Gotama Buddha pointed out and cleared the way of liberation from the
rounds of birth. He taught the
techniques of mental development to attain that liberation.
Samatha, a practice of mind
concentration, eliminates distractedness, establishes one-pointed and
concentrated mind, and leads to tranquility.
Vipassana, a meditative
practice aiming for the highest form of mental development, offers insight into
the true characteristics of phenomena and the attainment of liberating knowledge
In Burma, many meditation centres offer various methods of mental
development employing the techniques set forth in the Maha-Satipatthana
Sutta, a discourse by the Buddha on these subjects.
On account of its proven efficacy and appropriateness to modern man,
there is now growing interest in a technique which had been practised by the
late Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw, the Abbot of the Cave Monastery of Sunlun.
This technique was wrought by the Abbot in actual struggle to win the
final fruits of vipassana practice.
It was found to be in conformity with the principles which are at the
core of Buddhist vipassana practice.
Two characteristics of Sunlun are its employment of sensation as the object of meditation, and the intensity of practice. The
adoption of sensation was never the result of a deliberate intellectual choice.
It arose naturally as an organic part of the actual practice.
But now it is possible to understand why sensation contributes towards
the efficiency of the method. Sensation
lies at the intersection of mind and matter.
As such, it is the best object of meditation to help the yogi, the
meditator, in establishing mindfulness of the body, of sensation, and of
consciousness, namely kaya-nupassana, vedana-nupassana,
It does so because it is at the root of all these stations.
It is the non-mnemonic element in perception and does not depend upon
habit, memory and past experience. Therefore,
it is closest to the requirement of vipassana
which avoids the concepts which are the basis of habit, memory and mnemonic
Sunlun calls for intensity of practice.
It asks the meditator to generate the necessary zeal, ardour, energy and
effort to break the bonds of attachment to the illusive sense of an “I”.
It should be clearly understood that the four
foundations of mindfulness cannot be established in a leisurely manner.
This age, perhaps more than any other, demands unflinching effort on the
part of the yogi who would wish to make significant progress in the practice of vipassana.
This book contains five pieces on the fundamental aspects of the Sunlun
way of mindfulness. The first and
last constitutes a translated sermon delivered in Rangoon (Yangon) by Sunlun
Shin Vinaya, the presiding Abbot of Kaba-Aye Sunlun Monastery in Rangoon, Burma.
The next two are by U Win Pe, and followed by the one by Dr. Ba Le.
The book was last edited in 2000 by Dr. Thynn Thynn.
All are disciples of Sunlun Shin Vinaya and the pieces were written and
edited under his guidance.
YOGI AND VIPASSANA
Sermon by Sunlun Shin Vinaya]
This famous hall has heard many learned speakers present the subject of vipassana in many ways. It
has heard the doctrinal approach to the subject. Vipassana is
insight, the intuitive knowledge which realizes the truth of the impermanence (anicca),
misery (dukkha) and impersonality (anatta)
of all physical and mental phenomena of existence; that is of all living beings.
The way to this intuitive knowledge is the way of the seven stages of
This hall has also heard a psychological approach to the subject.
There have been references to consciousness, mind-functionings, depth
psychology, space-time and other such concepts. It has even heard, I believe, a mathematical presentation of vipassana
employing the techniques of modern algebra and topology.
Since I am no doctrinalist and still less of a trained psychologist or
mathematician, but only a practician of the vipassana
method of Lord Buddha, it would be improper of me to overstep the bounds into
those fields. I believe that my
best contribution to the subject can be only in the field of practice.
Thus, I propose to take a practical approach to the subject before you
this evening. I shall consider the
matter from the point of view of the yogi, his propensities and inclinations,
his encounters with the problems and difficulties of execution, his small
concerns and clingings, and his subtle self-deceptions.
While doing this, I shall attempt to weave in the teachings of the Sunlun
Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw on the practice of vipassana
to illustrate my points.
The first essential equipment of the yogi is a concentrated mind.
For only a concentrated mind is a cleansed mind.
