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가입일: 2015-01-30, (금) 10:13 pm
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Chapter.7. Meditation of mental culture: Bhavana

The Buddha said : 'O bhikkhus, there are two kinds of illness. What are those
two? Physical illness and mental illness. There seem to be people who enjoy freedom
from physical illness even for a year or two. . . even for a hundred years or more. But,
O bhikkhus, rare in this world are those who enjoy freedom from mental illness even
for one moment, except those who are free from mental defilements'(i.e., except
The Buddha's teaching, particularly his way of 'meditation', aims at
producing a state of perfect mental health, equilibrium and tranquility. It is
unfortunate that hardly any other section of the Buddha's teaching is so much
misunderstood as 'meditation', both by Buddhists and non-Buddhists. The moment
the word 'meditation' is mentioned, one thinks of an escape from the daily activities
of life; assuming a particular posture, like a statue in some cave or cell in a
monastery, in some remote place cut off form society ; and musing on, or being
absorbed in, some kind of mystic or mysterious thought or trance. True Buddhist
'meditation' deteriorated and degenerated into a kind of ritual or ceremony almost
technical in its routine.
Most people are interested in meditation or yoga in order to gain some
spiritual or mystic powers like the 'third eye', which others do not possess. There was
some time ago a Buddhist nun in India who was trying to develop a power to see
through her ears, while she was still in the possession of the 'power' of perfect
eyesight! This kind of idea is nothing but 'spiritual perversion'. It is always a question
of desire, 'thirst' for power.
The word meditation is a very poor substitute for the original term bhavana,
which means 'culture' or 'development', i.e., mental culture or mental development.
The Buddhist bhavana, properly speaking, is mental culture in the full sense of the
term. It aims at cleansing the mind of impurities and disturbances, such as lustful
desires, hatred, ill-will, indolence, worries and restlessness, sceptical doubts, and
cultivating such qualities as concentration, awareness, intelligence, will, energy, the
analytical faculty, confidence, joy, tranquility, leading finally to the attainment of
highest wisdom which sees the nature of things as they are, and realizes the
Ultimate Truth, Nirvana.
There are two forms of meditation. One is the development of mental
concentration (samatha or samadhi), of one-pointedness of mind (cittekaggata, Skt.
Cittaikagrata), by various methods prescrbed in the texts, leading up to the highest
mystic states such as 'the Sphere of Nothingness' or 'the Sphere of Neither-
Perception-nor-Non- Perception'. All these mystic states, according to the Buddha,
are mind-created, mind-produced, conditioned(samkhata). They have nothing to do
with Reality, Truth, Nirvana. This form of meditation existed before the Buddha.
Hence it is not purely Buddhist, but it is not excluded from the field of
Buddhist meditation. However it is not essential for the realization of Nirvana. The
Buddha himself, before his Enlightenment, studied these yogic practices under
different teachers and attained to the highest mystic states ; but he was not satisfied
with them, because they did not give complete liberation, they did not give insight
into the Ultimate Reality. He considered these mystic states only as 'happy living in
this existence' (ditthadhammasukhavihara), or 'peaceful living' (samtavihara), and
nothing more.
He therefore discovered the other form of 'meditation' known as
vipassana(Skt. vipasyana or vidarsana), 'Insight' into the nature of things, leading to
the complete liberation of mind, to the realization of the Ultimate Truth, Nirvana.
This is essentially Buddhist 'meditation', Buddhist mental culture. It is an analytical
method based on mindfulness, awareness, vigilance, observation. It is impossible to
do justice to such a vast subject in a few pages. However an attempt is made here to
give a very brief and rough idea of the true Buddhist 'meditation', mental culture or
mental development, in a practical way.
The most important discourse ever given by the Buddha on mental
development ('meditation') is called the Satipatthana-sutts 'The Setting-up of
Mindfulness'(No. 22 of the Digha-nikaya, or No.10 of the Majjhima-nikaya). This
discourse is so highly venerated in tradition that it is regularly recited not only in
Buddhist monasteries, but also in Buddhist homes with members of the family
sitting round and listening with deep devotion. Very often bhikkhus recite this sutta
by the bed-side of a dying man to purify his last thoughts.
