Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/23/2018


One who wishes to practice silanussati should find a quiet, secluded place and contemplate his or her own moral conduct (sila) in accordance with the eight virtues of moral conduct which are:

1. Sila are not torn (akhandani): Precepts (sila) for house holders and for monks are not broken at the beginning or at the end [first or last precept], like a cloth which is frayed at the edges; therefore, the precepts are not torn. [This means if one breaks the first or the last precepts, his or her precepts are like the cloth which is frayed at the edges]

2. Sila are not holed (acchiddani): No single precept is broken in the middle [such as the third of five precepts], like a cloth with a hole in the middle.

3. Sila are not blotched (asabalani): Precepts are not broken in consecutive order. No two or three consecutive precepts are broken, — like a cow with big black or red spots on her back or belly, — these precepts are not blotched.

4. Sila are not mottled (akammasani): Precepts are not broken here and there like a cow speckled with different colored spots. Such precepts are not mottled.

In another sense, Sila are not torn, holed, blotched or mot tled when they are not destroyed by the seven bonds of sexuality (methunasanyoga) or by unwholesome states such as anger and hatred.

5. Sila are liberating (bhujissani): Precepts liberate one from the slavery of craving.

6. Sila are praised by the wise (vififiupasatthani): Precepts are praised by the wise such as Lord Buddha and the Noble ones.

7. Sila are untouched by craving and wrong view (apara matthani): Precepts are untouched by craving (tanha) and wrong view (ditthi). They are precepts that nobody can criticize by saying, ‘There are flaws in your Sila.’

8. Sila are for concentration (samadhisanvattanikani): Pre cepts bring one to gain access concentration (upacara-samadhi) and they also help one to develop the paths and fruits of concentration.

When the meditator reviews his or her precepts both extensively and intensively, the power of sila such as being untorn will protect one’s mind from being disturbed by lust, anger or delusion. The mind is filled with morality. The jhana will be attained by the one who calms the Five Hindrances. He or she will attain at least access concentration. However, the virtues of morality are both multiple and profound. A meditator may contemplate various virtues of morality and, as a result, the jhana may reach only access concentration level, not attainment concentra tion (appana-samadhi).

One who practices silanussati will always respect the precepts, and behave compatibly with precepts, avoiding dangers such as self blame. One will always see the slightest fault, attain virtues such as faith and be filled with joy and happiness. If he does not reach spiritual attainment in this lifetime, a happy world will be his destination after death.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/22/2018

Practices for the Paramis

My last post quoted a book wherein I found an inspiring aspiration that I can se to begin my day and practice dana more fully. It’s included in the quote yesterday but here it is again:

“If I cannot give away even a spoonful of rice today, I will not consume anything.”

“When others are overtaken by greed, I will be the one without any stain such as miserliness. I will sacrifice completely. I will have clean hands. I will be happy to be generous. I will be happy to be asked. I will be happy in generosity and sharing. This is my Noble Good Fortune.”

I intend to make a list of these practices (I guess that’s the American in me: bigger lists are better, more is better.) Here’s what I have so far:

  • If I cannot give away even a spoonful of food today, I will not consume anything.
  • If I cannot give away as little as a quarter today, I will not spend any money.
  • If I cannot offer one kind word to everyone I meet, I will not speak with them.

For now, that’s a good start.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/21/2018

Caganussati as the Antidote to Abuse

It has been rough here the last few days. and, although I certainly haven’t spoken without resentment or shared my feelings I have ever been respectful and avoided denigrating or using harsh speech. My erstwhile partner however has no such compunction about throwing verbal barbs and trying to hurt with words.

Rather than allow myself to boil over with rage and lay waste to my present and future lives my mind turned immediately to recollection of my goodness and generosity as the antidote as I realized I was going to a pretty dark place where I was believing that I was the uncaring father she was telling the kids I am.

