In recent years I have become more and more aware that the method I use instinctively in teaching is quite inefficient for the progress of many beginning and intermediate students. I set off the teachings like rockets, hoping that the spectacular display in a night sky will be effective in and of itself and will change curiosity into creative enthusiasm.

Then I shoot off another rocket.

Then months, even years, later in evaluating why some students fail to capture for themselves the splendour presented I find that they have not gathered the basic principles involved.

So I will try here to be more thorough and complete.

Understanding meditation, despite what the advertisements of meditation may tell you, is not at all easy. It is true that some persons capture intuitively what is presented and pass ahead (here is where you must not nod, believing yourself to be one of them).

So I shall begin here once more with a Mindfulness of Breathing.

All meditation, whether you are a Dervish or a Hotentot, a Bushman or a Dharma follower, begins with Mindfulness of Breathing.

Try to see beyond the apparent academic words presented and grasp the fundamental idea beyond those words, remembering that this Mindfulness is foremost in Buddha Dharma.

Buddha himself praised it as "the Brahma-Vihara", the Divine Abode or as the "Ariya-vihara", the Noble Abode. It is this state that Buddha attained in his early meditations beneath the Rose Apple Tree on his father's farm. It was not his own discovery, for it had been used for centuries by his ancestors; but much later in his life, after other attempts to capture the Truth of a Natural and Pure Life proved inadequate, he returned with this as a base, under the Bodhi Tree, reaching the Awakening attainment, the higher state that his body/mind sought.

This Mindfulness or Meditation upon breathing (Anapanasati Samadhi) comprises the base for both Samadhi and Vipassana methods and is the foundation platform for all other advanced meditations, including our own Chan and Dao paths.

Now when we look at that "mind set" called Meditation upon Breathing, we lose really the whole sense of the meditation, for "Ana" can be said to represent the inhalation and "Pana" the exhalation of breath. Furthermore, "Sati" means Mindfulness and "Samadhi" means Concentration.

So the better description of this discourse, although it is clumsy to the modern mind, is:


This, of course, supports the process of physical Life Survival which is JIVITINDRYA.

Its importance is reflected in the number of times it is mentioned in Sacred Texts and those really interested in touching the original texts should examine the meditation in tenth place among the Sanna Meditations; in which it is mentioned among the ten important Perceptions, which are in this sutra listed as (read each with clear understanding; one can then see its relevance):

Inconstancy of all sensory elements, discernements, perception itself, fabrications of the mind and consciousness.

Identity Non-self 

Body unattractiveness 

Drawbacks to Perceptions

Abandoning Perceptions of no value

The Relinquishment of all Acquisitions, the ending of craving, dispassion, unbinding

The Peace of Cessation

Distaste and Repulsion of Stained Samsara

Mindfulness of in-and-out breathing (in detail)

       This is almost a beginner's primer for Entry to the Dharma Stream.

It is embodied within the Satipatthana Sutra, where it is combined with Four Satipatthanas (Foundations of Mindfulness) and Seven Bojjangas (Factors of Awakening). That should at least give you a further idea of the importance of the Mindfulness of Breathing and the necessity of really understanding that topic without allowing the mind, that thinks it knows, to go galloping ahead like a riderless horse.

Anyone who really wishes to understand Buddha Dharma and its meditations should really examine as many Sutras as possible with understanding. They are available and presented in excellent form by Theravadin experts, respected by us, on the website


Now here, in the following, is where most meditators and the majority of teachers make the first error.

The basic directions for the meditation are:

 Mindful he breathes in; Mindful he breathes out.

 Breathing in long, he is aware: I breathe in long.
 Breathing out long, he is aware: I breathe out long.

 Breathing in short, he is aware: I breathe in short.
 Breathing out short, he is aware: I breathe out short.

Now that does not appear difficult and most cling to that simplicity like a life-raft after a shipwreck.

They do not realize that this meditation requires what Buddha called "STRUCTURING the MEDITATION", and this has fourteen additional preparatory steps of clear and demanding TRAINING which cannot be ignored.

       Two which supplement the method

Four which prepare the Essential Experiences

Four which prepare the Mind

Four which are the Essential Discernments

Now if anyone believes that all this is going to come about just by sitting breathing in and breathing out they are crazy. Nonetheless, that is what is most often taught even within Zen and Chan circles of "meditation".

These sixteen preparatory exercises will be explained carefully in the PREPARATORY TRAINING SECTION. Do not make the error of believing that these are just mental exercises, for they are much more.

                                      THE PREPARATORY TRAINING SESSIONS

These training sessions, pre-preparations, are essential for every meditation and it is therefore important to understand them.

But the objective of this meditation teaching is not to broaden the student's knowledge of Samatha or Vipassana, but to establish an understanding of:

           The Becoming of Consciousness is part of the Breathing Mindfulness.

This Becoming of Consciousness is that place within the normal processes when ATTENTION has informed the system that "Something" requires "Attention" because an irritation (stimulus) has impinged upon the system and the "Capture" of that information before "One-pointedness" is applied.


In Samatha Meditation, which will be completely covered in the appropriate section, when the Mindfulness of the Processes involved is complete (anubandhani) and the correct natural contact made with respect to the breathing in and breathing out, and after the whole attention of Defensive Qi, then the Jhana Devices are introduced.

These Jhana Devices, having been previously prepared as Concentration Devices (CD), will fall into that meditation space quite automatically without any mental force during the meditation.                                                                      

There is then the automatic:

Placing of the Mind upon the "sign", which is the non-Cognitive experience of the device;

Contemplating the Mark;

Moving from the lower consciousness to the higher in the "Becoming of Consciousness";

The final perfection of the natural expansion; and

The discernment and reflections upon the Samadhi attainment.

                         (all covered in the Samatha Meditation section)

The final fruit of Samatha is the attainment of the three Entrances to Deliverance:

                          The full Comprehension of all Phenomena (the rise and decay)

                         The full Comprehension of the Mind rushing into the state

                         The full Comprehension of all states as non-self


                               THE FOUR STATIONS OF MINDFULNESS

In Vipassana Meditation, which is also completely covered in the appropriate section, the base of the Mindfulness of Breathing is identical. When the Mindfulness of the Processes involved is complete (anubandhani) and the correct natural contact made with respect to the breathing in and breathing out, and after the whole attention of Defensive Qi, then the Vipassana Devices are introduced. These Vipassana Devices, or Absorption Devices, having been previously prepared fall into that Meditative space quite automatically without any mental force during the meditation. 

These Contemplation for the development of Insight (sammasananana) devices are:   





        All having been established correctly within the PREPARATORY TRAINING SESSIONS

The final fruit of Vipassana is the attainment of the Entrances to Deliverance of Mind Captivity through:

                      The full Comprehension of all Phenomena (the rise and decay) as products of the apparent mind.

                     The full Comprehension of the Apparent Mind rushing into the state, being in and of itself empty of real and substantial separate content.

                      The full Comprehension of all states, especially Identity as non-self.