The Rochester Meditation Center presents:

"When Awareness Becomes Natural"

Daily Life Meditation in the Style of Sayadaw U Tejaniya

The following is an introductory course to daily life meditation

in the style of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, a Buddhist monk and

meditation teacher who lives in Yangon, Myanmar.


The course is based on the 2016 book by Sayadaw

called "When Awareness Become Natural."

The weekly readings are condensed from the book and

supplemented by quotes taken from other books, interviews

and talks by Sayadaw on the week's practice theme.

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 an archive

of the daily emails send during the course.


WISDOM                                         WABN             Themed          Thursday Evening            

                                                        Sections          Readings           Recordings

Week 1 (7/7):        Reality                    (PDF)             (##)                   (MP3)

Week 2 (7/14):      Wisdom                  (PDF)            (##)                    (MP3)

Week 3 (7/21):      Relax, Be Aware     (PDF)           (##)                    (MP3)

Week 4 (8/4):        Light Awareness     (PDF)            (##)                   (MP3)

Week 5 (8/11):      Objects                   (PDF)             (##)                    (MP3)

Week 6 (8/18):      Samadhi                 (PDF)             (##)                    (MP3)

Week 7 (8/25):      Vipassana              (PDF)             (##)                    (MP3)

Week 8 (9/1):        Right Effort             (PDF)             (##)                     (MP3)

Week 9: (9/8):       Right View              (PDF)            (##)                    (MP3)

Week 10 (9/15):    Right Attitude          (PDF)            (##)                    (MP3)

Week 11 (9/22):    Morality                   (PDF)                                       (MP3)

Week 12 (10/6):    The Mind                (PDF)             (##)                    (MP3)

Week 13 (10/13):  Observing the                   
                              Observing Mind      (PDF)            (##)                     (MP3)  
Week 14 (12/1): The Defilements         (PDF)           (##)                    (MP3)
Week 15: Delusion                                (PDF)           (##)                    (MP3)
Week 16: Greed                                    (PDF)           (##)                    (MP3)
Week 17: Greed and Food                   (PDF)            (##)                    (MP3)
Week 18: Aversion                               (PDF)            (##)                    (MP3)



Wednesday, July 6

Hi Everybody,

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.

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.)

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.

Towards enlightening,



Friday, July 8

Hi Everybody,

Our practice guide for our first week with Sayadaw U Tejaniya is about Wisdom (click here).

"Wisdom is what this practice is about," Sayadaw writes. "It is the elusive and hard-earned quality of mind we so desperately try to achieve. When found, it becomes the compass that shows the way as we try to penetrate and understand the three mind-defiling elements of greed, aversion and delusion."

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?

With love,


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?

First you need to ask yourself: "Am I
aware of my present experience?" Then:
"How do I think about this experience?
What are my views connected to it?"


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
while you will become aware of several objects in the body.

Then you will notice how you are feeling—while being aware of
all these objects in the body. Later on you will become able not
only to be aware of objects and feelings but also of the mind
that is aware, plus the attitude that is behind this awareness.

Once you are able to see this whole picture, you will begin to
understand how all of these objects affect each other.

This is understanding; this is wisdom.


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.

With love,




The Middle Way is the way of watching
what is happening, with wisdom.

Meaning there is no preference, no seeking something
good or pleasant or preferable. Not pushing away what
we think is bad or unpleasant or undesirable.

Wisdom inclines toward the good but is not attached to it.
It shies away from what is not good but has no aversion
to it. Wisdom recognizes the difference between
skillful and unskillful and it clearly sees
the undesirability of the unskillful.


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.

With love,




When a car passes by, what differentiates
the meditator from the non-meditator?

The meditator knows both that the car passed by
and knows the experience of seeing, feeling, hearing,
and interpreting the experience, thoughts, or thinking
mind, and so forth (some or all, as the case may be).

The non-meditator just knows a car passing by.


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?

With love,




Only when the mind is simple
can wisdom develop.

A complicated mind—a mind which thinks,
expects and plans—blocks off wisdom.

The mind must be simple in order to be in the
present and in order to see things as they are.


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?



How much do you know about your awareness?

What benefits do you get from being aware?
You need to discover this for yourself.

