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Vipassana Meditation As Taught by Ven. S.N.Goenka[]


(Meditation that leads to spiritual awakening)

Vipassana is the great path of meditation as taught by Gautam Buddha. The word Vipassana is mentioned everywhere in the original language of Buddha in Pali Tipitaka as Vipassana, Vipashyana, passati etc. The word Vipassana probably originates from the name of the first Buddha , The Great Vipassi Buddha who , as described by Gautam Buddha , happened to understand first, the path of freedom from worldly bonds (Nirvana /Nibbana /Moksha /Salvation) 93 aeons ago, after that the path was again revived many times by subsequent Buddhas.

The word meditation in Buddhism refers to observing within self without any thoughts & without any indulgence. It is a method of self introspection of inner phenomenon such as breath & sensations and their relation with the emotions, keeping away every thinking, as well as remaining equanimous without generating likes or dislikes to any phenomenon inner or worldly leading to release from their attachments/bonds which enslave. And then afterwards opening to way to understanding of higher spirituality by attaining various(total 9) Trance states leading to Enlightenment.

For those who want to learn meditation, it is best to do so in a meditation center/retreat. The process takes 10 days within which one learns meditation step by step doing about 8-9 hours meditation each day(with breaks). For booking one may look at . The course is free of cost, running on voluntary donations.

The Method[]

The method is very simple. Instead of looking at the world , one learns to look within self as the portal to the infinite & supernatural.

Preparation : At least once a day, some time is kept for the taking refuge. Buddhist take refuge in Triple gems(Triratnas) 1.Buddha, 2.Dhamma(path) & 3.Sangha(order of monks) with this recitation of their qualities at heart i.e.

Buddha : Buddha is incomparable(anuttaro), well gone(sugato), knower of many worlds(lokvidu), expert in knowledge and practice(Vijjacaran sampanno/vidyacaran sampanno), a tamer & guide of people(purisa-damm-sarathi).

Dhamma(path) : His path is a path of purification(of self) based on celibacy(brahmacarya) which is beneficial in beginning, beneficial in middle & beneficial in the end. The path gives results in no time(Akaliko) which people proclaim to come & see(Ehipassiko).  The path leads to liberation from rebirths(moksha/nirvana). The path also lead to highest state of Jivanmukta(alive while liberated) of arahanta(similar to Buddha). (Note : By purification it means removing within self  sensual(sexual), anger, greed, selfishness, ego/pride, jealousy, hate etc)

Sangha(order) : Sangha follows the path of purity & celibacy(brahmacarya),  sangha is helpful in meditation practice & resolving its problems, it is worthy of respect & donation.

I go to refuge of Buddha(Buddham saranam gacchami)

I go to refuge of Dhamma(Dhammam saranam gacchami)

I go to refuge of Sangha(Sangham saranam gacchami)

(above 3 lines 3 times)

Because many Buddhas were born in past & many will be born in future so paying respect to their Triple Gems i.e.

The Buddhas of past, future & present, I pay my respect & worship them all.

Their Dhammas(paths of Buddhas) of past, future & present, I pay my respect & worship  these all.

Their Sanghas(Buddha's orders of monks&nuns) of past, future & present, I pay my respect & worship these all.

And since the gods/angels respect the Buddhas, invoke the gods for their protection & help.

First Sheel(Moral discipline): This is very important. It is the foundation.This is for calming mind & emotions. One should refrain from speaking lies, stealing, killing(violence) to any creature, intoxication and sexual activity and make expicit vows everyday for these. 

Second Anapana Meditation: About 1/3 time of total meditation should be devoted to Anapana meditation on breath. Sit down cross legged , close eyes and be aware intently on incoming breath & outgoing breath & the pauses within. First watch how the body expands & contracts with natural breathing. When mind gets focussed then put attention on the triangular area below the nostrils and above the upper lips , here feel the wind of breathing and its sensation of touch on the skin. The purpose of this meditation is to focus the mind. The important care to be taken is to also see that there are no thoughts in mind. Stop thoughts.

Third Vipassana Meditation : Now starting from top of head to feet & again upto top of head , watch the sensations within , within a small patch say 2x2 inches at a time.

(1) Initially focus on skin, part by part, all over the surface of entire body, keeping the mind in equanimity(samatha/upekkha) i.e. neither liking nor disliking the sensations.
(2) Then later deep within and now slowly inner organs will start to awaken allowing one to apply attention there.
(3) Later focus within brain & spine where the real awakening occurs followed by an experience of great energy & great bliss not known before & benevolent. Brain & spine are difficult to awaken , however after doing full body meditation, it gets easier by focussing within mouth & nose within, so focus on the the nasal cavity on its roof and then moving awareness to brain. When brain gets activated & sensations are known within , let it increase, when sufficiantly intense , then it will now activate the entire spine also. With activation of brain & spine , first samadhi(trance/jhana/zen) is attained with great bliss. When sufficient time is spent in samadhi states with equanimity then higher states of samadhi can also be attained & full liberation is attained after nineth samadhi.

Fourth Metta (Goodwill): Before leaving meditation, for a few minutes, transmit goodwill to all creatures of universe , whether small or big , visible or invisible & of all the worlds wherever they are with this 'May all beings be happy'. 

The method of Vipassana is very simple but it may take a very long time to awakening(may be years) so have patience.

For Higher meditation See Also:

Satipattana Way of Meditation

Meditation Best Practices


Some Useful Books on Meditation(in .pdf)[]

Introduction File:Intro.pdf

The Vipassana Retreat File:The Vipassana Retreat.pdf

Vipassana Guidelines File:VippassanaGuidelines.pdf

Code of Discipline(Sheel) File:Code of Descipline.pdf

Ana Pana meditation(On Breath) File:Anapanasati.pdf

Practical Vipassana Exercises File:Practical Vipassana Exercises.pdf

Metta Exercise i.e. Goodwill (at end of meditation) File:Allmetta.pdf

Questions & Answers by The Teacher File:Question&Answers.pdf

The Discourse Summaries[]

The following discourses describe the Vipassana Meditation as taught by Ven. S.N.Goenka, the great teacher & founder of Vipassana Research Institute which conducts Vipassanna meditation in many meditation centres around the world (free ; running on donations). Its meditation website is



Note on the Text

Day One Discourse

Initial difficulties—the purpose of this meditation—why respiration is chosen as the starting point—the nature of the mind—the reason for the difficulties, and how to deal with them—dangers to be avoided

Day Two Discourse

Universal definition of sin and piety—the Noble Eightfold Path: sīla and samādhi

Day Three Discourse

The Noble Eightfold Path: paññā—received wisdom, intellectual wisdom, experiential wisdom—the kalāpā—the four elements—the three characteristics: impermanence, the illusory nature of the ego, suffering—penetration through apparent reality

Day Four Discourse

Questions on how to practise Vipassana—the law of kamma—importance of mental action—four aggregates of the mind: consciousness, perception, sensation, reaction—remaining aware and equanimous is the way to emerge from suffering

Day Five Discourse

The Four Noble Truths: suffering, the cause of suffering, the eradication of suffering, the way to eradicate suffering—the chain of conditioned arising

Day Six Discourse

Importance of developing awareness and equanimity towards sensations—the four elements and their relation to the sensations—the four causes of the arising of matter—the five hindrances: craving, aversion, mental and physical sluggishness, agitation, doubt

Day Seven Discourse

Importance of equanimity towards subtle as well as gross sensations—continuity of awareness—five ‘friends’: faith, effort, awareness, concentration, wisdom

Day Eight Discourse

The law of multiplication and its reverse, the law of eradication—equanimity is the greatest welfare—equanimity enables one to live a life of real action—by remaining equanimous, one ensures a happy future for oneself

Day Nine Discourse

Application of the technique in daily life—the ten pāramī

Day Ten Discourse

Review of the technique

Day Eleven Discourse

How to continue practising after the end of the course

Pāli Passages

Quoted in the Discourses with English Translation

Glossary of Pāli Terms

Note on the Pronunciation of Pāli

Pāli was a spoken language of northern India in the time of Gotama the Buddha. It was written in the Brāhmī script in India in the time of Emperor Aśoka and has been preserved in the scripts of the various countries where the language has been maintained. In Roman script the following set of diacritical marks are used to indicate the proper pronunciation.

The alphabet consists of forty-one characters: eight vowels and thirty-three consonants.

Vowels: a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, e, o


Velar:              k         kh        g          gh        ṅ

Palatal:            c          ch        j           jh         ñ

Retroflex:       ṭ           ṭh         ḍ          ḍh        ṇ

Dental:            t           th         d          dh        n

Labial: p          ph        b          bh        m

Miscellaneous:           y, r, l, v, s, h, ḷ, ṃ

The vowels a, i, u are short; ā, ī, ū are long; e and o are pronounced long except before double consonants: deva, mettā; loka, phoṭṭhabbā.

a is pronounced like ‘a’ in ‘about’; ā like ‘a’ in ‘father’;

i is pronounced like ‘i’ in ‘mint’; ī like ‘ee’ in ‘see’;

u is pronounced like ‘u’ in ‘put’; ū like ‘oo’ in ‘pool’.

The consonant c is pronounced as in the ‘ch’ in ‘church’. All the aspirated consonants are pronounced with an audible expulsion of breath following the normal unaspirated sound. Therefore th is not as in ‘three’ but more like the sound in ‘Thailand’, and ph is not as in ‘photo’ but rather is pronounced ‘p’ accompanied by an expulsion of breath.

The retroflex consonants, ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ are pronounced with the tip of the tongue turned back, whereas in the dentals, t, th, d, dh, n, it touches the upper front teeth.

The palatal nasal, ñ, is the same as the Spanish ‘ñ’, as in señor. The velar nasal, ṅ, is pronounced like ‘ng’ in ‘singer’ but occurs only with the other consonants in its group: ṅk, ṅkh,ṅg, ṅgh. The pronunciation of ṃ is similar to ṅ but occurs most commonly as a terminal nasalization: ‘evaṃ me sutaṃ’. The Pāli v is a soft ‘v’ or ‘w’ and ḷ, produced with the tongue retroflexed, is almost a combined ‘rl’ sound.



"Liberation can be gained only by practice, never by mere discussion," S. N. Goenka has said. A course in Vipassana meditation is an opportunity to take concrete steps towards liberation. In such a course the participant learns how to free the mind of the tensions and prejudices that disturb the flow of daily life. By doing so one begins to discover how to live each moment peacefully, productively, happily. At the same time one starts progressing towards the highest goal to which mankind can aspire: purity of mind, freedom from all suffering, full enlightenment.

None of this can be attained just by thinking about it or wishing for it. One must take steps to reach the goal. For this reason, in a Vipassana course the emphasis is always on actual practice. No philosophical debates are permitted, no theoretical arguments, no questions that are unrelated to one’s own experience. As far as possible, meditators are encouraged to find the answers to their questions within themselves. The teacher provides whatever guidance is needed in the practice, but it is up to each person to implement these guidelines: one has to fight one’s own battle, work out one’s own salvation.

Given this emphasis, still some explanation is necessary to provide a context for the practice. Therefore every evening of a course Goenkaji gives a "Dhamma talk", in order to put into perspective the experiences of that day, and to clarify various aspects of the technique. These discourses, he warns, are not intended as intellectual or emotional entertainment. Their purpose is simply to help meditators understand what to do and why, so that they will work in the proper way and will achieve the proper results.

It is these talks that are presented here in condensed form.

The eleven discourses provide a broad overview of the teaching of the Buddha. The approach to this subject, however, is not scholarly or analytical. Instead the teaching is presented in the way that it unfolds to a meditator: as a dynamic, coherent whole. All its different facets are seen to reveal an underlying unity: the experience of meditation. This experience is the inner fire that gives true life and brilliance to the jewel of the Dhamma.

Without this experience one cannot grasp the full significance of what is said in the discourses, or indeed of the teaching of the Buddha. But this does not mean that there is no place for an intellectual appreciation of the teaching. Intellectual understanding is valuable as a support to meditative practice, even though meditation itself is a process that goes beyond the limits of the intellect.

For this reason these summaries have been prepared, giving in brief the essential points of each discourse. They are intended mainly to offer inspiration and guidance to those who practice Vipassana meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka. To others who happen to read them, it is hoped that they will provide encouragement to participate in a Vipassana course and to experience what is here described.

The summaries should not be treated as a do-it-yourself manual for learning Vipassana, a substitute for a ten-day course. Meditation is a serious matter, especially the Vipassana technique, which deals with the depths of the mind. It should never be approached lightly or casually. The proper way to learn Vipassana is only by joining a formal course, where there is a suitable environment to support the meditator, and a trained guide. If someone chooses to disregard this warning and tries to teach himself the technique only from reading about it, he proceeds entirely at his own risk.

Fortunately courses in Vipassana meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka are now held regularly in many parts of the world. Schedules may be obtained by writing to any of the centres listed in the back of this book.

The summaries are based primarily on discourses given by Goenkaji at the Vipassana Meditation Centre, Massachusetts, U.S.A. during August 1983. An exception is the Day Ten Summary, which is based on a discourse given at the Centre in August 1984.

While Goenkaji has looked through this material and approved it for publication, he has not had time to check the text closely. As a result, the reader may find some errors and discrepancies. These are the responsibility not of the teacher, nor of the teaching, but of myself. Criticism will be very welcome that might help to correct such flaws in the text.

May this work help many in their practice of Dhamma.

May all beings be happy.

William Hart


Sayings of the Buddha and his disciples that are quoted by Goenkaji are taken from the Collections of Discipline (Vinaya-piṭaka) and of Discourses (Sutta-piṭaka) of the Pāli canon. (A number of quotations appear in both Collections, although in such cases only the Sutta references are given here.) There are also a few quotations from post-canonical Pāli literature. In his talks, Goenkaji explains these passages more often by paraphrase than by word-for-word translation from the Pāli. The intention is to give the essence of each passage in ordinary language, stressing its relevance to the practice of Vipassana meditation.

Where a Pāli passage appears in the summary, the explanation given is that of Goenkaji in the discourse on which the summary is based. At the back of this book, in the section of Pāli with English translation, an attempt has been made to give more exact renderings of the passages quoted, still emphasizing the point of view of a meditator.

In the text of the summaries, the use of Pāli words has been kept to the necessary minimum. Where such words are used, for the sake of consistency their plurals are given in Pāli form; for example, the plural of saṅkhāra is saṅkhārā, that of kalāpa is kalāpā, that of pārami is pāramī

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa


Initial difficulties—the purpose of this meditation—why respiration is chosen as the starting point—the nature of the mind—the reason for the difficulties, and how to deal with them—dangers to be avoided

The first day is full of great difficulties and discomforts, partly because one is not accustomed to sit all day long and to try to meditate, but mostly because of the type of meditation that you have started practising: awareness of respiration, nothing but respiration.

It would have been easier and faster to concentrate the mind without all these discomforts if, along with awareness of respiration, one had started repeating a word, a mantra, a god’s name, or if one had started imagining the shape or form of a deity. But you are required to observe bare respiration, as it naturally is, without regulating it; no word or imagined form may be added.

They are not permitted because the final aim of this meditation is not concentration of mind. Concentration is only a help, a step leading to a higher goal: purification of mind, eradicating all the mental defilements, the negativities within, and thus attaining liberation from all misery, attaining full enlightenment.

Every time an impurity arises in the mind, such as anger, hatred, passion, fear etc., one becomes miserable. Whenever something unwanted happens, one becomes tense and starts tying knots inside. Whenever something wanted does not happen, again one generates tension within. Throughout life one repeats this process until the entire mental and physical structure is a bundle of Gordian knots. And one does not keep this tension limited to oneself, but instead distributes it to all with whom one comes into contact. Certainly this is not the right way to live.

You have come to this meditation course to learn the art of living: how to live peacefully and harmoniously within oneself, and to generate peace and harmony for all others; how to live happily from day to day while progressing towards the highest happiness of a totally pure mind, a mind filled with disinterested love, with compassion, with joy at the success of others, with equanimity.

To learn the art of living harmoniously, first one must find the cause of disharmony. The cause always lies within, and for this reason you have to explore the reality of yourself. This technique helps you to do so, to examine your own mental and physical structure, towards which there is so much attachment, resulting only in tensions, in misery. At the experiential level one must understand one’s own nature, mental and physical; only then can one experience whatever there might be beyond mind and matter. This is therefore a technique of truth-realization, self-realization, inves-tigating the reality of what one calls ‘oneself’. It might also be called a technique of God-realization, since after all God is nothing but truth, but love, but purity.

Direct experience of reality is essential. "Know thyself"—from superficial, apparent, gross reality, to subtler realities, to the subtlest reality of mind and matter. Having experienced all these, one can then go further to experience the ultimate reality which is beyond mind and matter.

Respiration is a proper point from which to begin this journey. Using a self-created, imaginary object of attention—a word or form—will lead only in the direction of greater imaginings, greater illusion; it will not help one to discover the subtler truths about oneself. To penetrate to subtler truth, one must begin with truth, with an apparent, gross reality such as respiration. Further, if a word is used, or the form of a deity, then the technique becomes sectarian. A word or form will be identified with one culture, one religion or another, and those of a different background may find it unacceptable. Misery is a universal malady. The remedy for this malady cannot be sectarian; it also must be universal. Awareness of respiration meets this requirement. Breath is common to all: observing it will be acceptable to all. Every step on the path must be totally free from sectarianism.

Breath is a tool with which to explore the truth about oneself. Actually, at the experiential level, you know very little about your body. You know only its external appearance, the parts and functions of it that you can consciously control. You know nothing of the internal organs which operate beyond your control, nothing of the cells of which the entire body is composed, and which are chan-ging every moment. Innumerable biochemical and electromagnetic reactions are occurring constantly throughout the body, but you have no knowledge of them.

On this path, whatever is unknown about yourself must become known to you. For this purpose respiration will help. It acts as a bridge from the known to the unknown, because respiration is one function of the body that can be either conscious or unconscious, intentional or automatic. One starts with conscious, intentional breathing, and proceeds to awareness of natural, normal breath. And from there you will advance to still subtler truths about yourself. Every step is a step with reality; every day you will penetrate further to discover subtler realities about yourself, about your body and mind.

Today you were asked to observe only the physical function of respiration, but at the same time, each one of you was observing the mind, because the nature of the breath is strongly connected to one’s mental state. As soon as any impurity, any defilement arises in the mind, the breath becomes abnormal—one starts breathing a little rapidly, a little heavily. When the defilement passes away, the breath again becomes soft. Thus breath can help to explore the reality not only of the body, but also of the mind.

One reality of mind, which you began to experience today, is its habit of always wandering from one object to another. It does not want to stay on the breath, or on any single object of attention: instead it runs wild.

And when it wanders, where does the mind go? By your practice, you have seen that it wanders either in the past or in the future. This is the habit pattern of the mind; it does not want to stay in the present moment. Actually, one has to live in the present. Whatever is past is gone beyond recall; whatever is future remains beyond one’s reach, until it becomes present. Remembering the past and giving thought to the future are important, but only to the extent that they help one to deal with the present. Yet because of its ingrained habit, the mind constantly tries to escape from present reality into a past or future that is unattainable, and therefore this wild mind remains agitated, miserable. The technique that you are learning here is called the art of living, and life can really be lived only in the present. Therefore the first step is to learn how to live in the present moment, by keeping the mind on a present reality: the breath that is now entering or leaving the nostrils. This is a reality of this moment, although a superficial one. When the mind wanders away, smilingly, without any tension, one accepts the fact that, because of its old habit pattern, it has wandered. As soon as one realizes that the mind has wandered, naturally, automatically, it will return to awareness of respiration.

You easily recognised the tendency of the mind to roll in thoughts either of the past or of the future. Now of what type are these thoughts? Today you have seen for yourselves that at times thoughts arise without any sequence, any head or tail. Such mental behavior is commonly regarded as a sign of madness. Now, however, you have all discovered that you are equally mad, lost in ignorance, illusions, delusions—moha. Even when there is a sequence to the thoughts, they have as their object something that is either pleasant or unpleasant. If it is pleasant, one starts reacting with liking, which develops into craving, clinging—rāga. If it is unpleasant, one starts reacting with disliking, which develops into aversion, hatred—dosa. The mind is constantly filled with ignorance, craving, and aversion. All other impurities stem from these three basic ones, and every impurity makes one miserable.

