By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.

Christopher Columbus



I will be away for a meditation retreats on 3 July together with a good friend.

For 7 days, we will be living in a secluded monastery in Malaysia. The water supply is from the hill top (by which we will be travelling up to see the water supply), food is provided by villagers and lay people.

One meal a day.

Wake up at 4 plus am everyday.

Lights off at 9pm.

and other set of rules to follow.

I will bring along my digital camera to capture the quiet solitude of the forest.  🙂

“All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone” – Blasie Pascal (French Mathematician)

The peace and tranquility you will feel after a 20 mins practice will infuse every remaining minute of your day.

You will be more patient in your relationships, more serene at the office, and more happy when you are alone. Meditation helps you to be a far better parent, life partner, business person, and friend. You cannot afford not to discover this 5,000 year old training discipline.

The Straits Times, Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New strategies for a new world order

After reading the above report…

It is no good any longer relying a job for life, or a guaranteed pension scheme, or colleagues from the office, school – or even the family. Nor can we look to the country for help. The era of nationalized industries and centralized welfare scheme appears to have passed. We are all individuals now. We must each strive diligently to work out our own path. And we must try to support each other in that process.

The earlier posts had been extract from books written by master meditator. Theory is all well and good, but in the end it is action that matters. As there is a saying ” you can’t get rich counting your neighbour’s money.”

Action begins with meditation. For if action is to have maximum impact and maximum value, it must be properly motivated and properly directed. Is must be compassionate, wise, focused, right- minded. Meditation is the activity which summons up these qualities. To put it in a positive way: What wonderful human creation in the world today is not the product of effort, patience, wisdom and generosity of spirit. It is positively worthwhile spending time cultivating our awarenss and deeper sensitivity.

” To be fully alive is to be fully awake”

The most common image of a meditator is someone sitting, cross-legged with eyes closed, back straight and hands gently resting on the knees. There are a variation of meditation, silent meditations, walking meditations, chanting meditations, meditations which focus on objects, meditations which don’t focus on anything… What they all have in common is a process and an aim:

Observing the mind

Calming the mind

Clearing the mind

Focusing the mind

Try to be quiet…. but before long a thought will cross your mind. There’s no need to do anything except be aware of it. If you are having a stressful time you will probably observe further thoughts. Worries, doubts and fears may even begin to circle round and round. Like a dog chasing its own tail, getting nowhere. Do note that this is what happens when most of us started practicing meditation! They have been learned or acquired. They can, therefore be “unlearned” and replaced with happier, more peaceful and productive states of mind. But first we have to look at them, realize that they are not so bad after all.

We have to observe how our mind works.

To do this we have to calm the mind, to collect it and ‘ bring it home’. This is a classical form of  “calming” or “serenity” meditation, involves focusing on the breath and carefully monitoring the process of respiration. Each full cycle of breathing in and out is counted until a number (normally 10), then begins again at zero. It will be difficult to complete this exercise without the mind wandering. When this happen, simply bring the attention back to the breath and resume the exercise.

As the power of concentration is strengthened through daily practice the mind becomes calmer and clearer, more “together”.

This following talk is given by Ajahn Lee, a direct translation from Thai to English. good reading 🙂

I’d like to recommend basic principles of sitting in meditation for newcomers who’ve never done it before.

1. Make up your mind that you’re not going to gather up anything else to think about, that you’re going to think only about one thing: the qualities of the Buddha or the word buddho.

2. Be mindful of the breath, thinking bud-with the in-breath, and dho with the out. Or if you want, you can simply think buddho, buddho in the mind.

3. Make the mind still and then drop the word buddho so that you can simply observe nothing but the in-and out breath. You keep your mind still in one point. You don’t have to make it go in and out with the breath. Observe the breath: Does breathing in short and out short feel good, or does in long and out long feel good? How about in long and out short, or in short and out long? Learn to recognize which type of breathing is most comfortable, and then stick with it.

So these are three steps you have to follow. The first step is to stay mindful of the word buddho. The second is to be mindful of the breath, thinking bud-with the in breath and dho with the out. Don’t forget. Don’t get distracted. The third step, when the mind is still, is to drop the word buddho and to be observant of nothing but the in-and-out breath.

When you can do this, the mind will grow still. The breath will be still. Or you can say that it’s like climbing to the top of a very tall mountain, or like floating up above the clouds. The mind will feel nothing but a cool sense of pleasure and ease. This is the root, the heartwood, the apex of all that is skillful.

