Breath Meditation: A Sudden Enlightened Zen
Phổ Nguyêt, 2007
In all meditations and The Four Foundations of Mindfulness, The Breath Meditation is the superiority over the dhamma. It is a sudden Enlightened Zen by contemplating directly the human heart with a clear awareness and without open hole that enters the spread of false thoughts. The breath is the liasion base from the Manas (Afflicted Consciousness) and Alaya (Foundation Consciousness) to continue the life impacting into the cause and effect of birth and death of the beings. Therefore, correct breath can not only make the body and mind stable but release from the erroneous consciousness with chaining Samsara, the cycle of births and deaths (birth, death, and rebirth: reincarnation) by the karma. What is the karma?
I. Karma (skt)-Kamma (p)
a). The meanings of Karma:
Karma is one of the fundamental doctrines of Buddhism. Everything that we encounter in this life, good or bad, sweet or bitter, is a result of what we did in the past or from what we have done recently in this life. Good karma produces happiness; bad karma produces pain and suffering. So, what is karma? Karma is a Sanskrit word, literally means a deed or an action and a reaction, the continuing process of cause and effect. Moral or any good or bad action (however, the word ‘karma’ is usually used in the sense of evil bent or mind resulting from past wrongful actions) taken while living which causes corresponding future retribution, either good or evil transmigration (action and reaction, the continuing process of cause and effect)-Our present life is formed and created through our actions and thoughts in our previous lives. Our present life and circumstances are the product of our past thoughts and actions, and in the same way our deeds in this life will fashion our future mode of existence. A karma can by created by body, speech, or mind. There are good karma, evil karma, and indifferent karma. All kinds of karma are accumulated by the Alayavijnana and Manas. Karma can be cultivated through religious practice (good), and uncultivated. For Sentient being has lived through inumerable reincarnations, each has boundless karma. Whatever kind of karma is, a result would be followed accordingly, sooner or later. No one can escape the result of his own karma.
b). Karmas and Recompenses:
As mentioned above, karma is a product of body, speech and mind; while recompense is a product or result of karma. Karma is like a seed sown, and recompense is like a tree grown with fruits. When the body does good things, the mouth speaks good words, the mind thinks of good ideas, then the karma is a good seed. In the contrary, the karma is an evil seed. Thus the Buddha taught: “To lead a good life, you Buddhists should make every effort to control the activities of your body, speech, and mind. Do not let these activities hurt you and others.” Recompense corresponds Karma without any exception. Naturally, good seed will produce a healthy tree and delicious fruits, while bad seed gives worse tree and fruits. Therefore, unless we clearly understand and diligently cultivate the laws of cause and effect, or karma and result, we cannot control our lives and experience a life the way we wish to. According to the Buddha-Dharma, no gods, nor heavenly deities, nor demons can assert their powers on us, we are totally free to build our lives the way we wish. If we accumulate good karma, the result will surely be happy and joyous. No demons can harm us. In the contrary, if we create evil karma, no matter how much and earnestly we pray for help, the result will surely be bitter and painful, no gods can save us.
c). How does karma enter the Alaya-vijnana?:
When we act, either good or bad, we see our own actions, like an outsider who witnesses. The pictures of these actions will automatically imprint in our Alaya-vijnana (subconscious mind); the seed of these actions are sown there, and await for enough conditions to spring up its tree and fruits. Similarly, the effect in the alaya-vijnana (subconscious mind) of the one who has received our actions. The seed of either love or hate has been sown there, waiting for enough conditions to spring up its tree and fruits.
d). How do we eliminate karma?:
The Buddha taught: “If someone give us something, but we refuse to accept. Naturally, that person will have to keep what they plan to give. This means our pocket is still empty.” Similarly, if we clearly understand that karmas or our own actions will be stored in the alaya-vijnana (subconscious mind) for us to carry over to the next lives, we will surely refuse to store any more karma in the ‘subconscious mind’ pocket. When the ‘subconscious mind’ pocket is empty, there is nothing for us to carry over. That means we don’t have any result of either happiness or suffering. As a result, the cycle of birth and death comes to an end, the goal of liberation is reached. (BDVE)
II. Breath Contemplation Is a Sudden Enlightened Zen.
The stream of consciousness or karma is accumulated in the unconsciousness (Alaya-vijnana, Manas) from generation to generation. Unconscious activities include the movement of the liver, kidney, heart, lung, etc..., specially heart and breath are clearly known. Breath meditation is the best purification of all false thoughts.
