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Buddhist Meditation based on the Pali Canon

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  1. Buddhist Meditationbased on the Pali Canon Ng Wai Chong

  2. Bhaddekaratta gathaA Single Excellent Night (MN 131) Let not a person revive the past Or on the future build his hopes; For the past has been left behind And the future has not been reached, Instead with insight let him see Each presently arisen state; Let him know this and be sure of it, Invincibly, unshakably. Today the effort must be made; Tomorrow Death may come, who knows? No bargain with Mortality Can keep him and his hordes away, But one who dwells thus ardently, Relentlessly, by day, by night- It is he, the Peaceful Sage has said, Who has had a Single Excellent Night.

  3. Overview • What is Buddhist Meditation? • Why do Buddhists meditate? • The ‘Practice’- a Basic Framework • Is meditation really necessary? • Practical notes

  4. What is Buddhist Meditation? • Buddhist Meditation is twofold: Tranquility and Insight • Samatha • Tranquility meditation, in which the wavering and trepidation of the mind is brought to an end, culminating in one-pointedness of mind, with samaadhi as its result. • Vipassana • Insight meditation, seeing in various ways the conditioned phenomena as impermanent, suffering and non-self, with panna as its result. (A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma by Bhikkhu Bodhi)

  5. Tranquility Meditation • Purification of Mind • Training of the higher mind • Culminating in Right Concentration (MN 141 Saccavibhanga Sutta) • Jhanas as guide posts

  6. Tranquility Meditation • “Like a microscope…” – Sayalay Dipankara • Like a slow walk up the mountain path, the trees and leaves become ever clearer (Adapted from Ajahn Brahm’s story)

  7. Tranquility Meditation • 40 Meditation objects • 10 kasinas: earth, water, fire, air, blue, yellow, red, white, space, light • 10 kinds of foulness: bloated, corpse, livid corpse, festering corpse, dismembered corpse, eaten corpse, scattered-in-pieces corpse, mutilated corpse, bloody corpse, worm-infested corpse, skeleton • 10 recollections: Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, morality, generosity, devas, peace, death, 32 parts of the body, breath • 4 illimitables: loving kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity • 1 perception: loathsomeness of food • 1 analysis: the 4 elements • 4 immaterial states: infinite space, infinite consciousness, nothingness, neither-perception-nor-non-perception

  8. The Benefits of Developing Concentration • Blissful abiding here and now • Proximate cause for Insight • “Bhikkhus, develop concentration; a bhikkhu who is concentrated understands correctly.” (S. iii,13) • Realisation of the Direct Knowledges • Rebirth in the Brahma Worlds • For the Noble Ones, the attainment of Cessation (Vism XI 120)

  9. “Bhikkhus, develop concentration; a bhikkhu who is concentrated understands correctly.” (S. iii,13)

  10. Vipassana • Training of higher wisdom • Arriving at the ultimate Right View and Right Thought: knowing and seeing the Four Noble Truths • Nanas as guide posts • The object is conditioned phenomena, i.e. the 5 aggregates and their causes

  11. 2 kinds of practitioners • Samathayaana – involves prior development of tranquility meditation to either access or absorption concentration as a basis for developing insight. • Suddhavipassanaayaana – after purification of morality, enters directly into mindful contemplation of the changing mind-body phenomena. As this contemplation gains in strength and precision, the mind attains a concentration equal to access concentration.

  12. Tranquility and Insight “…the person who gains internal tranquility of mind but not higher wisdom of insight into things should approach one who gains higher wisdom and inquire of him… …the person who gains higher wisdom of insight into things but not tranquility of mind should approach one who gains tranquility of mind and inquire of him… …the person who possesses both internal tranquility of mind and higher wisdom of insight into things should establish himself in just these wholesome states and make a further effort for the destruction of the taints.” AN IV, 94 Back to Overview

  13. Why do Buddhists meditate? For the sake of purer and purer happiness…for Nibbana is the highest bliss!  “Health is the highest gain, contentment the greatest wealth. A trustworthy person is the best kinsman, Nibbana the highest bliss.” (Dhammapada 204) Back to the Overview

  14. Why do Buddhists meditate? • “The Rapture of Seclusion” (AN V 176) “Householders, you attend upon the Sangha of monks with robes, almsfood, lodgings and medicinal requisites for use in time of sickness. But you should not remain satisfied merely with this. Rather, householders, you should train yourselves thus: ‘How can we dwell from time to time in the rapture of seclusion?’ Thus should you train yourselves.”

