Concentration

“A steadfast and unwavering heart is free of apprehension, remorse, and confusion concerning our actions and speech.  This is Samadhi.”[3]

There are two parts to be aware of in the field of Concentration. 

·        Right Mindfulness (Focus and Awareness)

·        Right Concentration/Meditation

Right Mindfulness is your awareness of the present moment (while going about daily tasks).  Sharpening mindfulness of the present creates a future life of happiness.  In Buddhist doctrines we find a recurring theme of washing dishes.  For all of the things you could be thinking of while washing dishes, it is the actual act of being mindful of doing it that is most important, not griping about the fairness of who should wash dishes (craving and aversion) etc.  Equanimous mindfulness of the present moment is the only requirement for success.                                                   

"Time and space are modes by which we think
and not conditions in which we live."

                                       -- Albert Einstein

“The habit pattern of the mind, as you have seen, is to roll in the future or in the past, generating craving or aversion.  By practicing right awareness you have started to break this habit.  Not that after this course you will forget the past entirely, and have no thought at all for the future.  But in fact you used to waste your energy by rolling needlessly in the past or future, so much so that when you needed to remember or plan something, you could not do so.  By developing sammā-sati you will learn to fix your mind more firmly in the present reality, and you will find that you can easily recall the past when needed, and make proper provisions for the future.  You will be able to lead a happy, healthy life.” 

Right Concentration refers to single-pointed concentration, i.e. oberserving breath.  Single-pointed concentration develops piercing mental ability, and it is this patient and persistant mindfulness that allows us not to be carried away by minor interruptions.  Meditation is like exercise… it makes you stronger in your mindfulness when you are not trying.  When you need it, it might not be there.  It is best to fix one’s roof while it is still sunny out.

“You cannot iron out the waves of a pond with your hand no matter how hard you try”

With Concentration comes Wisdom.  The more you’re aware in a given situation the more information you absorb, comprehend, digest, or compute about what is happening around you. 

Energy from the universe will start to gather around a person’s body when he calms down and settles his mind, and this achieves the effect of performing Chigung exercises.  The precepts in Buddhism are for abandoning all human desires and discarding everything to which an everyday person is attached so that the monk can reach a state of peacefulness and stillness, enabling him to enter samadhi.  A person continuously improves himself in samadhi, until he eventually becomes enlightened, with his wisdom emerging.  He will then know the universe and see it’s truth”[4].

“Sammā-samadhi – right concentration.  Mere concentration is not the aim of this technique (Vipassana); the concentration you develop must have a base of purity.  With a base of craving, aversion, or illusion one may concentrate the mind, but this is not sammā-samadhi.  One must be aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion.  Sustaining this awareness continuously from moment to moment – this is sammā-samadhi.”  The discourse summaries – page 9

The 10 armies of Mara

 

Sense-desires (Karma) are your first enemy,
The second is Aversion - Arati,
The third is Hunger and Thirst - Khuppipasa,
The fourth is Craving - Tanha,
The fifth is Sloth and Torpor - Thina-Middha,
The sixth is Fear - Bhaya,
The seventh is Doubt - Vicikicca
The eight is Detraction and Obstinacy - Makkha-Thambha,
The ninth is Profit - Labha, Praise - Siloka,
Honour - Sakkara, and ill-gotten Fame - Yasa.
The tenth is the extolling of oneself and the contempt of others.[5]

 

Mindfulness begins with an intention to be aware of the reaction mechanism of the mind.  How do you react to red lights, bank line-ups, good news, bad news, etc.  By being aware of your thought process you can observe and catch the reaction while it is happening and stop the cyclical reactive mechanism from dictating your reactions for you, which are only based on past programming.  This smoothing out of the flow of consciousness frees you from the general habitus that keeps you locked in a predictable and automatonic persona.  Become a witness to your own life.  Pay attention to how you do things.

Meditation calms our minds and makes it easier for us to pay attention to the reality around and within us. Meditation breaks through the masks that have built up as our identity. It helps us see through our defenses and connect with unacknowledged and unloved aspects of ourselves. It opens us to higher mind and the voice of intuition. We can consciously choose meditation as a way to become more aware of who we truly are. If we don’t take the initiative to open to our authentic selves, we can be certain that deep challenge and pain from life experience will push us to awaken. "Meditation helps me feel the shape, the texture of my inner life. Here, in the quiet, I can begin to taste what Buddhists would call my true nature, what Jews call the still, small voice, and what Christians call the holy spirit." -- Wayne Muller

