Devotion Meditation

By Ven. Panditha Waturugama Nandasiri Thero

“Saddhindriyan bhikkhave bodhipakkiya dhamma tan bodhaya sanwattathi”


Bhikkhus, The devotion is the initial mental state that helps to reach the ultimate freedom. Therefore it should be acquired and developed. This development is called the devotion meditation. Before we understand the meaning of devotion thoroughly we should know what is meant by meditation. The reason is some learned people have a wrong impression about meditation. They say meditation leads to mental disorders and people should not meditate but pass the time having an anticipation to see Maithree Buddha to understand the great intelligence. For those who believe this loyalty I can say they do not know the basic meaning of the word “meditation”.

“Bhavethi kusala dhamma aadewathi waddethi ethayathi bhavana”

The meaning of the word meditation is improving or developing right thoughts. If anyone says people go insane by improving the right thoughts they are not Buddhists. Meditation also fulfills the desires but it should not be a desire to acquire the great intelligence by seeing the Maithree Buddha in future. The desire should be attaining to the ultimate freedom developing good attitudes.

If the definitive meaning of meditation is evolving or developing, we should know what to evolve or develop first. It is the persona of Buddha and not the qualities of god or brahma. We should be “buddha” followers. Now we look at the meaning of the word “buddha”. “Buddha” means the realization of the truth. The realization of truth has two sections. First one is to understand about the world where we are living or acquiring the excellence called “Loka Vidu”. The second is to understand the spiritual world “Lokottara Vidu”. We should first understand about the world because we are living in the world. We all know that we are suffering. That is because we have not understood the reality of the world. There is a way to understand the reality of the world. This method is called the Intelligence Development Practice (panna sanwatatika patipada).

“Chattaro mey bhikhave dhamma maha pannataya sanwattanti katame Chattaro satpurisa sonsevo saddhamma savanam yonisomanasikaro”

“Dhammanudhamma patipatti ime bo bhikkawe chattaro dhamma bhavita bahulikatha maha pannataya sanvattati.”

Bhikkus, it is possible to derive great intelligence by improving four behaviors. What are those four? Association of noble men, Listening to Dhamma (reality), Having it by self and Living in that order.

Enlightened one has discoursed that the seed of realizing the great intelligence is devotion. “Dhamma” means the truth. Buddha means understanding. “Buddha Dhamma” means understanding the truth. Therefore devotion is the seed of truth. Living in that order means watering the seed. Right vision means growing that plant. The grown up tree is the great intelligence or supreme happiness. This is the place where Buddha Superiority meditation “budduguna bhavana” starts. If so, anyone who wants to acquire the great intelligence first he should cultivate the devotion within himself which is the seed of understanding the truth. Buddhist meditation system starts from this point. Once you start this particular meditation you will realize that you have followed an erroneous path in the past which consisted of delusion and errant vision.

Today most of the people are reminiscing qualities of Buddha and say that they are meditating. Some are chanting the Buddha qualities. Some are listening and enjoying the rhythm of chanting. Some people used to chant traits and bless by touching someone’s head. All of these are better than thinking, listening or doing futile things. But Bhikkus should not touch the head of any other person while blessing because there are females also waiting to get the blessings. The above said chanting can have a sense but their philosophies can be differentiated from one another. The philosopher whose subject is gaining physical possessions passes his massages containing the methods of how to enhance physical treasure in order to enjoy the life. The person who believes the god has the strategy to have the god pleasures. The person who believes brahma has the strategy to get brahma enjoyment. The person who follows methods to improve the consciousness has the aspiration to live in the formless sphere in the future life. They neither find reasons for sufferings nor did they want to find solutions to get rid of it. Instead they follow the so-called beliefs as they basically think that the world is Permanent and Pleasurable.

