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Mindfulness In Plain English - Chapter 5: The Practice
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Mindfulness In Plain English


by Mahathera Henepola Gunaratana


Chapter 5: The Practice

第五章 禅修的实践

Although there are many subjects of meditation, we strongly recommend you start with focusing your total undivided attention on your breathing to gain some degree of shallow concentration. Remember that you are not practicing a deep absorption or pure concentration technique. You are practicing mindfulness for which you need only a certain degree of shallow concentration. You want to cultivate mindfulness culminating in insight and wisdom to realize the truth as it is. You want to know the working of your body-mind complex exactly as it is. You want to get rid of all psychological annoyance to make your life really peaceful and happy.


The mind cannot be purified without seeing things as they really are. "Seeing things as they really are" is such a heavily loaded and ambiguous phrase. Many beginning meditators wonder what we mean, for anyone who has clear eye sight can see objects as they are.


When we use this phrase in reference to insight gained from our meditation, what we mean is not seeing things superficially with our regular eyes, but seeing things with wisdom as they are in themselves. Seeing with wisdom means seeing things within the framework of our body/mind complex without prejudices or biases springing from our greed, hatred and delusion. Ordinarily when we watch the working of our mind/body complex, we tend to hide or ignore things which are not pleasant to us and to hold onto things which are pleasant. This is because our minds are generally influenced by our desires, resentment and delusion. Our ego, self or opinions get in our way and color our judgment.


When we mindfully watch our bodily sensations, we should not confuse them with mental formations, for bodily sensations can arise without anything to do with the mind. For instance, we sit comfortably. After a while, there can arise some uncomfortable feeling on our back or in our legs. Our mind immediately experiences that discomfort and forms numerous thoughts around the feeling. At that point, without trying to confuse the feeling with the mental formations, we should isolate the feeling as feeling and watch it mindfully. Feeling is one of the seven universal mental factors. The other six are contact, perception, mental formations, concentration, life force, and awareness.

当我们留意观察自己的身体感觉时,不要误以为它们是一些心行(Mental Formations)[1],因为身体感觉是可以完全不依赖心意而生起的。例如:我们舒服地坐着,不久之后,背部或腿部可能会出现不舒服的感受,我们的心立即感到不适,并且环绕着那感受生起很多想法。那时,不可把感受与心行活动混为一谈,我们应把感受脱离出来,独立地进行留意观察。感受是七个普遍的心理因素之一,其余六个是:接触、想(知觉)、作意(注意)、定、生命力与心行(有意图的思维活动)。

At another time, we may have a certain emotion such as, resentment, fear, or lust. Then we should watch the emotion exactly as it is without trying to confuse it with anything else. When we bundle our form, feeling, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness up into one and try to watch all of them as feeling, we get confused, as we will not be able to see the source of feeling. If we simply dwell upon the feeling alone, ignoring other mental factors, our realization of truth becomes very difficult. We want to gain the insight into the experience of impermanence to over come our resentment; our deeper knowledge of unhappiness overcomes our greed which causes our unhappiness; our realization of selflessness overcomes ignorance arising from the notion of self. We should see the mind and body separately first. Having comprehended them separately, we should see their essential interconnectedness. As our insight becomes sharp, we become more and more aware of the fact that all the aggregates are cooperating to work together. None can exist without the other. We can see the real meaning of the famous metaphor of the blind man who has a healthy body to walk and the disabled person who has very good eyes to see. Neither of them alone can do much for himself. But when the disabled person climbs on the shoulders of the blind man, together they can travel and achieve their goals easily. Similarly, the body alone can do nothing for itself. It is like a log unable to move or do anything by itself except to become a subject of impermanence, decay and death. The mind itself can do nothing without the support of the body. When we mindfully watch both body and mind, we can see how many wonderful things they do together.


