Memorable Quote: “Don’t use too much energy meditating. You need to do it all day every day.”
Synopsis: Is paying attention alone sufficient for meditation? No, is the answer that Sayadaw U Tejaniya gives us. We need to cultivate the following five qualities in our mind to get the most out of our meditation.
(1) Awareness: By awareness, he does mean focusing, or concentration. Instead, he means the quality of not forgetting. We must not forget anything that is happening in this mind and body, ever. This is a quality that already exists in our mind, we need not exert a lot of energy to obtain it.
(2) Concentration (Samadhi): Sayadaw U Tejaniya doesn’t like to translate Samadhi as “concentration,” because when we try to concentrate, we can get headaches. He prefers to think of this quality as relaxation, peace, and stability, This quality arises when we are aware of the present moment, not reacting to it with greed or aversion.
(3) Effort: He doesn’t see this as the energetic use of the body, but instead a quality of the mind. He equates it to patience and perseverance. Meditation is a long-term practice. We can’t use too much energy, because we need to keep doing it everyday forever.
(4) Faith: We need confidence in ourselves, and the work that we’re doing.
(5) Wisdom: This is not the esoteric realizations of the monastics, but instead a more practical understanding of how to meditate in a wise and skillful way. Without this wisdom, results will not come.
In short, Sayadaw U Tejaniya encourages us to not use too much energy or focus, don’t try to “concentrate.” Instead, we can try to “observe, recognize, notice, watch, and be with.” We can do that all day long, every day, for the rest of our lives.
I like: I really appreciated his thoughts on not “trying too hard,” because meditation is a life-long effort.
I wish: I wish he would have said more about what it means to observe life arising and passing away. I think he had some deep thoughts about non-identification that supported this teaching but was not made explicit.
More about the Speaker: Sayadaw U Tejaniya began his Buddhist training as a young teenager in Burma under the late Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw (1913–2002). After a career in business and life as a householder, he has become a permanent monk since 1996. He teaches meditation at Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya in Rangoon, Burma. To listen to more of his talks, visit dharmaseed.org/teacher/246/