Buddhist Meditation Article Series - 2

Mindfulness of the Breath - Ānāpānasati 
by Venerable U Paññānanda (Intagaw-Pa Auk)

Sīla is the First Training
Image taken at Big Bear Meditation Center, California

In the Buddha's Teaching there are threefold trainings:
  1. Morality - Sīla
  2. Concentration - Samādhi
  3. Wisdom - Paññā
"Such is the morality; such is concentration; such is wisdom. When morality is fully developed, concentration is of great fruit and benefit; when concentration is fully developed, wisdom is of great fruit and benefit." (1)

Sīla is the first of the threefold training. To develop Samādhi and Paññā, Sīla training is an important foundation. The meditators have to undertake the eight precepts during the retreat. If meditators stain or break their precepts, they can purify them by taking the precepts again. Most of the meditators observe the morality well, but to observe and purify them again, they undertake the precepts every morning.

When we are established in morality, we can practice mental training; here mental training is meditation practice. There are two types of meditation, namely, Samatha (tranquility meditation) and Vipassanā (Insight Meditation). Samatha is the development of wisdom. Of these two, Samatha is a very important foundation for a Vipassanā.(2) 

Strong and deep concentration is the proximate cause for insight. Only strong and deep concentration (access or absorption concentration) can know and see things (objects of Vipassanā) as they really are. (3) By practicing Samatha, we can cultivate access or absorption concentration which is Jhāna, and can then proceed to develop wisdom, which is Vipassanā meditation.
  Image taken at Big Bear Meditation Center - California
  1. Dīgha Nikāya, 16.2.4 "Mahāparinibbāna Sutta" - Great Parinibbāna Discourse.
  2.  It is explained by the Buddha in, for example, the 'Samādhi Sutta' - 'The Concentration Sutta' of the 'Sacca Saṃyutta' - 'Section on the Truths': Develop concentration (samādhi), bhikkhus, concentrated (samāhito), bhikkhus, a bhikkhu according to reality understands. Saṃyutta Nikāya. V.XII.i.1; And also see: "samāhito yathābhūtaṃ jānāti passati." (A.3.259, Myanmar edition).
  3. The second benefit of jhāna concentration is the benefit of vipassanā. This is called vipassanā-basis-jhāna (vipassanā-pādaka-jjhāna). Visuddhimagga.xi.362.


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