The goal of this technique is to purify the mind, to free it from misery by gradually eradicating the negativities within. It is an operation deep into one’s own unconscious, performed in order to uncover and remove the complexes hidden there. Even the first step of the technique must purify the mind, and this is the case: by observing respiration, you have started not only to concentrate the mind, but also to purify it. Perhaps during today there were only a few moments when your mind was fully concentrated on your breathing, but every such moment is very powerful in changing the habit pattern of the mind. In that moment, you are aware of the present reality, the breath entering or leaving the nostrils, without any illusion. And you cannot crave for more breath, or feel aversion towards your breathing: you simply observe, without reacting to it. In such a moment, the mind is free from the three basic defilements, that is, it is pure. This moment of purity at the conscious level has a strong impact on the old impurities accumulated in the unconscious. The contact of these positive and negative forces produces an explosion. Some of the impurities hidden in the unconscious rise to the conscious level, and manifest as various mental or physical discomforts.

When one faces such a situation, there is the danger of becoming agitated, and multiplying the difficulties. However, it would be wise to understand that what seems to be a problem is actually a sign of success in the meditation, an indication that in fact the technique has started to work. The operation into the unconscious has begun, and some of the pus hidden there has started to come out of the wound. Although the process is unpleasant, this is the only way to get rid of the pus, to remove the impurities. If one continues working in the proper way, all these difficulties will gradually diminish. Tomorrow will be a little easier, next day more so. Little by little, all the problems will pass away, if you work.

Nobody else can do the job for you; you have to work yourself. You have to explore reality within yourself. You have to liberate yourself.

Some advice about how to work:

During meditation hours, always meditate indoors. If you try to meditate outside in direct contact with the light and wind, you will not be able to penetrate to the depths of your mind. During breaks you may go outside.

You must remain within the limits of the course site. You are performing an operation on your mind; remain in the operating room.

Resolve to remain for the entire period of the course, no matter what difficulties you may face. When problems arise during the operation, remember this strong determination. It can be harmful to leave in the middle of a course.

Similarly, make a strong determination to observe all the discipline and rules, of which the most important is the rule of silence. Also resolve to follow the timetable, and specially to be in the hall for the three one-hour sittings of group meditation each day.

Avoid the danger of over eating, of allowing yourself to succumb to drowsiness, and of needless talking.

Work exactly as you are asked to work. Without condemning it, leave aside for the course period anything that you may have read or learned elsewhere. Mixing techniques is very dangerous. If any point is not clear to you, come to the guide for clarification. But give a fair trial to this technique; if you do so, you will get wonderful results.

Make best use of the time, the opportunity, the technique, to liberate yourselves from the bondages of craving, aversion, delusion, and to enjoy real peace, real harmony, real happiness.

Real happiness to you all.

May all beings be happy!


Universal definition of sin and piety—the Noble Eightfold Path: sīla and samādhi

The second day is over. Although it was slightly better than the first day, difficulties still remain. The mind is so restless, agitated, wild, like a wild bull or elephant which creates havoc when it enters a human dwelling-place. If a wise person tames and trains the wild animal, then all its strength, which has been used for destructive purposes, now begins to serve society in constructive ways. Similarly the mind, which is far more powerful and dangerous than a wild elephant, must be tamed and trained; then its enormous strength will start to serve you. But you must work very patiently, persistently, and continuously. Continuity of practice is the secret of success.

You have to do the work; no-one else can do it for you. With all love and compassion an enlightened person shows the way to work, but he cannot carry anyone on his shoulders to the final goal. You must take steps yourself, fight your own battle, work out your own salvation. Of course, once you start working, you receive the support of all the Dhamma forces, but still you have to work yourself. You have to walk the entire path yourself.

Understand what is the path on which you have started walking. The Buddha described it in very simple terms:

Abstain from all sinful, unwholesome actions,perform only pious wholesome ones,purify the mind;this is the teaching of enlightened ones.

It is a universal path, acceptable to people of any background, race, or country. But the problem comes in defining sin and piety. When the essence of Dhamma is lost, it becomes a sect, and then each sect gives a different definition of piety, such as having a particular external appearance, or performing certain rituals, or holding certain beliefs. All these are sectarian definitions, acceptable to some and not to others. Dhamma, however, gives a universal definition of sin and piety. Any action that harms others, that disturbs their peace and harmony, is a sinful, unwholesome action. Any action that helps other, that contributes to their peace and harmony, is a pious, wholesome action. This is a definition in accordance not with any dogma, but rather with the law of nature. And according to the law of nature, one cannot perform an action that harms others without first generating a defilement in the mind—anger, fear, hatred, etc.; and whenever one generates a mental defilement, then one becomes miserable, one experiences the sufferings of hell within. Similarly, one cannot perform an action that helps others without first generating love, compassion, good will; and as soon as one starts developing such pure mental qualities, one starts enjoying heavenly peace within. When you help others, simultaneously you help yourself; when you harm others, simultaneously you harm yourself. This is Dhamma, truth, law—the universal law of nature.

The path of Dhamma is called the Noble Eightfold Path, noble in the sense that anyone who walks on it is bound to become a noble-hearted, saintly person. The path is divided into three sections: sīla, samādhi, and paññā. sīla is morality—abstaining from unwholesome deeds of body and speech. samādhi is the wholesome action of developing mastery over one’s mind. Practising both is helpful, but neither sīla nor samādhi can eradicate all the defilements accumulated in the mind. For this purpose the third section of the path must be practised: paññā, the development of wisdom, of insight, which totally purifies the mind. Within the division of sīla are three parts of the Noble Path:

1) Sammā-vācā—right speech, purity of vocal action. To understand what is purity of speech, one must know what is impurity of speech. Speaking lies to deceive others, speaking harsh words that hurt others, backbiting and slanderous talk, babbling and purposeless chatter are all impurities of vocal action. When one abstains from these, what remains is right speech.

2) Sammā-kammanta—right action, purity of physical action. On the path of Dhamma there is only one yardstick to measure the purity or impurity of an action, be it physical, vocal, or mental, and that is whether the action helps or harms others. Thus killing, stealing, committing rape or adultery, and becoming intoxicated so that one does not know what one is doing are all actions that harm others, and also harm oneself. When one abstains from these impure physical actions, what remains is right action.

3) Sammā-ājīva—right livelihood. Everyone must have some way to support himself and those who are dependent on him, but if the means of support is harmful to others, then it is not a right livelihood. Perhaps one may not oneself perform wrong actions by one’s livelihood, but encourages others to do so; if so one is not practising right livelihood. For example, selling liquor, operating a gambling den, selling arms, selling living animals or animal flesh are none of them right livelihoods. Even in the highest profession, if one’s motivation is only to exploit others, then one is not practicing right livelihood. If the motivation is to perform one’s part as a member of society, to contribute one’s own skills and efforts for the general good, in return for which one receives a just remuneration by which one maintains oneself and one’s dependents, then such a person is practising right livelihood.

A householder, a lay person, needs money to support himself. The danger, however, is that earning money becomes a means to inflate the ego: one seeks to amass as much as possible for oneself, and feels contempt for those who earn less. Such an attitude harms others and also harms oneself, because the stronger the ego, the further one is from liberation. Therefore one essential aspect of right livelihood is giving charity, sharing a portion of what one earns with others. Then one earns not only for one’s own benefit but also for the benefit of others.

If Dhamma consisted merely of exhortations to abstain from actions that harm others, then it would have no effect. Intellectually one may understand the dangers of performing unwholesome actions and the benefits of performing wholesome ones, or one may accept the importance of sīla out of devotion to those who preach it. Yet one continues to perform wrong actions, because one has no control over the mind. Hence the second division of Dhamma, samādhi—developing mastery over one’s own mind. Within this division are another three parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:

4) Sammā-vāyāma—right effort, right exercise. By your practice you have seen how weak and infirm the mind is, always wavering from one object to another. Such a mind requires exercise to strengthen it. There are four exercises to strengthen the mind: removing from it any unwholesome qualities it may have, closing it to any unwholesome qualities it does not have, preserving and multiplying those wholesome qualities that are present in the mind, and opening it to any wholesome qualities that are missing. Indirectly, by the practice of awareness of respiration (Anapana) you have started performing these exercises.

5) Sammā-sati—right awareness, awareness of the reality of the present moment. Of the past there can only be memories; for the future there can only be aspirations, fears, imaginations. You have started practising sammā-sati by training yourself to remain aware of whatever reality manifests at the present moment, within the limited area of the nostrils. You must develop the ability to be aware of the entire reality, from the grossest to the subtlest level. To begin, you gave attention to the conscious, intentional breath, then the natural, soft breath, then the touch of the breath. Now you will take a still subtler object of attention: the natural, physical sensations within this limited area. You may feel the temperature of the breath, slightly cold as it enters, slightly warm as it leaves the body. Beyond that, there are innumerable sensations not related to breath: heat, cold, itching, pulsing, vibrating, pressure, tension, pain, etc. You cannot choose what sensation to feel, because you cannot create sensations. Just observe; just remain aware. The name of the sensation is not important; what is important is to be aware of the reality of the sensation without reacting to it.

The habit pattern of the mind, as you have seen, is to roll in the future or in the past, generating craving or aversion. By practising right awareness you have started to break this habit. Not that after this course you will forget the past entirely, and have no thought at all for the future. But in fact you used to waste your energy by rolling needlessly in the past or future, so much so that when you needed to remember or plan something, you could not do so. By developing sammā-sati, you will learn to fix your mind more firmly in the present reality, and you will find that you can easily recall the past when needed, and make proper provisions for the future. You will be able to lead a happy, healthy life.

6) Sammā-samādhi—right concentration. Mere concentration is not the aim of this technique; the concentration you develop must have a base of purity. With a base of craving, aversion, or illusion one may concentrate the mind, but this is not sammā-samādhi. One must be aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion. Sustaining this awareness continuously from moment to moment—this is sammā-samādhi.

By following scrupulously the five precepts, you have started practising sīla. By training your mind to remain focused on one point, a real object of the present moment, without craving or aversion, you have started developing samādhi. Now keep working diligently to sharpen your mind, so that when you start to practise paññā you will be able to penetrate to the depths of the unconscious, to eradicate all the impurities hidden there, and to enjoy real happiness—the happiness of liberation.

Real happiness to you all.

May all beings be happy!


The Noble Eightfold Path: paññā—received wisdom, intellectual wisdom, experiential wisdom—the kalāpā—the four elements—the three characteristics: impermanence, the illusory nature of the ego, suffering—penetrating through apparent reality

The third day is over. Tomorrow afternoon you will enter the field of paññā, wisdom, the third division of the Noble Eightfold Path. Without wisdom, the path remains incomplete.

One begins the path by practising sīla, that is, by abstaining from causing harm to others; but although one may not harm others, still one harms oneself by generating defilements in the mind. Therefore one undertakes the training of samādhi, learning to control the mind, to suppress the defilements that have arisen. However, suppressing defilements does not eliminate them. They remain in the unconscious and multiply there, continuing to cause harm to oneself. Therefore the third step of Dhamma, paññā: neither giving a free licence to the defilements nor suppressing them, but instead allowing them to arise and be eradicated. When the defilements are eradicated, the mind is freed from impurities. And when the mind has been purified, then without any effort one abstains from actions that harm others since by nature a pure mind is full of goodwill and compassion for others. Similarly, without any effort one abstains from actions that harm oneself. One lives a happy, healthy life. Thus each step of the path must lead to the next. sīla leads to the development of samādhi, right concentration; samādhi leads to the developments of paññā, wisdom which purifies the mind; paññā leads to nibbāna, liberation from all impurities, full enlightenment.

Within the division of fall two more parts of the Noble Eightfold Path:

7) Sammā-saṅkappa—right thoughts. It is not necessary that the entire thought process be stopped before one can begin to develop wisdom. Thoughts remain, but the pattern of thinking changes. The defilements at the surface level of the mind start to pass away because of the practice of awareness of respiration. Instead of thoughts of craving, aversion, and delusion, one begins to have healthy thoughts, thoughts about Dhamma, the way to liberate oneself.

8) Sammā-diṭṭhi—right understanding. This is real paññā, understanding reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.

There are three stages in the development of paññā, of wisdom. The first is suta-mayā paññā, wisdom acquired by hearing or reading the words of another. This received wisdom is very helpful in order to set one in the proper direction. However, by itself it cannot liberate, because in fact it is only a borrowed wisdom. One accepts it as true perhaps out of blind faith, or perhaps out of aversion, in the fear that disbelieving will lead one to hell, or perhaps out of craving, in the hope that believing will lead one to heaven. But in any case, it is not one’s own wisdom.

The function of received wisdom should be to lead to the next stage: cintā-mayā paññā, intellectual understanding. Rationally one examines what one has heard or read, to see whether it is logical, practical, beneficial; if so, then one accepts it. This rational understanding is also important, but it can be very dangerous if it is regarded as an end in itself. Someone develops his intellectual knowledge, and decides that therefore he is a very wise person. All that he learns serves only to inflate his ego; he is far away from liberation.

The proper function of intellectual understanding is to lead to the next stage; bhāvanā-mayā paññā, the wisdom that develops within oneself, at the experiential level. This is real wisdom. Received wisdom and intellectual understanding are very useful if they give one inspiration and guidance to take the next step. However, it is only experiential wisdom that can liberate, because this is one’s own wisdom, based on one’s own experience.

An example of the three types of wisdom: a doctor gives a prescription for medicine to a sick man. The man goes home, and out of great faith in his doctor, he recites the prescription every day; this is suta-mayā paññā. Not satisfied with that, the man returns to the doctor, and demands and receives an explanation of the prescription, why it is necessary and how it will work; this is cintā-mayā paññā. Finally the man takes the medicine; only then is his disease eradicated. The benefit comes only from the third step, the bhāvanā-mayā paññā.

You have come to this course to take the medicine yourself, to develop your own wisdom. To do so, you must understand truth at the experiential level. So much confusion exists because the way things appear to be is totally different from their real nature. To remove this confusion, you must develop experiential wisdom. And outside of the framework of the body, truth cannot be experienced; it can only be intellectualized. Therefore you must develop the ability to experience truth within yourself, from the grossest to the subtlest levels, in order to emerge from all illusions, all bondages.

Everyone knows that the entire universe is constantly changing, but mere intellectual understanding of this reality will not help; one must experience it within oneself. Perhaps a traumatic event, such as the death of someone near or dear, forces one to face the hard fact of impermanence, and one starts to develop wisdom, to see the futility of striving after worldly goods and quarrelling with others. But soon the old habit of egotism reasserts itself, and the wisdom fades, because it was not based on direct, personal experience. One has not experienced the reality of impermanence within oneself.

Everything is ephemeral, arising and passing away every moment—anicca; but the rapidity and continuity of the process create the illusion of permanence. The flame of a candle and the light of an electric lamp are both changing constantly. If by one’s senses one can detect the process of change, as is possible in the case of the candle flame, then one can emerge from the illusion. But when, as in the case of the electric light, the change is so rapid and continuous that one’s senses cannot detect it, then the illusion is far more difficult to break. One may be able to detect the constant change in a flowing river, but how is one to understand that the man who bathes in that river is also changing every moment?

The only way to break the illusion is to learn to explore within oneself, and to experience the reality of one’s own physical and mental structure. This is what Siddhattha Gotama did to become a Buddha. Leaving aside all preconceptions, he examined himself to discover the true nature of the physical and mental structure. Starting from the level of superficial, apparent reality, he penetrated to the subtlest level, and he found that the entire physical structure, the entire material world, is composed of subatomic particles, called in Pāli aṭṭha kalāpā. And he discovered that each such particle consists of the four elements—earth, water, fire, air—and their subsidiary characteristics. These particles, he found, are the basic building blocks of matter, and they are themselves constantly arising and passing away, with great rapidity—trillions of times within a second. In reality there is no solidity in the material world; it is nothing but combustion and vibrations. Modern scientists have confirmed the findings of the Buddha, and have proved by experiment that the entire material universe is composed of subatomic particles which rapidly arise and pass away. However, these scientists have not become liberated from all misery, because their wisdom is only intellectual. Unlike the Buddha, they have not experienced truth directly, within themselves. When one experiences personally the reality of one’s own impermanence, only then does one start to come out of misery.

As the understanding of anicca develops within oneself, another aspect of wisdom arises: anattā, no ‘I’, no ‘mine’. Within the physical and mental structure, there is nothing that lasts more than a moment, nothing that one can identify as an unchanging self or soul. If something is indeed ‘mine’, then one must be able to possess it, to control it, but in fact one has no mastery even over one’s body: it keeps changing, decaying, regardless of one’s wishes.

Then the third aspect of wisdom develops: dukkha, suffering. If one tries to possess and hold on to something that is changing beyond one’s control, then one is bound to create misery for oneself. Commonly, one identifies suffering with unpleasant sensory experiences, but pleasant ones can equally be causes of misery, if one develops attachment to them, because they are equally impermanent. Attachment to what is ephemeral is certain to result in suffering.

When the understanding of anicca, anattā, and dukkha is strong, this wisdom will manifest in one’s daily life. Just as one has learned to penetrate beyond the apparent reality within, so in external circumstances one will be able to see the apparent truth, and also the ultimate truth. One comes out of illusions and lives a happy, healthy life.

Many illusions are created by apparent, consolidated, integrated reality—for example, the illusion of physical beauty. The body appears beautiful only when it is integrated. Any part of it, seen separately, is without attraction, without beauty—asubha. Physical beauty is superficial, apparent reality, not ultimate truth.

However, understanding the illusory nature of physical beauty will not lead to hatred of others. As wisdom arises, naturally the mind becomes balanced, detached, pure, full of good will towards all. Having experienced reality within oneself, one can come out of illusions, cravings, and aversions, and can live peacefully and happily.

Tomorrow afternoon, you will take your first steps in the field of paññā when you start to practise Vipassana. Do not expect that as soon as you begin you will see all the subatomic particles arising and passing away throughout the body. No, one begins with gross, apparent truth, and by remaining equanimous, gradually one penetrates to subtler truths, to the ultimate truths of mind, of matter, of the mental factors and finally to the ultimate truth which is beyond mind and matter.

To attain this goal, you must work yourself. Therefore keep your sīla strong, because this is the base of your meditation, and keep practicing Anapana until 3 p.m. tomorrow; keep observing reality within the area of the nostrils. Keep sharpening your mind so that when you start Vipassana tomorrow, you can penetrate to the deeper levels and eradicate the impurities hidden there. Work patiently, persistently, continuously, for your own good, your own liberation.

May all of you be successful in taking the first steps on the path of liberation.

May all beings be happy!


Questions on how to practise Vipassana—the law of kamma—importance of mental action—four aggregates of the mind: consciousness, perception, sensation, reaction—remaining aware and equanimous is the way to emerge from suffering

The fourth day is a very important day. You have started taking dips in the Ganges of Dhamma within, exploring the truth about yourself at the level of bodily sensations. In the past, because of ignorance, these sensations were causes for the multiplication of your misery, but they can also be tools to eradicate misery. You have taken a first step on the path to liberation by learning to observe bodily sensations and to remain equanimous.

Some questions about the technique which are frequently asked:

Why move the attention through the body in order, and why in this order? Any order may be followed, but an order is necessary. Otherwise there is the danger of neglecting some parts of the body, and those parts will remain blind, blank. Sensations exist throughout the body, and in this technique, it is very important to develop the ability to experience them everywhere. For this purpose moving in order is very helpful.

If in a part of the body there is no sensation, you may keep your attention there for a minute. In reality there is sensation there, as in every particle of the body, but it is of such a subtle nature that your mind is not aware of it consciously, and therefore this area seems blind. Stay for a minute, observing calmly, quietly and equanimously. Don’t develop craving for a sensation, or aversion towards the blindness. If you do so, you have lost the balance of your mind, and an unbalanced mind is very dull; it certainly cannot experience the more subtle sensations. But if the mind remains balanced, it becomes sharper and more sensitive, capable of detecting subtle sensations. Observe the area equanimously for about a minute, not more. If within a minute no sensation appears, then smilingly move further. Next round, again stay for a minute; sooner or later you will begin to experience sensations there and throughout the body. If you have stayed for a minute and still cannot feel a sensation, then try to feel the touch of your clothing if it is a covered area, or the touch of the atmosphere if it is uncovered. Begin with these superficial sensations, and gradually you will start to feel other ones as well.

