Development of Mental Culture through Buddhist Way of Insight Practice (Cittænupassanæ)



Important Points for Insight Meditation Practice

There are some important points to develop insight meditation practice, “vipassanæ,”for the development of mental culture from the Buddhist points of view. The first important point is morality. The second important point involves the study of Paramatthadhamma, of the ultimate realities, different mind and matter processes and characteristics, different consciousness and different mental states. The third important point is concentration. Only with a certain level of concentration will deeper insight knowledge arise. Only then will the mind be powerful enough to do the work of penetration. The forth one is to be the presence of a teacher. And finally, the practice itself is the most important point.

Before we go to develop vipassanæ – insight meditation, we need to observe the eight precepts at least for the lay yogis as a basic platform of meditation practice. Then you have to learn mind and matter (næma and rþpa). Næma is so called because of its tendency to incline towards an object of sense. Pþpa is so called because of its impermanence due to perpetual change. The nearest terms in English the næma and rþpa are mind and matter. After learning about our body as a compound of mind and matter, not any other things, ego or soul, you have to set up concentration with awareness of your own breathing in and breathing out. However, you will never achieve your goal if you don’t approach to a proper teacher who can supervise your way of practice. Therefore, you have receive some important guidelines from an experienced meditation master. Then you go into actual practice.

At this point, we will not try to differentiate between what we call mind and mental states. We will just deal with the mind “citta”. We will include the mental states also.

Citta is often translated as consciousness, that which knows an object. When you know something, you generally say “we” know. Nevertheless, here it is not that “we” know; it is the mind that knows because the mind is so defined as having the quality of knowing. All this is very abstract and metaphysical. For simplicity and ease of understanding, when we refer to it as “mind” – it means consciousness.

Concentration as Basic

In the begining of the practice, you have to be mindful of breathing in and breathing out focusing on the points of nosetrails. You have to take for some time to know every breathing; if you miss some of them, you have to be more mindful of your own breathings so that you can be aware of every breathing. When you feel a sensation of the air at the tip of your nose, you have to be mindful of it. Try to see the in breath and out breath as two separate things, not just one and the same breath going in and coming out. Do not follow the breath into your body or outside the body. You may make a mental note when you breath in and when you breath out, as “in” and “out” or “in, out”. When your mind is on the breath only, it is very good. When your mind wanders about, you have to bring your mind and put it again to your breath. Then keep going as before. Thus you will become mindful of every breathing. When you have some momentun of concentration by doing so, you may drop your awareness of breathings and move your intention to your mind arising now in you. In this way, you have to watch your own consecutive mind.

Thirteen Objects of Meditation

According to our meditation master, Mogoke Sayadawgyi, the object of Cittænupassanæ(mindfulness of consciousness) meditation is of (13) kinds:

There are five external objects of meditation: seeing consciousness, hearing consciousness, smelling consciousness, tasting consciousness, and touching consciousness.

There are six internal objects of meditation: attachment, aversion, delusion, nonattachment, nonaversion and thought.

There are two main objects of meditation: thein-breath mindand the out-breath mind.

When we talk about Cittænupassanæ – mindfulness of consciousness, the thing is that we have to be mindful of, is that we have to have a clear object of that consciousness or state of mind.

The Way to Practise

The first level of training concerning Cittænupassanæ is mindfulness of the two main objects of meditation with regards to consciousness breathing in and out. First of all, you have to know the place where these consciousnesses are arising. While you are breathing in, the consciousness is arising in your heart and so is while you are breathing out. Therefore, the focal point of this object is the heart of your body and you have to send your mind to your heart. You have to know ‘a consciousness is arising in your heart’ while you are breathing in and in the same way of breathing out. You have to do this from begining to the end of breathing. Then you will come to know this kind of consciousness is not a permenant thing, it is arising and dispearing; it is not an ego or soul. This is just what we call anicca, ‘impermanence’.

The second level of traing is to watch five external objects of meditation, but you have to see only one consciousness which is the object of meditation at a time through your own mind. The two consciousness cannot arise at the same moment. The consciousness arose just a little bit earlier than you see through your own mind.For example, when you see something, you watch only the seeing consciousness that arose before you watch and you will see that it disappers right away. By doing so, attachment or anger has no chance to arise because of seeing something. When you understand arising and disappearing of the state of seeing consciousness, craving, anger or any defilements cannot follow that consciousness. In the same way, you have to watch every consciousness of external ones.

The third level of training is mindfulness of six internal objects of meditation. Your focusing mind is sent to your heart and you have to watch closely to every internal consciousness at the time of arising. You can watch only one consciousness arising at a time, never arising two at a time.

What will be more obvious for the beginner is the grosser phenomena – for example, aversion, anger or hatred. Aversion is indeed the grosser form of defilement. When you are angry – what is the state of mind like, what is the consciousness like? When you sit back and try to look at the mind when it is angry, you sense that the mind is in a very disturbed state. It is burning. The Abhidhamma describes it as a violent state of mind, a destructive state. It is just like a whirlwind or an explosion. It is very ferocious, very harmful, and very violent. All these are different ways to describe the anger and the angry consciousness.

For example, when you are meditating and something disturbs you. You may become agitated, come out of concentration, and a little anger may arise. When anger arises, do not just say “anger, anger…” but watch the disturbed and agitated stated of mind – the fierce state of mind. When you watch it, you will see how terrible it is. You will experience the agitated state of mind arising just now in your own mind and as soon as you see this, you directly understand that this anger does not last even for a second, it is the state of coming and going, not ever lasting thing at all, not like ego or soul most people believe in today. By trying to understanding this for some time, your anger will be fading away slowly; then you experience inner peace, the state of peacefullness in your mind.

Sometimes the attachment – the evil root of craving is more difficult. When craving arises, you must also note the craving and watch the state of consciousness – the state of mind. For example, when you see very good food coming to you and you think, “Oh, this is so nice to eat,” you will have a strong desire to eat it, this is craving or attachment. When craving arises in the same way, you look at the nature of craving. It is a state of wanting, clinging, and so on. This craving and anger arises very often. If you can watch it every time and nip it in the bud, then it will not disturb you.

When you are mindful, the mind is very calm, peaceful, and clear – it is very stable and aware, so the moment a little bit of agitation comes, you know it. How is the mind then, when it is disturbed? Possibly, it is vibrating. Certainly it is no longer the calm and steady mind. When anger arises, you know it, the mind starts becoming violent. If sloth and torpor arises, the clear mind turns dark, hazy, and heavy. When craving arises, you know this craving – a type of clinging, asking for something or begging for something. When it is dull, it may be just pure ignorance and delusion; it becomes a dark and dull mind.

When you beging to train yourself in watching the consciousness, you are learning to look into the mind. In meditation, you will have to go deeper and deeper into such states and become familiar with them. As a starting point, the states such as sloth and torpor come into play.

Vipassanæ meditation is seeing things as they really are; being able to accept them and be detached from them. At the same time, it is able to know all objects without any difficulty and see how they arise and pass away. The mind becomes very equanimous with deep concentration and deep understanding of the nature of impermanence and so forth and it can penetrate through all the mind and body processes to find realization or to reach final liberation.

Dr. Ashin Parami

The paper read at the 4th World Buddhist Kulapati Forum (WBKF), Grand Ballroom, Level 5, Imprial Hotel, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia (6-8, 12, 2014)

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