I’m no saint but self-flagellation won’t help me to navigate these emotions. Instead, I’ll try to brighten the mind and protect myself, my kids and wife from the kilesa of hatred. I’ve found the following passage which looks to be helpful so I’ll share it:

One who wishes to practice caganussati contemplates the virtues of generosity and frequent donations such as giving away and sharing things. One might start by mentally reciting, “If I cannot give away even a spoonful of rice today, I will not consume anything.” One contemplates his or her own generosity in a quiet, secluded place to develop the virtues of being without stains such as miserliness. One reflects, “When others are overtaken by greed, I will be the one without any stain such as miserliness. I will sacrifice completely. I will have clean hands. I will be happy to be generous. I will be happy to be asked. I will be happy in generosity and sharing. This is my Noble Good Fortune.” When one repeatedly contemplates one’s own kindness, while focusing on the virtues of generosity, he or she will gain the power of virtues such as being without stain or miserliness. The mind will not be disturbed by lust, anger or delusion. It will be filled with generosity and the jhana will be attained to calm the Five Hindrances.

However, generosity virtues are profuse and profound. One who contemplates various virtues of generosity may only reach access concentration, not attainment concentration.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/19/2018

The Meditative Development of Unselfish Joy

Excerpted from The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga).

One who begins the development of unselfish joy should not start with dearly beloved person, a neutral person or hostile person. For it is not the mere fact that a person is dearly beloved, which makes him an immediate cause of developing unselfish joy, and still less so neutral or hostile person. Persons of the opposite sex and those who are dead are not suitable subjects for this meditation.

A very close friend, however, can be a suitable subject. One who is called in the commentaries an affectionate companion; for he is always in a joyous mood: he laughs first and speaks afterwards. He should be the first to be pervaded with unselfish joy. Or on seeing or hearing about a dear person being happy, cheerful, and joyous, unselfish joy can be aroused thus: “This being, verily, is happy! How good, how excellent!” For this is what is referred to in the Vibhanga: “And how does a bhikkhu dwell pervading one direction with his heart imbued with unselfish joy? Just as he would be joyful on seeing a dear and beloved person, so he pervades all being with unselfish joy” (Vibhanga 274).

But if his affectionate friend or the dear person was happy in the past but is now unlucky and unfortunate, then unselfish joy can still be aroused by remembering his past happiness; or by anticipating that he will be happy and successful again in the future.

Having thus aroused unselfish joy with respect to a dear person, the meditator can then direct it towards a neutral one, and after that towards a hostile one.

But if resentment towards the hostile one arises in him, he should make it subside in the same way as described under the exposition of loving-kindness.

He should then break down the barriers by means of impartiality towards the four, that is, towards these three and himself. And by cultivating the sign (or after-image, obtained in concentration), developing and repeatedly practicing it, he should increase the absorption to triple or (according to the Abhidhamma division) quadruple jhana.

Next, the versatility (in this meditation) should be understood in the same way as stated under loving-kindness. It consists in:

(a) Unspecified pervasion in these five ways:
“May all beings… all breathing things… all creatures… all persons… all those who have a personality be free from enmity, affliction, and anxiety, and live happily!”
(b) Specified pervasion in these seven ways:
“May all women… all men… all Noble Ones… all not Noble Ones… all deities… all human beings… all in states of misery (in lower worlds) be free from enmity, etc.”
(c) Directional pervasion in these ten ways:
“May all beings (all breathing things, etc.; all women, etc.) in the eastern direction… in the western direction… northern… southern direction… in the intermediate eastern, western, northern, and southern direction… in the downward direction… in the upward direction be free from enmity, etc.”

This versatility is successful only in one whose mind has reached absorption (jhana).

When this meditator develops the mind-deliverance of unselfish joy through any of these kinds of absorption he obtains these eleven advantages: he sleeps in comfort, wakes in comfort, and dreams no evil dreams, he is dear to human beings, dear to non-human beings, deities guard him, fire and poison and weapons do not affect him, his mind is easily concentrated, the expression of his face is serene, he dies unconfused, if he penetrates no higher he will be reborn in the Brahma World (A v 342).

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/17/2018

More Bad News – Happy Uposatha

When isn’t samsara full of bad news? I read yesterday that insect populations are plummeting worldwide and no one knows why. This only matters if beings want to eat. In other words, we’re possibly on the verge of ecological breakdown and global famine.

My first reaction to all of this was pure terror but it has morphed into an acceptance now. What can I do about it? Who can I blame and what good would it do anyway? Clearly we’re all going to die although it may happen on a larger scale and sooner than we had imagined.

