Meditation for Relaxation, Meditation for Vipassana

Yesterday, I taught us how to establish the knower mind. Once we achieve the knower mind, then we can develop wisdom. In Dhamma practice, we have to be able to distinguish between the mind that knows and that which is known. The knower is a mind of high quality that has mindfulness and correct Samadhi that which is known is the object.

Once we have the knower, and we have what is known. If we wish to practice samatha, then we can choose any which object. It doesn’t matter what the object is for samatha. You can choose a conceptual object something we think of like, “buddho, buddho”. If the mind stays with buddho and doesn’t stray anywhere else, then we will be clam, achieving samatha, being with the breath and the mind doesn’t stray anywhere else. We achieve samatha. The breath is a physical object. “Buddho” is a formulated object watching happiness or unhappiness or any feeling. Or even nirvana can be used as a Samatha object for those who have seen the nirvana before those who have enlightened to stream entry or up. So samatha any object is game, a formulated object, a physical object, a mental object, and even nirvana just bringing our attention to any one object continuously. We achieve calmness. But if we do so without mindfulness, then it is incorrect. It’s not useful. Having mindfulness and calmness with one object is a quality meditation. It charges our batteries giving energy to the mind.

When the mind has energy, the knower can become prominent. If the mind strays but slightly, it will be seen. If the mind strays, and we know so, strays and we know so, we will achieve stable samadhi, the knower the observer mind. There are two quality types of meditation. The many incorrect types of meditation out there all don’t feature mindfulness. Those are bad, unskillful, good or skillful meditation, or samadhi must include mindfulness. And there are two kinds: One, the mind is peaceful with one object, any object. The condition is that it is an object that the mind is happy to be with. It is a rest to revitalize the mind for its subsequent vipassana practice. The other type of meditation I taught yesterday, the stable observer, the knower arising appropriate for vipassana.

For samatha, we can choose any object, but for vipassana, we must be selective. Objects are that which are known. There are four kinds: formulated objects, ones that are thought up, physical objects like the in and out breath or the body standing, walking, sitting, sleeping, the abdomen rising and falling or the hand movements. Those are all physical objects, then mental objects, the happy, unhappy, good or bad feelings, greed, aversion or delusion arising to know so. These are mental objects. Nirvana is the last object beyond physical and mental. If we are practicing vipassana, we can only choose either physical or mental objects. Conceptual objects cannot be vipassana objects because they are inseparable from thought. Or vipassana we must know or see phenomena as they really are. Thinking doesn’t work. It isn’t vipassana. Nirvana as an object cannot be used for vipassana. It doesn’t exhibit the three characteristics. Nirvana only has one of the three characteristics, and that is anatta or non self, but nirvana is permanent and Nirvana is happiness. So Nirvana cannot be used in vipassana. What is fundamental is as unenlightened beings, you won’t see Nirvana. It is impossible to use an object that we cannot see or cannot know. It’s something we can only imagine or think about concocting that Nirvana is like this and Nirvana is like that sitting and thinking about it. That’s not using Nirvana as an object. That’s a conceptual object.


So let’s try and train. Calmness meditation helps the mind gain energy. Meditation that has the stable observer prepares the mind for wisdom development. Once the mind is the stable observer. When mindfulness knows a physical object, it will see that the physical object is known. It’s an object. When mindfulness knows mental objects, all the pleasant, unpleasant, good and bad states are things that are known. Objects and the mind is the knower. There is the mind that knows, and all the objects are circling around a rising and falling, demonstrating the three characteristics for us to see. It isn’t thinking about the three characteristics. He who is still implementing thought and the practice has not upgraded to vipassana yet. Yesterday I taught how to achieve samadhi of the stable variety. To achieve the knower mind, we attend to a meditation object. And when the mind strays elsewhere, we know so. Such as using “buddho, buddho”. And then the mind strays to think. We know it has strayed. Or we’re breathing and the mind gets lost in thought. We know it got lost in thought. Or we’re breathing and the mind slips down towards the breath. Most of us have samadhi that isn’t strong enough. So when we breathe, the mind moves into the breath or watching the abdomen rising and falling. The mind moves down to the abdomen. When we are able to see the mind has moved, whether into thought or whether into immersion in the meditation object. Well done. I’m just asking that you’re able to know. Quality samadhi will occur. Stable samadhi will occur.