The ways of 'meditation' given in this discourse are not cut off from life, nor do
they avoid life ; on the contrary, they are all connected with our life, our daily
activities, our sorrows and joys, our words and thoughts, our moral and intellectual
occupations. The discourse is divided into four main sections : the first section deals
with our body (kaya), the second with our feelings and sensations (vedana), the third
with the mind (citta), and the fourth with various moral and intellectual
It should be clearly borne in mind that whatever the form of 'meditation' may
be, the essential thing is mindfulness or awareness (sati), attention or observation
One of the most well-known, popular and practical examples of 'meditation'
connected with the body is called 'The Mindfulness or Awareness of in-and-out
breathing'(anapanasati). It is for this 'meditation' only that a particular and definite
posture is prescribed in the text. For other forms of 'meditation' given in this sutta,
you may sit, stand, walk, or lie down, as you like. But, for cultivating mindfulness of
in -and-out breathing, one should sit, according to the text, 'cross-legged, keeping
the body erect and the mindfulness alert'.
But sitting cross-legged is not practical and easy for people of all countries,
particularly for Westerners. Therefore, those who find it difficult to sit cross-legged,
may sit on a chair, 'keeping the body erect and mindfulness alert'. It is very
necessary for this exercise that the meditator should sit erect, but not stiff; his hands
placed comfortably on his lap. Thus seated, you may close your eyes, or you may
gaze at the tip of your nose, as it may be convenient to you.
You breathe in and out all day and night, but you are never mindful of it, you
never for a second concentrate your mind on it. Now you are going to do just this.
Breathe in and out as usual, without any effort or strain. Now, bring your mind to
concentrate on your breathing in and out ; let your mind watch and observe your
breathing in and out ; let your mind be aware and vigilant of your breathing in and
out. When you breathe you sometimes take deep breaths, sometimes not. This does
not matter at all. Breathe normally and naturally. The only thing is that when you
take deep breaths you should be aware that they are deep breaths, and so on. In
other words, your mind should be so fully concentrated on your breathing that you
are aware of its movements and changes. Forget all other things. Your surroundings,
your environment ; do not raise your eyes and look at anything. Try to do this for five
or ten minutes.
At the beginning you will find it extremely difficult to bring your mind to
concentrate on your breathing. You will be astonished how your mind runs away. It
does not stay. You begin to think of various things. You hear sounds outside. Your
mind is disturbed and distracted. You may be dismayed and disappointed. But if
you continue to practice this exercise twice daily, morning and evening, for about
five or ten minutes at a time, you will gradually, by and by, begin to concentrate
your mind on your breathing. After a certain period, you will experience just that
split second when your mind is fully concentrated on your breathing, when you will
not hear even sounds nearby, when no external world exists for you. This slight
moment is such a tremendous experience for you, full of joy, happiness and
tranquility, that you would like to continue it. But still you cannot. Yet if you go on
practicing this regularly, you may repeat the experience again and again for longer
and longer periods. That is the moment when you lose yourself completely in your
mindfulness of breathing. As long as you are conscious of yourself you can never
concentrate on anything.
This exercise of mindfulness of breathing, which is one of the simplest and
easiest practices, is meant to develop concentration leading up to very high mystic
attainments (dhyana). Besides, the power of concentration is essential for any kind
of deep understanding, penetration, insight into the nature of things, including the
realization of Nirvana. Apart from all this, this exercise on breathing gives you
immediate results. It is good for your physical health, for relaxation, sound sleep, and
for efficiency in your daily work. It makes you calm and tranquil. Even at moments
when you are nervous or excited, if you practise this for a couple of minutes, you will
see for yourself that you become immediately quiet and at peace. You feel as if you
have awakened after a good rest.
Another very important, practical, and useful form of 'meditation' (mental
development) is to be aware and mindful of whatever you do, physically or verbally,
during the daily routine of work in your life, private, public or professional.
