§ When my father came for a visit to Wat Dhammasathit, I got him to sit and meditate with Ajaan Fuang, while I acted as interpreter. Before starting, my father asked if his being a Christian would be an obstacle to the meditation. Ajaan Fuang assured him that it wouldn’t: “We’re going to focus on the breath. The breath doesn’t belong to Buddhism or Christianity or anyone else. It’s common property all over the world, and everyone has the right to look at it. So try looking at the breath until you can see your own mind and know your own mind. Then the question of what religion you belong to won’t be an issue, because we can talk about the mind instead of discussing religions. This way we can understand each other.”

§ “When you do anything in meditation, relate it to the breath, for that’s the basis of the entire skill we’re developing.”

§ "Catching the mind is like catching eels. If you simply jump down into the mud and try to grab hold of them, they’ll slip off every which way. You have to find something they like — as when people take a dead dog, put it in a big clay jar and then bury it in the mud. In no time at all the eels come swimming into the jar of their own free will to feed off the dog, and then all you have to do it put your hand over the mouth of the jar and there you are: You’ve got your eels.

“It’s the same with the mind. You have to find something it likes, so make the breath as comfortable as you can, to the point where it feels good throughout the whole body. The mind likes comfort, so it’ll come of its own free will, and then it’s easy to catch hold of it.”

§ “You have to know the breath at all times, and then happiness will be yours. The human state, the heavenly state, and nibbana are all here in the breath. If you get carried away with other things, happiness will slip through your fingers, so you have to learn how to observe the in-and-out breath at all times. Pay attention to how it’s getting along — don’t leave it to fend for itself. When you know its way of life — sitting, standing, walking, everything — then you can get what you want from it. The body will be light, the mind at ease, happy at all times.”

§ “The breath can take you all the way to nibbana, you know.”

§ “The first step is simply to look at the breath as it is. You don’t have to go fiddling around with it a lot. Just think bud- with the in-breath, and dho with the out. Bud- in, dho out. Don’t force the breath, or force the mind into a trance. Simply hold the mind carefully right there with each breath.”

§ “How do you use your powers of observation to get acquainted with the breath? Ask yourself: Do you know the breath? Is the breath there? If you can’t see whether the breath is for real, look further in until it’s clearly there. There’s no great mystery to it. It’s always real, right there. The important thing is whether or not you’re for real. If you are, then simply keep at it. That’s all there is to it. Simply keep being real, being true in what you do, and your meditation will make progress. It’ll gradually grow stronger, and the mind will grow calm. Just be clear about what you’re doing. Don’t have any doubts. If you can doubt even your own breath, then there are no two ways about it: You’ll doubt everything. No matter what happens, you’ll be uncertain about it. So be straightforward and true in whatever you do, for everything comes down to whether or not you’re true.”

§ “Once the mind stays with the breath, you don’t have to repeat buddho in the mind. It’s like calling your water buffalo. Once it comes, why keep calling its name?”

§ “Make the mind and the breath one and the same. Don’t let them be two.”

§ “Don’t be a post planted in the mud. Have you ever seen a post planted in the mud? It sways back and forth and can never stand firm. Whatever you do, be firm and single-minded about it. Like when you focus on the breath: Make the mind one with it, like a post planted firmly in solid rock.”

§ “Hold onto the breath the way a red ant bites: Even if you pull its body so that it separates from the head, the head will keep on biting and won’t let go.”

§ When I first heard Ajaan Fuang talk about “catching hold” of the breath, I didn’t understand him. I’d sit tensing up my body to catch hold of it, but this simply made me feel tired and ill at ease. Then one day, as I was riding the bus to Wat Makut, I sat in concentration and found that if I let the breath follow its natural course, it felt a lot more comfortable, and the mind wouldn’t run away from it. When I reached Wat Makut, being a typical Westerner, I took him to task, “Why do you say to catch the breath? The more you catch it, the more uncomfortable it is. You have to let it go to flow naturally.”

He laughed and said, “That isn’t what I meant. To ‘catch it’ means to stick with it, to follow it and to make sure you don’t wander away from it. You don’t have to squeeze or force or control it. Whatever it’s like, just keep on watching it.”

§ “Get so that you really know the breath, not just that you’re simply aware of it.”

§ “Observing the breath is the cause, the pleasure that arises is the result. Focus as much as you can on the cause. If you ignore the cause and get carried away with the result, it’ll run out and you’ll end up with nothing at all.”

§ “When you focus on the breath, measure things by how much pleasure you feel. If both the breath and the mind feel pleasant, you’re doing okay. If either the breath or the mind feels uncomfortable, that’s when you have to make adjustments.”

§ “The main thing when you meditate is to be observant. If you feel ill at ease, change the breath until you feel better. If the body feels heavy, think of spreading the breath so that it feels light. Tell yourself that the breath can come in and out every pore of your skin.”