我们希望能亲自洞悉无常,以克服自身的苦恼与无明(Ignorance):对苦恼的深入了解可克服造成苦恼的贪欲,领悟「无我」可克服由「我想」引起的「无明」。欲达到这些内观智慧,我们不但要懂得分辨身与心,还要看到它们的相互联系状态(Interconnectedness)。随着内观变得敏锐起来,我们也会越来越明白五蕴身心一起协同运作的事实,知道没有一蕴是可以不依余蕴而能独存的。于是,我们了解到那个着名的盲人与跛子故事的真正寓意── 两个人单独来看,都是能力有限的,可是,当盲人背着有视力的跛子和听从跛子的指导时,两人才可一起踏上旅途,轻易地达到他们的目标。身与心也是一样,身体不能单独为自己做到什么,它好像一块木头,本身不能走动或做到什么,只能陷于无常、腐坏与死亡。心灵没有身体的支持也做不了什么,可是,当我们留心地观察着身心时,亦即是当身心一起合作时,我们就可以看见很多奇妙的事情了。

As long as we are sitting in one place we may gain some degree of mindfulness. Going to a retreat and spending several days or several months watching our feelings, perceptions, countless thoughts and various states of consciousness may make us eventually calm and peaceful. Normally we do not have that much time to spend in one place meditating all the time. Therefore, we should find a way to apply our mindfulness to our daily life in order for us to be able to handle daily unforeseeable eventualities. What we face every day is unpredictable. Things happen due to multiple causes and conditions, as we are living in a conditional and impermanent world. Mindfulness is our emergency kit, readily available at our service at any time. When we face a situation where we feel indignation, if we mindfully investigate our own mind, we will discover bitter truths in ourselves. That is we are selfish; we are egocentric; we are attached to our ego; we hold on to our opinions; we think we are right and everybody else is wrong; we are prejudices; we are biased; and at the bottom of all of this, we do not really love ourselves. This discovery, though bitter, is a most rewarding experience. And in the long run, this discovery delivers us from deeply rooted psychological and spiritual suffering.

在一个地方坐禅,我们可以修得某程度的静观力。能参加密集禅修,用几天、乃至几个月时间去留意观察自身的感受、知觉(想蕴)、数不清的想法(行蕴)、以及各种意识状态等,是可以最终令我们得到平静与安宁的。可是,我们通常并没有那么多时间在一个地方持续修习,因此,应找个方法,把静观运于于日常生活之中,以应付每天无法预测的突发事件。每天遇上什么都无法预知,事情的发生是由许多因缘(条件)所决定的,因为我们都活在一个受条件制约与无常的世界里。静观是我们的随身求生包(Emergency Kit),随时候命为我们服务。当我们要面对一个令我们愤怒的场合时,如果能仔细审察自心,就会发现一些难以接受的、与自己有关的事实,例如:我们是自私自利的、以自我为中心的、执着自我的、自以为是的、我对他错的、有成见的、有偏见的等等。说到底,我们并不喜欢自己。这发现虽然难于接受,却是十分有益的一个体验,而且,长远来说,这发现可令我们从根深柢固的心理与心灵的痛苦中解脱出来。

Mindfulness practice is the practice of one hundred percent honesty with ourselves. When we watch our own mind and body, we notice certain things that are unpleasant to realize. As we do not like them, we try to reject them. What are the things we do not like? We do not like to detach ourselves from loved ones or to live with unloved ones. We include not only people, places and material things into our likes and dislikes, but opinions, ideas, beliefs and decisions as well. We do not like what naturally happens to us. We do not like, for instance, growing old, becoming sick, becoming weak or showing our age, for we have a great desire to preserve our appearance. We do not like someone pointing out our faults, for we take great pride in ourselves. We do not like someone to be wiser than we are, for we are deluded about ourselves. These are but a few examples of our personal experience of greed, hatred and ignorance.


When greed, hatred and ignorance reveal themselves in our daily lives, we use our mindfulness to track them down and comprehend their roots. The root of each of these mental states in within ourselves. If we do not, for instance, have the root of hatred, nobody can make us angry, for it is the root of our anger that reacts to somebody's actions or words or behavior. If we are mindful, we will diligently use our wisdom to look into our own mind. If we do not have hatred in us we will not be concerned when someone points out our shortcomings. Rather, we will be thankful to the person who draws our attention to our faults. We have to be extremely wise and mindful to thank the person who explicates our faults so we will be able to tread the upward path toward improving ourselves. We all have blind spots. The other person is our mirror for us to see our faults with wisdom. We should consider the person who shows our shortcomings as one who excavates a hidden treasure in us that we were unaware of. It is by knowing the existence of our deficiencies that we can improve ourselves. Improving ourselves is the unswerving path to the perfection which is our goal in life. Only by overcoming weaknesses can we cultivate noble qualities hidden deep down in our subconscious mind. Before we try to surmount our defects, we should what they are.


