Bojjha’nga – Seven Factors of Enlightenment

This is one of my favourite themes in the suttas. The Bojjha’nga show a progression of dependence in various wholesome states arising from attending to bhikkhus who are accomplished in virtue, concentration, wisdom, liberation, knowledge and vision of liberation.  I believe it is also possible to do this in our imaginations in a virtual way. We can study the Dhamma and imagine visiting an accomplished bhikkhu.  We can record ourselves or others reading profound suttas and then later prepare a sacred moment to listen respectfully, with wise attention.  Of course if your do have convenient access to a an accomplished bhikkhu-monk or bhikkhuni-nun, then you are very fortunate…  
Sa.myuttanikaaya  translated by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi 
S46.1  The Himalayas 

At Saavattii. “Bhikkhus, based upon the Himalayas, the king of mountains, the naagas [dragons] nurture their bodies and acquire strength.  When they have matured their bodies and acquired strength, they then enter the pools. From the pools they enter the lakes, then the streams, then the rivers, and finally they enter the ocean. There they achieve greatness and expansiveness of body.   So too bhikkhus, based on virtue, established upon virtue, a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the seven factors of enlightenment, and thereby he achieves greatness and expansiveness in [wholesome] states…
S46.3  Virtue

“Bhikkhus, those bhikkhus who are
   accomplished in virtue, 
   accomplished in concentration, 
   accomplished in wisdom, 
   accomplished in liberation, 

   accomplished in knowledge and vision of liberation: 

  
   even the sight of those bhikkhus is helpful, I say; 
   even listening to them … 
   even approaching them … 
   even going forth after them is helpful, I say. 
For what reason?  Because when one has heard the Dhamma from such bhikkhus one dwells withdrawn by way of two kinds of withdrawal – withdrawal of the body and withdrawal of the mind.
[1] “Dwelling thus withdrawn, 
               one recollects that Dhamma and thinks it over
Whenever, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwelling thus withdrawn recollects that Dhamma and thinks it over, 
   on that occasion the enlightenment factor of mindfulness is aroused by the bhikkhu; 
   on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness; 
   on that occasion the enlightenment factor of mindfulness comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.
[2] “Dwelling thus mindfully, 
                he discriminates that Dhamma with wisdom, 
                examines it, 
                makes an investigation of it.   
Whenever, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwelling thus mindfully, 
                discriminates that Dhamma with wisdom,  
                examines it, 
                makes an investigation of it,
   on that occasion the enlightenment factor of discrimination of states is aroused by the bhikkhu; 
   on that occasion, the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of discrimination of states  [dhammavicaya]
   on that occasion the enlightenment factor of discrimination of states comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.

[3] While he thus 
              discriminates that Dhamma with wisdom, 
              examines it, 
              makes an investigation of it, 
his energy is aroused without slackening.  
Whenever, bhikkhus, 
     a bhikkhu’s energy is aroused without slackening as he
               discriminates that Dhamma with wisdom, 
               examines it,
               makes an investigation of it, 
  on that occasion the enlightenment factor of energy is aroused by the bhikkhu;
  on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of energy [viriya]
  on that occasion the enlightenment factor of energy comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.

[4] When his energy is thus aroused,

    there arises in him spiritual rapture.
Whenever, bhikkhus, spiritual rapture arises in a bhikkhu whose energy is aroused,
  on that occasion, the enlightenment factor of rapture is aroused by the bhikkhu;
  on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of rapture [piiti];
  on that occasion the enlightenment factor of rapture comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu. 
[5] For one whose mind is uplifted by rapture

   the body becomes tranquil and the mind becomes tranquil.
Whenever, bhikkhus, the body becomes tranquil and the mind becomes tranquil in a bhikkhu whose mind is uplifted by rapture,
   on that occasion, the enlightenment factor of tranquility [passadhi] is aroused by the bhikkhu;
   on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of tranquility;
   on that occasion the enlightenment factor of tranquility comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.

