Two questions about Auto-suggestion :

  1. What is buddhism's view on Auto-suggestion? What does Auto-suggestion affect?
  2. How to use Auto-suggestion?

You can answer one question or both: the more you explain the better, but all answers and links are appreciated.

I would like people to expand on the subject, because I couldn't find much about it

Edit : i mean to use it not for meditation itself or to affect it - but on all other aspects like "i will meditate a lot" "i wont do things for fun" ect ...

To be even clearer : I know how to meditate - im not asking about how to improve my meditation with autosuggestion but how to use it to make myself meditate more and act better in daily life

what i wonder is : can i say "meditate" or "dont do stuff for fun" and "brainwash" myself somehow to help advance my practice somehow ?


2 Answers 2


A widely used human strategy when someone has to deal with difficulty is autosuggestion. Whenever anything unpleasant comes up, we convince ourselves that it is pleasant rather than unpleasant. This is auto-suggestion. But what the Buddha pointed out is quite the opposite. He never wanted us to hide or disguise an unpleasant matter, the Buddha's teaching encourages us to examine it to the fullest. It is important that we confront the less pleasant aspects of existence, and, to see ourselves in an unbiased way, complete with all our sorrows and inadequacies. Confronting unpleasantness when it arises is really being kind to oneself.

Auto-suggestion means implanting feelings that you don't really have or avoid feelings that you do have. The truth of the matter is that if you are miserable, in reality you are miserable. So rather than avoiding this reality, we have to learn to confront it, to observe it mindfully. The only way out of such phenomenon is to thoroughly examine it. Do this by taking the phenomenon apart piece by piece. Then you are free from such trappings.

Buddha talked about it in this way not because He is pessimistic but because He is optimistic. He has a solution. Life is suffering and that is the real truth. We have to learn to confront this uncomfortable reality of pain, death and illness. To learn how to deal with it is not pessimism, but a very pragmatic form of optimism. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is not. They are two different things. Life can seem pleasant for most of the time, but there comes a time that we have to face the unpleasant. So it is advisable that we invest some of our time and energy in learning to deal with unpleasantness, because some pain is unavoidable.

There are occasions, as in the case of illness, which weaken the mind, when hetero-suggestion has been found to be more effective if you have not yet learnt to confront the situations by self. Hetero-suggestion is used by one person to influence another at times of great illnesses. Here another will help you to think through the Dhamma. The Buddha has shown that the mind is very closely linked with the body that mental states affect the body's health and wellbeing. There is no such thing as a purely physical disease. It is possible so to change one’s mental state grounded in reality, as to cause mental health and physical well-being to follow thereafter.

A couple of examples of what I mean by "hetero-suggestion" in the context of Dhamma: Maha Kassapa Thera Bojjhanga Sutta is a chant that Buddha recited when both both Ven. Maha Kassapa and Ven. Maha Moggallana were sick. (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/piyadassi/wheel001.html )

Girimananda Sutta was recited when Bhikku Girimananda was diseased, in pain, severely ill. (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.060.than.html)

The Supreme Buddha never rejected any activity, if that was wholesome and profitable to the people. The Buddha said that if through some kind of incantation or a mantram, or through a well-spoken word, or through a traditional Act of Truth, or through some mystical power of the Three Refuges, good could be done to the people, then an attempt should be made to bring about that kind of blessing. - Mahamevnawa Pali-English Paritta Chanting Book

Bhanava is not quite the same thing as auto-suggestion. At some places in the Suttas, the Supreme Buddha explained: “If one does this, these things will happen”. We come across places where Dhamma is explained directly in this manner. In Asavakkhaya Sutta and the Nibbida Sutta, the Supreme Buddha explains, “Oh Bhikkhus, there are five activities which if practiced, if practiced extensively results in the eradication of defilements”. Buddha adviced a bhikku in his deathbed to do this same five meditations. If one feels that there is no possibility of getting liberated from samsara such a person has the fear for samsara. It exists at times of grave illnesses and one has to live in that fear. If an individual is certain that he has a chance of getting liberated from samsara his fear of samsara starts to desipate. The understanding in such a person will turn out to be a realization.

For that you will have to develop the meditation on repulsiveness (Asubha Saññā’) - perceiving the impurity of the body; ‘Ahare Patikkula Saññā’ -perceiving the impurity of material food; ‘Sabba Loke Anabhirata Saññā’ - not taking delight in worlds; ‘Sabba Sankharesu Anicca Saññā’ -impermanence of all aggregates, and of ‘Marana Sati’ -to be mindful of death. (read Asavakkhaya Sutta where the Supreme Buddha explains these five). I could not find the Access-to-insight link, but you can read it in Bhikku Bodhi’s Book. If these five meditation activities were to be carried out, dispassionateness will arise in you. When you become dispassionate with understanding, then you will begin to lose the desire and craving for materialistic things and sensual pleasures. Your mind will become calmer and calmer. Only with such a calmed mind will it be possible to develop the special wisdoms. Your Sakkaya Ditthi (the idea of self) will leave you. You will see results in this very life.

