Above all, common-sense must be maintained. It's no use going round thinking that everything one wants is
available by wishing. The Buddha had pointed out: 'Effort is needed for attaining. Just as if a
clutch of eggs were not
fully sat upon by a hen, it would be no use in that hen wishing: 'Oh that my chicks would break forth and be safely
hatched'. They just wouldn't. The eggs have not been fully sat upon, fully warmed, fully brooded over. So a man must be
attentive and put forth effort'."
The Buddha pointed out that arising from the two extremes of belief in eternity and belief in annihilation, there were
three views or opinions fully enquired into, considered and discussed by religionists and philosophers.'
One was that everything was due to what a person had done in the past. Another was that everything was due to
the creation by a God. This is the view of the Judaeo-Christians and most other religions. 'I form the light and create
darkness: 1 make peace and 1 create evil: 1 the Lord do all these things.` The third view is that everything happens by
Clinging to one of these opinions, people are whirled round for ages in the
maelstrom of existence and do not seek a way out. The Buddha showed a
'Middle Path' and a way to follow it. He said that there is indeed a real
reality and that all the various religionists had part of the truth only,
and were like the blind men who examined an elephant and had their own views
as to what an elephant really is.
'The people who hold all sorts of views are blind, unseeing. They do not know the profitable or the unprofitable.
They do not know what is Real or what is Unreal'. He then gave the parable of the blind men. The ruler of a petty
kingdom assembled several men who were born blind and who had not previously known of an elephant and had one
presented before them. They were sent in groups to examine the beast. To one was presented the head of the elephant, to
another group its ear, to another its trunk, to another its tusks, the leg, the tail, the tuft of hair at the end of the
They were then asked what an elephant was like. Those who
had been led to the head answered: 'An elephant is like a pot'. Those
who had observed only an ear said: 'An elephant is like a winnowing basket'. Those who'd felt the tusks said: 'No, it's like a
plough-share'. Those who knew only the trunk exclaimed: 'A snake'.
The group who'd felt the leg were sure it was a pillar. Those who'd
felt the body said: 'It's like a granary'. The group which had felt just ilic lail said: 'A 1)cslle', and (hose who'd been presented with the tuft
of hairs on the tail were just as certain an
elephant was like a brush.
They argued until some shouted that the others were stupid and that they, having realized 'elephant', were
completely right. They even came to blows on the matter and fighting began.
Those religious folk who've contacted part of reality are just like the blind men who contacted part of the
elephant, said the Buddha.
All this would mean nothing had not the Buddha given the way and the method to follow that way, so that one
can know for oneself.
In what follows there may be a few things that you 'don't go along with'. That's quite all right so long as you don't
feel that you should believe them. Forced belief is worse than no belief, unless the 'force' is the later understanding that
forces the belief. Should there be such, you can make the mental, or spoken for that matter, reservations, so long as you
do not just dismiss it but consider these things, think about them a little from time to time, argue with yourself about
them and consider the possibility at least that they just might be true.
You will notice that 'one-pointedness of mind' is spoken of as concentration. The method of attaining this is given
later. There must be some initial wisdom and some initial concentration and these can be, and must be, developed to
follow the path and the following of the path develops them. The completely scatter-brained cannot follow the
'There is no concentration for him who lacks wisdom; nor is there wisdom for him who lacks
In whom are found both concentration and wisdom he, indeed, is close to Nibbana.`
The whole teaching of the Buddha is of a way out, a way to perfect
tranquility, and that it begins with the four
great truths: that this continued existence is suffering: that there is an origin of this suffering: that there can be an
extinction of this suffering: that there is a path leading to the extinction of suffering.'
'And what is the truth of suffering? Birth is suffering, decay is suffering, death is suffering, the five groups of
existence connected with grasping are suffering.
'What is the truth of the origin of suffering? Through the formative tendencies (forming the pattern, the character)
which are conditioned by delusion, consciousness is conditioned. Through this consciousness
the mental and physical
phenomena, the material body and brain, are conditioned. Through the mental and physical phenomena the six bases,
the five senses and the mind, are conditioned. Through these six bases contact with reality is conditioned. Through
contact feeling is conditioned. Through this feeling, this sensation, desire is conditioned. Through desire clinging is
conditioned. Through clinging
the process of becoming is conditioned. Through the process of becoming rebirth is conditioned. Through birth decay,
sorrow and death are conditioned. This is the truth of the origin of suffering.
'And what is the truth of the extinction of suffering? From the utter fading out and extinction of delusion comes
the extinction of the formative tendencies; from the extinction of the formative tendencies, the extinction of
consciousness; from the extinction of consciousness, the extinction of the mental and physical phenomena; from the
extinction of the mental and physical phenomena, the extinction of the six bases; from the extinction of the six bases,
the extinction of contact; from the extinction of contact, the extinction of craving; from the extinction of craving, the
extinction of clinging; from the extinction of clinging, the extinction of the process of becoming; from the extinction of
the process of becoming, the extinction of rebirth; from the extinction of rebirth, the extinction of decay, old age and
death. Thus ceases the whole mass of suffering.
'And what is the path leading to the extinction of suffering? It is just this eightfold path: right understanding,
right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.'
He showed that the eight parts are not to be taken separately but 'revolve round each other'. In each case 'Right' is
defined. He begins with the end-point of the path, Right Concentration. 'What is right concentration? It is right
understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness. Whatever one-pointedness of mind is accompanied by these seven components, this is called right concentration.'
As to this, right understanding comes first. And how does right understanding come first? If one realises that
wrong understanding is wrong understanding and that right understanding is right understanding, that is his right
'And what is wrong understanding? To hold the view that there is no result from generosity, no fruit or ripening
of deeds well done or ill done, that this world does not really exist, that no other world really exists, that there is no
benefit from mother and father, that there are no beings arising in other worlds without the instrumentality of parents
that there are not existing those who have realised by their own super knowledge both this world and a world beyond and
who are living rightly, following the right course. This is wrong understanding.
'And what is right understanding? It is two-fold. There is right understanding that is good and brings good results
but yet has some blemishes and so ripens to clinging. It is the opposite of wrong understanding but has still elements of self and
thought of self.
'There is the perfect right understanding that goes beyond this, that has no blemishes, that has wisdom, the faculty
of intellect, the component of enlightenment that is investigation into things and is free from thoughts of self. This is
perfect right understanding.
'And what is wrong thought? Thought for pleasures of the senses and the mind, thought for ill-will, thought for
harming. This is wrong thought.
'And what is right thought? It is two-fold. There is the right thought that is good but has still some blemishes, it is
thought that, though good, ripens to clinging. It is thought for others and not for self, thought for metta to all, thought
for harmlessness. And what is right thought that is free from blemishes?
'Whatever is reasoning, thought-conception, thinking, an activity of the inner speech through the complete
focussing and application of the mind in developing the noble path.
'And what is wrong speech? Lying, slanderous speech, harsh speech, gossiping. This is wrong speech.
'And what is right speech? It is two-fold. There is the right speech that ripens to clinging and has blemishes,
though it is good, that is speech free from lying, free from slander, free from harshness, free from gossip. And there is
the perfect right speech. The same but free from all self and by one who is of noble thought.
'And what is wrong action? Harming living beings, taking what has not been freely given, wrong enjoyment
among the sensual pleasures: that is wrong action.
'And what is right action? It is two-f old. There is the right action that ripens to clinging and has blemishes even
though it is good. It is abstaining from harm, action that does not take what is not freely given, that is not wrong
enjoyment among the sense-pleasures; and (here is the right action, that is free from blemishes, that is perfect. It is the
right action as above and with action that is a part of the eightfold path in developing it.
'And what is wrong mode of livelihood? It is trickery, cheating, gains by flattery, fortune-telling, false
representation, rapacity for gain upon gain. This is wrong livelihood.
'And what is right livelihood? It is two-fold: it is the opposite of that wrong livelihood as above and is livelihood
that does not harm others, and that is right livelihood that though good has blemishes and ripens to clinging. Then there
is the perfect right livelihood that is following the path fully.
'Whoever puts forth effort for getting rid of wrong understanding, for the gaining of right understanding, that is
his right effort.
Mindfully he gets rid of wrong understanding; entering on right understanding he abides in it mindfully. This is his
right mindfulness. Thus these three things circle round and follow after right understanding, that is to say: right
understanding, right effort, right mindfulness.
'Whoever puts forth effort for the getting rid of wrong thought, for the gaining of right thought, entering on right
thought and abiding in it mindfully, that is his right effort and his right mindfulness. Thus these three things circle
round and follow after right thought, that is to say: right understanding, right effort, right mindfulness.
'Whoever puts forth effort for the getting rid of wrong speech, for the gaining of right speech, that is his right
effort. Mindfully he gets rid of wrong speech, mindfully he enters on right speech and abides in it. That is his right
mindfulness. Thus these three things circle round and follow after right speech, that is to say: right understanding, right
effort, right mindfulness.
'Whoever puts forth effort for the getting rid of wrong action, for the gaining of right action, that is his right
effort. Mindfully he gets rid of wrong action, mindfully he enters on right action and abides in it. That is his right
'Whoever puts forth effort for the getting rid of wrong mode of livelihood, for the gaining of right mode of
livelihood, that is his right effort. Mindfully he gets rid of wrong mode of livelihood, mindfully he enters on right mode
of livelihood and abides in it. That is his right mindfulness. Thus these three things circle round after right mode of
livelihood, that is to say: right understanding, right effort, right mindfulness.
'And as to this, right understanding comes first. And how does right understanding come first? Right thought
proceeds from right understanding, right speech proceeds from right thought, right action proceeds from right speech,
right mode of livelihood proceeds from right action, right effort proceeds from right mode of livelihood, right
mindfulness proceeds from effort, right concentration proceeds from right mindfulness, right knowledge proceeds from
right concentration, right freedom proceeds from right knowledge. In this way, the learner's path is of eight parts, the
perfected one's path is of ten parts.
'As to this, right understanding comes first. And how does right understanding come first? Wrong understanding
is worn away in one of right understanding; and those various evil, unskilful things that arise conditioned by wrong
understanding are worn away in him; and various skilful things, conditioned by right understanding, come to
development and fruition. Wrong thought in the same way is worn away in one of right thought ... wrong speech is
worn away in one of right speech ... wrong action is worn away in one of right action . . . wrong mode of livelihood is worn away in one of right livelihood . . . wrong effort is worn away in one of
right effort ... wrong mindfulness is worn away in one of right mindfulness . . . wrong concentration is worn away in
one of right concentration ... wrong knowledge is worn away in one of right knowledge ... wrong freedom is worn away
in one of right freedom; and in all these, those various unskilful things that arise conditioned by the wrong modes are worn away in him; and various skilful
things conditioned by the right modes come to development and fruition.'
In this, as in everything, all is a matter of degree and right understanding grows by degrees as does right
concentration. It may be said that knowledge that binds to this transient and illusory world is wrong knowledge and that the greatest freedom
one can have in this world, if it is of this world, is wrong freedom; and right freedom is freedom from impermanence
and illusion. Right livelihood in this is more than just the right way of earning a living, though it includes this, it is also the right way of living.
It is a matter of gradually getting a deeper and deeper understanding which ends in right knowledge and right
freedom. Right knowledge is full knowledge of the impressions received by the senses and the mind and their interaction as they
really are, and this results in right freedom, where one is entirely free from any desire for that which is changing,
impermanent and illusory.
'Herein he puts forth desire, strives, stirs up energy, as it were stretches forth his mind and resolves that the evil
and unskilful states which have not arisen in him, shall not arise
.... that those which have arisen shall be put away
.... that those good and skilful states which have not arisen shall arise in him
.... that those good and skilful states which have arisen in him shall persist, shall not be confused, but made to
Who can Follow the Path? Hindrances and Helps
There is, it must be stressed again, nothing hidden or secret in the Buddha's teaching. The Path and the method were
explained in full detail with nothing held back. Anybody at all may attempt the Path, though some, due to their make-up, may require more preliminary training and may take longer to reach the goal.
Naturally an idiot or one of very dull intellect cannot begin to grasp the matter and when the venerable Kassapa
tried to teach such a man he was told that though he brought ten torches he couldn't enlighten such as were
In another case the Buddha did not explain either the Path or the method and this was in a long discourse to a
young householder.' He merely 'pointed the way to Heaven' by giving the moral teaching very fully. It should be
explained that, as most religions teach, there is more than one Heaven. Compare:
'I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, 1 cannot tell;. or whether out of the body,
1 cannot tell; God knoweth;), such an one caught up to the third Heaven.`
The Buddha showed that these 'Heavens' exist and that they are temporary states and that there is something
beyond the highest 'Heaven' and the highest 'God'.'
The young layman was quite content and asked no questions. Had he done so he would have been taught more.
For its description of the moral teaching the discourse is given in an appendix. In this book the Path and the Method
are given. There may be some who will follow the Path.
FOUR CORRUPTING INFLUENCES: FIVE HINDRANCES: TEN FETTERS
Some of these overlap but they are given here as they are very necessary to understanding and appear in many
discourses, though in each case only one reference is given for each.
There are four corrupting influences. These are obsessions: the obsession with sensual pleasure, the obsession
with the idea of an 'Eternal Soul', the obsession with mere opinions, the obsession with delusion. These obsessions cause
clinging and the thought is not free.
There are five hindrances and their banishment is necessary at the beginning of the practice of the method.'
'He banishes sensual desire, he stays with mind free from sensual desire, he cleanses his mind from sensual
'He banishes ill-will, he stays with a mind free from ill-will, with goodwill and compassion towards all living
beings he cleanses his mind from ill-will.
'He banishes torpor and languour, he stays free from torpor and languour, with clear perception, with watchful
mind, with clear comprehension, he cleanses his mind from torpor and languour.
'He banishes restlessness and worry, staying with a mind free from restlessness and worry, with mind undisturbed,
with mind full of peace, he cleanses his mind from restlessness and worry.
'He banishes sceptical doubt, staying free from doubt, full of confidence in the good, he cleanses his mind from
'When he realizes that these five hindrances have been banished from his mind, gladness springs up within him
and joy arises to him in this glad state, and thus rejoicing all his body becomes calm, and being thus calm he enjoys
happiness, and being thus happy his mind becomes tranquil within.'
