[Guided meditation] Simplicity and Peacefulness

Taught and guided by Sayadaw U Jotika on 02/01/1997

Words from the transriber (Viet Hung): The first 15 minutes of this Dhamma talk & guided meditation session is invaluable to any meditators. It’s short, simple, concise yet the key points for meditating. At the moment, while I am not aware of Maluca Puta that Sayadaw mentioned in the talk, I did use the similar Pali text from Udānapāḷi, in which The Buddha taught Bāhiya about meditation. I am certain that the meaning is exactly the same. I’ll update the transcript with corresponding reference(s) to Maluca Puta, once I figure out where it is. There may be minor mistakes here and there in the transcript. But I’m certain mostly all the words should be there and you can get all the points in the right way.

May all mindfulness, peace and happiness be with you.

[00:00:04] (Some of you are) experienced meditators. Some of you are newcomer. Because I see some unfamiliar faces. So today, another lady, she said she used to come here. But I’ve been here for quite a while.

[00:00:49] Today is another day for beginners. Today, I would like to talk about something very, very simple. Nothing could be as simple as that. I want to get to the simplest, as simplest as possible. How simple meditation could be? Last week, we practice anāpāna and then relaxation of the body, sensation, mindfulness of the sensation of the body. This is what I learned from the very beginning. My first meditation practice begins in that way. So I still do that. Because basic is very important. Whatever you learn to do, the basic is very important. Let’s say, for example, somebody talks about Tai Chi the other day. When you practice Tai Chi, you do the same movement again and again, until you can do it without thinking about it. In the beginning you have to think about it, do it properly, very carefully. But after a while, it becomes so natural that your body and mind together move in that movement. That doesn’t mean that you become absent-minded. The whole body and mind together doing something, without thinking about it.

[00:02:27] So some of you who have read some of the Teachings of the Buddha might have heard about Maluca Puta. Have you heard about Maluca Puta? Yes, you’ve heard about them. There’s a slightly different way of pronouncing that name, maybe even slightly different spelling too. Some called that Malunca Puta. And in another book I found, it is called Maluca Bhutta. And Buddha gave a very, very simple meditation instruction to this person. He was a bhikkhu. And I’ll leave the story. Because the story is not very important.

[00:03:16] The basic instruction is Buddha said: “Diṭṭhe diṭṭhamattaṃ bhavissati” in Pali. Diṭṭhe diṭṭhamattaṃ. Diṭṭhe means “in seeing”, or while seeing. It can mean both. So in seeing, diṭṭhamattaṃ – just seeing. The most simple… And bhavissati means it will be. It is giving instruction. So when you practice this, when you see, it is just seeing, which means that you are not thinking about it, you just see it. You don’t give it any name, no judgment, no description, no name. You don’t think about it, but just see. So when you just see, it means that you don’t even think about I am seeing. This is just seeing, which is the process, a natural phenomenon, happening. You don’t even think that I am seeing. Because if you think I am seeing, then there’s an “I” (and) there’s another “seeing”. The two are different. So in this instruction, it means that in seeing there is only seeing. There’s only this process which is called seeing. Nothing more.

[00:04:51] Nothing can be more simple than that. In our daily life, we make things very complicated, and we have to. Otherwise we can’t go about doing things. Like, say, for example, when we see somebody, we need to know who this person is. And I’ve seen him before. I know something about him and we have talked about many things and we remember that. So things are very complicated. And when we go down the road, we see so many things. We see shops, cars, people. We need to know to give them names, to understand how they work. Otherwise, we can’t go about doing our functions in the world. But in meditation, we should let go of all that. It’s a different thing. We can’t meditate with the same attitude and in the same way that we go about doing other things. So when we meditate, we become very simple. One person in America said that, because this word simple can mean so many things, so he made it very clear. He said, “We become simple, but we don’t become simpletons”. Because simpletons means stupid. So although we become simple, we don’t become stupid. We become wiser. And in this, simplicity is wisdom. As you do it, you will find that out. So today I will do this guided meditation.

[00:06:18] And I’ve been trained as an engineer. And this person here, sitting, is one of our teachers. So when I was studying engineering, when the teachers taught me theories, I read them and I couldn’t understand. Because I studied electrical engineering. It’s very complicated, not like any other subjects. Because electrical is something like abstract. You cannot see electricity. You see the parts, but you don’t know what’s happening inside. So whenever I want to understand something, I have to get the things put together and then see how it affects, measure the properties, the qualities. And after I do that, then I understand. So meditation is like that. You can’t just study meditation theoretically. As soon as you learn something, put that into practice. And after practicing it, then you understand.

