Context: Throughout this transcript, Bhante Vimalaramsi is the speaker unless otherwise indicated.


thus as I heard on one occasion the

blessed one was living in the kuru

country where there was a town of the

Kurus named Casas Adama there he

addressed the monks monks venerable sir

they replied the Blessed One said this

monks this is a direct task for the

purification of beings for the

surmounting of sorrow and lamentation

for the disappearance of pain and grief

for the attainment of the true way for

the realization of Nibbana namely the

four foundations of mindfulness what are

the four here monks a monk abides the

word that they have here is

contemplating and I don't use the word

contemplating because that means

thinking about so I changed that to

observing a monk abides observing the

body as a body ardent fully aware and

mindful having put away covetousness and

grief for the world

he abides observing feeling as feeling

ardent fully aware and mindful having

put away covetousness and grief for the

world he abides observing mind as mind

heart and fully aware and mindful having

put away covetousness in brief for the

world he abides observing mind objects

as mind objects ardent fully aware and

mindful having put away covetous

and grief for the world now we're going

to do the [ __ ] the observation of the

body the first part is the mindfulness

of breathing now this is a very

misunderstood section of this particular

suit almost everyone does mindfulness of

breathing in a way that causes mine to

have one pointed concentration and when

you're told how to do the practice you

put your attention on your nose or your

abdomen and you notice the in and out

breath you focus on the in and out

breath that's the way you're taught but

that doesn't follow the directions that

are given in the suta and how monks

doesn't mind abide observing the body as

a body here a monk gone to the forest or

to the root of the tree or an empty hut

sits down now this says having folded

his legs crosswise during the time of

the buddha everybody sat on the floor

except the kings and all of these kind

of people and as a result they got very

used to sitting on the ground and these

days we don't sit on the floor so much

anymore and because of that our hips are

actually different now than they were

back then because when they were sitting

on the floor they had to sit with their

legs crossed and their hips started

turning a little bit

now they're turning back that's why it's

so painful to sit on the floor for a

half an hour or 45 minutes that's why I

don't insist that you sit on the floor I

you're used to sitting in the chairs all

the time so sit in a chair there's no

magic in the floor sitting on the floor

there's a lot of pain that arises

because of that if especially when

you're not used to it I had a lady that

wanted to do a retreat with me she was

very she followed the precepts very very

closely her whole life she didn't know

anything about meditation so she wanted

to do a retreat so I gave her the

instructions and after the morning right

after lunch I went to her and said how's

your meditation going and she said well

you know I can only sit for about 45

minutes only that's the key word well

why don't you sit longer because I'm not

used to sitting on the floor there's a

lot of pain and that's as long as I can

stand it so I told her there's no magic

in the floor sit in a chair she sat in a

chair she didn't have pain come up and

she sat for four hours which was rather

shocking to me because that's a long

time to sit especially for the first

time you've ever done a retreat she had

gotten into the first jhana

the first day of the retreat so don't be

attached to sitting on the floor it's

much easier to sit in chairs I want you

to sit comfortably learning how to sit

on the floor sometimes you have to

adjust the height of sitting on pillows

when I went to Burma that was in 1988

I brought a meditation cushion with me

there used to sitting flat on the floor

in Burma because that's the way they're

raised they sit on the floor and I saw

some monks come up when I wasn't around

but I was I just walked in and saw him

do it they started kicking my pillow

like it was stupid get that away from

here so sit comfortably and I had to do

a lot of adjusting with different kinds

of pillows so that I could get the right

height so that my legs didn't go to

sleep if I went flat on the floor my

legs go to sleep that's just the way it

worked and we were supposed to be

sitting for an hour and then walking for

an hour and it was torture sitting for a

whole hour now they are very much

interested in having pain arise

and they say well all life is suffering

so this is just a little bit of

suffering sit on the floor well my legs

I never sat on the floor at home I

always sat on the couch or sat in a

chair so I had to get other pillows so

that I could find the right height so

that my legs didn't go to sleep and

sometimes you have to put a pillow under

one of your legs because flat on the