And only the mind which is cleansed of the five hindrances (nivarana),
namely the 1) sense-desire, 2) ill-will, 3) torpor, 4) restlessness and 5)
doubts, can function properly to realize vipassana
For the initiation of the cleansing process, the normal, everyday mind
requires an object to grasp. These
objects can be of two types: external to the body-mind system of the yogi or
belonging to it. Those objects
which are external to the yogi belong to the environment, such as kasina
discs, corpses, or the food which he eats daily. Those objects which belong to the body-mind organization of
the yogi are his body and his thoughts. Any
of these can be taken as an object of meditation to establish concentration.
Let us take an exercise, the in-breathing and out-breathing, (anapana).
It is said to be a suitable exercise for all types of personalities.
If a man practises mindfulness of respiration, he attains to a peaceful
life. He causes evil and
demeritorious states to be overcome. His
body and mind do not tremble. He
fulfils the four foundations of mindfulness (satipathana),
the seven enlightenment factors (bojjhanga),
and realizes wisdom (panna) and
Anapana has been practised by
the Blessed One, Lord Buddha. Furthermore, anapana
is said to be unadulterated, not requiring addition to make it complete.
This anapana exercise may be
practised in the samatha way (details
in the last chapter) or performed so as to realize vipassana. Let us first use this in-breathing and out-breathing exercise
to obtain vipassana (insight).
Breathe in and out. As the
breath goes in and out, it will touch the nose tip or upper lip or some other
place within that region. Fix the
mind on the point of touch of breath. Be
aware of the touch. Do not count,
do not know the degree of length, do not follow the breath in and out.
The method where the touch alone is taken in its bareness performs the vipassana
Yet even this practice can be adulterated with samatha.
If instead of being aware of the touch in its bare actuality, if instead
of guarding this awareness with mindfulness the yogi makes a mental note of it;
then for that moment, he has slipped into the old habit of forming a concept or
an idea and therefore he practises samatha
instead of the intended vipassana.
Mental noting tends to take place at a much slower pace than the actual
processes of phenomena. Thus,
instead of being able to take these processes as they are, it tends to keep
slipping into a past where the processes are reconstructed by an intervening
reasoning mind. To be able to keep up with the natural processes, the yogi
only needs to be mindful. This is
not difficult to perform. The
initial requirement is awareness. Be
aware of the touch or sensation or mental phenomenon.
Then, ward and watch this awareness with mindfulness (sati).
When the awareness is guarded with mindfulness, thoughts are locked out;
they cannot intrude. No opportunity
is offered for the formation of concepts, images or ideas.
Thereby, the processes are got at directly in the very moment of
occurrence, as they are in themselves, without the distortion of thought.
This is true practice.
Thoughts always tend to intrude. Ideas
and images stand just beyond the threshold, ready to enter at the least
weakening of mindfulness. The only
way to keep up with the processes, to be mindful of them, is to exercise
vigilance through a rigour of effort. That
is why in a motto, the Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw said: “Be
rigorously mindful of the awareness of touch.”
May I introduce here a brief biography of the Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw.
The Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw was so named because he came from the cave
monasteries of Sunlun Village near Myingyan in middle Burma.
He was born in 1878 and was named Maung Kyaw Din.
He was sent to a monastery school but he did not learn much there.
It is said that he did not even get to the last verse of the Maha Mangala Sutta, a discourse by the Buddha on the nature of
Auspiciousness, which was taught in the lowest form at school.
At the age of 15, he entered employment as an office boy in the district
commissioner’s office at Myingyan. He married Ma Shwe Yi of the same village.
At the age of 30, he resigned from his post and returned to his native
village to become a farmer.
his village, he found that his fields prospered while other fields failed.
In 1919, there was an epidemic. U
Kyaw Din’s fields were still prospering.
There is a belief among Burmese village people that if one’s
worldly possessions rose rapidly, then one would die soon.
Anxious because of his rising prosperity, U Kyaw Din consulted an
astrologer. He was told that a
two-legged being would soon leave his house.
This was tantamount to saying that he would die.
