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Breath: Questions for Contemplation; Perceptions and Practice Ideas

After jotting down intuitive information and collecting odds and ends of teachings on breath for quite some time, I’ve finally compiled the first part into a video (along with an MP3 audio version) and include a (tran)script below:

Breath: Questions for Contemplation; Perceptions and Practice Ideas MP3 audio version [MP3 file download]

Disclaimer: it may be wise to find a balance with this material for whatever it may bring up: intrigue, fear, relief, breakthrough, novelty, overwhelm, overkill, irrelevancy, etc. One can pause the video at anytime for contemplation. 

Or instead of viewing as study and practice instructions just sit back and take this in as a display of possibilities — letting the material resonate with whatever strikes as vital. 

However you’re called to receive this presentation please take what is skillful, wise and useful/helpful and leave the rest. Also, this presentation could easily become outdated and/or refuted. 

For any questions posed in the material it is encouraged to engage each question the following four ways, both internally to yourself, and to me with any counter-questions for both of our benefit:

  • answer directly
  • answer with analysis (and elaboration after deconstructing)
  • answer by counter-question(s)
  • do not answer, or give no response

In addition to this public presentation the private portion may be given if working with me, or may be released later. Much of what’s public is aggregated from other public sources while the private includes material I’m unsure of what portion is public and what portion is not.

Both the public and private presentations primarily address the breath through approaches, observations, conjecture, perceptions, practice ideas, and inquiries ranging from simple, commonplace, practical, and broad overviews to the bizarre, obscure, esoteric, and minutia while sometimes these categories overlap.

Overall, a basic bare awareness of breath is primarily needed. Again, this presentation is not to overwhelm, for overthinking, for comparison, or judgement. Rather, to enhance the likelihood of maintaining and/or prolonging bare awareness of breath for/during breath practices.


Questions for Contemplation

  • What if this was the first time noticing breath? 
  • What is more important than breath in this moment?
  • What effects are the breath having right now (on any and all levels you have access to inside and outside)?
  • How is your relationship with your breath in this moment?
  • What is the relationship between light and breath?
  • Instead of us being mindful of the breath, what about the breath being mindful of us, and of mindfulness itself?
  • What is the difference between the experience I think I’m having and the experience my breath is having?
  • Can your breath be stopped?
  • How might a true, authentic admiration for breath help?
  • What if the breath was allowed, was permitted to consciously assist in and assist with anything and everything?
  • How might focusing on, and even seeking pleasure with(in) the breath, be helpful, wise and skillful?
  • Can you trust that simple bare awareness of breathing is sufficient and enough?
  • When waking up back to breath ask, “was what took me away pleasant or unpleasant?” And whatever is woken back up to, is it mental or physical?
  • Who/what controls the breath and how?
  • Can breath be seen, looked at, or focused upon as a tangible, visible object (in the mind’s eye)?
  • When conscious of the breath, what of the breath still remains unconscious (or subconscious)?
  • How does breath want to be known?

Perceptions

“Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit.”

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html
Advantages of breath as meditation object:
  1. Always available
  2. In the here and now
  3. Dynamic so it’s easier to focus on
  4. Minimal emotional charge helps the body and mind settle

If you want to go to point A to B, fully inhabit A — being fully here with experience. 

Breathing grounds and centers us in a relaxed yet alert continuity of attention in the present moment 


Instead of jumping out into the river of life to fight the rapids, or getting scared by the rapids, or getting swept away by them, let breathing be like being on a big stable boat in the river of life. 

Sometimes if feels good to damn up the natural flow of the river of life to give the thinking mind a kind of freedom to spill out over the land. 

This is dangerous though causing flooding while the river of life wants to keep flowing. 

This continuity of life experience — to be and stay in the present moment — can be experienced in various worldly ways like with a heightened sense of fear — like mountain climbing — or intense demand of attention like preforming surgery, playing tennis, and with books and movies.

Meditation doesn’t naturally engage fear, entertainment, and interest so we develop this capacity to stay with experience without relying on something external as impetus. 

Continuity of attention comes from:
  1. relaxation (a tense attention is exhausting) — tension can be fuel for wandering mind
  2. dedication — engaging our intensional faculty
  3. strength in mindfulness
  4. heightened awareness to know when the mind wanders off — initially takes a lot of effort but eventually this habit can allow the mind to be more at peace
  5. familiarity of what it feels like to be with the breathing so we know what it feels like when we wander off noticing a kind of loss of intimacy with parts of ourself
How Breath Can Cultivate Continuity of Attention:
  • Inviting body and breath to relax, especially in the belly allows greater observation of the breath’s variations 
  • Like petting a cat, not continuously, but stroking intermittently from head to tail until purring
  • Counting breath (initially to learn this technique, and if needed, then let go of counting)
  • Labeling the “in” and “out” breaths. “In” for the in-breath. “Out” for the out-breath.

“Frozen breathing or held breathing is kind of like glue for attachment”

Breath Psychology:

One Italian word for breathing: “respirare” gives us the words “breathing” and “spiritual”

We also have “respiration”, “inspiration”, gas company “Spire”, “conspiracy” which the roots of the word mean to breathe together [https://www.etymonline.com/word/conspiracy#etymonline_v_28701]

And in psychology, “psycho” is of the mind and another meaning for “psycho” is “breathing” [https://www.etymonline.com/word/psycho-]

With in the breath itself, notice changes, emotions, attitudes, and psychology. Notice where mind wanders off.

