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The Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation 

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness stated in Maha-Satipatthana Sutta (Digha Nikaya 22). The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are Mindfulness of Bodily Phenomenon, Mindfulness of Feeling or Sensation, Mindfulness of Consciousness, and Mindfulness of the Dhamma or Mind-objects. The Buddha said all beings are a combination of physical and mental (except beings in Formless Sphere, they only have mental). In addition, so-called a soul, a man, a woman, you or me is non-existent. Meditators must practice the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation to appreciate the Dhamma by themselves.

 

The body is a combination of four great elements. The four great elements are the earth, water, fire, and wind. The characteristics of earth are hardness and softness (such as muscles, bones, organs, etc.). The characteristics of water are flow, sticky, wet, etc. (such as tears, snot, saliva, blood, sweat, etc.). The characteristics of fire are cold, hot, warm, etc. (such as body temperature and outside temperature). The characteristics of wind are to push, support, heavy and light, loose and tight, elastic, etc. (such as air inside and outside of the body).

In practice of Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation, meditators observe on four great elements of their body. For example, noting the rising and falling of air in abdomen, and be aware of it, this is mindful to the body (Mindfulness of Bodily Phenomenon).

 

The Mindfulness of Feeling or Sensation is concentrating on feeling appear and disappear in the body. There are three types of feeling which are unpleasant feeling, pleasant feeling, and neutral feeling. When body experienced unpleasant feeling such as pain, stiffness, numbness, and itch, the meditator should note on it and clearly understand appear and disappear of the phenomenon of four great elements. Pleasant feeling comes after unpleasant feeling, as all sufferings have their reward. Meditators should not cling to the pleasant feeling. They should note on it as usual, so that they will achieve a higher level in meditation. When the meditators experienced unpleasant and pleasant feeling continuously, their concentration will be improved then will experience neutral feeling. These are Mindfulness of Feeling or Sensation.

 

The Mindfulness of Consciousness is all kinds of thinking, wondering mind, thinking mind, greed, and hatred. It also included 52 mental states. When these thoughts arise, the meditator should note on it and clearly understand the appear and disappear of the consciousness. These are Mindfulness of Consciousness.

 

Finally, we discuss about Mindfulness of the Dhamma or Mind-objects. Mindfulness of the Dhamma or Mind-objects is note on Five Hindrances, Five Aggregates, Six External Bases and Six Internal Bases (12 Bases), Seven Factors of Enlightenment, and Four Noble Truths. Firstly, we discuss about Six External Bases and Six Internal Bases. When six sense doors (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind) of meditators contact with six sense objects (visible objects, sound, odour, taste, touch, mental objects), they should mindful on it. For example, when their eyes have seen someone or something, they note seeing as seeing, greed, hatred, and ignorance do not arise if they are mindful in eye consciousness. When their ears exposed to sound, they note hearing as hearing, greed, hatred, and ignorance do not arise if they are mindful in ear consciousness. Nose, tongue, body, and mind also react in the same way. When six sense doors contact with six sense objects, beginners may label it as “seeing…… seeing……”, “hearing…… hearing……”, “smelling…… smelling……”, “tasting…… tasting……”, “touching…… touching……”, “thinking…… thinking……” since their mindfulness are weak. Therefore, labelling the six sense objects help to control meditators’ greed, hatred, and ignorance. Other subjects in Mindfulness of the Dhamma or Mind-objects will be experienced during practicing meditation.

 

Theories and concepts of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation have been briefly discussed above, we will only appreciate the Dhamma if we practice it. The motto of practicing meditation is “patience leads you to Nibbāna (enlightenment)”. You have to spend time and be patience in meditation practice.

 

Finally, Sayalay Medhānanda wishes meditators may relieved from mental suffering (sorrow, sadness, suffering, anxious, and anger) and physical suffering by practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation. May all devotees attain enlightenment as early as possible.

 

Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!

 

 

The Four Noble Truths – Suffering 

The Buddha attains enlightenment at thirty five years old; the first Dhamma introduced by the Buddha was the Four Noble Truths. The first of the five monks enlightened after they heard the Four Noble Truths from Buddha and practiced the Noble Eightfold Path.

