The Rochester Meditation Center presents:
"When Awareness Becomes Natural"
Daily Life Meditation in the Style of Sayadaw U Tejaniya
The Rochester Meditation Center is presently working its
way through Sayadaw U Tejaniya's newest book,
"When Awareness Becomes Natural" (WABN).
Every week the RMC sangha takes a different practice
theme taken from WABN. We use a weekly reading and daily
email reminders as guides to practice on that theme.
The weekly readings are condensed from "WABN" and
supplemented by quotes taken from other books, interviews
and talks by Sayadaw on the week's practice theme.
You can follow the course wherever you live simply by
signing up to receive the weekly readings and the daily
email reminders on the weekly theme.
To sign up for the weekly readings and daily reminders
just click here. (If you live outside of Rochester, MN and
are already receiving the daily emails, you don't
need to resubscribe. You'll keep getting the
daily reminders with no change.)
Paperback and Kindle copies of WABN
are on sale at Amazon here.
In the course outline below the PDFs are the weekly
readings; the MP3s are recordings of the Thursday
evening sessions at the RMC; and a complete archive
of the daily emails follows.
WISDOM WABN Themed Thursday Evening
Sections Readings Recordings
Week 13 (10/13): Observing the
WISE INVESTIGATION OF THE MIND
Week 19: Causes and Conditions
Week 20: Kamma
Week 21: The Refuges
Week 22: Feeling
Week 23: Suffering
Week 24: Impermanence
Week 25: Anger
Week 26: Momentum
Week 27: Chopping Firewood
Week 28: Wisdom
Week 29: Right Speech
Week 30: Marriage
Week 31: The Meditating Mind
Week 32: Right Thought
Week 33: Right Action
Week 34: Maturity
Week 35: Energy
Week 36: Spiritual Urgency
Week 37: Continue!
Wednesday, July 6
I am excited to announce that starting tomorrow we will start a new series of Thursday evenings based on a new book by Sayadaw Tejaniya called "When Awareness Becomes Natural: A Guide to Cultivating Mindfulness in Everyday Life."
These evenings will launch a new format for Thursday nights.
We'll start as usual with a silent 30-minute sit, but then follow with sharing and discussion of our personal "everyday awareness" practice. For those of you who come on Sunday mornings, Thursday evenings will be more like Sunday mornings for this series.
There will be no weekly dharma talk as we progress through the book. Instead, the group leader will facilitate sharing and discussion of our practice. The first 12 weeks we'll cover:
Week 1 (7/7): Reality
Every Friday morning I will send out a new PDF reading from the book, covering the next section. It will be only a few pages long, written in Sayadaw's pithy, highly practical and down-to-earth style. We'll use the weekly reading as a guide to our daily practice through the following Thursday.
The one-page reading for tomorrow is: "What is Our Relationship to Reality?" Important note: if on a given week you can't read the reading, feel free to come anyway and participate as you'd like. Our experience on Sunday mornings shows this isn't a problem and works just fine.
The hallmark of Sayadaw's teaching is to develop a stable, clear and aware mind by continuous awareness applied in everyday situations (walking, speaking, eating, driving, working, etc.) from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep. In this way we become "enlightening" beings.
The book is available in softcover on Amazon here for $10.55. (No Kindle version is available yet.)
We'll take breaks here and there on Thursday evenings for visiting speakers, Skype talks and other programs as they arise.
In the book's the third section, Sayadaw uses his own personal example to describe very specifically how he used meditation to overcome his drug abuse and petty crime as a teenager and later, several bouts of depression as a young married man with a job. It's a powerful, revelatory teaching.
For the full series' outline click here.
I hope you can make it!
Thursday, July 7
A reminder that tonight we'll begin a new series of Thursday evenings based on Sayadaw U Tejaniya's new book, "When Awareness Becomes Natural: A Guide to Cultivating Mindfulness in Everyday Life."
In his new book, Sayadaw offers easy and step-by-step instructions on how to become enlightened—or "enlightening" as he says—not primarily by formal sitting meditation but instead by closely attending to the simple experience of our daily lives as we sleep, wake, wash, eat, walk, talk and work.
A full description of this series of Thursday evenings is here.
You can sign up to receive a pithy daily email practice reminder from Sayadaw U Tejaniya for the duration of this series, taken directly from the practices in the book that we cover each week. (These reminders will be different from those in The Daily Tejaniya, a separate email reminder list.)
If you'd like to sign up for the daily email practice reminders tailored to this series of Thursday evenings, just click here.