[00:07:12] So the next step is Buddha said in hearing, sute sutamattaṃ bhavissati, in hearing, just hearing, which means that you don’t even think about what you hear, whether it’s a crowd, whether it’s a person, whether it’s a dog. It doesn’t matter. You don’t think about that. In hearing, this is just hearing. Very simple. Nothing can be more simple. You cannot make it more simple anymore. [skip a few words] And mute mutamattaṃ bhavissati. And this muta, the word, has many meanings. It means coming in contact actually, the smelling, tasting and also bodily sensations, heat, cold, pain, relaxation, tension. So all that is meant in one word, muta. So, mute mutamattaṃ. And this word mattaṃ means nothing more. Just sensation, nothing more. You don’t think about it. You don’t call it a name. You don’t even think this is pain. You don’t even think this feels nice. You’re just with it. No thought at all.

[00:08:42] Not even noting. Even nothing is something more complicated. Because, for example, when you hear something and you try to say, oh, this is the dog barking. To understand or to come to this conclusion, you need a very complicated process in the mind. First you hear the sound and you recall from the past similar sound that you heard, and you put the two together. And then the mind, it works very fast, the computer. The mind recognizes that this is the same as that. And then you recall what that was called in the past. And you remember that oh that was called a dog barking in the past. And you bring that past name to the present, and therefore this sound is a dog barking. So you go through four processes, four steps to get to that. So in this meditation, diṭṭhe diṭṭhamattaṃ, sute sutamattaṃ, mute mutamattaṃ means you stop at the first step. No more, no going to the next three steps. So even to name something, you go through many, many steps, like say when you hear one word, if the sound is one syllable, you go through four steps. But if the sound has two syllables, which means two sounds, you go through more than four, maybe six, sometimes maybe eight, eight steps. And if the word is more than two, three, four, five syllables, you have to go through many, many, many steps to get to the conclusion. So the mind works very fast, very hard. In this meditation practice, you stop all that process. You see with the first step. That’s it.

[00:10:36] But it’s not that easy to do that because we have the habit of going through the whole process. But if you practice it, you will find that it’s not that difficult either. It’s not easy, but it’s not that difficult. You can get used to doing that. And as much as you learn to do that, you will find that you become more and more peaceful. Because peacefulness and simplicity, they go together. If you really want to be peaceful, be very simple. So in all human activities, this meditation practice is the most simple. It is just the act of being. When you see, it’s just seeing. When you hear, it’s just hearing. When you feel any sensation in the body, it is just sensation. Not even I am experiencing that. Not that even. Because I am experiencing that is something becoming very complicated. So of all human activity, of both body and mind, this is the simplest. The act of just being in all is simplicity and naturalness with nothing added at all. And that is the most important point: Nothing added at all. So we always add something into what we experience. So it is simple being, experience of simple being, experience of simple process.

[00:12:30] So in practicing this meditation, do not expect anything to happen. That is also another important thing. Especially, those people who have been meditating for quite a long time and who had some good experiences before, whenever they meditate again, they always want to get to that state as quick as possible. They expect that. Oh, I have been to that very peaceful state before. Now, I’m going to sit and I’ll get there as quick as possible. The harder you try, the harder it becomes. So don’t expect anything. Don’t try. So this is another paradox. Don’t try. If you try, you will not get there. If you really give up and not try to do anything at all, you’ll find that you are there. This is a paradox. So, be as simple as possible. Nothing added.

[00:13:39] [Sitting the right way] So as usual, we will sit in a position which is as easy as possible, as comfortable as possible. You can put your legs any way you like. And this is usually the way we sit without overlapping anything. Just leaving like this. When you get used to it, it’s the best position. And you can sit in any way you like. The most important thing is to be balanced and to be at ease. If you can sit full lotus, that’s also okay. I’ve shown you showed last week how I can sit full lotus. But I don’t try to do that anymore. It’s quite simple. Anything you can practice and it becomes easier and easier. For example, to sit full lotus, if you’d like to, it is as simple as this. Nothing to do. It goes on like this and you can sit balanced. So the most important thing is to be balanced and to be at ease. It doesn’t matter how you sit. But most people find it sitting like this very comfortable and also balanced. So you can put your hands like this in your lap or like this on your knees. This is also very balanced. In fact, it keeps your back straight. It supports your shoulders. But don’t press it. Don’t press it on your knees. Just put it down very lightly. Just leave it there.

