Consistency is the heart of practice–accumulate as many hours of meditation experience as you can–hours of stopping, hours of stillness, hours at the center. ——Luangpor Dhammajayo (Abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya)
Skills and Tips
In this second method of Dhammakaya meditation we build on the confidence about the
position of the center of the body learned from the previous chapter. Instead of initiating the mind via the seven bases of the mind, after relaxing the body and mind, we focus our mind directly at the center of the body, using a visualized object and mantra as before.
Visualization uses a visual object of meditation as a focus for the mind, which some might misunderstand as being a form of attachment that will hinder the liberation of the mind. In fact, the visual object of meditation serve as no more than a ‘raft’ for the mind to cross over to a higher state. Once it has served its purpose it will be discarded, not like someone who erroneously carries his raft further even after he has reached the far shore. Once the visualized object has served its purpose, meditation will continue by focusing on successively more refined objects of meditation that arise spontaneously as a result of the practice.
Before practicing meditation through visualization, you should note that seeing outside
the body and seeing inside have their differences and we have to change the way we apply effort accordingly. Whenever we look at things outside our body we can see them clearly as soon as we open our eyes. However, when we see things internally, we see them gradually—they get gradually clearer and clearer until we can see them clearly. This we have to accept. Thus when we come to meditate through visualization we must apply effort gently. Wait for the mind to be peaceful and imagine an image with the minimum of effort.
By this time in your introduction to meditation, it is likely that you will still be contending with extraneous thoughts in your mind. Like in the method explained in the previous chapter, we still use the mantra to overcome these unwanted thoughts during meditation.
Sit in the half-lotus position with your back and spine straight as described in the previous
chapter. Softly close your eyes and 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.
Stop thinking about the things of the world. Feel as if you are sitting alone in the world. Create a feeling of happiness and spaciousness in your mind. Feel that your body is an empty space, without organs, muscles or tissues. Gently and contentedly rest your attention at a point near to the seventh base of the mind–the center of the body described in the previous chapter.
Gently imagine a bright, clear object of meditation (like the shining sun, the full moon, a star or a crystal ball–any one of these four) about the size of the tips of your little finger, located at
a point inside the center of your body. If you find that you are not sure about the location of the center of the body, anywhere in the area of the stomach will do. Just make sure that it feels as if you are imagining within your body not a point outside the body–while at the same time repeating the mantra to yourself.
Maybe you’ll find at first that you can imagine nothing–everything inside seems to be
dark-but later you’ll be able to see a bright object of increasing clarity. If you use too much
effort you will find that it gives you tension in your forehead. If you are too relaxed about your
visualization you will daydream or fall asleep. Use your intuition to keep the right balance of
mind, and this will allow you to further your progress continually. Allow your mind to come
to rest at a point at the very center of the bright object. Use the subtlest of effort and you will find that the object becomes brighter and clearer and will enlarge by itself. If you use too much effort you will find that it gives you a headache. It is common for beginners to try to rush the process but resist the temptation. Meditate by applying your mind in a leisurely way instead. See with your mind, not with your eyes, and relax. Don’t try to force images into your mind. Always make the object as bright as you can and as clear as you can while repeating to yourself silently and continuously the sound of the mantra ‘Samma Arahang’, as if the sound of the mantra is coming from the center of the bright object. In this way your mind will become gradually purer and inner experience will unfold.
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 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 more than wander. Eventually the image in the mind will become clearer and brighter of 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. You may find that the sound of the mantra seems to fade away of its own accord. If there are no more interrupting thoughts in the absence of the mantra, there is no need to start anew with the mantra–just sit for meditation in silence, allowing your attention to be absorbed at the center of the bright object in silence. Eventually
the mind will come to a standstill at the center of the body. 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 inside.