In great fear U Kyaw Din decided to accomplish one great act of charity. He erected a pavilion in front of his house and invited people to meals for three days. On the third day, a mill clerk named U Ba San turned up uninvited at the feast. He began to converse about the practice of vipassana. On hearing these words, U Kyaw Din became greatly affected. He could not sleep that night. He felt that he wanted to undertake the practice, but was afraid to mention his wish because of his lack of knowledge of scriptural texts
The next day, he
asked U Ba San whether a man ignorant of the texts could undertake the practice. U Ba San replied that the practice of vipassana did not require doctrinal knowledge but only deep interest
and assiduity. He told U Kyaw Din
to practise in-breathing and out-breathing. So from that day, whenever he could find the time, U Kyaw Din
would breathe in and breathe out. One
day he met a friend, U Shwe Loke, who told him that breathing in and out alone
was not sufficient; he also had to be aware of the touch of breath on nostril
U Kyaw Din practised awareness of the touch of breath.
Then as his practice became more intense, he tried to be aware not only
of the touch of breath, but also of the touch of his hand on the handle of the
knife as he chopped corn cobs, the touch of rope on the hand as he drew water,
the touch of his feet on the ground as he walked.
He tried to be aware of touch in everything he did.
tended his cattle, he would sit under a tree and practise mindfulness of
breathing. During the practice, he
began to see coloured lights and geometrical patterns.
He did not know what they were, but felt that they were the fruits of
practice. This greatly encouraged him and he began to practise more
assiduously. With more intensive
practice, sensations were sometimes intensely unpleasant.
But they did not deter him. He
believed that they were the fruits of the practice and that if he desired to win
greater fruit, he would have to overcome and get beyond them.
Therefore, he generated more energy and developed a more rigorous
mindfulness until he overcame the unpleasant sensations and passed beyond to the
higher stages of the practice.
Endeavouring in this zealous manner, U Kyaw Din attained the stage of sotapanna in mid-1920.
The next month, he won the second stage, the sakadagami.
In the third month, he won the third stage, the anagami,
the Non-Returner. Weary of motley
wear, he asked permission from his wife to let him become a monk.
After much resistance, the wife agreed.
But even then, she asked him to sow a final crop of peas before he left.
U Kyaw Din set out for the fields. But
even as he was broadcasting the seeds, he felt the great urge to renounce the
world. So setting his cattle free,
he put the yoke up against a tree and going to the village monastery, he begged
the monk there to accept him as a novice in the Order.
He next betook himself to the caves nearby and practised diligently until
in October, 1920, he attained the final stage, the arahat.
His achievement became known among
the monks and many came to test him. Though
he was a barely literate man, his answers satisfied even the most learned monks.
Very often they disagreed with his replies, but when his answers were
checked against the books, they found many important passages in the Canon
support his statements. Many
learned monks from various parts of the country went to practise mindfulness
under him, and one very learned monk, the Nyaunglun Sayadaw, also became an arahat
after intense practice.
When Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw’s
achievement became known, many distinguished persons visited and worshipped him.
The Venerable U Lokanatha, the renowned Italian monk, visited him and
later declared: “I have visited Myingyan in Middle Burma and
worshipped the Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw. His
teachings and his replies to my many questions, his disposition and deportment
leave me with no doubt that he is truly what he is known to be, that is, an arahat.”
Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw performed the act of paranibbana
in 1952. His remains did not
decompose but remained intact and exuded a most pleasant odour.
To this day, they may be seen and worshipped in Myingyan Town.
Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw was an intrinsically honest man, laconic and
precise in speech, and possessed of great strength and determination.
Photographs show him to be a sturdily built man.
They reveal his steady gaze, clear eyes and firmly set jaws.
Above all, one can see in these photographs that he possessed great
daring, a quality which is a concomitant attribute of the true arahat.
Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw said. He
emphasized rigorousness as an essential element because he understood the yogi.
The yogi is much inclined to sit loosely and to meditate in a relaxed,
leisurely way. He tends to be
reflective and considerate. Reflective is in the sense of reflecting and thinking about
the task to be done rather than doing it. Considerate
is in the sense of sympathizing with himself, taking great care to see that he
is neither exerted nor hurt. The yogi has a great love for himself and therefore prefers
to let his thoughts run away with him, to drift rather than to pull himself
together. To pull himself together
needs exertion and that is anathema to the yogi.
That is why when he is told to breathe harder, he is ready to quote
chapter and verse to prove that he does not need to exert himself.
