practise six months
  4. Overcoming grief
  Then, the fourth benefit is the overcoming of grief. In the full retreat you
  can do away with grief, when your mindfulness meditation is fully practised.
  Here grief means mental suffering. Mental suffering is exterminated, done away
  with, by this mindfulness meditation.
  5. Overcoming physical suffering
  And also pain here means physical suffering. All kinds of physical suffering
  are destroyed through mindfulness meditation. In Burma there are some who
  cured illness by means of mindfulness meditation. The fifth benefit is
  overcoming physical suffering, dukkha. Mental suffering is known as domanassa
  in Pali. Physical suffering is known as dukkha. Domanassa is mental suffering,
  mental dukkha. Physical suffering is dukkha itself. These two aspects of
  suffering are removed by means of mindfulness meditation.
  6. Enlightenment
  Then the sixth benefit is attainment of path knowledge. That's one of
  enlightenment. In Buddhism there are four stages of enlightenment a meditator
  has to attain through his mindfulness meditation, after he has completed all
  thirteen stages of insight knowledge. The first stage is known as
  sotapanna-magga . The second stage is known as sakadagami-magga. Third stage
  is known anagami-magga. The fourth stage is known as arahatta-magga. All these
  four stages of enlightenment can be attained when you have thoroughly realised
  anicca, dukkha and anatta of bodily and mental processes. When impermanence,
  suffering, the impersonal nature of body-mind processes are thoroughly
  realised then you can attain all these four stages of enlightenment.
  It's easy to explain about this attainment of four stages of enlightenment but
  practically it's very difficult. But difficulties must be overcome by
  perseverance. Patience and perseverance are needed to overcome difficulties in
  any work. Then the attainment of these four stages of enlightenment, path
  knowledge is the sixth benefit. Path knowledge here means the four stages of
  7. Nibbana
  Then finally you attain to Nibbana by mindfulness meditation. What do you mean
  by Nibbana? Where do you see Nibbana, on earth or underground or in heaven or
  in the sky? Nowhere. Ah, but the Buddha said Nibbana is in you. The place
  where you attain to Nibbana is yours, your body and mind. Unless you have
  realised your body-mind processes you cannot attain Nibbana. Only when you
  have fully realised your body-mind processes and two levels of understanding,
  then you are sure to attain Nibbana. So Nibbana is with you, not very far,
  very close.
  Nibbana means the cessation of all kinds of suffering. When mental suffering
  as well as physical suffering ceases to exist that state is known as Nibbana.
  Where do you have mental and physical suffering? Mind and body. These two
  kinds of suffering exist in the mind and body. Where do these two aspects of
  suffering stop or cease? Our mind and body. Because they arise in my mind and
  body, so they must stop at my mind and body. The cessation of all kinds of
  suffering, mental and physical suffering, ceases to exist when you have
  eradicated all mental and physical defilements by means of mindfulness
  meditation. So the attainment of the cessation of suffering is the seventh
  benefit of mindfulness meditation. You should remember these benefits
  theoretically and you should experience them practically.
  * The five mental faculties
  So to gain these seven benefits what you need first is faith or belief in the
  triple gems, especially in the technique of your meditation: faith or belief
  or confidence through understanding. Blind faith is not needed here. Faith
  through understanding is called saddha. That saddha is the first mental
  faculty. Here mental faculties we call indriya in Pali. There are five
  indriyas, five mental faculties a yogi must be endowed with. The first is
  faith, blind faith or faith with understanding. You have to understand the
  Buddha Dhamma or the technique to a certain extent so that you can have faith
  in it. Without understanding it you can't have any faith or confidence or
  belief in it Faith with understanding is the basic requirement of a meditator
  for success in his meditation. The second need is energy. If you do not put
  enough energy into your practise you can't realise any mental or physical
  phenomena. It's called viriya in Pali.
  The third need is sati. It's translated as mindfulness, awareness, the third
  faculty a yogi must be endowed with. It means when you have faith with
  understanding of the technique or the Dhamma, you put enough energy or viriya
  in your practise, then you are able to be mindful of any mental or physical
  process as it really is. Then when mindfulness becomes continuous and constant
  your mind becomes concentrated on the object of meditation very well. So the
  fourth one is concentration, samadhi, concentration of mind. When the mind is
  deeply concentrated on any mental or physical phenomenon there arises insight
  knowledge or penetrating knowledge or experiential knowledge which penetrates
  into the intrinsic nature of mental and physical phenomena, specific
  individual characteristics of the body-mind processes. This is the intrinsic
  or true nature of mental and physical phenomena.