If the attention is fixed in one part of the body and a sensation starts in another, should one jump back or forward to observe this other sensation? No; continue moving in order. Don’t try to stop the sensations in other parts of the body—you cannot do so—but don’t give them any importance. Observe each sensation only when you come to it, moving in order. Otherwise you will jump from one place to another, missing many parts of the body, obser-ving only gross sensations. You have to train yourself to observe all the different sensations in every part of the body, gross or subtle, pleasant or unpleasant, distinct or feeble. Therefore never allow the attention to jump from place to place.

How much time should one take to pass the attention from head to feet? This will vary according to the situation one faces. The instruction is to fix your attention in a certain area, and as soon as you feel a sensation, to move ahead. If the mind is sharp enough, it will be aware of sensation as soon as it comes to an area, and you can move ahead at once. If this situation occurs throughout the body, it may be possible to move from head to feet in about ten minutes, but it is not advisable to move more quickly at this stage. If the mind is dull, however, there may be many areas in which it is necessary to wait for up to a minute for a sensation to appear. In that case, it may take thirty minutes or an hour to move from head to feet. The time needed to make a round is not important. Just keep working patiently, persistently; you will certainly be successful.

How big should the area be in which to fix the attention? Take a section of the body about two or three inches wide; then move ahead another two or three inches, and so on. If the mind is dull, take larger areas, for example, the entire face, or the entire right upper arm; then gradually try to reduce the area of attention. Eventually you will be able to feel sensations in every particle of the body, but for now, an area of two or three inches is good enough.

Should one feel sensations only on the surface of the body or also in the interior? Sometimes a meditator feels sensations inside as soon as he starts Vipassana; sometimes at first he feels sensations only on the surface. Either way is perfectly all right. If sensations appear only on the surface, observe them repeatedly until you feel sensation on every part of the surface of the body. Having experienced sensations everywhere on the surface, you will later start penetrating into the interior. Gradually the mind will develop the ability to feel sensations everywhere, both outside and inside, in every part of the physical structure. But to begin, superficial sensations are good enough.

The path leads through the entire sensory field, to the ultimate reality which is beyond sensory experience. If you keep purifying your mind with the help of sensations, then certainly you will reach the ultimate stage.

When one is ignorant, sensations are a means to multiply one’s misery, because one reacts to them with craving or aversion. The problem actually arises, the tension originates, at the level of bodily sensations; therefore this is the level at which one must work to solve the problem, to change the habit pattern of the mind. One must learn to be aware of all the different sensations without reacting to them, accepting their changing, impersonal nature. By doing so, one comes out of the habit of blind reaction, one liberates oneself from misery.

What is a sensation? Anything that one feels at the physical level is a sensation—any natural, normal, ordinary bodily sensation, whether pleasant or unpleasant, whether gross or subtle, whether intense or feeble. Never ignore a sensation on the grounds that it is caused by atmospheric conditions, or by sitting for long hours, or by an old disease. Whatever the reason, the fact is that you feel a sensation. Previously you tried to push out the unpleasant sensations, to pull in the pleasant ones. Now you simply observe objectively, without identifying with the sensations.

It is a choiceless observation. Never try to select sensations; instead, accept whatever arises naturally. If you start looking for something in particular, something extraordinary, you will create difficulties for yourself, and will not be able to progress on the path. The technique is not to experience something special, but rather to remain equanimous in the face of any sensation. In the past you had similar sensations in your body, but you were not aware of them consciously, and you reacted to them. Now you are learning to be aware and not to react, to feel whatever is happening at the physical level and to maintain equanimity.

If you work in this way, gradually the entire law of nature will become clear to you. This is what Dhamma means: nature, law, truth. To understand truth at the experiential level, one must investigate it within the framework of the body. This is what Siddhattha Gotama did to become a Buddha, and it became clear to him, and will become clear to anyone who works as he did, that throughout the universe, within the body as well as outside it, everything keeps changing. Nothing is a final product; everything is involved in the process of becoming—bhava. And another reality will become clear: nothing happens accidentally. Every change has a cause which produces an effect, and that effect in turn becomes the cause for a further change, making an endless chain of cause and effect. And still another law will become clear: as the cause is, so the effect will be; as the seed is, so the fruit will be.

On the same soil one sows two seeds, one of sugarcane, the other of neem—a very bitter tropical tree. From the seed of sugarcane develops a plant that is sweet in every fibre, from the seed of neem, a plant that is bitter in every fibre. One may ask why nature is kind to one plant and cruel to the other. In fact nature is neither kind nor cruel; it works according to set rules. Nature merely helps the quality of each seed to manifest. If one sows seeds of sweetness, the harvest will be sweetness. If one sows seeds of bitterness, the harvest will be bitterness. As the seed is, so the fruit will be; as the action is, so the result will be.

The problem is that one is very alert at harvest time, wanting to receive sweet fruit, but during the sowing season one is very heedless, and plants seeds of bitterness. If one wants sweet fruit, one should plant the proper type of seeds. Praying or hoping for a miracle is merely self-deception; one must understand and live according to the law of nature. One must be careful about one’s actions, because these are the seeds in accordance with the quality of which one will receive sweetness or bitterness.

There are three types of action: physical, vocal and mental. One who learns to observe oneself quickly realizes that mental action is the most important, because this is the seed, the action that will give results. Vocal and physical actions are merely projections of the mental action, yardsticks to measure its intensity. They originate as mental action, and this mental action subsequently manifests at the vocal or physical level. Hence the Buddha declared:

Mind precedes all phenomena,mind matters most, everything is mind-made.If with an impure mindyou speak or act,then suffering follows youas the cartwheel follows the foot of the draft animal.

If with a pure mindyou speak or act,then happiness follows youas a shadow that never departs.

If this is the case, then one must know what is the mind and how it works. You have started investigating this phenomenon by your practice. As you proceed, it will become clear that there are four major segments or aggregates of the mind.

The first segment is called viññāṇa, which may be translated as consciousness. The sense organs are lifeless unless consciousness comes into contact with them. For example, if one is engrossed in a vision, a sound may come and one will not hear it, because all one’s consciousness is with the eyes. The function of this part of the mind is to cognize, simply to know, without differentiating. A sound comes into contact with the ear, and the viññāṇa notes only the fact that a sound has come.

Then the next part of the mind starts working: saññā, perception. A sound has come, and from one’s past experience and memories, one recognizes it: a sound...words...words of praise...good; or else, a sound...words...words of abuse...bad. One gives an evaluation of good or bad, according to one’s past experience.

At once the third part of the mind starts working: vedanā, sensation. As soon as a sound comes, there is a sensation on the body, but when the perception recognizes it and gives it a valuation, the sensation becomes pleasant or unpleasant, in accordance with that valuation. For example: a sound has come...words...words of praise...good—and one feels a pleasant sensation throughout the body. Or else; a sound has come...words...words of abuse...bad—and one feels an unpleasant sensation throughout the body. Sensations arise on the body, and are felt by the mind; this is the function called vedanā.

Then the fourth part of the mind starts working: saṅkhāra, reaction. A sound has come...words...words of praise... good...pleasant sensation—and one starts liking it: "This praise is wonderful! I want more!" Or else: a sound has come... words...words of abuse...bad...unpleasant sensation—and one starts disliking it: " I can’t bear this abuse, stop it !" At each of the sense doors, the same process occurs; eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body. Similarly, when a thought or imagination comes into contact with the mind, in the same way a sensation arises on the body, pleasant or unpleasant, and one starts reacting with liking or disliking. This momentary liking develops into great craving; this disliking develops into great aversion. One starts tying knots inside.

Here is the real seed that gives fruit, the action that will have results: the saṅkhāra, the mental reaction. Every moment one keeps sowing this seed, keeps reacting with liking or disliking, craving or aversion, and by doing so makes oneself miserable.

There are reactions that make a very light impression, and are eradicated almost immediately, those that make a slightly deeper impression and are eradicated after a little time, and those that make a very deep impression, and take a very long time to be eradicated. At the end of a day, if one tries to remember all the saṅkhārā that one has generated, one will be able to recall only the one or two that made the deepest impression during that day. In the same way, at the end of a month or of a year, one will be able to recall only the one or two saṅkhārā that made the deepest impression during that time. And like it or not, at the end of life, whatever saṅkhāra has made the strongest impression is bound to come up in the mind; and the next life will begin with a mind of the same nature, having the same qualities of sweetness or bitterness. We create our own future, by our actions.

Vipassana teaches the art of dying: how to die peacefully, harmoniously. And one learns the art of dying by learning the art of living: how to become master of the present moment, how not to generate a saṅkhāra at this moment, how to live a happy life here and now. If the present is good, one need not worry about the future, which is merely a product of the present, and therefore bound to be good.

There are two aspects of the technique:

The first is breaking the barrier between the conscious and unconscious levels of the mind. Usually the conscious mind knows nothing of what is being experienced by the unconscious. Hidden by this ignorance, reactions keep occurring at the unconscious level; by the time they reach the conscious level, they have become so intense that they easily overpower the mind. By this technique, the entire mass of the mind becomes conscious, aware; the ignorance is removed.

The second aspect of the technique is equanimity. One is aware of all that one experiences, of every sensation, but does not react, does not tie new knots of craving or aversion, does not create misery for oneself.

To begin, while you sit for meditation, most of the time you will react to the sensations, but a few moments will come when you remain equanimous, despite severe pain. Such moments are very powerful in changing the habit pattern of the mind. Gradually you will reach the stage in which you can smile at any sensation, knowing it is anicca, bound to pass away.

To achieve this stage, you have to work yourself; no-one else can work for you. It is good that you have taken the first step on the path; now keep walking, step by step, towards your own liberation.

May all of you enjoy real happiness.

May all beings be happy!


The Four Noble Truths: suffering, the cause of suffering, the eradication of suffering, the way to eradicate suffering—the chain of conditioned arising

Five days are over; you have five more left to work. Make best use of the remaining days by working hard, with proper understanding of the technique.

From observing respiration within a limited area, you have proceeded to observing sensations throughout the body. When one begins this practice it is very likely that one will first encounter gross, solidified, intensified, unpleasant sensations such as pain, pressure, etc. You had encountered such experiences in the past, but the habit pattern of your mind was to react to sensations, to roll in pleasure and reel in pain, remaining always agitated. Now you are learning how to observe without reacting, to examine the sensations objectively, without identifying with them.

Pain exists, misery exists. Crying will not free anyone of misery. How is one to come out of it? How is one to live with it?

A doctor treating a sick person must know what the sickness is, and what the fundamental cause of the sickness is. If there is a cause, then there must be a way out, by removing the cause. Once the cause is removed, the sickness will automatically be removed. Therefore steps must be taken to eradicate the cause.

First one must accept the fact of suffering. Everywhere suffering exists; this is a universal truth. But it becomes a noble truth when one starts observing it without reacting, because anyone who does so is bound to become a noble, saintly person.

When one starts observing the First Noble Truth, the truth of suffering, then very quickly the cause of suffering becomes clear, and one starts observing it also; this is the Second Noble Truth. If the cause is eradicated, then suffering is eradicated; this is the Third Noble Truth—the eradication of suffering. To achieve its eradication one must take steps; this is the Fourth Noble Truth—the way to end suffering by eradicating its cause.

One begins by learning to observe without reacting. Examine the pain that you experience objectively, as if it is someone else’s pain. Inspect it like a scientist who observes an experiment in his laboratory. When you fail, try again. Keep trying, and you will find that gradually you are coming out of suffering.

Every living being suffers. Life starts with crying; birth is a great suffering. And anyone who has been born is bound to encounter the sufferings of sickness and old age. But no matter how miserable one’s life may be, nobody wants to die, because death is a great suffering.

Throughout life, one encounters things that one does not like, and is separated from things that one likes. Unwanted things happen, wanted things do not happen, and one feels miserable.

Simply understanding this reality at the intellectual level will not liberate anyone. It can only give inspiration to look within oneself, in order to experience truth and to find the way out of misery. This is what Siddhattha Gotama did to become a Buddha: he started observing reality within the framework of his body like a research scientist, moving from gross, apparent truth to subtler truth, to the subtlest truth. He found that whenever one develops craving, whether to keep a pleasant sensation or to get rid of an unpleasant one, and that craving is not fulfilled, then one starts suffering. And going further, at the subtlest level, he found that when seen with a fully collected mind, it is clear that attachment to the five aggregates is suffering. Intellectually one may understand that the material aggregate, the body, is not ‘I’, not ‘mine’, but merely an impersonal, changing phenomenon which is beyond one’s control; actually, however, one identifies with the body, and develops tremendous attachment to it. Similarly one develops attachment to the four mental aggregates of consciousness, perception, sensation, reaction, and clings to them as ‘I, mine’ despite their constantly changing nature. For conventional purposes one must use the words ‘I’ and ‘mine’, but when one develops attachment to the five aggregates, one creates suffering for oneself. Wherever there is attachment, there is bound to be misery, and the greater the attachment, the greater the misery.

There are four types of attachment that one keeps developing in life. The first is attachment to one’s desires, to the habit of craving. Whenever craving arises in the mind, it is accompanied by a physical sensation. Although at a deep level a storm of agitation has begun, at a superficial level one likes the sensation and wishes it to continue. This can be compared with scratching a sore: doing so will only aggravate it, and yet one enjoys the sensation of scratching. In the same way, as soon as a desire is fulfilled, the sensation that accompanied the desire is also gone, and so one generates a fresh desire in order that the sensation may continue. One becomes addicted to craving and multiplies one’s misery.

Another attachment is the clinging to ‘I, mine’, without knowing what this ‘I’ really is. One cannot bear any criticism of one’s ‘I’ or any harm to it. And the attachment spreads to include whatever belongs to ‘I’, whatever is ‘mine’. This attachment would not bring misery if whatever is ‘mine’ could continue eternally, and the ‘I’ also could remain to enjoy it eternally, but the law of nature is that sooner or later one or the other must pass away. Attachment to what is impermanent is bound to bring misery.

Similarly, one develops attachment to one’s views and beliefs, and cannot bear any criticism of them, or even accept that others may have differing views. One does not understand that everyone wears coloured glasses, a different colour for each person. By removing the glasses, one can see reality as it is, untinted, but instead one remains attached to the colour of one’s glasses, to one’s own preconceptions and beliefs.

Yet another attachment is the clinging to one’s rites, rituals, and religious practices. One fails to understand that these are all merely outward shows, that they do not contain the essence of truth. If someone is shown the way to experience truth directly within himself but continues to cling to empty external forms, this attachment produces a tug-of-war in such a person, resulting in misery.

All the sufferings of life, if examined closely, will be seen to arise from one or another of these four attachments. In his search for truth, this is what Siddhattha Gotama found. Yet he continued investigating within himself to discover the deepest cause of suffering, to understand how the entire phenomenon works, to trace it to its source.

Obviously the sufferings of life—disease, old age, death, physical and mental pain—are inevitable consequences of being born. Then what is the reason for birth? Of course the immediate cause is the physical union of parents, but in a broader perspective, birth occurs because of the endless process of becoming in which the entire universe is involved. Even at the time of death the process does not stop: the body continues decaying, disintegrating, while the consciousness becomes connected with another material structure, and continues flowing, becoming. And why this process of becoming? It was clear to him that the cause is the attachment that one develops. Out of attachment one generates strong reactions, saṅkhārā, which make a deep impression on the mind. At the end of life, one of these will arise in the mind and will give a push to the flow of consciousness to continue.

Now what is the cause of this attachment? He found that it arises because of the momentary reactions of liking and disliking. Liking develops into great craving; disliking into great aversion, the mirror image of craving, and both turn into attachment. And why these momentary reactions of liking and disliking? Anyone who observes himself will find that they occur because of bodily sensations. Whenever a pleasant sensation arises, one likes it and wants to retain and multiply it. Whenever an unpleasant sensation arises, one dislikes it and wants to get rid of it. Then why these sensations? Clearly they occur because of the contact between any of the senses and an object of that particular sense: contact of the eye with a vision, of the ear with a sound, of the nose with an odour, of the tongue with a taste, of the body with something tangible, of the mind with a thought or an imagination. As soon as there is a contact, a sensation is bound to arise, pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.

And what is the reason for contact? Obviously, the entire universe is full of sense objects. So long as the six senses—the five physical ones, together with the mind—are functioning, they are bound to encounter their respective objects. And why do these sense organs exist? It is clear that they are inseparable parts of the flow of mind and matter; they arise as soon as life begins. And why does the life flow, the flow of mind and matter, occur? Because of the flow of consciousness, from moment to moment, from one life to the next. And why this flow of consciousness? He found that it arises because of the saṅkhārā, the mental reactions. Every reaction gives a push to the flow of consciousness; the flow continues because of the impetus given to it by reactions. And why do reactions occur? He saw that they arise because of ignorance. One does not know what one is doing, does not know how one is reacting, and therefore one keeps generating saṅkhārā. So long as there is ignorance, suffering will remain.

The source of the process of suffering, the deepest cause, is ignorance. From ignorance starts the chain of events by which one generates mountains of misery for oneself. If ignorance can be eradicated, suffering will be eradicated.

How can one accomplish this? How can one break the chain? The flow of life, of mind and matter, has already begun. Committing suicide will not solve the problem; it will only create fresh misery. Nor can one destroy the senses without destroying oneself. So long as the senses exist, contact is bound to occur with their respective objects, and whenever there is a contact, a sensation is bound to arise within the body.

Now here, at the link of sensation, one can break the chain. Previously, every sensation gave rise to a reaction of liking or disliking, which developed into great craving or aversion, great misery. But now, instead of reacting to sensation, you are learning just to observe equanimously, understanding, "This will also change." In this way sensation gives rise only to wisdom, to the understanding of anicca. One stops the turning of the wheel of suffering and starts rotating it in the opposite direction, towards liberation.

Any moment in which one does not generate a new saṅkhāra, one of the old ones will arise on the surface of the mind, and along with it a sensation will start within the body. If one remains equanimous, it passes away and another old reaction arises in its place. One continues to remain equanimous to physical sensations and the old saṅkhārā continue to arise and pass away, one after another. If out of ignorance one reacts to sensations, then one multiplies the saṅkhārā, multiplies one’s misery. But if one develops wisdom and does not react to sensations, then one after another the saṅkhārā are eradicated, misery is eradicated.

The entire path is a way to come out of misery. By practising, you will find that you stop tying new knots, and that the old ones are automatically untied. Gradually you will progress towards a stage in which all saṅkhārā leading to new birth, and therefore to new suffering, have been eradicated: the stage of total liberation, full enlightenment.

To start the work, it is not necessary that one should first believe in past lives and future lives. In practising Vipassana, the present is most important. Here in the present life, one keeps generating saṅkhārā, keeps making oneself miserable. Here and now one must break this habit and start coming out of misery. If you practice, certainly a day will come when you will be able to say that you have eradicated all the old saṅkhārā, have stopped generating any new ones, and so have freed yourself from all suffering.

To achieve this goal, you have to work yourself. Therefore work hard during the remaining five days, to come out of your misery, and to enjoy the happiness of liberation.

May all of you enjoy real happiness.

May all beings be happy!


Importance of developing awareness and equanimity towards sensations—the four elements and their relation to sensations—the four causes of the arising of matter—the five hindrances: craving, aversion, mental and physical sluggishness, agitation, doubt

Six days are over; you have four more left to work. In four days you can eradicate some of the mental defilements, and grasp the technique in order to make use of it throughout your life. If you work with proper understanding and learn how to apply the technique in daily life, then certainly it will be very beneficial for you. Therefore understand the technique properly.

This is not a path of pessimism. Dhamma teaches us to accept the bitter truth of suffering, but it also shows the way out of suffering. For this reason it is a path of optimism, combined with realism, and also ‘workism’— each person has to work to liberate himself or herself.

In a few words, the entire path was explained:

"All saṅkhārā are impermanent" When one perceives this with true insight, then one becomes detached from suffering; this is the path of purification.

