Development of Tranquillity and Insight Knowledge through
Kammatthana and Vipassana Kammatthana]
(Luang poh Boonpeng Kappago
Wat Pah Vivekadham-Khon Kaen)
Dhammadhesana given on 26 August 2000
free distribution only.
now on let those who want to practice meditation listen attentively
to this preaching and meditate at the same time. Doing both,
we shall not waste time. Listening alone will bring us knowledge
but calmness will come by listening attentively while letting
the mind concentrate. We shall attend to the mind, but, though
calmness is there, we cannot at this stage take notice of
its presence. We understand that by listening to the preaching
we shall gain knowledge, satisfaction and contentment.
Whether we listen to the preaching or not, our faith and our
beliefs are always there. Yet we need some return for our
faith. Because we have faith and belief in the preaching,
we assume that we shall receive something in return. And what
is it? The first benefit is calmness and then finally happiness.
When we recognise the benefits of this faith and of this practice
of meditation, we will try to develop this calmness in our
minds by listening to the preaching with confidence.
Everybody has faith. We devote our lives to religion because
we have faith in it. We believe in what is good and bad, what
is right and true, and our beliefs are whole and complete.
So we shall find peacefulness as a result of our beliefs.
Where is calmness or peacefulness? What is it and who can
find it? We indeed have faith but what is it and where is
it? Calmness comes from faith and it comes to those who have
faith. No faith? Then we shall have no confidence in ourselves
and so we shall not have the heart to practise meditation.
Faith and trust are our incentives for doing things and they
encourage us to meditate. We have faith in the teaching of
the Buddha and believe that if we follow his teaching we shall
have some benefit. The benefit is calmness which is the foundation
of goodness. Therefore we have to develop calmness in our
minds as a preliminary.
Where is the mind? Who knows where the mind is? We must know
our own minds, not the minds of others. Our minds are there
for us to know, but the mind does not have a shape like the
body. The mind is not an object we can see, but it does have
the quality of knowingness. It is this knowingness that responds
to everything which burdens the heart. This knowingness responds
to what is good, evil, painful, hot, cold, dark, bright, conscious,
aware, greedy, angry and ignorant. The mind is subject to
all these and to induce calmness in the mind without training
and discipline is difficult.
To meditate till the mind has reached the level of calmness
is difficult not only because of its nature but also because
of its formlessness. Can such a mind be trained and how? Is
it certain that by listening to the preaching and meditating
simultaneously we shall find this calmness? According to the
Buddha’s teaching the way to find peacefulness is first
to develop tranquillity, samatha kammatthana, and
then to develop insight knowledge, vipassana kammatthana,
as the final step.
We shall now practise the first method which is the development
of tranquillity in the mind. We shall try to train this shapeless
mind by using the method of samatha kammatthana which
is also formless. It is only the method which we have to follow.
In so doing, the Buddha teaches us to make use of the senses
and to take refuge in the Triple Gems. He teaches us to attain
mindfulness by taking refuge in Buddhanusati, which
is Buddha, in Dhammanusati, which is his teaching,
and in Sanghanusati, which is the fellowship of his
disciples. We shall thus employ these three gems in our recital
technique which is known as parikamma bhavana. We
can shorten the recital to Buddho, referring to Buddha.
While our mind attaches itself to the name of the Buddha,
we shall coordinate the rhythm of our breathing in order to
practise knowingness, that is, knowing when to breathe in
while reciting ‘Bud’ and when to breathe
out while reciting ‘dho’. In doing this
we are combining Buddho, Dhammo and Sangho
as Buddho. Though we recite only one word it represents
all three, because they refer to the same meaning but with
different names. They have the same quality. Once we can hold
Buddho in the mind, then we shall experience calmness.
What is this calmness? The calmness is Dhamma. Once
we experience calmness, we shall experience happiness. What
is this happiness? This happiness is also Dhamma.