  So when you realise any specific characteristic of mental or physical
  phenomena you have insight. Or when you realise the passing away of any mental
  or physical processes, or their coming and going, then you come to realise the
  general characteristic of anicca, impermanence, the general characteristic of
  mental and physical phenomena. That realisation, right understanding or
  insight or experiential knowledge is known as pannya in Pali. Pannya is
  sometimes translated as wisdom. Here insight or enlightenment is the fifth
  faculty with which a yogi must be endowed.
  You should have five mental faculties: faith, energy, mindfulness,
  concentration, and insight and enlightenment. Faith means saddha. Energy means
  viriya. Mindfulness means sati. Concentration means samadhi. Insight,
  enlightenment, pannya. So, saddha, viriya, sati, samadhi, pannya, these are
  the five mental faculties a yogi must be endowed with.
  * Balance
  And here these five mental faculties must be strong enough, powerful and
  sharp. The Vissudimagga, a meditation text, mentions when these five mental
  faculties become sharp you are sure to realise either the specific or general
  characteristics of body- mind processes. So you should try to make them sharp
  and keep balance. Here also the text said of the five mental faculties, saddha
  and pannya, faith and understanding or insight must be kept balanced. So
  viriya and samadhi, concentration and energy or effort must be kept in
  balance. When saddha is strong and viriya is weak, when faith is strong and
  energy or effort is weak, then the yogi may become credulous. The yogi tends
  to have gullibility. He is easily deceived.
  And saddha, faith or confidence must be balanced with wisdom or pannya,
  insight knowledge. When you have some insight knowledge into the physical and
  mental processes then you know the only way which can lead you to the
  cessation of suffering or to the realisation of body-mind processes is
  mindfulness meditation. You can judge through your experience, then nobody can
  deceive you about the method or technique of the meditation. So you don't
  believe in any other technique or any other way because by way of mindfulness
  you have experienced some realisation or understanding of mental and physical
  phenomena. You yourself know it's the right way so you don't believe in any
  other way, you don't become credulous.
  But if wisdom is strong and faith is weak, then he can be a fool in his
  meditation because his concentration is weak. His concentration is weak
  because he has a lot of preconceived ideas through theoretical knowledge of
  Buddhism and other philosophies. So whenever he has experienced, or before he
  has any experience, he analyses the technique or the experience. He thinks
  about it. He uses preconceived ideas to analyse this technique or the
  experience. Then he has a lot of thoughts which distract him. How can he
  concentrate his mind on the object?
  That's why we ask our yogis to keep aside all thought, all analytical
  knowledge, preconceived ideas, philosophical thinking, logical reasoning while
  they are engaged in meditation, so that there won't be hindrances to their
  progress. If he has a great deal of knowledge about Dhamma or any other
  philosophy, he attempts to analyse or reason, he attempts to criticise the
  Dhamma or the experience or the technique. Then it's a hindrance. So wisdom or
  knowledge must be balanced with saddha. Because I have faith, confidence in
  this technique I come here and practise. So these must be kept aside as long
  as I'm engaged in this mindfulness meditation.
  Then concentration and energy must be in balance. When concentration is strong
  and energy, effort is weak you have the close friend of a yogi, sloth and
  torpor. So when you can concentrate very well on the abdominal movement and
  concentration becomes deeper and deeper, the noting mind notes the object of
  its own accord without any effort. Then the effort or energy becomes gradually
  less and less, decreasing. Concentration becomes weaker and weaker and gets
  into sloth and torpor. So when concentration's strong and effort is weak you
  are sure to get into sloth and torpor. To correct it you must make some more
  effort in your noting. Be careful, note energetically and precisely.
  Then when viriya, energy is strong and concentration is weak you can't
  concentrate too well, because when you are greedy to experience more and more
  Dhamma you put too much effort into your noting. You note very energetically
  when the mind is not concentrated you are not satisfied with your practise.
  Then you get restless and have distraction distraction distraction, and
  depression. No concentration at all. So energy or effort must be kept by
  concentration, and balance. Your effort must be reduced. You must reduce your
  effort, then again you note feeling calmness and tranquillity. Be calm and
  tranquil and note steadily. Do not be greedy, do not hesitate. Then your mind
  will concentrate gradually. So these two twins mental faculties must be in
  balance. Then you are sure to attain the four stages of enlightenment.
  Please try to make steady effort, enough effort, and have a great deal of
  faith and confidence in your practise.

  *** End of Vipassana Meditation Course - by Venerable Sayadaw U Janaka ***