What do you think of Pannananda's samatha meditation?


Pannananda is a monk from Pa-Auk who wrote a book on Anapanasati to reach the first jhâna.

His book is called “A Companion Volume To Brief Discussion On Anapanasati”. You can download it on the internet.

I will summarize his technique. Pannanda proposes 3 successive steps to reach jhâna:
1/ concentrate on the moving breath around the nostrils.
This allows you to find the location just below the nose (upperlip);
2/ then focus on the location/space just below one nostril (upperlip), but NOT on the skin, while ignoring the moving breath. This step allows you to find the solid/massive breath. IMPORTANT: we have to look at this location/space as if we were a spectator looking at this location/space from a place a few centimeters behind and perpendicular to the upper lip (here we have to use a mental “eye”, not the physical eye);
3/ finally, concentrate on the massive (solid and homogeneous) breath, while ignoring the moving breath. IMPORTANT: here again, we have to look at this massive breath with a mental eye, as if we were a spectator looking at this massive breath from a place a few centimeters behind and perpendicular to the upper lip.

What do you think? Is this a recommendable method compatible with the Theravada teachings?

Thank you in advance.

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I brought this monk to America with me when we were only five years old in monk years 2006. He is very smart and was an MD but never went into practice. He later became a monk after waiting 7 years for his father to give permission.

One good thing about his method is his focus away from “feeling” the breath and to move to the concept of the breath. However, these days I have different ideas about how one should “see” the Samantha anapana nimitta that I don’t want to go public about .

As a teacher of paauk , he has gotten some success with students. Most teachers outside of the main paauk centers do not get so many successful students. Mostly because of the full time enthusiasm and attraction of those with parami and the numbers game. So his method has had some success.

Historically, he was originally happy with the 4 elements Pa-auk meditation which has one overview the body with the perspective looking behind the shoulders. His method of anapana has that same logic.

The best thing to do is try the traditional method but don’t forget the concept of the breath. It is so important and don’t pay attention the physical touch for so long . This is the biggest mistake. It is written everywhere , abhidhamma vsm including the paauk book, but overlooked by most.

Try the traditional paauk and then if not successful bounce over to his method.

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Bhante, thank you very much for this message. I read you very carefully and I am incorporating your advice into my practice.

Indeed, Pannananda also insists a lot on the fact that we should not stay stuck on the physical/moving breath. He also says that this is the most common mistake that prevents jhana from happening. He says that some yogis even get into the habit of meditating on the physical breath, and therefore find it very difficult to get back to the solid/homogenous breath.

Your article on the conceptual breath helped me a lot.
By the way, correct me if I’m wrong, but if I understand correctly, the idea of conceptual breathing is not to intentionally move our attention away from the physical breathing, but rather conceptual breathing is not to intentionally look for the physical breathing, and it is to focus on the breathing in its general and global aspect, so it can happen without any problem that we focus on the conceptual breathing of the physical breathing (i.e. there is no problem to have a physical breathing as long as the only thing we are interested in is the conceptual breathing ; there is no problem to see only red cars on the road as long as what interests me is the concept of car).

I would also like to summarize Pa Auk Sayadaw’s method. If I understood correctly, it consists in concentrating on the natural (i.e. without forcing it) whole (i.e. from the beginning to the end) conceptual breath (i.e. what you explained in your article), being at the end of the nose. After a while, patibagha nimitta appears and the mind automatically concentrates on it until absorption in patibagha nimitta, and thus the jhâna appears.
Please correct me if I am wrong.

Sorry if I am talking a lot, but your advice is a great help to me in my practice, and I hope it will be useful for others.

Thank you again.

I think it is best you see teachers and ask them.

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Thank you very much

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