It should be understood that to attain this state is a matter of practice and, as in all things, there are deeper and
deeper degrees attained. It should also be understood that it is necessary for some degree to be attained at the very
beginning of the period of practice and, further, that the state of mind is, at the very beginning, only temporary and is
upset when one goes out again into the whirling world, but that some of the calm remains and with continued practice
becomes more and more stable until it becomes permanent when the final goal is near. This will be clear in the method
of the practice of the path, as will the method of 'banishing.
THE TEN FETTERS
There are ten fetters that bind to this world and to the 'Heaven' worlds.'
The five that bind to this world are: belief in an unchanging soul; sceptical doubt; clinging to rite and ritual;
sensual craving; ill-will. In the above, 'sceptical doubt' is really 'blind disbelief' and blind disbelievers always have some
perplexity of mind.
The five fetters that bind to the 'higher' worlds (all temporary states) are: craving for fine-material or 'spiritual'
for immaterial or 'higher spiritual' existence; conceit; restlessness; delusion.
TO GAIN THE GOAL
The eight thoughts of a superman
'I shall declare the discourse on "The eight thoughts of a superman".
'This doctrine is for one whose wants are few, not for one whose wants are many; for the contented, not for the
discontented; for one who practises seclusion, not for one who is fond of society; for one who is energetic, not for one
who is indolent; for one who is setting up mindfulness, not for one who is heedless; for one who has composure of mind,
not for one whose mind is confused; for the wise, not for the unwise; for one who is free of the hindrances, not for one
who delights in sensual pleasures and delights in the things tha hinder spiritual progress.
'Herein, one wanting little does not wish: "May I be known as one wanting little; may
I be known as contented;
may I be known as practising seclusion; may I be known as energetic; may I be known as one setting up mindfulness;
may I be known as composed; may I be known as wise; may I be known as one free from the hindrances." "
The four bases of psychic power
These are also known as the four roads to psychic power and they may be used, and must be developed, either
consciously or unconsciously, for the gaining of extrasensory or supernormal power. They have been so used but that is
not the purpose for which they were taught, the purpose is to gain the end of suffering, the final goal of the Path.
'By whomsoever the four bases of psychic power are neglected, by them also is neglected the noble way that goes
on to the utter destruction of suffering. By whomsoever the four bases of psychic power are undertaken, by them also is
undertaken the noble way that goes on to the utter destruction of suffering.
'What are the four?
'He cultivates the basis of psychic power of which the features are intention together with the co-factors of
concentration and effort of will.
'He cultivates the basis of psychic power of which the features are energy together with the co-factors of
concentration and effort of will.
' He cultivates the basis of psychic power of which the features are directed consciousness together with the co-
factors of concentration and effort of will.
'He cultivates the basis of psychic power of which the features are investigation together with the co-factors of
concentration and effort of will.`
One must have a strong desire to carry this through, which is intention, and proceed at all costs with energy,
concentration and investigation into things.
Even if one does not carry it through to the end, the mind is broadened, deepened and strengthened and the will
made more firm.
Their cultivation is necessary for the destruction of the passions which are rooted in craving, since it is necessary
to understand these and with understanding follows their fading out.
'For the full understanding, the utter destruction, for the abandoning, annihilating, for the decay of passions, for
the utter passionless ending, giving up and renunciation of passions, these four conditions must be made to grow.
'For the full understanding and destruction of anger and malevolence, hypocrisy and spite, envy and grudging,
deceit and treachery, obstinacy and impetuosity, conceit and pride, mental intoxication and heedlessness, these four
conditions must be made to grow.`
The five controlling faculties
'So long as Insight has not arisen, just so long is there no stability of the four other controlling faculties, there is
no abiding steadfastness of the four other controlling faculties. But when Insight has arisen, then th ' ere is stability of
the four other controlling faculties.
'Just as, so long as the peak of a house with peaked roof be not set up, so long is there no stability of the roof-
beams, there is no abiding steadfastness of the roof-beams. But as soon as the peak of a house with peaked roof is set up,
then there is stability and abiding steadfastness of the roof-beams.
'In the same way so long as Insight has not arisen, so long is there no stability of the other four controlling
faculties. But as soon as Insight has arisen there is stability and abiding steadfastness of the other four controlling
faculties. Of what four? Of the controlling faculties of Confidence, Energy, Mindfulness and Concentration.
'In him who has Insight, Confidence is established as a matter of course; Energy, Mindfulness, Concentration are
established as a matter of course.`
The five powers and the seven links of enlightenment
These 'five higher spiritual powers' often mentioned in the discourse are the same as the five controlling faculties,
except that it is when they become unshakeable, as in one who has attained, that they are then 'Powers'.
The seven links of enlightenment appear in the method and will be fully described therein.
In all of this, and it cannot be stressed too often as some Japanese si~cts teach the opposite, it is all a matter of
degree. 'The training is gradual: there is no sudden enlightenment'.`
A Discourse giving the method of gradual training is given in the appendix for those who wish to study it.
In the above, one word 'Confidence' has sometimes been termed 'Faith'; but it is not blind faith, rather the
confidence you have in a man that he can do something you know he is well fitted to do and has the character to do. The
word has some idea of enthusiasm and could almost have been translated as enthusiastic faith.
There must be some degree of confidence and some degree of wisdom or else one would never begin the practice.
As one progresses they both increase and insight develops.
Of Monks and Men and the Rules of Training
Since Buddhism is not a 'Church' or 'A religious Society' and very much a do-it-yourself duty, monks have no authority
over laymen and cannot officiate at such things as births, deaths and marriages. There is no such thing as an ordained
monk and there are no 'priestly duties'. A monk's duty is to follow the Buddha's path to its goal, and he should also learn
the doctrine to teach it to other monks and to laymen when requested by them. It is possible for a layman to preach to a
monk.' A monk must not take any part in politics for any reason and may not witness entertainments, shows, military
manoeuvres and such like. He may not handle money.
In modern days, many rules are broken, which only means to say that there are very few monks but many wearers
of 'the yellow robe'. It became so bad in Burma a few years ago that young people spoke derisively of the latter as 'Tat
wah', 'The yellow army'.
Breaking of rules did not begin in modern times and the Buddha had said:
'A man who is undisciplined and deceitful does not become a monk by shaving his head. How shall he be a monk
who is full of desires?
'There are many impostors who wear yellow robes but are of evil
nature and uncontrolled . . .`
In order to join 'The Noble Order' of monks, no previous learning is required as there is, for instance, for priests
and pastors of certain Christian sects.
The word usually translated as 'Monk' is 'Bhikkhu', which means 'Beggar', and it is true that a monk must live by
what is freely given as alms. However, he may not ask for anything at all so does not'beg' in the usually accepted sense
of the word. Since generosity is a Buddhist virtue, he, provided he follows his rules of training, is conferring a benefit by
offering himself as a worthy object.
When the Buddha began his
teaching certain ascetics and
laymen followed him as disciples. As the number grew, and since
there was no distinction made as to class or caste, it was necessary
to make rules and thus the Order of monks came into being. At the
beginning the Buddha, on a few occasions, admitted some to the
order by simply saying, 'Come, beggar!' Later it was necessary that
the entrant have his alms-bowl and robes and some layman to promise support as to food, clothes and medicine in case of need. The
robes could, and preferably should, be of cleaned cotton rags sewn
A monk is not 'under vows' and may leave the Order at any time. In such case there is no great stigma attached to
him though he has admitted failure in his resolve to follow the path more intently than can a layman. Better a good
layman than a bad monk; and the Buddha pointed out: 'Even though he be gaily decked, if yet a man cultivates
tranquility of mind, is calm, subdued, destined for the final release and of pure conduct, laying aside harm to all living things, he is a noble man, a recluse, a monk.`
A monk who has left the Order may rejoin provided the body of monks in a monastery will accept him.
There is no 'Head of the Order' or single monk with authority over the others and all matters should be settled by
the assembly of monks.
Here there is a point which has puzzled some Western scholars. The Buddha had said that he 'would not hand
over the Order even to the two chief disciples` but also that he did not consider himself as 'leader' of the Order,' and the
venerable Ananda, the Buddha's constant attendant, had proclaimed: 'There are many hundreds of leaders in this
Leadership is handed over by the assembly ol' monks and a leader is a spokesman for the assembly ~by general
consent and becomes a leader by the respect and veneration in which he is held by the others.
It is much the same in small communities where a man of some character and attainment is consulted and his
advice often but not necessarily taken. Quite a different thing from 'Our Great Crass Leader', who has, in very many
cases, by low cunning, dishonesty and devious ways, gained the leadership of a political party and of the country.
There is one case where there is respect and deference to a monk from
others, and that is from one who is younger in years or has joined the Order
later than another, to whom he then shows respect. This was in accord with
the custom of the period and still holds.
There is an interesting account in the Vinaya of six Sakyan nobles. The Sakyas were a great clan whose leaders
were chieftains rather than kings and the Buddha was the son of a Sakyan chieftain.
The Sakyans were of the warrior
caste, the leading caste at that time, and were reputed to be very proud and haughty.
The six nobles, one of whom was a chieftain, left together to join ific Order, among them Ananda, who later
became the Buddha's constant attendant.
They took with them on their journey a man of low caste, a barber who was their servant.
They divested themselves of their jewels and bundling them up gave them to the servant, Upali, telling him he
could keep them for his own. Thinking the matter over, Upali thought that if he returned with the jewels, a rich man, he
might be suspected of foul play and attacked, so he hung the jewels on a tree, hurried after his masters and begged to be
allowed to go with them and join the Order.
They agreed and then asked the Buddha to allow Upali to join first, saying: 'We Sakyans are proud. This barber
has been our servant for a long time. Please let him join the Order first and we shall
then respect him and so our Sakyan pride will be humbled'; and the Buddha agreed.
Laymen build monasteries and these are, or should be, handed as a gift to the Order. In modern days there are in
some cases individual wearers of the yellow robe who consider that they 'own'
the monasteries, though their rules of training
A 'monastery' built for an individual monk, really a shelter in which to sit or to sleep, must not be more than twelve spans in length and seven spans wide; say 9 feet by 5'/4..' As
the monk does not use the shelter for any other purpose than for the practice of the development of Insight and for sleeping, this is all
that is needed.
'There are ten essentials which should always be reviewed by one who has given up the worldly life. What
'He should always consider and think over the fact that having joined the Order he has no more any caste. His
very life is dependent on others. What he should do is of a different character from that of laymen. He must consider
whether he has a clear conscience as to his virtue. He should consider whether the wise members of the Order consider
him to be virtuous. He should always remember that with all pleasant and dear to him there is inevitable change and
parting. That Of deeds, of mind, speech and body, is he moulded, they are his kinsmen, they are his inheritance, they are
his mould: whatever act lie performs, be it good or bad, of that shall he be heir. He should consider how he passes his
days and nights. Whether he delights in solitude. Whether he has gained faculties transcending the normal, i lie
attainment of noble wisdom, of insight, so that when questioned by his fellows
in his last days his mind shall be unperturbed. On these things must
he constantly reflect.'
THE RULES OF TRAINING
How one becomes a Buddhist and how one
becomes a monk
The Pali Canon is the three 'Baskets,' or collections:
The Suttapitaka, the Discourses, mostly to monks but some to lay people.
The Vinayapitaka, the Rules for monks including the circumstances that gave rise to the rules.
The Abhidhamma or philosophical and psychological description of the universe and the teachings based on
The following, except where numbered references are given, is from the Vinayapitaka.
Since there is no clinging to rite and ritual, a non-Buddhist becomes a Buddhist merely by reciting, three times
usually to make it solemn and certain, the formula:
'I place my full confidence in the Buddha.
1 place my full confidence in his teaching.
1 place my full confidence in those who are following the teaching to its full.'
He undertakes five precepts which are by no means commandments but rather 'rules of training' and he attempts
to observe these always. The five precepts are those given above in 'The Teaching in Brief'.
A layman occasionally takes on himself the following of three more precepts, for certain holiday periods,
changing the rule pertaining to 'sexual conduct' to one of observing complete chastity, and combining the sixth, seventh,
eighth and ninth precepts of a novice into three
To become a monk, a layman must first become a novice and the Buddha had instituted a rule that a novice must
wait four months to obtain full monkhood.
During that period he was instructed by a preceptor in the training.
This is one rule which has fallen into disuse, thereby making the wearers of the yellow robe a mockery in some
There have been cases of Westerners, quite ignorant, who have gone to an Asian country, been, at once admitted
as novices in a monastery and a week later accepted as full monks and afterwards have gone round boasting that
they,were 'fully ordained'.
A layman, to become a novice, obtains the consent of the monks in a monastery, which, provided the applicant
seems able and willing, is readily given.
He presents his robes and his head is shaven, he is dressed in his robes and undertakes the rules of training.
He undertakes the following precepts:
Abstaining from killing anything with the breath of life.
Abstainihng from taking what is not freely given.
Abstaining from all sexual matters.
Abstaining from telling lies.
Abstaining from taking drugs and intoxicants.
from taking food after midday
Abstaining from dancing, singing, playing music and witnessing shows or entertainments.
Abstaining from adornments, scents and beautifying unguents.
Abstaining from using luxurious beds.
Abstaining from accepting money.
There are two hundred and twenty-seven rules of training for a monk and the first seventy-five of these apply to a
novice. These seventy-five are mainly rules of deportment and of conduct to be observed to make it possible for a group to live together in harmony and to move among the laymen in accepting
alms-food so that the Order will be respected. They also include rules that prohibit the harming of living things.
A novice may be expelled for breaching any of the first five of the precepts he has undertaken and also for speaking in dispraise of the Buddha, the Teaching or the Order and
also for clinging to false views in spite of being taught otherwise. Naturally if he acts and feels like this he should leave
Of the rules, which apply to monks, four entail loss of monkhood. They are: Indulging in any form of sexual activity. Stealing. Killing a human being, or inciting to suicide.
Boasting of having supernormal powers.
The other rules are, like the first seventy-five, mainly on matters of dress and deportment and living together in
The breaking of what are regarded as the more serious rules entails a meeting of all members of the Order in the
district and the monk is required to confess, publicly, and admonished and his confession and promise to keep the rules
in future accepted. In what are regarded as lesser offences, he merely confesses to a group of fellow monks and makes
the same promise.