  15. Why do Buddhists meditate? What does being a lay Buddhist mean? “How, Lord, is one a lay follower?” “If, Mahanama, one has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, one is a lay follower.” (AN VIII, 25)

  16. Why do Buddhists meditate? What are the 3 refuges? • The analogy of the Physician, His Prescription and the Health Attendants. • Dhamma is 3-fold: Verbal Teachings, The Practice, Nibbana – The analagy of the Map and the Traveller. • The Dhamma as the Main Refuge. Taking refuge in the Dhamma means to learn and practise the Dhamma, as taught by the Buddha.

  17. Why do Buddhists meditate? What is the Goal of the Practice of Dhamma? • For Lay disciples • The sappurisa or Superior Person as the ideal (AN VIII, 38) who embodies the 4 ideals (AN VIII, 54): • Faith – “…a family man places faith in the Enlightenment of the Tathagata…” • Virtue - “…a family man abstains from the destruction of life, from stealing, from sexual misconduct, from false speech and from wines, liquors and intoxicants which are a basis of negligence.” • Generosity – “… a family man dwells at home with a mind devoid of the stain of stinginess, freely generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishment, one devoted to charity, delighting in giving and sharing.” • Wisdom – “…a family man possesses the wisdom which sees into the arising and passing away of phenomena, which is noble and penetrative and leads to the complete destruction of suffering.” • A good future rebirth or the attainment of Nibbaana.

  18. Why do Buddhists meditate? • Monks, although a monk who does not apply himself to the meditative development of his mind may wish, “Oh, that my mind might be freed from the taints by non-clinging!”, yet his mind will not be freed. For what reason? “because he has not developed his mind.” One has to say. Not developed in what? In the four foundations of mindfulness, the four kinds of right striving, the four bases of success, the five spiritual faculties, the five spiritual powers, the seven factors of enlightenment and the Noble Eightfold Path. Suppose, monks, a hen has eight, ten or twelve eggs…… (AN VII, 67)

  19. The Basic Framework of the Gradual Training • “ has faith, virtues, generosity and… • listen to the good Dhamma; • retains in the mind the teachings heard and carefully examines their meaning; • practises in accordance with the Dhamma…” (AN VIII, 25)

  20. The Basic Framework of the Gradual Training • The arising of the Tathāgata in the world and his exposition of the Dhamma • The disciple acquires faith • Follows the Teacher into homelessness • Observes the rules of discipline to acquire purification of conduct and livelihood • Contentment • Restraint of the sense faculties • (Moderation in eating) • (Wakefulness) • Mindfulness and clear comprehension • Abandoning the 5 Hindrances and attain Concentration • Insight into things as they really are • Realization of Nibbana • MN 39 The Greater Discourse at Assapura

  21. The Basic Framework of the Gradual Training • Virtues • Non-remorse • Gladness • Joy • Serenity • Happiness • Concentration • Knowledge and Vision of things as they really are • Dispassion • Knowledge and Vision of Liberation • AN X The Rewards of Virtues

  22. The Gradual Training • The 7 Stages of Purification • Purification of Virtue • Purification of Mind • Purification of View • Purification by Overcoming Doubt • Purification by Knowledge and Vision of what is the Path and what is not the Path • Purification by Knowledge and Vision of what is the Way • Purification by Knowledge and Vision • (Rathaviniitha Sutta MN 24 The Royal Chariots)

  23. The Threefold Training • “then monks, there are these three trainings: • the training in higher virtue, • the training in higher mind, • the training in higher wisdom (AN III, 83 & 84 combined)

  24. The Noble Eightfold Path • “…the Noble Eightfold Path is included by the three aggregates. Right speech, right action, and right livelihood – these states are included in the aggregate of virtue. Right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration – these states are included in the aggregate of concentration. Right view and right intention – these states are included in the aggregate of wisdom.” (MN 44: Cuulavedalla Sutta)

  25. Purification of Virtue • Morality • Right Speech • Right Action • Right Livelihood Precepts Listening Purification of Mind Samatha • Concentration • Right Effort • Eight Mindfulness • Right Concentration Contemplation Purification of View Practice Purification by overcoming doubt Vipassana Purification by knowledge and vision of what is path and not path • Wisdom • Right View • Right Thought Purification by knowledge and vision of the way Purification by knowledge and vsion The ‘Practice’ – the basic framework Faith, Virtues Generosity