Whether you walk, stand, sit, lie down, or sleep, whether you stretch or bend your
limbs, whether you look around, whether you put on your clothes, whether you talk
or keep silence, whether you eat or drink, even whether you answer the calls of
nature - in these and other activities, you answer the calls of nature - in these and
other activities, you should be fully aware and mindful of the act you perform at the
moment. That is to say, that you should live in the present moment, in the present
action. This does not mean that you should not think of the past or the future at all.
On the contrary, you think of them in relation to the present moment, the present
action, when and where it is relevant.
People do not generally live in their actions, in the present moment. They live
in the past or in the future. Though they seem to be doing something now, here, they
live somewhere else in their thoughts, in their imaginary problems and worries,
usually in the memories of the past or in desires and speculations about the future.
Therefore they do not live in, nor do they enjoy, what they do at the moment. So they
are unhappy and discontented with the present moment, with the work at hand, and
naturally they cannot give themselves fully to what they appear to be doing.
Sometimes you see a man in a restaurant reading while eating - a very
common sight. He gives you the impression of being a very busy man, with no time
even for eating. You wonder whether he eats or reads. One may say that he does
both. In fact, he does neither, he enjoys neither. He is strained, and disturbed in mind,
and he does not enjoy what he does at the moment, does not live his life in the
present moment, but unconsciously and foolishly tries to escape from life. (This does
not mean, however, that one should not talk with a friend while having lunch or
You cannot escape life however you may try. As long as you live, whether in
a town or in a cave, you have to face it and live it. Real life is the present moment -
not the memories of the past which is dead and gone, nor the dreams of the future
which is not yet born. One who lives in the present moment lives the real life, and he
is appiest.
When asked why his disciples, who lived a simple and quiet life with only
one meal a day, were so radiant, the Buddha replied : 'They do not repent the past,
nor do they brood over the future. They live in the present. Therefore they are
radiant. By brooding over the future and repenting the past, fools dry up like green
reeds cut down (in the sun).'
Mindfulness, or awareness, does not mean that you should think and be
conscious 'I am doing this' or 'I am doing that'. No. Just the contrary. The moment you
think 'I am doing this', you become self-conscious, and then you do not live in the
action, but you live in the idea 'I am', and consequently your work too is spoilt. You
should forget yourself completely, and lose yourself in what you do. The moment a
speaker becomes self-conscious and thinks 'I am addressing an audience', his speech
is disturbed and his trend of thought broken. But when he forgets himself in his
speech, in his subject, then he is at his best, he speaks well and explains things
clearly. All great work - artistic, poetic, intellectual or spiritual - is produced at
those moments when its creators are lost completely in their actions, when they
forget themselves altogether, and are free from self-consciousness.
This mindfulness or awareness with regard to our activities, taught by the
Buddha, is to live in the present moment, to live in the present action. (This is also the
Zen way which is based primarily on this teaching.) Here in this form of meditation,
you haven't got to perform any particular action in order to develop mindfulness,
but you have only to be mindful and aware of whatever you may do. You haven't
got to spend one second of your precious time on this particular 'meditation' : you
have only to cultivate mindfulness and awareness always, day and night, with
regard to all activities in your usual daily life. These two forms of 'meditation'
discussed above are connected with our body.
Then there is a way of practicing mental development('meditation') with
regard to all our sensations or feelings, whether happy, unhappy or neutral. Let us
take only one example. You experience an unhappy, sorrowful sensation. In this
state your mind is cloudy, hazy, not clear, it is depressed. In some cases, you do not
even see clearly why you have that unhappy feeling. First of all, you should learn
not to be unhappy about your unhappy feeling, not to be worried about your
worries. But try to see clearly why there is a sensation or a feeling of unhappiness, or
worry, or sorrow. Try to examine how it arises, its cause, how it disappears, its
cessation. Try to examine it as if you are observing it from outside, without any
subjective reaction, as a scientist observes some object. Here, too, you should not
look at it as 'my feeling' or 'my sensation' subjectively, but only look at it as 'a feeling'
or 'a sensation' objectively. You should forget again the false idea of 'I'. When you
see its nature, how it arises and disappears, your mind grows dispassionate towards
that sensation, and becomes detached and free. It is the same with regard to all
sensations or feelings.
