Sunday, August 28, 2011

Farewell message

I have wished to be ordained as a forest Buddhist monk for several years. My wife support my decision. However, I had been hesitating. By 2009, my holding of the 5 precepts was alreday perfect. (I no longer kill ants, not taking things which are not mine, including unattended snacks left in the office kitchen, not telling a lie, no profanity, no night-life entertainment with ladies, no alcohol.) By early 2010, I could meditate deeply to the fourth level Jhana. The mind was much developed, both Samatha and Vipassana. The mind was getting closer to be that of a monk.

Last year, "my" feeling was that I did not need to be a monk, just to be one internally (mentally) would be sufficient. I have made much progress, to a safe level. I have experienced the utmost serenity, freedom, wisdom in Nirvana. I have no doubt on the eternal existence of Nivana.

Then I started to feel bored with internal Kilases, the taints in the mind. As a layperson living in a city, one would need to face various stresses and experience mental stimuli, which I want to avoid. I saw that getting into a forest is inevitable if I want to develope the mind further.

I have consulted some monks and I then saw logical reasons why I should come this way. After making final decision, I feel quite satisfied. Sometimes I felt eager, like a young soldier about to enter a war, but this is going to be my internal war with various internal desires. I want to put out those burning flames. Sometimes I felt worry about my family a bit. However, I felt my life was running out of time.

In a few days, I 'd become a forest monk. I would not have time to update this blog again, unless I come out from the forest later, and live somewhere with electricity and network access.

However, I do not think that I 'd be able to continue writing on this blog, unless I come out of monkhood and become a layperson again. Regulations of Buddhst monks (Vinaya) laid down by Lord Buddha forbid monks from discussing their personal experience with non-monk laypersons, to prevent solicitation of foods or wealth. Although my intention for blogging is to provide insight information to those who seek the know-how, continue doing so later would be risky and my judgement tells me it is improper. So if I would ever blog again, it will be in a less-personal format and in another blog.

In the near future, there will be drastic changes on this earth, so called Tiamat: people, animals, and plants will all be affected. Anything that has a start also has an end. I intend to not worry about anything. Any remaining stuff, including unfinished jobs, will be left as is. I aim that once a life ends, everying tying to it in this dimension should end as well. Not to worry about them anymore.

I hope this blog is informative to international community. Whoever wish to develop his or her mind, regardless of their faith and religion, can practice this way. However, you need perseverance. Imagine yourself an athlete training for a future international competition, you need to train the body and the mind for years, perhaps a decade. This is the same kind of training. I wish you the best in your mental development and I hope you reach your eternal happiness and can start accessing to Nirvana as soon as possible. May Dhamma be with you.

I thus end my blog posting for now.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

How to develop the mind beyond Sotāpanna step ?

Well, just keep on meditating, both Samatha (peaceful way), and Vipassana (contemplative). The first way is to strengthen the mind: it 's like to give it a deep sleep. The latter is to let it work after it got its full rest by inspecting carefully the Tri-Luksana (the 3 characters) I mentioned in earlier post.

When the mind is fully developed in its stage, it would move itself to the next level, like a chick breaking out from the egg's shell after it's fully matured enough. In the process of enlightment for each level, the mind would enter a deep Jhana state, would experience Nirvana briefly, and light might be noticed.

A first enlightment moved the state of mind stream of a person from layman to that of a Sotāpanna.

The second enlightment moved the state further to be that of a Sakadagami. At this stage, he or she would have less attachment to wealth, fame, less sexual desire (but prefer more serene hapiness state of the mind under meditation), less negative emotions (angers, envy, selfishness, arrogance, etc.).

The third enlightment moved the mind stream further to that of a Anagami. He or she would no longer want sex, and would no longer have anger and other negative feeling. He would treat other people offending him with kindness, or in the worst case, with neutrality feeling. He would put his most attention to meditation and serenity and happiness associated with it, being able to do other life's activity like talking to other people, concurrently with meditational activity inside in mind in his day-to-day activities.

The fourth enlightment would move the mind stream to that of an Arahant. He or she would be able to feel the utmost serenity of Nirvana any time he wishes.

Happiest man in the World

It is said in Buddhist scriptures that a Sotāpanna is among the happiest men in the World. He is happier than a King of Kings, happier than an Emperor.
An Emperor who ruled many ancient cities or kingdoms feared nobody, yet he feared death, and life after death. A Sotāpanna does not fear death, because he sees that life is impermanence and there is no such thing as selfness. It is just an illusion cooked up by the mind. And he is not afraid of whatever will happen in life after death either since he knows that his mind current is well-trained and a future reincarnation would no doubt be much better than this current life.