If we are sick, we must find out the cause of our sickness. Only then can we get treatment. If we pretend that we do not have sickness even though we are suffering, we will never get treatment. Similarly, if we think that we don't have these faults, we will never clear our spiritual path. If we are blind to our own flaws, we need someone to point them out to us. When they point out our faults, we should be grateful to them like the Venerable Sariputta, who said: "Even if a seven-year-old novice monk points out my mistakes, I will accept them with utmost respect for him." Ven. Sariputta was an Arahant who was one hundred percent mindful and had no fault in him. But since he did not have any pride, he was able to maintain this position. Although we are not Arahants, we should determine to emulate his example, for our goal in life also is to attain what he attained.


Of course the person pointing out our mistakes himself may not be totally free from defects, but he can see our problems as we can see his faults, which he does not notice until we point them out to him.


Both pointing out shortcomings and responding to them should be done mindfully. If someone becomes unmindful in indicating faults and uses unkind and harsh language, he might do more harm than good to himself as well as to the person whose shortcomings he points out. One who speaks with resentment cannot be mindful and is unable to express himself clearly. One who feels hurt while listening to harsh language may lose his mindfulness and not hear what the other person is really saying. We should speak mindfully and listen mindfully to be benefitted by talking and listening. When we listen and talk mindfully, our minds are free from greed, selfishness, hatred and delusion.


Our Goal


As meditators, we all must have a goal, for if we do not have a goal, we will simply be groping in the dark blindly following somebody's instructions on meditation. There must certainly be a goal for whatever we do consciously and willingly. It is not the Vipassana meditator's goal to become enlightened before other people or to have more power or to make more profit than others, for mindfulness meditators are not in competition with each other.


Our goal is to reach the perfection of all the noble and wholesome qualities latent in our subconscious mind. This goal has five elements to it: Purification of mind, overcoming sorrow and lamentation, overcoming pain and grief, treading the right path leading to attainment of eternal peace, and attaining happiness by following that path. Keeping this fivefold goal in mind, we can advance with hope and confidence to reach the goal.





Once you sit, do not change the position again until the end of the time you determined at the beginning. Suppose you change your original position because it is uncomfortable, and assume another position. What happens after a while is that the new position becomes uncomfortable. Then you want another and after a while, it too becomes uncomfortable. So you may go on shifting, moving, changing one position to another the whole time you are on your mediation cushion and you may not gain a deep and meaningful level of concentration. Therefore, do not change your original position, no matter how painful it is.


To avoid changing your position, determine at the beginning of meditation how long you are going to meditate. If you have never meditated before, sit motionless not longer than twenty minutes. As you repeat your practice, you can increase your sitting time. The length of sitting depends on how much time you have for sitting meditation practice and how long you can sit without excruciating pain.


We should not have a time schedule to attain the goal, for our attainment depends on how we progress in our practice based on our understanding and development of our spiritual faculties. We must work diligently and mindfully towards the goal without setting any particular time schedule to reach it. When we are ready, we get there. All we have to do is to prepare ourselves for that attainment.


After sitting motionless, close your eyes. Our mind is analogous to a cup of muddy water. The longer you keep a cup of muddy water still, the more mud settles down and the water will be seen clearly. Similarly, if you keep quiet without moving you body, focusing your entire undivided attention on the subject of your meditation, your mind settles down and begins to experience the bliss of meditation.


To prepare for this attainment, we should keep our mind in the present moment. The present moment is changing so fast that the casual observer does not seem to notice its existence at all. Every moment is a moment of events and no moment passes by without noticing events taking place in that moment. Therefore, the moment we try to pay bare attention to is the present moment. Our mind goes through a series of events like a series of pictures passing through a projector. Some of these pictures are coming from our past experiences and others are our imaginations of things that we plan to do in the future.