You need to continuously learn from your experience.

If you cultivate this kind of ongoing interest in your
practice you will understand more and more.



Hi Everybody,

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:

"Let's say you are sitting or lying down reading. Do you
know that you are sitting or lying down? Do you know that
are you are reading? Yes? Good! That's awareness. How much
energy did that require? Was it tiring or difficult?
No? So, you can meditate."

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.



The first instruction I will give a yogi who is new
to this practice is to relax and be aware; to not have any
expectations or to control the experience; and not to
focus, concentrate or penetrate.

Instead what I encourage him or her to do is observe,
watch, and be aware, or pay attention.



Whether you are tense or relaxed, observe how
you are feeling. Observe the reactions. When you
are relaxed, it is much easier to be aware. Not so
much effort is required and it becomes an enjoy-
able, pleasant and interesting experience.


Many yogis think that being aware means we focus
on an object and give awareness to it with a great deal
of energy. In actual fact we don't need that much energy.

The awareness we are seeking is unprompted. We are
not digging for it. We are simply residing in the
ebb and flow of nature itself.


Your work is to keep the mindfulness continuous.
Be vigilant concerning the amount of energy you are
putting into each moment of awareness. When you
remind yourself to be mindful or think about being
mindful, then awareness is automatically there.


By being aware, you can begin
to know you have a mind.


Don't try to do anything, don't try to prevent
anything. But don't forget what's happening.


Hi Everybody,

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!

With love,




When you are aware of your awareness, then
the mind is not focusing on the objects,
just lightly touching them.

You do not need to know every detail of
your experience. Just be aware and
know what you are aware 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."



When there is turmoil and chaos in the
mind, at these times we need to be more
actively aware—watching, watching, watch-
ing, injecting right view, being interested
in what is happening in the mind and
body, thoughts, feelings, sensations.

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.



We can become forgetful, so we need to sharpen up our
awareness. This doesn't mean we should force it, but
just take a little more interest in each activity.

For example, when putting on or taking off your t-shirt,
notice: Which arm do I put in the sleeve first? Is it the
right or left? Do I put my head or arms in first?

Know that you are dressing. Know that you are IN
this environment, putting on a garment.

This is very simple and takes very little effort.



When awareness gets stronger, the defilements are more
cunning. They can no longer come at you with a frontal
assault, so they transform themselves, disguise themselves,
and try to sneak into your awareness through the back
door. They are there and you don't even know it.



With gentle awareness, you can continue to
function. You can do all the things that need to
be done with just a light recognition at
the back of the mind all the time.


Personal effort feels like you can only be aware or lost
in the work you are trying to do. But with gentle aware-
ness, although not continuous in the beginning, it soon
gains momentum to become natural and continuous.

It really feels like you're aware while doing everything.
You are actually living in this awareness.



If you notice that you are seeing, hearing, feeling something
physically or mentally, then in all those moments you know
that you are being mindful. All you need to do is notice. You
don't need to put much energy into it. Just look at it
casually and notice when awareness is present.


When a car passes by, what differentiates
the meditator from the nonmeditator?

The meditator knows both that the car passed
passed by and knows the experience of seeing,
feeling, hearing and interpreting the experi-
once, thoughts and so forth (some or all
as the case may be).

The nonmeditator just knows a car passed by.



There is a saying that sums up the awareness of
objects very well: "What I see, I cannot be."


The whole point of meditation practice is to
grow wholesome states of mind. We must not
forget that the very qualities that are working
to do meditation are skillful, wholesome
qualities of the mind. So at the very
least, they are being cultivated.


Awareness means being aware of your own
experience, the experience of all your senses
and the objects both mental and physical
that are being sensed. Objects are there
to support the presence of awareness.


When you're in the right balance, you might be
looking at something, but you know other things
as well. They impinge on your awareness. The
main object keeps the mind energized, and that
energy allows you to receive all the other
senses as well. This is skillful means.


Hi Everybody,

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.
Second, we can start with the samadhi view, and then switch to the vipassana view. Sometimes, it's just hard to get the birds-eye view right away, so we can start by noticing one object continually and then, at a certain point when we know we are ready, we switch to the vipassana view.

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.