Perhaps he takes a few lines from the Vimutti-magga,
a discourse on the ‘Path to liberation’, and says: “The yogi should not essay too strenuously.
If he attempts too strenuously, he will become restless.”
This statement is true. The
yogi who strives too strenuously will become restless.
But why does he become restless? It
is because instead of being mindful of touch or sensation, the yogi has his mind
on the effort he is making. The
effort should not be allowed to draw the attention away from the object of
To keep the attention on the object and yet to generate effort, the yogi
should first make sure that the attention is fixed on the object.
When the object has been grasped with full awareness, and this awareness
guarded with mindfulness, the yogi should step up the effort. When he proceeds in this manner, he will find that the
generated effort serves to fix the attention more on the object instead of
distracting it away onto the effort itself.
Furthermore, a greater intentness of the mind has been developed by the
The full text of the above quotation from the Vimutti-magga
in fact reads thus: “He,
the yogi, should be mindful and should not let the mind be distracted.
He should not essay too strenuously nor too laxly.
If he essays too laxly, he will fall into rigidity and torpor.
If he essays too strenuously, he will become restless.” This
means then, that the effort should be just enough for the purpose of mindfulness
and knowledge. But how much is
enough? I think it was William
Blake who said this: “One never knows what is enough until one knows what
is more than enough.”
A measure of what is enough may perhaps be supplied by the words of Lord Buddha when he spoke on how a monk should endeavour. “Monks, if his turban or hair were on fire, he would make an intense desire, effort, endeavour, exertion, struggle, mindfulness and attentiveness to extinguish the fire. So also, an intense desire, effort, endeavour, exertion, struggle, mindfulness and attentiveness is to be made by him so as to give up every evil and wrong state.”
Because he knew how much effort was required, because
he was familiar with the propensity to slackness on the part of the yogi, the
Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw instructed: “Be
To be mindful rigorously is to
mobilize all of one’s resources and to grasp the processes as they are,
without thinking or reflecting. Rigourousness
calls forth the
element of viriya, effort.
It is samma vayamo, right
effort, which is one component of the Noble Eightfold Path.
Another inclination of the yogi is to fidget.
He likes to scratch, to shift, or if he is breathing he likes to stop,
then start and stop again. These
are signs of distraction. These
indicate that mindfulness has not been thoroughly established. To remind the yogi that the distraction is to be avoided and
the agitation stilled, Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw instructed: “Do
not scratch when itched, nor shift when cramped, nor pause when tired.” He
required the yogi who feels the itch, cramp or tiredness to breathe harder if he
is breathing, or to plunge the mind deeper into the sensation if he is watching
the sensation, and thereby, with increased attention to the performance of the
task, to develop intense mindfulness.
Visuddhi-magga, a discourse on the
says that by getting up and so disturbing the posture, the meditation has to be
started anew. The yogi who sits
down to meditate, then an hour later gets up to walk away the sensations of
sitting, then another hour later sits down to think away the sensations of
walking, keeps disturbing the posture. Whatever
sensation that arises in the sitting posture has to be watched in the sitting
posture until it has phased itself out. Whatever
sensation that arises in the standing posture has to be watched in the standing
posture until it has phased itself out.
Remaining still with
attention riveted to the awareness to touch or sensation calls forth the element
of sati, mindfulness. It
is samma sati, right mindfulness,
another component of the Noble Eightfold Path.
There is a third behaviour characteristic of the yogi.
After the lower hindrances (nivarana)
have been removed, lights, colours and geometrical patterns appear to the yogi.
On the one hand, there is the fascination of the yogi for these things
which have never appeared to him like this before.
On the other hand, these lights, colours and patterns are attractive.
Because of these two forces, the yogi begins to turn his attention to the
lights and patterns, he gazes on them, he dwells in them.
And with this turning away from the object of meditation, he abandons his
In like manner, after a period of practice, when the yogi has cleansed
his mind somewhat, he will begin to experience a measure of calm and
tranquility. Since he has never before experienced such peace of mind, he
thinks that this is the best fruit of the practice. Because of this appreciation of the experience, and because
the calm and tranquility attained is attractive in itself, the yogi begins to
dwell in it, to savour the calmness to the full.
