Foundation Series on Buddhist
Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation (TWIM)
As taught by
Sister Khema and overseen by Most Venerable “Bhante” Vimalaramsi Maha
the Gift of Dhamma is Priceless!
Aug 16, 2010,
Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center, Annapolis, MO
“What is CRAVING?”
A: I think I told
you that one of the things Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation (T.W.I.M.)
training does is it tries to develop easier definitions for you to
remember to help guide your meditation.
When you get to the
cognitive link of CRAVING, this is an important link to remember.
The definition for
CRAVING (tanha) goes like this.
manifests as tension and tightness arising in Mind and in Body.”
Craving gives us the
cue to LET GO and RELAX!
The student trains to
recognize how their body and mind slightly change as CONTACT and FEELING
arise. Something happens. As we train, mind calms down.
It stops jumping around so much. Gradually, closer observation
reveals a change in tension and tightness at the earliest possible
moment and then the student proceeds to use the RELEASE and RELAX steps
of the 6R’s cycle.
A: Remember the
Q: Yes. I try to keep them going now.
A: Good “Q”.
Ever how the meditation practice is a
MIND yoga that is all about noticing HOW Mind’s attention moves from one
object to another? This is very
important to see. What happens first? What happens second?
That is what holds the secret of heavy suffering.
As Mind’s attention
moves, this gives the student a
cue to Release and Relax first before flowing through all of the 6Rs.
Let’s go over the 6R’s
one more time.
A: How do they run?
how mind’s attention moves off the object of meditation. RELEASE
whatever is arising and just let it be there, and then RELAX any
leftover tension in mind or body.
A: Right. DO this is one flowing
Q: Then RE-SMILE
to lighten up mind and sharpen awareness as you gently RETURN mind’s
attention back to the object of meditation and keep wholesome meditation
A: Right. REPEAT the cycle as
Q: Got it!
A: SO the entire cycle should run
through like rolling your Rs. <Grin>
The entire cycle runs
RECOGNIZE, RELEASE, RELAX, RE-SMILE, RETURN, REPEAT.
This practice is the same as if you
were keeping Right Effort
going all the time; a Harmonious
Q: So what happens
with the CRAVING?
A: CRAVING is like a tiny jerk as energy first kicks in and tension and
tightness arise in the body and mind.
This tension and
tightness is the hallmark of what needs to be let go of.
You are attempting to investigate a state of no tension or
In order to understand
the importance of letting go here, we first have to understand what is
going on. To do this, we
have to stop and look at the BRAIN. The presence or absence of
tension in the brain can be seen with equipment that monitors the brain.
Q: Time for Anatomy now?
A: Yes, just a bit.
Looking at the Brain,
there are two lobes. The two lobes are surrounded by a thin
membrane called the Meninges. As mind’s attention is
disturbed tension arises. The
meninges tightens if the inner structure pressure asises and swells.
This is a tightening you can be trained to notice.
A person will indicate that this
is happening by tightening their facial structure. You can see it.
As we perform the
relax step to release the tension and tightness, the membrane loosens
and eventually, the student can sense the slight separation between
these lobes. One will notice
this as it is occurring.
take mind’s attention back to the meditation object while in this
relaxed state, mind will drop down a little deeper each time to do allow
a deeper investigation.
On the night of His enlightenment perhaps this is what changed within
the Buddha’s practice. He
was finally able to experience “aware jhana” states. This was different
from his earlier experience in “absorption jhana states”. This
explains how the Buddha entered into the deeper states described in the
texts with full awareness.
This ‘aware jhana’
allowed him to realize more information about each of these levels of
understanding. Later he taught people how they could be useful in daily
life to help reduce suffering. How useful they become for each
person is determined by the degree that person sticks to the practice
while following the meditation instructions.
Q: Can you tell me more about CRAVING?
A: Yes. CRAVING is the first point on the line of human cognition
where personality enters in and the star of the show becomes
Our usual way of describing it is to say that it is the “I” like it or
“I” don’t like it mind first obviously appearing. Immediately
following this is the link of CLINGING which then proceeds to explain
WHY I LIKE IT or WHY I
DON’T LIKE IT.
A: Each time you run a
story in your mind about all the ideas, concepts, opinions, assumptions,
and imagination about WHY you like or dislike something, the tension and
tightness increases more and more.
This moves us further
along the line of cognition from FEELING into the emotional states.
Emotional states are re-actions.
Q: Is this where my “Self” comes in?
A: Yes “Q”. THIS is where YOU come in!
This is where the EGO first arises. “I”, “MY”, “MINE” . the equivalent
of ‘taking things very personally’ jumps in the way of seeing clearly
what is actually going on.
This is where we
mistakenly take the unessential as being the essential in a situation
instead of only seeing the essential as the essential.
Q: Is this why CRAVING is at the root of suffering?
If we can step back
and observe what is happening, seeing it as it really is, we give
ourselves the space to decide how to RESPOND to a situation correctly.
But if we are taking the situation personally, we are likely to just
RE-ACT to it based on the fact it feels very re-stimulating just like
something else that once happened to us in the past.
Q: Sounds like this
could be a problem for people in relationships and interactions in life.
A: Quite so.
But most people remain ignorant of how
all this works. They are never
informed about how this operates.
Therefore, they cannot see how letting go, relaxing, and
impersonally observing what is going on could help them to understand
what’s really happening. This is what Ignorance is about.
The root word here is IGNORE. What is being ignored?
This impersonal process is being
unconscioiusly ignored. No
one ever told us about it!
You see, Ignorance
means unintentionally ignoring and not understanding how the Four Noble
Truths work and this
impersonal process we are discussing which is how human cognition
operates. Also, most people haven’t had the opportunity to have the
Three Characteristics of Existence pointed out to them.
Q: What were the Three Characteristics again?
A: They are Impermanence (anicca), Suffering (dukkha), and the
Impersonal nature of everything (anatta).
Q: I remember now.
The suffering or un-satisfactoriness is caused greatly by taking
personally what is going on and the impermanent nature of everything
increases the levels of tension, stress and even depression.
A: That’s right. You got it! And CRAVING is the trigger point that
sets this off.
The solution is to LET GO and RELAX!
Let whatever is arising just be there and smile through it. Let go
of all tension and tightness and after emptying out precisely as the
Buddha instructed and relax;
then come back to the object of meditation and proceed onward with a
Life will get a lot
lighter if you do this for a few days. Try it.
Metta and smiles to
Rev. Sister Khema
2010- FS-13: “What is CLINGING?”
The Gift of Dhamma is Priceless !
brought to you by
United International Buddha Dhamma Society (UIBDS)
Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center (DSMC), 8218 County Road 204, Annapolis,