Noble Eight Fold Path
Meditation is hard work. It demands the highest form of discipline - not conformity, not imitation, not obedience - but a discipline which comes through constant awareness, not only of the things about you outwardly, but also inwardly. So meditation is not an activity of isolation but is action in everyday life which demands co-operation, sensitivity and intelligence.
laying the foundation of a righteous life, meditation becomes an escape
and therefore has no value whatsoever. A righteous life is not the
following of social morality, but the freedom from envy, greed and
the search for power-which all breed enmity. The freedom from these
does not come through the activity of will but by being aware of them
through self-knowing. Without knowing the activities of the self,
meditation becomes sensuous excitement and therefore of very little
cannot be a world transformation, a revolution, as long as action
is based on ideas; because action then is merely reaction; therefore
ideas become much more important than action, and that is precisely
what is taking place in the world, isn't it? To act, we must discover
the impediments that prevent action. But most of us don't want to
act - that is our difficulty. We prefer to discuss, we prefer to substitute
one ideology for another, and so we escape from action through ideology.
Talks 1949-1950 (Verbatim Report)...Ceylon p.10
comes swiftly, unknowingly, when the effort is passive; only when
the maker of effort is silent does the wave of understanding come.
Talks 1949-1950 (Verbatim Report)...India p.19
refer to the K teachings quoted under ''Meditation from moment to
moment/'Total' 'Complete' 'Holistic' Meditation'' and ''Observation''
in this study)
trying to concentrate, the conflicting thoughts-feelings are suppressed
or pushed aside or overcome and through this process there can be
no understanding. Concentration is gained at the expense of deep awareness.
If the mind is petty and limited, concentration will not make it any
the less small and trivial; on the contrary it will strengthen its
own nature. Such narrow concentration does not make the mind-heart
vulnerable to Reality; it only hardens the mind-heart in its own obstinacy
and ignorance and perpetuates the self-enclosing process.
Report of Sixteen Talks given in 1945 & 1946 ... p.52
Effort is a distraction from what is. The moment I accept what is there is no struggle. Any form of struggle or strife is an indication of distraction; and distraction, which is effort, must exist so long as psychologically I wish to transform what is into something it is not.
68, First and Last freedom
Therefore action as we know it is really reaction, it is a ceaseless becoming, which is the denial, the avoidance of what is; but when there is awareness of emptiness without choice, without condemnation or justification, then in that understanding of what is there is action, and this action is creative being. You will understand this if you are aware of yourself in action. Observe yourself as you are acting, not only outwardly but see also the movement of your thought and feeling.
70, first and Last freedom
third bojjhanga is viriya (effort) as in samma-vayamo
in the Noble Eightfold Path. Great effort is required, but the effort
is not to react, to let things just happen. Even if you have been
victorious in a thousand battles against a thousand warriors, this
inner battle of non-reaction is more difficult because the old habit
is to do something, to react. Don't fight Ananda's battle - ''I must
become an arahant," "I must" eradicate my impurities
- if you do, the mind becomes unbalanced. Another extreme is not to
work, not to observe at all, and just let things happen. Let things
happen, but also know the reality 'as it is'. Some slight degree of
tension is necessary: either too much, or none at all, doesn't work.
For example, some pressure is necessary to drill a hole in a precious
gem, but too much pressure will break it. It is a middle path.
72, ''Discourses on Satipatthana Sutta'' by S N Goenka. (Dhammanupassana-bojjhangapabbam)
are factors of enlightenment. Ananda was trying hard to become an
arahant-a liberated human being. The State of Enlightenment is free
from craving and as Ananda was craving for enlightenment and putting
a lot of effort to get enlightened he was not enlightened but when
Ananda was completely in the present moment-knowing 'what is' - that
was the state of enlightenment).
for Shri S N Goenka
How to put effort and yet be effortless ?
by S.N.Goenka-Effortless in not trying to create a sensation and effort
in trying to remain equanimous-Effort in observing. Choiceless in
no craving, no aversion.
must be noted that whenever Lord Buddha talked about awareness (Sati)
He always included insight (Sampajanna). Awareness and insight
are inseparable in the holistic Noble Eight Fold Path (atapi sampajanno
satima). Awareness, concentration, insight go hand in hand in
the Noble Eight Fold Path, they are inseparable.
refer to the article titled 'Sampajanna - The constant thorough
understanding of impermanence' under 'sensations-the root of misery
and sorrow and the key to insight and freedom in this study.)
Why is the practice of samadhi (concentration) not sufficient
- Because the purity of mind developed through samadhi (Concentration)
is achieved primarily by suppression, not elimination of conditioning.
It is just as if someone cleans a tank of muddy water by adding a
precipitating agent, for example, alum. The alum causes the mud particles
suspended in the water to fall to the bottom of the tank, leaving
the water crystal-clear. Similarly samadhi makes the upper
levels of the mind crystal-clear, but a deposit of impurities remains
in the unconscious. These latent impurities must be removed in order
to reach liberation. And to remove the impurities from the depths
of the mind, one must practice Vipassana. (Vipassana is
the observation the reality as it is from moment to moment with insight)
N Goenka Q/A, Pg 79, 'Art of Living' by William Hart
the mind is fixed upon any object....it will become still, it will
achieve one pointed concentration but mere concentration of mind is
not samma samadhi (right concentration). For samma samadhi
it is necessary for the mind to be wholesome, it is necessary for
the mind to be untainted. Only the one pointedness of a wholesome
mind can be called kusalacittekaggata
samadhi-samadhi free from defilements.