 

The Four Noble Truths are (1) Suffering (suffering from Five Aggregates), (2) Cause of Suffering (greed, clinging), (3) Cessation of Suffering (attain enlightenment), (4) Path to the Cessation of Suffering (practice the Noble Eightfold Path). The Four Noble Truths is a complete sutra that explains the path to attain enlightenment, the true meaning of the Four Noble Truths is not easily understood by study and discussion over the text. The Four Noble Truths is to clearly understand the Five Aggregates by practicing Noble Eightfold Path; at the same time the ultimate truth (impermanence, suffering, non-self) also can be obtained. Finally, enlightenment can be attained by eliminating the suffering of Five Aggregates and stop the cycle of death and reborn. The one who attain Sotāpanna is a real Buddhist who will not convert into other religious.

 

What is suffering? The Buddha said that there are eight types of suffering: not getting what you do want, not being able to hold onto what is desirable, meet or stay with your enemy, birth, old age, sickness, and death. All the sufferings stated above can be summarized as suffering from Five Aggregates. What is the Five Aggregates? The Five Aggregates are Form, Sensation, Perception, Mental Formations, and Consciousness. The Five Aggregates can be combined into physical and mental. Form refers to the body, it is matter. The body has four great elements, namely, earth element, water element, fire element, and wind element. As Sensation, Perception, Mental Formations, and Consciousness belong to the mental. The meditators target on four great elements when they are practicing Four Foundations of Mindfulness meditation, they are constantly mindful on the characteristics of the four great elements. For example, the characteristics of earth are hardness and softness; the characteristics of water are flow, sticky, wet, etc.; the characteristics of fire are cold, hot, warm, etc.; the characteristics of wind characteristics are to push, support, heavy and light, loose and tight, etc. Similarly, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration will develop by concentrate onto the four great elements. By doing so, they are able to gain sixteen knowledges (Please refer to the Visuddhimagga).

 

When it comes to mental, there are three types of feeling which are unpleasant feeling, pleasant feeling, and neutral feeling. The meditators will experience all three types of feeling during meditation. For example, pain, numbness, itch, stiffness, etc. during meditation are unpleasant feeling. One of the motto said: "The pain is your good friend". So, meditators should not be afraid of the pain, they should mindful on the characteristics of four great elements. By doing so, the Right Concentration will be improved and the Right Mindfulness also will be sharpened.

 

When meditators overcome unpleasant feeling, pleasant feeling will come after unpleasant feeling. "All sufferings have their reward". Please experience by yourself!

 

Neutral feeling is equanimity. When the meditators repeatedly overcome unpleasant feeling, have also repeatedly experience pleasant feeling (should not clinging on it), now their mind treat unpleasant feeling and pleasant feeling by usual mind, they are able to mindful on it with equanimity; body pain but mind is no pain due to their deep concentration. Therefore, by practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness meditation, we are able to keep the body healthy and help in treatment of any diseases. This is “The Treatment of Dhamma”.

 

We have briefly discussed Form and Sensation in the Five Aggregates. Now, we discuss about Perception. Perception refers to thinking and wondering mind. All these are conception. Thinking and wondering mind will appear when meditators noting on four great elements in their body, but meditators should bring their mind back to concentrate on four great elements in their body regardless how many times the thinking and wondering mind arise. Meditators constantly practice meditation from day to day and from month to month, they will notice that their thinking and wondering mind will be reduced and the Right Mindfulness will be increased. When the Right Mindfulness is stronger, meditators will experience the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. Meditators are now fully understood the meaning of the Five Aggregates, they will experience the tranquility of body and mind, rapture, and equanimity. Meditators will be aware of the Perception appeared immediately when their Right Mindfulness is stronger. There are a lot of higher states to be experience by the meditators. Similarly, mindful on Perception also practicing the Four Right Exertions.

 

Mental Formations drive the operation of Sensation, Perception, and Consciousness. Meditators will experience the Mental Formations by six sense doors (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind) contact with six sense objects (visible objects, sound, odour, taste, touch, mental objects) and produce six sense consciousnesses (visual consciousness, auditory consciousness, olfactory consciousness, gustatory consciousness, tactual consciousness, mental consciousness) during meditation. When eyes contact with a visible object, the visual consciousness will be able to identify that person or thing. When meditators experience higher level in meditation, they will discover that Mental Formations and Consciousness is a combination and cannot be separated.

Finally, we talk about the Consciousness. There are visual consciousness, auditory consciousness, olfactory consciousness, gustatory consciousness, tactual consciousness, mental consciousness. There are 52 mental properties (please refer to the Abhidharma). When practicing meditation, six sense doors will contact with six sense objects and produce six sense consciousnesses, meditators should also noting on six sense consciousnesses and maintain the Right Mindfulness at all the time. Finally, meditators able to observe the characteristic of mind are emptiness (noting on mind by mind) by practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation.  The meditators are able to attain enlightenment when they have sufficient concentration and Right Mindfulness.

