Anapanasati

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Ānāpānasati, meaning “mindfulness of breathing”, is a form of Buddhist meditation originally taught by Gautama Buddha in several suttas including the Ānāpānasati Sutta. Ānāpānasati is now common to Tibetan, Zen, Tatiana and Theravada Buddhism as well as Western-based mindfulness programs

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara’s mother, together with many well-known elder disciples — with Vern. Sagittarius, Vern. Maha Moggallana, Vern. Maha Kassandra, Vern. Maha Kaccana, Vern. Maha Kotthita, Vern. Maha Kappina, Vern. Maha Cunda, Vern. Reva ta, Vern. Andaman, and other well-known elder disciples. On that occasion the elder monks were teaching & instructing. Some elder monks were teaching & instructing ten monks, some were teaching & instructing twenty monks, some were teaching & instructing thirty monks, some were teaching & instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught & instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.

Now on that occasion — the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the Parana ceremony — the Blessed One was seated in the open air surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community of monks, he addressed them:

“Monks, I am content with this practice. I am content at heart with this practice. So arouse even more intense persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattainable, the reaching of the as-yet-unbleached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. I will remain right here at Savatthi [for another month] through the ‘White Water-lily’ Month, the fourth month of the rains.”

The monks in the countryside heard, “The Blessed One, they say, will remain right there at Savatthi through the White Water-lily Month, the fourth month of the rains.” So they left for Savatthi to see the Blessed One.

Then the elder monks taught & instructed the new monks even more intensely. Some elder monks were teaching & instructing ten monks, some were teaching & instructing twenty monks, some were teaching & instructing thirty monks, some were teaching & instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught & instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.

Now on that occasion — the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the White Water-lily Month, the fourth month of the rains — the Blessed One was seated in the open air surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community of monks, he addressed them:

“Monks, this assembly is free from idle chatter, devoid of idle chatter, and is established on pure heartwood: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly that is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, an incomparable field of merit for the world: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly to which a small gift, when given, becomes great, and a great gift greater: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly that it is rare to see in the world: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly — the sort of assembly that it would be worth traveling for leagues, taking along provisions, in order to see.

“In this community of monks there are monks who are arahants, whose mental effluents are ended, who have reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, laid to waste the fetter of becoming, and who are released through right gnosis: such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who, with the wasting away of the five lower fetters, are due to be reborn [in the Pure Abodes], there to be totally unbound, destined never again to return from that world: such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who, with the wasting away of [the first] three fetters, and with the attenuation of passion, aversion, & delusion, are once-returners, who — on returning only once more to this world — will make an ending to stress: such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who, with the wasting away of [the first] three fetters, are stream-winners, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening: such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of the four frames of reference… the four right exertions… the four bases of power… the five faculties… the five strengths… the seven factors for awakening… the noble eight fold path: such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of good will… compassion… appreciation… equanimity… [the perception of the] foulness [of the body]… the perception of inconstancy: such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to mindfulness of in-&-out breathing.

“Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination. The seven factors for awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to their culmination.

Anapanasati, “mindfulness of breathing”, or breath meditation is a core contemplative practice of Buddhism. Its practice builds mindfulness and concentration through the relaxation and stilling of body, feelings, and mind. Ultimately, according to the Buddha, meditation’s goal is the attainment of Nibbana (Nirvana), the extinction of suffering.Many non-Buddhists practice breath meditation for its other benefits: getting in touch with your body and mind; learning to be present; and finding pleasure in stillness.

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