|"Practice of Concentration Training"
by ven. Ajahn Chah
|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 channals - all of this merely to channel water and make it
more useable. In addition the water stored becomes a source of electric
power and light, further benefits from controlling its flow so that it
doesn't run wild and eventually settle into a few low spots, it's
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 your minds well for the highest of benefits." Similarly, the animals around us - elephants, horses, cattle, buffalo, etc., must be trained before they 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 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 gain through their teaching. Indeed, see what benefit has come to the entire world from these men who have gone through the training of 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 action. 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 ways, with many different methods. The method which is most useful and which can be practised 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 "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 that occurs. While doing walking meditation we try to be constantly mindful of the sensation of the feet touching the ground.
The practice of meditation must be pursued as continouosly 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 bring results. The Buddha taught us to practise often, to practise diligently, that is, to be as continuous as we can in the practice of mental training. To practise meditation we should also find a suitable quite 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.
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 "khandhas": material form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness. Examine these five khandhas as they come and go. You will see clearly that they are impermanent, that this impermanence makes them unsatisfactory and undesirable, and tat 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 this 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. This we call the arising of wisdom.
"Practice of Concentration Training" is an exerpt of a collection of Dhamma-Talks published under the title: bodhinyana
the full text is available here
to Buddh-Dhamma page