|Posted on September 10, 2010 at 1:31 AM|
A FRUITFUL CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN
A MEDITATION MASTER.
(Readers ,who tend to become curious about the identity of the upasika whose progress in meditation is revealed in these pages are kindly requested to respect her anonymity.)
MITIRIGALA NISSARANA VANAYA
|Posted on September 10, 2010 at 1:26 AM|
Yo yoniso payunjati
Na ca sakka aghatamanena
Many have won THIS- the DEATHLESS
And still today it can be won
If with wise endeavour one perseveres
But not if one is averse to endeavour!
|Posted on September 10, 2010 at 1:12 AM|
The Buddha’s discourse on the four foundations of mindfulness – The Maha Sattipatthana sutta- is remarkable in that it opens with an initial assurance and concludes with a final guarantee. The assurance is that they constitute a Path that goes One Way – and One Way Only – and that is to the purification of beings, to the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, to the disappearance of pain and grief , to the attainment of the true way, to the realization of Nibbana . The guarantee is that if anyone were to develop them at most, for seven years or at least for seven days, one of the two fruits could be expected for him : either Final Knowledge here and now or , if there is a trace of clinging left, Non – return .
Unlike in the heyday of Buddhism , the significance of these two striking features of the discourse are not fully appreciated by many who take up this practice of Satipatthana today. For them, it is only a half – hearted pre-school training for attainments in some Buddha Sasana to come – a mere preference to be credited to some future account .Hence if someone rediscovered the relevance of the Buddha’s assurance and guarantee even to the present day by treading the Path in earnest , it will indeed serve as some heartening news to many.
The ' Upasika' whose devotion to the practice if Satipatthana forms – as it were – the central theme of this work, is one such rare witness to the validity of the Buddha’s assurance and guarantee. Though born in a non –Buddhist family, she developed such a profound interest in meditation that she found the need to re-assess her convictions in the light of Buddhist scriptures.She discovered her first 'Kalyanamitta' in her own household assistant who gave her the first lessons in Anapanasati. It was in her early seventies that she found her next 'kalyanamitta' and guide, in the Meditation Master of Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya. From then onwards, it was for her a fully devoted and whole – hearted endeavour to attain the Highest. As to how she attained what she attained in seven years of striving amidst household chores, maternal duties and infirmities of old age, her letters themselves will bear testimony.
inspiring as her letters are, we have some hesitation in placing them before the public at large- and this for two reasons. Firstly, there is a section of public opinion which looks down on such publications ,casting serious imputations upon the persons concerned. This attitude is very often prompted by either puritanism or obscurantism. Secondly, there are the risks involved in publicity, in the case if a meditator. Charlatans as well as the over- enthusiastic will flock in , in their hundreds out of cheap curiosity , with little or no regard for a meditator’s love for solitude.
It might be disappointing for some readers, therefore, to find that we have kept her identity anonymous. But they are at full liberty to discover the secrets of her success through her own writings and for that, we may offer some clues too – perseverance,humility, obedience, and gratitude.
Mitirigala Nisarana Vanaya
|Posted on September 10, 2010 at 1:02 AM|
Letter No 1
Mithirigala Nisarana Vanaya
The Venarable Nayaka Thero has received your letter of 30th April and has instructed me to send you a reply.
Regarding your problem in Anapanasati meditation, he is of the opinion that the peculiar feeling experienced by you ( ie. Inflation like aballoon) may also be caused by unwittingly following the in breaths too far into the body. The calming down of breath sometimes results in such situations as you had come across in trying to trace the breath at the nose-tip. So he advises you not to be alarmed when the breath is not felt, rather , you should calmly maintain your attention at the normal place of attention at the nose-tip, until the breath becomes tangible again. There is no need to worry about the beginning , the middle and the end,in such situations. When the breath cannot be traced even after waiting for it at the nose-tip for a considerable time, he says , you may visualize your sitting posture or attend to any point of touch as you are sitting( with the mental note: touching, touching) Then there is a possibility that after a while you will again come to feel the breath at the nose tip.
The Venerable Nayaka Thero also asked me to inform you that it would be better if you could send your meditation problems next time in Sinhala. He hopes that perhaps your friends who accompanied you here, would be able to help you in this connection.
|Posted on September 10, 2010 at 12:58 AM|
Letter No 2
M. N. V.
My teacher, the Venerable Maha Thero, is in receipt of your letter of the 8th instant. Regarding your problems in meditation,he offers the advice that you should proceed with your anapanasati meditation along the same lines as before. Even the light now appearing must be treted as any other object coming up (menehikaranawa) The attention should always be on the Anapana Nimitta (sign) If you become aware of the whole body while meditating, it may be attended to, for deepening of insight. In general, the aim should be the development of your concentration.
The peculiar experience you had mentioned is not of much significance, according to the Venerable Maha Thero.
As to your expression of thanks and gratitude to him, he wants me to mention that the honour should rightly be dedicated to the Buddha,to whom one owes all this.
|Posted on September 10, 2010 at 12:51 AM|
Letter No 3
Most Honored & Revered Sir,
This is to send all my good wishes to you and your pupils at the Hermitage for the coming year. We all hope that you are in good health, and now the weather has improved. I continue my meditation as usual although I think I am able to bring the flash (like lightning) in the heart to combine with the breath – I do not think I have succeeded in stopping the process at a precise moment of time ( for example after 20 minutes).
