Deep teaching about the development of the direct vision into the reality.
Presentation of the aim of the training of the establishment of the attention; information about the choice of an instructor, and about dangers of following a wrong way.
According to the monk Gotama, the main point simply lies in doing nothing, renouncing to all actions, all works. He utilises the word training, the word development. He doesn't utilise the word work, nor the word self-realisation even. But here is the main point, how to stay doing nothing? Why to remain doing nothing, we can understand it. When we have ceased to do evil, ceased to tell lies, deceive others, commit frauds, abuse, when we have dropped our little daily acting rooted in hypocrisy, when we have mastered a certain kind of uprightness, inner dignity, clarity of mind, truthfulness, we have dropped 99% of our plans.
Once a certain degree of purity of consciousness has been reached, which is the lot of a neutral, concentrated, mindful consciousness, we will ultimately succeed in eradicating the remaining 1% as after all, what else ought to be done? What else ought to be done when we do keep in mind no particular plans, ambitions or intentions?
How to stay doing nothing? How can we remain seated doing nothing for an hour? The terminology "staying doing nothing" is not the convenient one here, we should instead say "staying while doing NOTHING". It is simply about not performing any action, not producing, not constructing. What is ultimately the only thing about which we can tell that as soon as it appears, it is not a work, neither a realisation, nor an action? This is the knowledge, the vision or inner sight. One simply has to see and know. While we are seated, how can we remain seated without getting involved, without DOING anything?
If we do focus our awareness on the breathing process, we do something, we do focus our concentration on what is a mere concept, as breathing is a concept. Inhalation is a concept and exhalation is a concept too. That is a very good exercise in order to calm down the mind, to pacify it, but that is still an exercise.
If we tirelessly recite prayers, and focus our concentration on what we do recite, we direct our attention to a concept, a mental construction, a syllable, a sound. That is quite fine to calm down the mind, so as to pacify it, that is very good for ignorant folks who do believe that this sound will tune them to their divine nature.
Doing nothing is almost impossible! Let us think a little, from the very moment that there is a beating heart, a ear that hears a sound, it is not really possible to remain doing nothing. It doesn't make a sense. Some claim: Let your mind rest upon its natural state. What is the natural state of the mind? Can we say that when the mind is calm, relaxed, open, well-adjusted, not particularly aware of anything, it is rooted in its natural stage?
According to the monk Gotama, the natural state of the mind is the state that it does experience at each elapsing moment. Thoughts are found in nature, emotions are found in nature, a desire, too, is found in nature, including anger and love. All that pertains to the natural state of the world. That is what its natural state does involve. The natural state of the world is a chaotic state. A calm state that is at rest, is not more the natural state of the world than an agitated and unsettled state is. We simply proceed from a degree of chaos and agitation to a more calm stage, which is at rest. It is a mere change, but that is not a state, which is more natural than anything else.
We will therefore have to work with these thoughts, emotions, desires, hatred and chaos, or more crudely speaking NOT to work. As working on emotions, lies in getting them straight, trying to control them, eventually converting, re-cycling and re-utilising them, utilising their energy or their power so as to realise something. It is a kind of work.
What ought to be done simply lies in knowing, observing. By "knowing", I don't mean to say gaining a transcendent knowledge, a supreme knowledge, a wisdom. When I say "knowing", what is meant is "seeing", observing.
Let's take an example: We are seated, we do not meditate, we do not concentrate on something, we do not pray nor do we visualise. What else can we do? As soon as there is a sound that enters the ear, we simply turn our attention to the fact. We don't do anything. Neither do we accept it, nor do we refuse or analyse it, nothing whatsoever. It doesn't induce this idea to let it enter and get through either, to let it be. That is turning our attention to it, observing and knowing it as it is. Not more than this. It is the last thing that ought to be done. This is the least that can occur within consciousness. This is the smallest common denominator, the least thing, the least activity that could occur within consciousness.