The mind can never be focused without a mental object. Therefore we must give our mind an object which is readily available every present moment. What is present every moment is our breath. The mind does not have to make a great effort to find the breath, for every moment the breath is flowing in and out through our nostrils. As our practice of insight meditation is taking place every waking moment, our mind finds it very easy to focus itself on the breath, for it is more conspicuous and constant than any other object.


After sitting in the manner explained earlier and having shared your loving-kindness with everybody, take three deep breaths. After taking three deep breaths, breathe normally, letting your breath flow in and out freely, effortlessly and begin focusing your attention on the rims of your nostrils. Simply notice the feeling of breath going in and out. When one inhalation is complete and before exhaling begins, there is a brief pause. Notice it and notice the beginning of exhaling. When the exhalation is complete, there is another brief pause before inhaling begins. Notice this brief pause, too. This means that there are two brief pauses of breath--one at the end of inhaling, and the other at the end of exhaling. The two pauses occur in such a brief moment you may not be aware of their occurrence. But when you are mindful, you can notice them.


Do not verbalize or conceptualize anything. Simply notice the in-coming and out-going breath without saying, "I breathe in", or "I breathe out." When you focus your attention on the breath ignore any thought, memory, sound, smell, taste, etc., and focus your attention exclusively on the breath, nothing else.


At the beginning, both the inhalations and exhalations are short because the body and mind are not calm and relaxed. Notice the feeling of that short inhaling and short exhaling as they occur without saying "short inhaling" or "short exhaling". As you remain noticing the felling of short inhaling and short exhaling, your body and mind become relatively calm. Then your breath becomes long. Notice the feeling of that long breath as it is without saying "Long breath". Then notice the entire breathing process from the beginning to the end. Subsequently the breath becomes subtle, and the mind and body become calmer than before. Notice this calm and peaceful feeling of your breathing.


What To Do When the Mind Wanders Away?


In spite of your concerted effort to keep the mind on your breathing, the mind may wander away. It may go to past experiences and suddenly you may find yourself remembering places you've visited, people you met, friends not seen for a long time, a book you read long ago, the taste of food you ate yesterday, and so on. As soon as you notice that you mind is no longer on your breath, mindfully bring it back to it and anchor it there. However, in a few moments you may be caught up again thinking how to pay your bills, to make a telephone call to you friend, write a letter to someone, do your laundry, buy your groceries, go to a party, plan your next vacation, and so forth. As soon as you notice that your mind is not on your subject, bring it back mindfully. Following are some suggestions to help you gain the concentration necessary for the practice of mindfulness.

不管你怎么努力把心意安住于呼吸之上,心意还是会跑开的。它会跑到过去的经验里,突然间你会发觉,自己回忆起以前去过的地方、遇见过的人、久未谋面的朋友、一本很久之前读过的书、昨天吃过的食物味道…… 等等。当你察觉时,你的心意已不在呼吸上了,要立即留心地把心带回来,重新固定在呼吸之上。然而,很快你又再分心,想着缴交账单的方法、打电话给朋友、写一封信给别人、清洗衣服、买杂货、参加舞会、计划下次假期活动……等等。一旦你发觉心不在焉,要立即留心地把它带回来。下面的一些建议,可帮你提高足够的定力来修习观禅。

1. Counting

(1) 数息

In a situation like this, counting may help. The purpose of counting is simply to focus the mind on the breath. Once you mind is focused on the breath, give up counting. This is a device for gaining concentration. There are numerous ways of counting. Any counting should be done mentally. Do not make any sound when you count. Following are some of the ways of counting.


a) While breathing in count "one, one, one, one..." until the lungs are full of fresh air. While breathing out count "two, two, two, two..." until the lungs are empty of fresh air. Then while breathing in again count "three, three, three, three..." until the lungs are full again and while breathing out count again "four, four, four, four..." until the lungs are empty of fresh air. Count up to ten and repeat as many times as necessary to keep the mind focused on the breath.