Now let us discuss the form of 'meditation' with regard to our minds. You
should be fully aware of the fact whenever your mind is passionate or detached,
whenever it is overpowered by hatred, ill-will, jealousy, or is full of love, compassion,
whenever it is deluded or has a clear and right understanding, and so on and so
forth. We must admit that very often we are afraid or ashamed to look at our own
minds. So we prefer to avoid it. One should be bold and sincere and look at one's own
mind as one looks at one's face in a mirror.
Here is no attitude of criticizing or judging, or discriminating between right
and wrong, or good and bad. It is simply observing, watching, examining. You are
not a judge, but a scientist. When you observe your mind, and see its true nature
clearly, you become dispassionate with regard to its emotions, sentiments and states.
Thus you become detached and free, so that you may see things as they are.
Let us take one example. Say you are really angry, overpowered by anger,
ill-will, hatred. It is curious, and paradoxical, that the man who is in anger is not
really aware, not mindful that he is angry. The moment he becomes aware and
mindful of that state of his mind, the moment he sees his anger, it becomes, as if it
were, shy and ashamed, and begins to subside. You should examine its nature, how it
arises, how it disappears. Here again it should be remembered that you should not
think 'I am angry', or of 'my anger'. You should only be aware and mindful of the
state of an angry mind. You are only observing and examining an angry mind
objectively. This should be the attitude with regard to all sentiments, emotions, and
states of mind.
Then there is a form of 'meditation' on ethical, spiritual and intellectual
subjects. All our studies, reading, discussions, conversation and deliberations on such
subjects are included in this 'meditation'. To read this book, and to think deeply
about the subjects discussed in it, is a form of meditation. We have seen earlier that
the conversation between Khemaka and the group of monks was a form of
meditation which led to the realization of Nirvana.
So, according to this form of meditation, you may study, think, and deliberate
on the Five Hindrances (Ninarana), namely :
1. lustful desires (kamacchanda),
2. ill-will, hatred or anger (vyapada),
3. torpor and languor (thina-middha),
4. restlessness and worry (uddhacca-kukkucca),
5. sceptical doubts (vicikiccha).
These five are considered as hindrances to any kind of clear understanding, as a
matter of fact, to any kind of progress. When one is over-powered by them and
when one does not know how to get rid of them, then one cannot understand right
and wrong, or good and bad.
One may also 'meditate' on the Seven Factors of Enlightenment
(Bojjhanga).They are :
1. Mindfulness(sati), i.e., to be aware and mindful in all activities and movements
both physical and mental, as we discussed above.
2. Investigation and research into the various problem of doctrine (dhammavicaya).
Included here are all our religious, ethical and philosophical studies,
reading, researches, discussions, conversation, even attending lectures relating to
such doctrinal subjects.
3. Energy (viriya), to work with determination till the end.
4. Joy (piti), the quality quite contrary to the pessimistic, gloomy or melancholic
attitude of mind.
5. Relaxation (passaddhi) of both body and mind. One should not be stiff physically
or mentally.
6. Concentration (samadhi), as discussed above.
7. Equanimity (upekkha), i.e., to be able to face life in all its vicissitudes with calm of
mind, tranquillity, without disturbance. To cultivate these qualities the most
essential thing is a genuine wish, will, or inclination. Many other material and
spiritual conditions conducive to the development of each quality are described in
the texts.
One may also 'meditate' on such subjects as the Five Aggregates
investigating the question 'What is a being?' or 'What is it that is called I?', or on the
Four Noble Truths, as we discussed above. Study and investigation of those subjects
constitute this fourth form of meditation, which leads to the realization of Ultimate
Apart from those we have discussed here, there are many other subjects of
meditation, traditionally forty in number, among which mention should be made
particularly of the four Sublime States : (Brahama-vihara) : (1) extending unlimited,
universal love and good-will (metta) to all living beings without any kind of
discrimination, 'just as a mother loves her only child'; (2) compassion (karuna) for all
living being who are suffering, in trouble and affliction ; (3)sympathetic joy (mudita)
in other's success, welfare and happiness ; and(4) equanimity (upekkha) in all
vicissitudes of life.

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