floor it goes to sleep if you raise it a

little bit then your leg wouldn't go to

sleep but it took a while to adjust and

the Burmese just thought that that was

the most ridiculous thing going but I

wasn't about to cause myself undos

suffering after I left Burma I was there

for eight months and that was when the

Burmese had their Civil War

and the the army was shooting people and

that sort of thing and it got near the

end of the range retreat and the Burmese

government said all foreign monks have

to leave the country and we still had a

week left to go for our range retreat so

they went and talked to the government

so we stayed an extra week and they said

okay tomorrow you have to leave fine but

there wasn't any airplanes

and they got downright mad because we

couldn't leave the only way to get into

Burma was by air so we had to spent an

extra day there anyway I was pretty used

to sitting on the floor as long as the

pillows were were right and I was able

to sit for fairly long periods of time

sitting on the floor so we got kicked

out of the country I went to Thailand

and then I went to Malaysia and I did a

six-month loving-kindness retreat and it

took me a little over a year to get a

visa to get back into the country and I

had to have the head of the monastery

with his paperwork and I had to do a lot

of paperwork is really nonsense stuff

because they would only let foreigners

stay in the country for one week but I

wound up staying there for two years now

when I went to a different monastery to

do the practice I learned very well that

when I was at Mojave centre they don't

have many people that understand English

so we had to have interpreters that you

go in for an interview you talked to the

interpreter you tell them exactly what's

happening in your meditation and it take

a couple of minutes and then the

interpreter would turn to the teacher

and he'd say about five words

and then the teacher would come back and

he'd give a long explanation and he'd

turned to us and he'd say you have to

try harder what kind of instruction is

that so I found another monastery where

the teacher actually spoke English now

when I went in for the first day of the

retreat then I went to the interview

with him he said how long do you sit I

said I said for an hour and walk for an

hour that was just standard practice at

that time good why don't you sit longer

yeah okay I can do that I came in the

next day he said how long did you sit I

set for two hours walk for an hour good

why don't you sit longer hmm okay I can

do it but it's not going to be a nice

thing I came in the next day how long

did you sit i sat for three hours and I

walk for an hour and it was quite

painful good why don't you sit longer so

I said okay I'll give it a try

I used the try word hahaha I came in the

next day and I've gone through an

exceptional amount of pain with that

sitting he said how long did you sit set

for four hours walk for an hour did you

move well yeah I moved a lot I was

there's a lot of pain you can't move oh


so I come in the next day and I have

tears coming down my face I wasn't

crying it was just so painful that's

like hitting your head real hard and you

get tears from it and he said how long

did you sit I said I sat for four hours

walk for an hour why don't you sit


oh no he said he said did you move and I

said no and I never want to do that

again and he said why don't you sit

longer and I said no now I'm the kind of

person that follows directions pretty

closely but it was just so such a

painful experience it was just

unbelievable he kept after me now this

is four days into their retreat and I'm

sitting with two hours of extreme pain

and my knees in my back and he wanted me

to sit longer no I'm not going to do

that but he kept after me after four or

five days he said why don't you try

sitting a little longer and eventually I

got it worked up so that I could sit for

between six and eight hours the walking

meditation that I had us do you know I'm

having you walk normal pace or even

faster so that you get exercise when we

were walking we walked super slow and

lifting lifting lifting lifting lifting

lifting lifting

lifting lifting lifting lifting lifting

lifting and I could see about 500

different movements in just raising my

foot and then moving moving moving and

from that wall to that wall it took me

about 45 minutes to go one direction so

I got almost no exercise I was there for

two years I don't know if you notice I

have a little trouble walking because I

got blood clots because I didn't have

enough exercise getting the blood moving

and that was when I left Burma I was


I went there in 1990 and I've had

problem with my legs ever since but I

followed his directions it was pushing

it was trying too hard now a nice thing

that happened when I started sitting

longer than when he get up into an 8

hour sit the first two hours two and a

half hours okay the next two hours a lot

of pain then the pain went away and I

could sit very peacefully and calm up to

about seven hours and then the pain came