Maybe the end of in breath is boring due to lack of sensation so one starts thinking about stuff. 

Maybe there’s fear around the end of an out-breath not wanting to let go fully, and wanting control, wanting to get to the in-breath.

Maybe some don’t want to breathe out because of tendency to hold on to things, and not want to give things away. 

Maybe a reluctance to breathe in if the world feels oppressive, not wanting to take on any more burdens, oppression, or work. 

All this diminishes though with the continuity of courageously breathing through it all, and by doing so without interfering with the breath — thus resulting in a support for freedom


Mindfulness of breathing is like putting a stick in a stream that you can’t tell if it’s moving or not.

This then shows the ripples and currents of our lives, and how busy, and maybe how out of control the mind is

Not that it’s wrong, it just gives a reference point to see how strong the tendency is to be pulled into thinking, our concerns, emotions.

The challenge to stay with the breath is like a mirror for what’s going on with the mind that makes it so challenging.

The mirror of breath also allows us to see ourselves in the subtlety of what’s occurring (inside and out); like a gauge of our internal and external world

Mindfulness of breathing works even when it doesn’t work by showing you what’s taking attention away from the breath. 

[Much of the paraphrased perceptions above via https://www.audiodharma.org/teacher/1/ — 2020-08-24 to 2020-08-30]


Miscellaneous Perceptions:

What if each and every moment of each and every in breath and out breath was and is happening like your life depends on it? 

What if it was way more of an emergency situation than any ICU or any end-of-the-world event depicted in movies?

Because this is the way it is — miss one half breath and life ceases. But we’re often oblivious to this mostly continuously. 


  • Breathing in life-giving nourishment. Breathing out a relaxing release of that which is no longer needed. 
  • Breathing in is allowing. Breathing out is an offering
  • In life we must give (breath) to receive (breath) and vice versa
  • Each breath is different
  • Inhabit the breath; occupy the breath

“But whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, ‘O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food . . . [that I might live] for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or [that I might live for the interval that it takes] to breathe in after breathing out . . . they are said to dwell heedfully.”

— Maranassati Sutta: Mindfulness of Death https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.019.than.html

‘The breath is centeredness itself and you are the breath remembering your true nature.

As you breathe, let the experience not be a person connecting to something called ‘breath’, but the breath being itself in momentary form. 

Eliminate any degree of labels suggesting something is connecting with something else called breath. 

Instead, just let it all be breath remembering and realizing itself.

When it’s all the breath appearing as the phenomenon of people, places, and things, there is no longer anyone who is or isn’t sleeping. 

Instead, there is the presence of eternal light where everything is already awake. This is the heart of true restfulness.’

~ Matt Kahn — 9/20/20 newsletter

Practice Ideas: Active, Passive and Otherwise

Established breath practices, including many types of Pranayama and breathing methods:

[Note: I have not practiced extensively. Initial assessment is they are very helpful with a more gross level awareness of the breath and can be both calming, energizing and exhausting.]

  • Buteyko method
  • Lion’s Breath
  • Breath of Fire
  • Three Part Breathing
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing
  • Bellows Breath
  • Ujjayi Breath
  • 4-7-8 breathing
  • Roll breathing
  • Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”
  • Abdominal and Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • Box Breathing
  • Pursed lip breathing
  • Humming bee breath

Shifu Jiru’s 5 Qigong breathing exercises:

These exercises, synced with breath, act as an aide to (increasing) breath awareness, particularly helpful before more extended, formal breath-centric mediation.

[What’s shown in the video version of this presentation is a very inaccurate representation. It’s been heavily edited, speed up, and is without sound or instructions.]


Fill the mind with the breath

Give (complete, entire, continuous,) full attention to breath

Invite thinking energy to soften. Tune into the pleasure of the body. Relax and let go into the breath.

What is more pleasurable and easy to connect with the in or out breath?

What small adjustments with the natural breath can be made for greater ease?

Coast and surf breath. Notice effect on the body around breath and invite other parts of the body to feel similar.

Point your boat towards breath and let all else wash up against the boat.

Notice the parts of the breath where awareness wanes — during the in-breath, out-breath or pauses — then hold steady.

Let go into the out breath pause.

Rest in the simple knowing of breath.


Five Dimensions of Breath via Akiñcano Marc Weber:
  1. Depth
  2. Resistance
  3. Rhythm
  4. Texture
  5. Energetic Tone
  1. Depth — how far throughout the body can breath be felt?
  2. Resistance — does it feel like I’m doing all the work, or does it feel like I’m being breathed, or somewhere in between?
  3. Rhythm — What’s the felt sense of duration and timing of the in and out breaths and pauses between?
  4. Texture — Does it feel silky, grainy, lumpy, feathery, etc?
  5. Energetic Tone — Is breath relaxing, energizing? Without thinking, what’s the energy like in the body? Radiating, frequencies, vibrational?

Investigate and research if occasional use of herbs acting on breath, like feverfew and mullein, are wise. 

This also goes for semi-precious air element stones like iolite and smokey quartz


Be kindly, continually, consciously, tenaciously, devoted and wholeheartedly dedicated to committing to an intimate, full awareness of breath.

