What is Bhavana Karmasthana?

In Sri Lanka some monks and lay people are talking about Bhavana Karmastana.
Could someone give more details about this?

In Buddhism, kammaṭṭhāna is a Pali word (Sanskrit: karmasthana) which literally means the place of work. Its original meaning was someone’s occupation (farming, trading, cattle-tending, etc.). It has several distinct but related usages, all having to do with Buddhist meditation.

Its most basic meaning is as a word for meditation. In Burma senior meditation practitioners are known as “kammatthanacariyas” (meditation masters). Buddhaghosa uses “kammatthana” to refer to each of his forty meditation objects listed in the third chapter of the Visuddhimagga, which are partially derived from the Pāli Canon.[1]

It’s interesting to learn that Sinhalese monks seem to have a preference for the Sanskrit terms!

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"Due to the simplicity of subject matter, all four jhanas can be induced through mindfulness of breathing and "
Above phrase is from the link you provided.
Why monks has to give Karmasthana to people?
Some say “Do not meditate without taking a Karmasthana from a monk”

In my opinion, the kammathana was a pedagogical tool specific to the training within the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sangha.

It is not hard to understand why a junior monk would be told to seek advice from a senior one as he progressed through his career and started to seriously endeavour the inner trainings of right mindfulness/presence and right stillness/samadhi.

The kammathana can be seen as the byproduct of a second iteration of sistematization of the Dhamma. As Buddhism moved to its current state, bhikkhus ended up having to share the pedagogical tools and systems they had with those now seeking for guidance in the inner path factors as well. Thus, it is usual to see Theravada monks guiding those who come to them under this approach.

If one wishes, he can pick it himself/herself, or even better, understand how the development of the path is recorded to have bee taught by the Buddha himself in the Suttas and guide his development (bhavana) of the path (magga) having the Suttas as an equally powerful reference point.

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Well, monks and some lay meditators can give Karmasthana: Goenka being a lay example.

Some meditations are relatively straightforward: metta meditation for example. The instructions are straightforward and the meditator just has to follow the instructions. However even with metta meditation is it develops to a jhana level, good instruction would be very helpful.

Deep Samadhi states are unfamiliar and confusing. They can provoke anxiety. Some people develop rocking and fits etc. For reassurance, if nothing else, it helps to have someone who is experienced in guiding the meditator through these things that might arise in deeper Samadhi.

Furthermore to know how to ‘chain’ meditation methods to arrive at Samadhi and insight in the best way possible, it takes years of experience in personal practice as well as teaching others.

Hope this makes sense,

with metta


How do you handle these cases?

Rocking maybe due to 1) sensations of the heart beating, in which case ask them if they can intentionally stop it. 2) due to rapture (piti), in which case it will be impermanent. 3) physical cause in the brain - try a mindfulness approach and incorporate the rocking into the mindfulness.

Seizures: stop meditating, make sure they are seen by a doctor. Very gradual introduction to meditation- no sudden deepening into Samadhi.

Depression- metta and buddhanissati meditation, walking meditation, chanting. no deep Samadhi. No asubha meditation. Plenty of pleasurable activities, no isolation, talking is recommended.

Hallucinations and delusions- no meditation. no chanting. Physical work. Don’t read spiritual material, seek medical help.

Grief- don’t meditate- best to let is pass in the company of loved ones.

dementia- I’ve heard helping them to bring up memories can be helpful.

with metta


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What is the English translation for Karmasthana?

It seems to me something like task at hand:anjal:

Thank you Gabriel
What I am trying to understand is what these Sri Lankan monks meant when they say giving Kammatthana.
It sounds like guided meditation in English.

It means giving instructions on how to ‘navigate’ one’s practice. This can be in a group or individual instructions. There are many aspects of a meditation practice which are not easily read in a book or a website. An experienced meditation teacher can instruct a beginner meditator, using his or her own experience as well as by learning from the issues the students bring to them.
These are typically question and answer sessions and not didactic teaching. The ‘Pure Dhamma’ website has kammattana as said to mean recitation of suttas. This is a interpretation particular to that group.

With metta

In traditional Sinhalese: karmastana කර්මස්ථාණ
In more ‘modern’ Sinhalese: kamatahan කමටහන්

With metta

You find the definition of Kammatthana in definition 23 in the following link.
This mainly refer to 40 meditation objects used as per Visuddhimaga.