He likes to sink in the sense of peace and hates to put forth the
necessary effort to get back again onto the right path.
Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw illustrated this with a local simile.
Myingyan river beach is a stretch of sand a mile wide.
A traveller to the river finds the sand exceedingly hot beneath his feet
under the raging noonday sun. On
the way, he comes to a tree. He
decides to rest in its shade for a moment.
But when that moment has passed, he finds that he cannot urge himself to
get up to move out of that cool shade into the heat which rages above and
beneath him. So he continues to
dwell in the shade. But will this
ever help him to reach the riverside? The
destination can be reached only if he steps out again into the heat and urges
his body forward. That is why the
meditation masters warn the vipassana
yogi not to let himself be drawn by the minor calm and tranquility he finds
along the way. There was once a
yogi who habitually drifted into this area of tranquility and would not budge
out of it. The Sunlun Gu-Kyaung
Sayadaw said of him: “This
man keeps lifting up the tail and patting the behind of the little iguana he has
caught.” I hope
the distinguished yogis will not be satisfied with a mere iguana.
With a further increase in the clarity and purity of the mind, the yogi
sometimes becomes more perceptive to extra-sensual things.
It is not the true divine sight and divine hearing that he attains, but
it is a power somewhat similar to these. Because
of this power, the yogi can see what others cannot see, he can hear what others
cannot hear. People come to consult
him and his predictions come true. He
becomes a sort of a shaman. Thus he
has degenerated from a vipassana yogi
to a shaman. But after some time,
as the distractions of the new vocation grow more varied and the practice of
meditation becomes less intense, the answers turn out to be less and less
accurate, and gradually the clients go away, never to return.
The yogi is left with an interrupted practice.
Many are the occasions in which the yogi indulges in self-deception.
Though he should practise intensively, he deceives himself that the goal
of liberation can be won in a leisurely manner. Though he should sit still, he deceives himself that a slight
shift or movement can do no harm. Perhaps
he is right for the initial crude moments of the practice, but for the peak in
each phase of practice, the smallest wavering of mindfulness can bring down the
structure of meditation, and the edifice will need to be set up again.
Since he can deceive himself in these matters of the body, how much more
can he do it in the subtle mental matters?
inclination for the yogi is to take the first signs of progress on the path to
be signs indicating the higher stages. For
instance, unpleasant sensation can snap abruptly.
For one moment, there is the intense unpleasantness of the sensation; the
next moment, it has gone, snuffed out, and in its place there is a deep sense of
calm and quiet. The yogi often
likes to believe that this is magga-phala,
the post-mental functioning of the enlightenment knowledge.
And he notches for himself one stage of the four ariya
This wrong assignment of the phases of practice can be made also because
the meditation master himself is not thoroughly versed in such matters, or
because his instructions and the teachings in the books are not understood well. However it is, the yogi likes to classify himself as having
attained at least one or two of the ariya
stages. And with this thought in
mind, he goes about seeking confirmation of his belief. And woe be the meditation master who, however gently and
indirectly, makes his failings known to him.
Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw would never pass judgement on anyone, whether or
not that yogi had really attained the said phase or stage.
His only remark would be: “If it is so, it is so.” In any
case, a true attainment would need no confirmation from another source.
The yogi would know it himself. Likewise,
a wrong sense of attainment would not need debunking; the yogi would realize it
The main danger of this form of self-deception is the wrong sense of
achievement that it would give to the yogi.
Satisfied with what he thinks has been his progress, he might lay off the
practice and thus be stranded on the path without having gained any progress of
There is one pet hate of the yogi, and that is unpleasant sensation.
Let him face slight feelings of cramp, heat or muscular tension, and he
will try to be mindful of it for some time.
But give him the pain within the marrow of the bone, the burning
sensation, the sharp excruciating pain along the limbs, and he will abandon them
in a few minutes. As usual, he is
ready with his excuses and the quotation of chapter and verse.
Who says one must employ unpleasant sensation as an object of meditation,
he wants to know. Cannot a yogi
attain whatever is to be attained by working on pleasant sensation?
Who says one should suffer so much?
Is this not self-mortification?
