1. Mindfulness of breathing, bhikkhus, developed and repeatedly practised, is of great fruit, of great benefit; mindfulness of breathing, bhikkhus, developed and repeatedly practised, perfects the four foundations of mindfulness; the four foundations of mindfulness, developed and repeatedly practised, perfect the seven enlightenment factors; the seven enlightenment factors, developed and repeatedly practised, perfect knowledge and freedom…
2. Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, gone to the forest, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty place, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, established mindfulness in front of him, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out.
3. Breathing in long, he knows, ‘I breathe in long’; or breathing out long, he knows, ‘I breathe out long.’
4. Breathing in short, he knows, ‘I breathe in short’; or breathing out short, he knows, ‘I breathe out short.’
5. ‘Experiencing the whole body, I shall breathe in,’ he trains himself thus; ‘experiencing the whole body, I shall breathe out,’ he trains himself thus.
6. ‘Calming the bodily determination, I shall breathe in,’ he trains himself thus; ‘calming the bodily determination, I shall breathe out,’ he trains himself thus…
Ānāpānasati Sutta, MN 118.
1. The practice of ānāpānasati or mindfulness of breathing represents a phenomenological exercise in developing the principle of simultaneity (akālikā dhamma). This is accomplished by the sufficient establishing of mindfulness and knowledge of what one is supposed to do and discern.1 It is an exercise because it requires one actively engaging in and being aware of the act of breathing, and it develops the principle of simultaneity because while one is actively breathing, one is aware of one’s actions (body, feelings, and thoughts). These are two different, simultaneously present things: the physical or bodily act of breathing, and the mental reflexive thoughts of one doing that very act. One is not supposed to be favoured on account of the other; a person should not be overdoing the breathing (i.e. turning it into a forceful breathing exercise) nor should he be underdoing it (i.e. forgetting about the act of breathing that is being performed, and letting it happen unawares). In the same sense one should not overthink one’s thinking (i.e. get lost in thought). The point is to mindfully breathe while remain fully aware of oneself-mindfully-breathing, or – to put it simply – to remain aware of the present phenomenon of “I am breathing.” Read the rest of this entry »
Essays and Letters on Dhamma
Limited Edition in hardback
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Doubt always remains present and it continuously needs fixing. But how to realize the ideal meaning, if not by following what others have done and by fulfilling commonly-accepted techniques and views? What is the real meaning of existence and suffering?
Meanings is not a book to give direct answers to such questions. There is nothing here that you can take up as a belief, an empty speculation or a theory. The author, Ven. Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli, refrains from explaining Dhamma, an act which he regards as mere psychological investigation and linearly-connected facts. Here is no intent to set up a fixed theory. What the author does do is describe the nature of experience as it is: not about this or that problem or fact in the world, but the experience as such—Dhamma, which has to be investigated with proper attention e.g. seeing the present simultaneous relationship of an arisen thing and its determination. With proper attention, the being of things is gradually revealed—and not understanding the nature of this being, the author says, is the fundamental ignorance. He then describes nothing but the nature, the dhamma, of things—not by looking for the meaning, but understanding meanings.
‘Essays’, the first part of the book, contains just that: descriptions of the experience. This is no doubt difficult material to digest: it demands that the reader recognize those described things in his own experience. Without developed mindfulness and right attention, these writings will be impossible to grasp.
The second part of the book, the ‘Correspondence with Mathias’, provides useful support in understanding the essays. This private correspondence has been taking place with a German friend, Mathias, since 2009.
The third part, ‘Additional Texts’, contains questions posted on http://www.pathpress.org by people who wanted to understand the essays and sought clarification, with answers by Ven. Ñāṇamoli. (From the Preface)
From: The Island, May 10, 2014, 6:14 pm
by Thusitha Jayawardena
“Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha’s Teaching.”
One day in 1948, almost a decade before the flower children’s exodus to the East, two Englishmen—one, twenty eight, in the prime of life, and the other, fifteen years his senior—arrived in Ceylon. They proceeded to Vajirarama, a Buddhist temple in the capital, Colombo, where they received the novice ordination and, eventually, the full ordination as Buddhist monks. The Hermit of Bundala (THB) by Bhikkhu Hiriko Nanasuci is the story of one of them—Harold Edward Musson. The book traces Musson’s unusual life through numerous interviews and Musson’s and the other Englishman, Osbert Moor’s, correspondence with their relatives, friends and fellow seekers of the Path. It is an engaging narrative of Musson’s extraordinary life: A childhood spent in an upper class English family, Cambridge days followed by a stint in an army intelligence unit during the Second World War, a decadent post-war interlude, a Herculean effort to understand and follow the Buddha’s teaching, and his last days in a secluded kuti in the remote village of Bundala in the jungles of southern Ceylon. Had that stark contrast of Musson’s beginning and end been the main story, The Hermit of Bundala would remain a book about an eccentric Englishman. It is much more. THB is the story of Nanavira Thera—as Musson was known post-ordination—and his single-minded quest to follow the Buddha’s teaching. Read the rest of this entry »
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by Ven. Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
For a puthujjana the world exists. He can perceive things in that world, see them appear and disappear, he can see them changing. A puthujjana can also affect his surroundings and modify things according to own preferences, pursue the desirable experiences and avoid the undesirable ones—the puthujjana is involved. This ‘involvement’ with things represents the very core of the puthujjana‘s ‘experience as a whole’. Most people spend the majority of their lives obliviously absorbed in it, taking the course of ‘involvement’ for granted.
Today would be Ven. Ñāṇavīra 94th birthday and in commemoration of this day, Path Press Publications has published his long-awaited biography,
The Hermit of Būndala
Biography of Ñāṇavīra Thera and
reflections on his life and work
by Bhikkhu Hiriko Ñāṇasuci
An attempt to compile all that is known about Ñāṇavīra’s life and thought. The book retells stories from after his death, about controversies, lost or burned letters, his surviving legacy, and the growth of interest in these writings till the present time.
isbn: 9789460900082, 320 pages.
Here we publish for the first time the complete manuscript of Ven. Ñāṇamoli’s translation of the Majjhima Nikāya, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, one of the major collections in the Sutta Piṭaka.
“During his eleven years’ life in the Buddhist Order, passed entirely at the Island Hermitage in south Sri Lanka, Ven. Ñāṇamoli had rendered into English some of the most difficult and intricate texts of Pali Buddhism, among them the encyclopaedic Visuddhimagga. Following his premature death at the age of fifty-five, three thick, hand-bound notebooks containing a handwritten translation of the entire Majjhima Nikāya were found among his effects. However, although all 152 suttas of the Majjhima had been translated, the work was obviously still in an ongoing process of revision, with numerous crossouts and overwritings and a fair number of unresolved inconsistencies. The translation also employed an experimental scheme of highly original renderings for Pali doctrinal terms that Ven. Ñāṇamoli had come to prefer to his earlier scheme and had overwritten into the notebooks. He had used this new set of renderings in several of his final publications, offering an explanation for his choices in an appendix to The Minor Readings and The Illustrator of Ultimate Meaning, his translation of the Khuddakapāṭha and its commentary.” (Bhikkhu Bodhi, ‘Preface’, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Wisdom Publications, 1995.)