July 8, 2015 – Key Point in Samadhi

First uploaded in Korean on 2015-08-01
Dharma Talk: Ven. Pomnyun Sunim
Record in Korean: Lee, JunGil
Translation in English: Rei Yoon

 Ven. Pomnyun Sunim had Dhamma talk about the key point in Samadhi in Jungto Society in Korea following morning chanting and formal meal (Korean traditional Buddhist way to eat in the Temple)



The first thing for a practitioner to do is to keep the precepts. If one lives by the precepts, one will do no immoral things and people will respect the person. Precepts are what sets practitioners apart from ordinary people. Only when one keeps the precepts will people say that “that person is different from us.” People will praise the practitioner because when they see the way the practitioner lives – his/her action, speech, thoughts – they understand that he/she is living differently.



But keeping the precepts alone does not make practitioners happy. Not all of them are peaceful or happy. In the past, there were Confucius scholars who were very strict about themselves but were unstable within. Some had tension, some had sufferings. The same goes for practitioners.


That is why the second requirement is to practice Samadhi. Precept is something basic, keeping the precept alone does not make a great practitioner. It is only the foundation. So when we say a practitioner is constantly practicing; that means the practitioner is diligent about practicing Samadhi. 


There are three key points in Samadhi. First, your mind has to be at peace. Are you at peace? Sometimes you are peaceful when you are lying down alone; but as soon as you have company, you eat meals in a group, meet an elderly, get to do something your mind becomes all tense again. It is tense or it is restless. You should not feel tense or restless. Observe that tense and restless mind and bring it to peace. Your mind should always be peaceful wherever you go.


Second, while your mind is at peace, it has to be clearly focused. When a puppy takes a nap in the summer warmth, it has no tension or worry. But the puppy is nowhere near practicing Samadhi. It is in a dull state. Relaxation can easily fall into dullness. You are peaceful and you easily fall asleep. That is not being awake. You are comfortable yet distracted. The mind has to be focused in one direction. When you are practice Samadhi you have to be peaceful but at the same time be clearly focused.

Third, you have to be awake. Being awake means two things. You have to be aware of the outside environment. A driver will be aware of the cars moving in front, side and back. It is the same. But as well as being aware of the environment, you also have to be awake from the inside. You have to notice yourself when you are uncomfortable or tense or distracted. You have to be clearly aware of the state you are in. This clear awareness is called ‘mindfulness.’ You have to maintain this mindfulness. There are many different expressions; such as ‘you see things as is’, ‘you are awake’, ‘you notice’, etc. In Seon (Zen) we say ‘bright and spiritual’ or ‘awake to the hwadu (koan)’ or ‘hold on to hwadu.’


You have to be first aware of your breathing. You have to notice your breathing. You also have to be aware of the feelings that arise in your body. When you are sensitive to the smallest feelings, you can notice when desire arises, anger steps in, heat is made in the body or breathing becomes faster. If your breathing becomes subtly faster you can notice that ‘I see that a desire is rising in me’, ‘I see that I am about to become angry.’


First, your mind should not be jumping around, keep it peaceful. Second, your mind should not be distracted but it should be focused in one. Third, be clearly awake and maintain mindfulness. These three are the essence in practicing Samadhi.  

Unfortunately most of us lose hold of mindfulness. This is because we are not awake. Practicing Samadhi means a lot of training. Remember how you practiced driving to get a license? You first go to a school to practice then you go to the roads. Sitting meditation is great for practicing mindfulness in peace but our aim is to maintain mindfulness in our everyday lives. Nobody lives one’s life only sitting. Keep mindfulness in action, walking, sitting, lying, speech, silence, movement and stillness. This is not easy when you start moving around. It takes a lot of practice, constant practice.


How can we maintain mindfulness in our daily lives? I suggest you have an intensive practice during this retreat. For ten days, be at peace and focus, focus clearly on your breathing and feelings. Take it as a practice. If you fail, do it again, if you fail again, do it again. Keep repeating and time will fly. Some people forget that this is a ‘practice.’ That is why they are bored to death. They sleep away the meditation time. When they finished sleeping they fight with pain. When pain subsides, they start daydreaming. They just kill time. Don’t do it like that. Withstand the drowsiness, the pain, set up a goal and keep your mind at peace, focus and keep practicing.  

After you have diligently practiced for ten days, you will be able to maintain mindfulness to a certain extent in your lives. If you think ‘I will practice’ then you are eager to do meditation. But if you do not think likewise, you start worrying ‘if I sit my legs will hurt and I will be so sleepy, how can I sit through?’ Just keep your mind simple and peaceful; make a strong intent towards meditation so that practice becomes enjoyable.

View this article in Korean


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