The answer is that if a yogi is so well blessed with parami,
which is the inherent quality of perfection of virtues developed and nurtured in
past lives (past perfection), to be a sukha-patipada,
one who treads the pleasant path, one who can gain ariya knowledge without undergoing pain, then he can work on
pleasant sensation. But for the
overwhelming majority of us, as may be observed, there is no choice but to tread
the path of unpleasant sensation, for we are dukkha-patipada.
Actually there should be no cause for regret.
Unpleasant sensation is an efficacious object of meditation which takes
the yogi steadily up the path to the attainment of the final goal. The very fact that the yogi does not normally like unpleasant
sensation can be employed by him to establish a deeper and more intense
mindfulness. Made to work with an
object he does not like, he will remember to arouse the necessary zeal to
overcome the unpleasant sensation. It
is different with pleasant sensation. Because
he likes it, he will tend to sink in it, to suffuse himself with its
pleasantness without trying to be mindful of it.
When he does that, the greed and lust that is latent in pleasant
sensation will overwhelm him. The
yogi will not be able to hold on to sensation as sensation, but sensation will
carry him forward to originate the next link of desire, tanha, in the chain leading to further births.
It is as though a swimmer in a strong current were asked to grasp the
bunch of flowers at the winning post. If
he is swimming with the current and stretches out his hand to grasp the flowers
and he misses, he will be carried beyond the point by the force of the current.
If he is swimming against the current and misses when stretching out his
hand to grasp the flowers, he will still be below them and will thus have an
opportunity to try again consciously and deliberately.
The swimmer with the current is like the yogi who employs pleasant
sensation. If he is unable to be mindful of pleasant sensation, he will
be carried beyond it into lobha,
desire. The swimmer against the
current is like the yogi who employs unpleasant sensation. If he is unable to be mindful of unpleasant sensation as it
is in itself, he will still be conscious of it and will be able to summon up the
energy and mindfulness to accomplish his mission.
Pleasant sensation is like a hidden enemy; it catches the yogi unaware.
Unpleasant sensation is like a conspicuous foe; the yogi can recognize it
and take corrective action so that anger, which is latent in unpleasant
sensation, does not get an opportunity to rise. Between natural dislike of unpleasant sensation and a zealous
effort to establish mindfulness, the yogi will neither immerse himself in it nor
flinch from it. He will be able to
detach himself completely from the unpleasant sensation, dwelling within the
sensation, watching the sensation, without thinking any thought connected with
the sensation. Unpleasant sensation
serves as a firm hitch-post for the mind which inclines to wander.
An unpleasant sensation will never deceive the yogi about the true nature
of phenomena – unpleasantness (dukkha).
Also, there should be no cause for fear of unpleasant sensation.
There are techniques to arouse a sufficient depth and intensity of
mindfulness to overcome the infliction and hurt of unpleasant sensation.
This sense of infliction is due to
the identification of the yogi with the area of pain and the effect of
unpleasant sensation. But when
mindfulness has been established sufficiently to penetrate and be deeply
engrossed in the sensation and be able to eliminate the identification with the
notion of a personality, an “I”,
which can be hurt, then unpleasant sensation becomes only an unpleasant
sensation and no more a source of pain.
The ultimate purpose of vipassana meditation
is to eliminate the illusive notion of “I”. A yogi has to chip at the
notion of “I” again and again in these struggles with unpleasant
Let us say
the unpleasant sensation rises. The
yogi keeps mindful of it until the unpleasant sensation is consumed.
Thereby, the cause is killed in the effect. It means, the causative karmic
force (born out of past physical, verbal, mental deeds which are bad or
unwholesome) manifests itself as unpleasant sensation.
When this unpleasant sensation has been mindfully observed, followed and
consumed till the end with intense concentration, the effect, the resultant of
that unwholesome karmic deed has been
eliminated. He does it again and
again until with perfect proficiency, he finally manages to kill the cause in
the cause, to end the cause in the cause. That
means, he is able to put a stop on the causative unwholesome karmic deeds even before they rear their heads, even before they
appear. This is anuppada-nirodha. Because
of being able to end the cause in the cause, it can never again give rise to an
effect (result of a karmic deed) which
will only turn out to be another cause in the endless chain.