As I mentioned yesterday, our Thursday evenings in this series will focus on sharing and discussion around the daily practices described in Sayadaw's book. The group leader (usually me) will facilitate and lead that discussion instead of offering dharma talks per se.
The reading for tonight, "What is Your Relationship to Reality," is the first page of Sayadaw's new book. Have a quick read today if you can. But if not, no worries as we will summarize it as tonight's session begins.
Starting tomorrow morning, a new weekly reading will go out every Friday morning.
I hope you can join us tonight and for many or all evenings in this series.
Friday, July 8
Our practice guide for our first week with Sayadaw U Tejaniya is about Wisdom (click here).
See if you can get the gist and the feel of wisdom, that is, the quality in your own experience that most closely matches what Sayadaw describes as wisdom.
This week's daily email practice reminders are all taken from "Awareness Alone is Not Enough," an earlier book of Sayadaw's which is basically all about wisdom. In the book, Sayadaw stresses that awareness is the means to achieving wisdom and in this way, wisdom is the true aim of meditation.
Because it, wisdom, and not "I" or "me" is what puts our life on a stable track.
What does wisdom mean to you? How does it work? How is it known? What does it know? Does it speak with a voice? Where and how do you find wisdom in your own experience? Do you or can you experience it as separate from "I" or "me"?
Are awareness and wisdom the same or different? Or both?
What does your experience say?
P.S. If you have a burning questions about practice or anything that comes up, feel free to email me and I'll take a crack at answering, perhaps sharing those answers with others.
Saturday, July 9
How can I become aware of wisdom?
DAILY PRACTICE SUGGESTION:
This is the foundational practice of Sayadaw's method of meditation.
"Watching awareness" plays roughly the same role in Sayadaw's method that "watching the breath" plays in traditional insight meditation. When we learn how to use "watching awareness" as the ground of our practice, we are profoundly grounding ourselves in our own lives. Because awareness is where our lives are actually happening. Awareness, including especially the wholesome qualities known by awareness such as wisdom and love, is really the sum and the substance of our whole lives.
So let's spend some time to get this practice firmly under our belts. Also, from now on, if we ever get lost or feel the need to return to a single practice to keep things simple, we can go back to this one.
To practice the first part of Sayadaw's instructions, try to remember to ask yourself "Am I aware?" throughout your day at these specific times: 1) In the very first moment you wake up; and 2) As many times as you can throughout the whole day while eating, washing, walking, talking, working, reading or at any other time; and 3) In your very last moment of consciousness before you fall asleep.
The profound power of the question "Am I aware?" is that in asking it, we become aware. The more often we do this, the more we naturally and frequently we start to remember we are aware.
Repeatedly asking the question "Am I aware?" wakes up our natural joy in being aware. After a while, because it's so interesting, enjoyable and useful to be consciously aware, we start naturally to be aware without having to remember it so much. It becomes completely spontaneous and we get a sense of the natural flow of consciousness that is always noticing one thing after another, after another. Sayadaw calls this continuous natural noticing of the flow of awareness the "momentum" of good practice, or "when awareness becomes natural," as he said in the book's title.
When we become conscious of the natural flow of awareness we get to observe it and best of all to learn from it. This leads to the second part of Sayadaw's instructions which is to ask "What are my thoughts about the present experience? How am I assessing it, judging it, evaluating it?"
So, first we notice we are aware. Then we consciously notice what we are aware of, paying special attention to the running commentary of thoughts we are always having about our experience.
As we will learn in coming weeks, these thoughts will fall into the category of "right views" or "wrong views." For now, though, as we get started, we can focus on simply noticing these thoughts and the flow of awareness noticing these thoughts as they arise and disappear, and much else besides.
This is the beginning of wisdom.
Sunday, July 10
There is a natural progression in the growth of awareness.
You might start off with just one object, say the breath. After a
Then you will notice how you are feeling—while being aware of
Once you are able to see this whole picture, you will begin to
This is understanding; this is wisdom.
DAILY PRACTICE SUGGESTION:
My suggestion for today and for every day hereafter as we follow Sayadaw's book, is simply to practice the foundational "watching awareness" meditation as described in Saturday's email.
We just keep watching awareness in this way and from now on, as Sayadaw says above, we'll just keep noticing and learning more and more. As long as we stay curious, we'll keep enlightening.
"Objects in the body" means physical sensations such as tingling, warmth, contraction, pressure, weight, touch, etc. When you ask "Am I aware?" and find the answer is yes, check right then to see what sensations in the body awareness is noticing.