In fact, the breath is a string joined from unconsciousness to consciousness. From the Alaya-vijnana, the spread of lies or false ideas are carried away , or the current of erroneous consciousness is transferred to be very clear and straight- minded. Breath meditation is a dhamma of the sudden enlightened zen since the primitive period. In the Great Six Sense-media Discourse (Maha-salayatanika Sutta), Buddhda taught, "However, knowing & seeing the eye as it actually is present, knowing & seeing forms... consciousness at the eye... contact at the eye as they actually are present, knowing & seeing whatever arises conditioned through contact at the eye - experienced as pleasure, pain, or neither-pleasure-nor-pain - as it actually is present, one is not infatuated with the eye... forms... consciousness at the eye... contact at the eye... whatever arises conditioned by contact at the eye and is experienced as pleasure, pain, or neither-pleasure-nor-pain."
That is, perception and cognition are like a real eyes, real ear, nose...or clear sense organs, clear objects and clear consciousness, etc...
We need to remind the structure of perception and cognition
a) Sensations and Perceptions.
The characteristics of
sensation are common to all.. First, the indvidual sensory organs are
stimilated by a specific and different form of external or internal
energy: vision (eyes + material shapes = visual consciousness) is
stimulated by electromagnetic energy (or light); hearing (ear + sounds =
auditory consciousness), by sound waves; smell (nose + smells =
olfactorey consciousness) by new stimuli olfactory system; taste (tongue
+ tastes = gustatory consciousness by papillae; touch (body + tangibes =
When we took a cognive
perspective, we would offer insight. Cognitive involves the formation of
the concepts, schemas, theoris, and other mental abstractions. When we
cognize a part of six senses (sensations), we get a cognition. The
cognitions are not limited. . They are empty, broad, spacious, and with
c) Pure Cognition.
Buddha-wisdom, innocent mind in all which is independent of birth and death, one of the three states of mind or consciousness mentioned in the Lankavatara Sutra. When we cognize a pure perception, we get a pure cognition. The pure cognition to the true mind is without space-time. It is empty, broad, wonderful, bright, real, absolute, and without space-time.
True Mind = Pure Cognition + spaceless-no time
"Perceive a first
point of a sense to get a pure perception.
d) How to transfer the Consciousness to the Cognition.
that contains a thing and the thing that occupies a volume in the space
are packed-tight or coinciding with themselves; they are one. When we
see an object, our eyes receive light from the surruonding object and
translate it into nerve impulses that travels to the brain. Light
arriving at the retina must pass through various other cells before
striking the rods and cones, which cover it into nervous impulses. The
impulses then pass
When we see the object with a shortest period of time (ksana), that
object becomes immediately inreal or It is not yet Itself; It has a ksan
old (Time). When we see a first point of an object and we perceive it,
we have a pure perception. When I cognize the pure perception, I have a
pure cognition (without space-time). So, the true Mind is no time and
the pure cognition is no space-time. The conception about these kinds of
cognition and mind is used to distinguish between the Dhyanacontmplation
As the Abhidhamma Mulatika says, "only a dhamma that is an individual essence, with a definite beginning and a definite end in time, produced by conditions, and marked by the three salient characteristics of the conditioned existence, is positively produced". as two pannattis, another important characteristic of time and space is that they cannot be described either as sankhata (conditioned) or as asankhata (unconditioned), for to be so described they do not possess their own-nature...
Here "free from time" means that the three temporal distinctions as past, present, and future do not apply to them. That space is free from time is understandable. But how are we to understand that time is free from time, that is, free from the three temporal distinctions?
The answer to this question is that, according to the Abhidhamma, what we call the three temporal distinctions are not three phases of an absolute time but three conceptual constructs which we superimpose on the incessant flow of the dhammas. Past means the dhammas that have ceased to exist, present means the dhammas that exist, and future means the dhammas that are yet to originate." (Time and Space.The Abhidhamma perspective. Professor Y. Karunadasa)
Breath Meditaion, in the long run, is a pure cognition or a sudden enlightened method; it is perfectly clear, that is, it is never added or implicated in all kinds of moral as thinking or imagination like the other meditations. Breath Meditation contemplated from unconscious thoughts (from Alaya-vijnana) has its natural and automatic objects. These objects full of the defilements begin to give out, and the karma and consciousness in our five body aggregates become more empty and more clear. Only the Breath Meditation is the best doctrine because it permanently and naturally runs from the Alya- vijnana and it is real in the conscious activities. These objects are only used by our own force with the natural or automatic perception without involving the thoughts, imagination or with the other powers as outside or inner conditions, including that of a Buddha or Bodhisattva.
Therefore, after any ready meditation procedure, we begin to practice as follows:
When breathing in with perceiving breath in, the I cognize breath in. Because when breating is natural automatic by the sense organ (sensation) and I perceive breath in or I am conscious of breath in (perception, or consciousness), then I cognize breath in or I am aware of breath in (cognition and without time, that is pure cognition of the true mind). In sum,
* When breathing in with perceiving breath in, then I know or cognize (or aware of) breath in.
* when breathing out, and perceiving breath out, then I cognize breath out.
