Can you explain the link between the Ānāpānasati Sutta and the 6 R’s?
That’s where it’s coming from, yes. This is how is how they were discovered, and they were put into this sequence because of the Ānāpānasati Sutta.
The 6R’s are to Recognize, to Release, to Relax, to Re-smile and to Return to the object of meditation. This object is usually Metta, or one of the other Brahma Viharas; Compassion, Joy or Calm.
The origin, the most tangible proof that we have, that the Buddha taught to Relax this tension in the mind and in the body, is in that sutta. The sankharas of the mind, of the body – and this is being interpreted in a lot of ways – sankhara is simply just things that arise. Processes within the body and within the mind.
What are the bodily processes? Well, anything that is tension, anything that arises in the mind also, or any movement. Movement comes with friction, friction comes with tension, so the 6R’s originate from that. This is a complete Path of practice that is available to us, and that is quite pristine in itself.
We can also simply practice the Loving-kindness, the Brahma Viharas; the boundless Love, boundless Compassion, boundless Joy, boundless Calm in this way. They are truly wonderful, they are like a boost. Like the highway to Nibbana, especially at the beginning. So, it’s very good to develop them. That’s why the Buddha usually would teach the Brahma Viharas first, and then explain awareness of the breath with the breath.
Sometimes, people will not want to practice the other methods, if they start with that one [Ānāpānasati], because it is – we talked about it in this very sutta – literally practicing the four Resting Places of Awareness, the Satipaṭṭhānas. These four are there all the time. So, there is no intention whatsoever, or force, required, or energy being put to generate these states. The Loving-kindness has to come with a little bit of effort, because we have to generate that. Loving-kindness is a conditioned state, and same for the rest of the Brahma Viharas, even though they become much more subtle.
The whole of the beauty of these four Satipaṭṭhānas is that they are completely effortless, they come completely naturally. It is by letting go of everything, that we are completely aware of them. Sati sampajañña – full awareness – and an awareness of them.
When we start practicing in this way, the mind really enjoys this very deep calm. So, people are not really likely to want to start generating Metta.
Here we saw in this very sutta – and that is another reason why i read this one tonight -that it explains many of the sections of the Buddha’s teaching. For example, the bodhipakkhiyā dhamma, the 37 Requisites of Awakening, are all tools for us, that we can develop. That will help us to be more all-around meditators, I could say. Or all-around better people. With the Metta – when we practice the Brahma Viharas first – the mind becomes very wholesome, very quickly. And it becomes a second nature to respond with Love, with Compassion, with Sympathetic Joy, or Calm. This will help us in many situations, and this will support awareness- our practice of using the breath as a reminder, Ānāpānasati. This is all strengthening and supporting itself. In fact, the word Dhamma comes from the root dha, which means that which supports. That’s what we’re practicing.
The monks have stands for their bowls, there’s a rule we can’t put our bowls on the ground, it has to be on a stand. And there is a wonderful sutta, where the Buddha says that the stand of the mind is this Aryan Eightfold Path. So, we can say basically for all of these practices; they are the stand for the mind, because otherwise the mind just flows. It just goes wherever it wants and we prop it up, supporting it.