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Basic principles for meditation

Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso


Just keep on watching the object, let go of any thoughts that come up in the mind without starting to think about. As the meditation practice develops the mind settles down. And concentration builds up on the object without the mind starting to run after various things that arise in the mind.

Excerpts from an inspirational discourse by Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso

Excerpts from an inspirational discourse by Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso

the first step in meditation practice is to observe the five precepts then keeping them for life!

The Five Precepts:

1. I will not kill (any living being/s)
2. I will not steal (or take what is not mine or is not given to me)
3. I will not indulge in sexual misconduct
4. I will not lie (or indulge in false speech)
5. I will not indulge in intoxicating drinks or drugs

It is necessary to keep all five precepts. I remember in Thailand that whilst some people keep both their palms together when taking the five precepts, some people have one or two fingers bent inside. I wanted to know why this was. On enquiry I was told that they are not keeping that no. of precepts on that day. Amusing isn’t it?

Keeping all the five precepts steadfastly and resolutely will purify the mind. Purity of the mind is an essential ingredient for success in meditation (that is why some people say that though they meditate very hard they do not see much development in their practice. This may be because of not being firmly established in the five precepts, as a basic principle to be fulfilled before meditation).

What is the value of the five precepts that the bhikkhu gave you today? Is it Rs. 100,000? Is it Rs. 1m? What if I gave you each Rs. 1m now? What would be your reaction? Would you not take it happily? Very happy about having got it? Would you not keep it safely in your purse or in a place where you consider safe? Throughout this sermon would you not several times ensure that it is still there? That it is not lost? That it is safe, where you kept it? and on taking it home, would you not keep it in a much more safer place and make sure that it is not accessible to anyone else? Would you not ensure that it is very safe even when you are not there to take care of it? that thieves cannot take it? Would you not safeguard it most earnestly and diligently, so that you do not lose it? I am sure that the answer to most of these questions would be ‘yes’.

Well, I would like to tell you to treat the five precepts , the same way as you would have taken the Rs. 1m that I would have given you. Remember that these five precepts are of more value than Rs. 1m. Of far more worth than a million, billion or yet a trillion US$ that you may get!

By just keeping the five precepts you can get all the wealth, prosperity, happiness and peace that you will ever need. (so ensure from now itself that you will keep the five precepts with utmost diligence and earnestness. That you will safeguard it with your very life!)

Beginning Meditation

Being firmly established in virtue (seela, i.e., the five precepts), one has to go to a quiet location (where there is no noise and distraction. It could be a room in your own house at a time when everything is quiet) Sit down in a comfortable position (it may be on the ground or on a chair or on a stool; whatever that is comfortable to you, to sit for a long period at a stretch without feeling discomfort).

Your upper body posture has to be erect or you could start to feel uncomfortable or sleepy as you go on) Then you close your eyes, and become fully aware of the environment around you (the sound or the silence), your sitting posture, the sensations you feel in your body. Then being aware thus you shift your attention to the object (whatever it is) of Meditation (mental contemplation).

Objects of Meditation

There are many objects of Meditation (contemplation). What it is, is ‘not’ important. What is? important is that you learn to let go of both the past and the future.

The past is gone. It is meaningless to try to hold on to something that is no longer there.

The future is not here yet, therefore, there is no meaning in trying to think about what is not present yet. Trying to grasp at things that are not even there yet is meaningless.

What is necessary is to be with the present moment (moment to moment). Just being aware of the object (if the object of meditation is the breath, then keeping your attention only on the breath sensation at the tip of the nose, as the breath goes in and out, nothing else but bare attention to the sensation of the object).

Learn to let go of the past we well as the future, and don’t get distracted by any sense phenomena but just watch as they arise and pass away without getting attached to them or angry with them, without condemning them.

Just keep on watching the object, let go of any thoughts that come up in the mind without starting to think about.

As the meditation practice develops the mind settles down. And concentration builds up on the object without the mind starting to run after various things that arise in the mind.