(a) 当吸气时,数「一、一、一、一……」,直至肺部吸满空气为止,当呼气时,数「二、二、二、二……」,直至肺部呼尽空气为止,跟着再吸气,数「三、三、三、三……」,直至肺部再吸满空气为止,然后呼气时数「四、四、四、四……」,直至肺部呼尽空气为止,如此地从一数至十,再不断地重复,直至心能集中在气息之上。

b) The second method of counting is counting rapidly up to ten. While counting "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten" breathe in and again while counting "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten" breathe out. This means in one inhaling you should count up to ten and in one exhaling you should count up to ten. Repeat this way of counting as many times as necessary to focus the mind on the breath.

(b) 第二种数息方法是快速地从一数至十。即一面数着「一、二、三、四、五、六、七、八、九、十」时,一面吸气,然后再一面数着「一、二、三、四、五、六、七、八、九、十」时,一面呼气。换言之,在一次吸气中你要数至十,在一次呼气中你也要数至十。如此地不断重复,直至心能集中在气息之上。

c) The third method of counting is to counting secession up to ten. At this time count "one, two, three, four, five" (only up to five) while inhaling and then count "one, two, three, four, five, six" (up to six) while exhaling. Again count "one, two, three, four fire, six seven" (only up to seven) while inhaling. Then count "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight" while exhaling. Count up to nine while inhaling and count up to ten while exhaling. Repeat this way of counting as many times as necessary to focus the mind on the breath.

(c) 第三种数息方法是由一数至五,然后顺序地递增至十。开始时,一面吸气,一面数「一、二、三、四、五」(只数至五),然后一面呼气,一面数「一、二、三、四、五、六」(只数至六)。接着,再一面吸气,一面数「一、二、三、四、五、六、七」(只数至七),然后一面呼气,一面数「一、二、三、四、五、六、七、八」(只数至八)。接着,在吸气时数至九,在呼气时数至十。如此地不断重复,直至心能集中在气息之上。

d) The fourth method is to take a long breath. When the lungs are full, mentally count "one" and breath out completely until the lungs are empty of fresh air. Then count mentally "two". Take a long breath again and count "three" and breath completely out as before. When the lungs are empty of fresh air, count mentally "four". Count your breath in this manner up to ten. Then count backward from ten to one. Count again from one to ten and then ten to one.

(d) 第四种数息方法是在深长的吸气或呼气之后才数。当肺部吸满空气后,在心里数「一」,然后呼气,当肺部的空气呼尽了,在心里数「二」。接着再深吸气,至吸满时数「三」,然后呼气,至呼尽时用心数「四」。如此地呼吸,由一数到十,然后由十倒数至一,再由一数到十,又由十倒数至一。

e) The fifth method is to join inhaling and exhaling. When the lungs are empty of fresh air, count mentally "one". This time you should count both inhalation and exhalation as one. Again inhale, exhale, and mentally count "two". This way of counting should be done only up to five and repeated from five to one. Repeat this method until you breathing becomes refined and quiet.
Remember that you are not supposed to continue your counting all the time. As soon as your mind is locked at the nostrils-tip where the inhaling breath and exhaling breath touch and begin to feel that you breathing is so refined and quiet that you cannot notice inhalation and exhalation separately, you should give up counting. Counting is used only to train the mind to concentrate on one point.

(e) 第五种数息方法是把呼吸结合起来数。每次都在呼尽气时数。即是在一吸一呼之后才数「一」,再一吸一呼之后才数「二」,如此地只数到五,然后再由五倒数至一,如此地不断重复,直至你的气息变得微细与安静。请记住,你无需用全部的禅修时间去数息,一旦你的心被锁定在鼻孔末端与气息接触的地方,感到气息微细与安静,乃至分辨不出吸气或是呼气时,就要停止数息。数息只是用来训练心意集中在一个对象上而已。

2. Connecting

(2) 连接

After inhaling do not wait to notice the brief pause before exhaling but connect the inhaling and exhaling, so you can notice both inhaling and exhaling as one continuous breath.


3. Fixing

(3) 固定

After joining inhaling and exhaling, fix your mind on the point where you feel you inhaling and exhaling breath touching. Inhale and exhale as on single breath moving in and out touching or rubbing the rims of your nostrils.