A monk who consistently breaks the rules and refuses to reform is to be shunned by the others; and the laymen,
seeing this, soon withdraw thdir support and he has perforce to leave the Order as he cannot obtain the requisites of
The Buddha preached a Middle Path between 'sensual indulgence, low, coarse, vulgar, ignoble, unprofitable; and self-mortification, painful, ignoble, unprofitable` so self-
mortification is not the basis for the rules. The bare minimum of behaviour is stated to
remind monks that the ideal is of 'the homeless wanderer' and that the holy life is ascetic, but not extremely so.
WHAT GOOD DO THEY DO?
There are those, in the West particularly, who think of monks as lazy people who join an Order to dodge their
responsibilities. They think that monks should go around 'doing good' such as teaching school or practising medicine. If
he is in the Order, the rules of training forbid his practice of, among other things, medicine. Better for him to remain a
layman if he wishes 'to do good' in this sense.
If a man should become a monk and really practise the development of insight to its full, he is doing more good
than he could in any other way.
'No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.
'Any man's death diminishes me, because 1 am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.`
For the ordinary man of the world it is difficult to see that there is a link between all of life. This is not to say that
'all life is one': obviously it isn't; but that 'all life is linked', and in this sense what happens to one happens to all.
Thoughts of loving kindness and thoughts of ill-will, according to their degree of intensity and concentration,
influence mostly the one who thinks them, and also influence the whole of life, according to the receptivity of the
A monk practising the development of insight to its highest degree is influencing for good the whole world,
including those who do not consciously know that he exists.
AND THE WOMEN
The Buddha had hesitated to allow women to 'go forth to the homeless life' though his aunt, who had cared for
him after his mother's death when he was yet a child, had begged that she and other women with her be allowed.`
He finally agreed and an Order of nuns came into being. The had much the same rules as for monks and in
addition there were new rules for each Order to govern the behaviour of members of each Order towards members of the
The Order of nuns died out in troubled times some centuries later and as there was no organised body to revive it,
it could not be re-instituted, just as if the Order of monks dies out it cannot be revived.
The Buddha's hesitation was quite natural. Women were not the mere chattels that they were in other civilisations
but traditionally had not taken part in the philosophic discussions that were part of
that culture; they were not trained in the
martial arts and had not i lie strength and ability to survive in lonely places among wild beasts
and wild men in a
comparatively sparsely populated country; in those days women were more emotional than men and the doctrine is one of applied reasoning.
Among women there were brilliant exceptions - to mention three of these:
There was the good and clever Queen Mallika who could discuss the doctrine and was much brighter than her
husband, King Pasenadi of Kosala.`
There was Sister Dhammadinna who after becoming a nun had taught many lay-folk. The Buddha had said that
as Dhammadinna had taught on a difficult question, so he himself would have taught.`
There was the nun Soma who, on being asked how she, a mere woman, could possibly hope to achieve, calmly
replied: 'In this doctrine and discipline, the matter of sex does not arise'."
And there were quite a few others.
How to Perform 'Miracles' in three Easy Lessons
(a) Preliminary Explanations and Comments
Oh, yes, you actually can learn to perform ' miracles'. You can, if you wish to 'sit down and play games at the foot of the
hill', go round mending spoons by magic; at least thatd be better than the inane bending of spoons by a stage-magician,
which doesn't help anybody but the stage-magician and the income tax department; but before you begin to become
excited, wait a moment, pause to consider.
The lessons are easy but the training isn't.
Did you wake up this morning? To wake up, to really waken, that is what the Buddha taught; to snap out of the
half-dream that begins when you think you wake up in the morning and begin to dress, dreaming of something else.
When you are fancying all the time, you are just dreaming, so you are not really awake. Are you quite sure you're not
still going round in a dream?
Only a very small part of the brain is used by the ordinary unawakened man. An almost equal part is often
fighting against the part being used, and the major part is dormant, brooding on something else.
The brain is capable of infinitely more than the ordinary man dares to think. The ordinary person, you, can, once
fully awake, perform 'miracles', not dream about them; can know all there is to know, not dream about it. There is no
'Divine Grace' in this, no need for 'initiation', no need to hold a candle and look into a mirror. Indeed these playthings
are themselves dreams and hindrances. To wake up from this sleep, which is in some ways sounder than the sleep in
bed, you have to shake yourself awake, and you have to continue to put forth energy in order to prevent yourself from
nodding off to sleep again. Once you are really awake, fully awake, there is so much of aliveness that you won't ever go
to sleep again.
Why, then, doesn't the ordinary man wake up? Largely because he doesn't care. He is inhibited by all sorts of
fears, many of which
he dare not acknowledge to himself. This has been part of his conditioning in early childhood, in earlier lives
also: and, too, he has been conditioned so that he just doesn't believe in his own powers.
Forget the fairy-tales
Very small children of every race and every nation in every age, love fairy-tales. They act as a buffer against the
hard facts of life. The child comes up against hard reality and finds that it is indeed very hard, and the fairy-tale allows
him to escape for awhile and he uses it as a crutch until he gets used to the idea that the world is not so easy as mother's
However, a lot of children don't grow up. Their bodies do but not their minds. The crutches become so much part
of them that they cannot bear to walk alone; so fairy-tales they still must have.
This is as true of some 'Buddhist' people as of all others. They want 'miracles', they want lovely stories, they want
a loving Buddha to pour down rays of 'Compassion' and assure them that they'll be all right 'By the Grace of the Triple
Gem' or whatever.
Or they want a 'Meditation Master'who will hand them out titles of 'Attainment' like a professor handing out a
B.A. or a Doctorate.
That is not what the Buddha taught and not what the Buddha did.
But now about you. Can you bear to throw away your crutches? All of them? Can you throw away the idea that
when you read a'good book' or listen to 'good music' you are improving yourself? You are not, you know, you're only
reading yourself to sleep or listening yourself to sleep. Can you throw away the idea that 'God', any god or Saint or
whatever, can help you when you're in trouble and get you out of the mess you've made for yourself?
Can you throw away the leaning on a 'Teacher' who either consciously or unconsciously hypnotises you? Can you
throw away the 'Yoga' or whatever that you use to consciously or unconsciously hypnotise yourself with? Can you throw
away the worries that you use to boost your Ego? Yes, indeed, that's just what they are, ego-boosters.
Can you throw away the desire to be somebody else? Can you throw away the day-dreams in which you are
somebody else? Or in which you are a bigger and better 'you'? Can you forget all the conceits and fancies? Can you
forget the fairy-tales? All those are part and parcel of fairy-tales.
There is a way, there is only one way.
THE METHOD IN BRIEF
The Buddha said that if you could give up one thing he would guarantee that you would gain complete freedom
and never more
come to rebirth. That one thing, he said, is craving in any of its manifestations.'
The method, the training for this, is quite long.
In a very few instances only the moral teaching, which leads to a temporary 'Heaven', was given, since it was to
those who could not or would not attempt the practice, but almost all of the Buddha's talks and discourse were on the
way out of suffering and the method of following that way.
The full practice was given in two very long discourses which were similar except that one was longer than the
other and with more detail.'
Most of this teaching was given to monks but also was given to some laymen. Some laymen followed the practice
and some laymen attained the final goal.
The practice itself can hardly be changed and very little change can be made in the method, but the manner of
undertaking it can, and in modern times must, be very slightly varied and explanations are needed.
In very few cases did the Buddha give a brief method since this cannot be followed unless one has to some extent
got rid of cravings. This simple and concise method was given to two different people but both of these had, as the
Buddha knew, become to some extent free from desire.
One was to a monk who, as he told the Buddha, was 'a brokendown old man, aged, far gone in years, come to
life's end'. The other was to a wandering ascetic who had a premonition of his approaching death.
In both cases they succeeded in attaining the goal.'
This method is to live entirely in the present, to be aware, fully aware, of what is seen, heard, smelt, tasted,
touched or thought as it is happening, and to be aware of nothing else at all. In other words, of knowing things and not
thinking about them.
'Then, thus must you train yourself: in the seen there will be to you just the seen, in the heard just the heard, in the
imagined just the imagined, in the perceived just the perceived. Then, as you will have no "thereby", you will have no
"therein". As you will have no "therein", it follows that you will have no "here" or "beyond" or "midway between". That
is just the end of suffering.'
That is just to say that you are merely being completely aware of things and not thinking about them, not letting
the mind run on.
It cannot be too strongly stressed that a moral attitude is necessary, otherwise danger may ensue. Before giving
some comment and explanation which may be helpful in making the practice possible for a busy person in today's
world, here is a discourse given by the Buddha to a layman, an accountant, which sets forth the gradual
THE GRADUAL TRAINING
An accountant said that when he got a pupil he gave him a gradual training beginning with simple arithmetic and asked
whether there were such gradual training in the Buddha's teaching.
The Buddha replied that yes, indeed, he taught in such a way as to the actual training of a monk when he joined
The learner is first enjoined to follow the precepts and the rules of training, to be of good moral character.
He is then taught to 'guard the doors of the senses and the mind', and in seeing a material shape with the eye he
should not be entranced with it nor follow the details lest covetousness and deject ion and unskilled states of mind
should flow in. So he lives, controlling, guarding and achieving control over the organ of sight: and similarly with the
ear and sounds, the nose and smells, the tongue and tastes, the body and touches, and the mental states.
When he is guarded as to the doors of the senses and the mind, he is then taught to be moderate in eating, to
reflect carefully on what he is doing as he eats, not eating for pleasure, or for indulgence or personal beautification, but
taking just enough to maintain life and health and with the thought: 'In this way 1 am crushing out old feelings and will
not allow new feelings to arise'. Then there will be subsistence, blamelessness and living in comfort.
As soon as he is thus moderate in eating he has the further discipline. During the day and the early part of the
night he, while pacing up and down or sitting, is intent on vigilance in cleansing the mind of obstructive mental
And lying down in the middle part of the night, in the lion posture, on the right side, the legs very slightly bent,
the right knee resting in the hollow of the left knee and the left foot on the right foot,' mindful, clearly conscious,
reflecting on the thought of getting up again in the morning.
(Quite naturally he will fall asleep and other thoughts will come in, but he trains himself when he perceives such
thoughts to be mindful and vigilant.)
Then in 'the last watch of the night', in the very early morning, while pacing up and down or sitting, he is taught
to cleanse the mind of obstructive mental states.
As soon as he is practised in being intent on vigilance, he is taught further to be mindful and clearly conscious.
That is he is conscious only of what he is doing and does not think about it nor allow his thoughts to travel in circles
round it. He is to act with clear consciousness, with full attention and awareness of what he is doing whether he is
approaching or departing, looking ahead or looking round, carrying something or eating and drinking, chewing or
savouring, whether he is obeying the calls of nature, whether he is walking,
standing, sitting, asleep or awake, talking or being silent. He is conscious of it, aware of it, without thought about it or
arising from it.
When he has gained some mindfulness and clear awareness, he is given further training. He is told to find a
secluded spot, either in a forest, on a hillside, in a glen, at the foot of a tree, in a cemetery, anywhere where he can be
alone and not likely to be disturbed. After returning from alms-gathering and having eaten he is to sit down cross-
legged, holding the back erect, having made mindfulness rise up in front of him he begins the practice leading to
(Comments on the 'cross-legged position' are given later in this chapter.)
The accountant then asked the Buddha whether all the monks so trained and instructed attained the unchanging
goal, nibbana. Oh no, the Buddha told him, some attain it and others do not. The accountant asked why some did not
and the Buddha asked him: 'Do you know the way to the city of Rajagaha?' ' Yes',
said the accountant, I know it very
well'. He was then asked of two men who enquired the way of Wm, whether they would both certainly reach the city,
being carefully instructed, or might one reach it and the other go astray.
The accountant said that one might go astray but that would be because he had not followed the instructions. 'I am
only the shower of the way: what can 1 do about it if he takes the wrong path?' Just so, the Buddha told him, the
Tathagatas are only showers of the way.
THE MIDDLE PATH
IN THE PRACTICE
The practice begins with morality, which is very clearly defined, and there is no middle path between skilful and
unskilful, though one does not have to be a saint to begin the practice, otherwise there would be no need of the
The next step, of guarding the doors of the senses and the mind, is usually a long and slow process, but one does
not wait to achieve perfection before going on to the other steps.
Here something of the bodily postures should be explained.
In the sitting posture it was usual to sit cross-legged with the legs tucked under the body. This was the most
comfortable and bestbalanced position and still is for many Asians, though today, after a few generations sitting on
Western-style chairs, some find it not comfortable.
And it just does not matter one whit.
If that position is uncomfortable for you, as it was and is for me, then it is the wrong position.
The reclining position. was usually on the right side and in some cases mentioned as 'foot resting on foot' and in
others as 'his feet, one in the curve of the other'. Usually the cheek is pillowed on the right hand and the left hand resting along the body. With the left leg slightly bent, the hollow of the right knee resting
in the hollow of the left, the left foot fits over and into the curve of the right.
This was a comfortable position and you would probably find it so: but if you don't, no matter at all, so long as you
are not sprawled out anyhow.
The spine should be as straight as possible (though there were hunchbacks who became Arahats) and the only
thing is that the position must be composed and comfortable. The body and the mind must be composed, alert, intent but
not tense. If the body is not at case, then the mind is not at ease and if the mind is not at ease, concentration cannot be
For the modern Western person, a comfortable chair in which one can sit straight, with body erect and legs loosely
crossed at ankles and hands loosely folded one on the other on the lap is a most suitable position.
The chair should be an armchair since it is possible at a certain stage of the practice that the body may sway, or
you may begin to nod off to sleep, wake with a start and find yourself on the floor. You have more confidence in an
There is no rite and ritual and these have been classified as a hindrance, so that those people who try to sit in 'the
double lotus position' and hold their hands in a peculiar way are going against the leaching of the Buddha.
In beginning the practice you must beware of overstrain. There is a middle path here. Take an analogy: a man
with a faulty heart and very badly out of condition may be told he should take some exercise. One extreme is to do
nothing at all, and he doesn't live long. The other extreme is to rush into violent unaccustomed exercise and lie doesn't
live long. The middle path is to take gentle exercise, increasing it gradually until he is fit again.