[6] For one whose body is tranquil and who is happy

   the mind becomes concentrated. 
Whenever, bhikkhus, the mind becomes concentrated in a bhikkhu whose body is tranquil and who is happy,
   on that occasion, the enlightenment factor of concentration [samaadhi] is aroused by the bhikkhu;
   on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of concentration;
   on that occasion the enlightenment factor of concentration comes to fulfilment by development in 
   the bhikkhu. 
[7] He closely looks on with equanimity at the mind thus concentrated.

Whenever, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu closely looks on with equanimity at the mind thus concentrated,
  on that occasion, the enlightenment factor of equanimity [upekkhaa] is aroused by the bhikkhu; 
  on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of equanimity;  
  on that occasion the enlightenment factor of equanimity comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu. 

Bhikkhus, when these seven factors of enlightenment have been developed and cultivated in this way, 
seven fruits and benefits may be expected. What are the seven fruits and benefits?

[1]  One attains final knowledge early in this very life [full-enlightenment – Arahat].

[2]   If one does not attain final knowledge early in this very life, 

          then one attains final knowledge at the time of death
[3]  If one does not attain final knowledge early in this very life or at the time of death, 

          then with the utter destruction of the five lower fetters one becomes 
          an attainer of Nibbaana in the interval.
[4]   If one does not attain final knowledge early in this very life … or become an attainer of Nibbaana in 

             the interval, 
          then with the utter destruction of the five lower fetters one becomes 
          an attainer of Nibbaana upon landing.
[5]   If one does not attain final knowledge early in this very life … or become an attainer of Nibbaana

             upon landing,
          then with the utter destruction of the five lower fetters one becomes
          an attainer of Nibbaana without exertion.
[6]   If one does not attain final knowledge early in this very life … or become an attainer of Nibbaana

             without exertion,
          then with the utter destruction of the five lower fetters one becomes
          an attainer of Nibbaana with exertion.

[7]   If one does not attain final knowledge early in this very life … or become an attainer of Nibbaana 
             with exertion, 
          then with the utter destruction of the five lower fetters one becomes 
          one bound upstream, heading towards the Akani.t.tha realm 
          [the exclusive heavenly realm for Non-returners-Anaagaami].
When, bhikkhus, the seven factors of enlightenment have been developed and cultivated in this way, these seven fruits and benefits may be expected. 

Note The first six of these seven benefits are the achievement of Arahat – full enlightenment, the fourth and final type of ariyapuggala-noble person. These six benefits are varied by time taken to attain Arahat. The series begins with the fastest and ends with the slowest in terms of time taken to attain full enlightenment. The seventh benefit is the attainment of anaagaami – non-returning, which is the second highest type of ariyapuggala and destined to attain full-enlightenment after a possibly very long life span as a Brahma being (diety, celestial being…).

Readers should note that a prerequisite to either Arahat or Anaagaami is very well developed indriya-controlling faculties and particularly well developed controlling faculty of concentration – samaadhi, also known as the enlightenment factor of concentration. The lower two ariyapuggala, the stream enterer – sotapanna, and the once-returner – sakadaagaami, have less well developed concentration. Even so, those lower two have well developed virtue – siila and unshakable confidence – saddhaa in the three refuges. Although the bojjhan’ga appear to be advanced training for sotapanna and sakadaagami seeking the higher paths and fruits, don’t be put off.  The bojjhan’ga are still open for faithful worldlings – putthujana to study and practice and reap great benefits.

S46.6 Ku.n.daliya Sutta
I  have summarised this sutta and provided a dependent sequence of fulfilment.  This is an important set of relations and well worth contemplating.

restraint of the sense faculties
   fulfils

three kinds of conduct (bodily, verbal and mental)
   fulfils

the four establishments of mindfulness
   fulfils

the seven factors of enlightenment
    fulfils

true knowledge and liberation [enlightenment].

There is a shorter version of this series in the Aanaapaanasa.myutta S54.13.

You can read more details about the three kinds of conduct (bodily, verbal and mental) in many sutta including M114 and M78.

