Comments on: The Six Element practice Learn Meditation Online Sat, 13 Oct 2018 23:57:06 +0000 hourly 1 By: Bodhipaksa Tue, 04 Sep 2018 18:26:42 +0000 Hi, Alex.

Yes, you’re probably right that the 4th jhana is being indicated (that’s also what the commentarial tradition says), but I suspect that’s an addition to the text since the Six Element practice isn’t a very good way of cultivating jhana. It’s the kind of meditation practice that leads to the formless spheres, and in fact the last two elements, space and consciousness, are the same objects as the first two spheres.

Thanissaro uses “sustained” but Bodhi uses “clung-to.” There’s ambiguity in the Pali, and the two translators have gone in different directions. We have the same kind of ambiguity in English: saying to a musician “hold on to that note” refers to sustaining, while saying to a climber “hold on to that rope” refers to clinging. I think Bodhi’s translation is more likely to be correct, and is more straightforward, and thus better. And as you point out, “sustained” can suggest a kind of permanence, which is obviously not what the Buddha is getting at.

So the elements (and, by extension, the body) are clung-to, and this is a source of dukkha for a number of reasons, not least of which being that the body changes.

Bodhi also has “tending toward” where Thanissaro has “for the sake of.” Again I think that’s clearer. Recognizing that everything’s changing, and in a state of equanimity, we don’t engage in mental activity that’s to do with becoming or un-becoming — that is we’re no longer concerned with trying to create particular experiences for ourselves (making them “become”) or with getting rid of other experiences (trying to make them “un-become”). Most teachers will interpret becoming/un-becoming in terms of future being (as in future lives) but it seems to me that the Buddha’s main interest was psychology, and so he’s more likely to have been talking about ou tendency to crave or resist particular mental states.

By: Alex Thu, 30 Aug 2018 22:08:28 +0000 “traditionally the Six Element reflection is said to lead to the development of equanimity and to the cultivation of the formless jhanas.”

Reading Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation of this sutta it struck me that suddenly it moves from discussing the elements to equanimity of the fourth jhana: pure & “bright, pliant, malleable, & luminous”: this is the standard descriptive formula for 4th Jhana. I think that Pukkus?ti had mastered Samatha to the 4th Jhana and the Buddha realising that knew that he was ready for the development Vipassana by way of equanimity based on the 4th Jhana.

Another interesting point in this sutta is:
“…or anything else internal, within oneself, that’s hard, solid, and sustained: This is called the internal earth property.”

The use of word ‘sustained’ seems to suggest a kind permanence (rather than impermanence which is what we would probably expect).

Later in the same sutta it says:
“One neither fabricates nor mentally fashions for the sake of becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, one is not sustained by anything [doesn’t cling to anything] in the world. Unsustained, one is not agitated. Unagitated, one is totally unbound right within. One discerns that ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.’”

So ‘unsustained’ is actually non-clinging and so sustained in this case is clinging. The elements are sustained by self-clinging it seems to be saying. It is the clinging to the elements that is the problem. Everyone knows our bodies are impermanent but actually I think the Buddha is pointing out that even though we know this we still we cling to them: hence the inevitable dukkha. Without well developed Samatha this practice is probably not going to be effective to overcome clinging to the elements re: the body / five clinging-aggregates.

By: Reflecting on impermanence | Wildmind Buddhist Meditation Sun, 23 Dec 2012 17:01:27 +0000 […] body is constantly changing. In the Six Element practice I realize that what I take to be a separate and permanent object is in fact a constant flow of […]

By: 10 books to make you think | Sues Bent Sat, 03 Mar 2012 01:24:18 +0000 […] the physical world. Of course Bodspaksa explains this far better than I. He invites us to try the Six Elements Practice which is a meditation that assists our thoughts towards a feeling of being alive as part of the […]

By: Bodhipaksa: Living As A River « Non-Duality America Wed, 01 Sep 2010 05:12:21 +0000 […] wrote Living as a River because I’m fascinated by the Buddhist Six Element Practice and I wanted to communicate my explorations. But my book isn’t really about the Six Element […]

By: Big sense of relief « Living as a River Sun, 20 Jun 2010 18:58:37 +0000 […] wrote Living as a River because I’m fascinated by the Buddhist Six Element Practice, and I wanted to communicate my explorations. But my book isn’t really about the Six Element […]

By: Bodhipaksa Sun, 11 Apr 2010 18:11:51 +0000 Hi Barbara,

Thanks for writing, and it’s lovely to hear that you’ve been enjoying my CDs. I’m sorry your friend didn’t find them an enjoyable experience. Sometimes people are afraid of change, and find it easier to blame the tools of change than themselves. I’ve certainly been there! On the other hand, maybe her tastes are just different from yours!

All the best,

By: barbara moller Sun, 11 Apr 2010 17:04:05 +0000 HI, I have been Meditating for 10 years with your CD’s. It has become such apart of my life. A friend has been asking me about meditation for years and I told her about the website….she then came to me and asked if I would loan her one of my Cd’s…so, I did… Weeks later she came back to me and said she did not like the voice, she did not like being told what to do!!! I was dumb founded. I did not know how to respond! It is not as if I was pushing this on her. I was saddened that she did not understand. Maybe she wanted instant gratification. You are always in my thoughts, thank you.

By: Bodhipaksa Tue, 09 Mar 2010 19:43:49 +0000 Hi, Eric, and thanks for the kind comments.

You might be interested to know that I have a book on the Six Elements coming out on October 1, 2010, published by Sounds True. I’ve started a website for the book, which is called Living as a River, and if you head over there you can sign up for our newsletter to so that you can know when it’s available to order.

The newsletters will be mostly monthly, with two or three extra editions in the week of the launch, because I plan to have some special events and a few “rewards” (like exclusive guided meditationdownloads) for subscribers.

By: eric Tue, 09 Mar 2010 19:09:18 +0000 Hi Bodhipaksa,

I stumbled apon your web site (love the ‘Wildmind’ title) and am so glad I did. Not only is it eye pleasing and
easy to navigate but the content is concise, well written and very helpful and I look forward to exploring it entirely.
I have always innately felt connected to the earth and find the Six Element practice
especially powerful for helping me remember what I am not. As a wise man once said “no self, no problem”.