The blessed one realized that each and every thing in this materialistic world is impermanent, full of suffering and soulless. His resolutions are not available in this materialistic world for others to follow. He understood that the truth is in the spiritual world and realized that it is the supreme happiness in which a person can achieve. Therefore the same concept must be followed by Buddha followers and bhikkus. The real meaning of teaching Buddhism by bhikkus means showing buddha followers that exploring the materialistic world is futile and look for ultimate freedom is utmost significant. If any person give the priority to collect physical treasures disregarding the ultimate vision of searching for an ultimate freedom he is not a Buddhist. If any person wishes to reach the ultimate freedom after enjoying the pleasures as a god or a human being, he is also in the same category. They do not have the devotion on Buddhism and not followers of Buddha. The idea behind writing of this book is to get the unrealized people realized and develop the people who are partially realized. This is the only responsibility the enlightened one placed on follower bhikkus. If so it is the great responsibility of us bhikkus. That’s what I am doing as per my potency.

Initially we should select the very relevant buddha quality to develop. The most relevant selection is the way to get out of the sufferings in the life. We are coming to this world repetitively after every death because we have not understood the reality of the world. Therefore the feature called buddha should be first to initiate and develop. Buddha means understanding. This is divided into two sections called understanding of the living in this materialistic world and the spiritual world. (Loka vidu and lokottara vidu). The arahaths are the ones who have realized the spiritual world. It is call as “akatannu” too. We should know the reality of the place where we are living as it is not possible to understand about a place where we have not experienced. So this materialistic world should be the thing we should think about. Therefore when we look at these worldly things it is not possible to satisfy about it. The ultimate freedom is the only place where can have an assertion. It is defined as “Aveccappasada” and “avalappasada”. This is also defined as the devotion based on the knowledge. This is the Buddhist devotion. There is a devotion call Amulika daddha. That is the devotion based on listening fine voices, and listening heavy sounds, devotion based on pretty things, devotion based on having seen the suffering. None of these are appreciated by the enlightened one. The devotion based on reality which is aimed to the internal truth is the only devotion appreciated by the enlightened one. This is called “Akarawathi saddha”

“Damme aveccappasadena samanagata ariya savako nirayan va tiraccana yoniwa pettivisayanwa uppapjisata netan dhana vijjati.”

The meaning of the above is “the people who realized the reality will never go to hell after this life and they are the members of the community in to the path leading to enter in to the sainthood.” Now you know how to become a member of the Buddhist community and get out of the suffering in hell for ever. Initially you can understand about the world and then study and dedicate to the eternal freedom. As soon as you initiate the devotion in “buddha”, you are in the path leading to the ultimate freedom and will never reborn in a hell. First you understand is the world. Then believe the ultimate freedom. The seed of ultimate freedom is devotion. The growing plant is the right vision (Samma Dhitti). Grown up tree is the ultimate freedom. Let me tell you an example. There is a mango tree with full of ripe mangoes but the owner is somebody else. If you go to pluck fruits and eat you will be penalized. If you want to eat mangoes you have to find out a seed in preferred variety. Then you should plant it, water it, and fertilize it. When it becomes a grown up tree you can have any amount of fruits. If anybody who wants to meditate buddha qualities he should initiate the devotion as first step.

“Katta cha bhikkave saddha balan datthabban catusu sotapatti angesu.”

Enlightened one said; Bhikkus, if you want to see the strength of devotion, look at the segments of the first sainthood (“sotapatti anga”). It has merits of buddha, merits of dhamma, merits of sangha (sanga is the group of people who have entered into the stream to become the first sainthood). It can’t have an errant vision (Sakkaya ditthi), Uncertainty (Vichikichcha) and Adherence to Wrongful Rites and Ceremonies (Seelabbatha Paramasa). Now we see how we can derive these qualities with the help of devotion.

In order to obtain the above said merits you have to go to a person who has merits of “buddha” and who had realized the reality of life up to a certain extent. Then you have to accept what he says. After that you should understand “buddha” merits from him and you should examine it by yourself.

The enlightened one said the Right Vision comes to you only after the self-examination.

“Yo paticcasamupadan passati so dhamman passati so dhamman passati. Yo dammana passati so man passati.”

The people who observe the cause and effect they see the reality. They realize the truth. They can also be explained as followers.

“Yo patccasamuppadan desati so dhamman desati.”