Samadhi means that the mind is established in equanimity. A mind
that is focused upon an external object cannot attain equanimity;
it will only disturb the balance of the mind. That is why only the
concentration of a wholesome mind should be regarded as samma samadhi.
mind filled with craving is not wholesome, a mind filled with aversion
is not wholesome, a mind filled with ignorance is not wholesome. When
the mind is concentrated with the help of an object of craving, aversion
or ignorance, it will achieve concentration, but it will be neither
balanced nor equanimous. Such concentration of the mind is not proper,
not pure, not conducive to happiness. Concentration that is dependent
upon craving, aversion or ignorance is the absorption of an unbalanced
mind-how can it be beneficial?
cat with a fully concentrated mind has its full attention on a mouse-hole,
it is fully engrossed in its object. A heron standing on one leg on
the bank of a lake in search of fish, focusing its full attention
on the water, has a completely concentrated mind. It is not aware
of anything else. This is the concentration of a mind filled with
craving for the mouse or fish, it is not samma samadhi. Such a samadhi
is not proper, not pure.
a soldier lying in wait for his enemy, with his attention on the enemy's
trench, has a fully concentrated mind. As soon as the enemy raises
his head, he will shoot him. In the same way, a hunter with a double-barrelled
gun, lying in wait for some dangerous beast, is fully attentive. His
mind is fully concentrated. As soon as he sees his prey, he will fire
a bullet at it. In this way, the mind is concentrated but it is not
a wholesome mind; it is polluted with aversion and violence. Therefore,
the concentration of such a mind is not samma samadhi, is not
person who is in a stupor after taking an intoxicating substance becomes
absorbed in intoxication and attains concentration of the mind. He
is insensate like a person in a deep sleep. He is not aware of any
external or internal event. Similarly, a person making use of chemicals,
such as LSD, experiences hallucinations and becomes completely absorbed
in them. In both these conditions, he loses the equanimity of his
mind, he loses the balance of his mind. Concentration based upon an
unbalanced mind, distorted by ignorance, is not meditation, is not
proper samadhi, is not pure samadhi.
the attainment of pure samadhi, an object based upon any kind of emotional
fervour is not suitable. By this, the equanimity of the mind will
be lost, the balance of the mind will be disturbed, the mind will
become immersed in sentimentality and attachment that is full of craving.
Even though the mind will become concentrated, purity will be missing.....''
''Samma Samadhi'' an article by Shri S N Goenka.
What is the difference between Vipassana and concentration?
- Vipassana is not merely concentration. Vipassana
is observation of the truth within, from moment to moment. You develp
your faculty of awareness, your mindfulness. Things keep changing,
but you remain aware - this is Vipassana. But if you concentrate
only on one object, which may be an imaginary object, then nothing
will change. When you are with this imagination, and your mind remains
concentrated on it, you are not observing the truth. When you are
observing the truth, it is bound to change. It keeps constantly changing,
and yet you are aware of it. This is Vipassana.
noble eight fold path is not a philosophy or a dogma or a mechanical
ritual. It is an art of living-a way of life-the path as shown by
the Buddha. It is actually living the teachings-'going into' the teachings.
The perfection of the noble path is insight or wisdom (samma ditthi).
The noble 8 fold path is divided into Sila (morality), samadhi
(concentration) and panna (wisdom/insight) but these are not
rigid water tight compartments-they flow into each other and help
each other culminating in insight. Anyone living a life of real wisdom/insight
from moment to moment will be a righteous and virtuous person naturally
and effortlessly - for they go hand in hand.
Lord Buddha talked about Sati (awareness) He said that awareness
and insight go hand in hand (atapi sampajano satima-Maha satipatthana
Sutta) The Buddha never instructed to develop mere concentration
or forced concentration of a narrow or unwholesome mind.
the 8 limbs of the 8 fold path have the prefix 'samma' which
is translated as 'Right' but it can be more accurately translated
as 'holistic'. For something to be holistic it has to be natural,
choiceless and wholesome-with the perfume of 'what is' - which is
insight. It cannot be a rigid mechanical system.
noble 8 fold path is the 'pathless path' to truth-to reality-to liberation.
It is 'The path' (ekayano maggo) because it shows the way to
purification (visuddhimagga) but it is the 'pathless path'
because it is not a beaten track or a mechanical ritual or a technique
or a method. To walk on this path one has to be in touch with the
reality 'as it is' (yathabhuta) and as the reality keeps changing
(anicca or impermanence), one is aware of it choicelessly from
moment to moment (yathabhuta nana dassanam). The reality keeps
changing from moment to moment and one is aware of this change (at
the level of sensations) from moment to moment-this changing reality
makes the 'path' the 'pathless path'.
149, Maha-Salayatanika Sutta
truths of which before I had only heard, now I dwell having experienced
them directly within the body, and I observe them with penetrating
XLVIII (IV). v. 10 (50), Apana Sutta (spoken by Sariputta,
chief disciple of the Buddha)
According to the sukkhavipassaka puggala (One who develops
Insight Only), samatha (Calm) and anapana (the process
of observation of natural / normal breathing 'as it is' from moment
to moment), etc., are not separate. After observing the three constituents
of the Morality-group of the Eightfold Path, the development of the
Wisdom-group of the Eightfold Path is undertaken. The three constituents
of the Concentration-group of the Eightfold Path come along together
with the two constituents of the Wisdom-group of the Eightfold Path,
and these two sets are termed Pancangikamagga (the five constituents
of the Eightfold Path). These five form one group and together with
the aforesaid three constituents of the Morality-group of the Eightfold
Path, they become the Noble Eightfold Path.
Magganga Dipani by Ven. Ledi Sayadaw. For details ref to ''Manuals
of Dhamma'' by Ven. Ledi Sayadaw - VRI.