Merit is also Dhamma and so happiness is merit arising
from Dhamma and also from peacefulness. Therefore
calmness, happiness and merit combine as one. If we gain any
of them, we gain all. Therefore we do not have to recite Dhammo
or Sangho to find peace, happiness and merit. There
is no rule for reciting the word and there is no time limit.
The Buddha told us to fix the mind on one word only. If we
want to choose Buddho, then continue to do so until
we find peace in our hearts.
From now on we shall combine breathing with reciting the word
Buddho for our meditation practice. We shall not
pay any attention to other things and we shall not think of
anything else. We shall confine our thoughts to Buddho
alone so that we shall find calmness. If we think about various
things it will be hard to gather together all these thoughts
and piece them together. The mind will sprout in all directions
and wander where it will. It will take us such a long time
to gather these thoughts together and we shall eventually
run out of time. Therefore we have to choose either Buddho
or concentrate on the breathing. It is up to us. This technique
is called the development of tranquillity in the mind by the
practice of reciting. This technique will increase the level
of tranquillity and so allow the mind to experience more calmness.
Once the mind has found calmness, the result of this achievement
is peace and thus this peace is a taste of Dhamma,
the source of happiness. The mind at this stage will feel
different from the ordinary mind because the taste of Dhamma
is the essence of the heart which has undergone this kind
of practice. This essence brings pleasure without any negative
feelings. There is neither the sadness nor the suffering which
is always in the world. The mind will feel bright and clean.
All the anxieties and frustrations that make the mind suffer
disappear and the mind is unburdened. Therefore there will
be a feeling of lightness in our body and mind and we shall
feel peacefulness and happiness and goodness in ourselves.
Now we shall find our faith fulfilled and we can saturate
our minds in all these properties of peace, happiness and
Once the mind is saturated with these properties, it will
feel elated as a result. Saturated with peace, happiness and
goodness, it will stop striving for other things. The mind
will search for other things only if it lacks this sense of
elation. The mind will obtain this sense of elation when it
has been trained by samatha kammatthana. The elated
mind is saturated. When the mind is completely saturated,
contentment will come and also satisfaction. We shall then
be completely convinced that we shall obtain these benefits
from this method of practice. Such benefits give purpose to
At this stage the mind will not only feel these qualities
but it will also be motivated to practise more because the
mind has seen the benefits within itself, not from outside.
This is the happiness which such practice brings automatically.
So is our faith satisfied. Now we will try not only to maintain
this tranquillity but also to increase it more and more until
it is more profound where the mind reaches the stage of concentration.
When this is reached the calmness in the mind is so steadfast
that nothing can disturb it.
When the mind has reached this level of steady concentration
the mind will absorb the essence of Dhamma and this
Dhamma gives the essence of happiness to the mind.
The mind will now feel differently from the old one because
the untrained mind reacts to the influences of whatever feelings
beset it. It is constantly deluded and deceived. There is
no peace within such a mind; it feels distraught and frustrated
and the mind suffers. The mind has experienced the essence
of suffering before. Therefore, when the mind has been trained
and has found peace and happiness as a result, it will not
search for any other happiness other than the happiness deriving
from this practice. This will give the mind the incentive
to accept the recital technique as the fundamental method
At this stage we shall begin to investigate the nature of
the mind. For this wisdom has to be attained. When the mind
has developed tranquillity, goodness will automatically accompany
it, and the mind will act and think positively and optimistically.
Such radiant thought is called wisdom (panna), and,
since it arises as a result of recital meditation, it is called
meditative absorption (bhavana jhana).
When the mind has attained wisdom, it will start investigating
things calmly and firmly with the aid of concentration (smathi).