You can, as regards the practice, say: 'Yes, must try it some day' a rid the 'some day' doesn't come. Or you may
rush into if and try too hard too suddenly and get nowhere. You would weary the mind and build up a resistance by too
strenuous and too prolonged sessions. If you can only snatch moments now and then, at least some benefit will come to
It was very well shown in the case of a young monk who had been very luxuriously brought up by his exceedingly
wealthy family and had left to join the Order. He had been well-known for his playing of the sithar, a stringed musical
instrument. He walked up and (]own on rough ground for hours practising mindfulness in walking and his feet became
sore and bleeding.
The Buddha spoke to him and asked: 'Sona, were you not a famous musician among your friends for your playing
of the sithar?'
On being told yes, that was so, the Buddha asked Sona whether, when the
strings were too slack, he could get any sort of good tune and Sona said no,
he couldn't. Then, asked the Buddha, could he get a good tune when the
strings were too taut? Sona said no, he couldn't.
'Even so, Sona,' said the Buddha, 'too much output of energy conduces to
restlessness, too feeble energy conduces to slothfulness. Determine upon
evenness in energy'.
Sona followed that instruction and gained enlightenment.'
Another thing to consider is that it is better, but again not absolutely
flecessary, to choose a period for practice at the same time every day. Our
minds work in a rhythm and it is a little better if we establish a rhythm in this.
On the other hand, the few moments now and then are better than nothing.
The practice should be begun in a quiet place at a quiet time, where there are
no strong smells or bright lights. And one should not be exposed to strong
impacts on the senses just before the period of ' practice. The whole idea of
the preliminary training is to close off all stimulation.
There is a very good story which though not in the Canon could quite
possibly be true.
An elderly monk, famous for his learning, had never done any practice and
decided to do so. He went to a monastery where the monks were reputed to
be arahats and was told by a young monk how to begin. He was told to
consider an abandoned termite-hill in which there were six holes and which
was inhabited by a lizard which he wanted to catch. He was told: 'If you
chase him he will go into one hole and out through another, and you would
be continually chasing him round and round. The only way to catch the
lizard is to stop up five of the holes and wait at the sixth. There you may
catch the lizard as he goes in or comes out.' The monk was then told that the
termitemound represented the mind and the six openings, the five doors of
sense-consciousness of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching and
the mind-consciousness. By closing up the first five and waiting at the door
of mind-consciousness one may catch the lizard of reality.
To do this one finds as quiet a time and place as one can, makes oneself
comfortable in order to close as far as possible the door of touch-sensation
and hearing; a place where there are no bright lights so that the sense of
sight is not stirred; a place where there are no strong odours. It may here be
remarked that the use of perfume or incense at the time can make the practice
more difficult. One begins some little time after eating and does not eat foods
that may ,repeat', in order to avoid tastes. This is for the special practice of
For the practice of mindfulness, which is very necessary, you may, and
indeed, should, use any time and all times. For instance, in
eating you should practise mindfulness in chewing, savouring and
swallowing the food, being aware of these in sequence and being aware of
nothing else at all at the time. You do NOT think about it in words or 'make a
mental note', the idea is to practise full awareness of what is happening at
the time it is happening. This is a very necessary step towards gaining pure
When you have eaten it is good to have a period of meditation or
contemplation, and this is the only meditation that one has in the practice.
This meditation or contemplation is awareness that the food is being
digested and then contemplating the changes it is going through, an example
of the impermanence of all things, thinking how it will be so completely
changed and finally passed out of the body, the bulk of the intake, in a form
which you most certainly would not wish to eat.
It is possible to look at a scene or a picture, or to listen to music, without
either thinking about it or it sparking off a train of thought. In that case you
just know it, are absorbed in it, are merely aware of it. In being aware, as in
the above case, of chewing, or, in the practice of concentration, of being
aware of the breathing, you are aware in this fashion and you train yourself
in this awareness. You are fully mindful of what you are doing at the time of
doing it, without any thinking of or about it, without any emotion at all, just
aware without putting it into words in your mind.
It is a slightly different thing when you consider the sequence of the food,
after eating, up to its final elimination. In that also you are fully attentive,
fully aware, but you are meditating, contemplating, and words are formed
even if not uttered. In both cases you have clear comprehension and do not
allow a degeneration into dreaminess or into self-hypnotism.
Whilst sitting in the practice, should you feel drowsy you should stand up
and commence the walking practice. In this you walk very slowly and
steadily over a distance of fifteen to twenty paces approximately on a floor
or, if outside, on level ground. You look neither to right nor left but straight
ahead and, with the spine erect and the head slightly bent, your gaze will be
no farther than the length of the course you are walking. To preserve
mindfulness and balance you walk flat-footed and in turning at the end of
the course, on which you are walking up and down, you do not just swing
around but lift up the foot slowly and steadily, turn it to the right and set it
clown flat-footed, then follow it with the other foot and so on until you are
facing the opposite direction and walking back along the course, all the time
being just aware of the movements and not i hinking around them or making
mental notes of what you are doing.
In all this you do not swing the arms either in walking or turning. In all of the practice it is better to have a quiet period before commencing, with no loud sounds or bright scenes.
How to Perform 'Miracles' in three Easy Lessons:
(b) The development of tranquillity
To say to an excitable man when everything seems to be going wrong: 'Calm yourself!' is likely to cause an explosion.
Calm, tranquillity, serenity is like everything else a matter of degree and can be attained and deepened and made part of
oneself only by training, by self-training. This training requires knowledge, the knowledge of the immensities of time-space in
which we, as individuals, are such insignificant specks, and knowledge of the method. And the training is gradual.
The be&inning, given in the previous chapter, is a preliminary training just as the development of
tranquility is a
necessary preliminary training, in most cases, for the development of insight.
It all begins with awareness, mindfulness which gives full concentration, that one-pointedness of mind that is then used to
pierce the veil of illusion hanging between us and reality.
The mind is made at one with itself, free of all internal conflicts.
It may be well here to consider why any practice should be done at all, what the purpose is. From the beginning right up to
the endpoint it is a practice of concentration starting with watching one's thoughts as they rise, persist for the merest fraction of
time and die to be replaced by others in a seemingly endless stream and one gains a full understanding of impermanence. One
cannot immediately become aware of every fleeting thought in this constant stream. One has to begin, at odd moments, to catch
stray thoughts and see how a particular thought has arisen and how and why it gives place to another. After some practice it
becomes easier. It is at least something that can be done by a man too full of affairs to do the full practice.
Since you now see that everything is unsatisfactory due to impermanence, you, unless you still believe that 'when you're
dead You're dead', want a way out, a real way out, and you will begin to realise that the only way out is by transcending ego. If
you are able to do only this first part, the development of tranquillity, and regard it as an end in itself, well it does pay high
dividends. In merely mundane matters it gives more alertness, more efficiency and greater calm. It
also gives a state of mind that may one day lead to better things. The mind becomes free of internal conflict, tranquil
It will help in the practice if you have some idea of the interconnectedness of all things. It has been pointed out
that nobody, man, god or devil, can hinder you or help you unless you yourself make the conditions. It is no
contradiction to say that indeed you are being helped and that what you are doing in this practice is helping others ...
helping them much more than they can be by the efforts of the 'do-gooders', who too often, though not always, are
hindering themselves by acting out of ego and building up that ego, and harming those they try to help by proffering
that help unwisely. In any case, putting a plaster over leprosy does not cure leprosy, which can only be cured by the
willing co-operation of the leper and the doctor who knows the cause and cure.
To explain a little: (i) All is interconnected and what happens to you, and your reactions to happenings, has an
effect on all others be it to ever so slight a degree: and what happens to others and their reactions to happenings
similarly affects you. (ii) Although we at present inhabit a small, almost insignificant blob in the web of the universe,
nevertheless we are human and have the potential of becoming greater than any 'God' we can create, and we have reached
this state and remained in it up to the present because we have made the conditions, and the conditions entail the
potential of being helped. In this, 'potential' should be remembered; for it is only potential. A single cotton-seed has the
potential of becoming a suit of clothes. Knowledge, time and effort are required to produce suits of clothes; they do not
grow on trees. (iii) The help that we can receive and that we can give is general and not particular; it is not helping
particular egos but helping us and all others to transcend the ego, to rise above it to something more splendid and
So the first part of the practice is the cultivation of tranquillity, developing
tranquillity and making the conditions
for rising to something much more splendid than tranquillity. That, in doing
this with concentrated thought, it is having a beneficial effect directly as
well as indirectly on others is the answer to those who think that only by
physical action in the offering of palliatives can one help suffering
humanity. 'It is not possible for one himself in the bog to pull out others:
but it is possible for one who is on firm ground to do so.'
Since we all, to some extent at least, understand that though we want peace and serenity, it is not obtainable here
in this life, we try to gain tranquility by various means even when we are trying to drive out one pain by stupidly giving
ourselves a different suffering. We are here and now, we can look forward to old age and death unless we end in some
more sudden and violent way or are cut off by one or other unpleasant disease. You cannot 'get away from it all' by
opting for an easy death', because the death of the body is not the death of 'you'. The formative tendency particles,
the pattern, the real 'you', though changing all the time are a continuum and carry character and memory even where
that memory does not come fully into consciousness. Even in this life some people leave the hurly-burly for a quiet
country place' to 'get away from it all' and only succeed in taking it all with them.
The gaining of real tranquillity is not just temporary 'escapism' ;is is the escape into fantasy by various means. It
is the seeing of a way of escape from a very unpleasant state, a way of escape that may help and will not harm others,
that is safe and certain, that must be taken hy oneself by one's own efforts and will be taken only by those who wish to
and who are prepared to make the effort.
If you were to lead a very young child from a fiercely burning house you would not sit with him and attempt first
to teach the nature of fire and attempt to reason out the Cause of the Very First Fire that ever was. You would try to save
him and, naturally, yourself and to warn those others you were able to.
If in one corner there were a bar with people drinking who laughed at you, and one man were to say: 'She'll be
right, chief, anyhow have a cancer-stick and a beer before you go' you would not stop to argue. Sober and sensible people
would already be leaving, and having warned all you could, you also would try to escape, not into fantasy but into
Now here is the method. The first thing to do is to banish as far as possible flurry and worry and thoughts of
mundane things. They will keep cropping up of course: that is natural. Spend a little time on the contemplation of the
impermanence of all things. Then breathe in and out slowly, regularly, rhythmically, as deeply as possible. Concentrate
on being aware of the breath as it comes in and down and up and out and practise being aware of this to the complete
exclusion of everything else. If you have been living a 'normal' life you will find this rather difficult to do at first until
you've had a deal of practice. Today it seems only some quite young children and a few artists have the capability of
At the beginning, with most people, a matter of seconds after the attempt, the mind is wandering onto other
things. If, as is very likely, this happens with you, then completely disregard what is a very natural phenomenon and
return to the being aware only of the breath as it is inhaled and exhaled.
Keep on returning to this concentrated awareness of the breathing, quite without any emotion, as soon as you
realise that the mind is wandering.
Do not go on from here in the practice until you have gained
some little degree of absorption, but when you feel you have gained just a little you can go on.
All this is just a preliminary getting ready for the actual practice and here there are several things to
As you are no doubt aware, the mind can attend to only one thing at a time though our living, especially since the
industrial revolution, has become more and more complex so that the mind is continually switching attention from one
thing to another and back with a great and tiring rapidity that is the cause of much stress and strain resulting in a
significant factor of mental and physical disease. Even this preliminary practice will give benefit in health and
Our living has trained the brain to neglect and in some cases to shut out matters that are not vitally important at
the time since we are attending to matters in this life that we have been taught to consider more important. We undergo
many petty discomforts all the time and are using a deal of energy in order that these may be suppressed and ' not come
into full consciousness. Now when we begin the preliminary practice as above we may become aware of such things. For
example there might be a slight itch on the cheek. You give this a brief awareness and go on with the attention to
breathing. Should it persist you keep on breathing as before but consciously switch full awar ness to the itch until it
goes. If it does not but becomes intolerable, then rub it, but in so doing be fully aware of the han(l coming up, rubbing,
returning to its position on your lap, just impersonally as though you were watching the movement of an actor on a
screen. In the above, realise that this is a sensation, a feeling, that has arisen from a cause, that is impermanent, that
It is important in this that you do not think in words, that is do not formulate in your mind the words 'I am
breathing' or any such thing: not even the word 'breathing' at this stage. This is a training in awareness and
concentration, a preliminary training. And do not, while being aware of the breathing, concentrate on the tip of the nose
or on the tip of the toes or on any other portion of the anatomy anywhere in this practice. Nowhere did the Buddha give
In this part of the practice, the preliminary training in awareness, one learns just to maintain awareness. Later on,
while maintaining the awareness, one uses it to gain full insight by investigation, using the sharpened intellect; here one
merely observes, knows.
Words here, since they have associations, can hinder and inhibit the awareness.
THE JHANAS AND POSSIBLE ACCOMPANIMENTS
Jhana (jharna) has been mentioned in chapter four. This refers to special 'states of consciousness' that arise in the
early part of the practice, though some people may not experience them until later.
Since you may experience these states at an early stage, it should here be explained what they are, how they arise
and what is their value.
Associated very often with these states of consciousness are unusual phenomena. These are sometimes confused
with the states of consciousness and the word therefore is sometimes applied to the phenomena. These phenomena may
be the 'seeing' of things that are iiot really there, or the 'hearing' of sounds, the 'hearing' and 'seeing' being due to
internal chemical changes. Since mind and body and spirit are not separate but changing parts of a changing thing,
what happens to one part affects all.
These sights and/or sounds may be experienced early in the practice and in some cases are not experienced at all.
It is a matter of the basic emotional make-up. Whether you experience them or do not experience them is not of
importance and you should neither wish to experience them nor wish not to. If you do experience them, then you should
in this part of the practice merely observe them, be aware of them, concentrating on them without any emotion of any
If you attempt to cling to them or, indeed, to cling to the states of consciousness, then they will be, on account of
your clinging, a hindrance to further attainment.
They are signposts on the way, at most, and if you are bound for a city and stop to drool over a signpost, however
beautiful and exciting it may appear to be to you, then you will never reach that city.