With love,




The type of samadhi I would like you to under-
stand and experience is a stability of mind that is
already there and is revealed because there is a more
open awareness and right view. Awareness of objects at
all the sense doors, awareness and nonjudgmental
of all experience—this is right samadhi.


One yogi who came to our center had been practicing
there for about a month with nothing much happening.

He was just practicing and observing his mind.

One day while standing in line waiting for the lunch
gong, he quite suddenly became aware of the calmness
of his mind. He began to be aware of many objects at
once, objects he hadn't noticed before: the large jack-
fruit on the tree next to the building, insects on
the wall, many subtle sounds and feelings.

He understood that this is all there is. This moment was
his only reality, nothing more, nothing less. He realized
he couldn't add or take anything away from it. He
was totally and deeply immersed in the present.

By maintaining a steady and continuous effort,
his practice had gathered momentum. He had
developed a deep, broad, and stable samadhi.



It is impossible to always have mindfulness and
samadhi when you practice in daily life. It will be
there for a period of time, then you lose yourself
in activities, and later you become aware again.

As long as you have the right attitude and keep
noticing every time you "get lost,"
you are doing fine.



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.


When the mind is calm there's more space to
see other points of view. Initially, we're so caught
up in our own reactions again and again and again,
that it just agitates the mind. We believe our
reactions and get caught up in them.

Once there is an ability to step away and ask
how to do things differently, then there's more
calm and we can see more clearly.



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.


There are two kinds of meditation. In samatha
(calm abiding), you need to sit and be still. My
emphasis is vipassana (insight meditation).

For vipassana practice, sitting is not necessary.

The purpose of practicing vipassana is to cultivate
wisdom. We cultivate wisdom to understand,
to see clearly, to know.


We can interweave the two practices [samatha
and vipassana]. If the mind is sluggish or distracted,
it can be good to practice samatha. When we
have some samadhi, we can investigate.


In meditation, it is only important to re-
cognize when there is identification with
an object and when there is not.


It is the meditator's job to stay with awareness
and not be so concerned with the object or to immerse
in the object. Just remember to be aware. Only with
awareness and openness can we know more.


We want to know ourselves: "Who am I?"

We are nature, a physical and mental process
that is happening at this point in time. We need
to be like a scientist, researching ourselves: "Why
am I so angry? Why am I so anxious and wor-
ried all the time?" Once you know,
suffering becomes less and less.


The ideal vipassana is not so much
"I am meditating," but more "medi-
tating is happening naturally."


With the practice of vipassana, we can take our cue from
nature itself. If we look around us, we will see nature
constantly renewing and then passing away. We are no
different. Nothing stays the same. Objects are
are forever arising and passing away.



Right effort is persistent effort.
It is not energy used to focus hard on
something. It is effort which is simply
directed at remaining aware, which
should not require much energy.




You need to be aware of yourself continuously,
whatever posture you are in, from the time
you wake up until you fall asleep.




Awareness is the home of the mind,
so we must stay at home.




Right effort means to keep remind-
ing yourself to be aware.




A question about flies. [Laughter] I tried to
go for a walk without a fly net. I tried to
be patient with the flies ...

Recognize. "Trying to be" is hard. "Recognize
what is" is easier. It takes less effort. It is more nat-
ural. You don't have to do anything, you just have
to know: "The mind is impatient, it doesn't
like this, it wants to push it away."



Right effort is called "right" because
there is a lot of wisdom present.




Take interest in the work you are doing.

Many yogis encounter good and bad expe-
riences in their practice. Sometimes they have
good meditation and sometimes they don't
feel satisfied in their practice.

When I ask them why, they don't know! Do
you know why they can't tell me?

It's because they don't study or take
interest in what they are doing.

They don't know their minds.

They don't know what they are doing,
or why they are doing it!



Before we can effectively practice mindfulness
meditation, we must understand right view.

By simple observation with a calm and aware
mind, we will soon see the mind as nature, not
"I,"not self, not personal. No one is there.

The mind is a natural phenomenon.

You are practicing to dis-
cover this nature.




Say somebody opens the door and it's
noisy and you think, "Why is that
person making noise?"

That's wrong view.