Here the word saṅkhārā means not only mental reactions, but also the results of these reactions. Every mental reaction is a seed which gives a fruit, and everything that one experiences in life is a fruit, a result of one’s own actions, that is, one’s saṅkhārā, past or present. Hence the meaning is, "Everything that arises, that becomes composed, will pass away, will disintegrate". Merely accepting this reality emotionally, or out of devotion, or intellectually, will not purify the mind. It must be accepted at the actual level, by experiencing the process of arising and passing away within oneself. If one experiences impermanence directly by observing one’s own physical sensations, then the understanding that develops is real wisdom, one’s own wisdom. And with this wisdom one becomes freed from misery. Even if pain remains, one no longer suffers from it. Instead one can smile at it, because one can observe it.

The old mental habit is to seek to push away painful sensations and to pull in pleasurable ones. So long as one is involved in the game of pain-and-pleasure, push-and-pull, the mind remains agitated, and one’s misery increases. But once one learns to observe objectively without identifying with the sensations, then the process of purification starts, and the old habit of blind reaction and of multiplying one’s misery is gradually weakened and broken. One must learn how to just observe.

This does not mean that by practising Vipassana one becomes a ‘vegetable’, passively allowing others to do one harm. Rather, one learns how to act instead of to react. Previously one lived a life of reaction, and reaction is always negative. Now you are learning how to live properly, to live a healthy life of real action. Whenever a difficult situation arises in life, one who has learned to observe sensations will not fall into blind reaction. Instead he will wait a few moments, remaining aware of sensations and also equanimous, and then will make a decision and choose a course of action. Such an action is certain to be positive, because it proceeds from a balanced mind; it will be a creative action, helpful to oneself and others.

Gradually, as one learns to observe the phenomenon of mind and matter within, one comes out of reactions, because one comes out of ignorance. The habit pattern of reaction is based on ignorance. Someone who has never observed reality within does not know what is happening deep inside, does not know how he reacts with craving or aversion, generating tensions which make him miserable.

The difficulty is that mind is far more impermanent than matter. The mental processes occur so rapidly that one cannot follow them unless one has been trained to do so. Not knowing reality, one remains under the delusion that one reacts to external objects such as visions, sounds, tastes, etc. Apparently this is so, but someone who learns to observe himself will find that at a subtler level the reality is different. The entire external universe exists for a person only when he or she experiences it, that is, when a sensory object comes into contact with one of the sense doors. As soon as there is a contact, there will be a vibration, a sensation. The perception gives a valuation to the sensation as good or bad, based on one’s past experiences and conditionings, past saṅkhārā. In accordance with this coloured valuation the sensation becomes pleasant or unpleasant, and according to the type of sensation, one starts reacting with liking or disliking, craving or aversion. Sensation is the forgotten missing link between the external object and the reaction. The entire process occurs so rapidly that one is unaware of it: by the time a reaction reaches the conscious level, it has been repeated and intensified trillions of times, and has become so strong that it can easily overpower the mind.

Siddhattha Gotama gained enlightenment by discovering the root cause of craving and aversion, and by eradicating them where they arise, at the level of sensation. What he himself had done, he taught to others. He was not unique in teaching that one should come out of craving and aversion; even before him, this was taught in India. Neither is morality unique to the teaching of the Buddha, nor the development of control of one’s mind. Similarly, wisdom at the intellectual, emotional, or devotional levels also existed before the Buddha. The unique element in his teaching lies elsewhere, in his identifying physical sensation as the crucial point at which craving and aversion begin, and at which they must be eliminated. Unless one deals with sensations, one will be working only at a superficial level of the mind, while in the depths the old habit of reaction will continue. By learning to be aware of all the sensations within oneself and to remain equanimous towards them, one stops reactions where they start: one comes out of misery.

This is not a dogma to be accepted on faith, nor a philosophy to be accepted intellectually. You have to investigate yourself to discover the truth. Accept it as true only when you experience it. Hearing about truth is important, but it must lead to actual practice. All the teachings of the Buddha must be practised and experienced for oneself so that one may come out of misery.

The entire structure of the body, the Buddha explained, is composed of subatomic particles—kalāpā—consisting of the four elements and their subsidiary characteristics, joined together. In the world outside as well as within, it is easy to see that some matter is solid—earth element; some is liquid—water element; some is gaseous—air element; and in every case, temperature is present—fire element. However, someone who examines reality within himself will understand the four elements at a subtler level. The entire range of weight from heaviness to lightness, is the field of earth element. Fire element is the field of temperature, from extreme cold to extreme heat. Air element has to do with motion, from a seemingly stationary state to the greatest movement. Water element concerns the quality of cohesiveness, of binding together. Particles arise with a predominance of one or more elements; the others remain latent. In turn, a sensation manifests in accordance with the quality of the element that is predominant in those particles. If kalāpā arise with a predominance of fire element, a sensation occurs of heat or cold, and similarly for the other elements. This is how all sensations arise within the physical structure. If one is ignorant, one gives valuations and reacts to the sensations, generating new misery for oneself. But if wisdom arises, one simply understands that subatomic particles are arising with a predominance of one or another element, and that these are all impersonal, changing phenomena, arising to pass away. With this understanding, one does not lose the balance of one’s mind when facing any sensation.

As one continues observing oneself, it becomes clear why kalāpā arise: they are produced by the input that one gives to the life flow, the flow of matter and mind. The flow of matter requires material input, of which there are two types: the food one eats and the atmosphere in which one lives. The flow of mind requires mental input, which again is of two types: either a present or a past saṅkhāra. If one gives an input of anger at the present moment, immediately mind influences matter, and kalāpā will start to arise with a predominance of fire element, causing one to feel a sensation of heat. If the input is fear, the kalāpā generated at that time will have a predominance of air element, and one feels a sensation of trembling; and so on. The second type of mental input is a past saṅkhāra. Every saṅkhāra is a seed which gives a fruit, a result after some time. Whatever sensation one experienced when planting the seed, the same sensation will arise when the fruit of that saṅkhāra comes to the surface of the mind.

Of these four causes, one should not try to determine which is responsible for the arising of a particular sensation. One should merely accept whatever sensation occurs. The only effort should be to observe without generating a new saṅkhāra. If one does not give the input of a new reaction to the mind, automatically an old reaction will give its fruit, manifesting as sensation. One observes, and it passes away. Again one does not react; therefore another old saṅkhāra must give its fruit. In this way, by remaining aware and equanimous, one allows the old saṅkhārā to arise and pass away, one after another: one comes out of misery.

The old habit of generating new reactions must be eliminated, and it can only be done gradually, by repeated practice, by continued work.

Of course there are hindrances, obstacles on the way: five strong enemies which try to overpower you and stop your progress. The first two enemies are craving and aversion. The purpose of practising Vipassana is to eliminate these two basic mental defilements, yet they may arise even while you meditate, and if they overwhelm the mind, the process of purification stops. You may crave for subtle sensations, or even for nibbāna; it makes no difference. Craving is a fire that burns, no matter what the fuel; it takes you in the opposite direction from liberation. Similarly, you may start generating aversion towards the pain that you experience, and again you are off the track.

Another enemy is laziness, drowsiness. All night you slept soundly, and yet when you sit to meditate, you feel very sleepy. This sleepiness is caused by your mental impurities, which would be driven out by the practice of Vipassana, and which therefore try to stop you from meditating. You must fight to prevent this enemy from overpowering you. Breathe slightly hard, or else get up, sprinkle cold water on your eyes, or walk a little, and then sit again.

Alternatively, you may feel great agitation, another way in which the impurities try to stop you from practising Vipassana. All day you run here and there, doing anything except meditation. Afterwards, you realize that you have wasted time, and start crying and repenting. But on the path of Dhamma there is no place for crying. If you make a mistake, then you should accept it in front of an elder in whom you have confidence, and resolve to be careful not to repeat the mistake in future.

Finally, a great enemy is doubt, either about the teacher, or about the technique, or about one’s ability to practise it. Blind acceptance is not beneficial, but neither is endless unreasoning doubt. So long as you remain immersed in doubts, you cannot take even one step on the path. If there is anything that is not clear to you, do not hesitate to come to your guide. Discuss the matter with him, and understand it properly. If you practise as you are asked to, the results are bound to come.

The technique works, not by any magic or miracle, but by the law of nature. Anyone who starts working in accordance with natural law is bound to come out of misery; this is the greatest possible miracle.

Large numbers of people have experienced the benefits of this technique, not only those who came to the Buddha himself, but also many in later ages, and in the present age. If one practises properly, making efforts to remain aware and equanimous, then layers of past impurities are bound to rise to the surface of the mind, and to pass away. Dhamma gives wonderful results here and now, provided one works. Therefore work with full confidence and understanding. Make best use of this opportunity in order to come out of all misery, and to enjoy real peace.

May all of you enjoy real happiness.

May all beings be happy!


Importance of equanimity towards subtle as well as gross sensations—continuity of awareness—the five ‘friends’: faith, effort, awareness, concentration, wisdom

Seven days are over: you have three more left to work. Make best use of these days by working hard and continuously, understanding how you ought to practise.

There are two aspects of the technique: awareness and equanimity. One must develop awareness of all the sensations that occur within the framework of the body, and at the same time one must remain equanimous towards them. By remaining equanimous, naturally one will find, sooner or later, that sensations start to appear in areas that were blind, and that the gross, solidified, unpleasant sensations begin to dissolve into subtle vibrations. One starts to experience a very pleasant flow of energy throughout the body.

The danger when this situation arises is that one takes this pleasurable sensory experience as the goal towards which one was working. In fact, the purpose of practising Vipassana is not to experience a certain type of sensation, but rather to develop equanimity towards all sensations. Sensations keep changing, whether gross or subtle. One’s progress on the path can be measured only by the equanimity one develops towards every sensation.

Even after one has experienced a free flow of subtle vibrations throughout the body, it is quite possible that again a gross sensation may arise somewhere, or a blind area. These are signs not of regression but of progress. As one develops in awareness and equanimity, naturally one penetrates deeper into the unconscious mind, and uncovers impurities hidden there. So long as these deep-lying complexes remain in the unconscious, they are bound to bring misery in the future. The only way to eliminate them is to allow them to come up to the surface of the mind and pass away. When such deep-rooted saṅkhārā arise on the surface, many of them may be accompanied by unpleasant, gross sensations or blind areas within the body. If one continues to observe without reacting, the sensation passes away, and with it the saṅkhāra of which it is a manifestation.

Every sensation, whether gross or subtle, has the same characteristic of impermanence. A gross sensation arises, seems to stay for some time, but sooner or later passes away. A subtle sensation arises and passes away with great rapidity, but still it has the same characteristic. No sensation is eternal. Therefore one should not have preferences or prejudices towards any sensation. When a gross, unpleasant sensation arises, one observes it without becoming depressed. When a subtle, pleasant sensation arises, one accepts it, even enjoys it, without becoming elated or attached to it. In every case one understands the impermanent nature of all sensations; then one can smile when they arise and when they pass away.

Equanimity must be practised at the level of bodily sensation in order to make a real change in one’s life. At every moment sensations are arising within the body. Usually the conscious mind is unaware of them, but the unconscious mind feels the sensations and reacts to them with craving or aversion. If the mind is trained to become fully conscious of all that occurs within the physical structure and at the same time to maintain equanimity, then the old habit of blind reaction is broken. One learns how to remain equanimous in every situation, and can therefore live a balanced, happy life.

You are here to experience the truth about yourself, how this phenomenon works, how it generates misery. There are two aspects of the human phenomenon: material and mental, body and mind. One must observe both. But one cannot actually experience the body without awareness of what arises in the body, that is, sensation. Similarly one cannot observe mind separately from what arises in the mind, that is, thought. As one goes deeper in experiencing the truth of mind and matter, it becomes clear that whatever arises in the mind is also accompanied by a physical sensation. Sensation is of central importance for experiencing the reality of both body and mind, and it is the point at which reactions start. In order to observe the truth of oneself and to stop generating mental defilements, one must be aware of sensations and remain equanimous as continuously as possible.

For this reason, in the remaining days of the course, you must work continuously with closed eyes during meditation hours; but during recess periods as well, you must try to maintain awareness and equanimity at the level of sensations. Perform whatever action you must do in the usual way, whether walking, eating, drinking, or bathing; don’t slow the action down. Be aware of the physical movement of the body, and at the same time of the sensations, if possible in the part of the body that is in motion, or else in any other part. Remain aware and equanimous.

Similarly, when you go to bed at night, close your eyes and feel sensation anywhere within the body. If you fall asleep with this awareness, naturally as soon as you wake up in the morning, you will be aware of sensation. Perhaps you may not sleep soundly, or you may even remain fully awake throughout the night. This is wonderful, provided you stay lying in bed and maintain awareness and equanimity. The body will receive the rest it needs, and there is no greater rest for the mind than to remain aware and equanimous. However, if you start worrying that you are developing insomnia, then you will generate tensions, and will feel exhausted the next day. Nor should you forcefully try to stay awake, remaining in a seated posture all night; that would be going to an extreme. If sleep comes, very good; sleep. If sleep does not come, allow the body to rest by remaining in a recumbent position, and allow the mind to rest by remaining aware and equanimous.

The Buddha said, "When a meditator practises ardently, without neglecting for a moment awareness and equanimity towards sensations, such a person develops real wisdom, understanding sensations completely." The meditator understands how one who lacks wisdom reacts to sensations, and multiplies his misery. The meditator also understands how one who bears in mind the impermanent nature of all sensations will not react to them, and will come out of misery. The Buddha continued, "With this thorough understanding, the meditator is able to experience the stage beyond mind and matter—nibbāna." One cannot experience nibbāna until the heaviest saṅkhārā have been eliminated—those that would lead to a future life in a lower form of existence where misery would predominate. Fortunately, when one starts to practise Vipassana, it is these very saṅkhārā that arise first. One remains equanimous and they pass away. When all such saṅkhārā have been eradicated, then naturally one experiences nibbāna for the first time. Having experienced it, one is totally changed, and can no longer perform any action that would lead to a future life in a lower form of existence. Gradually one proceeds to higher stages, until all the saṅkhārā have been eradicated that would have led to future life anywhere within the conditioned world. Such a person is fully liberated and therefore, the Buddha concluded, "Comprehending the entire truth of mind and matter, when he dies he passes beyond the conditioned world, because he has understood sensations perfectly".

You have made a small beginning on this path by practising to develop awareness of sensations throughout the body. If you are careful not to react to them, you will find that layer by layer, the old saṅkhārā are eradicated. By remaining equanimous towards gross, unpleasant sensations, you will proceed to experience subtler, pleasant sensations. If you continue to maintain equanimity, sooner or later you will reach the stage described by the Buddha, in which throughout the physical structure, the meditator experiences nothing but arising and passing away. All the gross, solidified sensations have dissolved; throughout the body there is nothing but subtle vibrations. Naturally this stage is very blissful, but still it is not the final goal, and one must not become attached to it. Some of the gross impurities have been eradicated, but others still remain in the depths of the mind. If one continues to observe equanimously, one after another all the deeper saṅkhārā will arise and pass away. When they are all eradicated, then one experiences the ‘deathless’—something beyond mind and matter, where nothing arises, and therefore nothing passes away—the indescribable stage of nibbāna.

Everyone who works properly to develop awareness and equanimity will certainly reach this stage; but each person must work himself or herself.

Just as there are five enemies, five hindrances which block your progress on the path, there are also five friends, five wholesome faculties of the mind, which help and support you. If you keep these friends strong and pure, no enemy can overpower you.

The first friend is faith, devotion, confidence. Without confidence one cannot work, being always agitated by doubts and skepticism. However, if faith is blind, it is a great enemy. It becomes blind if one loses discriminatory intelligence, the proper understanding of what right devotion is. One may have faith in any deity or saintly person, but if it is right faith, with proper understanding, one will remember the good qualities of that person, and will gain inspiration to develop those qualities in oneself. Such devotion is meaningful and helpful. But if one does not try to develop the qualities of the person towards whom one has devotion, it is blind faith, which is very harmful.

For example, when one takes refuge in the Buddha, one must remember the qualities of a Buddha, and must work to develop those qualities in oneself. The essential quality of a Buddha is enlightenment; therefore the refuge is actually in enlightenment, the enlightenment that one develops in oneself. One pays respect to anyone who has reached the stage of full enlightenment; that is, one gives importance to the quality wherever it may manifest, without being bound to a particular sect or person. And one honours the Buddha not by rituals or ceremonies, but by practising his teachings, by walking on the path of Dhamma from the first step, sīla, to samādhi, to paññā, to nibbāna, liberation.

Anyone who is a Buddha must have the following qualities. He has eradicated all craving, aversion, ignorance. He has conquered all his enemies, the enemies within, that is, the mental impurities. He is perfect not only in the theory of Dhamma, but also in its application. What he practises, he preaches, and what he preaches, he practises; there is no gap between his words and his deeds. Every step that he takes is a right step, leading in the right direction. He has learned everything about the entire universe, by exploring the universe within. He is overflowing with love, compassion, sympathetic joy for others, and keeps helping those who are going astray to find the right path. He is full of perfect equanimity. If one works to develop these qualities in oneself in order to reach the final goal, there is meaning in one’s taking refuge in the Buddha.

Similarly, taking refuge in Dhamma has nothing to do with sectarianism; it is not a matter of being converted from one organized religion to another. Taking refuge in Dhamma is actually taking refuge in morality, in mastery over one’s own mind, in wisdom. For a teaching to be Dhamma, it must also have certain qualities. Firstly it must be clearly explained, so that anyone can understand it. It is to be seen for oneself before one’s very eyes, the reality experienced by oneself, not an imagination. Even the truth of nibbāna is not to be accepted until one has experienced it. Dhamma must give beneficial results here and now, not merely promise benefits to be enjoyed in future. It has the quality of ‘come-and-see’; see for yourself, try it yourself, don’t accept it blindly. And once one has tried it and experienced its benefits, one cannot resist encouraging and helping others to come and see as well. Every step on the path leads nearer to the final goal; no effort goes to waste. Dhamma is beneficial at the beginning, in the middle, at the end. Finally, any person of average intelligence, of whatever background, can practise it and experience the benefits. With this understanding of what it actually is, if one takes refuge in Dhamma and starts practising it, one’s devotion has real meaning.

In the same way, taking refuge in Sangha is not a matter of getting involved with a sect. Anyone who has walked on the path of sīla, samādhi, and paññā and who has reached at least the first stage of liberation, who has become a saintly person, is a Sangha. He or she may be anyone, of any appearance, any colour, any background; it makes no difference. If one is inspired by seeing such a person and works to reach the same goal oneself, then one’s taking refuge in Sangha is meaningful, right devotion.

Another friend is effort. Like faith, it must not be blind. Otherwise there is the danger that one will work in a wrong way, and will not get the expected results. Effort must be accompanied by proper understanding of how one is to work; then it will be very helpful for one’s progress.

Another friend is awareness. Awareness can only be of the reality of the present moment. One cannot be aware of the past, one can only remember it. One cannot be aware of the future, one can only have aspirations for or fears of the future. One must develop the ability to be aware of the reality that manifests within oneself at the present moment.

The next friend is concentration, sustaining the awareness of reality from moment to moment, without any break. It must be free from all imaginations, all cravings, all aversion; only then is it right concentration.

And the fifth friend is wisdom—not the wisdom acquired by listening to discourses, or reading books, or intellectual analysis; one must develop wisdom within oneself at the experiential level, because only by this experiential wisdom can one become liberated. And to be real wisdom, it must be based on physical sensations: one remains equanimous towards sensations, understanding their impermanent nature. This is equanimity at the depths of the mind, which will enable one to remain balanced amid all the vicissitudes of daily life.

All the practice of Vipassana has as its purpose to enable one to live in a proper way, fulfilling one’s worldly responsibilities while maintaining a balanced mind, remaining peaceful and happy within oneself and making others peaceful and happy. If you keep the five friends strong, you will become perfect in the art of living, and will lead a happy, healthy, good life.

Progress on the path of Dhamma, for the good and benefit of yourself and of so many.

May all suffering beings come into contact with pure Dhamma, to emerge from their misery and to enjoy real happiness.