For readers who are interested in academic study of the Bojjha’nga I recommend “The Buddhist Path to Awakening” by R.M. L. Gethin, published by Oneworld Publications in 2001.  This book covers the 37 Bodhipakkhiyadhamma; Chapter V Factors of Awakening specifically covers the Bojjha’nga. However, this book maybe too theoretical for Buddhists seeking practical advice on the path.  Even so, I transcribed and paraphrased below the bare headings of practices that assist in the arising of each of the seven Bojjha’nga.    These tips are very useful practical advice.

Mindfulness – Sati

  • mindfulness and clear comprehension (sati-samaja~n~na)
  • avoidance of people of lost mindfulness 
  • association with people of established mindfulness
  • commitment to the above

Discrimination of the Dhamma – Dhamma-vicaaya

  • asking questions
  • keeping the body and belongings clean
  • balancing the five controlling faculties
  • avoiding unwise people
  • associating with wise people
  • reflection on practice with deep knowledge
  • commitment to the above

Strength/Energy – Viriya

  • reflection on the dangers of decline to unfortunate existences such as hell, ghost, poor unhealthy human and so on.
  • seeing the benefits of rising to fortunate existences such as sensual heavens, brahma realms and wealthy healthy human worlds etc.
  • reflection on the course of the journey
  • honouring alms received
  • reflection on the greatness inheriting the Buddha’s dispensation
  • reflection on the greatness of the Buddha
  • reflection on the greatness of one’s birth
  • reflection on the greatness of the other practitioners
  • avoidance of idle people
  • association with strong energetic people
  • commitment to the above

Joy/rapture – Piiti

  • recollection of the Buddha
  • recollection of the Dhamma
  • recollection of the Sangha
  • recollection of virtue
  • recollection of generosity
  • recollection of devas
  • recollection of peace
  • avoidance of rough people
  • association with affectionate people
  • reflection on satisfying discourses
  • commitment to the above

Tranquility – Passadhi

  • consuming fine food
  • living in a pleasant climate
  • keeping a comfortable posture
  • maintaining balance
  • avoidance of violent people
  • association with tranquil people
  • commitment to the above

Concentration – Sammaadhi

  • keeping one’s person and belongings clean
  • balancing the five controlling faculties
  • skill regarding the sign-nimitta
  • appropriate application
  • appropriate easing off
  • appropriate encouragement
  • appropriate overseeing
  • avoidance of unconcentrated people
  • association with concentrated people
  • reflection on the jhaanas and liberations
  • commitment to the above

[some of these refer to jhaana techniques and for people unfamiliar with jhaana practice, I recommend you read meditation manuals such as the Vissudhimagga and Vimmuttimagga.]

Equinamity – upekkhaa

  • balanced regard for all beings
  • balanced regard for all mental forces
  • avoiding people with a bias regarding beings or a bias regarding mental forces
  • commitment to all that
Michael’s comments
Note the fundamental significance of virtue-siila [S46.1 quoted above].   “…based on virtue, established upon virtue, a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the seven factors of enlightenment, and thereby he achieves greatness and expansiveness in [wholesome] states…”

The seven Bojjha’nga are developed and the five hindrances are suppressed (see S46.38 & S46.40].  

The seven Bojjha’nga need to be balanced. Bojjha’nga 2, 3 & 4 are stimulating and Bojjha’nga 5, 6 & 7 are  tranquilising. If the stimulating group dominate, one may become overexcited whilst if the tranqulising group dominate, one may become sleepy. Either way, the Dhamma will not be clear and progress will be slow. The first Bojjha’nga, mindfulness-sati, is the most important factor because it helps one to know and see clearly when the other factors are undeveloped or out of balance. See S46.53 for more details and some explanatory similes about the stimulating and tranquillising groups in the bojjha.nga.

I have transcribed S46.3 above in such a way to enable the reader to see the structure of clauses.  This makes the sutta easier to read as well as highlight the differences between the stimulating group and the tranquillising group.  Maybe you can see that as soon as rapture arises, the discriminating, examining and investigating stops.  This is a very important point.  To progress, one must allow the rapture, tranquility and concentration to proceed without analysing. This is subtle and may take a while to get right.  I for one am quite prone to analysing.  There needs to be a balance though.  Analysis and rationality are useful but limited.  Profound wisdom may arise when the mind is tranquil and concentrated.