 

Sayalay Medhānanda encourages devotees who suffering from physical and mental (suffering from Five Aggregates) are able to leave all worldly affairs and spend some times in practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation. This will improve or totally eliminate physical and mental suffering. For devotees who aim for Arahant, they must grab this opportunity and spend some times in practicing meditation.

 

Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!

 

The End of the Four Noble Truths: Suffering.

  

 

The Four Noble Truths – Cause of Suffering 

We have discussed about Suffering in the Four Noble Truths, now we talk about the Cause of Suffering. What is the Cause of Suffering? All beings experience physical and mental suffering due to greed, hatred, and ignorance in their mind. All beings tend to pursue enjoyment of six sense doors due to their greed and clinging. Six sense doors refer to eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. When six sense doors contact with six sense objects (visible objects, sound, odour, taste, touch, mental objects), six sense consciousnesses (visual consciousness, auditory consciousness, olfactory consciousness, gustatory consciousness, tactual consciousness, mental consciousness) raise the greed, hatred, and ignorance. For example, when eyes have seen someone or something, visual consciousness will raise pleasant, unpleasant, or clinging. If pleasant, then greed and clinging will arise; if unpleasant, hatred and clinging will arise. Similarly, when ears contacted to sound, auditory consciousness will raise pleasant, unpleasant, or clinging. When nose contacted to odour, olfactory consciousness will raise pleasant, unpleasant, or clinging. When tongue contacted to taste, gustatory consciousness will raise pleasant, unpleasant, or clinging. When body contacted to touch, tactual consciousness will raise pleasant, unpleasant, or clinging. When mind is thinking of the past or future, mental consciousness will raise pleasant, unpleasant, or clinging.

 

If you ask: "We have not made any bad behaviors when we pursue enjoyment of six sense doors, then why not?" In fact, if we look into it, we will find that greed, hatred, and ignorance will increase when we pursue enjoyment of six sense doors. Misfortune and suffering that have to be bore by someone is directly proportional to his or her greed, hatred, and ignorance. You will understand the truth if you observe all suffering people and things. The opposite of happiness is sadness; there is happiness behind of sadness. For sure, there is sadness behind of happiness. Therefore, this world is imperfect.

 

What is the Perfection? By purify greed, hatred, and ignorance in our mind and attain Nibbāna is the only way to achieve the Perfection which do not have happiness and sadness. Therefore, the only way to reduce the greed, hatred, and ignorance in our mind is practicing meditation to develop strong right mindfulness and insight knowledge. By doing so, we are able to be calm and stay awake when six sense doors contact with six sense objects and produce six sense consciousnesses. For example, seeing is solely seeing, hearing is solely hearing, smelling is solely smelling, tasting is solely tasting, touching is solely touching, thinking is solely thinking. The mind does not affected by the object.

 

Finally, Sayalay Medhānanda encourage devotees to practice the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation. The Buddha said: "This is the only way to be free from all suffering." Sayalay Medhānanda wish devotees may attain Nibbāna as early as possible.

 

Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!

 

The End of the Four Noble Truths: Cause of Suffering.

 

 

The Four Noble Truths – Cessation of Suffering 

We have discussed Suffering and Cause of Suffering of the Four Noble Truths, now we talk about the Cessation of Suffering. The Cessation of Suffering is attaining Nibbāna. What is the Nibbāna? Nibbāna is cessation of greed, hatred, and ignorance. The state of Nibbāna is unable to express and describe by the language. It will only experience by the meditators themselves. Nibbāna is a perfect state of all Buddha, Paccekabuddha, and Arahant. Nibbāna does not have the conception of comparative (such as suffering and happiness, good and bad, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, etc.), feeling, physical and mental, etc. Nibbāna is beyond all worldly matter (mountains, rivers, great earth, treasures, etc.) and happiness. Nibbāna is the highest state of the ultimate truth.