May all beings be happy!


The law of multiplication and its reverse, the law of eradication—equanimity is the greatest welfare—equanimity enables one to live a life of real action—by remaining equanimous, one ensures a happy future for oneself

Eight days are over; you have two more left to work. In the remaining days, see that you understand the technique properly, so that you may practise it properly here and also make use of it in your daily life. Understand what Dhamma is: nature, truth, universal law.

On one hand there is a process of constant multiplication. On the other hand, there is a process of eradication. This was well explained in a few words:

Impermanent truly are conditioned things,by nature arising and passing away.If they arise and are extinguished, their eradication brings true happiness.

Every saṅkhāra, every mental conditioning is impermanent, having the nature of arising and passing away. It passes away, but next moment it arises again, and again; this is how the saṅkhāra multiplies. If one develops wisdom and starts observing objectively, the process of multiplication stops and the process of eradication begins. A saṅkhāra arises, but the meditator remains equanimous; it loses all its strength and is eradicated. Layer after layer, the old saṅkhārā will arise and be eradicated, provided one remains equanimous. As much as the saṅkhārā are eradicated, that much happiness one enjoys, the happiness of freedom from misery. If all the past saṅkhārā are eradicated, one enjoys the limitless happiness of full liberation.

The old habit of the mind is to react, and to multiply reactions. Something unwanted happens, and one generates a saṅkhāra of aversion. As the saṅkhāra arises in the mind, it is accompanied by an unpleasant physical sensation. Next moment, because of the old habit of reaction, one again generates aversion, which is actually directed towards the unpleasant bodily sensation. The external stimulus of the anger is secondary; the reaction is in fact to the sensation within oneself. The unpleasant sensation causes one to react with aversion, which generates another unpleasant sensation, which again causes one to react. In this way, the process of multiplication begins. If one does not react to the sensation but instead smiles and understands its impermanent nature, then one does not generate a new saṅkhāra, and the saṅkhāra that has already arisen will pass away without multiplying. Next moment, another saṅkhāra of the same type will arise from the depths of the mind; one remains equanimous, and it will pass away. Next moment another arises; one remains equanimous, and it passes away. The process of eradication has started.

The processes that one observes within oneself also occur throughout the universe. For example, someone sows the seed of a banyan tree. From that tiny seed a huge tree develops, which bears innumerable fruit year after year, as long as it lives. And even after the tree dies, the process continues, because every fruit that the tree bears contains a seed or a number of seeds, which have the same quality as the original seed from which the tree grew. Whenever one of these seeds falls on fertile soil it sprouts and grows into another tree which again produces thousands of fruit, all containing seeds. Fruit and seeds, seeds and fruit; an endless process of multiplication. In the same way, out of ignorance one sows the seed of a saṅkhāra, which sooner or later gives a fruit, also called saṅkhāra, and also containing a seed of exactly the same type. If one gives fertile soil to the seed it sprouts into a new saṅkhāra, and one’s misery multiplies. However, if one throws the seeds on rocky soil, they cannot sprout; nothing will develop from them. The process of multiplication stops, and automatically the reverse process begins, the process of eradication.

Understand how this process works. It was explained that some input is needed for the flow of life, of mind and matter, to continue. The input for the body is the food one eats, as well as the atmosphere in which one lives. if one day one does not eat, the flow of matter does not stop at once. It continues by consuming the old stocks of energy contained within the body. When all the stored energy is consumed, only then the flow stops, the body dies.

The body needs food only two or three times a day, but the flow of the mind requires an input every moment. The mental input is saṅkhāra. Every moment the saṅkhāra that one generates is responsible for sustaining the flow of consciousness. The mind that arises in the next moment is a product of this saṅkhāra. Every moment one gives the input of saṅkhāra, and the flow of consciousness continues. If at any moment one does not generate a new saṅkhāra the flow does not stop at once; instead it draws on the stock of old saṅkhārā. An old saṅkhāra will be forced to give its fruit, that is, to come to the surface of the mind in order to sustain the flow; and it will manifest as a physical sensation. If one reacts to the sensation, again one starts making new saṅkhārā, planting new seeds of misery. But if one observes the sensation with equanimity, the saṅkhāra loses its strength and is eradicated. Next moment another old saṅkhāra must come up to sustain the mental flow. Again one does not react, and again it is eradicated. So long as one remains aware and equanimous, layer after layer of old saṅkhārā will come to the surface and be eradicated; this is the law of nature.

One has to experience the process oneself, by practising the technique. When one sees that one’s old habit patterns, old sufferings have been eliminated, then one knows that the process of eradication works.

An analogous technique exists in modern metallurgy. To super-refine certain metals, to make them ultra-pure, it is necessary to remove even one foreign molecule in a billion. This is done by casting the metal in the shape of a rod, and then making a ring of the same metal that has already been refined to the required purity. The ring is passed over the rod, and generates a magnetism that automatically drives out any impurities to the extremities of the rod. At the same time, all the molecules in the rod of metal become aligned; it becomes flexible, malleable, capable of being worked. In the same way, the technique of Vipassana can be regarded as the passing of a ring of pure awareness over the physical structure, driving out any impurities, with similar benefits.

Awareness and equanimity will lead to purification of mind. Whatever one experiences on the way, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is unimportant. The important point is not to react with craving or aversion, since both will create nothing but misery. The only yardstick to measure one’s progress on the path is the equanimity that one has developed. And the equanimity must be at the level of bodily sensations if one is to go to the depths of the mind and to eradicate the impurities. If one learns to be aware of sensations and to remain equanimous towards them, it becomes easy to keep one’s balance in external situations as well.

The Buddha was once asked what real welfare is. He replied that the highest welfare is the ability to keep the balance of one’s mind in spite of all the vicissitudes, the ups and downs, of life. One may face pleasant or painful situations, victory or defeat, profit or loss, good name or bad name; everyone is bound to encounter all these. But can one smile in every situation, a real smile from the heart? If one has this equanimity at the deepest level within, one has true happiness.

If equanimity is only superficial it will not help in daily life. It is as if each person carries a tank of petrol, of gasoline, within. If one spark comes, one fruit of a past reaction, immediately a great explosion results, producing millions more sparks, more saṅkhārā, which will bring more fire, more suffering in future. By the practice of Vipassana, one gradually empties the tank. Sparks will still come because of one’s past saṅkhārā, but when they come, they will burn only the fuel that they bring with them; no new fuel is given. They burn briefly until they consume the fuel they contain, and then they are extinguished. Later, as one develops further on the path, one naturally starts generating the cool water of love and compassion, and the tank becomes filled with this water. Now, as soon as a spark comes, it is extinguished. It cannot burn even the small amount of fuel it contains.

One may understand this at the intellectual level, and know that one should have a water pump ready in case a fire starts. But when fire actually comes, one turns on the petrol pump and starts a conflagration. Afterwards one realizes the mistake, but still repeats it next time when fire comes, because one’s wisdom is only superficial. If someone has real wisdom in the depths of the mind, when faced with fire such a person will not throw petrol on it, understanding that this would only cause harm. Instead one throws the cool water of love and compassion, helping others and oneself.

The wisdom must be at the level of sensations. If you train yourself to be aware of sensations in any situation and to remain equanimous towards them, nothing can overpower you. Perhaps for just a few moments you observe without reacting. Then, with this balanced mind, you decide what action to take. It is bound to be right action, positive, helpful to others, because it is performed with a balanced mind.

Sometimes in life it is necessary to take strong action. One has tried to explain to someone politely, gently, with a smile, but the person can understand only hard words, hard actions. Therefore one takes hard vocal or physical action. But before doing so, one must examine oneself to see whether the mind is balanced, and whether one has only love and compassion for the person. If so, the action will be helpful; if not, it will not help anyone. One takes strong action to help the erring person. With this base of love and compassion one cannot go wrong.

In a case of aggression, a Vipassana meditator will work to separate the aggressor and the victim, having compassion not only for the victim but also for the aggressor. One realizes that the aggressor does not know how he is harming himself. Understanding this, one tries to help the person by preventing him from performing deeds that will cause him misery in the future.

However, you must be careful not to justify your actions only after the event. You must examine the mind before acting. If the mind is full of defilements, one cannot help anyone. First one must rectify the faults in oneself before one can rectify the faults in others. First you must purify your own mind by observing yourself. Then you will be able to help many.

The Buddha said that there are four types of people in the world: those who are running from darkness towards darkness, those who are running from brightness towards darkness, those who are running from darkness towards brightness, and those who are running from brightness towards brightness.

For a person in the first group, all around there is unhappiness, darkness, but his greatest misfortune is that he also has no wisdom. Every time he encounters any misery he develops more anger, more hatred, more aversion, and blames others for his suffering. All those saṅkhārā of anger and hatred will bring him only more darkness, more suffering in the future.

A person in the second group has what is called brightness in the world: money, position, power, but he too has no wisdom. Out of ignorance he develops egotism, without understanding that the tensions of egotism will bring him only darkness in future.

A person in the third group is in the same position as one in the first, surrounded by darkness; but he has wisdom, and understands the situation. Recognizing that he is ultimately responsible for his own suffering, he calmly and peacefully does what he can to change the situation, but without any anger or hatred towards others; instead he has only love and compassion for those who are harming him. All he creates for the future is brightness.

Finally a person in the fourth group, just as one in the second, enjoys money, position, and power, but unlike one in the second group, he is also full of wisdom. He makes use of what he has in order to maintain himself and those dependent on him, but whatever remains he uses for the good of others, with love and compassion. Brightness now and for the future too.

One cannot choose whether one faces darkness now or brightness; that is determined by one’s past saṅkhārā. The past cannot be changed, but one can take control of the present by becoming master of oneself. The future is merely the past plus what is added in the present. Vipassana teaches how to become master of oneself by developing awareness and equanimity towards sensations. If one develops this mastery in the present moment, the future will automatically be bright.

Make use of the remaining two days to learn how to become master of the present moment, master of yourself. Keep growing in Dhamma, to come out of all misery, and to enjoy real happiness here and now.

May all beings be happy!


Application of the technique in daily life—the ten pāramī

Nine days are over. Now is the time to discuss how to make use of this technique in daily life. This is of the utmost importance. Dhamma is an art of living. If you cannot use it in daily life, then coming to a course is no better than performing a ritual or ceremony.

Everyone faces unwanted situations in life. Whenever something unwanted happens, one loses the balance of one’s mind, and starts generating negativity. And whenever a negativity arises in the mind, one becomes miserable. How is one not to generate negativity, not to create tension? How is one to remain peaceful and harmonious?

Sages who started exploring the reality of mind and matter within found a solution to the problem: whenever a negativity arises in the mind for whatever reason, one should divert one’s attention elsewhere. For example, one might get up, drink some water, start counting, or start reciting the name of a deity or saintly person towards whom one has devotion. By diverting the attention one will emerge from the negativity.

A workable solution. But other explorers of inner truth went to the deepest level of reality, to ultimate truth. These enlightened persons realized that by diverting the attention one creates a layer of peace and harmony at the conscious level, but one has not eliminated the negativity that has arisen. One has merely suppressed it. At the unconscious level, it continues to multiply and gather strength. Sooner or later, this sleeping volcano of negativity will erupt and overpower the mind. So long as negativities remain, even at the unconscious level, the solution is only partial, temporary.

A fully enlightened person finds a real solution: don’t run away from the problem; face it. Observe whatever impurity arises in the mind. By observing one does not suppress it, nor does one give it a free licence to express itself in harmful vocal or physical action. Between these two extremes lies the middle path: mere observation. When one starts to observe it, the negativity loses its strength and passes away without overpowering the mind. Not only that, but some of the old stock of that type of impurity will also be eradicated. Whenever a defilement starts at the conscious level, one’s old stock of that type of defilement arises from the unconscious, becomes connected with the present defilement, and starts multiplying. If one just observes, not only the present impurity but also some portion of the old stock will be eradicated. In this way, gradually all the defilements are eradicated, and one becomes free from misery.

But for an average person, it is not easy to observe a mental defilement. One does not know when it has started and how it has overpowered the mind. By the time it reaches the conscious level, it is far too strong to observe without reacting. Even if one tries to do so, it is very difficult to observe an abstract defilement of the mind—abstract anger, fear, or passion, Instead, one’s attention is drawn to the external stimulus of the defilement, which will only cause it to multiply.

However, enlightened persons discovered that whenever a defilement arises in the mind, simultaneously two things start happening at the physical level: respiration will become abnormal, and a biochemical reaction will start within the body, a sensation. A practical solution was found. It is very difficult to observe abstract defilements in the mind, but with training one can soon learn to observe respiration and sensation, both of which are physical manifestations of the defilements. By observing a defilement in its physical aspect, one allows it to arise and pass away without causing any harm. One becomes free from the defilement.

It takes time to master this technique, but as one practises, gradually one will find that in more and more external situations in which previously one would have reacted with negativity, now one can remain balanced. Even if one does react, the reaction will not be so intense or prolonged as it would have been in the past. A time will come when in the most provoking situation , one will be able to heed the warning given by respiration and sensation, and will start observing them, even for a few moments. These few moments of self-observation will act as a shock absorber between the external stimulus and one’s response. Instead of reacting blindly, the mind remains balanced, and one is capable of taking positive action that is helpful to oneself and others.

You have taken a first step towards eradicating your defilements and changing the habit pattern of the mind, by observing sensations within yourself.

From the time of birth, one is trained always to look outside. One never observes oneself, and therefore one is incapable of going to the depths of one’s problems. Instead one looks for the cause of one’s misery outside, always blaming others for one’s unhappiness. One sees things from only one angle, a partial view, which is bound to be distorted; and yet one accepts this view as the full truth. Any decision made with this incomplete information will only be harmful to oneself and others. In order to see the totality of the truth, one must view it from more than one angle. This is what one learns to do by the practice of Vipassana: to see reality not only outside but inside as well.

Seeing from only one angle, one imagines that one’s suffering is caused by other people, by an external situation. Therefore one devotes all one’s energy to changing others, to changing the external situation. In fact, this is a wasted effort. One who has learned to observe reality within soon realizes that he is completely responsible for his misery or happiness. For example, someone is abused by another person, and becomes unhappy. He blames the person who abused him for making him unhappy. Actually the abuser created misery for himself, by defiling his own mind. The person who was abused created his own misery when he reacted to the abuse, when he started defiling his mind. Everyone is responsible for his or her own suffering, no-one else. When one experiences this truth, the madness of finding fault with others goes away.

What does one react to? An image created by oneself, not the external reality. When one sees someone, one’s image of that person is coloured by one’s past conditionings. The old saṅkhārā influence one’s perception of any new situation. In turn, because of this conditioned perception, bodily sensation becomes pleasant or unpleasant. And according to the type of sensation, one generates a new reaction. Each of these processes is conditioned by the old saṅkhārā. But if one remains aware and equanimous towards sensations, the habit of blind reaction becomes weaker, and one learns to see reality as it is.

When one develops the ability to see things from different angles, then whenever another abuses or otherwise misbehaves, the understanding arises that this person is misbehaving because he is suffering. With this understanding, one cannot react with negativity, but will feel only love and compassion for the suffering person, as a mother would feel for a sick child. The volition arises to help the person come out of his misery. Thus one remains peaceful and happy, and helps others also to become peaceful and happy. This is the purpose of Dhamma: to practise the art of living, that is, to eradicate mental impurities and to develop good qualities, for one’s own good and for the good of others.

There are ten good mental qualities—pāramī—that one must perfect to reach the final goal. The goal is the stage of total egolessness. These ten pāramī are qualities that gradually dissolve the ego, thereby bringing one closer to liberation. One has the opportunity to develop all ten of these qualities in a Vipassana course.

The first pāramī is nekkhamma—renunciation. One who becomes a monk or a nun renounces the householder’s life and lives without personal possessions, even having to beg for his or her daily food. All this is done for the purpose of dissolving the ego. How can a lay person develop this quality? In a course like this, one has the opportunity to do so, since here one lives on the charity of others. Accepting whatever is offered as food, accommodation, or other facilities, one gradually develops the quality of renunciation. Whatever one receives here, one makes best use of it, working hard to purify the mind not only for one’s own good, but also for the good of the unknown person who donated on one’s behalf.

The next pāramī is sīla—morality. One tries to develop this pāramī by following the five precepts at all times, both during a course and in daily life. There are many obstacles which make it difficult to practice sīla in worldly life. However, here in a meditation course, there is no opportunity to break the precepts, because of the heavy programme and discipline. Only in speaking is there any likelihood of one’s deviating from strict observance of morality. For this reason one takes a vow of silence for the first nine days of the course. In this way, at least within the period of the course, one keeps sīla perfectly.

Another pāramī is viriya—effort. In daily life one makes efforts, for example to earn one’s livelihood. Here, however, the effort is to purify the mind by remaining aware and equanimous. This is right effort, which leads to liberation.

Another pāramī is paññā—wisdom. In the outside world, one may have wisdom, but it is the wisdom one gains from reading books or listening to others, or merely intellectual understanding. The real pāramī of wisdom is the understanding that develops within oneself, by one’s own experience in meditation. One realizes directly by self-observation the facts of impermanence, suffering, and egolessness. By this direct experience of reality one comes out of suffering.

Another pāramī is khanti—tolerance. At course like this, working and living together in a group, one may find oneself becoming disturbed and irritated by the actions of another person. But soon one realizes that the person causing a disturbance is ignorant of what he is doing, or a sick person. The irritation goes away, and one feels only love and compassion for that person. One has started developing the quality of tolerance.

Another pāramī is sacca—truth. By practising sīla one undertakes to maintain truthfulness at the vocal level. However, sacca must also be practised in a deeper sense. Every step on the path must be a step with truth, from gross, apparent truth, to subtler truths, to ultimate truth. There is no room for imagination. One must always remain with the reality that one actually experiences at the present moment.

Another pāramī is adhiṭṭhāna—strong determination. When one starts a Vipassana course, one makes a determination to remain for the entire period of the course. One resolves to follow the precepts, the rule of silence, all the discipline of the course. After the introduction of the technique of Vipassana itself, one makes a strong determination to meditate for the entire hour during each group sitting without opening eyes, hands or legs. At a later stage on the path, this pāramī will be very important; when coming close to the final goal, one must be ready to sit without break until reaching liberation. For this purpose it is necessary to develop strong determination.

Another pāramī is mettā—pure, selfless love. In the past one tried to feel love and goodwill for others, but this was only at the conscious level of the mind. At the unconscious level the old tensions continued. When the entire mind is purified, then from the depths one can wish for the happiness of others. This is real love, which helps others and helps oneself as well.

Yet another pāramī is upekkhā—equanimity. One learns to keep the balance of the mind not only when experiencing gross, unpleasant sensations or blind areas in the body, but also in the face of subtle, pleasant, sensations. In every situation one understands that the experience of that moment is impermanent, bound to pass away. With this understanding one remains detached, equanimous.

The last pāramī is dāna—charity, donation. For a lay person, this is the first essential step of Dhamma. A lay person has the responsibility of earning money by right livelihood, for the support of oneself and of any dependents. But if one generates attachment to the money that one earns, then one develops ego. For this reason, a portion of what one earns must be given for the good of others. If one does this, ego will not develop, since one understands that one earns for one’s own benefit and also for the benefit of others. The volition arises to help others in whatever way one can. And one realizes that there can be no greater help to others than to help them learn the way out of suffering.

In a course like this, one has a wonderful opportunity to develop this pāramī. Whatever one receives here is donated by another person; there are no charges for room and board, and certainly none for the teaching. In turn, one is able to give a donation for the benefit of someone else. The amount one gives will vary according to one’s means. Naturally a wealthy person will wish to give more, but even the smallest donation, given with proper volition, is very valuable in developing this pāramī. Without expecting anything in return, one gives so that others may experience the benefits of Dhamma and may come out of their suffering.

Here you have the opportunity to develop all ten of the pāramī. When all these good qualities are perfected you will reach the final goal.

Keep practising to develop them little by little. Keep progressing on the path of Dhamma, not only for your own benefit and liberation, but also for the benefit and liberation of many.

May all suffering beings find pure Dhamma, and be liberated.

May all beings be happy!


Review of the technique

Ten days are over. Let us review what you have done during these ten days.