Commit to each breath. And recommit after each breath. Tuning into, recalling and amplifying the intention to stay with each half breath and after straying: back to awareness of breath . . . and back to awareness of breath . . . etc. etc. with a balance of ease and effort [(and what if done so) at any cost?]


The breath bridging (in)to awareness practice [via Loch Kelly]:

Be aware of breath from(/as) breath. Are you resting as the awareness, or are you the awareness that is aware? 

And what is the relationship to what is moving? 

Is awareness aware of itself?

As awareness, are you aware of the rising movement, and thought, and feeling? 

And is [awareness] separate? What is it made of? 


When there’s tendency to control breathing bring awareness to that which is controlling breath and investigate the process of controlling breath and observe subtle movements of ribs and spine.


Addendum

Unless there is significant challenge during breath-based meditation where anything here can help, it is best to just drop everything from this presentation and experience breath according to however you’ve decided to do breath meditation.

A kind of blaring omission is the instructions in the Ānāpānassatisutta, often translated as Mindfulness of Breathing. Translations below by Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhikkhu Sujato (including the original Pali):

“Here a bhikkhu, gone to the forest or to the root of a tree or to an empty hut, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out.

“Breathing in long, he understands: ‘I breathe in long’; or breathing out long, he understands: ‘I breathe out long.’ Breathing in short, he understands: ‘I breathe in short’; or breathing out short, he understands: ‘I breathe out short.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing the whole body of breath’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body of breath.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in tranquillising the bodily formation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out tranquillising the bodily formation.’

“He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing rapture’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing rapture.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing pleasure’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing pleasure.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing the mental formation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing the mental formation. ’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in tranquillising the mental formation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out tranquillising the mental formation.’

“He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing the mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing the mind.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in gladdening the mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out gladdening the mind.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in concentrating the mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out concentrating the mind.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in liberating the mind’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out liberating the mind.’

“He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in contemplating impermanence’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out contemplating impermanence. ’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in contemplating fading away’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out contemplating fading away.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in contemplating cessation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out contemplating cessation.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in contemplating relinquishment’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out contemplating relinquishment. ’

“Bhikkhus, that is how mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, so that it is of great fruit and great benefit.

Translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Bhikkhu Sujato’s translation:

It’s when a mendicant has gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut. They sit down cross-legged, with their body straight, and establish mindfulness right there.

Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu araññagato vā rukkhamūlagato vā suññāgāragato vā nisīdati pallaṅkaṃ ābhujitvā ujuṃ kāyaṃ paṇidhāya parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā.

Just mindful, they breathe in. Mindful, they breathe out.

So satova assasati satova passasati.

When breathing in heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing in heavily.’ When breathing out heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing out heavily.’

Dīghaṃ vā assasanto ‘dīghaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti, dīghaṃ vā passasanto ‘dīghaṃ passasāmī’ti pajānāti;

When breathing in lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing in lightly.’ When breathing out lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing out lightly.’

rassaṃ vā assasanto ‘rassaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti, rassaṃ vā passasanto ‘rassaṃ passasāmī’ti pajānāti;

They practice breathing in experiencing the whole body. They practice breathing out experiencing the whole body.

‘sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

They practice breathing in stilling the body’s motion. They practice breathing out stilling the body’s motion.

‘passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati. (1)

They practice breathing in experiencing rapture. They practice breathing out experiencing rapture.

‘Pītipaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘pītipaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

They practice breathing in experiencing bliss. They practice breathing out experiencing bliss.

‘sukhapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘sukhapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

They practice breathing in experiencing these emotions. They practice breathing out experiencing these emotions.

‘cittasaṅkhārapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘cittasaṅkhārapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

They practice breathing in stilling these emotions. They practice breathing out stilling these emotions.

‘passambhayaṃ cittasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘passambhayaṃ cittasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati. (2)

They practice breathing in experiencing the mind. They practice breathing out experiencing the mind.

‘Cittapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘cittapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

They practice breathing in gladdening the mind. They practice breathing out gladdening the mind.

‘abhippamodayaṃ cittaṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘abhippamodayaṃ cittaṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

They practice breathing in immersing the mind in samādhi. They practice breathing out immersing the mind in samādhi.

‘samādahaṃ cittaṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘samādahaṃ cittaṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

They practice breathing in freeing the mind. They practice breathing out freeing the mind.

‘vimocayaṃ cittaṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘vimocayaṃ cittaṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati. (3)

They practice breathing in observing impermanence. They practice breathing out observing impermanence.

‘Aniccānupassī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘aniccānupassī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;They practice breathing in observing fading away. They practice breathing out observing fading away.

‘virāgānupassī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘virāgānupassī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

They practice breathing in observing cessation. They practice breathing out observing cessation.

‘nirodhānupassī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘nirodhānupassī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;

They practice breathing in observing letting go. They practice breathing out observing letting go.

‘paṭinissaggānupassī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘paṭinissaggānupassī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati.

Mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated in this way, is very fruitful and beneficial.