It should be pointed out that the visions one may see at the beginning can, in some cases, be frightening but are
neither harmful nor dangerous to one of balanced mind.
Such 'visions' if experienced can be much more vivid and realistic than those 'seen' in dreams but are of much the
same type and have much the same cause. As mentioned, we see things due to chemical or what are akin to electrical
changes in material cells due to nerve excitation. In memories, in dreams and in such visions elements are added from
the material already stored in brain-cells of the individual. To some extent, too, the first seeing of an object is influenced
by past experiences stored in brain-cells and, though there has been no scientific work done on this up to now, obviously
elsewhere for memory to come over from previous existences.
Due to this individual pattern 'every portrait is a self-portrait' and all that an individual does or says is according
to the pattern of the individual as is all he thinks and senses. As William Blake put it: 'The tree that the fool sees is not
the tree that the wise man sees'.
The 'states of consciousness' and the sights or sounds sometimes but not always accompanying them are not
confined to this Buddhist
practice but also can occur in various 'Yoga' practices or some of those most un-Buddhist Zen practices or in various
heightened mental states due to drugs or disease.
Take one actual case which has occurred to quite a few people doing this practice or some of the Hindu
It takes the shape of an immense giant head with flashing teeth and eyes and looks quite real.
A proud mother with baby in her arms calls on a friend or relative to come and see the little dear. The baby, with
no sense of proportion yet developed, suddenly has its whole field of vision filled by a huge head and hears loud
rumbling noises as the head exclaims: 'What a little darling: mother's eyes and daddy's nose .
The baby is either shocked into silence or bursts into loud frightened wails. The incident is soon forgotten but the
'photograph' is still there and may be brought to the surface.
Bringing such things to the surface is like clearing dirt and lumber from a living-room.
Should you be one of those who experience such phenomena and persist with the practice you are most likely
to 'see' various colours, red, green, blue, gold, etc., and these will gradually become more 'pure' and you will see a pure
colourless light that is intense but not blinding while the visions will usually give place to one shape, an egg shape.
Meanwhile you have probably seen 'people' at various times, some of whom you recognise and others you do not, and
finally you may see 'God'. If you are a Buddist you may see the Buddha (that is if you've been brought up as a Buddhist),
or if as a Christian you may see 'Christ' or 'Almighty God', whilst a Hindu-may see Brahma or one of the lesser
dignitaries. These are all, men and gods, subconscious portraits made by the self of the self.
The above-mentioned phenomena should not, according to many Hindu and. other sects, be ever discussed but
kept as a secret between Guru and disciple. One reason sometimes given for this, not the real reason, is that if a disciple
is told what he might expe
then he may think he sees the thing because it has been suggested to him.
One could say to those who have 'seen the light', 'well, you ain't seen nuthin' yet'. For all these things are mere
temporary states of consciousness and their more temporary manifestations. They a e not the end-point that some
religious sects think them to be but something to be transcended. And when your God goes with you it is only a
manifestation of yourself with at least some of your idiosyncrasies and stupidities. When you get above this you are
greater than any God.
There are eight states of consciousness, the first four connected with the mundane and material and four
connected with the fine-material or supra-mundane. It is possible to attain the final goal without ever experiencing these jhanas.'
It should be noted that these states of consciousness are attained only after an initial degree of concentration and
when thoughts connected with desire and hate and delusion are not present.
The states of consciousness are given below although they are not consciously practised until after the practice of
the development of tranquillity. They are given here also since they may occur in some form in the earlier
Having put away unskilful thoughts and ideas and gained concentration, then, detached from sense-desires and
evil states of mind, one attains to and abides in the first of these states of consciousness, which is accompanied by
thought and reflection and the joy and rapture born of detachment.
Then by calming down thought and reflection, by persisting in concentration, one attains to and abides in the
second state of consciousness, devoid of thought and reflection and accompanied by rapture and joy born of the serenity
of one-pointed concentration.
Then by the fading of rapture one attains to and abides in the third state of consciousness and remains with
equanimity, mindful and clearly conscious, and experiences fully that joy of which it can be said: 'Happy indeed is he
who has equanimity and mindfulness'.
Note that all along one is clearly conscious and mindful and does not lapse into day-dreaming or self-
Then by putting away all joy and pain, all happiness and sorrow, one attains to and abides in the fourth state of
consciousness, which is free from pain and pleasure, a state of pure mindfulness brought about by equanimity.
Then by passing completely beyond perception of form, by the cessation of sensory reactions, by not attending to
the perception of variety, one attains to and abides in the sphere of the infinity of space, feeling: 'Space is infinite',
which is the fifth state of consciousness.
Then having gone completely beyond the sphere of the infinity of space, feeling: 'Consciousness is infinite', one
attains to and abides in the sixth state of consciousness, the sphere of the infinity of consciousness.
Then having gone completely beyond the sphere of the Infinity of Consciousness, one attains to and abides in the
seventh state of consciousness, the Sphere of Nothingness, feeling: 'Nothing exists'.
Then having gone completely beyond the Sphere of Nothingness, one attains
to and abides in the eighth state of consciousness, the Sphere of
Neither-perception-nor-non-perception, the sphere of the cessation of
Then through intuitive wisdom one's attachments wear off and one is completely free, though this complete freedom
may be attained without experiencing the four last states of . consciousness.
It should be noted that these states of consciousness are teni
porary states during the practice and may be regarded as higher
steps, one following the other. They are gained by the practice a . rid
are a reselt of the practice. They can become firmer as the practice
IS A TEACHER NECESSARY?
To some people at a certain stage a teacher can be helpful, one who has practised long and who can answer
questions. If certain phenoTena manifest it is helpful to have somebody who can discuss these with you.
That is not to say that a teacher is really necessary. You need a little understanding of your own and you need to
develop that understanding, and that can be done without a teacher. if you have no understanding, the best teacher will
find it more than difficult to help you, and it is better in any case to have no teacher at all than a bad teacher, one who
does not understand at all but thinks he does.
if anybody claims to be able to help in any way other than by answering questions or by helping you in discussion
to get a better grasp of the matter, he is a 'Phoney'. So also is one who makes any charge or accepts any money for
MAKING TRANQUILLITY TO BECOME
That is a translation of the exact words of the Buddha and gives perhaps a clearer idea than 'development of
tranquillity'. A clear and tranquil mind is absolutely necessary for one-pointed concentration, without which the second
part of the practice cannot be successfully followed.
Here it should be stressed that there is nothing magical or mystical in the practice. We are living here and now in
this world and the practice is a practice to transcend this world.
Just as the states of consciousness are, at the beginning, temporary, and we come back to the workaday world, so
do we lose to some extent in everyday life the exalted state of Metta, of lovingkindness, in its highest degree as it may be
attained in the practice given below. But all these states become firmer and more lasting as we progress.
For some it may be difficult to hold these thoughts of goodwill to all beings even for the time of practice. if you
find it impossible, then desist, none of the practice is for you.
Everything is a gradual becoming, a system of training 'brought about by oneself', and as in all training one learns
as one goes on.
The practice here is to gain complete Metta, devoid of all mere sentimentality, leading to its highest degree,
complete tranquillity. You must not exclude anybody or anything at all nor must you pay special attention to anybody at
all by singling a person out for special lovingkindness. If you think: 'I'll practise Metta to everybody but that so-and-so
who was nasty to me the other day for no cause', or if you think: 'I'll radiate Metta especially to that very beautiful
person who seems to like me too', you are not doing this practice.
The practice is to banish thoughts of sense-desire and then bring into consciousness thoughts of Metta, complete
lovingkindness, amity, friendship for everything that lives, without exception. Imagine that you are beaming out this
thought, radiating it like a light from a lighthouse, in front of you to all infinity. Then imagine the beam of Metta
swinging round to the right, to behind, round to your left, then below, then above, till everything in every direction to
infinity has been covered and suffused with your thoughts of well-wishing.
In this you are not thinking of yourself as doing it, just being aware of the thoughts going out.
Then you take it a step higher, with the thought that all beings are to be, should be, helped and wishing, willing,
that they should be helped. The help here is the help to friendship and peace with all that lives and breathes, and the
help in the advancement of all beings. This is radiated in the same way as before.
Then in the same way you radiate the thought of joy in the fact that beings are helped and in the gains and
attainment of others in their advancement.
Then you take this to the highest level, radiating the thought of complete tranquillity for all sentient beings,
radiating this, too, in all directions to infinity.'
Since all things are interconnected and since thoughts can have great power, especially as they are concentrated,
you are doing more good than if you were to go out to give some physical help. Naturally you give physical help and
sympathy and practical assistance to individuals whenever and wherever the occasion arises.
This practice will bring help and tranquillity to yourself, but that s not the reason for the practice. It will give you
better 'luck' in this ife and a better rebirth. It will not give you complete emancipation from the round of rebirth. For
really complete concentration and power and complete emancipation, the practice of insight is required, and the
foregoing practice is a preliminary to make the practice of insight possible.
How to Perform 'Miracles' in three Easy Lessons
(c) The development of insight
It is assumed that you have mastered, to some little extent, the two previous 'lessons', that you have carefully read the
two previous chapters and have tried the preliminary practices. If so you will not find this so very difficult. If not, you'd
better do those first unless you wish to be like a toddler attempting to run a race.
The Buddha had said that his teaching, wrongly grasped, is like sword-grass wrongly grasped, it cuts the fingers.'
He also said that it is like the sea, deeper the farther you go from the beach.'
This practice is the only way out of this slave-life and in addition to some attention to the preliminary practices
there should be some meditation on the ten fetters, the four roads to psychic power, and the five controlling
In addition one must know the five practices for controlling thoughts.'
'In his devotion to the higher thought, from time to time the learner must apply his mind to five practices. What
'When a certain mental image comes and through dwelling upon such there arise in the mind evil, insalutary
thoughts connected with craving, connected with hate, connected with delusion, then the learner must from that mental
image engender in mind another mental image connected with what is salutary; and in this way from a former mental
image engendering another connected with what is salutary, the evil and insalutary thoughts will disappear and go to
decay, and with their disappearing the learner will become settled, calmed, one-pointed, concentrated. Just as a
competent builder or builder's apprentice will, with a slender peg, knock out, move and dispose of a thicker one, so the
learner will engender in mind from that which filled it before, another mental image connected with salutary things.' (The mind is always busy with thoughts, is never free from thoughts, and if, during
the practice, the mental image, for example, of another person, a sexual object, should arise and persist, one may take
advantage of the fact that thought is always flowing and that all thoughts are associated with
One could lead the thought to consider that person growing older, becoming wrinkled, weak, decaying and dying
and the beautiful body being eaten by maggots. From that taking the thought to the consideration of the impermanence
of all things, oneself included.)
'But if there should still arise thoughts connected with desire, with ill-will, or with delusion, the learner should
consider the wretchedness of these thoughts, how fertile in suffering they are, and these thoughts will die away and the
learner will become calm and one-pointed in mind and concentrated. (That is to say that with some, such thoughts will
keep arising in spite of the efforts made and if so one should think of how nasty they are, that one would hardly wish to
see them on a screen viewed by an audience of one's friends and acquaintances who knew they were one's thoughts: and
one should consider how they may cause one suffering.)
'But if these thoughts should still arise and persist in spite of this, the learner should turn away his mind from
regarding these thoughts, should by an effort of will concentrate on more worthy thoughts of a completely different
nature. Just as a man might turn his eyes away from something he did not wish to see and look at something more
'But if though turning away from these thoughts they should still continue to arise, the learner must bring these
thoughts to subsidence by degrees. Just as a man running swiftly might say to himself: "But why am
I going so
hurriedly? Suppose I go more gently." And then, going slowly, might say: "Why am I moving? Suppose 1 stand still."
And then, standing, might say: "Why am 1 standing? Suppose I sit down." Then, sitting down, might say: "Why am 1
sitting? Suppose 1 lie down." And with that does, indeed, lie down. Thus a man may gradually, from more vigorous
ways, come to more gentle ways.
'But if this does not succeed, the learner must conquer these thoughts and constrain the mind by a strong effort of
will. With teeth clenched and tongue pressed against palate he should put forth a strong effort of will and by main force
conquer and subdue the mind. Just as a powerful man, seizing a weaker man by the head or shoulders, by main strength
overpowers him, so should the learner by effort constrain the mind so that the thoughts of craving, hate and delusion
will disappear, and with their disappearing the learner will gain calmness, will become settled in mind, will attain to
onepointedness and concentration. Such a learner is called a master of t he methods and ways of thought: for whatever
thought he wills, that lie thinks, and whatever thought he does not will, that he does not
think. He has hewn down the
lust of life, burst the bond, made an end of suffering.'
But can man exert his will? Through the ages there has always been an argument as to whether man has really 'a
will of his own' or is the mere puppet of conditions. In the last century most men believed that we certainly could exercise our wills, and Henley could write: 'I am the
master of my fate; 1 am the captain of my soul', though Byron pointed out:
'Men are the sport of circumstances when the circumstances seem the sport of men.'
Recent discoveries seem to point to man being the victim of his genes and any chemicals he ingests, but all is not
yet known and the truth lies, as it usually does, in the middle.
Man has a will, and, like other faculties and powers, it can be trained and strengthened by exercises as
THE ACTUAL PRACTICE OF INSIGHT
The practice which follows need not, and in fact for most people cannot, be done in a single 'sitting', nor, even
though you have done the preliminary training, will you necessarily gain full concentration at the beginning. That will
come with much practice.
You do not wait the days, or months or years, for full concentration in order to go on from one step to the
Having begun and being determined to persist, you go as far as you can at one 'sitting' and then you may either,
next time, commence where you left off or start all over again. That is a matter for your own common-sense to
One extreme is to rush through carelessly and the other is to stick at one step, feeling that that must be mastered
in full before proceeding. Those things that are not very clear at the beginning will become more clear as you go on and
the practice has usually to be done many times before certain things are fully understood.
Depending largely on yourself, your type of mind, and it is easier for the more simple and less sophisticated, the
earnestness with which you apply yourself and the previous training you have had in concentration and also on outward
circumstances, such as worries and disturbances, it will take a longer or shorter time to gain a high degree of
In the world today we have 'instant coffee', 'instant tea', 'instant milk', 'instant take-away meals' and some sects
offer 'instant salvation' and those foolish people who work for war seem bent on offering 'instant death'. But as the
Buddha pointed out: 'There is no sudden enlightenment'.'