If you think, "There's a sound, I am
conscious of it," that's right view.




Because we want to learn about the nature
of the mind and objects, we don't try to calm
the mind down or try to remove objects.

We don't interfere or control but observe, be-
cause we want to understand the mind and objects
in their natural state, as they are happening.

This is right view.




In the beginning, we don't really understand
right view, it is borrowed wisdom.

This means we need to apply the appropriate
information intellectually to help us
in a particular situation.

After doing this repeatedly over a long period
of time the mind will remember the right view
more often and eventually it will understand.

It will become your wisdom.




Think of experience as nature.

Nature is not personal.

Nature is just a process of cause and effect.




We need to be aware of where our attention
is and not get caught in focusing on or putting too
much energy on any particular object.

Spread your attention so you are seeing the full
picture, both inside and out, emotionally
and physically.

When we practice in this way it is called vipas-
sana, "seeing what is and letting it be."




For the yogi, there's not a lot of work
you need to do because you are not
trying to achieve anything.

You are just trying to do three things.

Have right view, be conscious, and sustain it.




Hi Everybody,


The new weekly practice theme is Right Attitude.

Right Attitude is in some ways the trademark or signature of
Sayadaw's unique teaching style. He stresses it highly.

Right Attitude flows naturally from Right View, last week's practice
theme. If you get Right Attitude right, supplementing it with active
investigation as needed, then you are doing very well.

Here are Sayadaw's famous "23 Points on Right Attitude for Meditation."
Here is the section on Right Attitude from "When Awareness Becomes Natural."
Here is a selection on Right Attitude drawing from all of SUT's writings.

The Daily Tejaniya
September 2, 2016

Right attitude is having the right frame
of mind to be able to meditate.

We really take the practice to heart.

Right attitude allows you to observe, accept, and
acknowledge whatever is arriving at the six sense doors
in any given moment in a relaxed and attentive way.

Whether what is happening is judged
good or bad is irrelevant.

If it is viewed with the right attitude, then it turns
into a learning experience where you can notice whether
the mind is judging it to be good or bad, and the
reactions that go along with these judgments.




We need to be continuously checking our attitude.

After we have been practicing for a while,
it almost becomes second nature.

It is a little like autopilot on a plane, where the pilot
will sit back and just observe and check the instruments.
All the data and information is in the computer
and the plane just flies itself.

When our mindfulness reaches this point, it frees up
the mind to use wisdom, as you don't need to make
as much effort to bring in awareness.

The more continuous your mindfulness, the more
receptive and sharper your mind becomes.

Momentum will then carry you forward.




A yogi came to practice at our center and became quite
frustrated because she didn't understand what was
meant when I asked, "What is your attitude?"

It took her three weeks of intensive investigation before
she understood "attitude" as it related to her practice.

It then came to her quite suddenly.

She had been practicing meditation on breathing and
also trying to observe her thoughts, but just couldn't
figure out "attitude." Where was it?
And then it came to her.

She explained, "It was the lens through which I was
perceiving. Once colored by this lens, the object was changed
to reinforce my own personality structure. Essentially,
objects became tools for building the self."

This was a very powerful insight for her. It helped her
understand why she was irritated so much by life.

She was wearing the irritation-colored lens.

This pattern had been reinforced over a lifetime of
attitudes arising to protect the "self," when no better skills
like compassion or loving-kindness had been there
to ease the challenges that life brought her.

She has apparently kept this insight alive in daily life
to help her with the challenges she faces in a committed
relationship and the lack of "exit" that
comes with motherhood.




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
and body so that we can understand their natures.

We are not intentionally trying to make the mind
calm or trying to have "good sittings."

We meditate to see what is happening as it is and to
have the right attitude regarding what is happening:
it is nature and nothing personal.

We need to see nature as nature, to recognize objects
as objects, and to know what is to be known.




Whatever you are experiencing in this
moment is the right experience.

There is no need to be happy or unhappy with
what is happening and there's no need
to like or dislike the experience.

Be happy that there is knowing and awareness
as this in itself is already wholesome.




If you are feeling a strong emotion,
check your attitude.

Check to see whether you are accepting
the emotion or are reacting to it.