When we talk about reaching a stage of absence of work, of non-doing, it doesn't make a sense. There is definitely a little thing that occurs. The least thing that could occur where we do not get involved into any kind of energetic, physical, spiritual, mental, intellectual, sexual activities whatsoever, this is while observing a fact. That is simply an act, that is not even action. It only means observing, contemplating, seeing, quite simply.
And so, in a sutta of the "majjhima nikkaya", Buddha tells: When does manifest a sound, do react so that only what is heard does occur, when a sight does manifest, do react so that only what is seen does occur, when does manifest a smell, do react so that only what is smelt does occur, when does manifest a taste, do react so that only what is tasted does occur, when does manifest a tactile sensation, do react so that only the feeling of touch does occur, and when does manifest a thought, do react so that only what is thought does occur.
And so, the path leading to the complete extinction of suffering, dissatisfaction, Buddha does sum it up into six sentences, not more than this.
No meditation, exercise, practice, prayer, relationship, devotion, knowing, seeing, that's all.
It doesn't mean to be ONE with the sound, to be united to the sound, permeating or becoming the sound, not at all! Here would be meant the exercise of a tenuous or a rather contained concentration and, to put forward certain properties of consciousness, which are properties of unification so called. We will totally unite our consciousness to that object. It will allow us to attain a kind of mental purity by means of concentration. That's already quite fine, but one must proceed further. One must proceed to a much "subtler"and far more "abstract" stage.
It is not about projecting and sticking consciousness to its object, it is merely about observing and knowing, without sticking, finding the fair balance between this excess of concentration that would lead us to stick to an object and this lack of concentration, which would impel us to take too much distance from it, to spread ourselves too thin.
Thus, while being seated beneath his tree, the monk Gotama, himself also, reached these states of the divine being, so called states of transcendence, state of "buddhahood". He knew how to reach these things but he wasn't satisfied with them. Once he had, like all these mystics and masters, reached this loftiest and subtlest state, and he came back from it, did flourish in his mind the idea to turn his attention to what was really taking place. He saw the appearance of this state and the appearance of that which then followed it. He saw that consciousness is nothing else than the appearance and disappearance of short moments, of small fragments. They do appear and as soon as they have appeared, they do disappear.
As soon as we turn our attention, to a sound for instance, we are merely satisfied with observing it, without being concentrated on it. Here, it is merely about seeing it, watching, doing this effort, having an insight, without letting it being led astray into the stage of a calm and relaxed mind. We are doing this effort and we are turning our attention to it and observing it. At this stage, we clearly see something that, almost concurrently, appears and disappears. After the sound was heard, will then (for example) occur a thought. In the same way, one must know and observe the thought process, simply as it is.
What is a thought, at last? What is a sound? Instead of wasting time in wild philosophical imaginations, the way it is done among philosophical schools of Buddhism or of Hinduism, or even among schools related to Plato's philosophical views, it is merely sufficient to observe it.
We do see it whereas the sole thing that we could claim to be as a characteristic inherent to this sound or that thought, is that it did appear, it does have a certain duration and it does vanish. The simple fact that it did appear means that it is changing, discontinuous. As if it partook with a continuous nature, it wouldn't have appeared, it would have always been here.
When we thus do observe the appearance of an object in the field of consciousness; a sound, a sight, a thought, a taste, we do experience its apparition. Suddenly, it does permeate the field of consciousness, because there is an impact (for instance between a sound and the tympanum). From this moment, a hearing perception does manifest. We do observe this hearing, we do observe the fact itself. We are aware of the fleeting nature of the situation, we are aware of the change as we saw it taking place.
It is not worth knowing what a sound is, where it came from or if it does have an intrinsic nature. It did appear and that is a real fact. "That is not THE "truth", that is only REAL. This is a mere fact, the fact that this sound appeared. If we keep on observing this sound just for the time of its duration, we do actually experience the fact that it does last for some time. There is a duration. It does have a certain duration. The question related to its physical, metaphysical or philosophical truth as a sound, is irrelevant here, what is real is its duration.