What do we do regarding samadhi for happiness and calmness? It is for a rest. We need this. It is useful. Speaking about necessity. We don’t require both types of samadhi equally. The stable observer, samadhi is required. Absent of the stable observer, vipassana is not possible. Calmness meditation, however, is useful but not to the point of mandatory. It is useful to bolster and support providing energy for the mind when the mind doesn’t have energy and we attend to a meditation object in no time at all. The mind is busily wandering about. If our mind has energy, it can remain stable without having to hold it that way. Those that come to stay with me here, I have them start their samadhi over again, because out in the world they have incorrect samadhi. For correct samadhi they have to start over. Those who don’t have the basics in practicing samadhi, the stable observer is too much to ask from them. In such cases, I have them do calmness meditation first.

The principles for calmness meditation differ from those for the stable observer. For calmness meditation, we incline the mind towards an object that it is happy with. Each person is happy with different objects. Some people are happy with buddho, so they should use buddho. Some are happy with the breath. They should use the breath. Some are happy with breathing in “Buddh”, breathing out “dho”. And they should use that. Some people are happy with walking meditation. Some people are happy with Buddhist chanting. So then walk or chant. Let’s see for ourselves which meditation object makes us happy. When I was young, I learned with Ajan Por Lee. He taught me to breathe in “Buddh” breathe out Dho” and then count one. Breathe in and breathe out and count. I did what he said and my mind liked it. When I had nothing else to do, I would sit and breathe. It was satisfying. If we meditate on something that satisfies our mind, then our mind will not be hungry for other objects. But if we meditate on an object that our mind is not happy with, then our mind will try to find happiness elsewhere and squirm and shift to an object to this happier with. The mind shifting is restless. It hasn’t achieved calmness. It serves us to have technique and artistry in our practice.

If we’d like the mind to have a rest, then we incline the mind towards an object that the mind is happy with. See what object you’re happy with. Some people chant and feel happy. But they choose different chants. Some are pleased with long verses. I don’t recommend verses that are too long, like the chinnabanchora chant is so long. Just one round of the chant and the mind will wander 500 times. We won’t get very far. Choose one not too long and that makes us happy. In the Buddhist time, there was a monk named Chulapanthaka. He was the younger brother of Brahmin Mahapanthaka. Mahapanthaka had much wisdom. He was arahant and then invited his younger brother to join him as a monk. He gave his brother a chant that praises the Buddha for him to practice. Our mantra need not be Buddho all the time or nama-pada or samma-arahant. We can make up our own mantra.

Mahapanthaka was an intelligent and wise monk. He made up a mantra praising the Buddha on his own, and it was a long one. His younger brother just couldn’t memorize it. There was no calmness for him only stress. He would meditate and there would be nothing but stress. Until one day his older brother had enough. He told his younger brother it’s time to disrobe. You don’t have what it takes to be a monk. You’re too stupid. I just gave you this one meditation and you can’t do it. Chulapanthaka was upset that he was dismissed from the temple. He wanted to practice, but what his brother gave him was too hard. He was crying his way out of the temple, but his perfections were ready. He was to become an arahant from the Buddhist teachings. He wouldn’t enlighten from the teachings of others. It had to be the Buddha. The Buddha intercepted him as he was leaving. The Buddha asked who did you ordain for? Who do you respect as your teacher? He answered I take the Buddha as my refuge. Well, your brother dismissed you, but the Buddha didn’t yet. So why are you going? The Buddha then gave a white cloth to Chulapanthaka. He instructed to rub this face cloth with your hands and use this short chant. It’s an easy chant. We here can remember it after hearing it just once. “Rajo-haranam Rajam-harati”. “Rajo-haranam Rajam-harati”. It means a dirt-wiping cloth takes on dirt. He would sit and rub his cloth. And when the monks were called for the meal, he didn’t go. His brother didn’t even know that he was still in the temple sitting and wiping his cloth. His mind entered jhana.

Meanwhile, the Buddha and the monks were in the eating area. They were about to be offered food and the Buddha said, wait, don’t offer the food yet. When Chulapanthaka mind entered jhana, the Buddha then used his teleconference method. He used his mind power to create an image of himself in Chulapanthaka mind. These days we may call it an astral body of the Buddha. It was actually a vision that he projected to teach dhamma. And upon listening, Chulapanthaka enlightened to arahant Chip. He became an arahant with many psychic powers. From someone with no concentration, he became someone with great concentration and psychic powers. Earlier he had no wisdom from old karma. He was a monk with a past Buddha and he would laugh and make fun of stupid monks, especially when they couldn’t remember short verses. So for the monks here, when we see our peers struggling, let’s not make fun of them. Let’s not make them discouraged. Let’s not bully them. That is a sin and will obstruct our own practice.