Physical sensations are the same as awareness. Can you notice that? Only thought says they are different things, that awareness is the subject of sensations, the object. But every sensation is made purely out of experience, and what is experience? It is purely a knowing. This knowing is awareness.
This is why, when we are simply noticing what awareness is knowing in a given moment (e.g., a physical sensation, an emotion, a thought, etc.), we are actually knowing awareness itself.
Everything unfolds from continuously watching awareness in this way. Especially, wisdom unfolds.
Please feel free to write me with any questions, or bring them with you on Thursday night.
MONDAY, JULY 11
The Middle Way is the way of watching
Meaning there is no preference, no seeking something
Wisdom inclines toward the good but is not attached to it.
DAILY PRACTICE SUGGESTION:
This week we just want to get a relaxed sense of wisdom—a tangible sense of it—by checking in our own experience. What in our own experience feels or acts like what Sayadaw is describing above?
That's the part of us we want to notice, honor, work with and keep in view in practice.
Last year, Sayadaw led a 14-day retreat that was themed around creating conditions for wisdom to arise in experience. The full transcript of his morning practice reminders at that retreat are here.
I couldn't recommend this transcript more highly for its detailed description of meditation as a wisdom practice. (I attended the retreat and transcribed the morning talks.) The retreat was in Sayadaw's style which was relaxed, with no formal sitting periods, only continuous awareness.
In a nutshell, wisdom is the antidote to delusion which is the root cause of suffering. That's why it's central. We'll develop a more fine-grained understanding of wisdom over the next 12 weeks. But right from the start we can get clear that wisdom is the target, and we are heading there.
TUESDAY, JULY 12
When a car passes by, what differentiates
The meditator knows both that the car passed by
The non-meditator just knows a car passing by.
DAILY PRACTICE SUGGESTION:
Today, when you hear a car pass by, see if you can experience it in this way. Can you for example notice how the mind first hears the sound of tires hissing on the pavement, but then additionally adds a thought that says, "That is a car passing by"? Those are two distinct steps taken by the mind.
Does an image, however faint, come to mind when you hear the sound? Also perhaps a judgement in such as "That car is going much too fast" or "That car needs a new muffler" or even something like "The person who is driving that car is a #&?!!"
Sometimes, as you watch with full awareness, notice how the thoughts of the mind do not always accurately report experience. While sitting in the RMC meditation hall, on some occasions we have heard screeching sounds that some of us thought was a bird, others were certain was a squirrel, and which the house owner believed was a loose housing fixture that needed (expensive) fixing.
Experiment with this. When you eat a meal, notice what the senses are noticing, as well as what the mind is saying and the heart is feeling with every bite. What is the mental commentary? Are you making assumptions not born out by experience? Are you doing what your thoughts are telling you to do when you eat? Notwithstanding, perhaps, that another part of you knows it is not in your best interest to do so?
When you chat with a loved one, a friend, a colleague or a stranger, likewise, what's the mental commentary including the comparisons, judgements and silent assumptions being made? When you notice how your body is feeling or how it looks, likewise, what is the mind saying? Is it offering good and helpful advice? Or is it whispering or shouting other kinds of things in your mind?
Widen the aperture of awareness to take in as much as you can in any given moment.
Among everything that you notice, do you notice wisdom? What's it doing?
WEDNESDAY, JULY 13
Only when the mind is simple
A complicated mind—a mind which thinks,
The mind must be simple in order to be in the
DAILY PRACTICE REFLECTIONS
Today, Sayadaw draws a distinction between thinking on the one hand, and wisdom on the other. And he says that thinking often obscures wisdom.
Is that your experience? What does your own experience tell you about the usefulness of thinking vs wisdom, how they either work together or, more often perhaps, how they work at cross purposes?
Has it ever happened to you that making a decision becomes harder the more you think about it? Or that a problem seems increasingly insoluble until at last you take a break away from it, at which point, while you are busy doing something else, the solution suddenly appears?
What do experiences like these tell you about the relative utility of thinking vs wisdom? Concluding from your own experience, what changes might you then consider in how you relate to your thoughts?
THURSDAY, JULY 14
How much do you know about your awareness?
What benefits do you get from being aware?
You need to continuously learn from your experience.
If you cultivate this kind of ongoing interest in your
FRIDAY, JULY 15
Our reading for the week is "Relax, Be Aware."
There are lots of good tips in this short reading on how to stay aware from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep, and at many points throughout the day.