While lasting, it does exert a kind of pressure, it is here. To a certain extent, we can say that it is an encumbrance.
Then, it does vanish. It does disappear neither because we have decided that it should disappear, nor because someone else has decided that it should disappear. It disappears owing to its own volition. It disappears because there must be various conditions or circumstances that disappeared also. If music does disappear, it is owing to someone having switched off the radio, for instance. If a bird's sound does disappear, it is owing to its enamoured feeling having disappeared. If it is the noise of a stone that disappeared, it is because the stone has ended its fall. It doesn't matter.
What really does matter lies in realising that the sound has disappeared. The fact that the sound disappears indicates its specifically uncontrollable character. The sound has appeared and vanished beyond anybody's volition and decision. Thus, the sound, sight, smell, taste, thought likewise, are endowed with three characteristics: They are changing, totally unsatisfactory and totally uncontrollable. Those are the only things that we can be pretty sure about, if we take the troubles to observe and contemplate reality the way it does appear to consciousness. All other things are mere philosophical speculations.
Upon thus observing reality appearing and disappearing, we are going to progress step by step so as to acquire this insight, which does permeate this reality, that threefold reality. Gradually, we will see more and more, deeper and deeper, more and more effectively those three characteristics.
A time will come when we will not be able to see our own bodily activity. For example, abdominal movement when we are seated or feet's movements when we walk. A time will come when we will succeed in perceiving the activity. A time will come when we won't be able to perceive the auditive activity. There will no longer be a sound, a smell, a taste, nor a tactile sensation. The only thing that we could see and observe at this moment, these are those bits of thoughts, few bits of few things inhabiting the mind, which, at their turn, will cease to appear.
That's a bit magic and bizarre, as we do nothing so that it does disappear, we do observe and we do know. That is what the monk Gotama has discovered. He has discovered that when ignorance ceases, that is to say when we do turn our attention to reality and we do observe it the way it is, as it is, so surprising a thing indeed, that thing ceases. It doesn't occur any longer. He even goes further, he claims that the only reason why a sound appears, it is owing to our ignorance about its nature. The only reason why a phenomenon does occur, it is because we do ignore what it really is, we are "led astray".
When a direct knowledge of this phenomenon does occur, a direct apprehension indeed, from this moment onward, BECAUSE it is known, it ceases to appear. It is unbelievable! That's a bit like when we do play seek and hide: Children hide behind trees, and as long as we count while doing "plum plum" on the wall, they take delight in scoffing us, in showing themselves. But as soon as we turn ourselves in their direction, they all vanish, by hiding behind trees, because from this moment onward, the game starts.
A little bit in the same way, if we are not really aware of these phenomena, if we are immersed into our thoughts, reflections, mantras, meditations or mental speculations, they keep on appearing, they do continue their dance. As soon as things become serious, when we begin to turn our insight to them, as if by magics, they cease to appear. That's incredible and we cannot explain it. There are no mathematical formulas that can even explain it.
Buddha has discovered this because he tried and this is what he observed. At their turn, the ones who are going to "vipassanā" centres, who are undertaking a training for weeks or months, after a few weeks, will make the following report to their instructor-in-charge: "That's incredible, when I do observe something, it does disappear!"
This truth is something that can be experienced, it is CONCRETE. The teaching of the monk Gotama, is truly speaking a very concrete thing! Each of us can do this experience. Without even talking about awakening or realisation, anybody who tries the satipaṭṭhāna method, as it has been taught by the monk Gotama, will quickly do that experience.
Later on, when penetrative insight will go deeper, in a more systematic manner, he will even succeed in preventing the consciousness that observes, itself also, from reappearing. From this moment onward, does occur the complete cessation of appearance of the five aggregates. Consciousness doesn't appear anymore because the object that it knows ceases to appear. The object that consciousness knows does no more appear because it has not been ignored. That is unexplainable. One must actually see it. One must actually do it. One should try it, prior to discussing about it. Nevertheless, we will not be immersed into a stage of full unconsciousness, of total forgetfulness.
