When beginning the work of Bhavana, it should be one’s sole interest. one should not worry about the posture of the body that one has established, by fearing that it might have moved from the original position. This will cause more concern for the body than for the Citta, and Samadhi Bhavana will not progress smoothly. Therefore, once one begins with Citta-Bhavana there should be no concern for the body. One should maintain one’s attention on the work of the Citta until it is time to withdraw from Samadhi Bhavana.
In the beginning of the practice of Citta-Bhavana, the awareness and the Citta should be established in the present - Paccuppanna Dhamma. This is the observing of the change and movement of the Citta and various kinds of Dhamma Arammana, both those good and those bad. The observation should be done more during this time than at any other time. It is fixing the Citta in the present and maintaining Sati (mindfulness) with the Hart which reminds one that one is about to begin the work at that moment. Please be careful not to send the Citta to the various kinds of Arammana, both good and bad, past and future. All that has to be attended to is the work of Parikamma-Bhavana that is going on at that time.
The Method of Setting up Sati in the Present
The Citta by its nature only knows. There is no wisdom nor any intelligence in itself. It only knows thinking, knows remembering, knows hot, knows cold, from the various objects with which it comes into contact. There is no wisdom nor intelligence – it does not know how to investigate, analyse, or judge, as to what is right or wrong. That is, alone in itself, it neither knows good nor bad; right nor wrong. It must depend on Sati-Panna, that knows, analyses, reflects, directs and protects, because Sati-Panna has power over the Citta it is well capable of knowing about the various kinds of Arammana the Citta is thinking about. Therefore, one should establish the kind of Sati, mindfulness, that has power over the Citta in the present. One should maintain the work of observing and protecting the Citta from going to Arammana other than the one that is being used in the Bhavana. The result from a constant maintenance of Sati in protecting the Citta is Sati-Sampajanna, which one should definitely have as one's possession during that time or at a later time.
In the practice of Bhavana by the way of Parikamma (mental recitation), using any particular Dhamma object, one should select the object that suits one's character and should not use one that doesn't suit it. Whatever Dhamma object suits the heart at that time, that should be used in the Parikamma-Bhavana following the above explanation.
The Method of Mental Recitation (Parikamma-Bhavana)
in doing Parikamma-Bhavana,one can use any Dhamma object that suits one's character. For example one can begin reciting – Buddho; Dhammo; Sangho; repeat this three times. After this one may repeatedly recite just one Dhamma object with Sati. But if one were to use any Dhamma object other than the above three, one should still at first repeat the Buddho, Dhammo, Sangho, Dhamma objects three times. This is the Ti-ratana, the triple gem. From then on one can use one's chosen Dhamma object, e.g. Atthi...Atthi...; or Taco...Taco...; or Anapanasati.
The reason for doing Parikamma-Bhavana with a Dhamma object directing the Heart during that or any other time is to establish an Arammana which the Heart can use as an anchor when there is need for calm. The nature of the Heart is very fine and subtle; yet it cannot depend on itself because the Citta is still not completely itself, unlike those of the Lord Buddha and Arahants,. It must depend on Dhamma as a Parikamma object for trying the Heart or as an Arammana for the Heart during this time.
In doing Parikamma-Bhavana with any Dhamma object one should not speculate as to what the result will be at that particular time. For example, one might speculate that the calmness will be of a particular type: - all sorts of Nimitta will appear, or one might see the various levels of heaven and hell. These are speculations and conjectures, creating disturbances for the Heart. There is no benefit from drawing up these images. It might cause fear and discouragement which is contrary to the purpose of correctly taught Bhavana.
The correct way is to set up the Citta and Sati in the present, having only the Parikamma object as the Arammana of the Heart. The Heart and Sati must constantly attend to the Parikamma object, e.g. Buddho, Buddho..., and it should be done continuously with Sati. One should also set up awareness with the Parikamma object, and not allow the Citta to unmindfully wander to other Arammana.
The more the Citta, Sati and the Parikamma object are continuously harmonized, the closer the purpose of Bhavana is being approached. The result is peacefulness and tranquillity, or some other remarkable experience that one had never seen previously and which will arise during this time to those who have the Vasana (ability). These will arise of themselves, due to the power of maintaining the Citta with the Parikamma object, having Sati as the controlling factor. There is nothing else that can magically cause them to appear.