Sometimes, I feel breath in long, short, or hard, I know it long, short or hard, long or fast..., specially, when I hear a noise, I kwow hearing a noise...
Continuing knowing each breath within the meditation period belongs to our time.
The opening Passage from the Mahaasatipa.t.thaana Sutta:
"This is the only way, monks, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and grief, for reaching the Noble Path, for the realization of Nibbaana, namely, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
"Herein (in this teaching) monks, a monk dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, overcoming covetousness and grief in the world;
"he dwells contemplating the feeling in the feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, overcoming covetousness and grief in the world;
"he dwells contemplating the consciousness in the consciousness, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, overcoming covetousness and grief in the world;
"he dwells contemplating the dhamma in the dhammas, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, overcoming covetousness and grief in the world."
Teachings From Ancient Vietnamese Zen Masters are perceived as in some following areas:
Monks! Offering your best
efforts to Buddha,
Be mindful while you
Speak peacefully, timely;
have no fears.
See all things as
impermanent, non-self, uncreated, unconditioned.
(COMMENT: See for yourself all things are impermanent, and non-self. Looking at the person you are now, you see it is different to millions of persons you were yesterday, and you see you are just a stream running swiftly, manifesting endlessly in different forms as waves rising and falling, as bubbles forming and popping. The waves and bubbles continuously appear large or small, high or low, hot or cold, clean or unclean; but at all times, water has no form, being unmoved, staying unconditioned. Just live like water, and you will catch a glimpse of Nirvana - the state of uncreated, unconditioned peace. After that insight, you easily act, speak, and think mindfully, without discrimination. Just advance on the way to liberation; don’t cling to this suffering world again, in this life or after.)
Breathing in, you feel
you are breathing in;
Breathing in, you know
you are breathing in;
While you breathe, you feel; then, you know.
Feeling - that means you
feel the breath long or short.
(COMMENT: Breathing meditation helps calm the mind easily; it is also a part of mindfulness meditation. There are many ways in breathing meditation. Some teachers prefer to count or follow the breaths. You should also try this way: With eyes half open, don’t count, don’t follow, just feel the breaths; Be alert, and feel the breathing. Just be like a baby, and feel the breathing. A baby can not think, can not count, can not put her mind on the breaths, but she lives mostly with a sense of feeling and she will cry when the room is too hot, or when she is hungry. Just feel the breaths, don’t count or follow it. Remember that all methods of breathing meditation are helpful, and you can try many different ones. The Buddha said that breathing meditation cured many illness too.)
Learning the way of
Buddha, you must have zeal;
(COMMENT: Wisdom, insight, right view... Just follow the Buddha’s teachings, meditate for many years, and you will understand the Way.)
(Translated and Commented by Nguyen Giac)
An Outline of the Path to Enlightenment
a). The nature of the
b). How is it possible to
Kowing how to purify the mind, we need to use the breath meditation making the clearest mind. It is a way to Awakened State (jagrati) to become to a true mind. We can practice the meditation by perceiving the objects and cognizing them without space-time.
Really the Breath Meditation, a Sudden Enlightened Zen, is the meditation of knowing the Pure Cognition to the True Mind. A Clarity of Awareness (Sampasjnanin) must be daily practiced in the four forms of behavior. "Cognize a Pure Perception to get a Pure Cognition, and the Pure Cognition is the True Mind." The pure cognition is used by perceiving inattentive and natural objects (Spaceless), and the true Mind is a clear awareness and without time.
In conclusion, it is the most useful dharma by using this meditation with the fastest time because it is a direct and sudden enlightened thing to get the final road (End) of the shortest Buddhist method (Dharma). (Zen: A Cognition to the Mind. Pho Nguyet)
An Outline of the Path to Enlightenment.Dr. Nick Ribush, retreived at the website "Quang Duc": http://www.quangduc.com
BDVE. Buddhist Dictionary: Vietnamese- English. Thien Phuc, retreived at the website Tự Điển Quang Duc:
Maha-salayatanika Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya).The Great Six Sense-media Discourse Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, retreived at the Dieu Phap website: http://www.dieuphap.com
Purification of Mind. Bhikkhu Bodhi, retreived at the quang duc website. (Buddhist Meditation).
Teachings From Ancient Vietnamese Zen Masters. Translated and Commented by Nguyên Giac, retreived at the website Quảng Đức (Buddhist Meditation).
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Venerable Cayadaw U Sillaananda, retreived at the Qung Duc website.
Time and Space.The
Abhidhamma perspective. Professor Y. Karunadasa, Former Director,
Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, Lanka daily News,
Aug 10, 2003, retreived at Quang Duc website.
Zen: A Cognition to the Mind. Pho Nguyet, retreived at the Tang Thu Phat Hoc website:http://www.tangthuphathoc.com