So Chulapanthaka had psychic powers and he didn’t want to eat on that day that he became an arahant. On such a day no one wants to eat. The mind is already completely satisfied and satiated. Meanwhile, at the dining hall, people were going to offer food to the monks and the Buddha. And the Buddha said, “Wait. All the monks haven’t arrived yet. There is one more monk in the monastery.” He had the lay people find him. Mahapanthaka, the older brother said, no, that’s all the monks that are here. The Buddha said no, there is one left. The laid followers went to find him. And Chulapanthaka with his powers split his body into many bodies. One body is sweeping the temple. Other bodies are working in other ways and it confused the lay followers. The monastery was filled with monks. Why did the Buddha say there was just one? The lay followers returned to the Buddha and said there are so many monks. The Buddha then taught what to do when you see many people who all look alike. Call out their name whoever responds first. Grab him by the wrist. They did just that. And when they grabbed his wrist, all his mirages disappeared. And they brought him to the dining hall. The monk could now all eat together and celebrate.

Why was he able to enlighten? Because samadhi arose. How did he achieve samadhi? Because he used an object that was satisfying. It wasn’t complicated. He just rubbed a white cloth. Rubbed it and repeated his chant. Actually, it wasn’t the chanting that spawned the samadhi. He rubbed the cloth for a while and then took a look at the cloth. Originally, the cloth was white and clean. And now it was defiled, soiled from his hand and sweat. The body is repulsive and foul. Chulapanthaka achieved calmness samadhi through contemplating the repulsiveness of the body, meditation on repulsiveness. So we have to pick a meditation object in choosing we see for ourselves which object satisfies the mind, not choosing because you learn with me and I meditated on the breath, breathing in “Buddh”, breathing out “dho” that you should do that too. Know to each their own. See for yourself. Some people like chanting, so chant. But don’t chant for majestic experiences. That is greedy. That isn’t a meditation that lacks mindfulness. Chant as a home or a base for the mind. When the mind is happy with the chant, it will move towards the chant and won’t go anywhere else. Our mind is like a child. Normally it is naughty and runs outside. It misbehaves running from this to that. If their guardian is clever and doesn’t want the child running outside, they must find a meditation object that the child likes. In my youth, the adult would have found a story book that was fascinating and we would read in the house. The kids would be happy reading stories in their free time. If they can’t read themselves, they would find an adult to read to them. The child would be happy and wouldn’t go misbehave outside. In some homes they have snacks to entice the children. The house would be full of whatever snacks that kids like. Kids will sit and eat their favorite snack and won’t run elsewhere. The principles of practicing some samatha or calmness meditation are similar to raising a child. We don’t want the kid to misbehave somewhere else. So we find an object that the child enjoys to entice the mind. The mind here is the kid. Use an object we’re happy with to entice the mind. If the kid likes desserts, entice it with desserts. If the kid likes books, entice it with a cartoon book. It’ll stay fixated on the book and won’t run off. The mind is similar. Let’s figure out what object the mind is happy being with. And then let’s be with that.

Each meditation object does not provide an equivalent level of samadhi to the others. Some objects lead to access concentration. Some objects are shallower than that and lead just to momentary concentration. Some objects lead to absorption concentration or a jhana. Some objects lead to the form jhanas. Some to the formless jhanas.

The in and out breath, some start with breathing in “Buddh and breathing out dho”. When the mind gets peaceful, the mantra disappears, only the breath remains. The mind is happy and pleased with the breath and doesn’t stray elsewhere. Without any force, it concentrates happily getting more and more peaceful. The breath disappears. It ceases and a sphere of light replaces it. The light becomes the new object, a sphere of light at the tip of the nose. The mind then knows at this bright sphere and knows happily. But if the mind gets greedy, wow, it’s so bright. Enticed by this and that. Wanting to see things. The light can run to shine on what we want to see. Wanting to see this and that. Seeing Hell’s. Seeing Heaven’s. The light will shine on it. Shining light on the heavens. The mind will see heavens shining towards hell. The mind will see hells. Such practices are not useful. The product of a busy mind. We don’t practice meditation to acquire play toys like clairaudience or seeing others destiny. These are not the objectives of dhamma practice. For some, they come as bonuses, but not for most.

All the add on like seeing past lives. In most cases, they are diluted. Once I met someone who claimed to be a past king of Thailand. There are many with this same claim about the same king. How is it that this king could have fragmented into so many pieces? They are deceived like they were meditating and the mind got peaceful and they saw a vision of this king. Then they conclude it must be them in a past life. The truth is, they might have been a soldier in that king’s army or one of the king’s elephants, possibly a soldier who really admired the king. And then in this life, doing meditation, seeing a vision of this king and then concluding that they were the king. This is a common folly. So meditations to know the past, to know the future, predict this and that. Don’t be gullible. Instead, adopt the perspective that samsara t is frighteningly long and hard. That’s more useful. Having visions and thinking were special, and I was this and I was that. I have encountered many such people. When they meditate and their mind gets more peaceful, the samatha can lead them to be deceived. In many ways an initial vision arises and then they follow it into more elaborate ones, seeing the past or future can occur. But is it real or not? Who knows? These visions are not to be trusted. They can’t be verified.

