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Buddhadharma : Fall 2016
fall 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 63 4. Internal seeing may arise—visions and visual impressions of colors, forms, landscapes, and sights either remembered or imaginary, realistic or fantastic. Or visions of colors, forms, sights either remembered or imaginary may arise. It is to be labeled “seeing” and observed. Be careful not to get carried away with it, for it can become absorbing and thrilling and is often quite pleasant. This can become an issue for some meditators. 5. Moods or mental states—joy, sloth, hatred, and so forth—will become pervasive, strong, or pre- dominant. Take the mood as the object; label and observe it. If it dissipates, return to the rising and falling. Often, moods and emotions will be associ- ated with sensations in the body. If so, give prefer- ence to those sensations rather than any thoughts that may also be arising in association with the mood. In brief, one must label and observe everything. Whatever object is the most predominant at any given moment is the focus of attention. You start off with the rising and falling; initially, this develops concentration and stabilizes the mind. Later on, examining a greater array of objects builds energy and flexibility. You also return to the primary object whenever there is nothing else that is clear and easy to observe. If several objects are about the same in their intensity, simply choose one of them. Mental Factors for Success The most important meditative factor is mindful- ness. It should be continuous, ideally from the moment of waking up to the moment of falling asleep. Concentration and effort are important too. The jhanic factor of “aiming” (vitakka) is the knowing mind focused at the object. It is with effort (viriya) that we propel the mind toward the object. When the mind and object are in contact there is “rubbing” (vicara)—a connected contact of atten- tion and object. Mindfulness will arise, and so will wisdom, based on concentration. Schedule on Retreat In the beginning of a retreat, you should sit one hour and walk one hour, more or less. Forty-five minutes of each is also fine. Later on you can sit longer and walk a bit less. On retreat, meditation lasts all day and evening. Meditators get up at four or five o’clock in the morning and stay up as late as they can, meditating. They often reduce their hours of sleep to four or even fewer. Often, too, the last meal of the day is eliminated and only tea is taken. This helps increase the hours of practice and reduce sleepiness; it also adds wholesome volition by fol- lowing the example of monks and nuns, whose pre- cepts include foregoing the evening meal. Walking Meditation Instructions Choose a lane or path where you can walk up and down undisturbed. Divide one hour of walking meditation into three segments. For the first twenty minutes you can walk rela- tively fast. Note “left, right, left, right” while pay- ing attention to the predominant sensations in the relevant legs and feet. For the next twenty minutes, walk a little slower. Note “lifting, placing” or “lifting, lowering” while paying close attention only to the foot that is mov- ing. When you note “lifting,” try to have the noting and the attention coincide at exactly the moment when the heel leaves the ground. When you note “placing” or “lowering,” start with the first moment of heaviness arising in the foot. Register the first touch on the ground and stick with the shift in weight until the foot is fully still. Then move your attention to the other foot, the one that is about to move. During the final twenty minutes, walk as slowly as possible. Note “lifting, moving, placing” while paying attention to the moving foot only. The slower you go, the faster you will progress! › continued page 82