4. Focus you mind like a carpenter

(4) 像木匠一样集中你的心

A carpenter draws a straight line on a board and that he wants to cut. Then he cuts the board with his handsaw along the straight line he drew. He does not look at the teeth of his saw as they move in and out of the board. Rather he focuses his entire attention on the line he drew so he can cut the board straight. Similarly keep your mind straight on the point where you feel the breath at the rims of your nostrils.


5. Make you mind like a gate-keeper

(5) 令你的心像一个看门人

A gate-keeper does not take into account any detail of the people entering a house. All he does is notice people entering the house and leaving the house through the gate. Similarly, when you concentrate you should not take into account any detail of your experiences. Simply notice the feeling of your inhaling and exhaling breath as it goes in and out right at the rims of your nostrils.


As you continue your practice you mind and body becomes so light that you may feel as if you are floating in the air or on water. You may even feel that your body is springing up into the sky. When the grossness of your in-and-out breathing has ceased, subtle in-and-out breathing arises. This very subtle breath is your objective focus of the mind. This is the sign of concentration. This first appearance of a sign-object will be replaced by more and more subtle sign-object. This subtlety of the sign can be compared to the sound of a bell. When a bell is struck with a big iron rod, you hear a gross sound at first. As the sound faces away, the sound becomes very subtle. Similarly the in-and-out breath appears at first as a gross sign. As you keep paying bare attention to it, this sign becomes very subtle. But the consciousness remains totally focused on the rims of the nostrils. Other meditation objects become clearer and clearer, as the sign develops. But the breath becomes subtler and subtler as the sign develops. Because of this subtlety, you may not notice the presence of your breath. Don't get disappointed thinking that you lost your breath or that nothing is happening to your meditation practice. Don't worry. Be mindful and determined to bring your feeling of breath back to the rims of your nostrils. This is the time you should practice more vigorously, balancing your energy, faith, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom.


Farmer's simile


Suppose there is a farmer who uses buffaloes for plowing his rice field. As he is tired in the middle of the day, he unfastens his buffaloes and takes a rest under the cool shade of a tree. When he wakes up, he does not find his animals. He does not worry, but simply walks to the water place where all the animals gather for drinking in the hot mid-day and he finds his buffaloes there. Without any problem he brings them back and ties them to the yoke again and starts plowing his field.


Similarly as you continue this exercise, your breath becomes so subtle and refined that you might not be able to notice the feeling of breath at all. When this happens, do not worry. It has not disappeared. It is still where it was before-right at the nostril-tips. Take a few quick breaths and you will notice the feeling of breathing again. Continue to pay bare attention to the feeling of the touch of breath at the rims of your nostrils.



As you keep your mind focused on the rims of your nostrils, you will be able to notice the sign of the development of meditation. You will feel the pleasant sensation of sign. Different meditators feel this differently. It will be like a star, or a peg made of heartwood, or a long string, or a wreath of flowers, or a puff of smoke, or a cob-web, or a film of cloud, or a lotus flower, or the disc of the moon or the disc of the sun.


Earlier in your practice you had inhaling and exhaling as objects of meditation. Now you have the sign as the third object of meditation. When you focus your mind on this third object, your mind reaches a stage of concentration sufficient for your practice of insight meditation. This sign is strongly present at the rims of the nostrils. Master it and gain full control of it so that whenever you want, it should be available. Unite the mind with this sign which is available in the present moment and let the mind flow with every succeeding moment. As you pay bare attention to it, you will see the sign itself is changing every moment. Keep your mind with the changing moments. Also notice that your mind can be concentrated only on the present moment. This unity of the mind with the present moment is called momentary concentration. As moments are incessantly passing away one after another, the mind keeps pace with them. Changing with them, appearing and disappearing with them without clinging to any of them. If we try to stop the mind at one moment, we end up in frustration because the mind cannot be held fast. It must keep up with what is happening in the new moment. As the present moment can be found any moment, every waking moment can be made a concentrated moment.