The genuine teachings of the Buddha all can be verified. It can’t be defied. Once the Buddha set the wheel of dhamma in motion. The Four Noble Truths. No one can defy it anymore. The dhamma of the Buddha contains nothing dubious. All these special toys are products of different meditations, calmness or samatha meditations. I have encountered examples like a man meditating. Thinks of a woman he knows and gathers that she was his wife in a previous life. The woman meditates and sees that she was his husband. So they decide they have to be together again. This is unfortunate what the Masters call matchmaking meditation, fooled by defilements instead of practicing to release attachment. They practice to acquire. They dream up that she’s my soul mate and then will her. I know an older man. He saw the young maid of a neighbor with a lovely appearance. At first, he meditated and concluded that this used to be my daughter. In a later meditation, the defilement clouded the mind. No, this girl was my wife. Now he’s ready to propose. It’s all defilements when we do samatha meditation, try to be mindful.

If we start to get peaceful, make sure to keep awareness. Don’t stand for the mind that goes out to see this and that. It is most dangerous. Our practice will be decimated by defilement. Some guys even see another man and believe that he was his wife in a past life! Now he wants a man to be his wife. This has really happened. So let’s not get deluded by such silly suppositions. Led astray by defilement rather than on the path to nirvana. Those methods don’t result in freedom from suffering. Therefore, regarding samatha meditation if we are competent, our mind will gain energy. The knower will arise and be stable without any need to hold it there. But the knower does not come from these types of samatha. It spawns from knowing the mind that strays out. Once we see the mind that moves and the knower appears. If we have energy from a previous samatha practice, then the knower will sustain and be stronger. Especially if we can enter jhana, upon exit the knower will be powerful for up to seven days. It lasts for days, but not exceeding seven. That info is not available in the scriptures. It comes from the Masters sharing the teachings down the lineage. We can practice and see for ourselves if that’s true. So if we enter jhana correctly… practicing Samatha until the mind is peaceful and experiences jhana… upon exiting the mind will sustain stable observer for a long time. It’s not stable for a moment and then lost stable for another moment and then lost. That’s momentary samadhi where it’s there for a moment and then gone, a moment and then gone. So the calmness type of samadhi can help us to achieve a stable observer that lasts longer. Without any effort or action, it lasts on its own.

Let’s slowly but surely train and practice Be with a meditation object and have a look at ourselves. What object are we happy being with? Let’s use that object. We don’t need to copy others. Like the people in our community, buddho, we don’t have to buddho like they do, but if we buddho and our mind is happy and doesn’t stray off elsewhere, then buddho is appropriate for us. Evaluate yourself. We don’t copy other people’s meditations. We self- evaluate. We need to be wise enough to see which object is appropriate for us. That type of wisdom that knows which object is appropriate for us is called clear comprehension. Mindfulness and clear comprehension work as a pair. If we have mindfulness but not clear comprehension, then we may be foolish. Forcing and holding our attention on something. Never forgetting the object, holding completely still. But if we have clear comprehension, then we know what we are doing, why we are doing it. So we don’t practice calmness for the sake of feeling calm. We practice calmness to give energy to the mind. We know its purpose. We know which method makes us calm. And then we do a lot of that practice. We do it often whenever we have time.

Calmness practice, if we have five minutes, then let’s do it for five minutes. Like coming here in the morning, sitting and waiting for the master to arrive and teach the dhamma. We have five minutes to wait for the master to arrive. And we don’t know what to do. Then do calmness practice. Breathe in “Buddh”, breathe out “dho”, or whichever object you like. Just don’t waste your time. Five minutes is significant. If we are awake, let’s say 12 hours per day. Five minutes per hour is 60 minutes. That’s an hour of meditation. If we have five free minutes and we waste it and then another 10 minutes and we waste that, well, there isn’t much time left. That doesn’t work. The mind busy and restless all day. When we come to practice meditation in the evening, our mind is so busy and restless. It’ll be exhausted. Like a kid that misbehaved running around all day. They fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. Some people fall asleep before their head hits the pillow. On the way down, kids can be really naughty. So let’s accumulate points during the day and not waste five minutes here and ten minutes there. Keep accumulating.