Any unnoticed identification with the emotion
will feed it, causing it to proliferate.

The objective is to know the whole experience,
the thinking and the feelings and sensations sur-
rounding the emotion, its very nature
and how the mind is behaving.

Viewing your experience in this way is right view;
from right view comes right attitude.




If you are aware, just be glad you are
aware. That is the right attitude.

So when you are confronted by a defilement
and are aware of it, be glad that you are aware of this
defilement, even if it does not seem to dissolve.

As long as you are aware of the de-
filement, you are doing well.



Morality is the basis of our practice. When we
commit to living in a moral and ethical way, it becomes
the very foundation of how we live our lives.




Morality can only come from a wisdom
mind. When you have all the knowledge and
information and the conditions are right, you
will have the insight. You will see the suffer-
ing a lack of sila brings into your life.




I read the following in a sutta: Why is there
aversion? Because there is craving.

Craving causes aversion. Why is there craving?

Because there is delusion.

Delusion causes craving.

My simple understanding of why there is delusion
is because there is not enough wisdom.

But in that sutta it says there is delusion because the
hindrances are strong. Then it asks why the hindrances
are strong, and it says because wrong actions or in-
appropriate behaviors are being practiced.

So how do you reverse it?

Do wholesome deeds, then your hindrances
will be less, the mind will be more pure,
there will be less delusion, and so on.



As we get more into our practice, wisdom and
awareness become more consolidated
and flow naturally.

As we become more mindful, the knowledge and
understanding we have accumulated will
naturally come in more quickly.

Wisdom and mindfulness will start
working together as a team.

Both our mistakes and our wisdom give us
the motivation to carry our meditation practice
forward and thus bring good moral
values into our lives.



Morality and wisdom are interdependent. One
emerges from the other. Wisdom/morality cannot
emerge unless awareness and understanding of the
defilements and the harm they can cause is known.




When there is wisdom and the wholesome states
arise, then depending on the object, that's what you
call the mind. If it's an equal object you feel metta*; if
it's somebody who is suffering more than you, then
it's karuna*; if it's somebody who is doing better
than you, it's mudita*; and if it's something you
can't help, it's upekkha*.

It comes naturally because of wisdom.

(Metta = Loving-kindness
Karuna = Compassion
Mudita = Altruistic joy
Upekkha = Equanimity)




I always emphasize the importance of wisdom
(panna). If wisdom is present, then every-
thing else becomes possible.

In the progression sila-samadhi-panna*, sila is basic,
samadhi is higher, and panna is highest. Try just main-
raining your sila and not have any samadhi—you cannot
maintain your sila. But when you have samadhi, sila is
easy to maintain, and when you have wisdom, both
samadhi and sila will automatically be present.

* The three basic practices of the Noble Eightfold Path

(Panna = Wisdom
Samadhi = Meditation, Calm & Stable Mind
Sila = Morality)




The mind can be a little tricky to know, because
there is no location for the mind. It has no shape,
no color; there is no solidity, and it's abstract.

So how can we pay attention to it if
there is seemingly nothing there?

We can experience the mind through its activity.

We know when the mind does something, and we
know when something happens in the mind.




To know the mind is a little like getting to
know a new neighbor: the more we meet them,
the more we get to know about them. Each day
when we meet them, we learn a little more. It
becomes a learning process.




In the scriptures the mind is defined. It is
defined as "that which knows," "that which
thinks" and "that which pays attention."

Because it is defined as "that which knows" and
"that which pays attention," we really don't have
to do much work to know and pay attention.

The mind is already doing it because
that's its job—that is its nature.

All we need to do is be aware and be present,
so we can recognize the mind doing its work.




We need to practice with the thinking mind.


Whenever the mind is thinking, we notice.

Try to be aware of thinking again and again,
and then slowly the mind will come to
know the meaning of object.

When the thinking mind becomes an object, then
you cannot be involved in the thinking.

Thinking comes and goes but awareness is
already there. Awareness is present.




The mind's habit is to know the story. So when you try
to recognize the mind is thinking, the mind will auto-
matically go to the story and then you are lost in it.

To prevent the mind from getting lost in the story, you be-
come aware that you are lost, and you recognize thinking.