[00:15:30] [Starting the meditation sesssion] And then we’ll begin our basic meditation. Breathing. Breathing very naturally and deeply. Feeling the air coming in and feeling the air going out. Not thinking, not noting even. Because we want to be as simple as possible, just feeling it coming in and feeling it going out. So as I give you the instructions slowly, I’ll do the same. So please do it together. We will go together.

[00:16:11] So sit very relaxed, balanced. Keep your back straight, but not very tense. Breathing very naturally and deeply without effort.

[00:16:31] Feel the air coming in. Feel the sensation, the air, gently touching near the nostril, as it comes in, it’s cooler. And when it goes out, gently touching there, slightly warmer. And feel the difference. And it is very important to feel the difference. So, let’s do that for a few minutes.

[00:17:37] Breathing in, breathing out without effort.

[00:18:14] You hear noise. It’s okay. Don’t take any notice. You just hear it. It’s just something happening there. Don’t think about it.

[00:18:39] Naturally, thoughts will come. You know that there are thoughts coming and going. Let them come. Let them go. Just feel the breath.

[00:19:14] And now, pay attention to the sensations all over the body. But we will begin from our forehead.

[00:19:46] Feel your forehead. Naturally, it is slightly tense. The muscles in your forehead and the muscles in your jaws and your neck’s muscles. The three of them are called tense triad. Because they are tense most of the time. So, feel the tension in your forehead and let go. Awareness of attention and awareness of relaxation is mute mutamattaṃ. You’re feeling something. And there’s just this feeling, nothing more. Not thinking about it. Just feeling it. Feeling the forehead, becoming relaxed, becoming smooth.

[00:21:25] Now pay attention to your eyes. Feel the tension around your eyes. And also in your eyelids. Do it one at a time. First, right eye. Feel the right eye becoming relaxed. Just let go.

[00:22:27] And now your left eye. Feel the tension around your eye. And feel the tension in your eyelids and slowly let go. [Can’t get the words]

[00:23:01] Stay there for a while. Have your eyes become relaxed. You’ll open slightly. Because it’s very natural for the eyes to open a small slit, when it is really relaxed. It’s just like a baby asleep with the eyes slightly open.

[00:23:51] You need a lot of effort to keep it shut. So let go of that effort. Let your eyes open slightly without effort.

[00:24:36] Now let’s move to the jaw muscles.

[00:24:44] Talking and munching all day, they must be very tired. So, loose your jaw muscles. Make it loose, let it go. Drop your jaw.

[00:25:08] If you really let it drop, your lips will become very soft and it will open slightly or maybe barely touching.

[00:25:34] Also your lips. Let it go. Let it become very soft. Just imagine a baby sleeping. Very young baby, sleeping blissfully in the face. So soft and gentle and relaxed.

[00:26:15] Feel the whole face very, very relaxed.

[00:26:32] Now feel your throat, getting into your throat region and your tongue also and let everything go. The words “let go” is very important. Don’t hold anything in position. As much as possible, just let go.

[00:27:11] Pay attention to your neck. They are very big muscles in your neck. And we use these muscles all day to look up and down, to turn left and right. So if you want to, move your head a little bit and feel the sensation in your neck, move very slowly and find a position which is more comfortable.

[00:27:50] Move very slowly. As you move, feel the sensation in your neck.

[00:28:07] Breathe naturally. Don’t hold your breath. Breathe without effort.

[00:28:22] Feel all face the throat and neck, very relaxed.

[00:28:36] Now let’s go to the right shoulder. Right shoulder. If you want to, move your shoulder slightly and see how you feel. We are getting in touch with our body, actually, bodily sensations, which is called muta.

[00:29:12] Right shoulder. Do you feel any tightness there? You feel tightness there? Be with it and then slowly drop your shoulder. But don’t try hard. Just let it go. As much as possible, just let it go.

[00:29:44] Now, very gently, move down to your arms. Then feel anything, any kind of sensation, tightness and stress. Slowly let go. The muscles in the back of your arms. The muscles in the front of your arms. Let your mind go into the muscles. And relax. Very patiently, very gently, relax.

[00:31:00] Move over, down to the place between your elbow and your hands.

[00:31:12] If you like to, move your hand to a new position, which you find more comfortable.

[00:31:29] As relaxed as possible, find a position where you feel more relaxed. So feel the sensations between your elbow and your hands.

[00:31:53] Becoming more and more relaxed. Now we move down to your right hand, to your right hand. And this is the most important part of your body. Actually, face and hands are most important.