It is said that a Sotāpanna eliminated 90% of mental stress from his head. You can see from his face how happy he is. Money or wealth, fame, means little to him. As a just 1st level Ariya (developed person), he still adheres to many things in the Worldly live. Yet he would not break the 5 rules of Buddhist precept. He would also obey rules of his society, and rule of law, so that he does not offend other people's feeling. He also starts to be more careful of this interaction with other people. He is kind to other people and does not want people to offend him (verbally or physically) since an offense to a developed person is extremely un-meritful. An offending person would face serious consequences due to bad Karma.

More tips on how to become a Sotāpanna

If we talk of an analogy, compare a person practicing dharmma and meditation to a grade 1 student. The learning process for an entire year of a grade 1 student is quite important. At the end of the year, if the student took the final exam and passed it, he or she became a grade 1 graduate, and will be ready to study for grade 2 after a summer break.

Passing a final exam for grade 1 is the key step. Yes the 1 full year study is a very important process as I said before. But if he did not take the exam, and he stopped studying for a while, he would forget all what he studied in the past year, and he would not even have a grade 1 certificate from school with him.

Passing the "final exam" to become Sotāpanna, a 1st level developed person called a stream-enterer, is very important. Frequent meditation of both Samatha and Vipassana would prepare the mind so that it is ready for the final exam. When the time comes, the mind will enter a Jhana state by itself, and the observer would see some phenomenon in the mind briefly, to which he felt neutral and indifference to it, and experienced an emptiness, the Nirvana, briefly. He might "see" an extremely bright yet cool light sphere coming out from his own chest while he sat closed eyes in a lotus position. Moment after, it would be gone and everything is dark again, he would start pondering of what had happened, and he would realize that his mind had changed inside permanently. His selfness disappeared, or mostly disappeared, or became irrelevant. He did not even feel proud of what just happened at all.

My time online is running out

I plan to become a forest monk in northeastern Thailand in the next 2 months. I will be without access to electricity. I will have rarer chance to access any computer network. As such, I can see that my posting will cease from this September 2011 onward until when I have an access to network again, which is quite unpredictable. So I 'll try to come back to post some useful information here in the next 2 months. If I don't do that, this might be the last post.

What is the quality of a Sotāpanna ?

A Sotāpanna has following mental properties.

1) He eliminated Sakkāya-diṭṭhi (a Pali word which means a Belief in permanent-self, or real existence of himself, that he really existed)

2) He eliminated his skeptical doubt in teaching of Lord Buddha, called Vicikicchā (another Pali term). Doubt in other things are ok. We are talking about a very strong irrevocable believe in Buddha's teaching here. He will be ready to die rather than disavow Buddhism as his faith) In this regard, he would revere Lord Buddha as his ultimate teacher.

3) He eliminated Sīlabbata-parāmāsa (another Pali term), his attachment to rites and rituals of nonsense such as animal sacrifice, certain diets, and seriously practice the 5 precepts of Buddhism (the Panca Sila) for the rest of his life. It will be quite mentally tormenting if he were to violate any of the 5 precepts. In this regard, he respect dharmma and the Vinaya (Buddha's rules and guidances for monks and lay persons) as a part of his normal way or life.

It should be noted that, although I use the masculine pronoun "he" and "his" when describe the quality or property of a Sotāpanna, a female can be Sotapanna just fine as well. Living creatures above human beings (like angels, Brahma) can also attain Sotāpannaship. Living creatures below human beings can not attain Sottapannaship due to their lower moral quality of mental streams.

Why need to practice to become Sotāpanna

Buddhists believe in reincarnation, as a fact. Every animals, in this life frequency as human beings, or those in other frequencies (regarded as ghosts, angels, demons, etc.) are Earth's living animals like humans as well. Mental current, one can think of as pulses of mind spheres or blinking lights, each pulse started and existed for a short time and terminated, is a key component of the animals (man included). Mental current may have different quality, fair one can be coupled to fertilized and developed human embryo and formed a living fetus. Bad one or better one can be coupled to physical embryonic bodies (including energy) to form other live forms (even hard to visualize by most people) on this Earth. Mental stream from a dying person, may leave the physical body to couple in a new life form, depending on the terminal mental quality of dying person. What I just briefly described here explain a scientific-compatible teaching of Buddha about birth of all animals and creatures (except for plants and microbes).

Sotāpanna, the first level of the morally developed person, is the person whose quality of his mental current is above of lay person's. So there is a guarantee that his mental stream will always improve its quality, eventually to attain Nirvana in the long run.

How can one become a Sotāpanna ?

My advise is that, first, one must strictly observe the 5 precepts (Panca Sila = Penta Sila) of Buddhism.

