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


welcome bante

it is really a pleasure and honor to

have the opportunity

to have this interview with you today

thank you

and let me begin by introducing uh


ramsey mila ramsey is a mahathira monk

he has been a monk for more than 35


and he is currently the abbot of

tamasuka meditation center

and he is one of the monks that i have


whose teachings are based on the


and most comprehensively recorded

teachings of buddha

straight from the sutas as he says and

why it's very special moment for me is

because for a brief period i had the


to have a temporary ordination as a

seminar among

while at the masuka meditation center


bhante vimala ramsey so very welcome

once again

i'm looking forward to this conversation

with you

welcome back to the part two of our

conversation with bhantavi

welcome back for the break thank you

thank you and uh

so the second part of the conversation

we are going to dive a little bit deeper

into the teachings of dhamma and

uh and the words of buddha there is

this uh there are many uh styles of

meditation that are taught around the


very often i have students that come to

me who

relate to meditation and the

concentration absorption meditation

and you are one of the foremost i would

say in some sense a unique north star in

that area who has

gone back to the original sutras and

has actually bridged the understanding

to what was really meant

and how different it is from

concentration that is understood i would

love for you

to share some of that wisdom with our


okay one pointed concentration or

absorption concentration is this

your mind is on an object of meditation

i don't care what that object is

it can be the breath it can be loving

kindness it can be

staring at a candle it can be anything

now your mind gets distracted you have a

thought that pulls your attention away

one pointed concentration or absorption

concentration is this

you see that your mind is not with your

object of meditation

and immediately you drop

the thought or the feeling whatever it

happens to be that distracted you

and come back to your object of


now what happens is you do that enough

that you're going to start staying

on your object the meditation absolutely

and your your sense of concentration

is going to get so deep that it

suppresses the hindrances it stops

hindrances from coming up

so you don't have distractions

now what that means also is

that your mind

will start to get into a state of bliss


is very peaceful and very

at ease and

you stay there for a period of time and

you think

this is it this is really the

best meditation i've ever ever run

across yeah

true i'm quiet i'm peaceful

but when you break your sitting and

you're not in that

deep state of concentration

you still have the same kind of problems

that you had before you started

you still have the anger the


the sadness and then you want to run

back into that state because

it was so peaceful and that's what's

happening with

almost everybody is doing meditation

yeah a lot of people

they're they're suppressing the


and they just want to feel good

now when you're practicing what i teach

your mind is on your object of

meditation that's the same

your mind gets distracted that's the


now here is what the difference is

now you let that distraction

be there by itself you don't keep your

attention on it you don't push it away

you don't try to

force it away you just don't keep your

attention on it anymore

and relax that tension and tightness in

your head

in your mind and

bring up something wholesome smile

and bring that smiling happy mind

that's pure and clear back to your

object of meditation

so with one pointed concentration

you don't recognize the craving

and you're bringing craving back to your

object of meditation

and that causes the concentration to get

deeper and deeper

and it stops the hindrances from arising

while you're in that state

when you're practicing the way that i'm

teaching you

you recognize hindrances when they come


and you allow them to be there by


and relax you let go of the craving

so right now you've purified your mind

when you don't let go of craving

then you're going to keep that craving

and not being able to

recognize him absolutely so true

and i know that there are some people

that say

there's only one kind of john

yeah is a word that's very much


yeah jhana means

a level of your understanding

a level of your being able to see

and teach yourself how to let go

of craving

almost everybody that teaches uh

absorption meditation

they say jhana means concentration

now this is a word that i don't use very


because it's so misunderstood you see

somebody is playing baseball and they

get a close-up of the guy's eyes and

he's ready to hit the ball

and they say look at that concentration

he's not distracted at all he sees

how all of these different parts of the

ball moving towards him

and how to adjust and that's


but it's not letting go of the craving

one of the things is when you recognize

the letting go of craving

you become more efficient with whatever

you're doing

because you'll be able to recognize

the hindrances when they come up and

pull you away

i taught a lot of college students

and they have a big test coming at the

end of the year

and they're all excited and they're all

dreading that

that test and i ask them

when you're studying does your mind get

pulled away

do you start worrying about whether

you're going to do well on the test or


well yeah all the time why

why are you worrying about something

that hasn't even happened yet