Naturally, at the beginning of this practice, even though you have done the preliminary training, your attention
may wander, thoughts may come in, your attention may be distracted by other things, you may even forget that you are
supposed to be aware only of your breathing, you may find yourself day-dreaming or thinking of some matter that affects
you in everyday life. That is quite natural at the beginning . Remember that your mind has been running on in this grasshopper fashion for a long time and
you are only now beginning to train it: so do not be perturbed. Above all, do not fall into the trap of blaming the mind; just calmly
turn the mind back to full attention to the breathing.
As in the preliminary training you make yourself comfortable, not tense but intent, and begin by paying full
attention to the breathing to the exclusion of everything else.
At first you may think in words while doing this but later full awareness develops and you 'know' without words. Now as has been said there is nothing magical, mystical or
mysterious about awareness or about breathing or about the practice; quite the opposite. The training in becoming aware, of full
comprehension, unfettered by words or the slowing-up process of formulating them, is not by any means illogical. It does become supra-logical, using logic to rise above mere logic. There are slight
changes in the body and these are steps on the way to better health, both physical
One becomes concentrated on a particular thing to the exclusion of everything elst and may seem to be in a
trance-like state, but it is a state of heightened consciousness and one is fully aware and awake. You are, to some degree, out of space-time
and so neither space nor time exists for you at that period, though you are still 'there' and are aware and awake in a somewhat different
The following is taken from three different discourses given by the Buddha
on the subject.
Because of this and because of the necessity of explaining it in a way that can be understood by people in the
busy modern world, men and women who have so many other things to do, there is a deal of repetition. The repetition is necessary
also to stress important points. 1 have tried to keep it to a minimum.
Another thing, you have done some of this in the preliminary practice and are here doing the same thing but on a
slightly different level, and you are combining it with a higher practice.
Here you adopt the same postures of the body as before. You pay full attention to the breathing and it is better and
easier if you breathe deeply, slowly, evenly, calmly. You may think: 'I am breathing in a long breath. 1 am breathing out a long breath'. Imagine your breath coming in slowly and going down as
deeply as possible, to the pit of your stomach if you can; then going out as slowly until all the breath is exhaled, and
keep up this breathing as long as possible.
You are tying your imagination to your breathing. It is important not to strain, not to try to breathe more deeply
than you comfortably can. If the breathing becomes more shallow, you think: 'I am breathing in a short breath; 1 am breathing out a short
breath'. All the time you
are clearly conscious of what you are doing and concentrating to become conscious of nothing else.
It should here be explained that at the beginning, and at the beginning of every period of practice, at every
'sitting', you will commence by thinking as you breathe, but later you will gain awareness and be mindful and aware of
the breathing without words, without the lower type of thought that formulates and uses words.
And you do not here watch your thoughts. It is in going about your everyday life, or when you are just sitting
doing something else that, when thoughts arise, you become aware of their rising, of their momentary persistence and of
their passing away to be replaced by other thoughts, so that you see the cause of the thoughts, how they are
interconnected and how impermanent all things are. It is one thing to know impermanence in your mind, in thought,
and another to be fully aware of impermanence.
Having obtained some degree of concentration on breathing, you now, in this practice, should experience the first
four states of consciousness mentioned, remembering that you may not experience any of the phenomena mentioned,
nor do you try to think of them. If you do experience such you regard them dispassionately, quite without any emotion.
You will be able to understand the early ,visions' if such appear, as mainly early childhood impacts. Should you 'see'
colours do not try to cling to them or hold them but concentrate intently on the centre, breathing calmly as when you
If at any time in the practice your breath should become very rapid, stop and carry on for awhile with the walking
practice as given. Then return to the sitting posture.
Having established yourself in morality and banished the five hindrances and become guarded as to the doors of
the senses and gained a degree of concentration, you will be free from sensual pleasures and hindering thoughts and
attain the first state of consciousness where there is still thought-conception and meditation but it is born of detachment
and filled with rapture and joy.
Then after putting away thought-conception and meditation, calming them down by concentrated attention and
awareness of the breathing, gaining tranquillity and one-pointedness of mind, you attain the second state of
consciousness, free from thought conception and meditation, born of concentration and full of rapture and joy.
Then rapture fades away with continued concentration and you attain the third state of consciousness, of pure
equanimity in which you are mindful and with clear comprehension, fully aware without thoughts, and experience a
sense of heightened pleasure which is known only to those who have attained this far.
Then after all pleasure and all pain, all happiness and all sadness have gone, you enter the fourth state of
consciousness, of pure inindfulness and awareness brought about by equanimity.
Your mind is then tranquil, purified, cleansed, flawless, free from defilements, supple, ready to act, firm and
You then really understand and use your mind to pierce the veil of illusion: you realise that the body is composed
of the four basic elements of extension, cohesion, heat and motion, it springs from father and mother, it exists on
account of nutriment, it has the nature of impermanence, is fragile and certain of destruction; and so also is the
consciousness which is connected with it, which depends on it.
You can then go on to gain complete freedom or you may meanwhile perform what most people would regard as
'miracles'. If you do this you may still be able to gain full emancipation but you are running a risk. You will not attempt
to use any such powers unless you still have some desire; and desire, as the Buddha pointed out, is never satisfied.' You
could easily entrap yourself.
Now just as a 'Guru' or 'spiritual teacher' who takes any money at all for his teaching thereby proclaims himself a
fake, so you, if you attempt to use any supra-normal powers gained by this practice for ;my selfish ends, can join those
ranks and end up in a much worse state than you began and can lose the ability.
'Selfish' here means any attempt to perform petty 'magics' to enhance your own finances or your own reputation or
your own ego; you have to be very sure of all your motives. Many a man thinks he is acting in a purely disinterested way
when all the time at the back of Ii is mind is the desire to shine among his fellows, or even to shine to himself.
Only if you are completely free from greed, hate and delusion can you be absolutely sure that in using any power
you would be acting rightly; and if you are free from these it is most unlikely that you will attempt to use any powers.
Especially is this so if you have a really deep-seated realisation of the impermanence of all things.
'There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy' and you may completely
disbelieve the possibility of any such powers as the Buddha described. You are (juite right if you disbelieve them if they
are not true for you; you would be quite wrong to believe them though they are not fully true for you.
What are these 'powers' the Buddha mentioned?
(i) It is possible to produce from the body other identical mindproduced bodies. Such bodies are also
(ii) It is possible to become invisible and visible again.
(iii) It is possible to pass through solid matter; to float in the air; to walk on water as if on dry land.
(iv) It is possible to be clairvoyant and clairaudient; to see an hear things happening elsewhere.
It is possible to finish with this world entirely and gain complete freedom, the only real freedom. There are no
words to explain what this freedom is since it is so entirely apart from this universe. You may, since you have not gone
to see for yourself, say that this is mere fantasy or that it is just complete annihilation. That is up to you. It is indeed the
annihilation of the ego and so extinction of all that exists for you at the present. You can say further that since it is the
extinction of 'you' and all that 'you' now 'know', of all that exists for you, that all here written is just sheer nonsense. That is also up to you. Nobody can prove it, only you can
prove it to yourself in the manner shown.
Indeed it might be better if you did not play around with the idea of these 'powers'. They were taught by the
Buddha and were ot forbidden to the monks though the Buddha himself said that he was ,averse to miracles',' as he saw
danger in them.
Here it may be again explained that some of the experiences mentioned above in the special states of
consciousness, both the mental and physical feelings and the phenomena do not always come in the early part of the
practice and some do not become apparent at all to certain people. Nor when they do happen are they always in exactly
the sequence given as regards phenomena: that is in the early stages of the practice. You may get 'flashes' at the
beginning; and only after you have, by repeated practice of concentration, attained a degree of one-pointedness of mind
will the states of consciousness be experienced fully and in sequence.
You may at the early stages have flashes of intuition, telepathy and other experiences, and that is why it has been
necessary to mention these.
THE GAINING OF FREEDOM
In order to gain complete freedom, to become an Arahat = one who has got free from the four corrupting
influences and is a Tathagata = one who has gone for good, the practice is carried on more fully and more
There are four higher states of consciousness as described in chapter eleven and you may experience these here or
Here a word of warning is necessary. None of this practice is at all dangerous in itself, quite the reverse. It is
helpful and healthful to mind and body. However, in experiencing the special states of consciousness there are two
things to note. It has been mentioned that certain phenomena may manifest though with many people they do not. Where they do, only in some cases
are they likely to be frightening, such as in the case of the giant head given as one example of what has occurred to more
than one beginner. If the mind is not unstable and if anything unusual appears, it will be understood as something
thrown out by the mind and even where not at the time understood will later be seen plainly for what it represents.
Forewarned of the possibility of 'seeing' something unusual, you will regard it as what it is.
The other thing to note is that if you experience the latter four states, and these can be extremely helpful, you may
appear to be in a trance and actually will be in a state of suspended animation for a period.
At the beginning such periods, during which health and vigour flow into you, not from any 'God' or 'Powerhouse'
remember, are very short and there is no need to take any precautions.
Later it would be possible for such periods to extend to, at most,, seven days. You will be able to nominate the
length of these periods.
If these periods begin to extend in duration for more than a few in minutes you should, in order to avoid confusion
and worry to others, inform a friend of the possibility or leave a prominent' Do not disturb' note explaining that you are
well and healthy.
If you wish to gain full insight you go through the following practice. You will already have attained quite a
degree of morality and of concentration in the practice of tranquility. You now concentrate on the breathing as before
and take up the same bodily postures. If your life and work entail a great deal of sitting down you spend more time on
the practice of walking, whereas if you are on _your feet a lot in ordinary life then you spend more time in the sitting
posture for the practice.
' This is the only way', said the Buddha, 'for the purification of heings, for the overcoming of sorrow and misery,
for the destruction Of pain and grief, for winning the right path, for the attainment of nibbana, the four arousings of
'What are the four?
'Here a monk lives contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly conscious and mindful, having overcome
the covetousness and dejection that are in this world; he lives contemplating feelings in feelings; consciousness in
consciousness; he lives contemplating mental objects in mental objects.'
The Buddha in this discourse, 'The arousing of mindfulness and i n others, particularly in the 'Mindfulness in
breathing', explained the practice fully.
It is to train oneself in full awareness of the breathing as given earlier to attain full concentration and awareness
and to follow this
by using it to become fully aware of, to realise as it truly is, the body in relation only to the body, realising the body as
it actually is. Then
is. Then in the same way being fully aware of the feelings as they actually are by the same one-pointed concentration
understanding the feelings in relation to nothing else but the feelings. Then the consciousness in relation only to the
consciousness and finally the mental objects, in relation only to mental objects.
You do not do this all at once but do what you can when you can and how you can. What follows is from different
discourses and quotations are from the three mentioned above (at reference 5) and you take from all that follows what
you can see as particularly suited to your advancement.
'Mindfulness of in-breathing and out-breathing, if developed and made much of, is of great fruit, great advantage.
It brings to fu filment the four arousings of mindfulness. The four arousings of mindfulness, if developed and made
much of, bring to fulfilment the seven links of enlightenment; the seven links of enlightenment, if developed and made
much of, bring to fulfillment freedom through wisdom.'
Having chosen a quiet spot and sitting in a comfortable posture you breathe as mentioned and the Buddha gave
the simile of a clever turner or turner's apprentice who knows when he is turning long and when he is turning short, not
thinking around it but being concentrated and aware of what one is doing.
You then breathe in and out, determining to experience the whole of your body. Although the breath does not, as
air, go through the whole body, its effect does. By being aware, very clearly aware, of the breath as it is inhaled and
exhaled, you are aware of the pressuie on the nerves which is carried through and influences the whole body.
'Whenever one is mindful of breathing in this way, training himself to inhale and exhale whilst being aware of the
body, or is calming down the bodily activities, at such a time he is dwelling in contemplation of the body, full of energy,
clearly conscious, mindful, having overcome the covetousness and dejection that are of this world.'
You then experience the whole body, that is you are fully aware of the body without at all considering it as 'your'
body, without any emotion at all, just as, for instance, a motor-mechanic might be aware of a motor-car, knowing its
composition and capability and its parts without having to think about them. You know the body as a body and you
know it in relation to external factors influencing it. You know how it is composed, how it is being built up all the time
and is decomposing all the time.
OR you are just aware of how the body is disposed, that is of its appearance whether it is in a sitting position or
standing or lying down or moving.
OR you just realise, are merely aware of, the fact that the body exists, are thus mindful of the body and of nothing
else. Thus you are not clinging to the body and not clinging to anything else in the world.
You are able then to tie in with the breathing the awareness of calming down the bodily activities and you train
yourself in this.
Then you are able wherever you are to be fully aware. In going forward or in going back, in looking ahead or in
looking round, in dressing and undressing, in bending or stretching, in walking, sitting or lying down, in speaking, in
remaining silent, in falling asleep, in waking, in eating, drinking, chewing, savouring, in
defecating, in urinating, you
apply clear comprehension, full awareness of what you are doing as you are doing it.
Thus you live contemplating, being aware of, the body in relation to the body.
And further, you reflect on the body enveloped by the skin and full of impurity from the soles of the feet up and
from the crown of the head down, thinking: 'There are in this body: hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin,
flesh, sinews, bones, marrow, kidney, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, bowels, intestines, mesentery, faeces, bile,
phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, solid fat, liquid fat, mucous, synovic fluid, urine'.
Just as if there were a bag with different kinds of grain in it, wheat, rice, millet, maize, you could see it and be
aware, quite unconcernedly, of the different kinds of grain.
Then you may reflect on a dead body which must rot and stink, become decayed, a skeleton, the bones becoming
detached, finally falling to dust; that this very body you always thought of as 'Mine' will go the same way.
You then contemplate feelings in relation to feelings.
Now here it may be explained that the practice begins with the full mindfulness of, concentration on, attention to,
awareness of, the breathing, but it does not end there.
In sitting and in periods of walking you begin with the breathing and of course when you go on you still breathe
regularly. In walking you go on to being aware of the foot as it comes up, goes forward, goes down, presses the ground
and the other foot coming up and going forward and so on.