back so I would sit with another hour of

pain and that was like that's enough I

don't want to do this anymore

so the reason that I have you walking is

for your exercise the interesting thing

is maja sociedade that came up with this

particular method of meditation and made

it popular never walk slowly he walked

back and forth they made a hallway for

him up one floor Tannen there was no

windows and in its he couldn't see what

he was doing but he was walking pretty

fast most of the time getting his

exercise but now you go to the pasta

center and everybody's walking very

slowly and they're talking about walking

mindfully and one of the things that

happened when I was walking so slowly

was I was getting massive headaches

tightness in my head and I go to the

teacher and I say I really have a lot of

tightness in my head and the pain can

get so intense that it was like taking a

red hot needle and just sticking it in

my brain that's how intense it was and

you know what his instructions were oh

it'll go away by itself after well don't

worry about it now isn't that

interesting you're supposed to be

improving your mindfulness and calming

down but having because of the force of

the one pointed concentration not

letting go of that craving it causes a

tightness in your head in your mind and

it does become a big distraction

so this is some of the reasons I'm

teaching you the way I'm teaching it I

don't want you to have a lot of pain

yeah you want to watch what's happening

with mind you move

are you watching your mind no you can

move as much as he does you want to

watch Minds movement how Minds attention

moves yeah it does seem that way doesn't

it well what happened was the passion of

the way it got started was a book called

the Vasudha Mogga

and of the suti Mago what it does is it

takes one pointed concentration on this

section of the book and then the Posada

or insight in another part of the book

so it divides the collected mind with

and making a different meditation with

the husana maja sociedade

that book and he made a sub commentary

and in the sub commentary he writes the

instructions of how to do the wave

opossum is taught right now

and the way that he wrote it he said

when you get to this section and you

have this insight this is going to

happen and it did so everybody got real

excited this is a way that really works

and you can see that it's too bad that

he didn't spend the time looking at the

suitors themselves and seeing what the

instructions actually were and that's

what I'm going to show you right now

these instructions are very plain but

what he was teaching was one pointed

concentration if you go to people that

are practicing meditation other than

this and you talk to them about the

tension and tightness in your head they

won't even recognize that it's there it

has to be intentionally relaxed and when

you talk about craving their idea of

craving oh it's just desire and the

third noble truth the cessation of grave

the cessation of suffering don't desire

anything that's ridiculous there's still

preferences that even the Buddha had

going here and going there and doing

different things so it's misunderstood

but because of the way that maja C saya

dog wrote the sub commentary and people

started doing it and seeing that what he

said in his sub commentary

did happen that way they gained a lot of

confidence and then it just started

growing after that there's 300 Vipassana

maja si side of it

sona's centers in Burma so there's the

whole population we believes in this

stuff and then Americans started finding

out about it and they they sent some of

the Burmese teachers to Sri Lanka and

they started teaching Vipassana this way

and then it became popular in Burma

there in in Sri Lanka excuse me and a

lot of people were going from the West

to Sri Lanka and they ran across that

kind of meditation they came back and

then they started teaching it here one

of the first Westerners went to India

where there was a teacher by the name of

Mahendra he was a little Bangladesh monk

and he it was Joseph Goldstein that went

there and he practiced with Maninder for

a couple of years in India then he met

jack Kornfield who became a monk and was

in Thailand and they hooked up together

and decided to co-teach and they went to

boulder colorado when what was his name

Trump yeah when Trumbo was there and

they had a big gathering of people as

like a conference and Jack and Joseph

were teaching this form of meditation

and it was a lot different from what the

Tibetans in the mahajanas were teaching

and a lot of people said

this is it it's like these were the two

guys that actually knew more about

meditation than these other traditions

and they became very popular and

eventually they have a place on the East

Coast and on the west coast now but

basically the same teaching in Vipassana

is being taught at these places and it

is one pointed concentration they give

it all kinds of different handles and

they call it

moment to moment awareness and they call