why don't you recognize it

let it be there by yourself by itself

take a breath and come back

and laugh with yourself for getting

pulled away

when you do that all of a sudden your

mind starts staying

on what you're reading

and you don't have to go over it again

and again

and again because you got distracted

yeah so you become

more efficient with what you're doing

while you're doing it

and that makes life more fun oh it does

that's why you call your technique of

meditation as tranquil

wisdom inside yeah uh meditation

and uh you know before i had the


to study with uh with banter

malaramisi i had also practiced a

different form of concentration

meditation as

one of the techniques i was trained in

and and i know exactly what

you said about fighting your mind with

mind using your mind to

oppress the mind it can lead you to

sometimes literally have a

headache and you can laugh after it

leads you to the craziness

too absolutely absolutely and so twim

is actually a very wonderful technique


uh bhantavim laramsi has been teaching

for for quite a while now and leading


has trained retreat leaders who are now

going out and teaching and some of them

are my good personal friends

i've had the pleasure to come to know

them through to bhante and there's a

very nice book

so we will talk about the book towards

the end of it in which

it talks about the twin technique

now in this subject uh with your

permission i'm going to delve a little

bit deeper into

aspects of as much as you clarified in

the first part that buddhism is not a

religion right

however any organized practice people

need to put a label to it right

and and some people will always think of

it as a religion

and what that will bring up not

necessarily in a bad way you know i mean

uh religion doesn't mean we have to

defend it and uh

i would like to draw some attention to

some concepts that people

who are not familiar with eastern faiths

per se

tend to have a challenge understanding

what they really mean

and i i can imagine you can guess what

i'm going to ask you about i'm going to

ask you about

the buddhist principle of rebirth right

because in the

in most abrahamic religious as practiced


um uh as practiced by common people

the concept of reincarnation and or

rebirth and i understand they're


yeah so would you like to say a little

bit about what the buddhist concept of

rebirth is and how we differentiate from


hindu concept of reincarnation yeah

and this is something that if you


meditation you will be able to see this


yourself if you're practicing with the


hours six hours absolutely


uh a lot of people i know that there's

uh uh

some big teachers that they don't

i don't believe in rebirth yeah okay

tell me what you did when you were 10

years old

are you the same person now

oh that means you're reborn right yeah

reincarnation is something that the

dalai lama is into

uh i'm i'm gonna die from this this

existence and be reborn as a human being

and carry on with things like that

that is a

very superficial way of looking at


now i teach you in meditation how to see

individual consciousnesses arise and

pass away

now that was

roughly a hundred thousand

arising and passing away of sound


when you see me talking and you hear me

talking you think that's happening at

the same time

one of the principles of buddhism is


things only happen one thing at a time

so when you're hearing me you're not

seeing me

although it's happening so fast that you

think it is

you think this is the way it is

i teach meditation to a degree where you

will be able to see

individual consciousnesses arise and

pass away

and you'll see this for yourself

and this is called birth and death

of one consciousness and it happens very



reincarnation implies the same

consciousness goes from one body

to the next to the next to the next

the way the buddha teaches is

that consciousnesses are continually

arising and passing away and

there's birth death birth death birth

death continually

happening that's why this is called


not reincarnation

uh the buddha never taught reincarnation

i don't really understand how some

buddhists can think that there

is but

i i do understand that

when buddhism became popular it went

from one country to another country to

another country

and things got changed

that's why it's important to go back to


as close to the original teachings as

you can go

now mindfulness of breathing

a lot of people are doing the breath


and they're told put your attention

on your nostril tip put your attention

on your upper lip

put your attention on your abdomen and

focus on the breath

it doesn't say that in the instructions

no it is not not in the suture

it says you understand when you take a

long breath

or short breath understand

means that you know that your breath

is long when it's long and when it's

short when it

when it's fast when it's slow you know

all of these things and knowing is


the next part of the instructions is

on the in-breath you tranquilize the

bottle or

the you experience the entire

bodily formation okay

now that means that you know what's

happening in your body on the in-breath

and on the out breath you use the breath

as the reminder

to relax that tension and tightness in

your head

and your mind and that's what the next

part of the instructions say

the instructions in mindfulness and


are very very simple

i practiced 20 years a method of

mindfulness of breathing

watching the abdomen for 20 years

and i still didn't understand what they

were talking about with those


so it's not focus on the breath

it's use the breath as the reminder to