But there arises a short inhalation of breath ( which occurs periodically) which breaks the even process.
I find the “flashes” now rising along the back of the neck and through the head and reaching almost the central top of the head. I hope this is alright.
My car is badly broken up with old age (22years) and I shall have to get it mended before I come to Mitirigala….
With many many thanks for all you have done to help me on the spiritual Path.
Your grateful Pupil.
|Posted on September 9, 2010 at 11:41 AM|
Letter No 4
Received the letter of 5.1.83 and the Venerable Nayaka Thero wanted me to inform the following:-
Allow inhalation and exhalation to continue as usual without taking any effort to enter that flash into the mind. Allow both to go on. If any thing happens effortlessly allow that to happen but do not do things forcefully. That is why the breath is renewed periodically. If at any time the mind enters the light like object, then that is quite alright. But do not do it forcefully.
|Posted on September 9, 2010 at 11:35 AM|
Letter No 5
Most Rev. and Honoured Sir,
I thank you again for guiding me on this High Path of Sensitive Balance. I think now I understand. The effort must not out-weigh calm and relaxation – ( The Balance has to be found.)
The “catch of the breath” I wrote to you about always happens during the first hour of meditation- then as the mind and body relax ,there comes a rest and calm as of a perfect sleep and yet the mind is aware. It appears on the point of losing consciousness, but does not.
I must describe an experience I had on the 7th of January between 2a.m. and 4 a.m.
I had reached the point of calm previously described, when my daughter, who was sleeping in the adjoining room coughed rather loudly. By then I seemed to have left my body and was just looking at it. At the same time I was linked to this body by feeling every atom of it pulsating- when I heard the sound of the cough all the atoms in the body blew upwards like a firework in the sky and then came down again to normal.
I also felt my mind being attacked by a thought from the sub-conscious but I was able to arrest this, and to hold on to being still and watchful. This is the first time I have had such a clear experience of this sort- of being highly alert and viewing the body calmly like another person watching, and yet being award of the feelings of the body being watched.
Please forgive me for troubling you but this is a new experience. I would like confirmation as to whether I am on the right tract.
I have also to say that troubles pour in ceaselessly on every side, but I am able to attend to them, and then return to the peace of mind which is a wonderful blessing- I never had the capacity to do this earlier.
With all good wishes and thoughts for 1983-
Your humble and grateful pupil whom you have guided and helped so much.
|Posted on September 9, 2010 at 11:29 AM|
Letter No 6
I read and understood the long letter. I expect that by now what happens during the first hour of meditation ( as was mentioned in the letter) has ceased to occur. The reason is, that disturbances created as a result of “ the mindfulness of breathing” meditation, would appear in various ways. They would occur in the effort of inhalation and exhalation too. As a result of that defect the effort for inhalation and exhalation happens as if automatically. Therefore it is necessary to be vigilant in it. At instances of this nature there would be happiness, lightness of the body and mind, a faith in meditation, joy and energy. To each of these the mind must be focused and awareness with understanding has to be maintained.
(2) Most meditators experience this. Some say that when walking their bodies are seen to be beside them in their “cakamana” (meditation walk). Now it has been clearly seen that the body and mind are two and not one. These are called the understanding of mind and corporealit(Nama –rupa) or Purity of Understanding (ditti Visuddhi). At such times when they are in that manner, they should be reflected. Reflection should not be done as “ my corporality” or as “ my rupa” but as “ this corporeality which was attached and connected” or as “ this rupa which was attached and connected”. In other words it should be reflected as only “ a corporeality” “ a corporeality” or “ a rupa, a rupa”
Now meditation seems to have developed much. It should not be allowed to stay like this for a long time. Continue meditation little by little and carefully.
Contentment is close at hand.
May the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem be with you always.
|Posted on September 9, 2010 at 11:24 AM|
Letter No 7
Most Honourable & Venerable Sir,
I thank you very much for the instructive help received. I have now overcome the “catch in the breath” and the “flash” and the breathing goes smoothly.
I shall evdeavour now to be more aware of “ happiness, lightness of body, joy and energy” as they come in meditation and reflect further on them.
There has been one more experience during meditation – I had reached a calm state when 3 bangs hit on the top of my head. These blows come from within the skull- I had felt these faintly earlier- with these bangs I seemed to get out of the rupa and to expand in all directions like air; and this time there was no connection, or attachment or feeling to the rupa. I felt I had become air and melted into the existing air. I also had certain physical symptoms which are better now. (1) A dull ache on the top of my head. (2) An unusual feeling at the back of the eyes as well as in the whole eye. (3) A lot of mucous gets dislodged from the upper palate ( at back of eyes and nose and finds its way into the throat.)
It seems a number of new occurrences are taking place in quick succession. If alright, I shall continue with joy.
I hope very much your Reverence is in good health. If there is anything I can do or send please may I know. It would make me very happy if I could be helpful in any way.
With every good wish,
Your grateful pupil