Just wait a few moments, and in a calm and gentle way,
bring your attention to something more grounding,
perhaps a sensation in the body.

Then give attention to the thought again—"the mind
is thinking"—then go back to the body.

The more you practice this, the easier it
becomes to recognize thinking.

This is not being busy, this is practicing.

Try to relax through the process.




The story is a concept about things out there. What is
actually happening is the mind is thinking.

I simply want you to recognize the mind is thinking.

It is the mind we are experiencing; the mind that
is arising; and the mind that is thinking.

That is why we want to know, and not attach to,
the story of our thoughts. We want to look at how
the mind is generating thoughts and how
the defilements feed thoughts.

This is the work.




Thought is a thought. It may be an angry thought,
but anger is anger and the thought is the thought.

They are different natures, but one is feeding the other.

It is useful to investigate in this way: look at the entire
thought process and the relationship between the
thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

See them all at once and know how they are
interacting with each other. The cause-and-effect
relationships within the process can
then be seen clearly.




In this practice we are not trying to get rid of
thoughts. We merely want to observe them and know
them, to know whether they are coming from
a defiled mind or from a wisdom mind.




Once, I was somewhere in Burma; at night in that
area there were a lot of cicadas making a loud
burring sound, filling the air nonstop.

This sound was a very significant object that caught
my attention over a long period of time. The mind then
noticed that besides the sounds of the cicadas, the
rest of the atmosphere was silent.

So there was not only the sound of the cicadas, but
there was also the silence beyond them, and I
could know both at the same time.

With the knowing of that, there were not only two
objects but also two minds, each recognizing
a separate object.




If awareness is strong, thoughts will
lessen by themselves.




We can investigate our experience with thought.

For example, when we look at a flower, we will often
describe it as "beautiful" when in fact seeing is just
nature. Why do we describe it as "beautiful"?

Because it gives us joy. The flower is not beautiful, it
is just a flower that can give us a moment of joy.

"Beautiful" is a concept.




If thoughts are known, then we are capable of
knowing what is wholesome or unwholesome.

If we know this, then we can use wisdom to
make wholesome choices in our lives.

When we live a wholesome life, things
things tend to fall into place.




Reality is always paired with the
concept that is overlaying it.

The reality of the concepts that we are
familiar with have to be understood.
This is very important.

They have to be understood because reality
is present with the concept, and reality
is the object of wisdom.




When you first begin, it's not enough only to
have awareness. You need to reinforce it
with other supports.

Think about how you are going to practice
and what is happening in the mind
and body, for example.

There are fewer chances to indulge in unwhole-
some thoughts when the mind is filled
with wholesome thoughts.




What about observing the
observing mind?

That's the state where you feel there's
a broader view. You can sense that there's
something that is aware. That's the
watching mind.




So long as you are conscious of the knower,
the knower continues to know, and it feeds
itself knowing, knowing, knowing.




Sometimes a whole story can be over
in a split second in our minds.

Sometimes we may recognize there is a
thought but it doesn't come up to the gross
level. We know there was a thought but we
don't know what we were thinking.

We just know that the mind seems
to have done something.

Sometimes the mind is singing.





Whatever we see, whatever we are aware
of, if we are aware of three things, you
know there is a fourth thing because
that's what's seeing the three.

If you know two things there are
actually three things, because the
third thing is the seeing.

If you know four things there is
a fifth that is seeing the four.

You must remember this.




Can there be awareness of awareness?

Yes there can be. I often give an analogy, every
moment that we are aware is like putting dots
down in a line. So amoment of awareness ...
dot ... awareness ... dot ... awareness ... dot ...
dot ... dot ... dot ... When you have a lot of dots
you begin to see the line. That's what it feels like
when you are continuously aware. Suddenly this
thing that is awareness seems to come alive in
your consciousness. You begin to see this thing
at work. You can step back from it and that's
awareness of awareness.




We use different words—the knower,
the see-er, the watching mind.

We use so many different words to
try to get everybody to understand
the same thing.

But it's definitely not a person.




What you want to do is simply recognize
that in this moment the mind thinks the watcher
is "me;" and then at other times the mind sees
the watcher as "not me." Just recognize when
it's like this, and when it's like that.