Does that sound hard? Sayadaw says:
Sayadaw returns to these instructions over and over again: Relax. Be Aware.
This week, see how it works for you.
Daily practice reminders to come.
SATURDAY, JULY 16
The first instruction I will give a yogi who is new
Instead what I encourage him or her to do is observe,
SUNDAY, JULY 17
Whether you are tense or relaxed, observe how
MONDAY, JULY 18
Many yogis think that being aware means we focus
The awareness we are seeking is unprompted. We are
TUESDAY, JULY 19
Your work is to keep the mindfulness continuous.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 20
By being aware, you can begin
THURSDAY, JULY 21
Don't try to do anything, don't try to prevent
FRIDAY, JULY 22
The biggest question people have about Sayadaw's meditation style is often: "How is it possible to be aware from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep?"
Our reading for this week —"Just Light Awareness"—answers that question. (Click on the link to get a PDF of the reading.)
Sayadaw describes "light awareness" or "gentle awareness" as a relaxed openness that takes very little energy. In fact, it actually builds energy throughout the day as you use it.
Have fun practicing this week, see how it works for you. Enjoy!
SATURDAY, JULY 23
When you are aware of your awareness, then
You do not need to know every detail of
Practice Note: As a reminder, "objects" are physical sensations, perceptions and thoughts. In other words, the totality of our experience. Emotions (anger, fear, sadness, etc.) are complex objects consisting mostly of physical sensations and thoughts interacting with each other over time. Perceptions—sights, sounds, tastes, touch and smells—sometimes of course play into the emotions. Tomorrow, watch for Sayadaw's suggestion for awareness "when there is turmoil and chaos in the mind."
SUNDAY, JULY 24
When there is turmoil and chaos in the
Practice Note: We'll spend a week with Right View in a few weeks. It's the first step in the Noble Eightfold Path and a cornerstone of Buddhist practice. It's basically the idea that everything that happens is just nature, the lawful unfolding of causes and conditions, and in this way is never personal. If we remember this wisdom at times of turmoil, it can be powerfully calming.
MONDAY, JULY 25
We can become forgetful, so we need to sharpen up our
For example, when putting on or taking off your t-shirt,
Know that you are dressing. Know that you are IN
This is very simple and takes very little effort.
TUESDAY, JULY 26
When awareness gets stronger, the defilements are more
WEDNESDAY, JULY 27
With gentle awareness, you can continue to
THURSDAY, JULY 28
Personal effort feels like you can only be aware or lost
It really feels like you're aware while doing everything.
SATURDAY, JULY 30
If you notice that you are seeing, hearing, feeling something
SUNDAY, JULY 31
When a car passes by, what differentiates
The meditator knows both that the car passed
The nonmeditator just knows a car passed by.
MONDAY, AUG. 1
There is a saying that sums up the awareness of
TUESDAY, AUG. 2
The whole point of meditation practice is to
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 3
Awareness means being aware of your own
THURSDAY, AUG. 4
When you're in the right balance, you might be
FRIDAY, AUG. 5
This week's Tejaniya practice is "calm and stable mind."
Here is the chapter reading for this week on "calm and stable mind."
There is more than the usual amount of Buddhist terminology in this reading.
Plus, Sayadaw, who's teaching trademark is almost always simplicity, uncharacteristically gets into various technical aspects of "calm and stable mind" that are beyond the simplicity we need at this point. He brings simplicity and clarity to the topic of the stable mind in other of his writings which we can draw upon this week and today.
Sayadaw's teachings on stable mind are one of the most prominent elements that make his approach so useful for people leading busy lives, and who thus need a meditation style adaptable to meditating in the middle of those busy lives.
We can meditate from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep. A calm and stable mind is 100% attainable in the midst of modern daily living, Sayadaw teaches.
So I thought I'd offer a brief summary introduction to this week's topic and the practice here, staying very close to these pure essentials, to start us off on the right foot. This simple and beautiful practice is a lifesaver. It's also a foundation stone for later practices to come, i.e. the ones which bring us to permanent emotional lightness. Here we go:
The "one Buddhist word that we need to know this week is "samadhi," which means "calm and stable mind."
Samadhi is important for two reasons. First, because by definition it is calm and stable and for that reason is an improvement over our normally agitated minds.
Second, samadhi is important because we need a calm and stable mind in order to see more deeply into the ultimate nature of our experience of life, which is reality. This deeper seeing into the true nature of reality is what frees us permanently from stress.
Samadhi Technique #1: Watch An Object
First things first: how do we develop a calm and stable mind?
