Breath Meditation – Simple Instructions Anyone Can Follow


“The technique I’ll be teaching is breath meditation.
It’s a good topic no matter what your religious background.
As my teacher once said, the breath doesn’t belong to Buddhism or Christianity or anyone at all.
It’s common property that anyone can meditate on.”
~Thanissaro Bhikkhu in

Here’s a link to very simple instructions on breath meditation: Basic Breath Meditation Instructions by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

©1993 Thanissaro Bhikkhu

The Cycle of Life in English and Sinhala

Indian Weavers is a beautiful poem by Sarojini Naidu that makes you remember the endless cycle of life.

Watch Pandith Amaradeva singing the Sinhala version, Sannaliyane, in this youtube video.

This is one of the few instances in which I can enjoy both the English and Sinhala versions side by side and not feel cheated out of the original richness that may be lost in translation. The Sinhala version is as lovely as the English one here. I am not sure whether Naidu wrote the original in English.

As for the original poem, here it is:


WEAVERS, weaving at break of day,
Why do you weave a garment so gay? . . .
Blue as the wing of a halcyon wild,
We weave the robes of a new-born child.

Weavers, weaving at fall of night,
Why do you weave a garment so bright? . . .
Like the plumes of a peacock, purple and green,
We weave the marriage-veils of a queen.


Weavers, weaving solemn and still,
What do you weave in the moonlight chill? . . .
White as a feather and white as a cloud,
We weave a dead man’s funeral shroud.

Sarojini Naidu

I got the text from You can read more of Sarojini Naidu poems at There are at least 50 there.



Things as They Are: Talks on Training the Mind

Things as They Are: A Collection of Talks on the Training of the Mind

By Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno
Translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

“Just as if there were a pool of water in a mountain glen
clear, limpid, and unsullied

where a man with good eyes standing on the bank

could see shells, gravel, and pebbles,
and also shoals of fish swimming about and resting,
and it would occur to him,

‘This pool of water is clear, limpid, and unsullied.

Here are these shells, gravel, and pebbles,

and also these shoals of fish swimming about and resting;

‘so too, the monk discerns as it actually is,

that ‘This is stress…

This is the origin of stress…

This is the stopping of stress…

This is the way leading to the stopping of stress…

These are mental effluents…

This is the origin of mental effluents…

This is the stopping of mental effluents…

This is the way leading to the stopping of mental effluents.’

His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing,

is released from the effluent of sensuality,

released from the effluent of becoming,

released from the effluent of unawareness.

With release, there is the knowledge, ‘Released.’

He discerns that, ‘Birth is no more,

the holy life is fulfilled, the task done.

There is nothing further for this world.’


“This, great king, is a reward of the contemplative life,

visible here and now,

more excellent than the previous ones and more sublime.

And as for another visible reward of the contemplative life,

higher and more sublime than this, there is none.”


— Samaññaphala Sutta,  Digha Nikaya

© 1996

You can read the complete text of Things as They Are: A Collection of Talks on the Training of the Mind at

Letting Go…

Just as a tree cut down shoots forth again
if its root are unharmed and firm
even so, craving not being removed
this suffering comes again and again.

How hard is letting go?
Of a loved one, no longer loved;
A beloved book  falling to pieces with age;
or ragged soft toy
that has gone grey and faded over time.
A favourite piece of china,
that has been in the family for years,
Now chipped and cracked;
How hard is letting go
of land and property,
everything you own?

How hard is letting go each thought
that comes to mind?
Each temptation,
Each little annoyance,
Each craving.

How hard is letting go
what we feel we want,
and simply settle for basic needs.

Meditation teaches us this discipline.
I used to do walking meditation.
Focus only on the walking, nothing else.
Is there a magpie, singing his evening song?
Clouds floating by faster than I
am walking on the ground?

The technique in meditation
is not to ignore each sensation.
But to acknowledge it, and let it go.

This is how it goes:
Was that a bird? Pretty song.
Ok, back to meditation.

This can be done for every sensation
that registers with our minds.
Is it warm or cold?
Acknowledge and let it go.
Dwelling on it breaks focus.

And of course, doing this over and over again,
Every minute you walk,
is great for mind discipline.
Avoid bicycles, dogs, traffic, pedastrians…
whatever, just acknowledge and let it go.

After a time,
it becomes  a game.
How easily can you let go?
And you are testing your own discipline.
So there is no room for cheating.

Once you get to that stage,
It is easy to let go of anything.

Anger, annoyances, disappointments.
Cravings and temptations.

Try and see.
I’d like to hear your comments.

Looking for merit (or not)

I have always wondered where it is mentioned in Buddhism that giving alms to the Maha Sangha (priests) is more meritorious than giving to the needy.

Today I found the source:

A man looking for merit thereby, may offer food and other necessaries to the whole world in the course of a whole year; but all that amounts not to a fourth part of the homage paid to an upright man.
– Sahassa Vagga, Dhammapada

Now I have the answer, but it is still a dilemma.

Where I am from, it is difficult to get a day to offer meals to a priest at the temple because the people in the area are highly organised and dates are divided among a lot of families. The priests will not want for food.

But on the other hand there are orphanages and old people’s homes which are really needy. The case has worsened since the outset of the financial crisis. Many people have no money to spare for good deeds anymore. Or they prefer to do other things.

So in that case, isn’t it better to give alms to such a place rather than clamour to somehow force the priests in the closest temple?

I might just go ahead and give money and food to the orphanages etc. After all, you need to worry about this only if you are seeking merit.

So I believe I’d settle for simple peace of mind and social justice any day.

Also, to me, doing things just for merit when there are other things that need to be done somehow seems wrong. I really want to know what the Buddha would say to this.

For all I know, he might agree with me that feeding the needy is a better thing than forcing food on well fed priests.