Translated from the Thai by Santikaro Bhikkhu
Thiện Nhựt phỏng dịch
Source-Nguồn: dhammatalks.net, ftp.budaedu.org, budsas.org, thuvienhoasen.org
(Selections from a talk given 5 April 1987)
Before anything else please understand that there are many different systems and methods of vipassana (meditation for the sake of insight into impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self) going under different names. Out of them all, however, we prefer the system known as "Anapanasati." This is the system of mental cultivation (meditation) which the Lord Buddha himself recommended. Nowadays, there are this teacher's and that master's vipassana all over the place. There are Burmese systems, Sri Lankan systems, Thai systems, all sorts of different systems. We don't know much about any of them. We are interested only in Anapanasati. We can say that Anapanasati is the Buddha's system. It is not Suan Mokkh's system. Rather, Suan Mokkh has taken it up to practice, then teaches it and passes it along.
May we recommend to you Anapanasati as one system of vipassana, the one used at Suan Mokkh. (B.1)
Even the method of practice known as Anapanasati has forms which are short, easy, and incomplete. There are many of them. We have chosen the form which is complete. Consequently, it may seem a bit long and detailed, as is fitting for anything complete, such as, this 16 Step Form of Anapanasati. Some people shake their heads that it is too long, too much, or too detailed for what they need. That is correct - it might be more than necessary for some people. But for those who want to study and train perfectly, it is just right. That is, if we want the technique to be complete, it must have all of these sixteen steps. This is required by nature. If we are interested in completeness, we must be patient to train and practice Anapanasati in its full form. The complete system requires sixteen steps. (B.2)
SATIPATTHANA IS ANAPANASATI
Another common problem is that some people cling to and are stuck on the word satipatthana (foundations of mindfulness) far too much. Some go so far as to think that Anapanasati has nothing to do with the four foundations of mindfulness. Some even reject Anapanasati out of hand. In some places they really hang onto the word "satipatthana." They cling to the satipatthana of the Digha-nikaya (Long Discourses) which is not anything more than a long list of names, a lengthy catalogue of sets of dhammas. Although there are whole bunches of dhammas, no way of practice is given or explained there. This is what is generally taken to be satipatthana. Then it is adjusted and rearranged into these and those practices, which become new systems that are called satipatthana practices or meditation.*
*[Whether these practices are correct and useful, or not, is not an issue here. (ET)]
Then, the followers of such techniques deny, or even despise, the Anapanasati approach, asserting that it is not satipatthana. In truth, Anapanasati is the heart of satipatthana, the heart of all four foundations of mindfulness. The 16 Steps is a straight-forward and clear practice, not just a list of names or dhammas like in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta (Digha-nikaya#22**). Therefore, let us not fall into the misunderstanding that Anapanasati is not satipatthana, otherwise we might lose interest in it thinking that it is wrong. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding is common. Let us reiterate that Anapanasati is the heart of all four satipatthana in a form that can be readily practiced. (B.3)
**[The Satipatthana Sutta (Majjhima-nikaya #10) follows the same pattern as the Maha but is less detailed and extensive. (ET)]
We have taken time to consider the words "satipatthana" and "Anapanasati" for the sake of ending any misunderstandings that might lead to a narrow-minded lack of consideration for what others are practicing. So please understand correctly that whether we call it satipatthana or Anapanasati there are only four matters of importance: kaya, vedana, citta, and Dhamma. However, in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta there's no explanation of how to practice these four things. It gives only the names of dhammas and expands upon them. For example, the matter of kaya (body) is spread out over corpse meditations, sati-sampajanna in daily activities, the postures, and others more than can be remembered. It merely catalogues groups of dhammas under the four areas of study.
