Powered By Blogger

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Buddhism and Inner Sound Meditation


Buddhism and Inner Sound Meditation
Sant Mat Fellowship:
{"Repeat the Name of your Beloved, day and night, again
and again. With care in thought, word and deed, you will
cross to the other shore."
-- Dadu}

Extracts from "The Tibetan Book of the Dead", "The Surangama Sutra", "A Buddhist Bible", "My Experience in Meditation" by Tai Hsu, and "The Sound of Silence" by Ajahn Sumedho


"The Shabd is the basis of all true religions, for religion
means 'that which connects us with the Lord'. All forces of
nature are sustained by the Shabd. The Life Force is also its
manifestation, even though it is working in the regions of
maya. Like electricity, Shabd, whether manifest or unmanifest,
pervades everywhere. It is all-powerful and is the Creator of
all. In the scriptures of all religions, Shabd is recognized
as the Creator of the universe."
("Philosophy of the Masters", abridged edition)

Ajahn Sumedho, a bhikkhu of the Theravada school of Buddhism, from,
"The Sound of Silence":

As you calm down, you can experience the sound of silence in the
mind. You hear it as a kind of high frequency sound, a ringing sound
that's always there. It is just normally never noticed. Now when you
begin to hear that sound of silence, it's a sign of emptiness - of
silence of the mind. It's something you can always turn to. As you
concentrate on it and turn to it, it can make you quite peaceful and
blissful. Meditating on that, you have a way of letting the
conditions of the mind cease without suppressing them with another
condition. Otherwise you just end up putting one condition over

"A Buddhist Bible," Surangama Sutra: Avalokiteshvara Buddha
(Quan Yin), the hearer and answerer of prayer, has visited all the
Buddha-lands of the ten quarters of the universe and has acquired
transcendental powers of boundless freedom and fearlessness and
has vowed to emancipate all sentient beings from their bondage and

How sweetly mysterious is the Transcendental Sound of
Avalokiteshvara! Is is the subdued murmur of the seatide setting
inward. Its mysterious Sound brings liberation and peace to all
sentient beings who in their distress are calling for aid.

Absence of sound is not the end of hearing,
And sound when present is not its beginning.
The faculty of hearing, beyond creation
And annihilation, truly is permanent.
Even when isolated thoughts in a dream arise,
Though the thinking process stops, hearing does not end,
for the faculty of hearing is beyond
All thought, beyond both mind and body.....

Ananda and all you who listen here
Should inward turn your faculty
Of hearing to hear your own nature
Which alone achieves Supreme Bodhi.
That is how enlightenment is won.
Buddhas as many as the Ganges' sand
Entered this one gateway to Nirvana.
(The Surangama Sutra: Selections from the
Upasaka Lu K'uan Yu Translation,
Published by Rider and Company, London)

As you calm down, you can experience the Sound of Silence in the
mind. You hear it as a kind of high frequency Sound, a ringing Sound
that's always there. It is just normally never noticed. Now when you
begin to hear that Sound of Silence, it's a sign of emptiness —
of silence of the mind. It's something you can always turn to. As
you concentrate on it and turn to it, it can make you quite peaceful
and blissful. Meditating on that, you have a way of letting the
conditions of the mind cease without suppressing them with another
condition. Otherwise you just end up putting one condition over

This process of putting one condition on top of another is what is
meant by making 'kamma'. For example, if you're feeling angry, then
you start thinking of something else to get away from the anger. You
don't like what is going on over here, so you look over there, you
just run away. But if you have a way of turning from conditioned
phenomena to the unconditioned, then there is no kind of kamma being
made, and the conditioned habits can fade away and cease. It's like
a 'safety hatch' in the mind, the way out, so your kammic
formations, "sankharas", have an exit, a way of flowing away instead
of recreating themselves.

One problem with meditation is that many people find it boring.
People get bored with emptiness. They want to fill up emptiness with
something. So recognize that even when the mind is quite empty, the
desires and habits are still there, and they will come and want to
do something interesting. You have to be patient, willing to turn
away from boredom and from the desire to do something interesting
and be content with the emptiness of the Sound of
Silence..................You can turn to the emptiness of the mind--
to the sound of silence. This gives the conditions like anger a way
out to cessation; you let it go away.
(The Sound Of Silence -- by Ajahn Sumedho:
http://www.4ui.com/eart/188eart1.htm )

In practice I've used the listening faculty. I listen. When I
listen, I listen to myself, and I listen to the sounds that impinge
on my ears: the sounds within and the sounds without. This attentive
listening is very supportive to intuitive awareness. So I listen to
the rain, I listen to the silence. When I listen to the silence, I
listen to the Sound of Silence. (Sumedho)

There is a Chinese sutra in which the Buddha asked all the
bodhisattvas their method for realizing enlightenment. Each one
described a specific meditation practice. Avalokiteshvara described
meditation on hearing. She said she starts her meditation by
listening to the sound of the roar of the sea. Then she takes that
Sound and turns it inward. She returns the hearing to listen to the
ear organ. By doing this she realizes the true way.