The enlightened one said - If any person says that he is chanting the truth, he should chant the arising of dependence (Paticca samuppada) or the cause and effect of the existence. Therefore we can conclude that the enlightened one also has chanted the cause and effect at the Isipatanarama in Baranas. “Dhamma “chakkam pavattitham appathivattiyam samaneva bhrahmaneva devena va marenava bhahmunowa kenachi va lokasmin”

As per the cause and effect theory you will first come across the effect but not the cause. The enlightened one preached that the effect comes first and the cause to be find out later. No god a, no brahm, no Mara could challenge his theory as it was the truth. What is the content of the first sermon? Suffering (Dukkha). It is an effect. What was his last sermon? “Viadhamma samkhara” All materials formed are impermanent. It is the cause. In other words cause for suffering is impermanence.

“Yadanichchan tan dukkhan yan dukkhan tadanatta”

If say anything is impermanent that means suffering. If it is the case it can’t be fine. It is soulless. If it is Impermanent, suffering and soulless, it is called the thrilackshana (triple characters). This is the truth of the world. There are four noble truths. The first truth is suffering and it is divided in to three groups. They are suffering due to sadness,suffering due to loss,suffering due to void. The cause for the sadness is created due to sorrow. When you lose your valued things also you suffer. This is suffering due to loss. Once you recognize the void you suffer. This is a difficult thing to understand but it is possible. The suffering due to voidness is too complicated to be understood by an ordinary man but the non returners (Anagami) and arahaths are the ones who can comprehend this particular reality. Now it’s the time for us to discuss about the true existence that an ordinary man can understand.

An ordinary man can easily understand the suffering due to sadness. The perfect one also starts at the simplest point where anybody can understand. That is why the Buddhism is so popular. There is a story; One day a celestial being in Asura category named Paharada came to see the enlightened one and asked, “Perfect one, Why the Buddhism is so popular? We have seen that the people listen in your sermons attentively with out any interruption. What is the reason for this?” In return enlightened one asked “why do you prefer the ocean so much.” Paharada replied “we prefer ocean because the entrance to the ocean is very shallow.” The enlightened one said, “Paharada my teachings are also like the ocean. The start is very simple but little by little it goes to the deep. Once go deeper no other teaching can match it up.”

Buddhism is introduced as a profound philosophy but it is not implying that it is impossible to understand. It has gone to the bottom of the reality that no other philosophers have seen. The other religious leaders stopped at a particular place saying that the materialist world is Permanent, Pleasurable and Soulful. Buddhism says the worldly things are Impermanent, Suffering, and Soulless. If any person asks me what is the religion you can understand easily, my answer is Buddhism. The reason is that it is preached after practice and experiences the results. The other religions are not easy to follow than Buddhism because they are not preached in that order. If I ask, the believers of other religions, have you ever seen the god or the brahma who created the world, they can not answer and remain silence. If asked enlightened one how the world is created he will explain it well with the theory of cause and effect and declare that the world is existing because of the ignorance. That is why the enlightened one is named as “Loka Vidu”.


The last verse of the enlightened one was “viadhamma sankhara”. All created things are impermanent. What is the first word? ....….……

The meaning of “buddha dhamma” is realizing the truth. It is also called “bodhi”.

“Bodhin chuttati chatusu ariya sachchesu nanan” – Bodhi means understanding the four noble truths. The first of the four noble truths is “the truth of suffering”. Enlightened one explains here again his first word.

“Yadanichchan tan dukkhan tadanta………” If anything is impermanent it is suffering and if suffer full, it is soulless. Soulless means it is only a speed. Speed is not a matter and it cannot be seized. Extinct it as soon as it exists. If so, it is not a valuable thing to grab. Final meaning of soullessness is “cannot be taken or point less in taking”. Once you realize this you are unable to locate your personality or the selfness and the feeling of soul. It breaks the soulful feeling. Breaking the soulful feeling is full realization of Buddhism. The enlightened one preached the suffering first. They are suffering due to sadness,suffering due to loss,suffering due to void. The cause for the unhappiness is created due to sorrow. When you lose your valued things also you suffer. This is suffering due to loss. Once you recognize the void you suffer. This is a difficult thing to understand but it is possible. The Ultimate freedom exists beyond the void. To discuss about the void the person should be at least in the non returner (Anagai) stage. But some novices have published books about the void with out knowing the gravity of it. If it is explained briefly - when the existence exist the extinction extinct and when extinction exists the existence extinct. Once both existence and extinction is not there the void comes in. It is only a speed. Speed means changeability. This changeability is permanent. Therefore nothing is permanent in this world. The enlightened one said that an ordinary man can feel only the suffering due to unhappiness. The enlightened one said the people are attached to pleasure so hard that they cannot detach from it. They attached to the things they like. They do not know the impermanence of the worldly pleasure and when the pleasure vanished the suffering comes in. If anybody understands the pleasure is impermanent and the out come of pleasure is suffering, he can get rid himself from sufferings.