It’s called the root because it’s a good quality that runs deep and tenacious right down the middle of the heart. It’s called the heartwood because it’s solid and resilient, like the heartwood of a tree that insects can’t burrow into and destroy. Even through insects may be able to nibble away at the tree, they can go only as far as the bark or the sapwood. In other words, even though distractions may come and bother us, they can reach only as far as the sense doors: our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. Example, when sights strike against the eye, they go only as far as the eye. They don’t get into the heart. When sounds strike the ear, they go only as far as the ear, and not into the heart. When smells strike the nose, they go only as far as the nose. They don’t enter the heart. This is why we say that the goodness of meditation is the heartwood of what’s skillful, because the various forms of evil can’t easily destroy the goodness of the heart when it’s solid and stable, in the same way that insects can’t bore into heartwood.

When the mind is still, its goodness spreads out to cover the entire body, so that we stop doing unskillful things with the body. It will cover our speech, so that we stop saying unskillful things with our mouth. The unskillful things we’ve done with our eyes, ears, hands, will all get washed away.

When we have cleanliness in charge of our body, it’s goodness that’s high in quality – just as rain falling from high up in the sky spreads to cover everything. The higher it comes from, the more territory it covers. When the mind is high in quality, its goodness spreads to cover our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. It spreads to cover sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations. It spread to cover our thoughts of past and future. These are a few of the rewards that come from meditation.

The high-quality goodness coming from meditation is like rain falling from high in the sky. Not only does it wash away the dirty things on the ground, it nourishes the plants so that human beings can depend on them. In addition, it refreshes people with coolness. The Buddha showered his goodness on the world beginning from the very day of his Awakening, and his goodness is still raining on us 2,500 years later. The Buddha was a Great Being because of the high-quality goodness he developed through his meditation – the same meditation we’re doing now.

To put it simply every aspect of meditation is good. No matter how much you do, even if you don’t seem to be getting any results, it is all good regardless. Even when you simply repeat the word buddho, it’s good for the mind. When you’re mindful of the breath, it’s good for the mind. When you can make the mind still with the breath, it’s good for the mind. For this reason, meditation is something you should do at all times. Don’t let the time and opportunity to meditate pass by you.

Aug 23, 1956

The Heightened Mind

Translated from Thai

There are 3 principles that are really basic to meditation:

1) The right intention: You have to make up your mind that you’re going to let go of all thoughts and preoccupations dealing with the world. You aren’t going to keep them to think about. Every thought and concept dealing with the past or future is an affair of the world. Make up your mind that you’re not going to do one thing right now, just the work of meditating and nothing else. In other words, you are going to work on the immediate present. This is called right intention.

2) The right object: This means the right theme or focal point of the mind. We’re going to look at the four properties that make up the body: the properties of earth, water, wind and fire. The earth property covers the hard parts of the body such as the bones. The water property covers the liquid parts, such as urine, saliva, blood. The fire property covers the heat and warmth in the body. The wind property covers the feeling of energy that flow in the body, such as breath. Of all these properties, the most important one is the wind property or the breath. If other parts of the body get damaged – say eyes going blind, ears go deaf, our arms and legs get broken – it can still survive. But if it doesn’t have breath, we are dead. So the breath is an important object because it forms a basis for our awareness.

3) The right quality: This means the feelings of comfort or discomfort that arise in the body. When you take care of the in-and-out breath so that it flows freely through the various part of the body, it’ll give rise to results. Take good note of whether the results that the body and mind reap from the breath are good or bad. Does the body feel open and at ease or does it feel tight and constricted? Does the mind feel calm, quiet and pleasant or is it irritated, distracted and chaotic? If the body and mind feel at ease, that counts as good results. If the opposite is true, it counts as bad results. So you have to gain a sense of how to adjust the breath so that it becomes comfortable.

As for the right qualities of the mind, those are mindfulness and alertness.

Try to keep following these three basic principles every time you practice concentration. Only then will you get results that are full and correct. As for the rewards of concentration, there are lots of them.

The Heightened Mind

translated from Thai

This talk is first given on 6 July 1956 by Ajahn Lee

more basic principles of sitting in meditation for newcomers who’ve not done it before 🙂

Samādhi (Sanskrit, Pali)

The calm or stability of heart; the training to attain absorbed concentration of mind.

In Pali, the word ” samatha” means calm. Meditation is the English equivalent to the Sanskrit term ‘Samadhi’.