What should be Noted and Watched For during Bhavana
The general understanding of most people about the purpose of doing Bhavana is to see heaven and hell and to see the Kamma of oneself and others. Concerning this point, the one who is truly interested in the essence of Dhamma should please observe while doing Bhavana whether the Citta has any concern for these objects or not. If there is, one should be careful not to let them arise if one is doing Bhavana for peace, tranquillity, and happiness of Heart which is the true and correct way. For these things are not good as one understands them to be: on the contrary, it is the start of going on the wrong path.
This is due to the nature of the Citta which can acquire a belief in those things that it likes although there is no truth in them. If these things are followed long enough, they might arise as a real image. This is difficult to correct, especially for one who is interested in this path and then there arise those things that one thinks truly exist and that one likes. It will form a strong, never decreasing conviction and it will not be easy for one to agree with others.
This is related here in advance so that one should observe and be careful not to let the Citta go in that direction. If one does, one might just turn out to be a pathetic and disgusting practitioner of Bhavana, although one is still so conceited and upholds one's thoughts and views as being correct, and is ready to teach others to follow one's path. Once the Citta is inclined to believe in any particular thing, even if it is wrong, it will see it as right. Therefore it is quite difficult and a problem to correct because the nature of the Citta is very delicate and it is very hard to know the good and bad of all the various kinds of Arammana that the Citta becomes involved with.
This is because the internal knowledge that arises out of practising Bhavana is very intricate and complex, and it is very difficult to judge what is right and what is wrong. One who practises without an Acariya (teacher) to supervise and instruct, will have to speculate and guess, making these conjectures the nutriments for the Citta and will proudly think that this is the truth and praise them as nice and beautiful – although others might find it difficult to agree. The practice of Bhavana without the application of truthful analysis, Vicarana-Nana, is just like this. One will assume everything to b correct. When relating to others, one will not listen to see if what one has said was correct or not. One will assume it correct and go on to excess. Th resulting damage is not only to the one who is not circumspective, careful, introspective, and who does not know moderation, but also to the circle of the Sasana, which is the gathering point. One should b very cautious and careful about this.
The Correct Way of doing Parikamma-Bhavana is to be Solely Mindful of the Parikamma object.
The practitioner of Bhavana should be only interested in the Parikamma object while sitting in Parikamma-Bhavana. There should not be any concern with a sitting position that has already been established correctly. During Bhavana one's attention must be devoted to the work of Parikamma. The body may move forward or back, left or fight, but this is due to the lack of interest for the body, because the sole interest is being devoted to the work of Bhavana. Therefore, even though the body might lean somewhat, the important thing is not to let the Citta lean away from Arammana of Bhavana. What is really essential here is in the doing of Bhavana. If the Citta is constantly concerned about the body, fearing that in might lean forward or backward, this causes the Citta to forget about the Bhavana object. It will then not be able to enter into the subtle level which one should b able to realise in accordance with one's ability.
In order to allow the Citta to preform at full capacity during that time, there should not be any concern for the external body. The attention should be fixed solely on the Bhavana object, until the Citta becomes calm and knows the truth about itself in accordance with the established goal. When the Citta has entered into the calm state of Bhavanga – the resting state where all awareness of external things, like the body, for example, disappears – and after withdrawing from that state one might see that the body may have leaned into some other position, there should not be any doubt or question about the body not remaining fixed in the position which was originally established. Worrying about the body and Heart, besides creating disturbances for the Citta that does not know its duty, will turn the results that should arise at that time to nothing but confusion between the body and Heart during the time of Bhavana, without oneself knowing it. One should understand this from the time when one first starts doing Bhavana.
The Location of the Base of the Arammana of the Citta
some types of Kammatthana which are the Arammana of the Citta have their base within themselves, for instance, hair of the head, hair of the body, nails and teeth. Thy all have the base within themselves. Some parts of the skin are established as the base and known as to where they are. Those things that are established – one should note that they do exist.
The particular Arammana of the Kammatthana at any particular location, hight or low, have fixed bases within themselves. For example, the teeth are in the mouth; the hair on the head which rests in a high position. Other objects such as the skin, hair of the body, sinews and bones, are located generally everywhere. It is up to the individual's choice to establish any of these objects as the Arammana of Kammatthana and to know their respective location. Once those objects are established as the Arammana according to their respective bases, which can be located either high or low, one should not them according to these bases.
