6.1 First, we have to find a spot which is relatively free from noise
pollution. Some noise can be tolerated; but it should not be excessive.
It could be the classroom, the bedroom or any other place which meets
the said requirement.
6.2 Secondly, we should be in a sitting posture, either on a chair, or
on the floor (side-ways or cross-legged) with the body reasonably erect
but not tense. We should concentrate our mind firmly on the spot to be
used. In this connexion, it is understood from teachers of anatomy that
"Sitting cross-legged is the best position to take". Of course, it al1
depends on convenience and appropriateness. Even if we sit on a chair,
we can equally bring the legs together on one side, put our feet on the
ground or cross our legs. Once one is properly seated, the right hand is
to be placed over the left while keeping a distance of approximately two
inches between the thumbs.
6.3 Thirdly, we concentrate our mind on the disposition to be used. As
our mind is accustomed to wandering from one disposition to another, at
will, I should like to demonstrate, step by step, what this means :
6.3.1 The mind is to be anchored to the moorings or points in the
body in the following sequence; the tip of the nose, the top of the
skull, the palate, the pharynx, the sternum and the navel. These
bases were the considered by the Buddha to be resting-places for our
6.3.2 Once it has been ascertained that the mind does not run away
from these six points, proceed to count as air is inhaled and
exhaled. The Buddha demonstrated counting in pairs. For instance,
count 1 on inhaling air and also 1 or? exhaling air. The Buddha gave
the following sets for counting :
a) 1-1 , 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5
b) 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6
c) 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7
d) 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8
e) 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9
f) 1-1 , 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10
To avoid exhausting yourselves while counting, make an effort to
control breathing in such a way as to make it neither too short nor
too long. Breathe normally. At this stage the idea is not to commit
errors in counting. Once we have reached the set ending with 10,
resume the whole process with the set ending with 5. This is to be
repeated until no more errors in counting are committed. Errors can
arise in two following ways:
220.127.116.11 Errors Committed within a given set which arise as, for
instance, one counts 3 and, while while being off one's guard,
proceeds to count 5.
18.104.22.168 Errors committed as between sets which arise, for instance,
when, instead of proceeding from 1 to 6, one stops at 5 or skips to
7 or is uncertain as to where one is exactly.
6.4 Once counting has been straightened out, the mind is to be
concentrated on three points:
6.4.1 The tip of the nose or the upper lip either of which is a
point of impact as air is inhaled and exhaled.
6.4.2 The location of the heart to which the mind travels while
inhaling and exhaling air.
6.4.3 The final point is the navel considered by the Buddha to be
the centre. As we inhale air, we feel breathed air being directed
towards this point, which is also the point of departure for exhaled
air. While our breathing system may not correspond exactly to this
description, our feeling does.
6.5 Once we have been secured against errors, a change is required. The
mind is now to concentrate only on breathing so that one is fully
conscious of the duration of air inhalation and exhalation. There is no
need to control the tempo of breathing; for the crucial thing is only to
know its duration.
6.6 It can be seen that in step 5 above, we need to be fully mindful of
breathing at two points. Once this has been achieved, one should
concentrate only on air inhalation and exhalation. As we exhale air we
contemplate "Bud" and, as we exhale air, "dho" In all, we contemplate
''Buddho''. Alternatively, "Buddho" can be contemplated all at once
during air inhalation and exhalation. The first alternative may be
better, as one syllable only is used each time. One can make a choice to
6.7 At this stage we can still adhere to contemplation of "Buddho" or
abandon it altogether. What is crucial is to be fully mindful of the
impact air makes on the tip of the nose or the upper lip during air
inhalation and exhalation. There is no further need to pay attention to
the points towards which inhaled and exhaled air is directed.
The type of Kammatthna
termed npnasati as has been outline, is in
keeping with practitioner's given stances or dispositions as have been
described. In actual practice, a choice of the steps is permissible. On
the basis of the dispositions already described, the followings will be
6.7.1 Those with worrisome, delusive and irritable dispositions
should proceed step by step. In particular, those with a worrisome
disposition are unusually emotional and find it difficult to
accelerate mental tranquilization. They should proceed by degrees in
de-escalating the emotional level.