Practice of Concentration Training

The training in concentration is practice to make the mind firm and steady. This brings about peacefulness of mind. Usually our untrained minds are moving and restless, hard to control and manage. Mind follows sense distractions wildly just like water flowing this way and that, seeking the lowest level. Agriculturists and engineers, though, know how to control water so that it is of greater use to mankind. Men are clever, they know how to dam water, make large reservoirs and canals -- all of this merely to channel water and make it more useable. In addition the water stored becomes a source of electrical power and light, further benefits from controlling its flow so that it doesn't run wild and eventually settle into a few low spots, its usefulness wasted. So too, the mind which is dammed and controlled, trained constantly, will be of immeasurable benefit. The Buddha Himself taught, "The mind that has been controlled brings true happiness, so train you minds well for the highest of benefits." Similarly, the animals we see around us -- elephants, horses, cattle, buffalo, etc., must be trained before they can be useful for work. Only after they have been trained is their strength of benefit to us. In the same way, the mind that has been trained will bring many times the blessings of that of an untrained mind. The Buddha and His Noble Disciples all started out in the same way as us -- with untrained minds; but afterwards look how they became the subjects of reverence for us all, and see how much benefit we can gain through their teaching. Indeed, see what benefit has come to the entire world from these men who have gone through the training of the mind to reach the freedom beyond. The mind controlled and trained is better equipped to help us in all professions, in all situations. The disciplined mind will keep our lives balanced, make work easier and develop and nurture reason to govern our actions. In the end our happiness will increase accordingly as we follow the proper mind training. The training of the mind can be done in many way, with many different methods. The method which is most useful and which can be practiced by all types of people is known as "mindfulness of breathing." It is the developing of mindfulness on the in-breath and the out-breath. In this monastery we concentrate our attention on the tip of the nose and develop awareness of the in- and out-breaths with the mantra word "BUD-DHO." If the meditator wishes to use another word, or simply be mindful of the air moving in and out, this is also fine. Adjust the practice to suit yourself. The essential factor in the meditation is that the noting or awareness of the breath be kept up in the present moment so that one is mindful of each in-breath and each out-breath just as it occurs. While doing walking meditation we try to be constantly mindful of the sensation of the feet touching the ground. This practice of meditation must be pursued as continuously as possible in order for it to bear fruit. Don't meditate for a short time one day and then in one or two weeks, or even a month, meditate again. This will not bring results. The Buddha taught us to practice often, to practice diligently, that is, to be as continuous as we can in the practice of mental training. To practice meditation we should also find a suitably quiet place free from distractions. In gardens or under shady trees in our back yards, or in places where we can be alone are suitable environments. If we are a monk or nun we should find a suitable hut, a quiet forest or cave. The mountains offer exceptionally suitable places for practice. In any case, wherever we are, we must make an effort to be continuously mindful of breathing in and breathing out. If the attention wanders to other things, try to pull it back to the object of concentration. Try to put away all other thoughts and cares. Don't think about anything -- just watch the breath. If we are mindful of thoughts as soon as they arise and keep diligently returning to the meditation subject, the mind will become quieter and quieter. When the mind is peaceful and concentrated, release it from the breath as the object of concentration. Now begin to examine the body and mind comprised of the five khandas: material form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness. Examine these five khandas as they come and go. You will see clearly that they are impermanent, that this impermanence makes them unsatisfactory and undesirable, and that they come and go of their own -- there is no "self" running things. There is to be found only nature moving according to cause and effect. All things in the world fall under the characteristics of instability, unsatisfactoriness and being without a permanent ego or soul. Seeing the whole of existence in this light, attachment and clinging to the khandas will gradually be reduced. This is because we see the true characteristics of the world. We call this the arising of wisdom.

Now I understand what your intention was, why you taught me the arts of dancing.  It's therapy for the body and mind.  I owe you a depth of gratitude for changing my life.  It's your mind that's finally opened to change.  Change the enemies into dancing partners.  There are many things in this world that you have yet to learn.  Greed, Wrath, Infatuation, Desires, Lust ... and Ignorance.  Always be careful.  These sins are the causes of suffering.  They cause all living creatures to be stuck in the perpetual cycle of birth and death.  How can I stop these sins?  Through training.  You need to train yourself to cleanse and purify deep into your mind.  This mind is the chief. The body is the servant.  The consciousness is the controller.  The mind comprehends.  Be aware, then let go.  Your mind will remain untarnished.  (Ong Bak 3 - guidance 55m) 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Sir Walter Scott

[2] Proverbs 29:5 The one who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his steps.

[3] Ajahn Chah, Unshakable Peace

[4] FALUN GONG, Li Hongzhi 4th Translation Edition, Updated in April 2001

[5] Sutta Nipata III, 2 Nanamoli translation; “Life of the Buddha” pg. 20

[6] The Discourse Summaries – page 2

[7] Ibid. page 2

[8] Ibid. page 2

[9] Ibid, page 4

[10] Ibid. page 4

[11] Ibid. page 4

[12] Ibid. page 4

[13] Ibid. page 4

[14] Ibid. page 4

[15] Ibid. page 6

[16] The Discourse Summaries – S.N. Goenka pg. 19