This killing of the cause in the cause is magga,
the Right Path. And it is because
of this quality of efficacy in eliminating the false notion of “I”,
Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw stated: “The
uncomfortable truly is the norm; the comfortable will set you all adrift on the
currents of samsara.” Unpleasant
sensation is the yogi’s
internal enemy. Once the internal
enemy can be overcome, the external sources of suffering (dukkha) cannot touch him any more.
After a period of ardent practice, there comes a moment when the true
liberating knowledge is offered to the yogi.
These moments come only to the very few.
To arrive to this moment, the yogi must have completely perfected the
establishment of mindfulness of the body, kaya-nupassana.
He must have completely perfected the establishment of the foundation of
mindfulness of the sensations, vedana-nupassana.
This means that he must have perfectly overcome the unpleasant sensation.
The unpleasant sensations are the greatest obstacles confronting the yogi
in this progress along the path. This
is where he keeps falling back. To
overcome them, he needs to possess unflinching energy, resolve and intentness as
well as the right technique. But
unpleasant sensations can be both a road-block as well as a stepping-stone; they
can be a trap-pit as well as a gold mine. They
can equip the yogi with sufficient powers of concentration and mindfulness to
deal with the subtle processes of the next phase, the establishment of
mindfulness of consciousness, citta-nupassana.
mindfulness of consciousness has been completed perfectly, he will be offered
the task of establishing the foundations of mindfulness of mental objects and
fundamental principle, dhamma-nupassana. Here
comes that awful moment of truth. If
the yogi has not perfectly established the mindfulness of the principles, then
when liberating knowledge is offered to him, he will shy away from it, he will
fail to grasp it. But if he has
fully perfected the establishment of the four foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana),
and he has fully acquired the seven factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga),
then in that very moment of perfecting and acquiring these seven, there will
arise in him, the true liberating knowledge, magga-nana.
The above behaviour characteristics are typical of the yogi.
He is disinclined to endeavour ardently, is quick to fidget, eager to
follow after lights and colours, prone to rest in areas of calm, ready to
exaggerate minor successes, willing to misuse subsidiary power, liable to give
himself the benefit of the doubt, afraid of unpleasant sensation, and terrified
and clumsy when the real moment of truth is offered. We do not need to search for this yogi elsewhere, we are the
prototype. It is we who would like
to reap the benefits of meditation but are unwilling to sow the good seed; it is
we who wish to gather the returns but do not wish to lay down the investment.
We wish to talk ourselves to a goal which can only be reached by high
endeavour; we wish to deceive ourselves into a situation which will permit the
entry of only the perfectly truthful.
Does this mean then that the goal will forever be beyond our reach?
That is not so. Where Sunlun
Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw has trodden, we too can tread. We need only to follow his instructions faithfully.
Sunlun Gu-Kyaung Sayadaw instructed us :
rigorously mindful of the awareness of touch.”
should be rigorously, ardently, intensively mindful.
not rest when tired,
shift when cramped.”
We should keep our bodies and
minds absolutely still and strive till the end.
“The uncomfortable truly is the norm; the comfortable
will set us all adrift on the currents of samsara.”
should endeavour to study unpleasant sensation in depth; only he who has tackled
and overcome sensation fully well will see processes as they are.
We should generate a willing suspension of disbelief, exert that extra
ounce of effort, and be rigorously mindful.
Have faith (saddha),
perseverance (viriya) and mindfulness (sati)
to purify ourselves, to overcome pain and grief, to reach the right path, to win
The seven stages of purity (visuddhi)
Purity of morality
2. Purity of mind
3. Purity of view, belief
by overcoming all doubts
5. Purity of knowledge and insight
discriminating what is the
Path and what is not
6. Purity of knowledge and insight
discerns the Path progress
It means the disciple clearly understands and follow the right Path,
which is meant the nine levels of knowledge leading to the attainment of Noble
Path (ariya magga).
That is, from the final stage of the 4th level of knowledge (udaya-baya-nana)
up to the 13th level of knowledge (anuloma-nana).
7. Purity of knowledge and insight
the four supramundane
Truths and Fruition
Five hindrances (nivarana):
They are obstacles to any kind of mental
Sloth and torpor
Restlessness and worry