Beforehand, the mind did not know how to investigate what
was happening within it. Because it lacked concentration,
it flowed and wandered aimlessly and followed whatever influence
it was under. Such influences came from sense data, which
is so variable. We shall not gain any benefit from such a
mind because it is ignorant. But when the mind is trained
it has developed the power of concentration, leading to the
development of insight knowledge (panna jhana). The
mind will use this insight knowledge to investigate itself
under the influence of concentration. Whereas before the mind
wandered and found no peace, now, having experienced happiness,
it will investigate this happiness by searching for its cause
and finding out if there is anything else mixed in with this
happiness. Is it a real happiness that we can trust and rely
investigate Dhamma is to investigate the mind. The
mind which has achieved Dhamma through the practice
of meditation enjoys a profound peace. It will be very strong
and ready to overcome any problem besetting the mind until
it is clear of it. For this we have to investigate the origin
and cause of the problem. Here insight knowledge will throw
light on all the phenomena that have happened and still happen
in the mind. Then it will come to the conclusion that all
the phenomena that take place in the mind are overshadowed
by mental defilements (kilesas). The name given to
the sum of these mental defilements by philosophers in times
past is avijja.
What is avijja and where does it come from? Does
it live inside the heart or outside? Is the mind itself avijja?
According to this theory the mind is under the influence of
avijja and it creates darkness in the mind. The darkness
is a barrier preventing the mind from seeing and understanding
things clearly, so the mind becomes deluded and behaves accordingly.
In consequence the mind suffers from delusion. This delusion
is therefore avijja and it is an ignorance of the
mind, the darkness of the mind. What kind of darkness is there
in the mind? Is it similar to the darkness outside? Is it
the same darkness as that of the night where there is no light
and so our eyes cannot see? It must be the same.
The darkness from outside can be overcome. For instance there
is dawn after dusk. There is light that people invent such
as from electricity. All these lights cannot shed their brightness
into the mind and therefore they cannot destroy avijja.
Because the mind is deceived by this darkness, it suffers
from dreams, fantasies, hallucinations, visions. All these
lead to obsessions such as obsession with wealth and property,
with self and with self importance. So the mind is completely
overshadowed with the vices which defile the mind and so these
kilesas take root in the mind. There are in our hearts
darkness, delusion, hatred, attachment, greed, lust, love,
When we know that our minds and hearts are stained with all
these impurities which make us suffer we are going to try
and uproot these causes and unburden our minds. How can we
do it? For this purpose the wisdom that we gained from intense
concentration, supported by true peace, will act as our weapon.
Insight knowledge is very powerful. It can clarify the problem
and it has a brightness which radiates from the mind or from
the power of the mind. This awareness (vinnana) will
allow us to see things clearly and to develop wisdom and this
wisdom is called insight knowledge (panna jhana).
Insight knowledge can trace a problem to its cause and show
the effects which force the mind to be the slave for so long
to mental defilements. Such a mind is like a convict who has
been imprisoned in a jail. The difference is that such a mind
does not know for what is has been imprisoned because it only
acts ignorantly depending on the occupant.
Buddha said that the mind given to intense concentration will
know what is going on within itself. Its knowing is true.
It knows that mental defilements are the cause of suffering.
Now the mind will develop the insight knowledge, called vipassana
jhana, for this purpose. Finally this insight knowledge
will see that we are deluded in every stage of our lives,
beginning when we are born, when we grow up and then when
we become old and die. These phenomena still being present,
the cause of suffering also continues to exist and so there
will be an endless cycle of birth and rebirth.
creates existence? Who is responsible for the faith of all
beings? It is the kilesas that holds sway over all
beings because it has taken root in our minds. The Buddha
teaches us to analyse and recognise the kilesas and
try to separate it from the mind. We can only do that with
the use of insight knowledge which we shall gain from recital
meditation leading to the development of concentration and
do we have a sense of possession? What makes us cling to our
own bodies and identity? What makes us think that this is
me, him, her, us, it and them? This sense of clinging on or
attachment is the cause that leads to existence. What influences
the presence of this sense? The answer, of course, is kilesas.