  26. Nibbana Vipassana Characteristics/ Function/ Manifestation/ Proximate cause Dependent-origination Ultimate mentality Ultimate materiality Recollection of Death Foulness Recollection of Buddha Lovingkindness (+/- 4 Brahmaviharas) 4th Jhana (KIV immaterial Jhana) 3rd Jhana 2nd Jhana 1st Jhana White Kasina (KIV other kasinas) Skeleton 32 Parts of the Body 4 Elements Recollection of Death Foulness Recollection of Buddha Lovingkindness (+/- 4 Brahmaviharas) White Kasina (KIV other kasinas and immaterial Jhana) Skeleton 32 Parts of the Body 4th Jhana 3rd Jhana 2nd Jhana 1st Jhana Patibhaggha-nimitta Uggaha-nimitta Parikamma-nimitta 4 Elements Meditation Breath Meditation Lay follower: 5, 8 or 9 Precepts

  27. Is meditation really necessary? • The 4 classes of individuals • Ugghatitannu – individuals capable of attaining the Noble Paths and Fruits by merely hearing a short concise discourse • Vipancitannu – individuals capable of attaining Noble Paths and Fruits only after the short discourse is expounded to him in some length • Neyya – one who needs to study and to practise for days, months or years in order to attain Noble Paths and Fruits • Padaparama – though he puts forth the utmost effort in both study and practice of the Dhamma, cannot attain the Noble Paths and Fruits in this lifetime. All that he can do is to accumulate habits and potentials and may attain deliverance in the next existence (Bodhipakkhiya Dipanii by Ledi Sayadaw) Back to Overview

  28. Practical Notes • How to learn meditation? • The 5 Hindrances • The Middle Way • Survival guides through a meditation retreat

  29. How to learn Meditation?

  30. It begins with Right View “Therein, bhikkhus, right view comes first. And how does right view come first? One understands wrong view as wrong view and right view as right view: this is one’s right view.” “…..one understands wrong intention…speech…action…livelihood…effort…mindfulness…concentration”

  31. Right View • Kamma as refuge, property, inherited properties, origins, good friends and relatives • Efficacy of merits; past and future lives • 4 Noble Truths

  32. Attitude • Strong faith, desire, determination and effort • Joy • Gratitude of this rare opportunity • Humble and respectful • Honest • Don’t expect anything…be patient…don’t compare

  33. Causes before Results

  34. Physical seclusion • Proper place • Free from duties • Free from sensual pleasures • Moderation in eating • Noble silence

  35. Time • Like boiling water

  36. Teacher • A suitable object of meditation • Guidance along the Middle Way • Books are not enough! • Must be right from the start

  37. Spiritual Friends • Being with the mindful will help in one’s mindfulness

  38. Discipline • Keeping the precepts • Don’t give up • Cleanliness of oneself and one’s living quarters

  39. Just do • Learn as you do: like cycling

  40. Keep doing • Refining the mind continuously

  41. Conditions Knowledge Attitude Skill Learning a skill Keep practising until perfection!

  42. The 5 Hindrances 1. Craving for Sensual Pleasures “Suppose, brahmin, there is a bowl of water mixed with lac, turmeric, blue dye or crimson dye. If a man with good sight were to examine his own facial reflection in it, he would neither know nor see it as it really is.” (AN V193)

  43. 5 Hindrances 2. Aversion • “Suppose, Brahmin, there is a bowl of water being heated over a fire, bubbling and boiling….”

  44. 5 Hindrances 3. Sloth and Torpor “…there is a bowl of water covered with water plants and algae….”

  45. 5 Hindrances 4. Restlessness and worry “…there is a bowl of water stirred by the wind, rippling, swirling, churned into wavelets….”

  46. 5 Hindrances 5. Doubt “…there is a bowl of water that is turbid, unsettled, muddy and placed in the dark….”

  47. How to deal with unwholesome thoughts in the course of meditation? • By thought replacement • By thinking of kamma and its effects • By letting go and not giving attention to them • By stilling the thought formations of those thoughts • By shear will-power MN 20: Vitakkasanthaana Sutta (The removal of distracting thoughts)

  48. The Middle Way

  49. Mindfulness Concentration Energy Wisdom The 5 Spiritual Faculties Faith