Meditation is a state of ease, inner peace and happiness that we can bring into being, ourselves. It is a practice recommended by Buddhism for happiness, non-recklessness, mindfulness and wisdom in everyday life. It is no mystery, but something which can be easily practised by all following the technique taught by Phramonkolthepmuni (Sodh Candasaro), Luang Phaw Wat Paknam as follows:
Step-by-StepInstructions for the Meditation Technique
(1) Paying respect to the Triple Gem: To start one should soften one’s mind by paying respect to the Triple Gem, before taking Five or Eight Precepts to consolidate one’s virtue;
(2) Recollect your goodness: Kneel or sit with your feet to one side and think of all the good deeds you have done throughout the day, from your past, and all the good deeds you intend to do in the future. Recollect such good deeds in such a way, until you feel as if your whole body seems to be filled with tiny particles of goodness;
(3) Sit for meditation, relaxing body and mind: Sit in the half-lotus position, upright with your back and spine straight — cross-legged with your right leg over the left one. Your hands should rest palms-up on your lap, and the tip of your right index finger should touch your left thumb. Try to find a position of poise for yourself. Don’t take up a position where you have to force or stress yourself unnaturally — but at the same time, don’t slouch! Softly close your eyes as if you were falling asleep. Don’t squeeze your eyes shut and make sure you have no tension across your eyebrows. Relax every part of your body, beginning with the muscles of your face, then relax your face, neck shoulders, arms, chest, trunk and legs. Make sure there are no signs of tension on your forehead or across your shoulders. Focus on the task in hand, creating a feeling of ease in your mind. Feel that the you are entering upon a supreme state of calm and ease with both body and mind.
(4) Imagine a crystal ball as the object of your medita- tion: Imagine a clear, bright, flawless crystal ball as if it is floating at the centre of your body (see seventh base of the mind in the illustration). The crystal ball should be pure and soothing, like twinkling starlight to the eye. At the same time, softly repeat the sound of the mantra ‘Samma-Arahang’ to yourself as ‘recollection of the Buddha’ over and over again. Alternatively you can start by imagining the crystal ball at the first base of the mind, and gradually move it down to the seventh base via the other six bases (see diagram) while repeating the mantra to yourself.
Once the crystal ball becomes visible at the centre of the body, continue to maintain a feeling of ease, as if the mental object seen is part of that feeling. If the crystal ball should disappear, don’t feel disappointed — just keep the same feeling of ease in your mind as before, and imagine a new crystal ball in place of the old. If the mental object should appear anywhere else other than the centre of the body, gradually lead the object to the centre of the body, without using even the slightest of force. When the mental object has come to a standstill at the centre of the body, place the attention at the centre of that object, by imagining that there is an additional tiny star visible there. Focus your mind continuously on the tiny star at the centre of the object of meditation. The mind will adjust itself until it comes to a perfect standstill. At that point, the mind will fall through the centre and there will be a new brighter sphere which arises in place of the original one. This new sphere is known as the ‘sphere of Dhamma’. This sphere is the gateway or trailhead to the pathway to Nirvana.
Imagining the object of meditation is something you can do the whole of the time, wherever you may be, whether sitting, standing, walking, lying-down or performing other activities.
It is advised to imagine in such a way continuously at every moment of the day — but imagining without force. No matter how well you manage, you should be contented with your level of progress, in order to pre- vent excessive craving for immediate results becoming a hindrance to your progress. If you meditate until having attained a steadfast, diamond-bright ‘sphere of Dhamma’ at the centre of your body, you should try to maintain it by recollecting it as continuously as you can.
In such a way, the benefits of your meditation will not only keep your life on the pathway of happiness, success and non-recklessness, but also ensure your continuing progress in meditation.
1. Avoid force: Never force anything in your medita- tion. Don’t squeeze your eyes closed thinking you will see the object of meditation more quickly. Don’t tense your arms, your abdomen or your body — because any form of tension will only cause the mind to be displaced from the centre of the body to the place you are tensing.
2. Don’t crave after seeing something: You should always maintain complete neutrality of mind. Don’t let your mind be distracted from the object of medi- tation and the mantra. Don’t worry yourself about when the object of meditation will appear. The im- age will appear itself when it comes to the right time, just as the sun rises and sets in its own time.
3. Don’t worry about your breath: Meditating in this technique starts with the visualization of a bright object. Once having meditated until attaining the sphere of Dhamma, one continues with meditation by passing through the refined human body(astralbody),theangelicbody,theform-BrahmÅ body and the formless-BrahmÅ body until attaining the Dhamma body (or Dhammakaya). Only then is one equipped to turn one’s meditation towards in- sight [vipassana]. Thus there is no need to practise mindfulness of the breath at any stage.
4. Maintain your mind at the centre of the body all the time: Even after having finished your formal sitting, maintain your mind at the centre of the body the whole of the time. No matter whether you are standing, walking, sitting or lying-down, don’t allow your mind to slip away from the centre of the body. Continue repeating the mantra ‘Samma-Arahang’ to yourself while visualizing the crystal ball at the centre of the body.
5. Bring all objects arising in the mind to the centre of the body: No matter what appears in the mind, bring it (gently) to the centre of the body. If the object disappears, there is no need to chase around looking for it. Just continue to rest your attention at the centre of the body while repeating the mantra to yourself. Eventually,when the mind becomes yet more peaceful, a new object of meditation will appear.
The basic meditation described here will lead to a deepening of happiness in life. If one doesn’t abandon the practice but cultivates meditation regularly, to the point that the sphere of Dhamma is attained, one should try to maintain that sphere at the centre of one’s body for the remainder of one’s life, while leading one’s life in a scrupulous way. It will offer one a refuge in life and will bring happiness both in this lifetime and the hereafter.