“Yo paticca samuppadam passati so dhamman passathi.”

The person who sees the eight fold path he see the reality. If any one says he is preaching Buddhism he should preach only the eight fold path. As per the cause and effect he should preach the effect first. It is suffering. The ordinary people are self cheated to the suffering due to loss. That means pleasure goes off as soon as it comes. Then you suffer. The suffering due to loss gives much more suffer than the suffering due to sadness. People cannot bear up this suffering. People are attached to the things they prefer. The people who can understand that the attachment is suffer full; they are able to get out of the sufferings.

The enlightened one first told the world is suffering. If any one who initiate a devotion on that and analyze it by self using the freedom of thinking he will be able to have the right vision. Now you can see the seed of right vision is devotion. The devotion should create with suffering as its base.

We analyze this further. We know the world means suffering. We know what is suffering. So we have to analyze the world. The suffering is not there in the trees rocks or in the universe. It is not there in a dead body. It exists at the combination of the body and mind. The enlightened one showed world also in it. The life and liveliness also exist in it.

“Imasmin yeva wyama matte kelavare sa sangnimbhi lokan cha pannambhi samanake loke cha

Panchapemi lokasamudayancha loka nirodan cha

Loka nirodha gamini papipadan cha panchapemi”

The enlighten has preached, “that this fathom long physical body contains the body and the thoughts that makes the world, the reason to create the world, spirit to wipe out the world and the path to wipe out the world.”

The enlightened one has preached the same statement again replacing the word “world” with “suffering”. By this way we can understand the suffering and the world means same. Life is also another name to the world. Let us analyze the life in a more profound manner and see whether it comprises with suffering or not. We start from the point where you are wrinkling. Do you do wrinkle or is it automatic. When you keep your eyes open for a little more time your eyes are getting irritated. Is it a pleasure? It is suffering.

You are wrinkling to get rid of that suffering. Think honestly, you have wrinkled more than many thousands of times for a day from the time you wake up till you go to sleep. Hence you have suffered many thousand times only from the wrinkling action in a day. You might have suffered from headache. Can you stop suffering from your eyes as you are suffering from head ache? You can not.

Now you are suffering from two things. If a backache is also added to that, there will be three sufferings. If you feel hungry and also need arises to urinate; imagine how many sufferings you undergo now. While you are experiencing many thousands of such sufferings, think that you come across an enemy; do you feel any pleasure? Even if you meet a friend do you feel any pleasure? Is it possible to enforce a rule to yourself in order to prevent sufferings? No. When you discover that you cannot get out of all said sufferings you become angry and you start annoying. Now you have plenty of sufferings. Why do you change you body postures. If you feel one body posture is pleasurable do you change the position?

Think how many times you change your body position for an hour. If you feel pleasure in the sitting position you will never change it. If you feel sleeping position is pleasurable you will never change it. Look, do you know that you are changing your positions only as a temporary treatment to the never ending sufferings. You are changing your body postures or moving it here and there from the day you’re born until you die. So you can conclude that living means moving the body here and there. By looking at this angle you can realize that living means providing temporary treatments to get rid of continuous sufferings? Now you have treated to sufferings from the day you born and have you ever realized that you cannot eradicate sufferings till the thoughts and body are together.

Nobody is trying to get sufferings. Suffering comes automatically. We get pleasure undergoing many hardships, but it fads off automatically and suffering comes unseen. There is a reason for this phenomenon and will look in to it.

Buddha said:

“Dhuke patiththitho loko………………..”