1) No killing of other living animals, from other human beings down to even tiny creatures like insects. (Plants and microbes can be killed, since they don't have minds.) No harm or pain is to be inflicted to other animals.
2) No stealing of other peple's belongings, valued 5 US Cents (1 Thai Baht) or more.
3) No sexual relation with other people's spouse or person under a protection of existing parents, brothers or sisters.
4) Speaking no lie. (This can be later extended to include bad-mouthing, sarcasm, and non-sense chatting.)
5) No alcohol, narcotics.

After accepting these rules, life of dharmma practitioner will gradually improved over a period of few months.

Second, one can also concurrently practice daily meditation. Samatha meditation is to let the mind rest at the serene peaceful state. Vipassana meditation, often done alternatively to samatha in the same sitting session, is to observe things and they happen, esp. one's own mental activity. Try to separate "the observer" from the emotional objects under observation. Then one day, one would gradually feel that the physical body and the conscious mind are separable entities. This is the starting process of dismantling of your selfness.

Third, to frequently use wisdom, in considering things as they are. I am talking about "the 3 characters" of everything (except Nirvana) here. That they are always changing (quick or slow, it does not matter, even the Everest only started to form just few million years ago), that after they start they always end (i.e. impermanence), and that you don't have any mental control over them. These are called the Tri-Laksana (i.e. the 3 characters)

After a long period of these 3 prong practice, the mind will soften its stance on "selfness", and accept the law of Tri-Laksana. One day the mind will accept that selfness is always changing, is impermanence, and is independent of mental control. This is the eureka moment of the mind attaining the Satapanna state.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The so called Sotāpanna is also temporary

After Vipassana for only a few months, a person supposedly called a Sotāpanna could become a so called Sakadagami, or level 2 developed person, or level 2 Sekha (studying person). How it can be known ? If a meditator has developed his peaceful meditation skill up to a Jhana level, he would be able to tell from the experience inside the Jhana.
As far as the feeling of the meditator is concerned, there is nothing special to be proud of. Since the selfness, also called Atta, is long gone, after becoming a Sotapanna, there is actually no "me" or anyone to feel proud of the accomplishment at all. It is just another emotionally neutral experience. Since this blog is aimed at sharing meditation experience, it would not be wise to quit this blog and start a new one called Sakadagami-wise. :-)

The short term duration of Sotapanna state demonstrated the fact Buddha taught called the Tilukkhana, or the 3 characters of all things. a) the ever changing nature, thus called suffering called Dukkhata. b) The transient or temporary nature is called Aniccata. c) Independence from mind-control nature is called Anatta.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What is Nirvana ?

Can one describe Nirvana ?
This is an explanation from an experience.

Nirvana is a state that a developed mind can experience it. Nirvana can be experienced when the mind has no Kilasa, i.e. no impurities tainting the mind. It is an experience of utmost bliss, feeling of unlimited freedom. The mind feels unlimited knowledge available, yet it has no craving of anything, it has no desire of any physical or abstract objects. The mind has no attachment to any emotion, good or bad. The mind experiences emptiness or voidness (of any objects that it can recognize). The mind experiences calmness, yet retains full consciousness. It sees bright light, as if the observer was standing outdoor looking up to a sunny sky in an afternoon.

Although most Sekha persons can experience Nirvana only temporarily during meditation, Nirvana is a state which metaphysically exists all the time. Nirvana has no beginning and no ending. Time is infinity in Nirvana. Nevertheless lay-persons, with full Kilase tainting their undeveloped minds, can not experience it. Nirvana can not be wished or craved for.

Is there a meaningful purpose of human life ?

Why were we born ? Is there a duty (or duties) for us human ?
Were we born just to consume, to excrete, to sexually mate, to sleep ? Just to do these 4 main activities every day for a few years and then die ?
If that is the case, then how do humans differ from non-sapient animals ? Non-human animals also have those 4 activities.

I was informed from my teachers (Buddhist monks) and books that we have the main duty to develop our mind, in order to elevate its moral quality. When the mind is developed, it will be happier, more and more.

The purpose of Buddha's teaching is to lead humans into having happiness, from elimination of suffering inside the mind, regardless of their physical environments. If lay-persons and Sehka persons (i.e. the 3 classes of the developed ones, except the Arahanta) keep on developing their minds, they will become less-suffered from all worldly experiences they face in their lives. The state of ultimate happiness that a developed mind can experience is Nirvana, a Sanskrit term (also called Nibbana in Pali term). Sekha persons can experience Nirvana briefly, mainly during meditation. Arahanta monks can experience it anytime they want, not even a meditation is needed. That is according to words of a teacher of mine.