6.7.2 Those with sensual, awakened and faithful dispositions could
very well begin with step 4, their emotional texture being more
refined than that of the three types already mentioned.
6.8 The Needed Points to be Emphasized. One more point needs to be
emphasized. npnasati Kammatthna is inextricably intertwined with counting
and mindfulness of breathing. The following props need to lend a helping
6.8.1 Sati : Which is full awareness of what one is doing without
ever being off one's guard.
6.8.2. Pa (Self-knowledge) :
Which implies knowledge at all times of what one is doing and
whether tine is committing any errors.
6.8.3 Viriya (Perseverance) : lt should be understood that as the
mind has been left in the wilderness for some time, it would be
difficult to achieve mental tranquility at a moment's notice.
Perseverance without fail, is imperative. If one gives up only after
a few trials, the expected results can hardly come by.
three pillars of Dhamma constitute in a sense, our teachers who
relentlessly advise, admonish and stimulate students so that their
awareness may proceed along the right path.
6.9 Various Sensations While practising Kammatthana some may be beset,
for instance, with various sensations :
6.9.1 Dizziness: lf this should occur, it should be known that it
originates from undue self-hypnotism. This should now be relaxed so
that nature may take its course. Our task is simply to know Our
6.9.2 Tension : This arises from a desire to achieve unduly
accelerated tranquility. Once the desire has been thwarted, tension
ensues. It should be understood that, as long as there is a craving
for mental tranquility, no such state of mind can ever be achieved.
6.9.3 Unusual Palpitation: This arises because of unduly violent
detachment of the mind from extraneous stances. It should be noted
that, sometimes when we sit with our mind wandering elsewhere or, if
asleep and dreaming, we are suddenly startled or woken up, there is
unusual palpitation. As a result, some may feel tired and pant. If
this should happen, Kammatthana should proceed according to the
steps already explained,
6.9.4 A Feeling of Mental Drift: This is because we are still
footloose and unsettled while shuttling back and forth.
The way out of all those is to refrain from taking an interest in
what has been or not been mentioned, while concentrating ourselves
on the mental pursuit of our breath until those symptoms disappear
of their own accord.
Feelings after the Dispositional and Mental Changes
After a fairly long period of practice of such mental
tranquilization, the following corporal, dispositional and mental
changes will make themselves felt:
6.10.1 Corporal and mental restlessness subsides, while there arise
corporal and mental relief mental lucidity and an occasional
experience of being airborne.
6.10.2 With trimming of the rough edges of breathing, normal
breathing becomes more refined and the mind sees visions. This is
the typical behaviour of a mind tranquilized as a result of more
refined and profound breathing.
6.10.3 More perseverance is still needed until ultimately, such more
refined and profound breathing itself settles down. Further
refinement of breathing will bring us to a point where we seem to
have done away with breathing altogether or where there is no longer
6.10.4 Once this point has been reached, do not panic and cease
meditating, since this is the outcome of our practice of
Kammatthana. If we stand up or cease meditating, all the outcome of
our persevering practice will have been lost for good.Maintain the
original sitting posture and continue to concentrate on the points
of origination of our breath or its points of impact.
6.11 The Visions as an Indication of Mental Tranquility
Once this stage has been reached, we feel that, as we are not dead
and buried, we are bound to breathe. Breathing will be back to
nomal. Our moorings being the three pillars of Full awareness,
Intelligence and Perseverance, as has been said. Visions will follow
as an indication of mental tranquility. These vary according to
individual dispositions, for instance:
6.11.1 Certain images may put in an appearance, while the eyes of
meditators are closed. Their dimensions can be magnified or reduced,
6.11.2 Some may experience delicate tactile sensations of kapok or
cotton wool, Others may see. In the mind's eyes, crystal balls and
light beams or feel soft breezes blowing. Whatever comes about,
remember that this is the upshot of our mental perseverance. Our
task is to forge inexorably ahead.