In two ways: 1) By continuous awareness of an object (such as breathing) and 2) By remembering the ultimate nature of reality. The first way is useful in some situations, and the second way in others.
Let's look at the first way first.
Reflect back for a moment on last week's practice: watching objects skillfully. When we are just beginning to meditate, the basic way that we develop a calm and stable mind is to choose a single object. Then we make a steady and relaxed effort to stay continuously aware of that object. That is all. This one very simple training of awareness powerfully and quickly calms and stabilizes the mind.
This method isn't only useful for those just beginning to meditate. The Buddha used it his whole life, on a daily basis, for decades after his enlightenment. But it certainly is very useful for beginning meditators. In addition, for meditators at all levels, it is often useful when stressful emotions are at a peak.
The object that most of us are most familiar with, for this purpose, is our breathing. We watch the physical sensations of our breathing continuously, and when we notice our attention has strayed from that object, we gently return it back. In this way, we can notice within seconds that our minds become more calm and stable. In addition, the mind also becomes more clear and thus is able to learn more about itself.
As we learned last week, anything we experience is an object—any physical sensation, sense perception or thought (word or image) is an object. Technically, any of these objects can serve to calm and stabilize the mind as long as we maintain continuous awareness of them. In later stages of practice, taking thoughts and perceptions as objects help us to address specific issues as they arise in practice.
But the breath is ideal for several reasons, at virtually any time in daily life and for all practitioners. It's a very obvious object (as compared, say, to thoughts which are fleeting), and it's always readily available. Also, the breath plays a special role in linking the mind to the body. So the breath is an excellent object to use.
Samadhi Technique #2: Remembering It's All Nature
The second technique for developing a calm and stable mind is what the Buddhist call "Right View," which is remembering the ultimate nature of reality. It is usually but not always is easier to use this method after practicing with Technique #1 for a while, for the simple reason that Technique #1 will give us the deeper understanding of reality that we later can immeditately "remember" and bring into any life situation.
It's hard to describe Right View in language, because the primary trait of ultimate reality is that it transcends all conceptual division, including the conceptual division that language creates with each and every word.
But still, we can approach the understanding of Right View skillfully by allowing for this understanding that there is a dimension to life that is completely beyond language, and which is comprised of pure experience.
This pure experience is not esoteric nor rare but rather is completely ordinary experience, such as the pure experience of drinking water as opposed to describing the experience of drinking water in words. This is like the difference between reading the recipe for a dish and then actually eating the meal. They are two totally different dimensions of experience. The first is abstract and conceptual, and the second is real.
The more time we spend experiencing reality instead of just concepts, the better. Because the more time we spend experiencing reality, the more we naturally get in sync with reality. Note that when we are experiencing reality we do experience concepts, but they are only a sliver of the totality that we experience.
Besides thoughts we are also simultaneously experiencing sights, sounds, tastes, smells, touch, perceptions, emotions, moods and so on. Whereas if we are experiencing concepts, we tend to only be experiencing those concepts and nothing else. In other words, concepts are blinders. They limit our experience in certain ways, often very dramatically and severely. We need to be careful in using them.
Sayadaw's most common way to describe Right View is the understanding that "everything is nature." That is, at any moment, we can understand what is happening as "just nature," as opposed to something that "I am experiencing" or that "I am making happen this way or that way."
When we see what is happening right now as the lawful unfolding of nature, it depersonalizes our experience, knowing it as "just nature lawfully unfolding" and "not me." In this way, it calms and stabilizes the mind, and as a result we relax, because seeing things in this way dramatically decreases the amount of mental suffering we might be generating for example as imagined scenarios of disappointment, despair, worry, shame, blame and so on.
Most of us, in the course of our lives, already develop and use Right View to lessen our stress and make us more resilient and available to respond to the reality of the moment, as oppose to getting caught in mental webs of worry, agitation, sorrow and fear. If you say "que sera, sera"—"what will be, will be"—and feel an immediate relaxation in body and mind, that's the application of Right View.
In Buddhist practice, we simply go deeper and more thoroughly into the practice of "what will be, will be," and other completely ordinary Right View practices, indeed to the point that Right View suffuses every moment. At this point, to use Sayadaw's terminology, "awareness gains momentum" and life proceeds in a natural positive flow.
As we continue, we'll keep practicing both ways to develop samadhi, but with an increasing emphasis on Technique #2. Because it's often the most useful method for people leading busy modern lives.
