History of Ajahn Brahm's The Basic Method of Meditation

In my wanderings through Ajahn Brahm’s YT output, I heard this Dhamma talk which is virtually identical to The Basic Method of Meditation. Does anyone know the timeline for these two teachings? Are the written instructions effectively a transcription of this Dhamma talk, or is Ajahn Brahm giving a pretty much verbatim rendering of the instructions?

Much metta.



I haven’t yet listened to the talk (many thanks for linking, by the way), but based on your comment above, a little poking about suggests The Basic Method of Meditation possibly has it’s roots in the linked talk.

The talk description says the talk is from a 9-day meditation retreat in 1997. My printed copy of TBMM booklet says that the first edition was published in 1998. For any available bonus points I will mention that TBMM also more or less (there has naturally been an amount of editing) forms the first two chapters of Happiness Through Meditation (also published under the title of Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond).


The entire retreat is available here (retreat one), in case you want to check the other topics too:

It seems that the basic outline of the retreat is similar to the book “Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond (2006)”, which itself is the expansion of “The Basic Method of Meditation”.

Ajahn Brahm has been teaching the same thing for at least twenty years now, it seems :wink:


I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure I remember a time when he did not do guided meditations in this way - not explicitly. He was always quite creative in his teachings - always off the cuff - and, in his guided meditation instructions.

At some point, for reasons unknown, he seemed to shift from the usual directives i.e. bring the attention back to the breath when it wanders off and started including this preparatory instruction before breath awareness. I wonder if he remembers when he :star2:-ted doing this?

I think it was after Ayya came for a visit? Ayya did ask him to teach jhanas. He had misgivings at first. He said something like, he believed he needed to look like a wisened old-owl type teacher befor people would be responsive. Ayya helped him to see things differently.

Before this happened his guidance an emphasis was on redirecting the attention gently, like a loving mother would care for their toddler who had a tendency to wander out of their yard and into potential danger. He has always been a big-softy!

This kind of softening and infinite patience with the wandering mind made the practice kinder but my toddler never learned to stay in the yard. I had better results in meditation before I had been introduced to anapanasati practice guided by Theravada practitioners.

The cute little bugger - the mind - was completely clueless, the idea of staying in the yard is not something the squirt could make much sense of?

When it comes to the thoughts that come and go in meditation I am still not sure there is anybody home, anybody who is actually doing the thinking. If there is they don’t seem to have any control? :heart_eyes:


Is this one of Ajahn Brahm’s similes? I have never heard it before… it’s very cute,kind and loving towards the mind… :blush:


It may have been his or possibly ‘Ayya Khema’. Ayya had some beautiful loving kindness visualisations that she would use sometimes that also softened the mind in this way.

There were guided meditation instructions like this - and others - as I recall. These kinds of skilful means can help to soften the mind, make it kinder when we practice, but the wandering didn’t stop for long - when it was included in mindfulness of breathing practice. When the wandering continues the mind doesn’t settle down, settle into the present moment.

If this doesn’t come about the deeper serenity, the contentment of a silent mind is not given the space required. It may happen, but in a hit and miss sort of way! Best to leave the kid with a baby-sitter and take a break.

It makes sense that when he decided to talk about Jhana and try to help people to deepen in natural stillness our Ajahn would have given a bit more thought to how he might calm us all down. This is his pure genius!

Not long ago, Jhana teachings were as rare as hens teeth! Therefore, most every Dhamma-circle I encountered had a ‘basic’ samatha practice. :slightly_smiling_face:


The verbatim thing surprised Ajahn Brahm too!


I’m not sure who curates the channel and how they source the talks, but there are some good ones. Many contain those weird edits where the previous few words are repeated. I don’t really read anything into that other than it was part of their editing process.

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Would like to know whether this is from EBTs (if yes, then the sutta) or is a part of the Thai forest tradition?

I’m very inclined to skip the preparatory instructions but Ajahn Brahm makes a strong case for them.


PS/EDIT: I think I better investigate this for my self. :smiley:, so feel free to not answer my question.

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He also tells this story as “Where Choice Ceases”, in Simply This Moment! p.159ff.

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