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  • Ryan J. Burton

Dhammakaya Meditation

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

My spiritual journey began with Dhammakaya meditation. After so many years, the search for the right or best techniques ended right where I started. I still use a couple different methods, but my foundational practice is Dhammakaya meditation.

The re-discoverer of the Dhammakaya technique was a Thai monk named Luang Pu Wat Paknam. Luang Pu practiced all the standard meditation techniques of the day, which included Anapanasati (Mindfulness of Breathing), the 40 meditation subjects of the Visuddhimagga (5th Century meditation manual & commentary on the Pali Canon), and the mindfulness practices of the Satipatthana Sutta (Discourse on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness). After having succeeded in these practices, he claimed these methods as they were taught, did not eradicate the defilements and that the true teaching of the Buddha had gone missing.

On the full moon night of September 1916, he decided to sit in meditation and take a death vow. He vowed to remain seated and discover the core of Buddhism, or die upright in meditation. That night after several hours, a bright sphere appeared within the center of his body. This sphere within, known as the Sphere of the Path, led to higher, wiser and more refined bodies, revealing the multidimensional nature of all sentient beings. Various traditions refer to these bodies or sheaths as the etheric, astral and causal bodies. However, Luang Pu discovered bodies beyond these, and the mind elements of them to be linked through a specific access point within. He called it the 7th Base of the Mind also known as the center of the body.

Luang Pu Sodh defined these bodies in different terms, but made one profound claim that has changed Buddhism ever since. In every person exists various subtle bodies, both corporeal and supramundane. He claimed the 4 stages of enlightenment in Theravada Buddhism, which are Stream enterer, Once-returner, Non-returner, and Arahant, are actually the highest and most refined bodies of our multidimensional existence. This means that every person literally has an Arahant (fully enlightened) being within themselves. He called these the Dhammakaya bodies. Dhamma in Pali means Truth. Kaya means body. The bodies of enlightenment.

Many scholars today dispute the re-discovery of Luang Pu Sodh and many Buddhists disagree with his teachings on Dhammakaya. The Dhammakaya temple and students of Luang Pu Sodh have always told doubters and dissenters to test the method for themselves. Today Dhammakaya meditation is one of the most widely practiced methods in the world. The Dhammakaya temple is likely to exist as the largest and most powerful Buddhist organization on Earth.

Dhammakaya meditation is quite simple. The practice combines the use of of mantra, visualization and mindfulness at a location within the abdomen, known as the 7th Base of Mind, which rests two finger-widths above the navel, in the center of the body.

This point within the body is the portal or star-gate to our multidimensional existence, all the subtle bodies, have their cores housed at this location. Imagine the classic Russian Doll. When the first doll is opened a smaller doll is within and so exists another smaller doll within that one. Human beings are the same, except our human vessel is the smallest vehicle among the various higher bodies.

When the mind arrives at cessation, stillness, at the 7th base, the Sphere of the Path appears with a brilliant point of light at the center. Ekagatta (one pointedness) on the brilliant light at the center of the sphere of the human body leads to the refined human body also known as the astral body. By remaining in stillness at the center of the sphere of the astral body, the angelic body is attained and in the same way each successively higher body. Luang Pu stated that upon the attainment of the refined Arahant body, the defilements are destroyed and the goal of Buddhism is achieved.

On a 90-day retreat, I met a young man from India so advanced in this method that his experience in the meditation hall and his experience while sleeping were uniform. While sleeping his mind was in purification and stillness, entering and abiding in more refined subtle bodies. All dreaming and loss of consciousness had ceased.

Luang Pu Sodh revealed in his book Visuddhivaca Pt. 1 that "the sphere of the path appears at the 7th base when the breath and mind have stopped." He also stated that the "Deva Eye" or celestial vision, awakens in order to perceive the sphere of the path. The sphere is the true form of the mind. It exists within all of us, but our inner vision is clouded or unactivated. Dhammakaya meditation is the means to awaken this faculty, enter the sphere of the path and the refined bodies all the way to the dhammakayas of full enlightenment.

Dhammakaya meditation is often packaged to be simple, user and beginner friendly, but in truth it is a highly advanced technique that contains the entire Buddhist path. Dhammakaya meditation is easy to learn through guided meditations, but once a person becomes stable in the practice the guided sessions can be done away with. Use the video below to get started.

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