Evaṃ bhāvitā kho, bhikkhave, ānāpānassati evaṃ bahulīkatā mahapphalā hoti mahānisaṃsā. (4)

Translation by Bhikkhu Sujato

Materiality and Mentality | (7/27/2021 — “Ask Us Anything – LIVE” With Denny K Miu And Guest Beth Upton

Materiality and Mentality | (7/27/2021 — “Ask Us Anything – LIVE” With Denny K Miu And Guest Beth Upton

Please join Denny K Miu and I along with meditation teacher Beth Upton — to listen, comment and/or ask questions (via live chat) — Tuesday July 27, 2021 at noon Central time for our monthly “Ask Us Anything LIVE” via:


Beth was born in 1982 in London. She graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in Economics, then in 2008 ordained as a Buddhist nun at Pa Auk Meditation Centre in Myanmar. She spent five years training diligently in meditation in the Theravada tradition under the guidance of Pa Auk Sayadaw, then a further five years training in other meditation methods and doing long solo retreats. In 2014 Beth founded Sanditthika Meditation Community in the caves of Almeria, Spain. In 2018, after ten years of monastic life, Beth decided to disrobe in order to integrate some of the challenges of western life into her Dhamma practice. Beth has been teaching meditation since 2014 both in Almeria and in meditation retreats around the world.


Previous post with Beth Upton: https://integratingpresence.com/2021/03/21/well-rounded-meditation-and-generosity-in-conversation-with-beth-upton/

[As of now, I plan to update this placeholder post with show notes sometime afterwards]

Images For The Minds Of The Three Kinds Of People In The World

The three types of people in the world are likened to a person with a mind like an open sore, a person with a mind like lightning, and a person with a mind like diamond.

And who has a mind like an open sore? It’s someone who is irritable and bad-tempered. Even when lightly criticized they lose their temper, becoming annoyed, hostile, and hard-hearted, and they display annoyance, hate, and bitterness. They’re like a festering sore, which, when you hit it with a stick or a stone, discharges even more. In the same way, someone is irritable and bad-tempered. Even when lightly criticized they lose their temper, becoming annoyed, hostile, and hard-hearted, and they display annoyance, hate, and bitterness. This is called a person with a mind like an open sore.


And who has a mind like lightning? It’s someone who truly understands: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering’. They’re like a person with keen eyes in the dark of the night, who sees by a flash of lightning. In the same way, someone truly understands: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering’. This is called a person with a mind like lightning.


And who has a mind like diamond? It’s someone who realizes the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life. And they live having realized it with their own insight due to the ending of defilements. It’s like a diamond, which can’t be cut by anything at all, not even a gem or a stone. In the same way, someone realizes the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life. … This is called a person with a mind like diamond.

The Buddha’s Five Illustrated Themes For Addressing Unskillful Thoughts

In the Vitakkasaṇṭhāna Sutta — The Relaxation of Thoughts (MN 20) the Buddha provides five themes to attend to at the appropriate times for those intent on heightening the mind. With accompanying images, they are:


Small Peg Knocking Out Larger One (to attend to another theme)

There is the case where evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion, or delusion—arise in a monk while he is referring to and attending to a particular theme. He should attend to another theme, apart from that one, connected with what is skillful. When he is attending to this other theme, apart from that one, connected with what is skillful, then those evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion, or delusion—are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it. Just as a dexterous carpenter or his apprentice would use a small peg to knock out, drive out, and pull out a large one; in the same way, if evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion, or delusion—arise in a monk while he is referring to and attending to a particular theme, he should attend to another theme, apart from that one, connected with what is skillful. When he is attending to this other theme, apart from that one, connected with what is skillful, then those evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion, or delusion—are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it.


Disgusted By Wearing Carcass (to know certain thoughts are unskillful, blameworthy, and resulting in stress)

If evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion, or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is attending to this other theme, connected with what is skillful, he should scrutinize the drawbacks of those thoughts: ‘Really, these thoughts of mine are unskillful, these thoughts of mine are blameworthy, these thoughts of mine result in stress.’ As he is scrutinizing the drawbacks of those thoughts, those evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion, or delusion—are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it. Just as a young woman—or man—fond of adornment, would be horrified, humiliated, and disgusted if the carcass of a snake or a dog or a human being were hung from her neck; in the same way, if evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion, or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is attending to this other theme, connected with what is skillful, he should scrutinize the drawbacks of those thoughts: ‘Really, these thoughts of mine are unskillful, these thoughts of mine are blameworthy, these thoughts of mine result in stress.’ As he is scrutinizing the drawbacks of those thoughts, those evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion, or delusion—are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it.


Looking Away (to pay no mind to unskillful thoughts)

If evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is scrutinizing the drawbacks of those thoughts, he should pay no mind and pay no attention to those thoughts. As he is paying no mind and paying no attention to them, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it. Just as a man with good eyes, not wanting to see forms that had come into range, would close his eyes or look away; in the same way, if evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is scrutinizing the drawbacks of those thoughts, he should pay no mind and pay no attention to those thoughts. As he is paying no mind and paying no attention to them, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it.


From Running To Walking To Standing To Sitting To Lying Down (to relax thought fabrications)

If evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is paying no mind and paying no attention to those thoughts, he should attend to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts. As he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it. Just as the thought would occur to a man walking quickly, ‘Why am I walking quickly? Why don’t I walk slowly?’ So he walks slowly. The thought occurs to him, ‘Why am I walking slowly? Why don’t I stand?’ So he stands. The thought occurs to him, ‘Why am I standing? Why don’t I sit down?’ So he sits down. The thought occurs to him, ‘Why am I sitting? Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. In this way, giving up the grosser posture, he takes up the more refined one. In the same way, if evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is paying no mind and paying no attention to those thoughts, he should attend to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts. As he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it.