§ “When the book says to focus on the breath sensations in the different parts of the body, it means to focus on whatever feelings are already there in the body.”

§ “The breath can be a resting place for the mind, or it can be what the mind actively contemplates. When the mind isn’t willing to settle down and be still, it’s a sign that it wants exercise. So we give it work to do. We make it scan the body and contemplate the breath sensations in the different parts to see how they’re related to the in-and-out breath, to see where the energy flows smoothly and where it’s blocked. But make sure that your mind doesn’t wander outside of the body. Keep it circling around inside and don’t let it stop until it gets tired. Once it’s tired you can find a place for it to rest, and it’ll stay there without your having to force it.”

§ “Make the breath viscous and then think of it exploding to fill the whole body.”

§ Ajaan Fuang once told a student who liked to keep in shape with yoga and aerobic exercises every day: “Use the breath to keep in shape instead. Sit in meditation and spread the breath throughout the body, to every part. The mind will get trained and the body will be strong with no need to tie it into knots or make it jump around.”

§ A nun who practiced meditation with Ajaan Fuang had had poor health since she was a child, and was always coming down with one disease or another. Ajaan Fuang told her: “Every morning when you wake up, sit and meditate to give yourself a physical examination, to see where the aches and pains are, and then use your breathing to treat them. The heavy pains will grow lighter; the light ones will disappear. But don’t make a big deal out of whether or not they disappear. Keep on examining the body and dealing with the breath no matter what happens, because the important point is that you’re training your mindfulness to stay with the body, to the point where it’s strong enough to go above and beyond pain.”

§ “Adjust the breath until it’s perfectly even. If you see a white light, bring it into the body and let it explode out to every pore. The mind will be still; the body weightless. You’ll feel white and bright all over, and your heart will be at ease.”

§ “When the breath fills the body, it’s like water filling a jar to the brim. Even though you may try to pour more into it, that’s all it can take. It’s just right, in and of itself.”

§ “Meditation needs rapture — a feeling of fullness in body and mind — as its lubricant. Otherwise it gets too dry.”

§ “When you meditate you have to let go in stages. Like when they go into outer space: The space capsule has to let go of the booster rockets before it can reach the moon.”

§ “When the mind is really in place you can let go of the breath, and it won’t wander off anywhere. It’s like pouring cement: If the cement hasn’t set, you can’t remove the plywood forms, but once it’s set, it’ll stay where it is without any need for the forms at all.”

§ “Spread the breath until the body and mind are so light that there’s no sense of body at all — just awareness itself. The mind will be clear like crystal clean water. You can look down into the water and see your own face. You’ll be able to see what’s going on in your mind.”

§ “When the breath is full and still, you let go of it. Then you think of each of the other elements in the body — fire, water, and earth — one by one. When they’re all clear you put them together, i.e., balance them so that the body isn’t too hot, too cold, too heavy too light: just right in every way. Now you let go of that and stay with the space element — a feeling of emptiness. When you’re skilled at staying with space, look at what’s saying ‘space’. This is where you turn to look at awareness itself, the element of consciousness. Once the mind has become one like this, you can then let go of the oneness, and see what’s left.”

“After you can do this, you practice going in and out of the various stages until you’re skilled at it, and you can notice the various modes of the mind as you do it. That’s where discernment will begin to appear.”

§ “In contemplating yourself, the six elements have to come first. You take them apart and put them back together again, as when you learn your ABC’s and how to make them into words. After a while you can make any word you want.”

§ “Take your time to make sure that this foundation is solid. Once it’s solid, then no matter how many storeys you want to build on top of it, they’ll go up quickly and stay in place.”

§ “If you were to say it’s easy, well yes, it’s easy. If you were to say it’s hard, it’s hard. It all depends on you.”

§ “The basic steps of breath meditation that Ajaan Lee describes in his Method 2 are just the main outline of the practice. As for the details, you have to use your own ingenuity to work variations on his outline so that it fits your experiences. That’s when you’ll get results.”

§ “If you’re having any problems in your concentration, check what you’re doing against the seven steps in Method 2. I’ve found that if anyone comes to me with problems in their concentration, all I have to do is apply one of the seven steps. They’re basic to all meditation.”

§ “The texts say that breath meditation is right for everyone, but that’s not really the case. Only if you’re meticulous can you get results from focusing on the breath.”

§ “A famous meditation teacher once criticized Ajaan Lee: ‘Why do you teach people to look at the breath? What is there to look at? There’s just in and out. How are they going to gain discernment from looking at just that?’ He answered, ‘If that’s all they see, that’s all they’ll get.’ This is a question that comes from not knowing how to look.”

§ “People of discernment can take anything at all and put it to good use.”