Siddhartha Gotama was born in a royal family of the Sakyan tribe of northern India. Realising that all who were born, inevitably had to suffer from old age, sickness and death, he renounced his comfortable and privileged life to seek for the deathless nibbāna.
After six years he discovered the right method, which he called the Noble Eightfold Path.
Through developing this path of mental discipline he attained the destruction of all mental defilements and became a Fully Enlightened, All Knowing Buddha. His awakening took place at the age of thirty-five. Until his death at the age of more than eighty, he wandered throughout the Ganges valley, teaching all who desired liberation.
The Buddha’s Way to liberation overcomes suffering by removing the primary causes, which are craving and ignorance.
We like pleasant feelings and dislike unpleasant
feelings because we are ignorant of their true characteristics. If we gain insight, craving and suffering will cease.
To gain insight we must renounce attachment and craving. We must meditate to gain deep concentration.
If the mind is scattered in all directions we cannot realise the true nature of the
mental and physical processes, so we will remain ignorant of the truth however much we know about the Dhamma.
We must practise meditation to remove prejudice and illusions. We must observe the mind and body to see their true nature, and to gain insight into the Dhamma.
The Buddha’s Discourse on Mindfulness
“This, monks, is the only way for the purification of beings,
for the transcendence of grief and lamentation,
for the extinction of pain and sorrow,
for attaining the right method,
for the realisation of nibbāna;
namely, the four foundations of mindfulness.”
Mindfulness of the Body is the foundation of Insight Meditation. It includes several different meditation objects — mindfulness of the breath, 32 body parts, four elements, clear comprehension of daily activities, and comparing the body with corpses.
The Mahāsi meditation method uses mindfulness of the four elements as the primary object, stressing clear comprehension of all intentions when making bodily movements.
This includes both physical and emotional feelings. A meditator must be patient with pain, and equanimous towards pleasure and joy.
Pain is the key that opens the door to nibbāna. Do not change your position as soon as pain arises — change your mental attitude.
Resolve to understand the true nature of painful sensations. Insight will soon arise if you investigate painful sensations patiently.
No pain, no gain
The wandering mind is difficult to restrain. Insight cannot arise from thinking. One must transcend it to realise the truth.
Focus on mindfulness of bodily movements and sensations to gain discipline. The restless mind will gradually settle down.
Strict moral purity is vital. Avoid all sexual activity, eat little, sleep little, move very slowly, and refrain from all talking.
Talking is the greatest hindrance
When you prevent the mind from following its usual habits, it will resist and complain with restlessness, laziness, or doubts.
Like a spoiled child who is made to sit still, the fickle mind will struggle to escape from the confines of continuous mindfulness
Meditators must face these tantrums calmly, resolutely observing each mental or physical phenomenon, as and when it occurs.
Patience opens the door to nibbāna
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