There comes a point when the meditation gets advanced that you even lose consciousness of the breath. You stop feeling anything. i.e., any sense phenomena do not arise. As if the five senses have stopped operating. You don’t see, hear, taste, smell or feel anything. This is the point where the mind is totally absorbed, the point where the mind can really ‘see’ the mind. At this point the mind is ‘free’ from the body. i.e., you have given up the body. As you go on, being aware, deeply conscious of the moment, the thinking process slows down moment, the thinking process slows down considerably and ‘thinking’ also stops. And then you experience the happiness that comes from freeing the mind (from everything, from the senses, the past, the future, from thinking). It is a higher form of happiness than that which you have ever experienced. Whilst you continue meditating in this manner, you might begin to see a very bright white light. So bright than any light you have ever seen.

This then is your ‘mind’, in its original and most pure form. This seeing of the white light is the time that your mind sees itself. The mind seeing the mind. However, it is very important not to get distracted with this light, nor start meditating with a view to see the ‘light’.

The purpose of meditation is to understand and experience ‘reality’ as it really is, i.e., to experience the four noble truths which lead to liberation from the suffering of existence.

The state where the mind is so settled as described above is a state of dhyana or jhana (or mental absorption). At the dhyanic level you experience a very blissful state of happiness, one that you have never experienced before in your normal life. It is one that you will never forget. You cannot forget it. It is so strong.

This forms the base from which you can take your mind further and further upwards in the journey. Once you experience the dhyanic happiness you do not want the ‘ happiness’ that lay life offers. For the happiness you experience is by far the greatest state of happiness that any of the other forms of happiness that you have ever had, i.e., the ‘worldly happiness’ that you get from having money, wealth, houses, cars, food, partners, love, sex, etc. You would only want to develop on the level you have reached. That is why some people (like myself) want to ordain and become monks or nuns. you know for sure that household happiness or the happiness of lay life is actually fraught with suffering.

You know that the five senses do not give real happiness. They only give a happiness that ends with pain. You realise that seeing is suffering, hearing is suffering, smelling is suffering, taste is suffering, touch is suffering, even thinking is suffering.


The ‘bright light’ experience of some meditators is similar to that what you experience at the time of death. Some people who have had near death experiences say that they have seen a very bright white light. This is the energy source of the very pure mind that they see. However, only meritorious people can see a pure mind like this at the time of death.

If you are a meritorious person you cannot fear death. You know for certain that you will get a good re-birth if you are going to be re-born. Only people who have a strong belief and conviction of Karma don’t fear death.

People who have not done much merit, and who do not keep the precepts can fear death.

The Five Hindrances

1. Kamachchanda? Sense desires
2. Vyapada? Illwill
3. Theenamiddha? Sloth and torpor
4. Uddhachcha Kukkuchcha? Restlessness and worry
5. Vichikichcha? Skeptical Doubts

The five hindrances are the factors that can hinder or obstruct the mind at any time. Out of the five hindrances the two most prominent hindrances that surface at the time of meditation are the first two. i.e. sense desires and illwill (or anger/aversion).

You must be able to stay alert to these hindrances arising at the time of meditation without getting attached to sense desires or getting angry when illwill arises. But just watch them with mindfulness and allow it to pass. Just as you recognize it, it will get weakened and pass away, when you stay mindful.

You must continue with your meditation without judging, without condemning anything. You must give up your opinions and just watch, just be conscious of the moment. Paying bare attention to the object of meditation and watching what arises and passes away in the mind.

බක්පුර පසළොස්වක

බක්පුර පසළොස්වක පෝය අප්‍රේල් 08 වන දා බදාදා අපර භාග 09.14 ට ලබයි. 9 වනදා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දා අපර භාග 08.30 දක්වා පෝය පවතී.
සිල් සමාදන්වීම අප්‍රේල් 9 වන දා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දාය.

මීළඟ පෝය අප්‍රේල් 17 වන දා සිකුරාදා

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2009 පෝය ලබන ගෙවෙන වේලා සහ සිල් සමාදන් විය යුතු දවස

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