This recording follows the Guided Four Tetrads And Four Foundations Meditation recording posted just prior to this posting. During the talk, Peter reviewed the 16 stanzas/four tetrads of the Anapanasati Sutta, explaining that the first three tetrads focus on the cultivation of samadhi/passadhi (concentration and tranquility), primarily through using the first and second foundations of mindfulness (mindfulness of the breath/body and mindfulness of feelings) to set aside the five hindrances to samadhi/passadhi. The fourth tetrad involves the cultivation of vipassana, that is, the direct knowledge of impermanence, which, along with samadhi/passadhi, develops dispassion, liberation from craving/clinging and letting go of the misperception of a secure, enduring self.
This posting is a recording of the dhamma dialogue following a guided meditation associated with coordinating the first two tetrads of the Anapanasati Sutta with mindfulness of the body and mindfulness of feelings. This integrative process increases physical relaxation and diminishes the normal chatter of the mind, preparing for the practice of vipassana, insight into the impermanence of subjective experience. The practice of vipassana will be a major focus of the guided meditation and discussion next Wednesday night: the third and fourth tetrads of the Anapanasati Sutta and the third and fourth foundations of mindfulness, of the mind and mental phenomena.
This guided meditation is intended to provide practical support for integrating mindfulness of breathing practice with mindfulness of the body and mindfulness of feelings. The first two tetrads of the Anapanasati Sutta are directily related to cultivating mindfulness of the body and of feelings. Part of the practice of mindfulness of the body is the contemplation of the “four elements”: earth, air, fire and water (subjective sensations of hardness, movement, temperature and cohesion). Contemplating these clear sensational qualities provides a non-commentarial focus that fosters “calming the breath body” and “calming the mental formations”, important developments related to fulfilling the four foundations of mindfulness.
This recording is accompanied by another .mp3 posting of the talk following the meditation, which supports processing how mindfulness of breathing was experienced during the meditation.
Next Wednesday’s meeting will also involve a guided meditation which is intended to provide support for integrating the third and fourth tetrads of the Anapanasati Sutta with the cultivation of the third and fourth foundations of mindfulness.
This year the approach to the dhamma dialogues on Wednesday nights will be a little different. The Anapanasati Sutta (usually translated as the “Mindfulness of Breathing Discourse” will be explored in depth.
This teaching from the Pali Canon provides specific instructions on how to cultivate breath awareness to a very high degree of skill, providing deep insights into the process of awakening. It can be considered as a companion to the Satipatthana Sutta (usually translated as “The Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse”), both of which are ways to cultivate the Sambojjhanga (usually translated as “The Seven Awakening Factors”). The seven factors are: mindfulness, investigation of mental phenomena, energy/effort, joyful interest, tranquility, concentration and equanimity.
During the Wednesday night meetings, Peter will alternate between explaining the various elements of the sutta with training meditations during the 45 minute meditation periods that normally occur at the start of the evening at 7. This process will hopefully help the attending sangha members deepen their understanding of the mindfulness of breathing practice. The intention of this format is to provide ways to discuss how to integrate mindfulness of breathing into daily life routines, furthering the ability to cultivate virtue, that is, Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood.
The discussions will also include the information Peter has gathered during his research into modern scientific evidence that supports Buddhist psychology. Back in the early centuries of the development of Buddhism, the cultures involved relied on their understanding of the universe, mainly their beliefs regarding gods and supernatural forces. In this modern scientific era, our understanding of the universe is derived from scientific inquiries into physical, biological and psychological phenomena; in a sense, the new “priests and priestesses” are garbed in lab coats!
This series of explorations work best for all concerned when those interested in Buddhist practices to attend the Wednesday night meetings and participate in the training sessions as well as the regular dhamma dialogues. I hope you can join us. The dhamma dialogue on the 7th, next Wednesday, will explore why the Anapanasati Sutta is perhaps the only one in the Pali Canon that has an extensive “prelude” that describes the qualities of the group of meditation students who heard the original discourse from the Buddha.
During this first of a series of talks exploring the Satipatthana Sutta, Peter talked of the mutually supportive functions of samadhi (concentration) and vipassana (insight). This was followed by a lively discussion regarding how different meditators cultivate these qualities, both during formal meditation and normal daily routines.