During Bhavana when attention is being fixed on any one of those objects chosen as the Arammana, only the object should be noted rather than the location, whether it is higher or lower than originally established. This is the same as if when sitting in Samadhi the body leans somewhat as explain above. This is not important. The location either high or low, that was originally established should be left as it is. One should not constantly re-establish the Kammatthana that had been already established thinking that it has moved away from the original position. If it is re-established according to the understanding of the Heart, this will cause concern with the location of the objects. One's attention in practising Bhavana with the Kammatthana object will not be fully and clearly established.
For example: one establishes the skull and concentrates the attention on this object as the Arammana, until there appears a very clear image as if it is seen with the physical eyes. But then there arises the understanding that the skull has moved from the upper to the lower base which is contrary to the truth. Following this understanding one re-establishes the object. This is creating doubts and speculations for the Heart and preventing it from investigating the object so that it is firmly established. The proper way is to establish that object within one's awareness or within the field of vision of that object, fully possessed with Sati all the time.
If the image of that object becomes larger or smaller or if it is broken up completely, one should just observe according to what is manifested, without having any concern with the position whether high or low, that had been originally established. By doing so, it will make the Citta firmly absorbed and there will arise a sadness and weariness with the established object, which manifests with full impact its changing condition.
It is the same way with the establishing of the breath and its base. When it is established, for example, at the tip of the nose, as one becomes immersed in observing the breath with interest, there might arise the uncertainty that the breath has moved from the tip of the nose to some other place. So one re-establishes it back at the nose. This is disturbing oneself due to one's assumption, and the results will not appear, because doubts and uncertainties appear instead.
To be correct and not have any worry with the various bases, one should practice following the above instruction for all the other objects. One should clearly and constantly know the breath that passes in and out with Sati, until reaching the end of the breath. Even if one assumes that the base of the breath appears higher or lower or is away from what was originally established, it will not destroy the work of establishing. It will make the Citta and the breath merge firmly and completely until the end of Bhavana or the end of the breath.
The Breath Disappears from the Awareness
Sometimes, when doing Anapanasati Bhavana, the breath reaches the end – it disappears. The Heart reaches the end and converges completely into oneness having no responsibility with the breath. It exists singularly, Ekacitta, having only one Arammana – 'knowingness'. It is no longer involved with anything. In the same way of Samadhi Bhavana, this is known as complete concentration.
But in the case with the practitioner of Anapanasati Bhavana, when the breath becomes subtle and disappears, there is fear. One fools oneself into thinking that one must die if there is no breath. As soon as one does this, the breath reappears and becomes as coarse as it was originally. Correspondingly, the Citta becomes coarser. In the end, the work of Bhavana does not progress any further than the stage of fearing death, for one will move the Citta and the breath back to the level where one thinks that one does not die. There are many cases like this in the circle of practice, it is related here because it might have happened to some practitioners of Anapanasati Bhavana who might have been fooled by this deception.
In doing Bhavana for seeing the truth of the breath within the practice of Anapanasati Bhavana, please observe the breath with Sati until reaching the end of the breath and the Citta. One will clearly experience with boldness the marvel while passing through the fear of death during the time when one understands that the breath has disappeared. That is, when one is developing the practice of Anapanasati until the breath becomes more subtle and disappears from the awareness. Please understand that, even if the breath really disappears, as long as the 'knowingness', the Heart, it still with the body, regardless of what happens one will not die.
If the breath ceases, let it ceases, let it cease. If anything in the body should cease with the breath, let it cease, according to its nature. As for the Heart, it does not cease, does not die with these things but will be fixed to observe and acknowledge everything that passes within the field of awareness during that time. There will be no concern with these conditions that arise and cease. With just this, the Citta will unexpectedly eliminate all the accumulated fears and worries and calm down reaching the base of Samadhi without being impeded. The only obstacle that obstructs during the time the breath is about to disappear or when it has disappeared is nothing but this fear of death. After having passed through this obstacle only once with this technique the fear will vanish and never return to deceive one again the next time.
