Ajahn Maha Boowa’s Practice of the Repetition of Buddho as a Mantra
How to do it
The method is simple – just repeat the word “Buddho” over and over and over whenever you can during the day (except when driving and operating machinery), using this as a medium for your mind to drop into a calm, still, presence of mind and eventually enter samadhi (see below):
My choice was Buddho meditation.From the moment I made my resolve, I kept my mind from straying from the repetition of buddho. From the moment I awoke in the morning until I slept at night, I forced myself to think only of buddho.At the same time, I ceased to be preoccupied with thoughts of progress and decline:
- If my meditation made progress, it would do so with buddho;
- If it declined, it would go down with buddho.In either case, buddho was my sole preoccupation. All other concerns were irrelevant.Maintaining such single-minded concentration is not an easy task. I had to literally force my mind to remain entwined with buddho each and every moment without interruption.Regardless of whether I was:
- Seated in meditation,
- Walking meditation or
- Simply doing my daily chores,
the word buddho resonated deeply within my mind at all times.
By nature and temperament, I was always extremely resolute and uncompromising. This tendency worked to my advantage. In the end, I became so earnestly committed to the task that nothing could shake my resolve; no errant thought could separate the mind from buddho.Working at this practice day after day, I always made certain that buddho resonated in close harmony with my present-moment awareness.
The Results of Ajahn Maha Boowa’s Practice
Next, Ajahn Maha Boowa talks about the effect that repeating Buddho had on his mind/citta:
Soon, I began to see the results of calm and concentration arise clearly within the citta, the mind’s essential knowing nature. At that stage, I began to see the very subtle and refined nature of the citta.
The longer I internalized buddho, the more subtle the citta became, until eventually the subtlety of buddho and the subtlety of the citta melded into one another and became one and the same essence of knowing. I could not separate buddho from the citta’s subtle nature. Try as I might, I could not make the word buddho appear in my mind. Through diligence and perseverance, buddho had become so closely unified with thecitta that buddho itself no longer appeared within my awareness.The mind had become so calm and still, so profoundly subtle, that nothing, not even buddho, resonated there. This meditative state is analogous to the disappearance of the breath, as mentioned above.When this took place, I felt bewildered. I had predicated my whole practice on holding steadfastly to buddho. Now that buddho was no longer apparent, where would I focus my attention? Up to this point, buddho had been my mainstay. Now it had disappeared. No matter how hard I tried to recover this focus, it was lost. I was in a quandary. All that remained then was the citta’s profoundly subtle knowing nature, a pure and simple awareness, bright and clear. There was nothing concrete withinthat awareness to latch on to.I realized then that nothing invades the mind’s sphere of awarenesswhen consciousness—its knowing presence—reaches such a profound and subtle condition.I was left with only one choice: With the loss of buddho, I had to focus my attention on the essential sense of awareness and knowing that was all-present and prominent at that moment. That consciousness had not disappeared; on the contrary, it was all-pervasive.All of the mindful awareness that had concentrated on the repetition of buddho was then firmly refocused on the very subtle knowing presence of the calm and converged citta.My attention remained firmly fixed on that subtle knowing essence until eventually its prominence began to fade, allowing my normal awareness to become reestablished.As normal awareness returned, buddho manifested itself once more. So I immediately refocused my attention on the repetition of my meditation-word. Before long, my daily practice assumed a new rhythm: I concentrated intently on buddho until consciousness resolved into the clear, brilliant state of the mind’s essential knowing nature, remaining absorbed in that subtle knowing presence until normal awareness returned; and I then refocused with increased vigor on the repetition of buddho.
It was during this stage that I first gained a solid spiritual foundation in my meditation practice. From then on, my practice progressed steadily—never again did it fall into decline.With each passing day, my mind became increasingly calm, peaceful, and concentrated. The fluctuations, that had long plagued me, ceased to be an issue. Concerns about the state of my practice were replaced by mindfulness rooted in the present moment. The intensity of this mindful presence was incompatible with thoughts of the past or future. My center of activity was the present moment—each silent repetition of buddho as it arose and passed away. I had no interest in anything else. In the end, I was convinced that the reason for my mind’s previous state of flux was the lack of mindfulness arising from not anchoring my attention with a meditation-word. Instead, I had just focused on a general feeling of inner awareness without a specific object, allowing my mind to stray easily as thoughts intruded.Once I understood the correct method for this initial stage of meditation, I applied myself to the task with such earnest commitment that I refused to allow mindfulness to lapse for even a single moment. Beginning in the morning, when I awoke, and continuing until night, when I fell asleep, I was consciously aware of my meditation at each and every moment of my waking hours. It was a difficult ordeal, requiring the utmost concentration and perseverance. I couldn’t afford to let down my guard and relax even for a moment.Being so intently concentrated on the internalization of buddho, I hardly noticed what went on around me. My normal daily interactions passed by in a blur, but buddho was always sharply in focus. My commitment to the meditation-word was total. With this firm foundation to bolster my practice, mental calm and concentration became so unshakable that they felt as solid and unyielding as a mountain.
His Progress into Samadhi
Eventually this rock-solid condition of the mind became the primary point of focus for mindfulness. As the citta steadily gained greater inner stability, resulting in a higher degree of integration, the meditation-word buddho gradually faded from awareness, leaving the calm and concentrated state of the mind’s essential knowing nature to be perceived prominently on its own.
By that stage, the mind had advanced to samãdhi – an intense state of focusedawareness, assuming a life of its own, independent of any meditation technique.Fully calm and unified, the knowing presence itself became the sole focus of attention, a condition of mind so prominent and powerful that nothing else can arise to dislodge it.This is known as the mind being in a state of continuous samãdhi. In other words, thecitta is samãdhi—both are one and the same.
The Difference Between a State of Calm in Meditation vs Samadhi
Speaking in terms of the deeper levels of meditation practice, a fundamental difference exists between a state of meditative calm and the samãdhi state.
- When the mind converges and drops into a calm, concentrated state to remain for a period of time before withdrawing to normal consciousness, this is known as meditative calm. The calm and concentration are temporary conditions that last while the mind remains fixed in that peaceful state. As normal consciousness returns, these extraordinary conditions gradually dissipate.
- However, as the meditator becomes more adept at this practice—entering into and withdrawing from a calm, unified state over and over again—the mind begins to build a solid inner foundation. When this foundation becomes unshakable in all circumstances, the mind is known to be in a state of continuous samãdhi.Then, even when the mind with draws from meditative calm it still feels solid and compact, as though nothing can disturb its inward focus. The citta that is continuously unified in samãdhi is always even and unperturbed. It feels completely satiated. Because of the very compact and concentrated sense of inner unity, everyday thoughts and emotions no longer make an impact. In such a state, the mind has no desire to think about anything. Completely peaceful and contented within itself, nothing is felt to be lacking.
In such a state of continuous calm and concentration – the citta becomes very powerful:
- While the mind was previously hungry to experience thoughts and emotions, it now shuns them as a nuisance.
- Before it was so agitated that it couldn’t stop thinking and imagining even if it wanted to. Now, with samãdhi as its habitual condition, the mind feels no desire to think about anything. It views thought as an unwanted disturbance.
When the mind’s essential knowing presence stands out prominently all the time – the citta is so inwardly concentrated that it tolerates no disturbance. Because of this sublime tranquility—and the tendency of samãdhi to lull the mind into this state of serene satisfaction—those whose minds have attained continuous samãdhi tend to become strongly attached to it. It remains so until one reaches the level of practice where wisdom prevails, and the results become even more satisfying.
Source: p14-18 Arahattamagga – The Path to Arahantship by Ajahn Maha Boowa