Maturity in insight meditation is experienced as the turning of the Wheel of Dhamma (Noble Eightfold Path) within the meditators mind between: insight that leads to wisdom, morality that leads to harmony and unification that leads to clarity.
The Buddha introduced the Noble Eightfold Path as an image of the Wheel of Dhamma in the first talk on insight meditation: The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion (SN 56: 11).
In this talk, he introduced two things:
The Wheel refers to the circling within your mind of:
Dhamma refers to:
Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion means:
The Middle Way is found by developing your sensitivity to the effort that supports things.
Your effort during meditation is divided into two areas:
(1) Effort towards mental clarity.
Q. What would you like to teach your mind:
Effort towards mental clarity means teaching your mind to rest in the balance of letting go rather than the two defensive extremes of mental restlessness and dullness.
(2) Effort towards momentum of letting go.
Q. What would you like to teach your mind?
The Noble Eightfold Path, when followed as a map for insight meditation, removes the root cause of suffering through developing calm, insight & letting go.
The Noble Eightfold Path is the path of practice for insight meditators who wish to experience the peace of Nibanna (lit: going out of the fire of craving).
The Noble Eightfold Path is practiced in three groups:
Picturing a wheel:
At this stage of your meditation, you will have noticed that the whole path of an insight meditator from the beginning to the end rests on a constant thread of letting go and the pleasure of it.
The three Path Groups of panna (wisdom), sila (morality), and samadhi (samatha based: calm, tranquility) all rest on and are held together by a thread of letting go and the pleasure of it.
Insight and wisdom develop by teaching your mind to let go by observing the autonomous activity (anatta) of your body, heart, and mind.
Observing the autonomous, by-itself nature of your body, heart, and mind lead will lead to your mind experiencing disenchantment and letting it go.
Disenchantment by itself is not enough. Letting go through disenchantment can make our mind feel dry, adverse, and uninterested in life.
If you develop insight by following the GOSS formula, you will sweeten your mind by turning it towards the pleasure & joy of letting go.
The pleasure of letting go counters the aversion of disenchantment.
Sila is all about training your mind to become sensitive and inclined towards harmony: non-harm.
Applying the GOSS Formula towards harmonious acts such as gratefulness, giving, receiving, kindness, caring, etc. will naturally strengthen these wholesome qualities and help your heart to open.
The experience of relaxation in your body and calm in your mind can be enhanced by inclining your mind towards letting go.
Applying the GOSS Formula to your meditation by being curious about the subtle pleasure of softening effort in your body, breathing, and mind during mindfulness of breathing will enhance your ability to access relaxation and calm.
We can understand the turning of the Meditative Wheel within a meditator's mind during meditation by using the metaphor of a cart.
Picture a cart with two large, spoked wheels towed along a road.
The tread on the outside of these wheels turns as the cart moves, one part of the tread always contacting the road.
The outside tread of the wheels is supported by eight spokes created by the panna group (wisdom), sila ground (morality), and samadhi group (unification: calm, tranquility) of the Noble Eightfold Path.
If there is weakness in any of these spokes, then the wheels will be unstable and wobble.
As the road changes, so does the experience of the journey.
Sometimes it is smooth, sometimes it is rough, sometimes it is dry, and sometimes it is muddy.
Regardless, the flow between wisdom, morality & tranquility remains.
Without the transition between these three, this natural flow, the cart (Noble Eightfold Path), will come to a stop.
In the centre of the wheel are a hub and axle.
The hub and axle are the heart and mind.
If the hub and axle don't match, there will be friction, causing the wheels on the cart to turn with difficulty.
If the heart and mind don't match due to delusion, there will be friction, causing dukkha to arise and life to flow with difficulty.
If the heart and mind match due to wisdom, sukha will arise, and the flow of life will be frictionless.
Softness and relaxation are the lubrication for the wheel of dhamma. Until the mind joins with the heart-lubrication is necessary to lower the friction of dukkha.
While the cart can be pulled by sheer force, just as attention can be shaped through sheer will, we risk further damaging the cart.
It is wiser to make sure that the spokes of panna, sila, and samadhi are equally as strong and aligned, supporting the flow of seated meditation and daily life.
Instead of using force and sheer will, it is wiser to keep the hub and axle of the mind and heart well-lubricated with softness and relaxation.
This brings frictionless-ness and balance to the meditative path.
Insight that leads to wisdom.
Morality that leads to harmony.
Unification that leads to clarity.
It is time in your meditation practice to increase your momentum in letting go.
Insight meditation is about learning the art of letting go of control.
Insight meditation is about learning the art of letting go of control and trust in the natural unfolding of reality.
Letting go through:
Each of these creates the conditions for the next and turns like a wheel in the meditator's mind:
This creates a momentum in letting go:
To do this requires meditative training in the three areas of wisdom, morality & clarity.
A momentum of letting go will occur when you give up your attachment to specific path factors (such as tranquility or insight) and instead train each path group to cultivate the conditions for the next.
Wisdom (panna) --> Morality (sila):
Morality (sila) --> Clarity (samadhi):
Clarity (samadhi) --> Wisdom (panna):
This is referred to as a momentum of letting go because when all three Path Groups are feeding into each other.
A spiral is created that is experienced as a momentum of letting go within your mind during seated meditation and daily life.
When you meditate in this way you can be said to be an anatta-meditator.
Understanding anatta means taking an interest in the autonomous nature of things.
Being an anatta meditator means giving up control over your meditation and allowing the inclination of your mind towards insight, letting go, or tranquility to inform the direction of your meditation.
To experience momentum in letting go it is necessary to give up control during your daily seated meditations.
Understanding anatta, the autonomous nature of experiences, and the mind experiencing them will incline your mind toward letting go.
Learning to feel the subtle pleasure of letting go, smiling into it with your eyes, and bringing it into your mind creates a momentum of letting go in panna, sila, and samadhi.
As an anatta-meditator, you give up control.
Giving up control does not mean giving up the structure of your meditation but rather giving up your desire to control your experience and experiencing.
To understand this, let's look at the structure for your meditation as an anatta meditator:
Your Foundation for meditation:
Your intention when you meditate is always the development of samatha (calm, tranquility) during mindfulness of breathing to develop your samadhi to establish access concentration (samadhi: unification) and jhana.
Because of the relationship between access concentration and the meditative hindrances, this creates a reference point from which to develop insight and observe the meditative wheel, turn.
Developing insight & wisdom:
Anything that interrupts the development of calm & tranquility is seen by the anatta meditator not as a hindrance but as an opportunity for insight that leads to wisdom (panna) by observing its anatta (autonomous) nature of this disturbance.
Letting go of control:
By observing and softening/relaxing the habitual engagement of your heart & mind, you are cultivating sila (morality, harmony) by letting go of your mind's desire for ownership and control.
Understanding the autonomous nature of the heart & mind (anatta) means letting your mind choose between cultivating panna, sila, or samadhi, not you.