你之前的修习是以入息与出息为禅修对象,现在你是以上述的征状为你的第三种禅修对象。当你集中心意在这第三种对象时,你的心已达到相当的定力水平,足以用作内观禅的练习了。这征状明显地存在于你的鼻孔末端边缘,你要精通、熟练和完全地掌控它,以便在需要时,能随时得心应手,把心意与当下可得的征状合而为一,并且让心意随着每一个相续的瞬间(剎那)流动。当你单纯地注意着它时,你会发觉那征状本身也是不断在转变。让你的心与转变着的每一刻保持同步,同时要察觉到:心只可集中于当下此刻。心与当刻这样子的结合被称为「剎那定/瞬间定」(Momentary Concentration),随着每一刻的不停流走,心要与它们同步,与它们一起转变,与它们一起出现和消失,不执取任何一刻【译者注:指不断改变心的注意对象为刚到达的当刻】。如果我们试图让心在某一刻停下来,只会招致挫败,因为心是无法被握紧的,它一定会保持与新一刻发生着的事情同步。既然当刻可以在任何一刻找到,醒着的每一刻皆可成为有定力的一刻。

To unite the mind with the present moment, we must find something happening in that moment. However, you cannot focus your mind on every changing moment without a certain degree of concentration to keep pace with the moment. Once you gain this degree of concentration, you can use it for focusing your attention on anything you experience--the rising and falling of your abdomen, the rising and falling of the chest area, the rising and falling of any feeling, or the rising and falling of your breath or thoughts and so on.

为了将心与当刻结合,我们必须在当刻找到一些正在发生的事情,可是,没有一定程度的定力与当刻同步,你是无法集中心意于每一个变动着的当刻的。一旦达致那种定力程度,你便可运用它来集中注意任何体验── 腹部的起落、胸部的起伏、感受的生起与消失、气息的升降、或思想起伏等。

To make any progress in insight meditation you need this kind of momentary concentration. That is all you need for the insight meditation practice because everything in your experience lives only for one moment. When you focus this concentrated state of mind on the changes taking place in your mind and body, you will notice that your breath is the physical part and the feeling of breath, consciousness of the feeling and the consciousness of the sign are the mental parts. As you notice them you can notice that they are changing all the time. You may have various types of sensations, other than the feeling of breathing, taking place in your body. Watch them all over your body. Don't try to create any feeling which is not naturally present in any part of your body. When thought arises notice it, too. All you should notice in all these occurrences is the impermanent, unsatisfactory and selfless nature of all your experiences whether mental or physical.


As your mindfulness develops, your resentment for the change, your dislike for the unpleasant experiences, your greet for the pleasant experiences and the notion of self hood will be replaced by the deeper insight of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness. This knowledge of reality in your experience helps you to foster a more calm, peaceful and mature attitude towards your life. You will see what you thought in the past to be permanent is changing with such an inconceivable rapidity that even your mind cannot keep up with these changes. Somehow you will be able to notice many of the changes. You will see the subtlety of impermanence and the subtlety of selflessness. This insight will show you the way to peace, happiness and give you the wisdom to handle your daily problems in life.


When the mind is united with the breath flowing all the time, we will naturally be able to focus the mind on the present moment. We can notice the feeling arising from contact of breath with the rim of our nostrils. As the earth element of the air that we breathe in and out touches the earth element of our nostrils, the mind feels the flow of air in and out. The warm feeling arises at the nostrils or any other part of the body from the contact of the heat element generated by the breathing process. The feeling of impermanence of breath arises when the earth element of flowing breath touches the nostrils. Although the water element is present in the breath, the mind cannot feel it.

当心与气息流动能一直保持结合时,我们自然能集中心意于每一个当刻,我们能注意到气息与鼻孔末端边缘接触时生起的感受。当呼吸时空气的「地大(Earth Element)」[4]接触到鼻孔的地大时,心就会感到空气的气流在进进出出。当呼吸时空气的「火大( Heat Element)」接触到鼻孔或身体的其他部分时,温暖的感受就会生起。当呼吸时空气的地大接触到鼻孔时,呼吸的无常感受就会生起。虽然「水大(Water element)」存在于气息之中,但心无法感受到它。

Also we feel the expansion and contraction of our lungs, abdomen and low abdomen, as the fresh air is pumped in and out of the lungs. The expansion and contraction of the abdomen, lower abdomen and chest are parts of the universal rhythm. Everything in the universe has the same rhythm of expansion and contraction just like our breath and body. All of them are rising and falling. However, our primary concern is the rising and falling phenomena of the breath and minute parts of our minds and bodies.


