Self-initiation: Meditation via the Seven Bases of the Mind

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Stopping the mind is the secret of success. ——Great Master Phramongkolthepmuni (Abbot of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen)

Skills and Tips

In this most basic method of Dhammakaya meditation, we acquaint ourselves with three elements which will take us further in our meditation: the visualized object of meditation, the center of the body, and the mantra.

The visualized object of meditation* is a bright object such as the sun, full moon, a star or a crystal ball which we imagine in our mind.  It is visualized gently, as if one were remembering

such an image one had seen before—and without the use of the eyes.  The center of the body is situated at the seventh base of the mind in the area of the stomach.  It is here that we aim to focus the mind in meditation. Our normal habit is to focus our attention outside the body, so to facilitate bringing our mind back to the center of the body we do so along a pathway from a point in front of our face to a point in the center of body via seven intermediate bases (which in themselves are not important).  As a result of practicing this meditation, beginners should be able to familiarize themselves with the position of the center of the body.

The mantra is a word or phrase of positive meaning which one repeats to oneself silently during meditation. Because the mind cannot focus on two things at once, for as long as the meditator repeats the mantra, no interrupting thoughts will be able to come into the mind. The mantra used traditionally are the words ‘Samma Arahang’ (pronounced sam-ma-ara-hang) which mean “the purest state attainable by a human, attained the correct way”.  If you are unhappy with this mantra, you may substitute any other word or phrase of your own which has a positive meaning for you. 

Practicing this Self-initiation via the Seven Bases of the Mind will allow you to:

  • slow down the mind
  • reduces your impatience to see something in meditation
  • increases your certainty about the position of the center of the body
  • reduces the problem of using the eyes instead of the mind

The Method

Softly close your eyes as if you were falling asleep.  Relax every part of your body, beginning with the muscles of your face, then relax your face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, trunk and legs.  Make sure there are no signs of tension on your forehead or across your shoulders.

Once your body is relaxed, relax your mind by putting aside all thoughts about the things of

the world.  Feel as if you are sitting alone–around you is nothing and no one. Create a feeling of happiness and spaciousness in your mind.  Our attention is usually focused at a point in front of our face because we are used to focusing our attention where the eyes can see. Before starting, it is necessary to internalize the mind by tracing a pathway from the outside to the center of the body.  This path follows seven resting places for the mind** (see diagram). Very gently using no effort at all, imagine that there is a bright object such as a shining sun, a full moon, a shining star or a crystal ball (choose the one which you find easiest to imagine) floating in front of your face. Reduce the size of the bright object until it is the size of the tip of your little finger (about one centimeter in diameter) and floating in front of your nostril (the left nostril for ladies and the right nostril for gentlemen)***.  This point is called the first base of the mind. Make the object as bright and as clear as you can, while repeating to yourself silently the sound of the mantra ‘Samma Arahang’ three times. Now move the object inside your nostril to a point inside your nose, next to the corner of the eye (on the left for ladies and on the right for gentlemen). This point is called the second base of the mind. Make the object as bright and as clear as you can, while repeating to yourself silently, the sound of the mantra ‘Samma Arahang’ three times.

Ten Tips for Success in Meditation

  1. Cherish the center of the body more dearly than life itself.
  2. Be constantly on the alert to your own weakness–weakness that hinders the mind from coming to a standstill. Once you discover such weaknesses, rectify them as best you can.
  3. Let the mind come to a standstill, to a stop, with un-interfering observation, with contentment-nothing more, nothing less.
  4. Be content with whatever you should see–at least for the interim.
  5. Observing without interfering will allow your inner experience to unfold in a natural way.
  6. Whatever you may see, just observe, continuously, in contentment, without analysis or expectation.
  7. We are but observers–not the ones running the show.
  8. Inner experience is profound but can be attained only with ease.
  9. We are so used to complexity that we have to adapt to cope with this simple task.
  10. Rest not from this noble task until Inner Wisdom is attained.

——Luangpor Dhammajayo (Abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya)

Now move the object directly backward on a horizontal plane to a point at the center of the skull (from here on the pathway is the same for both ladies and gentlemen).  This point is called the third base of the mind. Make the object as bright as you can, and as clear as you can, while repeating to yourself silently the sound of the mantra ‘Samma Arahang’ three times.  

Now move the object directly downwards to a point at the roof of your mouth. This point is called the fourth base of the mind.  Make the object as bright and as clear as you can, while repeating to yourself silently, the sound of the mantra ‘Samma Arahang’ three times.  

Now move the object downwards to a point at the center of your throat just above the Adam’s

apple.  This point is called the fifth base of the mind.  Make the object as bright as you can and as clear as you can, while repeating to yourself silently, the sound of the mantra ‘Samma Arahang’ three times.

Now move the object directly downwards through your chest and abdomen to a point at the center of the cross section of your body at the level of your navel. This point is called the sixth

base of the mind.  If you imagine two lines, one running from your navel horizontally to your back and a second on the same level, running from your left side to your right side, the six

base of the mind is at the intersection of the two lines. Move the object so that its center is at the intersection of the two imaginary lines.  Make the object as bright and as clear as you can, while repeating to yourself silently the sound of the mantra ‘Samma Arahang’ three times.

Now move the object upwards the distance of two fingers’ breadths.  This point is called the

seventh base of the mind.  This base is the most important point in the body. It is the very center of the body and the point where the mind can come to a standstill–thus we will not move the bright object anywhere else.  Always make the object as bright as you can and as clear as you can, while repeating to yourself silently the sound of the mantra ‘Samma Arahang’ continuously.

In this way your mind will become gradually purer and inner experience will unfold.  If you find that you’re not sure about the location of the center of the body, anywhere in the area of the stomach will do.  Don’t be disappointed if you find your mind wandering. It is only natural for beginners–but each time your mind wanders always bring your mind back again to the center and continue by visualizing your bright object and repeating the mantra to yourself.  Keep bringing your mind back again to the center over and over again until eventually the mind becomes familiar with the center of the body and stays there more than wander. Eventually the image in the mind will become clearer and brighter on its own accord.  The feeling of wellbeing in the mind will become stronger. The number of thoughts in the mind will dwindle to the point that there are no remaining thoughts in the mind, and the mind can come to a standstill at the center of the body–our initial aim in the practice of meditation.  At this stage the shining object is connected firmly to the mind and is seated at the center of the body. You will experience happiness. With continuous observation at the center of this bright object, it will give way to a succession of increasingly refined experiences of purity, brightness and wisdom, all coming from within.

——————

*These objects are suggested as an initial objects of meditation because they are bright, clear and pure- and in most cultures devoid of negative connotations. Other objects can be used instead of a crystal ball and will give results that are just as satisfactory (e.g. objects of positive religious significance: a Buddha Image for a Buddhist, a cross for a Christian, a star for a Muslim), but in all cases the object chosen should be bright, clear and pure.

**The seven bases of the mind are taught as a skillful means to internalize the mind. There is no need for the beginner to remember the precise details of the first six bases.  Knowledge of

the seventh base alone is sufficient.

***The path of the crystal ball through the first two bases is different for men and woman in keeping with gender differences in the path of entry of the vital force.

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