you relax on the in-breath you relax on

the out breath

i teach loving-kindness meditation

because i like to see people

progress in meditation very fast

loving-kindness is a way of

wishing someone else happiness

and feeling that happiness and radiating

that happiness

to them

and it's a meditation that you can take

with you in your daily life when you're

walking from here to your car

what are you doing with your mind

thinking this

thinking that when you start practicing

loving kindness you start radiating

loving-kindness to all beings you see

some birds out there

wish them happiness

and it helps uplift your mind absolutely

and then you give it away

see that comes back to what meditation

actually is

the more you can smile during the day

and wish somebody happiness the more

you're practicing your generosity

and the happier you become

and then sometimes you'll be walking and

you're not thinking about that

and you'll walk by somebody and they

they smile at you

as oh thanks they help remind you oh

this is what i want to be doing

and it leads to a mind that's more

gentle more balanced

the highest feeling that you can


in the meditation is equanimity

and that means balance somebody

could come at you with their their anger

and you

don't take it as yours personally you

look at them and you wish them happiness

that takes their anger away one of the

things that the buddha

said is you can never overcome hatred by


but how many times are we trying to do


especially with the way politics in the


is working right now


you just get people yelling at each

other and they're not listening to each


at all yeah that's it so

instead of doing that wish them


their mind calms down i've seen it


thousands of times

and radiate loving kindness into the


and when you do that you become more

focused in what you're doing

you're more successful with what you're

doing and the people that you're working

with become happy

because you're giving them the example

of being happy and that's what loving

kindness is about

yeah sometimes i like to say you know

being loving kind and happy is

contagious as contagious

as being sad and complaining yes so if

you're going to be

if you're going to contaminate people

contaminate them with joy

and happiness in the corporate world

today when they we work routinely with

corporate clients where there are

deadlines and demands and pressures to


and and they all often approach us that

how might they integrate mindfulness

into the workplace

how might leaders integrate mindfulness

into their leadership style

so i wonder if you have some i know you

don't like calling them tips but if you

have some

practices to share yeah yeah

see the thing that almost

nobody really understands is

how easy it is to get distracted away

from what you're doing while you're

doing it

you're focusing on this and somebody

comes and asks you a question

and and then you have an emotional

reaction to that i wish you wouldn't

have done that

why why are you bothering me now yeah

okay so when you're practicing

equanimity it's okay

and you become more efficient you don't

have thoughts

see somebody comes up and they say

something to you you might not like it

they go away what do you think about it

about what you should be thinking about

or what they just got through saying and

how much you don't like it

how much pain do you cause yourself

because of that

when you have good equanimity when you

have good balance of mind

it doesn't matter what somebody else

says to you

they can have their opinion fine

that doesn't mean you have to make it

your opinion or your

dislike of an opinion and fight with it

you have to change or for them to change

their opinion you don't have to change

their building they can keep

it they can keep their opinion it

doesn't matter no

it doesn't but it's the balance of mind

that strikes them and they see

that you can go back to work and and not

be distracted at all

and that impresses them the way you

become a teacher

is by example and the more

you can be an example of balance

and happiness the more you affect

everybody around you and then everybody

starts to

become more efficient

so this practice

is about life it's not

this practice and then i'm going to go

do this or i'm going to go think about


no you think about this and don't let

yourself be distracted

even if somebody comes up and they try

to distract you you can go back to it

very easy

because you're not making a big deal of

the distraction

that's very good i i completely agree in

fact the

depression the corporate world is so

much about multitasking that i mean

i've never i've never really understood

how can you be doing more than one task

at a time

right it's really bad and you don't do

any tasks very well very well absolutely

multitasking absolutely

i have a student that got upset because

she used to multitask all the time

and she practiced with me and she said

now i can't multi-task yeah i have to do


and get it done and get it done right

before i do something else

and i said yeah and how much more


are you you get more done during the day

when you don't multitask

in fact the the the concept of

multitasking just a trivia

comes from the world of computers when

first powerful computers were developed

they could do more than one task

at a time that did not mean that at the

same time they were doing that

two tasks it just meant they were

completing tasks faster so that they can

do more tasks in less time

yeah it was actually a measure of

efficiency and productivity it wasn't

the measure of

how distributed the scattered