Note the final factor of upekkhaa-equinamity. “He closely looks on with equanimity at the mind thus concentrated.”  I understand this to be conciousness-vi~n~naana being aware of the feelings-vedanaa, perceptions-sa~n~naa and intentional volitions-sankhaara (form/body-ruupa is not part of mind-naama) that occur in the “mind thus concentrated”. This would be a relatively peaceful mind but still subject to the three general characteristics-tilakkhana (unsatisfactoriness-dukkha, impermanence-annicca and not-self-annattaa). A person with a concentrated mind may not have well developed upekkhaa and due to craving and attachment to rapture-piiti and tranquility-passadhi (M138.12), may not initially have profound insight leading to a breakthrough. As soon as  upekkhaa is mature enough and there has previously been well developed right view, then a breakthrough in the Dhamma will occur – enlightenment. It is natural.

Note the similarities with the noble eightfold path which begins with right view – sammaadi.t.thi and ends with right concentration – sammaasamaadhi. There are differences in emphasis only. The Dhamma may be likened to a multifaceted jewel. One facet may look like seven factors another facet may look like four establishments (of mindfulness), another facet may look like an eightfold path and so on.

May the seven factors of enlightenment be developed and cultivated, may the seven fruits be realised.

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Moral Conduct as the Basis for Spiritual Development

Buddhist suttas-discourses are translated into English in various ways. Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu translates satipa.t.thaana as “the four frames of reference.” Others translate it as the four establishments of mindfulness or the four foundations of mindfulness. I prefer “the four establishments of mindfulness” or to just leave it in the Paali as satipa.t.thaana. This is the basis for samaadhi-concentration and developing panna-wisdom, both of which are the basis for spiritual development.

Sikkha-dubbalya Sutta: Things That Weaken the Training
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

“Monks, these five are things that weaken the training. Which five? The taking of life, stealing, sexual misconduct, the telling of lies, and distilled and; fermented beverages that are a cause for heedlessness. These five are things that weaken the training.

“To abandon these five things that weaken the training, one should develop the four frames of reference. Which four? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and; of itself — ardent, alert, and; mindful — putting aside greed and; distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in and; of themselves… mind in and; of itself… mental qualities in and; of themselves — ardent, alert, and; mindful — putting aside greed and; distress with reference to the world. To abandon the five things that weaken the training, one should develop these four frames of reference.”

Nine ways to Sharpen the Controlling Faculties – Indriyas

I copied/paraphrased these nine ways from two different English language translations of Ven. Sayadaw U Kundala’s Burmese language transcriptions of Dhamma talks. I’m sorry I don’t have the citation details since I left the books in Yangon.

These nine ways are also in the Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification) by Ven. Buddhaghosa, in the section on Samaadhi. Buddhaghosa appears to have provided them to strengthen the five controlling faculties (panc’indriya) and develop samatha – one pointedness of mind. Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw and the Mahasi tradition of vipassana meditation have adapted these nine ways for vipassana meditation.

1. Direct the mind on the nature of cessation of phenomenon; incline the mind towards the dissolution or passing away of the observing and noting object.

2. Note respectfully and penetratively; note respectfully, closely and intensely to actually see the dissolution.

3. Note continuously without disruption in noting; note incessantly without break or gap so the noting will be continuous throughout.

4. Cultivate seven types of suitable (beneficial) dependables during the retreat including:

  1. accommodation – meditation centre
  2. alms – convenient to obtain food, not having to walk far etc.
  3. conversation on Dhamma that is relevant to attaining liberation
  4. fellow practitioners – who are enthusiastic for bhavanaa-mental development
  5. nourishment – food that is suitable for the individual
  6. climate – not too hot, not too cold etc.
  7. posture – straight back and not too much pain

5. Note the causes of development of vipassana samaadhi (insight concentration), remember the causes for attaining the tranquillity of mind, the causes of samaadhi, the signs (nimitta) of past samaadhi.

6. Contemplate the Bojjhanga Dhammas to strengthen the Indriya-controlling faculties. [This also amounts to balancing bojjhangas 2-4 (the investigation group) with bojjhangas 5-6 (the concentration group). Sati-mindfulness is neutral as far as balancing goes and is never in excess relative to any other factor.]