You then, in both cases, of sitting and walking, have periods of contemplation, of investigation, in which
impersonally, without emotion and without thought wandering, you consider the body just in relation to the body,
feelings in relation to feelings and so on.
There is a third part of the practice where you bring the absence of emotion, absence of personal feeling, complete
concentration, complete awareness of what you are doing as you are doing it, into daily life.
You, like most others, are very probably often an actor acting to an audience of you, though most people remain
unaware of this.
You will reach a stage of seeing yourself 'going through the motions'. Then the motives and the need for play-
acting will go, more or less gradually, as 'personality clinging' goes and you will pass through to complete
How do you contemplate feelings in relation to feelings?
You understand that feelings, sensations, are part of the changing complex that you think of as being yourself.
You direct your attention to these. When you experience a painful or unpleasant or neutral feeling you are fully aware of
the feeling, you train yourself to perceive the feeling as impersonally as possible. When you experience a pleasant
physical feeling you are fully aware of it, knowing that you are experiencing a pleasant physical feeling that has arisen
from a cause, that will pass away as all things pass, and you are fully aware of that experience and of nothing else, being
just aware of it and not thinking around it. Similarly when you experience an unpleasant physical feeling and similarly
when you are experiencing a physical feeling that is neither pleasant nor unpleasant.
You do the same when you are experiencing a mental feeling that is pleasant, or unpleasant or neither pleasant
nor unpleasant. You are fully aware of it without thinking about it.
So you also are aware of feelings whether they are from within or from outside yourself and you are aware of the
factors that cause them and of how they fade away and disappear.
OR you may just remain fully aware that feelings exist, with the mindfulness, the complete awareness of the fact
that'feeling is there'.
And how do you remain contemplating consciousness in relation to consciousness?
In the following it is better to give a translation of the Buddha's own words as given in the discourse on the setting
up of mindfulness.
Here a monk knows the consciousness with craving as with craving; the consciousness without craving as without
craving; the consciousness with anger as with anger; the consciousness without anger as without anger; the
consciousness with delusion as with delusion; the consciousness without delusion as without delusion; the shrunken
state of consciousness as the shrunken state; the distracted state of consciousness as the distracted state; the developed
state of consciousness as the developed state; the undeveloped state of co
sciousness as the undeveloped state; the state of consciousness with some other mental state superior to it as the
state of consciousness with something mentally higher' (You are a body-mind-spirit complex. So what is 'Spirit'? It is
consciousness with something mentally higher. A rough analogy may be given. An ordinary piece of steel has no
appreciable property of magnetism unless and until it has been magnetized, when some at least of its particles have been aligned. In periods of intense absorption the mind is
concentrated and whether this comes from devotion to or enthusiasm for something good or bad 'the spirit shines forth',
though the 'bad', the unskilful, brings its own adverse results. The Buddhist practice is to give complete onepointedness
of mind by complete concentration and various 'properties' accrue); 'the state of consciousness with no other mental state
superior to it as the state of consciousness with nothing mentally higher; the concentrated state of consciousness as the
concentrated state; the unconcentrated state of consciousness as the unconcentrated state; the freed state of
consciousness as the freed state; and the unfreed state of consciousness as the unfreed.
'Thus he remains contemplating consciousness in relation to consciousness.
'And how does a monk live contemplating mental objects in relation to mental objects?
'Here a monk remains contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the five hindrances.
'How does a monk remain contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the five hindrances?
' Here when sense-desire is present a monk knows: "There is sense-desire in me", or when sense-desire is not
present he knows: "There is no sense-desire in me". He knows how the arising of the non-arisen sense-desire comes to
be; he knows how the abandoning of the arisen sense-desire comes to be; he knows how the non-arising in the future of
the abandoned sense-desire comes to be.
'When anger is present he knows: 'There is anger in me", or when anger is not present he knows: "There is no
anger in me." He knows how the arising of the non-arisen anger comes to be; he knows how the abandoning of the
arisen anger comes to be; he knows how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned anger comes to be.
' When sloth and torpor are present he knows: "There is sloth and torpor in me."
' When sloth and torpor are not present he knows: "There is no sloth and torpor in me." He knows how the arising
of the non-arisen sloth and torpor comes to be; he knows how the abandoning of the arisen sloth and torpor comes to be;
he knows how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned sloth and torpor comes to be.
'When restlessness and worry are present he knows: 'There is restlessness and worry in me", or when restlessness
and worry are not present he knows: 'There is no restlessness and worry in me." He knows how the arising of the non-
arisen restlessness and worry comes to be; he knows how the abandoning of the.arisen restlessness and worry comes to
be; he knows how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned restlessness and worry comes to be.
'When doubt is present he knows: "There is doubt in me", or when doubt is not present he knows: "There is no doubt in
me." Hee knows how the arising of the non-arisen doubt comes to be; he knows how the abandoning of the arisen doubt
comes to be; he knows how the abandoning of the arisen doubt comes to be; he knows how the non-arising in the future
of the abandoned doubt comes to be.
'Thus he remains contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the five hindrances.
'And, further, he remains contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the five aggregates of clinging.'
(Note: these are sometimes referred to as the five groups of clinging or five groups of existence or parts of the
'How does a monk remain contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the five aggregates of
'Here a monk thinks: "Thus is material form, thus is the arising of material form and thus is the disappearance of
material form. Thus is feeling, thus is the arising of feeling and thus is the disappearance of feeling. Thus is perception,
thus is the arising of perception and thus is the disappearance of perception. Thus are the formative tendencies, thus is
the arising of the formative tendencies and thus is the disappearance of the formative tendencies. Thus is consciousness,
thus is the arising of consciousness, thus is the disappearance of consciousness".
'And, further, a monk remains contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the six internal and six
'How does a monk live contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the six internal and the six external
'Here a monk knows the eye, knows visual forms and knows the fetter that arises dependent on both; he knows
how the arising of the non-arisen fetter comes to be; he knows how the abandoning of the arisen fetter comes to be; he
knows how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned fetter comes to be.
'He knows the ear, knows sounds and knows the fetter ...
'He knows the nose, knows odours and knows the fetter . . .
'He knows the tongue, knows tastes and knows the fetter ...
'He knows the body, knows tactual objects and knows the fetter
'He knows the mind, knows mental objects and knows the fetter that arises dependent on both; he knows how the
arising of the nonarisen fetter comes to be; he knows how the abandoning of the arisen fetter comes to be; he knows
how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned fetter comes to be.
'Thus a monk remains contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the six internal and six external
'And, further, a monk remains contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of
'Here when the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is present the monk knows: "The enlightenment factor of
mindfulness is in me" or when the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is absent he knows: "The enlightenment-f actor
of mindfulness is absenC, and he knows how the arising of the non-arisen enlightenment-factor of mindfulness comes to
be, and how perfection in the development of the arisen enlightenment-factor of mindfulness comes to be.
'When the enlightenment-factor of investigation of mental objects is present he knows: "The enlightenment-factor
of the investigation of mental objects is in me"; when the enlightenment-factor of the investigation of mental objects is
absent he knows: "The enlightenment-factor of the investigation of mental objects is not in me"; and he knows how the
arising of the non-arisen factor comes to be and how perfection in the development of the arisen factor comes to
'When the enlightenment factor of energy is present he knows: "The enlightenment-factor of energy is in me";
when the factor is absent he knows: "The enlightenment-factor is not in mC and he knows how the arising of the factor
comes to be and how perfection in the development of the arisen enlightenment-factor of energy comes to be.
'When the enlightenment-factor of rapture is present he knows: "The enlightenment-factor of rapture is in me";
when the factor is absent he knows: "The factor is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the factor comes to be
and how perfection in the development of the arisen factor comes to be.
'When the enlightenment-factor of tranquillity is present he knows: "The enlightenment-factor of tranquillity is in
me"; when the factor is absent he knows: "The factor is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the factor comes to
be and how perfection in the development of the arisen factor comes to be.
'When the enlightenment-f actor of concentration is present he knows: "The factor of concentration is in me" and
when the factor is absent he knows: 1t is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the factor comes to be and how
perfection in the development of the factor comes to be.
'When the enlightenment-f actor of equanimity is present he knows: "The enlightenment-factor of equanimity is
in me" and when the factor is absent he knows: "The factor is not in me"; and he knows how the arising of the non-
arisen factor comes to be.
'Thus he remains contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of enlightenment.
'And further, a monk remains contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the four truths.
'Here a monk knows: "This is suffering" according to reality; he knows: "This is the origin of suffering" according to reality; he
knows: "This is the cessation of suffering" according to reality; he knows: "This is the path leading to the cessation of suffering"
according to reality.
'Thus he remains contemplating mental objects in mental objects internally, or he remains contemplating mental objects in
mental objects externally, or both internally and externally. He remains contemplating the origination of mental objects or
contemplating the dissolution of mental objects, or both how they arise and how they disappear. OR his mindfulness is
established with the thought: "Mental objects exisC just to the extent necessary for full knowledge and mindfulness, and he lives
independent and clings to nothing in the world. Thus a monk lives contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the four
Truly, whoever practises these four Settings up of Mindfulness in this manner for seven years or even (ardently) for a
week, then one of two results may be expected by him; highest knowledge here and now or, if some remainder of clinging is yet
present, the state of nonreturning.
'Because of this is it said: "This is the only way for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and misery, for
the destruction of pain and grief, for realising the right path, for the attainment of nibbana.-
Note: See appendix for'Highest knowledge' and 'Non-returning'.
The Duties of a Layman
The Discourse to Sigala
Although this was more than twenty-five centuries ago and in a different land, 'people is people and pigs is
pigs' wherever they may be and 'human nature' hasn't changed really over the centuries. Naturally, such things
as climate, environment and pressure of population, determine to some extent the manner in which people
manifest their human character.
The civilisation of the India of that time was simple and not overcrowded. Customs were a little
different but the basic morality holds good through the ages.
There was a custom of 'worshipping the six quarters', East, South, West, North, the nadir and the
zenith, in order to gain the goodwill of 'spirits' or 'Gods' everywhere.
The Buddha, meeting a young man engaged in this worship, took the occasion to tell him how the 'six
quarters' should be properly observed.
'When, young householder, the noble disciple has put away the four vices in conduct; when he performs
no evil action in four ways; when he does not follow the six channels for dissipating wealth, he thus, avoiding
these fourteen evil things, covers the six quarters and enters the path leading to victory in both worlds: in this
world and the next. Upon the dissolution of the body, after death, he is born in a happy heavenly
'What are the four vices of conduct that he has put away? The taking of life, householder, is--- a vice
and so are taking what is not given, sexual misconduct and untruth.'
Thus said the Exalted One and then the Master said againf
'Taking of life, theft, lies, wrong sexual acts:
To these four ills the wise ne'er praise award.'
'In which four ways does he perform no evil action? Actuated by craving one commits evil, actuated by
anger one commits evil, actuated by ignorance one commits evil, actuated by fear one commits evil. But when
the noble disciple is not actuated by desire, anger, delusion and fear, he, through these, commits no
Thus said the Exalted One; and then the Master said again:
'Who led by craving, hatred or by fear
Or by delusion goes against the Law:
Even as the waning moon gets less and less,
So does his nam6 and fame diminish thus.
Who never by desire or hate or fear
Or dullness puts himself against the Law,
His name and fame increase from day to day,
As in the brighter half the waxing moon. 1
'What are the six channels for dissipating wealth which he does not follow? Taking intoxicants; loitering in
the streets at unseemly hours; constantly visiting shows and fairs; addiction to gambling; association with evil
companions; the habit of idleness.
'There are, young householder, six dangers in taking intoxicants: loss of wealth; increase of quarrels;
susceptibility to disease; the earning of an evil reputation; indecent exposure of the body; impaired
'There are, young householder, these six evils in loitering in the streets at unseemly hours: he himself is
unprotected and unguarded; his wife and children are unprotected and unguarded; he is suspected of evil
deeds committed by others; false rumours fix on him; many are the troubles he meets with.
'There are, young householder, these six dangers in frequenting shows and fairs: he is ever thinking:
"Where is there dancing? Where is there singing? Where is there music? Where are there theatrical shows?
Where is there music of cymbals? Where is there playing of drums?"
'There are, young householder, these six dangers in gambling: the winner begets enmity; the loser
grieves for lost wealth; he actually loses his wealth; his word has no weight in a court of law; he is despised by
friends and associates; he is not sought after for matrimony since as a gambler he could not afford to keep a
,There are, young householder, these six dangers in associating with evil companions: any gambler; any
libertine; any drunkard; any cheat; any swindler; any man of violence is his boon companion.
'There are, young householder, these six dangers in the habit of idleness: he does no work, saying: 1t is
too cold; it is too hot; it is too late; it is too early; 1 am very hungry; 1 am too full."
'Living in this way he leaves many duties undone, he does n t get new wealth and the wealth he has
already, dwindles away.'
Thus said the Exalted One, and then the Master spoke again:
---DearfrienJ say your companions while you drink. Let trouble come; they swiftly melt away.
'Who is a friend in every useful thing, He is a friend who'll always stay by you.
Sleeping by day and prowling round at night, Adultery, and brawling, doing harm, Friendship with
rogues, and stony-heartedness; These causes six bring ruin to a man.
Who is of evil men comrade and friend, Himself living his life in evil ways, Alike in this world and the
world to come Such men fall deeply into woeful states.
Gambling and women, drink and dance and song, Sleeping by day and prowling round at night,
Friendship with wicked men, hardness of heart, These causes six bring ruin to man.
Gambling and drinking, chasing after those Women as dear as life to other men, Following the fools, not
the enlightened ones, He wanes as in the darker half the moon.
The drunkard always poor and destitute; Even while drinking, thirsty; haunting bars; Sinks into debt as
into water stone, Soon robs his family of their good name.
One who habitually sleeps by day And looks upon the night as time to rise Licentious and a drunkard all
the time, He does not merit rank of householder.
Who says: 1t is too hot, too cold, too late!" Leaving the waiting work unfinished still, Lets pass all
opportunities for good. But he who reckons heat and cold as straws And like a man does all that's to be done,
He never falls away from happiness.'
'Four, young householder, are they who should be considered as enemies in the guise of friends; a
rapacious person, a man of words not deeds, a flatterer, a fellow-waster.