[00:32:31] Feel the sensations. Any tension there and then let go. But do it one finger at a time. It is more important. That’s why we need to do it in detail. So first, feel your thumb. Very big muscle there. Thumb muscle. If you want to, move it, find a more comfortable position.

[00:33:16] Then slowly to your index finger. Just let go. Don’t try to keep it in a position. Just let it go.

[00:33:34] Now to the middle finger. Very patiently, very gently. Keep your mind there and feel it becoming more and more relaxed. Becoming more and more relaxed and move over to another finger.

[00:34:02] The ring finger. If you feel any tension there, move it a little bit to the position, which is more comfortable.

[00:34:29] Now you come to the most important thing in your hand, which is the little finger. Put your awareness in your little finger. And the muscles that you use when you move your little finger. Feel it becoming more and more relaxed. You’ll find that your hand is full of energy. Feel that energy there. It feels like a kind of wave. Feel your hand, the whole hand. Very relaxed. Feel the relaxation.

[00:35:45] And then we come to the left shoulder. Very big muscle there. We use it all day. Whenever we become anxious, the shoulder muscle becomes tense. So, feel that sensation, the tension in your shoulder muscle. Left shoulder. Drop it. Just let it go.

[00:36:32] Don’t think about it. Feel it. Now, slowly move down to your arm, to your left arm between your shoulder and your elbow. And feel the sensation or tension in the muscles.

[00:37:09] As you pay attention, it becomes more and more relaxed. Slowly move down to the muscles between elbow and hand, between your left elbow and your left hand. Move your fingers slightly if you want to, just to feel the sensations in that area. Slightly, feel the tension, feel the sensation there. If you let go, you’ll feel the muscles becoming more and more relaxed.

[00:38:19] Now we move down to the left hand. As usual, the thumb. Feel it becoming more more relaxed. Index finger, more relaxed. Middle finger. Ring finger. And then little finger.

[00:39:14] Hold your arms very lightly, resting. Very lightly resting. Not pressing anything. Put your shoulders very soft, relaxed. The neck, the throat, the face, very relaxed and soft.

[00:39:56] Now turn your attention to your heart region. When you become angry or upset or anxious, that heart region becomes very tense. You breathe in and out without effort. And see if you can feel any tension there. As you feel the tension, the tension becomes less and less. You become more and more relaxed. Your heart region becoming relaxed and the relaxation spreads all over your chest. You’re becoming more and more relaxed now.

[00:41:22] Now to your shoulder in the back. Slowly move down your back. Feel these sensations. Find the most comfortable position. Relax your back.

[00:41:55] Slowly move down to the muscles on which you are sitting.

[00:42:13] Slowly move down to your right leg, right leg, between your knee and your buttock.

[00:42:43] If it is too tense, slightly move your legs to find the position, which is very relaxed. Slowly move and then feel the sensation changing as you move slowly. The tension becomes less and less. You feel more relaxed. So when you need to move, it is very important to move slowly and experience the changing sensation. We are not in a hurry doing anything. We are just being, feeling, experiencing. We are being with our body, our bodily sensations, tension and relaxation. No hurry. We are in a habit of in a hurry, to do something, to get over, to get somewhere. So here, we are, not trying to get anywhere. That’s why I told you not to expect anything. Slowly move down your right leg to the region between your knee and your foot.

[00:44:36] If you feel anything there, stay with it. Any kind of tightness.

[00:45:04] Then slowly move down to your foot. Right foot. Down to your toes. All the toes, the big toe. Then one after another.

[00:45:42] Now we come to the left leg. Feel the sensation in the thigh muscles. We use it quite a lot all day. Feel any sensation. Tightness, ache, pain, whatever it might be.

[00:46:53] Just being with it. Slowly and slowly move down to your calf muscle between your knee and your foot. Feel the tension, the tightness, the tiredness or the heaviness. Don’t need to name it. Just feel it. And then slowly move down to your left foot.

[00:47:54] Now as much as possible, we have made our body relaxed. Now go back to your face. Because as you try to do something, your face becomes a bit tense, between your eyebrows on your forehead, your eyes, your cheeks, your jaw muscles, your lips. Let go and feel it becoming more and more relaxed.

[00:48:47] Now, stay in that position, which you find most comfortable and feel the whole body relaxed.

[00:49:13] Some minor discomfort is okay. It doesn’t matter. Feel the whole body. Shoulders, arms, legs, the whole body relaxed. When you become very, very relaxed, you can let go of the whole body.