One will come to see clearly the trickery of the Kilesa during this time. As soon as one realises that one does not die as one assumed, one will come to see clearly the Mara that creates the delusion. In the future, when coming into contact with it, one will know how to avoid, remedy and proceed on with ease until arriving at the shore of safety, free from all kinds of Dukkha, following the Lord Buddha who is going before used this Dhamma object as his basic means until his Enlightenment and realization of Nibbana.
some of the readers may not understand what the term Bhavanga Citta means. A short discussion will be presented here. The term Bhavanga, translated the Forest Way, means the essence of existence, or the home of Avijja for the countless ages. The term “The Citta falls into Bhavanga” means the convergence of Avijja into a single place where it does not function and does not send any of its attendants to hunt and make acquisitions along the way. The entrances and outlets of Avijja's attendants are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and the body. The acquisitions of Avijja are the various forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile objects, which are all Avijja's favourites. The attendants of Avijja are Raga-Tanha with the help of Sanna, Sankhara, and Vinnana as the means of fulfilling the various objects.
During the time when the Citta falls into the Bhavanga by the power of Samadhi, Avijja also stops functioning. When the Citta withdraws, it then continues to function according to its duty, but not as forcefully as it did before it was crippled by Samadhi Bhavana. Therefore, Samadhi Bhavana is a very good device for weakening Avija's strength and allowing Panna to successively eradicate and clear up all of Avijja out of the Heart.
One will come to know the term 'Bhavanga Citta' from doing Bhavana during the time when the Citta converges into calmness. When it withdraws, it is called 'The Citta withdraws from Bhavanga', and it becomes involved with all kinds of affairs that Avijja directs it to without ever coming to an end. Therefore, there is no other work so infinitely long and complicated – to the point where no logic can dictate – as the work of Avijja which spreads everywhere all over Samsara. It is boldly committed to its work of affection, aversion, hatred, and anger. This is the routine work of Avijja that it never has distaste for. It is satisfied with affection, aversion, hatred, and anger, even if it brings Dukkha and hardship on the servant. Avijja will not allow him to step back: it will incite him to have affection,aversion, hatred, and anger, until the bearer becomes destroyed and ruined by these things. But still Avijja will have no sympathy or pity. It will force the servant to continue on until he is ruined along with it. This is the Dhamma of all the Avijja that is in the Hearts of sentient beings. The work directed by Avijja is never ending, unlike other kinds of work. It will expand infinitely and is not limited by time.
Those who have Dhamma such as Samadhi and Panna within their Hearts can see the harmfulness of Avijja that endlessly directs them to work. Therefore, when the Citta converges into Bhavanga, the time when Avijja momentarily rests, there arises happiness and comfort, free of worries for a time. During this time when the Citta takes a rest from work, one can see the harmfulness in one's revolving, with Avijja directing behind the curtain. This revolving is very far out of the norm as compared to the Bhavanga. When the Heart has just recently withdrawn, it still remains peaceful and tranquil due to the nourishment of the power of Samadhi.
The more the Citta is calmed by Samadhi, the more one will come to see the harmfulness in the confusion caused by Avijja. For this reason, the practitioner is usually addicted to Samadhi without having any interest in how to correct it by any methods, because this level of calm and peacefulness can be addictive. In the end, the Citta comes to see the harmfulness of the confusion caused by Avijja, but it unavoidably becomes addicted to Samadhi, which is the resting home of Avijja, because there appears to be no better way out. It is here where the practitioner will come to see the usefulness of Sati-Panna when he tries to eradicate and uproot Avijja, because aside from Sati-Panna there are no other means that are capable of destroying it.
When will the Bhavanga Citta Completely Vanish?
Bhavanga Citta will never completely vanish by itself because it has been for a very long time the source for the building of lives, existences, Kilesa, and Tanha. And the path of Avijja is the building up of lives and existences in the Hearts of sentient beings at all times without ever being lazy or contented. The practitioner who still values and preserves the Bhavanga Citta and who is attached to the base of Samadhi and does not seek the way of Panna to investigate and observe Avijja, which is like an alluring temptress within the Citta, the Bhavanga Citta, and Samadhi, is just like the attendant of lives and existences and will continue to be so without ever coming to freedom.