My next reaction was to formulate a resolve to help. To do whatever I can to alleviate the suffering that will come to my family, strangers and friends. Right now that looks like practicing the Dhamma and developing the brahmaviharas. After failing to see results by focusing on the breath and buddho I’m going to change my focus back to the 4 Immeasurables while still keeping anapana as a secondary practice. To me it’s obvious that the hell on earth we may experience will require love and compassion as well as unshakable equanimity and these are things I have only ever come close to developing in daily life through appamaññā vihara practice.

May I not abandon those who are suffering until there is no longer the view of myself.

May I have the courage to practice for the good of all beings.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/16/2018

Negative Visualization

“If you wish to live a life free from sorrow, think of what is going to happen as if it had already happened.” – Epictetus

So much of my time is spent planning how to maximize pleasure while minimizing pain and, truthfully, who could be surprised by that? All beings want happiness and fear suffering. The problem arises when we don’t know how to achieve these ends.

When I review the things I have done I see that my pursuit of pleasure and attempts to escape pain are rarely neutral affairs. No, almost invariably I end up causing harm to others as I frantically try to arrange circumstances to fit my idea of what will bring happiness.

The Dhammic solution is the Eightfold Path of course. Right View, Right Effort and Right Mindfulness would do a lot to extricate one from unskillful compulsions undertaken out of blind and desperate ignorance. And, perhaps the advice of Epictetus to imagine the worst scenario has a role here. I recall the story of a Dhammaduta bhikkhu at the time of the Lord Buddha who was advised that the people in the land he was to visit were cruel and uncouth. Each time a new nightmarish possibility was mentioned he retorted with that there was yet something to be appreciated. If they were to beat him with sticks he replied that at least he wouldn’t be dismembered with swords or something to that effect.

In a similar way, by accepting as true the worst case scenario I may be able to find contentment in every lesser iteration of a situation. The key to this is equanimity of course which brings me back to the 8FP but anything that doesn’t wouldn’t be worth doing anyhow.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/15/2018


I don’t know why it is but even when I’m able to do 45 minutes of formal meditation in the morning I feel lately like it hasn’t left an imprint on my mind. Maybe it’s because I’ve been following Ajahn Martin’s advice and starting meditation as soon as possible after waking. Whatever the case may be though, one thing in particular needs to be asked: is it a problem that I don’t feel as though I’ve meditated?

Taking a moment to look at the question it’s not immediately apparent to me what it even means to say I’ve meditated. I think I mean that I feel at peace and clean but, on days when I don’t keep my brahmacariya pure it’s hard to tell what is causing this disturbance (like today). Another thing is that this feeling may actually be a good thing if it spurs me on towards further, more intense practice. In other words, is this something I should be attempting to change or is it simply something to be observed?

My instinct is to make my morning routine more formal in terms of refuges, Precepts and practice commitments regardless of whether it makes the practice seem more real. I have been putting off editing my booklet but I’ll do that today and observe the changes (if any) tomorrow.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/12/2018


I’ve been reading a book on Abhidhamma lately and it has both given me a feeling of depth which is sometimes lacking while simultaneously making me feel as though even the illusory, skilful self I am building is nothing but a tower of sea foam. And, of course it is but what I’m feeling and what DOES NOT follow is that it’s a futile exercise.

I think this ties in with a general feeling of malaise and detection resulting from my lack of discipline and other failings. Why though, if I can see so clearly how ephemeral the good me is am I so incapable of seeing the insubstantiality of the worse version? I hope to someday understand this process of ahamkara but until then I’ll try to keep practicing Right Effort.

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/10/2018


Intoxicated by the promises of pleasure I started a fire in my heart that almost burned everything to the ground. And so, today, I begin again.

244. Easy is life for the shameless one who is impudent as a crow, is backbiting and forward, arrogant and corrupt.

245. Difficult is life for the modest one who always seeks purity, is detached and unassuming, clean in life, and discerning.

246-247. One who destroys life, utters lies, takes what is not given, goes to another man’s wife, and is addicted to intoxicating drinks — such a man digs up his own root even in this world.

248. Know this, O good man: evil things are difficult to control. Let not greed and wickedness drag you to protracted misery.

249. People give according to their faith or regard. If one becomes discontented with the food and drink given by others, one does not attain meditative absorption, either by day or by night.

250. But he in who this (discontent) is fully destroyed, uprooted and extinct, he attains absorption, both by day and by night.

251. There is no fire like lust; there is no grip like hatred; there is no net like delusion; there is no river like craving.

Dhp XVIII – Malavagga: Impurity

Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/08/2018

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