Clenching Teeth (to crush unskillful/evil mind with awareness)

If evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts, then—with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth—he should beat down, constrain, and crush his mind with his awareness. As—with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth—he is beating down, constraining, and crushing his mind with his awareness, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it. Just as a strong man, seizing a weaker man by the head or the throat or the shoulders, would beat him down, constrain, and crush him; in the same way, if evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts, then—with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth—he should beat down, constrain, and crush his mind with his awareness. As—with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth—he is beating down, constraining, and crushing his mind with his awareness, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it.

Kind Boundaries

To be kind to those who are unkind in return only seems one-sided to the one ‘keeping score’. When reciprocity doesn’t come from people around you, but from the will of the Universe moving through a depiction of characters, you will come to realize how people’s behavior is more reflective of where they are in their journey and never a reflection of your intention or self-worth. While you certainly don’t have to be best friends or lovers with those who ‘take’ with nothing else to ‘give’, because you are serving the will of the Universe, you are always being celebrated by the loving intelligence of divinity for all that you do — even when received by people solely designed to reflect your progress out of the plight of unfairness and into the light of eternal faith.

7/4/2021 Matt Kahn newsletter

The following question recently put to me references the above quote:

A question for you, as stated today in Matt Kahn’s newsletter that you don’t have to be friends with those who are unkind to you, do you think it’s more of a reacting in the moment with kindness and then you are ok to choose not to hang out with them anymore? And then how do you handle this with family or people you are more obligated or even forced to see for some time until you can completely break the relationship? I understand fully those societal obligations can be broken but just curious on your take on repeat interactions with those who are unkind.

Question put to me

My (somewhat revised/edited) response:

Yes this is a little more tricky and complicated. Without knowing specifics, what comes to mind now for more general day to day interactions with those we are more obligated and/or forced to interact with: sometimes the kindest thing we can do for ourselves and others is establish and maintain as firm of boundaries for as long as necessary. And we can do so with kindness, compassion and limiting our time spent in these interactions. While this takes courage and bravery I also feel it’s even more helpful to express our feelings (if possible and without saying they are causing them) and clearly express these boundaries to the involved parties. How exactly this is done — and in what tone and manner — is the rub though.

For example, years ago I got to the point where I just told my mom that we had to take a break — no communications whatsoever except for emergencies for one week. I rarely saw her more upset after I did this and had never seen such benefits in our relationship afterwards. Obviously this is just an example not a suggestion.

We all start where we are. I love Matt Kahn’s teachings. While the effect is not often immediately noticeable, nor step-by-step practical, for me these teachings plant seeds and seem to revolutionize my views, perceptions and ways of being in the world.

And as far as “reacting in the moment with kindness and then you are ok to choose not to hang out with them anymore” I’d say it is even OK to choose not to hang out with someone no matter how you have been or have not been. And just because the choice is made not to hang out doesn’t mean one must keep being kind, or stop being kind to them, whether in their presence or not. I’ve found, eventually though, with a regular loving-kindness practice, loving-kindness is a natural state that arrises more and more without (much) effort once what is in its way starts to dissolve.

And while it is certainly OK, I don’t really see this in terms of equity like “OK, now since I’ve been kind to them I’m OK to stop hanging out with them.” Also, kindness is different from niceness. I feel niceness can range from the inverted “I really don’t want to interact much with you” to the authentic icing on the cake of kindness.

An Integrating Presence Meditation at Fat Cat Longevity Wednesday June 29, 2021

Join meditation 6:00-6:45pm Wednesday, June 29th at Fat Cat Longevity [https://facebook.com/freyflow] downstairs next to Peace Love Coffee at the Mary’s House of Healing building, on Main St in St Charles, MO.

As of now, this meditation plans to be open and intuitively guided to the energies and participants present at that time. Please see past events for some examples of potential meditation practices.


Meditation Audio: Breathing 9 Beneficial Energies Into Embodiment

7/1/21 UPDATE: In this (now recorded) mediation we worked with breath to embody the beneficial energies of:

  • Smiling
  • Our most relaxed experience
  • Gratitude [and/or appreciation and thankfulness]
  • Forgiveness
  • Service
  • Loving-kindness
  • Compassion
  • (Vicarious) joy [and/or gladness]
  • Equanimity
  • [Additional beneficial energies not mentioned:]
    • various ideal blessings
    • energies from (being around) your spiritual entourage
    • goodness
    • generosity

With these words dropped in to further amplify and benefit:

  • Open
  • Allow
  • Permit
  • Embrace
  • Inhabit
  • Be with
  • Accompany
  • Free
  • Melt
  • Soften
  • Sooth
  • Safe
  • Surrender
  • Sweetness
  • Gentleness
  • Care
  • Yes
  • Tenderness
  • Ease
  • Expand
  • Relax
  • Release
  • Include
  • Trust
  • It’s OK
  • This too
  • This belongs
  • It IS like this

Additional, helpful three-way forgiveness phrases:

  1. To those I may have caused harm knowingly or unknowingly through my thoughts words or actions I ask you to consider forgiving me.
  2. To those who have may have caused me harm knowingly or unknowingly through their thoughts words or actions I freely offer my forgiveness as best as I am able at this time.
  3. And for any harm I may have caused myself knowingly or unknowingly through my thoughts my words my actions I offer my forgiveness I forgive myself as best I can at this time.