Some years ago Ajahn Sumedho was teaching a retreat at a Chinese
monastery in California. For years the people at this monastery were
puzzling over this phrase, "returning the hearing to listen to the
ear organ." They couldn't figure out what that meant. Now, Ajahn
Sumedho had been teaching a meditation on the Sound of Silence, the
Nada Sound. Suddenly the people at the monastery realized this must
be what he was teaching, this active inner listening. Listening to
the inner sound brings the heart into a position of acute inner
awareness. It is not that the inner sound has some magical property.
Rather, it is that bringing of the alert mind, bringing openness and
receptivity to Sound, is symbolic of the presence of ultimate truth.
The Sound is always there. We don't have to create it. It is
featureless. It is ever present. So it is a good symbol for Ultimate
Reality itself.

In the sutra the Buddha praised this method, the meditation on
listening, as the best method for enlightenment. Ajahn Sumedho had
been teaching the meditation on the Nada Sound for some years so he
was tickled by this connection to another Buddhist tradition. He
hadn't realized that there had been so much emphasis on this in
traditional Buddhist meditation practices.
(Ajahn Amaro:
http://nyimc.org/articles/thinking.htm )

Sustain your attention on that emptiness at the end and see how long
you can hold your attention on it. See if you can hear a kind of
ringing Sound in the mind, the Sound of Silence, the Primordial
Sound. When you concentrate your attention on that, you can
reflect: 'Is there any sense of self?' You see that when you're
really empty -- when there's just clarity, alertness and attention --
there's no self. There's no sense of me and mine. So, I go to that
empty state and I contemplate Dhamma: I think, 'This is just as it
is. This body here is just this way.' I can give it a name or not
but right now, it's just this way.
(Ajahn Sumedho:
http://www.glbvihara.org/teaching8.htm )

Extracts from "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" (Bardo Thodol), edited by Dr. W. Y. Evans-Wentz (London, 1957):

O nobly-born, when thy body and mind were separating, thou must have experienced a glimpse of the Pure Truth, subtle, sparkling, bright, dazzling, glorious, and radiantly awesome, in appearance like a mirage moving across a landscape in springtime in one continuous stream of vibrations. Be not daunted thereby, nor terrified, nor awed. That is the radiance of thine own true nature. Recognize it.

From the midst of that radiance, the natural sound of Reality, reverberating like a thousand thunders simultaneously sounding, will come. That is the natural sound of thine own real self. Be not daunted thereby, nor terrified, nor awed.

O nobly-born, five-colored radiances . . . vibrating and dazzling like colored threads, flashing, radiant, and transparent, glorious and awe-inspiring, will . . . strike against thy heart, so bright that the eye cannot bear to look upon them.

. . . Be not afraid of that brilliant radiance of five colors, nor terrified; but know that Wisdom to be thine own.

Within those radiances, the natural sound of the Truth will reverberate like a thousand thunders. The sound will come with a rolling reverberation.

Fear not. Flee not. Be not terrified. Know them (i.e., these sounds) to be (of) . . thine own inner light.

Extracts from "My Experience in Meditation" by His Holiness The Venerable Tai Hsu (Chinese Buddhist monk), translated by Bhikku Assaji:

. . . From this time I discontinued my old routine of meditation; this was from 1908 to 1914. When the European War broke out, I began to doubt Western theory and my own power to save the world with Buddhist teaching. I felt it was a sheer waste of time, if I did any more of what I had done. So I went to "Po-To" island, where I secluded myself in a monastery to develop further spiritual advancement.

After two or three months of seclusion, one night when I was meditating, my mind became calmer, I heard the sound of a bell from a neighboring temple. It seems that my chain of thoughts was broken by that sound and I sank into a state of something like a trance, without knowing anything until early next dawn, when I heard the sound of the matin bell and I regained my sense of knowing. At first, I only felt that a light melted into me. There was no distinction of self and other things and of what was inside and what was outside.

After this experience, I continued my life of reading sutras, writing books and meditating, for about one year, and after that one year, I chiefly engaged myself in studying the books of the Vijnana School. I especially paid attention to the Records on Wei Shi (Vijnana). Here I once more experienced another trance-like state. I was reading for several times repeatedly a certain paragraph of the said Records, explaining that both conditional things and the Truth are devoid of the substance of Self. I entered the trance-like meditation. This time it was different from the former two; I perceived in it that all things which exist on conditions had their deep and subtle order, minutely arranged without the slightest confusion.

This kind of comprehension I can produce now whenever I desire.

The third experience showed me the truth of cause and effect, which appear to be so on account of our consciousness. It is true, the law of cause and effect has its natural way without disorder.

After each of these three experiences, there was some change physically and mentally, and I also happened to have some presage of divyachaksus (clarvoyance), divya-srota (clairaudience) and parachitta-jnana (thought reading).

If the six supernatural powers are possible, then the theory of Karma and Rebirth, which is based on the demonstration of clairvoyance and purvanivasan Usmritijnana (knowledge of all former existences of self and others) is also believable.