If one desires deliverance, one must build up Sati-Panna within the Heart until it becomes very proficient and capable of destroying Bhavanga Citta which is the essence of lives and existences. Bhavanga will then naturally dissolve and disappear. To know Bhavanga Citta one must possess a firm base of Samadhi and very sharp Sati-Panna on the level of Maha-Sati and Maha-Panna. Other than that it is impossible to know it. Even if one had studied the whole Ti-pitaka one cannot escape from 'packing one's belly' full of knowledge of Avijja. The most efficient tool for this is none other than Maha-Sati and Maha-Panna. This is the tool that destroys Bhavanga Citta, Bhavanga Avijja.
A forest Bhikkhu writes according to the forest's way. Please don't be concerned or take it too seriously because it is presented without any examples or patterns to certify it. The practice is done in the forest; so is the learning. So the Dhamma is also Forest Dhamma. Consequently everything is of the way of the forest with not a single term of the scripture hidden within it.
How to come Out of Samadhi Bhavana
when coming out of Samadhi Bhavana, one should do so with Sati supporting the Hart. If the Citta still remains calm within Bhavana, it is not one's place to force it to withdraw and come out of Bhavana. One should not disturb it, even if it is time to go to work or on alms- round. Let it stay converged in calmness until it comes out on its own. The external works, even if they are necessary, should be put aside during this time because the work of the Bhavanga Citta is much more important to the point where they are incomparable.
If it is forced to withdraw when it is not adept in entering and withdrawing it can be detrimental to the Citta in the future. The Citta will not converge into calm again as it did before. One will then be disappointed; it has been constantly happening in the circle of practice. One should be very cautious not to allow any repetition of the same mistakes.
In coming out, if the Citta is still converged in calmness, then one must wait until after the Citta has withdrawn or only some out when one feels tired. One should come out fully possessed with Sati and not haphazardly, lacking Sati-Sampajanna,the Dhamma that goes together with every movement.
Before coming out, one should reflect on the method through which one gained results in practising Bhavana. How did one establish Sati and observe the Citta? What was the Parikamma object? How was it recited to make the Citta converge easily – quickly or slowly? How did one investigate? What was the technique that gave thoroughness? After having reflected and noted both the causes and results that one had experienced at every interval, one can come out of Samadhi Bhavana. The reason for reflecting in this manner is to make it easy to correctly repeat the previous way of practice that one will take up in future.
Especially for those ordained who are already practitioners, even after coming out of Samadhi, they should not let go of the Sati that used to support the Citta. In the various postures of standing, walking, sitting and lying down, and in fulfilling one's duty or in doing any kind of work, Sati should be either directing the Parikamma object or one should b fully possessed with Sati-Sampajanna, not letting the Heart sway with the various kinds of Arammana, following the habits of the Citta that was used to these Arammana.
The behaviour by way of body and speech will not be incorrect when there is Sati directing the Parikamma object or when Sati is there with oneself. It will also be pleasing to the eyes and ears of others. Regardless of one's character, quick or slow, it will always be within the bounds of beauty, pleasing both to the eyes and ears. The Citta will converge into calm very quickly during the practice of Bhavana, due to Sati, the device that directs and controls the Heart and the work that one is doing. If it is likened to an animal, it is under one's control, and can easily be put to work at ant time. Damage cannot easily arise like if it were allowed to go following its own fate – Yatha-Kamma.
Even if it does not converge into calm in accordance with one's wish, it will not create hardship and injury for oneself. The ability to take care of the Citta at nearly every moment, or constantly, will effectively nourish Sati and the Citta to be proficient in the practice of Samadhi and in other kinds of work. Whatever type of work, when it is done with intention having Sati attending to the work in hand, it is usually pleasing to the eyes and not incorrect. One will not be absent-minded and will be within one's status, not lowering one's position and one's work to become something undesirable.
Therefore it is correctly said that “Sati is desirable in every circumstance”. This is very appropriate and cannot be contradicted. One will come to see the necessity of Sati during the practice of Samadhi Bhavana and during the investigation of the different Dhamma aspects. Sati must follow this work all the time in order to know thoroughly, in accordance with one's established purpose, the nature of the Citta and Dhamma. Especially for one who is possessed with the higher state of Citta and Dhamma, Sati remains the Dhamma that is very necessary at every interval and cannot be done without. The capability and sharpness of Panna depends on Sati as the device that supports and aids its development. Even if Panna has already entered into the level of Maha-Panna, it correspondingly indicates that Sati must have entered into the level of Maha-Sati. This is because Sati is the Dhamma that directs all types of work. The manner of people who sometimes lack Sati is not pleasing to the eyes at all. If it was continually allowed to be lacking without giving it any concern, then it must definitely be about time for one to be taken away.....(sic) without any doubt!