Along with the inhaling breath, we experience a small degree of calmness. This little degree of tension-free calmness turns into tension if we don't breathe out in a few moments. As we breathe out this tension is released. After breathing out, we experience discomfort if we wait too long before having fresh brought in again. This means that every time our lings are full we must breathe out and every time our lungs are empty we must breathe in. As we breathe in, we experience a small degree of calmness, and as we breathe out, we experience a small degree of calmness. We desire calmness and relief of tension and do not like the tension and feeling resulting from the lack of breath. We wish that the calmness would stay longer and the tension disappear more quickly that it normally does. But neither will the tension go away as fast as we wish not the calmness stay as long as we wish. And again we get agitated or irritated, for we desire the calmness to return and stay longer and the tension to go away quickly and not to return again. Here we see how even a small degree of desire for permanency in an impermanent situation causes pain or unhappiness. Since there is no self-entity to control this situation, we will become more disappointed.


However, if we watch our breathing without desiring calmness and without resenting tension arising from the breathing in and out, but experience only the impermanence, the unsatisfactoriness and selflessness of our breath, our mind becomes peaceful and calm.


Also, the mind does not stay all the time with the feeling of breath. It goes to sounds, memories, emotions, perceptions, consciousness and mental formations as well. When we experience these states, we should forget about the feeling of breath and immediately focus our attention on these states--one at a time, not all of them at one time. As they fade away, we let our mind return to the breath which is the home base the mind can return to from quick or long journey to various states of mind and body. We must remember that all these mental journeys are made within the mind itself.

心是不会由始至终与呼吸在一起的,它有时也会跑去留意声音、记忆、情绪、知觉、意识与心行(Mental Formations)。当我们经历到这些状态时,应暂时停止感受呼吸,马上将注意力集中于这些状态上── 一次一个,不是同时一齐做。当它们消退时,再让心回到呼吸上来,那是心的基地,无论心往身心的任何状态旅游多久,它总会返回这个(呼吸)基地的。我们必须记住,所有这些心灵之旅都是在自己的心中进行的。

Every time the mind returns to the breath, it comes back with a deeper insight into impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness. The mind becomes more insightful from the impartial and unbiased watching of these occurrences. The mind gains insight into the fact that this body, these feelings, various states of consciousness and numerous mental formations are to be used only for the purpose of gaining deeper insight into the reality of this mind/body complex.



[1] 心行(Mental Formations):佛教多简称为「行」,泛指内心的作用、状态或思想情绪等活动。有时候特指有意图的思维活动。

[2] 五蕴:佛教术语。亦作五取蕴,五阴或五取阴。英译为(Aggregates of form, feeling,perceptions, mental formations and consciousness)。指构成众生身心的五堆具有不同功能的聚合物,分别为色蕴(物质性的身体)、受蕴(感受)、想蕴(知觉)、行蕴(心理作用、状态与活动。即「心行」)与识蕴(意识作用)。色蕴相当于我们所称的身体,其他四蕴则相当于我们所称的心理或精神。佛教所称的「名色」相当于「身心」,「名」指「心」,「色」指「身」。

[3] 把注意力完全集中于他所划的线上:意思是,把注意力完全集中于他所划的线与锯齿接触之点上。

[4] 地大(Earth Element):四大种之一。佛教之元素说,认为世间一切有形物质(色法)皆由地大、水大、火大、风大等四大要素(四大种)所构成。地大以坚硬为性,水大以潮湿为性,火大以温暖为性,风大以流动为性。例如:人体的毛发爪牙、皮骨筋肉等是坚硬性的地大;唾涕脓血、痰泪便利等是潮湿性的水大;温度暖气是温暖性的火大;一呼一吸是流动性的风大。

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