Samadhi in Daily Life
In this chapter, Sayadaw brings out a point worth emphasizing in this brief overview. It is an absolute cornerstone of his teaching and we might lose track of it otherwise. We really want this one to sink in.
When we sit in formal meditation, we develop a calm and stable mind by choosing an object (such as the breath) and being aware of it continuously. For as long as we are sitting, we maintain that calm and stable mind. But as Sayadaw points out, this kind of samadhi is delicate and weak, since as soon as we get up and go on about our daily lives, it tends to disperse very quickly. Here is an extended passage on calm and stable mind—samadhi—from another of Sayadaw's books that brings this point home well:
"The samadhi you get from being quiet is a bit tight or brittle. It very much relies on one condition and that's why you can easily lose it when the silence is interrupted. It feels wrong but it's actually very fragile.
If the mere act of opening the eyes makes the stability of mind go away then that samadhi was not very strong or stable. Whether we are seeing, walking, eating, taking a shower, or sitting, samadhi must always be present.
When you practice to be mindful under more trying circumstances, such as when you are talking and socializing, it will be more difficult to develop samadhi. You will only be able to develop this with an open mind and with the right attitude.
However, since you need to be more skillful in developing samadhi under these circumstances, it will last longer. This samadhi is also more flexible because it does not depend on fixed conditions. Every time you lose mindfulness, you will calmly reconnect to your practice."
The Birds-Eye View
Finally, as a preview of things to come, there is a way of noticing objects that is different from samadhi, that helps us to see more deeply into the nature of reality than samadhi. This is the "birds-eye view" that we ran across in last week's reading, and that many of us described from our own experience in the sitting last night.
For example, Mike last night described a certain way of noticing all the hubbub and commotion around him at the food court, not zeroing in on any one particular sight or sound, but a more panoramic knowing of all the sights and sounds at once.
From this perspective, the "birds-eye view," we are inherently calmer and more stable, because no one sight or sound—and no one thought, physical sensation or emotion—has the power to rope in our attention and get us fixated on a specific chain of thought, worry or anticipation. Sometimes, Sayadaw calls this way of knowing "light awareness." in this light, panoramic, "birds-eye view" awareness, we know many objects, not just one.
We've got an overview, cognizant of everything, and even knowing certain things in quite some detail, and yet remaining at the same time quite unattached and free from everything that is known. There is a lot of freedom in this way of seeing, this particular view. In Buddhist language, this "birds-eye view" way of seeing is called "vipassana."
Like the Buddha and other Buddhist meditation teachers, Sayadaw teaches both the "samadhi" and the "vipassana" way of seeing. Sayadaw, however, stresses the vipassana way, more than the samadhi way.
However, we need to note something very important here. While the samadhi and vipassana ways of seeing look different at first, they are actually very similar in many ways. In some ways they are indistinguishable. Also, they work together seamlessly, each one supporting the other.
Sayadaw describes two key practices for working with the samadhi and vipassana ways of seeing.
First, we notice that the birds-eye view way of knowing, which entails continuous awareness of many objects and not just one object, on its own develops calm and stable mind, in the same way that the one-object "samadhi" did. So in fact, we don't sacrifice a calm and stable mind with the birds-eye view. Just the opposite, we develop calm and stable mind with continuous birds-eye view (vipassana), in the same way that we did with the one-object samadhi practice. So we get two for the price of one: calm and stable mind, but at the same time, a wider and fuller view of reality with more wisdom entailed.
Developing samadhi by watching a single object can feel like a bit of an effort, like you are muscling your awareness a little bit. But at one point, you realize internally that somehow you are ready to let go into the more open and relaxed "birds-eye view." When you do that, you suddenly become able to notice more than one object at a time. In fact, you recognized that "you" are not recognizing lots of objects, but rather simply that awareness itself is doing what it always does, which is notice a lot of things at once, and suddenly you are slipstreaming along with awareness itself. It feels effortless.
A good metaphor for this two-step process, from samadhi to vipassana, is how a glider gets up in the sky and starts to glide. At first, the glider needs to be towed behind a motorized airplane that pulls it off the ground and up into the air. That's the "working" part of meditation, developing calm and stable mind by noticing an object continuously.
But at a certain point, the tow plane releases the glider and from then on, the glider catches the existing air currents, flying for hours by skillfully navigating from one thermal to another. That's the "birds eye view" stage of meditation, when "you" as awareness are just noticing what awareness is already noticing, from moment after moment after moment. Now you are gliding—and free.
This was a little longer than a brief summary, I realize.
I hope it was helpful, though.