Therefore we have to destroy this kilesas.
when we use wisdom will the mind then recognise kilesas
and avijja, and then mind will then realise that
because of these two the mind is blinded with the darkness
knowledge is developed through intense concentration and so
we will know our past life, the cause that makes us all to
be born, and finally we shall have the power to conquer kilesas
and avijja and so the Buddha’s teaching will then be
actions arising from desire or craving but also from ignorance
influences what happened in our past life and what will happen
in our next life. All these actions reside in the mind and
are the seed of new lives and existences because the mind
is the one that thinks and imagines things both good and evil.
It is the mind that forces them in the direction of speech
and body. Wisdom will recognise that all these actions come
from the work of kilesas under the names of kammasava
and avijjasava. All these truths will be revealed
by insight knowledge and it will explain the process of aimlessly
wandering in the cycle of birth, ageing, sickness and death.
So this is the time to destroy the kilesas so that
the mind will be free and the process of birth and rebirth
ended. All these stages the Buddha himself experienced and
underwent all by himself. He freed himself from the wheel
of life and death by using wisdom to analyse the cause and
effect of any mental defilement appearing in his own mind.
When he found the cause he overcame the problem and destroyed
the kilesas with an undeterred mind.
the Buddha had destroyed all the defilements, his mind became
pure. He then discovered that in order to rid himself of all
the impurities which stained his mind he had to investigate
the following truths, namely, suffering (dukka),
its origin (samudaya), its cessation (nirodha)
and the way leading to its cessation (magga). By
discovering all these truths, which the Buddha named the Four
Noble Truths, he then reached the stage of enlightenment and
announced himself as samma sambhuddha, meaning he
who has achieved enlightenment by himself. The Buddha had
analysed and investigated the four noble truths by himself
alone and eventually discovered the way to liberate the mind.
Then he laid out the path for us to follow. He did not say
that only he can achieve nibbana but he said that
those who follow his methodical path will benefit from the
practice as he did.
us ordinary people, who may not have the same ability as the
Buddha, he said that we should investigate according to the
power of our own minds, basing ourselves on his teaching.
He said that only those who practice meditation will experience
the results within themselves (sandhithiko). Therefore
we have to investigate according to what we experience and
always refer to the origin of what is happening, what causes
it. Panna jhana will find the answer for us by recognising,
confronting and analysing all the impurities manifesting themselves
in the mind and then destroying them. What is left is the
bare heart freed from all delusions and defilements. This
is the stage of cessation of suffering (nirodha).
Buddha teaches us and laid out the path for us so that we
too, like him, may be freed from kilesas. Such a
high level of achievement in pursuit of this practice did
not occur only in the time of the Buddha: all the savaka
who have been his disciples have also achieved the same goal
despite his passing away centuries ago. Those who practise
according to the Buddha’s teaching will also experience
the same results in themselves at every level of Dhamma
without let or hindrance and independent of time. Time is
always there but those who believe and are prepared to devote
themselves to the practice of meditation are few. Perhaps
such persons lack the courage and therefore think that such
happened only in the Buddha’s time. But the Buddha’s
teaching remains constant at all time. His Dhamma
can be proven at any time, uninterruptedly, throughout the
ages. Therefore, if we pluck up courage and devote ourselves
to the practice of meditation, it will create faith and confidence.
Then, surely, we shall gain concentration, the result of which
will give rise to calmness, happiness, goodness and, finally,
the development of wisdom. Then we too will have achieved
the ultimate goal like Buddha.
we do not practise, even if the Buddha himself were present,
we shall not achieve anything. For example, during Buddha’s
lifetime, there was a doctor called Shivakkakomarapajj, who
cared for the Buddha all the time. He was very close to the
Buddha but he did not make any achievement.
the conclusion of this pra dhammadesana, let all
those who practise samatha kammatthana and vipassana
kammasatthana benefit from the method and achieve the
Dhamma that constantly and loudly proclaims itself within
the purified heart.