The Anapanasati Sutta, on the other hand, shows how to practice the four foundations in a systematic progression that ends with emancipation from all dukkha. The sixteen steps work through the four foundations, each one developing upon the previous, and supporting the next. Practice all sixteen steps fully and the heart of the satipatthana arises perfectly. In short, the Satipatthana Suttas are only lists of names. The Anapanasati Sutta clearly shows how to practice the four foundations without anything extra or surplus. It does not mention unrelated matters. (B.4)
If some people feel that sixteen steps are to much, that is alright. It is possible to condense the sixteen down to two steps. One - train the citta (mind) to be adequately and properly concentrated. Two - with that samadhi skip over to contemplate aniccam, dukkham and anatta right away. Just these two steps, if they are performed with every inhalation and exhalation, can be considered Anapanasati, also. If you do not like the complete 16 Steps Practice, or think that it is too theoretical, or too much to study, or too detailed, then take just these two steps. Concentrate the citta by contemplating the breath. When you feel that there is sufficient samadhi, go examine everything which you know and experience so that you realize how they are impermanent, how they are unsatisfactory, and how they are not-self, not-soul. Just this much is enough to get the desired results, namely - letting go! release! no attaching! Finally, note the ending of kilesa (defilement) and the ceasing of attachment when aniccam-dukkham-anatta is seen fully. Thus, you can take this short approach if you wish.
We want, however, for you to understand the complete system. Thus, we must speak about the 16 Step Practice. Once you understand the full sixteen steps well, you can abridge them for yourself. Decrease them until you are satisfied enough to practice with confidence. You might end up with two steps, or five steps, or whatever suits you. This is our purpose in the way we explain Anapanasati here. We will explain the system of practice in full. Then you can shorten it for yourself depending on what pleases you. (B.5)
So this is why we will study and explain the Complete 16 Step Way in full, because it will reveal the secrets of nature through its scientific approach. This is a science which leads to a natural under standing of the things called kaya, vedana, citta, and Dhamma, in the best and most complete way possible, through the perspective and approach of natural science. This is a scientific approach which can regulate these four things. First, study the Complete 16 Steps, then you may trim them down by yourself. Choose for yourself what you need. Practice only two or three steps if you want. Keep just two or three or five steps as you like. But now, please allow us to explain the Complete 16 Steps fully. (B.6)
The 16 Steps are divided into four tetrads which correspond to our four fundamental objects of study. Now, we will discuss the kaya tetrad or kayanupassana (contemplation of body). In it, the first thing you must study and understand is the breath. Understand the different kinds of breath, their various qualities and characteristics, and the influences they have. Know the breath in all aspects and from all angles in order for it to be correct. To put it briefly, you must have correct prana. Prana is a Sanskrit word, the Pali equivalent is pana. Ordinarily, this word means "life" or "the life force" or "that which preserves and nurtures life." We must understand it correctly. We must have prana which is healthy and correct. Then our lives will be correct. Thus, it is necessary to study the subject of the breath. (B.7)
*[The Anapanasati form of pranayama is not an overt or forced "control" of the breath. It is a subtle and patient guiding or regulating, a feather rather than a hammer. (ET)]
If we adjust the prana-body well, so that it is good, healthy, and calm, it makes the flesh-body good, healthy, and calm. Such prana is able to cause the greatest peace and calm in this life. This is why we must understand both kaya (bodies) - the flesh-body and the breath-body. Then we make them "good" until there is good peace and calm. The word "good" here means "fit and proper to be used in performing necessary duties and work."