 

Nibbāna can be attained by practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation (Satipatthana Vipassanā Bhāvanā), become an Arahant. When meditators experience the first path and fruition knowledge (Magga and Phala) by practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation, the meditators have attained the Stream-enterer (Sotapanna). Sotapanna only need to reborn in deva realm or human realm for at most seven times to become Arahant. They already cutoff three fetters which are the Clinging to Rites and Rituals, Identity View, and Skeptical Doubt. When Sotapanna continue to practice meditation and experience the second path and fruition knowledge, the meditators have attained the Once-returner (Sakadagami). Sakadagami only need to reborn in Human Realm for one time. Sakadagami not only cutoff three fetters but also significantly weakened the chains of Greed and Ill-will. When Sakadagami continue to practice meditation and experience the third path and fruition knowledge, the meditators have attained the Non-returner (Anagami). Anagami will reborn in the heaven of the Pure Abodes and continue to practice meditation until he attain Arahant. Anagami already cutoff five fetters which are the Clinging to Rites and Rituals, Identity View, Skeptical Doubt, Greed, and Ill-will. When Anagami continue to practice meditation and experience the fourth path and fruition knowledge, the meditators have attained the Arahant. Arahant will not reborn in any realm. He has attained enlightenment as the Buddha. Arahant already cutoff ten fetters which are the Clinging to Rites and Rituals, Identity View, Skeptical Doubt, Greed, Ill-will, Rebirth in Rupa Realm, Rebirth in Arupa Realm, Proud, Restlessness, and Ignorance.

 

Sayalay Medhānanda felt that she was enduring with the cycle of death and rebirth for a long time. “Collection of bones for every born can be set up four mountains; collection of blood and tears can be set up four sea.” When to stop the cycle of death and reborn? Therefore, she thought now is the time to stop it.

 

Sayalay hopes that devotees who have the same idea as her also target for Nibbāna then practice the Noble Eightfold Path diligently.

 

Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!

 

The End of the Four Noble Truths: Cessation of Suffering.

 

 

The Four Noble Truths – Path to the Cessation of Suffering 

The Cessation of Suffering has been briefly discussed in last article. Finally, we discuss about the Path to the Cessation of Suffering: The Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path are Right View, Right Thought, Right Action, Right Speech, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

 

The Noble Eightfold Path can be referred into three groups which are Moral Conducts, Concentrations, and Wisdoms. The Right Action, Right Speech, and Right Livelihood are Moral Conducts. Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration are Concentrations. Right View and Right Thought are Wisdoms. Firstly, devotees should know that practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation is applying the Noble Eightfold Path and it is a path to attain enlightenment. Now we talk about the Moral Conducts. In practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation, meditators must undertake the Five Precepts or Eight Precepts as a foundation for meditation. By undertaking the precepts, Right Concentration will be obtained from practicing meditation. Right Action means abstain from killing living being, abstain from taking what is not given, and abstain from sexual misconduct. Right Speech means abstain from false speech. Right Livelihood means not engaged in slaughter of animals, sale of weapons, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and other illegal activities.

 

Then, we discuss about the Concentrations. Concentrations are Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. When practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation, we must mindful on every movement (walking, standing, sitting, lying down) all the time regardless walking meditation, sitting meditation or daily activities. We must utilise the Right Effort to observe on the nature of physical and mental, understand the characteristics of the Four Great Elements (earth, water, fire, wind) in our body and noting appear and disappear of greed, hatred and ignorance in our mind. By doing so, meditators are working hard in developing their Right Mindfulness. Right Concentration will gain with Right Effort and Right Mindfulness. The Four Great Elements are very clear as present in front of us when meditators attained Upacāra-samādhi. When meditators have attained Appanā-samādhi, they are able to practice sitting meditation for a long period. At this moment, meditators are almost able to see the Noble Eightfold Path clearly. They are close to the first path and fruition knowledge.

 

Finally, we talk about Wisdoms which are Right View and Right Thought. Meditators will obtain the Wisdom of Vipassana (Total of sixteen insight knowledge, please refer to the book of Visuddhimagga) by developing Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. The sixteen insight knowledge included Three Characteristics which are Impermanence, Suffering, and Non-self.

 

Since mediators are practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation, they must be able to obtain Right View and Right Thought in the Dhamma by undertaking Moral Conducts and Concentrations. Meditators have understood the Causality between physical and mental and its nature are continuously appearing and disappearing. Thus meditators understood appearing and disappearing of physical and mental are impermanence; impermanence is suffering. When meditators attain Appanā-samādhi, they will obtain the wisdom of non-self. They experience the nature of mental is emptiness. Now, meditators have obtained Right View and Right Thought in the Dhamma.

 

Sayalay Medhānanda encourages devotees who wish to obtain Right View and Right Thought in the Dhamma must take action by practicing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation. At the end, you will satisfy on your effort because you will experience the beautiful of Dhamma at the beginning, middle, and the end (obtain sixteen insight knowledges).

 

Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!

 

The End of the Four Noble Truths: Path to the Cessation of Suffering.
 


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