  • 1
    I think this is a good answer. I can think of three ways to possibly improve it further: 1) identify (maybe reference with a hyperlink) what type[s] of meditation you're referring to when you say, "examine it to the fullest" and "taking the phenomenon apart piece by piece" etc. 2) reference some example[s] of what you mean by "hetero-suggestion" 3) explain why bhanava (e.g. mettā-bhavana) is or isn't quite the same thing as auto-suggestion.
    – ChrisW
    Jul 17, 2016 at 13:04
  • Thank you @ChrisW for the feedback. I will get into it right away. :) Jul 17, 2016 at 14:02
  • just put an edit after you wrote this : i mean to use it not for meditation itself or to affect it - but on all other aspects like "i will meditate a lot" "i wont do things for fun" ect ...
    – breath
    Jul 17, 2016 at 17:41
  • That is good @Breath. Without a proper foundation, it is fruitless to get into meditations. The starting point for any disciple of the Buddha is sila (virtue). Standing on the firm ground of sila (virtue), only, should one strive to achieve a collected mind. A virtuous state of mind would help one to keep any evil influence at bay, and be protected from all harm. Jul 17, 2016 at 17:54
  • what i wonder is : can i say "meditate" or "dont do stuff for fun" and "brainwash" myself somehow to help advance my practice somehow ?
    – breath
    Jul 17, 2016 at 18:27

Edit: not using the link previously provided in the answer

I have never heard of this word before, I just read the wikipedia article about it:

Autosuggestion is a psychological technique [...] It is a form of self-induced suggestion wherein the thoughts, feelings, or behavior of an individual are guided by oneself. This technique is often used in self-hypnosis. [...] The Coué method centers on a routine repetition of this particular expression according to a specified ritual, in a given physical state, and in the absence of any sort of allied mental imagery, at the beginning and at the end of each day

What I wonder is: Can I say "meditate" or "don't do stuff for fun" and "brainwash" myself somehow to help advance my practice somehow ?

I still find this technique (from what I've read in Wikipedia) problematic for several reasons:

Coué maintained that curing some of our troubles requires a change in our subconscious/unconscious thought, which can only be achieved by using our imagination

When you regularly say to your self things like "meditate" or "don't do stuff for fun", then you're brainwashing yourself, that's right. You are therefore creating a view/opinion inside yourself, which is based on a judgement. The reasoning behind these thoughts is: "Meditation is good. Therefore you have to meditate.", "Doing stuff for fun is bad. Therefore I mustn't do stuff for fun.";

In your practice you should try to balance the 5 faculties:

Faith and Wisdom

Having faith that meditation is beneficial is a good thing. But don't belief blindly in it. Balance it with wisdom. Reflect rather than suggest. Also, a problem using auto-suggestion could be that you become more and more self centered. "I" am doing meditation, it is "me" practicing. Who is "I" that should do something? Who is trying to auto-suggest?

Energy and Concentration

From Wikipedia:

The patient must thus abandon his willpower and instead put more focus on his imaginative power in order to fully succeed with his cure.

That's not what Buddhism teaches. You have to put effort into your practice. Nobody and no technique will do the actual work of bringing yourself back to the present moment for you. If you find yourself lazy and don't want to meditate, you cannot overcome this by programming yourself, but by seeing your lack of energy as a hindrance and bringing up energy.


Reminding yourself is mindfulness. But Right Mindfulness means being without judgement. Remind yourself of your wish wanting to meditate as a intention, not as something that you have to do.

If you want to develop faith, you could do chanting. It's probably more effective and doesn't bring you in conflict with yourself. Also differentiate suggestion from determination. If you make the determination to meditate whenever possible or to keep the 5 precepts, that's different from what I've read you would do using auto-suggestion and imagination.

  • i practice buddhism for a long time - i didnt put the link in the question itself but as some example - someone edited it for me an added it in the question ////// can you please delete this answer cause it diverts from the question i wanted to be answered ////// from my question : Edit : i mean to use it not for meditation itself or to affect it - but on all other aspects like "i will meditate a lot" "i wont do things for fun" ect ... what i wonder is : can i say "meditate" or "dont do stuff for fun" and "brainwash" myself somehow to help advance my practice somehow ?
    – breath
    Jul 17, 2016 at 19:06
  • @breath I asked you what "auto-suggestion" is (to clarify the question) because I think it's not a standard Buddhist term, and in reply to that you posted the link as a comment. And so I edited the link into the question (trying to make it clearer what the question is asking about) and then deleted the comments. So far the two answers seem to agree that "auto-suggestion" (at least, insofar as as it's described in the link) is not a technique which they're familiar with, nor which seems to concur with (their orthodox) Buddhist practice.
    – ChrisW
    Jul 17, 2016 at 22:08
  • i just googled autosuggestion buddhism to give you a link so you wont delete my question its hard to explain the connection of auto suggestion to buddhism - im not trying to say its part of the practice itself but a tool to aid it - perhaps by making myself meditate more
    – breath
    Jul 17, 2016 at 22:18
  • @breath If it's a modern or unknown technique then traditional Buddhism wouldn't have a view on it. Also to the extent that it involves lying to yourself, people are probably going to find it odd. Still I found that this answer mentions (recommends) autosuggestion, I posted a comment to that author (BlackFlam3), with luck they might answer here about their experience in more detail.
    – ChrisW
    Jul 17, 2016 at 22:28
  • what about saying : "i will not do stuff for fun" --- its not lying
    – breath
    Jul 17, 2016 at 22:47

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