You started your work by taking refuge in the Triple Gem, that is, in Buddha, in Dhamma, in Sangha. By doing so you were not being converted from one organized religion to another. In Vipassana the conversion is only from misery to happiness, from ignorance to wisdom, from bondage to liberation. The entire teaching is universal. You took refuge not in a personality, dogma, or sect, but in the quality of enlightenment. Someone who discovers the way to enlightenment is a Buddha. The way that he finds is called the Dhamma. All who practise this way and reach the stage of saintliness are called Sangha. Inspired by such persons, one takes refuge in Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha in order to attain the same goal of purity of mind. The refuge is actually in the universal quality of enlightenment which one seeks to develop in oneself.

At the same time, in any person who progresses on the path there will arise a feeling of gratitude and also a volition to serve others without expecting anything in return. These two qualities were notable in Siddhattha Gotama, the historical Buddha. He had achieved enlightenment entirely by his own efforts. Nevertheless, out of compassion for all beings, he sought to teach the technique he had found to others.

The same qualities will appear in all who practise the technique and who eradicate, to some extent, the old habit of egotism. The real refuge, the real protection, is the Dhamma that you develop in yourself. However, along with the experience of Dhamma there is bound to grow a feeling of gratitude to Gotama the Buddha for finding and teaching this technique, and gratitude as well to those who selflessly strove to maintain the teaching in its original purity through twenty-five centuries to the present day.

With this understanding you took refuge in the Triple Gem.

Next you took five precepts. This was not a rite or ritual. By taking these precepts and following them you practised sīla, morality, which is the foundation of the technique. Without a strong foundation the entire structure of meditation would be weak. Sīla is also universal and nonsectarian. You undertook to abstain from all actions, physical or vocal, that would disturb the peace and harmony of others. One who breaks these precepts must first develop great impurity in the mind, destroying his own peace and harmony. From the mental level the impurity develops and expresses itself vocally or physically. In Vipassana you are trying to purify the mind so that it becomes really calm and peaceful. You cannot work to purify the mind while you still continue to perform actions that agitate and defile it.

But how are you to break out of the vicious cycle in which the agitated mind performs unwholesome actions that agitate it still further? A Vipassana course gives you the opportunity. Because of the heavy programme, the strict discipline, the vow of silence, and the strongly supportive atmosphere, there is hardly any likelihood of your breaking the five precepts. Thus during the ten days you are able to practise sīla, and with this base you can develop samādhi; and this in turn becomes the base for insight, with which you can penetrate to the depths of the mind and purify it.

During the course you undertook to observe the five precepts in order to be able to learn this technique. Having learned it, one who then decides to accepts and practise Dhamma must observe the precepts throughout life.

Next you surrendered to the Buddha and your present teacher for the ten days of the course. This surrender was for the purpose of giving a fair trial to the technique. Only someone who has surrendered in this way can work putting forth full efforts. One who is full of doubts and scepticism cannot work properly. However, surrendering does not mean developing blind faith; that has nothing to do with Dhamma. If any doubt arose in the mind, you were encouraged to come to the teacher as often as necessary for clarification.

The surrender was also to the discipline and timetable of the course. These were designed, based on the experience of thousands of previous students, to enable you to work continuously so as to derive the greatest possible advantage from these ten days.

By surrendering you undertook to work exactly as you were asked. Whatever techniques you might have been practising previously you were asked to lay aside for the period of the course. You could obtain the benefit and judge the value of the technique only by practising it exclusively, in the proper way. Mixing techniques, on the other hand, could have led you into serious difficulties.

Then you started your work by practising Anapana meditation in order to develop mastery of the mind, concentration—samādhi. You were told to observe mere, natural breath without adding any word, shape, or form. One reason for this restriction was to preserve the universality of the technique: breath is common and acceptable to everyone, but a word or form may be acceptable to some and not to others.

But there is a more important reason for observing mere respiration. The whole process is an exploration of the truth about oneself, about the mental-physical structure as it is, not as you would like it to be. It is an investigation of reality. You sit down and close your eyes. There is no sound, no outside disturbance, no movement of the body. At that moment the most prominent activity within yourself is respiration. You begin by observing this reality: natural breath, as it enters and leaves the nostrils. When you could not feel the breath, you were permitted to breathe slightly hard, just to fix your attention in the area of the nostrils, and then once again you came back to natural, normal, soft breathing. You started with this gross, apparent truth, and from it you moved further, deeper, in the direction of subtler truths, of ultimate truth. On the entire path, at every step you remain with the truth that you actually experience, from the grossest to the subtlest. You cannot reach ultimate truth by starting with an imagination. You will only become entangled in greater imaginations, self-deceptions.

If you had added a word to the object of respiration, you might have concentrated the mind more quickly, but there would have been a danger in doing so. Every word has a particular vibration. By repeating a word or phrase, one creates an artificial vibration in which one becomes engulfed. At the surface level of the mind a layer of peace and harmony is created, but in the depths impurities remain. The only way to get rid of these deep-lying impurities is to learn how to observe them, how to bring them to the surface so that they may pass away. If one observes only a particular artificial vibration, one will not be able to observe the various natural vibrations related to one’s impurities, that is, to observe the sensations arising naturally within the body. Therefore, if one’s purpose is to explore the reality of oneself and to purify the mind, to use an imaginary word can create obstacles.

Similarly visualization—mentally picturing a shape or form—can become a barrier to progress. The technique leads to the dissolving of apparent truth in order to reach ultimate truth. Apparent, integrated truth is always full of illusions, because at this level saññā operates, perception, which is distorted by past reactions. This conditioned perception differentiates and discriminates, giving rise to preferences and prejudices, to fresh reactions. But by disintegrating apparent reality, one gradually comes to experience the ultimate reality of the mental-physical-structure: nothing but vibrations arising and passing away every moment. At this stage no differentiation is possible, and therefore no preferences or prejudices can arise, no reactions. The technique gradually weakens the conditioned saññā and hence weakens reactions, leading to the stage in which perception and sensation cease, that is, the experience of nibbāna. But by deliberately giving attention to a shape, form, or vision, one remains at the level of apparent, composed reality and cannot advance beyond it. For this reason, there should be neither visualization nor verbalization.

Having concentrated the mind by observing natural breath, you started to practise Vipassana meditation in order to develop paññā—wisdom, insight into your own nature, which purifies the mind. From head to feet, you began observing natural sensations within the body, starting on the surface and then going deeper, learning to feel sensations outside, inside, in every part of the body.

Observing reality as it is, without any preconceptions, in order to disintegrate apparent truth and to reach ultimate truth—this is Vipassana. The purpose of disintegrating apparent reality is to enable the meditator to emerge from the illusion of ‘I’. This illusion is at the root of all our craving and aversion, and leads to great suffering. One may accept intellectually that it is an illusion, but this acceptance is not enough to end suffering. Regardless of religious or philosophical beliefs, one remains miserable so long as the habit of egotism persists. In order to break this habit one must experience directly the insubstantial nature of the mental-physical phenomenon, changing constantly beyond one’s control. This experience alone can dissolve egotism, leading to the way out of craving and aversion, out of suffering.

The technique therefore is the exploration, by direct experience, of the real nature of the phenomenon that one calls ‘I, mine’. There are two aspects of this phenomenon: physical and mental, body and mind. The meditator begins by observing the reality of the body. To experience this reality directly, one must feel the body, that is, must be aware of sensations throughout the body. Thus observation of body—kāyānupassanā—necessarily involves observation of sensations—vedanānupassanā. Similarly one cannot experience the reality of the mind apart from what arises in the mind. Thus, observation of mind—cittānupassanā—necessarily involves observation of the mental contents—dhammānupassanā.

This does not mean that one should observe individual thoughts. If you try to do that, you will start rolling in the thoughts. You should simply remain aware of the nature of the mind at this moment; whether craving, aversion, ignorance, and agitation are present or not. And whatever arises in the mind, The Buddha discovered, will be accompanied by a physical sensation. Hence whether the meditator is exploring the mental or the physical aspect of the phenomenon of ‘I’, awareness of sensation is essential.

This discovery is the unique contribution of the Buddha, of central importance in his teaching. Before him in India and among his contemporaries, there were many who taught and practised sīla and samādhi. Paññā also existed, at least devotional or intellectual wisdom: it was commonly accepted that mental defilements are the source of suffering, that craving and aversion must be eliminated in order to purify the mind and to attain liberation. The Buddha simply found the way to do it.

What had been lacking was an understanding of the importance of sensation. Then as now, it was generally thought that our reactions are to the external objects of sense—vision, sound, odour, taste, touch, thoughts. However, observation of the truth within reveals that between the object and the reaction is a missing link: sensation. The contact of an object with the corresponding sense door gives rise to sensation; the saññā assigns a positive or negative valuation, in accordance with which the sensation becomes pleasant or unpleasant, and one reacts with craving or aversion. The process occurs so rapidly that conscious awareness of it develops only after a reaction has been repeated many times and has gathered dangerous strength sufficient to overpower the mind. To deal with the reactions, one must become aware of them at the point where they start; they start with sensation, and so one must be aware of sensations. The discovery of this fact, unknown before him, enabled Siddhattha Gotama to attain enlightenment, and this is why he always stressed the importance of sensation. Sensation can lead to reactions of craving and aversion and hence to suffering, but sensation can also lead to wisdom with which one ceases reacting and starts to emerge from suffering.

In Vipassana, any practice that interferes with the awareness of sensation is harmful, whether it is concentrating on a word or form, or giving attention merely to physical movements of the body or to thoughts arising in the mind. You cannot eradicate suffering unless you go to its source, sensation.

The technique of Vipassana was explained by the Buddha in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, the "Discourse on the Establishing of Awareness." This discourse is divided into sections examining the various aspects of the technique; observation of body, of sensations, of mind, and of the mental contents. However, each division or subdivision of the discourse concludes with the same words. There may be different points from which to begin the practice, but no matter what the starting point, a meditator must pass through certain stations, certain experiences on the path to the final goal. These experiences, essential to the practice of Vipassana, are described in the sentences repeated at the conclusion of each section.

The first such station is that in which one experiences arising (samudaya) and passing away (vaya) separately. At this stage the meditator is aware of consolidated, integrated reality in the form of gross sensations within the body. One is aware of a sensation, perhaps a pain, arising. It seems to stay for some time and ultimately it passes away.

Going further beyond this station, one penetrates to the stage of samudaya-vaya, in which one experiences arising and passing away simultaneously, without any interval between them. The gross, consolidated sensations have dissolved into subtle vibrations, arising and falling with great rapidity, and the solidity of the mental-physical structure disappears. Solidified, intensified emotion and solidified, intensified sensation both dissolve into nothing but vibration. This is the stage of bhaṅga—dissolution—in which one experiences the ultimate truth of mind and matter: constantly arising and passing away, without any solidity.

This bhaṅga is a very important station on the path, because only when one experiences the dissolution of the mental-physical structure does attachment to it go away. Then one becomes detached in the face of any situation; that is, one enters the stage of saṅkhāra-upekkhā. Very deep lying impurities—saṅkhārā—buried in the unconscious now start appearing at the surface level of the mind. This is not a regression; it is a progress, for unless they come to the surface, the impurities cannot be eradicated. They arise, one observes equanimously, and they pass away one after another. One uses the gross, unpleasant sensations as tools with which to eradicate the old stock of saṅkhārā of aversion; one uses the subtle, pleasant sensations as tools with which to eradicate the old stock of saṅkhārā of craving. Thus by maintaining awareness and equanimity towards every experience, one purifies the mind of all the deep-lying complexes, and approaches closer and closer to the goal of nibbāna, of liberation.

Whatever the starting point, one must pass through all these stations in order to reach nibbāna. How soon one may reach the goal depends on how much work one does, and how large an accumulation of past saṅkhārā one has to eradicate.

In every case, however, in every situation, equanimity is essential, based on an awareness of sensations. Saṅkhārā arise from the point of physical sensation. By remaining equanimous towards sensation, you prevent new saṅkhārā from arising, and you also eliminate the old ones. Thus by observing sensations equanimously, you gradually progress towards the final goal of liberation from suffering.

Work seriously. Do not make a game of meditation, lightly trying one technique after another without pursuing any. If you do so, you will never advance beyond the initial steps of any technique, and therefore you will never reach the goal. Certainly you may make trials of different techniques in order to find one that suits you. You may also give two or three trials to this technique, if needed. But do not waste your entire life merely in giving trials. Once you find a technique to be suitable, work at it seriously so that you may progress to the final goal.

May suffering people every where find the way out of their misery.

May all beings be happy!


How to continue practising after the end of the course

Working one day after the other, we have come to the closing day of this Dhamma seminar. When you started the work, you were asked to surrender completely to the technique and discipline of the course. Without this surrender, you could not have given a fair trial to the technique. Now ten days are over; you are your own master. When you return to your home, you will review calmly what you have done here. If you find that what you have learned here is practical, logical, and beneficial to yourself and to all others, then you should accept it—not because someone has asked you to do so, but with a free will, of your own accord; not just for ten days, but for your whole life.

The acceptance must be not merely at the intellectual or emotional level. One has to accept Dhamma at the actual level by applying it, making it a part of one’s life, because only the actual practice of Dhamma will give tangible benefits in daily life.

You joined this course to learn how to practise Dhamma—how to live a life of morality, of mastery over one’s mind, of purity of mind. Every evening, Dhamma talks were given merely to clarify the practice. It is necessary to understand what one is doing and why, so that one will not become confused or work in a wrong way. However, in the explanation of the practice, certain aspects of the theory inevitably were mentioned, and since different people from different backgrounds come to a course, it is quite possible that some may have found part of the theory unacceptable. If so, never mind, leave it aside. More important is the practice of Dhamma. No one can object to living a life that does not harm others, to developing control of one’s mind, to freeing the mind of defilements and generating love and good will. The practice is universally acceptable, and this is the most significant aspect of Dhamma, because whatever benefit one gets will be not from theories but from practice, from applying Dhamma in one’s life.

In ten days one can get only a rough outline of the technique; one cannot expect to become perfect in it so quickly. But even this brief experience should not be undervalued: you have taken the first step, a very important step, although the journey is long—indeed, it is a lifetime job.

A seed of Dhamma has been sown, and has started sprouting into a plant. A good gardener takes special care of a young plant, and because of the service given it, that little plant gradually grows into a huge tree with thick trunk and deep roots. Then, instead of requiring service, it keeps giving, serving, for the rest of its life.

This little plant of Dhamma requires service now. Protect it from the criticism of others by making a distinction between the theory, to which some might object, and the practice, which is acceptable to all. Don’t allow such criticism to stop your practice. Meditate one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. This regular, daily practice is essential. At first it may seem a heavy burden to devote two hours a day to meditation, but you will soon find that much time will be saved that was wasted in the past. Firstly, you will need less time for sleep. Secondly, you will be able to complete your work more quickly, because your capacity for work will increase. When a problem arises you will remain balanced, and will be able immediately to find the correct solution. As you become established in the technique, you will find that having meditated in the morning, you are full of energy throughout the day, without any agitation.

When you go to bed at night, for five minutes be aware of sensations anywhere in the body before you fall asleep. Next morning, as soon as you wake up, again observe sensations within for five minutes. These few minutes of meditation immediately before falling asleep and after waking up will prove very helpful.

If you live in an area where there are other Vipassana meditators, once a week meditate together for an hour. And once a year, a ten-day retreat is a must. Daily practice will enable you to maintain what you have achieved here, but a retreat is essential in order to go deeper; there is still a long way to go. If you can come to an organized course like this, very good. If not, you can still have a retreat by yourself. Do a self-course for ten days, wherever you can be secluded from others, and where someone can prepare your meals for you. You know the technique, the timetable, the discipline; you have to impose all that on yourself now. If you wish to inform your teacher in advance that you are starting a self course, I shall remember you and send my mettā, vibrations of good will; this will help to establish a healthy atmosphere in which you can work better. However, if you have not informed your teacher, you should not feel weak. Dhamma itself will protect you. Gradually you must reach a stage of self-dependence. The teacher is only a guide; you have to be your own master. Depending on anyone, all the time, is no liberation.

Daily meditation of two hours and yearly retreats of ten days are only the minimum necessary to maintain the practice. If you have more free time, you should use it for meditation. You may do short courses of a week, or a few days, even one day. In such short courses, devote the first one third of your time to the practice of Anapana, and the rest to Vipassana.

In your daily meditation, use most of the time for the practice of Vipassana. Only if your mind is agitated or dull, if for any reason it is difficult to observe sensations and maintain equanimity, then practise Anapana for as long as necessary.

When practising Vipassana, be careful not to play the game of sensations, becoming elated with pleasant ones and depressed with unpleasant ones. Observe every sensation objectively. Keep moving your attention systematically throughout the body, not allowing it to remain on one part for long periods. A maximum of two minutes is enough in any part, or up to five minutes in rare cases, but never more than that. Keep the attention moving to maintain awareness of sensation in every part of the body. If the practice starts to become mechanical, change the way in which you move your attention. In every situation remain aware and equanimous, and you will experience the wonderful benefits of Vipassana.

In active life as well you must apply the technique, not only when you sit with eyes closed. When you are working, all attention should be on your work; consider it as your meditation at this time. But if there is spare time, even for five or ten minutes, spend it in awareness of sensations; when you start work again, you will feel refreshed. Be careful, however, that when you meditate in public, in the presence of non-meditators, you keep your eyes open; never make a show of the practice of Dhamma.

If you practise Vipassana properly, a change must come for better in your life. You should check your progress on the path by checking your conduct in daily situations, in your behavior and dealings with other people. Instead of harming others, have you started helping them? When unwanted situations occur, do you remain balanced? If negativity starts in the mind, how quickly are you aware of it? How quickly are you aware of the sensations that arise along with the negativity? How quickly do you start observing the sensations? How quickly do you regain a mental balance, and start generating love and compassion? In this way examine yourself, and keep progressing on the path.

Whatever you have attained here, not only preserve it, but make it grow. Keep applying Dhamma in your life. Enjoy all the benefits of this technique, and live a happy, peaceful, harmonious life, good for you and for all others.

One word of warning: you are welcome to tell others what you have learned here; there is never any secrecy in Dhamma. But at this stage, do not try to teach the technique. Before doing that, one must be ripened in the practice, and must be trained to teach. Otherwise there is the danger of harming others instead of helping them. If someone you have told about Vipassana wishes to practise it, encourage that person to join an organized course like this, led by a proper guide. For now, keep working to establish yourself in Dhamma. Keep growing in Dhamma, and you will find that by the example of your life, you automatically attract others to the path.

May Dhamma spread around the world, for the good and benefit of many.

May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated!



Tumhe hi kiccaṃ ātappaṃ,

akkhātāro tathāgatā.

Paṭipannā pamokkhanti

jhāyino māra-bandhanā

—Dhammapada, XX. 4(276).

Sabba-pāpassa akaraṇaṃ,

kusalassa upasampadā,

sa-citta pariyodapanaṃ—

etaṃ Buddhāna-sāsanaṃ.

—Dhammapada, XIV. 5(183).


Sabbo ādīpito loko,

sabbo loko padhūpito;

sabbo pajjalito loko,

sabbo loko pakampito.

Akampitaṃ apajjalitaṃ,


agati yatha mārassa,

tatha me nirato mano.

—Upacālā Sutta, Saṃyutta Nikāya, V.7.


Mano-pubbaṅgamā dhammā,

mano-seṭṭhā, mano-mayā.

Manasā ce paduṭṭhena

bhāsati vā karoti vā,

tato naṃ dukkhamanveti

cakkaṃ’va vahato padaṃ.

Mano-pubbaṅgamā dhammā,

mano-seṭṭhā, mano-mayā.

Manasā ce pasannena

bhāsati vā karoti vā,

tato naṃ sukhamanveti

chāyā’va anapāyinī.

—Dhammapada, I. 1 & 2.

Idha tappati, pecca tappati,

pāpakārī ubhayattha tappati.

Pāpaṃ me katan’ti tappati,

bhiyyo tappati duggatiṃ gato.

Idha nandati, pecca nandati,

katapuñño ubhayattha nandati.

Puññaṃ me katan’ti nandati,

bhiyyo nandati suggatiṃ gato.