After having undertaken a training into turning one's attention to these phenomena, which are sounds, sights, thoughts, pains, sensations, emotions, etc., a moment always comes when they cease. The monk Gotama has discovered that as soon as phenomena cease to appear, the consciousness that observes them ceases to appear as well. Thus, the following moment of consciousness will take for object something new, which is something totally unsuspected and completely invisible. He calls this nibbāna.
nibbāna, to the monk Gotama, is something, a reality. It is a thing similar to others, in the sense that it is nothing else than a thing. However, it is not like other things; it doesn't appear. It is quite strange. this is something that is shapeless, devoid of smell and complexion. It is invisible and however consciousness does have the capacity to know it. From this moment onward, consciousness turns its attentions to, is fixed on nibbāna, knows nibbāna. This experience is concrete, tangible, we can say. Besides, This is what Buddha and many of his contemporary fellow beings did.
This thing is very specific as it doesn't appear, it is shapeless, it does have no complexion and it is totally empty. Not that it is VOIDNESS but just because it is empty. Because that thing is empty, when consciousness takes it for object, it doesn't feel anything at all. It doesn't feel a neutral sensation, nor anything else as nothing is to be felt whatsoever. From this moment, the usual process of reaction, appreciation, sensation, satisfaction or dissatisfaction, doesn't appear as consciousness doesn't feel anything. To Buddha, this consciousness, which takes nibbāna for object, is the purest, most evolved, healthiest and needless to say, holiest form of consciousness to be. As soon as consciousness takes nibbāna for object, the slightest dissatisfaction can no longer manifest.
No change is taking place, no vibration either. nibbāna doesn't appear and doesn't disappear either, and the same thing applies to consciousness that takes it for object. There is no satisfaction, therefore there is no pain whatsoever. There is no desire, no anger, all these things do no more appear. This is a kind of absolute happiness, a form of happiness owing to the absence of grief. That is a kind of happiness because nothing else could be. This is the ultimate experience. This is the final experience, in this whole universe.
nibbāna is not a state of consciousness, but it can be known by consciousness. Consciousness that takes nibbāna for object does experience no suffering at all. It is nevertheless a quite ordinary form of consciousness similar to the kind of consciousness, which takes a sound or a sight for object. It is ordinary in the sense that, itself as well, it is appearing and disappearing. nibbāna, itself doesn't appear, but the consciousness that takes it for object appears and disappears. It is, itself also, conditioned and fabricated. In this sense, that consciousness is unsatisfactory also. It doesn't experience any suffering as there is no sorrow to be found in nibbāna, no sensations at all. Nevertheless it is still, as it is still here, a dissatisfaction. It is still a fabrication.
Later on, having reached the complete end of our step, we achieve the complete end and disappearance of consciousness. That consciousness doesn't even take nibbāna for object. It will be extinguished, it will cease to appear. Nothing will remain whatsoever, from this moment onward, none of these aggregates. There will be no more material components, no more mental formations, nor even any form of consciousness that takes them for object. We do call this parinibbāna.
You see, it makes a big difference from what is taught by these "spiritual masters" from all traditions, all these Buddhist, Hindu and Christian schools...
The fundamental and main difference lies in that all these schools do believe in unity. No matter if, to some of us, that unity is a kind of creative being and to others, it is nothing else than a substance or a natural state. The fact remains that they do believe in it and they endeavour to reach this unity, that consciousness, that indivisible consciousness, that deity or "buddhahood".
Whereas, to Buddha, consciousness is the main problem. To him, consciousness is begotten by ignorance and owing to this simple fact, to it, reaching knowledge is sheer impossibility. If there is cessation of ignorance, it necessarily produces the cessation of consciousness. It is not all about annihilation, owing to two main reasons:
First of all, we have already seen, in our inner development, by systematically observing the appearance and disappearance of phenomena, that there is nobody, no "inner dweller" and no continuum either. parinibbāna is not therefore somebody's or something's annihilation, as there is nothing.