it choiceless awareness and they give it

all different kinds of names but they

don't have the relaxed step in any of

that as a result the practice that

they're doing doesn't match up with the

sutas very well now I had twenty years

of doing this practice I went to the end

of it I know what all the insight

knowledge Azhar and I was rather

disappointed with the end result after

two years of doing a retreat and I left

Burma and I went to Malaysia and the

people that sponsored me to go to Burma

and then come back they were real

excited because I had done that much

meditation and some of the meditation

that I was doing I was at at the center

at Mojave Center when I went the first

time he went to bed at 11 o'clock he got

up to 3 o'clock

he walked for an hour is that for an


at the right time you had breakfast you

go back you walk for an hour and sit for

an hour eat lunch and then you walk for

an hour and sit for an hour until 11

o'clock at night so that's only four

hours sleep so that's what I was doing I

was following that and I walked into the

teacher one day and he said how much

sleep are you taking and I said four

hours that's what she told me to do here

he said why are you being so lazy why

are you sleeping so much I said fine I

got it down to two hours I did that for

three months two hours sleep a day

that's what I asked I don't recommend it

I mean the way that I'm teaching right

now is such a walk in the park it's

unbelievable I'm giving you eight hours

sleep if you want to take it go to bed

at ten o'clock get up at five seven

hours right there after lunch you have

another hour you can lay down and take a


eight hours sleep I was taking two now

when I when I left Burma I went back to

Malaysia and I wound up sleeping for

about six weeks because I was so

exhausted I'd get up in the morning I go

out on almsround

I would eat then I would lay down and

take rest

and I would sleep until the afternoon

three or four o'clock and get up and

walk around a little bit go back to bed

it took about six weeks to overcome that

three months

of wrong practice and I didn't really

gain that much good attention

I was sitting 16 hours a day sitting and

walking and I figured that that was okay

I did that found it didn't work I'm not

going to do that anymore so the second

time I went to Burma I went to a

different teacher and the first day I

was there is a bunty how much or how

much sleep should we take he said six

hours six hours and this is a walk in

the park all right and I wound up

staying there for two years doing a

retreat I didn't try sitting that long


except when he was pushing me but

eventually after I was i sat for six or

eight hours a day and that lasted about

a month then I started backing off and I

was sitting for oh two hours three hours

there wasn't so bad that was pretty easy

and I had an interpreter that actually

understood what I said which is that I

like talking to English speaking monks

anyway when I got back to Malaysia after

that period of time they people there

got real excited because I had done so

much meditation they said please teach

us but I couldn't teach Vipassana I just

didn't have confidence in it so this

group of people that it was called the

Buddhist graduate fellowship they were

going to have a weekend drink tea and

they wanted me to teach the weekend

retreat I said the only thing I'm going

to teach you is loving-kindness

meditation and they said fine so I

started teaching them loving-kindness

meditation and they took to it and it

was about 60 people and I was seeing

everybody every day and doing what I do

here and they really started to like

that and because of that I was the first

person in Malaysia that wasn't teaching

mindfulness of breathing and I became

somewhat popular and I've every month I

was giving a retreat two times a month

for a week after a period of time the

head monk at the sri lankan temple in

kuala lumpur very famous monk he'd

written 60 or 70 books and he was dearly

loved by everybody but he didn't know

anything about meditation so he asked me

to come

to Kuala Lumpur I was in Penang at the

time which is about a six hour drive

away and every Friday night he gave a

Dhamma talk and he said you know I'm

getting old down I want you to come here

and every other Friday I want you to

give a Dhamma talk and there was between

three and five hundred people that came

to these Dhamma talks so I said okay

I'll do it as long as I can teach

meditation to not just give a Dhamma

talk fine so it was getting close to the

rains retreat where monks have to stay

in one place for three months and there

is a ceremony that we go through at the

start of the rains retreat and the way

monks do things is by seniority now I've

been a monk for about six years and

there's other monks that had been monks

for twelve years 15 years 20 years but

one got time for the ceremony

the chief monk said you come and sit

beside me and all of these other senior

monks are there and I'm not feeling very

comfortable about that and he starts

