20 The Buddha’s Discourse to Bahya - Shamatha & Vipashyana

10 Apr 2016

Alan explains that as we go deeper into the practice of shamatha, it appears more clearly that the three qualities of relaxation, stability and vividness are not only sequential, but they also reinforce each other in a reciprocal manner. In a similar fashion we have also the three higher trainings of ethics, samadhi and wisdom and among them ethics is the foundation: you can develop samadhi and wisdom, but if you do not have ethics you have nothing. The Buddha clearly said that the stronger your samadhi is, then the more powerful your wisdom can be, but if your samadhi is weak then your wisdom can be very sporadic, it cannot be sustained. The stronger your ethical foundation, the stronger your samadhi and the stronger the wisdom that can arise.

If the Buddha gave us just one interview, he may offer the instructions he gave to Bahya, which allowed him to achieve arhathood right after he listened to this: “Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of suffering.”

If I attend to another person, and while I do that my awareness is still, clear, bright, discerning and attentive to the person coming in, If I can sustain that quality of stillness, which is intelligent but still, then I might actually see and hear that person from the heart. You can sense them at a deeper level. The practice is simple: we settle body, speech and mind in their natural state to the point of stillness, and then we direct our awareness to a nonconceptual space, where there is no conversation within the somatic field (there are no thoughts, no mental images there) and then we simply attend to what is arising there. We sustain the stillness in the midst of the fluctuations of the coming and going of the breath. And then when we come off the cushion, we sustain that stillness as we go about all our tasks, and in the seen let there be just the seen, in the heard just the heard, in the tactilely sensed just the tactilely sensed, in the mentally perceived or cognised just being aware of what is coming up. And we might drop a question: in all these appearances, am I anywhere to be found, including the appearances of what is up close and personal (thoughts, images, desires, memories, emotions)? When I observe them, do I observe them as something that is me? The awareness that is observing them, is that me? Am I to be found anywhere among these appearances and the awareness of the appearances?

The meditation is on shamatha as a support for vipashyana (silent, not recorded).


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