Mary’s House of Healing
524 South Main Street
Downstairs at Fat Cat Longevity next to Peace Love Coffee…
St. Charles, MO 63301

May 5, 2021 — 6:00pm – 6:45pm

Doors open: 5:50pm — Doors close: 6:05pm

Cost: Fat Cat Longevity price packagesmonthly membership or generosity inspired donation

Questions To Assess The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Assessment Report

I previously wrote about preparing the general public for mass disclosure, how such a thing may be gone about, and some of the questions, challenges and complications involved.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently released a report called, Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon [PDF]

Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Unidentified Aerial Phenomenonhttps://www.dni.gov/files/ODNI/documents/assessments/Prelimary-Assessment-UAP-20210625.pdf

Click to access Prelimary-Assessment-UAP-20210625.pdf


Unsurprisingly, the report’s tone comes off as dismissive, pointing the finger elsewhere than what the alternative information communities have called for, and is largely framed in a war-based context.

I really don’t have much of an assessment about the assessment other than can be drawn from the following questions:

  1. How long has everything in this report already been known within various portions of the intelligence community?
  2. What are the sources of information gathering for this report? What sources were known and weren’t included? Why? What about MUFON?
  3. Can previous credible US Government and Military reports be included in the data? If not, why not?
  4. What kind of action is being taken on suspected unknown sources for information gathering of this sort?
  5. What kind of inter-agency sharing was and wasn’t included in the report?
  6. Why such an emphasis on (technological) sensors?
  7. Who all would be spoofing observations and why?
  8. Who all is the authority on judging observer misperception and what is the criteria for their expertise?
  9. Why is language like “could be” and “may be” being used?
  10. What manner and extent of human intelligence and other forms of non-machine/mechanical/computational/AI/technological intelligence are and are not being used? Why?
  11. Hypothetically, if a non-violent force deemed a UAP was trying to end war and violence on a global/planetary level would this be considered a national security threat? Why or why not?
  12. What is the following sentence implying: “We currently lack data to indicate any UAP are part of a foreign collection program or indicative of a major technological advancement by a potential adversary.” If data is lacking why assume and point this out? What does this indicate given the previously mentioned, “some UAP may be technologies deployed by China, Russia, another nation, or a non-governmental entity”? Why the seeming contradiction? Why include such ambiguous statements?
  13. To what extent will normalizing “future collection, reporting, and analysis” promote biases and increase or decrease data quality? How is this known? What corrective countermeasures are being considered?
  14. To what extent do certain personnel with certain clearances already have access to the recommendations and outcomes of everything mentioned in this report and beyond?
  15. To what extent could this task force be an experiment for other intelligence programs and/or a front program for what kinds of agendas by whom all?

So is this report a tiptoe towards disclosure? How does, and how doesn’t, and how could this all relate to various spiritual paths and meditation practices?

Form And Formless | (6/29/2021 — “Ask Us Anything – LIVE” With Denny K Miu)


“[The three emancipations of] emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness constitute dualities. The empty is the signless, and the signless is the wishless. If [one achieves] the empty, the signless, and the wishless, then there is no mind, thought, or consciousness. In this single gate of emancipation are the three gates of emancipation. This is to enter the Dharma gate of nonduality.”

From Chapter IX – The Dharma Gate of Nonduality of the Vimalakīrti Sutra

For this month’s regular open-audience, open-discussion “Ask Us Anything LIVE” — continuing discussions about meditation and related topics — Denny draws from, and summarizes the teaching of Master Ji Ru (Shifu) to link together the Four Great Elements, Four “Mighty” Postures, Four Right Knowings, Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Three (or Four) Dharma Seals, and Three Gates of Liberation.



  • Four Great Elements
    • Fire
    • Earth
    • Water
    • Wind
  • Four “Mighty” Postures
    • Standing
    • Sitting
    • Lying Down
    • Walking
  • Four Right Knowings
    • Body (身) ← Standing
    • Feeling (受) ← Sitting
    • Mind (心) ← Lying Down
    • Dharma (法) ← Walking
  • Four Foundations of Mindfulness
    • Body → “Not Firm” (觀身不實)
    • Feeling → Dukkha (觀受皆苦)
    • Mind → “Rising & Fading” (觀心生滅)
    • Dharma → “No Drama” (觀法無法)
  • Three (or Four) Dharma Seals
    • All are Impermanent (諸行無常)
    • Nirvana is Bliss (涅槃寂靜)
    • [Dukkha as the Fourth]
    • All are Empty & Non-Self (諸法無我)
  • Three Gates of Liberation
    • Desireless Gate (無願門)
    • “Signless” Gate (無相門)
    • Emptiness Gate (空門)

Miscellaneous mentions include:

  • Transcendental/reverse dependent origination (the opposite which I mentioned but couldn’t remember the name of)
  • Skandha vs Khandha
    • ‘..the correct word is kandha and NOT skandha for the five “aggregates”. The Pāli (and Sinhala) word kandha means a “pile” (as in a pile of sand) and is still used to denote a hill in Sinhala. I just look up the meaning of “skandha” in Sanskrit and it says  “Hindu god of war”. This is how the true meanings of the original words have been lost due to incorporation of “sophisticated sounding” Sanskrit words with no relevance.’
  • Dharma with a Big D meaning reality and dharma with a little d meaning phenomena, methodology, and the teachings of the historical Buddha
  • 33 Synonyms for Nibbana
  • Standalone Four Elements meditation practices
  • Non-separation of the four elements
  • The entire universe being within the body:

Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos.

from the Rohitassa Sutta
  • After the Buddha’s parinibbana the precepts being the teacher and the Four Applications/Foundations of Mindfulness as dwelling place:

My second question is, when the Buddha is in the world, we Bhikshus take the Buddha as our teacher. Whom should we take as our teacher after the Buddha enters Nirvana?”The Buddha said, ” After I enter Nirvana, you Bhikshus should take the precepts as your teacher. The Pratimoksa is your great teacher. If you uphold the precepts, it will be the same as when I am in the world. You should avoid all evil and practice all good deeds.”In the beginning of the Buddha’s teaching career, there were no precepts, but as the Sangha continued to grow, complications inevitably arose. Not everyone was well-behaved. The Buddha established the precepts one by one in response to the needs of the situation. In the final compilation of the precepts, there were 250 precepts for Bhikshus, 348 precepts for Bhikshunis, ten major and forty-eight minor precepts for Bodhisattvas, ten precepts for Shramaneras (novices), and eight precepts and five precepts for laypeople. All these various categories of precepts are aimed at helping people to behave well. People who are well-behaved will be good citizens who can help others and benefit the society. Thus, the moral precepts are the basis for world peace. Therefore, Bhikshus should take the precepts as their teacher.”Now I’ll ask the third question,” continued Ananda. “When the Buddha is in the world, we dwell with the Buddha. We always live and study with the Buddha. After the Buddha enters Nirvana, with whom should the Bhikshus dwell?”

The Buddha answered, “After I enter Nirvana, all the Bhikshus should dwell in the Four Applications of Mindfulness.”

via Sutra of the Merit and Virtue of the Past Vows of Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata Commentary Part 1 Explained by the Venerable Master Hua
in 1983 at Gold Wheel Monastery in Los Angeles
  • Paccekabuddha (“solitary buddha” or “a buddha on their own”)
  • Various translations of dhammas (5 Hindrances, 5 Aggregates of Clinging, 6 Internal and External Sense Bases, 7 Factors of Enlightenment, 4 Noble Truths) the Fourth Foundations of Mindfulness, as:
    • phenomena
    • contents of mind
    • objects of mind
    • mental objects, etc.
  • The significance of the Satipatthana Sutta now often being translated as The Discourse on the Establishing of Mindfulness instead of The Four Foundations of Mindfulness
  • Turning towards knowledge of the passing away and reappearance of beings in the second watch of the night of the Buddha’s enlightenment

Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!

The last words of the Buddha: Handa dani bhikkhave amantayami vo: Vayadhamma sankhara appamadena sampadetha.

Audio only version — Form And Formless | (6/29/2021 — AUA Live | Joshua Dippold and Denny K Miu)

Join “Ask Us Anything LIVE” next month, July 27, 2021 at noon Central Time via:

YouTube [ <<– custom link dennykmiu.com/youtube redirects to Denny’s YouTube channel]

Facebook [ <<– custom link dennykmiu.com/facebook redirects to Denny’s Facebook page]


Currently, for a chance to experience, practice, and receive Yi Jin Jing instructions from Denny — plus more mindful exercise (with me sometimes commenting post-practice) — join in free on Saturdays at 10am and 8pm Central Time:

June 2021 Full Moon Dhamma Gathering: Truth

“The gift of Truth excels all (other) gifts.

The flavour of Truth excels all (other) flavours.

The pleasure in Truth excels all (other) pleasures.

He who has destroyed craving overcomes all sorrow.”

— Dhammapada 354

Due to a major interest in truth, I answered the call to read a Sutta at Beth Upton’s full moon gathering today. Each of these monthly online get-togethers explores a different topic and offers “a chance to deepen our connections with each other through group meditation and Dhamma discussion.” I considered a Jataka tale featuring goblins. But it is too long. Here’s the takeaway though:

When he had thus exhorted the disciples, the Blessed One said,—“So too in times past, disciples, the men who jumped to the fatuous conclusion that what was no refuge was a real refuge, fell a prey to goblins in a demon-haunted wilderness and were utterly destroyed; whilst the men who clave to the absolute and indisputable truth, prospered in the selfsame wilderness.”

— from the Apannaka Jataka  https://suttacentral.net/ja1/en/chalmers

I read the Smaller Discourse on Quarreling (included below).

Here I roughly rehash the two main questions we explored:

  • What hinders us from truth?
  • What can help bring more awareness to our relationship with truth?

I did not get around to exploring these four words from the Metta Sutta:

“Let none deceive another . . .”

— Metta Sutta

Does this line mean action should be taken to prevent deception? If so, how and to what extent? (Deception often happens as protection or retribution, btw)


Other potential questions of interest:

  • How much truth revealing is needed in any moment (of interaction)?
  • What if you didn’t mean to fool someone?

(And for those often identifying with feelings) there is the practice of feeling into the truth of something


Cūlaviyūha Sutta — Smaller Discourse on Quarreling from Sutta Nipāta 4.12

Question
Each attached to their own views,
They dispute, and the experts say,
“Whoever knows this understands the Dhamma,
Whoever rejects it is imprefect.”