Hopefully the daily messages this week will carry us along from here, gliding in the sky of awareness, and free.
SATURDAY, AUG. 6
The type of samadhi I would like you to under-
SUNDAY, AUG. 7
One yogi who came to our center had been practicing
He was just practicing and observing his mind.
One day while standing in line waiting for the lunch
He understood that this is all there is. This moment was
By maintaining a steady and continuous effort,
MONDAY, AUG. 8
It is impossible to always have mindfulness and
As long as you have the right attitude and keep
TUESDAY, AUG. 9
We just need to be able to naturally know what the
mind is already doing naturally. Then our sense of the
fact that this is not a personal process becomes more
clear. "I" am not in charge of this, even the meditation.
The mind is doing its own work of being aware.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 10
When the mind is calm there's more space to
Once there is an ability to step away and ask
THURSDAY, AUG. 11
If the mere act of opening the eyes makes the
stability of the mind go away, then that samadhi
was not very strong or stable.
Whether we are seeing, walking, eating, taking a
shower or sitting, samadhi must always be there.
What is the cause of samadhi? What causes samadhi
to be there? Right view and continuity of awareness.
Persistence—sustaining the awareness—together
with right view naturally make the mind stable.
FRIDAY, AUG. 12
There are two kinds of meditation. In samatha
For vipassana practice, sitting is not necessary.
The purpose of practicing vipassana is to cultivate
SATURDAY, AUG. 13
We can interweave the two practices [samatha
SUNDAY, AUG. 14
In meditation, it is only important to re-
MONDAY, AUG. 15
It is the meditator's job to stay with awareness
TUESDAY, AUG. 16
We want to know ourselves: "Who am I?"
We are nature, a physical and mental process
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 17
The ideal vipassana is not so much
THURSDAY, AUG. 18
With the practice of vipassana, we can take our cue from
FRIDAY, AUG. 19
Right effort is persistent effort.
SATURDAY, AUG. 20
You need to be aware of yourself continuously,
SUNDAY, AUG. 21
Awareness is the home of the mind,
MONDAY, AUG. 22
Right effort means to keep remind-
TUESDAY, AUG. 23
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 24
Right effort is called "right" because
THURSDAY, AUG. 25
Take interest in the work you are doing.
Many yogis encounter good and bad expe-
When I ask them why, they don't know! Do
It's because they don't study or take
They don't know their minds.
They don't know what they are doing,
FRIDAY, AUG. 26
Before we can effectively practice mindfulness
By simple observation with a calm and aware
The mind is a natural phenomenon.
You are practicing to dis-
SATURDAY, AUG. 27
Say somebody opens the door and it's
That's wrong view.
If you think, "There's a sound, I am
SUNDAY, AUG. 28
Because we want to learn about the nature
We don't interfere or control but observe, be-
This is right view.
MONDAY, AUG. 29
In the beginning, we don't really understand
This means we need to apply the appropriate
After doing this repeatedly over a long period
It will become your wisdom.
TUESDAY, AUG. 30
Think of experience as nature.
Nature is not personal.
Nature is just a process of cause and effect.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 31
We need to be aware of where our attention
Spread your attention so you are seeing the full
When we practice in this way it is called vipas-
THURSDAY, SEPT. 1
For the yogi, there's not a lot of work
You are just trying to do three things.
Have right view, be conscious, and sustain it.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 2
The new weekly practice theme is Right Attitude.
Right Attitude is in some ways the trademark or signature of
Right Attitude flows naturally from Right View, last week's practice
Here are Sayadaw's famous "23 Points on Right Attitude for Meditation."
The Daily Tejaniya
Right attitude is having the right frame
We really take the practice to heart.
Right attitude allows you to observe, accept, and
Whether what is happening is judged
If it is viewed with the right attitude, then it turns
SATURDAY, SEPT. 3
We need to be continuously checking our attitude.
After we have been practicing for a while,
It is a little like autopilot on a plane, where the pilot
When our mindfulness reaches this point, it frees up
The more continuous your mindfulness, the more
Momentum will then carry you forward.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 4
A yogi came to practice at our center and became quite
It took her three weeks of intensive investigation before
It then came to her quite suddenly.
She had been practicing meditation on breathing and
She explained, "It was the lens through which I was
This was a very powerful insight for her. It helped her
She was wearing the irritation-colored lens.
This pattern had been reinforced over a lifetime of
She has apparently kept this insight alive in daily life
MONDAY. SEPT. 5
Why are we being mindful or aware?
