Yogavacaropadesa: Guidance for a Meditative Life

Most Venerable Ñāṇārāma thero was a genuine yogāvacara in its utmost depth of
the meaning. When writing this guide, Venerable thero combined his
deep knowledge of Dhamma as well as his piercing intuition forged by
meditation, and consequently (this book) has become a valuable
handbook for those who follow the path of Dhamma.

It is our goal to share Most Ven Ñāṇārāma thero’s very insightful
experiences and his piercing intuition with readers who are not able to
access his original writings in Sinhala. While reading this guide, we
hope that the reader will gain familiarity with venerable maha thero’s
personal qualities of great humility, virtue, determination, directness,
hindsight and insight. We hope that the reader will experience a
personal encounter with him.

Nyanarama thera

Yogāvacaropadesa –
Guidance for a meditative life

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato Sammāsambuddhassa
Homage to the Blessed one, Accomplished and Fully Enlightened

[1]. Yogi should frequently introspect the nature of his mind, as
subtle thoughts that are detrimental to yogic practice can arise

[2]. Yogi should develop a keen self-awareness about defiled
thoughts as they arise in the mind incognito. Their hinderance can be
very detrimental to the progress of meditation; Just as the enemy in
disguise can be more dangerous than the enemy well-known.

[3]. Do not utter words that hurt others; nor write. Such acts occur
because the mind turns negative. One must very thoroughly remember
that it is a serious obstacle to yogic practice.

[4]. Do not be involved in others’ mischiefs and never use uncouth
language, as they have the power to bring oneself down and to
degenerate one’s mind.

[5]. Do not hurt anyone. Do not find any excuse to hurt your own
mind, nor to self-mortify.

[6]. One finds false comfort in scratching around a healing wound,
which is only going to prolong its healing. Similar is one’s attachments
to sensual desires (raga) and how one would torment his body and mind
as a result. It is only later that one realises its detrimental effects.

[7]. One must make concerted efforts to relinquish unskilful habits
and to thoughtfully cultivate skilful habits.

[8]. Steadfast persistence and energy (viriya) is a great aid for the
yogic practice. Yogi should make every opportunity to cultivate this

[9]. Yogi must use the four postures (sitting, standing, walking and
sleeping) to cultivate persistence and energy (viriya). He must patiently
apply his wisdom as an ankus (elephant goad) to guide the path.

[10]. Walking meditation is an extremely useful activity for the yogi.
Avoid wasting even a single moment occupying the mind with idle,
unskilful thoughts.

[11]. It is said that “the yogi never sleeps”. Which means that the
experienced yogi would not break his vipassana practice with sleep. For
he goes to sleep while keeping to an object of mindfulness and he wakes
up without a break with the object of mindfulness.

[12]. Sitting cross-legged (baddha pallaṅka) is the moststable posture
for a yogi. With consistent practice, sitting cross legged becomes
comfortable, and it will help overcome posture-related discomforts.

[13]. Yogi must be careful with food. Unsuitable food can cause great
discomfort as well as degeneration of one’s body and mind.

[14]. There are places and circumstances that help cultivating one-
pointedness of the mind (samādhi) easily; also there are places that
deteriorate one’s samādhi. The yogi should therefore carefully
distinguish between the two.

Continued …

Yogāvacaropadesa: Guidance for a meditative life (pdf)

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Sep 1954

[15]. When one has no desire for samādhi, one would find places of
solitude and forest-dwelling fearsome and eerie. Also, he has no desire
for such places. What yogic qualities are to be sought in such a person?

[16]. Restfulness is a great nourishment for the yogi. The yogi finds
places devoid of restfulness as barren wasteland.

[17]. Never dwell even for a moment in self-glorification
(attukkaṃsana) or condemning others (paravambhana). If one’s mind
falls prey to these defilements, it is inevitable that his mind will
succumb to two invading forces of the Māra.

[18]. Yogi must clearly comprehend the phenomena that
contaminate the mind and precipitate in its downfall. Yogi must hone
his intuition - and not rely only on others’ advice- to clearly
comprehend how such phenomena are manifested, as well as get

[19]. Yogi must thoroughly remember that defiled thoughts take
away the calmness of the mind. When the mind loses its calmness, its
purity starts to wane. Is it not naive to attempt cultivating conducive
qualities for yogic practice in such a mind?

[20]. Yogi must frequently contemplate on the holy life of
renunciation that he carries forth. He must strongly keep in mind that
this lifestyle belongs to the ones with the greatest spiritual purity.

[21]. At all times, yogi must consistently maintain and uphold his
lifestyle with the qualities aspired of a holy renunciate, a yogāvacara.

[22]. If one pretends to follow a holy life of yogāvacara, but acts in
opposite ways, should one be disappointed if other people criticise and
condemn such dishonesty, calling him a hypocrite and a crafty person?

[23]. You have noticed how animals would fight when they are
confronted with matters that contradict their desires, or when their
desires are not fulfilled. You should bear in mind that you too would
fall into this category in similar behaviour.

[24]. Generally, animals tend to confront and fight when their
desires are not fulfilled and when they are directly confronted. They do
not go out of the way to find such reasons and create trouble. Wouldn’t
humans display worse tendencies in this respect?

[25]. If the yogi reflects on others’ behaviour and responses or
compares their qualities, he should only do so with the intention of
improving his own qualities and practice.

[26]. Others might indulge in unskillful ways; become heedless in
mindfulness; such actions result in the detriment of the path. The yogi
should determine; “We should avoid all this in order to uphold virtue,
sustain mindfulness and preserve the path”.

[27]. The public extend their generosity and hospitality as a mark of
respect of holiness and virtue. Yogi must receive them by upholding
these virtues, and never by abandoning and spoiling them