The world is formed on suffering. Pleasure is the unrealistic quality of the world. There for unrealistic features automatically turns to the reality. Example: the gravitational force of the earth is a feature. When you throw something to the sky with an effort it comes back to the earth automatically. Like vice the suffering comes automatically but the pleasure is to be found working hard on it. If the reality of the world is pleasure, we have to make efforts to get the suffering. But the truth is on the other way.

All resides in the world are going on age every moment. Is it a pleasure? No, it is suffering. If you want to clean your home or wash your cloths you have to get an effort. No effort is required to get it dirty. What is the reason? World is unpleasant. The pleasant things convert to unpleasant automatically. None is trying to get deceases but comes effortlessly. It is not possible to find a person who is not suffering from any illness. Illness means suffering. Did you well realize that everybody is living with sufferings? All resides are getting old and dilapidating every moment. Is it a pleasure? No. It’s suffering.

Think about starvation. If the excretory system is not functioning properly you are suffering. If you couldn’t sleep well in the night you suffer on the next day. People are moving because they can not stay in one position. Hence you can understand that living means moving here and there. Nobody will change the position if it is pleasurable. They stay as statues. Living means doing unworkable things to get rid of reality. Do they die after cessation of all the sufferings? No. Can you get rid of sufferings while you are in the world or within the body and mind. This is only a little bit of physical suffering.

What is the metal suffering? The sins we have done in the past retrieves automatically to the mind and create thoughts about it make us suffer. Thoughts of the errant things comes automatically, but the fine things are not so. You have to remind the fine things with an effort. That is also a reality of the world as mentioned earlier.

I showed you only the physical and mental suffering up to now. There is another serious suffering called mental state suffering (cetasika dukkha). It means the misery thoughts built due to the lust, hate and delusion. Lust is one of the eleven burnings. Lust means satisfying the sense bases. Sometimes people tend to do criminal and even eat feces to get rid of lust. Ordinary people think it is the prime pleasure. Once the lust is active people cannot realize that what they are doing. They cannot recognize their own sons and daughter, brothers and sisters. People do not know that they cannot get rid of lust by satisfying the sense bases. The actions they take to get rid of lust are like adding fuel to fire, because they do not have the correct awareness. Think intelligently why people try to satisfy the sense bases. It is only an unsuccessful effort to extinguish the fire of lust. When the lust is developing people used to satisfy the senses more and more. It is like drinking salt water to thirsty.

The Arahaths have destroyed the lust completely and they never please the senses but ordinary people is adding fuel to the fire of lust and continuously suffering. Now we think about the hate. The second of the eleven burnings is hate. The hatred people cannot control their actions and do even criminals to get rid of the hate. They kill people. Hit their heads and hands on rocks and threes. Throw their valued thing away. Penalize their loved ones without any reason. After doing all those things people weep and suppurate. They do these things not with pleasure but having a massive suffering because of the delusion. When you think realistically you understand that the people other than Arahaths are living in this state. Understanding this is realizing the intellect of suffering up to a certain level. Suffering due to loss and suffering due to void is more complicated and able to realize at the non returner and Arahath levels.

But by developing Anupubba Sikka, Anupubba Kiriya and Anupubba patipada it is possible to attain to the above said levels. To do this the Faith has to be developed first. The person who realizes the above explained suffering by himself he tries to find out the reasons for it. The closest reason for suffering is birth. The next is craving. The reason for craving is ignorance or the lack of knowledge about the reality of the world. If the certainty of the world is implicated the craving should vanish. That is recognizing the path to get rid of suffering. Hence, this right vision makes you to lead in the noble eightfold path to get rid of sufferings formed by craving and allow you to realize the grate intelligence. This is called becoming “buddha”. To become “buddha” devotion should be acquired which is the seed of “buddha”. Then it should be developed. This is called the Faith Meditation.