The recently deceased king of Thailand was a good meditator. He once spoke not with me. I don’t have that much merit to be close to him. The King told a master. It escapes me right now which master it was. It was a long time ago. The king said he would separate the day into small time slots. He had a very full schedule. So if he didn’t have long periods to practice meditation when he would have short time slots like a five minutes slot, that he was free, he would do meditation. Free for ten minutes. He would meditate 10 minutes. That’s why he was a good practitioner. A master that I studied with confirmed that the king was actually a very good practitioner. Extraordinary. It is because he didn’t neglect the practice when he had five or ten minutes. He would use it. So let’s follow suit. Don’t make excuses that you have no time. It just isn’t true. The ruler of a country had much more work than us. And he still had time. We are foolish. We are uninterested and not setting our minds to it. Setting our minds to improve ourselves. There are all kinds of time to do that. Like the monks, when they go on the alms walk, the alms walk is walking meditation. Why wouldn’t there be time in the day watering the plants? The monks here help to grow a forest, watering the plants, fertilizing. We can practice mindfulness continuously.

If our mindfulness is focused on the work at hand, then we can achieve samatha. But if we work and then we become aware when the mind has strayed off, then we can achieve the type of samadhi that is the stable observer. Once the mind is the stable observer, the knower an awakened one. We see the mind move and the mind is the observer. The body moves and the mind is the one that observes. It will demonstrate the three characteristics for us to see. Oh. This body isn’t really me. This body is under oppression. This body is never stable. The comfort or discomfort of the body and the comfort, discomfort or neutral feeling of the mind are all impermanent, unsatisfactory and non self. They are seen and known and the mind is the seer or the knower. Whatever is seen, it’s easy to see that it isn’t us or ours. It’s easy to see non self. Can you see this mug? This mug is something that we know. We know this mug by seeing it through the eyes. This thing that we see. No one thinks that it is us. That would be crazy. So when the mind is the knower, all the objects it knows will be seen as not us. Just things that are seen or known. The mind is known or seen the mental factors like the happy, unhappy, good and bad states are all known or seen, the body is known or seen. They are all in permanent, unsatisfactory and non-self. This is wisdom development.

After developing wisdom for a while, the mind runs out of energies, went out of energy, practice some samatha. Be with the breath. Be with buddho or whatever object we’re happy to be with. Some people have a short cut. They think about their master or teacher and feel happy. It is Sangha recollection. But don’t just think of any master. Not those that have strayed off course. If our mind connects with them, we can go far off, too. So we have to be confident that the master is completely pure. The master is pure and his teaching lead to purity. Then we can have faith. See the master is luminous, but not by way of the eyes. We can’t just believe what we see. Some people wear makeup, do a face lift, inject whatever they do in their face to look beautiful and radiant, but their mind is defiled, so a radiant face doesn’t work. We have to come close and see. Are they completely moral? If we’re certain that our master, it is truly good. Then we can think of him. Sometimes when I had a lot on my plate, I would think of Luangpu Dune. I would try to think of the Buddha, but I couldn’t picture what he looked like. I’d be thinking of a statue. Thinking of Luangpu Dune, I feel like my heart connects with his. Joy and happiness arise and there is samadhi immediately. It is an easy way to practice samatha, but it does take some practices. And we have to be careful of something. If we can connect with Master, then maybe we can also connect with other people. We’ll see other people’s minds. If we aren’t enlightened and we start looking at other people’s minds, our mind won’t come back to itself. It will run out enjoying the outside. Do not do this. Luangpu Dune prohibited his students from sending their mind out to see others minds. Some people who have done this have gone insane, even to the point of suicide. Gone so crazy that they can’t live with themselves. So let’s not go off course. When the master warns not to do something, let’s not do it. Masters don’t prohibit things for the fun of it. They do so because they have seen the results.

But if we think of a master and our heart feel happy, blissful and peaceful, that’s fine. If we think of a master and defilement arise now that doesn’t work. There must be happiness and peace for it to be useful immediately. So those are the principles of calmness meditation or samatha for calmness, samatha to achieve the stable observer. I’ve talked since yesterday. For calmness, we choose one object that we are happy with. Once the mind is calm and has energy, then we progress to achieve the stable observer. And then we study the body and mind, see that the body and mind are things that are known, seen. Continue to watch them and see that they demonstrate the three characteristics.

That’s enough for today. It’s eight o’clock exactly. All of us listening from home or wherever you are. Take good care of yourselves. Don’t be careless. Take care of yourself. Follow what the government recommends. We will be safe and we’ll have the opportunity to come listen to me in person again. We won’t have to send our mind out to me to listen. OK, that’s enough for today.

Venerable Luangpor Pramote Pamojjo
24 May 2020