—Dhammapada, I. 17 & 18.


Jāti’pi dukkhā; jarā’pi dukkhā;

vyādhi’pi dukkhā; maraṇam’pi dukkhaṃ;

appiyehi sampayogo dukkho;

piyehi vippayogo dukkho;

yam’p’icchaṃ na labhati tam’pi dukkhaṃ;

saṅkhittena pañc’upādānakkhandhā dukkhā.

—Dhamma-cakkappavattana Sutta,Saṃyutta Nikāya, LVI (XII). ii. 1.



Avijjā-paccayā saṅkhārā;

saṅkhra-paccayā viññāṇaṃ;

viññāṇa-paccayā nāma-rūpaṃ;

nāma-rūpa-paccayā saḷāyatanaṃ;

saḷāyatana-paccayā phasso;

phassa-paccayā vedanā;

vedanā-paccayā taṇhā;

taṇhā-paccayā upādānaṃ;

upādāna-paccayā bhavo;

bhava-paccayā jāti;

jāti-paccayā jarā-maraṇaṃ-


dukkha-domanassupāyāsā sambhavanti.

Evame-tassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassasamudayo hoti.


Avijjāya tv’eva asesa virāga-nirodhā,saṅkhāra-nirodho;

saṅkhāra-nirodhā viññāṇa-nirodho;

viññāṇa-nirodhā nāma-rūpa-nirodho;

nāma-rūpa-nirodhā saḷāyatana-nirodho;

saḷāyatana-nirodhā phassa-nirodho;

phassa-nirodhā vedanā-nirodho;

vedanā-nirodhā taṇhā-nirodho;

taṇhā-nirodhā upādāna-nirodho;

upādāna-nirodhā bhava-nirodho;

bhava-nirodhā jāti-nirodho;

jāti-nirodhā jarā-maraṇaṃ-


dukkha-domanassupāyāsā nirujjhanti.

Evame-tassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandassanirodho hoti.

—Paṭicca-samuppāda Sutta,Saṃyutta Nikāya, XII (I). 1.

Aneka-jāti saṃsāraṃ

sandhāvissaṃ anibbisaṃ

gahakārakaṃ gavesanto

dukkhā jāti punappunaṃ

Gahakāraka! Ditthosi.

Puna gehaṃ na kāhasi.

Sabbā te phāsukā bhaggā,

gahakūṭaṃ visaṅkhitaṃ.

Visaṅkhāra-gataṃ cittaṃ.

taṇhānaṃ khayamajjhagā.

—Dhammapada, XI. 8 & 9 (153 & 154).

Khīṇaṃ purāṇaṃ navaṃ natthi sambhavaṃ,

viratta citta āyatike bhavasmiṃ.

Te khīṇa-bījā avirūḷhi chandā.

Nibbanti dhīrā yathāyaṃ padīpo.

—Ratana Sutta, Sutta Nipāta, II. 1.


Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā’ti;

yadā paññāya passati,

atha nibbindati dukkhe—

esa maggo visuddhiyā.

—Dhammapada, XX. 5 (277).

Sabba-dānaṃ Dhamma-dānaṃ jināti,

sabbaṃ rasaṃ Dhamma-raso jināti,

sabbaṃ ratiṃ Dhamma-rati jināti,

taṇhakkhayo sabba-dukkhaṃ jināti.

—Dhammapada, XXIV. 21 (354).


Vedanā samosaraṇā sabbe dhammā.

—Mūlaka Sutta, Aṅguttara Nikāya, VIII. ix. 3 (83).

—Kimārammaṇā purisassa saṅkappa-vitakkā uppajjanti’ti?

—Nāma-rūpārammaṇā bhante’ti.

—Samiddhi Sutta, Aṅguttara Nikaya, IX. ii. 4 (14).

Yathā’pi vātā ākāse vāyanti vividhā puthū,

puratthimā pacchimā cā’pi, uttarā atha dakkhiṇā,

sarajā arajā cā’pi, sītā uṇhā ca ekadā,

adhimattā parittā ca, puthū vāyanti mālutā;

tathevimasmiṃ kāyasmiṃ samuppajjanti vedanā,

sukha-dukkha-samuppatti, adukkhamasukhā ca yā.

Yato ca bhikkhu ātāpī sampajaññaṃ na riñcati,

tato so vedanā sabbā parijānāti paṇḍito;

So vedanā pariññāya diṭṭhe dhamme anāsavo, 

kāyassa bhedā Dhammaṭṭho, saṅkhyaṃ nopeti vedagū.

—Paṭhama Ākāsa Sutta, Saṃyutta Nikāya, XXXVI (II). ii. 12 (2).

Yato-yato sammasati

khandhānaṃ udayabbayaṃ,

labhati pīti-pāmojjaṃ,

amataṃ taṃ vijānataṃ.

—Dhammapada, XX. 15 (374).

Namo tassa bhagavato, arahato, sammā-sambuddhassa.

Ye ca Buddhā atītā ca,

ye ca Buddhā anāgatā,

paccuppannā ca ye Buddhā

ahaṃ vandāmi sabbadā.

Ye ca Dhammā atītā ca,

ye ca Dhammā anāgatā,

paccuppannā ca ye Dhammā

ahaṃ vandāmi sabbadā.

Ye ca Saṅghā atītā ca,

ye ca Saṅghā anāgatā,

paccuppannā ca ye Saṅghā

ahaṃ vandāmi sabbadā.

Imāya Dhammānudhamma paṭipattiyā

Buddhaṃ pūjemi,

Dhammaṃ pūjemi,

Saṅghaṃ pūjemi.


Iti’pi so bhagavā,






anuttaro purisa-damma-sārathi,

satthā deva-manussānaṃ,

Buddho Bhagavā’ti.


Svākkhāto Bhagavatā Dhammo,





paccataṃ veditabbo viññūhī’ti.


SupaṭipannoBhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho.

UjupaṭipannoBhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho.

ÑāyapaṭipannoBhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho.

SāmīcipaṭipannoBhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho.

Yadidaṃ cattāri purisa-yugāni,


esa Bhagavato sāvaka-saṅgho;

āhuneyyo, pāhuneyyo,

dakkhiṇeyyo, añjali-karaṇīyo,

anuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ lokassā’ti.

—Dhajagga Sutta, Saṃyutta Nikāya, XI (I). 3.


Aniccā vata saṅkhārā,


Uppajjitvā nirujjhanti,

tesaṃ vūpasamo sukho.

—Mahā-Parinibbāna Suttanta, Dīgha Nikāya, 16.

Phuṭṭhassa loka-dhammehi,

cittaṃ yassa na kampati,

asokaṃ, virajaṃ, khemaṃ,

etaṃ mangalamuttamaṃ

—Mahā-Maṅgala Sutta, Sutta Nipāta, II. 4.

Katvāna kaṭṭhamudaraṃ iva gabbhinīyā

Ciñcāya duṭṭhavacanaṃ janakāya majjhe,

santena soma vidhinā jitavā munindo.

Taṃ tejasā bhavatu te jayamaṅgalāni!

—Buddha-Jayamaṅgala Gāthā.

Attā hi attano nātho,

attā hi attano gati.

Tasmā saññamay’attānaṃ

assaṃ bhadraṃ va vāṇijo.

—Dhammapada, XXV. 21 (380).


Pakārena jānāti’ti paññā.


Dānaṃ dadantu saddhāya,

sīlaṃ rakkhantu sabbadā,

bhāvanā abhiratā hontu,

gacchantu devatāgatā.



Atta-dīpā viharatha,

atta-saraṇā, anañña-saraṇā.

Dhamma-dīpā viharatha,

Dhamma-saraṇā, anañña-saraṇā.

—Mahā-Parinibbāna Sutta, Dīgha Nikāya, 16.

Caratha bhikkhave cārikaṃ

bahujana-hitāya, bahujana-sukhāya,


atthāya hitāya sukhāya devamanussānaṃ.

Mā ekena dve āgamittha.

Desetha bhikkhave Dhammaṃ


majjhekalyāṇaṃ, pariyosānakalyāṇaṃ

sātthaṃ sabyañjanaṃ.

Kevalaparipuṇṇaṃ parisuddhaṃ brahmacariyaṃ pakāsetha.

Santi sattā apparajakkhajātikā

assavanatā Dhammassa parihāyanti.

Bhavissanti Dhammassa aññātāro.

—Dutiyā Mārapāsa Sutta,Saṃyutta Nikāya, VI (I). 5.

Ye dhammā hetuppabhavā

tesaṃ hetuṃ tathāgato āha

tesaṃ ca yo nirodho;evaṃ vādī mahāsamaṇo.

—Vinaya, Mahāvagga, I. 23 (40).

Paññatti ṭhapetvā visesena passati’tivipassanā.

—Ledi Sayadaw, Paramattha Dīpanī.

Diṭṭhe diṭṭhamattaṃ bhavissati,

sute sutamattaṃ bhavissati,

mute mutamattaṃ bhavissati,

viññate viññatamattaṃ bhavissati.

—Udāna, I. x.

Sabba kāya paṭisaṃvedi

assasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

sabba kāya paṭisaṃvedi

passasissāmī’ti sikkhati.

—Mahā-Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, Dīgha Nikāya, 22.

So kāya-pariyantikaṃ vedanaṃvedayamāno,

kāya-pariyantikaṃ vedanaṃvedayāmi’ti pajānāti.

Jīvita-pariyantikaṃ vedanaṃvedayamāno,

jīvita-pariyantikaṃ vedanaṃvedayāmi’ti pajānāti.

—Paṭhama Gelañña Sutta, Saṃyutta Nikāya, XXXVI (II). i.7.

Iti ajjhattaṃ vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati,

bahiddhā vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati,

ajjhatta-bahiddhā vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati.

Samudaya-dhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati,

vaya-dhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati,

samudaya-vaya-dhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati.

Atthi kāyo’ti vā pan’assa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti,

yāvadeva ñāṇa-mattāya paṭissati-mattāya

anissito ca viharati

na ca kiñci loke upādiyati.

Evaṃ’pi kho bhikkhave bhikkhu kāyekāyānupassī viharati.

—Mahā-Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, Dīgha Nikāya, 22.


Ti-ratana saraṇa:

Buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.

Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.

Saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi.


Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃsamādiyāmi.

Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.

Kāmesu micchācārā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃsamādiyāmi.

Musā-vādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃsamādiyāmi.

Surā-meraya-majja-pamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇīsikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.


Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃsamādiyāmi.

Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃsamādiyāmi.

Abrahmacariyā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃsamādiyāmi.

Musā-vādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃsamādiyāmi.

Surā-meraya-majja pamādaṭṭhānāveramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.

Vikāla bhojanā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃsamādiyāmi.

Nacca-gīta-vādita-visūka-dassana-mālā-gandha-vilepana-dhāraṇa-maṇḍana-vibhūsanaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.

Uccā-sayana mahā-sayanā veramaṇisikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.



You have to do your own work;

Enlightened Ones will only show the way.

Those who practise meditation

will free themselves from the chains of death.

"Abstain from all unwholesome deeds,

perform wholesome ones,

purify your own mind"—

this is the teaching of the Buddhas.


The entire world is in flames,

the entire world is going up in smoke;

the entire world is burning,

the entire world is vibrating.

But that which does not vibrate or burn,

which is experienced by the noble ones,

where death has no entry—

in that my mind delights.


Mind precedes all phenomena,

mind matters most, everything is mind-made.

If with an impure mind

one performs any action of speech or body,

then suffering will follow that person

as the cartwheel follows the foot of the draught animal.

Mind precedes all phenomena,

mind matters most, everything is mind-made.

If with a pure mind

one performs any action of speech or body,

then happiness will follow that person

as a shadow that never departs.

Agony now, agony hereafter,

the wrong-doer suffers agony in both worlds.

Agonized now by the knowledge that he hasdone wrong,

he suffers more agony, gone to a state of woe.

Rejoicing now, rejoicing hereafter,

the doer of wholesome actions rejoices in both worlds.

Rejoicing now in the knowledge that he has acted rightly,

he rejoices more, gone to a state of bliss.


Birth is suffering; ageing is suffering;

sickness is suffering; death is suffering;

association with the unpleasant is suffering;

dissociation from the pleasant is suffering;

not to get what one wants is suffering;

in short, attachment to the five aggregates is suffering.

Chain of Conditioned Arising

Forward Order:

With the base of ignorance, reaction arises;

with the base of reaction, consciousness arises;

with the base of consciousness, mind and body arise;

with the base of mind and body, the six senses arise;

with the base of the six senses, contact arises;

with the base of contact, sensation arises;

with the base of sensation, craving and aversion arise;

with the base of craving and aversion, attachment arises;

with the base of attachment, the process of becoming arises;

with the base of the process of becoming, birth arises;

with the base of birth, ageing and death arise,

together with sorrow, lamentation,

physical and mental sufferings and tribulations.

Thus arises this entire mass of suffering.

Reverse Order:

With the complete eradication and cessation ofignorance, reaction ceases;

with the cessation of reaction, consciousness ceases;

with the cessation of consciousness, mind and body cease;

with the cessation of mind and body, the six senses cease;

with the cessation of the six senses, contact ceases;

with the cessation of contact, sensation ceases;

with the cessation of sensation, craving and aversion cease;

with the cessation of craving and aversion, attachment ceases;

with the cessation of attachment, the process of becoming ceases;

with the cessation of the process of becoming, birth ceases;

with the cessation of birth, ageing and death cease,

together with sorrow, lamentation,

physical and mental suffering and tribulations.

Thus this entire mass of suffering ceases.

Through countless births in the cycle of existence

I have run, not finding

although seeking the builder of this house;

and again and again I faced the suffering of new birth.

Oh housebuilder! Now you are seen.

You shall not build a house again for me.

All your beams are broken,

the ridgepole is shattered.

The mind has become freed from conditioning;

the end of craving has been reached.

When past conditioning is erased and no fresh one produced,

the mind no longer seeks for future birth.

The seed consumed, cravings no more arise.

Such-minded wise ones cease like [the flame of] this lamp.


"Impermanent are all compounded things."

When one perceives this with true insight,

then one becomes detached from suffering;

this is the path of purification.

The gift of Dhamma triumphs over all other gifts;

the taste of Dhamma triumphs over all other tastes;

the happiness of Dhamma triumphs over all other pleasures;

the eradication of craving triumphs over all suffering.


Everything that arises in the mind is accompaniedby sensation.

"From what base arise thoughtsand reflections in men?"

"From the base of mind and matter, sir."

Through the sky blow many different winds,

from east and west, from north and south,

dust-laden and dustless, cold as well as hot,

fierce gales and gentle breezes—many winds blow.

In the same way, in this body, sensations arise,

pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral.

When a bhikkhu, practising ardently, doesnot neglect his faculty of thorough understanding,

then such a wise person fully comprehends all sensations.

And having fully comprehended them, within this very life he becomes freed from all impurities.

At his life’s end, such a person, being established in Dhamma and understanding sensations perfectly, attains the indescribable stage.

Whenever and wherever one encounters

the arising and passing away of the mental-physical structure,

one enjoys bliss and delight, [which lead on to]

the deathless stage experienced by the wise.

Homage to the liberated, the all conquering,the fully self-enlightened.

To the Buddhas of the past,

to the Buddhas yet to come,

to the Buddhas of the present

always I pay respects.

To the Dhammas of the past,

to the Dhammas yet to come,

to the Dhamma of the present

always I pay respects.

To the Sanghas of the past,

to the Sanghas yet to come,

to the Sanghas of the present

always I pay respects.

By walking on the path of Dhamma, fromthe first step to the final goal,

thus I revere the Buddha,

thus I revere the Dhamma,

thus I revere the Sangha.

Homage to the Buddha:

Such truly is he: free from impurities,

having destroyed all mental defilements,

fully enlightened by his own efforts,

perfect in theory and in practice,

having reached the final goal,

knowing the entire universe,

incomparable trainer of men,

teacher of gods and humans,

the Buddha, the Exalted One.

Homage to the Dhamma:

Clearly expounded is the teaching of the Exalted One,

to be seen for oneself,

giving results here and now,

inviting one to come and see,

leading straight to the goal,

capable of being realized for oneself by any intelligent person.

Homage to the Sangha:

Those who have practised wellform the order of disciples of the Exalted One.

Those who have practised uprightlyform the order of disciples of the Exalted One.

Those who have practiced wiselyform the order of disciples of the Exalted One.

Those who have practised properly form the order of disciples of the Exalted One.

That is, the four pairs of men,

the eight kinds of individuals,

these form the order of disciples ofthe Exalted One;

worthy of offerings, of hospitality,

of gifts, of reverent salutation,

an incomparable field of merit for the world.


Impermanent truly are compounded things,

by nature arising and passing away.

If they arise and are extinguished,

their eradication brings happiness.

When faced with the vicissitudes of life,

one’s mind remains unshaken,

sorrowless, stainless, secure;

this is the greatest welfare.

Tying a piece of wood over her belly to make herself look pregnant,

Cinca abused [the Buddha] in the midstof all the people.

By peaceful, gentle means the king ofsages was victorious.

By the power of such virtues may you beblissfully triumphant!

You are your own master,

you make your own future.

Therefore discipline yourself

as a horse-dealer trains a thoroughbred.


Wisdom is knowing things in different ways.

Give charity out of devotion,

always maintain the moral precepts,

find delight in meditation,

and you will attain the celestial life.


Make an island of yourself,

make yourself your refuge; there is no other refuge.

Make truth your island,

make truth your refuge; there is no other refuge.

Go your ways, oh monks,

for the benefit and happiness of many,

out of compassion for the world,

for the good, benefit, and happiness

of gods and men.

Let no two go in the same direction.

Teach, oh monks, the Dhamma,

which is beneficial at the beginning,

in the middle, and at the end—

both the spirit and the letter of it.

Make known the Noble Life, which is fully complete [requiring no addition]and pure [requiring no subtraction].

There are beings with only a little dust in their eyes

who will be lost unless they hear the Dhamma.

Such persons will understand the truth.

Those phenomena arising from a cause,

of these the Enlightened One has told the cause

and also their cessation;

this is the ‘doctrine’ of the Great Recluse.

Vipassanā means observing reality in a specialway, by going beyond apparent truth.

In the seen there will be only the seen;

in the heard there will be only the heard;

in the smelled, tasted, touched there will beonly the smelled, tasted, touched;

In the cognized there will be only the cognized.

"Feeling the entire body

I shall breath in"; thus he trains himself.

"Feeling the entire body

I shall breathe out"; thus he trains himself.

Experiencing sensation everywherewithin the limits of the body,

he understands, "I am experiencing sensationeverywhere within the limits of the body."

Experiencing sensation wherever there islife within the body,

he understands, "I am experiencing sensationwherever there is life within the body."

Thus he abides observing body in body internally;

he abides observing body in body externally

he abides observing body in body both internally and externally.

he abides observing the phenomenon of arising in the body;

he abides observing the phenomenon of passing away in the body;

he abides observing the phenomenon ofarising and passing away in the body.

Now his awareness is established, "This is body."

This awareness develops to such an extent that there is mere understanding and mere observation,

and he abides detached

and does not cling to anything in the world.

This, oh bhikkhus, is how a bhikkhu really abides observing body in body.


Refuge in the Triple Gem:

I take refuge in the Buddha.

I take refuge in the Dhamma.

I take refuge in the Sangha.

The Five Precepts:

I undertake the rule of training to abstainfrom killing living creatures.

I undertake the rule of training to abstainfrom taking what is not given.

I undertake the rule of training to abstainfrom sexual misconduct.

I undertake the rule of training to abstainfrom wrong speech.

I undertake the rule of training to abstain from intoxicants, which are causes of intemperate behavior.

The Eight Precepts:

I undertake the rule of training to abstainfrom killing living creatures.

I undertake the rule of training to abstainfrom taking what is not given.

I undertake the rule of training to abstainfrom incelibacy.

I undertake the rule of training to abstainfrom wrong speech.

I undertake the rule of training to abstain from intoxicants, which are causes of intemperate behavior.

I undertake the rule of training to abstainfrom eating at the wrong time.

I undertake the rule of training to abstain from dancing; singing, instrumental music;worldly entertainments; adorning oneself with garlands, perfumes, or cosmetics; wearing jewellery.

