Cankamma and samadhi

In the wonderful little book ‘Cittanupassana’ by Bhikkhu Khemavamsa the author claims the Buddha has said that walking meditation leads to deeper samadhi than sitting mediation. This seems strange and i would like to know if anyone knows a source for this quote in the sutras.

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Maybe he refers to this sutta AN 5.29:

“Bhikkhus, there are these five benefits of walking meditation. What five? One becomes capable of journeys; one becomes capable of striving; one becomes healthy; what one has eaten, drunk, consumed, and tasted is properly digested; the concentration attained through walking meditation is long lasting. These are the five benefits of walking meditation.”


Problem is indeed that caṅkama just means walking (up and down), not walking meditation. And only AN 5.29 has it in direct connection with samadhi, I think.

The expression there is caṅkamādhigato samādhi: walking-attained samadhi, and appears nowhere else.

See a detailed source collection here

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Here is AN 5.29 in its entirety with the Pali under Sujato’s english, incidentally, I think it is much better to provide links to Sujato’s translations than to Bodhi’s, that way the reader can view the Pali side by side, look up particular Pali terms and generally get a better grip on what is being talked about.

“Mendicants, there are five benefits of walking meditation.

“Pañcime, bhikkhave, caṅkame ānisaṁsā.

What five?

Katame pañca?

You get fit for traveling, fit for striving in meditation, and healthy. What’s eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted is properly digested. And immersion gained while walking lasts long.

Addhānakkhamo hoti, padhānakkhamo hoti, appābādho hoti, asitaṁ pītaṁ khāyitaṁ sāyitaṁ sammā pariṇāmaṁ gacchati, caṅkamādhigato samādhi ciraṭṭhitiko hoti.

These are the five benefits of walking meditation.”

Ime kho, bhikkhave, pañca caṅkame ānisaṁsā”ti.

As for the issue at hand, I think that samadhi means concentration, and as for how concentrated someone walking can get I think that having watched Ivan Lendl play tennis a person can get plenty concentrated doing just about anything.

I often think that in contemporary society we have a picture of ancient Buddhist practice that is very passive and focuses on the “bliss” and the “calm” and the “peace” while de-emphasising the “till the sinews falls from my bones” and the “practice like your head is on fire” and the “Striving” and the “effort” and the “rousing of energy”.

I love to picture the wanderers in the forest, sometimes sitting seemingly serene beneath a tree and then getting up, tugging their earlobes, splashing water on their faces and pacing up and down, thinking intently on the teaching, trying to understand with every fibre of their being, then perhaps stopping, sitting again and after a few moments one sees an ever so slight smile appear on their faces.

On a side note I believe that Aristotle’s school of philosophers where called the peripatetics because he was given to the habit of walking about the countryside while instructing his students as they followed on behind.


Commentary says:

ciraṭṭhitiko hotī ti ciraṃ tiṭṭhati. Ṭhitakena gahitanimittañhi nisinnassa nassati, nisinnena gahitanimittaṃ nipannassa. Caṅkamaṃ adhiṭṭhahantena calitārammaṇe gahitanimittaṃ pana ṭhitassapi nisinnassapi nipannassapi na nassatīti.

Long-lasting means lasts long. Sitter lose the nimitta attained by standing. Sleeper lose the nimitta attained by sitting. Stander or sitter or sleeper do not lose the nimitta attained by determined walking which is on a on a moving object.