[00:50:05] As your body becomes more relaxed, your mind will also become relaxed. So now go into your mind and feel the mind at ease, relaxed.

[00:50:32] Both your body and mind together at ease, relaxed. If any thought comes, let it come and let it go. No problem. Don’t think of it as a problem. If you hear any noise, it doesn’t matter. You hear it. Don’t need to do anything at all. Becoming calm and peaceful.

[00:51:40] The whole body and the mind together, relaxed. Breathe without effort. Very smoothly.

[00:52:09] And experience the sensation of feeling relaxed. In meditation, it is very important to feel at ease and to feel relaxed. Then only (after that) you can go deeper. Because if you cannot do that, then you are stuck there. So feel very relaxed. Don’t try too hard to do anything.

[00:53:15] So now pay more attention to your mind, becoming more and more peaceful. Even though your body might be feeling some discomfort, it doesn’t matter. The Buddha said, “Although my body is in pain or uncomfortable, my mind is not in pain. My mind is at peace.” Relaxed and comfortable. So get deep into your mind and feel your mind at ease, peaceful.

[00:54:38] Again and again, get in touch with your mind and let go. Not trying to do anything. Just knowing. Just mindful. Just feeling at peace. In Pali, one experience in this case is called “kāya lahutā”. Kāya means body. Lahutā means light. As you become more and more relaxed, you feel your body becoming light, which means at ease. And “citta lahutā”, which means lightness of mind. The mind is at ease. You feel light. So look deep into your mind and feel your mind. Very light, not heavy, not burdened, not doing anything. Just experiencing. Lightness. Peacefulness.

[00:56:43] And another thing is “kāya mudutā”. Mudutā means soft. The body is very gentle, very soft. Not tight. Not dense. Very relaxed and soft. So, feel your face. Very relaxed. Very soft.

[00:57:20] And “citta mudutā” which means the mind is very soft, very gentle, not tense, not anxious, not trying to do anything, just being mindful. Just feeling. Relaxed. And another thing is “kāya passaddhi” which means coolness of the body. When the body becomes very relaxed, the cell’s reaction becomes less and less and it uses less energy. And so it becomes cooler. As you use more energy, it becomes hot. But as you use less energy, it becomes cool. When the body becomes cooler and also the mind becomes cooler, too. Citta passaddhi, the mind is cool, which means calm, tranquil, at ease, at peace. So feel your mind becoming calm, cool, at ease and peaceful. Both your body and mind at peace. But pay more attention to your mind. Relaxed, at ease, peaceful.

[00:59:42] As you let go more and more, as you feel okay about everything happening in your body or happening around you or anything happening in your mind, as you feel okay about everything, your mind becomes more and more peaceful. Thinking makes the mind tired. If you let go of all thinking, the mind becomes very simple and very peaceful.

[01:00:46] To breathe in and out. Very simple. Feel your body and mind becoming more relaxed and peaceful. Especially your mind becoming more and more relaxed, more and more peaceful.

[01:01:37] Deep relaxation and deep calmness. Peacefulness. It is quite natural when you don’t do when you don’t think, the mind becomes peaceful.

[01:02:13] So let’s play with that for a while. Calmness and peacefulness and stillness of the mind.

[01:03:56] Deep inside you, deep inside your mind is calm and peaceful, is like an ocean. The waves are only on the surface. Deep down there is calmness and peacefulness. And it’s very simple. You can become really simple and you can be really peaceful.

[01:04:41] So feel the peacefulness. Get into the peacefulness. Feel your body and mind, in the midst of peace and tranquility. Be at ease. Be peace. Be tranquil.

[01:05:58] Let go of what you think you are or who you think you are. The body is not really you. The thoughts are not really you. The feelings, even the sensations even, are not really you. You think that you are all those things.

[01:06:32] All those names, all those labels are prisons, actually, binding, fetter. We are not Easteners. We are not Westerners. All that is a name. Drop that: [can’t hear] Man, woman, young, old. All that is making us not free, not peaceful. Just ideas we create for ourself. Even the thought “I am peaceful”. Drop that “I”. And just peaceful, with no “I”. Taste peacefulness deep inside. But there is no “I”.

[01:08:00] We are looking for peacefulness. It is deep inside, if you can let go of all these labels, all the names, all the thoughts and all the ideas.

[01:09:18] Go deeper and deeper and be more and more peaceful.

[01:17:57] The meditation session ended.

Viet Hung | A Happiness pursuer | Author of The Happiness JournalTản mạn về Hạnh phúc and NGẪM CAFÉ
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