For this reason, the rate of attainment for any practitioner depends significantly on Sati-Panna; even if their characters and tendencies differ. For one who concentrates on the development of Sati, Samadhi will appear very quickly. Their ability to think and investigate in the way of Panna will be very much enhanced. We can see from the experience of writing: one day when Sati is absent due to many confusing thoughts, that day the writing becomes haphazard with many errors. But on another day, when the Heart is not confused having Sati with oneself, the writing runs correctly without many errors.
Those who are foremost in the way of the Citta and Dhamma usually see the importance of Sati. They always try to constantly establish Sati, without ever letting it disappear. Especially during the practice of Samadhi Bhavana and in the investigation of the various aspects of Dhamma, Sati and Panna must all the time blend together without allowing any discontinuity. The one who practises in this manner is possessed with Jagara Dhamma – the awakening device, the self-protective device that is very firm and stable. Then it is not easy for the enemy to approach; no danger can come to the Heart. This is different from those without Sati, for they accumulate Dukkha; however much there is, they will accept it all.
The Venerable Acariya Mun stressed heavily the development of Sati; regardless of posture, exertion, or whether one was a new or old student. He relentlessly taught about Sati along with other instruction that was appropriate for the state of Citta and Dhamma of the student. He said that he had learned to see the dangers resulting from the lack of Sati, and the benefits of Sati from the beginning stages of exertion right up to the end. Both of them are significant and cannot be held in contempt. He assured the practitioners that regardless of sex or age, if they constantly gave interest to Sati without allowing any gap or discontinuity in the various postures, they shall come to realize and experience Samadhi, Magga, Phala, Nibbana.
From the beginning stages of training all that is needed is to have Sati as the Support. One's awareness and one's understanding of the good and bad things that arise within oneself and others could be known corresponding to the ability in maintaining Sati with oneself, not allowing any absence of Sati to appear which will give room for the Kilesa to steal one's precious possession. Then there is definitely hope.
The case of most of those practitioners of Dhamma who turn 'blamer's of Dhamma', claiming that they cannot experience the results fro, practice, is due to the Kilesa of absent-mindedness that secretly took over from Sati, the director,and then secretly preformed that duty with the Citta – both during the practice of exertion and during the normal time. This causes disappointment; but instead of blaming oneself for having been fooled by Kilesa, one blames Dhamma for not giving the appropriate results. Both ways one loses and this is due to the lack of interest in observing the Kilesa that causes absent-mindedness, not seeing it as damaging to oneself or one's exertion. This Kilesa therefore gains the opportunity to manifest itself with the practitioner without him knowing that he is constantly being led by it.
If one is an observer, one will be able to see within less than a minute's time. From the time one begins exerting in the various positions with the establishing of Sati in doing the practice, one will come to see the establishing of Sati and the absence of Sati performing a battle right in front of oneself. And not long afterwards, the absent-mindedness, which is the Kilesa which watches and waits will be victor and will drag away the Citta and disappear with it.
From that minute onwards, all that remains is the body of the practitioner emptily exerting without Sati. If one is walking Cankama, it is just the appearance of walking, and the same way with sitting and standing. One is just like a robot or a doll. This is not exertion in the true sense of the word, because Sati, the essence of exertion and that which provides the results, has been stolen by the Kilesa of absent-mindedness. This is the way how the Kilesa destroys the exertion of the practitioner and it destroys right in front of one's eyes but putting one to sleep during the time of exertion.
If one really wants to know how capable each type of Kilesa really is, it is possible to know at every moment. Even from the beginning of exertion it can be seen very quickly. But usually, in most cases there is not the desire to know. There is more desire to know about the results of Samadhi, Magga, Phala, and Nibbana, without really knowing how these Dhamma may be made to appear, for what other than the important pioneering device of Sati-Panna can do so? Otherwise the absent-mindedness, which is constantly and carelessly ignored destroys all the Dhamma that one desires.