Foundational Readings for Home Retreat

To best understand and make use of this Home Retreat Guide I suggest you read in Nyanaponika Thera’s The Heart of Buddhist Meditation with special attention to the section on sampajañña. Also very helpful is Bhikkhu Bodhi’s very short book The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering. These two texts will serve any yogi throughout the Path and both are especially useful for doing Home Retreats.
This particular guide relies heavily on the Mahasi Sayadaw school of Theravada Buddhist practice as a foundation, but because spiritual practice is not exclusive to any one tradition, this guide can be of service to anyone who is sincere in cultivating an integrated and effective meditative life. For anyone reading this guide who may be unfamiliar with Mahasi practice or Buddhist meditation practices, please use your own spiritual tradition’s language and apply these instructions to your practice where it appears a fit and useful.
Pāli, the ancient Buddhist scriptural language, is used regularly in the text and frequently in the footnotes. Using Pāli is not a necessary requirement in order to practice or study vipassanā (insight) meditation, but it does allow those who practice in this particular way to share a language. Sharing a language specific to meditation can have wide-ranging benefits; it can serve by reducing confusion when speaking with others regarding meditation practice while simultaneously creating community. When Pāli is used in the text it has been chosen because there is no adequate English word or phrase to capture that word or that phrase’s precise meaning. It will be especially useful to
Bhikkhu Bodhi
Bhikkhu Bodhi
have a working understanding of these basic terms: sati, sati-sampajaññasampajañña, yogi, vipassanā and vinaya. Also, throughout the document the terms ‘focus’ and ‘attention’ appear frequently. These terms are interchangeable and have
Sampajañña: Clear Comprehension: 1. Attending to four categories of attention: Purpose, Suitability, Domain, and Reality. allan cooper. 2. The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, Nyanaponika Thera. 3. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. MN:10.

Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering, Bhikkhu Bodhi.

Mahasi Sayadaw: Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahasi_Sayadaw


Vipassanā: 1. In English vipassanā, mindfulness, sati, and insight, are often used interchangeably to describe the meditation practice of bringing one’s unfiltered attention to our experience at any of the six sense doors. The Pali term sati is also commonly used to mean vipassanā. allan cooper 2. Vipassanā, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills. This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation. https://www.dhamma.org/en/about/vipassana  3. Insight meditation (vipassanā): Attending to objects of consciousness with bare attention. 4. The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering, Chapter Six, Sammā-Sati, Bhikkhu Bodhi.

Sati: 1. ‘Mindfulness’ is one of the Five Spiritual Faculties and Powers, one of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment and the Seventh link of the Noble Eightfold Path, and is, in its widest sense, one of those mental factors inseparately associated with all karmically wholesome and karma-produced lofty consciousness. Buddhist Dictionary, Nyanatiloka. 2. Sati, vipassanā and insight meditation are often used interchangeably in English. For the purpose of this Guide it is helpful to translate vipassanā to mean sati-sampajañña, and that sati and sampajañña as having different and distinct meanings. allan cooper.

Sati-sampajañña: 1. Sati and sampajañña are two terms combined to mean one thing. Sati is the function of the mind that can bring meditative focus on any conscious object and get to know it without self-referencing or preference. Sampajañña is the wholesome attempt to understand what an object is. Without sampajañña sati is simply a function of the mind without understanding. Sampajañña without sati is speculation. Combined these mental functions can de-condition and reorient the mind towards freedom from unwholesome patterns of mind, speech and action. allan cooper 2. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta: MN:10.

Yogi: 1. Theravada: The one who trains in the development of concentration. Person who practices satipatthana or samatha meditation. Source: Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary. 2. Synonym for meditator. allan cooper

Vinaya: (Basket of the Discipline). 1. The vinaya, literally meaning “leading out,” “education,” and “discipline.” It is the regulatory framework for the sangha or monastic community of Buddhism based on the canonical texts called the Vinaya Pitaka. Wikipedia. 2, In other words, the rules and conventions that all Buddhist monastics agree to adhere to when they are ordained. Code of conduct. Livelihood. allan cooper.

Abbreviations in footnotes: AN: Aṅguttara Nikāya, DN: Dingha Nikāya, MN: Majjhima Nikāya, SN: Saṃyutta Nikāya