We need to be definitely mindful of air inhalation and exhalation
and visions. These three things represent mental stances and we need
to distinguish one from another.
6.12 The Levels of The Tranquility The tranquility secured from the said
Kamma-tthana can be at three levels:
6.12.1 Momentary Tranquility is known as Khanik-samdhi.
6.12.2 Intermediate Tranquility, lasting longer than that under
6.12.1 but not very long, is known as Upacra-samdhi and
comes within a hair's breadth of ultimate tranquility.
6.12.3 Ultimate Tranquility is known as Appan-samdhi. This mental level has a self-regulating
mechanism which further refines and canalizes mental dispositions
according to several stages of intensification of mental
tranquility, each of which was called by the Buddha ''Jhna'' or
6.13 Different Stages of Absorption (Jhna)
6.13.1 The first Jhna,
may co-exist with Vitakka or cursory thinking, Vicra or sustained thinking, Pti or euphoria, Sukha or bodily and mental comfort and
unitary mental disposition.
6.13.2 The second Jhna,
whithnesses the elimination of Vitakka and Vicra but the retention of Pti Sukha and Ekaggat which are More refined than in the first Jhna.
6.13.3 The third Jhana, discerns the removal of Pti but the continuation of Sukha and Ekaggat which are more refined than in the second Jhna.
6.13.4 The fourth Jhna,
perceives the disappearance of more refined Sukha but the endurance of Upekkh (mental detachment) and Ekaggat which together
represent the culmination of distinctive Samdhi.
Schoolchildren will find that in such theistic types of religion as
Brahmanism there is a theistic division of labour according to which
Brahma is the Creator, Siva the Destroyer and Vishnu the Protector
of the earth.
In Buddhism no theism is present. There is only the Triple Gem. We
do not refer to the world which is our abode but are solely
interested in our lives and those of others.
Human beings are created by Kilesa and Tanh which represent melancholy and mental
craving for a variety of things and altogether make up human life.
Even after their birth Kilesa and Tanh have a hold on human beings. Kilesa may thus
be said to be the Protector or Preserver.
At the same time, those dominated by Kilesa and Tanh tend to behave under their
influence and find themselves in no end of troble. Kilesa and Tanh thus function also as the Destroyer.
In one's daily life, one tends to be subject to the domination of Kilesa and
behave under its dictates. Only five of these will be referred to in this
context. The Buddha styled these hindrances Nivarna, which prevent the mind
from attaining virtue.
8.1 The Mind's Gratification, under the influence of love, satisfaction
and cravings, With pleasantness of forms, sounds smells, tastes and
tactile sensations; this is Kmachanda.
8.2 Agitation, irritability and dissatisfaction giving rise to lll Will.
This stems from the influence of displeasure, discontent hatred, anger
and irritation; and is known as Bypda (III Will).
8.3 Despondency, fatigue, corporal and mental lethargy or drowsiness;
this is Thna-middha.
8.4 Fancifulness, boredom and capriciousnesses together with mental
fading; this is Uddhaccakukkucca.
8.5 Hesitancy, scepticism, uncertainty, indecisiveness and lack of
self-confidence; this is Vicikicch.
If these five Nivarana should affect anybody's mind, they will be
impediments to his or her righteousness in a twofold manner.
They are entry impediments denying righteousness access to the mind. For
instance, schoolchildren may be listening to a lecture or the faithful to a
sermon. The lecture or the sermon cannot sink in, if the mind is blocked
with a given Nivarana, which is an obstacle to the listeners' gaining new
They are impediments to exit in the sense that, while competent people can
exhibit their professional expertise, they are prevented, due to the
presence of Nivarana in the mind, from exploiting their potential to the
full. For instance, a well-qualified teacher or preacher under the influence
of Nivarana is constrained from a full demonstration of his ability. Again,
a seasoned reader, reading under the influence of Nivarana, are
incapable of taking in everything. Likewise, orators, performers, singers,
boxers and students afflicted with Nivarana can not hope to attain a high
standard of performance.