  1. Sati-mindfulness
  2. Dhammavicaaya-investigation of phenomena
  3. Viriya-energy
  4. Piiti-joy, rapture, thrill
  5. Passaddhi-tranquillity
  6. Samaadhi-concentration
  7. Upekkhaa-equanimity

7. Be detached from body and life [be ready to sacrifice the bodily comfort for progress in Dhamma].

8. Practice to overwhelm all painful sensations/feelings [not by force of will but by patient noting and perseverence].

9. Make a determination/resolution for non-stop continuous noting until reaching perfection, don’t give up observing and noting until reaching path and fruition (magga and phala) [this is for an advanced stage and usually after being instructed to do so by the teacher].

Perth to Yangon

My plans are clearer now though by no means certain.

Postponed Trip to India
I am following good advice from friends and family not to go to India before the retreat in Myanmar.
The disadvantages and inconveniences:
1. I would be travelling there alone on the first trip and this is inherently stressful. It may be better for at least the beginning of the first trip to travel in a small group with an experienced person or guide.
2. The weather is particularly hot in late March-April after the moderate temperatures of December-February.
3. My original plan to travel to the main sites in one or two weeks was to cramped with lots of activities in a short period. It would be better to have more time to meditate, read discourses on location and see the less often visited sites.
So now I will probably go to India either in October-November 2009 or from late December 2009 to February 2010 with the later period more likely. I’ve done a lot of research on the India trip that I’ve filed away on the portable media player. I can read the maps and notes stored there. I got an Indian tourist visa but now will not use it before it expires. I will have to apply for another Indian tourist visa at a later time.

Between Perth and Yangon
My last day at work is Thursday, 19 March. I shall take my bags to work and go to the Perth International Airport from there. I will fly overnight and arrive in Singapore around 3AM, Friday, 20 March. I may find a cheap place to rest for a few hours. I want to buy some white meditation shirts and other small items at Mustafa’s. I will also go to a clinic to have the JE vaccination and the annual flu vaccination. I was hoping to visit one or two monks in the afternoon. Neither has replied my e-mail yet. Now that may be delayed for another visit to Singapore while something more urgent has appeared. I just found out that a friend’s parents are very unwell and so maybe I will visit them in the afternoon.

I fly from Singapore to Bangkok between 6PM and 7:30PM. I plan to take a combination of taxi and train to Ayutthaya, the old capital of Siam, and check in to a guest house before midnight on Friday, 20 March. I will check out from there around Tuesday, 24 March and fly to Yangon.
In Ayutthaya I can relax a bit, tour the ruins, visit the museum and just get used to being in Asia before commencing the retreat in Burma.

Retreat
I have a six month meditation visa for Myanmar (Burma). One needs a meditation centre to be a sponsor in order to get a six month or three month (or whatever length) meditation visa. Saddhammaransi Meditation Centre is my sponsor for this trip.

Ven. Sayadaw U Kundala has been very sick during the past few years but has recently made a good recovery. A friend who was in Yangon a few weeks ago reported that Sayadaw is up and about meeting visitors and is likely able to talk with me. This is great news for me. I am fortunate indeed.

Hopefully, I have learned from mistakes I made on a six week retreat in Yangon two years ago. This time, I have at least six months for the retreat – ten times longer or more.
1. Don’t write a daily journal; and 2. Don’t talk to anyone unless absolutely necessary. These activities involve discursive mental practices which are inherently conceptual and far from observing ultimate realities. Writing and talking are to be avoided as much as possible on Buddhist meditation retreats. Whether samatha or vipassana, the same rule applies.
3. Maintain continuous mindfulness and careful or appropriate attention at all times (sati-sampaja~n~na and yoniso-manasikaara). This is about continuity of mindfulness on the right objects. Try to maintain mindfulness of presently arising and passing phenomena at all times, even when bathing, eating, walking to the interview, sweeping the hall and so forth.
4. Purchase small necessary items at the beginning of the retreat so I don’t need to go to the office and make requests. Being experienced, I know what I need now.
5. Don’t look at other meditators or people at the meditation centre. They have a duty to observe phenomena arising and passing over there. I have a duty to observe phenomena arising and passing over here.
6. Do only basic chores necessary for daily life. Avoid repairing toilets when there are still two other toilets in working order. Despite this being a good deed, the benefit does not compare (is not one sixteenth part) of the benefit of meditation. All the planning, shopping for parts and solving of small problems involved in such repairs is very distracting for beginner meditators in the middle of a retreat. This reminds me of the old story of “cleaning the oven before writing the next thesis chapter.”