'The first is on four grounds to be considered an enemy in the guise of a friend: he is rapacious, he gives
little and asks much, he helps you only from fear, he looks only for his own benefit.
'On four grounds the man of words not deeds is to be considered as an enemy in the guise of a friend: he
tells you all the good he would have done for you in the past, he tells you all the good he will do for You in
the future, he tries to gain your favour by empty promises, when 1 lie need for service arises he says how sorry
he is that he cannot help. 'On four grounds the flatterer is to be considered an enemy in (lie guise of a friend:
he agrees with you when you want to do wrong,
-he dissuades you from doing right, he praises you to your face, he speaks ill of you behind your back.
'On four grounds the fellow-waster is to be considered as an enemy in the guise of a friend: he is your
companion when you are drinking, he is your companion when you prowl round at night, he is your
companion when you haunt shows and fairs, he is your companion when you are infatuated
Thus said the Exalted One, and then the Master spoke again:
'The friend who always seeks his benefit,
The friend whose words are other than his deeds,
The friend who flatters just to make you pleased,
The friend who keeps you company in wrong,
These four the wise regard as enemies:
Shun them from afar as paths of danger.'
'These four, young householder, should be understood as goodhearted friends: the friend who is a
helper, the friend who is the same in happiness and sorrow, the friend who gives good counsel, the friend who
'In four ways, young householder, should a helper be understood as a good-hearted friend: he guards
you when you are heedless, he protects your property when you are heedless, he is a refuge when you are in
danger, when you have commitments he provides you with double the amount needed.
'In four ways, young householder, should one who is the same in happiness and sorrow be understood
as a good-hearted friend: he tells you his secrets, he keeps hidden your secrets, he does not forsake you in
trouble, he lays down even his life for your sake.
'In four ways ... should one who gives good counsel be understood as a good-hearted friend: he
restrains you from doing wrong, he encourages you to do what is right, he informs you of things unknown to
you before, he points out to you the path to heaven.
'In four ways ... should one who sympathizes be understood as a good-hearted friend: he does not
rejoice in your misfortune, he rejoices in your prosperity, he restrains others who speak ill of you, he praises
those who speak well of you.'
Thus spoke the Exalted One and then the Master spoke again:
'The friend who is a helper all the time,
The friend in happiness and sorrow both,
The friend who gives advice that's always good,
The friend who has full sympathy with you,
These four the wise see as good-hearted friends
And with devotion cherish such as these
As does a mother cherish her own child.
The good and wise shine like a blazing fire,
He who acquires his wealth in harmless ways
Just as a bee that gathers honey does,
As ant-hill grows apace his riches mount.
When the good layman wealth has thus acquired,
In portions four let him divide his wealth.
Able is he to benefit his kin,
Thus will he bind himself in friendship close.
One portion let him spend; enjoy its use;
Two portions to conduct his business well;
The fourth for time of need he keeps aside.'
'And how, young householder, does a noble disciple worship the six quarters?
'The following should be looked upon as the six quarters: the parents should be looked upon as the east,
teachers as the south, wife and children as the west, friends and companions as the north, servants and
employees as the nadir, ascetics and holy men as the zenith.
'In five ways should a child minister to his parents as the ease, "Having supported me 1 shall support
them, 1 shall work for them, 1 shall keep the family tradition, I shall make myself worthy of my heritage, 1
shall make offerings in their name after their death."
'In five ways the parents thus ministered to as the east by their children show their compassionate love
to them: they restrain them from evil, they encourage them to do what is right, they train them for a
profession, they arrange a suitable marriage, at a suitable time they hand over their inheritance to them.
'In these five ways do children minister to their parents as the east and the parents show their
compassionate love to them. Thus is the east covered by them and made safe and secure.
'In five ways should a pupil minister to his teachers as the south: by rising from his seat in greeting, by
attending on them, by eagerness to learn, by personal service, by respectful attention while receiving
'In five ways do teachers thus ministered to as the south by their pupils show compassionate love for
them: they train them in that in which they are well trained, they see that they hold fast their lessons, they
instruct them in the arts and sciences, they speak well of them to their friends and companions, they provide
for their safety in every way.
' The teachers thus ministered to as the south by their pupils show their compassionate love to them in
these five ways. Thus is the south covered and made safe and secure.
'In five ways should a wife be ministered to by her husband as the west: by showing her respect, by
being courteous to her, by being faithful to her, by delegating authority to her, by providing her with
'The wife thus ministered to as the west by her husband shows her compassionate love for him in five
ways: she performs her duties well, she is hospitable to relations and the people round, she is faithful, she
protects his property, she is skilled and industrious.
'In these five ways does the wife show her compassionate love to her husband who ministers to her as
the west. Thus is the west covered by him and made safe and secure.
'In five ways should a man minister to his friends and associates as the north: by liberality, by courtesy,
by service, by impartiality, by sincerity.
'The friends and associates thus ministered to by him as the north show their compassionate love to him
in five ways: they protect him when he is heedless, they protect his property when he is heedless, they become
a refuge when he is in danger, they do not leave him in his troubles, they show consideration for his
'The friends and associates thus ministered to as the north by a man show their compassionate love for
him in these five ways. Thus is the north covered and made safe and secure.
'In five ways should a master minister to his servants and employees as the nadir: by assigning them
work according to their ability, by supplying them with food and wages, by tending them in sickness, by
sharing with them any delicacies, by giving them rest periods and holidays.
'The servants and employees thus administered to as the nadir by their master show their compassionate
love for him in five ways: they rise before him, they go to sleep after him, they take only what is given, they
perform their duties well, they uphold his good name and f ame.
'The servants and employees thus ministered to as the nadir show their compassionate love for him in
these five ways. Thus is the nadir covered by him and made safe and secure.
'In five ways should a householder minister to ascetics and holy men as the zenith: by affectionate deeds,
by affectionate words, by affectionate thoughts, by keeping open house to them, by supplying their temporal
'The ascetics and holy men thus ministered to as the zenith by a householder show their compasssionate
love for him in six ways: they restrain him from evil, they exhort him to good, they love him with a kind heart,
they teach him what he has not heard, they clarify what he has already heard, they point out the path to
'In these six ways do ascetics and holy men show their compassionate love to a householder who
ministers to them as the zenith. Thus is the zenith covered by him and made safe and secure.'
Thus said the Exalted One and then the Master spoke again:
'The mother and the father are the east. Regard your teachers ever as the south. Wife and dear children
are the glowing west. Close friends and your companions are the north. All those who work for you the nadir
are. The zenith is the wise and holy men.
He who is fit to rank as householder, These six quarters he should reverence. Who is in wisdom deep
and virtue strong, Gentle in all things and intelligent, Humble in spirit and amenable, Such man to highest
honour may attain.
He who has energy not indolence, Unshaken though misfortune should befall, Flawless in manner, with
sagacity, Such man to highest honour may attain. Welcoming with kind words and friendly ways, Liberal to
all without a thought of self, A guide most wise in counsel, fit to lead, Such man to highest honour may
Ã¢â‚¬Å¡ heart that's generous and speech that's sweet,
life of service given up to man, Showing impartiality to all, Judging exactly as the case demands;
These are the ways that make the world go round As does a linchpin in a moving cart. These absent, parents
never will receive Respect and honour from their children due. These are the ways that lead to eminence;
These are the ways that wise men rightly praise.'
'Heaven' and 'Hell'
There are worse states of being than any in this world and there are those which are comparatively much happier and
altogether more satisfactory. They may be regarded as 'Hells' and 'Heavens'but are, as is all in this world,
Since 'in the long road of the past'we all have done both skilful and unskilful things, we cannot know of anybody,
unless we know that that person has gained a high degree of enlightenment, in what condition he is reborn after
In considering these states we cannot judge 'distance' by the three-dimensional concept we have of this world.
Some are 'closer' to us than others and of these one is a sort of 'ghost world' wherein beings are more sad than actually
unhappy. Some more than others of these can 'see' us more or less dimly and where there had been a strong attachment,
either of love or of hate, may try to communicate.
Few in this world of ours have any ability at all for such communication and this ability is often, though not
always, associated with a somewhat deranged mind. It may also be pointed out that in the case of a spiritualist 'medium'
there are often several factors, in some cases all working together, and of these the most common is fraud. There are
clever confidence tricksters with no ability at all in 1 mediumship' who can delude the gullible. There are some such who
have a little ability in telepathy and are able to 'read the mind', the subconscious as well as the conscious, and tell the
enquirer what will please him, what he half knows already, and then add the more that will make him happy.
There are 'mediums' with some little ability to contact'the other world' who sometimes 'dry up' and then fake their
results as they feel they should produce what is expected of them. There is the medium who though honest is 'picking
up' your thoughts and wishes, is reading your mind without knowing it and projecting your past into the present.
Finally, when a confidence trickster or joker dies he carries his tendencies, and what is reborn is the sum of his
tendencies, and he may pose as your loved one who has 'passed over'. There are other factors also, so you can place no
reliance on 'messages' from the dead. And one should not try to communicate. That only encourages clinging on both
sides, with harmful results.
What one may do if one wishes is make offerings in the name of the 'dear departed' and from this only good can
result. Naturally if you make this a rite and ritual you are binding yourself and that is harmful.
In Asia there are many who have been taught that there is such a thing as 'transference of merit'. The idea is that
they perform a worthy deed and then 'share the merit' or even 'transfer all the merit'
they would gain from this with or to a particular person or, in some cases, all beings. Though the performance of
a worthy action is good and the wish not to benefit by it personally is also good, the idea is wrong since, as the Buddha
said: 'No man can purify another'.' What any person does, in body speech or thought, is what helps or hinders him. We
create our own tendencies and are reborn according to those tendencies and cannot receive 'merit' from another's
However, the making of offerings works like this:
A parent has died and a son or daughter either makes donations to charity or may light a candle and place near it
a glass of water, a small dish with fruit or other food on it and perhaps a vase of flowers and make the wish: 'As this is
offered in the name of my parents, may they be aware of it, may they appreciate it and so profit by it, and may all beings
be happy.' Since all beings are to some extent interconnected, some good comes of this. For it to have a strong effect for
good, there must be the following conditions:
The being or beings in the'ghost world'must be present (and the' parents may be among these); the beings must
'see', be aware of, the deed; they must appreciate it as something good that is being done. This can then spark off a
response in them that will lead to them being reborn into this or a happier world.
Such acts are often performed on the anniversary of the birthday of the deceased parents or on some other
anniversary of an occasion on which they shared in mutual happiness. The inhabitants of any world are not there as a
'punishment' or as a'reward'. They are there because of some degree of clinging and past deeds having formed that
pattern of tendencies. Those who have had strong bonds of attachment are more likely to be present, to be 'close to' each
other on anniversaries of shared events. The act, though it takes advantage of clinging, does not, unless it is performed
with the thought of clinging, perpetuate the clinging but helps to release the bond so that both may make progress.
The Degrees of Higher Knowledge
By following the Buddha's teaching in the practice of mindfulness and concentration one may attain higher and much
more satisfactory states even in this present life.'
There are ten fetters and if you overcome the three lower fetters of belief in an unchanging soul; sceptical doubt
(blind disbelief); and clinging to rite and ritual, you have entered the stream of nibbana, are firmly established and
destined to full enlightenment'. You may, of course, attain higher stages almost at once or you may take more than one
lifetime but you will never slip back.
If in addition you overcome, in their grosser forms, the fetters of sensual craving and ill-will, you will return only
once to this world.
If in addition you have completely overcome these fetters you will reappear as a spontaneously manifesting being
in a 'Heaven' world and without returning from there will attain nibbana.
If you overcome all fetters, eradicate all defilements, so reaching perfection, you have laid down your burden, are
no longer fettered by any tie to any form of existence and have been liberated by your wisdom. You (only of course it is
no longer'you') have become an arahat.'
WHAT IS AN ARAHAT LIKE?
Not being an arahat, 1 cannot tell you what an arahat is like. Nobody but an arahat could tell of another person
whether or not he had attained. The Buddha said that one might live some time witk an arahat and not know that he
Nevertheless, using the standard of the ten fetters, one can often tell of a person that he has not attained. Using the
same standard, one can get at least some idea of an arahat.
In one respect he would be like Browning's concept of the revived Lazarus:
'Discourse to him of prodigious armaments assembled to besiege his city now
or of the passing of a mule with gourds; tis one.'
Being already, in one sense, out of the world, he would not take part in the 'getting and spending' of the world and
so could. not exist in the world today for very long unless there were special conditions.
In the Buddha's day a monk was looked after by his fellowmonks when he had been declared by the Buddha to
be an arahat or when he lived the type of life an arahat might be expected to live. Those lay people who were reputed to
be arahats were similarly cared for by relatives or friends.
There are few, very few indeed, 'Buddhist' monasteries in Asia today where that repute would be given and a
monk cared for accordingly.
You would know how extremely difficult it would be to gain such repute and such care in the West.
So if you become an arahat, that arahat would not remain here very long. Nor would he, could he, care.
At the same time an arahat by the very fact of his concentrated thoughts of goodwill, not to any person in
particular but to all beings impersonally, would be helping the world while he remained here.
Naturally, an arahat would know he was an arahat, but a man might think himself one and be mistaken.
How should You Not?
Being reborn is such a dolorous thing,
Worse than the first birth in timeless, spaceless void.
Now ask you: 'Void of what?' and echo says
In answer: 'What?' How should she not?
Here in this age I am not dead;
There is no death.
How should there be?
Holding on with the mind's hands,
Having no other as yet. Being unborn
How should I have?
Bulges forming to roots,
Swellings climbing to shoots,
To from this stone form plant,
And flower to horse
And man; man trampled, man triumphant,
Man made God.
Since all things fall,
How should not God fall back?
Back to begin his dolorous climb again,
Joyless because all joy has died, almost:
There is no death.
How should there be?
In this still summer air the birds
Having no breath of wind sing not loud as yet;
Await the darkening sun, the thunder-clap, the rain,
Heaven's new shining,
For joy to spring again.
But now God is not in Heaven,
Is past His Heaven,
Has climbed above the Gods;
At last secure because no longer God;
Has found the peace that needs no angel's choir.
How should you not?