Introduction to Buddhist Meditation

      by Ajahn Buddhadasa

      Mindfulness, Mental Training and Development

      Why should we train our mind? Because we want to free it from all kinds of mental distortions such as greed, hatred, anger, stresses, strains, and despair. When our mind is free from all kinds of these mental distortions we can live blissfully and peacefully. That's why we have to train our mind, by means of Insight, by the Nature Method, and Vipassana (insight (or mindfulness) meditation.

      Insight, by the Nature Method

      Shortly, we shall see how concentration may come about naturally on the one hand, and as a result of organized practice on the other. The end result is identical in the two cases: the mind is concentrated and fit to be used for carrying out close introspection. One thing must be noticed, however: the intensity of concentration that comes about naturally is usually sufficient and appropriate for introspection and insight, whereas the concentration resulting from organized training is usually excessive, more than can be made use of. Furthermore, misguided satisfaction with that highly developed concentration may result. While the mind is fully concentrated, it is likely to be experiencing such a satisfying kind of bliss and well- being that the meditator may become attached to it, or imagine it to be the Fruit of the Path. Naturally occurring concentration, which is sufficient and suitable for use in introspection, is harmless, having none of the disadvantages inherent in concentration developed by means of intensive training.

      In the Tipitaka, there are numerous references to people attaining naturally all states of Path and Fruit. This generally came about in the presence of the Buddha himself but also happened later with other teachers. These people did not go into the forest and sit, assiduously practicing concentration on certain objects in the way described in later manuals.

      Clearly no organized effort was involved when arahantship was attained by the first five disciples of the Buddha on hearing the Discourse on Non - selfhood, or by the one thousand hermits on hearing the Fire Sermon. In these cases, keen, penetrating insight came about quite naturally. These examples clearly show that natural concentration is liable to develop of its own accord while one is attempting to understand clearly some question, and that the resulting insight, as long as it is firmly established must be quite intense and stable. It happens naturally, automatically in just the same way as the mind becomes concentrated the moment we set about doing arithmetic. Likewise in firing a gun, when we take aim, the mind automatically becomes concentrated and steady. This is how naturally occurring concentration comes about. We normally overlook it completely because it does not appear the least bit magical, miraculous, or awe inspiring. But through the power of just this naturally occurring concentration, most of us could actually attain liberation. We could attain the Fruit of the Path, Nirvana, arahantship, just by means of natural concentration.

      So don't overlook this naturally occurring concentration. It is something most of us either already have, or can readily develop. We have to do everything we can to cultivate and develop it, to make it function perfectly and yield the appropriate results, just as did most of the people who succeeded in becoming arahants, none of whom knew anything of modern concentration techniques.

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