Ajahn Than, wie Thanissaro Bhikkhu auch genannt wird, ist Abt des Metta Forest Monastery, wo er an sehr vielen Tagen im Jahr morgens einen kurzen (2-5 Minuten) und abends einen etwas längeren Dharma-Talk (10-20 Minuten) hält. Mit diesen Talks richtet er sich sowohl an die Mönche als auch an interessierte Laien, die aus dem Umland von San Diego zu ihm kommen.
Ajahn Than stellt diese Talks auf seiner Webseite zur Verfügung. Dort findet Ihr auch alle Übersetzungen der Lehrreden des Buddha, Bücher, Anthologien, Biographien seiner Lehrer und anderer Meditationsmeister – alles ohne Gegenleistung zu verlangen.
The Body from the Inside ist keiner der offiziellen Sammlungen enthalten, sondern „nur“ ein Abend-Talk, den er im Juli 2013 gehalten hat. Ajahn Than stellt hier einen Zusammenhang zwischen dem Skandha „Form“ oder „Körperlichkeit“ und dem Atem, seinen Bewegungen und Energien her. Indem der Körper von innen erspürt und im Gewahrsein gehalten wird, kann der Geist loslassen und sich sammeln. Das „Whole-Body-Breathing“ wird damit zu einem Portal in schöne und heilsame Samadhis.
Für mich hat dieser Talk aber eine besondere Bedeutung: Er war es, der mir den Zugang zu den Jhanas geöffnet hat. In den letzten Jahren ist The Body from the Inside ein wichtiger Begleiter in meiner Praxis geworden, in dem ich mit fortschreitender Meditationspraxis immer wieder neue Aspekte entdecke. Dabei war ich am Anfang eigentlich sogar ein bisschen skeptisch… „Atemenergie“? Mein Selbstverständnis verbietet mir, esoterischen Unsinn für voll zu nehmen. Die Energien, von denen Ajahn Than spricht, passen scheinbar nicht in eine rein materialistische Sicht der Dinge. Es gibt hier aber keinen Konflikt, denn er beschreibt nicht, wie der Atem „in Wirklichkeit“ ist, sondern wie er sich von innen anfühlt – eine phänomenologische Sichtweise, die funktioniert.
Anders als bei vielen (insbesondere neueren) Talks, gibt es von diesem kein Transkript. Daher habe ich selbst eines angefertigt:
When we experience the body from the inside, the Buddha calls that an experience of form. It’s not counted as one of the six senses. When we talk about the body and tactile sensations, we are talking about the body as it touches things outside, as it touches the air, where it’s hot or cold, touches things that are soft or hard. That’s the body as one of six senses, and the pleasures that come from that count as sensual pleasures.
But the pleasure we can create inside as we work with the breath, that’s a different kind of pleasure. Then as the Buddha said it helps us, enables us to step back from our sensual pleasures, so that we are not so totally involved with them. Because if we don’t have any alternative to pain, that’s where the mind keeps on running to sensual pleasures, sensual pleasures. As we learn how to work with the different energies in the body gives us another alternative.
In fact it is part of the Path, the pleasure that comes. vivekajam-piti-sukham, samadhijam-piti-sukham [see http://www.leighb.com/jhana4.htm] as we chanted just now. The sense of pleasure, refrefreshment that comes as you pull away from your ordinary sensual concerns. Pleasure and refreshment that come when you get the mind centered and concentrated towards samadhi there, what we translate as concentration. Some people object – on good grounds – because ordinarily when we think about concentration, we think of a very narrow, one-pointed focus, blocking out everything else. Whereas with this kind of concentration, you are trying to open up your awareness, make it all-around. You got a sense of being centered right here, centered between front and back, left and right, up and down. And there is one point that you are focused on, but that’s not the totality of your focus. It’s like looking at a painting, you can focus on one spot in the painting, but you see the whole painting nevertheless. In the same way you want to be aware of the whole body, even as you focused, say, at the middle of the chest, tip of the nose. And as you maintain the sense of „whole body“, that gives you a foundation, so that when other things come in, make contact, they don’t knock you off your concentration. Because if concentration is totally one-pointed, you change the point the concentration is gone. Whereas if the concentration is based on this larger foundation, then sounds can come through and they go right through. Do think of your awareness as a big screen and the sounds are like the wind that goes through the screen. And that’s that when, which you can get the concentration really solid as you are sitting here and also keep it going as you go through the day.