giving his talk and there's like mmm it

must have been fifteen hundred people

and he starts saying we are really

blessed to have this very famous monk

stay with us for the rains retreat so I

started looking down the aisle wondering

which monk it was

and he said I'm going to have him give

you a talk right now and I'm still

looking down wondering who it was and I

looked over and he's handing me the

microphone and very quietly said just

give it hour and a half talk I wasn't

prepared for that and then he started

saying that I was going to give a talk

every every other Friday night so I got

through it and I was staying there and

they asked me to give meditation classes

in different places in the monastery and

then I was getting invited out to get

Monistat to give meditation teacher are

teaching to other groups of people so I

was on the move every night and when I

gave a talk on the Friday night I just

gotten this book it bhikkhu bodhi just

published it somebody gave me a copy of

it so I started reading the suttas and

they really liked that and I found out

later that as I was giving a talk with a

microphone the microphone was hooked up

to the chief monks room so he could

listen to my Dhamma talks and then I

would be I would start teaching classes

and I had to use a loudspeaker

and it was in a big room but there is

you know 30 people 40 people is not any

big deal

and I as soon as they got done with the

talk I was walking outside and he was

standing outside the door and I thought

that was unusual and the next time I

gave a talk he came in and sat down and

he was listening to the instructions and

he started practicing the meditation

without telling me I was teaching him

and he did pretty well on his own if he

did really did but it was a shock to me

to find out I was famous what does that

mean anyway

I stayed there for about three years and

then after that that's when I decided to

come back to the States and I was used

to large crowds I was used to giving to

our Dhamma talks so I started giving

retreats and I'm giving to our Dhamma

talks and people are complaining how Oh

anything over fifteen minutes that's

that's when I went to right after this

book came out I I told the head monk

after having this book in finding out

what gems I was finding and having

another monk come from Sri Lanka who

wanted to know how is teaching so I told

him and he stopped me and he said you're

teaching it just right but you're using

the language of the Vasudha maha why

don't you just put that on the shelf and

let it be and use the

suit the language so that's when I

started reading the suttas and I did it

for a retreat for 40 or 50 people and I

started talking to them individually and

I'm finding out that they're starting to

progress in the meditation really fast

now always before because of the suti

manga it took you some years to get into

a jhana when I was in Thailand the Thai

monk said if you want to get into the

John it's going to take you 15 years and

I talked to some sri lankan monks that

had come to thailand and they said oh

you you have to come to sri lanka it

only takes ten years to get into a job

and after I started reading this stuff

well let me let me finish with what

puling ji had told me when I started

doing that I started understanding what

it said in the sutas now for 20 years

I'm using this other book I knew this

other book I knew what it said when I

got told to put it down weird things

started to happen always before when I

didn't know something I would go to this

commentary and then I would try to go to

the sutras and I never understood what

the sutras were saying it didn't agree

with what I was saying here so I always

went back to that but when I got a copy

of this and Luigi said put that book

down just do this I understood

everything I was reading I mean it was

amazing there's these light bulbs

popping in my head oh that's what that


yeah it says it right here see

so I told the head monk that I wanted to

go to Thailand I knew where there was a

great cave and I took the book with me

and I told him I'd be back in two weeks

now what I did was I would get up in the

morning I would go out on almsround

I would eat my food and the rest of the

morning I would spend reading the suit

that's I'd take some rest in the

afternoon and after that I would start

sitting and I would sit from one o'clock

roughly till 10:00 or 11:00 o'clock at

night and I did this every day for two

weeks and I was learning so much and

finding out what the Buddha actually

said that I couldn't stop so after three

months the head monk sent somebody from

the temple to come get me so I had to

stop doing it but when I started reading

the sutas to people they had been around

Buddhism for a long time but it wasn't

very clear ever and when I started

reading what the Buddha said in two or

three days people who are getting into

the Jonathan now this is really

remarkable because other monks are

telling me it's ten or fifteen years and

I come back to them and I say no it's

only two or three days oh I don't

