Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Sensations and Morality

By Ryanshelton7 @LivingVipassana

The acumen that we use to withdraw the mind from consuming passion, greed and hatred/delusion, is the same as the acumen that helps you ‘watch’ sensations (vedana) clearly in Vipassana practise.


I am only going to elaborate and build background for what I have said above in rest of the post below, you may give this elaboration a pass if you already know this through your own experience.

This is subjective experience how I arrived at the conclusion mentioned above. I cant incorporate all of the progressive interplay but can identify some things for the sake of a ‘post’

As I thinking about writing this idea as a post here I hesitated to express my conclusion thinking that there might be a deeper insight and this conclusion might be plain wrong, … then I came across this video from 2011 where Goenkaji mentions the same thing


He says that Shila (Morality) is strengthened on the basis of sensations (felt on the body) only, similarly samadhi (concentration) is strengthened on the basis of vedana (sensations), and Panya (wisdom) is strengthened with the basis of sensations …

Goenkaji says further that mere concentration as understood in the ordinary lay man perspective is not sufficient basis for the practise, concentration with equanimity with the sensations as the subject of concentration is ‘right concentration’

I was clearly experiencing this before I watched the video (and after as well


Recently I was on 21 day trip to sites of Buddha’s birthplace, place of enlightenment, first discourse and final discourse, also visited main vipassana centres in these sites and gained confidence in practise

There are a few ‘active’ parts in equanimity that took time to understand for me like mentioned here:


This sutta talks like this:

When evil unskillful thoughts connected with desire, hate, and delusion arise in a bhikkhu through reflection on an adventitious object, he should, (in order to get rid of that), reflect on a different object which is connected with skill.

Just as a man finding no reason for walking fast, walks slowly; finding no reason for walking slowly, stands; finding no reason for standing, sits down; finding no reason for sitting down, lies down, and thus getting rid of a posture rather uncalm resorts to a restful posture, just so should the bhikkhu in whom evil, unskillful thoughts arise, in spite of his endeavor to be without attention and reflection regarding them, reflect on the removal of the (thought) source of those unskillful thoughts.

Like a strong man holding a weaker man by the head or shoulders and restraining, subduing and beating him down, should the bhikkhu in whom evil, unskillful thoughts continue to arise in spite of his reflection on the source of unskillful thoughts, restrain, subdue and beat down the (evil) mind by the (good) mind, with clenched teeth and the tongue pressing on the palate.

I was surprised that instead of ‘inactive/neutral/wrongly interpreted ‘equanimity’ – here I was to act on these evil/passionate/deluded or hateful thoughts and subdue them.

When I didnt have much experiential confidence and applied a literal understanding of Dhamma I would mostly just watch evil thoughts dance in my head and do nothing about it waiting for them to pass – I missed that sometimes (without my knowing) I was secretly reacting at a deeper level these thoughts actually gained strength and subdue the mind even.

Weeding these out is right practice.

I had read the Vitakkasanthana Sutta around 4-5 years back and had modified my practice a little bit … but was still not completely given to the idea of weeding the unwholesome thoughts completely.

It took time to develop the weeding skills.

And now clearly pure shila give crystal clear equanimity to sensations on body. In some cases if the volition for the shila (morality) only a month long, a day long, or even a few moments long but pure enough -you will see the effects!


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