the mind was but the thing is

if you try multitasking you might forget


and then you got to come back and do it

redo it again

yeah well are you being efficient by

doing it that way

and that's that's the problem with


yeah yeah and people are not very good

are the things you're doing at that one

other thing we try when we practice i am

is called the touch one's rule

once you touch a task you finish it but

you so you don't have to touch it again

right so we call it the touch one's rule

if you open this you finish it and get

out of it

the ability to focus when i was you know

in my study of psychology and human

cognition during the early 2000s

you could find 18 to 20 minutes

of concentration as in the ability to

stick to a task

before you were disrupted the same study

was repeated in 2012

it was down to eight minutes yeah now

the average

that's trending and i was just reading

uh some research that came out

uh from from neuropsychologists now uh

is that it's down to two and a half

minutes that every two and a half


people need to to distract and do

something different

to get that dopamine chart that that

that sense of well-being is coming oh

i'm trying to do many things so we call


you know running you know being very

busy in life accomplishing nothing

different productivity in activity yeah

but you also worked a lot in the prisons

teaching and and in medium security

prisons you know yeah

in tough prisons and uh would you like

to share a little bit of

of that anecdote well i i gave him a

i give them talks on the advantage of

of learning how to be happy

and the advantages of not taking things

personally personally

we finally set up uh that we would come

once a month

and for one week i would give them a


and it started at eight o'clock in the

morning stopped at eight o'clock at


but the advantages of them learning how

to use the six r's

and how to not react

all the time when somebody says

something you don't like and then you

fight with them

then they learn that they can accept


without getting highly emotional

they started developing their equanimity

and it got so at

this one one prison that

when prisoners get together they yell


always making noise it's never quiet so

they wanted to come and

sit in meditation and it wasn't quiet so

it was hard for them

they finally convinced the warden to

give them

another building to be in where they

could go in

and sit and the guards were

very much shocked by this and

they would go in and sit in meditation

with the prisoners

and that was kind of a new concept for

them they've never

done that before and

it's just a matter of being

more aware of things that make you


and letting that go and the unhappy

things are things that

you've already made an opinion about i

don't like this

and then you beat yourself up because of


and you wind up causing yourself more

and more pain thing

i got them to start smiling

and then the man would come in

their prisoner guard and

they would see that they're happy

they're not

causing any problems and they would go

in and just wreck the room

and throw all the stuff around and break


and this one man he was known for being


and he was thrown in the hole the

isolation for at at least

a week per month i mean he was always

getting in trouble

and after i taught him this and i got

him to start seeing the sense of it

right after a meditation class he went

back to his

his room and the guards came in

and they tore his room up

and he didn't respond with anger

he just looked at him and he kind of

smiled a little bit

and then as they were leaving

he said thank you very much you've given

me a chance to clean out

a lot of stuff and they didn't know how

to handle it

and after it was about a month

then they started letting him go out so

he could be outside

and work in the garden because he had

changed his perspective

and he changed the dislike that he had

and taking it personally and causing


himself so much pain he started seeing

there's a different way and a different

perspective that you can use

and i i was there for about a year

at this one prison

and when i left they

were going through major changes

because even the muslims who are very

militant at times we're starting to come

to the class for meditation

and learning about how to let go

of these painful feelings and painful


so they went through a major change in

in that prison just

by a few people being an example

of how to be happy and how to accept

and how to not resist

everything that happens to them

so the meditation becomes

something that's very practical

it's not something that you have to

pray to another god you don't

pray to somebody else to help you

overcome the problem

the essence of meditation the essence of


is self-responsibility take care of


the more happy you become the more you

affect people around you

and if you want to be happy in your

place wherever you live you have to

practice being

happy and that's what meditation does us

that was a fantastic finale to our


because well luckily not a lot of the


is logged in prison but almost everyone

seems to be logged

in the prison of modern life of

distraction and demands of the suffering

that comes from it

and you're teaching about how to make

the circumstances of that transform by

changing your perspective

is a lesson that we can all learn and

benefit from

and thank you once again for sharing

that wisdom with us it is my

greatest pleasure to do that an absolute

pleasure to have you here and we hope

that we will

see you again and we will have a chance

to have more conversation

okay and with you that would be good