V. Vimalaramsi, 6R, TWIM, thoughts

Brian, modified 3 Years ago at 4/17/20 9:01 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 4/17/20 8:58 AM

V. Vimalaramsi, 6R, TWIM, thoughts

Posts: 95 Join Date: 1/21/19 Recent Posts
I've been doing Ven. Vimalaramsi's "6R" method for a while now, and been having good success. I want to talk a little about why I think it's the good stuff, and why it might be that there's so much disagreement about what the good stuff is.

In short, VV rejects absorption meditation, the so-called hard jhanas where you are completely disconnected from the bodily sense gates. I think one simple rationale for this is that if you temporarily suppress the hindrances or fight them off, maybe you get to have an amazing experience, but you're not training the mind to do stuff differently by gradually weakening certain harmful tendencies and strengthening good tendencies. The Buddha said something along the lines of "there I was, sweating, crushing mind with mind, ..." I guess he rejected those practices, and got on a different track when he remembered going into an "easy" jhana when he was little.

In the 6R method, you don't suppress hindrances. The object of meditation is the feeling of metta. If you get distracted, you release it, smile, relax the body, and go back to the object. Smiling is important. Relaxing the body is important. Apparently relaxing the body may be what "tranquilize the bodily formation" means, from the anapanasati sutta. Craving is thought to be accompanied by tension in the body. Relaxing the tension at the moment of distraction seems like a plausible way to weaken the network in the brain that generated that behavior.

Here's how it went for me when I was getting started: I ran into a video of VV talking about the method, and heard the suggestion to relax, and incorporated it into my (basically anapanasati) practice. It made a huge difference. I was having excruciatingly pleasant ecstatic experiences. But I didn't understand their suggestion to focus on metta. I didn't know how to do it, and frankly, it sounded dumb to me, so I didn't do it. But eventually I decided to just try the instructions as given. And I had even more successful sits with crazily wholesome ecstatic experiences.

I get it now. I'm a believer. The best two pieces of advice I've ever gotten about meditation both came from the same guy, a guy who I wasn't even particularly inclined to like for some reason. It just works. It seems like I enter some weird new mental territory every other day or so.

Why do I think this is the good stuff? For one thing, it's fast. If the old texts are to be believed, disciples of the Buddha often became enlightened pretty quickly. Apparently there were enough arahants around to gather 500 of them for a meeting, and so forth. Maybe the conditions were somehow more conducive to practice back then, but it just doesn't seem right to me that they had all spent 30 years on it or whatever.

For another thing, once you get the idea, it's pretty much automatic. You start with metta, and it goes through the brahmaviharas automatically (metta -> compassion -> altruistic joy -> equanimity). I've seen it happen. I'll be seemingly completely pervaded by the warm fuzzy feeling of metta, on full blast so hard that I think I'm going to OD, and being OK with that, and then the feeling just changes on its own to some different wonderful feeling, and you just do more of the same thing. When craving shows up, you weaken that tendency by relaxing. Eventually the hindrances are just tired out or don't have enough voltage in the brain, and you go to the next jhana.

For another thing, it's way closer to the story of the prince sitting under the rose apple tree. He wasn't sitting there noting every arising object. He wasn't locked onto some word, like Maha Bua described as being so critical in his practice.

For another thing, VV & co. make a pretty plausible suggestion that people trust the Visuddhimagga excessively.

Here's my theory for why people are so adamant about doing it their way (why it is sensical and understandable that it is this way): they did some process. Maybe it's ten times as hard as what the Buddha actually advocated, but it eventually got the job done, and the person saw what needed to be seen. They will now be like a fanatical rabid dog about that method, because they know it works, and they truly want to help people.

Anyway, I heartily endorse this method. You could strip it of all Buddhist words, and coach depressed people how to be happy over Skype. They might become enlightened without realizing it had anything to do with Buddhism. I think it's criminal if therapists aren't using this method.

I think we might see a bit of a revolution in slow motion. I think VV basically had to "leave" Theravada. Other monks may feel the same kind of tension to choose whether to be strictly obeisant to the Visuddhimagga, or to help normal people get amazing results in a reasonable amount of time.

Here's the main book: https://library.dhammasukha.org/uploads/1/2/8/6/12865490/the_path_to_nibbana__d_johnson_f18.pdf

There are whole sections I think should have been left out, like scripture-based arguments about how attaining certain jhanas will guarantee rebirth in Brahma realms and such. That stuff may be true in some way I can't understand right now, but I can't see how it's going to inspire confidence to anybody who isn't already a religious Buddhist. Frankly I think it's more likely to do the opposite. But it is still a good book and does a good job of explaining what to do.
Jim Smith, modified 3 Years ago at 4/17/20 11:36 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 4/17/20 10:54 PM

RE: V. Vimalaramsi, 6R, TWIM, thoughts

Posts: 1403 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I am a huge fan of VV's method. It is similar to the method I have worked out for myself which involves relaxation and smiling (which produces the brahma viharas / soft jhanas). I link to VV on my web site in case people prefer a qualified instructor (VV) rather than an anonymous/pseudonymous crank (me) as the source of their meditation technique.
it's pretty much automatic

I agree.