Secondly, it cannot be a state of annihilation, as precisely there is nibbāna and it is truly speaking something. nibbāna is a reality, whose particularity lies in that it doesn't appear, that it is possible to know it and it is also possible that nibbāna is experienced without any residual consciousness. nibbāna can be known as it can also remain unknown.
The complete and definitive liberation, the total eradication of suffering, that is when there is nibbāna... without knowledge of it.
And so, on one side, we are told about an eternal and immanent consciousness, which pervades the whole universe, a consciousness that is a "ONENESS", and, on the other, we are told about nibbāna, where there is no residual consciousness. This is the teaching of the monk Gotama. That teaching is the one about the only path that, according to him, leads to the complete cessation of sorrow, as does occur the complete disappearance of all "its grounds of development" and its corresponding root-causes.
The role of the instructor lies in giving the useful informations so as to enable the yogī to never be led astray into samatha and to always tread this very particular and subtle path of satipaṭṭhāna, which always partakes with a slippery nature.
To reach the goal is an exraordinarily difficult thing to do. Not difficult in the sense that one must do a muscular effort of the intellect, one must develop an intense concentration, difficult in the sense that it goes totally beyond the control of our capacity of reasoning. It is a bit the same as if one had to find a door across a thousand kilometers long wall. It is very easy to cross through the door. The difficulty doesn't lie so much in the fact to walk to the door and to cross it. The one who has trod the path of satipaṭṭhāna, under the guidance of a qualified instructor, will himself get surprised with the easiness by which he succeeded in progressing. What is difficult is to find the gate. The role of the instructor lies in taking, through his own advises, the yogī to the door's step.
Beware! There are many people in today's world, because they do wear a robe, because they have a shaven head or because they worked under the guidance of an eminent master, who believe themselves to be fit for teaching satipaṭṭhāna. Sometimes, they have gained a great knowledge of scriptures and texts. And it bestows a recognized authority unto them. However, even if they tried, still does remain a possibility that they "missed the target". It is besides quite possible that they "missed" it. It would be surprising that all the people who undertook a satipaṭṭhāna training in a meditation centre and who remained there for weeks, months or years, leave its premises enlightened, as if by magics.
Let's not be beguiled by sweet dreams! We are (about) 2600 years ahead of this teaching, 2600 years ahead of its utterance. Mankind's mental frame has changed. Waters have flown beneath bridges. In the same way as a newly dyed fabric will ultimately be discoloured due to sun exposure, this teaching, this buddha sāsana, has visibly, also been discoloured to some great extent. Be careful.
Here is the criterion given by Buddha himself, which enables one to find out if the instructor gives a correct teaching:
"May the one who speaks and teaches, only utters things that are in strict accordance with the scriptures, that is to say the words that I did utter myself."
Regarding satipaṭṭhāna: "The teaching that is given to you is as follows: "As soon as you hear a sound, do manage so that only what is heard does manifest. As soon as you see something, do manage so that only what is seen does manifest. As soon as you smell a fragrance, do manage so that only what is smelt does manifest. As soon as you taste a flavour, do manage so that only what is tasted does manifest. As soon as you think, do manage so that only what is thought does manifest." If the teaching that is given to you is as follows, you may have a chance to tread the right path and to have come across the good instructor."
Naturally, there are other criteria in order to deem the quality of an instructor.
One among those is that the instructor should practice what he teaches. Hence, to a monk, for instance, it does involve to observe all his edicted rules, his whole discipline, in a rigorous and accurate way. A monk is supposed to observe 227 rules of basic conduct. These 227 rules were taught by Buddha himself. We should indeed be reminded that he was an omniscient being who had reached, thanks to satipaṭṭhāna and to his direct insight into impermanence, suffering and non-substantiality, complete realisation and, moreover, omniscience, that is to say all-knowingness.