Cargo
I have been anxious about taking the Suttapitaka books on this trip. When planning this trip earlier, I was not sure if I would return to Australia or not. I may meditate most of the time from April to November (or even longer) without any breaks for study or travel (except maybe short distances within Burma to other meditation centres). In that case, I may not need Suttapitaka books. Having them nearby, I may be tempted to read them or refer to them while on retreat. I’ve become quite attached to them during the past two years. They are my dearest possessions. I shall contemplate the parable of the raft and see if I can let them go for a while.

Australia in December?
I may return for 3 weeks from late November to mid December 2009 to attend my children’s school graduations. One will graduate year 12 and another may (or may not…) graduate year 10. It will mean a lot to them if I can attend. It would cost a lot in airfares though. I checked fares and could not find any discount fares for that period yet. They may be advertised later. Or maybe with the global recession, the cost of flying will increase as the airlines shut down more flights.

Aasava – Taints are like a Seeping Abscess

There have been moments when the mind is relatively clear and concentrated, peaceful and calm. Then an object that activates lust or anger arises and with that a subtle sensation in the chest area and at the back of the throat reminiscent of sickness also arises. Then sati-mindfulness and samaadhi-concentration declines and awareness becomes cloudy as the mind follows the train of thought prompted by the lust or anger object. Swamped by delusion, the now weaker sati-mindfulness and samaadhi-concentration is less able to restrain the senses and the tendency to indulge in sensual pleasure or self-righteous anger proliferates. The weakened sati-mindfulness plaintively reminds “this is not right – there will be more suffering…” but the empowered lust/anger now belligerently pursues gratification.

Later while reflecting on the sensation in the chest I was reminded of a wet cloth or like a sponge seeping dirty fluid. It rose up the throat like bile though not bitter or sharp. The sensation was momentary partly because sati-mindfulness diminished simultaneously. As the noting mind declined the papanca-proliferating mind dominated.

Another time reflecting on this I visualised the sick feeling in the chest as a large abscess full of pus that had been latent until the contact with the lust/anger inspiring object squeezed polluting pus from the pregnant abscess. There was some relief from pressure from the build up of pus (kilesa-defilements) but this was unsatisfying as the pus spread seeping outwards and dulled the mind. I’ve been told I have a vivid imagination.

Based on my reading of suttas and Dhamma books and listening to Dhamma talks by venerable monks, I speculate that with stronger sati-mindfulness and samaadhi-concentration, the mind would have sufficient equanimity to note this and not lose the momentum of noting. The aasava-taint would not have the same effect and a yogi could avoid the dispersal of kilesa-defilements or if the aasava-taints were already eliminated.

Note that the intention to persist in noting and not allow the mind to be flooded by the defilements is skilful and to be cultivated. Conversely the intention to allow the mind to be flooded with defilements, or simply being unaware that there is a choice, is unskilful and to be avoided. In popular discourse these intentions are good karma and bad karma respectively.

A good friend suggested the chest sensation might be a form of tejodhaatu-heat element that is relatively cool and clammy compared with a normal warm sensation when the mind is relatively clear and bright. The tejodhaatu-heat element sensation arises in the chest area near the heart which is the life force of the body. I didn’t have time to ask more detail on this point though the good friend did say it is good for yogis to think of the sensation as just tejodhaatu-heat element being active and not to be concerned about it as a problem. It is a natural element. Just keep noting the sensations and other phenomena arising and passing away. All these phenomena are not-self, impermanent and unsatisfactory.