The last item of this tetrad is calming the body-conditioner, that is, making the preserver of the body peaceful and calm. By doing so, tranquility will arise in the body. The citta will be able to feel this tranquility and it calms also. Then it is a citta ready to perform its further duties. The subject of the kaya is merely this. You may not want to know this much, that is up to you. But this is how the facts are. To understand them will not cost you a thing. The better you understand, the more benefits this training will bring. You will be able to make this the best life possible. So it is that we must begin with learning about the kaya as the first tetrad. (B.9)
Please study this profound natural truth: the prana-body is the conditioner of the flesh-body. You ought to know that there are two kaya or two levels of kaya. We all know about the first level, the flesh-body, while we barely know the prana-body at all. Therefore, it is very important to understand the prana-body for doing so can lead to having a conditioner that is good to the flesh-body. In
We develop this knowledge until we are able to regulate the prana. Then we can arrange to have a good, healthy body that is ready for the concentrating of the citta. In this way, both the body and the mind are prepared to do their respective duties. This is what the first tetrad is about. It has these characteristics, this objective, and this way of practice. Please examine it carefully. Is it necessary or not? Is it worth your time and effort to study and practice? If you see that it is the best that we can do, that it is worth our effort, then wholeheartedly commit yourself to this study and train in it until successful. This is how to have the best kind of pranayama - Buddhist pranayama - through the practice of vipassana-bhavana (the cultivation of insight or direct realization). (B.11)
Now we come to the second tetrad, the contemplation of feeling (vedananupassana). We must know the feelings in their status of being "evil mara" (wicked tempters, demons). It is difficult to find the right words to describe them. They are wicked, harmful mara, that is lowly, base villains that are the causes of all the crises in our lives. We are slaves to these feelings. Everyone works solely to get money for the sake of sukha-vedana (pleasant, happy feelings). These vedana are masters over us. They are evil demons which confuse us, cause us difficulties, and complicate our lives. We need to understand the vedana, so we take them up as the second subject of study in Anapanasati. (B.12)
You have all left Europe,
In some Pali texts the vedana are described, as "conditioners of the mind (citta-sankhara)." Mind, here, comes from the thoughts, desires, and needs. We cannot endure the influence of the vedana we must think and we must act under the power of vedana's desires or vedana's meaning. We are not free within ourselves. We fall under the power of vedana. Feelings force us to act. They force the mind, they condition the mind to think and act according to the power of vedana. (B. 14)
If we can master the highest and most sublime vedana, we can master the lower, cruder, more petty vedana, also. When we can control the most difficult feelings we can control the easy, simple, childish feelings, too. For this reason you ought to try - we especially urge you to strive - to achieve the highest level of vedana, namely, the feelings that are born from samadhi. Then take these most pleasant vedana as a lesson in order to conquer them. If we can conquer these vedana, we can be victorious over all vedana. Should you bother to give it a try? Should you endure any difficulties that might arise? Should you spend your precious time on this practice? Please consider wisely. (B.15)
It may seem amusing to you that we strive to get the highest vedana; but rather than enjoy them, taste them, drink them, indulge in them; we instead kill them, destroy them, control them. Some of you may find this funny. Some might even think it a joke to search for the highest vedana only to destroy and control them. Please understand this point correctly. In return for killing the vedana we get something even better than this kind of vedana. We will receive another sort of vedana, a higher order of vedana that should not even be called vedana, something more like nibbana or emancipation. So do not consider it a silly matter or joke that we achieve the best vedana in order to kill them. (B.16)
The third tetrad is cittanupassana (contemplation of mind). The purpose of this tetrad is to know every kind of citta and what each kind is like. Then we train and control the citta so that it only goes along the way in which it ought to be. We purify it, concentrate it, and activate it. We make it the kind of citta which is fit and ready to do the highest duties. It must be prepared for its remaining duties, especially, the final conquest of dukkha. In this tetrad we study the citta until we can keep it under control. Then we use that mind to do the duty which next needs to be done, until we arrive at the highest level of duty. (B.17)
The fourth tetrad is dhammanupassana (contemplation of Dhamma). It involves knowing the truth about all the things, to which we are enslaved. The meaning of this is very important. Now, when we attach to this thing and that thing we are slaves to these things. So we will get to know the truth of these things in order to end our slavishness toward them. This is the significance of dhammanupassana. Know the truth of the things to which we are clinging. Know this truth until letting go of attachment, until there is no attachment remaining.
So this is how we get to know Anapanasati-vipassana for the purpose of eliminating all problems, for the sake of not being a slave to anything in the worlds ever again, in order to live a life of supremely cool peacefulness. In this very life there is coolness; this is the fruit. The vehicle that brings coolness into life, that leads to a cool life is vipassana as practiced according to the principles of Anapanasati. (B. 18)