It is this man, called Buddha, who has edicted the 227 rules of the monks. A monk who doesn't respect or who doesn't even try to respect those 227 rules, DOESN'T practice Buddha's teaching! How it could be that a monk who doesn't practice the teaching, will be entitled to to teach satipaṭṭhāna? Let us be realistic! Buddha tells: "There are in my influence's compass, in the buddha sāsana, the ones who teach what they practice and the ones who practice what they teach. Save those ones, there are none."
samatha is that training,which lies developing concentration, serenity, mental peace, and vipassanā is an inner sight, something that naturally develops when we do train ourselves in observing phenomena in their discontinuity.
The main difference between them, if it can theoretically seem obvious to us, is very tenuous at the experimental level. We can wander from one to the other, the gap is faintly discernible. It is frequent that some yogīs who train into vipassanā, beyond their volition, are led astray into samatha. Very simply because they momentarily failed to turn their attention to what appears to their consciousness and they hence took the bad habit to focus their concentration on it. It may happen and the venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw, who was one of the most popular and greatest satipaṭṭhāna instructors of this twentieth century, reported that some of his pupils even succeeded in reaching some jhānas while training into satipaṭṭhāna.
This is not owing to the fact that satipaṭṭhāna leads to jhāna, obviously, it is owing to the fact that they skidded.
Momentarily, instead of being very heedful, vigilant and simply knowing what does appear to consciousness, they did commit the mistake that lies in trying to concentrate on it. Owing to this fact, they have "rocked". It can be done in an hour span, even in a few minutes when, the yogī observes, for instance, the rise and falling movements of the abdomen. At a given moment, as he didn't succeed in discriminating between this movement and the breathing, as this movement is due to the breathing, without being aware of it, he started to observe the breathing. By exercising a kind of intense concentration, he has reached a jhāna.
Here is the kind of experience, which can occur while practising vipassanā. It does show that the boarder line between both is tenuous. Even if theoretically the distinction is obvious, in the sphere of practice and experience, it is not that clearly established. It also does occur that some yogīs who are quite advanced, even who reached nibbāna, can be led astray into that moment of wanderings (even when their concentration is strongly developed), are mistaken and are finally drawn into a samatha kind of mental concentration. To them, it won't last for long before they themselves tread again and proceed back to the right path.
satipaṭṭhāna simply lies in knowing what does occur at the moment when it does. That is not a technique, because it is not a kind of exercise. It simply means to observe phenomena as they do appear. No artifice can ever be utilised so as to reach this stage.
vipassanā merely is the inner sight that owes to the simple fact of turning one's attention to reality. The fact to turn one's attention to reality isn't a form of meditation, nor a reflection and even less an investigation.
Now, try for a minute span to remain seated and to do nothing, not to meditate, not to think, not to concentrate, not to particularly turn your attention to this or that. Simply try to know what does appear to consciousness, at time of its appearance and not longer than it does actually appear. Try to do that for a minute. No breathing, no particular object to which you turn your attention, simply the most luminous and most prominent object, the grossest thing, the one that is the most easily perceived by consciousness, you observe it as it is. Try to simply do it for a minute...
I sincerely doubt that you could succeed in remaining motionless, seated, contemplating reality and seeing everything that appears to consciousness. That's a very low prospect! Except obviously, if you already undertook a good training.
The problem lies in that theory is something, but practice is something else. More especially as vipassanā is not a practice, not in the common sense of the word indeed. How could we succeed in developing that attitude, that training if we don't find its mark bench from the beginning? It is a complete tumble. We never really know what should be observed as we are seated here and we have been told: "Here we are, all you have to do is to remain seated while observing everything that appears." Reaching this goal is a very difficult thing to do.
In Buddha's time, it was apparently possible. On several occasions, some people, owing to the simple fact of having heard these instructions, reached complete realisation. In today's world, it seems that it no longer proves to be effective. That's the reason why human genius, human intelligence succeeded in elaborating a more pragmatic and practical approach of it. In particular, owing to the development of what we could call a method. It is not here about a technique. That is merely a method, that is to say an approach.