It really helps to have a sense of what else you are feeling here in the inside of the body. The Buddha talks about four properties. There is earth, water, wind, fire. It sounds like the old medieval elements, but we use these concepts in meditation as something different. The fact that you have a body sitting here right now, how do you know that? You are sitting here with your eyes closed, there is nothing you can see, how do you know you have a body? Well, you feel these different sensations from within. There is the warmth in the body, there is coolness in the body, that’s fire and water. There is a sense of heaviness in the body, that’s earth. And there is the energy that allows you to move the body, that’s wind. These are things that we have been using all along. Because we tend not to pay attention to what’s going on inside our bodies, because we are too focused on the world outside, we are not really sensitive, say, to the flowing of the breath energy.
For some people this is one of the hardest parts of doing the meditation, is getting a clear sense of what’s meant by „breath energy“. Well, the fact that you feel the body right here, it’s because the breath energy. Withouth the breath energy, we wouldn’t have any sense of any of the other elements, any of the other properties, so start with that: The fact that you feel a body here, that’s breath. And then the other properties, the things you feel through the breath. This requires rearranging some of your perceptions. Many of us have the idea we have go a solid body here, and you have to breathe the breath in, and breathe the breath out. But from this point of view, the breath is what you start with, and solidity is something that comes after that.
As you breathe in, think of it, the whole body that you sense here, it’s breathing. Maybe breathing together in the different parts, maybe breathing across purposes. Try to notice that. Some parts feel more nourished by the breath, and others feel worn out by the fact that they do all the breathing work for everybody else. Or they are left out of the breath energy. Try to make a survey through the body and see how the different parts feel as you breathe in, how they feel as you breathe out, and if the things feel coordinated, or if things feel like they working across purposes. And if they are working across purposes, what do you do? Well, don’t try to push the breath in, because the breath isn’t something you push. If you push, it’s gonna be the liquid pushing against the solid parts of the body. That’s something what can very easily lead to headaches and other problems.
The energy is something that doesn’t excert pressure at all. It moves freely. And when there’s a sense of blockage, thing of it as being permeated by wholes. Or you can think of it as being atoms that are mostly space. So the energy can flow freely through. And when you get the hang of this, it makes it even easier to stay with this larger foundation as you go through the day. It may sound like multi-tasking, but actually what it’s doing is giving you a good solid place to stand. Multi-tasking is like juggling lots of things in the air. But this isn’t something you juggle in the air, this is where you _stand_. And if you have a good solid foundation on which to stand, then it’s easier to juggle the other things that you need to take care of.
Sometimes it helps to think as backing into the body as you inhabit it. If you were to take a picture of some people’s conception of how they are observing the breath, it’s like they got this bird perched on their shoulders, and it’s looking through their eyes out at the body. But we are not looking at the breath with the eyes. We are backing into it, we are feeling it from within. And we are trying to develop a sense of what they call the all-around-eye. We are sitting here and you are looking in all directions all at once. That helps to keep you centered, but with a sense of broad awareness at the same time. So get acquainted with this body.
These elements can be troublesome. There is a passage where the Buddha compares them to four vipers that you have to pick up and feed and bathe and the lay down again. Again and again and again. And if any one of them gets provoked at you, as the Buddha say, you gonna meet with death or death-like pain. But they also have their good side. If you learn how to work with the breath, your health gets more solid. Just inhabiting your body from within, you begin to see areas of tension that you’ve been missing all along, because you’ve been so focused on something outside.
Sitting here and meditating is not the case of the meditation is causing those blockages, unless your posture is bad. But we carry these things around, because we are not paying attention, and then we just take them for granted. And it’s only when we begin inhabit the body again, that we begin to notice how there is a lot of tension here. And think of it just dissolving away as you breathe in, breathe out. And notice what rhythm of breathing is good to help soothe the body from within. This helps to keep the vipers from getting provoked at you.
And your own sense of your awareness, and what your awareness can do, and how broad it can be, and how steady it can be, that will change, that will develop, as you inhabit the body from within. As afterall, some day we gonna leave this body. But it is easier to leave if you get to know it really well from within first. I heard one, somone once said that how can you take the breath as your meditation object when you gonna have to leave it someday? Well, use the breath to get the mind centered, and then you get to know the mind. And that becomes your real object. And Ajahn Lee said, the breath is like a mirror for the mind. You learn a lot about the mind by looking at the breath. The more sensitive you get to the breath, the more sensitive you become to what’s going on in the mind. The little stirrings in the mind, the beginning of a thought, that tends to be obscured within our sense of the body. But if you get sensitive to this and you begin to see those little stirrings, then there is more. As the Buddha said: The deathless is touched with the body. What that means is where you are experiencing your body right now, that’s where you experience the deathless. It’s not something you simply think about, or hold as a concept. It’s a total experience, all around. So to get in that direction, learn how to be aware of body all around to begin with. That gets you off on the right foot.
Möge Ajahn Than noch lange leben und uns auf unserem eigenen Weg begleiten.