Why do I think this is the good stuff? For one thing, it's fast. If the old texts are to be believed, disciples of the Buddha often became enlightened pretty quickly. 

A lot of people say that about a lot of different methods - "this method is the fastest most direct method". Different methods work best for different people. The buddha taught many different methods for this reason - maybe that is why there were so many arahants in his time. 

Having said that ... one of the things I like about VV is that he says his Therevada teachers had it all wrong - that their teaching doesn't lead to nirvana - that advanced practitioners were not demonstrating the personal qualities one would expect if they were really "advanced". That his method relaxing, smiling, etc really works. And one should study the Pali Canon not the commentaries. I think he is right about all of that. 


Bhante Vimalaramsi has studied with many famous teachers in Asia. Among them are Venerable U Pandita, U Lakkhana, U Silananda, U Janaka, U Dhammananda, U Dhammapia and he met Mahasi Sayadaw. He further studied with The Mingun Sayadaw, who had memorized the entire Tripitaka and Sayadaw U Thatilla. Other teachers he spent longer periods of time with were the late Most Ven K Sri Dhammananda, Venerable Punnaji, Ajahn Yanitra, Ajahn Buddhadasa, Ajahn Cha Lee, and Ajahn Santititho.

Bhante practiced Vipassana very intensely his first 20 years under an American teacher and in Burma, under U Pandita and U Janaka. Finally around 1990 he was told that he had achieved the endpoint of the practice, as it was taught by the Sayadaws, and now he should go teach. He didn't feel comfortable that he had really found the end of suffering. He felt he did not have the true personality change that awakening should bring, even after going through the 16 levels of Insight or knowledges, as outlined by Mahasi Sayadaw in Progress of Insight.

Changing Direction
From 1991 to 2000 he dedicated himself to "direct experience through study of the suttas and meditation practice". At first he stayed with K. Sri Dhammananda in Malaysia and taught Metta meditation. Then he had a real change in direction with his meeting of a Sri Lankan senior monk, Bhante Punnaji, also in Malaysia. His advice was to ‘study the suttas directly and to let go of relying on commentaries like the Visuddhi Magga'. Specifically he said, ‘Read only the suttas, then practice'. This was very significant because the commentaries were influencing how he was seeing the entirety of the Dhamma, at the time. It was suggested to put them aside while he studied the suttas as a standalone system. Nanavira in the early sixties, suggested this and then Stephen Batchelor also talked about just using only the suttas in his book "A Buddhist Atheist".

When Bhante began to do this, he discovered first hand, the interwoven nature of the Teachings. In each sutta he found the elements of the 4 Noble Truths, the 8-Fold Path, and the impersonal process of Dependent Origination. Dependent Origination or Paticcasamupada is the core of the Buddha's teachings. He realized that the word sutta literally meant "thread" and that the threads together, created a finely woven cloth, whereas, one single thread does not equal a cloth! Through his own objective first hand experience, the 8-Fold Path began to come alive. When he realized the secret of the teachings was on his doorstep he took the Majjhima Nikaya to a cave in Thailand and spent 3 months, living with a cobra as company, reading and then practicing just what the suttas said. In very little time, he said, he had gone deeper in his meditation, than ever before. What started as two weeks to study suttas turned into three months of deep practice. Out of this was born TWIM or Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation completely based on the suttas in the Majjhima Nikaya. He found the Jhanas had an entirely different explanation and experience. Nibbana was possible!


1. Recognize that mind’s attention has drifted away, and that you
are lost in thought. You have forgotten what you were doing. You
are no longer on your object of meditation.

2. Release your attachment to the thought or sensation by letting the
distraction be—by not giving it any more attention. Just stop feeding it. Just back away from it.

3. Relax any remaining tension or tightness caused by that distraction.

4. Re-smile. Put that smile back on your lips and in your heart. Feel
again that happy feeling of Lovingkindness.

5. Return or redirect. Gently redirect mind’s attention back to the
object of meditation, that is, to Mettā. Continue with a gentle,
collected mind to stay with your object of meditation.

6. Repeat this entire practice cycle. Repeat this practice whenever
your attention is distracted away from your object of meditation.