Arguing like this, they disagree, saying
“My opponent is a fool, and is no expert”
Which of these doctrines is the truth,
Since all of them say they are experts?

Buddha
If by not accepting another’s teaching
One became a fool of debased wisdom
Then, honestly, all are fools of debased wisdom,
Since all are attached to views.

But if people are washed by their own views,
With pure wisdom, experts, thoughtful,
Then none of them has debased wisdom,
For their views are perfect.

I don’t say, “This is how it is”,
Like the fools who oppose each other.
Each of them makes out that their view is the truth,
So they treat their opponent as a fool.

Question
What some say is the truth,
Others say is false.
So they argue, disagreeing;
Why don’t the ascetics teach one truth?

Buddha
Indeed the truth is one, there’s not another,
about this the One who Knows
does not dispute with another,
but the Samaṇas proclaim their varied “truths”
and so they speak not in the same way.

Why do they speak such varied truths,
these so-called experts disputatious—
Are there really many and various truths
Or do they just rehearse their logic?

Buddha
Indeed, there are not many and varied truths
differing from perception of the ever-true in the world;
but they work upon their views with logic:
“Truth! Falsehood!” So they speak in dualities.

Based on what is seen, heard,
On precepts and vows, or what is cognized,
They look down on others.
Convinced of their own theories,
pleased with themselves,
They say, “My opponent is a fool, no expert.”

They consider themselves expert for the same reasons
That they despise their opponent as a fool.
Calling themselves experts, they despise the other,
Yet they speak the very same way.

And since perfected in some extreme view,
puffed with pride and maddened by conceit,
he anoints himself as though the master-mind,
likewise thinking his view’s perfected too.

If their opponent says they are deficient,
They too are of deficient understanding.
But if they are wise and knowledgeable,
Then there are no fools among the ascetics.

“Anyone who teaches a doctrine other than this,
Has fallen short of purity and perfection.”
This is what followers of other paths say,
Passionately defending their very different views.

“Here alone is purity,” so they say,
“There is no purity in the teachings of others.”
This is what followers of other paths strongly assert,
Each entrenched in their own different path.

Strongly asserting their own path,
What opponent would they take to be a fool?
They would only bring trouble on themselves
By calling an opponent a fool of impure teachings.

Convinced of their own theories,
Comparing others to oneself,
They get into more disputes with the world.
But by leaving behind all theories,
They don’t have any problems with the world.

Dharma Questions: Miscellany — Part 5

This irregular “Dharma Questions” series deals with “dharma” meaning both the truth of the nature of reality and some Buddhist teachings. Please see this post on the intensions for questioning and not questioning. Amongst other things these questions can be:

  • thought experiments
  • borderline musings not meant to be answered
  • from laziness of not contemplating or researching them yet

[FIRST JHANA]

“There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.

“Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman’s apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within and without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal

via https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-samadhi/jhana.html
  1. How does bath powder work once it’s kneaded together with water? [This is a reference to the quoted passage above. For context, perhaps this first Jhana simile could benefit from an extended visualization and explanation on use once the powder is mixed with water as this is a nonexistent practice in the Western world.
  2. What is the I AM? Where did it come from? How does it work? Why did the Buddha say it was the biggest conceit?
  3. How and why does aligning with truth bring happiness?
  4. Dividing Sangha is said to be a grave offense? What if one divides Sangha unintentionally? Mustn’t the division be intentional? If so, why is this distinction seemingly seldom mentioned?
  5. I’ve heard TM (Transcendental Meditation) can lead to rebirth in formless realms. How?
  6. Does Nirvana know Samsara?
  7. What is the root condition of impermanence?
  8. What is mind made of? What is mind’s essence? Is it made of consciousness and space (elements)? Earth, air, water, fire?
  9. Did the Buddha speak (in) the Pali language we find in the suttas? If so, how do we know? If not, why then was it written down in Pali instead of the language he spoke? And further, was the Pali language then created just to record the Buddha’s words and teachings? Why and how? Who all created Pali, when and for what reason(s)? How do we know?
  10. For keeping the precept of refraining from falsehoods, and developing the pāramī of truth, is it skillful and wise to use language that’s obviously exaggeration and embellishment? For example: “I use olive oil on everything.”
  11. What are some wise, skillful and wholesome ways to relate to ignorance? Specifically, being ignorant to what we’re ignorant of; the ignorance of what’s causing that/this ignorance; and the ignorance of being ignorant of all that is obscuring and blocking knowing we are ignorant, and being ignorant of how to address and relate and respond to all this?
  12. Do nagas have anything to do with the “rainbow body”? What is the origin of the “rainbow body”?
  13. What are any and all similarities and differences between “Para Brahman” and “Nirvana”?
  14. What are the karmic results for (continually) getting upset about being caught in samsara?
  15. Could the differences between the Theravada (immediate) rebirth after death, and the Tibetan intermediate bardo period after death be resolved by taking spontaneous rebirth immediately into a bardo body following human death? Why or why not?
  16. On Abhidhamma/Abhidharma:
    • How did each of the various versions of the Abhidhamma/Abhidharma come to be (the way they are now) and why (the differences)?
    • Has there been any changes in Abhidhamma/Abhidharma since their inceptions, and if not, are they subject to change? Why and/or why not
    • Whom all does Abhidhamma/Abhidharma apply to? All beings everywhere, or just certain beings in certain times and places (or lack of times and places)? Why and/or why not?