When discussing it I hadn’t told him about the visualisation of the aasava-taint as an abscess. After talking with him I thought about it again and realised the visualisation is a speculative concept and not real. He suggested focusing on what is real: the heat element or the wind element etc. Noting the three characteristics of all phenomena as they arise and pass away. Nothing is worth clinging to. Strive for liberation.

Another yogi friend suggested the vision of an abscess may have some element of truth to it. Perhaps I have a latent illness. She, being an experience meditator, suggested I keep noting the sensation, look deeply into it the way we look into the pain arising in the knee after sitting for a while.

The vipassana technique for dealing with knee pains is to observe it very closely. If there is sufficient sati-mindfulness and samaadhi-concentration there may also be a moderate degree of upekkhaa-equanimity. The pain is there and the noting observes the pain but the mind is not disturbed. In a similar way, I will try observing the chest feeling with equanimity and sustained mindfulness and concentration and then see what happens. In theory the chest sensation will change either into another kind of sensation or disappear altogether.

Noting the Object

I read a few pages from Ven. Saydaw U Pandita’s book The State of Mind Called Beautiful. This is a great book for yogis practicing the technique of Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw. I found many excellent passages. The following instructions struck a chord with me.

p. 88. A meditator’s mind must continuously enter and penetrate the object. The mind should sink into its object (
pavattati) at all times. When an object arises the mind has to be with it all the time, second by second, not losing sight of it. This is the function of mindfulness called asammosa rasa, meaning non-forgetfulness or keeping the object in view. One must no longer miss or forget the object, and not slip off from it.

p.89. A meditator who makes an honest, respectful effort to note each arising object will attain concentration and wisdom – – provided that his or her mindfulness is also strong in the preceding and succeeding moments. Then, too, he or she will gain the power to note the object automatically. This happens particularly at the time of the fourth insight knowledge (the fourth naana), the insight into the arising and passing away of objects. One sees dramatically the rapidity with which objects arise and pass away.
Between this and the fifth insight knowledge, which focuses on the dissolution of all objects, mindful noting still seems to be moving slower than the objects themselves. This is true for everybody during those stages of practice, no matter how diligently and continuously they are practicing. It is simply part of the unfolding of the insights.

Strategic Intent Supported by Attention

Our habitual mental states, our daily intentions and inclinations generate kamma. Lord Buddha encouraged us to diligently restrain the six sense doors and to wisely attend the skillful mental states that lead away from suffering and toward liberation.

Samyuttanikaaya SN.II.12.38. Volition (เจตนาสูตรที่)

At Saavatii. “Bhikkhus, what one intends, and what one plans, and whatever one has a tendency towards: this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is a basis there is support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is established and has come to growth, there is the production of future renewed existence. When there is the production of future renewed existence, future birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

“If bhikkhus, one does not intend, and one does not plan, but one still has a tendency towards something, this becomes the basis for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is a basis, there is a support for the establishing of consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

“But, bhikkhus, when one does not intend, and one does not plan, and one does not have a tendency towards anything, no basis exists for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is no basis, there is no support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is unestablished and does not come to growth, there is no production of future renewed existence, future birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”

Samyuttanikaaya SN.IV.35.97. Dwelling Negligently (ปมาทวิหารีสูตร)

“Bhikkhus, I will teach you about one who dwells negligently, and about one who dwells diligently.. Listen to that…

“And how, bhikkhus, does one dwell negligently? If one dwells without restraint over the eye faculty, the mind is soiled among forms cognizable by the eye. If the mind is soiled there is no gladness. When there is no gladness, there is no rapture. When there is no rapture, there is no tranquillity. When there is no tranquillity, one dwells in suffering. The mind of one who suffers does not become concentrated. When the mind is not concentrated, phenomena do not become manifest. Because phenomena do not become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells negligently.’

“If one dwells without restraint over the ear… nose…tongue…body…mind faculty, the mind is soiled among mental phenomena congnizable by the mind…. Because phenomena do not become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells negligently.’

“It is in such a way, bhikkhus, that one dwells negligently.