believe you come and do a retreat you'll

ski and

I have dyslexia that's why you see me

use use a book marker because when I

read words get all screwed up and I

wanted to get rid of the dyslexia as

much as I could then that's why I

started reading the suit does to

everybody and reading out loud and then

explaining a bit about what I thought

the Buddha was would say the progress in

the meditation was phenomenal lots and

lots of people were really gaining

advantage and getting into the fourth

jhana and starting to get into the aruba

jhanas and then the vapor sauna people

started coming to me and they did not

like it they didn't like that I was not

following what everybody else followed

but I said okay invite me to your temple

and I'm going to read you a suta and see

what you think so I did that and they

never invited me back and to this day

there's a lot of people that they think

what I'm teaching is nonsense and they

don't want to listen to the Dhamma they

don't want to listen to what it says in

it now this particular suta is a site a

putana Souta that's the suta that people

pass practicing straight Vipassana use

as their holy grail as it were but I'm

going to read this tonight hopefully

maybe some tomorrow

but it's not talking about Vipassana is

talking about janab practice so all

these people that are saying well in

this oddly putana zooted says this it

doesn't it doesn't say that it's talking

about drown a'practice

my first real bona fide teacher I can

say was a very famous monk from Burma he

his name was Lucille Ananda saya dogs

heel Ananda and when he first came to

this country I went to him and I asked

him if I could be his attendant and

lived in the monastery and take care of

him and offer him food take him wherever

he wanted to go do whatever he wanted to

do but he had to teach me so I had this

brilliant monk now why I call him

brilliant before he was 28 years old he

had memorized this many books and he

took a test on this and the way the test

goes is okay this is a satipatthana suta

it's going to be mindfulness of

breathing okay here a monk gone to the

forest of the root of that or an empty

how it sits down and sets his mind his

body erect and establishes mindfulness

in front of him continue

now if you miss six times you failed the

test okay he didn't miss anything and

there was a very comprehensive written

part of the test in that year he was the

number one monk in the country for not

having made a mistake so he really know

a lot about Buddhism and I'm just a dumb

American I don't know anything about it

I was at the time I was a layman so I

had this monk available to me anytime I

wanted to ask a question and I would ask

him Oh 20 25 questions a day and I did

it for two years and he said you know in

the suit does it says that if you ask

questions you're going to be super

intelligent when you are reborn in the

next lifetime as a human being and

you're going to be smarter than Einstein

because I asked him so many questions

that's why it's disappointing not to

have you ask questions because you're

hurt yourself by not not finding out so

when I came back to this country and I

was giving two in three hours talks

people didn't really like that so much

and there was a lot of complaining about

it but there's a lot to be said

there's a lot to be understood and most

people in this country they don't know

any much about Buddhism so that's why

the talks are long but over the years

I've been cutting down a little bit I

don't generally give three-hour talks

anymore but I give hour and a half and

to our talks anyway yeah that I don't

have to do it I don't have to put up

with that kind of pain that's why I want

you to sit comfortably having pain come

up in your body because you're sitting

on the floor and you're not used to it

is not useful to your meditation but

what they tell you in savasana ah you

have a pain in your knee put your

attention right in the middle of that

pain and see its true nature and note it

pain pain pain pain until it goes away

you know what happens when you put your

attention on something like that it gets

bigger and more intense so you're

causing yourself even more pain by

following that kind of direction what do

I tell you to do with the pain

let it be there by itself relax

don't keep your attention on it that's

what right effort is in the Eightfold

Path the six R's are another way of

describing right effort and right effort

will take you all the way to

absolutely and you don't let whatever

that pain happens to be go and you wind

up having to fight with the hindrances

Oh restlessness

let's suppress it let's make it stop

let's make it go away push it away now

what do I tell you to do is restlessness

push it away no I tell you to 6r I have

a friend that's been teaching meditation

Vipassana meditation for 50 years when

he first started doing the meditation he

had real fear of getting in front of

people and talking I signed last year on

a video YouTube he was in New York he

was giving a talk to about 2