The main point is as follows: We do what Buddha teaches, we turn our attention to everything that arises; sounds, ideas, sights, fragrances, tastes and tactile sensations. As the mind will nurture tendencies to be dispersed and get lost, we will choose, among all these things that appear to consciousness, an object that is proeminent. An object that is easy to observe, quite bulky, slow and gross (at least for a while) and that is always following us. That object, admittedly, can be found only within our body.
Thus, Buddha often encourages his disciples (as revealed in the scriptures) to contemplate the body, but not as a mental construction. It doesn't mean here contemplating the breathing, which is a mere conception, contemplating the shoulder, the head, the hair or the teeth, which are only conceptions. Those are only conventional truths. Within bodily activities, what we have to observe is what is real. What is real is that which is subject to change, everything that is set in motion, which is unsatisfactory and devoid of substance. That is to say all basic phenomena, which constitute what we call a body, with knowknowing all bodily elementary properties.
Among these properties, there are always some that are very easy to observe when the body is moving, when it is proceeding somewhere. When we remain seated, the body is motionless. Therefore, only something set in motion has to be noticed by us when the body is motionless.
When we are seated, there is one thing that regularly and quite slowly moves, in a quite unrefined and visible fashion, it is the navel. No matter what its root cause is, no matter what does occur when it moves, what is interesting simply lies in being aware of this movement, that oscillation and that impermanence, which take place. We turn our attention to the movement of the navel and the abdomen, which rises and falls (no matter which language is utilized). It follows a direction and its opposite. Admittedly, as soon as something more obvious and noisy appears to our mind, we then turn our attention to it, as it is out of question to remain focussed on the movement of the abdomen. It is about satipaṭṭhāna, the development of the attention to the present, not about samatha, not about the concentration on something that is continuous.
We are gonna try now, for a minute, to turn our attention only to the navel's MOVEMENT. If a noise came to be heard, we will forget about the movement for a little while and we will turn our attention to the noise, to the "auditive" process. Whenever does occur a thought, we forget about the abdomen and we turn our attention to this thought (without merging into it). If there is nothing desserving to be noticed, as it is often the case at the beginning, then we will keep on turning our attention to each of the alternations of the abdominal movement...
As we can ascertain it, that is already a more easy approach, as we already have at least something that is here, always here, to which we can turn our attention, something we are sure not to lose. But, there is something else that manifests, and as soon as it does one should know it as well. When nothing particular does manifest, we are drawn back into the abdominal movement.
This teaching has come to us, in today's world, we could venture to say, as if by magics, when we do contemplate the world of forfeitures in which we live. For instance, when we take a look into the world of variegated spiritual traditions in which we live, when we see within all book shops or libraries, all those racks filled up with books proposing all kinds of "miraculous" solutions to our problems.
For example: "This mantra, that prayer, that recitation, that Guru... can lead you to the end of your problems."
Throughout twenty five centuries of human folly, twenty five centuries of beliefs, opinions and teachings, the teaching of the monk Gotama has come to us, as you read therein, intact and stainless.
It almost partakes with a miracle but however, it isn't one. It merely is a natural process, a need, that in the nature of that which does appear, also occurs the possibility that is ceases to appear. It is a natural need, it is a law. Indeed, as suffering does exist, also does exist the possibility of its cessation, very simply.
Having read all this, which is the word of the Blessed one, I wholeheartedly wish that you could tread step by step the path of satipaṭṭhāna, that is to say the path that lies in knowing impermanence, which lies in knowing suffering, which lies in knowing the absence of "in itself".
I sincerely wish that you could reach nibbāna, which is the complete liberation from the influence of the world, as soon as possible and under the best possible conditions.
Origin: Teaching given at Le Bourget (France)
Author: Monk Sāsana
Translator: Thierry Lambrou
Date of translation: 2001
Update: 2005, June the 17th