“And how, bhikkhus, does one dwell diligently? If one dwells with restraint over the eye faculty… ear faculty … nose faculty… tongue faculty… body faculty… mind faculty, the mind is not soiled among forms cognizable by the eye. If the mind is not soiled, gladness is born. When one is gladdened, rapture is born. When the mind is uplifted by rapture, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body experiences happiness. The mind of one who is happy becomes concentrated. When the mind is concentrated, phenomena become manifest. Because phenomena become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells diligently.’

“It is in such a way, bhikkhus, that one dwells diligently.”

Majjhimanikaaya MN.19.11. Dvedhaavitakka Sutta: Two Kinds of Thought (เทวธาวิตักกสูตร)

“Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of renunciation, he has abandoned the thought of sensual desire to cultivate the thought of renunciation, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of renunciation. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of non-ill will…upon thoughts of non-cruelty, he has abandoned the thought of cruelty to cultivate the thought of non-cruelty, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of non-cruelty.

Samyuttanikaaya SN.V.45.91. Dwelling Diligently (วิรัทธสูตร)

At Saavatii. “Bhikkhus, just as the river Ganges slants, slopes, and inclines towards the east, so too a bhikkhu who develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path slants, slopes, and inclines towards Nibbaana…

Samyuttanikaaya SN.V.45.152. The Tree (อัตตสัมปทาสูตรที่)

“Bhikkhus, suppose a tree were slanting, sloping, and inclining towards the east. If it were cut at its root, in what direction would it fall?”

“In whatever direction it was slanting, sloping and inclining venerable sir.”
“So too, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path slants, slopes, and inclines towards Nibaana….

Samyuttanikaaya SN.V.46.23. A Basis (ฐานิยสูตร)

“Bhikkhus, by frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for sensual lust, unarisen sensual desire arises and unarisen sensual desire increases and expands. By frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for ill will, unarisen ill will arises and arisen ill will increases and expands. By frequently giving attention to things that are the basis for sloth and torpor, unarisen sloth and torpor arise, and arisen sloth and torpor increase and expand. By frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for restlessness and remorse, unarisen restlessness and remorse arise and arisen restlessness and remorse increase and expand. By frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for doubt, unarisen doubt arises and arisen doubt increases and expands.

“Bhikkhus, by frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for the enlightenment factor of mindfulness, the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness arises and the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness comes to fulfilment by development … By frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for the enlightenment factor of equanimity, the unarisen enlightenment factor of equanimity arises and the arisen enlightenment factor of equanimity comes to fulfilment by development.”

Samyuttanikaaya SN.V.46.24 Careless Attention (อโยนิโสสูตร)

“Bhikkhus, when one attends carelessly, unarisen sensual desire arises and arisen sensual desire increases and expands; when one attends carelessly, unarisen ill will arises and arisen ill will increases and expands; when one attends carelessly, unarisen sloth and torpor arise and arisen sloth and torpor increase and expand…restlessness and remorse…doubt… Also the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness does not arise and the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness ceases … the unarisen enlightenment factor of equanimity does not arise and the arisen enlightenment factor of equanimity ceases.

“When one attends carefully, bhikkhus, unarisen sensual desire does not arise and arisen sensual desire is abandoned. When one attends carefully, unarisen ill-will… sloth and torpor… restlessness and remorse.. doubt does not arise and arisen doubt is abandoned. Also the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness arises and the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness comes to fulfilment by development… the unarisen enlightenment factor of equanimity arises and the arisen enlightenment factor of equanimity comes to fulfilment by development.

Majjhimanikaaya MN.2. Sabbaasava Sutta: All the Taints (สัพพาสวสังวรสูตร)

3. “Bhikkhus, I say that the destruction of the taints is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know and see. Who knows and what? Wise attention and unwise attention. When one attends unwisely, unarisen taints arise and arisen taints increase. When one attends wisely, unarisen taints do not arise and arisen taints are abandoned.

4. “Bhikkhus, there are taints that should be abandoned by seeing. There are taints that should be abandoned by restraining. There are taints that should be abandoned by using. There are taints that should be abandoned by enduring. There are taints that should be abandoned by avoiding. There are taints that should be abandoned by removing. There are taints that should be abandoned by developing.