I undertake the rule of training to abstainfrom using high or luxurious beds.


Ācariya teacher, guide.

Adhiṭṭhāna strong determination. One of the ten pāramī.

Akusala unwholesome, harmful. Opposite kusala.

Ānanda bliss, delight.

Anapana respiration. ānāpāna-sati: awareness of respiration.

Anattā non-self, egoless, without essence, without substance. One of the three basic characteristics. See lakkhaṇa.

Anicca impermanent, ephemeral, changing. One of the three basic characteristics. See lakkhaṇa.

Arahant / arahat liberated being; one who has destroyed all his mental impurities. See Buddha.

Ariya noble; saintly person. One who has purified his mind to the point that he has experienced the ultimate reality (nibbāna). There are four levels of ariya, from sotāpanna (‘stream-enterer’), who will be reborn a maximum of seven times, up to arahat, who will undergo no further rebirth after his present existence.

Ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga the Noble Eightfold Path. See magga.

Ariya sacca Noble Truth. See sacca.

Asubha impure, repellent, not beautiful. Opposite subha, pure, beautiful.

Assutavā / assutavant uninstructed; one who has never even heard the truth, who lacks even suta-mayā paññā, and therefore cannot take any steps towards his liberation. Opposite sutavā.

Avijjā ignorance, illusion. The first link in the chain of Conditioned Arising (paṭicca samuppāda). Together with rāga and dosa, one of the three principal mental defilements. These three are the root causes of all other mental impurities and hence of suffering. Synonym of moha.

Āyatana sphere, region, esp. the six spheres of perception (saḷāyatana), i.e. the five physical senses plus the mind, and their corresponding objects, namely:

eye (cakkhu) and visual objects (rūpa),ear (sota) and sound (sadda),nose (ghāna) and odour (gandha),tongue (jivhā) and taste (rasa),body (kāya) and touch (phoṭṭhabba),mind (mano) and objects of mind, i.e. thoughts of all kinds (dhamma). These are also called the six faculties. See indriya.

Bala strength, power. The five mental strengths are faith (saddhā), effort (viriya), awareness (sati), concentration (samādhi), wisdom (paññā). In less developed form, these are called the five faculties. See indriya.

Bhaṅga dissolution. An important stage in the practice of Vipassana, the experience of the dissolution of the apparent solidity of the body into subtle vibrations which are constantly arising and passing away.

Bhava (the process of) becoming. Bhava-cakka: the wheel of continuing existence. See cakka.

Bhāvanā mental development, meditation. The two divisions of bhāvanā are the development of calm (samatha-bhāvanā), corresponding to concentration of mind (samādhi), and the development of insight (vipassanā-bhāvanā), corresponding to wisdom (paññā). Development of samatha will lead to the states of jhāna; development of vipassanā will lead to liberation. See jhāna, paññā, samādhi, Vipassana.

Bhāvanā-mayā paññā wisdom developing from personal, direct experience. See paññā.

Bhavatu sabba maṅgalaṃ "May all beings be happy." A traditional phrase by which one expresses one’s goodwill towards others. (Literally, "May there be every happiness.")

Bhikkhu (Buddhist) monk; meditator. Feminine form bhikkhunī: nun.

Bodhi enlightenment.

Bodhisatta literally, ‘enlightenment-being’. One who is working to become a Buddha. Used to designate Siddhattha Gotama in the time before he achieved full enlightenment. Sanskrit bodhisattva.

Bojjhaṅga factor of enlightenment, i.e. quality that helps one to attain enlightenment. The seven such factors are awareness (sati), penetrating investigation of Dhamma (Dhamma-vicaya), effort (viriya), bliss (pīti), tranquillity (passaddhi), concentration (samādhi), equanimity (upekkhā).

Brahmā inhabitant of the higher heavens; the term used in Indian religion to designate the highest being in the order of beings, traditionally considered to be an almighty Creator-God, but described by the Buddha as subject, like all beings, to decay and death.

Brahma-vihāra the nature of a brahmā, hence sublime or divine state of mind, in which four pure qualities are present: selfless love (mettā), compassion (karuṇā), joy at the good fortune of others (muditā), equanimity towards all that one encounters (upekkhā); the systematic cultivation of these four qualities by a meditation practice.

Brahmacariya celibacy; a pure, saintly life.

Brāhmaṇa literally, a pure person. Traditionally used to designate a member of the priestly caste in India. Such a person relies on a deity (Brahmā) to ‘save’ or liberate him; in this respect he differs from the samaṇa. The Buddha described the true brāhmaṇa as one who has purified his mind, i.e. an arahat.

Buddha enlightened person; one who has discovered the way to liberation, has practised it, and has reached the goal by his own efforts. There are two types of Buddha:

1) pacceka-buddha, ‘lone’ or ‘silent’ Buddha, who is unable to teach the way he has found to others;

2) sammā-sambuddha, ‘full’ or ‘perfect’ Buddha, who is able to teach others.

Cakka wheel, Bhava-cakka, wheel of continuing existence (i.e. process of suffering), equivalent to saṃsāra. Dhamma-cakka, the wheel of Dhamma (i.e. the teaching or process of liberation). Bhava-cakka corresponds to the Chain of Conditioned Arising in its usual order. Dhamma-cakka corresponds to the chain in reverse order, leading not to the multiplication but to the eradication of suffering.

Cintā-mayā-paññā wisdom gained by intellectual analysis. See paññā.

Citta mind. Cittānupassanā, observation of the mind. See satipaṭṭhāna.

Dāna charity, generosity, donation. One of the ten pāramī.

Dhamma phenomenon; object of mind; nature; natural law; law of liberation, i.e. teaching of an enlightened person. Dhammānupassanā, observation of the contents of the mind. See satipaṭṭhāna. (Sanskrit dharma.)

Dhātu element (see mahā-bhūtāni); natural condition, property.

Dosa aversion. Together with rāga and moha, one of the three principal mental defilements.

Dukkha suffering, unsatisfactoriness. One of the three basic characteristics (see lakkhaṇa). The first Noble truth (see sacca).

Gotama family name of the historical Buddha. (Sanskrit Gautama.)

Hinayāna literally, ‘lesser vehicle’. Term used for Theravādin Buddhism by followers of other schools. Pejorative connotation.

Indriya faculty. Used in this work to refer to the six spheres of perception (see āyatana) and the five mental strengths (see bala).

Jāti birth, existence.

Jhāna state of mental absorption or trance. There are eight such states which may be attained by the practice of samādhi, or samatha-bhāvanā (see bhāvanā). Cultivation of them brings tranquillity and bliss, but does not eradicate the deepest-rooted mental defilements.

Kalāpa / aṭṭha-kalāpa smallest indivisible unit of matter, composed of the four elements and their characteristics. See mahā-bhūtāni.

Kalyāṇa-mitta literally, ‘friend to one’s welfare’, hence one who guides a person towards liberation, i.e. spiritual guide.

Kamma action, specifically an action performed by oneself that will have an effect on one’s future. See saṅkhāra. (Sanskrit karma.)

Kāya body. Kāyānupassanā, observation of body. See satipaṭṭhāna.

Khandha mass, group, aggregate. A human being is composed of five aggregates: matter (rūpa), consciousness (viññāṇa), perception (saññā), feeling / sensation (vedanā), reaction (saṅkhāra).

Kilesa mental defilements, negativity, mental impurity. Anusaya kilesa, latent defilement, impurity lying dormant in the unconscious.

Kusala wholesome, beneficial. Opposite akusala.

Lakkhaṇa sign, distinguishing mark, characteristic. The three characteristics (ti-lakkhaṇa) are anicca, dukkha, anattā. The first two are common to all conditioned phenomena. The third is common to all phenomena, conditioned and unconditioned.

Lobha craving. Synonym of rāga.

Loka 1. the macrocosm, i.e. universe, world, plane of existence; 2. the microcosm, i.e. the mental-physical structure. Loka-dhammā, worldly vicissitudes, the ups and downs of life that all must encounter, that is, gain or loss, victory or defeat, praise or blame, pleasure or pain.

Magga path. Ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga, the Noble Eightfold Path leading to liberation from suffering. It is divided into three stages or trainings:

I. sīla, morality, purity of vocal and physical actions:i. sammā-vācā, right speech;ii. sammā-kammanta, right actions;iii sammā-ājīva, right livelihood;

II. samādhi, concentration, control of one’s own mind:iv. sammā-vāyāma, right effort;v. sammā-sati, right awareness;iv. sammā-samādhi, right concentration;

III. paññā, wisdom, insight which totally purifies the mind:vii. sammā-saṅkappa, right thought;viii sammā-diṭṭhi, right understanding.

Magga is the fourth of the Four Noble Truths. See sacca.

Mahā-bhūtāni the four elements, of which all matter is composed:

pathavī-dhātu—earth element (weight);āpo-dhātu—water element (cohesion);tejo-dhātu—fire element (temperature);vāyo-dhātu—air element (motion).

Mahāyāna literally, ‘great vehicle’, The type of Buddhism that developed in India a few centuries after the Buddha and that spread north to Tibet, China, Viet Nam, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan.

Maṅgala welfare, blessing, happiness.

Māra death; negative force, evil one.

Mettā selfless love and good will. One of the qualities of a pure mind (see Brahma-vihāra); one of the pāramī. Mettā-bhāvanā, the systematic cultivation of mettā by a technique of meditation.

Moha ignorance, delusion. Synonym of avijjā. Together with rāga and dosa, one of the three principal mental defilements.

Nāma mind. Nāma-rūpa, mind and matter, the mental-physical continuum. Nāma-rūpa-viccheda, the separation of mind and matter occurring at death or in the experience of nibbāna.

Nibbāna extinction; freedom from suffering; the ultimate reality; the unconditioned. (Sanskrit nirvāṇa.)

Nirodha cessation, eradication. Often used as a synonym of nibbāna. Nirodha-sacca, the truth of the cessation of suffering, third of the Four Noble Truths. See sacca.

Nīvaraṇa obstacle, hindrance. The five hindrances to mental development are craving (kāmacchanda), aversion (vyāpāda), mental or physical sluggishness (thīna-middha), agitation (uddhacca-kukkucca), doubt (vicikicchā).

Oḷārika gross, coarse. Opposite sukhuma.

Pāli line; text; the texts recording the teaching of the Buddha; hence language of these texts. Historical, linguistic, and archaeological evidence indicates that this was a language actually spoken in northern India at or near the time of the Buddha. At a later date the texts were translated into Sanskrit, which was exclusively a literary language.

Paññā wisdom. The third of the three trainings by which the Noble Eightfold Path is practised (see magga). There are three kinds of wisdom: received wisdom (suta-mayā paññā), intellectual wisdom (cintā-mayā paññā), and experiential wisdom (bhāvanā-mayā paññā). Of these, only the last can totally purify the mind; it is cultivated by the practice of vipassanā-bhāvanā. Wisdom is one of the five mental strengths (see bala), the seven factors of enlightenment (see bojjhaṅga), and the ten pāramī.

Pāramī / pāramitā perfection, virtue; wholesome mental quality that helps to dissolve egoism and thus leads one to liberation. The ten pāramī are: charity (dāna), morality (sīla), renunciation (nekkhamma), wisdom (paññā), effort (viriya), tolerance (khanti), truthfulness (sacca), strong determination (adhiṭṭhāna), selfless love (mettā), equanimity (upekkhā)

Paṭicca samuppāda the chain of Conditioned Arising; causal genesis. The process, beginning in ignorance, by which one keeps making life after life of suffering for oneself.

Pūjā honour, worship, religious ritual or ceremony. The Buddha instructed that the only proper pūjā to honour him is the actual practice of his teachings, from the first step to the final goal.

Puññā virtue; meritorious action, by performing which one attains happiness now and in future. For a lay person, puññā consists in giving charity (dāna), living a moral life (sīla), and practising meditation (bhāvanā).

Rāga craving. Together with dosa and moha, one of the three principal mental defilements. Synonym of lobha.

Ratana jewel, gem. Ti-ratana: the Triple Gem of Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha.

Rūpa 1. matter; 2. visual object. See āyatana, khandha.

Sacca truth. The Four Noble truths (ariya-sacca) are:

1. the truth of suffering (dukkha-sacca);2. the truth of the origin of suffering (samudaya-sacca);3. the truth of the cessation of suffering (nirodha-sacca);4. the truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering (magga-sacca).

Sādhu well done; well said. An expression of agreement or approval.

Samādhi concentration, control of one’s own mind. The second of the three trainings by which the Noble Eightfold Path is practised (see magga). When cultivated as an end in itself, it leads to the attainment of the states of mental absorption (jhāna), but not to total liberation of the mind. Three types of samādhi are:

1. khaṇika samādhi, momentary concentration, concentration sustained from moment to moment;

2. upacāra samādhi, ‘neighbourhood’ concentration of a level approaching a state of absorption;

3. appanā samādhi, attainment concentration, a state of mental absorption (jhāna).

Of these, khaṇika samādhi is sufficient preparation in order to be able to begin the practice of Vipassana.

Samaṇa recluse, wanderer, mendicant. One who has left the life of a householder. While a brāhamaṇa relies on a deity to ‘save’ or liberate him, a samaṇa seeks liberation by his own efforts. Hence the term can be applied to the Buddha and to his followers who have adopted the monastic life, but it also includes recluses who are not followers of the Buddha. Samaṇa Gotama (‘Gotama the recluse’) was the common form of address used for the Buddha by those who were not his followers.

Samatha calm, tranquillity. Samatha-bhāvanā, the development of calm; synonymous with samādhi. See bhāvanā.

Sampajāna having sampajañña. See following.

Sampajañña understanding of the totality of the mind-matter phenomenon, i.e. insight into its impermanent nature at the level of sensation.

Saṃsāra cycle of rebirth; conditioned world; world of suffering.

Samudaya arising, origin. Samudaya-dhamma, the phenomenon of arising. Samudaya-sacca, the truth of the origin of suffering, second of the four Noble Truths.

Saṅgha congregation; community of ariyā, i.e. those who have experienced nibbāna; community of Buddhist monks or nuns; a member of the ariya-saṅgha, bhikkhu-saṅgha or bhikkhnī-saṅgha.

Saṅkhāra (mental) formation; volitional activity; mental reaction; mental conditioning. One of the five aggregates (khandhā), as well as the second link in the Chain of Conditioned Arising (paṭicca samuppāda). Saṅkhāra is the kamma, the action that gives future results and that thus is actually responsible for shaping one’s future life. (Sanskrit saṃskāra).

Saṅkhārupekkhā literally, equanimity towards saṅkhārā. A stage in the practice of Vipassana, subsequent to the experience of bhaṅga, in which old impurities lying dormant in the unconscious rise to the surface level of the mind and manifest as physical sensations. By maintaining equanimity (upekkhā) towards these sensations, the meditator creates no new saṅkhārā and allows the old ones to pass away. Thus the process leads gradually to the eradication of all saṅkhārā.

Saññā (from saṃyutta-ñāṇā, conditioned knowledge) perception, recognition. One of the five aggregates (khandhā). It is ordinarily conditioned by one’s past saṅkhārā, and therefore conveys a coloured image of reality. In the practice of Vipassana, saññā is changed into paññā, the understanding of reality as it is. It becomes anicca-saññā, dukkha-saññā, anattā-saññā, asubha-saññā—that is, the perception of impermanence, suffering, egolessness, and of the illusory nature of physical beauty

.Saraṇa shelter, refuge, protection. Ti-saraṇā: Triple Refuge, i.e. refuge in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

Sati awareness. A constituent of the Noble Eightfold Path (see magga), as well as one of the five mental strengths (see bala) and the seven factors of enlightenment (see bojjhaṅga). Ānāpāna-sati, awareness of respiration.

Satipaṭṭhāna the establishing of awareness. There are four interconnected aspects of satipaṭṭhāna:

1. observation of body (kāyānupassanā);

2. observation of sensations arising within the body (vedanānupassanā);

3. observation of mind (cittānupassanā);

4. observation of the contents of the mind (dhammānupassanā)

All four are included in the observation of sensations, since sensations are directly related to body as well as to mind. The Mahā-Satipaṭṭhāna Suttanta (Dīgha Nikāya, 22) is the main primary source in which the theoretical basis for the practice of vipassanā-bhāvanā is explained.

Sato aware. Sato sampajāno; aware with understanding of the impermanent nature of the mental-physical structure in its totality, by means of observation of sensations.

Siddhattha literally, ‘one who has accomplished his task’. The personal name of the historical Buddha. (Sanskrit Siddhārtha.)

Sīla morality; abstaining from physical and vocal actions that cause harm to oneself and others. The first of the three trainings by which the Noble Eightfold Path is practised (see magga). For a lay person, sīla is practised in daily life by following the Five precepts.

Sotāpanna one who has reached the first stage of saintliness, and has experienced nibbāna. See ariya.

Sukha pleasure happiness. Opposite dukkha.

Sukhuma subtle, fine. Opposite oḷārika.

Suta-mayā paññā literally, wisdom gained from listening to others. Received wisdom. See paññā.

Sutavā / sutavant instructed; one who has heard the truth, who has sutta-mayā paññā. Opposite assutavā.

Sutta discourse of the Buddha or one of his leading disciples. (Sanskrit sutra.)

Taṇhā literally, ‘thirst’. Includes both craving and its reverse image of aversion. The Buddha identified taṇhā as the cause of suffering (samudaya-sacca) in his first sermon, the "Discourse Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dhamma"(Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta). In the Chain of Conditioned Arising (paṭicca saṃuppāda) he explained that taṇhā originates as a reaction to bodily sensations.

Tathāgata literally, ‘thus gone’ or ‘thus come’. One who by walking on the path of reality has reached ultimate reality, i.e. an enlightened person. The term by which the Buddha commonly referred to himself.

Theravāda literally, ‘teaching of the elders’. The teachings of the Buddha, in the form in which they have been preserved in the countries of south Asia (Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia). Generally recognized as the oldest form of the teachings.

Ti-lakkhaṇa see lakkhaṇa.

Tipiṭaka literally, ‘three baskets’. The three collections of the teachings of the Buddha namely:

1. Vinaya-piṭaka, the collection of monastic discipline;

2. Sutta-piṭaka, the collection of discourses;

3. Abhidhamma-piṭaka, the collection of the higher teaching, i.e. systematic philosophical exegesis of the Dhamma.

(Sanskrit Tripiṭaka.)

Ti-ratana see ratana.

Udaya arising. Udayabbaya, arising and passing away, i.e. impermanence (also udaya-vyaya). Experiential understanding of this reality is achieved by observation of the constantly changing sensations within oneself.

Upādāna attachment, clinging.

Upekkhā equanimity; the state of mind free from craving, aversion, ignorance. One of the four pure states of mind (see Brahma-vihāra), the seven factors of enlightenment (see bojjhaṅga), and the ten pāramī.

Uppāda appearance, arising. Uppāda-vaya, arising and passing away. Uppāda-vaya-dhammino, having the nature of arising and passing away.

Vaya / vyaya passing away, decay. Vaya-dhamma, the phenomenon of passing away.

Vedanā feeling / sensation. One of the five aggregates (khandhā). Described by the Buddha as having both mental and physical aspects; therefore vedanā offers a means to examine the totality of the mental-physical phenomenon. In the Chain of Conditioned Arising (paṭicca samuppāda), the Buddha explained that taṇhā, the cause of suffering, arises as a reaction to vedanā. By learning to observe vedanā objectively one can avoid any new reactions, and can experience directly within oneself the reality of impermanence (anicca). This experience is essential for the development of detachment, leading to liberation of the mind.

Vedanānupassanā observation of sensations within the body. See satipaṭṭhāna.Viññāṇa consciousness, cognition. One of the five aggregates (khandhā).

Vipassana introspection, insight which purifies the mind; specifically insight into the impermanent, suffering, and egoless nature of the mental-physical structure. Vipassanā-bhāvanā, the systematic development of insight through the meditation technique of observing the reality of oneself by observing sensations within the body.

Viveka detachment; discriminatory intelligence.

Yathā-bhūta literally, ‘as it is’. The existing reality. Yathā-bhūta-ñāna-dassana, knowledge-realization of truth as it is.

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