What are the fruits you can get from the devotion meditation? Performing the Buddhism you can get four results such as Stream Enterer (Sotapanna), Once Returner (Sakadagami), Non Returner (Anagami), and Arahath. The least is the stream enterer. If real Buddhism is available to follow, people should be able to get at least stream enterer level. Buddhism is a well preached reality. It complies at any age or time (Akalika). The results can be received in this very life. If the real Buddhism is available it should be possible to reach at least the stream enterer level. If somebody say that the above said levels cannot be achieved now and wait till Maithree Buddha period to come, it implies that the real Buddhism does not exist. Can any Buddhist make this statement? Can they say honestly that we are Buddhists? If the honesty is not with them they should not have even the humanity. Although an ordinary uneducated Buddhist says so, no Buddhist priests able to declare it? The intelligent community should not disappoint on the statements made by these senseless men. The intellectuals should think about this. Buddhism is a well preached philosophy which gives results in this very life and valid for any age. If any bhikku states that it is not possible to get the said results in this very life the intellectuals should get attention about him. If no one can get at least the stream enterer level the Biddhism shouldn’t be there. If the Buddhism is not there how did they ordain as bhikkus? What for? Not to realize the ultimate freedom? They should have ordained as bhikkus with the intension to acquire the great intelligence or the ultimate freedom. Therefore a bhikku will never say that it is not possible to realize the ultimate freedom.

Some people say that sotapanna (stream enterer) stage could only be achieved by listening to dhamma, but not through meditation. They point out “dassana pahatabba” in the Sabbasava Sutta to support their point. Sabbasava sutta says that the errant vision (Sakkaya ditthi), uncertainty (Vichikichcha) and adherence to Wrongful Rites and Ceremonies (Seelabbatha Paramasa) can be demolished by the vision. I accept it appreciatively. When right vision comes in, the above said ingredients should vanish. Now the point here is receiving the right vision means entering the path leading to sotapanna. To become sotapanna you have to improve the four sections of the sotapanna which is well explained above.

“Sappurisa sansevohi bhane sotaptti angan saddhamma savanam satapattiangam”

Dutieya Sariputta Sutta – Sotapatti Sanyukta

The above verse is the answer given by Arahath Sariputta for a question asked by the Elighented one. “What are the sections that are needed to be developed in order to become sotapanna?” The answer was “Association of fine people, Listen to Dhamma (reality), inculcate those qualities into self and live in that order”. The enlighten one accepted and confirmed it. In this answer the “living in that order” means nothing rather than meditation.

The following is preached in the Maha panna sutta in the soatapatti sanyukta

“Panna kamena gahapati ariya savakena panna savattatika patipada papajji tabba.”

The person who likes the great intelligence should go on the path leading to it. No one can get it by begging or by wishing. It also says the strategy of intelligence improvement is “Association of fine people, listening to Dhamma (reality), having it by self and living in that order”

It is explained in the above said two places that “living in that order” means meditation. Then the question here is what is there to meditate. It is not possible do insight meditation because the novices doesn’t have the knowledge of insight to meditate (Meaning of meditation is development). To acquire the insight knowledge the novice should have the right vision (Samma ditthi) first and it can be only be obtained by devotion. This is well explained at the beginning of this article.

Now we try to see how to eliminate the errant vision (Sakkaya ditthi) through the devotion meditation. Another meaning for the errant vision is heavy grasping of soulfulness. Soulfulness starts finely at the beginning and develop automatically and rapidly because the feature of the world is errant vision. Heavy grasping of soulfulness is errant vision. To overcome the errant vision we should apply an opposing force. The opposite of the pleasure is displeasure. Hence we should see the displeasure or the suffering at all bodily actions. This is also can be defined as devotion meditation. The establishment of the right vision and destruction of the errant vision happens simultaneously attaining to sotapanna (stream enterer) stage. To become a stream enterer devotion meditation is the only path. Once you are on the path in to the stream enterer level you experience the enlightenment once, it is a great pleasure and you realize the insight. Proceeding in this path is the insight meditation. Then the soulful feeling fades little by little and you come to the Sakadagami or the once returner level. When you keep on doing insight meditation the soulful feeling become more thin and attain to be a non returner intellect and once the soulfulness vanishes off completely you will be fully liberated.

“Kattha cha bhikkava saddha blan dattabban chatu satapattiyangesu”

It is preached that the strength of four sections of the stream enterer level should be understood as the devotion meditation is the only help to become a stream enterer.

Desire that this devotion meditation will assist to become a stream enterer.