We practice because we want to understand.
We wait, observe, and study what is happening in the mind
We are not intentionally trying to make the mind
We meditate to see what is happening as it is and to
We need to see nature as nature, to recognize objects
TUESDAY, SEPT. 6
Whatever you are experiencing in this
There is no need to be happy or unhappy with
Be happy that there is knowing and awareness
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 7
If you are feeling a strong emotion,
Check to see whether you are accepting
Any unnoticed identification with the emotion
The objective is to know the whole experience,
Viewing your experience in this way is right view;
THURSDAY, SEPT. 8
If you are aware, just be glad you are
So when you are confronted by a defilement
As long as you are aware of the de-
FRIDAY, SEPT. 9
Morality is the basis of our practice. When we
SATURDAY, SEPT. 10
Morality can only come from a wisdom
SUNDAY, SEPT. 11
I read the following in a sutta: Why is there
Craving causes aversion. Why is there craving?
Because there is delusion.
Delusion causes craving.
My simple understanding of why there is delusion
But in that sutta it says there is delusion because the
So how do you reverse it?
Do wholesome deeds, then your hindrances
MONDAY, SEPT. 12
As we get more into our practice, wisdom and
As we become more mindful, the knowledge and
Wisdom and mindfulness will start
Both our mistakes and our wisdom give us
TUESDAY, SEPT. 13
Morality and wisdom are interdependent. One
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 14
When there is wisdom and the wholesome states
It comes naturally because of wisdom.
(Metta = Loving-kindness
THURSDAY, SEPT. 15
I always emphasize the importance of wisdom
In the progression sila-samadhi-panna*, sila is basic,
* The three basic practices of the Noble Eightfold Path
(Panna = Wisdom
FRIDAY, SEPT. 16
The mind can be a little tricky to know, because
So how can we pay attention to it if
We can experience the mind through its activity.
We know when the mind does something, and we
SATURDAY, SEPT. 17
To know the mind is a little like getting to
SUNDAY, SEPT. 18
In the scriptures the mind is defined. It is
Because it is defined as "that which knows" and
The mind is already doing it because
All we need to do is be aware and be present,
MONDAY, SEPT. 19
We need to practice with the thinking mind.
Whenever the mind is thinking, we notice.
Try to be aware of thinking again and again,
When the thinking mind becomes an object, then
Thinking comes and goes but awareness is
TUESDAY, SEPT. 20
The mind's habit is to know the story. So when you try
To prevent the mind from getting lost in the story, you be-
Just wait a few moments, and in a calm and gentle way,
Then give attention to the thought again—"the mind
The more you practice this, the easier it
This is not being busy, this is practicing.
Try to relax through the process.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 21
The story is a concept about things out there. What is
I simply want you to recognize the mind is thinking.
It is the mind we are experiencing; the mind that
That is why we want to know, and not attach to,
This is the work.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 22
Thought is a thought. It may be an angry thought,
They are different natures, but one is feeding the other.
It is useful to investigate in this way: look at the entire
See them all at once and know how they are
FRIDAY, SEPT. 23
In this practice we are not trying to get rid of
SATURDAY, SEPT. 24
Once, I was somewhere in Burma; at night in that
This sound was a very significant object that caught
So there was not only the sound of the cicadas, but
With the knowing of that, there were not only two
SUNDAY, SEPT. 25
If awareness is strong, thoughts will
MONDAY, SEPT. 26
We can investigate our experience with thought.
For example, when we look at a flower, we will often
Because it gives us joy. The flower is not beautiful, it
"Beautiful" is a concept.
TUESDAY, SEPT. 27
If thoughts are known, then we are capable of
If we know this, then we can use wisdom to
When we live a wholesome life, things
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 28
Reality is always paired with the
The reality of the concepts that we are
They have to be understood because reality
THURSDAY, SEPT. 29
When you first begin, it's not enough only to
Think about how you are going to practice
There are fewer chances to indulge in unwhole-
FRIDAY, SEPT. 30
SATURDAY, OCT. 1
So long as you are conscious of the knower,
SUNDAY, OCT. 2
Sometimes a whole story can be over
Sometimes we may recognize there is a
We just know that the mind seems
Sometimes the mind is singing.
MONDAY, OCT. 3
Whatever we see, whatever we are aware
If you know two things there are
If you know four things there is
You must remember this.
TUESDAY, OCT. 4
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 5
We use different words—the knower,
We use so many different words to
But it's definitely not a person.
THURSDAY, OCT. 6
What you want to do is simply recognize